Da Tang Shuang Long Zhuan - Book 58 Chapter 9 – Too Late to Be Sorry

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Book 58 Chapter 9 - Too Late to Be Sorry

Translator: Foxs' Wuxia

Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling returned to the Situ Mansion after the first watch [7-9pm], everybody in the mansion was asleep except for Lei Jiuzhi. Lei Jiuzhi stayed in the lobby with his eyelids closed waiting for them, seeing their return, all sleepiness disappeared, he blurted out. “Come in! Come in and report in detail. I knew you couldn’t hold back and wanted to come back to sleep!”

Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling happily walked over to the round table at the center of the hall and sat down. Kou Zhong laughed and said, “We only come back for a short visit, because there are martial art masters who follow us from the Six-Happiness straight to this place, ay! It would be nice not to go out again. It seems like I have not had any good sleep for a long time.”

Lei Jiuzhi pointed at Xu Ziling and said, “You won money! Right?”

Xu Ziling seized this opportunity to flatter him, he said, “How could Chi Shengchun hide his tricks from Lei Dage? Chi Shengchun deliberately lost to me, the amount of silver I won was about double the amount I lost at Ming Tang Wo last night.”

Speechless, Lei Jiuzhi said, “Wouldn’t it be nearly a thousand taels of Tongbao? Chi Shengchun is really a big spender.”

Kou Zhong asked, “Does Lei Dage know the Huang He Bang’s ‘Great Roc’ Tao Guangzu?”

Lei Jiuzhi replied cheerfully, “Not only I know this gambling ghost [i.e. gambling addict], I even gave him a few pointers on gambling skill. Apart from the fact that when he is gambling, he would not recognize his own family, he is actually a person who talks the way of righteousness.”

Xu Ziling laughed and said, “Lei Dage seem to have met most of your friends at the gambling table.”

Immensely proud of himself, Lei Jiuzhi said, “This is called gambling all over the world!”

Kou Zhong told him about Tao Guangzu losing Shang Lin Yuan first, and then he said, “I don’t know what Tao Guangzu looks like? Is there a way to turn Ziling into Tao Guangzu? If it is feasible, I have a new plan to use one move to win four gains.”

Lei Jiuzhi sighed and said, “Tao Guangzu is at least a head shorter than Ziling, plus his appearance is unique, even if Lu Shi [Master Lu, referring to Lu Miaozi] came back, he would have his hands bound and be unable to do anything about it.”

Kou Zhong said, “Destitute leads to change, and change leads to success. How about just turning Ziling into Tao Guangzu’s son, going into battle in place of his father, making a comeback?”

Knitting his brows, Lei Jiuzhi said, “Since Chi Shengchun already obtained Shang Lin Yuan, would he be so stupid to place Shang Lin Yuan as a bet?”

Kou Zhong said, “Chi Shengchun will be a thousand willing, ten thousand willing, as long as the bet is the Huang He Bang‘s entire shipping escort business. First of all, he definitely does not believe that he will lose, or perhaps he does not believe that Xiang Gui will lose to a name-not-encountered-in-the-classics [idiom: nobody] son of a defeated general under his hands. Since Tao Guangzu can send his son, naturally he can send his Ol’ Die.”

Emotionally moved, Lei Jiuzhi said, “To be able to force Xiang Gui to show up, that is definitely one gain. What are the other three gains?”

Smiling wryly, Xu Ziling said, “You put me on the gambling table again. If I miss my hand, wouldn’t it mean that we implicate Tao Guangzu to lose his family fortune?”

Kou Zhong spoke with ample confidence, “You treat Xiang Gui like Ba Fenghan treats Er Wenhuan, surely ten grabs nine steady [a cinch]. This is called how do you catch the tiger cub without entering the tiger’s lair [idiom]? When the gambling excitement is rising, you want to stop but can’t, so you up the ante. As long as you win one hundred or eighty thousand taels of gold more from Chi Shengchun, it will drive his capital to its critical stage, surely he will make mistakes, and then we will have the opportunity that we can exploit.”

Lei Jiuzhi was puzzled, he asked, “I still don’t understand why Chi Shengchun simply must bet on Huang He Bang’s business?”

Kou Zhong explained, “Because Qiu Qipeng of Da Dao She and Tao Guangzu are fighting over the Yellow River business until you die, I live, and Qiu Qipeng is precisely Chi Shengchun’s sworn brother. Even more likely, Qiu Qipeng belongs to the demonic school. By helping Tao Guangzu defeating Chi Shengchun, we indirectly strike at Qiu Qipeng, and probably striking the demonic school as well. This will be the first two of the three gains.

