Legend of Great Tang’s Twin Dragons - Volume 47 C7
Book 47 Chapter 7 – Timidity In The Face Of Battle
Kou Zhong entered Cijian city and climbed onto the city gate tower. Wang Shichong was gazing into the distance from the higher elevation to observe the situation on Li Shimin’s side. Under the night sky full of stars, Wang Shichong was accompanied by his trusted aides, the great generals Chen Zhilue, Guo Shancai, Ba Yegang, Zhang Zhi, Di Feng, Song Mengqiu, and Li Mi’s former generals who sought refuge under him, Duan Da, Shan Xiongxin, and Yu Yuanzhen. But Yang Gongqing was not one of them. Translated by foxs
Seeing Kou Zhong came, Wang Shichong’s face bloomed with a smile; he said, “Shaoshuai, quickly come to Zhen’s [I (imperial use)] side.”
Turning to the other high-ranking military officers, he said, “Zhen would like to speak with Shaoshuai in private.”
The generals moved as far away as possible to both sides, leaving Wang Shichong alone on the city gate tower.
Kou Zhong came to his side. The first urge in his heart was to ask him why he was so cold and heartless toward Ling Longjiao, but in the end he suppressed this impulse. “What order do Shengshang have for me?” he asked indifferently.
Wang Shichong’s countenance turned grave, he spoke heavily, “Li Shimin is worthy to be a famous general of the present age, he came a solid three days earlier than my estimate. Were it not for Shaoshuai this morning making prompt decision and taking the initiative to attack, when our main forces arrived, we would have been attacked by him with no time to deal with it. Although it might not decide victory or defeat just yet, but it could surely sway our troops’ morale. Although the enemy has nearly twenty thousand men more than us, but we do have a city wall that can help us in defense, so the situation is still much more beneficial to us.” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Without Wang Xuanying nearby to be a hindrance, the mood of the conversation between the two men was fairly harmonious, they were both men who knew soldiers, so they could dispense with a lot of unnecessary anger and arguments.
Kou Zhong did not respond, because he knew Wang Shichong was not done yet. Wang Shichong pondered silently for a moment, he lowered his voice and said, “Where did the other fifty thousand men go?”
Kou Zhong said, “I have some sincere opinion, which I hope Shengshang would listen.”
Wang Shichong turned his head to look at him, “Speak up!” he said.
Kou Zhong smiled and said, “Let’s talk about that later. Shengshang is summoning me, is it because you want to know why Ziling was coming to see me?”
Wang Shichong said, “Secret conversation between the two of you, brothers, even if you won’t tell me, Zhen definitely will not blame you.”
Remaining tranquil and calm, Kou Zhong said, “Although it was a secret conversation, it is very closely related with Shengshang. Ziling told me: Shi Zhixuan is once again doing evil in the secular world, his objective is that I will not leave Luoyang alive, and that Li Shimin will not return to Guanzhong alive, so that the world will very likely become the object in Shi Zhixuan’s bag.”
Wang Shichong revealed a shocked expression, but he immediately calmed down. His countenance solemn, he said, “What does Shaoshuai mean?” Translated by foxs
Kou Zhong said, “If Luoyang is broken, as soon as Shengshang tell Li Yuan you surrender, Li Shimin definitely will not dare to move a single strand of hair of yours, which is due to of your relationship with Shuni. But Li Shimin will definitely not allow me to live. Since Luoyang is already fallen into Li Yuan’s hands, it could correspond well with Guanzhong, and then Dou Jiande can no longer make any move. At that time Li Shimin’s value and usefulness will be done for. My thought is really that simple.”
Wang Shichong spoke with a cold laugh, “That Shi Zhixuan is counting his chickens before they are hatched. Luoyang will not fall! Never.”
Kou Zhong said, “My sincere opinion is precisely to focus on Luoyang defense and whether or not going out to attack. If Shengshang could throw all misgivings aside, not paying attention to how Li Shimin deploys his troops to attack other strongholds and military strategic cities, and defend Cijian to the death, then there will be great opportunity to protect Luoyang.”
Wang Shichong spoke heavily, “Do you know Li Shimin’s overall battle strategy?”
