Da Tang Shuang Long Zhuan - Book 58 Chapter 1 – Pleasure House Love[Updated at: 2021-11-03 17:19:51]
Book 58 Chapter 1 - Pleasure House Love
Translator: Foxs\' Wuxia
If it were someone else, with such a short delay, he would definitely miss An Long, a martial art master with deep level of mastery and profound knowledge and experience. In order to make up for his problem of body shape and weight, An Long exploited this feature to create a set of shenfa to carry and lift his body that rely on his weight, and combined it with his ‘Tian Xin Lian Huan’ (Lotus Ring in the Center of the Sky), which enabled him to be ranked among the Eight Major Martial Arts Masters Of The Demonic Ways.
Xu Ziling unleashed his shenfa with all his strength, the stream of true qi cycled through inside his body, each revolution increased his speed a little, so after a few breaths, his speed increased to the peak state that even he himself was shocked. The tip of his feet lightly tapped the top of the West Market outer wall, he flew outside the encirclement toward the top of a snow-covered tile roof of a two-story building. The sole of his feet developed sucking force, so that stepping on the slippery ice and snow, he did not need to worry about slipping and losing his footing.
At this time, An Long appeared on the edge of the roof of a building in the northwest corner of the West Market. Xu Ziling hurriedly crouched down and hid behind the roof ridge. As expected, An Long happened to turn his head around to look back. Although he avoided it in time, it was an extremely close call.
A martial art master of An Long’s caliber would always be in a state of high alertness, a little bit of carelessness, and he would definitely detect it.
Xu Ziling stuck out his head to peek, An Long somersaulted again and disappeared among the streets and lanes.
A subtle feeling grew in Xu Ziling’s heart, as if he could foresee the future; and thus he did not jump up and chase after him. Sure enough, after a few breaths, An Long appeared on the back of the roof tile again, spinning around to look far and near, and then flew toward the open courtyard of a shop on the east side of the market.
‘Close call!’ Xu Ziling cried inwardly. Indeed the older the ginger, the spicier it became. This technique of guarding against someone following their track was simple and effective. If Xu Ziling was afraid that he might lose him, he would immediately chase after him, and would no doubt fall into the trap.
Xu Ziling did not hesitate anymore, he dropped down onto the deserted streets of the West Market, and chased him from the ground.
Kou Zhong was about to hang the ‘big present’ at the ring knocker of the main gate of Xi Ji Yuan, when he heard voices and footsteps coming from the inside.
Kou Zhong wondered whether there was a dinner party at Xi Ji Yuan that had just ended at this moment. While this thought was in his head, he soared up and flew across street; with one vertical leap, he safely crouched down on the other side of the roof ridge, showing only his head and eyes. In the darkness, he was able to take in the whole scene of the situation at Xi Ji Yuan’s main gate at once.
Since making their debut, most of the time he and Xu Ziling have been hunted to be killed and ambushed by the men and horses of various sides. After going through repeated training and tempering themselves, their skill in leaping onto the roofs and vaulting over the walls and hiding their traces was really far beyond what ordinary martial art masters would be able to achieve.
‘Creak!’ the big gate was opened wide, a man, leading a horse along, walked slowly out. Surprisingly, it was Wang Bodang, whom Shen Luoyan wanted him to kill.
Dugu Feng [phoenix] was leaning against him side by side and was quite affectionate, as they chatted in a low voice.
Kou Zhong focused his power into his pair of ears to eavesdrop with all his attention. Actually, he did not have much expectation; although the streets in this district were only one-fifth of the width of the Vermillion Bird Boulevard, but since they were nearly twenty-five zhang away, knowing his own ability, he should not have the ability to eavesdrop.
Who would have thought that Wang Bodang’s voice immediately sounded faintly in his ears, “My Hua Quan She [whole-flower snake] moves like the wind, extremely poisonous without equal. The most brilliant thing is that before biting, it will not make any unusual noise. I guarantee that Shen Luoyan will meet her end, Feng’er can avenge the enmity of your brother’s murder.”
Dugu Feng spoke hatefully, “Li Mi has received his fate, now it’s Shen Luoyan, that s1ut’s turn.”
