Legend of Great Tang’s Twin Dragons - Volume 47 C6
Book 47 Chapter 6 – Night Talk On The Battlefield
Xu Ziling reached Cijian at dusk, Wang Shichong’s army of twenty-five thousand men entered the garrison in succession and pitched camp on both sides of the city. On the other side, Li Shimin set up his stronghold outside Luo Shixin’s wooden stronghold, on the high hill where Kou Zhong and Yang Gongqing stood yesterday to observe what is true and what is false on the enemy’s camp, so that the two stockades were corresponding to each other. Translated by foxs
This moment the work to fortify their camp on both sides was proceeding in furious pace that the sky turned dark and the earth black. Xu Ziling reported his name and his purpose of visit at the main gate of the middle army camp, the soldier guarding the gate immediately flew to report to Kou Zhong, who was in a secret meeting with Wang Shichong and various great generals. Kou Zhong welcomed the report in great delight.
The two boys met at the stronghold’s gate, both felt as if it was a lifetime ago.
Sweeping his eyes around, Xu Ziling saw that the guards, far and near, none did not have their gaze focused on the two of them; he spoke in low voice, “Let’s go outside to talk.”
Kou Zhong wrapped his arm around Xu Ziling’s shoulders, pulled him out of the camp, and said, “I had just won a small victory today, killing the enemy nearly a thousand men, so that Wang Shichong, that old fox is so happy that he is unable to close his mouth. I am now more and more confident that I can beat back Li kid; if you are willing to help me, this battle’s odds of success will increase.”
Smiling wryly, Xu Ziling said, “This time I am coming not to help you fight the battle, but for another important matter. Ay! Toward Li Shimin, you must never, ever underestimate the enemy, otherwise next time I might come back here only to collect your body.” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Kou Zhong helplessly said, “I also know that Ling Shao, you, the Senior, can’t possibly change your mind, it’s just that I can’t help expressing the desire in my heart. Without you by my side to chat and laugh and toot my horn, my days are very difficult to pass. One lifetime, two brothers, but each one take his own way, certainly fate is toying with people. Aren’t you supposed to impersonate Situ Furong to swindle Chi Shengchun? How come you have the spare time to come for Xiaodi?”
Xu Ziling smiled wryly without saying anything.
Staring blankly, Kou Zhong said, “You are not coming to persuade me to withdraw from the contention over the world, are you?”
Scoffing, Xu Ziling said, “I don’t need to waste my time explaining, you are a pigheaded fellow. Come!”
Unleashing the power of their feet, they ran fast to the north.
Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, “We haven’t competed in leg power for a long time, let’s see who can run a bit faster.”
He ran after Xu Ziling. The two boys, one in front of the other, swept swiftly as if they were flying, like shooting stars toward the depth of the darkness where the light from the camps on either side could not reach. When Xu Ziling reached a small hill that was over three li away from both camps, he suddenly stopped at the top.
Kou Zhong came to his side and said with a laugh, “Good kid! Just a little bit more, and I won’t be able to catch you.” Translated by foxs
Xu Ziling replied cheerfully, “I can’t throw you off either.”
Kou Zhong reached out and put his hand on Xu Ziling’s shoulder, he pulled him forcefully into a hug. Pointing to Li Shimin’s camp, he said, “Tang Army’s training is excellent, their discipline is strict and impartial, something that I have never encountered in the Central Earth. Tomorrow I might stake it all against the Li kid until you die, I live on this vast battlefield, I want to see how formidable is his Dark-Armored celestial soldier?”
Xu Ziling asked in surprise, “Didn’t you say that you just won a battle against him? Why did you sound like you haven’t fought hand to hand against the Li kid?”
Kou Zhong sighed and said, “Today I only waged war against Old Qin and Old Cheng’s vanguard units, plus the victory was by luck, all because Luo Shixin has just surrendered to Li Shimin; in his eagerness to render meritorious service, he gave Xiaodi small advantages.”
Changing the subject, Xu Ziling asked, “Old Ba has not come to you?”
Kou Zhong laughed and said, “He went to see his first love, I am afraid whatever happens, he would linger for a while, ha! I hope the tender sentiments are not going to guide him back to the right path. It would be great if he does not lay down his Stealing the Heaven Sword and live the mandarin duck life, in which he does not need to envy the immortals!” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Xu Ziling laughed and cursed him, “Turns out you, this kid, are selfish and harboring bad intentions. Old Ba is willing to settle down with a woman, you should be happy for him instead.”
