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Thread: A step into the past - 寻秦记 - by Huang Yi (Unabridged)

  1. #81
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    Default Book 8 Chap 2 - Duel at the School

    Book 8 Chap 2 - Duel at the School
    (From translation thread - Translated by slyphiad...)

    Next was riding and archery performance, all were brilliant and pleasing to watch. It could be seen that Zhao Ba took painstaking care to train all of his swordsmen.

    Xiang Shaolong thought that it’s a pity, if it wasn’t because Zhao had a muddleheaded king like Xiaocheng, it would have a bright prospect.

    Ji Yanran leaned near his ear and said intimately, “I don’t care anymore, from today onwards, I will follow you.”

    Xiang Shaolong exclaimed in surprise, “Isn’t it too quick? Did you see that Lord Longyang is staring at us?”

    Ji Yanran chuckled, “He’s not suspicious of us, but just jealous of Yanran, everyone knew that neither man nor woman fellow loves unrefined and straightforward men like Mister Dong. If you speak vulgarity with him, he’ll be really excited!”

    Xiang Shaolong gave a wry smile, shook his head, “Let me chase after you for another two to three days! Otherwise if a beautiful woman like you can be subdued by a man with just two or three tricks, it could really damage your Learned Lady reputation.”

    Ji Yanran pouted, “Whatever suits you then! But I want you to accompany me every night.”

    Xiang Shaolong joyfully replied, “Of course, it’s all that I wish for!”

    Suddenly, applause could be heard non-stop, the school’s swordsmen returned successively to the seats opposite the stand, leaving only Zhao Ba standing in the center of the field.

    Everyone stopped talking and looked at the owner of the training school.

    The applause swiftly stopped.

    Zhao Ba raised his voice, “Our training school was able to invite the famous master swordsman, Mister Li Yuan, to give us instructions on our swordsmen’s performance, it is indeed our honor. We hope that Mister Li Yuan won’t be stingy in giving us his advice.”

    Guo Zhong chuckled and interrupted, “This time it’s all about exchanging pointers, everyone should control the force exerted, I don’t wish to watch any heart-stopping scenes like bones or flesh torn today.”

    He and Zhao Ba are close friends, naturally he could tell that Zhao Ba was really furious about Li Yuan’s arrogance, so he made use of his status to advice both parties.

    Li Yuan smiled, “Mister Guo, you can relax, I only came here with the intention of having fun, besides, there are also four beauties here! Mister Guo, relax.”

    Once he said that, all of the school’s swordsmen were burning with anger. During this period, martial arts was blooming, everyone regarded martial arts and sword skills as a prestigious and important matter, but he instead said that he only considered it as a game, meaning that he holds no regards for his opponents.

    Zhao Mu leaned his head toward Ji Yanran and enquired her intention, “Miss Ji, don’t you think that Mister Li Yuan’s words are a bit unwarranted?”

    On the other side, Han Chuang snorted, “Mister Li is too arrogant.”

    Ji Yanran smiled, “But his abilities are truly extraordinary, he wasn’t lying.”

    Those two people didn’t expect that after she had publicly shown her liking towards the Horse Fanatic, she would still defend Li Yuan and were both momentarily rendered speechless.

    Xiang Shaolong knew about Ji Yanran’s independent thinking, she wasn’t going to change her mind because of other people. Unless he could win Li Yuan publicly, otherwise in her heart, he, Xiang Shaolong, will never be on par with Li Yuan in this aspect.

    Therefore, for this beauty that always had strict criteria for her husband, this will always be a form of regret.

    While he’s pondering, that school’s first instructor had already entered the field and raising his hands in greeting towards Li Yuan, said, “I am Dai Feng, please grant me your instruction, Mister Li.”

    Li Yuan sized up Dai Feng and blandly replied, “Dong Luzi, come down and have some fun with Brother Dai Feng!”

    The crowd’s uproar rose from all directions, no one could believe that Li Yuan only sent his man to accept his challenge, obviously showing that Dai Feng is not qualified to challenge him yet.

    Everyone from the school, from Zhao Ba all the way down, were all indignant.

    Zhao Mu whispered towards Xiang Shaolong, “Oh no! If Dai Feng lost, Zhao Ba probably wouldn’t be able to hold back his anger and will personally challenge Li Yuan.”

    While Ji Yanran whispered in Xiang Shaolong’s ear, “This Dong Luzi and Lou Wuxin are Li Yuan’s most reputable and great swordsmen. They are very famous in Chu.”

    Le Cheng who was sitting behind leaned forward and said, “I also heard about this Dong Luzi, allegedly he’s from the Chu Mohist and had travelled to Lie looking for teachers and visiting friends, can’t believe that he’s become Li Yuan’s man.”

    At this time, 20 odd year old man who is tall and thin like a pole, with a pale face and no moustache, walked down the stand from the seats on Li Yuan’s side towards Dai Feng and said gently and politely, “Brother Dai, please give direction!”

    After Dai Feng returned the greeting, the youngsters brought out the wooden swords and helped both swordsmen wear the armors that protected their head, chest and vital spot at the lower body, as swords are merciless and may cause accidental injury. But this is only effective if the fighters control their force. To an expert swordsman, even if it’s only a wooden sword, it still has the capability to kill and no armor can stand against it.

    Two swords met in the air, testing the opponent’s arm strength, then retreating back, demonstrating the sect’s stance.

    Applauses were suddenly heard, then stopped.

    The crowd all held their breath in silence, looking on in concentration.
    Dai Feng stepped in his battle stance, probing and moving towards the opponent, waving the wooden sword energetically, displaying impressive strength.

    In contrast, Dong Luzi held his sword and stood erect, immovable like a mountain, only staring coldly at Dai Feng.

    Dai Feng retreated two steps back and suddenly roared as he moved forward as quickly as lightning, the sword blade slashed swiftly up into the air, emitting a whistling noise as it sliced thru the air with an unbelievable strength.

    Han Chuang and the rest started cheering him on. The warrior school’s swordsmen were even more excited, giving out thunderous support. On the contrary, on Li Yuan’s side, everyone sneered, showing extreme confidence.

    This time, Zhao Zhi, who was sitting on the other side of Li Yuan, started to feel regretful. She was purposely being affectionate with Li Yuan, partly because she was indeed charmed by Li Yuan, but mainly because she was trying to anger Xiang Shaolong. But ultimately, she still belongs to the school and naturally she won’t want her own side to lose, but because she was sitting beside Li Yuan, she’s too embarrassed to cheer loudly and is now in a dilemma.

    Li Yuan clearly understood her troubles so while everyone’s attention was still on the field, he quietly stretched his hand over and held her slender fingers which she had placed on her thigh, leaning near her ear and spoke softly, “On Miss’s account, Li Yuan definitely won’t hurt anyone from your school.”

    Zhao Zhi’s tender body trembled and in her confused state of mind she actually allowed him to freely hold her hand.

    Zhao Ya noticed their odd behavior and got closer to them, saying with a slight pout, “Mister Li, you are so caring!”

    Li Yuan who has often frequented brothels, was secretly happy as he said with a smile, “Didn’t Lady like my playboy style?”

    Zhao Ya shot him a condescending look and sat straight; her heart was again filled with Dong Kuang’s unparalleled heroic spirit and couldn’t help but sigh. She secretly pondered why when she saw Li Yuan fooling around with other women, she didn’t care much about it, but when she saw Ji Yanran only sitting beside Dong Kuang, her heart felt very uncomfortable.
    There was a sound “Dong!”, Dong Luzi lifted his sword to parry, at the same time moved diagonally, avoiding Dai Feng’s second attack which came one after another.

    Zhao Mu, Han Chuang, Le Cheng and the others are all expert swordsmen. With one look, it was easy to know that not only was Dong Luzi’s arm strength not inferior to Dai Feng’s, he’s also a very good strategist, deliberately not fighting head on so that he can erode Dai Feng’s strength.
    As expected, Dong Luzi followed by putting a defensive stance, under his opponent’s chain of relentless attacks, repeatedly dodged. On the surface, it seemed like Dai Feng has the upper hand but in reality, Dong Luzi was in no danger at all, only waiting for the opportunity to counterattack.

    A round of supports could be heard from all corners, cheering for Dai Feng.
    Zhao Zhi suddenly came out her daze and wanted to pull her hand back but did not expect that Li Yuan would hold her hand tightly and not let go. He even placed the back of his hand on top of her thigh and spoke in her ear, “Do Miss Zhi dislike me?”

    Zhao Zhi developed a sense of guilt for betraying Xiang Shaolong and Dong Kuang and looked down, “Other people can see us, you know?”

    Li Yuan loftily replied, “A true man stands upright in the world, why should he be afraid of others’ gossip, as long as you don’t dislike Li Yuan, I can assume responsibility for everything.”

    This person is very good with words, and also understood how to flatter women. Even Ji Yanran nearly fell in love with him. Zhao Zhi’s does not have much experience about men-women relationship, furthermore, she was angry about Dong Kuang’s heartlessness, so her heart was momentarily confused, thus allowing him to take advantage of her.

    Li Yuan knew that they are in public and thus he cannot go overboard so he was secretly thinking of bringing her back to his residence later for some fun. Therefore he did not molest her further.

    Guo Xiu’er, who was sitting beside Zhao Zhi, was paying attention to Li Yuan and on seeing that he was flirting with Zhao Zhi, her pretty face changed and felt resentful.

    During the warring states period, the distance men and women had to keep from each other was very different from the period after Han Dynasty, where strict Confucian teachings was flourishing. However, it’s still not considered proper etiquette for men and women to flirt in public and Guo Xiu’er couldn’t help but discount her good impression of Li Yuan.

    At this time, Xiang Shaolong’s suddenly decided to turn and look at Li Yuan and as luck would have it, Li Yuan was also looking at him. Even though they were separated by 10 more seats, Xiang Shaolong could still clearly see that Li Yuan was holding Zhao Zhi’s hand, and he can’t help but flash a look of hatred through his eyes, extremely furious.

    Li Yuan was pleased with himself on seeing that and smiled and nodded at him.

    Zhao Zhi followed Li Yuan’s gaze and looked over, straight into Xiang Shaolong’s eyes and she was suddenly reminded of Xiang Shaolong. Her heart shuddered and she forcefully pulled away her hand away from Li Yuan’s devilish grasp.

    Li Yuan of course didn’t know about the complicated relationship between Xiang Shaolong and her, and only thought that she was embarrassed for being caught in the situation with him. Instead he gently rubbed her bountiful thigh, before sitting properly and ignored Xiang Shaolong to continue watching the competition.

    Xiang Shaolong’s face was furiously stern as he turned back towards the fight on the field, fury burning inside. For the first time, he started to feel the need to challenge Li Yuan.

    Ji Yanran saw everything and whispered, “Don’t act impulsively, if you’re hurt by Li Yuan, you’ll have more to lose.”

    These few words was like pouring oil into fire, Xiang Shaolong made an effort to push down his anger, after mulling over things for awhile, turned towards Zhao Mu, “Can we send someone to invite one of my family warriors?”

    Zhao Mu immediately understood and after asking clearly who this person was, he ordered someone to summon him.

    At this moment, Dai Feng had at least given out 40 more moves, and yet he still couldn’t do anything to that Dong Luzi, even the supporting cheers slowly died down.

    Dong Luzi knew that the opportunity had come, looked up and smiled as he changed from the defending position to the attacking position, erecting his wooden sword to force his way into his opponent’s sword formation, executing an exquisite and magnificent sword move. He dispelled each move as it came and he kept his sword attacks in a very tight circle such that Dai Feng’s is unable to properly execute his way of brash fighting which uses wide sweeps of his sword.

    Zhao Mu and the others all sighed in despair, even Zhao Ba who had absolute confidence in Dai Feng’s skills was frowning.

    Zhao Zhi, who was sitting beside Li Yuan, saw that her side was facing danger, came totally to her senses. She secretly blamed herself for not keeping a line between friends and enemies, even letting Li Yuan take advantage of her and felt ashamed towards her Teacher and school. However, if she leaves now, it would be too obvious and she was in a dilemma.

    The two fighters on the field exchanged a few more moves. Dai Feng’s previously awe-inspiring performance was never seen again as he constantly retreated in defeat.

    Dong Luzi roared loudly, the sword’s shadow flashed by, breaking through his opponent’s flaw, quickly entering the inside of the opponent’s sword moves, heading directly towards Dai Feng’s chest.

    Dai Feng was shocked but was unable to retract his sword in time as he abruptly stumbled backward and barely missed this severe blow.

    However Dong Luzi is someone who can be merciless once he gains the upper hand. His feet flew and kicked towards the groin and if not for the armor, this kick would have made Dai Feng a eunuch. Nevertheless, it was enough to give him much pain as he cried out in pain, his hand dropping the long sword as he staggered and tumbled, with his hands gripping his groin.

    The crowd did not expect that Dong Luzi, who looks so gentle and refined, can be so ruthless once he has gained the upper hand. They all stared at him shell-shocked and for a moment, the whole field was so silent that one can even hear a pin dropped and only the sound of Dai Feng’s moans were heard.

    Zhao Ba’s face paled as he stood up and shouted, “Isn’t anyone helping instructor inside to tend to his wound?”

    Instantly, they all scrambled forward to help bring Dai Feng inside.

    Dong Luzi didn’t look at all regretful; instead he jauntily bowed towards both sides, handed over the wooden sword and returned to his seat.

    Zhao Zhi had always had a good friendship with Dai Feng, so she can no longer be bothered with Li Yuan as she glared hatefully at him before quickly following Dai Feng inside.

    Li Yuan didn’t even care about Zhao Zhi at all as he smiled suavely, “It’s hard to avoid injury during a martial arts competition, if Master Zhao is afraid of more accidents happening, let’s just stop it all here and let me play host tonight as an apology?”

    This time even Ji Yanran could not tolerate what has happened as she quietly cursed, “Li Yuan, you’re too overbearing!”

    Zhao Ba’s huge, round eyes were glaring with murderous intent, obviously he was seriously infuriated. Xiang Shaolong was really afraid that he will volunteer to enter the fight himself, so he quickly pushed Han Chuang forward.

    Han Chuang understood his meaning and made a hand signal towards his own chosen warrior whom he was planning send for the duel to come forward.

    That warrior, called Fu Jianyin, obeyed the order and jumped off the stand as he called out, “Fu Jianyin would like Mister Li Yuan to give me some pointers!”

    The whole field solemnly waited in silence to see if Li Yuan would personally accept the challenge.

    Fu Jianyin’s stature wasn’t tall but he was strong and stout, his face has some crisscross scars. His appearance looked a little bit scary, but this is exactly the ironclad proof that he had fought in many battles.

    Li Yuan displayed a condescending attitude as he languidly leaned half his body against the table next to him and said nonchalantly, “Wuxin! Why don’t you go and learn from the expert?”

    The crowd had already guessed that he wouldn’t find the opponent to be worth his time, so they weren’t surprised.

    The robustly built Lou Wuxin slowly walked down the stand, briefly bowed and straightened himself arrogantly. After accepting the wooden sword, he brushed off the person who was about to put the armor on him, “It’s not even a battlefield, why do we even need this useless thing?”

    On seeing that, Fu Jianyin said loudly, “Since Brother Lou is not wearing armor, I’ll dispense with it too.”

    At this time, Lord Longyang stepped in behind Xiang Shaolong and Ji Yanran and delicately whispered, “In this world, is there anyone more arrogant than the Chus? We don’t see such arrogance coming from them when they were facing the Qins. Will Sister Yanran be participating?”

    Ji Yanran sighed, “Yanran also find this difficult to accept, but I know that I cannot win against Li Yuan, so there’s nothing I can do.”

    Lord Longyang gave an icy snort and did not speak as he returned to his seat. He knew that he himself would be on par with Ji Yanran, so if even she said that she couldn’t beat Li Yuan, there was no way that he could win. At the same time, he decided not to let his chosen Jiaoxu fight so that his man would not be beaten and humiliated.

    Zhao Mu turned towards Guo Kai and Le Cheng and sighed, “If Fu Jianyin loses as well, we can only rely on Luo Xiang to redeem our face, otherwise we’ll have to let the Master of the School fight, but I am really reluctant to let this happen.”

    Guo Kai replied, “Li Yuan is the number one swordsman of Chu. His men are already so formidable, it’s not hard to imagine the level of Li Yuan’s sword skills.”

    At the moment, everyone felt helpless.

    Even though Zhao Mu was a master swordsman, but due to his status, it’s not convenient for him to join the fight as it might create a discord between the two countries.

    Li Yuan was lucky that he does not hold any official post, otherwise he would not be allowed to fight others on a personal basis without the orders of his King.

    ************************************************** *

    The two fighters on the field shouted out loud simultaneously and violently attacked the other side. Lou Wuxin’s sword moves like the wind, sweeping widely and the sword aura is like the mountain, extremely mighty and ferocious. Almost as soon as they made contact, Fu Jianyin fell into the situation of being badgered.

    Xiang Shaolong at this moment caught sight of Teng Yi galloping on the horse, passing through the gate, he reached out and pushed Han Chuang on the back, saying “Go and stop this duel quickly!”

    Han Chuang looked like he was in a dilemma because this Fu Jianyin was passed off as a Zhao to enter the fight. If he says anything, wouldn’t it be obvious that Fu Jianyin is actually his man.

    Both sides were watching the fight quietly, it wasn’t like before where everyone was screaming their support, the tension was as tight as a drawn bowstring.

    Right when Han Chuang was still hesitating, the winner emerged.

    Fu Jianyin lost in strength, as he stumbled slightly, Lou Wuxin swept towards his shoulder with the sword and the sound of bone breaking could be heard. As he groaned in pain, Fu Jianyin tumbled forward, and when he got back on his feet, the pain is already causing his face to be wet with cold sweat.

    Lou Wuxin laughed out loud, “Thank you for giving way!”

    Xiang Shaolong gestured towards Teng Yi who was walking towards them after getting off the horse. The latter understood his intention and shouted loudly from the distance, “I’m Long Shan, Dong Kuang’s family warriors, this brother looks very familiar, would you mind giving me a few instruction?”
    The crowd at this time can’t be bothered to find out how Fu Jianyin was being carried out, neither did they notice that Zhao Zhi has just returned to the field and was seated amongst her senior and junior brothers, they were all focused on sizing up this uninvited warrior.

    Lou Wuxin looked Teng Yi up and down disdainfully and coldly replied, “If you want to fight, you have to use real swords to able to display real skills.” Teng Yi laughed, “Why not? But Mister Li better send another fighter for me to tire me out a little bit before we can fight or so that it’ll be fair when I fight with you.”

    Zhao Mu sighed, “Is your family warrior a moron, he didn’t even know how to take advantage of the situation?”

    Ji Yanran smiled, “A Master will have a servant who behaves like him, and this is what a true hero is about.”

    Zhao Mu couldn’t help but give an embarrassed laugh, angry at himself for showing that he is not a hero at all.

    Li Yuan was afraid that Lou Wuxin didn’t have time to regain his breath yet and when he saw that at Xiang Shaolong did not show any reaction, happily said, “Definitely hero material!” He made a gesture and one of the warriors behind him whose face looked like an ancient copper obeyed his order and stepped out.

    Xiang Shaolong turned towards Ji Yanran, “Who’s this person?”

    Under the crowd’s expectant gaze, Ji Yanran shook her head bewilderedly.
    That person came in front of Teng Yi, and very calmly said, “I don’t like to use fake swords too, what is your opinion?” Teng Yi frostily replied, “Brother, how may I address you?”

    That person calmly replied, “My name is Yanfu, I am just a nobody!”

    Once everyone heard, not one of them didn’t get stirred.

    Xiang Shaolong of course didn’t know who he is, his questioning gaze turned towards Ji Yanran for clarification.

    Ji Yanran looked solemn as she replied, “He was originally a famous swordsman from Qin but ran away to Chu because he killed someone. I did not expect him to join Li Yuan. From this, it could be seen that Li Yuan’s influence in Chu is growing by leaps and bounds, no wonder he is so arrogant.”

    Han Chuang and the rest started to worry for Teng Yi.

    “Clang!”

    Yanfu pulled out his glimmering sharp sword, fell back two steps, pointed at Teng Yi and shouted, “Still haven’t pulled out your sword yet?”

    Teng Yi was expressionless but a coldness radiated from his eyes as he unhurriedly said, “When the time comes, the sword will naturally be pulled out of its sheath!”

    Yanfu was furious as he roared, straighten up the sword and attacked.
    Instantly, a cold glare flared, blinding everyone’s eyes.

    No one could have expected that the friendly competition between influential officials could turn into a real life and death fight.

  2. #82
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    Default Book 8 Chap 3 - Awe-inspiring at the Field

    Book 8 Chap 3 - Awe-inspiring at the Field
    (From translation thread - Translated by slyphiad...)

    Once Yanfu attacked with his sword, everyone could tell he was formidable.

    No matter the angle or the speed, technique or footwork, all these can be clearly seen in this simple looking sword execution that was moving like a swimming dragon, indeed deserving of his great reputation as a master swordsman.

    The most exhilarating part was he borrowed the twisting power of his waist and legs to exert his moving strength, creating a powerful stab that pooled the energy in his whole body, moving as fast as lightning, with no warning sign in advance. It was really instantaneous, seemingly like a volcanic eruption and in the blink of an eye, the sword point arrived only a foot away from the unmoving Teng Yi’s chest .

    The crowd imagined themselves in Teng Yi’s position. At the moment, the only path left was to retreat and pull out his sword, but this would only boost the opponent’s dominance, the offensive attacks will come in waves and he may even perish under the sword. In other words, whatever happens, it’s only because Teng Yi’s did not draw out his sword first and thus lost his chance to act first.

    A small smile escaped from the corner of Teng Yi’s lips as he swiftly drew out his sword without even retreating a step.

    The crowd was secretly alarmed. Guo Xiu’er and Zhao Ya were so scared that they shut their pretty eyes, unable to bear watching the tragic outcome of this hero when he spills his blood.

    “Clang!”

    While everyone was stupefied, Teng Yi drew out his sword to about two feet from the sheath and actually accurately blocked the edge of Yanfu’s sword with his sword handle.

    Even if Yanfu was stronger than Teng Yi, but the power emitted from the sword’s edge is incomparable to the power emitted from the flat side of the sword handle, especially since Yanfu’s arm strength simply wasn’t on the same level as Teng Yi.

    Ever since Yanfu started to appear in the pugilistic world, he has never seen anyone who from the start could beat an enemy using the sword handle only. He had placed his full power to attack forward, and he could not stop his momentum and was heading towards Teng Yi as if he is throwing himself into his embrace.

    Just as he realized his mistake, Teng Yi’s iron fist loomed in front of his eyes.

    “Bang!”

    Fresh blood spurted from Yanfu’s mouth and nose as he stumbled backwards, unexpectedly knocked out by Teng Yi’s left fist, whereas Teng Yi’s sword was only half out of the sheath.

    “Clang!”, the sword slid back into the sheath.

    Silence reigned on the field, before the swordsmen from the training school burst into loud cheers which filled the whole field, amazed by Teng Yi’s skills and also ecstatic because he had gotten revenge on their behalf.

    Li Yuan did not expect that Teng Yi could be as skillful as this, his face turned green as he shouted, “Carry that useless guy out!”

    Once this word was out, even Zhao Ya, who was sitting beside him furrowed her brows, could feel that this person, Li Yuan, is an unkind and fickle person, showing no sympathy at all towards a subordinate who has failed.

    Yanfu was quickly carried out of the field.

    Teng Yi pointed towards Lou Wuxin, “It’s your turn now!”

    The crowd’s eyes all fell on Lou Wuxin, waiting to see if he dared to accept the challenge.

    Xiang Shaolong is the only one in the field who can predict the result of the fight. After Teng Yi received his instruction from the ‘Mohist Swordplay’s Addendum’, his sword and martial art skills improved exponentially, even he himself couldn’t be sure to win against him, much less Yanfu. This time he laughed out loud, “Brother Lou, if you still have not rested enough to get your breath back, we can ask Brother Dong Luzi or others to fight first.”

    Once this was said, there was no way for Lou Wuxin to avoid this any further, he stood up, snorted and walked out towards the field.

    Everyone immediately quieted down.

    Ji Yanran whispered in Xiang Shaolong’s ear, “I have never seen anyone with such queer sword skills as your Second Brother, he not any more inferior compared to Li Yuan .”

    Zhao Mu was instead elated, secretly thinking that it’s no wonder that this “Horse Fanatic” is so boastful, so it turns out that he has a subordinate who can fight against a hundred fighters singlehandedly with his out of the world sword skills.

    “Clang,” Lou Wuxin pulled out his sword and assumed a stance, yet he didn’t immediately attack, quietly studying his opponent’s sword movement and techniques. Teng Yi faced the sky and laughed aloud, his right hand holding the sword handle, stepped forward and looked as if he was going to pull out his sword.

    Lou Wuxin felt awestricken by his imposing manner and actually took a step back, so that a gap of seven to eight steps still remained between them. Teng Yi dashed like lightning forward towards Lou Wuxin’s left side, the long sword slid back in and then out of the sheath again, creating the unbelievable illusion of countless seemingly real sword sparks, looking like an attack but yet not an attack, and poisonous snakes in a pit, rearing their heads and sticking out their tongue so thatat any time, it could fiercely attack its enemy with one bite, but it would definitely be a merciless killing move.

    Xiang Shaolong slapped his thigh and cheered. This move that Teng Yi used was based on defending in order to attack, beyond doubt that it has reached perfection, completely utilizing the essence of Mohist Swordplay’s Addendum.

    Lou Wuxin was completely baffled by the opponent’s sword movement, even though he shouted and assumed a fierce posture but in the end he still moved back a step, everyone could see that he had been intimidated.
    When master swordsmen were pitted in a battle against each other, how can one constantly retreat.


    With wondrous instinct, Teng Yi’s sword suddenly moved widely, changing from defending to attack into attacking to defend, waving his long sword seemingly like a rainbow, accompanied by refined and intricate footwork, dashing forward to Lou Wuxin’s left, taking him by storm.

    “Clang!” Lou Wuxin strenuously tried to block Teng Yi’s sword, which has reached perfection regardless of technique, posture, strength or movement. Teng Yi sneered, “Is this all you have?”

    The long sword slid out, and quickly morphed into a sweep.

    “Clang!”

    Lou Wuxin raised his sword in trepidation to block, only to be swept away by Teng Yi and there was no way he could retaliate at all.

    Not one of them from Li Yuan’s side that didn’t turn pale, for it must be known that Lou Wuxin’s arm strength is the best amongst them all but it turned out that this “Long Shan” can easily beat him.

    By this time, everyone knew that Teng Yi plans to subdue and humiliate this person in terms of strength.

    Zhao Ba was ecstatic, but also secretly alarmed. He was always self-assured that his strength was unbeatable, but now looking at Teng Yi’s might, he realizes that there will always be others who are better.

    Le Cheng who was sitting at the back moved forward, “Your family warrior’s superhuman strength was just astonishing, I won’t be surprised if it’s comparable to Xiao Weimou.”

    Xiao Shaolong secretly snickered, if Le Cheng knew that Xiao Weimou was killed by Teng Yi, who knows what would he think about it?

    History is being repeated again. Earlier it was Fu Jianyin who was beaten senseless by Lou Wuxin till he cannot retaliate at all and ultimately lost; this time it’s Teng Yi slowly pressing forward, making Lou Wuxin sweat with effort, continuously retreating.

    This Lou Wuxin can be considered as awesome as he could ward off Teng Yi’s unfathomable 25th sword stance before he lapsed and thus creating a flaw in his defense.

    Teng Yi moved forward like a lightning kicking his lower abdomen.

    Lou Wuxin scrambled backward holding the sword, curled up on the floor from the pain. Besides moaning, he had no more energy to get up anymore.

    The crowd was awestruck by this terrible sword move that all have forgotten to cheer.

    Li Yuan completely lost face. After ordering someone to move Lou Wuxin, he saw that everyone and that Long Shan’s eyes are on him, he secretly groaned. If he joined in the fight, even though he might not necessarily lose, he didn’t have the confidence to get the upper hand, but at this time the situation is such that there’s no other way out so he snorted, “So Mister Dong has such a skillful subordinate, from this we could infer that Mister must also be an expert, why don’t we use this time to play a little bit, so as to avoid others speaking badly of me for taking advantage of your subordinate when he is tired from all the fighting.”

    Even though his words sounded reasonable, but everyone knew that he is in fact extremely wary of Teng Yi.

    Xiang Shaolong waved to Teng Yi to come back to the stand, before standing up slowly and replying calmly, “Regarding my skills, Brother Li should already have a clear understanding of my level from your family warriors, but how can listening be compared to watching. Since Brother Li is in a mood to play, I would of course love to accompany you.”

    Li Yuan did not expect that he’d be willing to fight, and his joy plummeted.

    This time, besides the men on Li Yuan’s side and Teng Yi, everyone else was worried for Xiang Shaolong. Li Yuan is known as Chu’s number one famous swordsman, just by looking at Lou Wuxin and the others’ skills, they can all deduce his formidability. Dong Kuang, this ‘Horse Fanatic’, wasn’t well known for his sword skills, so it’s not too hard to imagine who’ll win or lose.

    Ji Yanran was anxious to the point where her brows all furrowed together, if Xiang Shaolong lost, even though Li Yuan wouldn’t dare to publicly kill him, but he will definitely injure or maim him.

    Xiang Shaolong took off his precious sword Bloodwave and gave it to the person beside him as he smiled at Li Yuan, “How can we follow these youngsters and compete with our lives. We can dispense with the armor, but we will still use wooden swords to exchange pointers and hold our strength in check, all should be carried out in the spirit of a friendly competition.” Even though Li Yuan was reluctant, he couldn’t openly show his desire to kill his opponent, so he smiled calmly, “Since this is Mister Dong’s suggestion, I will naturally agree.”

    Xiang Shaolong secretly grinned, he is someone who’s used to using wooden sword. Just on this point alone, Li Yuan is destined to lose. After accepting the wooden sword and testing the weight, despite it only weighing about 70% of his Mohist sword, it’s still much heavier than the average iron sword.

    Li Yuan used both hands to wave the sword around, pondering if he could just blind the other party in one eye, it would be most ideal.

    Xiang Shaolong suddenly shouted, “Master Zhao, let’s play some drums to add to the atmosphere!”

    While everyone was stunned, the drummer responsible for this had already started drumming like a violent rain producing earth-shaking drumming sounds.

    Li Yuan’s handsome face turned cold and ruthless as he held his sword and stood erect. With his tall and graceful stature, and suave appearance, he truly had an extraordinary posture.

    Xiang Shaolong placed his sword in front of him, staying as still as a mountain, both eyes shining sharply like eagle, focusing on the opponent.

    The both of them stood facing each other, immediately revealing the air of an expert. Everyone was filled with tension, anticipating the coming storm, for that moment everything was silent.

    After spending the past six months training intensely, Xiang Shaolong has changed from being blindingly brilliant to being calmly unwavering, even someone like Zhao Mu and the rest who had seen him fight several times in the past couldn’t link through his movement that he is the Xiang Shaolong of the past.

