Da Tang Shuang Long Zhuan - Book 58 Chapter 2 – Unifying the Demonic Way

[Updated at: 2021-11-03 17:20:00]
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Book 58 Chapter 2 - Unifying the Demonic Way

Translator: Foxs\' Wuxia

Inside the small hall in the darkness before dawn, Shi Zhixuan’s expression was so serene, calm and collected that it appeared nearly emotionless, making Xu Ziling completely unable to grasp his mind; there was only one thing he was sure of, Shi Zhixuan did not generate a murderous intent toward him.

Shi Zhixuan’s analysis was with roots and was in accordance with reason [i.e. well-founded], since only Shi Zhixuan knew Situ Furong’s secrets, they were still extremely daring to impersonate Situ Furong and his party to come to Chang’an, it showed clearly that they were targeting him, so how could Xu Ziling quibble against him?

If he glossed over by building his argument word by word, it would only make Shi Zhixuan looked down on him, Xu Ziling.

Xu Ziling sighed and said, “In order to achieve a more far-reaching goal, we are forced to take a dangerous road. Ay! We really don’t want to be Xie Wang’s enemy, even more, we had never thought of the current situation, if Xie Wang exposes us, it will be hundreds of harms but no benefit for both sides, instead, it would plant deep enmity that cannot be resolved. May I venture to ask Xie Wang, what actually are you planning in your heart?”

Shi Zhixuan revealed a hint of pained expression, he spoke softly, “I wonder if Ziling wanted to ask Ol’ Shi, between the mission of the holy school and the life-long happiness of Qingxuan, if I could only choose one over the other, what choice would Ol’ Shi make, right?”

Xu Ziling was shaken inwardly, he no longer had any grasp on his idea that Shi Zhixuan’s murderous intent toward him would not be moved, because in light of what he just said, killing Xu Ziling was one of the choices that he could take.

Xu Ziling said, “Under current situation, what else can Xie Wang do?”

Laughing involuntarily, Shi Zhixuan said, “Ziling’s insight is too narrow and shallow! The contention over the world, how could it be a day and night matter? As long as I can strike and destroy the so-called White Way power headed by Ci Hang Jing Zhai, and maintain our holy school’s vitality, there will come a day the holy school will revive from its decline. What’s more, I have had many years of deployment, who can wipe it out in a short time?”

And then he cast his gaze at him, his eyes became sharp, swift and fierce, but the tone of his voice was still tranquil without any ripple; indifferent and at ease, he said, “If Ol’ Shi did not guess incorrectly, you guys are coming to Chang’an this time, it is for Li Shimin. Am I right?”

Xu Ziling could not hide his horrified expression, his entire body felt like being inside an icehouse, his limbs lacking strength, he cried inwardly, ‘We are done for!’. Shi Zhixuan’s intelligence was indeed more superior than their estimation. In the case where his consciousness was completely without any no flaw, unexpectedly he could see through them, hitting the target with a single shot, so that from high in the clouds, he fell straight down to the ground, feeling that their grand plan of facilitating the emperor, which they drafted well over thousands gratitude and ten thousand considerations have become a presumptuous act that was completely unworkable.

Shi Zhixuan’s voice rang in his ears again. “Ziling, answer me.”

Xu Ziling felt his whole mouth was bitter and astringent; he spoke dejectedly, “Xie Wang, please note clearly, if you persist on your own viewpoint, we have no choice but to cancel the plan, and temporarily return to the south. The fate of the world in the future will still depend on whose fist is harder.”

Laughing involuntarily, Shi Zhixuan said, “Why is Ziling this dispirited? I do not have any intention to destroy your plan at all, in fact, I could even lend you a hand [orig. the strength of one arm]. Of course, there will be coming and going, I will need your help on some things.”

Greatly astonished, Xu Ziling said, “Xie Wang is not joking?”

Shi Zhixuan coldly said, “How could I be in the mood to make a joke? No matter how you look at it, Li Shimin is equal to the Li Tang’s soul, a tower of strength, Li Tang without Li Shimin is akin to a tiger without teeth. However, after Li Shimin’s death, to unify the north, you will need some time. And the one who would be hit the hardest is not Li Tang but Ci Hang Jing Zhai, toward my holy school, it will only bring benefit without any harm.”