After a short pause, he continued, “The fourth gain is to get the Huang He Bang to stand on our side, which will be beneficial without any harm to us. Lei Dage thinks this is feasible?”

Lei Jiuzhi said, “It’s hard to say, we will have to get Lao Tao’s approval. But if you tell him that you have formed an alliance with Li Shimin, the chance of success will increase tremendously. Anybody who is not blind should know that the final victory will belong to you. The question is, at the current state, how can I spare time for a separate task?”

Kou Zhong laughed and said, “Are you forgetting the fifty thousand taels of gold? As the Situ Mansion Zongguan [chief/manager], naturally running errands is your responsibility.”

Shaking his head, Lei Jiuzhi said with a sigh, “You make things more and more complicated; I hope you won’t make a mistake.”

Kou Zhong, dressed in tight nightwalker outfit, his head covered in black cloth, leaped up to the snow-covered horizontal branch of the old tree overlooking the small multi-story building where the secret tunnel was hidden at Yin Zuwen’s rear courtyard. The tip of his toes tapped lightly, without leaving the least bit of trace, he soared up, traversing the nearly ten zhang distance, relying on his unique skill of changing the direction of his true qi high up in the air to continue, and landed on the roof tile of the small building without making any noise. Seven or eight vicious dogs guarding the mansion, out of instinct, appeared out of nowhere, and circled the small building.

Kou Zhong jumped in fright, hastily he curbed his pores to prevent his body’s qi from leaking out the slightest bit. Fortunately, this pack of vicious dogs was well-trained, since they did not smell anything different, unexpectedly they did not bark, only they refused to leave.

The dog may be new arrangement, most probably it was to guard against Shi Zhixuan. Currently, no one in the demonic school was not afraid of the isolated Shi Zhixuan coming to look for them to give them bad luck.

With Kou Zhong’s current skill, of course he did not consider the vicious dogs worthy in his eyes, he came to the Yin Mansion this time was to verify the situation of the secret tunnel. If Li Yuan was frightened and sealed the secret tunnel for his entertainment, their big plan to assassinate Zhao Deyan would suffer serious setback, the difficulty level would be greatly increased; therefore, they had no choice but to be particularly careful. Right this moment, a shrill whistle was heard from inside the residence, hearing it, the vicious dogs went away, one and all.

The corridors of the Yin Mansion were illuminated by the wind lanterns, but he did not see anybody patrolling the area. In the other buildings, large and small, the lanterns were dark, the fire black, quiet without any noise.

Kou Zhong’s ears listened to eight directions, suddenly he somersaulted down the eaves. Utilizing his true qi, he unleashed the striking-the-ox-over-the-mountain style to open the door, and entered the upper floor through the window. Stepping into the small hall on the upper floor, Kou Zhong closed the window first before walking downstairs to the lower level. The layout was unchanged, giving him a familiar feeling.

Kou Zhong inspected the situation. When he was sure that the secret tunnel was just as before, suddenly the alarm went off in his heart. Hurriedly he threw himself by the window, and looked towards the main residence.

Two figures appeared before his eyes. On the left was Yin Zuwen, and the other was unexpectedly the Western Tujue’s Teacher of the State Yun Shuai, whom Kou Zhong had not seen for a long time; he had never thought that Yun Shuai would appear here.

A strange feeling surged in Kou Zhong’s heart. If the one walking with Yun Shuai was Li Jiancheng, Li Yuanji, or even Li Yuan, he would only feel as if it was proper and to be expected as a matter of course. However, now unexpectedly it was the villains colluding together [idiom] with Zhao Deyan - Yin Zuwen, showing clearly that he was relying on the Eastern Tujue’s strength for help. Even if he pondered until his head burst, he would still be unable to figure out the relationship between the two.

This small building must be the best place in Yin Zuwen’s Mansion to conduct secret shady business, or perhaps it was his favorite place; only this time he was not here to have a tryst with Wen Caiting, but to discuss official business with Yun Shuai.

Without daring to hesitate, he rushed up to the upper level. If they climbed the stairs, he had enough confidence that he would be able to leave one step ahead. Such a golden opportunity, unexpectedly he was willing to miss.

Inside the study room of the Feng Mansion.

