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Da Tang Shuang Long Zhuan
Book 55 Chapter 7 – Peaceful Mission

Book 55 Chapter 7 – Peaceful Mission
Translator: Foxs' Wuxia
The moment river battle could happen at any moment, a long laughter suddenly rose up from the enemy’s ship, and a voice spoke, “Kou Zhong, my child! Why so easy to get angry? Young people must guard against making small achievements and the eye can see nothing worthwhile all around [idiom: arrogant].”
Kou Zhong was shaken awake from the sorrow of cherishing the memory of Fu Junchuo, he was greatly embarrassed; he responded, “Turns out it’s you, the Senior. Please forgive Child for forgetting my manners, Die’s lesson is well-received, in the future, Child will be careful and will exercise restrain in mannerism.”
Unexpectedly it was Du Fuwei’s personal ship.
Lei Jiuzhi hurriedly ordered the ship to slow down and put away the weapons.
By this time, the two sides gradually approached; under the light of the lanterns, they could see that the bows of the two ships were crowded to bursting point with the Jianghuai army, everybody was striving to see Kou Zhong’s elegant manner.
Du Fuwei was standing on the platform of the battleship on the left, escorted by high-ranking military officers, his personal guards. He looked happy and pleased, just like a father seeing his promising son; chuckling gently, he said, “One who does not know is not guilty. Besides, you are one of the few in the world who have enough qualifications to speak to Fu Gongyou like this. Ha! There is also Ziling coming to visit me, how can I, Du Fuwei not be very happy?”
Xu Ziling couldn’t help but feeling like a child’s admiring his father, not only because of his divine choice and elegant demeanor, but even more, no matter how vicious and merciless Du Fuwei himself was, toward the two boys, he certainly showed particular fondness and favor. For a long time, he did not like Du Fuwei very much, but on such a particular evening, on the sailboat traveling along of the Great River, becoming intoxicated in the sorrow and the memories of the past that bewildered people’s spirit, all of Du Fuwei’s shortcomings no longer existed.
The three ships brushed past each other, Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling soared away and threw themselves onto Du Fuwei’s ship.
‘Bang!’
Du Fuwei’s palm slapped the table, the entire cabin hall seemed to shake, “Good!” he shouted, “Song Que’s famous reputation is certainly not empty, if I denied it, then I am not Du Fuwei.”
And then he shouted, “Guards!”
The warships turned around and chased after the Shao Shuai Army sail boat, then the three ships sailed together against the current to the west.
A personal guard pushed the door and entered, carrying a lantern, awaiting the order.
Du Fuwei spoke indifferently, “Bring me wine.”
After the personal guard accepted the order and left, Du Fuwei spoke to Kou Zhong cheerfully, “Song Que is willing to personally set out to help you strive for the world, the world has already become an object in your, Kou Zhong’s bag, Die is just adding flowers to brocade [idiom: the icing on the cake]. Starting tonight, you have Die’s full support, without the least bit reservation.”
Three personal guards entered the hall to deliver food and pour wine for the three men sitting around the table, and then withdrew outside the door.
‘Clink!’
Three wine cups clinked together.
Kou Zhong laughed and said, “Die is not just adding flowers to brocade, but sending charcoal in snowy weather [idiom: to provide help in somebody’s hour of need], not just in name only, but also in reality. Now that in the north the sky is covered with the wind and the snow, with such a word from Die, various ways’ men and horses of the south, who would dare to act blindly without thinking? The initiative and momentum are entirely under Child’s control, to wash away the dispirited anger. Die did not know how miserable Child was being tormented in the Battle of Luoyang, beaten by Li Shimin that I was running scared! Fortunately, Song Fazhu created the most superior situation for me before charging into Guanzhong, only then did Child have the opportunity to goof off and be absent-minded.”
Knitting his brows, Du Fuwei said, “Aren’t Zhong’er afraid that Song Que might take thy place?”
Kou Zhong spoke frankly, “That will be something that Child seek but fail to get. Just like Die, Child is not too interested in being the emperor, only it is a pity that Song Que flatly turned me down.”
Du Fuwei nodded and said, “In that case, Die feels relieved! Song Que said one is one, he said two is two, he always keeps the words that were spoken out of his mouth.”
“Where is Die going?” Xu Ziling asked.
