Da Tang Shuang Long Zhuan - Book 56 Chapter 12 – Putting The World First

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Book 56 Chapter 12 - Putting The World First

Translator: Foxs' Wuxia

After Kou Zhong and his subordinates, the imperial strategic adviser and great generals finished discussing and drawing up the military operations and the overall troops deployment in the attack on Jiangdu, the various generals received the orders and went their separate way to work. The vanguard troops, under Song Shuang and Wang Zhongxuan’s command, immediately set off by the waterway to the south.

After being busy for several days running, Kou Zhong was exhausted, he went back to his bedroom to meditate and rest. But less than half a sichen later, there was a knock on the door.

Kou Zhong was alarmed inwardly, wondering if it would be another bad news. He secretly sighed that being the leader was not an easy thing to do. He responded, “Xingzhi, please come in!”

Xu Xingzhi pushed the door and entered, he said, “Qingzhu Bang’s [Green Bamboo Gang] Xing Rong has an urgent matter asking for an audience.”

Kou Zhong hurriedly went to the outer hall to see Xing Rong. This kid wore a happy expression on his face, as soon as he saw him, he hurriedly said, “Li Zitong wants to surrender to you, LaoGe, Xiao Zhong is really formidable, even Li Shimin can’t do anything to you.”

Greatly delighted, Kou Zhong said, “Less nonsense! Why did Li Zitong suddenly become so listening-to-teaching and obedient? Where did this information come from?”

Xing Rong lowered his voice, pretending to be mysterious, “It was Shao Lingzhou, that old congee, slowly coming to us, lowering his voice, pressing down his air. But Li Zitong has conditions.”

Knitting his brows, Kou Zhong said, “What qualifications does Li Zitong have to talk about conditions with me? Doesn’t he know that I loathe him? I did not kill him, it can be considered his family mountain is blessed. His Niang’s! Humph!”

Xing Rong piled up a deliberately exaggerated smile, smiling apologetically, he said, “Shaoshuai, please calm down. His most important condition is to let him have one way to live. Ha! His Niang’s! Of course Li Zitong has no qualification to talk conditions with you. You don’t know how resounding your reputation is, we just have to raise your, Kou Shaoshuai signboard, who in the Great River region does not give us enough face? Knowing that you were not slaughtered by the Tang Army, Xiliang and I were so happy that we cried. Where’s Ziling? He is not here?”

Kou Zhong laughed involuntarily and said, “When did you become so exaggerating and giving a false picture of the situation? Ziling has a business he had to attend to, he went elsewhere. Enough chatting, what ghost fart is Li Zitong’s condition?”

Xing Rong replied, “Other things are secondary [orig. branches and knots], but the most important thing is that you personally escort him away from Jiangdu. He will only take about a small group of two hundred people from his family to leave Jiangdu, and the city will be peacefully handed over to you, he guarantees that no one will dare to rebel.”

Kou Zhong spoke in astonishment, “He wants me to send him away, what is it all about? Is it some crafty plot and machination?”

Xing Rong said, “What other trick can he play? Could it be that he dares to pick a fight with you? In the world, other than Ning Daoqi, I’m afraid no one dares to do that. No one knows the situation in Jiangdu City better than me, this is Li Zitong’s best choice, plus he can take along a great amount of his belongings.”

Kou Zhong did not understand, “Then why should he trouble me to escort him?” he asked.

Xing Rong replied, “Because he is afraid of Song Que. Your future father-in-law being ruthless toward the enemy is well-known throughout the world, only if you, Kou Dage personally guarantees his safety will Li Zitong feel relieved.”

Kou Zhong laughed and said, “You, this kid, have become very good at patting the horse’s butt [flattering], and you patted it so well that my old bosom feels very comfortable. Very well! For Shen Faxing’s sake, laozi will let him have a horse. Go back and tell Shao Lingzhou, as long as Li Zitong is obediently doing what he is told, I won’t have any interest to kill him. I will come outside the City of Jiangdu within three days, tell him to be prepared and ready to leave anytime. I don’t have the patience to wait outside the city.”