Kou Zhong understood; because Wang Bodang betrayed Li Mi, he knew that Shen Luoyan would never let him off, so he took advantage of the Dugu Family’s hatred of Shen Luoyan to make his move to kill Shen Luoyan in secret via Dugu Feng’s hands. This way, not only he could win over the favorable impression of the Dugu Family, he could also eliminate the calamity within his bosom [idiom]; one move, two gains.
Wang Bodang spoke cheerfully, “I wonder if Feng’er could reconsider my proposal, I am truly sincere toward Feng’er, the Emperor of Heaven above can be my witness.”
Dugu Feng lightly shook her small cicada head and said, “I still want to think about it, can you give me some more time? It’s going to be dawn soon!”
Kou Zhong jumped in fright, turned out Wang Bodang was wooing Dugu Feng, it was beyond his expectation. But after careful consideration, this move of Wang Bodang’s was extremely ingenious. Not only he would obtain both wealth and beauty, but he could also borrow the close relationship between Dugu’s family and Li Yuan to land him an important position.
Wang Bodang was silent for a moment. Sketching it in light shades, he said, “Feng’er still cannot forget that uncouth and loves-to-invent-crazy-nonsense ugly guy?”
Dugu Feng furiously said, “My affair is none of your business. Don’t think that we won’t survive without you. Get lost!”
Finished speaking, she just stormed off in a huff.
Wang Bodang’s face darkened, he mounted his horse and left without saying a word.
Kou Zhong was dumbstruck, “That ‘uncouth and loves-to-invent-crazy-nonsense ugly guy’, who were they referring to if not his ugly divine doctor? This was hard to understand, back then, Dugu Feng showed clearly that she was only interested in attractive and intelligent men, yet unexpectedly she had a special fondness for this ugly divine doctor; what was it all about?
The sound of hoofbeats rose up abruptly, Wang Bodang disappeared in the trailing dust, as if he wanted to vent the resentment and indignation in his heart as much as he liked by riding his horse to gallop wildly, without the slightest consideration whether he would disturb other people’s beautiful dreams.
Two servants closed the main gate.
Kou Zhong suddenly remembered Zha Jie, who was secretly in love with Xi’er, he mused that since there was still a little time before dawn, he could go to say hello to Qingqing. After making up his mind, he flew across the street and darted towards the main gate of the Xi Ji Yuan.
Xu Ziling was hiding behind a big tree, as if he was melting into the darkness. His acute senses were telling him that this seemingly unremarkable shop, with He Chang Long [lit. fit-together prosperity and grandeur] signboard hanging in front of it, was quite likely an important lair of the demonic school, because relying on his senses, he was deeply aware that the security on this place was so tight that it was beyond his expectation.
This five-section, two-open-courtyard stye rectangular shop was located in the street behind the famous old shop Fu Ju Lou, just at the street corner, so three of its side were facing the street, only one side was leaning against the shop. All the secret sentry posts were set up inside the shop, putting all movements outside ingeniously under surveillance. If not because he paid particular attention, hence was not rashly attempting to sneak in, he would definitely be unable to escape the enemy’s eyes and ears.
Inside the shop, the lantern was dark, the fire black; it was pitch black.
Xu Ziling could not stop Yang WenGan’s image from floating up in his mind. Because this kind of high level of security bore extreme resemblance with Yang WenGan’s style.
Until this moment, he still could not hear any voice inside the shop, all he could hear was the light breathing of the secret sentries. Maybe there was an underground room inside the shop. If An Long was hiding inside that kind of underground room having a secret talk with someone, it would be impossible for him to hear anything.
He decided to wait for a while, to see if An Long would leave before dawn.
When Kou Zhong arrived at Feng Ya Ge, Xi’er had just sent off the last guests. Along with Qingqing, she received him in the inner hall. Meeting again after a long period of separation, naturally they were extremely happy. Although the time they spent together was very short, but because they knew each other at a very young age, plus Kou Zhong once helped them, their relationship was close, there was no need to have any misgivings. When the two women found out that Yin Xianhe had found his younger sister, they were endlessly very excited for him.
Qingqing was puzzled, “Didn’t you lead the Shao Shuai Army fighting the battle in the south?” she asked, “Why did you suddenly run away to Chang’an?”
Xi’er was offering fragrant tea, she laughed tenderly and said, “Kou Ye especially came her to see you, Qing Jie!”