Kou Zhong replied, “That is not difficult to guess at all. In addition to the main forces of approximately fifty thousand men coming to attack Cijian, Li Shimin divided the rest of his military strength four ways, including the main feature crossing the Great River from Heyang back to Luo. The other three ways are simply harassment in nature; their function is to hold up Shengshang’s main forces, so that Shengshang would not dare to reduce the military strength in Luoyang. It’s difficult for the other cities’ armies to be transferred to Cijian to engage in the battle.” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Wang Shichong’s gaze moved back toward the enemy camp far away outside the city, he muttered twice, “Return to Luo City! Return to Luo City!”
Kou Zhong said, “Now the general commanding the Tang Army at Heyang is Huang Junhan. As long as he is guarding Heyang, he could hold up our reinforcement so that we can’t advance or retreat, while on the other hand, we cannot defend Cijian. The only strategy right now is to let the other cities fall, but if we can defend Cijian, Luoyang will be as steady as Mount Tai. At that time it will be Li Shimin’s turn to have his feet deep in the mud, unable to advance or retreat. If Li Shimin is driven back to his hometown, won’t we be able to recover the lost cities back into our hands?”
Wang Shichong turned his eyes back to him again, it was quite half a day later than he began to speak, “Can we firmly defend Cijian?”
Kou Zhong sighed and said, “I am afraid only Laotianye is qualified to answer Shengshang’s question; furthermore, it depends on Shengshang’s judgment and determination. Cijian is of a great importance. Once it’s lost, the blow on the troops’ morale is incalculable. I am most afraid that there will be many more Luo Shixin, and then Shenghang will not be able to endure.”
“Very well!” Wang Shichong made up his mind, “I will follow Shaoshuai’s suggestion, we’ll defend Cijian with all of our strength.” Translated by foxs
Casting his gaze outside the city, he spoke slowly, word by word, “If I handed the full power of the army to Shaoshuai for you to command, how much odds of success would Shaoshuai have?”
Hearing that, Kou Zhong was both surprised and happy, knowing that after witnessing the Tang Army’s appearance and battle array, he lost confidence, hence he felt that he needed to rely on Kou Zhong. Wang Shichong was well aware that if he were in Kou Zhong’s place, today he would not have dared to fight the enemy’s main forces, which had several times the number of men compared to his own side, yet Kou Zhong was able to, from the disadvantageous position, launch an attack and win a small victory; as a result, he won Wang Shichong’s and various high-ranking military officers’ favorable impression and respect. Otherwise, Wang Shichong would not have spoken that sentence.
Sweeping his gaze over the flickering lights from the enemy’s camp, which extended continuously, Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, “Then this time Li kid will have problem!”
Muttering to himself irresolutely, Li Shimin said, “Sometimes I really don’t understand how could you and Kou Zhong be together, just by looking at your eyes, I know that you two have entirely different characters. Kou Zhong seems to be on the move all the time, looking for novel experience, for adventures and excitement, for opportunities to defeat the opponent and conquer the adversaries, yet you, Ziling, stand aloof from worldly affairs, as if you are living at home wherever you are. Does Ziling agree with my evaluation on you two?” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Staring blankly, Xu Ziling said, “I never thought that you would see Kou Zhong like this. It is true that he is a person brimming with curiosity of fresh things, but he is not completely unreasonable, it’s just that he has his own set of views and ideals, which no one, me included, can change.”
Li Shimin cheerfully said, “That is exactly what Feixuan thinks of Kou Zhong. After she asked me what I think of the two of you, she then told me what she thought of you. She pointed out that unless I can defeat, even kill, Kou Zhong at Luoyang, the situation in the future will become North-South confrontation; at that time, there will be only one person who can resolved this impasse, and that person is you, Xu Ziling.”
Stunned, Xu Ziling stared blankly for a moment, and then he spoke painfully, “Did she say that? Feixuan thinks too highly of me! Ay! The problem is that when the North-South confrontation takes shape, it won’t involve only Kou Zhong, one person, rather, it also implicates Song Que, as well as the Song Clan and the entire southern people who support Han unification. In this situation, I am afraid Xiaodi is powerless.”
