At the time, Medical Sage Sang Chen was picking medicinal ingredients deep in the mountains. A few days after he had left the mountains, he caught sight of the imperial announcement from the Yong Emperor. Learning that Suiyun was close to death, Sang Chen rushed to Chang’an, traveling over a thousand li in three days. When he arrived at the Prince of Yong’s residence, Suiyun’s life was hanging by a single thread. The Medical Sage was able to work a miracle,1 bringing Jiang Zhe back to life. However, from henceforth, Jiang Zhe’s body was greatly weakened.…
—Southern Chu Dynastic Records, Biography of Jiang Suiyun
When he arrived at the Prince of Yong’s residence, Sang Chen made a beeline for the Cold Courtyard, bringing along the several imperial physicians and Xiaoshunzi to serve as his assistants. The door to the room was closed and barred, voices only occasionally issuing different kinds of instructions.
Li Zhi waited outside the door, filled with incomparable anxiety. Pei Yun’s injuries had completely healed. Hearing of Sang Chen’s arrival at the Prince of Yong’s residence, he also rushed over and joined Li Zhi waiting at the door. Pei Yun was extremely grateful towards Jiang Zhe. Using the method Jiang Zhe had devised, Pei Yun had discussed his plans with his two martial uncles, receiving their tacit approval. Even though it went against the Buddhist tenet of compassion, at this point, they weren’t worrying about that. Pei Yun was a disciple that the Shaolin Temple had painstakingly nurtured, thus he absolutely could not be allowed to have any association with the Fengyi Sect. For this reason, the two martial uncles were willing to give one of the two “Little Return Pills” on their persons to Jiang Zhe.
Everyone waited outside for a whole day. Only on the evening of the second day did they see Sang Chen and company walk out, exhausted. The medical sage was already close to seventy. Although he was aged, and his hair and beard white, his body was quite healthy and vigorous. These last two days, the imperial physicians could and had taken turns. However, for the entire duration, Sang Chen never took one step out the door.
Walking out the door, Sang Chen immediately caught sight of Li Zhi, stepping forward to greet him politely. “This decrepit old man thanks Your Imperial Highness for your strenuous and painstaking efforts. If it weren’t for Your Imperial Highness using precious medicines to prolong his life, I’m afraid that Suiyun could not have survived until this old man arrived to treat him.”
Li Zhi finally breathed a sigh of relief, weakly collapsing into a chair that had been brought over by an imperial bodyguard. Tiredly, he replied, “Sir Sang, it is this Prince who should be thanking you for saving Sir Jiang.…”
Sang Chen smiled slightly before replying, “Suiyun and I are like grandfather and grandson. It is proper and expected that I save him. However, although he is now safe and sound, his recovery will require great effort. This decrepit old man can only impose on Your Imperial Highness’s hospitality.”
Li Zhi promptly rose to his feet, resolutely saying, “Even if Sir Sang did not ask, this Prince would have requested Sir Sang to temporarily stay in this residence. Sir, please tell this Prince if you have any needs or requirements. I will not definitely not leave Sir disappointed.”
Sang Chen nodded his head. “This decrepit old man is tired, please prepare someplace for me to rest. Tomorrow, I will treat Suiyun again. It would be best if this decrepit old man could stay here in the Cold Courtyard, permitting me to attend to Suiyun at all times.”
Li Zhi repeatedly voiced his agreement. He had ordered servants to prepare chambers for Sang Chen in the Cold Courtyard long ago.
At this moment, the Princess of Yong dispatched someone to persuade Li Zhi to return to the inner residence to rest. Over the past few days, Li Zhi essentially lived in the Cold Courtyard and practically never went back to the inner residence. He only returned to his own quarters now with the load finally eased off his mind. In the inner residence, the Princess of Yong led the two concubines and the maids to wait upon Li Zhi as he bathed and changed. After eating a hearty meal, Li Zhi could finally lie down in bed and fell asleep without any worries.
When he woke up, it was already late in the morning.2 As Li Zhi rose from bed, two maids came over to help him get dressed. With a smile, Li Zhi asked, “Where’s the Princess?”
The Princess of Yong walked in from outside. Beaming, she relayed, “Your Imperial Highness, great news! Just now, someone came from the Cold Courtyard to report that Major Jiang has woken.”