    Ji Yanran is an expert swordsman, with just a glance she can see that Xiang Shaolong’s casual stand has the aura of an immovable mountain. She was inwardly surprised, could it be that the last time they fought, he didn’t fight with all his might? She could never have guessed that his improvement in swordplay was all due to finding the Mohist Swordplay’s Addendum.

    In Zhao Zhi’s eyes now, there is only Dong the Horse Fanatic who has that natural, graceful bearing of a hero, to the extent that even the handsome looking Li Yuan seems to pale on comparison.

    Zhao Ya looked at Li Yuan, and also looked at Xiang Shaolong. She felt that although both parties had their own powerfully attractive qualities, Xiang Shaolong’s uniquely alluring enigmatic and mysterious quality is something that Li Yuan cannot give.

    Guo Xiu’er felt something altogether different.

    Li Yuan was truly the ideal husband of her dreams, talented in both literature and martial arts. He is dignified and graceful, at the same time he has status and power. Despite knowing that he’s a playboy, but that’s the way of all men, so she could only resign herself to this fate and obey her father’s command to marry this Lord.

    But the appearance of Dong Kuang allowed her to experience the lure of another type of man, unrefined and straightforward yet revealing a thrilling wisdom and extraordinary thinking, making her willing to be conquered by him. This dilemma of choosing between them is making this young girl’s heart disconcerted, unable to make a choice.

    Now that the both of them are finally competing to decide their superiority, would it help her make a decision? During this warring period, everyone knows martial art, sword skills has long become the standard in judging someone’s skills. An expert swordsman will naturally be regarded as important and admired.

    Li Yuan and Xiang Shaolong stared at each other unwaveringly, and said in a frosty manner, “Brother Dong’s horse rearing skills are unparalleled in this world, I really would like to see whether Brother Dong’s sword skill is comparable to your horse rearing skills.”

    He lowered his body to assume a stance, waving the sword and pointing at Xiang Shaolong, repeatedly shaking.

    Everyone in the audience broke out into cold sweat on Xiang Shaolong’s behalf, no one had expected that Li Yuan’s sword skills to have reached such high levels. Even when using the wooden sword, he’s still able to create ingenious changes, confusing the audience to the point where one can’t be sure where the attack will be coming from.

    Xiang Shaolong was still standing stiff like a pillar, the corner of his mouth revealed a mysterious smile as he blandly replied, “What are you waiting for, Brother Li?”

    His words were imbued with strong confidence, everyone can clearly feel that he’s not even a little bit intimidated.

    Li Yuan definitely proved himself to be worthy of being Chu’s number one swordsman, he wasn’t at all provoked by these words. He smiled and swiftly attacked. When Xiang Shaolong raised his wooden sword, pointing at him diagonally, he retreated and returned to his previous position when they were facing each other, the distance between them totally remaining unchanged. It can be seen from this how precise Li Yuan’s footwork was. Just based on this point, Ji Yanran’s earlier conclusion that Li Yuan’s sword skills were above Xiang Shaolong was definitely not without evidence.

    Zhao Zhi was thinking that if Xiang Shaolong’s sword skills is on par with that Long Shan, these two people together would be enough to carry out the secret task of assassinating anyone. She can’t help but feel resentful towards Xiang Shaolong’s heartlessness.

    Teng Yi concentrated on watching both of them, with their swords drawn and poised to attack. He was originally confident that Xiang Shaolong would undoubtedly win, but when he saw Li Yuan’s expertise when testing the water and his intricate and harmonized footwork, he couldn’t help feeling a little bit worried.

    On the contrary, the one with the most confidence was Xiang Shaolong himself, not because he was underestimating his enemy, but because he had entered the state of Mohism protection, a state where there are no others and no self, yet at the same time his opponent’s intent cannot escape his observation at all.

    He knew that Li Yuan is luring him into attacking first, but he was totally unmoved. If both sides are not striking at all, the one who will lose face wouldn’t be this ‘Horse Fanatic’ but the arrogant Li Yuan who had made his boast earlier.

    While training in the 21st century, they really focused on the psychology of warfare and he is currently applying what he has learnt, intending to strike at Li Yuan’s weak points based on his character.

    After facing each other for awhile, sure enough, Li Yuan couldn’t endure any loss of face and got impatient. He gave a cold snort, single-handedly lifted his sword overhead and leapt forward. As the long sword was about to violently strike Xiang Shaolong, his left hand grabbed the sword handle as well, and the power was intensified as now he is wielding the sword with both hands instead.

    Even though many disdained Li Yuan, but on seeing this outstanding move, everyone can’t help but be impressed. Furthermore, this move was extremely severe and violent, gathering the power in the whole body’s strength to the arms. If Xiang Shaolong raised his sword with one hand to block, then it very possible that this single move will determine the winner.

    Xiang Shaolong still looked as calm as still water. He only raised his brows, turned his wrist, and actually used only one hand to block Li Yuan’s move.

    Ji Yanran was so astonished that her heart was beating rapidly, her slender hands rose to cover her gasping mouth that was about to scream.

    In the past, she had fought both of them separately so she naturally understood that their arm strength were comparable. But this time Li Yuan is using both hands to attack and he has the added power from the running momentum so it’s not hard to know who would be stronger.

    Ai! How can Xiang Shaolong be so reckless?

    Everyone there can only hear the swooshing of Li Yuan’s sword cutting thru the air and could tell the ferocious power behind it, all couldn’t bear to see the happening of another tragic ending.

    Li Yuan saw Xiang Shaolong trying to block with a single hand and was secretly happy so he intensified his strength into the strike.

    Who knew Xiang Shaolong could suddenly change from blocking horizontally to flicking his sword up, heavily pushing aside his opponent’s move that was bearing down on him with the weight of a mountain. The hard block changed into deflecting the enemy’s blow using its own momentum.

    Li Yuan watched helplessly as a surefire move was deflected to the side by Xiang Shaolong, and it went off target a little to only chop down towards the empty spot where Xiang Shaolong’s left shoulder used to be.

    Cheers reverberated around the field.

    Even Zhao Ya and Zhao Zhi, these two beautiful ladies who hated Xiang Shaolong, enthusiastically clapped their hands and cheered. Luckily, this time Li Yuan cannot afford to be distracted, or else he would have died of anger on seeing this.

    Everyone thought that Xiang Shaolong will take this advantage to attack first, who would have guessed that he would instead move back a step, his wooden sword moving in a bizarre and mysterious path, moving backwards and forward in front of his body, floating and waving around randomly.

    Even with Li Yuan’s sword skills and experience, he still cannot determine which moves are true and which are fake. With no alternative, he was forced to retreat but tried to look as if he is arranging a forbidding defense. However he is not as commanding now as he was before.

    Teng Yi felt relieved, knowing that Xiang Shaolong had guessed correctly that in Li Yuan’s had wanted to impress Ji Yanran with his martial prowess so he purposely made him lose face, provoking him into being more impatient and reckless so that he’ll lose his advantage. He’s truly brilliant in strategy.

    Ji Yanran is no longer worried about her lover, her eyes were shining with love and affection, looking at Xiang Shaolong’s vigorous body emitting an imposing aura and indomitable charm.

    The autumn sun was shining high above the sky upon the field filling it with life.

    There’s another person who cannot ‘refrain himself from liking’ Xiang Shaolong, which is Lord Long Yang. From the first moment he saw this stout and forthright man, ‘his’ heart was stirred. Now that he witnessed his splendid sword performance, his heart was sent into disorder and he was secretly determined to captivate Xiang Shaolong into becoming his love slave.

    On the other hand, those family warriors under Li Yuan were so astounded they remained silent, they couldn’t believe that even with Li Yuan’s amazing sword skills, he still couldn’t even get a little bit of upper hand.

    Li Yuan forced himself to concentrate, the wooden sword slashed up and down, forming his second attack.

    Xiang Shaolong returned to his original spot, standing still like the mountain, not even moving a little bit.
    Now, no one would think that he was too self assured and belittled his opponent.

    Li Yuan softly said, “Who would have thought that Brother Dong is such an expert, be careful!”
    With a diagonal forward attack, he moved around towards Xiang Shaolong’s back in an instant.
    Not only did Xiang Shaolong not turn around to receive the attack, instead he quickly moved forward towards Li Yuan’s last position before turning around, the wooden sword pointing at the opponent, his steps steady and his bearing confident, with the posture like an erect mountain. One look is all it takes to know that he did not flounder at all despite his enemy’s tactical attack.

    Li Yuan missed his intent and landed at Xiang Shaolong’s original spot and it seemed like the two of them made an agreement to exchange places.

    The spectators didn’t dare to take a breath, afraid that it might influence both parties on the field who are caught in a deadlock.

    Xiang Shaolong wasn’t without his own difficulties, for it is hard for him to go all out and fight. If he did not rein himself, it would be difficult to conceal his moves and it may even trigger the memory of those who have seen him fight in the past. By then, even if he killed Li Yuan, the loss will still outweigh the gain.
    Li Yuan saw that both his moves has failed and lost his patience. He waved his sword to attack again. The sword point trembled like lightning, relentless, ruthless and flawless.

    Xiang Shaolong knew that he was anxious for victory and was secretly delighted. Just before the sword touched his body, he coolly deflected to the side. The move was truly as calm as an immovable object yet as swift as an escaping rabbit. Besides, his movement was suave and unrestrained as well, thus attracting the cheers of others.

    Li Yuan saw that he was evading the attack and happily thought there was hope. He shouted and waved the sword quickly.

    Xiang Shaolong laughed aloud, drawing out his wooden in a flash, turned around and flew forward, continuously blocking the opponent’s five sword strikes without retreating a single step. His defense was as solid as an iron bucket, while his every move contained possible hidden changes thus causing Li Yuan to be hesitant about advancing rashly.

    The clash of the wooden swords rang continuously non-stop.

    The crowd was so focused on the fight that they forgot to cheer for their own side, only seeing both parties’ sword skills soaring powerfully without constraints, fluttering and flashing indefinitely. Not only were they marveling at Li Yuan’s unparalleled moves, but also astonished at Xiang Shaolong’s unfathomable moves.

    Zhao Ya felt that this Horse Fanatic is just like his character, unfathomable. Judging from his appearance, anyone would have guessed that Xiang Shaolong is a proactive person and who would have thought that in actuality it was the other way around.

    Even though Li Yuan is always the initiator of the attacks, yet his opponent’s defensive yet seemingly offensive moves is restricting him the use of the full strength of his skills. At the same time, the opponent displayed a strong will and tenacious power and he cannot help but feel discouraged. This is also the negative aftereffect of his two failed attacks; otherwise he wouldn’t have this feeling of discouragement.
    His sixth attacks haven’t come out and yet the opponent’s wooden sword suddenly created numerous shadows, confusing him such that he has no idea where the attack will be coming from. Li Yuan was alarmed and naturally he retreated.

    Xiang Shaolong laughed out loud, placing the flat side of the wooden sword on his shoulder, appearing calm and composed, said to Li Yuan who has retreated close to ten steps away from him, “Brother Li’s sword skills are indeed ingenious, I think that it will be extremely difficult for me to win, let’s just quit while we’re ahead and call off the battle at this point, what do you think, Brother Li?”

    Li Yuan stood frozen on the field, his handsome face flitted between turning red and pale. Even though it was still not clear who will be the winner and the loser, but everyone saw that all of his three attacks were nullified by this Horse Fanatic, how can he lift his face up again?

    But if he insist on continuing the fight, firstly, it will show his lack of bearing, even more importantly, he had lost his confidence and all of his fighting spirit had been dispelled.

    While he was still hesitating, Guo Kai, who was worried that Xiang Shaolong will really injure Li Yuan, stood up, “Let’s consider this fight is a draw, today is indeed an eye opening experience for all of us.”

    Li Yuan secretly hated this but he had to maintain a smiling front, accepting other people’s congratulations together with Xiang Shaolong. Ji Yanran greeted Xiang Shaolong and said tenderly, “Mister Dong, from today onwards, you can be considered equally brilliant in both horse rearing and sword skills. I wonder if you would be willing to visit the place where I’m putting up for the moment to take care of my sick horse?”

    Everyone who heard this envied him.

    Although she’s using to the horse as an excuse, but her invitation came publicly after his incredible performance of martial prowess so everyone knew that this peerless beauty known for her heart of stone is no longer concealing her feelings towards this Horse Fanatic whom had stirred her heart.
    The other three girls who were rushing to congratulate Xiang Shaolong, felt snubbed as Ji Yanran snatched their chances and quietly withdrew.

    Li Yuan was the one who felt the worst. Originally he thought that today he would be able to impress everyone during the martial arts competition, instead he ended up with two of his famous subordinates seriously injured, while he himself could not win the fight, which is a total loss of face. The hardest hit was Ji Yanran is actually making giving an invitation to his biggest rival right in front of his eyes. His felt a strong hatred and hurriedly left with his subordinates.

    Zhao Ba was ecstatic and said as he pulled Xiang Shaolong and Teng Yi, “No matter what, I want to invite both of you to become our honored guest instructors. Please do not decline!”

    Zhao Mu sighed, “If Mister Dong and Brother Long was here a year earlier, that fellow Xiang Shaolong would not be able to leave Handan alive.”

    Xiang Shaolong and Teng Yi exchanged glances, both felt very amused.

    Amongst all the uproars, Xiang Shaolong finally was able to extricate himself to leave with Ji Yanran under everyone’s admiration gaze.
    Last edited by Han Solo; 10-25-09 at 12:30 AM.

  3. #83
    Senior Member kohchun's Avatar
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    Book 8 Chapter 4: Isolated Without Support

    Ji Yanran, accompanied by Xiang Shaolong and Teng Yi on her right and left, galloped out of the school.

    As Xiang Shaolong remembered Zhao Bas invitation for them to become the honored guest instructors, he couldnt help be reminded that Lian Jin must have received the same treatment when he was alive, therefore he had the opportunity to become closer to Zhao Zhi thus evoking their short affair.

    Maybe Zhao Zhi is fickle in love, for her first lover was killed and she instead fell in love with him, the person who killed her lover, but because of her relationship with Jing Jun, he didnt dare to accept her love. However, if she threw herself into Li Yuans embrace out of anger because of this, it could really make one feel resentful.

    Li Yuan will definitely not appreciate or care for the fairer sex for he is too selfish.

    Returning to the busy town centre, Teng Yi said, I want to go to the Hidden Army Valley to see them, I may not be able to return by tonight.
    Xiang Shaolong nodded in agreement, replied offhandedly, Have you sent someone to see Father?

    Father was Lu Buweis codename.

    Teng Yi replied, Sent the day before! After requesting leave of Ji Yanran, he rode towards the city gate direction. They have been granted the Pass Document so they could leave the city at anytime without any problem.

    Ji Yanran begged, I want you to stroll around town with me, will you agree?

    Xiang Shaolong joyfully agreed and they rode back to his residence first, before going out to leisurely stroll around town.

    After walking for only a while and Ji Yanran couldnt take it anymore because every on the street were staring at them in surprise, making her feel uncomfortable, so she had no choice but to drag Xiang Shaolong and slipped back into the borrowed residence shes currently residing in.

    The owner, a great Confucian Scholar in Handan, Liu Huasheng was playing chess with Zou Yan and when the two of them returned, they were delighted.

    Liu Huasheng and Zou Yan were old friends who had known each other for thirty more years and they treated Ji Yanran like their own daughter and everyone was talking joyfully.

    So far, Zou Yan hadnt gotten a chance yet to speak of old times with Xiang Shaolong. He urged Ji Yanran to take his place playing chess, while he and Xiang Shaolong walked together into the quiet and secluded back garden, and sighed, Since the Prince of Ping moved to the east, its been more than 500 years where theres no true leader. There had been continuous wars, and who else but the common people suffered, luckily, we now have you as the new Saint to become our hope of ever stopping these wars.

    Xiang Shaolong wouldnt dare to underestimate this wise Five Elements School founder, because truly without him Xiang Shaolong, Emperor Qin who united the six countries wouldnt exist. But he still didnt know how to answer his question, the only way left was just to stay quiet.

    Zou Yan was intoxicated inside his own vision of vast and broad history and softly said, I know Shaolong is someone who pursues peace, but true peace can only be achieved through war, theres no other way beside this. Otherwise with these seven states continuously fighting, sooner or later, well be attacked from the tribes in the northwest who are watching intently for the right opportunity to invade the mainland like locusts coming to destroy our civilization.

    Xiang Shaolong was suddenly startled, Zou Yans words were like a blow to his head, getting him to think of problems he didnt think of before. All along, he had deliberately avoided having a hand in any wars; however, he never thought that itd be better to suffer momentarily than to suffer long-term pain, employing war as a way to bring peace. This was mainly because of his foreigner mentality.

    But this problem is in fact his problem now as he had become a member of this era so naturally he have to accept the responsibility that comes with staying in this time period.

    Even if Qin didnt dispatch soldiers to go on an expedition, the other six states also wont let Qin off, this is basically a time period where the strongest rules.

    Instead of allowing the flames of war to reign free indefinitely to the point of flashing an open invitation for the outside tribes to invade, itd be better to use the Qins might to unite the whole country earlier. If he leads the army, at the very least, he can reduce the senseless massacre to the bare minimum thus reducing the burden of war on the people.

    Once he reached this conclusion, his heart stirred to passion.

    Zou Yan measured him with rapt attention for a while before grinning, The universe undergoes thousands of changes constantly, but is always connected to the activities of the five elements gold, wood, water, fire and earth. The heaven is five elements, people are also five elements. Even though from outward appearance the usage is always full of changes, on the inside the essence stays the same. If heaven and people are always interconnected, every time theres a rising energy, when both of them are taking turns, an auspicious omen can be seen. Wherever auspicious omen is, that is where the master of the new time period is. For example, the time of King Zhouwen, there was a red crow holding a red book in its beak which flew down to the sacrificial altar, signifying the time for them to develop the unification plan.

    Xiang Shaolong couldnt help himself asking, So where is the auspicious omen now?

    Zou Yan joyfully replied, Did you remember that I once mentioned to you the appearance of a new star? Half a year ago, Shaolong left Zhao and went towards Qin, that star immediately vanished. Just when I was confused, I saw on the sky where the position of Qin is, a bigger and brighter new star appeared, glowing in the night sky. Now I am positive that the one who will unify the whole country must be a Qin and will have a direct relation to you.

    Xiang Shaolong was stunned speechless, with this he can no longer underestimate the authority of this ancient astrologer.

    Zou Yan extended his hand and placed it on his shoulder, saying sincerely, For the sake of the well being of the people in the whole world, Shaolong, you must accelerate the Qins unification plan or else the fate of the new star might suddenly become gloomier. Do not worry about how others will see you, as long as you grab tightly to your ideals and do your best, you wouldnt disappoint the expectations placed on you by Heaven. The unification plan must start with you and this is something I am very sure of.

    Xiang Shaolongs heart was stirred, only now did he understand how open Zou Yans heart is, filled with passion and love for the universe and mankind.

    His opinion is aimed at the current actual situation, unlike Confucius and Mencius who could only talk about virtue and morality, while hard reality pointed out that near expiring State of Lu can only perish.

    During this warring period, the only way to fight violence was with violence.

    Zou Yan continued, Yanran always had this idea, she wish she can support a brilliant leader to unify the whole country and stop the war.
    Xiang Shaolong bitterly smiled in his heart, the path to attaining this goal is very long and arduous, but without Great Qin, it would not be possible for the following period of the two Han Dynasties to have peace, even more so for China to exists in the 21st century. When he thought of this, he abruptly resolved to cast aside his own moral principles and see if he can help Xiao Pan a little.

    At the same time, he secretly sighed. For someone like him who views all wars are evil, it wasnt easy for him to suddenly change his ideology.
    Right at this moment, Ji Yanran and Liu Huasheng came out side by side.
    Zou Yan laughed, How did it go?

    Ji Yanran blushed, Scholar Liu saw that I am not in the mood for war so he let me off this time!

    Everyone laughed.

    That Liu Huasheng didnt know Xiang Shaolong background and only regarded him as horse fanatic Dong Kuang. After some small talk, he and Zou Yan went back inside to continue contending for supremacy on the chessboard while Ji Yanran happily led Xiang Shaolong towards small building shes temporary residing in.

    Two beautiful servant-girls opened the gate and welcomed them in. Xiang Shaolong recognized them and suddenly felt a surge of familiarity.

    Ji Yanran took him upstairs to her room. After waving away her maid, she sat on his lap and gave him a scorching kiss.

    Both of them felt like they were transported to another world.

    Yanran pretended to be solemn and asked, Brother Dong! May I dare to ask when will you officially take Yanran as your wife?

    Xiang Shaolong grinned, Since Miss Ji is asking this question, hmm, let me inspect you first to see if you are good stuff!

    He extended his hand and start stroking her bosom.

    Ji Yanran melted into his embrace, but still stubbornly asked, I am being serious now. When I cant see you, that longing feeling is truly tormenting for me.

    Xiang Shaolong felt deeply touched by her love for him, sighed, If everyone knows that I have won you over and even sleeping together with you, itll be difficult for me to move around. By that time, everyone will pay attention to us even you surely will lose your position and status as a detached girl free from all manly and womanly lust. This will be detrimental towards my operation here in Handan.

    These few days, Ji Yanran has fallen head over heels in love and has forgotten everything else. Now that Xiang Shaolong has reminded her, she pondered and nodded, Yanrans too reckless, forgetting that you are in a dangerous situation, I understand now!

    After a short discussion, the two of them reluctantly parted.

    Xiang Shaolong leisurely walked back to his residence instead of riding.
    Wu Guo interrupted him at the entrance, Lady Ya and Miss Zhi are both waiting for you. I brought both of them separately to the east and west room respectively.

    Xiang Shaolong felt a headache coming as soon as he heard this. His hasnt even gotten any headway for his proper work, instead he got himself entangled with relationship problems and he couldnt help but feel discouraged by this. After considering for a minute, he decided to see Zhao Zhi first.

    When he entered the west room, Zhao Zhi was well-behaved and quietly sitting in the corner staring blankly. She looked down as she heard the footsteps, not sure if it means that shes still annoyed at him, or because she felt ashamed that he saw her allowing Li Yuan to be frivolous with her.
    Xiang Shaolong sat down beside her, Miss Zhi, dont you have to accompany Li Yuan?

    Zhao Zhi paled and bit her lips, not answering the question at all as she replied, Teacher asked me to invite you to our school.

    Xiang Shaolong understood that she is just using this as an excuse to come see him, otherwise why would Zhao Ba task a beautiful girl like her to come alone to invite him for it just doesnt conform with the etiquette. He sighed, How are you these last two days? Now, my heart is very troubled.

    Zhao Zhi still looked down, whispered like a fly, What are you troubled about? You have just flaunted your abilities today and also won the talented Lady Jis favor. I thought you wont be home so early.

    Xiang Shaolong suddenly understood her intention for coming here looking for him. She wanted to show him that she didnt give in to Li Yuan. Coming from such a proud and arrogant beautiful girl, this is already a large concession. It can also be seen that this girl had fallen hard for him to the point of losing her self-control.

    Zhao Zhi slowly lifted her head, sadly watching him, You can do whatever you like to me, hit me, scold me, because its Zhao Zhis fault.

    Xiang Shaolong was secretly lamenting, when a beautiful girl is willing to allow him to punish her, its an equivalent to allowing her husband free reign to handle her. If he still rejected her, theres no other way for her to redeem her pride besides suicide. He couldnt help getting a headache and stood up.

    Zhao Zhi watched him in trepidation.

    Xiang Shaolong said, Miss Zhi, just sit here first, I will be back with you right away.

    He hurried over to the east room.

    Zhao Ya was leaning on the window blankly watching the garden outside. Under the evening sun, the flowers and trees gave out a thick autumn feeling.

    Hearing his footsteps, Zhao Ya trembled slightly, turned around and smiled, Talented Lady Ji did not invite you to spend the night?

    Xiang Shaolong snorted, Did you think her a wanton girl? I didnt even have the chance to touch her little finger.

    Zhao Ya knew that he taking the opportunity to blow this up and being sarcastic that shes making herself easy for Li Yuan. She looked down in shame and sighed, I come here now to apologize to you. Will Mister accept my apology?

    Xiang Shaolong was secretly lamenting, he really shouldnt have fought today. During this period where they value martial prowess over literature, there are no beautiful girls who wont admire heroes with superb sword skills. Just because he wanted to gain a momentary pleasure and although he put managed Li Yuan down a little, he also made two girls fall head over heels over him and now hes at a loss as to how to handle them.

    At the moment where there is a lot of urgent business for him to handle, he didnt have any more free time to cope with them two.

    Zhao Zhis much easier to handle, Zhao Ya on the other hand gives him a headache and he is in a dilemma.

    The biggest problem was that he himself still held a residue of love towards Zhao Ya and still crazy about her arousing body, so its easy for him to feel jealousy and resentfulness towards her. On the whole, Zhao Yas not a bad person, its just that she does not have a strong will. But its impossible to forgive her, besides he didnt dare to trust her anymore, its just that sometimes he doesnt have the heart to hurt her excessively.

    He exclaimed, Dont joke with me, Lady. You have never offended me the slightest bit so theres no need to apologize at all.

    Zhao Ya gracefully walked over towards him till her chest was nearly touching him, before gazing up tenderly, Can Zhao Ya stay here tonight?
    Watching her lips spew out these luring words, breathing in her orchid-like scent, he felt like he was brought back to the happier days when they were still delightfully entangled and for a moment, he forgot where he was.
    Zhao Ya saw his indecisive expression and moved half a step forward, throwing her slender body into his embrace, her soft perky bosom pressing tightly against him and enchantingly asked, Do you really disdain me, Mister?

    Xiang Shaolong was shaken awake, secretly relieved that he had applied the sap from the Love Plant, otherwise Zhao Ya might have recognized him. He reached out and grabbed her shoulder. With strong willpower, he hardened his heart and pushed her away a little to avoid being tempted by her enticingly soft breast.

    His eyes sharp, he laughed, Why would Lady have such a thought? Any normal man would not have let you go.

    Zhao Ya bashfully replied, What are you waiting for then?

    Looking at her laying out the obvious, a look of wantonness which hinted that he can do anything to her, Xiang Shaolong was tempted but also angered. His eyes wantonly roved over her beautiful, heaving breast, and asked with a wry smile, If Li Yuan wants you to sleep with him tomorrow night, will Lady be able to reject him?

    No one understood her wantonness and weak-will better than himself. Even when she was deeply in love with him in the past, she still couldnt resist Qi Yus seduction and slept with him. After she broke off her relationship with Zhao Mu, she was still willing to allow herself to be toyed by this traitor. So these words are like a stab to her vital point.

    Indeed Zhao Ya instantly was dismayed and she looked down, Can you not ask me this kind of question! Its difficult for me to give you an answer.

    Xiang Shaolong was indescribably furious, turned around and walked out as he replied icily, Lady, please return to your residence! I still have other guest that I need entertain!

    Zhao Ya cried out piteously, Dong Kuang!

    Once he heard how miserable and sorrowful she sounded, his heart softened and he stopped, replying with a deep voice, Is there anything else you wish to instruct me, Lady?

    Zhao Ya went behind him and discarding all etiquette, she hugged his waist holding tightly, melding herself to his back and suddenly cried desolately, her cries filled with untold misery.

    Xiang Shaolong fears neither Heaven nor Earth but he is most afraid of women crying. Remembering their past love, he embraced her and used his sleeves to frantically wipe her tears away.

    Who would have known that her cries just kept intensified unstoppably, making his sleeve wet with her tears.

    No matter how much Xiang Shaolong hated her, at this moment, he couldnt bear to chide her anymore.

    After a while, Zhao Ya calmed down and slowly removed herself from his embrace. Her puffy red eyes glanced mournfully at him and she whispered, Zhao Yas leaving!

    Xiang Shaolong was stunned and he had a distinct feeling that her loss of composure was probably due to remembering him, Xiang Shaolong, and the sadness just welled up in her. At the same time she is no longer interested in other men so for that instant she did not know what to feel.

    He nodded, Ill send you out to the main door!

    Zhao Ya woodenly replied, Mister, dont stand on ceremony! She turned around and hurriedly left.

    Xiang Shaolong returned to the inner chamber and changed his clothes. In the meantime, he also sent someone to invite Zhao Zhi who had been waiting for awhile to come to the inner hall.

    He felt thirsty, so he asked someone to pour him two cups of hot tea, enjoying it together with Zhao Zhi, who sat across from him.

    Zhao Zhi felt slightly flattered by his treatment and occasionally stole a glance towards him.

    Xiang Shaolongs heart started burning up and secretly thought that if he wanted to take her, she definitely will not refuse. Precisely because of this tempting thought, he had to make a lot of effort to rationalize his mind and forcefully control his impulses.

    Zhao Zhi, at this moment in time, displayed a pitiful expression.

    Truthfully, he himself didnt understand why he had not touched this beautiful lady, for it seems that Jing Jun is not enough reason for a deterrent, because it was apparent that she didnt fall in love with the boy.

    Zhao Zhi whispered, That traitor has entered the city!

    It took a while before what she said dawned on Xiang Shaolong and he asked in bewilderment, Traitor? Oh! You mean Tian Dan?

    Zhao Zhi looked down, I am afraid that Sister Rou might go and assassinate him without much thought.

    Xiang Shaolongs heart skipped a beat, You need to warn her not to be reckless in doing things, otherwise it will be too late for regrets.

    Zhao Zhi was pleased, So you do care about us.

    Xiang Shaolong knew he had accidentally betrayed his intention and smiled wryly, From the start, I have always cared about you two.

    Zhao Zhis pretty face seemed suddenly revitalized as she rolled her eyes at him, But why are you always so indifferent and ruthless towards us?

    Xiang Shaolong replied exasperatedly, That night, I wholeheartedly thought that I would be able to enjoy the night Miss Zhi, but instead I got ambushed from the back and nearly lost my life, how much nicer do you want me to treat you?

    Zhao Zhi is after all an unmarried maiden and to hear him speak so honestly, both her cheeks blushed but on the inside she was deliriously happy as she said with embarrasment, Sorry! That was just a misunderstanding. Zhao Zhi will now bow and apologise to you, alright?

    Surprisingly, she really did kneel down.

    Xiang Shaolong was so surprised that he jumped out of his seat and to help her up.

    Zhao Zhi allowed him to grab her shoulder and pressed her to her seat again. With a blushing face, she raised an eyebrow at him and asked sadly, Youre no longer angry with me?

    Xiang Shaolong felt her delicate body trembling under his hands like a frightened little bird and a surge of sympathy welled up as he said gently, Why torture yourself like this?

    Zhao Zhis eyes reddened as she mournfully said, Zhao Zhi has been unlucky since young, my whole family either separated or dead. Sister Rou is constantly thinking of revenge, so my temper can be quite bad sometimes, consequently offending Mister.

    Xiang Shaolong sympathized even more with her as he secretly thought that he was the one who made her say all those heartless and obstinate words. He suddenly couldnt help but feel apologetic towards her as he reached out his right hand to hold her chin up and smiled, Lets stop with the blaming game, from today onwards, why dont we forget all about our old and new hatred forgotten?

