Da Tang Shuang Long Zhuan is a Webnovel produced by Huang Yi.
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By the time Kou Zhong was pouncing toward Sao Niangzi, he was already one step too late. He saw her face turned black; it was no different to the highly lethal poison hitting Shu Dingtai. He knew that she had killed herself using the dagger that has been dipped into poison that she hid inside her sleeve.
Kou Zhong grabbed her shoulders and shouted, “Was it Du Xing who incited you to do this?”
Sao Niangzi’s eyes emitted a strange light; she recited, “Thou ought to know, that is, before this world was established, Jing Feng, Shan Mu [lit. clean wind, benevolent mother], two envoys of the light from the dark, black, no-light [avidyā (Buddhism concept)/ignorance/ delusion] realm, selected the best, the brave, the strong, the ever victorious, the great wisdom, five distinct bodies …” [sorry, no idea what Huang Yi was talking about.]
Her voice was getting lower and deeper, until it could not be heard anymore. Her head leaned to the side, black blood was oozing from her seven apertures, the poison flared out, and she died.
Hearing that, inwardly Kou Zhong’s hair was standing on its end. That thing that she recited before her death must be some kind of scripture; mysterious, strange, weird, odd, making him feel that this matter was not simple even more.
This moment Xu Ziling extinguished the four fireplaces using his palm wind. The sound of hoof beats was getting nearer; listening to the sound, it looked like there were no less than a hundred horses. Kou Zhong put down Sao Niangzi’s dead body and sprang up and rushed toward the main gate, saying, “Ling Shao, you take care of these people, Xiaodi will block them as long as I can.”
When the main door was opened, suddenly this sealed up world was connected to the wind-and-rain-mingled-together world outside. As Kou Zhong was disappearing into the thunder and lightning, wind and rain, Xu Ziling shocked all the doors and windows open using his fists’ power.
Everybody in the hall were closing their eyes and circulating their power, hoping to force out the poison as soon as possible to deal with the wolf-bandits. The situation was very tense.
Xu Ziling rushed toward Yin Xianhe first. In the hall, his martial art skill was the highest; if he could recover him first, they would have more a.s.surance in subduing the enemy and seizing the victory.
The sound of hoof beats suddenly stopped at the gate outside the wall, and was replaced by the m.u.f.fled explosions of the ram against the solid gate; the sound of one boom after another was coming through.
Xu Ziling’s Long Life Qi entered Yin Xianhe from his back. In this life and death moment, this proud and aloof man had no time to be polite, he received and grabbed Xu Ziling’s true qi, and sent it bit by bit into his inner organs to drive the poison out.
The door bolt was broken, the outer gate was finally opened.
Kou Zhong, with a quiver of arrows hanging on his back and the Extinguished Sun Bow in his hand, was standing on the top of the steps, waiting in strict formation, letting the rain fell on his body. There were two quivers of reserve arrows on both sides; these arrows were supplied by the Dong Bei Bang. He still did not have enough confidence in using the iron bullets, hence he thought using arrows was still relatively more dependable.
He had four arrows in his other hand. For him, using his dexterous hand to raise and shoot four arrows in succession would not take much effort at all.
The rain penetrated his clothes, no-hole-remain-unentered; he was like a statue standing in the midst of the violent wind of the thunderstorm, completely unaffected by anything. His pair of eyes emitted terrifying light. With the help of the light coming from the main building, his gaze was fixed on the battered main gate.
He made up his mind that he would die before letting the enemy storm into the hall, otherwise, these people, who were helpless to fight back, would meet with calamity.
The door broke. Three riders, like apparition appearing from the darkness, rushed in, braving the wind and the rain. They all dressed like demons, wearing black hood covering their face, revealing only their eyes, ears, mouth and nose. These were precisely the wreaking-havoc-in-the-northeast, running-amuck-without-any-scruple wolf-bandits.
Kou Zhong let out a long laughter. ‘Swish! Swish!’ four powerful arrows were shot in rapid succession.
Anybody who suddenly came from the dark to the light, his vision would be more or less affected, not to mention the arrows from Extinguished Sun Bow was as fast as lightning, crossing over the pond in the middle of the round plaza, traversing over the nearly six hundred paces distance, their speed did not diminish the slightest bit, the arrows pierced through the enemy’s chest and went out of his back. The last arrow flew into the dark outside the gate, generating another scream as someone was meeting his death.
