WebNovel Da Tang Shuang Long Zhuan Book 55 Chapter 6 – Cannot Bear to Look Back

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Book 55 Chapter 6 – Cannot Bear to Look Back

Translator: Foxs’ Wuxia

Hou Xibai came to Kou Zhong’s other side, he spoke cheerfully, “The snow will transform the heaven and earth into a pure white, clean and beautiful world. Huh? Why is Shaoshuai’s face looks so bitter?”

Feeling the delight of the snow falling on his head, Xu Ziling laughed and said, “He is worried about being the emperor.”

Hou Xibai blurted out laughing and said, “That is the question that we, ant people – don’t have any qualifications to worry about.”

Kou Zhong dejectedly said, “Frankly speaking, that is not the trouble that bothers me the most. What makes me most heartbroken is that Song Yuzhi will never forgive me! Both of you are experienced persons, Xiaodi‘s qianbei, I wonder if you can think of a way for me?”

Hou Xibai spoke with serious expression, “If you want a woman to forgive you, there is only one thing you can do, which is to do something that will touch her heart that she will forget everything. Usually for me, I paint a painting and write a poem, that would be more than enough.”

Kou Zhong said, “I don’t know how to write and paint, let alone to recite poetry, how am I going to move her heart? Is it possible to play the Eight Methods of the Well from the first move all the way to the eighth move, or to take her to watch me fight a battle? I am afraid it will produce the opposite of the desired result.”

Hou Xibai said earnestly, “Of course you must prescribe the right medicine for an illness [idiom], only then will it show results. What kind of person the Song Family’s Miss [xiaojie] actually is, what are her likes and dislikes?”

Revealing an ashamed look, Kou Zhong said, “She is a good woman who perseveres with principles and ideals, her character strong, but gentle and soft and affectionate. As for what she likes, hey! Xiaodi has not spent any effort in this regard.”

Not to mind taking all the trouble [idiom: to take great pains], Hou Xibai pursued to the bottom of this matter by questioning closely, “In that case, what principles and ideals does she have?”

Kou Zhong cleared his throat and spoke in embarra.s.sment, “This is purely some kind of feeling. I actually know one and understand half [idiom: a smattering of knowledge] about the real way of thinking in her innermost being. Because she misunderstood that I am proposing marriage to her Song family was a political conspiracy, all along she is unwilling to forgive me. Moreover, within the Song family she belongs to the peace faction, she does not want the Song family to be drawn into the war.”

Hou Xibai stared blankly at him for half a day, he smiled bitterly and said, “In that case, do you really love her?”

Xu Ziling answered on his behalf, “At first, he might be uncertain and had not enough affection, but now I am sure that his affection is deeply rooted. Yuzhi Xiaojie is a peace-loving and war-averse person, she has the heart that bemoans the state of the universe and pity the fate of mankind. Therefore, seeing Kou Zhong is warlike for fear that the world is not chaotic enough, she feels antipathy. To have her impression on Kou Zhong completely turned around, there is only one way.”

Greatly delighted, Kou Zhong said, “Tell me, quickly!”

Xu Ziling spoke indifferently, “I just have a faint feeling that there is a way to reverse the rotation of the sky, but I am not yet able to grasp its substance. Later on, when my thought can flow freely, I will let you know! There’s a common saying, ‘metal and stone yield to power of sincerity’ [idiom: no difficulty is insurmountable if one is sincere], as long as your love to her is able to withstand the test, there will come a day when she will forgive you.”

Hou Xibai patted Kou Zhong’s shoulder and said, “Ziling’s words contain deep truth in it. We will help you figure out the best way to make the Song Family beauty change her mind toward you.”

Kou Zhong spoke helplessly, “I am totally relying on you! Ay! The contradiction and confusion in my heart is exasperating. I want to throw everything away and go to see her, but I am afraid I would provoke her antipathy.”

Xu Ziling said, “Your top priority now is to put boy-girl love affair aside, make an effort to have enough preparation in order to obtain the final victory. Don’t think that drawing the defense map of Chang’an is an easy task, rather, it is difficult and hard mission. Li Yuan stations ma.s.sive military force at the Xuanwu Gate, the main gate behind the Palace City, under the direction of the imperial guards, to get there and step on public venue is impossible. Therefore, even if we could launch surprise attack in the city, victory is not necessarily guaranteed. The worst case will be: before occupying any one of the city gates, the enemy strikes and defeat us first; then the outcome would be too horrible to contemplate.”