Xing Rong was puzzled, he asked, “What does it have to do with Shen Faxing?”

Kou Zhong replied indifferently, “Naturally it has to do with Shen Faxing. When Shen Faxing believes that we are going to launch all-around attack on Jiangdu, all water and land transportation to his Kunling will be cut off by us. By the time our soldiers are at the city walls, he will still be unaware of what is going on?”


When it appeared that Li Shimin was about to step out of the door, he suddenly slapped the door frame heavily with his palm, immediately the wood cracked and splinters splashed everywhere.

Waiting outside, Li Jing was shocked, he appeared immediately. Li Shimin pressed the back of his palm, which has just slapped the door frame violently, to his forehead, and spoke in pain, “I’m fine!”

Li Jing looked at Li Shimin, and then he turned his gaze toward Xu Ziling who was still sitting at the table in the middle of the hall. His expression heavy, he retreated.

Li Shimin’s breathing became rugged, and then he returned to Xu Ziling with a heavy footstep and sat down, and spoke with grief, “Fuhuang killed Liu Wenjing.”

Xu Ziling blurted out, “What?”

Liu Wenjing was a great minister who has given outstanding service during the Li Tang uprising, he participated in Li Yuan’s conspiracy to raise troops, has always been one of Li Yuan’s most trusted ministers, no matter what mistake he committed, his guilt should not deserve death penalty.

Li Shimin spoke in distress, “Liu Wenjing was falsely accused by Yin Zuwen and Pei Ji of plotting a rebellion, Fuhuang was still showing justice, he sent Xiao Jie and Li Gang to investigate. Even after both of them proved that Liu Wenjing was innocent, he was still sentenced to death. This matter happened when I was in the punitive expedition to Luoyang in the east, as a result, Li Gang was so discouraged that he resigned and returned to his native place to live in seclusion. Ay! How could Fuhuang become like this?”

Xu Ziling asked in a low voice, “Did Liu Wenjing often speak good things on Shimin Xiong’s behalf?”

Li Shimin nodded and said, “Indeed, toward our Great Tang, Jing Shu [uncle] only had meritorious service without any fault. His only error was perhaps the defeat in the battle of Qianshui Yuan [lit. shallow water plains], but didn’t Pei Ji suffer a crushing defeat from Song JinGang at Suoyuan? He lost the cities and towns north of Jinzhou. Not only Fuhuang did not blame him, he even sent him to guard Hedong. Since the uprising, Fuhuang has been trusting Pei Ji, his official position is even higher than that of Jing Shu’s. Now he even put Jing Shu to death. If only to deal with me, Li Shimin, Fuhuang is just too heartless!”

Xu Ziling spoke heavily, “Your esteemed father is forcing you to rebel, so that you could be charged with capital offense.”

Shocked, Li Shimin looked up.

Xu Ziling said, “Didn’t Shimin Xiong said that when you are back in Chang’an, you are going to lay out everything with your esteemed father? Have you done this?”

Li Shimin’s two eyes were fixed on Xu Ziling, yet it was as if he was not looking at him, he slowly shook his head.

Xu Ziling said, “I came here today to make this seemingly unfilial, rebellious proposal to Shimin Xiong, with only one purpose, that is, to save the Central Plains from the disaster of falling into division and the foreign bandits’ invasion! If Shimin Xiong nodded your head to give your promise, you won’t be doing it for your own honor and disgrace or life and death, rather, it will be for the happiness of all people under the heaven. The future destiny of the Central Plains lies in the mind of Shimin Xiong.”

Li Shimin’s pair of eyes somewhat regained its vigor, he said, “How are we going to solve Song Que problem?”

Xu Ziling said, “I will talk to Kou Zhong first, we will all think of a way, but can Shimin state your determination first?”

Li Shimin stared at him blankly.

With the rising sound of footsteps, Li Jing hurried over. He saluted and reported, “Qi Wang, Huai’an Wang, and Li Yi Zongguan Yu Fengxian fought a fierce battle under the wind and the snow occurring at the same time against Liu Heita in Raoyang, they suffered a terrible defeat, from fifty thousand men, only about ten thousand fled back to Youzhou. Huangshang is summoning Qin Wang to enter the palace and have an audience with him immediately.”

