Book 29 Chapter 13 – Repairing in the Open, Crossing in Secret
Kou Zhong leaped into the gorgeous courtyard where Fu Qian and his men were supposed to be staying in Luoyang. An ominous feeling crept up in his heart, because evidently the people were gone and the place was empty.
Kou Zhong was still not convinced; he went around the area twice, trying to find any clue, but did not find even a piece of note. While he was bewildered and did not know what to do, the alarm went off in his heart; apparently somebody was coming nearby.
Kou Zhong greatly shivered inwardly. The reason why he was able to sense the other person approaching was purely due to his instinct as a martial art master in response to the other person’s presence, not because he heard anything. Could it be that Zhu Yuyan or Wanwan turned around and came back here?
Even worse, could it be that Ning Daoqi or the Four Great Holy Monks were coming here?
Ning Daoqi’s divine-dragon-appearing-suddenly flute sound has scared Yin Gui Pai that they retreated, and it has left a very deep impression in his mind. Although it did not cause Kou Zhong to lose his courage, unavoidably it created a bad feeling in his heart.
Of course Zhu Yuyan thought that it was not worthwhile for her to fight a desperate battle against Ning Daoqi, the Four Great Holy Monks, or even Shi Feixuan and Liao Kong. But Zhu Yuyan turning around and leaving without the slightest hesitation [orig. honor does not allow one to glance back (idiom)], evidently Ning Daoqi’s position as the number one martial art master in the Central Plains was still very stable; no one could top his prestige.
With the Moon in the Well in his hand, Kou Zhong sat down in a chair inside the hall. “Who’s there?” he shouted.
A figure floated in like light smoke and stopped in front of him. Surprisingly, it was Xing Mofei, the number one martial art master under Fu Qian’s command. The latter cupped his fist to salute and said with a laugh, “Finally Shao Shuai is here!”
Kou Zhong was relieved. Returning the saber into its scabbard, he nodded and said, “Turns out Xing Xiong is this brilliant, I was nearly taken in.”
Remaining calm and unruffled in the midst of chaos, Xing Mofei sat down next to him; he smiled and said, “Shao Shuai praised me too much. But Xiaodi received Dawang’s [great king] order to protect Wangzi [prince/son of a king]; naturally I must spend more effort.”
Kou Zhong’s eyes shifted to the pair of saber hilts protruding behind Xing Mofei’s shoulders. “Xing Xiong is using sabers,” he commented.
Xing Mofei replied, “In the Western Desert, I usually used arrows and spears, but upon entering the Central Plains, it is more convenient to change over to a pair of sabers. Not only it is more effective, it also gives me unexpected benefit.”
Kou Zhong seemed to forget that Fu Qian and his men were waiting; greatly interested, he asked, “What benefit?”
Xing Mofei replied, “Saber, spear, sword and halberd, saber is number one. Its blade is fast and it has the strong point that makes it easy to chop; no other weapon can take its place. Furthermore, the shape is ever-changing. These two sabers of mine can be fitted with long handle, very suitable to be used on horseback during battle.”
“Xing Xiong must have quite a reputation in Tuyuhun,” Kou Zhong probed.
From the fact that the other side could switch to other weapons quite easily, he speculated that Xing Mofei’s martial art skill was not under Fu Qian’s.
Xing Mofei spoke in delight, “Mofei has already regarded Shao Shuai as a good friend; to be quite honest, in Tuyuhun Mofei has not met my match.”
Kou Zhong slapped his knee and said with a sigh, “I told you I was mistaken; it is only now that I begin to know how formidable Xing Xiong is.”
Xing Mofei seemed to be indifferent toward his praise; coming back to the topic at hand, he said, “To avoid us becoming the target of enemy’s attack, Shao Zhu [young master, as in master/subordinate relation] abandoned this place and scattered around to lie low until the fire dies down. Xu Ye has arrived earlier than Shao Shuai, and had already headed to Shao Zhu’s hiding place to rendezvous. Shao Shuai, please come with Mofei!”