Li Shimin sighed and said, “I said the same thing to Feixuan, but she did not answer me in a straightforward manner. She only said that when the common people in the world need Xu Ziling the most, Ziling will be unwilling to pass on your responsibilities to others.”
Smiling wryly, Xu Ziling said, “This is called the fairy’s heart is hard to fathom; do you think she wanted me to go challenge Kou Zhong in a duel?” Translated by foxs
Li Shimin spoke heavily, “I’ll be very honest with Ziling! I will try my best not to become mortal enemy with Kou Zhong. But if I fail, I will throw everything aside and will exhaust all my strength to deal with him. Otherwise, if we let Song Que and Kou Zhong join hands, the consequences will unbearably hard to imagine.”
After a short pause, he went on, “Shimin is really grateful to Ziling for informing me about Shi Zhixuan’s plot inside the Pass. I’ll deal with it carefully, I will not let the crafty scoundrels prevail, so that I will not follow the Old Sui’s Yang’s trailing dust.”
As Kou Zhong was stepping out the city gate, Yang Gongqing came up to meet him, asking, “What did he say?”
Kou Zhong responded in low voice, “How about we take a walk outside the camp?”
Yang Gongqing called one of his men to get them warhorses. The two men rode side by side out of the camp, they ran into Ma Chang on the way.
Ma Chang laughed and said, “Were it not for Shaoshuai keeping you company, Xiaojiang would definitely stop Yang Lao from going out the camp. Shaoshuai should know Tian Ce Fu’s habit of repeatedly sending men from the enemy camp very late at night to challenge the other side’s camp for a battle. It is both to disturb the enemy, and if the other side shrinks back and not coming out, it would raise their prestige and glorious military prowess, but if you send the troops out of the camp to chase to kill, you might fall into an ambush. Ha! But this time they won’t dare to repeat this trick, simply because we have Shaoshuai helping our troops disposition. Offending Shaoshuai, they will have to pack their bag and leave before they finish eating.” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, “You, LaoGe really know how to make me bursting with joy; you are indeed an expert in patting the horse’s butts.”
After leaving the camp, Kou Zhong said, “This man Ma Chang is really not bad; he is both brave and scheming. Furthermore, seeing how at the moment he can still joke around with ease, it shows that he does not take life or death to heart.”
Yang Gongqing said, “This man is certainly a talent. Right! So what trick is Wang Shichong playing this time?”
Kou Zhong galloped with him up a small hill. He also swept his gaze around to watch the situation far and near. Smiling, he said, “Wang Shichong is afraid of war!”
Stunned, Yang Gongqing said, “Not yet formally crossing swords against Li Shimin, unexpectedly he is already scared? How could he mingle on the outside?”
Sneering, Kou Zhong said, “What great battle did he fight? That battle with Li Mi, it was Yang Gong and me who won it for him. Previously, his so-called victory was merely serving the powerful and maltreating the weak, suppressing the militia with minor prestige for Yang Guang. Li Shimin is numbered among the famous world-class masters, his military power is stronger than ours, their training is better than ours, the fierce generals under his command are as numerous as the cloud, the strategic experts are as thick as the rain. Hiding behind Luoyang’s tall city wall, defending his property to the death without going out, perhaps he might a bit better. But having a decisive battle on the field, how could he not lack in confidence and be discouraged? His Niang’s!” Translated by foxs
Puzzled, Yang Gongqing asked, “Even if inwardly he is scared, he can’t possibly tell you?”
Keeping his gaze fixed on the brilliant lights of the enemy camp some distance away, Kou Zhong smiled and said, “Naturally he can’t possibly reveal his inner thoughts to me, but he asked me to offer him advice by his side tomorrow. It’s just like he is indirectly asking me to command the army for him. Based on his conduct, if he is not scared of the war, how could he make such arrangement?”
“Tomorrow?” Yang Gongqing was startled, “But Li Shimin’s feet is not steady yet, he wouldn’t attack that quickly!”
