Da Tang Shuang Long Zhuan - Book 58 Chapter 8 – Secret Weapon
Book 58 Chapter 8 - Secret Weapon
Translator: Foxs' Wuxia
Before going to Chi Shengchun’s banquet at Shang Lin Yuan, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling met in a teahouse in Beili.
Seeing Kou Zhong’s listless appearance, Xu Ziling was rather shocked; aghast, he asked, “Things went very bad?”
Smiling wryly, Kou Zhong said, “Not that dreadful yet, at least Li Xiuning did not lodge an accusation on me, she just could not accept the cruel facts that I described, she still did not want to make a decision. When I told her that Jiancheng, Yuanji would attack Shimin using firearms, she was even more skeptical. Ay! She unexpectedly did not trust me, it hurts my fragile heart.”
When he heard it, Xu Ziling’s eyebrows furrowed deeply, he said, “Did you tell her about the agreement that you and Qin Wang are planning to kill Jiancheng, Yuanji, and force Li Yuan to abdicate?”
Kou Zhong took a sip of hot tea, he spoke dejectedly, “If you were me, can you tell her that? I have not gotten the point yet, she already cried like a tear figurine. But from what I said, she should have guessed that I would never let Jiancheng and Yuanji off. Finally, she said that when Li Shimin comes back, she is going to ask clearly before making a decision. What a headache!”
Xu Ziling spoke heavily, “In that case, our plan to persuade Li Shentong through her, presently this road is blocked. Ay! It is indeed a headache! How can we resolve the crisis of Li Yuan wanting to put Fang and Du, two men to death?”
Muttering to himself irresolutely, Kou Zhong said, “This matter of persuading Li Xiuning must be resolved before Li Shimin returns to Chang’an. If we let her question Li Shimin, the real consequences will be unpredictable? If we can prove it to her first that such a batch of malicious firearms does indeed exist, and that Jiancheng, Yuanji does have the intention of killing Li Shimin, perhaps it can change her hesitant attitude.”
Xu Ziling pondered, “Liu Wenjing was executed, I wonder if it did not give her the slightest hint?”
Stunned, Kou Zhong said, “I forgot to ask her how she felt in this regard. Should I steal into the Palace tonight to ask her again?”
Astonished, Xu Ziling said, “Are you kidding?”
Kou Zhong spoke in distress, “Her crying made me heartbroken and lost, I nearly did not want to let her go.”
Xu Ziling said, “With regard to putting ourselves in her shoes, certainly she has difficulties left and right. This is a tragic event in her family, close kindred slaughtering one another! If you were her, in such a situation, how would you react?”
Kou Zhong sighed and said, “I’m most afraid that momentarily she cannot think straight, and go to Li Yuan to complain tearfully, it will be thoroughly terrible.”
Shaking his head, Xu Ziling said, “She definitely will not betray you, she won’t betray Li Shimin even more. Now that there is no alternative, we have to use the fact and let her see that this batch of firearms’ existence is absolutely true.”
And then he told him about the method that he and Ba Fenghan had discussed carefully.
Kou Zhong’s spirit was greatly aroused, but then he shook his head and said, “That won’t work! Are you saying I should take her to where the firearms are hidden and tell her, look! This is the ironclad evidence that your Da Wangxiong and your San Wangxiong are going to kill your Er Wangxiong [first, third, and second brother king, respectively]! In the first place, she might still think that we are swindling her.”
Xu Ziling said, “Finding the firearms’ hiding place is the first step. At that time, we will do as we see fit. She is a sensible person who understands what kind of person you, Shaoshuai Kou Zhong are. After all, there will always be twists and turns in this matter, the question is how we are going to solve it.”
Kou Zhong said, “I am bewildered by the situation, hence I worry about personal gains and losses; you are a bit more clear-headed. His granny’s bear! Let’s not think about her for now. Any new developments?”
Xu Ziling briefly summarized the latest situation, specifically mentioning about Hu Xiaoxian, acting on behalf of Hu Fo, wanted to borrow fifty thousand taels of gold.
Kou Zhong momentarily put Li Xiuning aside, he immediately returned to his usual quick-witted nature; he pondered, “Hu Fo is Ming Tang Wo’s Da Laoban. If Chi Shengchun can get three hundred thousand taels of gold, could it be possible that he can’t afford one hundred thousand? In my opinion, Hu Fo is colluding with Chi Shengchun and Yin Zuwen in this matter; this is a way to test what is true and what is false of our Furong Ye’s financial strength.”