Li Zhi was overjoyed and replied, “The Medical Sage’s reputation is well-deserved. Only one night and Suiyun was able to awaken.”
The Princess of Yong smiled and corrected, “Your Imperial Highness, it has already been two days. When you fell asleep, we couldn’t wake you back up. Sir Sang came over to take a look and determined that Your Imperial Highness was worn out. You would wake up as long as you got enough sleep.”
Li Zhi smiled wryly and said, “No wonder this Prince’s stomach is rumbling with hunger. Quickly bring some food. This Prince intends to go to the Cold Courtyard to see Sir Jiang.”
The princess accompanied Li Zhi to the outer room to eat. As they walked, she said, “Your Imperial Highness, you should bring Roulan over in a while. These days, no one has dared tell her what has happened to Major Jiang. She has already cried several times.”
Li Zhi nodded his head, agreeing. “That’s fine. You should come with me. Afterwards, enter the palace to inform Changle.”
The Princess of Yong was astonished as she gazed at Li Zhi, questioning, “Didn’t Your Imperial Highness say this matter was inappropriate?”
Li Zhi smiled wryly and responded, “When Changle heard that Major Jiang had been seriously injured, she immediately sent over half of the root of the Ningpo figwort bestowed by Imperial Father. The previous few days, she dispatched people to inquire whether the other half was also needed. If the Medical Sage had not yet arrived, I would probably have gone to borrow the remaining part of the Ningpo figwort in her possession. It seems like Changle’s feelings for Major Jiang are quite deep. Even if I am unable to fulfill her desires, I am unwilling to have her continue worrying.”
The Princess of Yong nodded her head and replied, “That’s fine. How about this? Let me bring Roulan with me when I enter the palace, saying that I intend for Noble Consort Zhangsun to take a look. As this child is young, she is witty and adorable. Changle is quite fond of her.”
Li Zhi nodded his head in agreement. The Princess of Yong added, “Your Imperial Highness, although you have released General Qin and company, you have had men keep an eye on them these several days. Moreover, the surveillance has been open and without fear. Yesterday, Qin daren personally came to pay a visit, telling your servant that the assassination was not General Qin’s doing. However, the Grand General still locked up and interrogated General Qin.”
Li Zhi callously replied, “We will speak when I’ve discussed it with Suiyun. If it is his doing, this Prince will definitely not spare him.”
The princess hesitatingly ventured, “Your Imperial Highness, the current relationship between you and the Crown Prince is like that of oil and water. Your servant will be quite worried if you offend Grand General Qin. Moreover, the Xiahou clan is greatly favored by His Imperial Majesty, and the Princess of Jingjiang was ordered by Imperial Father to come. No matter who is offended, it is highly problematic.”
Li Zhi paused for a moment before indifferently stating, “It doesn’t matter. There are some things that have to be settled sooner or later. But if Qin Qing really performed such a deed, it would be an insult to his family’s social status.”
The Princess of Yong very carefully expressed, “I don’t believe that the child would do such a thing. The upbringing of the Grand General’s family is quite strict and rigorous. That child’s natural disposition is good and honest. Although he is somewhat impulsive, he is unable to injure someone through a sneak attack.”
Li Zhi hesitated for a while, not saying a word. He had already personally gone to question Qin Qing. Qin Qing did not conceal anything, explaining what had happened that day. Li Zhi was certain that there was someone sowing discord between him and Qin Qing. However, he was not certain that Qin Qing had not fallen into a trap. After all, no one else aside from Jiang Zhe knew what had happened that day. Even if what Qin Qing said was true, it was still possible that he took advantage of someone attempting an assassination to kick a man when he was down. As this matter was of great significance, Li Zhi was unwilling to inform the Princess of Yong. Therefore, he only neutrally said, “This Prince will impartially judge this.”
In any case, the Prince of Yong’s residence finally became temporarily tranquil. During that time, the entire residence was a complete mess. Now, everything had finally calmed down.3 Of course, the roaring seas underneath the surface were not something that an ordinary person could sense.
Within the crown prince’s residence, Lu Jingzhong was in a daze as he looked at the information in his hands. Suddenly, he furiously tore the paper to shreds. After a moment, he rose to his feet and left the room, walking to the entrance of the hall. He heard the intoxicating sounds of song and dance coming from within. Lu Jingzhong shook his head as he quietly entered the hall. He caught sight of Crown Prince Li An seated in the seat of honor, leisurely watching the beautiful movements of the dancers. Seeing Lu Jingzhong enter with his expression ugly, Li An waved his hand, dismissing the dancers and musicians. He inquired, “Why does Junior Mentor look so worried? It is only that Jiang Zhe’s life was saved. Our original objective was not to take his life.”