Kou Zhong sighed and said, “You ought to know that I am just joking. What kind of a man Old Ba is, no one knows better than you and I. Ha! Less nonsense talk; the Yin kid, that strange guy, did he come to Chang’an to seek Chi Shengchun to give him bad luck?”
Xu Ziling’s face clouded over, he spoke dejectedly, “There is still no trace of him; I am worried.”
Kou Zhong said, “In this kind of matter, worrying is useless, without any better option, we can only hope that Heaven helps the worthy. What important matter brought you here this time?”
Xu Ziling said, “This matter is hard to explain in a few words; let’s sit down and talk.”
The two sat down. Xu Ziling cast his gaze at the brilliant sky above the Cijian City in the distance on his left, he spoke indifferently, “I came across Shi Zhixuan in Chang’an, I even fought with him.”
“What?” Kou Zhong blurted out.
Xu Ziling narrated his encounter by count of fives and tens [idiom: systematically and in full details], and finally said, “If we wait until Shi Zhixuan is fully recovered from his injury, when you and I meet him, we will undoubtedly die. Shi Zhixuan’s demonic power already reached perfection, even Zhu Yuyan was still some distance away from him.” Translated by foxs
Thinking deeply, Kou Zhong said, “That is only natural, otherwise Zhu Yuyan would not need to use the move burning both jade and common stone to kill herself. You are most familiar with Shi Zhixuan, is there a way to break his Bu Si Yin?”
Shaking his head, Xu Ziling replied, “I only felt some slight clue, but I do not dare to be certain whether it will be effective or not. The problem is that his Huan Mo Shenfa and Bu Si Yin have fused into one; there is practically no gap to find, not a void to exploit.”
Kou Zhong spoke resolutely, “I don’t believe he could really become an invincible demon; as long as he is still a human, there will be weaknesses. For instance, Zhu Yuyan’s burning both jade and common stone could inflict heavy losses on him. Now that his internal injury is not healed yet, there’s greater possibility that your fierce battle against him affected his internal injury. This is a one in a thousand years opportunity to kill him, plus we know where he is hiding.”
Xu Ziling stared at him hard, he spoke heavily, “Can you spare time for a separate task?” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Kou Zhong cast his gaze toward Li Shimin’s camp, he said, “If my brother Xu Ziling has difficulties, I, Kou Zhong, can put anything aside.”
Xu Ziling said, “Things have slight or important, urgent or non-urgent [idiom]; if you just leave like this, you will let Yang Gongqing down. Moreover, when I get back in Chang’an, I may be transformed into Situ Furong, so for the time being, there won’t be any danger.”
Kou Zhong dejectedly said, “You are right. I really should see how the battle here is progressing, before I can decide when to get away and return to Chang’an to join hands with you to slaughter Shi Zhixuan. Once the main problem is solved, all troubles are solved. The longer we haven’t wiped out Shi Zhixuan, the longer it will cause no end of trouble.”
Xu Ziling also told him about Ling Longjiao being pursued and attacked by Yang Mo and Kuo Jie, two men, and that he made his move by rescuing her. Naturally he skipped the part where Ling Longjiao revealed the load on her mind, because he had to keep his promise.
Kou Zhong stared blankly for half a day before saying, “It’s good that she went home; it shows that she finally saw through Wang Shichong’s malevolent true identity. In that case, Da Ming Zun Jiao people are already in Luoyang. His Niang’s! Who could be the new Yuanzi? I hope it’s not Yucheng, that idiot!”
Xu Ziling said, “I definitely wish that you did not guess correctly, but the likelihood is very great. Yucheng’s aptitude, you and I are very clear about it, his good foundation need not be mentioned even more. This matter really gives us headache. Not only you must be careful of Da Ming Zun Jiao, you also must be careful of Yang Xuyan. Hou Xibai and I both guessed that he is using public office to avenge private wrongs, by accepting Li Yuan’s order to come to assassinate you.” Translated by foxs
Sneering, Kou Zhong said, “Should I be afraid of him?”