Hearing that, Xu Ziling was dumbstruck, he finally came to realize that turned out Shi Zhixuan did not see through that they were going to launch a coup and put Li Shimin on the throne; rather, he misunderstood that they came to Chang’an to assassinate Li Shimin. Precisely like Shi Zhixuan’s analysis, if Li Shimin was killed, the one who would be hit the hardest was Ci Hang Jing Zhai, Fan Qinghui would no longer had any influence on the world, moreover, she would lose the fight against Shi Zhixuan.

The world would thus evolve into a north-and-south-vying-against-each-other, outside-tribes-coming-to-invade chaotic situation. With Shi Zhixuan’s clandestine deployment, coupled with his insight and intelligence, perhaps it would really bring great benefit to this situation.

Vitality returned to his heart and head, he became excited again. “In which aspect will Xie Wang need our help?” he asked first.

Shi Zhixuan spoke heavily, “Why did Ziling suddenly appear in Chang’an, and even followed An Long? Answer me honestly first.”

Xu Ziling knew that he must not say half a wrong word, otherwise all the upper hands and advantages would flow down the drain; he said, “Kou Zhong, Ba Fenghan, Hou Xibai, and I sneaked into Chang’an one step ahead, it was to understand the situation clearly and to see whether the plan to impersonate Situ Furong is still feasible. We took this unusual risk not just for Li Shimin, but also to deal with the Xiang Family. Xie Wang should know that the enmity between us and Xiang Yushan is as deep as the ocean, we won’t let him live a moment longer.”

“How did Ziling know the place An Long is staying?” Shi Zhixuan asked.

Xu Ziling trembled inwardly, while at the same time countless thoughts flashed through his mind. Shi Zhixuan misunderstood that he already knew An Long’s hiding place, hence he was able to follow An Long to the West Market; this showed that Shi Zhixuan also knew An Long’s hiding place. That being the case, why didn’t Shi Zhixuan take any action against An Long who betrayed him? The only rational explanation was that not only An Long did not betray Shi Zhixuan, it was Shi Zhixuan who instructed An Long to win Yang Xuyan’s trust using the ‘Bu Si Yin Jue’ and let Yin Zuwen and the others, a group of the demonic school leaders to think that An Long really renounced Shi Zhixuan and turned to throw his lot to them. This information was extremely precious and hard to come by, yet to obtain it, he did not need to spend a great deal of effort at all.

This question was very difficult to answer. If he frankly admitted that he just accidentally came across An Long, it would not show that in coming to Chang’an, they were taking the initiative to understand the situation clearly.

While his mind was churning at the speed of lightning, he slowly replied, “The reason why An Long could leak his trace is because he has some living habits that can’t be changed.”

Shi Zhixuan nodded and said, “He loves to visit the bathhouse every day, it is indeed a very bad habit.”

Xu Ziling breathed a sigh of relief inwardly, glad that he passed the hurdle; sounding him out, he said, “Since Xie Wang is willing to cooperate with us, we will let An Long get away this time.”

Shi Zhixuan was non-committal; changing the subject, he said, “You must absolutely not save a little only to lose a lot; beating the grass to scare the snake is really unwise. You should know that Li Yuan issued an imperial edict to order Li Shimin to return to Chang’an. After he comes back this time, I’m afraid he will never be able to lead the army and go into battle again.”

Xu Ziling’s heart was moved, he instinctively felt that Shi Zhixuan’s information did not come from An Long, otherwise the tone of his voice could not be this certain. Furthermore, he knew that Shi Zhixuan was still sounding out the real purpose of their trip to Chang’an, hence he mentioned it over and over again. One bad move, he might overthrow the decision he made earlier.