    Zhao Zhi face turned redder as she lowered her long eyelashes and with half-lidded eyes, nodded her agreement. Who wouldnt be affected by that kind of tender expression on a young ladys face?

    Xiang Shaolong cant help but leaned closer and lightly kissed her lip.

    Zhao Zhis body trembled and even her ears turned red. Her reaction was more intense than the last time when Xiang Shaolong forcefully kissed her while on the horse.

    Xiang Shaolong almost wanted to press her down on the bed on impulse to copulate with her but there was still an ounce of clarity in his mind as he reluctantly released her and asked, Where will Tian Dan be staying and how many people will be coming with him to the city?

    Zhao Zhi heard Tian Dans name and became clearheaded again, Hes staying in the Zhao Palace. Im not sure how many people will be coming with him, but usually, regardless of where hes going, hell have many bodyguards around him.

    She added, Tonight, the King of Zhao will hold a banquet to welcome this traitor, and all the envoys have been invited to attend.

    Xiang Shaolong knew immediately that hes not invited again. The King of Zhao is obviously on Li Yuans side and deliberately giving him the cold shoulder.

    Zhao Zhi asked shyly, Would Mister mind going to advise my Sister Rou? In my opinion, she will definitely listen to your words.

    At any rate, Xiang Shaolong couldnt allow Shan Rou to take the risk in trying to assassinate Tian Dan so he readily stood up and said, Alright! Lets go see your sister.

    Xiang Shaolong and Zhao Zhi rode their horses out of the residence. From far away, someone came riding towards them and shouted, Master Dong, please wait!

    Both of them looked over in surprise and it turned out to be Pu Bu.

    Xiang Shaolong seized the chance to tell Zhao Zhi, Go home first and wait for me there!

    Zhao Zhi meekly nodded and left immediately.

    Pu Bu stopped beside him, panting, Marquis has invited Mister Dong to see him at once!

    Xiang Shaolong nodded his agreement and followed him back towards the Marquis residence.

    He had on several occasions wanted to reveal his identity to Pu Bu, but in the end he bit back his words. After all, a persons heart might have changed within the last half year.

    Xiang Shaolong met Zhao Mu inside the secret room in the Marquis residence.
    This traitors expression was stern as he grimaced, Li Yanyan has indeed delivered a crown prince!

    Xiang Shaolong took a moment to understand his meaning before he exclaimed, Thats not good!

    Zhao Mu clenched his fists and stamped his foot on the floor, This time, that little thief managed to take full advantage of us. He can openly become crown prince uncle whereas my father has to worry that the King of Chu will find out that the baby is actually his son. Just based on this alone, father is already at a disadvantage. Moreover, Li Yanyans relationship with my dad is just based on beneficiary gains and theres no real love at all. Now with her raise in stature, she can easily manipulate the King of Chu. Li Yuan will be able to get whatever he ask for in Chu.

    Xiang Shaolong remembered Li Yuans scheming character and asked in shock, Would Master be in danger?

    Zhao Mu was deeply worried, You figured this out as well, now Li Yuans biggest obstacle is my father. If I am Li Yuan, the first person I would deal with is the King of Chu. The Kings health has never been good so as long as Li Yanyan leads him down the path of destruction, its guaranteed that he wouldnt last much longer. Once the King of Chu is gone, Li Yanyan and Li Yuan would be able to legitimately control Chus politics thru that bastard. Father has not taken any precaution against this, still thinking that the pair of siblings are still pawns that he can control but it would be so easy if those wretched siblings wants to harm him.

    Xiang Shaolong calmly replied, The only way to handle this is to use the opportunity for me to completely eliminate Li Yuan when he leaves the country by posing as horse bandits.

    A shadow hung over Zhao Mus expression and he did not speak for a long moment. Finally he sighed and said, Im afraid it wont be so easy. Li Yuan alone has incredible sword skills and this time, inclusive of his family warriors and attendants, he has close to five hundred people with him, even more men than youve got. Especially now that his worth has increased so much, King Xiaocheng will surely send his army to escort him back to Chu. Even when passing through Wei, the Weis will do the same too. If you act rashly, you wont gain any advantage at all.

    Xiang Shaolong secretly smiled as he thought that its a good thing that traitor knows this because it would spare him a lot of problems.

    Zhao Mu was obviously very worried and after sighing in despair, he asked, Do you have any other better strategy?

    Xiang Shaolong deliberately replied, Let me quickly go back to Chu to report to the Master so that he would be able to take some precautions.

    Zhao Mu unhappily replied, But then wholl help me take care of things here. Besides, Father often disregard me, his own sons words so why would he listen to an outsiders advice?

    Xiang Shaolong had known for a long time that he is a selfish person, who wouldnt care about family. Thats why he certainly wont let him leave. But by pretending concern like this, he will gain more of Zhao Mus trust. He replied, Then we have to move faster, otherwise without Masters support, even if Marquis ascend the throne, it will only attract other countrys intervention.

    Zhao Mus expression was heavy as he creased his brows, I want you to investigate for me one thing.

    Xiang Shaolong said, Marquis, please give your orders.

    Zhao Mu dejectedly replied, This last six months, King Xiao Cheng has been giving me the cold shoulder. For example he recently had a few secret discussions with Li Yuan and also today, when he received Tian Dan, he wouldnt let me attend. There must be a problem somewhere.

    Xiang Shaolong also found this to be odd, but hasnt gotten a chance to consider it deeply so he said offhandedly, Could it be because Guo Kai is carrying tales?

    Zhao Mu replied with disdain. Guo Kai is a useless man, and does not possess the ability to create friction between me and the Zhao King. I suspect it to be Zhao Ya. She bears a heavy grudge because I ruined her relationship with Xiang Shaolong. I wonder what evidence does she holds against me that the Zhao King trusts her so much.

    Xiang Shaolong broke out in cold sweat. Despite his careful planning, he has neglected the fact that he once mentioned to Zhao Ya the possible relationship between Zhao Mu and the Chu spy. Looking at things, it is likely that Zhao Ya has told this secret to King Xiaocheng, raising his suspicions about Zhao Mu. Therefore, King Xiaocheng must have bribed Guo Kai to his side and gave him promotions and responsibilities. This is to make him stronger in order to counter against Zhao Mu. Le Cheng would also have been bribed to turn against Zhao Mu. Otherwise, how can King Xiaocheng allow him to continue serving as Handan Citys chief military commander?

    A twist of events has made the simple task complicated beyond measure.

    It is impossible to Zhao King to bring down an established senior official like Zhao Mu overnight. He has to work in the background, slowly removing his power, disallowing him access to state secrets, breaking up his connections with other important ministers and generals. This is to minimise any further chaos in the country. Alas, after the departure of the Wu family, this country can no longer suffer another blow.

    Xiang Shaolong ponders: How would I act if I was in his shoes? The best way would be to ignore all the rules. Summon Lian Po or Li Mu (Zhaos best generals) back to Handan City to assist in bringing down Zhao Mu. This would guarantee success! With these two capable and famous generals protecting Zhao, any invaders will have to pay a price for their attack.

    However, Lian Po and Li Mu are busy battling the Yan people and the northern Xiong Nu. If not, Zhao Mu would be finished by now. The day either general can return to Handan City is the best time to deal with Zhao Mu.

    Realising the serious danger he is in, Xiao Shaolong recalled Guo Kais initial warning about Zhao Mu. Zhao Mu is indeed someone you should not be on friendly terms. In case the relationship sours due to the smallest circumstances, you may even have your entire household annihilated.

    Even more complicating is that Li Yuan is now the Imperial Uncle of Chu. With his huge increase in status, King Xiaocheng has to give in more to his demands. Who can tell if this muddle-headed king will even sacrifice his horse breeder (Dong Kuang, Xiang Shaolong) to please him? Thinking of this will only bring more headaches.

    Zhao Mu watched Xiang Shaolongs deep thinking and his expression switching between both hope and dismay. He thought Xiang Shaolong is worrying about both of them. He spoke in a low voice: I can tell that Zhao Ya is smitten with you. Based on your intelligence and interaction with her, see if you can deduce any information about what she is holding against me. If we cannot salvage the situation, we will kill that weak King, control Handan and handle Lian Po and Li Mu after that.

    Xiang Shaolong is awe-struck. Judging from the tone of this Zhao traitor, he seems to have a ready plan to overtake the Zhao King but is not anxious to be the Zhao King himself. Reflecting on this point, he could help but remind himself of Zhao Queen.

    Zhao Mu is proficient in medicine/poisons and can enter the Zhao inner palace without obstacles. If he can work together with the Zhao Queen who has been tolerating her anger at the Zhao King, it would be not be too difficult to overthrow the Zhao throne.

    Riding on the momentum, Xiang Shao Long asked: If such a day were to come, who will be assisting Marquis in Handan City?

    Zhao Mu hesitated for a moment, said: The only trustworthy fellows are Le Cheng and a few of my warriors personally trained by me. Luckily, I have you to help me as well. In addition to my 2000 family warriors, we should be able to attack the palace easily. We will use this plan as a last resort. Before he gave me the cold shoulder, I can kill King Xiaocheng as easy as lifting my hand and no one would even know that I did it. Nowadays he keeps guarding against me so killing him would be much harder.
    Continuing his excited tone: By now, you should know who is Xiang Shaolong, right?

    Xiao Shaolong had a big fright, just nodded his head to express a positive answer. He wonders why Xiang Shaolong was suddenly mentioned.

    Zhao Mu continued: I just got word from Qin. Xiang Shaolong is leading a force here to seek revenge. I will enter the palace and report this to King Xiaocheng later. However crafty is Xiang Shaolong, he will never expect I have a spy in Xianyang (Qin capital).

    Xiang Shaolong is dying to know who is the spy but he suppressed this unwise emotion. He pretended to be surprised and quoted: What has this got to do with our rebellion?

    Zhao Mu replied: There is a big connection. Long Shan (Teng Yi) and your physical body resemble that of Xiang Shaolong. We can prepare wooden swords for you and disguise as him to kill the Zhao King. After escaping, the public opinion would put the blame on Xiang Shaolong, our scapegoat. This way, we will not bear the crime.


    While thinking secretly what a close shave he had, Xiang Shaolong displayed an admiration for the flawless plan: Marquis is thorough indeed. If King Xiaocheng has any plans to leave the palace, let me know the time and place beforehand. I will do a clean job, including leaving the necessary evidence.

    Zhao Mu grew happier and said: From today onwards, we should avoid seeing each other unless absolute necessary. You have to be careful about Li Yuan. Not only has King Xiaocheng changed his treatment, even Tian Dan has distanced himself from me and build ties with him after knowing that he is now Chus Imperial Uncle. You may not be familiar with Tian Dan. This man is much more powerful and scheming than Prince Xinling. Definitely not an easy man to handle.

    Xiang Shaolong discovered that today is all problems upon problems.

    During the expedition to steal the Lu Gong Manual, he identified Chu and Qi people are very secretive and scheming. Now that Li Yuan has the opportunity to be the most powerful man in Chu, Tian Dan would collaborate with him due to common interests in trying to break up the Three-States Pact. This will make his own life more perilous. If both Li Yuan and Tian Dan exert pressure on King Xiaocheng, Xiang Shaolong may be a sacrificial lamb.

    What can be done to handle such a dangerous trap?

    Zhao Mu keep reminding Xiang Shaolong to check what is Zhao Ya up to before releasing him.

    Xiang Shaolong secretly sighed. He can no longer avoid seeing Zhao Ya. With Zhao Mu numerous Handan City spies, he will know and be suspicious of Dong Kuang (Xiang Shaolong) if he never visited Zhao Ya.

    Adding another worry is whether Zhao Ya will spill the beans on what Xiang Shaolong told her about the suspicion between Zhao Mu and the Chu spy. If Zhao Mu hears of this, he will be prone suspecting the Dong Kuang is a fake. Thinking about how Guo Kai promised to bring himself to the official brothel but has yet to fulfil his word, he must have been influenced by Li Yuan. Since King Xiaochengs attitude has changed, and Guo Kai being the apple-polisher, he will naturally stay away from Xiang Shaolong.

    Suddenly, he felt that he has lost the advantage he had in Handan. He felt cornered and attacked from all four directions. He bitterly suffers his isolation.

  4. #84
    Senior Member kohchun's Avatar
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    Book 8 Chapter 5: Reacting with Calmness

    As Xiao Shaolong starting riding away from the Marquis’s Residence, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of loss in his heart.

    Right now is evening and the street lamps are being lighted. The autumn wind blows a chilling sensation in the air.

    Teng Yi has already left the city for Hidden Army Valley and Ji Yanran is not available. Now that he wants to confide in someone, who can he look for? Thinking about his date with Zhao Zhi, he starts to feel better. His only escape to forget all the headaches is to indulge in the flesh of a beauty.

    In hindsight, he cannot openly visit Ji Yanran but he can still do so discreetly. His conscious in clear and the intelligent beauty may even have a good plan to counter the present danger

    With this thought, he hurried home and changed into fresh clothes. With his skills, he slipped into Liu (Huasheng) Residence and finally found his belle in her loft.

    Seeing him, Ji Yanran is crazy with happiness. After an intense frenching session, Xiang Shaolong related everything he encountered at Zhao Mu’s residence.

    After thinking long and hard in his bosom, Ji Yanran straightened her pose and offer: I have a plan which would help to solve all the present problems, although I am not very happy to execute it.

    Xiang Shaolong did not feel good hearing this and quickly asked her for the details.

    Ji Yanran replied:” Li Yuan has been feeling dejected because of me. He is against you also because you won my favour. I have to openly show no interest in you and conspire with him. In the process, I have to make him understand that if he harms you again, I will ignore him forever. Thus, he may hate you but he will not dare to plot against you anymore.”

    Xiang Shaolong couldn’t take it anymore. He revealed: “How can we proceed in such a manner? What if you really fall for him? Li Yuan is merciless when he wants to achieve an objective. He resembles Han Chuang who gave me a bottle of aphrodisiac to make you succumb to me.”

    Ji Yanran was incensed: “That shameless brat!”

    After they consolidated their thoughts, Yanran hugged Shaolong:”Relax my dear. Yanran is well-equipped to deal with all kinds of evil men. I guard very well against people who try to tamper with my food and drink. Li Yuan will not succeed in wooing me. Moreover, I am the famous Ji Yanran, the stone cold maiden If Li Yuan wants to marry me openly; he has to wait till he goes back to Chu. ”

    Xiang Shaolong still feels uneasy: “Now that Li Yuan is the Imperial Uncle, he is probably thinking of going back to Chu to consolidate his power to match Lord Chunshen Huang Xie. If he wants to bring you back to Chu and you disagree, it will reveal your real intentions.”

    Ji Yanran reasoned: “If we can drag the matter for one day, we benefit the extra day. In Handan City, everyone is clamouring to Li Yuan’s side. And your situation will grow from bad to worse. If we do not hasten to hold his hand, we may not be able to survive tomorrow. Let’s hope the treaty will take more time to finish so that Li Yuan has to remain in Zhao for a longer period.”

    Xiang Shaolong secretly admits that this is the best strategy. If he tried to escape now without capturing Zhao Mu, how is he to face Lu Buwei and King Zhuangxiang? No matter what it takes, regardless of personal or official obligations, he cannot retreat without settling his blood debt.

    Gritting his teeth, he consented: “Sorry to trouble Yanran!”

    Before he finished his sentence, the maidservant came to report that Li Yuan has come to invite Ji Yanran to enter the palace together for the banquet.

    Xiang Shaolong felt the ultimate discomfort and his heart is bleeding.

    Xiang Shaolong has just arrived in the bamboo grove when the large yellow dog started barking.

    This time, he entered through the front main door. Zhao Zheng welcomed him in and keep tugging his clothes. “Please dissuade Little Rou. She never listens to anyone. Tian Dan is at the peak of his power and I did not want to see Little Rou commit such a dense act akin the moth flying towards the flame (to get burned 飞蛾扑火)”

    Xiang Shaolong sighed: “But I do not have full confidence in dissuading her”

    Zhao Zhen replied:”Despite her display of hatred for you, I can tell that she thinks often about you. These few days, she is depressed and throws tantrums and it is all because she is upset with you.

    Xiang Shaolong thought of that night when he held Shan Rou on the floor. Her dress had spilled opened to reveal her white and supple legs. Swallowing his saliva, he headed to the back of the house. He asked: “Don’t you employ any errand boy or page?”

    Zhao Zhen explained: I like peace so the errand boy goes over to sleep at the school after dinner. This is more convenient for Little Rou as she cannot be seen by the public.

    Xiao Shaolong finally understood.

    Zhao Zhen sent him to the stairwell and asked him to enter own his own.

    Xiang Shaolong banished all the troubles in his mind, consolidate his spirits and came to the front of the door. He was about to knock when the door was pulled open. Zhao Zhi was dressed in an entirely new outfit which put her in a different light. Waiting at the door, she gives the impression of a dainty wife welcoming her husband home after a hard day’s work. In a pleasant voice she cried: “Master Dong please come in!”

    He cannot bear but look at her intensely before stepping into the hall.

    Zhao Zhi let him have a good look at her. Not only is she not offended, she happily tugged his sleeve and pointed upstairs:”Sister is upstairs. Would you please go and find her?”

    Xiao Shaolong endured the thought of caressing her and questioned: “Aren’t you going up with me?” Zhao Zhi giggled: “I am preparing cakes to pamper our esteemed guest. Please be lenient and don’t bully too much. Remember Zhao Zhi has promised to do your bidding from now on.”

    Xiang Shaolong is aroused by her tender attitude and cannot bear to hurt her anymore. He knows he is deeply entrenched with the Zhao sisters till the point of no return. After, humans are creature with feelings. The two girls have such a pitiful background. As a typical man, he is compelled to protect the weaker sex. He cannot help but feel drawn towards them.

    Hai! Since he is here, he will do his best according to the circumstances.

    Xiang Shaolong smoothly gave a light pinch to Zhao Zhi’s cheek before ascending the stairs.

    Zhao Zhi’s delicate face turned red as she returned to her baking.

    He reached the place where he had his first tussle with the two ladies. He did not see Shan Rou immediately. After scanning the area, he noticed two huts on the right. One has its door blinds down while the other hut seems to be uninhabited.

    Xiang Shaolong purposely took off his boots and approached the hut with the blinds down.

    Shan Rou’s icy voice shot out from the hut:”Who is it?”

    Xiang Shaolong replied:”Me” and lifted the blinds and entered the hut.

    Shan Rou is leaning on a couch at the side of the room. She straightened herself immediately. Under the candlelight, her chiselled face and curvy lips in addition to her slightly untidy hair gave off a tantalizing aura that Xiang Shaolong has never experienced before. Although he is used to beauties, his eyes lit up at the sight of her.

    Shan Rou stared at Shaolong with mixed reactions. She tidied her hair and stood up and said embarrassingly: “I did not sleep well the last few nights. I unexpectedly fell asleep while leaning on the couch for a slight rest.”

    For Xiang Shaolong, this is the first time he saw this beauty in such a stylish light. In spite of strong external character, she carries another side of her. If not for the fact that he heard it with his own ears, he cannot believe Shan Rou can speak in such an affectionate tone.

    Shan Rou caught Shaolong examining herself and became shy. But she resumed her icy tone and spoke displeasingly: “Will Mister Dong please wait outside, allow me to freshen up...”

    Xiang Shaolong interrupted her:”No need to freshen up. Miss Rou is looking her best!”

    Shan Rou’s beautiful and big eyes blinked in puzzlement but she did not insist. Using her icy voice, she replied:”You are strange. My clothes and hair are disorderly and you said it is prettier. Fine. Let’s talk outside.”

    Shan Rou was about to cross the door ledge into the inner hall when she had to stop. Apparently, Shaolong had blocked her path with his large hand. If she had gone a further two inches, her chest will collide into his huge arm.

    Shan Rou could not apprehend why he wants to block the way and keep her in the room. She forgot to react and only stared at him dumbly.

    Xiang Shaolong also couldn’t understand why he is so rude with her. He knew that without a proper explanation, this female assassin will not take it easy on him. He spoke: “Will you assassinate Tian Dan regardless of whatever I say?”

    Shan Rou is indeed distracted by him. She replied slowly:”You are not me, how would you understand how I feel? Zhao Zhi is still young that time and does not have a deep impression. But I saw with my own eyes how my parents, siblings and everyone who loved me caged in a row like pigs and dogs. They were led by traitorous soldiers who brought them back to Qi. From that moment I only have one wish – that is to kill both Zhao Mu and Tian Dan.”

    Xiang Shaolong nodded his head in agreement.”That is truly a tragedy. Supposedly, you can only kill either Zhao Mu or Tian Dan. Who will you choose?”

    Shan Rou has never thought about this question. Eyes flickering, she thought for a while and replied:”I will kill Zhao Mu.”

    Xiang Shaolong heaved a sigh of relief but felt bewildered. He enquire:”Isn’t Tian Dan the mastermind?”

    Shan Rou revealed a pained expression. Gritting her teeth, she reasoned: “If not for Zhao Mu, my household will not be annihilated. What I detest most is he betrayed us while pretending to be our friends. Such a despicable man. In order to please Tian Dan, he resorted to committing these heinous crimes.”

    Xiang Shaolong gently offered: “Great! If you agree not to act recklessly and only to act with my permission, I will help you to assassinate Zhao Mu and let you three sisters unite. Are you agreeable?”

    Shan Rou is greatly shocked. Confused, she gazed at him. Out of a sudden, her eyes turned piercing and cold. She recalled icily:”You have no reason to assist us at all. In the last meeting, Little Zhi offered you both our bodies without seeking my consent. Nonetheless, you did not waver. Why would you suddenly change your mind now? Are you not afraid this will affect your new career in Handan City?”

    Xiang Shaolong is unable to answer her questions. Due to her background, Shan Rou is in a state of constant preparedness. She does not trust people easily. If he is unable to provide a satisfactory respond, he cannot win her trust, much less her cooperation. Seems like the only way out is to disclose his real identity as Xiang Shaolong. He has no idea what are consequences of this revelation.

    While considering, he unconsciously let his sight rest on her naked feet. Seeing the healthy glow of her flesh, he felt attracted and aroused at the same time.

    In this instant, a sharp dagger appear around his waist. Shan Rou’s cold as snow voice rung out in his ears:”Can’t even think of a good lie? I told Zhi Zhi long ago that you are only interested in our bodies. That is why you did not blow the whistle on us. Finally you have shown your true colours. Heh! And she is defending you.”

    Xiang Shaolong understands that she is thirsty for revenge and behaves differently from other people. But never in his dreams would he imagine her to start using a weapon so early in the conversation. On the other hand, he believes she will give him a chance to clarify matters before killing him. Shaking his head and smiling bitterly, he responded: “If you recognize how Zhao Mu is spreading slanders in front of the Zhao King about how I am detrimental to Zhao-Chu relationships; if you know that my only wish right now is to leave Zhao as soon as possible, then you will realise what a good reason I have to help you deal with Zhao Mu.”

    Shan Rou glanced at him for a while and at long last withdrew the dagger.

    Shaolong’s words are full of truths and falsehood. Shan Rou had heard from Zhao Zhi how King Xiaocheng ignores Dong Kuang but had no idea this was linked to Zhao Mu. She believed the majority of what Xiang Shaolong said.

    Shan Rou moved her body towards him and allows her full, lively breasts to gently rest on his arm. Shyly she whispered: “If you can really lend us a hand in killing Zhao Mu, I will be your woman.”

    Xiang Shaolong is filled with unparalleled excitement. This beauty does not make him feel guilty as she is not linked to Jing Jun. Therefore, he can rest easy and enjoy the pleasure of her flesh. What makes Shan Rou even more irresistible is she can be cold, vicious and unyielding on one hand but can be affectionate and enthralling to tempt him on the other hand. Face with a lady as this, Xiang Shaolong is in cloud nine.

    Nevertheless, if Shaolong gives in and make love to her, it would make Shan Rou look down on herself.

    Pretending to be disinterested, Shaolong declared:”I wish to make things clear. Unless Miss Rou obliges me with a willing and pure intention, I would never take advantage of Miss. If this is to be a transaction, you can definitely forget about it as I am not a crafty man who takes advantage of someone when they are in need.”

    Shan Rou was dumbfounded and remained still. She did not move her breasts away but instead subconsciously increased the pressure. Xiang Shaolong hoped to move his arm away except he lack the superhuman willpower and determination.

    In this moment, both parties exist in an extremely delicate and subtle situation, with neither person willing to move apart or make any adjustments.

    Shan Rou furrowed her eye brows:”In that case, why are you willing to accompany us in this dangerous expedition?”

    Scrutinizing her beautiful jade face that is as charming as a scenery of hills and lakes, Xiang Shaolong felt both adoration and sympathy. In a warm voice, he answered:”The main reason is that I really like the both of you from the bottom of my heart. It is also because of my best friend, who happens to be Shan Lan’s husband. When you meet Shan Lan in the future, you will grasp the full picture.”

    Footsteps sounded.

    Both of them panicked. Xiang Shaolong extracted his arm from the comfort of the twin peaks while Shan Rou takes the chance to quickly get out from the room. Following behind Shan Rou, Shaolong saw Zhao Zhi carrying heated wine and aromatic cakes, smiling cheekily as she climbed the final steps.

    Shan Rou moved a coffee table into the centre of the hall. Mesmerized by the two flawless beauties, Shaolong experienced a wave of romance. He took down the hanging lamp from the wall and set it in the centre of the coffee table, making it a candlelight dinner panorama.

    With the three persons sitting around the table, Zhao Zhi hastily pour a cup of hot, steaming wine for everyone. The wine smelled wonderful. She then dispensed the pastries and smiled sweetly:”Mister Dong, please try Zhao Zhi’s baking skill. They taste best when hot.”

    Xiang Shaolong recalled that he had missed his dinner and busied himself with the cakes. Whether it is due to hunger or not, the cakes taste delicious and he kept praising them to no end. Zhao Zhi’s smile brightened with his compliments.

    Shan Rou only took one piece and watched Shaolong as he handled his first wave of wine and cakes. When he finished the first round, she asked in a surprisingly intimate tone:”Has Mister Dong prepared a plan yet?”

    Xiang Shaolong knew that unless he showed some trump cards, Shan Rou will never believe him. He simply replied:”Zhao Mu is planning to rebel; are you aware of it?”

    Both girls look at each other for answers.

    Shan Rou reasoned:”How would you know about such matters? Didn’t you just say that he is out to harm you?”

    Xiang Shaolong silently thought this it is indeed not easy to deceive this head tigress. Holding a calm outlook, he replied:”This matter is complicated beyond measure.”

    He abruptly creased his eye brows and remained mute.

    Both girls are amazed at his reaction and looked at him dumbly.

    Xiang Shaolong is pondering over if he should reveal his true identity. This will save a lot of needless explanation and prevent further misunderstanding.

    The conditions are all very obvious. Based on Shan Lan’s sisterhood, they will not betray him. In addition, both sisters are attracted to him. Zhao Zhi is even in love with both of his characters.

    Shan Rou asked with suspicion:”Are you deceiving us? That’s why you cannot justify you answers”

    Zhao Zhi came to his defence:”Sister Rou, Mister Dong is not that kind of person.”

    Shan Rou demanded angrily:”You let him explain himself”

    Xiang Shaolong suddenly decided. He was relieved to unload such big burdens off his shoulder. He gazed upward and let himself down, lying on the floor, rubbing his stomach, “Zhi Zhi, you made the best cake in the whole world.”

    Shan Rou was angry, “Don’t try to deflect the question towards her. Quickly answer my question.”

    Xiang Shaolong spread out both his hands and his legs crossing under the big table just barely grazing Shan Rou’s leg on the opposite side of the table.

    Shan Rou was annoyed as she move aside, “If you keep evading, I’m going to kill you.”

    Xiang Shaolong pointed at his neck, “You pointed your sword here then I’ll tell you the truth.”

    Both sisters locked gaze and felt totally confused. This person’s behaviors were always out of the ordinary, truly made them unsure on what to do.

    Xiang Shaolong took advantage of the time that he wasn’t in their line of vision, to turn around and bend over to take off his mask, before swiftly sitting down again. As if there’s nothing wrong, he extended his hand and grabbed another cake, slowly munching it.

    Both girls at first didn’t realize what’s going on until they saw him clearly, then they started screaming in shock.

    Shan Rou moved backward, pulled out her knife, returning to her old scary bad wolf expression.

    Zhao Zhi, on the other hand, was dumb struck. She kept staring at him in disbelief.
    Xiang Shaolong sat on his knee, continued to drink his wine calmly, narrowed his eyes as he lazily stared at them, “I truly have been lying to you all along, but you have to understand my difficulty!”

    Zhao Zhi calmed down again, stood up, her whole face was blushing up to her ears. She looked down shamefully, upset, “Xiang Shaolong, you truly ashamed me, how could I face you again?”

    Xiang Shaolong of course understood her meaning, smiled, “Relax! I won’t be jealous of Dong Kuang. Even more, he hasn’t done anything towards you yet.”
    Zhao Zhi was both upset and embarrassed. She doesn’t know what to say anymore but everyone can see how joyful she is deep inside.

    Shan Rou suddenly lighted up, packed away his knife and sat down, “You are truly amazing. You even deceived the whole town of Handan.”

    Xiang Shaolong put on his mask again, returning back to his Dong Kuang’s identity. Both girls marveled at the change.

    Shan Rou turned towards Zhao Zhi, “He looks better like this.”

    Xiang Shaolong didn’t know whether to cry or laugh, stretched his waist, “Now you don’t have to be suspicious of why I want to kill Zhao Mu! But I felt that it’s too easy for him to just be killed right away, so I want to capture him alive to bring back to Xian Yang to receive just punishment. I hope you two sisters wouldn’t object.”

    Both girls were stunned.

    Xiang Shaolong continued, “The Qis sent Shan Lan to Lu Buwei as a gift. Fortunately, Lu Buwei turned around and gave her to me. She and my brother, Teng Yi, fell in love at first sight and got married right away. It’s all very romantic.” He turned towards Zhao Zhi and said, “Today, the one who beat Li Yuan’s famous underlings in a row was Teng Yi. Now you understand why he’s called Long Shan, right?”

    Shan Rou was murmuring, “Fell in love at first sight”. She felt that these words were totally refreshing.

    Zhao Zhi suddenly understood and looked down, “So where is Jing Jun?”
    Xiang Shaolong started to hope again for Jing Jun, honestly replied, “Sister Zhi, are you interested in my brother?”

    Zhao Zhi was so surprise that she looked up again, afraid that Xiang Shaolong misunderstood her intention, spit out, “No! I only thought of him as playful kid! But he’s very friendly!”

    Xiang Shaolong became somber. He realized that he can’t force feelings, Jing Jun can only kill his feeling towards her.

    After knowing that he’s Xiang Shaolong, Shan Rou’s curiousity was aroused and she continuously watched him, “So what is our next move?”

    Xiang Shaolong directly explained the situation to them, “Zhao Mu or Tian Dan. Between the two of them, we can only choose one. Before Sister Rou already chose Zhao Mu, so we used this as our goal. If only we could get Zhao Mu to rebel, we will get the opportunity to capture him alive from Han Dan.”

