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Da Tang Shuang Long Zhuan
Book 55 Chapter 8 – Principles of Psychological Attack

Book 55 Chapter 8 – Principles of Psychological Attack
Translator: Foxs' Wuxia
Kou Zhong dejectedly stepped out of the small thatched hut, and came to Xu Ziling’s side, who was standing with blank expression in front of Fu Junchuo’s gravestone; smiling wryly, he said, “I can’t persuade him. He is just like an old monk, sitting like a dried wood until his heart is like dead, being discouraged from seeing through the worldly affairs, there is nothing in the world that can move his heart. I thought that with my silver tongue, I would be able to persuade him, only this moment I know how wrong I was.”
Xu Ziling sighed inwardly; when he saw that Song Shidao not only erected a monument for Fu Junchuo, but also built a simple and crude hut next to it, it showed clearly that he wanted to stay with his sweetheart forever. Xu Ziling knew that the turn of events was not too encouraging, yet he knew that he could do nothing.
Kou Zhong remorsefully said, “We really shouldn’t tell him the location of this little valley. His Die was right, the woman that you love the most is precisely the woman you cannot obtain. What should we do?”
Xu Ziling’s pair of eyes stared fixedly at the blank tombstone, which had no character engraved on it at all, he spoke heavily, “What did you talk about with ErGe?”
Kou Zhong leaned over to his ear and spoke in low voice, “I said all good things that I can think of, such as asking him to lend us a hand by persuading Meiren’er Changzhu to stand on our side, and stuffs like that. He flatly refused everything. He even said that he is content with life in the small valley. I begin to suspect that Shang Xiuxun’s attractive force to him is just our wishful thinking.”
Xu Ziling knelt down on both knees, heavily kowtowed three times, and then stood up and said, “Let me give it a try!”
Kou Zhong said, “If we cannot move him, we have to leave. This kind of thing cannot be forced, he must be delighted to do it himself.”
Xu Ziling nodded in agreement, he walked over to the small hut, which was brightly illuminated by the light of a single candle.
The bed, small table, chairs and desk, all the furniture in the hut were all made by Song Shidao himself, simple and sturdy. Song Shidao was sitting quietly on the chair, his countenance serene, but it was obvious that he was thinner than before, so that people had a sense of the austere life in the deep valley.
Xu Ziling sat down on the other chair, separated from Song Shidao by the small wooden table, he spoke indifferently, “I ran into Feixuan on the street of Longquan City. Her heartless words completely changed my destiny, furthermore, it gave me a memory, both wounded-the-spirit-cutting-the-soul and incomparably-beautiful-and-touching, which I won’t forget for the rest of my life – in Longquan.”
Astonished, Song Shidao looked at him, his sword-shaped eyebrows lightly knitted, he said, “Ziling’s ability to be a lobbyist is indeed better than Xiao Zhong. I can’t help but feel curious, I really want to know what Shi Feixuan said.”
Xu Ziling shook his head and said, “I’m not trying to persuade ErGe to do anything, I’m just afraid that ErGe would follow the tracks of my overturned cart [idiom: a path that led to failure in the past]. Without Feixuan’s words, I might never know what I missed. Letting down my own life is not a big deal, because that is something that I found by myself, I should bear all the consequences and pay the price. But failing others is an unforgivable mistake.”
Song Shidao was in daze for half a day. Finally he sighed and said, “Tell me then! What did Shi Feixuan actually say?”
Xu Ziling was lost in the beautiful-yet-sad memory of that day, his pair of eyes emitted reminiscing look, he spoke gently, “She said that I never knew how to plan for myself, but I mistakenly thought that she was referring to me did not have the courage to pursue her. It was precisely this beautiful misunderstanding that made me unable to suppress my love for her. Toward her, I grew a purely spiritual deep love that began in Longquan and ended in Longquan. Other than Kou Zhong, no one else knew about this. I originally did not intend to tell the third person, but tonight, by Niang’s side, I can’t help but confide in ErGe.”
