Da Tang Shuang Long Zhuan is a web novel made by Huang Yi.
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Book 12 Chapter 8 – Rushing to Yanshi
Soon the people outside were going to break the door open and enter in. Kou Zhong and Ba Fenghan already prepared some countermeasure. But suddenly the sound of hoof beats came from the south side toward the entrance to the village. The men under Du Ganmu’s leadership immediately stopped their search operation and stood guard in full alert.
Frowning, Kou Zhong said, “Xiao Ling seems to be talking with a woman back there; what’s going on?”
Ba Fenghan turned his head around and glanced toward the open door and the wide-open s.p.a.ce of the courtyard; staying calm and unruffled, he said, “As long as it’s not female demon Wan or Zhu Yuyan, we don’t need to worry about him!”
The sound of hoof beats from the south side was getting louder; the horses must have just come through the top of the hill like them. Without any mountain range to separate them, the sound was a lot clearer. The incoming riders numbered around fifty or sixty people.
Kou Zhong said, “Perhaps these new comers are the enemies looking for us; it would be best if they don’t agree with Du Ganmu and break into a fight, and then we will reap the fisherman’s benefit.”
From his angle of view, Ba Fenghan was able to see the incoming riders ahead of Kou Zhong; smiling, he said, “Looks like your wish can come true! Because the incoming people are Wagang troops.”
This moment the incoming riders entered Kou Zhong’s line of sight. The graceful, pretty and elegant Shen Luoyan caught his eyes.
※ ※ ※
Dong Shuni coquettishly cast Xu Ziling a sideways glance; a bit bashful, she said, “Do you know who I am? How come you have not introduced yourself to me?”
This moment Xu Ziling also heard the hoof beats coming from the southern end of the village. Seeing her maintaining her naïve and spoilt child’s demeanor, as if she could not care less of everything that was happening outside, he could not help feeling somewhat at a loss; he replied, “I am Xu Ziling …”
Dong Shuni’s beautiful eyes lit up, “I have heard a lot of people mentioning your name,” she said excitedly, “They say you and Kou Zhong are two of the most promising men of the younger generation. In that case, the one outside must be Kou Zhong. Hee …! I am lucky I am hiding in here; you must take up the responsibility of protecting me!”
Xu Ziling did not know whether he should laugh or cry; but even if she was not w.a.n.g Shichong’s niece, he still could not refuse to lend a hand. Thereupon he asked, “If you want us to protect you, you must answer a few questions first: who is going to hurt you? And why did you flee to this place alone?”
In distressed, Dong Shuni knitted her black eyebrows; she sighed and said, “They are King of Yue’s men. The King of Yue wanted to kill my uncle, and I found out about it. The King then sent his men after me to kill me, hence Shuni took a boat to escape; who would have thought that the troops overtook me. Hee …! Luckily nujia’s qinggong is not bad, thereupon I escaped to this place, and luckily I came across you guys.”
Xu Ziling was astonished, “Why did King of Yue want to kill your uncle? Isn’t he only a lad of about ten years old?”
Dong Shuni shrugged her shoulders and said, “Great meritorious service shakes the master and provokes traitors; it has been like this since time immemorial. Nujia is heading to Yanshi to see Uncle; will you go with nujia? And who’s that good-looking man who does not look like a Han?”
※ ※ ※
Shen Luoyan and another man flew off their horses. Just by looking at the double-point spear in that man’s hand, Kou Zhong knew that he was w.a.n.g Bodang, the other valiant general who shared the same fame and prestige with Pei Renji.
Recalling Susu’s humiliation, Kou Zhong’s right hand reached out to his back to grab the hilt of his saber.
Ba Fenghan reached out and pressed his shoulder lightly, telling him not to act rashly; he whispered, “Something is amiss here, let’s listen to what they have to say first.”
Du Ganmu stepped forward to meet the two and said, “We have followed Shen Junshi’s direction: from the Great River we searched to this place, yet we have not found any trace of her.”
Kou Zhong carefully sized up w.a.n.g Bodang.
He casually hung the double-point spear over his shoulder; whether it was the way he flew off his horse, or the way he moved about, it was clear that he was a bold and powerful man who did not have any regard to anybody else.
As soon as Kou Zhong’s gaze fell upon him, he appeared to be reacting by turning his gaze toward them; luckily the two had already antic.i.p.ated this and were one step ahead of him by dodging behind the window.
Outside, Shen Luoyan’s tender voice spoke up, “General Du, please be a.s.sured that we have laid out inescapable nets within fifty li radius of this place. Even if her qinggong is brilliant, or even if she grew wings, she cannot fly away. But be aware that she might have martial art masters protecting her, otherwise my bird would not have its left wing wounded.”