Du Fuwei smiled and said, “Die is about to come to Chenliu to see my, Du Fuwei’s two good boys, to discuss the strategy to control the Great River. Do you have any suggestion?”
Kou Zhong said: “In this regard, Song Fazhu has already planned in advance. Die might as well continue to go north to Chenliu to meet with Fazhu, to sit down and touch the bottom of the wine cup and decide the Great River’s fate amidst chatting and laughing. Naturally Die has a deeper understanding of the Great River’s situation than Song Que.”
Du Fuwei laughed aloud and said, “I have admired the Heavenly Saber’s reputation for a long time, today I finally will have the opportunity to meet him.” And then he asked in astonishment, “You are in such a hurry? Where exactly are you going?”
Kou Zhong leaned over to his ear, focused his voice into a thread and explain the grand plan of taking Hanzhong and attacking Chang’an, even the Duke Yang’s Treasure’s secrets were not concealed in the slightest.
Emotionally moved, Du Fuwei said, “You guys unexpectedly have such a brilliant scheme, the chain of cause and effect is coincidental, making me sigh with emotion, why worry that the task of establishing and maintaining hegemony won’t be successful? Recalling that in the past, it was for the sake of the treasure-house that I came to know you, two kids, and today you guys relying on the treasure-house to grasp the fate of the world, the bizarre changes in the affairs of life, nothing can surpass this.”
And then, extremely grateful, he spoke, “You really regard me, Du Fuwei, as your Ol’ Die, otherwise you will never reveal this gargantuan secret.”
Kou Zhong said, “Human’s heart is sinister, Child [plural, I don’t want to use ‘children’, since I feel it does not have the same meaning as what the original text is implying] have been mingling in the world for many years, we learned and knew not to easily trust people, but how could Die be the same? We absolutely trust you, respect and love you!”
Du Fuwei personally poured wine for the two boys, dried up one more cup, and spoke with serious expression, “My son and Song Que combined, you have brought about sky-and-earth-turning-upside-down changes in the world’s situation. Various hegemons of the south are no longer enough to be a worry, the destiny remains for them is only being annihilated one by one! Now the key lies in Bashu’s position, whoever can control Bashu is akin to controlling the Great River. Bashu is easily guarded, hard to attack; since ancient times, it has been a peaceful place in the chaos of war. If it is obtained by Li Yuan, it can be used as a base to build a navy and to expand his power downstream along the river, to occupy strategic strongholds; if we obtain it, we can directly threaten the survival of Li Tang in Guanzhong. Therefore, Bashu is not only the place that must be vie for, furthermore, we have no choice but to fight for it.”
Muttering to himself irresolutely, Kou Zhong said, “Now Luoyang has fallen into Li Yuan’s hands. According to the agreement between the warlords vying for supremacy in Bashu and Shi Feixuan, Bashu must realign their allegiance to Li Tang. If we want to control Bashu, we must first take Hanzhong before we have a bargaining chip to force Xie Hui to surrender.”
Du Fuwei said, “As far as I know, Xie Hui is still hesitating over what move to make, because the clan elders of the four major ethnic tribes in the local area are all inclined toward Song Que, and the Song family has always controlled the salt commodity in the Shu region [or ‘county’, but I think Sichuan is more than just a ‘county’]. Once Song Que says no, no one would dare to transport half a grain of sea salt into the Shu region. Under this kind of circumstances, as long as I openly state my full support to you, Zhong’er may not need to waste a single soldier, two troops to force Xie Hui to submit. At that time, Zhong’er can use the wonder troops to launch surprise attack to Chang’an, instead of publicizing the matter by attacking Hanzhong, attack Li Yuan so that he has no time to deal with it. As for Xiangyang and the various cities in the vicinity, you can leave it to me.”
Kou Zhong spoke in delight, “What Die said makes a lot of sense.”
Du Fuwei sighed and said, “Since Die have you, two boys, my frame of mind has changed greatly. Thinking about the reeking of blood on my two hands, I want to do a bit more of good deeds to amass secret virtue. My proposal is for the sake of the common people of the Shu region. Xie Hui offending Song Que is really unwise. Although due to his daughter’s relationship Song Que can’t possibly want Xie Hui’s family bankrupt and his people dead, he will definitely force Xie Hui to withdraw from the fray and to live in seclusion; bloody conflict is inevitable. Hanzhong is Xie Hui’s territory and the place where the main strength of his army resides. Breaking down Hanzhong is the same as destroying Xie Hui. Xie Hui really does not know self-respect; how could Song Que be that easy to provoke?”