Deeply worried, Lu Jingzhong responded, “Your Imperial Highness, these last few days, this subject has carefully read over the information, discovering that we have made a grave mistake.”
Li An stared back blankly. Straightening in his seat, he asked, “Why does the Junior Mentor say such a thing?”
Lu Jingzhong answered, “Your Imperial Highness, previously, although I believed Jiang Zhe to potentially be a great minister, to speak the truth, we don’t lack civil and military talents. Therefore, although his talent for military strategies and administration were both exceptional, this subject did not pay him much attention. As long as Your Imperial Highness ascends to the throne, if he is willing to serve, it would not be too late to employ him. In any case, since Your Imperial Highness is not yet the emperor, there is no need to impatiently recruit talented individuals to invite the Emperor’s suspicions. This subject even snickered at the Prince of Yong’s failure to understand this fact. No matter how talented Jiang Zhe is, as long as he does not enter the central administration, what’s the use? Originally, this subject recommended that we assassinate Jiang Zhe for the sole purpose of creating conflict between the Prince of Yong and Grand General Qin. Unexpectedly, the situation that day was quite strange and there was another assassin who attacked first. Although he failed within sight of success, allowing our man to succeed, the subsequent reaction by the Prince of Yong has been seen by the Crown Prince. Could it be possible that we’ve stepped on a crucial part of the Prince of Yong?”
“What you say is reasonable,” replied Li An, nodding his head, “Over these last several years, we have frequently bothered second brother, but when did we ever see him take such a hard line? He first went to complain tearfully to Imperial Father before mobilizing the Imperial Guard and entering the city. He was even willing to use the Ningpo figwort that was bestowed by Imperial Father, and borrowed another root from Princess Changle. Even sixth brother went to curry favor. We get angry just thinking of this. How can sixth brother be so muddled? He has not yet taken us seriously.”
“It is these that has caused this subject to become suspicious,” agreed Lu Jingzhong. “Only after carefully reading over the available information did this subject realize that I have failed my duties. In the beginning, this subject only believed that this Jiang Zhe had the talent to bear heavy responsibilities. However, after this subject carefully considered, I realized that the man is actually a genius adept at plotting and scheming.”
Li An raised his eyebrows, indicating for Lu Jingzhong to continue. Lu Jingzhong did so. “That man became famous through his literary talent. He once served as an adviser in Southern Chu to the Prince of De. At first, this subject did not find anything odd about it, considering him only as someone riding another’s coattails.4 Moreover, from the intelligence that we’ve acquired, although we knew that the Prince of De trusted him, we could not ascertain any stratagems that he had presented. Although we knew that he handled military matters fairly well, we felt that such skill was insignificant. These days, this subject has collected all of the Prince of De’s battle records, discovering that while Jiang Zhe was serving the Prince of De, the Prince’s tactics became extremely strange and sinister. Furthermore, with one song, Jiang Zhe forced the King of Shu to commit suicide. Although this became an anecdote told with approbation, everyone was under the impression that this resulted from the Prince of De and Jiang Zhe was only following orders. But now, thinking it over, it is possible that it was Jiang Zhe’s own intentions. Because he was bedridden for several years, no one paid him any attention. Were it not for this subject personally inspecting all of Southern Chu’s intelligence, then I’m afraid that this information would not have been discovered.”
Li An smiled and inquired, “Is Junior Mentor worrying too much? There is no evidence to back up these conjectures.”