Kou Zhong and Ba Fenghan looked at each other and smiled; both thought that luckily that strange bird could not talk, otherwise it would have revealed their secret.
Somewhat displeased, w.a.n.g Bodang said, “Such a cla.s.sified information, how could it leak to Dong Shuni who only knows how to seduce men?”
As if they agreed by chance, both Ba Fenghan and Kou Zhong cast their glances in the direction of the rear courtyard, while thinking how could there be such a coincidence?
The distressed Du Ganmu replied, “Precisely because there’s someone in the imperial court who was obsessed with her beauty that he used this to curry her favor and leak the secret to her; fortunately we found out in a timely manner. Now as long as we can catch her back, it is not too late to mend the pen after the sheep are lost.”
Listening to this point, since Ba Fenghan and Kou Zhong were holders of the pearl of wisdom, they were able to guess the gist of this matter.
Due to Yuwen Huaji leading his troops returning to the north, King Dong of Yue formed an alliance with Li Mi to fight their common enemies. And Li Mi also received the t.i.tle of Wei Guo Gong [Duke of State of Wei] bestowed by the King Dong of Yue.
After Li Mi’s costly victory against Yuwen Huaji, w.a.n.g Shichong saw an opportunity they could exploit, so he led his elite troops to Yanshi, thinking that he could seize this opportunity to attack Li Mi.
Who would have thought that people from the King Dong of Yue’s camp feared w.a.n.g Shichong far more than they were afraid of Li Mi? As a result, they colluded with Li Mi to conspire against w.a.n.g Shichong.
But the confidential affair became not a secret anymore and Dong Shuni found out about it; hence she wanted to go to Yanshi to notify w.a.n.g Shichong. Unfortunately her entourage fell into the pursuing troops’ ambush and was repeatedly hunted down until she was the only one remained and relying on her superior qinggong she was able to escape to this place.
Kou Zhong no longer interested to listen further; after discussing his plan with Ba Fenghan, he slipped out from the rear door.
※ ※ ※
The double-door opened. Ba Fenghan strode out, stretched his limbs, and swept his gaze around at Shen Luoyan, w.a.n.g Bodang, Du Ganmu, and the hundred or so men from both parties, who were stunned to see him. Laughing aloud, he said, “Such a confidential matter, yet gentlemen are talking about it on the street in broad daylight as if it was a trivial matter. Very funny, very amusing!”
Du Ganmu’s countenance changed, “Ba Fenghan!” he exclaimed.
Throwing his head back, w.a.n.g Bodang laughed aloud and said, “There’s a path to paradise you didn’t want to take, there’s no door to h.e.l.l yet you insist on breaking in. We happen to receive an order to catch you. Where are the other two kids?”
Shen Luoyan, on the other hand, looked doubtful. Signaling with her hand, she commanded about a dozen or so of his men to fan out to surround Ba Fenghan, who was still standing in front of the house.
Ba Fenghan chuckled calmly and said, “Since I dare to come out and stand here, naturally I have confidence in dealing with you.”
A big man with an especially fierce and tough appearance on Shen Luoyan’s left suddenly charged forward, his broadsword hacked down on Ba Fenghan’s head.
Ba Fenghan laughed proudly; without anybody seeing how he moved, the Beheading Mystery Sword suddenly appeared in his left hand. Without even moving his head, by only relying on his hearing to listen to the wind to determine position, he swung the sword to meet the enemy’s saber. The man was shaken and his arm turned numb. By the time he hastily withdrew in shock, the light from Ba Fenghan’s sword suddenly flared out.
The fierce and tough man was jolted as if he was struck by lightning; blood splashed from the pit of his stomach, he was thrown back and fell to the ground.
Everybody’s countenance, including w.a.n.g Bodang’s, changed.
Actually, even Ba Fenghan himself did not expect his sword qi to be this formidable.
The man had already withdrawn a zhang away, yet the sword qi still split his chest that he died; something that previously was difficult for him to accomplish.
After the hard training on the mountain for ten days plus repeated b.l.o.o.d.y battles, unwittingly he had made a breakthrough, which he had never even dreamed of, in martial art cultivation.
In that instant, flashing through his mind were series of events where he was with Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling, and they were treating one another with absolute sincerity; a warm, happy feeling burst out in his heart. To him, who was usually very cold and detached toward interpersonal relationship, this was a highly unusual feeling.
Returning the sword to its sheathe, Ba Fenghan coldly said, “I, Ba Fenghan, have been through thousands of battles, big and small, but n.o.body has been able to take my life. I want to see if you can be the exception.”
w.a.n.g Bodang’s expression became even more incomparably heavy. His double-point spear shot out and twirled in the air, before returning to his chest, which he pointed toward Ba Fenghan.