Sketching it in light shades, he replied, “The one who wholeheartedly wants to kill Li Shimin should be Jiancheng and Yuanji. How could Li Yuan completely ignore the flesh and blood sentiment? During the time when the outside tribes are glaring like a tiger watching its prey, plus there is the Shao Shuai Army in the south whose might is at its peak, killing Li Shimin will throw the soldiers’ heart into disorder. Therefore, we are the ones who must make the move. If Li Shimin goes, Xieli will launch large-scale invasion. When Guanzhong is in chaos, it will be the day the Shao Shuai Army will go up north. Ay! My only wish is that the Central Earth can be unified as soon as possible, so that the common people no longer have to suffer hardship.”

Shi Zhixuan stared fixedly at him, he muttered to himself irresolutely for half a day, and then nodded and said, “That must be the reason why Ziling is unwilling to withdraw? If Li Shimin is successfully assassinated by you, how would Ziling explain to Shi Feixuan?”

Xu Ziling’s pair of eyes emitted a look of determination, but he was not pretending, rather, he had made the determination that before Shi Zhixuan became suspicious, he would kill Shi Zhixuan one step ahead, for the sake of peaceful reunification of the world - to put aside all apprehension, including Shi Qingxuan. He spoke indifferently, “Do we have other options? When the situation becomes critical, Li Yuan will reinstate Li Shimin; on top of that, there is the danger of Guanzhong and the solid defense of Luoyang, no one knows until when will we have the opportunity to lay down the weapons of war.”

At the same time, he remembered Ba Fenghan’s famous saying in his heart, only those who are ruthless enough will be able survive. Until this moment, this sentence was still completely correct.

Shi Zhixuan said, “You see it very clearly. I am not convinced either that based on Li Shimin’s conduct and action, plus Fan Qinghui’s wisdom, they would be willing to let Jiancheng, Yuanji to slaughter him at will. Ay! It will be daybreak soon!”

He cast his gaze out of the window, his expression was complicated and difficult to understand; what load on his mind could possibly evoke it?

“On which aspect exactly does Xie Wang want us to help you?” Xu Ziling asked.

Shi Zhixuan acted as if he did not hear it, he spoke softly, “Didn’t Qingxuan say that she would come to look for you? How would she know that you are coming to Chang’an?”

Xu Ziling trembled inwardly, to hide from Shi Zhixuan was really not easy. Were it not that he was able to control the meridians in his body to be fixed at a certain normal state, merely the fluctuation of the qi meridians would enable this great master of the demonic school who has reached the down-to-the-smallest-detail realm to detect that he was lying early on. Now, he could still deal with it relying on his intellect, he spoke dejectedly, “I am hoping that Qingxuan could stay in Jingzhai for a while longer. If we successfully accomplish this mission, I will immediately rush over to see her. Afterwards, Jianghu’s struggle and vendetta will no longer have any share in my, Xu Ziling’s life.”

These several sentences, every single word came from the bottom of his heart, from his true feeling, revealing some kind of heartfelt and sincere tone. This was precisely Xu Ziling’s brilliance, because his ability to lie was far inferior to Kou Zhong.

Shi Zhixuan’s pair of eyes shot an emotional expression, he spoke in low voice, “Treat her well, she is the only person in the world who can make me, Shi Zhixuan heartbroken. Any harm that come to her, I definitely will not put up with it. Ay! Ziling! The situation of the world developed to what it is today, no one could foresee it in advance. From the absolute disadvantageous position, Kou Zhong finally obtains the upper hand, I, Shi Zhixuan, have only two things to seek, first, unify the demonic way, and then destroy Ci Hang Jing Zhai. At that time, we will see what else we can accomplish.”

Stunned, Xu Ziling looked at him and said, “Xie Wang is still not weary of all this?”

Shi Zhixuan recovered his calm and composed manner, without the least bit of emotion, he spoke indifferently, “So what if I am weary? Is there anything else worth doing? Entangle Bi Xuan for me, I want to kill Zhao Deyan, and then complete the great undertaking of unifying the demonic school inside the Tang Palace.”

