Book 57 Chapter 9 – A New Starting Point
Inside the visitor hall of the Jing Nian Chan Yuan, Fan Qinghui, dressed in a Buddhist nun garment, read Song Que’s secret letter, and then put it inside her bosom, her expression tranquil, her gaze swept across her beloved disciple Shi Feixuan, sitting on her right, and then it landed on Xu Ziling on her left, she spoke glibly, “In his letter, Fazhu puts forward a thought with very deep meaning, which is that our world is constantly looking for a new starting point. When Li Shimin ascended to the emperor throne, the political and economic situation under the full control of high-schools and big clans will be completely shattered. Although Li Shimin came from a rich and powerful family with the most power, the fact is that he has to destroy the rich and powerful families’ power before he could obtain his position. Therefore, although the rich and powerful family system enables him to reach the apex, but it is also because of him that it will be destroyed, the effect will be the most important political factors from the Wei, Jin, the Southern and Northern Dynasties, up to the old Sui – will cease to exist, the new dynasty will have a completely new look.”
Shi Feixuan asked, “Since Song Fazhu already has this view, what is he going to do about it?” Translated by foxs
Fan Qinghui smiled comfortably and said, “Song Fazhu is a sage who has never been fettered by fame, position and power. He might, after the world is unified and stabilized, disband the Song Family’s intimidating-the-south power.”
Inwardly, Xu Ziling was shocked, it increased his admiration for Song Que even more. Song Que’s approach indeed lived up to Fan Qinghui’s sage reputation. One day Song Que existed, or perhaps Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling were still alive, the Song Family’s power would not have any problem. But politics is ruthless, the new dynasty after the great unification would not allow any other huge armed forces to exist. Therefore, after Song Que, Kou Zhong, and so on have passed away one by one, supposing the barely surviving Song Clan still preserved the wild fantasy of dominating one region, they would face imminent catastrophe. For Song Que to write this, indeed his insight was far-reaching, he resolved the future disaster to the Song Family’s descendants and made it intangible.
Fan Qinghui said, “I specifically mentioned this in the hope that Ziling would have deep understanding of the pros and cons of this matter. Before Li Shimin ascends to the imperial throne, Ziling will inform him one step ahead of Song Xiong’s intention, so that it will produce greater effectiveness.” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Xu Ziling understood; Song Que, while he still has the power to upend heaven and earth, to influence the overall situation of the world – decided on this approach regarding the fate of the Song Clan, which was more powerful than any words, to express his support for Li Shimin’s unification of the world, to make Li Shimin feel upright deep in his heart. Because Li Shimin obtaining the world was due to Song Que and Kou Zhong’s vigorous support, he was grateful to the Song Family, but at the same time he also had deep restraining fear. If the Song Family grew even bigger, they might become serious thorn in his administration.
The new dynasty should have a new system, Song Que’s words formally announced the death of the rich and powerful family system.
Fan Qinghui spoke indifferently, “A lot of Song Xiong‘s thoughts are derived from the assiduous cultivation of the Way of the Saber. This thought is like his Heavenly Saber, carrying the once-release-there-is-no-retreat attitude; only this way he will have the opportunity to permanently exchange weapons of war for gifts of jade and silk [idiom: to turn hostility into friendship], which will also remove a load on my mind.”
The admiration in Xu Ziling’s heart made him prostrating on the ground in admiration. Whether Song Que or Fan Qinghui, their way of thinking was to look at the entire era and the overall situation, hence they were able to see what other people could not see. Like Kou Zhong and he, for example, they never considered that after Li Shimin obtained the world, how the Song Family’s power might affect the new dynasty. Translated by foxs
Fan Qinghui continued, “In his letter, Song Xiong has another proposal. If Li Shimin succeeds in ascending the throne, he hopes that he would never change the official name of his kingdom, but continue to use the Tang Dynasty title. This will play a key role in stabilizing people’s hearts.”