Xu Ziling said, “Don’t be so sure; under normal circumstances, naturally he can’t do anything to you; however, if Cijian is lost, you will be forced to retreat to Luoyang, and then Li Shimin launches large scale attack to besiege the city, you, Zhong Shao, will be weary from prolonged war, so that the preserving and nurturing his spirit Yang kid will have the opportunity to exploit. Don’t forget that he inherited Shi Zhixuan’s Huan Mo Shenfa, while he himself is also a first-class assassin.”
Full of confidence, Kou Zhong said, “The battle of Cijian, I will not lose.”
With meaningful and heartfelt words, Xu Ziling said, “Don’t be overly self-confident, because more likely than not, the problem lies with Wang Shichong. I have said everything I need to say! I still want to see Li Shimin.”
“What?” Kou Zhong blurted out.
Shrugging his shoulders, Xu Ziling said, “Why make a fuss about nothing? Demonic school’s influence has taken root inside his home, we all are old friends, whether it’s due to emotion or reason, I have to warn him, right?”
Smiling wryly, Kou Zhong said, “Ling Shao already thought about it, how could I find fault? Ay! If I get down on my knees and beg you, will you stay and help me win this battle? And then everybody will happily go to settle the account with Shi Zhixuan, we join hands to break his Niang’s Bu Si Huan [not dead fantasy], Long Life versus Not Dead, we all should be two armies with equivalent banners and drums, but our military strength is twice his; we have a total of two strong and courageous persons.” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Xu Ziling turned around, he spoke with displeasure, “Will you really do that?”
Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, “Of course not. Currently Laozi has a head, has a face [i.e. someone important], ha! What’s so funny? Go see Li kid, your good friend!”
Laughing calmly, Xu Ziling spoke indifferently, “Tell me, do you really want to be another Yang Jian, after unifying the world, you become the emperor?”
Kou Zhong stared deeply at him, he spoke slowly, word by word, “Is it possible that after I answer your question, you will no longer doubt me? I can tell lies to anybody, but I will never lie to my good brother Xu Ziling. On becoming the emperor, even half a nail of interest I am lacking, but unifying the world is to make the common people passing their days in peace and security. That is the dream that in order to pursue it, I am willing to pay it with my life. The art of war [bing fa] is the saber technique [dao fa]; to me, Kou Zhong, the highest experience in the martial art way is precisely the practicing-what-one-preaches of using military force to obtain the peace and security of the world. I believe firmly in this conscience with which I am living. If the one Shi Feixuan chose were me instead of Li kid, Ziling would not have found things this difficult to manage.” Translated by foxs
Smiling ruefully, Xu Ziling said, “Good kid, you finally cannot help revealing the discontentment in your heart. If you, Dage’s objective is merely to wish for the whole world at peace, then everything can be discussed well. Your granny’s!”
Kou Zhong embraced Xu Ziling’s shoulders, he smiled and said, “The most sincere part is that I, Kou Zhong, want to win. Not only I want to win this Cijian battle, I want to win every battle in the strive for the world, just like Old Ba’s using battle to raise battle cultivation style. The moment I unify the world and set up the task of establishing and maintaining hegemony will be the moment of successful achievements and virtue. At that time, the troubled Ziling can go to invite Feixuan Xianzi to come down the mountain to select his mother’s emperor for us. In this aspect, she is a lot more adept than we, two brothers.”
Laughing involuntarily, Xu Ziling said, “I hope you won’t be muddled in the brain [idiom: excited and unable to act rationally] by victory. You have not even fought against Li kid, you already act like the victory certificate is within your grasp. Li Shimin is not an ordinary hand, at least in term of managing high-ranking military officers, he is way above you. As for the art of war and strategy, only after fighting the battle we will know for sure.”
Kou Zhong let go of Xu Ziling, he spoke with serious expression, “Brother! Go! We are brothers forever, I will definitely not dare to underestimate the enemy. Li kid is formidable, I know it better than anybody.”
※ ※ ※
Kou Zhong returned to the camp, but in his heart he was still thinking of Xu Ziling, while also feeling a little regret. It was the first time he spoke such a heavy words toward Xu Ziling, because this moment Xu Ziling was going to see Li Shimin, making his heart feel so uneasy. Now the uneasy feeling already vanished like smoke in thin air, thereupon he was able to empathize with the contradiction and secret trouble in Xu Ziling’s heart. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
He understood Xu Ziling better than anybody, who was closer to him than a brother. Xu Ziling had the good heart and intestines that bemoaned the state of the universe and pity the fate of mankind, which at this moment was giving thought to the common people in the world. Were it not for him, Kou Zhong, maybe Xu Ziling would help Li Shimin with all his strength to unify the world, up to the point of ascending the emperor’s throne, to accomplish Shi Feixuan’s expectation of Li Shimin. However, because of the conflict between Kou Zhong and Li Shimin in contending for hegemony, Xu Ziling’s only choice was to stay out of the way. The pain and contradictions in his heart could easily be imagined.
