Da Tang Shuang Long Zhuan - Book 56 Chapter 11 – Detailed Story From The Past
Book 56 Chapter 11 - Detailed Story From The Past
Translator: Foxs' Wuxia
Yin Xianhe trembled all over, as if he was losing the strength to support his own body, he was completely relying on Ji Qian’s pair of jade hands wrapped around his flanks, holding his slim, long body, as she leaned over the bed.
“Where is Xiaoji?”
Holding nothing back, Ji Qian pressed her cheek against Yin Xianhe’s head and closed her beautiful eyes. Tears did not stop flowing out of her eyes as she spoke in sorrow, “I didn’t intend to tell anyone about the past, plus no one is interested in knowing. When Ziling came to ask me that day, because I was afraid that he was a member of the Xiang family, I pretended that I don’t know. The fact is, Xiaoji and Xiao You [Note: Xiaoji was her name, but I think Xiao You was a nickname, ‘Little You’, I will revise later if I am wrong] are my best sisters, only the three of us succeeded in escaping that night, the other sisters were murdered by the Xiang family to close their mouth.”
Xu Ziling spoke heavily, “What happened that night?”
Sinking into the painful memories of the past, Ji Qian’s pretty face showed a sorrowful and heartbroken expression, her pair of eyes were still closed, she desperately held on Yin Xianhe, her fragrant lips trembled and said, “There was no training as usual that day, but the evil men in charge forced us to stay inside the room. Suddenly there was a boiling cauldron of voices [idiom: commotion] outside, there were fire everywhere. At that time, I shared room with Xiaoji and Xiao You, Xiaoji was the bravest, she suggested we took the opportunity to escape immediately, however, the other sisters did not have that kind of courage, so the three of us had no choice but to climb the window and leave. Sure enough, the evil men soon came! We hid in the underbrush in the garden, we heard the sound of their screams for help before they died inside the house. It was just like in the most terrifying nightmare. The evil men found out that the three of us were missing, they searched everywhere. Fortunately, at that moment someone broke the door down and entered, the scared evil men scattered in all directions to run for their lives. We seized that opportunity to slip out through the back door, and follow the crowd to leave Jiangdu. Don’t cry! Get up and sit down first, all right?”
The last two sentences were directed at Yin Xianhe.
Xu Ziling came over to help him stand up, Ji Qian sat him on the edge of the bed, she also wiped his tears.
Xu Ziling never thought that the crafty and unruly, the willful Ji Qian had such a gentle and considerate side; inwardly he felt great pity.
Without waiting for Yin Xianhe to ask further, Ji Qian continued, “After leaving the city, we fled in a panic, without choosing where we were going. At the time, we only thought of going as far away as possible. Ay! We were hungry and tired after walking. Fortunately, we ran into kindhearted people along the way, so we didn’t starve to death, and we fled straight to Xiangyang, only then did we settle down.”
Yin Xianhe was shaken, “Xiangyang!” he exclaimed. Finally, his endless tears stopped flowing.
Ji Qian nodded and said, “The three of us were mutually dependent for life [idiom], if we had nothing to eat, we went begging and stealing. Because we were afraid that people would bully us, women, we had no choice but to disguise ourselves as boys. But when you go up the mountain many times, chances are you will meet tigers; one day when we became petty thief, someone caught us on the spot. The master of the house was the most outstanding famous courtesan in Xiangyang. She took pity on us, and show favor on us and accepted us as adopted daughters [traditional adoption, without legal ramifications].”
Yin Xianhe’s countenance changed, he said, “Accepted you as her disciples?”
Ji Qian did not notice Yin Xianhe’s peculiar reaction, she said, “Only Xiaoji was unwilling to follow Aunt Ying and learn her art. Fortunately, with Aunt Ying as her behind-the-scene supporter, no one dared to bully her. Later, Aunt Ying put away the mountain [idiom: bowing out after a long career] and got married. Xiao You and Xiaoji stayed in Xiangyang, but I went to Chang’an to try my luck, because I knew that Chi Shengchun was in Chang’an. As long as there is a chance to avenge my sisters who met with violent death, I definitely won’t let it off.”
And then tears burst violently, she sobbed silently, and whimpered, “When they abducted me, they killed my Ershu [second uncle, younger than her father]. Ershu was my only relative. My objective in Chang’an was hidden from Xiaoji and Xiao You.”