Taking the proffered fragrant tea, Kou Zhong laughed and said, “First of all, I have to ask you a question. Among Li Yuan’s three sons, who do you think is the most qualified to be the emperor? Let’s ignore who is the crown prince designated by Li Yuan first.”
Xi’er sat down on the other side of the bench, she warmly wrapped both hands around his left arm, “Aiyo!” she exclaimed, “Kou Ye! We are just pleasure house women, what do we know about the country’s affairs?”
Her hands shaped like a gourd, Qingqing pulled his hand, and spoke in astonishment, “Why are you asking such a strange question?”
Kou Zhong greatly felt the boundless luck with women, but his heart was completely free of devious thoughts, because he always regarded the two women as older and younger sister, respectively.
He laughed and said, “Pleasure house is the place where news circulates the most. After two cups of yellow soup entered his belly, a man would even take his heart out for you to see. Feng Ya Ge’s reputation is barely under Shang Lin Yuan, there is no lack of high official and noble persons coming and going, of which Li Yuanji is one. You must have heard everything, you should have a bit of knowledge, no matter what.”
Xi’er said, “That is the issue that no one dares to talk about. If we offend any party, we won’t be able to eat!”
Qingqing said, “Although nobody dares to talk openly, but when discussing various types of governance and the war situation inside and outside the Pass, they will eventually reveal some thoughts. According to what Jiejie heard, most think that Qin Wang is the most capable.”
Kou Zhong spoke cheerfully, “That is the answer I want to hear. Chang’an City will undergo major changes within this year. This is precisely the reason I am back in Chang’an. Don’t be afraid, I will protect you.”
Xi’er said, “Can you take us out of Guanzhong? Kou Ye could take Xi’er as a concubine, I am tired of the life of a pleasure house.”
Kou Zhong was shocked; he said, “Xie’er, don’t you have someone who’s interested in you?”
Xi’er umber-black eyebrows lightly knitted, she said, “The pleasure house is a place to sell false friendship, seeing Qing Jie’s bitter experience, how could Xi’er be not afraid? Since the very first day, Qing Jie already give me an earnest and well-meaning advice, exhorting me not to let any guest moves my real feeling. Those who came one time, half a time, are mostly chance encounter; those who came often, you might suspect that he is a scoundrel who loves music and song every night.”
Qingqing smiled and said, “If Xiao Zhong is willing to take Xi’er as a concubine, it will be her good fortune.”
Kou Zhong sighed and said, “To have a beautiful concubine like Xi’er is indeed a good fortune for any man. However, I think my good Meizi [younger sister] should have a happier future. Does Xi’er have any impression toward a young lad named Zha Jie?”
Xi’er revealed a pondering look, she shook her head slowly, indicating that she did not remember such a person.
Stunned, Kou Zhong said, “That’s impossible! He said that you treat him favorably.”
Qingqing spoke in displeasure, “That is the skill that the pleasure house is accustomed to use. From the first day Xi’er became a talented girl who sell her art but not sell her body, I taught her to make every customer feel that she treats him differently. All men with a little bit of aspiration or achievement are like this; toward women, they have excessive confidence in themselves, thinking that every woman can’t help but fall in love with him for various reasons. The pleasure house is precisely the best place to satisfy their confusion in this aspect, but of course it takes a lot of gold to buy it!”
Kou Zhong’s heart sank straight down to the bottom, thinking that if he wanted to help Zha Jie accomplishing his wish, he must still spend some efforts, plus it still depended on Laotianye’s will, forcing it would not make it come.
He laughed and said, “Now that Qing Jie told me, the murky darkness suddenly opens, leave Xi’er’s lifelong happiness to me. She is my good Meizi! Didn’t I watch her from a little girl turning into a beauty?”
Xi’er spoke crossly, “Kou Ye speaks like you are proud of your age and experience, how much older are you from me anyway?”
Kou Zhong hurriedly changed the subject by asking Qingqing, “I hope the person in Qing Jie’s heart is not Li Yuanji.”
Qingqing revealed an expression of disdain, she said, “He treats me like a plaything, I am only happy to use him as a patron. Jiejie already made a firm resolution not to marry. Opening a pleasure house is not too bad! In here, there are no distressed people. Xiao Zhong, don’t go yet, let Jiejie serve you.”