Li Shimin’s tiger-body shook, he reached out to grab Xu Ziling’s shoulder, he said, “Any information, please come to see me!” Finished speaking, he left in a hurry with Li Jing.

Xu Ziling put down half of the load in his mind, but the burden and the pressure on his shoulders increased without any letup. How would he say this hard-to-speak remark to Kou Zhong, to make him not to want to become the emperor, this arduous and unrewarding grand plan?

In the study room, Kou Zhong was reviewing and signing all kinds of documents, such as issuing decree, giving orders, making appointment, et cetera, a thousand ways and ten thousand types of documents, legal case and couplets, so busy until the sky turned hazy the earth turned dark. He could not help smiling bitterly at Xu Xingzhi waiting upon him by his side and said, “I wonder if Xingzhi could fake my signature for me? It would save me a lot of time, or perhaps I could sign without reviewing. I would rather fight a hard battle, it would not be this exhausting.”

Xu Xingzhi smiled and said, “Shaoshuai’s signature is like flying dragon, dancing phoenix, so powerful that it penetrates to the back of the paper, implying a method that others are unable to imitate, how could I fake it? If you want to manage a country well, although you could give your subordinates a free hand to do it, but at least you need to understand, so that you’ll know who executed it properly or did it poorly.”

Laughing in spite of himself, Kou Zhong said, “You are coaxing me; my signature is an irksome presence even for myself. This fact, I still some self-knowledge.”

Xu Xingzhi calmly replied, “That is not a problem, as long as it comes from Shaoshuai’s own hand, it is the highest command in our Shao Shuai State.”

Smiling wryly, Kou Zhong said, “In that case, my signature must be shameful, Xingzhi honestly confessed.”

Xu Xingzhi smiled and said, “That was not what I said at all, Shaoshuai’s signature has its own style, and because it is Shaoshuai’s own handwriting, any shortcomings become strong points instead.”

And then he added, “Xingzhi has one thing that I’d like Shaoshuai to consider. In fact, Xingzhi is representing the Shao Shuai State, from top to bottom, to put forward a proposal [to someone in senior position] to Shaoshuai.”

Kou Zhong asked in amazement, “What is so serious?”

Xu Xingzhi said, “Now the fortunate timing is ripe, all the officers and soldiers of the Shao Shuai State, from top to bottom in one heart, request earnestly for Shaoshuai to immediately proclaim yourself the emperor.”

Kou Zhong shuddered, he hastily said, “We will discuss this matter after the South is pacified.”

Xu Xingzhi was about to speak further, Song Lu arrived, he temporarily relieved Kou Zhong out of trouble.

Kou Zhong stood up to welcome him. After sitting down, Song Lu said, “Just received information from the north, Liu Heita’s remarkable ability dealt big defeat to Yuanji at Raoyang, his prestige is greatly aroused, those who respond to his call grow in number day by day. Guanzhou, Maozhou, both raised their city gates and surrendered. Today, Gao Kaidao, who had surrendered to the House of Tang, also publicly rebelled against the Tang, he reclaimed his title as Yan Wang [King of Yan]. In various regions, Jiande’s former subordinates are fighting to kill the government officials in response to Heita. Now the Liu Army is pressing straight to Zongcheng of Hebei. If Zongcheng cannot stand, I am afraid Li Tang will lose Xiangzhou, Weizhou and so on, in which case, Liu Heita could recover completely everything in Jiande’s Great Xia territory.”

Emotionally moved, Kou Zhong said, “Li kid is not there, who in the Tang Army could support the overall situation?”

Knowing it like the back of his hand, Song Lu replied, “Shentong and Yuanji have already become the generals of a defeated army, they don’t have enough qualifications to talk about bravery. At the present time, only Li Shiji’s army still has the strength to resist Heita in Hebei. However, Zongcheng’s defense is weak, it is easily isolated. In my opinion, Li Shiji definitely cannot last long.”