Shi Feixuan revealed a rarely-seen spoilt and naive expression, her pretty eyebrows lightly knitted, she said, “Ah, Shizun! Did Fazhu mention anything else in the letter?”
Fan Qinghui smiled and said, “Xuan’er wants to know?”
Her beautiful eyes opened wide, Shi Feixuan floated her gaze towards Xu Ziling and asked, “Does Ziling want to know?”
An intoxicating feeling like young husband and wife bantering flirtatiously with Shi Feixuan grew in Xu Ziling’s heart, this moment, she was just like a little girl acting like a spoiled child in front of her enshi [greatly respected (lit. kind/benevolent) master], although actually he had no intention of prying in to the private matter between Fan Qinghui and Song Que, he had no choice but to say that he had the same mind with Shi Feixuan, hence he reluctantly nodded.
Shi Feixuan smiled sweetly, roller her eyes at him, carrying heavy implication of ‘I figure you would be tactful enough to support me’. Turning to her master Fan Qinghui, she said, “Now it’s two to one, Shizun, tell us!”
A fantastic feeling welled up in Xu Ziling’s heart. His first impression of Fan Qinghui was that she did not put on any air of being a Zhaizhu [monastery master], she was amiable and approachable. At this moment, he even felt the intimacy between the master and disciple. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Not only Fan Qinghui did not think it was unfilial, she even smiled and said, “Since Xuan’er wants to know, so what if as the master I am telling you? Song Que invites your master to meet him in Lingnan.”
Tranquil, Shi Feixuan asked, “Shizun, what do you think?”
Fan Qinghui replied indifferently, “Before returning to Jingzhai, your master will go to Lingnan.”
Turning to Xu Ziling, she asked, “Ziling, how much confidence do you have on the battle of Chang’an?”
Smiling bitterly, Xu Ziling replied, “Our only advantage is to use the Duke Yang’s Treasure-house to launch a sudden and violent attack, therefore, one battle and we must succeed, otherwise there will never be another chance. The problem is that the current situation in Chang’an is extremely complex. Li Yuan obtains the helping hand of the other two Clans’ martial art masters, his strength is doubled. In frontal confrontation, merely his imperial guards are beyond our ability to withstand. Moreover, Chang’an’s Palace City is like a city inside Chang’an City, attacking Palace City is not much different from officially attacking Chang’an City, so I really do not dare to have any confidence. Furthermore, other than dealing with the imperial guards and the Changlin Army, when we launch the offensive, there is high probability that Bi Xuan and Fu Cailin will be in Chang’an, which will increase the variables even more.” Translated by foxs
Sighing lightly, Fan Qinghui said, “In everything, since there are advantages, then there must be disadvantages. Now that Ning Dao Xiong and Song Xiong both sides suffer, they are unable to contribute at this critical moment. The heavy responsibility will fall on your, new generation’s shoulders, hence Song Xiong’s sigh of sorrow on the constant search of new starting point for the world. Ziling must not forget your greatest advantage; in addition to Duke Yang’s Treasure-house, there are also Shaoshuai, Qin Wang and Ziling, your several people’s influence, you could play an unexpected role. You must never, ever lightly neglect this.”
Hearing that, Xu Ziling understood tacitly, he nodded his head, receiving the instructions.
Shi Feixuan spoke softly, “Xuan’er is most worried about Shi Zhixuan.”
In his heart, Xu Ziling was secretly shaken, because due to Shi Qingxuan’s existence, he had an ambiguous and subtle relationship with Shi Zhixuan, so that his guarding against Shi Zhixuan was not as intense Shi Feixuan’s. In fact, whether in terms of talent, martial art skill, insight, or usage of conspiracy technique, the person who could comprehensively surpass Shi Zhixuan simply did not exist in the world. If it weren’t for Shi Qingxuan’s flaw, in the battle against Shi Zhixuan, he and Kou Zhong would have been defeated early on. Supposing in this urgent and important moment Shi Zhixuan dealt with them with all his strength, they would definitely fail and would be wiped over the floor.