Smiling wryly, Kou Zhong said, “Qing Jie, please don’t tempt me. Upon self-introspection, Xiaodi realized I am not a person with staunch willpower, but what I need more is an elder sister.”
He could not help thinking of Susu, he also remembered Zhen Sao. Momentarily, his soul was broken, his spirit injured.
Qingqing puckered her fragrant lips, she kissed him lightly on the cheek, and spoke softly, “My good Didi [younger brother] has always been an upright gentleman. If you have time, please visit us more often, all right?”
Xu Ziling waited painstakingly in the dark for half a sichen, but there wasn’t any movement at all inside He Chang Long. By this time, it was only less than half a sichen before dawn, he was afraid that Kou Zhong would wait in worry, but also remembering that the future is long [idiom], so long as He Chang Long was indeed one of the demonic school’s lairs, there would always be a way to find out clearly the secrets inside.
Thinking to this point, he left promptly.
Reaching the forested area near the Yue Ma Bridge, close to the west bank of Yong An Canal, suddenly his heart generated reaction.
Xu Ziling could not help sighing inwardly; he halted his steps to a complete stop, and slowly turned around, ready to pay the good-and-bad-luck-difficult-to-foresee price for following the dangerous figure, An Long’s track. He looked at Shi Zhixuan, who appeared like the demon god from the dark asura hell coming to the human world, showing himself from the dark and flying straight towards him.
Shi Zhixuan’s expression was serene, with his hands behind his back, tranquil and calm, he said, “Ziling, come with me!”
Kou Zhong returned to the storehouse, Hou Xibai and Ba Fenghan each took possession of an armory, using the chests as their beds, seeking for a dream, but he did not see Xu Ziling.
While he was anxious, Ba Fenghan woke up and sat down beside him, “Ziling has not come back?” he asked.
Kou Zhong sighed and said, “He should have been back earlier than I did. Could it be that he met Shi Zhixuan? In the city of Chang’an, only Shi Zhixuan has enough qualification to prevent him from coming back, other people, even Fu Cailin, might not necessarily be able to do it.”
Ba Fenghan comforted him, saying, “The relationship between Lao Shi and he is special, he shouldn’t harm him. If the two of them really met, it might give us a chance to understand Shi Zhixuan’s intention thoroughly instead.”
Shaking his head, Kou Zhong said, “Based on Ziling’s current martial art skill, even if Shi Zhixuan wholeheartedly wanted to kill Ziling, it won’t be an easy task at all. Moreover, they both are people who are not supposed to be exposed to the light, if the Tang Army is alarmed, it would be difficult to find the opportunity to get away. I am not too worried about Ling Shao’s safety, what I fear the most is to let Shi Zhixuan see through our grand plan, that would be thoroughly terrible.”
Ba Fenghan revealed a smile brimming with confidence, he spoke indifferently, “After the Battle of Luoyang, I, Ba Fenghan no longer fear anyone, including Shi Zhixuan and Bi Xuan. In fact, in that military campaign, the benefit that you and I both derived was not shallow. Ziling’s situation, I am unclear, but you, Shaoshuai’s saber technique must have reached the perfect state.”
Kou Zhong smiled bitterly and said, “Right now I really wish I could take Ling Shao’s place in dealing with Lao Shi, however, I understand it more clearly that to deal with Shi Zhixuan, Ling Shao should be more suitable than any of us, because his understanding of Shi Zhixuan is deeper than anybody else.”
Ba Fenghan said, “I am not too worried about Ziling either, because I have one hundred percent confidence in him. One thing that until now I still am unable to understand is this: why did Song Que give up the ninth saber strike toward Ning Daoqi? If it were me, this matter would never happen.”
Kou Zhong said, “The key point is that Song Que is a man of great wisdom and great courage, hey! I am not saying that you, LaoGe, are not such a person, rather, Song Que has to give thought about the common people of the Central Earth, he has no choice but to consider the grave consequence of both sides losing and perishing together. When Ning Daoqi was blocking the eighth saber strike, he carried out a brilliant-beyond-compare move, that is, he deliberately missed reciting the three sentences from Zhuangzi’s fable, ‘since thinking that it’s too late, walking fast nonstop, thereupon the strength exhausted and die’, right on the precise time to block Song Que’s ghosts-and-gods-cannot-fathom one saber strike, brimming with mystery within a mystery meaning, making Song Que know that Ning Daoqi had the energy left over to die in such a way that he also perished. And those three missing sentences were even more thought-provoking. The hidden point is that if they went to the Yellow Springs [the underworld in Chinese mythology], it would be like a man who died due to fearing his own shadow and scurrying to avoid it, which is very meaningless.”