Kou Zhong spoke heavily, “That is precisely my strategy. Tomorrow, if Li Shimin is coming to attack, good; if he does not, that’s fine too. But we have to send troops disposition as a military show of force, to lure Li Shimin to come to do a small test of what is true and what is false on our side. If he holes up and refuse to come out, we will consider it a rehearsal. If he dares to meet the enemy head-on, we will lead them by the nose.” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Yang Gongqing drew out a mouthful of cold air, he said, “Aren’t Shaoshuai overestimating our combat ability too much? On this hills and plains wilderness terrain, to achieve victory, we must press on and advance directly for a prolonged period, otherwise it would be like troops in defeat like a landslide. If we are defeated, the whole army could be easily wiped out. Li Shimin’s troops in the punitive expedition to the east this time are carefully selected from among the House of Tang’s about 600,000 soldiers, they are the elite of the elites. If we fight without relying upon the city walls, it is unwise. Shaoshuai must think thrice.”
Laughing calmly, Kou Zhong said, “I do not have the excessive expectations of being able to defeat Li Shimin’s main forces tomorrow, but to win this war, how could we not take some risks? Rather than waiting for the House of Tang’s army to show off their proficiency and stored up their sharpness to come to attack, we might as well gain the initiative by striking first. Tomorrow, if we can fight evenly and show off the colors of spring, our troops’ morale will be greatly aroused, while to enemy, it’s just the opposite.”
And then, lowering his voice, he said, “Yang Gong, please do not blame me for speaking forthrightly. Our side, from the commander-in-chief at the top, to the soldiers at the bottom, most people have the same view toward the Tang Army as yours, Yang Gong’s, in your hearts you are coming to Cijian, you are merely going through the motions, ultimately you still want to return and defend Luoyang. But I do not share that view, I want Li kid to experience my, Kou Zhong’s means in here.”
After muttering to himself irresolutely for half a day, Yang Gongqing sighed and said, “I now understand more and more the difference between Shaoshuai and us. But will Wang Shichong, that coward, be willing to take this risk?”
Blurted out laughing, Kou Zhong said, “Who told him to be the emperor? Of course he will have to take out his stake and gamble it on the table! Come! Let’s look around, so that we have enough effort for the general battle assembly tomorrow.”
Li Shimin personally walked Xu Ziling off outside the camp, accompanied by Zhangsun Wuji, Yuchi Jingde, Pang Yu, Luo Shixin, and more than a dozen personal bodyguards. Translated by foxs
Feeling embarrassed, Xu Ziling said, “Shimin Xiong need not see me off!”
Li Shimin cheerfully said, “I’m just going down the road! As usual, I am going to inspect the battlefield and do some homework. How about I send Ziling a horse for your convenience in getting around?”
Shaking his head, Xu Ziling said, “I still prefer to use my two legs to get around, Shimin Xiong need not stand on ceremony.”
Li Shimin looked back to address his various officers and soldiers, “You stay here.” And then he pulled Xu Ziling more than a dozen paces forward, and spoke in low voice, “Do you still remember Chang Shan Ni [lit. ever-benevolent (Buddhist) nun] of Yu He An [jade crane nunnery] in Chang’an? You can send messages through her to Feixuan at Ci Hang Jing Zhai. Ay! About Shi Zhixuan, do you think we need to let her know?” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Xu Ziling’s heart and spirit were severely shaken, suddenly he felt that Shi Feixuan was not as out of reach as before, at least there was a way to contact her!
Li Shimin said, “Ziling, do as you see fit!”
And then, a bit too embarrassed to mention it, he said, “When Ziling is back in Chang’an, can you do me a favor?”
Calming his heart, Xu Ziling replied, “As far as my capabilities extend, I will definitely carry it through for Shimin Xiong.”
The refined light in Li Shimin’s pair of eyes flashing suddenly, he spoke heavily, “Try to get rid of Yin Zuwen and anybody who is proficient in the Seven Needles to Control the Mind. This kind of sorcery is a very great threat to me.”
Xu Ziling agreed inwardly, this kind of terrifying torture, even the hardest man would not be able to endure it. If Li Shimin’s trusted aide was captured and tortured, perhaps he would reveal all Li Shimin’s secrets. Just imagine if Li Shimin’s plan on dealing with Jiancheng, Yuanji, and so on was uncovered, how would Li Yuan deal with Li Shimin? Thereupon he spoke indifferently, “Leave this matter to me.”