As if he had just awakened from a dream, Xu Ziling said, “This time it’s your turn to be the outsider who can see things more clearly than those involved. We only thought that Xiao Jun should no longer flaunt his wealth. Chi Shengchun’s plan is rather clever. If we have to transport gold from elsewhere, it will prove that we only have five hundred thousand taels of gold, then they will figure out our foundation.”
Kou Zhong laughed and said, “That can be easily proven. Later on, if Chi kid sounds us out, it will prove that laozi’s guess is not incorrect. Let’s quickly think about it clearly, which answer should we provide?”
Xu Ziling laughed and said, “Even if our Furong Ye is the richest man in the north, his family background ample, able to circulate an unlimited amount of gold, five hundred thousand taels should not be too far away from that limit! To raise another fifty thousand taels would entail strenuous effort very much.”
Kou Zhong roared in laughter, slapped him on the shoulder, and spoke cheerfully, “Then that’s how we decide Furong Ye’s current familial property, to give Chi Shengchun the chance to carry out his crafty plots and machinations, together with Pei Ji’s official power, he will gradually nibble away our Zhen Guan Bank. You’ll see.”
Looking up at the sky, Xu Ziling said, “It’s almost time; there is one more thing that needs to be clarified, that is, I am a gambler [orig. du gui - gambling ghost] and you are a lecher [orig. se gui - color/beauty ghost].”
Hearing that, Kou Zhong was baffled, “What gambler, lecher? I don’t understand what you are talking about?”
Xu Ziling said, “To deal with the two of us, it won’t be anything apart from beauty trap and gambling deception, two moves. The beauty trap is for you to bear, the gambling is my responsibility. This is called division of labor and cooperation.”
Laughing involuntarily, Kou Zhong said, “I have never cared about the convenience over a beauty, I hope the goods Old Chi provides will be of the best quality.”
When the two arrived outside the Shang Lin Yuan’s main gate, Kou Zhong remembered something, he said, “Now Shang Lin Yuan’s laoban is Chi Shengchun, which divine figure was actually the previous boss? Why was he willing to let Shang Lin Yuan go? If we could figure out the situation on this regard, there may be new indications.”
Xu Ziling said, “This shouldn’t be a secret. When we have the opportunity, we could directly ask Qiao Gongshan or Er Wenhuan. I can also ask Feng Gong in passing tonight.”
Kou Zhong raised his eyebrows at him, he laughed aloud and said, “The loose days of spending our time in drinking and pleasure [idiom: to indulge in sensual pleasures / life of debauchery], as if drunk or entranced [idiom: leading a befuddled existence] are finally here!”
The two entered Shang Lin Yuan in big strides, so that a gorgeous horse-drawn carriage galloping over had no choice but to yield to the side, to allow the latecomers to enter one step ahead.
The big men guarding the door recognized the two, Cai Ye and Kuang Ye calls were incessant as they enthusiastically welcomed them.
The gorgeous horse-drawn carriage stopped in front of the stone steps of the main hall, Kou Zhong focused his eyes to look, the one stepping down from the carriage was surprisingly the second young master of the Sha family, Sha Chenggong, carrying the air of a big customer indulging in music and song every night, pompously climbing up the hall and entered in with the procures busily welcoming him.
Kou Zhong remembered the days when he was dressed as the ugly divine doctor in the Sha Family, a burst of warmth welled up in his heart, he even developed a favorable impression toward this second young master who was full of shortcomings.
The two were taken to the wing room that Chi Shengchun usually used. Er Wenhuan and Qiao Gongshan were already embracing their left and hugging their right in great delight. Seeing this, the two boys groaned inwardly; if the other side treated them with the same formula and call the other four girls to let them share the same blessing, it would make them to be at a loss on how to endure it!
Fortunately, beyond their expectation, Qiao Gongshan and Er Wenhuan unexpectedly dismissed the four women and called out to them to take their seat.
Only the young maids left to wait upon them politely, to take off their robe for them, and serve them fragrant tea, fine wine, and some delicacies.
The four men raised their cups to toast each other, just like friends who have known each other for many years, no outsiders could see that they could not even be considered drinking buddies [lit. friends of wine and meat], moreover, they even you hoodwink me and I cheat you.
Putting down the wine cup, Er Wenhuan said, “Chi Ye will be here a bit late, because Taizi Dianxia [His Royal Highness the Crown Prince] wanted to speak to him.”