A moment later, the two met with Fu Qian, Tuli and Xu Ziling, who were hiding in a small, totally unremarkable, house nearby.
Fu Qian said, “When the city is open tomorrow, my men will leave this place by water and land, two paths, to go up north. Along the way we’ll deploy the troops to ensure that Khan can return safely to the Khanate court.”
Kou Zhong casually remarked, “I already inflicted serious damage to Pi Chen, who was disguised as Rong Fengxiang. Luo Shui Bang will be in chaos, hence it will be difficult for them to effectively deal with us.”
While everybody was stunned, Kou Zhong briefly explained, telling them that Demonic Commander Zhao Deyan has already arrived in Luoyang, and that the divine dragon, whose head could be seen but his tail could not – Ning Daoqi also made personal appearance to force Zhu Yuyan to retreat. Everybody felt that strange incidents arose repeatedly. Luoyang has become the place of hidden dragon, crouching tiger.
Smiling wryly, Kou Zhong said to Xu Ziling, “Four Great Old … hey! Four Great Holy Monks are finally here to give us bad luck, and they have Old Ning behind them giving them support. This hurdle is not easy to break through.”
Xu Ziling spoke indifferently, “Let’s talk about that later. In my opinion, Dixin Zunzhe and Ning Daoqi forcing Zhu Yuyan to retreat, their objective was to warn her not to get involved in the matter between the Four Great Holy Monks and us. If I’m guessing correctly, Zhu Yuyan will withdraw from Luoyang. As long as we can deliver a frontal assault on Zhao Deyan, it will be greatly advantageous to our mission of sending Khan returning to his homeland.”
Emotionally moved, Kou Zhong said, “That is not advisable. I am sure Zhao Deyan is still there, helping Pi Chen treating his injury.”
Tuli shook his head and said, “Zhao Deyan’s natural disposition is devious and paranoid, he can’t possibly stay there.”
“What Khan said is reasonable,” Fu Qian said, “But now that we know that Zhao Deyan is here, we can slowly decide how we are going to deal with him.”
After a short pause, he went on, “Since Rong Fengxiang is heavily injured but not dead, it will be difficult for Yin Gui Pai and Zhao Deyan to accomplish anything big. As long as we have thorough arrangement, plus Qin Shubao and Cheng Yaojin are standing on our side, even if Shi Zhixuan made his move, I, Fu Qian, have confidence that I will be able to accompany Khan returning to his home country. Shao Shuai and Ziling Xiong can focus your energy to deal with the Four Great Holy Monks.”
Shaking his head, Tuli said, “If we are leaving, we must leave together. Otherwise, how could we be considered brothers?”
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling’s heart grew warm, secretly thinking that Tuli was just like Ba Fenghan, a real friend.
Fu Qian smiled and said, “I have thought about that problem. But if we get involved in this matter, we would only force Shi Feixuan, Liao Kong, or even Ning Daoqi to make their move to intervene. Not only it would not help in the least, on the contrary, it would complicate this matter more. Much less this really isn’t life and death decisive battle. As long as Shao Shuai and Ziling Xiong can safely break the Four Great Holy Monks’ siege and escape without being captured alive, based on their status, the Four Great Holy Monks can’t possibly make their move for the second time. This is a battle with limiting condition that outsiders should not be involved in.”
Listening to that, Tuli was silent and did not say anything.
Kou Zhong reached out to put his hand on Tuli’s shoulder; he sincerely said, “The first and foremost thing that Khan needs to do right now is to return safely to the north; other things you need not care about. Ling Shao and I grew up taking a beating, what kind of situation we haven’t met?”
Fu Qian cheerfully said, “The person on the spot is baffled, the onlooker sees clear. In my opinion, there is a strong point that the two gentlemen have not utilized to the max. As long as you can exploit this strong point well, although you may not necessarily be stronger than the Four Great Holy Monks’ combined power, but to break the siege and escape, while they are going all-out to capture you alive, shouldn’t be a problem.”