Fan Qinghui asked him, “What does Ziling think on this aspect?”
Xu Ziling sighed inwardly, he spoke heavily, “When we arrive in Chang’an, the first thing we must do is to clear away Shi Zhixuan, this obstacle, otherwise, no need to mention anything else.” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Kou Zhong stepped into the brightly lit inner hall. Lei Jiuzhi, Hou Xibai and Yin Xianhe, three men, were sitting around the round table in the middle of the hall, they seemed to be in some kind of argument. Following behind him, Ba Fenghan stopped at the entrance, leaning against the portico with folded arms, looking at the four men in the hall with amusement.
Kou Zhong came behind Hou Xibai and Yin Xianhe, put his hands on the two men’s shoulders, and said in astonishment, “What are you arguing about?”
Lei Jiuzhi sighed and said, “Xiao Hou and I have exhausted our lips and tongue, yet failed to persuade him to stay here.”
Smiling ruefully, Hou Xibai said, “How many days have you been reunited with the Meizi [younger sister], which you have lost for more than ten years? How could you take the risk to go to Chang’an without careful consideration? You are not giving thought to yourself, plus you must not make Xiao He’er anxious.”
The more Lei Jiuzhi talked, the angrier he got, he said, “We asked him the reason why he simply must go to Chang’an, but he adamantly refused to speak.”
Kou Zhong moved in front of the three and sat down across the table. After looking up and down at Yin Xianhe for half a day, he suddenly laughed aloud and said, “I have a guess on the reason why Yin Xiong simply must go to Chang’an.”
Immediately Yin Xianhe’s old face blushed. Translated by foxs
Kou Zhong slapped the table and shouted, “I really guessed it correctly!”
Far away at the entrance of the hall, Ba Fenghan sighed and said, “Yin Xiong has fallen into Kou Zhong’s evil scheme.”
Lei Jiuzhi and Hou Xibai suddenly realized that Kou Zhong’s first sentence was purely a tiger’s roar [i.e. bluffing] to Yin Xianhe, and because of his blushing reaction, he inferred the real reason.
Hou Xibai understood. Blurted out laughing, he said, “With such a good reason, why didn’t Yin Xiong say it earlier? You troubled me and Lei Dage for half a night.”
Lei Jiuzhi raised his thumb toward Kou Zhong and praised, “You are quite all right. Because Ji Qian is going back to Chang’an, Yin Xiong cannot bear the suffering of yearning between the two places.”
Yin Xianhe spoke dejectedly, “I was precisely afraid that you guys will make fun of me like this.”
The sound of the foot arose, Xiao He’er, like a happy little bird, flew in. When she passed Ba Fenghan, she even made a cute face at him. Breathless, she sat next to Kou Zhong and said, “I want to come with Kou Dage to Chang’an.”
Severely shaken, Yin Xianhe’s countenance changed, he said, “You are not allowed to go!” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Immediately Xiao He’er’s pair of eyes turned very red, she looked at Yin Xianhe tearfully and said, “Xuanshu Gongzi wants to avenge his father, how can I not exert myself? Don’t underestimate me, I really know how to gather intelligence.”
Everybody looked at the main door, Wang Xuanshu, tears flowing down his face, knelt down at the entrance of the inner hall, and spoke mournfully, “Shaoshuai, please allow me to come with you to Chang’an.”
Kou Zhong looked at Xiao He’er, then looked at Wang Xuanshu, knitting his brows, he said, “Xuanshu, quickly get up!”
Sobbing, Wang Xuanshu said, “Shaoshuai, please promise Xuanshu first.”
Kou Zhong grabbed his head and said, “I suddenly felt something is very not right, what’s causing it?”
Ba Fenghan came over unhurriedly and said, “Shaoshuai feels something is not right, it makes sense. The battle of Chang’an this time, the danger is no less than that of a magnificent army with thousands of men and horses’ decisive battle on the battlefield, only the venue is moved into the city, including street fighting and fierce battle to attack the Palace City. Fighting a battle has the fighting-a-battle rule, definitely cannot be ambiguous, otherwise we will lose this decisive battle.”