“There is indeed no evidence,” rebutted Lu Jingzhong. “However, Your Imperial Highness, why would the Prince of Qi wish to vie over this man with the Prince of Yong? Why would he also try to curry favor and deliver such precious medicines? Didn’t Your Imperial Highness say that Liang Wan once reported that both the Prince of Yong and the Prince of Qi had her pay attention to Jiang Zhe? We only believed that the Prince of Yong simply appreciated Jiang Zhe’s talent. Your Imperial Highness knows that the Prince of Yong has a habit of recruiting talented individuals. As for the Prince of Qi, he is always acting willfully and making a scene. Therefore, Your Imperial Highness did not take this matter seriously. Now, it seems that both the Prince of Yong and the Prince of Qi likely know how formidable this man is. Only Your Imperial Highness and this subject considers Jiang Zhe to merely be a brilliant scholar. As the proverb says, ‘one cloud is enough to eclipse all the sun,’5 the Prince of Yong used his high regard for him to cause us to believe that Jiang Zhe was a famous scholar in the mode of Qu Yuan and Jia Yi,6, 7 causing us to overlook that this man is a exceptional strategist comparable to Zhang Liang and Chen Ping.”8
“We understand Junior Mentor’s wariness,” said Li An, “However, aren’t you being excessively anxious about this matter? The man hasn’t made any contributions to speak of since pledging allegiance to the Prince of Yong.”
Lu Jingzhong suddenly grew vigilant, as he replied, “This is what causes the most concern for this subject. It is said that those skilled in battle do not display their outstanding achievements. In addition, if this subject guesses correctly, the stratagems that this man employs should be sinister and secretive, not sticking to a particular pattern. I’m afraid that we have already been trapped. Therefore, this subject hoped he would die. However, I didn’t expect that he would survive after suffering such a grave injury.”
“Junior Mentor’s ability and wisdom are outstanding,” consoled Li An, “He is not Junior Mentor’s match no matter how capable that man is. If worst comes to worst, we can dispatch another assassin.”
A look of pride first flashed across Lu Jingzhong’s eyes before he shook his head and responded, “This was something else that I overlooked. He has an expert that is hidden by his side, called Li Shun. Reportedly, he was once a eunuch in the Southern Chu palace. When Jianye fell, he sought refuge with Jiang Zhe. That eunuch was also brought back by the Prince of Yong. In retrospect, I looked through all of the available intelligence on the man, discovering that the information was extremely limited, because that man is practically inseparable from Jiang Zhe like a person and his shadow. Jiang Zhe lives in deep seclusion and rarely comes out. That man is the same. Your Imperial Highness knows that the Prince of Yong’s residence is tightly watched and difficult to infiltrate. In particular, Jiang Zhe has many guards by his side. Our spies basically did not pay attention to that man. According to Xiahou Yuanfeng, this Li Shun’s martial arts have already reached the ‘Skin Deep Realm.’ Unless it’s an expert of the same realm or an expert at evaluation, it is extremely difficult to ascertain the depths of that man’s martial arts. In this aspect, our spies are quite lacking and did not specially pay attention, thus overlooking the man. According to Xiahou Yuanfeng, that man’s martial arts are definitely far above his. If we dispatch more assassins, it is unlikely to succeed.”
Li An’s grew worried as he inquired, “Junior Mentor, tell me, what’s to be done?”
“It is said that foot soldiers are countered by generals,”9 answered Lu Jingzhong. “There is no need for Your Imperial Highness to be excessively worried. We only need to be extra careful. Once Your Imperial Highness ascends to the throne, we will no longer need to worry. If the situation is urgent, at worst, we can dispatch some formidable assassins. No matter how great Li Shun’s martial arts, can it be better than that person?”
“Junior Mentor speaks the truth,” agreed Li An, nodding his head before asking, “Then should we delay our business?”
Lu Jingzhong replied, “There is no need. Xiahou Yuanfeng has said it is extremely likely that the assassin was dispatched from Southern Chu. No matter what, I do not believe that a surrendered subject of Southern Chu would have any ties to the Embroidered Union. Moreover, I also do not believe that Jiang Zhe would have any power to speak of in this difficult situation. At present, the Prince of Yong is under heavy pressure. We can seize the opportunity to do several runs. When the Prince of Yong detects what is going on, we will have already finished the business. As for Your Imperial Highness, this subject still advises Your Imperial Highness to keep your distance from Xia Jinyi. He only entered Your Imperial Highness’s household after he had conflicted with Jiang Zhe. I’m worried he will be disloyal.”