Kou Zhong said, “Do you remember that day I went to Liu Zhenghui’s Ministry of Works to borrow the map of the buildings in the city-blocks and alleys near Yue Ma Bridge in the name of research? Inside the scroll room, there is another secret room, sealed with an iron lock. I asked Liu Zhenghui what was hidden inside, he replied that only Li Yuan is allowed to enter, so he wasn’t sure himself. My guess is that it contains Chang’an city’s the military deployment map, therefore, if we can go to the secret room and lead away a goat while pa.s.sing by [idiom: to opportunistically pocket somebody’s possessions and walk off], we can save a lot of work.”

With lingering fear, Hou Xibai said, “We are going to sneak into the Palace City again? Isn’t that a joke?”

Full of confidence, Kou Zhong said, “Going to the imperial palace to steal things, naturally it is more difficult than ascending to heavens, but outer imperial city is another matter altogether.”

Xu Ziling spoke in displeasure, “Supposing you enter the palace from the secret path, from the exit you grope your way to the outer imperial city. That is the most heavily guarded palace where Li Yuan lie down; what’s the difference between the imperial palace or outer imperial city?”

Kou Zhong said, “When the time comes, surely I will come up with a solution. I came from little thief background, I am more adept in stealing things rather than drawing a map.”

Xu Ziling said, “It’s late! We must have a good rest, when we wake up, we should reach Zhongli already.”

Kou Zhong sighed and said, “Ay! I really don’t want to see Meiren’er Bangzhu, she hurts my heart too much!”

Hou Xibai said, “She is now just a pitiful woman who look up and see no-one familiar [idiom: not having anyone to rely on, without a friend in the world], alone and helpless. You ought to forgive her and treat her well.”

Without any enthusiasm, Kou Zhong said, “Xiaodi receives instruction. I hope I can have a series of beautiful dreams tonight to make up for my frustration and helplessness in real life!”

The heavy snow continued to fall, both sides of the river were a vast expanse of whiteness.

The next day, Kou Zhong and others’ boat arrived in Zhongli, Bu Tianzhi heard the news and came to welcome them. Using a horse-drawn carriage, he took the four men to enter the city in secret and went straight to the Zongguan Mansion.

After they were seated in the main hall of the mansion, he invited Lei Jiuzhi for a meeting.

Bu Tianzhi reported first, “Now that the situation in the south has changed drastically, Li Zitong, Shen Faxing, Fu Gongyou, Xiao Xian and others are in danger; they are afraid of becoming our next target. In Jiangdu, the people’s heart and mind have changed even more. Since Liangdu was attacked and suffered, plus losing Zhongli, Gaoyou, and more than a dozen cities in the vicinity, and Zuo Jiangjun surrendered and paid allegiance to our side, the officers and soldiers under Li Zitong’s command are very dissatisfied with him. As long as we increase the pressure and cut off his waterway traffic, Li Zitong will be defeated without a fight; his allotted share is just to flee for his life.”

Remembering Chen Changlin, Kou Zhong asked about Shen Faxing and Shen Lun, father and son’s situation.

Bu Tianzhi said, “Shen Faxing and Lin Shihong are fellow sufferers empathize with each other [idiom: misery loves company]. Since the Song Family’s Army captured Hainan, Song Zhi commanded the Liao Army, he split it in two ways and pressed on Shen Faxing and Lin Shihong, they continuously nibble away at their surrounding territory, their power steadily deteriorates.”

Kou Zhong laughed and said, “Wait till I persuade Ol’ Die to support us publicly, I dare say that among their men, a large number of people will surrender without a fight, just like the history of the Battle of Luoyang repeating itself.”

Xu Ziling asked, “How is Ol’ Die and Fu Gongyou’s relationship?”