If right now Kou Zhong were still without worry, without any involvement, then everything would be better. Unfortunately, he already had his feet deep in the mud, even if he wanted to withdraw, he simply could not. Shao Shuai Army, Yang Gongqing and his officers and soldiers, Song Que’s support and expectation, these were all things that he could neither throw away, nor he be willing to give up. Not to mention at present Li Shimin was still not Li Yuan’s heir.
He had just stepped into the gate of the stronghold, Ma Chang already came to meet him and said, “Wang Shichong wanted to see Shaoshuai as soon as possible, he is at the city gate tower.” Translated by foxs
Kou Zhong sighed inwardly, wondering in his heart what kind of trick this old fox was going to play next.
※ ※ ※
Li Shimin dismissed everybody on his left and right. When only he and Xu Ziling, two men remained inside the large command tent, he pulled Xu Ziling’s hand to sit in the middle of the tent. Letting go of Xu Ziling’s hand, he cheerfully said, “They nearly wanted to disobey by refusing to leave, because they are afraid you are coming to assassinate me for Kou Zhong’s sake, ha! Who is Xu Ziling? They don’t understand too much. Tonight we are going to chat to our heart’s content.”
The image of various generals under Li Shimin’s command, Zhangsun Wuji, Yuchi Jingde, Pang Yu, and the others’ unwilling facial expression when they were leaving the tent appeared in Xu Ziling’s mind. Smiling wryly, he said, “Just now, when Kou Zhong and I parted company, his words just before I left was that we are brothers forever, the implication is that no matter how I treat him, even betray him, he still treats me as brother.”
Li Shimin laughed aloud and said, “Xu Ziling is betraying friends? I, Li Shimin, will be the first not to believe. Ziling this time came from afar to separately see Kou Zhong and Xiaodi, what actually is the urgent matter?”
Xu Ziling passed on Hou Xibai’s words, and finally he said, “Your Old Die has been completely deceived by the women and lowly people who harbor evil intentions, treating you as Yang Guang and Li Jiancheng as Yang Yong; there is no logic in it. How’s Shimin Xiong going to deal with it?” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Li Shimin was silent for half a day. He sighed and said, “I never thought demonic school’s tactic is this formidable. Humph! But as long as the world has not been unified, I, Li Shimin still have a value to exploit. Ay! Frankly speaking, I don’t know how I am going to deal with it. Ziling, do you have any advice for me?”
Xu Ziling spoke indifferently, “As long as Shimin Xiong is not back in Chang’an, no one can do anything to you.”
Shaken, Li Shimin said, “Is Ziling suggesting that I must stand on my own feet outside the Pass?”
Xu Ziling spoke heavily, “The general on the outside, to some extent he is not subjected to the lord’s order. Unless Shimin Xiong has full confidence, when you return to Chang’an, you will be caught in a completely passive situation, the inferior position where people are fish and meat; now Shi Zhixuan’s demonic power is advancing greatly, there is no more flaw, I am afraid there’s no one in the world able to control him.”
Smiling wryly, Li Shimin said, “To be quite honest, what I am worried about the most right now is not the struggle within my family, or even the demonic school’s conspiracy, but the threat of Kou Zhong plus Song Que, which is the nightmare of everybody in Chang’an, from top to bottom, but also Feixuan’s nightmare. If we cannot take advantage while Song Que has not advanced up north to thoroughly strike and break down your brother’s Shao Shuai Army, the world will once again fall into north-south division. At that time, if the Tujue invade, we won’t have the ability to fight back.” Translated by foxs
Xu Ziling muttered, “Kou Zhong plus Song Que.”
His expression turned grave, Li Shimin said, “Shimin is not talking frightening words to scare people; I have just received intelligence report from the south, Song Que is assembling military strength in Lingnan, Liliao fighters plus Song Family’s children and warriors, the military strength could reach a hundred thousand. It is estimated that the recruitment and assembly process will take two to three months, and then three months to half a year on top of that for training and maneuvering, and then Song Que might personally lead the main forces to the east. If Kou Zhong and his Shao Shuai Army are added to the equation, who in the world will be able to oppose their sharp blade?”