Ba Fenghan nodded and said, “In the end, Song Que was willing to give up for Han unification, he was willing to support Li Shimin for the same reason, however, only someone like Song Que who transcends the thought of victory or defeat can make such a sensible act of reining in the horse at the edge of the precipice. From this action of his, I learned a very precious thing.”
Kou Zhong said, “After all, my future father-in-law is a great expert in strategy and the art of war, he really does not care about the success or failure of the two men’s duel.”
Ba Fenghan said, “Ning Daoqi is Ning Daoqi after all, if he directly said those three sentences to Song Que, he could definitely not shock Song Que’s Lingtai as if he deliberately omitted it. It was indeed hidden Zen subtleties, which makes people ponder over endlessly. Returning to our main topic, what shall we do when Ziling returns?”
Grabbing his head with both hands, Kou Zhong said, “It depends on whether Ziling really came across Shi Zhixuan?”
Xu Ziling followed Shi Zhixuan into a completely inconspicuous small courtyard house in Jin Chang District in the south of the city, and sat down in the hall.
Shi Zhixuan personally poured the tea to entertain the guest, completely without any hostility; at least it appeared so on the surface.
Xu Ziling took a sip of tea and watched Shi Zhixuan sit down slyly beside him. He could not help but wondering about inner feeling between them for the past many years, and asked in a heavy voice, “Did Xie Xianting and Xiao Yuan lose their lives in Xie Wang’s hands [Book 29 Chapter 1, except it was Xiao Wan instead of Xiao Yuan]?”
Knitting his brows, Shi Zhixuan asked, “Are you referring to the pair of a man and a woman driving the carriage?”
Xu Ziling nodded.
Shi Zhixuan smiled and said, “I made an exception this time by answering your question, but it should not be taken as a precedent. Perhaps you never thought about it, but I, Shi Zhixuan would never kill people out of anger.”
Xu Ziling doubt has still not completely gone, he asked, “But Xie Wang, at that time you … ay!”
Remaining indifferent, Shi Zhixuan spoke calmly, “Actually, they helped you and Kou Zhong avoiding a calamity. When I stopped the carriage, in order to protect his little lover, the young man got out of the car and fought me desperately, evoking my memory of Xiuxin. Immediately every hope turned to dust, the murderous intent was completely gone. I am willing to tell you this fact, because I don’t want to fight with you, which will convenience Zhao Deyan and Xuyan, that traitor, for nothing.”
Xu Ziling finally lay down the load on his mind, he secretly let out a sigh of relief.
Shi Zhixuan knitted his brows tightly again and asked, “Why did Ziling take the risks to come to Chang’an? Currently, the one with the best chance to unite the world is no longer Li Yuan but your brother, Kou Zhong.”
Xu Ziling groaned inwardly; if it were other people, he could still elaborate with empty words, but the other side was Shi Zhixuan. To find a reason that would make him believe firmly without any doubt, certainly would be more difficult than ascending to heaven, yet he had no choice but to answer.
His mind turned around at the speed of lightning, he opened the door and saw the mountain, saying, “We are ready to deal with Xiang Gui under Situ Furong’s guise; will Xie Wang expose us?”
Stunned, Shi Zhixuan said, “How could Kou Zhong have the time to spare for this kind of trivial thing? Unexpectedly Song Que is willing to let him not distinguishing between slight or important?”
Xu Ziling cried inwardly, ‘Not good!’ even more. He could not help speaking in distress, “I wonder if Xie Wang could look at Qingxuan’s face and not asking about our business?”
Remaining tranquil, Shi Zhixuan said, “You brought up Qingxuan to pressure me, so that I, as her Ol’ Die, cannot do anything? Am I the target of your operation?”
Inwardly Xu Ziling was severely shaken, he secretly thought that they indeed could not conceal it from him.
Suddenly he felt that the control was no longer in their hands; if they could not kill Shi Zhixuan, hereafter they would only be led by the nose by Shi Zhixuan.