Immediately Xu Ziling’s scalp went numb, musing that Bi Xuan was indeed invited to come, the purpose was naturally to help Li Jiancheng to deal with his second brother Li Shimin. This would make future situation become even more hard to fathom. Smiling bitterly, he said, “Xie Wang is not joking again? In the Great Tang Palace, other than Bi Xuan, there is also ‘Yi Jian Dashi’ Fu Cailin, Yuwen Shang, You Pozi [old woman] whose asthma illness has been cured, the inscrutable Wei Gonggong [eunuch], one post every five steps, one sentry every ten steps - imperial guards. Our track slightly exposed, to escape will require one luck in ten thousand, how could we have the time and the place to find people and kill people, much less a martial art master of Zhao Deyan’s caliber?”

Shi Zhixuan smiled and said, “If it were easy, why would I need you, four kids’ helping hands, assisting fists? This time Zhao Deyan comes with the group, together with Bi Xuan, they are Li Yuan’s esteemed guests, they will enter Li Yuan’s fine Taiji Palace together. Currently, the person Zhao Deyan is having the most apprehension is me, he will wait idly and not dare to leave the palace, and he can’t possibly hang around Yuwen Shang, You Pozi, and the others; if you want to kill him, how could you not take some risks? This is the condition of our cooperation. If you don’t agree, you must get lost of Chang’an immediately. If you are willing to cooperate, my mission must be accomplished before you assassinate Li Shimin, what do you say?”

Overwhelmed with shock, Xu Ziling said, “If someone finds out that we are in Chang’an, how can our plan proceed?”

Shi Zhixuan spoke indifferently, “You are helping me in Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling identity, it has nothing to do with Situ Furong whatsoever, why would it affect you? If you have a way to lure Bi Xuan out of the palace so that Zhao Deyan will be on his own, I have no objection. As long as I can kill him with my own hands, then who within the demonic school would dare to rebel against me?”

Xu Ziling said, “Zhao Deyan’s life and death will not influence Yang Xuyan at all.”

Shi Zhixuan spoke serenely, “Yang Xuyan is not our demonic school people, no one is willing to trust him wholeheartedly. This matter, no need for you guys to worry about.”

Xu Ziling met Shi Zhixuan’s gaze.

Shi Zhixuan spoke heavily, “If I kill Zhao Deyan, it will bring you a hundred benefits without a single harm. The first and foremost, the relationship between Li Yuan and Xieli will be broken, and it will be an even heavier blow to Xieli! Ziling must make up your mind, otherwise we could forget about everything.”

Xu Ziling sighed inwardly, if their goal was only to assassinate Li Shimin, of course it was not a big problem to follow Shi Zhixuan’s plan.

But what they wanted was a coup that will pull down Li Yuan, Li Jiancheng, and Li Yuanji at the same time. To deliberately complicate an issue like this, the consequences would be hard to fathom.

Shi Zhixuan suddenly laughed in spite of himself and said, “Ziling’s other choice should be to kill me to shut my mouth, but this is probably more difficult to accomplish than I want to kill Zhao Deyan inside the Taiji Palace. Whether we can succeed or not will depend on getting out from the secret road into the Palace to control victory by ambush. Ziling, you must not underestimate yourself; your martial art skill has already reached the realm where I don’t have complete confidence to kill you, on top of that, there are Kou Zhong, Ba Fenghan and Xiaotu [little disciple] Xibai. With such an assassination team of wonder troops helping me, the impossible things will become possible.”

Xu Ziling’s heart was moved, but he deliberately frowned and said, “The problem is that there are hundreds of buildings in the Taiji Palace courtyard. Unless we know the exact place where Bi Xuan and Zhao Deyan are staying, how can we make our move to strike?”

Frank and straightforward, Shi Zhixuan replied, “On this aspect, leave it to me. Ziling should trust me that I am not going to harm you, right? Don’t be wishy-washy, once you agree, just let it go, one sentence and it’s decided.”

Xu Ziling sighed inwardly. Up to this moment, he still could not beat Shi Zhixuan, so that he was led by him by the nose; he nodded and said, “We’ll decide it that way then! After killing Bi Xuan and Zhao Deyan, Xie Wang must not interfere with our affairs anymore.”