Li An impatiently lectured, “Junior Mentor, you must know that although Xia Jinyi had a conflict with Jiang Zhe, it all arose because of the Guanzhong Alliance. Moreover, if we were Jiang Zhe, we would not have Xia Jinyi act in such a fashion. What’s more, this Prince has dispatched men to monitor Xia Jinyi. Aside from whispering sweet nothings10 to Xiu Chun, he is occupied with rehearsing song and dance. This time when Jiang Zhe was seriously injured, the Prince of Yong’s household was torn asunder. If Xia Jinyi was a spy, even if he wasn’t especially concerned, then he shouldn’t be feigning complete indifference. However, you must know that although he was curious, Xia Jinyi did not display a shred of sympathy, even ridiculing the Prince of Yong’s household. Apart from this, he is only intent on getting his hands on Xiu Chun. If he really was a spy from the Prince of Yong, wouldn’t he be busying himself with gathering intelligence? Further, for someone so addicted to carnal pleasures, it’s likely that second brother would despise him. Don’t worry, this Prince will not let him learn any classified information. The little fellow isn’t that capable.”
Lu Jingzhong furrowed his brows, no longer admonishing the crown prince. After all, he could not say that His Imperial Highness had become seduced by Xia Jinyi to enjoy the carnal pleasures to his heart’s content, already causing discontent and dissatisfaction in some people. No one could convince His Imperial Highness of this matter.
“All right,” said Li An, gesturing with his hand. “It’s enough for Junior Mentor to increase the surveillance on the Prince of Yong’s residence. There is no need to be anxious.”
Lu Jingzhong could only express his agreement. At this moment, Li An’s expression changed and he questioned, “There is one matter that leaves me extremely uneasy. The Prince of Qi did not warn us about the matter relating to Jiang Zhe. Now that he is currying favor, is it possible that the Prince of Qi is having disloyal thoughts?”
Lu Jingzhong answered, “Your Imperial Highness, who in this world doesn’t have selfish motives? This subject believes that the Prince of Qi is merely fond of a talented person. There is no need for Your Imperial Highness to worry about this tiny bit of selfishness.”
Li An shot Lu Jingzhong a discontented glance before he stated, “Since you’ve spoken, we will leave it be. However, you have to pay close attention to the Prince of Qi. We do not wish to find ourselves utterly isolated.”11
Lu Jingzhong’s expression did not change as he complied, “This subject will definitely pay attention to the Prince of Qi’s activities. If Your Imperial Highness is worried, there is no harm to ask Concubine Lan. She and the Princess of Qi hail from the same sect. She will surely know some things.”
Li An distantly stated, “We have already asked Lady Xiao. She said that the Princess of Qi told her that the Prince of Qi was only repaying Jiang Zhe for once saving his life from a poisoned wound. I already knew of this matter, therefore did not take it to heart. However, hearing your words today, sixth brother’s words are definitely not entirely true. It is better if you pay attention on our behalf. We definitely will not allow another Prince of Yong to appear.”
Lu Jingzhong respectfully consented, “This subject will do as you bid.”
Within a courtyard in Chang’an, Xiahou Yuanfeng was standing, appreciating and playing with the recently bloomed plum blossoms. It was already the second month; several plum trees had already begun to bloom. At this moment, an azure-robed manservant swiftly walked over from behind him. Catching sight of a young master with such an elegant appearance like that of plum blossoms under the spring sunshine, the manservant could not help but stare foolishly for a moment. Afterwards, he announced, “Young master, the guest wishes to meet you.”
Xiahou Yuanfeng smiled slightly before saying, “I’m already done.” Finished speaking, he picked a plum blossom, sticking it in the vase. Just like this, he held the vase and walked towards the guest room. Entering the guest room, he placed the vase on the table. The faint aroma of the plum blossom immediately permeated the entire room. Towards the middle-aged man resting in bed, he casually asked, “Vicious Killer, have you already recovered from your injuries?”
Vicious Killer stonily looked at the handsome young man who had saved him that day. In a thick voice, he replied, “My injuries are already recovered. You can finally speak your conditions for rescuing me, right?”
Xiahou Yuanfeng smiled and answered, “There is a matter I have to tell you. Unfortunately, Jiang Zhe, Jiang Suiyun has already escaped from danger.”
Vicious Killer tensed mentally, though he continued to speak emotionlessly, “Then you, the oriole behind, failed to gain any advantage?”
Xiahou Yuanfeng impartially remarked, “According to practice, because you are a spy from Southern Chu, I should kill you. However, I am quite unwilling to kill you. After all, our objectives do not clash. If you are willing, I can give you another assassination opportunity. Are you willing?”