Xu Xiaoling came to understand that this was exactly the Xiang family’s usual method to maintain secrecy, they killed people to shut their mouths, so that the information of women from ordinary family being kidnapped would not leak outside, and thus other people would not be able to investigate. During the Jiangdu mutiny, the Xiang family knew that they could not take a large number of girls away. Because they had always been Yang Guang’s supporters, they became the target of Yuwen Huaji’s attack. In order to escape in a hurry while preventing any leak of information, they struck treacherously by killing all the abducted little girls. Cruel and heartless to the extreme.
He spoke heavily, “How did you know that there is Chi Shengchun, this person, and that he is in Chang’an?”
Ji Qian said, “After being abducted, I was taken to Jiangdu to be locked up; I have seen him twice. He chatted with his men many times, one time he even mentioned the casino business in Chang’an, I always remembered it. Will you kill him for me? Just consider me begging you!”
Yin Xianhe stood up suddenly, chopping the nail and slice the iron [idiom: resolute and decisive], he said, “I am going to Xiangyang immediately. Which brothel is Xiao You in?”
Ji Qian tugged at his sleeve and said in distress, “Kill Chi Shengchun for me first, and then I will accompany you to Xiangyang. I don’t care about any Xiang Family, Chi Family, as long as his dead body is chopped into ten thousand pieces, that will do.”
Looking at her like-raindrops-on-a-pear-blossom [idiom: tear-stained face of a beauty] sorrowful appearance, who could keep his heart from feeling sad?
Xu Ziling said, “Let’s calm down first, how about we make a detailed plan?”
Yin Xianhe looked down at Ji Qian, he said, “I will definitely kill Chi Shengchun for you. Xiaojie, don’t worry.”
Ji Qian was still unwilling to let go of her tight grip on his sleeve, raising the sleeve of her other hand to wipe her tears, she said, “I knew you are a good man!”
Yin Xianhe calmed down, he sat down next to Ji Qian again, and said to Xu Ziling, “What is Ziling’s suggestion?”
Xu Ziling said, “We all have the same goal, which is to get Chi Shengchun, this devoid of conscience person to get the retribution he deserves. The problem is that I want to pull the evil family to which Chi Shengchun belongs to by the roots; Chi Shengchun is just one of them.”
Ji Qian looked at Yin Xianhe as if she was asking for help, the latter nodded and said, “Ziling is right, in order to escape our encircling and annihilating, hunting to kill them, it will be very likely that Chi Shengchun’s family clan is going to seek refuge in Chang’an, moreover, they are hoping to succeed in establishing power and relationships here. For this reason, Chi Shengchun greatly spread out his hands and feet and forcefully acquired Shang Lin Yuan.”
Xu Ziling said, “This moment, Chi Shengchun might already knew that his identity has been leaked, hence he is under high alert, and under protection of martial art masters twelve sichen a day, it won’t be easy to kill him. Once we beat the grass and scare the snake, it will be very unfavorable toward our comprehensive plan. I have a suggestion: tomorrow morning, Qian Xiaojie and Xianhe rush to Xiangyang to look for Xiao You and Xiaoji, and then go to Pengliang; we can meet in Liangdu. Once the plan to deal with the Xiang family is properly deployed, Qian Xiaojie can go back to Chang’an to witness the smoke of Xiang’s house vanishing and crumbling.”
Ji Qian moved her gaze to Yin Xianhe, this lone swordsman nodded affirmatively at her.
Ji Qian stared at him blankly for half a day, until Yin Xianhe was so embarrassed being stared by her. She nodded and replied, “Very well! What you think is more appropriate than what Qian’er thought.”
A graceful, wonderful feeling welled up in Xu Ziling’s heart, some magical things were brewing between Yin Xianhe and Ji Qian; it could be based on their painful past experiences, which enabled them to generate mutual trust and understanding within a short period of time, or it could be due to the fate and the attractive force between men and women, which cannot be explained by reason, which made the two people with different personalities no longer had any distance to separate them.
Ji Qian was never willing to trust anybody, but obviously Yin Xianhe was an exception.
Yin Xianhe said, “If we want to leave, it’s better to leave now.”
Xu Ziling understood his feelings, he said, “It would be best for Qian Xiaojie to leave the city openly under ten thousand staring eyes, it will be more convenient when you come back later. I’ll see you off for a moment.”