    Zhao Zhi had already stopped being embarrassed, happily asked, “What can we sisters do to help?”

    Xiang Shaolong was touched and told them of Tian Zhen, “Lady Zhi, would you mind contacting her on my behalf so she won’t be worried. If it’s not important, please don’t look for me. I will send Jing Jun to contact you.”

    Both girls were disappointed.

    Shan Rou stubbornly insisted, “No one has seen me before. If you can arrange for me to be by your side, we’ll be able to work together towards this.”

    Xiang Shaolong’s head was spinning, “This could arouse suspicion, let me think about it first, alright?”

    Shan Rou frostily replied, “If I don’t hear back from you in two days, I will pretend to be your wife coming to Han Dan to look for you.”

    Xiang Shaolong lost his voice, “What?”

    Shan Rou haughtily raised her chin, atrociously replied, “Too bad if you didn’t hear it!”

    Zhao Zhi pitifully asked, “What about me?”

    It’s too late for Xiang Shaolong to regret his decision. He bitterly smiled as he stood up and shrugged, “Give me some time to think about this!”

    Zhao Zhi astonished, “Where are you going?”

    This time, it’s Xiang Shaolong’s turn to be surprised, “Of course going home!”

    Shan Rou grunted, “Men! Don’t understand women heart! Zhi Zhi wants you to stay and spend the night with her! Stop pretending to be dumb.”

    Shan Rou stood up and headed out of the room. Just as she reached the curtain, she stopped and turned around, leaning on the door, “My room’s just next door. The only thing barring the room is this curtain. If you’re not afraid to die, just come and look for me, Shan Rou!”

    She grinned right after she finished spoken. With a slightly flushed face, she lifted the curtain and left.

    Xiang Shaolong saw a flaming red face Zhao Zhi. He couldn’t help but feel excited, thinking that it has all come to this. He doesn’t need to be considerate anymore. Furthermore, Zhao Zhi’s life so far has been miserable. Her love life also wasn’t as one wishes, how could he not sympathize with her.

    Anyway, in this time period, who doesn’t have three wives four concubines and a large harem, as long as both sides agree, no one would blame you. But he also thought that that place wasn’t an appropriate place, gently said, “Come home with me?”

    Zhao Zhi was terribly embarrassed that she doesn’t know where to hide, nodded slightly.

    He felt warm throughout on seeing this.

    Xiang Shaolong shouted towards Shan Rou’s room, “Zhi Zhi will follow me home, what are you planning to do?”

    Shan Rou replied, “I’m very sleepy. You guys should leave! Remember, you only have two days to think.”

    Xiang Shaolong shook his head in grim and waved Zhao Zhi to go ahead downstairs.

  5. #85
    Senior Member kohchun's Avatar
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    Book 8 Chapter 6: Cornered!!

    As he reached his residence, Wu Guo was waiting for him.

    This joke-loving person was imposing, Lady Ya is looking for you. She seems very unsettled, insisting on waiting for you to come home inside.

    Xiang Shaolong didnt expect Zhao Ya to return again after leaving earlier, now that banquet specially set up to welcome Tian Dan hadnt finished, how come she left the banquet halfway and come looking for him?

    He gently said to Zhao Zhi, Zhi Zhi, you go first to the east room to wait for me!
    Zhao Zhi at that time had become very attentive towards him. Without any protest, she went and followed Wu Guo.

    Xiang Shaolong quickly went to the inner hall. As he was about to step over the threshold, Zhao Ya had in a flash already turned around, her face paled, her pair of eyes were full of despair.

    He was shaken, came over and said, What happened? What scared you so badly?

    Zhao Ya seemed to have changed into another person, with a shocking voice replied, Dong Kuang! Zhao Ya is here to do an irresistible transaction with you.
    Xiang Shaolong became wary. His eyes became grim and his lips hinted of a smile, calmly asked, Even if its got to do with my life, I might still reject it.

    Zhao Ya realized that she had provoked the opponent, sighed and became soft, Lets consider another circumstance then, just think of this as me requesting your help. As long as you agree, from this moment on, Zhao Ya would only listen to your command. What do you think Mister Dong?

    Xiang Shaolong was confused. What kind of circumstance would force this lascivious lady to not hesitate to sacrifice everything, betting everything on this request? He creased his eyebrows, Ill listen to your request first.

    Zhao Ya replied with a bleak voice unlike her usual calm and gentle voice, Dong Kuang, you might not know that you are currently in a critical situation. After Li Yuan had been informed that he had just become the countrys uncle, he proposed to our king to detain you back to Chu. Otherwise, he wouldnt support the alliance between the two countries.

    Xiang Shaolong was furious. If this afternoon, he had killed him, then he would have gotten rid of any future troubles.

    Zhao Ya saw him turned solemn, but still in a calm mood without displaying any of his emotions and thoughts. She admired this of him, softly said, Brother currently is still hesitating. What he was most afraid of is that even if he sacrificed you, Chu will still be like in the past break their promises. In that case, he would lose in both cases.

    Xiang Shaolong suddenly felt like laughing out loud.

    Among the absurd things in the world, there is none that surpassed this example. From this event, you can tell that Xiaocheng is an exceptionally selfish being and every person is just a statistic to him.

    If he has a troop of elite Qin soldiers on call, he would definitely make trouble for both Xiaocheng and Li Yuan these two crafty bustards. Zhao Ya continued:Presently, I am the only person who can influence Xiaocheng, allowing you to flourish in Handan alive. So if Zhao Ya is dead set on doing your bidding, it will benefit Mister Dong in many areas.

    Xiang Shaolong recollects the day after he defeated Lian Jin (history: the guy he defeated in Zhao palace and won Wu Tingfangs marriage). Zhao Ya had this same display of intensity of power when she negotiated with him. Snickering, he solicited:I know Miss is great both in bed and out of bed but you have yet to tell me what assignment you have in mind for me.

    Zhao Yas eyes shot out a look of determination. She plainly said:I want to you contact a person and warn him never ever to step into Handan City. The Zhao King has received secret information that he is on his way to Handan and has laid traps everywhere, waiting for him to send himself to his demise.

    Xiang Shaolong athletic body trembled, gazing at Zhao Ya with eyes wide open.

    He finally understood what has transpired.

    Zhao Da (Zhao Yas bodyguard) is right; Zhao Ya has been unable to forget her feeling for him. The moment she knew about Zhao Mus secret message from Qin, she dropped everything and approach him to warn Xiang Shaolong so as to save him from the traps of Zhao.

    Composed, Zhao Ya explained:You, Dong Kuang, are the only man in Handan with the courage and strength to accomplish this task. Most of your subordinates are staying outside the city and are used to the wilderness. I reckon only your forces have the ability to intercept Xiang Shaolong and his followers.

    Xiang Shaolong almost wanted to embrace her deeply and tell her he is the Xiang Shaolong she had wanted to save.

    Zhao Ya squirmed under his stare. Hanging her head lowly, she pressed: Dong Kuang, please give me answer quickly. Let me remind you. If I am rejected again, even I would not know what I will do next.

    Xiang Shaolong has seen what she will resort to when driven to the wall. Letting out a big sigh, he chided:If you had known this would be the result, why do it in the first place?

    Zhao Ya was expressionless as she chanted his words twice. Unable to hold her tears anymore, she wailed:Because Zhao Ya does not want to betray him for a second time.

    Xiang Shaolong could feel his emotions rising. Rushing forward, he grabbed her shoulders and barked sharply:Look at me!

    Zhao Ya was taken aback at this outburst.Why is Mister Dong so emotional?

    I am Xiang Shaolong!

    I am Xiang Shaolong! he was about to explode but at the last moment, he swallowed his words and made a heart-rending promise:Rest assured Princess. I will help you not because of your threat, but because I am touched by the selfless love you have for Xiang Shaolong. I, Dong Kuang, hereby swear that if Xiang Shaolong stepped into Handan City one step, I will bear no descendants and die an inconceivable death!

    Zhao Ya stuttered:Dong Kuang! Do you know how grateful Zhao Ya is towards you? From her bosom, she produced a cloth painting and gave it to Xiang Shaolong. This is his portrait. Obviously, he will assume a different identity and appearance to cover his tracks.

    Receiving the painting, Xiang Shaolong yanked it open for a look. The fine lines detailing his appearance gave it a life-like manifestation. He was shaken and enquired:Who drew this?

    Zhao Ya replied:I did.

    Xiang Shaolong surmised:Seeing this painting is like seeing the real person. From this we can conclude Xiang Shaolong has left a deep and strong impression in the mind of Princess.

    Zhao Ya shot out a strange look. She looked closely at him and slowly quotes:You have strong piercing eyes that could compare to Xiang Shaolongs.

    Xiang Shaolong smilingly said:Princesss love for Xiang Shaolong is well-known. Are you not afraid of jealousy from evil admirers? Zhao Ya heartbreakingly answered:You are a special man. Among the men I have come across, you are the only one who can make me forget Xiang Shaolong. Are you happy now?

    Xiang Shaolong naturally accepted:Very happy. Princess, please return to your home. I need to assign my men and investigate the surroundings so as to accomplish this case that you have appealed to me. At the end of the day, I have full confidence in intercepting Xiang Shaolong and invite him to return back to Xianyang.

    Zhao Ya gratefully agreed to his recommendations to leave. Her mind is full of concern for Xiang Shaolongs safety and can longer think of other matters. But if Dong Kuang had asked her to stay, she would not reject him.

    All the love and hatred for Zhao Ya has dissipated for Xiang Shaolong at this point in time. He accompanied her to the main door and both parties remain in silence.

    Reaching the waiting horse carriage, Zhao Ya can no longer hold herself and beseeched softly:Mister Dong is indeed someone who does not bother about the danger around him

    Xiang Shaolong heaved a sigh:Birth and Death are fated. Worrying is good for nothing

    Amidst laughter, he returned to his villa.

    Zhao Ya waited until his silhouette had disappeared before rousing up. Within the carriage, her mind kept revisiting Birth and Death are fated

    Having untied his knotty issue regarding Zhao Ya, Xiang Shaolong completely recovered his self-confidence and has the strength to deal with his powerful foes such as Li Yuan and King Xiaocheng

    The mindset of the Special Forces is to win through unique methods.

    Using smaller numbers to defeat bigger numbers. Using elite to defeat the ordinary.

    Utilising the highly efficient organization, he is convinced that no one can keep them in Handan City. Once they leave the city and enter the wild, their chances of escape and survival would be even higher.

    Momentarily, he abandons all his thoughts and fear and march towards the unforeseeable future.

    Tonight, he still needs to seek out Ji Yanran and inform her that she need not put up with Li Yuan the petty thief anymore.

    Arriving in the east room, Zhao Zhi is leaning her face on her palm with her elbow on the table. She is waiting for him painfully.

    Watching Xiang Shaolong stepping over the door ledge and looking full of energy, she happily pounced on him and checked:Has Zhao Ya left? Xiang Shaolong held her soft fingers and brought her through different rooms, going deeper into his villa. Halfway through, Wu Guo intercepted them. Peeping twice at the shy Zhao Zhi, he reported:Since dawn, there are some stalkers outside our quarters. We have located their exact locations. There are four of them and situated in front and behind our villa.

    Xiang Shaolong coldly commanded:Capture them alive and interrogate them. I want to know who sent them.

    Zhao Zhi was stunned and focused her beautiful big eyes on him

    Wu Guo is pleased and rushed off.

    Xiang Shaolong reached out and gives a light pinch to Zhao Zhis egg-shaped face. Dragging her along the way, he grinned:Does Miss Zhi know where I am bringing you and what are we about to do together?

    Zhao Zhis face turned red and whispered:I know!

    Xiang Shaolong chuckled:What do you know?

    Zhao Zhi cannot resist looking at his wonderful physique. Bashfully, she protested:You are very good with your methods. No matter which identity you assumed, you are able to make me feel attracted to you, causing me days of untold suffering!

    Xiang Shaolong pulled her straight into the bath quarters. Someone has prepared hot water and poured it into a pool. There are another three bronze pots of hot water on standby.
    How in the world would Zhao Zhi have guessed the destination is the bath quarters? Not knowing what to do and at a complete loss, she hesitated between going ahead and backing away. Observing her introvert expressions only caused Xiang Shaolongs blood to race even faster.

    Waving the servants to take their leave and after closing the door, Xiang Shaolong remove Blood Wave and laid it besides the pool. Stripping his outer garments, his climbing tools and flying needles are exposed.

    Zhao Zhi was horrified that Xiang Shaolong was a single man armed like an entire army. Putting aside her shyness, she lightly assisted him to remove his hardware.

    Xiang Shaolong took off his mask and placed it neatly, and proceeded to take off her clothes.

    Reacting to his movements, Zhao Zhis entire body turned soft and cannot even stand properly.

    Under Xiang Shaolongs well trained hands, Zhao Zhi is only left with a thin and tight singlet and a pair of short panties. Her neck, shoulder, breasts and feet are all fully displayed.

    Her flexible and curvy silhouette, her firm flesh and her scent would cause anyone to undergo the magical seduction of a youthful body.

    Xiang Shaolong is not in a hurry to strip her all the way. Locking her strongly in an embrace, he kissed her for long session, making her pant. Releasing her, he mocked:Xiang Shaolong and Dong Kuang, who is a better suitor to win your heart?

    Zhao Zhi chose:Im afraid it is Dong Kuang! Sometimes you use hard tactics, sometimes, you use soft tactics. It has made me terribly confused and lost my bearings. I cannot even have a good meal and have no idea how to please you.

    Xiang Shaolong felt apologetic and felt more love for her. Hugging her and sitting by the pool, they dipped their feet into the hot water. Cheekily he asked:Let me serve Zhi Zhi to take a shower as an apology, it is ok?

    Zhao Zhi was both happy and timid.It should be Zhi Zhi serving hubby instead she corrected.

    Xiang Shaolong took off the rest of her clothes. Admiring her ivory white skin and her full naked body in the misty bath quarters, he said in a soft voice:If you regret, you can reject me now!

    Zhao Zhis heart was thumping non-stop but she maintained her stand and shook her head vigorously.

    The steam generated caused the light from two wall lamps of the bath quarters to become blurred, creating a special romantic ambience.

    Xiang Shaolong swiftly stripped to his birthday suit and exhibits his manly aura and perfect toned body. He leaped into the pool first and carried Zhao Zhi from her seat at the poolside into the warmth of the water. He started to scrub her carefully.
    Zhao Zhis flawless body started to tremble. She stood in the centre of the pool and allowing her lover to do whatever he wants. Her wet black hair was glowing and they were sticking to her back and her chest. Such a seductive posture made Xiang Shaolong stopped scrubbing and grabbed her for an intensive kiss.

    After being through the various challenges, their love is finally seeing a bright future.

    Under Zhao Zhis passionate and active responses, Xiang Shaolong remembered the times when he was frolicking with the different girls and maids in the Zhao palace pool. Now that Zhao Ni (the other princess who committed suicide after being raped by Zhao Mu) is no longer around and Zhao Yas relationship has taken a different turn, he swelled up with various emotions.

    In this condition, he has a strong urge and his target is of course the beauty naked in his embrace. Even if someone held a knife to his neck, it will not discourage him from taking her.

    For a while, the bath quarters is filled with Xiang Shaolongs wild breathing and Zhao Zhis delirious and delighted moaning

    When Xiang Shaolong slipped into her room agilely, Ji Yanran has just taken down her accessories and is looking at her bronze mirror blankly. Catching the man she has been pining for, she leapt into his arms.

    Xiang Shaolong blew out the lamp and cuddled her onto the bed. After a passionate and intense kiss, he related Zhao Yas encounter.

    Ji Yanran mused;She is still unable to forget you! Yanran has always been bewildered at why would any woman want to betray you?

    Avoiding the question, he chortles:Please do not get entangled with Li Yuan anymore. This will affect me emotionally and distract me from the circumstances at hand

    Ji Yanran cooed:Judging at how confident you are, Yanran loves you even more! You have caught Guo Kais four-man surveillance team, what do you plan to do next?

    Xiang Shaolong replied innocently:Early tomorrow, I am going to employ some methods to force King Xiaocheng to explain his stand. This muddle-headed king has always been indecisive. If I do not give him a wakeup call, he may well heed Li Yuans advice.

    Ji Yanran loved his wake up call description. At the same time, she sighed:I had thought Li Yuan is a man of talent. This cad is a loser who doesnt care about the big picture. If the governance of Chu were to be in his scheming hands, what hope does the state of Chu have?

    Xiang Shaolong thought of something and enquired: You have seen Tian Dan. What kind of a person is he?

    Thinking silently for a while, Ji Yanran gave a rundown.He is a very powerful and charming man but is also a lecher. The way he looks at you makes you feel that he want to swallow you up immediately into his stomach. Compared to Li Yuan, he has the air of a powerful general.

    Xiang Shaolong joked:In this case, you are also attracted to him.

    Ji Yanran said:You can put it this way, but it is not male-female attraction but human to human observation. Xiang Shaolong guffawed:You dont have to clarify. I am not a petty person.

    Ji Yanran joyfully kissed him and state:Of course you are not petty, but I am your woman and it is necessary to be transparent for matters like these.

    Xiang Shaolong thought about Li Yuan. Frowning, he asked:What about the Li little thief?

    Ji Yanran followed his (frowning) tone and sighed:I wittily hinted the little thief that we do not have any relationship. His spirits rose and started speaking with better composure. Along the way he kept bragging on how he will manage the politics of Chu in the future. He sounds correct but he neglected the threat of Qin. He is only concerned about expanding his territory but has no idea on ruling the country well internally. I can only sigh at him.

    Xiang Shaolong continued:Did he send you back?

    Ji Yanran countered:I will not cheapen myself to that level. Riding with him to the palace is torturous enough. This person may look good on the outside is actually full of crap.

    Xiang Shaolong put down the huge rock on his mind. Both hands slithered into her inner vest and started to fondle.

    Ji Yanran could not speak another word. Nights of passion are always too short. She was still having the sweetest dreams while Xiang Shaolong slipped away before dawn breaks.

    Stealing back to his house, Zhao Zhi laid flat in his tent. (?). Tucked under a blanket, a blissful smile hanging by the corners of her mouth.

    Xiang Shaolong silently laughed at himself, thinking that the entire episode had been ludicrous.

    It might be due to the extreme danger surrounding him or the ruthlessness of his enemies. Either way, Xiang Shaolong is all fired up to put up a good fight and to win both battles of love and war. After enjoying two beloveds in a row, he is dog tired and gave up thinking. Embracing Zhao Zhi, he threw his head back and went into slumber.

    He finally woke up in the afternoon. He caught Zhao Zhi with her eyes closed but her eye lashes fluttering. Knowing that she was awake but pretending to be asleep, he purposely exclaimed:Hey! Since you are still asleep, lets go for second round!

    Flipping around he got on top and pinned her down.

    Zhao Zhi has just had her first love-making session and had no energy for the second battle. Opening her eyes widely, she pleaded for mercy.

    Xiang Shaolong laughed:Ha ha ha. See if you still dare to deceive me? Jumping up from the bed, he was in great spirits as he washed up and got dressed whereas Zhao Zhi continued to laze in bed.

    Stepping out of the inner hall, Teng Yi, Wu Zhuo, and Jing Jun have followed his instructions to summon all the 300 elite force soldiers back to his residence.

    Not knowing if it was initiated by Teng Yi, Jing Jun kneeled down immediately and declared in a thankful manner:Jing Jun knows third brother is helping fifth brother to take care of Sister Zhi. Regarding her issue, I only have happiness and not even a hint of jealousy!

    Xiang Shaolong realised why Teng Yi rushed back to Hidden Army Valley. He wanted Jing Jun to spell out matters once and for all and not making himself feel bad. Zhao Zhi is Teng Yis sister-in-law and obviously he did not want love to spoil the relationship between the two sisters.

    Xiang Shaolong supported Jing Jun up. Wu Zhuo was chuckling at the side:You need not worry about this kid. He made an excuse to go hunting but went to a nearby village to pick up a sweet-like-honey village girl. You have no idea how much fun he had these few days.

    Jing Jun nearly died from embarrassment.

    Teng Yi enquired:What has happened? When we got the news this morning, we set off immediately.

    Xiang Shaolong did not answer him first. Glancing at Wu Guo who looked like he wanted to say something, he predicted:How long has Guo Kai been waiting?

    Wu Guo was impressed:Third master is indeed good at forecasting. Master Guo has been waiting for one hour in the outer hall.

    Xiang Shaolong explained his plan to Teng Yi and company. He returned to his room and spoke briefly with Zhao Zhi before going out to receive Guo Kai.

    When this malicious man saw Xiang Shaolong, he put on a smile and said:Mister Dong must be mistaken. These four men are merely here to ensure your safety!

    Xiang Shaolong is very amused:Using these four clowns to protect me, Master Guo sure knows how to joke. Having said that, I would not hold it against them. As a matter of fact, I am about to leave Handan City and definitely have no time to hold it against them.

    Guo Kai was blown away. He asked in disbelief:Why is Mister leaving?

    Xiang Shaolong coldly answered:Since this place does not desire me, other places will. Except for Zhao and Chu, who will not welcome a horse breeder like myself?

    Guo Kais face changed colour and turned cold.Since Mister Dong belonged to Zhao, leaving like that is as good as rebelling. Please reconsider.

    Xiang Shaolong eyes blinked coldly. Staring at Guo Kai face to face, he used his strongest tone:Under my command are three hundred death warriors. They have all spent years with foreign horse bandits and are used to fighting for their lives. Every one of them is capable enough to fight a hundred enemies all by himself. We are going to force our way through the city gates. Your Majesty may feel free to dispense his army. We shall see if my subordinates are cowards who flee in danger. We can also show that world how Your Majesty repays kindness with cruelty.

    Ignoring Guo Kais persuasion, he walked towards the courtyard. Teng Yi and the three hundred elite troops are armoured and armed with swords and bows, ready to fight when commanded.

    As Xiang Shaolong climbed onto his war-house (Jifeng?), Guo Kai rushed over and held onto the head of the horse. Almost begging, he pleaded:Mister Dong, please stop whatever that you are doing. Everything can be discussed. Why dont we ride into the palace to see the King and clear up the misunderstanding?

    Xiang Shaolong smiled coldly:If Master Guo wishes to keep his hands where they are, please let go now.

    Guo Kai knows his swordsmanship is excellent and quickly withdrew his hands in fear.

    Xiang Shaolong roared:The way Zhao king treats Dong Kuang is enough to send shivers down the spine. Pei! He spit and continued in a loud voice:We are leaving the city now. We will kill whoever that blocks our path!

    The three hundred elite soldiers rallied in unison. The commotion can be heard far and wide, causing fear to those who heard it.

    The residence door flew open and Teng Yi rode out first, leading the pack.

    Guo Kai knew that things are going out of control and hastily left for the palace to report to King Xiaocheng.

    The huge body of troops slowly moved towards the nearest East Gate.

    Under the planning of Xiang Shaolong, the news spread like wild fire and in a while, the entire city of Handan knew about their departure. Everybody came to surround and watch the proceedings while a large number of people begged them to stay.

    After the exit of the Wu Family, everyone viewed this horse fanatic as their new saviour. The gift of a thousand war-horses is like a life-saving pill for the people of Zhao. Their abrupt leaving is causing public panic.

    The East Gate commander has gotten word of the situation and hurriedly closed the city gate. He assembled archers on the battlements and foot soldiers in front of the gate.

    Funnily, the city gates are built to repel external invaders and not internal attacks so there wasnt much of an advantage.

    Le Cheng was the first to reach the gate. After fortifying the gate defences, he rode out and waited on the main road leading to the gate, ready to negotiate with this horse fanatic

    Teng Yi saw the huge army blocking the path. Under his command, everyone held up a large shield on the right hand and a bow on the left hand. Using only their legs to control the horse, this display highlighted a huge attacking power and made everyone shrink back.

    Le Cheng shouted:Mister Dong, please come and speak with Le Cheng.

    Teng Yi issued a new command and the three hundred troops broke up into two groups. Divided on two sides, each group gathered debris and wood to serve as fortification. Smart and imposing, they were on high alert are ready to fight on command.

    This leaves only Xiang Shaolong highly perched on his horse in the open. Facing Le Cheng, he hollered bravely:Although I respected General Le greatly, times have changed. If General insists on preventing me, there will be a skirmish and I will not hold my hand.

    Le Cheng was troubled:What has happened that Mister had taken such an extreme measure? Everything can be discussed. Why not Mister and General pay a visit to His Majesty? If His Majesty approves, Mister can leave in peace. Isnt this better than staining the gates with blood?

    By now, there are more and more people crowding to see the excitement. The nearby streets and alleys are all filled up. Of course, nobody dared to enter the main road that is packed with countless soldiers.

    Xiang Shaolong has a sharp vision. He noticed a large body of royal bodyguards appearing near an area behind Le Cheng. He deduced that Zhao King is on his way here via one of the city wall outlets. Laughing in his heart, he called out:Is General Le jesting with me? If I enter the palace just like that, it would be a miracle if I am not tied up and sent to Chu as a gift. I only hate myself for being a blind boor. Undertaking such an arduous journey back to serve my country, I thought Zhao will follow tradition (using horses instead of chariots) as dictated by the previous kings and use horse battles to conquer the world. Who would have expected that Zhao will fall not on the battlefield but on the negotiating table with the state of Chu? I am disheartened and I will fight to my death in Handan to show that I, Dong Kuang, am a man of resolution.

    Le Cheng was dumbfounded. All his captains and soldiers displayed looks of pity and morale was low. On the other hand, Xiang Shaolongs troops were not afraid to die. Their spirits were high and are just waiting to attack.

    Zhao soldiers made some movement. King Xiaocheng rode out with Guo Kai and Cheng Xu on his two sides. He has a determined look and upon reaching Le Cheng, he called out:Subject Dong, please ignore those rumours. I have no intention of sending you back to Chu. It is a misunderstanding.

    Xiang Shaolong looked up into the sky and gave a long laugh.Your Majesty, please forgive me for being frank. Now that Qin has their soldiers on our borders and the Xiong Nu are up north waiting for opportunities to invade us, our country is in mortal danger. But all I, Dong Horse Fanatic, can do is waste my time away because we are afraid to offend some contentious a55holes. History has told us that if we fight among ourselves, the only result is broken families and a conquered country. You win the war by fighting, not by begging.

    Someone in the crowd started to cheer and more people are affected. Soon, there was thunderous applause all around, praising Shaolongs words.

    Xiang Shaolong put on a very angry expression and yelled:Your Majesty, please move away from the battlefield. I am going to lead my troops to break out of this encirclement and the city. If I am unlucky enough to sacrifice on the battle grounds, let it be my repayment towards you. If my death can inspire Zhao to flourish and not be manipulated by people with bad intentions, I will die in peace.

    These words are both hard and soft, giving the Zhao King the break he needed.

    King Xiaocheng is in a dilemma. He loved and hated this Dong horse fanatic, but he has a guilty conscious. He has had plans to sacrifice this Dong Kuang in exchange for Li Yuan persuading the Chu King to join hands against Qin.

    King Xiaocheng surveyed his army and civilians from near and far. Everyone felt sympathy for Dong Kuang. Sighing to himself, he promised:Subject Dongs words are provoking indeed. I concur with your thinking and from today onwards, Brother Dong, please open up your heart and help Zhao rear horses and related. Please stay Mister. I will not ill-treat Mister.

    From all four corners, the army and the civilians cheered like thunder and it is the first time they cheered for King Xiaocheng.

    Xiang Shaolong delightedly confirmed:The king keeps his promise!

    King Xiaocheng helplessly confirmed:Definitely keeping my promise!

    Xiang Shaolong knew that the show is about to finish. He flipped down his horse and kneeled down, giving his thanks.

    On Teng Yis command, three hundred elite troops dismounted and prostrate themselves in a swift and orderly manner. In one voice, they shouted:Long live the king. This gives a lot of face to King Xiaocheng.

    An earth-shattering event ended on a satisfactory note.

    That moment, King Xiaocheng and Xiang Shaolong rode together back to the palace for a feast while Teng Yi led the troops back to Hidden Army Valley.

    That same afternoon, Xiang Shaolong led a second and last batch of five hundred war horses into the farm while making it a grand affair. This is to teach Zhao King not to belittle the usefulness of this horse fanatic.

    Relying on bravery and opportunity, Xiang Shaolong resolved the frontal danger brought by Li Yuan.

  6. #86
    Senior Member kohchun's Avatar
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    Book 8 Chapter 7 – Giving in to Madam

    After the event, Xiang Shaolong’s status rose a few times. That night, Zhao King hosted a special banquet to appease him. Those present were all ministers and generals. Both Zhao Ya and Zhao Zhi were present and their relationships with him are now very different. They do not have to make any excuses to get close to him like before.

    Zhao Zhi has tasted the forbidden fruit for the first time. Since then, she has become more attractive and charming.

    Zhao Mu saw an opening and berated him in a low voice:”Such an important matter, why didn’t you discuss with me in the first place?”

    Xiang Shaolong has long prepared his model answer. Sincerely, he replied:”Firstly, things are moving too quickly. Secondly, I deliberately kept this from Marquis. If there was an inquiry, this would have nothing to do with you and would not raise any suspicions.”

    Zhao Mu is still slightly uncomfortable but he couldn’t help but praised:”You did a beautiful job. With a talent like you by my side, what can I not achieve?”

    To increase Zhao Mu’s trust in himself and to stir him to rebel at the same time, Xiang Shaolong lied:”I have gotten some information from Zhao Ya. This matter has got Qi involved. I haven’t got the details but who is Zhao Ya closest to among the people of Qi? ”

    At the mere mention, Zhao Mu faced darkened:”It must be Qi Yu; he came along with Tian Dan on this trip. Heh! Despite my loyalty towards Tian Dan, he still betrayed me!”

    Xiang Shaolong then came to know that Qi Yu is here as well. Leveraging on this, he asked:”Why is Marquis so unwise to reveal your secret to Tian Dan?”

    Zhao Mu explained:”It is only because of the Lu Gong’s secret manual and that Xiang Shaolong. But they do not know my real identity; they only knew I keep in secret contact with Dad. But if King Xiaocheng knows about this matter, then I would be in a precarious situation.”

    Xiang Shaolong was about to delve deeper into the secret manual incident when Zhao Ba led Zhao Zhi over. He asked: “When is Mister Dong free to come and give us some pointers at the training school?”

    Xiang Shaolong knew that he could not refuse. Powerless, he fixed a date and time. Admiring Zhao Zhi, he added: “Let Zhao Zhi come and fetch me on that day.” Knowing that Xiang Shaolong is crazy over her and created this excuse and opportunity, this horny beauty is mad with joy.

    Both Zhao Mu and Zhao Ba gave Zhao Zhi a strange glance.

    This time, the voluptuous Zhao Ya came by. Taking him aside, she commend:”I am beginning to feel that you are a brilliant man. Without my help, you are able to turn the tables around. Just wondering if your promise is still valid?”

    Xiang Shaolong beat his chest and promised:”A man’s word is his bond. Why would I want to cheat a beauty like you? Just rest assured. As long as he is really coming to Handan, I will have his news within a few days.”