Several horses were frightened and rushed about everywhere, throwing the enemy’s momentum into chaos. The horses neighed, the people screamed; nightmarish pandemonium broke loose.
There were six, seven more riders charging through the door. Kou Zhong knew that he had adopted the correct strategy. If he had setup his defense at any point between the pond and the outside gate, due to the enemy had many men, a great force, he would be overwhelmed; potentially the enemy would be able to break through his line of defense, and it might develop into a chaotic warfare. It would not matter how brilliant his saber technique was, for self-defense, it shouldn’t be any problem, but he could forget about stopping the enemy.
Currently, relying on the Extinguished Sun Bow’s long range, he was already able to hold on to the main building’s entrance, where he could get an un.o.bstructed view of the whole plaza, while also had his beloved horse Thousand-li Dream and Xu Ziling’s Ten-thousand-li Spots within range of the divine bow’s protection. Advancing, he could attack, retreating, he could defend; it was indeed an invulnerable position.
Another four arrows flew swiftly. None of the arrows missed the target, four enemies fell down from the horseback. But another ten riders successfully broke through the gate and rushed in, lifting their weapons high, rounded the pond and attacked straight toward him. Kou Zhong’s mind was as clear as the moon in the well, he calculated the timing of the enemy’s arrival without the slightest bit of error.
At this time two more riders entered the main gate. The wolf-bandits on horseback leaned over to bend their bows and put on the arrows, which they aimed at him, in a clear display of exquisite equestrian archery skill.
The eight arrows were launched almost uninterrupted. Like eight streaks of lightning they penetrated the enemies’ body. The speed of the arrows was beyond the enemies’ ability to block; their blood splashed, they obediently fell off their horses.
Two riders attacked from left and right; the riders soared into the air to pounce toward him. Kou Zhong did not have enough time to fetch the arrows, he sprang at an angle, barely missed the arrows shot by the three enemies on horseback appearing from the edge of the pond. Not just in name, but also in reality [idiom], he shot from left and right, using the Extinguished Sun Bow to sweep the incoming enemies, sending both the person and the weapon flying down the steps. Before his feet even landed on the ground, four more arrows came into his hand. ‘Swish! Swish!’ the three archers on the other side were done for.
Losing their riders, the warhorses in the plaza rushing to the left and dashing to the right in the rain, kicking the ground and neighing violently, affecting the other horses tied all around the winding corridor, so that they also neighed and kicked restlessly. On top of that, the lightnings and thunders, the torrents of rain, were making the chaos even more chaotic.
‘Dang!’ The third group of about twenty wolf-bandits rushed in, the iron shield in the leader’s hand was. .h.i.t by Kou Zhong, it shattered immediately, while the wielder screamed and was thrown backwards.
More enemies appeared at the entrance to the nearly a zhang high external wall, one after another they plunged into the plaza. The smarter ones rode around to use the winding corridor where the horses were as a cover, in an attempt to surprise Kou Zhong where he was standing.
Kou Zhong did not pay them any attention at all; he kept shooting as if all his attention was concentrated in it. With the highest speed he was able to reach the quiver, fetched the arrows and shot the arrows; the enemies suffered a crushing defeat, they were unable to form any organized formation.
Finally some enemies managed to reach the bottom of the steps. Kou Zhong folded the Extinguished Sun Bow in his left hand and stored it well, and then he pulled the Moon the in the Well, which name shook the land under the heavens, and said with loud laugh, “Whoever can block my, Kou Zhong’s two moves, Laozi is going to spare his wolf life.”
One enemy, the person, as well as the saber, was hacked by him that he flew and fell down the steps, knocking down one of his companions who was about to pounce up.
Kou Zhong retreated back to defend the main door. With Kou Zhong unleashing his saber power, even if the enemy were able to block his saber, no one would not be able to block his out of the ordinary qi power. The enemy was shocked that he spurted out blood and fell away.
In the blink of an eye the situation became grim, as rivers of blood and dead bodies filled the stone steps.
Under the thunder and lightning filling the sky, the plaza was packed with the enemies. By this moment gradually Kou Zhong’s qi was drained, his strength exhausted, with many cuts and wounds adorning his body. He was able to hold off purely by relying on his firm and persistent, surpa.s.sing-others willpower. The dauntless, unafraid of death wolf-bandits were still attacking; one fell, the next one followed.
