Legend of Great Tang’s Twin Dragons - Volume 48 C6
Book 48 Chapter 6 – Willing To Be A Thief
Xu Ziling and Kou Zhong cheered inwardly. Such an exposure would dispel other people’s doubt instead, they could not possibly link the ‘Taihang Shuang Jie’ to Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling, because accompanying them was Li Jiancheng’s Chang Lin Army’s trusted aide Er Wenhuan. Moreover, everybody in Chang’an, from top to bottom, thought that they, Kou and Xu, two boys were still at Cijian.
The City Guard headed straight toward their table. He cupped his hands in salute toward Er Wenhuan and Yao Luo first, and then he stooped down to whisper in Yao Luo’s ear. Xu Ziling and Kou Zhong were afraid that those with brilliant eyesight like Li Mi, Huang Gongcuo, and so on would see through if they applied their power to eavesdrop; without any better option, they had to miss this secret talk that was being dropped at their front door. Translated by foxs
Finished speaking, the City Guard saluted and left. The atmosphere in the restaurant was back to its original state.
Er Wenhuan said, “If it is not convenient to say, no need to say it.”
Smiling bitterly, Yao Luo said, “What’s not convenient to say? It’s just a troublesome affair of that short-lived ghost. At the city gate we detain the so-called ‘Cao San’, whom men from all sides who wanted to get rich handed over to us; it appears that we now have a total of thirteen. They want me to spend the entire afternoon to identify whether they are real or fake. This short-lived ghost really caused a lot of trouble.”
Er Wenhuan blurted out laughing and said, “If Cao San is really that easy to be caught by those ordinary hands, then I am sure he is not Cao San; without even looking, I know that they are all fake.”
Pretending not knowing anything at all, Kou Zhong asked what happened.
After giving him explanation, Er Wenhuan said, “Yao Xiong is the head of the City Guards. Whenever there is any extremely sensational theft case in Chang’an, he will be the one who gets busy!” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Yao Luo sighed and said, “Only too bad I am not the real head. The real head is Lu Gengcheng, Wang Daren, at most Xiaodi is only running errands, naturally everything that needs running around will become my responsibility. His Niang’s! If Cao San really fell into my hands, I will make him begging for life but he won’t get it, begging for death but he won’t get it either.”
Kou Zhong put on a ‘greedy’ air as he ‘laughed nastily’ and said, “I hear that over the years ‘Duan Ming’ Cao San stole countless treasure; if he’s really caught in the net, Yao Xiong could ruthless scrape a deal with him!”
Seeing his ‘greedy appearance’, Er Wenhuan’s heart was moved as well. Smiling, he said, “This time Cai Xiong and Kuang Xiong are working for Situ Laoban, the monetary reward ought to be generous, right?”
Xu Ziling nodded and said, “It’s pretty good. For our Furong Ye, it could be considered extravagant.”
Kou Zhong sighed and said, “I just hope it’s enough to pay the gambling debts we owe!”
Lowering his voice, Er Wenhuan said, “I hear in his spare time Furong Ye loves to gamble a couple of hands, I wonder if that is true?” Translated by foxs
‘Here it comes!’ Kou Zhong cried inwardly, but he replied indifferently, “Furong Ye does not gamble especially hard, but when he does, it will be bigger and fiercer. However, he never entered a casino, he only gamble with people that he knows well.”
Xu Ziling did not want to waste time with these two much longer, he made an excuse that they need to do something for Situ Furong, so they bade farewell and wanted to leave. Er Wenhuan insisted that he wanted to be their tour guide in Chang’an, so after agreeing on the time and place to meet again in the evening, he finally let the two go.
Er Wenhuan thought that it was the ‘Taihang Shuang Jie’ who took the bait, but only Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling understood who had really been hooked by the bait.
Rushing over to Beiyuan, Du Fuwei already left, leaving only a secret marking, telling Xu Ziling to meet at the original spot by dusk.
The two boys had to go back ‘home’ to see if Song Shidao had good news. But in order to dispel people’s suspicion, they deliberately paid a visit to Rong Da Da Ya.
Kou Zhong had his arm around Xu Ziling’s shoulders as they walked slowly along the street. With the ‘Taihang Shuang Jie’ identity, naturally they looked more impressive than before. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Xu Ziling said, “Do you have any feeling of being followed and watched?”