    Zhao Ya looks at him with regrets:”Why is Mister Dong suddenly showing love and concern for Zhao Ya?”

    Xiang Shaolong’s mind was blank. Stalling for time, he said:”Seriously speaking, I have heard rumours about Xiang Shaolong’s incident and did not have a good opinion about Princess. I have a better opinion only last night when I found out that Princess is not a heartless and vicious woman.”

    Zhao Ya depressingly agreed:”Mister’s reprimand is right. Zhao Ya is truly regretful. If not for some unfinished business, I would have committed suicide, avoiding this living-worse-than-death punishment.”

    Xiang Shaolong questioned:”What has Princess left unfinished?”

    Zhao Ya threw him a stern gaze:”You seem to have no objection about my death.”

    Xiang Shaolong gave a bitter laugh:”A beauty’s heart is the hardest to fathom. Since Princess is living a worse than death life, if I advised you not to die, wouldn’t that make you suffer more? If Princess is not satisfied, that what kind of logic is that?”

    Zhao Ya smiled charmingly: “Chatting with you is truly enjoyable. My door is always open to you. No matter when Mister feels like dropping by, Zhao Ya will wait for you wholeheartedly. ”

    Xiang Shaolong could not bear it anymore: “In that case, you had better break Li Yuan’s legs. I am not willing to wait outside your bedroom for hours.”

    Zhao Ya was dumbstruck. Knowing herself, it would be really difficult to decline Li Yuan. When she committed herself exclusively to Dong Kuang last night, it was because she was frantic over Xiang Shaolong’s welfare. She would not be able to keep her word. Luckily, King Xiaocheng arrived followed by other guests so she was able to avoid answering this tough subject.

    That night, King Xiaocheng frequently toasted Xiang Shaolong and decreed all officials to support Xiang Shaolong in expanding the farm. The party lasted till midnight before her left happily.

    Zhao Zhi’s desires are hard to withhold. Following Xiang Shaolong back to his Residence, they proceeded to use their time most effectively. Xiao Shaolong is so exhausted that he had to cancel his other romp with Ji Yanran. Early next morning, Ji Yanran could not wait any longer and came to visit him.

    They were delighted to see each other again.

    Ji Yanran led him to the back garden, strolling shoulder to shoulder, she informed:”Not only has your stunt caused Li Yuan to bang into a wall, even Tian Dan is starting to notice you. He believes that you are an extraordinary talent and may even try to recruit you.”

    Xiang Shaolong assumed with displeasure:”You make me feel that by mixing with Li Yuan and Tian Dan all the time, you are able to forecast their actions very well.”

    Ji Yanran giggled: “Do not be angry, husband. Yanran has been disobedient but my goal is only to collect intelligence for you. Now, Tian Dan and Li Yuan are exerting pressure on King Xiaocheng to withdraw his soldiers against the State of Yan. They are naturally afraid that after defeating Yan, their territory and standing will increase by a lot. This ending will be detrimental to Qi and Chu’s conquests. Tian Dan is more anxious, as the fall of Yan will mean that Zhao will surround the entire west border of Qi.”

    Xiang Shaolong had a dreaded feeling. Forgetting to chide Yanran, he frowned:”That will be disastrous. If the Zhao soldiers do not retreat, the treaty will not be completed and Li Yuan will not leave Handan City. This will risk exposing my identity and my fake promise of more livestock.”

    Ji Yanran cooed: “Don’t worry. Zhao Mu has been checking up on Tian Dan’s secret agenda for the past two days. He is even more alarmed than you.”
    Xiang Shaolong stared at her in wonder: “You even found out about this!”

    Ji Yanran laughingly fell into his embrace. Giving a tortured sighed, she said: “Yanran is elated that husband is jealous. Oh! No! Fearful is more correct. Yanran’s actions are to help husband from being the target. Yanran has successfully shifted Li Yuan’s hatred to Tian Dan. They appear to be good friends but are not really on good terms. As they fight to discuss governance with Yanran, it has allowed me to spy on their actions easily. If hubby feels than Yanran is wrong, you are free to punish me as you like.”

    Xiang Shaolong understood that Ji Yanran has an independent character. Although she is smitten with himself, she will not submit blindly. Smiling bitterly, he advised: “Your better be careful. No matter how confident you are, you are still surrounded by tigers and wolves. Who would not wish to gain the fortune of bedding you?”


    Ji Yanran was mesmerized: “Hubby is really good at sweet-talking. {Fortune of bedding you} such a nice phrase. All right! I have to make a move. Will you be as vicious tonight as what you were last night, making Yanran sleep alone? ”

    It has never crossed Xiang Shaolong’s mind that she would even pursue the absence of one night. Feeling sweet in the heart and pain in the head, he made a solemn promised enquired: “I will not pretend to go to Hidden Army Valley to work on the farm. What are your plans?”

    Ji Yanran whined: “The Zhao Queen has invited me on several occasions. I have run out of excuses and have to make this trip.” They finally parted dejectedly and Zhao Zhi went back to the training school on her own.

    That night, he rushed back to Handan with Teng Yi. All the soldiers at the gate recognized him and allow him to enter without verification.

    Jing Jun’s girlfriend is beyond doubt an exquisite beauty. Enjoying her companionship, Jing Jun has forgotten all past relationships. Xiang Shaolong finally rest easy and left him at the farm.

    After Wu Zhuo’s management, the Hidden Army Valley farm is starting to take shape. More importantly, he had designated several strategic locations and prepared a few secret escape routes. In short, they are ready to turn the tables and flee anytime into the wild mountains and dense vegetation. Once Zhao Mu is lured to this place, they can bring him back to Qin alive.

    On the way back to the residence, Teng Yi reported: “I have send men to collect animals from all over the place. When our farm reaches a bigger scale, the time will be right to act.”

    Xiang Shaolong nodded his head in agreement.

    The moment they stepped into the villa, Wu Guo welcomed them with a strange expression: “Third Madam is here!”

    Xiang Shaolong and Teng Yi stared at each other. Exclaiming together: “Third Madam?!”

    Wu Guo smiled indignantly: “Third Master’s wife is Third Madam. Third Madam is pretty but not as pretty as her temper”

    Teng Yi is disgruntled: “What crap are you talking about?”

    Xiang Shaolong recalled Shan Rou’s deadline. Lamenting that he is so occupied the past two days, how can he remember her comic warning. Hauling Teng Yi into the residence, he told him about this affair.

    Teng Yi could feel the same headache coming. He proposed: “Coincidently, we had a batch of war horses that came in yesterday. Let’s just pretend she came along with the horse shipment. I’ll see to it.”

    Xiang Shaolong countered: “Aren’t you going to persuade your elder sister to give up the idea of becoming my wife?”

    Teng Yi gave a pained expression: “You try to handle her first. I can tell that she is interested in you. Using hard and soft methods, your woman-handling skill should be able to manage her just right.” Casting their brotherhood to the wind, he disappeared.

    Xiang Shaolong hardened his resolve and entered the inner chamber.

    Before he could step in, he caught Shan Rou chiding: “What has the world become? There is not even a female maid here. You expect these rough and unruly men to serve me?”

    Xiang Shaolong has just crossed the door ledge and his foot has yet to land when Shan Rou cried: “Hubby is back. You guys are done here. Now get lost!”

    These four men are considered the cream of the cream, the best of the elite troops. They slipped out of the room hastily as if they have just offended the king himself.

    Shan Rou has changed into a gorgeous gown. Her hair is tied up neatly in a bun and she looks grand and imposing. Her beauty made Xiang Shaolong’s eyes pop out and can longer say another word. However, her arms on her waist pose will send fear into those who saw her.

    Shan Rou giggled: “Hee! Do I look well disguised as your wife?”

    Xiang Shaolong reached to her back and caught a whiff of her white neck. Praising her bewitching aroma, he frowned: “The deadline has yet to pass and you cannot wait to rush here and masquerade as my wife. Is sister having the desire?”

    Shan Rou raised her chiselled face and gave him a glance. Hesitating, she replied: “You can think whatever you like; I am definitely staying with you and almost motivate you at the same time.”

    Xiang Shaolong slipped to her side and purposely leaned on her shoulder. Nudging her lightly, he timidly asked: “Big sister, aren’t you concern that the show becomes reality and I took advantage of you?”

    Shan Rou purposely did not look at him at all. In an awe-inspiring manner, she quoted: “You can do whatever you want. People who undertake big tasks do not sweat the small stuff. Letting some fools take advantage is just part of the process.”

    Xiang Shaolong could not do anything to her. Infuriated, he shot: “Whoever is the one that is taking advantage of the other, Miss knows the truth in her heart!”

    Shan Rou smiled sweetly. Turning around, she cuddles his firm and stout neck, her curvy and captivating breasts leaning on him without reservation. In a teasing voice, she raised: “Good hubby! When are you getting two maids to serve your wife?”

    The wife of the reputable Dong Horse Fanatic surely deserves some maids.

    Mad and humoured at the same instant, Xiang Shaolong is bowled over by her display of intimacy. Grabbing her thin waist, he unwilling agreed: “You lass is just desperate to marry me but does not know to do to it without putting yourself down. You cannot even wait for just one more night; I can only resign myself to fate. After all, your brother-in-law is my second brother.”

    Shan Rou kept her cool and did not dispute with him. She conceitedly watched him and does not mind his caressing.

    Xiang Shaolong pats his hand on her pert butt twice and moan: “Fine! I will transfer two maids from the outer chamber to serve you. But you have to behave yourself and check your temper. Do not flash your knives at the slightest discontent. Hai! With outsiders, I may have to sleep with you without taking off my mask.”

    Seeing that Xiang Shaolong has been forced into obeying her requests, she slipped out of his grasped gleefully. She pleasantly warned: “Who is sleeping with you? I will be sleeping next door. Don’t blame me for not warning you beforehand; if there is any silly thief who steals into my bedroom, be prepared to face my flying daggers!”

    Eyeing her as she disappeared into the corridor leading to the adjoining room, Xiang Shaolong shook his head and let out a long sigh. Having this forever-stubborn beauty at his side, he could foresee the arrival of many more troubles.

    On the other hand, her present cheerful disposition is way better than the depressed and tortured-by-revenge outlook before. Xiang Shaolong believed that he had done a good deed by giving in to her.

    Honestly speaking, Xiang Shaolong is more attracted to Shan Rou than Zhao Zhi. Maybe this is the theory of the harder it is to achieve something; the more value is placed on it. While hesitating to follow her for a romp, Wu Guo came to report that Zhao Mu had sent for him.
    Xiang Shaolong is mystified. Zhao Mu has earlier told him to meet up les often to minimise suspicions. Why did he send someone to fetch him now?

    Arriving at the outer hall, his escort turned out to be Pu Bu.

    Xiang Shaolong questioned: “Why has Marquis sent for me?”

    Pu Bu replied respectfully: “Subordinate was here this morning only to find Mister Dong had left for Hidden Army Valley. Luckily, Master Dong is back. Marquis is hosting Chancellor Tian (Dan) tonight. Chancellor Tian has indicated that he wishes to meet Master Dong, so please leave with me. The horse carriage is waiting outside the gate.”

    Xiang Shaolong is anxious that he is about to meet the legendary history titan. Checking himself, he thought that titan is also a human. In hindsight, who is more famous than Qin Shi Huang whom he is nurturing? Releasing his stress, he hurriedly changed and came to the main gate.

    The courtyard is lined with fifty plus soldiers guarding a luxurious horse carriage, giving an imposing aura.

    Xiang Shaolong smiled at Pu Bu: “Brother Pu! Come! Join me in the carriage and let’s have a good chat!”

    Pu Bu cannot decline and boarded the carriage with him.

    After some idle chat, Pu Bu shone: “Master Dong is a great man who views life and death with fear. Our band of brothers thinks highly of you.”

    Xiang Shaolong cannot fathom that his risky feat will bring about so much goodwill, including Tian Dan’s attention. He gave his humble thanks: “That is nothing. Just staking everything I have got and forcing the tiger to jump the wall.” (Force the other party to act)

    Pu Bu affirmed: “Other than Master Dong, subordinate has met another great hero. Please pardon me for not saying who he is.”

    In his heart, Xiang Shaolong recognized that this man is still loyal to himself.

    Pu Bu enquired: “Why has Master Dong chosen Zhao to settle down?”

    Xiang Shaolong jumped: “Does Brother Pu know that if word leaks out, you will lose your head?”

    Biting his teeth, Pu Bu stated: “I know. But I appreciate that Master Dong is not that kind of person. I must ask or I will not be in peace.”

    Xiang Shaolong put his hand around his shoulder and leaned to his ear. He whispered: “Good brother! You have good eyesight because I am Xiang Shaolong!”

    Pu Bu was floored. He tried to bend down and pay his respects. Xiang Shaolong held him back and using this opportunity, he disclosed his mission and the big plan for this trip. Pu Bu is mad with ecstasy and cursed fiercely: “That traitor Zhao Mu is inhuman. He is bad-tempered and has a cruel hand. At his whim, families are destroyed. We have been waiting for Master Xiang in agony!”

    Xiang Shaolong calmly state: “His retribution is near.”

    By this time, the horse carriage has reached the Marquis’s residence. Both men fixed the future methods of communication before alighting. The banquet location is the same hall where Xiang Shaolong first met Mohist Yan Ping. Since he came to Handan City, he has yet to hear about this man. He will inquire about him the next time he saw Zhao Zhi.

    Thinking of Zhao Zhi, he chanced upon her coaching a bunch of top-grade song courtesans at her usual place.

    Zhao Zhi caught his eye and signalled him to speak to her. Xiang Shaolong understood her wink and instructed Pu Bu to stop leading the way and wait for him at the side. Striding towards Zhao Zhi, he called: “How are you, Miss Zhi!” The courtesans were awestruck by Shaolong’s magnificent posture and their beautiful eyes lit up, not hiding their appreciation.

    Zhao Zhi left the courtesan group and met him welcomingly. Strolling shoulder to shoulder, she informed: “Last night, Zhao Mu sent the Tian Zhen sisters into the palace to accompany the treacherous Chancellor. Tian Dan is full of praises and may demand them from Zhao Mu. Tian Zhen begged you to save them.”

    Xiang Shaolong nodded. “Got it! Tell them I will not sit by and do nothing.” Despite saying that, he had no idea how to save them.

    Zhao Zhi almost treated Xiang Shaolong like a deity, believing that he will honour his words. Joyously, she added: “I already told them you are not a heartless man and will definitely help them.”

    Xiang Shaolong groaned internally and updated Shan Rou’s intrusion.

    Zhao Zhi covered her mouth chuckling: “Hubby Xiang is really great. I think sister is going wild over you.”

    Xiang Shaolong’s heart trembled. “What about you?”

    Zhao Zhi’s petite face shone red and pretended to think deeply. She posed: “I, hmmm, want to be with you every minute.”

    Xiang Shaolong is originally composed but is affected but the twin’s development. Collecting himself together, he returned to the corridor and made his way towards the inner hall.

  7. #87
    Senior Member kohchun's Avatar
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    Book 8 Chapter 8: Chancellor of Qi, Tian Dan

    Light shone through the inner hall and faint music can be heard.

    Security is especially tight and scores of shadows can be seen everywhere.

    Right outside the door of the inner hall, there are fifteen to sixteen sturdy and serious-looking Qi warriors. This is the first time Xiang Shaolong has seen such a parade at a banquet location.

    Among them, there is a young and handsome swordsman who is especially majestic and carries an imposing air. His athletic frame appeared from the corridor garden and he marched over in big strides. Bowing, he greeted politely: “This must be the glamorous Mister Dong that Chancellor Tian has been eager to befriend. Your subject is Qi citizen Dan Chu, head of Chancellor Tian’s personal bodyguards. I take this opportunity to wish Mister well.”

    Xiang Shaolong was awe-struck and returned the compliments.

    Shan Rou and Zhao Zhi had mentioned Dan Chu before. He is Qi’s famed general and possess outstanding swordsmanship. He truly matches up to his fame. He has a rare domineering spirit that emits right from his bones.

    After the pleasantries, Dan Chu beamed at Pu Bu: “Brother Pu can hand over Mister to General.”

    Pu Bu was intimidated by his spirit and hastily agreed.

    Dan Chu projected the posture of a guide and invited Xiang Shaolong to walk in front of him.

    The gate keepers retreated to two sides and allow Xiang Shaolong to enter the inner hall.

    At that instant, someone announced: “Mister Dong Kuang is here!”

    Xiang Shaolong thought of the sword scar on Shan Rou’s breasts and wondered how she managed to stay alive after trying to assassinate Tian Dan twice.

    Xiang Shaolong crossed the door ledge and saw Tian Dan for the first time.

    He knew it was Tian Dan not because of the two well-built and cool-looking Liu Zhong Xia and Liu Zhong Shi bodyguards cum brothers behind him; nor was it the full white outfit he wore that contrasted with the rest of the flowery costumes. It was because his spirits and complexion are hard to forget once you set your eyes on him.

    He had heard about the Liu brothers from Shan Rou and Zhao Zhi.

    No wonder Ji Yanran who has seen heroes from all over the world is also impressed with him.

    Tian Dan is around forty with a slender frame with a high nose bone like an eagle’s beak. Coupled with his high cheekbones, they form a threatening air. Adding his thick eyebrows and penetrating sharp eyes, he exudes leadership and dominance. It is no accident he managed to rise from a small official post and occupy one of the most powerful positions under the sky.

    Seated beside him, the traitorous Zhao Mu looks like a kitten beside a tiger.

    There are twenty people seated around the table. The biggest surprise Xiang Shaolong had was seeing the voluptuous Zhao Queen. Except for palace banquets, this is the first time he saw her at an official’s private banquet. It seems that Tian Dan’s status is high enough for her to make the concession.

    Familiar faces like Guo Kai, Le Cheng and Zhao Ba are not present. Those present were Guo Zhong, Guo Xiu’er, Ji Zhong, Li Yuan, Han Chuang, Lord Longyang and Zhao Ya.

    There were two Qi citizens. One of them is ‘old friend’ Qi Yu. Seated left of Zhao Ya, he spoke incessantly but Zhao Ya paid no attention to him.

    The other is a knowledgeable and fine-looking scholar. With a wide and full forehead, he gives an intellectual impression.

    A group of musicians were initially playing on the side. When Zhao Mu heard about Dong Kuang’s arrival, he clapped and the ten over musicians left through the side door. The inner hall quietened.

    Tian Dan’s glare shot towards Xiang Shaolong like an arrow. Observing him, he was obviously shaken by his bearing. His eyes shone and he stood up. Putting his hand out, he chucked: “People say fame is exaggerated. I say fame is understated. Finally, I get to make your acquaintance. What great fortune!”

    Other than the three ladies, which are the Zhao Queen, Guo Xiu’er and Zhao Ya, the rest of the guests are forced to stand up and welcome Xiang Shaolong after seeing Tian Dan’s example. Li Yuan is the most unwilling, but his attitude has improved probably due to Ji Yanran’s effective strategy.

    Xiang Shaolong respects Tian Dan for his open and easy-going nature. He did not put on any airs like Prince Xinling. If he were to compare both of them, Tian Dan won him by half a grade.

    He increased his speed and paid his respects to Zhao Queen before he faced Tian Dan and shake his hand strongly with both hands.

    Tian Dan’s hands are wide and thick until the bones cannot be seen. Yet, they feel strong and warm.

    The legendary character sized him up and grinned: “Imperial Uncle (Li Yuan) has told me on several occasions that Mister is not only great with horses but also highly-skilled with the sword!”

    Xiang Shaolong looked over to Li Yuan unconsciously and forced a smile, nodding his head slightly.

    Tian Dan gently commanded the Liu Brothers: “Add a seat beside me for Brother Dong!” In the same breath, he introduced Qi Yu and Tian Bang, the military advisor. Tian Bang seems to be related to Tian Dan.

    After the commotion, everybody settled down again.

    Footsteps sounded and Tian Zhen and Tian Feng emerged out of nowhere and started to fill up the wine cups. By using these two girls to serve the guests, one can tell how much importance he placed on Tian Dan.

    Tian Feng did not appear to know Xiang Shaolong’s real identity. Although she peeped at him, there was no change in her composure. Tian Zhen has kept her promise to Xiang Shaolong and has even withheld the secret from her own sister. Based on this alone, Xiang Shaolong felt responsible for her.

    When Tian Zhen is pouring wine for Xiang Shaolong, her delicate hands actually trembled.

    While other guests are chatting with their partners, it did not escape Tian Dan’s eyes. He questioned: “Why is Little Zhen so nervous?”

    After he spoke, everyone was focusing on Tian Zhen.

    When Tian Zhen saw Xiang Shaolong, it is like seeing a light in the ocean of suffering. Misery swirled through her heart and she lost her calm. Interrogated by Tian Dan, she thought she had exposed Xiang Shaolong. She panicked and the bronze jug crashed onto the table and wine splashed over Xiang Shaolong’s vest.

    Zhao Mu’s countenance changed and was about to hurl abuses.

    Xiang Shaolong gave a big laugh and supported the terrified and shaking Tian Zhen. Soothingly, he coaxed: “It’s Ok. It’s Ok. Beauty, please don’t take it to heart.” Lowering his head for a whiff, he exclaimed: “Good wine!”

    Everyone was humoured and have a good laugh.

    Zhao Queen joked: “People drink wine. Mister Dong sniffs wine.”

    As Tian Zhen is propped up by Xiang Shaolong on her back and hand, she cooled down and believed that this long awaited gentleman will protect her well.

    Zhao Mu knows that it is not a time to blame her and ordered lightly: “Dismiss yourself.”

    Both girls kneel down to pay their respects and withdraw to the back.

    Zhao Mu looks like he has something to say to him. Standing up, he invited: “Mister Dong, please come with me. I trust that my clothes should fit your body.”

    Xiang Shaolong excused himself and left with him.

    Once they stepped out, Zhao Mu spoke in a low voice: “I have investigated Tian Dan’s intentions. He is quite offended with King Xiaocheng. He hinted that if I can overthrow Zhao, he will do his best to lend a hand.”

    Xiang Shaolong secretly cursed: IDIOT! For Tian Dan, a chaotic Zhao will give him more opportunities.

    Instead, he proclaimed: “What is the deal with Qi Yu? Why did he leak your relationship (with Tian Dan) to Zhao Ya?” This is a pre-emptive tactic.

    Zhao Mu sighed: “Don’t simply discount Zhao Ya as a free for all ****. In actual fact, she is more intelligent and powerful than anyone. Qi Yu only needs to say a wrong sentence and she will blackmail him.”

    Reaching the inner chamber, Zhao Mu got fresh new clothes for Xiang Shaolong to change.

    Xiang Shaolong intentionally mentioned: “Marquis is truly resourceful. Acquiring these twin beauties that look exactly like each other is no easy feat. ”

    Zhao Mu’s face showed dilemma. Sighing: “Why don’t you say so earlier? Tian Dan tried them last night and was showering with praises. Needless to say, I have presented them to him. How can I break my promise now?”

    Xiang Shaolong’s heart sank to the bottom and his face showed total disappointment.

    Zhao Mu has regarded him as his confidante and able assistant. Frowning he suggested: “These is an alternative. And success will depend on how important are you to Tian Dan. ”

    When they returned to the banquet, the courtesans have just finished performing.

    Lord Longyang haughtily hit on Xiang Shaolong: “Mister Dong’s luxurious clothes have made me look at you differently!” Winking at him, he continued: “Marquis has promised to bring Mister Dong to attend to my sick horses. Why has he not made good his word?”

    Everyone witnessed Xiang Shaolong’s embarrassment and felt sorry but hilarious at the same time.

    Zhao Mu knows that Xiang Shaolong is straight and laughed: “Mister Dong is always running off to the farm. How can I grab hold of him?”

    Tian Dan joined in the laughter. Digging Lord Longyang: “If it is only for horses, I have a few vets. Of course they are not as good as Brother Dong but we can let them have a try first and see if they can solve the problem on behalf of the expert.” Lord Longyang recognized that Tian Dan is jesting with him. “Hiyah!” he cried and gave him a look.

    Tian Bang the scholar approached Xiang Shaolong: “My country has a horse named Playful. It runs like the wind and nobody has been able to tame it. We have tried both hard and soft tactics but to no avail. Since we have the good fortune to meet, I wish to consult Mister.”

    Once spoken, even Tian Dan furrowed his eyebrows, knowing that he is out to make things difficult.

    How can anyone predict how to tame a horse without laying his eyes on the horse beforehand? But if Xiang Shaolong said he needs to see the horse first, it becomes a lame excuse that anyone could have given and does not add to his reputation.

    Amazingly, Xiang Shaolong answered at leisure: “In The Art of Horse Taming, the initial step is to make it defenceless against you, but this is a low method used by common folks. The best would be to make them view you as equals and treat them with utmost care. The wildest horse will start to listen and cooperate.”

    Mentioning this, he could not help but look opposite to Zhao Ya who is seated between Qi Yu and Han Chuang. This beauty that he shared a love-hate relationship is paying attention to him intently. Catching his eyes and reminding herself that he had once compared her to a horse (at the banquet where XSL first saw Ji Yanran in Handan), she started to feel uncomfortable and bat him an eye.

    Tian Dan’s interest is piqued: “Humans are humans. Animals are animals. How can you treat an animal like a human?”

    Xiang Shaolong reasoned: “They are many methods. A newborn animal will regard their parents as the first being that comes into contact with them. If you have any doubts, you can feel free to experiment with a bunch of newborn ducklings and you will agree that I am not kidding.”

    His words carry logic and it has been proven by modern psychology.

    Everyone begin marvelling at this enlightenment.

    Han Chuang helped: “No wonder there are stories of babies that have been abandoned in the wild and brought up by wolves. They became werewolves and treated wolves like their birth parents. Mister Dong is definitely a first class animal expert! ”

    Seeing that everyone nodded in consensus, Li Yuan is still unconvinced and interrupted: “Master Tian’s Playful Jade Horse is no longer a newborn. We cannot employ this method anymore. Does Mister Dong have a suitable strategy?”

    Everyone in the dining hall, including Tian Dan is well aware of the animosity between the two of them. Li Yuan is long expected to make Dong Kuang look bad. They look to see how this Horse Fanatic will counter him.

    Xiang Shaolong leaned forward and deepened his voice. Secretively, he announced: “I have a horse-taming methods that never fails. All along it is my hidden weapon and I have never told a second person about it. Since today is such a joyous occasion, allow me to showcase my talent and honour Chancellor Tian!”

    Everyone unconsciously leaned forward and await his big revelation.

    Xiang Shaolong gradually started: “It is pretty simple actually but it will not be easy unless you are a horse lover.”

    Holding the suspense of his audience, everyone’s hearts begin to itch.

    Knowing that everyone is addicted to his words, he divulges: “It is to sleep with the horse and he will loosen his guard against you and regard you as his own kind.”

    Initially, everyone is astounded. Comprehending the logic, they cried: “Excellent!”

    Xiang Shaolong theory is backed by science. He learned from a television documentary about a wild animal tamer who confesses that he often sleeps with beasts. Using this technique, they will really accept you one of their family and no longer guard against you.

    This is another difference between modern men and ancient men.

    The twenty-first century is the boom of the information age. One only needs to sit at home and surf the internet and one will be able to gain access and utilise plenty of resources from all over the world and different periods in history.

    Ancient men travelled all over the place and relied on precious books written on bamboo stems or on word of mouth. Compared to Xiang Shaolong who came from the 21st Century where data is prevalent, he has transformed into a know-it-all.

    Tian Dan slapped the table and professed his highest regard: “Come! Let us toast to Dong Kuang’s enlightenment through years of hard experience!” Qi Yu added: “Now we all realize why Mister has been crowned the champion of all horse fanatics”

    Everyone raised their cups and joined in the toasting.

    Li Yuan banged into another wall and toned down his hostility. He dared not belittle his opponent and start thinking of another scheme.

    Tian Zhen and Tian Feng emerged again and started filling up the wine cups.

    After the twins retreated, Zhao Mu winked at Xiang Shaolong and faced Tian Dan smilingly: “Chancellor Tian and Mister Dong not only hit it off well but shared the same interests. Both are keen on the twins and after Mister Dong realised that they belonged to Chancellor Tian... ...”

    Xiang Shaolong cackling interrupted: “Beauty going to the Ruler, I only offer congratulations and not a hint of jealousy.”

    Zhao Mu is pleased with his words and silently praised his timely interruption. Now it is up to Tian Dan to see if he is willing to let go of the twins.

    Tian Dan is no common man. Generously, he joked: “Since brother Dong has such interests, I will transfer both of them to you as a welcome gift. This will give Mister Dong more than just horses for sleeping companions.”

    Such acts of generosity are common among high ranking officials and come as surprise to no one.

    Xiang Shaolong purposely rejected his proposal but Tian Dan will not hear the end of it. With great relief, he gave his utmost thanks.

    Zhao Mu intentionally showed goodwill to Xiang Shaolong. He summoned the two girls and instructed: “From this moment, both of you will be sent to Master Dong instead of Chancellor Tian as gifts. Perform you duty with care, diligence and perfect obedience.”

    Both girls were initially shocked.

    Tian Zhen is smart. Lowering her head to hide her gratitude and glee, she kneeled and gave her thanks.

    Tian Feng performed appropriately. Her face turning pink, she stole a look at her new master and kneeled down.

    Zhao Mu ordered simply: “Go and pack your belongings now and wait for Master Dong to bring you home.”

    Zhao Queen sniggered: “With these pair of jade-liked maidens, Mister Dong must not forget to sleep with the horses.”

    Xiang Shaolong had hugged her one. Sensing the emotions in her words, his heart stirred.

    Keeping quiet all this while, Guo Xiu’er gazed at Xiang Shaolong with her appealing eyes and asked: “Has Mister Dong really accompanied horses to sleep?”

    Xiang Shaolong detected the innocence in her tone and replied warmly: “Of course. I have been sleeping with horses since I was seven. We did not sleep in the stable but in my bedroom.”

    Everyone was greatly amused and burst out in guffaws.

    Li Yuan smirked at Lord Longyang and challenged: “I want to speak up for Lord Longyang. After the sword duel, Talented Lady Ji needed help with her horse and Brother Dong went to her assistance immediately. Why has Lord Longyang received inferior treatment?”

    This incident is new to Tian Dan and he raised his concentration.

    Lord Longyang could not hide his bitterness and shot Xiang Shaolong a look, making all his hairs stand up.

    Xiang Shaolong released a heavy sigh and apologised: “Imperial Uncle is correct. I should not have left that day. Talented Lady Ji got me to discuss about songs and poems and I disappointed her greatly. I dare not face her in the future.”

    Everyone knows of Ji Yanran’s characteristics. Notwithstanding those who still bear grudges against him, most of those present have reduced their jealousy towards him.

    This Dong Horse Fanatic is strikingly charming. Regardless of the occasion, he is able to grab the centre of attraction. Luckily he is a boor or he may even entice Ji Yanran.

    Accepting his automatic retreat, Li Yuan greatly reduced his enmity and toasted him sincerely for the first time.

    The atmosphere is back in harmony.