Xu Ziling said, “When Xie Hui made the agreement with Shi Feixuan in the past, he did not know that Song Fazhu would fully support Kou Zhong at all.”
Snorted coldly, Du Fuwei said, “But Xie Hui did not consult Song Que’s opinion at all. He was violating a big taboo of Song Que’s. At that time Song Que was still supporting Li Mi, this move of Xie Hui’s clearly shows that he watches the wind and drives the rudder, and Song Que happens to hate this kind people who disregard righteousness and not cherishing friendship.”
Xu Ziling wanted to say something but he remained silent, thinking about Song Yuhua, who was married to Xie Hui’s son, Xie Wenlong; he sighed in his heart.
Kou Zhong nodded and said, “Child understands, I am going to visit Chengdu for a moment, to thoroughly state the pros and cons to Xie Hui. If he is still stubborn, I will have no choice but to save him from eating enough sufferings.”
Du Fuwei said, “Currently, among the men and horses of the south, only Xiao Xian and Fu Gongyou still have the strength to fight, however, as long as we seize Jiangdu, Fu Gongyou, that beast will be surrounded by our heavy army that he cannot move a single step. Lin Shihong and Shen Faxing’s main forces are resisting Song Zhi, everyone knows that they are not Song Zhi’s match, their time of death can be counted on one’s fingers. As long as Bashu falls into our hands, Xiao Xian will only have the bad luck of waiting to be slaughtered. And then when we break Guanzhong, the world will be my son’s, Kou Zhong’s world. Let’s have another cup to congratulate beforehand our deploying the troops to conquer Chang’an, to accomplish our immortal great undertaking.”
Taking different roads and urging the horses on [idiom: part ways] with Du Fuwei, the sailboat continued to the west. The Jianghuai Army banner, presented by Du Fuwei as a gift, was standing on the bow of the ship, fluttering against the wind, together with the Shao Shuai Army banner; indeed it saved them a lot of inconvenience. When passing through Danyang’s waters, instead of encountering Fu Gongyou’s navy, they encountered the warships under Du Fuwei’s banner. It could clearly be seen that Du Fuwei has successfully controlled this section of the river, pressing Fu Gongyou, who rebelled against him – down so that he could not raise his head.
After Liyang, Xu Ziling and Kou Zhong bade their farewell to Lei Jiuzhi and the others; they left the ship and went ashore. Following the route on which Fu Junchuo led them to escape Yuwen Huaji’s hunt to kill them, they ran fast toward the deep valley where Fu Junchuo’s fragrant bones were buried. When they reached the top of the high mountain where in order to save them Fu Junchuo did not hesitate to sacrifice her life and bravely repelled Yuwen Huaji in the former years, it was already sunset.
The cold wind was screaming, they could not help but recalling the shaking-to-the-core battle that night, which they regretted throughout their life.
The pitch-black and dense cloud was hanging low in the sky, the moon and the stars were without any light. Blown by the cold wind, the big trees on the mountain top, which had completely lost their leaves, did not have the slightest power to resist, they twisted and bent down in the direction of the wind. From the depth of the mountain and fields, occasionally they heard the mournful pitiful cry of the jackdaw [Coloeus monedula], which increased their anxious memory even more.
Kou Zhong sat down dejectedly in front of a shallow cave. It was precisely from that cave that they peeked at the life-and-death battle between Fu Junchuo and Yuwen Huaji. He said, “I suddenly have a feeling of every hope turns to dust [idiom]. No matter how hard someone work, wouldn’t ultimately he end up as a cup of loess? At the deepest level, the strenuous pursuit of life has no sense to talk about.”
Xu Ziling moved to the edge of the cliff. In front of him were the undulating, superimposing ridges and peaks in the boundless dark night. The wailing of the north wind, the bone-chilling nip in the air, everything made the tone Kou Zhong’s voice even more brimming with despair, feeling of loss, and helplessness. No one understood Kou Zhong better than him. He was a person with extreme emotions. His innermost being was not as strong as his outward appearance. During the Battle of Luoyang, he faced continuous casualties and parting by deaths, which pushed his emotions to its lowest point, so much so that he almost regretted embarking on the road to hegemony. This moment, he returned to the old place of wounded heart and broken soul, which evoked the long-buried grief over Fu Junchuo’s death, thereupon it produced a downhearted emotional stirring.