Kou Zhong laughed and said, “It should have been me asking you the question.”
Xu Ziling replied, “I just want to confirm my feelings. Since leaving Fu Ju Lou, someone has been following us from a distance, and his technique in following somebody’s tracks is quite brilliant, not at all like ordinary hands.”
Kou Zhong nodded and said, “I am sensing that too. Only it’s a pity that we are now Old Cai and Old Kuang, otherwise we could follow his tracks in return, seize the other side and beat him up to force his confession, ha!”
Xu Ziling laughed and said, “Old Cai, Old Kuang also have Old Cai, Old Kuang’s way of doing it. For example, if we split up, how would the other side react?”
Knitting his brows, Kou Zhong said, “The stalker could be Er Wenhuan, that kid. He wanted to see where we are going, why bother taking the trouble for them?”
“All right,” Xu Ziling replied, “Let’s go back and talk later.”
For the first time the two boys entered Situ Furong’s temporary dwelling from the front gate. After closing the door, Lei Jiuzhi led the two boys aside and said, “Laoban is still seeing the guest.”
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling already saw a carriage and a group of attendants waiting at the plaza of the front courtyard, Xiao Yu’s men, who were sizing them up with their burning gaze. Translated by foxs
“Come with me!” Lei Jiuzhi said.
The two boys followed him winding around the main hall to walk in the direction of the inner courtyard from the side pathway. Kou Zhong asked in astonishment, “Did Xiao Yu come late? How come until now he has not left yet?”
Snorting, Lei Jiuzhi said, “He wasn’t late. Verifying ancient paintings naturally take a lot of time.”
“What?” the two boys blurted out.
Lei Jiuzhi stopped at the middle courtyard; he smiled and said, “Weren’t we confused that Xiao Yu, this kind of extremely senior figure, a cabinet minister of the House of Tang would pay a visit to a newly rich person? Now the mystery is finally revealed. Xiao Yu did not come here to see our Furong Ye, but to see our connoisseur in antiques and curios, Shen Wenjiang, Shen Daye. Lao Xiao was bringing four, five scrolls of ancient paintings; clearly he wanted to test Shen Ye’s skill. Some are genuine, some are fake, and some are reproductions. Fortunately, Song Ye, who is disguised as Shen Ye, possibly has more real knowledge than the real Shen Ye. Otherwise, this time would definitely fall head first to the utmost degree.”
Hearing that, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling looked at each other, a strange feeling welled up in their hearts.
Scratching his head, Kou Zhong said, “How could there be such a coincidence? Chang’an has just been disturbed by the ‘Han Lin Qing Yuan Tu’ that the wind and the rain sweeping through the town [idiom: a big scandal], and Xiao Yu came to test Shen Ye’s eyesight in distinguishing ancient paintings. Did Old Xiao say where his paintings came from?” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
“He did not say, and we did not dare to ask,” Lei Jiuzhi said, “You guys go to the inner hall first, I still have to run errands pouring tea and delivering water.”
The two went to the inner hall and sat down. Kou Zhong slapped the table and said, “I dare to bet the entire familial property on the table, that batch of painting must be Li Yuan who ordered Xiao Yu to bring it over. After they verify that Shen Wenjiang is indeed a connoisseur of great scholar respected for learning and integrity level, Li Yuan will invite Shen Ye into the Palace to assess another batch of famous paintings.”
The divine light in Xu Ziling’s pair of eyes flashing brightly, he spoke slowly, word by word, “It’s another priceless ancient painting.”
Severely shaken, Kou Zhong said, “It’s not like that, is it?”
Xu Ziling looked at him; laughing involuntarily, he said, “This is called understand one li, then ten thousand li will be clear. His Niang’s! The sheep nearly perishes for going astray, fortunately we can mend the pen after the sheep are lost [idiom: better late than never]. It’s not too late yet. Previously, didn’t we fail to understand why Yin Zuwen wanted to steal the ‘Han Lin Qing Yuan Tu’ from Chi Shengchun? We were groping blindly, taking it at face value, unable to understand, because the thief was basically not Yin Zuwen, but the Great Tang Emperor, the master of the Li Clan, Li Yuan. In order to curry favor with his beloved imperial concubine, he was willing to be a thief.” Translated by foxs
The wrinkles on Kou Zhong’s eyebrows were relaxing one by one. Roaring in laughter, he said, “This is really unexpected. That means under Yin Zuwen’s strange small building, there must be an underground passage under the street into the Imperial City, to provide secret access for Li Yuan. Do you want to enter the Palace to steal the painting back? It’s going to be extremely thrilling and fun.”