Kou Zhong nodded and said, “Not only he cannot last, but he will suffer a big defeat, not merely because I have confidence in Liu Dage, but also because Li Shimin was forcibly recalled to the Tang capital, his fate is difficult to tell. Therefore, the heart of the army is floating and adrift, the officers and soldiers have no fighting spirit. On Liu Dage’s side, they have the same anger and hatred toward the enemy; this side is weak the other is flourishing, how can Li Shiji not be defeated?”

Xu Xingzhi nodded in agreement.

Song Lu sighed and said, “What exactly is our relationship with Liu Heita?”

Full of confidence, Kou Zhong said, “We will know very soon, when Liu Dage completely recovers the former territory of the Xia Dynasty, he will definitely send someone to contact us, to convey his intention.”

Song Lu spoke heavily, “I understand that the friendship between you guys is not shallow, however, it’s hard to fathom a person’s mind. Liu Heita is no longer a great general under other people’s employment, but the supreme leader of those who follows him. He can no longer act based on his own likes and dislikes, but must give consideration to the whole situation.”

Standing behind Kou Zhong, Xu Xingzhi said, “We only need to see whether after beating back Li Shiji, Liu Heita will proclaim himself king or emperor, and then we can infer his intentions.”

Song Lu praised him, “What Xingzhi said makes sense.”

Kou Zhong’s heart sank straight down, thinking about his own situation, secretly musing that if he ordered his army to surrender to Liu Heita, it would be strange indeed if the Shaoshuai Army did not split up and in pieces immediately.

Smiling bitterly, he said, “Let’s not think about these things for now. In fact, Liu Dage has quite possibly saved Li Shimin’s life, because Li Yuan has no other choice, he has to send Li Shimin out of the Pass to meet the enemy head-on.”

Xu Xingzhi said, “Li Yuan forcefully summoned Li Shimin back to Chang’an, it is really unwise, not only he underestimates Liu Heita, but it will also affect the army’s heart.”

Song Lu smiled and said, “Li Yuan is just flying into a rage out of humiliation, his imperial concubines, none does not covet the precious treasure of Luoyang, they begged Li Yuan to issue imperial decree to confer them their share, who would have thought that Qin Wang has already bestowed the valuables and goods to those who made military merits in the Battle of Luoyang, which mostly consist of the people of the Qin Wang Mansion? This incident made Li Yuan greatly dissatisfied, which brought about this matter with far-reaching effect.”

Greatly astonished, Kou Zhong said, “How could Lu Shu know so clearly what happened in the Tang Palace? Even if you have spies in Chang’an, they should not be able to discover the inside story in this regard.”

Song Lu gazed deeply at Xu Xingzhi for quite half a day, only then did he say, “Because among the House of Tang’s cabinet ministers, there is someone who answers to us.”

Kou Zhong was shocked, “Who?” he asked.

Being tactful, Xu Xingzhi said, “Xingzhi has something to do, please excuse me.”

Kou Zhong raised his hand to stop him, he said, “Xingzhi, no need to withdraw from the discussion, you don’t have to avoid the seats, Lu Shu and I absolutely trust you.”

Song Lu said, “We are all on the same side, there is nothing that can’t be pushed aside and talked about, this person is Feng Deyi, Feng Lun.”

Hearing that, Kou Zhong was dumbstruck, but at the same time he suddenly saw the light; no wonder Feng Deyi’s action was so strange. He was standing on Li Jiancheng’s side, but took special care of Xu Ziling; Yang WenGan rose in revolt and Li Jiancheng received the blame, it was he who brave death to plead on Li Jiancheng’s behalf.

Song Lu explained. “Feng Deyi and Dage have friendly relations that surpassed life itself, they are like-minded even more, both have the heart to unify the Han people.”