Kou Zhong asked, “Taizi Dianxia returned in triumph today, isn’t there a banquet to celebrate a heroic deed in the palace? How could you have the free time to come here?”
Qiao Gongshan laughed and said, “For the time being, it is only to bestow reward to the three armies. The banquet to celebrate a heroic deed will have to wait until Qi Wang and Qin Wang return, and then it will be held together. At that time, Huangshang will have an important matter to announce; all the promotions, conferring titles, and so on, will have to wait for that time. As for the important matter to announce, please forgive Xiaodi for keeping it secret for the time being.”
Seeing his immensely proud, full of confidence manner, the two boys immediately guessed that Li Yuan’s announcement would be greatly detrimental to Li Shimin. Evidently, as soon as Li Shimin returned from the south to Chang’an, he would fall into the inferior position of taking a beating, if it had not been for them, this wonder troops, it was almost certain that Li Shimin would not be able to turn things around.
Er Wenhuan wanted to show off his power, while also wanted to fawn on them, he cheerfully said, “Qiao Daren and I will report your Da Laoban, Shen Xiansheng and your, two Dage’s names to Taizi Dianxia; when the time comes, you will receive the invitation.”
As if he was adding salt and vinegar, Qiao Gongshan said, “This state banquet is not only a grand occasion in our Great Tang, it is also a major international event even more, Bi Xuan and Fu Cailin are also invited to attend. Such a once-in-a-thousand-year golden opportunity, where could we find it? This distinguished meeting will enable us to see with our own eyes the elegant manner of the two out of three grand masters of the world for the first time.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling pretended to be shocked and were greatly excited; they seized this opportunity to ask questions. Kou Zhong asked, “Shang Lin Yuan is the most magnificent pleasure house that we, brothers, have ever visited; I wonder who is Shang Lin Yuan’s Laoban?”
Surprised, Er Wenhuan said, “Two gentlemen unexpectedly did not know that Chi Ye is Shang Lin Yuan’s Laoban?”
Pretending to be stunned, Xu Ziling said, “Isn’t Chi Ye the Six-Happiness’ Laoban?”
Qiao Gongshan laughed and said, “What I am telling you now is falling-forward-and-pouncing-without-any-doubt truth, the casino boss can become the pleasure house boss, but it will be very difficult for a pleasure house boss to become a casino boss. Two gentlemen are sensible men, you should understand what I mean.”
Laughing involuntarily, Kou Zhong said, “Who was the pathetic Laoban who lost Shang Lin Yuan’s ownership?
Lowering his voice, Er Wenhuan said, “This person should be very familiar to you, he is the Longtou [boss/chief] of the Huang He Bang [Yellow River Gang], the ‘Da Peng’ [great roc] Tao Guangzu. This person is a high-class gambler, staking a thousand pieces of gold on one throw and his countenance did not change; he himself was also an expert in such matters. However, there is always a higher mountain ahead, his gambling nature was aroused, unexpectedly he staked Shang Lin Yuan for a hundred thousand taels of gold. After a few rounds, Shang Lin Yuan came to our Chi Ye’s hands.”
Kou Zhong quickly added, “I have met Huang He Bang’s ‘Hong Ying Qiang’ [Red Cherry Spear, lit. ancient spear decorated with a red tassel] Xi Jie.”
Xu Ziling was amused inwardly. Kou Zhong did see Xi Jie; it was during the time when they followed Guan Ping on board the Da Dao She [main street agency] ship, sailing up north with the Pingyao merchants, Xi Jie of the Huang He Bang chased via the waterway, looking for Guan Ping’s other identity, ‘Duan Chu’ to give him bad luck, they met face-to-face across a distance. Fancy that Kou Zhong remembered the other side’s name, since he nearly forgot the whole thing [see Book 37 starting in Chapter 10].
Qiao Gongshan nodded and said, “Xi Jie and Fan Shaoming are Tao Guangzu’s Left and Right Vanguard Generals, respectively, together with the Fu Bangzhu [deputy gang leader] ‘Living Zhuge’ Wu Sansi, they are known as the Huang He San Jie [three greats/heroes of the Yellow River]. Huang He Bang has had well-off days once; in the past, the shipping escort business along the Yellow River was all under Tao Guangzu’s control, too bad that now they face head-on challenge and are overwhelmed by Da Dao She, whose power is expanding continuously. The head of the Northern Bodyguard [or Escort] Agency was replaced by Qiu Qipeng of Da Dao She, and Qiu Qipeng is precisely Chi Ye’s sworn brother.”