Finished listening to Xu Ziling’s brief report on the recent developments, Feng Deyi said, “Ziling asked me to check something, and I have made a bit of progress. On the surface, there does not seem to be any problems, Liu Hongji and Yin Kaishan received a tip-off and reported it to Li Yuan, they suspected that it was Shi Zhixuan’s hiding place, hence they took action at night; who would have thought that they pounced on empty air.”

“Who are Liu Hongji and Yin Kaishan?” Xu Ziling asked.

Feng Deyi spoke glibly, “They are men who have followed Li Yuan for many years, fully trusted by Li Yuan, in charge of the city defense of Chang’an, their authority and responsibilities are very heavy.”

His brows knitted, Xu Ziling said, “They don’t seem like people from the demonic school, where did the tip-off come from?”

Feng Deyi replied, “The tip-off came from Longxi Pai’s Paizhu [sect leader] Jin Dazhuang. This is even harder to guess, because Chang’an is their flower pot, where they have numerous eyes and ears, so it is not surprising that they noticed Shi Zhixuan’s lair.”

Xu Ziling spoke in distress, “Could it be that this precious clue is cut off just like this?”

With a card up his sleeve, Feng Deyi said, “Give me a bit more time. Longxi Pai’s ‘Jian Langjun’ [Sword Lad] Wei Jiaqing has a special relationship with me, he owes me a favor for saving his life. As long as I pretend that it was Li Yuan who sent me to investigate, I guarantee that he will cooperate.”

Delighted, Xu Ziling said, “In that case, I will have to ask Feng Gong to do it.”

Feng Deyi said, “In the past few years, I have spent a lot of time trying to understand the struggle among the Li Tang’s factions. I originally planned to use it to drive a wedge between them in order to help Song Xiong. Now we can use it for another purpose, it is turning to trying to figure out who we can win over, and who we should win over.”

Xu Ziling spoke cheerfully, “I would like to hear the details.”

Feng Deyi said, “The first and the most critical thing is Liu Hongji and Yin Kaishan who I mentioned just now. As long as during the uprising they hold back their troops without moving, the whole matter will become a battle between us and Jiancheng and Yuanji, a situation which will be completely beneficial to us.”

Frowning, Xu Ziling said, “Since these two men are loyal to Li Yuan, how are we going to move their heart?”

Feng Deyi calmly said, “They are both loyal and patriotic men; moreover, they know whom to rely on to win the Li Tang’s world, and they are very dissatisfied with Li Yuan being deceived by the Taizi and Feipin [crown prince and imperial concubines, respectively] factions, it’s just that they dare to be angry but do not dare to speak. If we could create some kind of situation, for example, Xieli going down south on a large-scale invasion, they will be forced to choose to throw their lot to Li Shimin. Coupled with Kou Zhong’s prestige, I am 90% sure that we could win them over into our camp.”

Xu Ziling spoke cheerfully, “In that case, assassinating Zhao Deyan becomes circumstances that require action [idiom] even more.”

Feng Deyi nodded and said, “Precisely. Chang’an’s city defense can roughly be divided into two major systems: the Jinwei [imperial guards] and the Chengwei [city guards]. Like I said, the latter is under Liu and Yin, two men’s command, and the Jinwei is under the jurisdiction of the four major commanders, taking turn to be on duty. As long as we have one of the four commanders standing on our side, we could carry out the uprising when he is on duty, then we will be able to fully control the key moment, half the work, twice the effect [idiom], without needing to attack the Xuanwu Gate, the Xuanwu Gate will fall into our hands. Ay! But in this regard, I really don’t have any confidence, because any Jinwei commander is not only someone that Li Yuan trusts, but must receive recommendation from the Taizi and Feipin factions as well.”

Xu Ziling thought of Kou Zhong’s old friend Chang He, but he belonged to the Crown Prince Faction. However, Kou Zhong might have a way to persuade him.

He said, “We are not completely without any hope yet, Chang He has been through trials and tribulations together with Kou Zhong, he even felt that in other matters, Li Jiancheng’s favor is like daily changes of the temperature, perhaps Kou Zhong can move him.”

Feng Deyi spoke with delight, “If that’s the case, why worry that the big matter will not succeed? During the uprising, these three men will be the most critical figures. After the uprising, someone within the imperial court must respond to make Li Yuan know that the great momentum is gone, so he will not mobilize his men to counterattack. Therefore, we must win over several cabinet ministers of the imperial court with the most weight [i.e. importance, not obese 😊].”