Song Shidao revealed a thoughtful look, it was quite a while later that he let out a sigh leisurely and spoke in low voice, “Why did you tell me this? Could it be that you think I should fight for Shang Xiuxun?”
Xu Ziling spoke softly, “This is just the beginning of the story. Feixuan’s advice stemmed from her feeling my relationship with Shi Qingxuan. In the past, I have always been afraid to have any unwarranted thought toward Shi Feixuan, for fear of being looked down by her, furthermore, for fear of spoiling her clear cultivation. However, when the fire of love is ignited, I realized that all the artificial inhibitions were in vain.”
Meeting his gaze, Song Shidao asked, “In that case, did you follow Shi Feixuan’s advice later?”
Xu Ziling cast his gaze toward the bumpy ground, paved with small stones, he slowly said, “The reason Feixuan gave me this advice was because she knew that I did not go to You Lin Xiao Gu to see Qingxuan, unexpectedly I left without saying goodbye, but she did not know that it was because I misunderstood Qingxuan, thinking that she did not love me, hence discouraged, I sadly left Shu! However, when I went to the little valley to visit Qingxuan again, I realized that I nearly missed the greatest opportunity in life. Without Feixuan’s advice, Qingxuan and I would only be shadow that appears alone, each one passing through the rest of our respective life.”
Song Shidao’s pair of eyes emitted complex expression, his sword brows lightly knitted, he said, “Ziling is a very intelligent person, how could you have such a misunderstanding toward Qingxuan?”
Xu Ziling sighed and said, “Because she told me she wanted to maintain life as a single person, this remark caused me serious harm. Thinking about it later, I began to know that my deep love for her is definitely not less than my love for Feixuan. The matter between Feixuan and me has come to an end. If I don’t fight for Qingxuan, it will only prove that my love for her is not enough. True love can break down any man-made obstacles, furthermore, it can make any sacrifices for the other side.”
Trembling, Song Shidao said, “I understand why you are telling me this. Ay! What should I do?”
Xu Ziling said, “ErGe, please don’t blame me for being too frank, Niang was just a beautiful and sad dream that ErGe cannot extricate yourself from! Kou Zhong and I dare to say that Niang indeed had a good impression toward Erge, hence she took us onboard ErGe’s boat, only too bad that time practically did not give the relationship between the two of you a chance to develop. ErGe and Niang are a bit like me and Feixuan, starting in Danyang and ending in the Great River. If Niang did not die, due to the national hostility between Gaoli and us, perhaps just like Feixuan, she might have the same advice to ErGe, and now it’s up to Kou Zhong and me to speak out on her behalf. ErGe went to little valley to live in seclusion to accompany Niang for your own sake. If ErGe is willing to come with us to the Flying Horse Ranch to fight, then it will be for Shang Xiuxun’s sake, and it will depend on how deep ErGe’s love to Shang Xiuxun. As for the success or failure of this matter, it is secondary.”
Song Shidao heavily stared blankly at the ground. Suddenly he looked up, the sharp light in his pair of eyes flashing, he spoke with determination, “I am coming with you to visit the Flying Horse Ranch.”
Xu Ziling said, “You are not coming with us, rather, ErGe is going among enemies with only your sword [idiom: going alone into enemy lines], in order to show ErGe’s sincerity and courage.”
While Song Shidao was stunned upon hearing it, Kou Zhong, who has been eavesdropping outside, rushed in like a whirlwind and blurted out, “I will pack for ErGe, we set off immediately.”
Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling sent Song Shidao off to the entrance of the Flying Horse Ranch’s mountain road; they bade their farewell and hurried off to Bashu.
This was the first time that Kou Zhong entered Shu; he wanted to admire the wonderful scenery of the arduous and hard to pass road to Shu, yet he also did not want to miss the magnificent and wonderful scenery of the Three Gorges. While he was still hesitating, Xu Ziling made the choice for him, “In the future, when you unify the world, you will certainly build your navy in Bashu, while wiping out Xiao Xian at the same time – you can’t possibly make a rod for your own back by taking the road to Shu. Therefore, let’s enjoy the delight of walking through the mountains this time!”