Sneering, Xu Ziling said, “Tell me, what’s the interesting point? Would you rather have the treasured painting stays by Li Yuan’s side, or would you let Hou kid hide the stolen goods inside the Passionate Nest?”
Embarrassed, Kou Zhong said, “Ling kid’s words are comparable to the Old Li, namely, Xiaodi is decreed by fate to be Li Shimin’s nemesis.” Changing the subject, he said, “I don’t know how long we will have to wait, because I really want to know the result of Song Ye’s meeting with Meiren’er Changzhu.”
At this time Song Shidao came alone; he calmly sat down, but did not say anything.
Kou Zhong laughed and said, “Among the paintings that Old Xiao brought here, is there at least one reproduction of Zhan Ziqian’s work of art?
Staring blankly, Song Shidao said, “Not just one, but two. How did you guess? And both paintings are the handiwork of a master in this reproduction work business.” And then, shaken, he said, “Han Lin Qing Yuan Tu?”
The two boys nodded with a smile on their face.
Song Shidao drew out a mouthful of cold air, he said, “The thief stealing the painting is unexpectedly Li Yuan.” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Xu Ziling said, “This is the only most reasonable explanation. Since ordinarily imperial palaces must have secret tunnels to escape, when they don’t need to escape, it could be used for secret access. The exit is precisely in a secluded place inside Li Yuan’s trusted aide Yin Zuwen’s mansion. Therefore, the small building’s decoration is exquisite and elegant, the bedroom is on the lower level and not on the upper level at all, but there is no sign that anybody lives there. Because under the bed is precisely the entrance to the secret tunnel. If the bed is removed, we can find the exit. Because Xiao Hou and I had never thought about this possibility, we were being negligent and unexpectedly overlook this aspect.”
Song Shidao nodded and said, “Also, only someone with Li Yuan’s skill would be able to forcefully snatch the treasured painting from Chi Shengchun, two men’s hands.”
Kou Zhong’s pair of eyes brightened, he excitedly said, “Tonight, let us charge into the secret tunnel to see where it leads to? If the other exit is inside Li Yuan’s bedroom, we could even assassinate Li Yuan, then the siege of Luoyang will fall apart, the House of Tang will be trapped into civil war situation.”
Xu Ziling spoke in displeasure, “What kind of nonsense is that?”
Smiling apologetically, Kou Zhong said, “I was just fooling around. You don’t know how miserable I have been bullied by Li kid.” Translated by foxs
Song Shidao said, “If Li Yuan met with any mishaps, Chang’an will be thrown into a great mess. Our plan to deal with Chi Shengchun will become even more impossible to proceed.”
Embarrassed, Kou Zhong said, “I was really talking drivel without thinking the matter through, ha! Song ErGe went to see Shang Meiren, how was it?”
Song Shidao said, “I did not dare to mention you guys even for one sentence, I was only chatting idly with her the entire sichen, because she knew the reason I came to see her, and I knew that if I mentioned you guys for half a sentence, she would shoo me away outside the main door.”
Hearing that, the two boys looked at each other, unable to say anything.
The unusual light in Song Shidao’s pair of eyes flickering, he spoke gently, “Shang Xiuxun is a woman with extreme good taste and unique emotion and character, but she is very lonely. Her heart is filled with a load on her mind, but there is nowhere to confide, hence she acquired the lone flower admiring itself character. People with this kind of temper, one day that she is of the firm opinion that a certain matter is not false, it’s absolutely not a few words, or perhaps your so-called explanation, could change. In Junqiang affair, I already failed one time, this time I don’t want to fail again, hence I have to proceed extremely carefully. I told her some interesting facts of life and what I have seen and heard and learned through experience, to strive for her friendship and favorable impression first. After she has a certain trust and understanding of me, I will begin mentioning you guys to her.”