The other men leaped onto the roof, some broke through the windows into the house behind Ba Fenghan, forming layer upon layer of heavy siege around him.
Shen Luoyan took a step forward and shouted tenderly, “Where did Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling go?”
Ba Fenghan laughed involuntarily and said, “I am in charge of the killing, they are in charge of creating disturbance; is Shen Junshi clear now?”
“Not good!” Shen Luoyan blurted out.
Chapter 8 – Part 2
Ba Fenghan laughed aloud and said, “It’s too late!”
Pulling the sword out, he launched the ‘sweeping a thousand-army’ style. Who did not fear his ability to kill from a distance of a zhang away? They only felt the invisible [lit. no-shadow no-shape] sword qi storming in; n.o.body did not stumble and stagger back in fear.
At this point, the forest behind the village caught fire; heavy smoke soared to the sky.
Ba Fenghan and his sword fused into one ent.i.ty, he soared to evade w.a.n.g Bodang’s double-point spear, as well as Du Ganmu’s pair of sabers, and on to the roof. And then to avoid the men blocking his way, he soared once again toward the heavy smoke behind the village, and in the blink of an eye disappeared into the forest.
※ ※ ※
Kou Zhong was squatting. “Heavens!” he groaned good-naturedly, “We’re finally here. Niang! This is the Great River!”
The rolling water of Yellow River flowed swiftly under a low cliff.
This section of the River was quite narrow, but it was still about ten zhang wide. The water dashed against the rocks on both sides of the river, the billows rolled and the waves splashed, creating myriad changes in an instant; raging waves crashing onto the sh.o.r.e, surging up violently, creating a spectacular sight. On the opposite back was an endless stretch of virgin forest, interspersed with towering, strange-looking rocks.
Xu Ziling’s mind was also raging; moving closer to the sh.o.r.e, he stared at the water crashing against the rocks, which then flowed back swiftly, arousing smaller eddies, which roared wildly and disappeared just as quickly.
Ba Fenghan came over to Xu Ziling and exclaimed in admiration, “The first time I see the Great River was the section that runs through Longxi. The power of its surging waves was as if it tumbled down for the sky. It simply took my breath away.”
Dong Shuni has always been the center of attention of everybody around her, no matter where she was, whether around royal family and descendants of feudal aristocrats, or the sons of the high-ranking officials of the imperial court. Everybody was always trying to flatter her in every possible way.
Only these three men, who had saved her from danger, did not appear to have any regards toward her.
Like right now, for example; their amazement at the River far surpa.s.sed their pleasant surprise at seeing her for the first time.
A fresh, exotic feeling started to appear in her heart, mixed with resentment and jealousy. Visibly annoyed, she said, “The pursuing troops are coming! You are still chitchatting about the wind and the moon!”
With a solemn expression Kou Zhong puckered his lips to kiss the land by the riverbank. Ba Fenghan looked back and smiled, “Miss, don’t worry,” he said, “After the sun set behind the western hills, we’ll set out toward Yanshi. We just take this opportunity to rest a bit, while enjoying the spectacular view of the setting sun on the Great River.”
Dong Shuni felt that whether in his speaking voice, his tone, and his manner, there was some kind of intimidating charm that made people willing to submit; unexpectedly she did not dare to argue. Grumpily she walked to the side and picked a rock to sit down, but her eyes were fixed on Xu Ziling.
She had quite a good impression on this casual yet elegant, and standing-above-the-crowd, young man.
Yet Xu Ziling did not show the least bit of attention to her; he was preoccupied with an interesting discussion about the River with Ba Fenghan.
Finally Kou Zhong rose up and walked over to a rock next to her and sat down. Revealing a bright smile, he spoke softly, “Are you hungry?”
“At last someone cares about Shuni!” Dong Shuni happily said, “I am not only hungry, I am starving as h.e.l.l. Do you have something to eat?”
Seeing her brightening mood, Kou Zhong felt that she had some kind of innocent and unaffected, touching look, but every frown and every smile also carried some kind of seductive-to-the-bone charm. He spoke cheerfully, “Ol’ Ba still has a few slices of air-dried meat; I personally dressed it, it’s very tasty. Would you like to try some?”
Dong Shuni shook her head straightaway.
Kou Zhong was surprised, “Aren’t you starving?” he asked.
Dong Shuni leaned over and whispered in his ear, “I don’t want to eat his food, he is so mean to me!”
Hearing that, even Kou Zhong’s ear was melting. Unable to help laughing, he called out, “Ol’ Ba! When did you offend Big Miss Dong, so that even though she is starving, she refused to eat your food?”
Ba Fenghan laughed aloud. Walking over, he offered a piece of dried meat, while solemnly laughed and said, “Miss Dong, a person of great moral stature does not remember the offenses committed by one of low moral stature. Please be my guest!”