Shi Zhixuan laughed aloud and said, “Unexpectedly we are going to join hands and work together; if we tell others, I guarantee that no one will believe it. Where is Ziling staying in Chang’an?”

Xu Ziling already prepared the answer, so he replied without the slightest hesitation, “We are coming to Chang’an this time is to understand the situation in the city clearly, to see whether Situ Furong’s identity can still be used, and then we will leave the city immediately. When we come back as Situ Furong, Xie Wang can easily find us.”

Shi Zhixuan cheerfully said, “You can find me here. When I am away, you can leave a message. Go now! It will be dawn soon!”

Inside the Duke Yang’s Treasure-house.

Finished listening, all three men looked at each other in dismay, they were left speechless.

Hou Xibai was the first to draw out a mouthful of cold air and said, “That is impossible. Just Bi Xuan alone is enough to wreck our mission, much less there is also Zhao Deyan, plus many other martial art masters. How could Shizun [Master] be so muddle-headed?”

He has had a share in breaking into the Great Tang Palace, so he had deep knowledge of the seriousness of this matter.

Ba Fenghan said, “This is called a highly skilled person has big guts, plus if the situation really goes bad, relying on his Bu Si Yin Qigong [in this case, ‘qigong’ means ‘wonder skill/power’, not ‘qi’ - chi] he ought to be the one with the best chance to escape unscathed.”

Kou Zhong’s scalp went numb, he said, “Our original plan was to deal with Shi Zhixuan first, but since he is already on guard, it would be difficult to succeed. Are we really going to work for him? Besides, I am still unable to figure out whether he made such an arrangement is actually a trap?”

Smiling wryly, Xu Ziling said, “If we can grasp his mind, he is not Shi Zhixuan.”

Ba Fenghan smiled and said, “To be able to assassinate Zhao Deyan inside the most heavily guarded Taiji Palace of the Great Tang is indeed very tempting.”

Hou Xibai said, “Because you are the only one among us who has never visited Taiji Palace, you feel that it is interesting.”

Ba Fenghan agreed, he said, “You could say that. But if we could assassinate Zhao Deyan with Bi Xuan only look on helplessly, and even he will have to give up his head under my sword, it will certainly very delightful. I don’t have any opinion, everything is up to Shaoshuai.”

Kou Zhong laughed and said, “You still say no opinion? You already speak up the idea in your heart, his Niang’s! If we reveal our track, will it affect the grand plan?”

Hou Xibai said, “Of course it will, only whether good or bad, it’s hard to fathom, that’s all. Never mind, I’ll just consider it as a payback to him, the Senior, for the past favors!”

Kou Zhong regained his usual self-confidence, he turned to Xu Ziling and asked, “Ling Shao, what do you say?”

Smiling ruefully, Xu Ziling said, “The other option is to kill …”

Wolf, absolutely ruthless. If we let him discover our fake identities, we will fail and will be wiped over the floor. For the sake of the overall situation, you can no longer think about the sentiment of the past.” [I feel, no, I am sure, there is something missing here, but I checked three different sources, and they are all the same.]

Smiling wryly, Kou Zhong said, “Even if I can harden my heart and make decision, there is still the worry of beating the grass to scare the snake. Can we talk about this matter later?”

Shrugging his shoulders, Ba Fenghan said, “I understand, I just can’t help but remind you.”

Hou Xibai said, “If we want to kill him, we must wait until he returns. According to Chen Fu, Ke Dazhi already led Chang Lin Army to the north to meet Bi Xuan’s team on behalf of Li Jiancheng, and our Furong Ye‘s fleet is going to enter the Pass tomorrow.”

Having a weight off his mind, Xu Ziling said, “Since that’s the case, Kou Zhong and I will leave immediately. Other things, we will talk after we are back in Chang’an.”

Patting Ba Fenghan on the shoulder, Kou Zhong said, “The delight of life is precisely the here and the now; the future is beyond our understanding and out of our grasp. Without any better option, we have to change according to the situation, to do our best to attend to it, and to disrupt his granny’s bear, ha!”