The two boys recalled his ability to write a book on a piece of tea leaf, naturally they did not doubt that he could make someone who was particular about high quality lifestyle to listen with relish as if she was bathed in spring breeze. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Song Shidao laughed and said, “No need to worry, leave this matter to me. She and I agreed to meet again tomorrow. Later on I will go to Chang’an’s two markets to see if there is any appropriate gift that I can bring for tomorrow’s meeting.”
Xu Ziling and Kou Zhong you looked at me I gazed at you, their hearts were bursting with unexpected joy. For a long time now, they were constantly worried that Song Shidao’s infatuation would bring him back to spend the rest of his life at the small valley where Fu Junchuo was sleeping peacefully, but now it appeared that unanticipated good outcome had let Shang Xiuxun stir up his admiration and interest of a woman other than Fu Junchuo. Song Shidao might think that he was only working for the two boys, but in the process of striving for Shang Xiuxun’s good opinion, he would find many touching things about Shang Xiuxun. Furthermore, both of them came from families influential for generations, large clans that paid particular attention to everything, which would enable them to get along and would be easier to resonate with each other compared to Song Shidao and Fu Junchuo.
Song Shidao did not appear to notice the two boys’ expression, his pair of eyes was fixed on the bright red cloud dyed by the setting sun; he slyly said, “Just buy a bolt of first-class fragrant cloth from Persia, dyed with tulip decorative design! I am sure it will look very nice on her.”
Lei Jiuzhi and Ren Jun came. The latter, because his first role as Situ Furong was a success – was excited and confident. Translated by foxs
Kou Zhong told them about Li Yuan stealing the painting, he also told them in details about how Er Wenhuan was trying to win them over. “Currently, everything is going smoothly,” he said, “Therefore, we must be even more careful.”
Lei Jiuzhi said, “We are completely relying on Song Laodi’s disguise of Shen Wenjiang. In just a glance you were able to see that painting was a fake Zhan Ziqian’s work of art, you were even able to infer whose imitation it was; in my opinion, not even the real Shen Wenjiang would have this ability.”
Song Shidao responded modestly, “I just happened to come across this matter head-on. First, it was because my humble family has Zhan Ziqian’s authentic ‘You Chun Tu’ [to go for a trip in spring painting] in their collection. Secondly, northern Dong, southern Zhan. The Dong is Dong Baren, the Zhan is Zhan Ziqian. Both he and our big family are southerners, naturally we are a bit more familiar and intimate with his works. Although Zhan Ziqian is famous for his character painting, his greatest achievement is landscape painting. Prior to him, landscape was only the background lining the character painting. Under his brush, the landscape became the main theme, the character became embellishments instead. It is said that the ‘Han Lin Qing Yuan’ was purely a landscape work, therefore, in the history of painting, it is of great significance. If it were the genuine work of a famous artist, to be known as a rare treasure would be fully deserving, without any reservations [idiom].”
Kou Zhong nodded and said, “No wonder Li Yuan seized this painting by fair means or foul to be offered to Zhang Meiren.” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Letting out a strange laughter, Lei Jiuzhi said, “Perhaps Shen Ye will have an audience with the Emperor at the Palace tomorrow. Too bad you guys did not see the situation just now. For every sentence that Shen Ye said, Old Xiao nodded his head once. After he’s back, I guarantee that he will have to endure the neck pain to report to Li Yuan about Shen Ye’s extraordinary insight.”
Song Shidao laughed and said, “Lei Dage is exaggerating too much.”
Ren Jun could not help asking, “What do we do next?”
“We must wait patiently,” Xu Ziling replied, “Next should be Kou Zhong going to see Lao Die, while I am going to see Hou Xibai. And then the two of us, using Taihang Shuang Jie identity, will hang around Er Wenhuan. Only after grasping the entire situation will we decide the next action.”
※ ※ ※
After making sure that no one was following him, he moved forward and stepped into the restaurant. Du Fuwei, with his cloth hat pressed down to his eyebrows, was sitting alone in a corner, his sharp eyes were shot toward him.
Kou Zhong sat down next to him, his heart was glowing with warmth, he said, “Die, it’s me, it’s Xiao Zhong!”