While the two boys were stunned and could only stare blankly, Tuli and Xing Mofei asked in chorus, “What strong point?”
Fu Qian spoke heavily, “It’s the formidable power of them joining their hands in combat.”
Shaken, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling looked at each other. They both felt wide-and-open, everything-linked-up-together, like the clouds and mist were being pushed aside, and suddenly they saw the clear sky.
Ever since they made their first public appearance, nobody knew how many times these two boys had joined hands in combat. In the battle against Ren Shaoming, they relied entirely on their joint-power, combined with proper deployment, and only then were they able to use the weak to defeat the strong, and their names shook the world.
However, the two have never really looked into how to fight together. Based on the two boys familiarity with each other and their tacit understanding, plus both of them had their martial art skill and qi power from the Secret to Long Life and the Jade Annulus of He Clan, combined together, they would be able to display infinite formidable power.
This strategy in using joint-forces to break joint-forces was indeed the most brilliant method; moreover, it was the only opportunity to survive.
Slapping the table, Kou Zhong said, “Wangzi is indeed brilliant. Time is pressing, Ling Shao and I will immediately study this.”
Fu Qian said, “Building a cart behind closed doors [idiom: to be overly subjective and disregard the outside world], how about making use of the three of us to temper yourselves with real combat experience? In my opinion, you only need one night. By the time the sun is up tomorrow, two gentlemen will be able to go to the exam room to sign up to take the test!”
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling stepped into the clamorous ground floor lobby of the House of Dong Restaurant. Immediately they were invited into the big room on the fourth floor.
Yang Gongqing and Zhang Lingzhou have not arrived, not that they missed the appointment and arrived late, but the two boys intentionally came half a sichen early.
Boss Dong personally came to chitchat with them, reminiscing about the past. Although they were just exchanging pleasantries, it showed that this big businessman was someone who valued friendship; otherwise, who would dare, under this kind of wind-and-fire situation, to be associated with the two boys?
After Boss Dong left, Kou Zhong sipped his hot tea, and said with a laugh, “Rong Yaonu must be concealing the fact that her Die is heavily injured, in order to suppress Luo Shui Bang coming to carry out vendetta against us.”
Just now they were deliberately showing their real face on the street, precisely to test Luo Shui Bang’s reaction. If the news of Rong Fengxiang was attacked and was seriously hurt came out, naturally Luo Shui Bang would come to give them bad luck. But if female demon Rong wanted to exercise control over Luo Shui Bang, the best way was to treat this matter as if it had never happened, and then she could pretend that everything was under Rong Fengxiang’s order, and even suppressed the Gang’s men from escalating this matter, to avoid the news that their leader Rong Fengxiang seriously injured and would be difficult to recover from spreading out.
Xu Ziling was eating silently. His mind was still occupied by what he learned when earlier he and Kou Zhong researching the method of fighting together, of mounting a joint attack – by having a real combat experience. In this aspect, they were the best partners made by Heaven and arranged by Earth.
He had already told Kou Zhong the details of his battle against Zhihui and Daoxin, two holy monks, which made this kid’s confidence doubled and his morale rose up.
Lowering his voice, Kou Zhong said, “Since we are going to leave anyway, why don’t we leave tonight? I have detailed plan already in place.”
Xu Ziling nodded his agreement, “What’s your plan?” he asked in soft voice.
Kou Zhong laughed and said, “This is called repairing the plank road by day while secretly crossing the Wei River at Chencang [idiom]. Openly, we are pretending to escort Khan going back to the north, but secretly you are swaggering straight to Guanzhong, while I am carrying out another plan.”
Stunned, Xu Ziling said, “You wanted me to throw away my life?”
Kou Zhong laughed and said, “We are brothers, how could I point out a sinister path for you to take? Do you know that Old Yue and Li Yuan are originally good friends?”