Vicious Killer coldly refused. “Do you consider me an idiot? Not only is the guard around Jiang Zhe extremely tight, Eunuch Shun will also not leave his side.”
Xiahou Yuanfeng’s eyes brightened as he inquired, “Are you familiar with Li Shun?”
Vicious Killer immediately saw through Xiahou Yuanfeng’s intentions before he impersonally responded, “I don’t know him that well. However, I once monitored Jiang Zhe for a period of time, seeing him frequently come and go from Jiang Zhe’s home. I did not anticipate his martial arts to be so superb. This time, were it not for his absence, I fear that I would have thrown my life away.”
Xiahou Yuanfeng indifferently spoke, “These days, the roadblocks in the capital have been relaxed. If you are willing, I can send you out of the city.”
Vicious Killer callously asked, “What really are your motives?”
Xiahou Yuanfeng smiled. “My motives are quite simple. I want you to draw attention away from the Prince of Yong’s residence. While they are chasing you, I hope you will make them believe it was Qin Qing who conspired with you to assassinate Jiang Zhe. Of course, I will help you as best as I can in escaping back to Southern Chu. If this out of the question, then I ask that you take your own life. You must clearly understand what type of person Qin Qing is. I wish for disagreement to happen between the Prince of Yong and Grand General Qin. This will also be of benefit to your Southern Chu.”
Vicious Killer knew this mission was extremely dangerous and uncaringly replied, “At most, I will give my life back to you. However, you must do something for me. You must kill Jiang Zhe within two years.”
Xiahou Yuanfeng smiled slightly, raising his hand to make a solemn vow, “Xiahou Yuanfeng vows to kill Jiang Zhe within two years. If I violate this oath, I will be destroyed by heaven and earth.”
Vicious Killer scoffed, “Although I do not believe your oath, I know that you have to kill Jiang Zhe. Unless you can prevent him from learning who had shot him with an arrow, otherwise, you will definitely die by his hands.”
Xiahou Yuanfeng smiled silently. That day, he had seen Xiaoshunzi’s unimaginable and freakish qinggong, immediately realizing that the crown prince had offended an extremely fearsome and formidable enemy. Therefore, he devised a plan on the spot, rescuing the assassin who had sought to kill Jiang Zhe, hoping that this assassin would be able to fulfill his objective. However, he was not the archer. Unless Vicious Killer believed this was the case, how would he adhere to his arrangements? Thinking of that assassin who was the oriole behind, Xiahou Yuanfeng wickedly wondered if the assassin knew that he was being also being targeted with bow and arrow. There truly were curious coincidences in this world. Who would have expected that there were three waves of assassins simultaneously arriving at the Cold Courtyard?
妙手回春, miaoshouhuichun – idiom, lit. magical hands bringing the dying back to life; miracle cure, brilliant doctor
日上三竿, rishangsangan – idiom, lit. the sun has risen three poles high; the sun is riding high, it’s already late in the morning
风平浪静, fengpinglangjing – idiom, lit. breeze is still, waves are quiet; tranquil environment, all is quiet, a dead calm
附骥, fuji – idiom, lit. riding on somebody’s coattails to success; shine by reflected glory
一叶障目，不见泰山, yiyezhangmu, bujian taishan – idiom, lit. eyes obscured by a single leaf, unable to see Mount Tai; fig. not seeing the wider picture, can’t see the wood/forest for the trees, one cloud is enough to eclipse all the sun
贾谊, Jia Yi was a Chinese scholar and official during the Han Dynasty, famous for rhapsodies and for an essay expounding on the reasons for the Qin Dynasty’s collapse.
Lu Jingzhong is stating that Jiang Zhe is as loyal as Qu Yuan and as incisive as Jia Yi.
张良, Zhang Liang and 陈平, Chen Ping were top strategists who helped Liu Bang found the Han Dynasty.
兵来将挡, binglaijiangdang – part of the idiom ‘兵来将挡，水来土掩'(binglai jiangdang, shuilai tuyan), lit. to counter foot soldiers with generals, water with earthworks; different situations call for different action, to adopt measures appropriate to the actual situation
卿卿我我, qingqingwowo – idiom, lit. to bill and coo; to whisper sweet nothings to one another
众叛亲离, zhongpanqinli – idiom, lit. people rebelling and friends deserting; fig. to find oneself utterly isolated