Kou Zhong spoke emotionally, “Since leaving Yangzhou, this is the first time we don’t need to be sneaky, flashing to the left and dodging to the right to go to a certain place. This feeling is so touching.”
After reaching the agreement, the two boys took the route that Xu Ziling used in the past to enter Shu; they first arrived at the Shangyong City east of the Great Mount Ba, and checked in at the inn to raise their spirit, planning on climbing the mountain into Shu the next morning.
This city originally belonged to Zhu Can, but now, because Zhu Can was defeated, the situation was ambiguous. Local forces presided over the overall situation, they adopted a wait-and-see attitude, temporarily guaranteeing neutrality.
The two went to a public bath to soak themselves in delight, and then Xu Ziling went back to their room to sit in meditation, while Kou Zhong went out to ask around for some news. He returned half a sichen later and said, “This place certainly has fantastic oddities of every description [idiom], more and more emerge, no matter how preposterous, there are people and market who accept it as the truth.”
Sitting quietly in the corner, Xu Ziling looked at the excited Kou Zhong who lay spread eagle [orig. like a ‘大’ character] on the bed, without even taking off his boots; frowning, he said, “That is the bed you are going to sleep in tonight, right?”
Kou Zhong chuckled and said, “When did Ling Shao become so love of cleanness like this? Must be a habit that you cultivate after knowing Feixuan, this Meiren’er that is not tainted by a single speck of dust.”
Xu Ziling spoke in displeasure, “Stop talking nonsense, what news makes you so excited?”
Kou Zhong sat up on the edge of the bed and spoke cheerfully, “Ol’ Die didn’t mislead us. He already announced to the world that he fully supports me to unify the world. The news has caused a sensation in this remote small town. People talking on the street, no one can depart from this topic, so that Li kid’s mighty power in capturing Luoyang is completely covered up. The other topic that most people talk is about Song Que. Most people believe that since Song Que is willing to deploy the troops out of Lingnan, the world is no longer the Li Family’s world. More brilliantly is that I have an excellent reputation here, everybody says that the people of my Shao Shuai State don’t have to pay taxes, they are not forced to serve in the army. Ha! It’s not that there is no taxation, but the tax is much lighter, that’s all!”
Xu Ziling did not understand, he asked, “These are not rumors, why do you say that rumors are flying all over the sky?”
Kou Zhong spoke cheerfully, “I have filtered and selected the rumors in my little head before telling them you. Naturally no one knows what is true and what is false better than I do. What I do not dare to ascertain is the situation in Bashu. Someone heard the news from Bashu’s traveling merchants that Xie Hui ignored the opposition of the four major tribes and obstinately clinging to his course by calling the Tang army into Shu. I hope this is just a rumor, otherwise the chaos of war will be hard to avoid.”
And then he laughed and said, “If this is not bizarre enough, there is another version, that is, the Western Tujue and Li Shimin secretly formed an alliance to fight against the Eastern Tujue’s Xieli and our brother Tuli, making people who hear it not to know whether to laugh or cry. How could Li Shimin have the opportunity to pull relationship with the Western Tujue?”
Xu Ziling spoke heavily, “You seem to forget that Yun Shuai had visited Chang’an.”
Slightly startled, Kou Zhong nodded and said, “I am really muddleheaded, Yun Shuai is the Western Tujue’s Guoshi [teacher of the state], based on his ability and wisdom, as well as his means, entering the treasure mountain, he should be unwilling to return empty handed. He could have had secret meeting, the gods did not know, the ghosts did not perceive, via the Persian merchants, who congregate and live in Chang’an.”
Xu Ziling was puzzled, “Such an information, which is supposed to be top secret, how could it come from Bashu, a place that is completely unrelated to this matter?” he asked.
Kou Zhong revealed a grave expression, he spoke heavily, “Wind from an empty cave [idiom: unfounded story] is not completely without any reason. It is rumored that the reason why Xie Hui dare to obstinately clinging to his course, ignoring the four major tribes’ opposition, was precisely because he has the Western Tujue and the Dangxiang [not sure], two big western foreign tribes supporting his lower back, hence the reason currently a large number of Western Region people are seen coming and going into and out of the Duzun Castle.”