    Only Zhao Ya still subtlety suspects that things are not so simple between him and Ji Yanran.

    Those present at the banquet consists of powerful representatives from Qi, Chu, Han, Zhao, Wei and Eastern Zhou (Yan?). The conversation topics naturally drifted to the common enemy Qin.

    Ji Zhong analysed the Qin situation and explained: “We have allied on several occasions but still failed to defeat them. The main rationale is that Qin has used the terrain well and constructed crucial Passes. They have Han Gu Pass, Hu Lao Pass, Yao Sai Pass in the east and Wu Pass in the southeast. As long as we can break through one of them and continue to advance, what further resistance does the Qin have?”

    During the Spring-Autumn Warring period, chariot battles are fought on plain land. After war developed into infantry (foot soldiers) and cavalry (on horseback), the Passes become even more important. They play a life-death role in the fate of Qin.

    Ji Zhong appears to be highlighting the Qin’s prowess but is actually identifying the strongest and potentially weakest point.

    In this manner, he is taking the chance to unite everyone and destroy Qin.

    Tian Dan smilingly retort: “A country’s size, ruler, economy and army cannot be discussed separately. In my opinion, Qin is putting up a strong front but is weak internally. After Bai Qi’s death, there is no strong general in Qin. Lu Buwei is managing the court affairs but is not on good terms with the military. I dare guarantee that as long as this person is the Prime Minister, the Qin people are disunited. If we raise a campaign against Qin, the threat of foreign aggression will unite the Qin people and turn the tables against us. Does anyone see my point of view?”

    Ji Zhong is dumbstruck and his face darkened.

    Guo Zhong asked: “So I assume Chancellor Tian is against this collective agreement?”

    The hope of this agreement is his last hope for staying in Zhao. If it fails, he will have to relocate somewhere else.

    Although Xiang Shaolong highly regarded his insight, he sighed inwardly that no matter how brilliant one is, he can never foretell what may develop in the future. King Zhuangxiang has only three more years to live. When Xiao Pan the Qin Shi Huang takes his place on the throne, there will be no one under the sky who can hold a candle to him

    Tian Dan gently replied: “Of course not. The agreement has to go ahead. But the strategies and methods has to be discussed in great detail. Otherwise, I would not have made the long journey here.”

    When he speaks, his words carry a natural intimidation and nobody dared to rebut him. At the same time, countering him may result in being put down further.

    Lord Longyang shrieked in a high pitch voice: “Chancellor Tian is so familiar with the Qin’s activity; can you update us on what has occurred to Xiang Shaolong? Many of us here are interested to know if any calamity has befallen him.”

    Xiang Shaolong was shaken. Since his return to Handan, his name has been mentioned here and there but was never brought out as a topic for discussion.

    Zhao Mu’s eyes shone fiercely when he heard his name.

    Zhao Ya turned a shade paler but exhibits a keen curiosity.

    Zhao Queen’s eyes lit up and increased her concentration.

    Qi Yu gave a cold snort as he hated Xiang Shaolong to the bone.

    Masking his thoughts well, Tian Dan happily said: “Xiang Shaolong is not a simple man. He manages to come out tops every time. Even my old friend Bother Wuji is turning in his grave after being tricked by him. The rest of his story is well-known to the rest of you. ”

    Wuji is Prince Xinling’s real name.

    Han Chuang peeped at the dazed Zhao Ya besides him and began to feel jealous. Unsatisfied he cried: “Is Chancellor Tian exaggerating? I think this creep is probably just lucky he got away!”

    (Note: Zhao Ya helped XSL in stealing the Lu Gong manual from Prince Xinling. Probably revival of sweet memories of their adventures)

    Tian Dan affirmed: “Knowing yourself and your enemy, you can fight and win every single battle. I hate him to the core but must never belittle him. Xiang Shaolong had barely reached Qin but his accomplishments are accumulating quickly. In front of Qin King and all major officials, he proved to be a good match against Qin’s number one strongman Wang Jian. Using his weapon’s edge, Xiang Shaolong untiringly deflected his enemy’s arrows. His arrows are shot from an iron bow and can even penetrate a shield. I guess he is giving way in order to preserve the dignity of the military. Qin King immediately promoted him to be the Grand Tutor and Lu Buwei gained a lot of prestige from him. If he is not eliminated, Lu Buwei will be like a tiger with wings. Given time, he will control the entire Qin Court.”

    Ji Zhong smile chillingly: “From what you have said, Qin should not have a shortage of people who wanted him dead.”

    Tian Dan laughed coldly: “If Xiang Shaolong is an easy target, he would have died numerous times. Qin assassins have tried to harm him but suffered a great blow and even lost a few men. Now that the Wu Family is becoming more and more influential in Qin is also due to Xiang Shaolong. Even the Qin military that are anti-Lu Buwei are changing their opinion about him and are trying to win him over to their side.”

    Guo Zhong revealed an envious expression on his face but he could not say anything.

    Listening, Xiang Shaolong could feel his entire body turning cold. Tian Dan would not be so foolish to divulge all his information. But just analyzing what he has alleged, his facts are accurate as if he had been there to witness the event himself. This man is deadly efficient and like what he believed in – Knowing your enemy and knowing yourself and never belittle your enemy, are the ways of the Victorious!

    Zhao Mu may have gotten the news of his arrival from Tian Dan. Zhao Queen laughed coquettishly: “I don’t believe he cannot be defeated, he does not have three heads and six arms.” Finishing, she purposely threw a glance at Zhao Ya.

    Zhao Ya turned a shade of anger.

    From these two reactions, Xiang Shaolong knew that these two girls are having some disagreement.

    Qi Yu started: “Of course we have a plan to fix him. Chancellor Tian... ...”

    Tian Dan made a sound of displeasure and Qi Yu was frightened into silence.

    Everyone was staring at Tian Dan and knew that he had a good plan to deal with Xiang Shaolong.

    Tian Dan declared: “Everyone has a weakness. Xiang Shaolong’s weakness is he placed too much importance on relationships and is too soft. This will be the cause of his downfall.”

    Guo Xiu’er’s eyes turned confused. Thinking to herself, this is a strength; when has it become a weakness?

    Thinking that Xiang Shaolong is on his way to Handan City, Zhao Ya began to feel anxious and looked at Dong Horse Fanatic pleadingly.

    Xiang Shaolong is both edgy and amused. Hearing how everyone is pondering hard on how to deal with him, he felt distasteful and funny and the same time. Fortunately, no one noticed him.

    The banquet is concluding and Tian Dan left first with Zhao Queen and Ji Zhong. Before he went, he bid his fond farewell to Xiang Shaolong reluctantly and promised to meet up in near future. Under the heavy protection of his personal guard, he boarded his carriage and rode off.

    Zhao Mu has wanted Xiang Shaolong to stay and chat but he was hampered by the large crowd of guests. He also feared that Zhao Ya would see through their relationship. Helpless, he reminded: “The pair of beauties are awaiting Mister Dong in the horse carriage. The journey may take some time so do take this opportunity to inspect the goods.”

    All the guys who heard him laugh out loud.

    Li Yuan had wanted to accompany Zhao Ya and be fresh with her. Seeing her coldness and invited by Guo Zhong to share his carriage, he departed unwillingly.

    Lord Longyang saw them boarding the same carriage and joked: “Seems like the Guo Family will soon have an Imperial Uncle son-in-law.”

    As his carriage went past Xiang Shaolong, he batted an eyelid and him and groaned: “I had wanted to share your carriage but Mister Dong had female companions. Why not I visit Mister tomorrow?”

    Han Chuang looked elsewhere, reluctant to witness Xiang Shaolong’s distress.

    Xiang Shaolong exclaimed: “So sorry. I still have to work at the farm tomorrow!”

    Lord Longyang added with pleasure. “Even better. I’m sick of the city and would love to wander around. I will look for you at dawn.”

    Not waiting for his reply, he rode off.

    Xiang Shaolong could feel all his goose bumps standing and stood there in a daze.

    Zhao Mu patted his shoulder and recommended: “Want me to teach you a few tricks to take care of him?”

    Xiang Shaolong sourly reassured: “Thanks for Marquis concern. But I’ll be fine.”

    Zhao Mu and Han Chuang grinned.

    The quiet and flustered Zhao Ya softly invited: “Marquis Han, please proceed home first!” but did not give a further explanation.

    Seeing her icy demeanour, the hot and passionate Han Chuang lost half his enthusiasm. Harbouring hatred and yet powerless, he left with disappointment.

    Leaving only Zhao Mu, Zhao Ya and Xiang Shaolong, the atmosphere became slightly embarrassing.

    Xiang Shaolong knew in his heart that Princess Zhao Ya was frustrated by the updates of himself. She wanted to approach him and get the matter off her chest. On the same note, she would want to know how he is progressing with his plan to prevent him from coming to Handan City. Remembering the tigress in his residence, he dare not invite her home and create more complications.

    In addition, he has vowed to visit Ji Yanran and could not have Zhao Ya over. The worst issue is Lord Longyang’s visit tomorrow. Even if he is made of iron, he cannot satisfy so many people.

    Though he sympathises with Zhao Ya’s condition, he can only offer: “It’s late! Let me escort Princess to her carriage.”

    Zhao Ya looked at him faintly and did not agree or disagree. On her own, she stepped ahead to her own convoy of servants and horse carriage.

    Xiang Shaolong rushed to her side but Zhao Ya boarded straight into her booth and did not say a single word.

    Xiang Shaolong is afraid of Zhao Mu holding him back. Taking the opening, he waved goodbye to him and slipped into his aromatic carriage booth, diving into the wonderful and lively paradise created by the Tian sisters.

  8. #88
    Senior Member kohchun's Avatar
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    Book 8 Chapter 9 - Unpredictable Woman

    He had just boarded his horse carriage when the twin sisters leaped into his embrace without a care in the world and start to cry happily.

    In the confusion, Xiang Shaolong could not tell them apart. Cuddling and consoling, he finally got them to calm down.

    One of them disobeyed: You kept us waiting in agony.

    Xiang Shaolong concluded: You are Tian Feng!

    The horse carriage had left the Marquis Residence for a while when it suddenly halted.

    Xiang Shaolong got the two girls to behave properly. Stretching his head out of the window, he inquired: What is going on?

    His escort Pu Bu came from the front and reported: Princess Yas convoy has stopped in front of us and invited Mister to go over.

    Xiang Shaolong could feel a tremendous headache coming but he is powerless to do anything. Soothingly, he patted the exquisite faces of the two girls and jumped down the carriage. Before he left, he ordered: Protect the carriage well and follow me. Finishing, he stride towards Zhao Yas stationary carriage in big steps.

    The carriage start to move off but they are heading to Xiang Shaolongs place instead.

    The two of them sat side by side.

    Zhao Ya has a wooden expression and remained in silence for a long while.

    Just as Xiang Shaolong was starting to feel awkward, Zhao Ya faintly cried: Dong Kuang! Tell me! You are not lecherous by nature (yah right!), but why did you pay so much attention to the Tian Sisters?

    Xiang Shaolong was feeling fearful that Zhao Ya is very suspicious of him. He had once made love to the Tian sisters (during his first visit to Zhao Mus place) and Zhao Ya knew about it.

    Although he has more confidence that Zhao Ya will not betray him again, this matter concerns the lives of a few hundred people. He cannot act on his own wistfulness and abandon his train of thought. Moreover, he has yet to fully comprehend the degree of loyalty she has towards King Xiaocheng.

    Fearing that he will deny, she continued: Knowing that they belonged to Tian Dan, Zhao Mu and you signalled each other and wrestle them back. This is unlike your usual way of doing things! Otherwise, you would have accepted the courtesans from Zhao King.

    Totally lost, Xiang Shaolong illogically retort: I have no idea what you are talking about!

    In an angered and pitiful voice, she cried softly: Shaolong! Are you still pretending that you do not know me? Do you want me to die in front of you?

    Xiang Shaolong was filled with sorrow but hardened his heart as she is too fickle-minded.

    Strengthening his resolution, he mock surprise and exclaimed: My God! So you have mistaken old Dong to be another person. Come, examine my face and see if I am wearing any disguise.

    Using the oldest trick in the box, he deceived her as she had never seen such a well made mask.

    Zhao Yas delicate body trembled. She was baffled and disappointed and dare not touch his face. Still shaking, she tried: You are really not him?

    Xiang Shaolong had applied Love Seed scent. Challenging, he proposed: If you still have doubts, you can smell my scent. Every horse smells different and humans are the same. Come!

    Moving forward, he exposed his neck to her nostrils.

    Zhao Ya sniffed twice and discovered a new but refreshing scent that leaves a deep impression on her. Disappointed, she grunted and like avoiding scorpions, she withdrew to the other side of the carriage and leaned on the window. Curious, she asked: Then why are you eager to posses them?

    Xiang Shaolong has a burst of inspiration and grumbled: It is all because of that tigress. Leaving Chu, I had wanted to avoid her for a while. How would I predict that she would single-handedly pursue all the way to Handan City? She threw a huge tantrum and even wanted two maidservants. Seeing that the two sisters would serve her fine, I requested them from Zhao Mu. If I knew they belonged to Tian Dan, I would have asked for any other two girls and it will be good enough. Alas, Marquis misunderstood my intentions and tried his best to interfere, causing this mess and your misunderstanding.

    Inquisitively, he pondered: What has the sisters got to do with Xiang Shaolong?

    Zhao Yas face is void of colour. Her pretty eyes were shining at the peak of excitement and cheer. In an instant, they dimmed to disillusion and depression. Turning her head fiercely, she wallowed: Please leave!

    Coincidentally, the horse carriage has stopped at the main gate of his residence.

    Sighing inwardly, Xiang Shaolong alighted.

    Shan Rou had not expected Xiang Shaolong to come home with two similar looking beauties. Entering the inner hall, she saw his gloomy face and asked in an unpleasant tone: Where the he11 have you been? You should inform me if you have to go out.

    Xiang Shaolong is troubled over Zhao Ya. Impatiently, he shouted: You saw me changing in my room. You think I do not know that you are sneakily spying on me?!

    Both Tian Zhen and Tian Feng were startled and their pretty faces lost all colour. Terrified, the two sisters stared at them.

    Xiang Shaolong realised he had overreacted. Before he had a chance to make up, Shan Rou put her hands on her waist and anger was written on her face. Short of brandishing her knives, she snapped: Who is sneaky? Do you only change when you have a [email protected] banquet? Cant you change to shower? Cant you change to pee? With a snort, she covered her mouth and could not stop laughing. Batting an eye at him, she ended: Thats all!

    Seeing the matter is resolved, Xiang Shaolong is relieved. He did not want the Tian ladies to undergo any frightening situations. They are all lonely and vulnerable are cannot withstand any shock.

    Joining in the laughter, he praised: Great acting, Sister Rou. Even I was convinced that you are really my wife.

    Hearing these two lines, Shan Rou faced darkened.

    Xiang Shaolong was secretly filled with glee. Acting surprised, he declared: You do not let me touch you and yet you wanted to be my real wife; how can such a deal exist?

    Shan Rou glared straight at him. She resembled a wounded beast which is ready to bite, showing her vicious yet adorable self.

    Xiang Shaolong instantaneously softened. Hand around her shoulder, he promised: Say you love me and let us soar through the skies together!

    Tian Zhen and Tian Feng finally come to the conclusion that they are teasing each other and find them very fascinating.

    Shan Rous complexion turned loving and arms still on her waist, her view landed on these two alluring sisters. Pointing, she asked: Who are they?

    Xiang Shaolong was afraid that she will vent her anger on the two girls. Slipping behind her, he caressed her sweet smelling shoulders and replied in the tenderest voice: They are the maids who are here to serve the wife of myself, The Horse Fanatic Dong Kuang!

    Tian Zheng and Tian Feng obediently kneeled down and pay their respects.

    Shan Rou was overjoyed. Get up, she commanded. And shouted: Wu Guo!

    Wu Guo nearly appeared as soon as her voice thundered. He was obviously eavesdropping outside the door.

    Shan Rou let out another command: Bring those luggages outside to my adjoining room now!

    Facing the Tian sisters, she added: Go and tell them to place your luggage nicely

    The Tian sisters have gotten the Madams permission to stay on and they left in a great mood. As long as they are with Xiang Shaolong, they are willing to endure all kinds of hardship.

    Only this real imposter is left in the inner hall.

    Witnessing that the Tian sisters have overcome the obstacle, his mood improved. Kissing her fine face, he laid out: Is wifey satisfied now? You wanted a husband, you got one. You wanted maids and there they are!

    Shan Rou was humoured by him but she kept her icy look. She snubbed: We are not laying a beauty trap; why have you gotten such first class beauties? Judging by their elegance, I think it is better that I serve them instead.

    Xiang Shaolong frowned: Are you jealous?

    Shan Rous excellent and small lips curled at the corner: This is not jealousy. This is logical deduction. What good can come out from a lecher?

    Despite her harsh tone, she did not protest Xiang Shaolongs caressing of her shoulders and back. For a masculine beauty like her, it is actually a sign of consent but she is unwilling to say so verbally.

    Xiang Shaolong saw through her and was amused and annoyed at the same time. Thinking hard, he pleaded: Good Rou Rou! Please obey me. These two sisters are very pitiful. Having been insulted and tortured by Zhao Mu, this is their new freedom. I must definitely give them a blissful and happy future. If you disbelieve, you can always verify with Little Zhi Zhi. She will relate their story to you.

    Shan Rou was touched and lowered her pretty face, maintaining silence.

    Xiang Shaolong turned her over and let her face himself. Pressing his lips, he was about to kiss her.

    Shan Rou put up a violent struggle and escaped. Red-faced and dazed, she decreed: You think I am Zhi Zhi; following you without question? After eliminating Zhao Mu, we will go our separate ways. Dont think you are the only man for me.

    Knowing she is just using tough words, Xiang Shaolong still find it unbearable and shot back: Going on separate ways is all right with me, must I kneel down and beg you to spare me some love? Be careful that I will divorce you in the heat of my anger and kick you out of the Dong family. Ha!

    Finishing the last part, he could not hold it any longer and burst out laughing.

    Shan Rou face was about to darken but seeing his comics, she had to laugh too. Swiftly straightening her cute face, she warned icily: Miss has no intention to go against you and is retiring now. If I detect any thief breaking into my bedroom, I will kill first and ask later. Dont say that I did not give you this warning

    Closing, she levelled her chest and sauntered gracefully into the corridor leading to the back.

    Xiang Shaolong thanked the heavens that she did not enter his room. Otherwise, he would not have any more energy to please Ji Yanran who has recently tasted the forbidden fruit and is dying for his attention.

    At this point in time, he discovered that Shan Rou had inadvertently facilitated him to forget about Zhao Yas incident.

    Shan Rous charm is indeed world class, definitely the hottest type.

    As Xiang Shaolong was walking towards the Tian sisters bedroom, Wu Guo and a few elite soldiers were humouring the two girls, making them laugh like a blossoming flower. When Xiang Shaolong entered, they quickly left.

    As Wu Guo passed Xiang Shaolong, he whispered: Amazingly, this world can produce a pair of similar looking beauties. Absolutely a prized possession. Adding a huge sigh, he led the porters away.

    The two girls are kneeling on the floor, awaiting Xiang Shaolongs instructions.

    Seeing their heads pressed down on the floor, and their high collar exposing their snow white necks followed by their enthralling back, Xiang Shaolong experienced a strong surge in emotions.

    Xiang Shaolong dedicated himself to aid Xiao Pan to conquer the world and build a strong China; however, the non-supportive cultures and traditions are things that he still cannot change overnight.

    The lowly status of female slaves has to go on until the Nineteenth and Twentieth century before they are abolished.

    The only thing he can do is to treat the females around him with love and care. He admired Mozi for he is the bright light of knowledge, illuminating these ancient times. His Universal Love is to counteract long established vices of society. It is deplorable that most rulers chose to adopt rituals and ceremonies and further lowered the status of women. Thinking that the issue has been buried in darkness for over two thousand years, he cannot help but feel sadness for all women.

    (Note: Very deep paragraph. Did some research http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mozi and there is this line: In contrast to those of Confucius, Mozi's moral teachings emphasized self-reflection and authenticity rather than obedience to ritual. I personally think Huang Yi is trying to say that society treats females as second class citizens. Mozi tried to abolish this system but failed. The rulers prefer Confuciuss ritual (?) system and females continue to be unimportant until the recent centuries.)

    Xiang Shaolong approached them and lifted them from the floor. Lovingly, he put his arms around their slender waists and they sat on the couch together. Softly, he stated: I have yet to really talk to both of you. I am unlike Zhao Mu. My only rule is that you need not kneel and greet me and in the bedroom, there is even less need to do so.

    Blushingly, one of them spoke: Master Xiang has put us in a difficult position; we are totally willingly to serve Master Xiang well and make you delighted!

    Xiang Shaolong recognized the deep dimple on her face. Like he had won the lottery, he cried happily: You are Tian Feng!

    Both girls covered their mouths and giggled charismatically. Behaving in the same fascinating manner, Xiang Shaolong was swept off his feet by the display and could not move his sight away from them.

    Appreciating, Tian Zhen cried: Master!

    Xiang Shaolong corrected: Address me as Master Dong for the time being and be careful not to let the cat out of the bag!

    Both girls were taken aback and obediently agreed.

    Observing their reaction and submissive nature, Xiang Shaolong discerns that this change is hard for them. Astonished, he gave them each a comforting long kiss.

    Amidst their strong responses, he can finally tell the difference.

    Tian Zhen is gentle; Tian Feng is wild.

    Xiang Shaolong was in complete ecstasy and forgotten where he was.

    Tian Zhen commented considerately: Master Dong should be exhausted, let us serve you in showering and changing. We are well-versed in massaging and Tui-Na (accupoint massage), oh... ...

    Her small mouth has locked with Xiang Shaolongs once again.

    Separating, Xiang Shaolong smiled: I would love to enjoy your Tui-Na but I still have things to attend to. You girls go ahead and wash up and have a good rest. I will shower and share your room tomorrow night and make great love to both of you.

    Hearing his words, both girls are over the moon, rejoicing in complete safety and bliss for the first time in their lives.

    Tian Feng teased: Does Master Dong know I have always envied elder sister who managed to copulate with Master Dong? Since you left, we have been pining for you every day and night. We chatted about you whenever we are alone and can only be happy when we meet you in our dreams. Xiang Shaolong was praised to the skies like he was some deity. Curious, he asked: We have only met once; why have you taken such strong fancy to me?

    Tian Zhen joyfully exclaimed: Master Dong is not the same as anyone. You truly care from the heart. We have never seen a hero like yourself. The staff from Marquiss residence often gossiped about your exploits. When we heard about your legendary prowess and your wondrous escape from Handan City, we were exhilarated beyond imagination.

    Tian Feng continued: We thought we would never see Master Dong anymore. It is our great fortune that Heaven has finally heard our prayers and ultimately let us serve Master Dong

    Xiang Shaolong almost wanted to caress them. Recollecting Ji Yanran, he suppressed his desire. If he starts any activity with them, he would be too worn out to go anywhere else. While he is still in control of himself, it is best to leave.

    Just as he was about to pacify them with a few words and slip out, Shan Rou materialized at the open door of the bedroom. A cold and emotionless face, she directed icily: Dong Kuang! Get out here! I need to talk to you.

    Up till this point in time, the Tian sisters still do not have a clear idea on the ambiguous relationship between Xiang Shaolong and Shan Rou. Traumatized, they kneeled down on the floor and beg for forgiveness from the real imposter wife.

    Shan Rou hurriedly explained: This does not concern you, please get up!

    Xiang Shaolong helplessly pacified them with a few words and ordered them to shower and rest. He then followed Shan Rou to her room next door.

    This inner chamber holds a total of four spacious rooms. The four of them have taken up three rooms, leaving one vacant. With her back facing him and her arms folded in front of her chest, she looked out of the window. Staring at the little garden illuminated by moonlight, she mentioned coldly: Xiang Shaolong, I cannot fall asleep!

    What?! Xiang Shaolong was bowled over.

    Stamping her feet, she unreasonably threatened:Are you deaf? Help me to fall asleep now!

    Xiang Shaolong moved his well-built body and attaches himself to her enticing backbone. Looping his two strong hands around her slender but alarmingly supple and flexible waist, he remembered their first encounter. She had mistaken him for Zhao Mu and carried out a fumbling and embarrassing assassination. Sweet feelings arise in his heart. Xiang Shaolong smooches her jade neck, he suggested: Allow me to undress you and coax my darling you into the deepest slumber?

    Shan Rou did not resist his invasion and harassment. Twisting her waist, she yelled: Who wants you to coax? You did not close your door and expose me to all your sweet talking. The noise unsettled my nerves and causes my insomnia!

    Stunned, Xiang Shaolong reasoned: If you have closed your own door, how would you have heard our whisperings?

    Shan Rous faced reddened. Maintaining her nonsense, she retorted: What has my doors opening or closing has to do with you?!

    Xiang Shaolong joked: Good Sister is jealous. Come! Let me also kiss your chirpy mouth and make them disorientated with our noise and cannot fall asleep!

    In a sharp turnabout, Shan Rou slithered out of his grasp like a slippery fish. She demanded: I am jumping mad and you are so thick-skinned to take advantage of me. Scram!

    Xiang Shaolong is gradually getting used to her unpredictable mood swings. Stretching in a yawn, he recalled his date with Talented Lady Ji. Passing her, he reached out his hand and patted her egg-liked face: Im scramming. In fact, I am scramming to the streets. Is Rou Rou contented?

    Displeased, Shan Rou enquired: Where are you going?

    Grinning bitterly, Xiang Shaolong answered: Do you think we are here on vacation? Do not forget your blood debt. To accomplish our goal, how can hubby not put in more effort?

    Stressed by her mission, Shan Rou kept quiet.

    Like a dragonfly skimming the water surface, Xiang Shaolong bypassed her full lips and pecked her lightly on her cheek. Wishing her a good night, he slipped out.

    Unexpected, Shan Rou kept on his tail tightly. Astonished, he stopped: What are you following me?

    Shan Rou replied naturally: I am your assistant and bodyguard. Logically, I have to escort you.

    Xiang Shaolong was at his ends. How to bring her to rendezvous with Ji Yanran?

    Turning around in the blink of an eye, he wanted grab her tender waist. Shan Rous hand made a sudden wave and a sharp dagger is pointing straight at his throat. The fast turn of events gave Xiang Shaolong a big scare.

    Proudly, she presents: Skilled enough to be your assistant?

    Assuming that the dagger is nonexistent, he tried to seize her breasts.

    Dismayed, she retreated and avoided his grasping palms, shouting: How dare you!

    Xiang Shaolong gave a hiss. I did what I did, what is the use of asking if I dared or not. You better comply and go back and sleep. If you disobey, I will divorce your immediately. A man will make good his word. Dont try my patience.

    Shan Rou stared at him ferociously. Evaluating his degree of seriousness, she eventually shrugged her shoulders in a cute manner and scolded: Since you begged me to sleep, I will! Whats the big deal anyway? And why do you keep mentioning about divorce!

    She turned around and returned to her room.

    Xiang Shaolong can sense the thoughtful part of her character, making him feel love and sympathy at the same time. As she stepped over the door ledge, he shouted: Rou Rou!

    Thinking that Xiang Shaolong had a change of heart and is willing to bring her along, she speedily turned her slim frame and cheered happily: Yes?

    Xiang Shaolong looked at this wonder woman with deep passion. Opening his arms, he called: Come! Let me hug you before you go back to sleep.

    Shan Rou glanced at him with disappointment. Two red clouds formed around her cheeks. Shooting him another furious look, her small, straight mouth let out a cold grunt. She entered her room and slammed the door shut.

    Thrilled, Xiang Shaolong gave a big laugh. He then left his home in the direction of Talented Lady Ji.
    Last edited by kohchun; 03-23-10 at 10:46 AM.

  9. #89
    Senior Member kohchun's Avatar
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    Book 8 Chapter 10 Surmounting Problems

    When Xiang Shaolong arrived at Liu (Huasheng) Residence, he felt extremely uneasy. It was because there is a huge increase in the number of guards and all the nearby houses have all been evacuated and converted into security posts.

    Based on this fact, it is evident that Lord Longyang has the backing of Zhao. If not, there is no way he can relocate the neighbours.

    The surrounding high points are all ambushed by reconnaissance troops and are very well-hidden. If Xiang Shaolong is not an expert in this field plus his familiarity of the neighbourhood, he may just rush head in.

    Lord Longyang is awfully obstinate. Swearing that Ji Yanran and Xiang Shaolong (not Dong Kuang) are keeping in touch, he has deployed more men and cast his net wide and big, hoping to catch Xiang Shaolong who is rumoured to be on his way back to Zhao.

    However, he has to admit that Lord Longyang has laid his bets on the correct stake. The only hiccup is that Lu Buwei and himself has, through Lord Yangquan (Lu Buweis Qin Court rival), tricked everyone who wishes to capture him. The fact that he has arrived much earlier makes it crucial to the success of his plan.

    After a thorough examination of the environment, he has a seventy percent probability of success if he tries to enter her room undetected. Still, the risk is too high to undertake. When he was about to quit, he heard the whistling sound of an arrow. A strong arrow shot out from Ji Yanrans loft and fly through the backyard, burying itself into a soldier laying in ambush on the high tree outside the wall.

    The receiver of this arrow fell from the tree and broke dozens of branches before he landed on the street with a loud pong! In terms of accuracy and arm strength, the shooter sends fear into ones heart.

    The nearby ambushers were thrown into confusion and did not know how to deal with the enemy archer from the loft. Two more cries were heard on the other side of the room. Two more men were shot and they slipped and fell head-down from different levels of the building onto the pavement.

    Under the mesmerizing moonlight, Ji Yanran appeared on the balcony of her loft. Dressed in a full black spying suit and holding a strong bow, she hollered: If there is anyone else who dare to peep at me Ji Yanran, I will kill without mercy.

    The ambushing soldiers were frightened by her posture and her sure-kill arrows. Everyone withdrew, especially those hiding at the higher positions.

    Xiang Shaolong was full of excitement. He could not imagine the usual gentle and scholarly Ji Yanran could be full of female prowess when provoked. Compared to Shan Rou, she do not lose even one bit. Without hesitation and while the enemys monitoring network is in chaos, he used his agile climbing skills and swiftly vaulted over the high wall. Travelling within the shadows, he arrived at the bottom of Ji Yanrans loft and sent out his secret signal.

    Ji Yanran was heard dismissing her maidservant.

    Xiang Shaolong knew that the obstacle is gone and he started climbing to the second floor with his back facing the street. Ji Yanran is already waiting at the door with a big welcome.

    This beauty leaped in for a full embrace. Both happy and annoyed, she chided: You should not have come amongst all these danger. I can hold out for one night right?

    Laughing, Xiang Shaolong explained: Beauty has commanded and regardless of danger and obstacles, it must be done. Moreover, one nights waiting is equivalent to three autumns (一晚已等若三秋). If Talented Lady cannot hold her desires and someone else took advantage of this, who can I find to settle the score?

    Ji Yanran is still dressed in her tight night outfit, revealing her full delicate curves, making Xiang Shaolong busy with his hands like a desperate lecher.