Bu Tianzhi replied, “The two men openly broke off relations with each other, because Fu Gongyou used despicable means to kill Du Fuwei’s number one fierce general w.a.n.g Xiongdan, seized the military leadership of Danyang, and allied himself with Xiao Xian and Lin Shihong. If not for Fu Gongyou has misgivings toward us while Du Fuwei extraordinarily holding his troops without moving, they would have cut each other’s throat and surely would wage war against each other.”

Kou Zhong asked in astonishment, “Aren’t Xiao Xian and Lin Shihong in hostile relationship?”

Bu Tianzhi replied, “Xiao Xian’s biggest misgivings right now is us, other things become secondary.”

Muttering to himself irresolutely for half a day, Kou Zhong asked, “I wonder if Zhi Shu knows the grat.i.tude and grudges between Changlin and Shen Lun?”

Bu Tianzhi said, “You are asking the right person! What I know is not what Changlin told me, but what I heard from the side.”

Xu Ziling sighed inwardly, what happened to Chen Changlin must be very painful, hence Chen Lianglin was unwilling to raise it up again.

Bu Tianzhi continued, “Shen Faxing is from Jiangnan’s aristocratic family, big clan; his father, Shen Ge was the Sui dynasty’s provincial governor of Guangzhou, and as the son he inherited his father’s job, was appointed as the old Sui’s Junshou [senior provincial official (in imperial China)] of Wuxing [district, Huzhou city, Zhejiang]. In those years the whole country was in rebellion, warlords unmasked their pole to rebel against the Sui, Shen Faxing received Yang Guang’s order to join forces with Taipu Cheng [deputy of grand servant in imperial China, one of the nine ministers] Yuan You to suppress Jiangnan’s militia of the various ways. Chen Changlin also came from prominent family of Jiangnan, for many generations they ran shipbuilding business and engaged in commercial trade with the Southeast Asia region. Although not as ill.u.s.trious as Shen Faxing’s Clan, they were also people with head and face. Disaster began when Chen Changlin married a beautiful woman Fu Youlan, who had reputation as Jiangnan’s talented girl, making Shen Lun, who has always wanted to get his hands on her – held a grudge. On the wedding night, he led an army to attack the Chen Mansion, falsely accusing him of rising a militia army, and ma.s.sacred the people of the Chen Clan. Chen Changlin and his clansmen scattered in all directions to flee. Fu Youlan was humiliated by Shen Lun and committed suicide. Changlin’s father and mother, his older and younger brothers, none was lucky enough to escape this battle, therefore, his hatred against Shen Lun is as deep as a sea.”

Hearing that, righteous indignation filled Kou Zhong’s breast, he spoke ferociously, “The day I returned from Chang’an will be the day Shen Lun receives his death. His granny’s! Unexpectedly there is such a beast without any human character in the world.”

Astonished, Lei Jiuzhi said, “In such the-wind-blow-and-the-fire-intense moment, why does Xiao Zhong still want to go with them to Chang’an?”

Kou Zhong explained to him briefly, and then he asked, “Have you found out the account book that Han Zenan hid?”

Lei Jiuzhi said, “This matter is of a grave importance, I am intending to go myself. As soon as you guys are leaving, I will immediately set off.”

Kou Zhong spoke happily, “This time the Xiang kid will be in trouble. Based on the information in the account book, we can look for a fine horse using only a picture [idiom: to try and find something with the help of a clue] and catch all the troubled people in one fell swoop, and then completely eliminate the Xiang family.”

“How’s Yun Yuzhen’s condition?” Hou Xibai asked.

Bu Tianzhi sighed and said, “She lives in an independent courtyard in the back garden of the Zongguan Mansion, being neighbor to the Han Clan’s family of three. She never steps out of the courtyard gate even for half a step, we do not dare to disturb her, but Xiao Jie’er often comes to play with her.”

Hearing that, Kou Zhong said, “It seems like this is not an appropriate time for me to see her, right?”

Xu Ziling knew that he still had ill-feeling toward Yun Yuzhen. In this kind of things, it was difficult to force him. Shrugging his shoulders, he said, “It’s up to you!”

Kou Zhong surrendered; he said, “All right! I’ll pay her a visit before we go to Liyang to see Ol’ Die.” Turning to Lei Jiuzhi, he said, “Any new development on the Grand Plan to Punish the Xiang?”