Ji Qian reached out to grab Yin Xianhe’s arm, she spoke softly, “Die Gongzi, take a good rest, Qian’er is going to explain to Qing Yi [Aunt] and pack my luggage, I will be back to talk with you later. Xiaoji is a very adorable and strong girl! Xiao You and I listen to her very much.”
Finished speaking, she saluted Xu Ziling and left, elegant and supple.
The two you look at me I gaze at you.
Xu Ziling broke into a wide grin and said, “Now you set your heart at ease! Soon you will be reunited with your esteemed sister, what could be more happy ending than this? That move of offering a reward for finding her will not work, because you know the place where your esteemed sister is, where both of them are - is under the Tang Army’s sphere of influence.”
Yin Xianhe sighed and said, “From now until I arrive in Xiangyang, my life will be as difficult to pass as if one day is a year.”
Xu Ziling rose up to his full height, he laughed and said, “On the contrary, time will pass quickly. You should have said that you are so happy that you don’t know where time has passed.” Finished speaking, he left with a laughter.
Kou Zhong sent off Song Que’s large ship returning to the south disappearing in the distance downstream with his yes. In front and behind it, there were four navy vessels, carrying more than a thousand elite troops of the Song family providing escort.
From this moment on, he, Kou Zhong became the supreme leader of the Shao Shuai coalition army, all the heavy burdens have fallen onto his shoulders.
Song Lu, standing next to him, said, “Let’s go back!”
Kou Zhong asked in heavy voice, “How is the situation on the attack on Jiangdu?”
Song Lu replied, “Faliang successfully captured Piling, I told him not to act blindly without thinking. After all, Jiangdu is a metropolis, it has a strong defensive power. My advice is to isolate it, wait for their provisions to run dry and the troops rebel, it is not advisable to attack by force.”
Kou Zhong agreed, “Lu Shu’s caution is right. After all, Yangzhou can be considered my hometown, while Li Zitong is just an outsider, how can he fight against me, this local worm? Ay! Any message from Zhizhi?”
Song Lu said, “Every ten days I send news concerning you to Lingnan, she still cares about you very much.”
Kou Zhong shook his head and smiled bitterly, he said, “Let’s go back first and talk later, I want to call for a meeting immediately. We have only two months left of this freezing period; we must make good use of this not-just-in-name-only-but-also-in-reality golden opportunity bestowed by heaven.”
After sending off Yin Xianhe and Ji Qian, Xu Ziling sneaked back into Chang’an via the secret road, and went to the general’s mansion to see Li Jing.
The heavy snow stopped before dawn the previous night. In the sky, the cloud was still thick and heavy, the City of Chang’an has become a white world. Men, women, young and old, all went into action to clear up the snow. The rolling wheels and the horses’ hoofs created splotches staining the pristine street; it was the bustling scenery abundant with ordinary life activities. But Xu Ziling’s mind was tied to the major events of war and peace under the heavens, making him feel that he and the people around him seemed to be living in two different worlds.
Whether he could persuade Li Shimin or not, that would be the first hurdle. And then there were Kou Zhong and Song Que, two hurdles, which involved tangled and complicated problems. A bit incautious, his overall grand plan would go down the drain completely.
He entered the mansion from the rear court door, which was not bolted, into the house. A young family general, who looked honest and considerate, was waiting respectfully for his honored self, and took him into the inner hall.
Li Jing was already waiting anxiously, he asked him to sit around the table, and said, “What exactly is going on? I did not dare to tell Qin Wang everything, I only told him that you came to Chang’an in secret and have an important matter to discuss with him. He promised that after seeing Huangshang, he will be here to see you.”
Xu Ziling said, “As long as Qin Wang is willing to promise to fight for the throne with all his might, I will persuade Kou Zhong to help him striving for the world with all his strength.”
Li Jing spoke with serious expression, “Does Kou Zhong know you come to see Qin Wang?”
Xu Ziling shook his head and said, “This is my decision after I parted way with Kou Zhong.”
Li Jing spoke dejectedly, “In my opinion, you are just wasting your energy. Even if you can persuade Qin Wang, and this possibility is very low, how can Kou Zhong be willing to give up everything in this situation? How can he answer the men who follow him? Much less there is still Song Que, this one barrier?”