It was obvious that Dong Shuni enjoyed this treatment very much; pursing her lips, she giggled softly, while her pretty face blushed slightly. Her demeanor was extremely attractive.
Swiftly she took the slice of dried meat offered to her, tore a piece and ate it. “That’s more like it,” she said.
Ba Fenghan shook his head and smiled despite of himself; patting Kou Zhong’s shoulder, he stuffed the rest of the meat into his hands, and then returned to Xu Ziling’s side without saying anything.
Kou Zhong was pleasantly surprised that Ba Fenghan was giving him so much face, and he knew that Ba Fenghan was thinking of Dong Shuni’s importance to him; he could not help feeling warm in his heart, and Ba Fenghan’s standing in his heart rose up.
Ba Fenghan’s original character was not like this at all.
Dong Shuni was eating very fast; taking the second piece of dried meat, she laughed and said, “Your handiwork is indeed not too shabby.”
This moment Ba Fenghan came over again. Signaling Kou Zhong with his eyes, he said, “Ziling and I are going up to a high place to look around. Zhong Shao, you stay here to accompany Big Miss taking a rest for a while, as soon as Ziling and I come back we’ll be on our way.”
Kou Zhong agreed. After the two left, he changed the subject, “Actually, who wanted to harm your Da Jiujiu? Is it King of Yue and Yuan Wendu?”
After finishing the second piece of meat, which she ate with gusto, she knitted her beautiful eyebrows and said, “What do they have that they dare to conspire against Da Jiujiu? Naturally there is another big power in the background supporting them!”
Kou Zhong was stunned, “You are not talking about Li Mi, are you?” he asked.
Dong Shuni wrinkled her cute little nose, “You are wrong!” she said, “However, who it is, I can only tell Da Jiujiu. Da Jiujiu has taught me to make it clear which matter I can tell others, which matter I must keep from others. Hey! The sun is set.”
Kou Zhong was upset; he thought that if merely you, a baby girl, can confound me, how could I vie for the world against the outstanding heroes?
After racking his brains, an inspiration suddenly flashed in his mind. He laughed and said, “Even if you don’t want to tell me, I know who it is. Must be the Dugu Clan, am I right? Ha!”
Dong Shuni stared at him in disbelief with her big beautiful eyes. Just by looking at her expression Kou Zhong knew he was right.
A bit unwilling to concede, she said angrily, “You indeed have a bit of skill, no wonder Da Jiujiu pays attention your affairs. I do not like a single person from the Dugu Clan.”
After a short pause she went on, “Especially that Dugu Feng. Every time he sees me, he always looks at me from head to toes, as if he wanted to strip me off with his eyes; I loathe him very much.”
That kind of talk coming out from such a stunning, enchantingly beautiful pair of lips, Kou Zhong could not stop his heart from being swept away. But recalling the business at hand, he promptly pushed his wild fantasy far away. “How’s the current situation at Luoyang?” he asked, “Has it fallen into the Dugu Clan’s hands?”
“In their dram!” Dong Shuni spoke in disdain, “The city guardians, Lang Feng Shushu [uncle] and Song Mengqiu Shushu are Da Jiujiu’s trusted aides; only the Imperial Bodyguards of the Palace are under the Dugu Clan’s control. Their strength is merely five thousands; if they do not use dirty trick, they are not Da Jiujiu’s match.”
Kou Zhong thought, ‘So that’s how it is’. He thought that if he were the King Dong of Yue, he would want to make a plan to kill w.a.n.g Shichong as well.
Dong Shuni suddenly said, “It’s very interesting talking with you! You are smart, and you are good-looking as well!”
Kou Zhong did not know whether to laugh or to cry, “You are the true stunning beauty,” he said, “Your beauty is capable of causing the downfall of a country. Have your Da Jiujiu betrothed you yet?”
“I am only seventeen!” Dong Shuni said, “I don’t want to get married that soon! Hee …! Do you want to marry me?”
Kou Zhong was stunned, “You are not only pretty, but you are very special as well. This is the first time that a pretty girl asks me that question.”
Dong Shuni was slightly annoyed, “Can’t we talk about it?” she pouted, “We are not talking for real anyway. You, Han people, are really overly cautious.”
Kou Zhong was dumbstruck. Grabbing his head, he said, “Are you saying you are not a Han?”
Dong Shuni was snappy, “Who told you I am a Han? Everybody knows Da Jiujiu is not a Han, only you don’t.”
Kou Zhong examined her flowery jade countenance closely, “What are you, then?” he tried to pry her.
Very pleased with herself, Dong Shuni said, “You are so smart; why don’t you guess?”
While Kou Zhong was left speechless, Xu Ziling and Ba Fenghan stormed in, “Let’s Go!” they shouted.
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