War was a dreadful game to see whose injury was heavier. Although Kou Zhong obtained Song Que’s help to reverse the certain-defeat situation, but he already received serious damage deep in his spirit.
Kou Zhong’s voice was heard in his ears, saying, “If we did not get the ‘Secret to Long Life’, we would still be ruffians in the city of Yangzhou today. However, fate dictates otherwise, and thus Niang lost her precious life at the prime of her life. Ay! Laotianye wanted us to walk on this kind of rugged, uneven road, what is His intention?”
Facing the wind, Xu Ziling sucked a mouthful of deep breath, he spoke heavily, “Sitting here and complaining to the heaven and blaming the earth won’t do us any good, because since ancient times, no one has been able to grasp the Mandate of Heaven, the Will of Heaven, this kind of unfathomable mystery, fairly-discernible-nothingness affair. The only way is to be proactively treating the past that has become a reality, while courageously charging toward the vast, with no clear boundary – future, which provides no answer. Things of the past can never be undone. As long as we do not fail to live up to Niang’s expectations of us, to make the Central Earth and Niang’s motherland able to coexist in peace, Niang’s soul and spirit in heaven can smile and rest in peace.”
Laughing miserably, Kou Zhong said, “Ziling! I am really in pain. So much in pain that I practically don’t understand why I am so depressed and feeling so lost. And the paradox is that the hardest days should have become the past, but I don’t feel the joy of victory within my grasp at all. On the contrary, when facing life and death on the battlefield, because I have no time to think about other things, my days were a bit better to pass. Ay! Somehow, when the ship sailed through the waters where Niang rescued us that day, I could no longer control my emotions, thinking that even if I obtain the world, the fact is that I still cannot change anything that has happened, and that I will be, from head to tail, a loser, no longer have the opportunity for joy and happiness.”
Xu Ziling turned around and met his pair of eyes from which hot tears were rolling down; he sighed and said, “It is only this moment that I truly am convinced that you love Song Yuzhi dearly. Precisely because of losing her that you feel that all those contending for hegemony over the world no longer has the least bit of meaning. However, you no longer have a way out. You must lead the Shao Shuai Army and persevere to the final victory.”
Kou Zhong’s hot tears gushing out, he buried his face in his hands and wept bitterly, his whole body shrank. The suppressed emotions were out of control like a flood bursting the dike.
Xu Ziling knew that he was not only weeping for Fu Junchuo, as well as grieving and heartbroken because Song Yuzhi would never understand him, but even more, he shed tears for the officers and soldiers who cast their heads and sprinkled their hot blood, who heroically sacrificed their life because of him! His heart sorrowful, he moved to sit down by his side, put his hand on Kou Zhong’s back, and spoke softly, “I understand why you cry so mournfully, trust me, as long as you have the determination and know what your real dream is, there will always be a way to achieve it.”
Kou Zhong raised his face, still with tears in his eyes and across his whole face, he stopped crying, shook his head in distress, and said, “Ziling doesn’t need to comfort me, I have already missed the opportunity to be happy. The current development is no longer within my control, not only I have to take responsibility for the Shao Shuai Army and take responsibility for Song Que, I also have to take responsibility for the ordinary people in the world who are in dire straits. Under such circumstances, the personal gains and losses can only be set aside. After Yuzhi left that day, I watched the troops setting off to Donghai [East China Sea], I already see through my own situation clearly. At that time, naturally I didn’t dare to cry in public, therefore, I had to hold until I came in front of Niang. Originally I wanted to wait until I came to Niang’s grave before crying to my heart’s content, who would have thought that I only got here and am already unable to bear it anymore.”
Xu Ziling pulled out his shoulders and said, “I don’t believe your analysis. Fate is exceeding all expectations. Just think about it, how many predictions have you proved to be correct? Ay! Shall we go to see Niang?”
Wiping his tear-soaked face, Kou Zhong’s tone returned tranquil, he said, “I want to sit here a little longer.”
Xu Ziling had no choice but to sit with him silently.
Kou Zhong looked at him, quite half a day later he said, “I’m practically not a material to be an emperor, am I?”