Xu Ziling said, “If I can’t persuade Li Shimin, then that’s it, I have no choice but to go back to Pengliang to help Kou Zhong to attack Luoyang. However, as long as Li Shimin is willing to make up his mind, Kou Zhong, that one barrier, I still have the confidence to overcome. As for Song Que, I can think of one possibility. Whether I can accomplish it or not, it will depend on Laotianye’s will.”
Knitting his brows, Li Jing asked, “What possibility?”
This moment, the family general came in a hurry to report, Li Shimin has arrived.
Kou Zhong sat in the Shaoshuai seat on top of the platform steps at the southern extremity of the main hall of the Shao Shuai Mansion, Wuming stood on his left shoulder, accepting the tender stroke from her master, whom she had not seen for a long time.
On the head seat to his right was Song Lu, followed by Xuan Yong, Song Bang, Song Shuang, Bing Yuanzhen, Ma Chang, Ba Yegang, and Bai Wenyuan; on the head seat to his left was Xu Xingzhi, followed by, in successive order, the ‘Li Shuai’ [Commander of the Li (tribe)] Wang Zhongxuan, Chen Zhifo, Ouyang Qian, Chen Laomou, Jiao Hongjin and Wang Xuanshu.
The other great generals either participated in the military campaign to siege Jiangdu or had other important tasks, hence were not in Liangdu.
Chenliu was presided over by Gao Zhandao, Niu Fengyi and Zha Jie, three men who came from the Shuang Long [Twin Dragons] Army, defending the frontline city of the Shao Shuai State, which was closest to the Tang Army.
Kou Zhong has completely recovered his usual self-confidence and calmness.
Xu Xingzhi was the first to report, “Liu Heita obtained Xu Yuanlang’s help, he was invincible in battle and has captured several cities in succession. Now he is confronting the fifty thousand Tang Army led by Li Yuanji, Li Shentong and Li Yi outside Raoyang City, Hebei, victory or defeat has not been decided.”
Frowning, Kou Zhong said, “Where did Li kid slip away to?”
Xuan Yong replied. “It is rumored that Li Yuan was dissatisfied with Li Shimin for letting Shaoshuai successfully breaking through the siege and returning to Liangdu, so he forcefully summoned him back to Chang’an to explain.”
Kou Zhong sighed and said, “Li kid’s life is in danger!”
Xuan Yong spoke in determination, “In that case, the north is no longer enough to be a concern, I dare say that Li Yuanji is not Liu Dage’s match, the day of his defeat can be counted with the fingers in one hand!”
Song Lu asked, “What is our stand toward Liu Heita?”
Kou Zhong replied respectfully, “Lu Shu, please note clearly, we will know about Liu Dage’s situation very soon. After defeating Li Yuanji, I am certain he will send his men to contact us. We are all brothers, what can possibly be inappropriate for us to discuss? The most important thing for us is to increase the bargaining chip in our hands, then our cooperation will be a bit more delightful.”
Seeing that he respected Song Lu so much, the various generals of the Song family and the Li Liao system all showed a relieved expression, because up to this moment, they still did not understand why Song Que suddenly had to leave everything and return to Lingnan. It would be strange indeed if that they did not have any doubts in their hearts. But now seeing the harmonious relationship between Kou Zhong and Song Lu, they knew that there was not any problem between Kou Zhong and Song Que, naturally they put down most of the load on their mind.
Kou Zhong said, “We all are on the same side, there is no need to conceal anything. Fazhu rushed back to Lingnan today, it was because in the decisive battle against Ning Daoqi, although they were unable to determine victory or defeat, but both sides suffer, hence he must return to Lingnan to recuperate. It’s not suitable for this information to leak, hence now that we all know about it, it’s enough.”
As soon as this remark was taken out of the steamer [idiom: emerge] it immediately provoked a sensation. Beyond Kou Zhong’s expectation however, not only it did not dampen their morale, on the contrary, it had the effect of promoting it, because Ning Daoqi was hailed as the number one master in the world, and Song Que was able to evenly divide the colors of spring [idiom: evenly matched] with him, hence it did not damage his reputation the slightest bit.
After dealing with a series of follow-up questions, the main hall returned to calm, everybody rubbed his first and wiped his palms [idiom: eager to get into action], waiting for Kou Zhong to announce his grand plan to unify the world.
The gloom in Kou Zhong’s heart was swept clean, knowing that everyone’s confidence in him was not under Song Que. His operation to move an army and send a general to unify the south would be carried out by the Shao Shuai allied army with their morale at the peak condition. On both sides of the Yangtze River, there would not be anybody able to withstand him anymore.