Heaving a sigh, he revealed a pondering look, and said, “In my mind, the men that we can win over must be loyal and righteous people who have been leaning toward Qin Wang for a long time, and have the courage to speak good words on Qin Wang’s behalf. In addition to Xiao Yi and Chen Shuda, there are also Yu Shinan [558-638, politician of Sui and early Tang periods, poet and calligrapher, one of the Four Great Calligraphers of early Tang], Tang Jian, Wen Yanbo, Liu Zhenghui, Cen Wenben, Dai Song, and Li Xiaogong. Among them, Li Xiaogong is a member of the royal family who bears the heavy responsibility for Li Yuan’s personal security. To persuade him, Li Shentong must be the one making the move. About your effort to persuade Li Shentong, did it go smoothly?”

In his heart, Xu Ziling sighed secretly and said, “It still takes some time.”

Feng Deyi said, “In the fight for support, Li Shentong is the most critical figure. If he is willing to stand on our side, with him stepping in to lobby the several high-ranking cabinet ministers I just named, it will get the efficacy of half the work, twice the effort, hence there is no room for failure.”

Xu Ziling nodded and said, “I understand.”

To persuade Li Shentong, they must obtain Li Xiuning’s support first, but Li Xiuning could not make up her mind, she even wanted to question Li Shimin, which made them no longer have the confidence about the development of this matter. How could they solve this problem?

Yin Zuwen and Yun Shuai entered the lower floor of the small building, Kou Zhong quietly slipped out through the window, used his old skill to close the window again, flipped over the snow-covered roof tile, and focused all his attention to eavesdrop.

Yin Zuwen’s voice sounded from the lower floor, “This is a quiet place for me to get away and think, a good place to talk.”

Yun Shuai said, “Just now, before entering the Mansion to look for Guo Zhang [state older friend], I went around and noticed the small building in this remote corner, I just did not think that it would be Guo Zhang’s place of retreat.”

Then came the sound of people sitting into the chair.

On the roof, the alarm suddenly went off in Kou Zhong’s heart, he hurriedly hid on the other side of the roof ridge, lying low without making any movement, without daring to stick out his head to look. Relying on his hearing ability, by listening to the gust of wind, he knew that there were three nightwalkers with outstanding skill approaching quickly, leaping over the wall and coming in.

Inwardly Kou Zhong gained a sudden understanding. No wonder just now someone recalled the dog, not only because Yin Zuwen was meeting Yun Shuai, but also because there were other visitors as well. He just happened to run into Yin Zuwen’s secret meeting; certainly Heaven helps me. Naturally the visitors never thought that there was someone on top of the small building’s roof; moreover, it was the Kou Shaoshuai whose name shook the world, who was supposed to be in the south in some military expedition. They went straight to the lower floor of the small building, Yin Zuwen and Yun Shuai stood up to greet them.

Beyond Kou Zhong’s expectation, the voice of the Crown Prince of the Great Tang Li Jiancheng was heard, “Guoshi [teacher of the state], no need to be overly courteous. The year before last, we have had a quick meeting, two years passed so quickly, Guoshi’s elegant manner is still as before.”

And then he introduced his attendants, unexpectedly they were Xue Wanche and Feng Liben, both were Li Jiancheng’s most competent trusted aides, great generals.

Yin Zuwen said, “We are all on the same side, no need to have any scruples in talking.”

The sound of everyone sitting into the chairs rang out again.

“How is the situation in the south?” Yun Shuai asked.

Li Jiancheng was silent for half a day, he sighed and said, “Were it not for Shimin deliberately let Kou Zhong go, how could today’s situation develop to this extent? Our Great Tang is unfortunate to produce Er Wangdi [second king (younger) brother], this traitor. One day we don’t get rid of him, he will be a calamity within our bosom.”

Kou Zhong cursed secretly in his heart, this was called the crime of greedy for more, any danger need not be mentioned. The fact was that if it had not been for Li Shimin, he had already deployed his army through Hanzhong to attack Chang’an. He could not help but thinking that if he had known that there would be this secret meeting tonight, he would take Li Xiuning along to witness it; it would have been better than wasting thousands of words of argument.

Yun Shuai said, “I heard that Shao Shuai Army was like a gale sweeping the fallen leaves, putting Li Zitong, Shen Faxing, and Fu Gongyou in order, one after another, is that true?”