Then he said, “Li Yuan forcefully ordered Li Shimin to return to the capital, there are other consequences that are unfavorable to Li Tang. For example, the hearts of the high-ranking military officers who originally belonged to Wang Shichong’s system and surrendered to the House of Tang will feel unstable. The Great General Zhang Zhenzhou, who is currently guarding Shou’an, once sent someone to see Ba Yegang in secret, saying that when Shao Shuai Army march into Luoyang, he would raise his troops to rebel against the Tang in response. In my opinion, there is no lack of person among Wang Shichong’s former subordinates with this kind of mentality.”

From Zhang Zhenzhou, Kou Zhong thought of Yang Gongqing, remembering the last wish before his death, he said ferociously, “I am definitely going to kill Li Jiancheng!”

Song Lu and Xu Xingzhi you look at me, I gaze at you, they did not understand why Kou Zhong suddenly burst out something that was completely unrelated to the topic at hand.

Seeing the two men’s expressions, Kou Zhong realized that his heart and spirit were not in sync, he hurriedly calmed himself down and asked, “How is the situation on Liang Shidu’s side?”

Song Lu calmly said, “Liang Shidu is entirely relying on the Tujue people’s support, himself, he is not enough to be a concern. He has invaded the south many times, one after another, but was always beaten back by the Tang army. The worst time was when he attacked Yanzhou, he suffered big defeat in the hands of the Tang general, the Zongguan of Yanzhou, Duan Decao, he was driven more than two hundred li away, and was forced to retreat to Weizhou. A few months later, Liang Shidu counterattacked, but was defeated by Decao. Liang Shidu, with only a little more than a hundred people broke the siege and escaped. However, there is an unconfirmed information, the impact may be even more far-reaching.”

Astonished, Kou Zhong asked, “What information?”

Song Lu said, “Liu Wuzhou and Song JinGang were killed by Xieli’s poisonous hands.”

Kou Zhong blurted out, “What?”

Recalling his past relationship with Song JinGang, his heart could not help feeling sad.

Song Lu said, “The birds are gone, the bowstring is put away; it has been like that since the ancient times. At present, Liang Shidu has become the most dominant hunting dog, claw and teeth [i.e. minion] of the Tujue people in the Central Plains, and in order to protect his life, Liang Shidu will have to nurture a closer relationship with the Tujue, he has to follow Xieli obediently. Under this kind of circumstances, Xieii’s invasion is just around the corner.”


Kou Zhong slapped his palm on the table, his pair of eyes shot divine light, he said, “I dare to guarantee that Xieli is not going to miss this frozen-over period. Through the Xiang Family, he knows the development of the situation in the Central Plains like the back of his hands; if he misses this once-in-a-thousand-years opportunity, Xieli will definitely regret it.”

Xu Xingzhi said, “With Li Shimin around, how can the Tujue people go on the rampage?”

Kou Zhong shook his head and said, “Don’t underestimate Xieli. If I were him, he would take advantage of the end of the frozen-over period, while we move our troops to the north, and Li Shimin strongly defending Luoyang - to invade. He regards the Central Earth as the prairie, avoiding the important and dwell on the trivial, by not attacking any cities, but only looting the village and county that do not have the power to resist, using battle to raise battle, and then go straight to Chang’an. They will support people like Liang Shidu to establish puppet-dynasty and disrupt our Central Earth.”

Song Lu nodded and said, “That is indeed worrisome.”

Kou Zhong said, “The other method is to divide the troops into several ways to go down south, and sweep both sides of the Great River. The prerequisite for this method is to kill Li Shimin first. Too bad Liu Dage’s uprising destroys Xieli’s wishful thinking.”

Frowning, Song Lu said, “No matter which method Xieli uses, it is difficult for us to deal with.”

Kou Zhong thought of Tuli, he spoke dejectedly, “We have no choice but to see a step, walk a step, we must not lose our head. I do have a strong point, which is: those things that I am unable to understand, I won’t think about it. Let’s wait until we pacify the south before talking about everything else.”

The sound of the Wolf Army’s iron hoof treading the earth, shaking the heavens and dragging the high mountains seemed to be rumbling loudly in their eardrums, and the place where the iron hoof trampled, there would not be half a cun happy place anymore.

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