Suddenly sword light flared up, catching most of the wolf-bandits’ offensives. Surprisingly, it was the ‘b.u.t.terfly Prince’ Yin Xianhe. The pressure on him greatly reduced, Kou Zhong’s spirit received tremendous boost; he laughed and said, “Good sword!”
Yin Xianhe’s sword had just sliced an enemy’s throat; he responded in only one sentence, “The saber is even better,” before going back to fight the enemy.
“I’m coming!” from his other side, Ren Jun bored out of the mountain to take the attack on Kou Zhong’s right side. Immediately Kou Zhong relaxed. He took the first step forward after falling into the enemy’s siege, hacking and sending the enemy flying away.
Luo Daoren and Qiu Nanshan’s voice came from behind; they shouted together, “Don’t let Cui w.a.n.g get away!”
Laughing wryly, Kou Zhong said, “You guys come out and point him out to me.”
The circle of the battle was suddenly expanded; with the reinforcement of the two forces, the enemy was driven back down the steps. Kou Zhong’s side was finally able to stabilize their defensive troop disposition. The situation was reversed.
This moment Xu Ziling pounced out of the door, made a somersault in the air, and flew over the steps to land in the middle of the enemy formation in the plaza. The wolf-bandits were falling to the east and tumbling to the west, immediately they were routed. Like a ripple on the water, the chaotic situation swelled to the entire enemy’s battle formation. The originally organized wolf-bandits were finally thrown into chaos, so that they were falling into an every-man-for-himself situation.
Kou Zhong and the others, in Mount-Tai-pressing-down-on-the-crown-of-the-head momentum, joined hands to kill their way down the steps, to attack the originally ruthless-like-the-tigers-charging-up-the-steps enemies that they fled to the east and ran away to the west, their acute spirit disappeared immediately.
The bugle horn sounded. The enemy, striving to be the first and fearing to be the last, escaped to the main gate. Kou Zhong and the others followed Xu Ziling running after the enemy’s tail to chase to kill; those who fought back were swept by the wind, leaving more dead bodies. The rain falling in the plaza dyed the ground red with blood; it was such a shocking-to-the-eye, astonishing-the-heart scene.
By the time they reached outside the main gate, the barely remaining forty something wolf-bandits already escaped in the dark, under the wind and the rain. The thunderstorm was somewhat abated, but the weather was still unstable, from time to time there were flashes of lightning in the far away horizon, followed by the faint sound of thunder rolls.
Everybody who came out to battle the wolf-bandits, Xu Ziling included, none did not receive some kind of injury. That kind of chaotic warfare was just like a life and death game to see who received serious injury and who was unable to continue, using life to fight for their life.
After being in mortal danger and escaped alive, as well as knowing that the two were Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling – Su Qing, Shiye Hua, Bei Chenfen, and their men’s att.i.tude changed greatly; they expressed their grat.i.tude and respect endlessly.
The seven workers and three chefs who were working at the kitchen were poisoned too deeply; they gave up their soul, and thus they were added to the number of the ghosts who died unjustly.
a.s.sisted by the Bei Ma Bang, Wai Lian Bang, and Dong Bei Bang disciples, Qiu Nanshan cleaned up the dead bodies, while also wanted to see if there was any living mouth from which he could interrogate Cui w.a.n.g’s secret.
There was still about a sichen before daybreak.
Although Yin Xianhe was willing to sit around with the others, he still did not utter a single word, did not speak half a sentence. n.o.body knew what thought was whirling around in his head, which was different from ordinary people’s heads.
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling used their power to dry up their clothes, to circulate their qi and regulate their breathing to restore their vital energy. Because of his responsibility in helping the people expelling the poison, the wear and tear that Xu Ziling suffered was more severe than Kou Zhong. He was dead tired, so he only sat down and copying Yin Xianhe, he did not say a single word.
Kou Zhong did not have the slightest feeling of great victory; not only they let Cui w.a.n.g slipped away, but the innocent relay station workers also lost their lives, which made him feel totally useless.
Shiye Hua broke the unbearable silence by clearing his throat, and then with solemn expression in place of his usual annoying manner, he politely and modestly said, “Xiaoren have eyes but fail to recognize Mount Tai [idiom], and have committed a lot of offense, hoping that Shaoshuai Ye and Xu Daxia [great hero], being persons of great moral stature who do not remember the offenses committed by those of low moral stature, would grant great forgiveness.”