Lei Jiuzhi said, “Of course we hold the pearl of wisdom. As long as you, Kou Shaoshuai unify the world, without wasting any strength to blow away the dust [idiom: as easy as pie], we could pull up the Xiang Family by the roots.”

Yin Xianhe spoke heavily, “Xiang Gui is mine.”

Kou Zhong laughed and said, “Xiang Gui is yours, Xiang kid is mine. We all are provided for, to everybody’s delight and satisfaction.”

Lei Jiuzhi asked, “Which route are you going to take to enter the Pa.s.s?”

Xu Ziling replied, “We haven’t thought about that problem yet. Lei DaGe has any good suggestion?”

Lei Jiuzhi said, “The account book’s hiding place is in a small town in Bashu, if you guys enter Guanxi via Hanzhong, then we all will have companion.”

Kou Zhong nodded and said, “Hanzhong has become the key to our attack on Chang’an. On the way to the Ranch, deep understanding of the situation in the city is necessary.”

Turning to Xu Ziling, he said, “Ling Shao need not accompany me to Liyang. It would be better for you to return to Niang’s little valley for a visit, if Song ErGe is really there, try to persuade him to come with us to pay a visit to Meiren’er Changzhu, I am sure that when he gets to the Flying Horse Ranch, he will indulge in pleasure and forget home and duty [idiom], Niang’s soul and spirit in heaven will also be a bit more peaceful.”

As soon as he heard that, Xu Ziling understood immediately, he cheerfully said, “In that case I will head for Hanzhong with Xibai and Xianhe one step ahead.”

Rising to his full height, Kou Zhong said, “It’s decided then, I am going to pay a visit on Meiren’er Bangzhu!”

That evening, with the addition of Lei Jiuzhi, the five people took an ordinary two-masted merchant ship and sailed eastward along the Huai River into the Li Ca.n.a.l towards the Great River. Although the weather was crisp, cold and unusually chilly, the snow still had not conquered the mother earth before their eyes.

This section of the waterway was all under the absolute control of the Shao Shuai Army, any ships pa.s.sing by must apply for a pa.s.s from the Shao Shuai Army.

It was difficult for Li Zitong to rectify the climate, his momentum was gone, his strength exhausted, he was barely able to defend Jiangdu, which was as precarious as a pile of eggs [idiom]; without troubling Kou Zhong to attack, it was likely that it would collapse on its own.

Recalling Li Zitong’s prestige when he first occupied Jiangdu, how could Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling not sigh with sorrow?

Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling stood side by side at the bow of the ship, thinking about the past events, all sorts of feelings welled up in their heart.

Kou Zhong sighed and said, “Precisely on this section of the Great River that we, in order to evade Yuwen Huaji’s pursuing troops in the past – plunged into the river from the cliff bank over there, and were almost drowned to the bottom. Niang rescued us and repelled Yuwen Huaji.”

The sailboat entered the Great River, Xu Ziling cast his gaze toward the opposite bank that Kou Zhong was talking about, injuring-the-spirit-breaking-the-soul feeling welled up in his heart, he was silent without saying anything.

Kou Zhong said, “From here, the first big city is Danyang. Do you remember? Niang went sightseeing around the city with us, she even went to p.a.w.n something, and after getting some silver taels, she treated us at a restaurant, where we met Song ErGe. At that time, we were terribly jealous. Ay! If we knew not to take the waterway but took the land route instead, Niang would not have to … ay!”

Xu Ziling looked up at the night sky, remembering what Shi Qingxuan said, he mused inwardly that if Niang returned to the constellation of stars, which star belonged to her?

Kou Zhong was deep and distant in his painful yet touching memory; he said, “Thinking that in those days we were just two insignificant hairy-headed kids, but now we have become figures who stomped on our feet to shake the world, we did not fail to live up to Niang‘s expectations of us. Thinking about it, there must be a master in the underworld; Niang hated Han people so much, yet toward us, she treated us favorably, what is it if not fate? If I unify the world in the future, I will certainly treat Niang‘s people well and redeem what Yang Guang, that b.a.s.t.a.r.d fellow’s evil deeds toward them!”