Turning to Song Lu, he said, “Before the three armies are moving, the rations and fodder must go first. How is Lu Shu’s situation in the logistics supply aspect?”
Song Lu smiled and said, “No matter to which place Shaoshuai is sending a punitive military expedition, I have the confidence that we will be able to deliver the material and natural resources unendingly from the source via land and water, two routes!”
Slapping the armrest, Kou Zhong let out a long laughter and said, “That should do it! We are going near first and far later. We will put Li Zitong and Shen Faxing in order first, and then sweep and flatten Fu Gongyou, and then take Xiangyang, suppress Xiao Xian and Lin Shihong at the Yangtze River, using nibbling away method to isolate and weakens them, while at the same time going all-out for the magnificent feat to replace the north. Blessings, we all share together, misfortune, we should not have our share in it, right?”
All the generals, whether they were from the Shao Shuai Army or the Song Family squad, or the Li Liao system’s various generals - responded in loud chorus, all agreed with one heart.
Li Shimin stretched out his hand and grabbed Xu Ziling’s tightly, he sighed and said, “Please let Shimin express my deepest remorse for Xia Wang’s [King of Xia] murder.”
He entered the hall alone, the personal guards coming with him stayed outside at the main hall, he was showing his trust in Xu Ziling with his actions.
Xu Ziling sighed inwardly, Li Shimin allowed Li Yuanji to act on his behalf to use Dou Jiande’s life and death to force Kou Zhong to surrender, there must be unspeakable secret troubles within it. However, when Kou Zhong jumped down the Luoyang’s city wall, the situation was no longer under his control.
Li Jing stood respectfully with his hand hanging down on the side.
Li Shimin said, “Ziling, please sit down first and then we talk.” He signaled Li Jing with his eyes, Li Jing tactfully withdrew outside the hall. He knew Xu Ziling’s personality well, he should not worry about Li Shimin’s safety.
Li Shimin took him to the round table and sat down, only then did he let go of his hand and said, “I heard that Liang Shidu’s son acquired a large number of Jiangnan firearms from the Haisha Bang, and that Ziling suspected this was Huangxiong’s [emperor brother] conspiracy to deal with me, Li Shimin, is that right?”
Xu Ziling nodded and said, “There is a high possibility that Liang Shidu belongs to the demonic school. Moreover, Er Wenhuan and Qiao Gongshan have appeared in the nearby Badong City. Adding up all these few spider’s thread and horse track [clues], my suspicion is absolutely not chasing the wind and clutching at shadows [idiom: groundless].”
And then he explained Yun Yuzhen’s complicated relationship with Xiang Yushan and the Haisha Bang one time through.
Muttering to himself irresolutely, Li Shimin said, “At first I did not believe it too much, but after hearing Ziling analyzing it so thoroughly, this matter is not impossible at all.”
And then he gazed deeply at him, the divine light in his pair of eyes brightened greatly, he said, “Ziling took the risk to come to Chang’an, is it just for this matter?”
Xu Ziling was silent for half a day, only then did he speak slowly, word by word, “I came to Chang’an this time is to ask clearly about Shimin Xiong’s intention, are you going to sit and wait for death, or are you going to do everything you can to fight back, for the sake of the common people of the world and the welfare of all the people, to throw out everything, including family and father and son and brothers’ flesh and blood emotion, to let the world be unified in your hands, so that you can be the bright ruler who love your country and love the people?”
The divine light in Li Shimin’s pair of eyes brightened even more, but the tone of his voice was extraordinarily calm, he spoke heavily, “Isn’t it too late for Ziling to say this?”
Xu Ziling shook his head and said, “I won’t conceal it from Shimin Xiong, I can’t give you a definite answer, I just know that I am doing my best. And the reconciliation between you and Kou Zhong is the only way to solve the imminent filling-the-entire-sky catastrophe that the Central Plains is facing.”
Without blinking at all, Li Shimin fixed his gaze at him, he asked, “Does Kou Zhong know about this?”
Xu Ziling replied frankly, “I haven’t had a chance to talk to him yet.”
Li Shimin stood up abruptly, he walked towards the main door, and strode out without looking back.
Xu Ziling looked at his disappearing back, his scalp went numb, his mind was a slice of blank space.
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