Lang Tingting showed a look of contempt; apparently she looked down on Shiye Hua’s lowly character of switching from arrogance to deference. Because Lu Shiqing was at the plaza outside helping Qiu Nanshan clearing up the enemy’s dead and wounded, she was left behind in the dining hall.
Kou Zhong shot a glance toward the bodies of the workers covered in cloth at the corner, which also included Sao Niangzi and Shu Dingtai. Sighing inwardly, he said, “We do not need to say that kind of things; since we have been through life and death together, we are comrade-in-arms.”
Shiye Hua spoke haltingly, “Earlier, Shaoshuai Ye indicated that our humble Da Dangjia is related to this matter, I wonder if …”
Kou Zhong looked at Yin Xianhe; he said, “I wonder if Yin Xiong can help Xiaodi here, could you suggest a way out for Da Shiye?”
With wooden expression, as if each word of his was as precious as gold, he said, “Xu Kaishan is Cui w.a.n.g.”
Shiye Hua turned his imploring look at Kou Zhong; he was well aware that continuing to inquire of Yin Xianhe, he would only hit the wall.
Yin Xianhe acted as if Shiye Hua did not exist; he spoke to Kou Zhong, “The first person to suspect Xu Kaishan was Lu Bangzhu, the Senior. One time Lu Bangzhu went to Beiping to look for me, asking me to undertake the task of helping him to deal with Xu Kaishan. I have never had any interest in this kind of things, so I resolutely refused. Ay!”
Kou Zhong knew that remorse and guilt grew in his heart. “What did Lu Bangzhu say?” he asked.
Su Qing, Bei Chenfen, Lang Tingting, who sat on the same table, all revealed a listening-attentively expression. Everybody knew that Xu Kaishan was extremely ambitious, but they never thought that he was the wolf-bandit chief Cui w.a.n.g. Only Luo Daoren still had his eyes closed since he was still treating his injury.
Yin Xianhe slowly said, “Lu Bangzhu had spent a great deal of manpower and resources to investigate his background; he said that he had some connection with the rising Huihe [ethnic group] evil sect called Da Ming Zun Jiao [lit. great light/brightness revered cult].”
Kou Zhong was shaken, he said, “Did you hear that strange scripture Sao Niangzi recited before her death?”
Except for Xu Ziling, everybody shook their head blankly.
Kou Zhong said, “She recited something like before this world was established, Jing Feng, Shan Mu, two envoys of the light from the no-light realm. Strange talk that sounded like scripture but not exactly scripture, it sounded like incantation, but not exactly an incantation. Doesn’t the word light [guangming] have the ‘Ming’ character in it? It is thus clear that Lu Bangzhu did not shoot without aim [idiom].”
Su Qing asked Shiye Hua, “When Anle Tragedy was happening, where was Xu Kaishan?”
Shiye Hua’s countenance turned even more unsightly; lowering his head to avoid other people’s eyes, he spoke in low voice, “He just went alone outside the Pa.s.s. It was only three days after the tragedy that he returned.”
Xu Ziling said, “In that case, the proof that Lu Bangzhu obtained must be enough to confirm that Xu Kaishan is Da Ming Zun Jiao member or perhaps some envoy. Also, it is possible that he told Shu Dingtai about it, and caused the tragedy of his whole family met with violent death.”
Shiye Hua was severely shaken, “What do I do?” he asked.
Instead of answering him, Xu Ziling spoke heavily, “I have exchanged blow with Cui w.a.n.g.”
Everybody’s spirit was greatly aroused.
Smiling wryly, Xu Ziling said, “But I could not retain him. Even fighting one on one, I would have to spend some effort before I can retain him.”
Everybody revealed a disappointed expression.
Qiu Nanshan and Lu Shiqing came back together. Looking at their expression, the others knew that there was no good news.
Sure enough, Qiu Nanshan barely sat down, he heaved a deep sigh and said, “Not even half a living mouth. The wounded killed themselves to be buried with the dead in battle with a dagger that has been dipped in poison; there was not even half a familiar face either. All had strange tattoo on their body. Lu Shixiong guessed that they belonged to the outside ethnic minority; Huihe to be precise.”
The biggest reaction came from Shiye Hua, “Is Lu Xiongdi sure?” he asked in trembling voice.