    This beauty was violated until her desires can be seen from her eyes. She groaned: I want to quit. I, Ji Yanran, would only yield to two men. It is either Dong Kuang or Xiang Shaolong. You are degrading me, humph!

    Both males and females are alike. Once their last line of defence has been broken, even virgins and gentlemen will pursue the need for sex. This is basic human nature and nothing to be surprised about.

    Somersaulting in the blankets, both of them are entangled in the peak of passion. The thought of danger right outside the room only serves to increase the excitement of the rendezvous.

    Until both of them are exhausted did all the heavy action started to slow down and stop.

    Still wearing his mask, Xiang Shaolong laid horizontally on the bed while the naked Ji Yanran has transformed into a warm and lovely little lamb. She rested on his board chest with her silky hair spread over his face and neck.

    Both of them do not want to spoil the peace and serenity of the loft and listened quietly to each others subsiding breath.

    The wind begins to blow harder outside the loft and the curtains rattled pi pah.

    The moon is gradually covered by dark clouds.

    Charmingly, Ji Yanran complained: You have harmed me and made me more and more wild. Yanran dare not look down on those loose and wanton women anymore.

    Xiang Shaolong could hear the howling wind outside. Affectionate and tenderly stroking her delicate back, he summarized what has happened in the past few days, including that of Tian sisters, Shan Rou and Zhao Ya.

    Hearing Shan Rous masquerading as his wife; the carefree Ji Yanran could not resist a bout of jealousy. That person should be Yanran! I also want to keep you company! She whined.

    Reassuring her, Xiang Shaolong observed: Tian Dan did not come with good intentions. He wants to stir up internal strife and weaken Zhao from within.

    Forgetting her whining, Yanran climbed up from his chest and shared his pillow. Kissing him, she painted: I have the same thinking too. Yan may even be instigated by him to attack Zhao in the first place. Qi shares its border with Zhao and Yan. If Tian Dan does not have any motives towards Zhao and Yan, even a kid will not believe it. Including the powerful Qin, no one is unafraid of Li Mu and Lian Po (Zhaos best generals fighting Xiong Nu and Yan respectively). If Tian Dan can borrow Zhao Mus hands and get rid of these two men, it would be his dream come true.

    Xiang Shaolong nodded his head, adding: King Xiaocheng may be muddle-headed but he still has the basic wisdom that Lian Li both generals are the pillars of Zhao and must not be shaken. But if Zhao Queen and Zhao Mu assassinates the Zhao King and takes over the state, this will be a different matter altogether.

    Ji Yanran surmised: Breaking all norms, Zhao Queen attended Zhao Mus banquet tonight. This may be Zhao Mus display of strength to Tian Dan, showing him that even the Queen has to listen to him.

    Continuing in a smile: Regarding Yanrans husband (Dong Kuang), it is also a point of contention between them. Fearing another Li Mu or Lian Po appearing, even the rare twin sisters have to be forced to change hands

    Xiang Shaolong is engrossed with her story. Patting her twice on the shoulder, he digged: Are you jealous, my darling?

    Ji Yanran gave a serious reply: Jealous to the max! Unless you come and accompany every other night, Oh! I am joking only. It is too dangerous.

    Xiang Shaolong felt a sensation in his heart. He bemoaned: I may find a solution to this problem. Hai! I have to go again. That Lord Longyang is coming over early in the morning. Id rather face thousands of soldiers in battle than to face this eyelid-batting and coquettish man no matter how womanly he is.

    Ji Yanran giggled: In Daliang (Weis Capital), there are tonnes of gay men who wish they could swallow him in their stomach. Are you taking things for granted?

    Upset, Xiang Shaolong whimpered: You are still making fun of me?

    Ji Yanran hurriedly gave him a sweet kiss and some passion as compensation.

    After another bout of entanglement, they both got dressed. Ji Yanran set off to distract the enemy to cover his departure.

    As the beauty was riding her horse out and looking for targets to vent her jealousy, he had long disappeared into thin air.

    Back at home, Teng Yi had yet to retire and was drinking by himself.

    Shaolong was amazed. Joining his for a couple of cups, he checked: Does second brother have any difficulties?

    Sighing, Teng Yi explained: When I saw Shan Rou, I thought of her sister. Before we left for Zhao, she got pregnant. How can I not be worried?

    Xiang Shaolong happily congratulated him. Then he apologised: It is my fault to take you away from Sister in law and also from witnessing your childs birth.

    Teng Yi chortled: We are brothers and these words are unnecessary. Even if we cannot make it back to Xianyang, I will not be the least upset. However, our emotions do fluctuate and stuck in such a boring place with no task in sight, I tend to let my mind wander. Do you really think I can abandon all thoughts and meditate my Mozi everyday for a few hours?

    Xiang Shaolong can finally detect some humanity in this iron man. Pleased, he proposed: There is a new task that needs your attention.

    Teng Yi solicited: What?

    Xiang Shaolong sniggered: Disguise as me!

    Still surprised, Teng Yi called: What? Comprehending, he asked: Xiang Shaolong or Dong Kuang?

    Xiang Shaolong leisurely answered: I will take responsibility for Dong Kuang. I only need second brother to use my flying needles to harm a few Zhao citizens. After that, leave a trail pretending that you are escaping to Wei. Once this is done, it will arouse everyones suspicions.

    Teng Yi nodded: You can let the big sized Wu Guo wear my disguise and the plan will be flawless. But why are you escaping to Wei instead of Xianyang?

    Xiang Shaolong concludes: This is my style, never returning until the mission is completed.

    Teng Yi confidently spoke: Who can understand you better than yourself? I will act as planned within the next ten days. In the wilderness, no one is my match.

    After further discussion, it is past four in the morning. On his way back to his room, he remembered the Tian sisters. Excited, he yawned and visited their room.

    Both girls were having sweet dreams and the bed is full of their scent. If he had not given his all on Ji Yanran, he would join them in bed. Now, all he can do is to give a longing sigh.

    Suddenly, it began to rain heavily.

    Xiang Shaolong frantically shut the windows and happened to hear Shan Rou closing the windows too.

    Xiang Shaolong could not resist his adoration for this wilful girl. Reaching her door, he knocked lightly twice. No response.

    Thinking how funny it is, he pushed open the door, entered and closed the door, latching it.

    In the fine bed, Shan Rou was pretending to be asleep.

    Thrilled with excitement, he slowly took off his clothes and weapons. Leaving only a pair of shorts, he lifted the blanket and was about to climb onto the bed. As expected, a gust of cold air blew into his face. Armed to the teeth, Shan Rou jumped up and pointed a dagger at his bare chest. Infuriated, she challenged: Are you going to use force on me?

    Xiang Shaolong reached out his hand and twisted the tip of the dagger. Moving aside, he cheered: Use force? Tonight is not appropriate. It will be dawn soon. Maybe tomorrow night! Now I only wish to hug my wife and have a short nap.

    Shan Rou could only watch has he yanked her dagger away and put it aside. Following that, his exploring hands squeezed her against his near naked body but she could not put up any resistance.

    Hugging her to sleep on the bed and covered with a blanket, he kissed her nice smelling face and enquired: Do you always sleep armed like that?

    Drumming with anger, Shan Rou offered: I trailed you secretly just now. You walk very fast and purposely find the hardest roof and tallest walls to climb. I was tired and lost track of you. If you promised to give me a set of scaling and climbing tools, Shan Rou will let you hug until the cows come home but you cannot take my virginity.

    Xiang Shaolong jumped. Giving her cheek another peck, he rejected: Whether you are agreeable or not, you must accompany me to sleep tonight.

    Shan Rou roared: I dare you to repeat what you just said!

    Xiang Shaolong gave up: Fine! I surrender. You want the wind, Ill give you wind. You want the rain, it is raining outside. Come! Let me kiss your lips and well sleep. Want me to undress you so that it is more comfortable to sleep?

    Flustered, Shan Rou stated: You dare! I sleep like this every night so that it is easier to run away!

    Xiang Shaolong was hit by a wave of realisation. Remembering that she was on the run for seven years, he felt fearful and gently coaxed: Come and sleep in my arms. This is the safest and most enjoyable place in the whole world.

    Shan Rou really yawned and closed her pretty eyes. Resting her face between his neck and shoulder, she begins to sleep deeply and made soft breathing sounds.

    Filled with a strong urge to sleep, Xiang Shaolong lost consciousness and entered dreamland.

    Not knowing how much time has passed, Xiang Shaolong suddenly woke up in a fluster.

    The sky has yet to brighten. In his embrace, the weeping Shan Rou is shouting for her Mum and Dad. Xiang Shaolong kissed her tears away. In a moment, this beautiful girl begins to quieten down. Apparently, she is having a nightmare.

    Xiang Shaolong is really dog-tired and resumed sleeping.

    When he woke up again, he could hear the Tian sisters wishing Shan Rou good morning. He then noticed that the person in his embrace has gotten up long ago.

    He overheard Shan Rou protesting softly: Let the Lord Longyang have a good wait! Our master slept late last night and must let him rest a while more.

    The Tian sisters would not dare to go her against her wishes and obediently complied.

    Xiang Shaolong jumped off the bed. The sky is brightly lit. Walking to the door, he commented: I have slept enough.

    Three pairs of eyes turned to his direction. Witnessing his topless and muscular built, the three faces turned red at the same time.

    The Tian sisters have seen quite a few naked men but it is Xiang Shaolongs body that made them lost their bearings. Making an excuse to retrieve the washing up tools, they make a quick exit.

    Xiang Shaolong put one hand around Shan Rous cute waist and invited: Accompany me to the farm?

    Shaking her head, Shan Rou rejected: Not today. I have something on.

    Xiang Shaolong frowned: Where are you going? You are now my wife. If you leak out our identity, we shall perish together.

    Shan Rous round almond eyes stared at him. Angrily, she boasted: Are you the only one who knows how to trick other people? Yesterday, I slipped out of the city and re-enter to look for you. Using the identity as your official wife, I was escorted in by the gate soldiers. Last night while you were out partying at the traitors place, Teng Yi and I had a good talk about our plans. I guarantee I am not someone who will give you away with just a normal interrogation.

    Xiang Shaolong could not defend himself from her attacks. Kissing her, he asked again: You have yet to say where you are headed to. Shyly, Shan Rou divulged: Zhi Zhi is accompanying me to the tailor and make some dresses. Otherwise, how I can dress up to match your status?

    As Xiang Shaolong is thinking over her words, Shan Rou took the chance and slipped away. Before she entered the corridor, she turned around pretended to speak sternly: Dont hug me every time we meet; I am not born for you to take advantage of!

    Disgruntled, Xiang Shaolong asked: Want me to coax you to sleep tonight?

    Let me think about it. Shan Rou answered cheekily and left laughing.

    Thought comforted at her happy disposition, Xiang Shaolong could not help feeling some fear.

    Carrying a bronze basin, the Tian sisters assisted him in washing up and changing.

    Continuing his earlier train of thought, Xiang Shaolong thought deeper about his conversation with Tian Dan.

    He is definitely too soft hearted and is not suitable to survive in this cold-blooded and unfeeling times. It is his soft-heartedness that all these girls come under his wing of care one by one. He has even released all his hatred for Zhao Ya and did not hold her betrayal to heart.

    In these times, anyone with power will be surrounded with wives, concubines, courtesans and maids. At the end of the day, he is still someone from a different time zone and a different mindset. At the beginning, he is overjoyed and tireless with all his companions. Now that he has more and more beauties around him and does not want to compromise the quality of each relationship, he starts to feel the surmounting problems.

    Not including the Tian sisters in his harem, he has Wu Tingfang, Zhao Qing and Ting Fangshi in Xianyang. Here, he has Ji Yanran, Zhao Zhi and Shan Rou. Despite having a lesser burden than Tang Bohu the Ming Dynasty playboy who has eight wives, he is still slightly overwhelmed. Making a silent vow, he will not get into any future love traps or he may die of exhaustion from his night activities.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tang_Bohu

    Li Mu has warned him about sex and alcohol running ones health but he has forgotten this great advice on many occasions.

    As his mind was wandering, Shan Rous voice can be heard asking in the corridor: Who are you?

    Wu Guo was heard answering: Madam! This is Weis Lord Longyang. He wanted to see if Master has woken up.

    Lord Longyangs eerie voice sounded: So it is Madam Dong who just came to Handan City.

    Afraid that Shan Rou may say something wrong; Xiang Shaolong groped the breasts of the Tian sisters for a moment and scampered out.

    Out of the blue, Shan Rou is acting like a gentle and mild-mannered wife, appropriately counteracting this gate-crasher Lord Longyang.

    Giving a loud laugh, Xiang Shaolong put on a false front and paid his respects to the beautiful Lord Longyang from afar. Lord Longyang was dressed in a snow white battle gown.

    Lord Longyangs phoenix eyes brightened. He apologised: I forgot that your wife has just arrived here plus you received a pair of beauties last night. I should have come later and not disturb your sweet dreams. Please forgive me.

    Xiang Shaolong was secretly fascinated by his consideration. To Shan Rou, he announced: Hubby and Lordship are leaving the city. The earliest I will return would be in the evening.

    Shan Rou submissively agreed.

    Xiang Shaolong caught the look of sympathy Wu Guo had for him and escorted Lord Longyang to the front hall.

    Lord Longyang smiled: Your wife is so exquisite. No wonder you are not interested in any of the beauties in Handan City.

    Xiang Shaolong does not know how to answer him. Giving two dry coughs, he avoided the question.

    Stepping out of his residence, he can feel the warm sunshine all over the place. Even the wet floor from last nights rain was completely dried up,

    Outside, there were nearly a hundred of Lord Longyangs personal bodyguards. Holding their horse, they waited patiently. Witnessing this display, Xiang Shaolong unconsciously shivered.

    Lord Longyangs fragrant shoulder leaned towards Xiang Shaolong. With a soft nudge, he explained tenderly: Now that the roads are unsafe, it is better to have more swords protecting the excursion.

    Smelling the flowery scent on Lord Longyangs clothes, Xiang Shaolong did not know whether it is good or bad.

    Before he left for Zhao, he had not foreseen the dramatic turn of events. Not only does he have to deal with women, he must also deal with this man. To make it worse, he cannot offend him.

    The complexity of Handans situation is getting out of hand.

    When can he successfully escape all this?

  10. #90
    Senior Member kohchun's Avatar
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    Book 9 Chapter 1: Ambush on the Narrow Gorge

    Xiang Shaolong and Lord Longyang rode out together out of the city, protected front and back by high skilled bodyguards.

    After receiving the news that Xiang Shaolong was about to arrive in Handan, the atmosphere in the city had been very tense, like a tightly drawn bowstring, forcing everyone not to be able to take a breather.

    Even though everyone was itching for a fight, seemingly very confident, but everyone was afraid that they will be one of the unlucky ones.

    From this it could be seen that he had built a god-like reputation, no one dared to underestimate him.

    Lord Longyang brought his horse nearer to him and said, “Why haven’t I seen Long Shan?”

    Xiang Shaolong secretly commended Lord Longyang for being observant.

    During this dangerous warring period, everyone was always vigilant. If it was any other influential officials, if they had someone as powerful as Teng Yi, they would want him close by to protect them twelve hours of the day. So when Xiang Shaolong went out without him close by was really something out of the ordinary.

    He smiled, “This is my first time to a big city. So with all the excitement to go shopping, I wouldn’t feel right without someone to accompany me.”

    Lord Longyang was only asking out of curiosity and not because of some suspicions, changing his topics, “Li Yuan sees Brother Dong as number one rival in love. He has misunderstood your intentions. It’s truly outrageous.”

    Xiang Shaolong was confused, “My Lord, why do you say this?”

    Lord Longyang smiled, “The person that Ji Yanran is in love with is Xiang Shaolong. Oh! Maybe, Yanran, herself, hasn’t realised. The expression on her eyes when she’s looking at Shaolong compared to when she’s looking at others is totally different. Maybe at that time, she hadn’t realised yet that she had fallen in love with Xiang Shaolong, but I had known for sure.”

    Xiang Shaolong’s heart trembled in fear. This Lord Longyang is definitely someone with sharp observation skill. If he’s not careful, he might accidentally reveal his identity from the slight tip of his eyebrow. He must be constantly alert around him. Lord Longyang grunted, “I don’t believe that Ji Yanran and Xiang Shaolong didn’t already have a secret agreement. As long as we observed Ji Yanran closely, we can surely lure Xiang Shaolong out.”

    Xiang Shaolong frowned, “Didn’t you also want to take care of Learned Lady Ji?”

    Lord Longyang sighed, “I have always viewed her as an irreplaceable friend. She fell in love with Xiang Shaolong is a natural thing. Mister Dong hasn’t yet seen Xiang Shaolong, he is someone with out of this world talents. Regardless of his style of conversation, insight, heart or spirit, they are all distinctive amongst us. I, myself, would like to be his friend, if we weren’t already standing on the opposite grounds as enemies. But now, I have to find any way to assassinate him regardless of how unscrupulous it might be.”

    Xiang Shaolong intentionally probed him out, “Even though I know that I don’t have an ounce of hope of attaining Learned Lady Ji, but I felt that she has high regard of me. Hey! According to your observation, how does it compare when she looks at me compared to looking at Xiang Shaolong?”

    Lord Longyang nodded, “She truly regards you highly. That’s for sure. The problem is she is a once and one type of person, unlike that promiscuous Lady Ya. Xiang Shaolong had the advantage of entering her heart first, you and Li Yuan would be better off to forget about her.”

    Xiang Shaolong laughed, “The situation doesn’t seem hopeless yet. We have someone as powerful as you here, My Lord, to take care of Xiang Shaolong. We can already count down the days that he stayed alive. At that time, wouldn’t Learned Lady Ji need to start searching for another person?”

    Lord Longyang smiled bitterly, “The fact has proven that everyone who underestimates Xiang Shaolong will end up on the losing ground. No matter how the Zhaos tried to arrange everything, I still believe that Xiang Shaolong would have ingenious plan to sneak into Handan. With the craftiness of both Lu Buwei and Xiang Shaolong, how could they have leaked their whereabouts to the other hostile party in Qin, there must be some trap in there.”

    Xiang Shaolong trembled in fear.

    He started to realise that this Lord Longyang isn’t a simple person. No wonder he could become Lord Xinling’s formidable adversary.

    Amongst all of the countries’ influential politicians here in Handan, beside the heavyweight class Tian Dan, Lord Longyang also needed to be counted in.

    But his weakness is: Hey! It seems like he has fallen in love with himself, so he has confided in himself, hoping to win Xiang Shaolong’s good favour. Oh my God! This is such a complete mess. Such complicated situation!

    At that time, they had left the Handan city far away, riding along the government road towards the Hidden Army Valley, surrounded from both sides with tall mountains in the open countries in the autumn weather, with withered and fallen leaves.

    Lord Longyang’s underlings were all seemingly like they have reached the countryside relaxing and stretching their muscles. Lord Longyang saw Xiang Shaolong was quiet without a word, knew that he was pondering his words previously, joyfully continued, “Xiang Shaolong has three important enemies: King Xiaocheng, Zhao Mu and Guo Zhong. As long as Xiang Shaolong is alive, I am afraid that these three people wouldn’t be able to sleep peacefully.”

    Xiang Shaolong was suddenly filled with uneasy feelings. This was called a soldier’s alertness. It didn’t need a factual proof for a reason.

    This time, they were about to enter one of the small narrow gorge towards the Hidden Army Valley. Both sides were surrounded with dense thick forest. If there was an ambush, this would be the idealist place for it.

    Xiang Shaolong swiftly stopped his horse.

    Lord Longyang continued for another ten or more steps before noticing it and looked back, filled with confusion, “Is there a problem, Mister?”

    When the rest noticed that Lord Longyang had stopped his horse, they all followed his lead.

    Xiang Shaolong continued gazing towards the entrance of the narrow gorge, frowned, “Have you and Xiang Shaolong ever celebrate a festival before?”

    Lord Longyang was slightly surprised, turned his horse’s head to follow his gaze towards the narrow gorge, ordered his underlings, “Go open the road for me!” More than ten riders rode out from amongst the crowd towards the narrow gorge.

    Those persons’ shields were all hanging on the side of their horses. Apparently, they didn’t believe that there would be someone waiting to ambush them.

    Xiang Shaolong was also extremely puzzled, who would want to take care of Lord Longyang? Could it that he’s being overly cautious, raising a false alarm?

    Lord Longyang relaxed a little as he saw his underlings entered the gorge, smiled, “If Xiang Shaolong came to take care of me, then there must be some kind of misunderstanding. Otherwise, how would he know that I will go to the Hidden Army Valley today?” Xiang Shaolong’s uneasiness was growing by the minute.

    After exercising the meditation method according to the Mohist Addendum, his sixth sense had become sharper. It had repeatedly saved him from dangerous situations, otherwise he might still be nursing his grievances back in Xianyang.

    Even though the autumn sun was still hanging low in the sky, but he could feel the chill in the air.

    Lord Longyang shouted, “Have you clearly thought about what I told you before, Mister Dong?”

    Xiang Shaolong felt a headache coming, changed a topic, “How come your underlings haven’t come back yet?” Even before the words finished spoken, crying sounds could be heard. One of his famous swordsman underling appeared from the gorge, waved from far away indicating that everything’s alright.

    Xiang Shaolong was embarrassed for being overly suspicious.

    On the contrary, Lord Longyang consoled him, “It’s never wrong to be more careful! I admired Mister Dong alertness!”

    Everyone continued riding towards the gorge.

    Lord Longyang spoke in his soft and sweet tone, “Mister, have you ever ponder over our current war and what you would do to establish a long-lasting career for yourself?”

    Xiang Shaolong was amazed at his craftiness. This person definitely has a sharp intelligence, something that most people have long been lacking in this period. He had seen that he’s not the type of person who’d be happy raising horses his whole life. That’s why he uttered these words.

    When they were about 100 steps from the entrance, Xiang Shaolong suddenly felt alarmed again. But he could only indistinctly catch a blurry shadow and nothing concrete.

    He casually replied, “Besides rearing horses, I know nothing about the art of war. Just based on fierceness, how could I lead the three armies through the desert?”

    Lord Longyang smiled, “Mister doesn’t have to be modest. Just from looking at how you’ve been trained and that you have no fear of death, I know that you have the talent to be a famous general, otherwise, Tian Dan would have ignored you.”

    Now, they were about 50 more steps from the entrance, the front guards had started to enter the gorge.

    An idea suddenly flashed through Xiang Shaolong’s mind. He whipped his horse and shouted, “Quick! Turn around!” Now he realised the reason for his uneasiness.

    Lord Longyang’s underling that passed the safe signal before quickly returned the gorge after signalling. It just didn’t make sense. Inside the gorge, there were 10 more Lord Longyang’s personal bodyguards. As a reconnaissance team, they should have guard the entrance and exit of the gorge, along with all of the strategic points inside the gorge until Lord Longyang passed through before withdrawing their position. Otherwise, if the enemies ambush from the entrance and the exit, wouldn’t they be surrounded and died inside? Xiang Shaolong also wasn’t basing this from the carelessness of Lord Longyang’s underling alone but because he had been on guard the whole time, he finally realised that if his enemy was planning on ambushing them there, they wouldn’t have placed anyone in the dangerous zone. That’s why he quickly rushed back in.

    This time, Lord Longyang and his four personal bodyguards all frowned at him. They all felt that he’s being too extremely cautious.

    The front guards ignored his warning and kept on riding into the entrance.

    Lord Longyang forcefully reined in his horse to be polite. As he was about to speak, a tragic scream could be heard faintly coming from the gorge.

    Everyone’s face paled. Suddenly, a stream of enemies flow out from inside the gorge, each one of them was holding a crossbow and arrows, and stringing them on. The front group of 10 or more soldiers jumped off their horse and prepared a frontline defence.

    At the same time, killing shouts could be from all four corners.

    From both sides of the dense forest, the enemies flowed out. In an instant, enemies could be seen everywhere.

    All of these people dressed as common people. As far as the eyes could see, there must be at least several hundred people. Lord Longyang personal guards, even though they were elite soldiers who have experienced hundred battles, but there were many enemies compared to them. Crossbows were also hard to guard against. Without any time to prepare, they’ve been ambushed and were now in complete disarray.

    Xiang Shaolong ducked down and avoided two arrows but from underneath, he could hear a pitiful neigh and the horse reared up.

    He didn’t even get a chance to see where his horse had been shot, both feet fiercely kicked off, forcing him to lean sideways and fell off the saddle. He leaped across towards Lord Longyang, held on his waist and leaped off the horse. Both fell on the bushes on the side of the road. Lord Longyang’s saddle had long fallen off the horse, it was filled with arrows.

    Lord Longyang was the enemy’s main goal.

    His number one underlings, Jiao Xu, and other unhurt underlings all jumped off their horse and rushed in to protect Lord Longyang.

    Lord Longyang was about to join in the fight when Xiang Shaolong dragged him back to the forest. Surrounded on all four sides with battles, all around killing sounds can be heard. The enemies had finished their first batch of arrows and hurrying to reload their arrows. This was exactly the perfect time to escape.

    Wind of swords swished through.

    Xiang Shaolong’s back was leaning against the grass. He moved his two feet, continuously pressuring the enemies back.

    Those two people screamed in agony. While trying to scramble away, they rushed into three other attacking enemies.

    “Clang!” Xiang Shaolong pulled out his long sword out of the sheath, followed with two people spilled their blood.

    When he leaped up, Lord Longyang shook out of his reverie, pulled out his sword and sprung forward. “Swish!” His sword flew like a water dragon, slaying two rushing enemies instantly.

    Jiao Xu and the other ten more guards fought and retreated at the same time towards the forest while protecting them both.

    Xiang Shaolong knew that they were in danger just from looking that they were surrounded on all sides by the enemies. He quickly determined the best way to break out of the enemy’s barricade, shouted, “Follow me!” He waved around Blood Wave, leaving behind layers of the sword’s shadows, leading the way out of the barricade and deep into the forest.

    His swordsman skill was superb. His strength surprised others. Moreover, inside the forest, the enemies were unable to take advantage of their numbers to crush them. They were truly swept over by the wind.

    “Dang!” One of the enemy was chopped off by him to the point of scaring away all of the onrushing enemies.

    But this scene would only last for a second before the reinforcement arrived and countless enemies rushed forward again.

    Xiang Shaolong entered the Mohist’s defensive mind, calmly leading Lord Longyang and the others deeply into the forest, even killing seven eight enemies on the way.

    Xiang Shaolong took advantage of this time to observe Lord Longyang and the others.

    At this time, besides Jiao Xu, there were only seven people left following them. Everyone of them was badly injured. The situation was extremely dangerous.
    But the enemies kept coming like tidal wave.

    Even though Lord Longyang forged ahead courageously, but he was covered in blood. Not sure though whether it’s his blood or the enemies’ blood splashed onto him.

    His right back shoulder was blotched bright red.

    Xiang Shaolong wildly shouted, swung his sword backhand and penetrated the abdomen of the raid soldier, followed with a flick of his wrist to fend off an attack from the left side. While the opponent dodged his attack, in that instant of gap, he continuously attacked, wildly stabbed, and hardly penetrated the enemy’s chest.
    When the enemies saw how brutal he can be, they all retreated, allowing him to enter by several meters.

    “Peng!” Lord Longyang staggered and bumped into his back. It seemed like he’d been injured again by the enemy’s poisonous hand.

    Xiang Shaolong shouted loudly, “Don’t worry about me!” He waved his sword, killing another attacker.

    “Argh!” One of the guard injured badly and toppled over, the situation had just become more critical.

    Xiang Shaolong’s Blood Wave sword was like a lightning. Within a move, an enemy instantly met with a violent death. He fiercely pulled Lord Longyang, at the same time, he called out to Jiao Xu and the rest, “Follow me!” Forcing his way into the left side of the enemy’s net, he repeatedly waved his Blood Wave, forcing the enemy to retreat one by one.

    During this time when they were bathed in blood like the war, Xiang Shaolong displayed his boldness, strong stamina and his years of strict training as an elite soldier. He was like a never tiring machine, moving freely amongst the enemy formation.

    Amongst all this, he still didn’t forget to examine all four surroundings. He saw on the left hand side, not far away, there was a slope road. That’s why he called Lord Longyang and the others to follow him to break through the formation.
    One move of attacking to defend executed quickly and violently.

    “Argh!” The enemy’s sword was split in half. While he was shocked, Xiang Shaolong moved sideways and kicked him, causing him to spewed out blood repeatedly and felt on the big tree behind him.

    Xiang Shaolong dodged right and left, swung backward and stabbed the left chest of the enemy that tried to surprise attack him from behind. While at the same time, he moved and tackled the enemy till he tumbled down and met the earth.
    Up till now, he had succeeded in breaking out and killing all the way to the edge of the slope. The pressure had been reduced. Gazing downward, he saw a strong flowing river.

    Xiang Shaolong was overjoyed. He turned back, pulled out his sword swiftly and broke into the formation surrounding Lord Longyang, Jiao Xu and the rest. Amongst them, one was at the end of his life.

    Xiang Shaolong used his sword to forcefully sweep away his enemies, shouted, “Jump down! That’s the only way to escape with your life.” He turned around and pounced on Lord Longyang, grabbing his waist and rolling down the slope, not knowing how many branches and leaves they’ve broken and smashed along the way.

    Jiao Xu and the other five bodyguards dared not hesitate. All followed his way and rolled down the hills. “Splash... splash...” All eight people fell into the river successively, instantly dying the river blood red.

    Xiang Shaolong grabbed hold of Lord Longyang and swam away following the river’s currents. Before long, they had left the place far away.

    The enemy pursued by following along the river.

    Up the front, the water noise grew louder like an exploding volcano.

    Before anyone realised what’s happening, the currents were moving faster and faster. Unexpectedly they had reached the edge of around 7 metres high waterfall. They immediately fell onto the pool below following the waterfall.
    When everyone was still recovering from the high fall, the current brought them away again. The enemies’ shout was growing quieter as the distance grew.
    When Xiang Shaolong, Lord Longyang and the rest met the Zhaos convoys, it was already midnight. (三更means the time between 11-1pm so midnight would closely reflect that in here).

    Even though the injuries had been properly bind up, but because everyone had lost a lot of blood and was tired, they all looked pale and exhausted. Two amongst them even had a fever which required immediate attention.

    Zhao Mu, Le Cheng and the rest had already received the news and were waiting anxiously on the gate.

    Zhao Mu and Lord Longyang had always had a private agreement between each other, while Xiang Shaolong was his hope of ascending the throne. His heart was burning with worry. On the other hand, if Le Cheng, acting as Handan’s guardian’s general, allowed anything to happen to this important Wei’s official, Lord Longyang, it would be hard for him not to get blamed for it. So, both of them were equally anxious and worried.

    Both Zhao Mu and Le Cheng scrambled forward towards Xiang Shaolong and Lord Longyang’s horse cart. When they saw both of their appearance, even though a little bit shocking, but since there wasn’t any fatal injury, they were both able to breathe a sigh of relief.

    Lord Longyang was secretly watching Xiang Shaolong affectionately, strenuously uttered, “If it wasn’t for Mister Dong risking his life to save mine, I wouldn’t have any left to meet you two anymore.”