While speaking the last sentence, he sat down on Xiao He’er’s other side.
Kou Zhong slapped the table and said, “Fenghan’s example is right on target, it is indeed a priceless advice.” Translated by foxs
With tears rolling down her face, Xiao He’er looked at Ba Fenghan and asked, “What is fighting-a-battle rule?”
Ba Fenghan replied indifferently, “First of all, there is order on the top and execution on the bottom. We have the best in the world, Kou Zhong on the offensive and Li Shimin on the defensive, they can definitely formulate the most perfect offensive and defensive strategy. However, if the top issues the order, but the people below each one has his own opinions, any strategy will be in vain. Therefore, all actions and each person’s task must be assigned by Shaoshuai. You can put forward your opinions, but the final decision must come from Shaoshuai, there must be no objection, otherwise, how can we bring out our biggest fighting prowess?”
Turning to Wang Xuanshu, he shouted, “Xuanshu Gongzi has not gotten up yet?”
Violently shaken, Wang Xuanshu stood up with his head hung low, he spoke in shame, “Xuanshu knows his guilt!”
Kou Zhong said, “Xuanshu rest assured, I will definitely give you a chance to exert yourself, but no need to haggle over every ounce whether you can kill Yang WenGan or Yang Xuyan with your own hands. The overall victory is the most important. Otherwise, we could get away or win a temporary victory, but the world will still be in a situation of confrontation between the north and the south, or in Guanzhong and Guanwai [inside and outside the Pass, respectively], don’t know how much pain common people will still have to suffer! In this kind of situation, personal gratitude and grudges should be put in secondary position.” foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Lei Jiuzhi nodded and said, “It should be so!”
Kou Zhong looked at Yin Xianhe and said, “We will go to Chang’an in batches. I, Lao Ba and Xiao Hou will go first to ascertain the situation, and then it will be Yin Xiong and Ji Qian Guniang’s turn to go Chang’an. Xuanshu should be in the last group of people to enter the city, Xiao He’er must stay here, obediently wait for us to take control of the entire Chang’an, and then we’ll pick you up to meet with Yin Xiong and Xuanshu.”
Xiao He’er wanted to say something but then hesitated, finally she did not dare to have any objections.
While everyone was breathing a sigh of relief, Song Lu came.
Kou Zhong knew that he had secret matters to discuss, hence he dismissed Wang Xuanshu and Xiao He’er, and respectfully invited Song Lu to sit down.
Song Lu spoke heavily, “ErGe already knows about this.”
Everybody was shaken inwardly. Song Zhi was the second figure within the Song Clan, and the representative of the pro-war faction of the Song Family even more. Whether he approved or not, the implication would be enormous. All eyes were focused on Song Lu. Translated by foxs
Xu Ziling and Shi Feixuan came to inner courtyard at the foot of the mountain, they were reluctant to part.
Shi Feixuan spoke softly, “Does Ziling know where Dong Da Si [lit. Eastern Big Temple] is?”
Xu Ziling nodded and said, “It’s next to Yu He Guang [lit. jade crane plain (vast area of land), I think it should be Yu He An – (Buddhist) nunnery, ‘guang’ and ‘an’ have the same radical], it was there that I met Li Yuan for the first time.”
Shi Feixuan said, “Liao Kong Dashi will stay there and exert his strength to the greatest extent to help you accomplishing the great thing. As long as you look for Huangshan Dashi [lit. Great Master Barren Mountain], you can see him. His Zen power have reached the perfection realm, he could pose a very big threat to Shi Zhixuan.”
Stunned, Xu Ziling said, “Isn’t Feixuan going to go to Chang’an?”
Shi Feixuan said wittily, “Who said I won’t go? But Feixuan has to do some things before I can set off. When the time comes, naturally I will have a way to see you, Xu Ziling.”