And then he narrated the relationship between Yue Shan and Li Yuan that he heard from Rong Fengxiang, ‘father and daughter’.
Xu Ziling’s eyebrows were deeply knitted, he said, “Is that so? Why did Yue Shan not say even one word about this in his memoir? Besides, if Li Yuan is really familiar with Yue Shan, in just a few words I would have revealed the cloven foot [idiom: to unmask one’s true nature]. Much less Shi Feixuan knew that Yue Shan is my disguise; how would it work?”
Having a card up his sleeve, Kou Zhong said, “Yue Shan is well-known for being reticent; his conducts were nowhere near reasonable. This kind of person is the easiest to impersonate, not to mention he and Li Yuan had not seen each other for many years; at that time, you can change according to the situation, and then you can easily deceive him. As for Shi Xianzi [fairy], no matter what, she is eager to help Li kid, yet in her heart she still has misgivings, she can’t possibly betray you in this way. This is the most brilliant part of my plan. You can transform outside enemy into inside accomplice, it will be greatly beneficial to our mission of hunting for the treasure.”
Xu Ziling spoke heavily, “But the biggest problem before our eyes is the Four Great Holy Monks; how are you going to deal with them?”
Cold, sharp and bright light flashed inside Kou Zhong’s eyes, he said, “We have to resolve this matter before leaving Luoyang, otherwise this secretly-crossing-the-Wei-River-at-Chenchang stratagem would be the dead fetus inside the belly. I plan on taking the initiative to strike first. After eating with Old Zhang and Old Yang, we’ll grope our way into Shan Si [lit. the virtuous temple, not sure if it was the temple’s name], to pit ourselves against the Four Great Holy Monks until everything is clear, to see whether we are actually the prevailing kings or just defeated bandits, who are blindly winding around endlessly.”
Xu Ziling had to agree with Kou Zhong’s plan, which was the most feasible way to extricate themselves out of the current situation.
As a result of Qin Shubao/Cheng Yaojin’s and Fu Qian’s, two party’s cooperation, they could easily put on the false appearance of escorting Tuli back to the north. Moreover, this matter was reasonable and fair, plus it fitted well with the two boys’ heavy-in-feeling, heavy-in-friendship character, so nobody would suspect anything.
Kou Zhong said, “But one of the prerequisites is to paralyze Luo Shui Bang first, to make it difficult for them to monitor our trip to the north, and thus Wang Shichong will think that Qin Shubao and Cheng Yaojin are traveling north along the predetermined route that he personally planned; only then will we be able to beat them at their own game and bring Tuli back to his native place.”
Still not too convinced, Xu Ziling said, “With this arrangement, can you really guarantee that nothing will happen to Tuli?”
Reaching out to Xu Ziling’s shoulder, Kou Zhong smiled and said, “Don’t worry! In order to cover for you, I may have to really follow them for some time; this way I can guarantee that it will be absolutely safe.”
Laughing in low voice, he went on, “Without Luo Shui Bang, Shi Zhixuan and Zhao Deyan, this pair of Demonic King and Demon Commander [Xie Wang and Mo Shuai] has nothing to determine Tuli’s whereabouts. Furthermore, with Old Ning and the Four Great Holy Monks hovering nearby, how could they be completely without any misgivings?”
Smiling wryly, Xu Ziling said, “Let’s put a bet on this his-mother’s-operation according to your plan!”
Kou Zhong raised his cup and laughed aloud; he said, “Here’s to wish our grand plan a success.”
Before he even finished speaking, a clear and melodious, touching female voice came from outside the door, “Your grand plan has already been heard by me; how could it still be a success?”
The two boys were scared, terrified and heartbroken; they could only return a blank stare.
 Idiom, refers to a stratagem used by Liu Bang in 206 BC against Xiang Yu of Chu; fig. to feign one thing while doing another/to cheat under cover of a diversion.