Severely shaken, Du Fuwei said, “It’s really you.” His hand reached out under the table, two hands were clasped firmly. Translated by foxs
Kou Zhong felt a lump in his throat, it was difficult to speak. A profound emotion battered his heart and mind. Nodding, he said, “It’s really me, Die!”
Du Fuwei tightened his grip on Kou Zhong’s hand, he spoke in low voice, “How did you come to Chang’an? I was afraid I might lose you forever.” Only then did he let his hand go.
Kou Zhong briefly explained the situation. Smiling bitterly, he said, “Luoyang is finished. Now I have no choice but to see if I can seize Jiangdu away, otherwise everything will cease.”
Du Fuwei heaved a dejected sigh and said, “Why did you refuse my good intention in the past to inherit my Jiang Huai Army? Then I would not be downhearted and rely on help from the Li Clan, you would not be in such a plight like today either.”
Kou Zhong comforted him, “One day I, Kou Zhong, have not died, Li Shimin won’t have any victory to speak about.”
Du Fuwei muttered to himself irresolutely for half a day. He said, “That thing that Ziling entrusted me to do, I made a little progress. You guys know this person, and he also has good opinion toward you.”
Greatly astonished, Kou Zhong said, “I really can’t imagine there is such a person in Chang’an.” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Du Fuwei said, “He is not someone from Chang’an, but a former Jianghu friend of Li Yuan; moreover, someone that the Da Xian Hu Fo respect. Even the thoroughly vicious and extremely evil people in Jianghu would more or less give him a bit of face.”
Scratching his head, Kou Zhong asked, “Who actually is he?”
“It’s Ouyang Xiyi!” Du Fuwei replied.
Shocked, Kou Zhong said, “Unexpectedly it is he. Didn’t he, the Senior, live in seclusion on some famous mountain and no longer go out to the world? How could he come to Chang’an?”
Du Fuwei said, “He did not come to Chang’an by himself, rather, it was Li Yuan who specifically and sincerely asked him to leave the mountain to talk to your father-in-law, to ask him to renounce his support to you; furthermore, there’s another stipulation, as long as Song Que is alive, no one from the Li Family can set foot in Lingnan for even half a step. Furthermore, Song Que does not need to become a minister of Li Yuan. When Song Que pass away, the House of Tang will continue to bestow his successor the title of Zhen Nan Gong [subduing the south duke]. Other stipulations naturally involve the House of Tang will continue to continue to unify the Han, that we will draw clear dividing line with the Tujue, and things like that.”
Kou Zhong drew out a mouthful of cold air, he said, “That is a very generous condition.”
Du Fuwei said, “Who in the world is not afraid of Song Que? Song Que plus my Zhong’er, ha!” Translated by foxs
Recalling his present situation, Kou Zhong smiled wryly and said, “Die need not boost child’s morale. Ay!” After a short pause, he knitted his brows and said, “Ouyang Xiyi’s status is lofty. Even if he agrees to be Situ Furong’s backing, it would only incur people’s suspicion. Ouyang Xiyi and Situ Furong are two persons that a big cable cannot pull together.”
Laughing involuntarily, Du Fuwei said, “When thing is exhausted, it will change, and change will lead to success [from Baike-Baidu: it means that when things develop to the extreme, they must change, so that the development of things will not be blocked, and things can develop continuously]. As for how to do it, it must be thought by you. The relationship between Ouyang Xiyi and Hu Fo is not usual at all. Whatever Ouyang Xiyi say, Hu Fo will see, hear and obey. For example, if Ouyang Xiyi exposed Chi Shengchun’s identity, even if Hu Fo will provoke disaster of having himself killed, he would never give his daughter in marriage to him.”
Kou Zhong sighed and said, “If the problem develops into that situation, our grand plan to deal with Chi Shengchun will definitely go down the drain. If Hu Fo notifies Li Yuan, the situation will be even more out of hand.”
“Therefore,” Du Fuwei said, “You guys must think of a suitable solution. The day after tomorrow Ouyang Xiyi will set off to the south. I can make arrangement for you guys to meet in secret.” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Suddenly divine light flashed in Kou Zhong’s mind, he said, “I got it!”
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