Xue Wanche replied, “That is true. However, as a result, the Shao Shuai and the Song Family’s coalition forces suffered heavy casualties, temporarily they are powerless to attack north. Du Fuwei’s Jianghuai Army are stationed south of Xiangyang. Once the spring is warm, the flowers blooming, Taizi Dianxia will personally lead the army to go into battle to subdue the South.”

Feng Liben said, “Currently, Kou Zhong and Song Que are going all-out to attack Lin Shihong. If Lin Shihong is defeated, Xiao Xian will be isolated and without help, the world’s dispute will become a dispute between our Great Tang and Kou Zhong.”

Hearing that Kou Zhong was amused inwardly, losing the Xiang Family’s intelligent network spreading all over the world, Li Jiancheng’s side could no longer grasp accurate information.

Li Jiancheng asked, “Guoshi is coming to Chang’an this time, were you able to hide from Xieli’s eyes and ears?”

Yin Zuwen cheerfully said, “There is definitely no problem. It was not until Guoshi came to An Long, and then through An Long he notified me, that I knew that Guoshi has come to meet the appointment.”

Hearing that, inwardly Kou Zhong on the back of the roof was severely shaken. Listening how Yin Zuwen publicly mentioned An Long, one of the Eight Major Martial Art Masters of the Demonic Way, he could infer that Li Jiancheng was knowingly cooperating with the demonic school, working together to deal with Li Shimin.

Lowering his voice, Li Jiancheng asked, “How many people are coming with Guoshi this time?”

Kou Zhong was greatly astonished. What shameful shady business were Li Jiancheng and Yun Shuai carrying out?

Yun Shuai spoke heavily, “Altogether we have more than a hundred people, all have gone through my personal training, adept in secret attack and assassination. Taizi Dianxia only needs to give your order, they can immediately enter the city and go into action.”

Kou Zhong felt as if the chill soaked his entire spine. Why did Yun Shuai obey Li Jiancheng so much? What was secret agreement between them?

Because Yun Shuai and his men were the wonder troops that no one would have expected, if not for he, with no plan, no prior knowledge, coming across this matter, the boat capsized inside the gutter, and he still would not know what had gone wrong.

Right this critical moment, warning signs reappeared in his heart.

Aghast, Kou Zhong looked at the old tree outside the courtyard wall. From the top of the tree, a shadow split the air, coming toward him, the long sword pointed forward, the target of the attack was precisely him, Kou Zhong.

In just one glance, he already recognized that this his-entire-body-covered-in-nightwalker-attire, his-head-covered-in-black-cloth uninvited guest was precisely his old enemy, the ‘Shadow Assassin’ Yang Xuyan. Immediately his soul flew away and scattered, thinking that this time it was extreme joy turning to sorrow, fully believed that he could overhear Li Jiancheng and Yun Shuai’s comprehensive evil scheme, who would have thought that it was a calamity in his armpit [idiom: danger in one’s own backyard]? Suddenly it was like falling from the heaven to the eighteen layers of hell. If his identity, Kou Zhong was revealed, the whole situation would be completely reversed, he could no longer maintain the the-enemy-in-the-light, I-am-in-the-dark advantage.

Thinking about it, he knew that he was careless, it was clear that Yang Xuyan was protecting Li Jiancheng in the dark, and to ensure that no one was following him even more!

Things had come to this, it was too late to regret.

When he thought about the top plan of the Thirty-Six Stratagems, if all else failed, flee - in his mind, his body already flipped over down the roof.

In the small building, one after another Yun Shuai and the others realized suddenly and shouted.

Kou Zhong seized the moment while the other side has not seen his figure clearly to flee like an arrow toward the area of the Yin Mansion where the buildings were close together, but one would know his own family affairs; competing against Yang Xuyan’s Huan Mo Shenfa, he definitely could not win, racing against Yun Shuai, whose qinggong shook the area inside and outside the Great Wall, he definitely could not run faster. If he was entangled, besieged by these two major martial art masters, forget about escaping, even saving his own life would be impossible, let alone hiding the Shaoshuai Kou Zhong identity.

This is called one wrong thing, the whole tray is lost.

Things had come to this, what else could be said?

He flew along the corridor at top speed. Suddenly a black shadow appeared ahead, blocking his way. Inwardly Kou Zhong called for Niang! He increased his speed and pounced forward, he only hoped to break through the barrier in one fell swoop and escape to Yong’an Canal. That would be his only way to survive.

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