Xu Ziling smiled calmly, he flew backward, and raising his voice, he said, “Feixuan, no need to see me off! I’ll see you in Chang’an!”
Shi Feixuan watched him disappearing into the depths of the wind and the snow, before turning around and returning to the Chanyuan. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Song Lu said, “No one knows what Dage and he were talking about. I only know that after Dage summoned him back, the two talked for one or two sichen in the Mo Dao Tang, and then ErGe returned to the frontline and continued fighting Lin Shihong.”
Heaving a sigh of relief, Kou Zhong said, “It looks like Zhi Shu should have no problem.”
Song Lu nodded and said, “It should be so. The news came from Yuzhi via the flying pigeons. It also mentioned that Dage issued an order, asking me to handpick one thousand five hundred elite troops from the Song Family’s younger generation and the Li Liao officers and soldiers. Combined with the elite troops of the Shao Shuai Army, they will form the force for the Battle of Chang’an. First of all, these thousand and five hundred men must have no problems with loyalty, and secondly, they must be martial art masters, one able to block one hundred. Dage also pointed out that when our three thousand elite troops sneak into Guanzhong, they must not bring any weapons, so as not to reveal our identity.”
Lei Jiuzhi spoke cheerfully, “Leave this matter to me, I will prepare forged identification document for them, in order to fool people’s eyes and ears.”
Song Lu laughed and said, “Why go to a lot of trouble? Dage already notified Xie Hui, our men can receive official identification documents from him, pretending to be traveling merchants from Bashu, this way it will be more foolproof.”
Kou Zhong spoke in delight, “I am asking Lu Shu and Lei Dage to carefully look into the details, otherwise, several thousands of business travelers suddenly come pouring into the Pass via the Shu Road through Hanzhong, people who see it will still think it’s odd. Fortunately, each one has excellent martial art skill, they can climb the mountains and cross over mountain ridges, coming in while the gods do not know, the ghosts do not perceive.” Translated by foxs
And then he rose to his full height and said, “Those who are setting off tomorrow, go back now and have a good rest. I hope that the battle of Chang’an will be the last decisive battle in the Central Earth.”
Moving behind Song Lu again, he leaned over and spoke in a low voice, “Did Zhizhi mention anything about Xiaodi in the letter?”
Song Lu laughed involuntarily and said, “I nearly forget! She said hello to you, this is the first time I broke her confidence.”
Delighted, Kou Zhong laughed heartily, perfectly contented, he left with Ba Fenghan and Hou Xibai.
Xu Ziling galloped in the direction of Luoyang.
He has sneaked into Luoyang many times under the cover of night, but the feeling this time was different, there was no longer any contradictions and hesitations, the target was distinct and clear-cut, the bottom of his heart solid.
In the wind and snow filling the whole sky, the lights of Luoyang ahead were growing brighter and brighter, a group of men and horses appeared on the hillside ahead.
Without the slightest hesitation Xu Ziling came directly to meet them.
Nearly thirty riders discovered his track, they rushed down the hillside.
The leader was Li Jing, “Ziling is here!” he spoke in delight. foxswuxia.wordpress.com
Both sides met in the snowy field at the foot of the slope, Li Jing and his men dismounted their horses. Under Li Jing’s instructions, four personal soldiers put on Tang Army uniform for Xu Ziling.
“How is the situation?” Xu Ziling asked.
Li Jing replied, “As expected, Huangshang handed down an imperial edict, summoning Qin Wang to return to Chang’an to report on his duties.”
Xu Ziling asked, “Is there any limit to the number of soldiers brought by Qin Wang returning to Chang’an?”
Li Jing replied, “Not only there is no limit to the number of people, he also specifically instructed the principal high-ranking military officers of Tian Ce Fu to return to Chang’an with their team, so that Huangshang could evaluate their merits and bestow reward in person, Li Shiji’s name is also on the list.”
Xu Ziling sighed and said, “This is to catch everything in the one net [idiom].”
The personal soldiers brought warhorses, everyone flew on their horses and galloped towards Luoyang.
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