Lu Shiqing nodded and said, “When Wanbei was young, I accompanied my humble master in a sightseeing trip outside the Pa.s.s, I saw this kind of tattoo’s technology and pattern in Huihe. It is said that it belongs to a local mysterious sect, but any knowledge about this cult is considered inauspicious.”
“But Du Xing is not a Huihe,” Bei Chenfen said.
Letting out a cold snort, Su Qing said, “There is no distinction of race and nationality in Cult and Sect.”
Bei Chenfen glowered ferociously at Su Qing, but he did not refute; this was really not the time to bicker.
Listening to that, Qiu Nanshan and Lu Shiqing were confused. After giving them a bit of explanation, Kou Zhong asked, “What is Qiu Laozong [old chief] going to do about this?”
With a bitter laugh Qiu Nanshan said, “This problem gives me the most headache. Not going to conceal anything from you: nominally, our Yan w.a.n.g is the master of the northeast region, but there are a lot of places still not under his command. Take Du Xing, this kind of hegemon over an area, for example, he has the Tujue and the Qidan supporting him from behind. Even though we are fully aware that secretly he does not shrink from any crime, we are still helpless to do anything about him. Plus this man’s martial art is the top in the northeast, anybody would be somewhat afraid of him.”
Su Qing and Bei Chenfen nodded their head in deject.
Kou Zhong smiled and said, “That gives me a good idea. What happened last night, we can tell it as things really are, except for our suspicions toward Xu Kaishan and Du Xing, and we must not mention anything about the strange scripture that Sao Niangzi recited before her death. Leave Du Xing and Xu Kaishan to me, let Xiaodi deal with them.”
Yin Xianhe spoke heavily, “How could you not consider my, Yin Xianhe’s part in it?”
Quite surprisingly, Bei Chenfen also said, “Our Dong Bei Bang definitely cannot not be involved.”
Su Qing spoke up as well, “Ultimately, our Bangzhu will have to decide on this matter, but whether looking at it from righteousness and justice standpoint, or actual benefit, we also want to pull Du Xing down.”
She was speaking forthrightly; being able to eliminate the Bei Ba Bang, the biggest secret society in the northeast, Wai Lian Bang’s power would definitely enjoy dramatic boost.
Lu Shiqing went on to say, “Our humble master and Lu Bangzhu had life-long friendly relations; this matter, we cannot not to be concerned.”
After everybody expressed their position clearly, Qiu Nanshan resolutely said, “After making clear report to Da w.a.n.g [big king], I will go to see Shaoshuai to discuss this further.”
Luo Daoren opened his eyes and burst into loud laughter, he said, “With Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling, whose name shook the world – to look upon Du Xing, surely Du Xing’s good luck will go down very quickly.”
Kou Zhong asked Xu Ziling, “Ling Shao, what’s your thought on this?”
Xu Ziling replied, “We’ll be in the open, while ladies and gentlemen are in secret. Upon our arrival in Shanhai Pa.s.s, we will change according to the situation. It would be best if we leave before Xu Kaishan arrives, so we won’t b.u.mp into him. Then he would not suspect that we already see through that he and Du Xing are in collusion.”
With pained expression, Shiye Hua nearly begged, “Gentlemen, please point out to me a way out; should I just go as far away as possible? Ay! Have pity on me; above me I still have my parents, below me I have a wife and children.”
“You must never do that,” Kou Zhong said, “Da Shiye is our extremely useful wonder troop [i.e. troops appearing suddenly (in a raid or ambush), but I decide to use the literal translation here]. I guarantee that Xu Kaishan is not going to touch you. But of course, it all depends on whether you can deceive him.”
Xu Ziling said, “Da Shiye must pretend that nothing happened; you must never, ever, show in your expression or action that you are scared of him or suspect him. You should also praise me and Shaoshuai, expressing your grat.i.tude to us; this way, your honorable Dangjia will not doubt you.”
Qiu Nanshan slapped the table and said, “That is absolutely wonderful; I never thought that Xu Xiong has deep understanding of human psychology.”
After discussing the details of their operation, Kou Zhong, Xu Ziling, and Ren Jun immediately hit the road.
In their struggle against Du Xing, they have reached the willow trees make the shade, the flowers give the light [idiom: at one’s darkest hour, a glimmer of hope/light at the end of the tunnel] phase; however, it was not as simple as previously imagined.
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