Frowning, Xu Ziling asked, “Song Que begins to mobilize his army?”
Li Shimin said, “Hence the reason I only have, at most, about half a year to attack Luoyang and pacify the north, otherwise, no one can foresee the turbulent situation in the future.”
Xu Ziling smiled wryly and said, “Song Que plus Kou Zhong, ay! How much does Shimin Xiong understand this person, Song Que?” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Li Shimin sighed and said, “This man is a person having great power and influence, multi-talented, well-educated in heaven and men ways; not only he is a commander-in-chief proficient in the art of war, he also has deep understanding of the terrains of the mountains and rivers under the heaven, an unequalled fierce general on the battlefield. His men regard him as a deity, their loyalty to him, no one dares to doubt. If there’s Kou Zhong assisting him, it would be like a tiger that has grown wings. Facing them on the battlefield, who would dare to boast that he has the odds of success?”
Smiling bitterly, Xu Ziling said, “Kou Zhong said that he only has the interest to contend for hegemony over the world to allow the common people to live in peace and security, but he has no ambition to become the emperor. Ay! How can I explain this?”
Li Shimin silently gazed at him. Quite a while later he suddenly asked, “Our relationship becoming like it is now, does it have something to do with Xiuning?”
Xu Ziling was dumbstruck and unable to reply.
Helpless, Li Shimin said, “Xiuning did not tell me anything, it was me who guessed it based on my recollection of what happened that day. We were good, but suddenly Kou Zhong rejected my proposal, even took the account book away and left. From then on my relationship with him deteriorates, and now we even have to stand face to face on the battlefield. If one day Kou Zhong is unfortunate and lose his life in my, Li Shimin’s hands, how would Ziling treat me?”
Remaining tranquil, Xu Ziling replied, “I will ask you, Qin Wang to let me collect his remains and take him back to the small valley for burial.”
Li Shimin sighed and said, “Or the one dying is me, Li Shimin. I believe Kou Zhong will also treat my remains well. The world will fall into Kou Zhong’s hands. No matter what, it is going to be better than if it fell into Shi Zhixuan’s hands.”
Xu Ziling understood that it was because Li Shimin heard about Li Yuan was tossing and turning in bed due to the demonic school’s influence that he had this feeling, ergo that kind of speech. Translated by foxs
Li Shimin again looked deep into his eyes and spoke softly, “Ziling should know that before Feixuan returned to Jing Zhai, she had come to Chang’an to find me. We chatted in details for nearly two sichen, she had given me a lot of useful instructions.”
A feeling, which Xu Ziling himself did not understand, welled up in his heart, as if Shi Feixuan’s fragrant footprint reemerged in the human world. Of course he knew that it was not the actual situation, only because she had made a firm resolution not to come out to the world again that she wanted to see Li Shimin for the last time.
“What did Feixuan say?” he asked with difficulty.
Shaking his head, Li Shimin said, “She mainly asked me about our Li Family’s situation. Ay! Only now do I understand why outstanding figure of the previous generation, after Bi Xiuxin was harmed by Shi Zhixuan, was so heartbroken and in pain! Because presently there is Shi Feixuan, this good example. Who would, due to her noble broad-minded and open moral character, her immortal-descending-to-the-world like elegant intelligent – not give rise to heartfelt adoration? But this love can only be hidden at the bottom of the heart, without the courage to reveal it the slightest bit, for fear that it would only bring disrespect and irreverence toward her.”
Xu Ziling was shaken, “Shimin Xiong!” he said. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Li Shimin smiled bitterly and said, “This is the first time I ever reveal my inner voice, because Xiaodi knows that Ziling understands my feeling better than anybody. Ha! I feel much better after saying it out loud.”
Xu Ziling wanted to say something, but he did not know what to say. To a certain degree, he felt that he was lucky, at least he and this touching fairy have tasted the intoxicating feeling of trying to get into a romantic relationship [orig. murmuring endearments (idiom)], ‘Shi Feixuan Style’.
Li Shimin went on, “When she was leaving, she said something strange concerning you.”
Stunned, Xu Ziling asked, “What did she say?”
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