While Liu Pei and his brothers were fleeing, the Han court was in turmoil as well. During that time, the Ten Eunuchs were the most powerful men (or half-men) in China, but soon, the Han Emperor Lien-te found a beautiful woman and married her. Her name was Empress Ho. Through her influence, her uneducated brother Ho Chin became Grand General of China. Ho Chin was only a butcher, but now he had even more power than the Ten Eunuchs.
When a rival concubine found favor with the Emperor, Ho Chin had her murdered, much to the chagrin of the Emperor and his mother the Empress Dowager. But Ho Chin was ruthless. Next, he murdered the Empress Dowager, because she dared to insult his sister Empress Ho. With the army behind him, Ho Chin felt himself untouchable. The Emperor was very angry, but could not do anything.
Before the Emperor Lien-te died, he told the Ten Eunuchs, he wanted his younger son Hien-te by the favorite concubine to succeed him. Naturally, Ho Chin would not go along, since he wanted his nephew Crown Prince Pien-te to rule China. The Ten Eunuchs believed Ho Chin was too powerful. They too wanted to get rid of him.
At that time, Ho Chin had two important advisors. One of them was Ts’ao Ts’ao, who gained fame fighting the Yellow Turban Rebels. Another was Yuan Shao, the powerful warlord of Hebei. Ts’ao Ts’ao advised Ho Chin to murder the Ten Eunuchs, and the Grand General agreed. Together, Ts’ao Ts’ao and Yuan Shao invaded the Palace and murdered many eunuchs, but some of them….escaped.
They tricked Empress Ho into summoning her brother alone and unarmed into the palace, playing on the way they used to help her when she first entered the palace first as a nameless concubine many years ago. Empress Ho wanted the Ten Eunuchs and her brother to reconcile, and thought she would now get her son as Emperor in peace, so she summoned Ho Chin.
Trusting his sister, Ho Chin decided to enter alone. Ts’ao Ts’ao never trusted anyone and warned his boss not to go, but Ho Chin was a stupid bull. He thought he was untouchable, so he went alone and unarmed.
“I am Grand General of China,” he said. “Who dares challenge me?!? The Ten Eunuchs will come crawling to me like the dogs they are. Why can’t I see my sister in private?”
But before he could reach Empress Ho, he was surrounded by the Ten Eunuchs and murdered. They tossed his head outside the courtyard to where Ts’ao Ts’ao and Yuan Shao was. The two men, angered beyond reason, invaded the palace and murdered all the Ten Eunuchs. Now, the Han Court was in open turmoil.