Hearing that, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling you look at me I gaze at you, inwardly they both said, ‘So that’s how it is’. In that case, Qiu Qipeng was most likely jackals of the same tribe [idiom: just as bad as each other] with Chi Shengchun. They even suspected that Da Dao She’s Feng Ba was the one betraying Ou Liangcai and the others, Pingyao merchants, causing them to fall under Bai Ziting’s extortion and blackmail.
Changing the subject, Xu Ziling asked about Ji Qian.
Er Wenhuan sighed and said, “That lass is indeed the pinnacle in both looks and art, no wonder you, Kuang Xiong keep her in mind constantly. At the moment she is not in Shang Lin Yuan, I heard that she went home to visit her family. Fortunately, Chi Ye arranged for Qing Xiaojie to serve wine tonight, her good look is by no means inferior to Ji Qian. When you see her, you will know that Xiaodi is definitely not bragging for her.”
Qiao Gongshan stood up and said, “Chi Ye is here!”
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling had already heard his footsteps early on, but they pretended not to know; hurriedly they stood up to welcome him. Toward Miss Qing who Er Wenhuan mentioned, they practically did not have the slightest care.
Chi Shengchun apologized and took his seat. After a noisy exchange of pleasantries, two beautiful courtesans with out-of-the-ordinary good looks came to offer their skills and sang two folk tunes. They were quite skilled, but to Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling, who were accustomed to listening to Shang Xiufang or Shi Qingxuan, respectively, naturally they did not feel anything outstanding.
After the two courtesans withdrew, Chi Shengchun chuckled and said, “People have the very wonderful interaction between people; for some reason, as soon as I saw the two gentlemen, I feel like we are of kindred spirits, my heart is very happy.”
While cursing in his heart, Kou Zhong assumed an air of being overwhelmed by favor from superior, saying, “Chi Ye thinks highly of us, it is our good fortune.”
Qiao Gongshan said, “With Chi Ye as friends, two gentlemen certainly you want to have wind you get wind, you want to have rain you get rain - in Chang’an; who would dare to offend Chi Ye‘s brothers?”
Er Wenhuan said, “I wonder what good things Taizi Dianxia said to Chi Ye?”
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling were amused inwardly, knowing that a good show was still to come; the three men before their eyes were singing in harmony, they wanted to highlight Chi Shengchun’s power in Chang’an as much as possible, that he had close relationship with Li Jiancheng, and things like that. Naturally their intention was to make threats and promises to win them over.
Chi Shengchun casually said, “Taizi Dianxia was just talking about usual things. On the banking business however, Taizi Dianxia is a bit skeptical, so I have no choice but to spend some lips and tongue to convince him.”
Turning to the two boys, he said, “I heard Hu Xiaoxian went to see your Da Laoban this morning, I wonder if two gentlemen have any knowledge of this matter?”
Lowering his voice, Er Wenhuan laughed in flattering way and said, “Chi Ye’s feeling toward that flirty goods Xiaoxian has not disappeared yet?”
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling came to understand. Chi Shengchun was not only weighing the two boys’ importance; if they had a deep relationship with Situ Furong, he must sound out the two boys’ attitude towards him. From this, they knew that their analysis was confirmed to be correct; Hu Fo, father and his daughter indeed joined forces with Chi Shengchun on this matter, hence Chi Shengchun was very clear about the fifty thousand taels of gold.
Pretending to be stunned, Kou Zhong said, “In that case, wouldn’t Chi Ye and our Furong Ye have become rivals in love? But Chi Ye need not worry, Hu Xiaoxian went to see Furong Ye only for the glistening yellow gold, not for Furong Ye‘s person.”
Catching on, Xu Ziling said, “Ay! She, Da Xiaojie spoke a word, and it strained us hard; raising five hundred thousand taels of gold is already not an easy task at all. We have to collect and transport them from banks and pawnshops all around the country, now suddenly we must raise another fifty thousand taels; it will give us another round of headache!”
Qiao Gongshan also pretended to be stunned and said, “Hu Xiaoxian unexpectedly borrowed money from your laoban?”
Kou Zhong said, “She said it would be used temporarily for the cashflow. In my opinion, she should have seen that Furong Ye was the golden tortoise. One would know one’s own family affairs, even a mountain of gold will one day be exhausted. In order to raise five hundred thousand taels of gold, no one knows how strenuous it was for our Furong Ye.”
Knowing Kou Zhong’s character, Xu Ziling was afraid that the more he spoke, the more he would get over the top, hence he hurriedly cut in, “Although Furong Ye has a strong family background, but the pawnshops in various places must continue to operate, we can’t just empty all capitals.”