Knitting his brows, Xu Ziling said, “This might greatly increase our difficulty in persuading Xie Hui.”
Slapping the bed, Kou Zhong said, “This move of Li Shimin is really beautiful. He controls Xie Hui via the foreign tribes west side of Bashu, no wonder Xie Hui dares to take risk to offend my future father-in-law, because he has difficulties that he is unable to speak out.”
Shaking his head, Xu Ziling said, “I heard from Xibai about his stye in conducting himself, he is definitely not the kind of person who succumbed to threats. There should be some twists and turns inside. After all, we don’t understand Xie Hui at all.”
Kou Zhong nodded and said, “You are right! Song Que’s two primary targets are Hanzhong and Xiangyang. If he takes Hanzhong, it could be said that he did not leave Xie Hui any leeway, it is thus clear that he, the Senior, does not have the least bit of interest in negotiating with Xie Hui, because he knows that Xie Hui chose to stand on Li Shimin’s side. I wonder what weapon does Xie Hui use? In Jianghu, his reputation and status are close to those of my future father-in-law, he shouldn’t be the kind of people who wait in leisure.”
Xu Ziling said, “Just from An Long’s fear and respect to him, we could see that no matter how useless, he still has the lowest limit. As for what weapon he uses, I have no idea.”
Smiling wryly, Kou Zhong said, “Our effort to avert the shedding of blood as much as possible might be extremely unlucky to accomplish, we can only see whose fist is harder.”
Xu Ziling shook his head and said, “For the sake of Yuzhi and ErGe’s Dajie [eldest sister] Song Yuhua, Xie Furen [Madam Xie], how could we give up lightly? We have to give thought to the innocent common people even more.”
Kou Zhong laughed apologetically and said, “It’s Xiaodi talking rubbish, let me think about it! Ay! Really sorry, my mind went blank, it looks like we have no choice but to change according to the situation.”
Xu Ziling agreed, “My brain is as blank as yours. Ay! This is called a new branch grows out of a knot, it rather gives people the frustrated feeling of being caught unprepared.”
Kou Zhong sighed and said, “Who told us to have Li Shimin as our opponent? The initiative will always be in his hands. This move is very similar to his usual style. The only thing that is puzzling is, such a matter that should not be exposed, why is it unexpectedly become a rumor that is flying all over the sky? If it enters Li Yuan’s ears, how would Li Yuan react?”
Muttering to himself irresolutely, Xu Ziling said, “My intuition tells me that this is not creating something from nothing at all, but someone leaked it out on purpose, their objective is to strike the Western Tujue or Li Shimin. Because no matter how rich the imagination of whoever started the rumor is, he should never have thought that Li Shimin has a secret agreement with the Western Tujue’s Tongyehu.”
Kou Zhong sighed and said, “If this matter turns out to be true, Li Shimin is really disappointing; what will that differ from colluding with Xieli?”
“Of course there is a big difference,” Xu Ziling replied, “In the power struggle of the grasslands beyond the Great Wall, Western Tujue’s Tongyehu has always been in the disadvantageous position. If Tongyehu surrenders to Xieli, the Central Plains will have to deal with the invading enemies from the northern and western borders at the same time. Therefore, supporting the Western Tujue, using foreigners to subdue foreigners [idiom, a traditional policy of successive dynasties] is a strategic requirement.”
Snorting coldly, Kou Zhong said, “Maybe Li Shimin has other selfish intentions. When he sees the turn of events not too encouraging, he could immediately slip to Bashu and join the Western Tujue to fight the middle of the House of Tang. His granny’s bear, my principle is to never allow any outside tribe foreigners to step in our Han soil even for half a step.”
Smiling bitterly, Xu Ziling said, “What the actual situation is, let’s go to Chengdu to find out first and then we’ll talk about it more! Perhaps this matter is really not like we imagined.”
“Shall we sneak into Chengdu secretly, or shall we enter the city through the gate boldly?” Kou Zhong asked.