Xu Ziling said softly, “Didn’t you say you don’t want to be the emperor?”

Kou Zhong spoke dejectedly, “That’s what I want, but hope and reality are two quite different things that always run in the opposite direction. You know my plight better than anyone. Ay! The contending-for-hegemony-over-the-world path that I take is the road of no return, not for personal likes and dislikes, but the sake of the welfare of the common people of the world, and there is no turning back. Just like the vile relationship between Zhizhi and me, no one can change it.”

“Why don’t you give the throne to Song Que?” Xu Ziling asked.

Smiling bitterly, Kou Zhong replied, “Not only did he refuse to accept it, he even forbade me from mentioning it again in the future.”

Stunned, Xu Ziling was speechless.

Kou Zhong said, “The way I see it, Song Que is the type of person with a cold face and warm heart. For the sake of maintaining the Han people’s unity and not to be invaded and ravaged by outside tribes, he practically does not consider the emperor’s throne as worthy in his eyes at all. I nearly forget, he once mentioned Shi Zhixuan’s Bu Si Yin Fa, pointing out that it is a variation and fantasy method of demonic power, which is similar to what Shi Zhixuan said himself. You know Shi Zhixuan better than I do; do you have any particular feeling to what he said?”

Xu Ziling’s tiger-body shook, he revealed a thoughtful look.

Changing the subject, Kou Zhong said, “No matter how difficult, Ziling must get Song ErGe to see Meiren’er Changzhu.”

Smiling wryly, Xu Ziling said, “That must be Song ErGe’s own decision; are you saying that I must force him to go?”

Kou Zhong a.n.a.lyzed, “The dream that ErGe is pursuing does not exist. You and I know better than anyone else, Niang has never taken Song ErGe to heart.”

Xu Ziling said, “The problem is that I don’t have the heart to expose this fact to ErGe.”

Kou Zhong nodded in agreement, he said, “Fortunately, Song ErGe is really moved by Shang Xiuxun. This matter still stands a good chance.”

Xu Ziling knitted his brows in deep thought.

Kou Zhong said, “There must be a way to persuade ErGe, for example, stir up his chivalrous heart, make him feel that we are going to rescue Shang Xiuxun, not just as simple as to meet her.”

Xu Ziling spoke in displeasure, “You want me to lie to ErGe? This lie will be exposed one day.”

Kou Zhong said, “No need for Ling Shao to lie, just exaggerate the facts a bit. Ay! Why don’t I go with you!”

Xu Ziling spoke heavily, “Turns out all along you are trying to find an excuse not to go back to visit Niang.”

Hot tears gushed out of Kou Zhong’s pair of eyes, he spoke in distress, “Because I am afraid to go back. One day I am not coming back, Niang seems to be free and at leisure living in that secluded valley. But when facing her tomb, all dreams will evaporate like a soap bubble.”

Xu Ziling reached out to put his hand on Kou Zhong’s shoulder, he said with a bitter smile, “Before seeing Niang, you already cried like you are not a man. After so many years, Yuwen Huaji has already become a cup of loess, you still cannot accept this fact?”

Kou Zhong spoke with a sob, “Hate will forever be alive.”

Suddenly lantern light appeared ahead.

The two boys were not in the mood to care; in fact, they did not even care about it.

In the dim of the night, two medium-sized warships sailed speedily to meet them head-on, they even rang the bells ordering their boat to stop.

One after another the Shao Shuai Army on the boat took their battle position as they entered a state of emergency. Yin Xianhe, Hou Xibai, and Lei Jiuzhi rushed out of their cabins to the deck. The warriors lifted up the cowhide concealing the catapult and crossbow arrow machine, waiting in tight formation.

The two sides gradually approached.

Kou Zhong raised his sleeves to wipe away his tears, ignoring the horrified gaze of Lei Jiuzhi and the others coming to the two boys’ side, he thundered, “Laozi is Kou Zhong, on my way to see Du Fuwei, who dares to stop me? Immediately kill them without mercy!”

His voice spread far away, shaking the Great River.

The warriors shouted in unison in response.

Who would have thought that the two enemy ships unexpectedly did not yield the slightest bit, they still sailed forward to meet them head-on?

———-

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