Chi Shengchun’s pair of eyes revealed a happy expression, but it disappeared in a flash; he said, “Da Laoban really regards two gentlemen as his trusted aides, he doesn’t hide anything from two gentlemen.”
Kou Zhong found a new bragging target, he hurriedly nodded and said, “Our close relationship with Furong Ye has been put to the test and was established over a long period of time. Wentong and I are very clear about public for public and private for private; we only know that we throw our life in for Furong Ye, when it comes to money, there is absolutely no ambiguity nor do we show any interest in it.”
Er Wenhuan said, “In transporting the gold, I wonder if our Chang Lin Army need to lend a hand? Two gentlemen only need to say the word, Xiongdi will definitely manage it properly for you.”
Xu Ziling snickered secretly, you, this guy, are trying to find the whereabouts of the gold in a roundabout way. Revealing a grateful look, he said, “Two Daren are indeed true friends, but the big deal has already been accomplished, the small deal, we, brothers should be able to handle it, no need to trouble Daren.”
After Chi Shengchun obtained the important information that he needed, he put on an air of using a long line to catch a big fish [idiom: a long-term plan for major returns], raising his cup, he said, “All those Hu Xiaoxian, Fu Rongye, or what have you, let’s put them all set aside, tonight belongs to us, brothers. Come! Have another cup.”
Everyone raised his cup and toasted each other.
Putting down the wine cup, Chi Shengchun clapped his hands to get the attention of the waitress guarding the door, and then he whispered something in her ear. The waitress took the order and leave. Unexpectedly Er Wenhuan reached out to pinch her fragrant butts; he even laughed heartily, acting extremely proud of himself.
Qiao Gongshan burst out in laughter and said, “Lao Er, this is called your lecherous nature is not changing. You are not afraid that she will tell on you to Chunxiang [lit. spring fragrant]? I guarantee that you will have to pack your back and leave before you finish eating.”
Perhaps it was because Er Wenhuan remembered Chunxiang that Qiao Gongshan mentioned, acting weird, looking weird, he clucked his tongue, laughed lewdly, and said, “Don’t worry about me. Chunxiang is now clinging to me, totally submissive. This is the benefit of superior skill in bed.”
Chi Shengchun blurted out laughing at the top of his voice, he said, “In Wen [culture/literary/civil/’pen’], there is no number one. In Wu [martial/military/’sword’], there is no number two. This saying being applied to our, menfolk’s skill in bed, is even more accurate. Those who agree that skill in bed is not as good as others, please raise your hands.”
His remark immediately provoked the whole audience’s rowdy laughter.
Kou Zhong’s heart was moved, he asked, “This Chunxiang that two Daren mentioned, is she a Xiaojie under Chi Ye’s banner?”
Qiao Gongshan laughed and said, “I should say that she is one of the most popular Guniang.” Turning to Er Wenhuan he asked, “Lao Er, how many days have you not been home?”
Without the slightest care, Er Wenhuan replied, “Don’t remember!”
Everyone burst into laughter again.
Suddenly, there was the jingling noise of girdle ornaments, followed by a fragrant breeze.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling turned their heads to look, immediately their hearts were shocked.
They saw a beautiful woman in magnificent dress, her head combed into a small knife bun, red-purple and green trim was added to her white long-sleeved upper outer garment, half-sleeved green back buttoned jacket, plain yellow cape, and a vermilion-colored long skirt trailing on the ground, supported by a young maid, as if she was delicate, soft and powerless - stepping lightly into the wing room.
Chi Shengchun took the lead to stand up; welcoming her, he said, “Qing’er, come quickly! Let me introduce you to the two new appointees in Chang’an.”
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling exchanged glances, immediately putting on an act of their soul being hooked, they stood up together to welcome her.
The newcomer was not a stranger, but Wanwan’s Shimei [younger martial sister] Bai Qing’er. Chi Shengchun dispatched Bai Qing’er to deal with them, they knew that he determined to win the bank business.
Xu Ziling recalled Bai Qinger’s entire body was full of moxibustion needles in some kind of demonic school’s secret technique training, immediately he felt shivers though not cold. Relying on her method and good looks, to bewitch any man would be as easy as a hand’s turn. The demonic school not only could use her to deal with Li Yuan, but also to deal with Li Jiancheng or Li Yuanji. This move was more formidable than a magnificent army with thousands of men and horses.
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