Xu Ziling replied, “It’s up to you. Chengdu is still not the Li Family’s world, with Xie Hui and the four tribes’ joint rule, I don’t think Xie Hui will dare to use violence as he pleases.”
Kou Zhong laughed and said, “So what if he uses violence? We, two brothers are not tender kids making our public performance for the first time, what scene we have not seen? Counter soldiers with arms, water with an earth weir. His granny’s bear, if Xie Hui dares to use violence, why should we be polite?”
Xu Ziling said, “Here we go again! Small achievements, immediately your arrogance is overflowing. How could we use the great general’s style? We are coming now to seek peace and not to seek fight.”
The refined light in Kou Zhong’s pair of eyes flashing, he spoke heavily, “It’s not that small victory and I became arrogant, it’s just that I became more realistic. Without strong military support, whoever is interested in listening to you can fight and then make peace. When I said I would lay out the pros and cons [or the benefit and harm] to Xie Hui, the ‘pros’ [or benefit] is pointing to him able to protect his home and keep Shu safe, the ‘cons’ [or harm] is his home destroyed and the people perish. I want him to realize that even if it is not a large army invading his territory, we, two brothers are enough to trouble him until the sky and the earth turning upside down, not only to fight with him in strength, but to fight with him in wisdom even more.”
Xu Ziling was silent for half a day, he finally agreed and said, “Although I don’t want to admit it, the method you proposed might be the only way. That is our decision then!”
Kou Zhong said, “If Xie Hui rushed one step ahead by handing over Hanzhong to Li Yuan, then anything we say will be superfluous, what should we do?”
Revealing a grave expression, Xu Ziling said, “I hope that the news of Ol’ Die supporting you has reached Bashu one step ahead. Because both Xie Hui and Ol’ Die surrendering to the Tang were via Feixuan threading a needle in between, Ol’ Die destroying his promise will be an enlightenment Xie Hui, it will make him think three times before going.”
Kou Zhong said, “Li Yuan killing Li Mi was indeed a big mistake, and Li Yuanji executing Dou Jiande in public was even more a mistake after a mistake. Moreover, it showed that under current circumstances, Li Shimin is powerless to protect those who surrendered to him, and Li Yuan did not think about compassion the least bit even more. Whether Bashu can avoid the scourge of war, the power to make decision is not in our hands, but in Xie Hui’s hands.”
Xu Ziling said, “After reaching Chengdu, we must try to meet with Xie Furen, this can give us further understanding of the matter. Zheng Shiru should be able to help us in this regard.”
Staring blankly, Kou Zhong said, “Are you talking about the ‘Henan Mad Scholar’ Zheng Shiru? What relationship does he have with Zhizhi’s eldest sister?”
Xu Ziling explained, “His sweetheart is Zheng Shuming, Changjiang Lian’s [Yangtze River (lit. long river) Alliance] Nu Dangjia [female chief], whom we know. She is a close friend of Xie Furen’s lady chamber, she can make proper arrangements for us.”
Kou Zhong’s pair of eyes lit up, he said, “Luckily you reminded me, Da Jiang Lian [in this case, Great River Alliance] combined with the six powerful gang, society, school and sect mingling along the Yangtze River, their influence cannot be ignored. If Zheng Shuming is willing to stand on our side, it will exert tremendous pressure on Xie Hui.”
Xu Ziling nodded and said, “You can give it a try. Zheng Shiru is an admirer of your future father-in-law, he might let the Da Jiang Lian know about the pros and cons, it will benefit you to lobby for success. Furthermore, what you need to fight for and can fight for are the Qiang, Yao, Miao, and Yi four tribes, they have always supported Song Que. With them standing on the same front with you, Xie Hui will be a lone power difficult to stand.”
Kou Zhong jumped up from the bed and shouted, “I don’t have the slightest bit of sleepiness anymore, we might as well find a restaurant to feed and fill our belly and immediately set off on our journey, so as not to miss the fortunate timing.”
Xu Ziling rose up to his full height and said, “All right!”
The two boys packed their simple luggage and left the inn. After filling their stomachs, they set foot on the journey into Shu.