Smiling wryly, Li Shimin said, “On one hand, I am asking you to do something for me, on the other hand, I want to kill your brother! I wonder how would Ziling see me, Li Shimin?”
Xu Ziling also smiled wryly with him, he said, “We must not confuse one thing with another. I have no choice but to think like that.”
Li Shimin added, “There’s also Yang WenGan. Although Jingzhao Lian is melting like ice and breaking like tiles, but Yang WenGan’s influence is still there, it’s just that from above ground they move to underground. The longer we don’t eliminate him, ultimately there will be endless misfortune later. Under the circumstances, Yang WenGan cannot play any role, but inside Chang’an, when Fuhuang is standing completely on Jiancheng’s side, Yang WenGan and his men will play a critical role; they will be a power that cannot be neglected.” Translated by foxs
Xu Ziling said, “I will think of a way to dig him out, to ease this load on Shimin Xiong’s mind.”
Li Shimin reached out and grabbed Xu Ziling’s hands tightly, he said, “Ziling, please take a good care of yourself!”
Kou Zhong and Yang Gongqing made a big circle and entered the forest from the north side. When they reached the edge of the forest, they reined in their horses to stop.
Yang Gongqing laughed and said, “I wonder if Shaoshuai already has a card up your sleeve?”
Kou Zhong nodded and said, “I have a bit more confidence now.” And then, pointing to a small hill in the middle of the two opposing camps, he said, “If I were Li Shimin, I would use this hill as a command platform. From there, he could both completely see the overall situation and would not be afraid of the enemy’s surprise attack.”
Yang Gongqing said, “What if we take possession of this small hill first?”
Shaking his head, Kou Zhong said, “We cannot force ourselves to do it, we can only do it like this morning: set up our troops disposition leaning against the city wall, where it will be convenient to advance and attack and to retreat and defend. Unless Li Shimin does not dare to meet the enemy head-on, then we climb over the small hill to show off our military strength, and retreat after making a scene a little. Ha! The scene of the battlefield. Huh?” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Yang Gongqing also saw more than twenty riders appearing on the top of the hill.
Kou Zhong focused his power into his pair of eyes, he looked with rapt attention, and then, severely shaken, he said, “Li kid can’t possibly be giving me such convenience! It seems that one of those men is precisely he.”
Shocked, Yang Gongqing said, “If it is really Li Shimin inspecting the battlefield, then those other men must all be first-class martial art masters, with just the two of us, I am afraid we will suffer losses.”
Shaking his head, Kou Zhong said, “Not the two of us, but just me, one person. Yang Gong could hold your troop disposition in here for me. If I can harden my heart to behead the Li kid, tonight we can get away from here to return to Pengliang. His Niang’s! I wonder whether I can really make my move under the circumstances; after all, Li kid and I have a friendly relationship.”
Yang Gongqing said, “On the battlefield, it’s either you die or I perish, how could there be any friendly relationship to speak of? Furthermore, it has to be by fair means or foul. The question is whether Shaoshuai really has the confidence to deal with that many men. It would be a bit more dependable to wait for me to come back and deploy a group of martial art masters to help.” Translated by foxs
Kou Zhong said, “Once the fortunate timing is gone, it won’t return. Not to mention that if a large number of men and horses coming to attack with vast and mighty momentum, it would only beat the grass to scare the snake. Watch me.”
Finished speaking, he flew off the horse.
Yang Gongqing was shocked; he leaned forward to grab his shoulder. “Too dangerous!” he advised.
Kou Zhong looked up at the starry sky, he smiled and said, “Yang Gong seems to forget that confronting Xieli’s magnificent army with thousands of men and horses, I was not afraid. Merely twenty something elite troops and fierce generals, it may be enough to scare other people, but they are still unworthy in my, Kou Zhong’s eyes.”
Yang Gongqing was infected by his powerful self-confidence, he could not help letting his hand go.
Kou Zhong, as swift as light smoke, flashed out of the forest, using the tall grass and thick bushes as cover, he sneaked like a ghost toward the enemy riders.
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