Staring at the night sky above the mountaintop, Xu Ziling spoke indifferently, “You may not be a material to be the emperor, but you have the innate character to cast [as in casting metal] a country well, because you don’t have any selfish motives. In the future, as long as you choose worthy people based on their ability, plus enough martial art skill to press down and intimidate inside and outside of the border, after the great chaos, there will be great casting. Therefore, although I loathe war, I still have no other choice but to support you. Now I even have to think up every possible method [idiom] to treat your wounded heart. You will be fine soon! Great joy and great sorrow, for you, it’s just simple home-style meals [common occurrence].”
Smiling wryly, Kou Zhong said, “You call yourself a brother, yet you keep teasing me. But after crying, I feel much better! You are right! Personal honor and disgrace, gain and losses, compared to the suffering of all the people – cannot be considered any high price.”
“After talking a couple more vulgar language, you will be a bit even better,” Xu Ziling said.
Kou Zhong snorted his mucus in laughter and said, “His granny’s bear, you really understand me. Frankly speaking, do you have any premonition that in the future I might have a blessed, happy ending with Zhizhi?”
Xu Ziling pulled him and forced him to stand up, he spoke with a forced laughter, “From the first day I met you, I knew that you are a big idiot with luck and fortune. Only too bad I don’t know how to tell fortune by reading people’s facial features, hence I did not know that unexpectedly you have the fortune to become the emperor. Come on! Don’t forget that in this trip we have a special mission.”
Kou Zhong reached out to put his hand on Xu Ziling’s shoulder; pretending to be angry, he said, “You want to coax me, you should do a better job than that, do you think I am a three-year-old kid? Ay! I have a presumptuous request for you, I hope Ling Shao will not refuse.”
Surprised, Xu Ziling said, “Speak up!”
Kou Zhong muttered to himself irresolutely for half a day, with difficulty to articulate it, he said, “I want to ask you, Xiongdi, to do me a favor: go see Zhizhi, tell her that I sincerely regret my previous behavior, that I love her dearly from the beginning to the end. I must not let her bear the pain in her heart, let alone destroy the rest of her life because of my bad deeds.”
Knitting his brows, Xu Ziling said, “Do you think by doing that it would help you? You should know her character, her ability to observe and judge is something that you and I can only see the other rider’s dust and have no hope of catching up [idiom: to be far inferior]. Xibai is right, only through practical actions you can express your love to her, to move her so that she would forget all the unpleasant things in the past. Only then will there be an opportunity for a better relationship between you and her, everything else is just futile.”
Kou Zhong struggled hard to stand and straighten his tiger-body, he smiled bitterly and said, “Where would such opportunity come from?”
Xu Ziling spoke heavily, “Planning matters is the man’s, accomplishing it is the Heaven’s. Right now you don’t have any other choice but to put aside boy-girl’s love affair, and focus your will to bring the world back to unity and peace. Yuzhi Xiaojie is a person who understands the big picture, when she recognizes that all your conducts and deeds are for the well-being of all the people, perhaps she will change her mind.”
Kou Zhong’s spirit greatly aroused, he nodded and said, “Right! This is the only way. Because she doesn’t want the Liao people to be drawn into the vortex of war, she opposes the Song Family sending out troops. If I can bring about peace in the world, naturally she might have a different view.”
Xu Ziling said, “Presently, there is still an urgent matter that can improve your relationship with her, which is trying to resolve the problem in Bashu. The less the blood flow, the more Yuzhi Xiaojie will understand that you are not a person who like wars and destroy peace.”
Kou Zhong’s pair of eyes regained its brilliance, looking up at the dark, low and pressing night sky, he spoke heavily, “Right! Good thing that you reminded me. War is too awful! No one can bear it, if it can be avoided then it must be avoided. Frankly speaking, after the Battle of Luoyang, my heart was brimming with thoughts of rejuvenation, hence when I thought that Ol’ Die’s two warships were Fu Gongyou’s navy, unexpectedly I grew impatient in my heart and had the intention to open wide the Buddhist monastic discipline against killing. But after crying bitterly just now, the hatred that was originally choking my heart is like scattering cloud, disappearing smoke, thinking that Li Shimin does not have any choice either. But in any case, I would never let Li Yuanji get away. Also Li Jiancheng, because killing Li Jiancheng was the instruction that Yang Gong gave me before his death.”
Xu Ziling seemed to hear the intense screams and the sound of battle in the city of Chang’an. Under the current development of the situation, no one could change this future fate that has already been foreordained.