    Xiang Shaolong smiled bitterly.

    It could be said that Lord Longyang is his number one mortal enemy, but at that time, there was no time to think about this problem, even if he had this idea, he wouldn’t be able to not rescue him when he saw it. This was so like what Tian Dan had analysed, “Softhearted,” is truly his biggest weakness. Le Cheng heavily said, “Did you see Xiang Shaolong?”

    Xiang Shaolong and Lord Longyang were both astounded.

    The latter frowned, “It doesn’t seem like it was Xiang Shaolong. But during those chaotic situation, we only cared about escaping, using the river to escape, and didn’t have the time to see clearly who the enemy might be.”

    Le Cheng replied, “I’ve already sent out soldiers to seal off all roads and scout the area. Hopefully, we will receive the good news soon to report to my Lord.”

    Lord Longyang and Xiang Shaolong knew that he didn’t have any confidence of this just from listening to his tone.

    The raiding party surprisingly was able to slip within 15kms of the area surroundings Handan in great secrecy. It wouldn’t surprise them if they had already prepared an escape route.

    But who would want to get rid of Lord Longyang? Xiang Shaolong of course knew that it wasn’t he himself who was responsible.

    Lord Longyang wasn’t sure whether the reason why he wasn’t interested in speaking up was due to the injuries he had sustained.

    Both Zhao Mu and Le Cheng personally escort Lord Longyang and Xiang Shaolong separately returning to their residence.

    Shan Rou and the Tian sisters had long heard of the news and were both waiting in front of the gate to welcome him home.

    Le Cheng then took leave.

    Shan Rou complained, “If I knew, I would have come with you!” Wu Guo was confused, “Who did it?”

    Tian Zhen and Tian Feng supported him inside towards the inner chamber. Both sisters had long been crying till their eyes were red and swollen.

    Xiang Shaolong bitterly smiled, “Let me rest a little bit before I will explain everything clearly to you, alright?”

    Suddenly, he remembered the circumstance of which Lord Longyang’s underling lured them into entering the gorge.

    He trembled when he realised who probably would like to assassinate Lord Longyang.

    No wonder he’s got that long face.

  11. #91
    Senior Member kohchun's Avatar
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    Book 9 Chapter 02 – Faking injury

    While the Tian sisters and Shan Rou were frantically dressing the wounds on Xiang Shaolong, he had a brainwave. To Wu Guo he inquired: “If there any where to make me look even worse? I want to give others the impression that I am so badly injured that I cannot even get up! ” Scratching his head for a while, the impatient Shan Rou cut in: “Let me disguise you like a corpse and scare the he11 out of everyone who sees you.”

    Tian Zhen and Tian Feng could not hold their giggles.

    Xiang Shaolong explored: “That is not enough. It is best to make me bleed non-stop or even a high fever all over my body.”

    Tian Feng chuckled: “Leave this to us sisters. Just hide heat pads under the blanket.”

    Shan Rou and Wu Guo looked at each other before they both turned to him. They cannot comprehend what tricks is he up to?

    Xiang Shaolong commanded Wu Guo: “At dawn, send someone out of the city and invite Big Brother and Little Jun back with half of our forces. At the same time, bring someone to see me immediately. ”

    He then taught him how to liaise with Pu Bu.

    Knowing that Xiang Shaolong is going into action, Wu Guo left happily. The Tian sisters started working on the heat pad. Shan Rou sat by the bed and personally applied a layer of white powder on his mask. Frowning, she whined: “Aren’t you going to tell me what you are up to?” Instead, Xiang Shaolong’s mind is on another subject. Shaking his head, he protested: “This 5ucks. If someone touches my face, their hands will be stained by the powder and everyone will know that I am faking my injuries. ”

    Paying no heed to his words, Shan Rou left the room and came back shortly with a full haversack. In a cold and negative manner, she demanded: “This is not my problem. Quickly tell me your plans. Otherwise, I will not display my best skill and help you to fake your injuries.”

    Xiang Shaolong bitterly laughed: “Work on the injuries first. If delayed and I have visitors, the scheme will fall apart.”

    Pouting, Shan Rou held her obvious anger and produced several bottles of different sizes from her haversack. She poured liquids from them and started to mix them in a separate basin.

    Xiang Shaolong reached out his hand and caressed her elastic and smooth legs. Shan Rou exclaimed: “I want to kill a man! But I cannot disclose who he is yet!” Shan Rou’s slender body trembled slightly and gazed towards him.

    The sky has yet to brighten when King Xiaocheng descended upon his residence with his entourage. Seeing his corpse-like look and with a temperature running, King Xiaocheng was terrified. He cried: “Subject Dong! They had said your injuries are not serious. This won’t do! I must summon the Imperial Physician to attend to you.”
    Now, it is Xiang Shaolong’s turn to be shocked. In a hoarse voice, he frantically replied: “I am deeply grateful for Your Majesty’s benevolence. I caught a bad chill when I fell into the river and lost a lot of blood to end up in this state. I will need only a few days rest to get back to my feet. Moreover, I have subordinates who are well-versed in medicine and I am used to their prescriptions. If we change the medication, I am afraid of side effects. Ai!”

    He pretended to cry out and even showed his blood-stained blanket and his open wound on the shoulder.

    King Xiaocheng was amazed that he was more severely injured than Lord Longyang. Thinking for a while, his eyes turned ferocious and interrogated: “Did you catch a glimpse of Xiang Shaolong?” Swerving around and patting his head, he added: “I was not thinking clearly and have forgotten that you have never seen this traitor.”

    Xiang Shaolong was tickled.

    After a moment a silence, he praised: “On this fateful trip, it is all thanks to Subject Dong protection of Lord Longyang or he will surely lose his life. If he died, how am I to account for it to King Anli? And the hope of an alliance treaty will also go up in smoke.”

    Xiang Shaolong could only smile sourly.

    He originally came to Handan to kill but under the unique circumstances, he saved the lives of Zhao Mu and Lord Longyang. Right now, even he does not believe that he is Xiang Shaolong, much less others.

    He purposely investigates: “Your Majesty has probably visited Lord Longyang; did he say that he saw Xiang Shaolong?” King Xiaocheng shook his head and replied: “Lord Longyang is almost as badly injured as you. His spirits are very low and he refuses to say anything. But except for Xiang Shaolong, no one is that powerful. And only he can access information in Handan from spies. Now that he is the ba5tard of Qin, he would naturally fight against the five other states.” Sensing his tone, Xiang Shaolong recognized that King Xiaocheng does not consider the State of Yan to be an ally or an equal. He deduced that Zhao King has not succumbed to the pressures of Li Yuan and Tian Dan.

    King Xiaocheng can see that Xiang Shaolong has difficulties opening his eyes. Patting his feverish shoulder, he promised: “Subject Dong please rest well. I will send some rare medicine for external injuries.”

    Standing up, he continued: “Your abilities are not limited to horse-breeding. I will give you more responsibilities in the future.”

    After King Xiaocheng left, Xiang Shaolong could not hold back his exhaustion and truly fell into deep slumber. In his sleep, he can sense human activity and visitors to his bedside. Wu Guo is always present and naturally described his injuries in detail and exaggerating some facts. Actually, he needs not say anything. The heavy smell of medication and the “bleeding” open wound is sufficient to paint a bleak picture.

    At the appointed time, Pu Bu arrived.

    Xiang Shaolong was in high spirits and they had a good talk. The attendant reported that Zhao Ya is here to visit him and Pu Bu hurriedly left from the back door.

    Zhao Ya moved to his bedside and put her hand on his steaming forehead. Startled, she withdrew her hand and exclaimed: “You are sick!”

    Opening his eyes by half, Xiang Shaolong replied: “It’s ok! I will be fine after two days of sleep!”

    Scrutinising his complexion, she sighed: “Luckily, there is still energy in your eyes. Otherwise, it would be disastrous.”

    Xiang Shaolong was shaken, knowing that Zhao Ya had seen the only loophole. Fortunately, she had yet to raise any suspicions. He was puzzled at her calmness over the “Xiang Shaolong reappearance” and tested: “Seems like Xiang Shaolong came to Handan earlier; or else your old man (himself) would have caught him.” Zhao Ya cocked her head and softly analyzed: “The assassination of Lord Longyang can be masterminded by Tian Dan, Li Yuan, Zhao Mu or even Prince Xinling but it will never be Xiang Shaolong. I know him too well. Unless it is his sworn enemy, he will never kill. Lord Longyang did not have any enmity with him and he will not raise the alarm with such a meaningless act.”

    Xiang Shaolong is astonished at Zhao Ya’s attention to such minute details. Feelings started to swell up again in him. Knowing that he is a good man, why did she still conspire with King Xiaocheng and Zhao Mu to harm him?

    Xiang Shaolong has suspected it was Prince Xinling’s assassination plot but after Zhao Ya’s explanation, he started to waver on his earlier conclusions.

    Zhao Mu is definitely out of the picture. Li Yuan and Tian Dan are the main suspects as they have a strong motive. The power struggle in Wei is the Wei King and Lord Longyang versus Prince Xinling. In addition, Lord Longyang is the heir to Anli (Wei King). If anything befalls him, Anli will lay the blame on Prince Xinling and fight him to death.

    When Wei descends into chaos, the main beneficiaries are Qi and Chu who are opposed to the three-state ally.

    Now that Qin is disunited and are not preparing any offensive campaigns, this is the best time for the rest of the states to display their strengths.

    Remembering the Lu Gong secret manual, he derided: “Xiang Shaolong may be working with Prince Xinling to deal with Lord Longyang.” Zhao Ya factually countered: “Prince Xinling could not wait to tear Xiang Shaolong apart and drink his fresh blood. Xiang Shaolong is also someone who will not bow to his command. How can there be such a possibility?”

    Xiang Shaolong pretended to be surprised and asked: “What event has caused this enmity?” Craftily, Zhao Ya whispered: “This is a secret. Mister has yet to fulfil his obligation. Once you succeed, I will tell you everything I know.”

    Xiang Shaolong was hopping mad but was touched by her appreciation. He closed his eye and sighed: “I am getting tired. Thank you Princess for your care and concern.”

    Zhao Ya did not want to leave after such a short visit. She stood up reluctantly but leaned forward towards Xiang Shaolong. She lowered her petite head and kissed him fully on his lips, her tongue snaking out.

    Xiang Shaolong is afraid she may detect his scent. He changed his style and attacked her flexible tongue roughly. He used a lot of force and grabbed her breasts wildly.

    Unexpectedly, Zhao Ya did not mind his uncouth manners and lie down and begin tussling with him lustfully.

    As things are getting out of hand, Zhao Ya aggressively retreated. Red-faced, she shrieked: “No! You cannot lose control now.” Giving him a look, promised: “Once you are well, I will let you do whatever you want to me!”

    Old feelings swelled up in Xiang Shaolong, making him horni. Sighing lightly, he apologised: “Please forgive subject for being unable to send Princess out.”

    Curling her eyelashes in a smile, she sashayed off. Just as she stepped out, Ji Yanran’s entourage arrived. Seeing his devastated condition, hot tears poured out from her eyes. When the truth is revealed, her sadness turned into glee.

    Sitting on his bed hugging his sweet-smelling belle, he enquired: “Have you seen Lord Longyang?” Ji Yanran happily commented: “You are really farsighted. Nothing can escape your eyes. Hai! Though I am your wife, I am the last to know about your injuries. I was terribly anxious but still have to force myself to visit that cross-dressing fellow first to avoid suspicion. There is more to come. When I come to visit my husband, I have to be interrogated by that wild b1tch who is masquerading as your wife. My hubby! You must decide for me and give me the justice I deserved.” Xiang Shaolong could feel his headache expanding. He slipped both his hands into the clothes and started to fondle, hoping to distract her. Changing the topic, he disclosed: “Before the attack, Lord Longyang confided in me. He told me to give up on you for the person Talented Lady Ji has fallen for is not Dong Kuang, nor Li Yuan, but the number one enemy of the six states Xiang Shaolong.”

    Under his daring fondling, Ji Yanran moaned: “Number one enemy of the Six States, Shaolong’s words are indeed fresh and creative. Oh! No wonder Lord Longyang is focusing all his attention on me. Ai! Shaolong! Are you trying to kill me? Ah! If this goes on, I am going to want you right now.”

    Xiang Shaolong frightfully withdrew his hands; he has to be “ready” for potential visitors.

    Ji Yanran lied on his body with her face red like embers. She groaned: “Has Shaolong concluded who is the mastermind behind the assassination?” Xiang Shaolong stroked her fair back and replied: “I wish to seek the wisdom of Talented Lady.”

    Biting his ear in return, she answered: “The biggest suspect would be Prince Xinling. He will definitely send people to retrieve the Lu Gong Secret Manual stolen by you. As a matter of fact, everyone here would love to lay their hands on the manual.”

    Stressed, Xiang Shaolong suggested: “If the manual is with Guo Zhong, then Li Yuan would have proposed marriage to Guo Xiu’er.”

    Straightening her beautiful posture, Ji Yanran proudly proclaimed: “If I make Li Yuan give up hope, he will marry her straight away”

    It finally dawned on Xiang Shaolong. For a top quality beauty like Guo Xiu’er, there would be no lack of suitors. The only issue is the status in society.

    Guo Zhong will never let his daughter marry down and even much less of becoming a concubine.

    Ji Yanran holds a more prestigious status than Guo Xiu’er. If Li Yuan won her heart, she would be his official wife. If Li Yuan sealed his marriage with Guo Xiu’er, Ji Yanran will never marry him. This is precisely his present dilemma.

    Recalling earlier events, she suspiciously judged: “I think hubby is better than Lu Gong. Even Lu Ban may not be able to design the first class climbing tools you possess.”

    Xiang Shaolong felt guilty and shared a passionate kiss with Ji Yanran. Using an excuse to visit the injured Xiang Shaolong, Wu Zhuo arrived with a huge force.

    After Ji Yanran left in the most reluctant manner, Wu Zhuo, Jing Jun, Wu Guo and Shan Rou gathered in a secret room for a discussion.Zhao Zhi also came early and entered the room with the rest.

    After they are settled in their seats, Xiang Shaolong jested: “If Le Cheng lost his head to a band of masked fighters tonight, who will the public will speculate the killers to be?” Everyone shook with excitement and stared at him with bewilderment.

    His actions are beyond comprehension.

    Shan Rou and Zhao Zhi cried: “Ah!”

    Zhao Zhi reached out and grabbed Shan Rou’s hands tightly, her eyes reddened with emotion.

    Jing Jun was puzzled: “Does two sister-in-laws have an enmity with Le Cheng?” Xiang Shaolong sighed to himself. Le Cheng is Zhao Mu’s right hand man. How can he not play a part in Zhao Mu’s devious schemes?

    Zhao Zhi heard this kid addressing him as sister-in-law sincerely and was pleased. She took a quick glance and him before lowering her embarrassed face.

    Shan Rou put on a satisfied look with her “sister in law” title. Her eyes flashed and recalled: “The person who came to arrest my family is indeed Le Cheng, he even... Ai!” She sadly lowered her head and announced: “I wish to stop bringing up the past!” Suddenly, she raised her head. Gritting her teeth, she swore: “I must cut down his head personally.” Wu Zhuo seriously questioned: “Does third brother really has confidence? Le Cheng is a crafty and cowardly character. He is heavily protected by able fighters at all times. Now that the city is in a state of alert, it will make the task much harder.”

    Full of confidence, Xiang Shaolong said: “If you can do what others cannot, life is more interesting. Assassination is based on strategy, not numbers. If we can accurately understand his movement, we can devise a brilliant operation that will enable us to make a silent attack and retreat.”

    Wu Zhuo is still hesitant and added: “Would this raise the alarm and reveal out whereabouts in Handan City?” “Coward!” Shan Rou despising scolded.

    Wu Zhuo’s face darkened. He is a proud warrior and cannot tolerate such words at him, moreover the person who said it was a female. Zhao Zhi was horrified and tugged at Shan Rou’s shoulders with blame.

    Upset, Xiang Shaolong roared: “I respect Big Brother Wu the most! You crossed your line of authority, apologise now!”

    Shan Rou knew she was too much but she gave a meek laugh and corrected: “I am not talking about Big Brother Wu. I saw Little Jun trembling and scolded him for being a coward, causing the misunderstanding.”

    Jing Jun eyes widened and was about to protest that he was wronged. Catching Zhao Zhi’s wink, he could only keep quiet and took the blame for Shan Rou.

    How can Wu Zhuo hold it against her? For Shan Rou case, this is as good as an apology. Shaking his head, he could only clarify: “I am never one to shy from danger. I only wish to emphasize on the important issues and make sure that we do not be penny wise and pound foolish.”

    Jing Jun place a lot of importance in family relations. He helped to speak up for Shan Rou: “I am truly the coward. Big Brother Wu is courageous and majestic. He is fearless in the most fearful situation.”

    Everyone is amused by his exaggeration and the atmosphere lightened up.

    Xiang Shaolong analyzed: “Le Cheng is a dangerous man. If he acts, we can be annihilated. The big question is where his loyalty lies. Is he still loyal to Zhao Mu or has he been bought over by King Xiaocheng? Most likely he is only true to himself. Like the grass on the wall, it will bend towards whichever strong wind that it blowing.”

    While waiting for them to digest his words, he continued: “If Zhao Mu wants to rebel tomorrow, he will expose our relationship with him to Le Cheng to increase his confidence. This will make it easier to deploy his men but it will be very dangerous at the same time. Do you understand my meaning?” Shan Rou, Zhao Zhi, Wu Guo and Jing Jun frowned deeply, not being able to catch the underlying meaning. Only Wu Zhuo let out a lasting sigh and agreed: “Yes! I understand why Le Cheng has to be killed first. If he happens to be King Xiaocheng’s spy in Zhao Mu camp, he will pass on the secret to King Xiaocheng and we will die without even knowing why.”

    Shan Rou was hit with realization.

    Xiang Shaolong smilingly added: “Killing Le Cheng brings us another benefit.”

    Even Wu Zhuo cannot see where the benefit lays.

    Xiang Shaolong explained plainly: “We will make the assassination as ambiguous as possible. We will create a scenario whereby it seems to be done by Xiang Shaolong but after careful thinking, it may not be done by him. Based on Le Cheng’s wavering allegiance, this will stir up suspicions between Zhao Mu and King Xiaocheng. Both will suspect each other of killing Le Cheng in Xiang Shaolong’s name. What will be the end result?” Everyone was blown away by the brilliance in this plan and admired his throughout analysis.

    Jing Jun deduced: “Both men are suspicious by nature. They will start arming themselves for a head on confrontation.”

    Nodding, Wu Zhuo visualised: “It would be best if King Xiaocheng summoned Lian Po or Li Mu back for his protection and assistance. This will provoke Zhao Mu into immediate rebellion. We can then take this opportunity to fish Zhao Mu this big fish in troubled waters.”

    Shan Rou frowned: “Then the biggest challenge is how to cut off Le Cheng’s head?” Xiang Shaolong was ticked and was about to answer when an attendant reported that Tian Dan is here to visit him.

    Xiang Shaolong was alarmed.

    Within Handan City, the man whom he has the most misgivings is Tian Dan.

  12. #92
    Senior Member kohchun's Avatar
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    Book 9 Chapter 3: Opportunity to kill at night

    Tian Dan entered his bedroom and on his left and right is his bodyguard Liu Zhong Xia and Liu Zhong Shi brothers. He walked straight to the bedside and intimately asked: “How is Brother Dong doing?” Tian Dan has a natural dominating spirit and Xiang Shaolong raised his awareness and monitored his words carefully. Nodding to his as a gesture of acknowledgement, he replied: “I am up to my neck in work and is also enjoying the pleasures of wine and women. After a little soak in the river, I caught this resulting fever. Ai! Chancellor Tian, please have a seat!”

    Tian Dan smiled and corrected: “I love to talk while standing. Hei! Brother Dong’s eyes are full of energy, how can you be immersed in women? You must have over exert physically and purposely caught a chill!”

    Xiang Shaolong knew he cannot pretend in front of this man. He grumbled: “I guess so!”

    Scrutinizing him for a while, Tian Dan simply asked: “Are Brother Dong’s followers all personally trained by you?” From his words, Xiang Shaolong deduced that when he was trying to force his way at the city gates with King Xiaocheng dissuading him, Tian Dan must have been present and observed the entire situation. He was alarmed that Tian Dan is now suspicious of him. He pretend to be unaffected and answered: “To raise horses, you must first prevent your horses from being stolen. The south is full of barbarians so I trained them every day to prepare for this threat.”

    After a moment’s thought, Tian Dan nodded: “If Brother Dong can train my Qi soldiers to be as elite and unafraid of death like yours, Qin would not pose a threat.” Xiang Shaolong relaxed as Tian Dan is only identifying his real strength and he admired his foresight.

    His biggest strength lies in bringing the special forces concept into this ancient age.

    And this strength was identified by Tian Dan in an instance.

    After exchanging looks, Xiang Shaolong closed his eyes for a while before opening them again. Looking straight at Tian Dan’s suspicious gaze, he shot: “I understand your intentions. Chancellor Tian, please give Mister some time.” Tian Dan was amazed by his forthright and direct answer. Stunned, he joyfully praised: “I acknowledge Brother Dong as a sentimental man with strong emotions. Otherwise, you would not have risked your life saving Lord Longyang. If it was anyone else, they would save their own skin first.”

    Xiang Shaolong pretended to be under some pain and his eyebrows frowned. Shaking his head, he said: “My mind is blank at the point in time. All I know is we are on the same boat and should face danger together.”

    Tian Dan eyes shone and he asked in a deep voice: “According to Lord Longyang, Brother Dong had a premonition of the incoming danger. How did Brother Dong foretell the future?”
    Under his penetrating gaze, Xiang Shaolong was very uncomfortable and wished he could leave immediately. Pretending to be tired, he simply answered: “I have been with horses longer than anyone. I may have picked up their sensitivity to surroundings. Before every natural disaster or extreme change in weather, all birds, animals and insects are known to exhibit strange behaviour.”

    After all, Xiang Shaolong is not a criminal. He cannot interrogate him nonstop.

    Tian Dan commented: “Brother Dong is an extraordinary talent. The assassin must have been very unlucky to run into Brother Dong, resulting in his failure. The Chu King may have overlooked your capabilities but how would Lord Chunshen Huang He (Zhao Mu’s dad, Li Yuan’s master) let you go?”

    Xiang Shaolong was shaken. This man possesses the highest intellect. If he is let slips any detail, he may be blackmailed by him. He joked: “Lord Chunshen may not even remember how I look; what is there not to let go? I am tired of the Chu people and have no wish to bring them up anymore.”

    It is Tian Dan’s turn to admire Xiang Shaolong’s prowess. His ambiguous reply makes him even more mysterious and intelligent. Nodding, he agreed: “The people of Chu are short sighted and only look for short term gains. They refuse to learn from their mistakes and are not worth mentioning. But if Chu is led by Li Yuan one day, what are the changes Brother Dong can foresee?” Xiang Shaolong gave a cold snort and hissed: “Li Yuan is a ungrateful and narrow-minded brat. He indulges in wine and women and got his position through dubious means. What can he possibly accomplish?” Electricity seemed to shoot out from Tian Dan’s eyes and land squarely on his face. He could not help laughing: “Brother Dong is truly someone of great judgement; how can I believe you are just an ordinary horse breeder!”

    Xiang Shaolong’s entire spine is freezing cold. Giving a dry cough, he humbly said: “Chancellor Tian is exaggerating.”

    Tian Dan officially said: “If Brother Dong knows the ways of the world, he should not remain in this declining state of Zhao. He should have better aspirations and set his sights high and far. Brother Dong is a smart man and should understand what I mean.”

    Xiang Shaolong knows that he is naturally referring to himself. He felt great relief and eased himself on his pillow. He released a huge sigh and kept his silence.

    Tian Dan may be eloquent and highly persuasive but he is still helpless at Xiang Shaolong’s silence. Giving in, he implored: “What is holding Brother Dong’s tongue?” Xiang Shaolong pretending to be in discomfort and forced himself to sit up. He supported himself by the bed rest and cried: “It is my dad’s dying wishes that I return to Zhao to farm animals. Everything is fated and I usually don’t give a [email protected] about things. Chancellor Tian and I have a great affinity for each other and I am thankful for our acquaintance. I need time to ponder this over and I hope Chancellor Tian can appreciate my predicament.”

    He is so blunt that Tian Dan can no longer force him to make a stand. He took a deep breath and surprisingly shot: “The assassin is not related to Xiang Shaolong!”

    Xiang Shaolong was startled. Acting stupid, he asked: “How did Chancellor Tian know?” Tian Dan stepped forward by a step and patted his shoulder lightly. He smiled: “I wish for a day when Brother Dong will visit me in Qi. I will give Mister the grandest treatment. Please rest well! When you recover in a few days, I hope to tour your farm.”

    Evading Xiang Shaolong’s question and leaving like that, Tian Dan got Xiang Shaolong filled with questions about what he has accomplished in such a visit.

    At dinnertime, everyone is heavily burdened about the upcoming assassination and atmosphere is very depressing.

    Zhao Zhi took a few bites and laid down her chopsticks, watching Xiang Shaolong eating with a good appetite.

    Jing Jun is the only excited individual. He egged Zhao Zhi: “Sister Zhi! If you are not full, you will not have energy!” Zhao Zhi quietly replied: “I am not hungry!”

    Shan Rou scolded softly: “Useless girl. We are not the victims so why are you so nervous!” At this moment, Tian Zhen and Tian Feng came over to pour wine for everyone. Wu Zhuo halted: “No drinking tonight!” He turned to Xiang Shaolong and laughed: “Lord Longyang sent two big caskets of wine. One is medicated wine; the other is tonic wine. Ha! I think third brother is in for a good time.”

    Xiang Shaolong is troubled with Lord Longyang’s gratitude and concern and could not say a word. Shan Rou coldly snorted: “Letting him die would be a clean break. You had to go and save his life and got into a whole bunch of nonsense.”

    Irritated, Zhao Zhi chided: “Sister!”

    Shan Rou shot her a look and demeaned: “You are only good as a noisemaker.”

    Xiang Shaolong could only face Wu Zhuo and Jing Jun and smiled.

    Shan Rou patted her little tummy and stretched her body. In a hoarse and harsh voice, she demanded: “I want a piece of the action tonight. Your wife is going for a quick nap. You better prepare a set of those climbing tools for me. I want the best quality.”

    Everyone was dazzled by her mannerisms. She headed back to sleep as she said and one of the Tian sisters hastily escorted her back.

    Zhao Zhi was shaking as she tried to apologise: “Dear Masters have a broad mind to fit your status. Please do not blame Sister Rou. She...” Xiang Shaolong laughing interrupted: “Zhi Zhi rest easy. No one will really blame her.”

    Wu Zhuo nodded in agreement: “Definitely an experienced first class assassin. She knows that it is crucial to rest and relax before any action. We must learn from her.” At this time, Wu Guo led Pu Bu and his buddy Liu Chao in. Waiting for their news in agony, everyone was elated to see them.

    After pouring out his sorrows over their earlier parting, Liu Chao started speaking: “After I got word from Pu Bu, I instantly contacted my colleagues who are deployed in Le Cheng’s residence. After some investigations, we finally got something conclusive.”

    Everyone cheered and listened attentively.

    Liu Chao explained: “Le Cheng is a very cautious person. He committed all sorts of atrocities and is afraid of revenge. His movement are highly confidential and is always surrounded by a large group of well-trained warriors. Even now, we have yet to penetrate his circle of trusted escorts.”
    Jing Jun was distressed: “I thought you said we have something conclusive?” Liu Chao explained: “That is normally the case. However, Handan City is in a state of panic for the past two days. Le Cheng deployed a huge number of house guards into his escort team, so we have two brothers who managed to slip in. Otherwise, I would not dare to come and see Master Xiang.”

    Xiang Shaolong frowned: “He seems to be afraid of me!”

    Liu Chao stressed: “Master Xiang and him have deep grudges. Of course he wants to stay alive!”

    Xiang Shaolong is surprised. He asked: “We have deep grudges?” Liu Chao was alarmed: “What! Does Master Xiang not know that Shu’er is gang [email protected] by Zhao Mu and him till death? He even tells us how he did it and he enjoyed playing with Master Xiang’s woman.”

    “What!” Xiang Shaolong was shaking strongly. Afraid that he may be too emotional, Wu Zhuo coaxed him and asked Liu Chao: “Where will Le Cheng be tonight?” Liu Chao replied: “For the sake of the city’s defence, he has spent most of his time in the east gate command post. He is rarely home in the last few days and couldn’t wait to return to his residence.”

    Xiang Shaolong suppressed his grief but recollecting Shu’er’s horrifying death, warm blood filled him. In a deep voice, he asked: “What is he afraid of?”

    Liu Chao responded: “Madam Le is King Xiaocheng’s sister, Zhao Ya’s elder sister. She is a very smart woman and Le Cheng is afraid of her. All his sexual activities have to be hidden from her.”

    Zhao Zhi worriedly said: “If he remained in the command post tonight, what chances do we have?” Liu Chao added: “He has three other villas which he use to house any new girls or concubines. This man is cruel and loves [email protected] girls. The girls he tortured till death or disability are beyond calculation. Recently, an official offended King Xiaocheng and Le Cheng was tasked to annihilate his clan. He secretly kept two concubines for his own pleasure. He has yet to visit them recently so we gauged that he will do so within these two nights.”

    Xiang Shaolong finally understood why Empress Zhu Ji (Qin, Xiao Pan’s new mother) bore such hatred towards Le Cheng. Now, even without her command, he will never let him off.

    Wu Zhuo continued to clarify everything he needed to know about Le Cheng, including the location of the villa used to hide the women. He also asked about Le Cheng’s personal escort team and other details. Liu Chao replied all his questions in concise details. After he finished, Wu Zhuo praised him to Xiang Shaolong: “Brother Liu is a talent and has never stop working for you.”

    Liu Chao modestly replied: “After the visit from Daliang, our band of brothers is willing to lay our lives for Master Xiang anytime. In our opinion, there is not one hero who can match Master Xiang.”

    Xiang Shaolong recomposed himself and nodded: “After this incident, please come back to Xianyang with me! We will share wealth and woe together and be united as one family.”

    Li Chao was overjoyed and gave his thanks.

    Xiang Shaolong sent him out personally and reminded him to tell his two brothers in the personal escort team to find an excuse not to depart with Le Cheng before returning to the inner hall.

    Wu Zhuo and the rest had left to prepare for tonight’s operations, leaving only Zhao Zhi and the beautiful pair of twins from Yue.

    Xiang Shaolong had calmed down when he thought about the dead Shu’er. He felt like his heart was being stabbed and was in agony.

    On his return to Handan City, he has been on the receiving end of Le Cheng’s hospitality. Despite knowing it is all a false front, there had been no real sense of enmity. Now that things have changed and he wanted to tear this traitor to pieces. His death will only bring benefits to humanity.

    The only issue Xiang Shaolong had with this ancient time is that women are treated like playthings or slaves. Even a Princess like Zhao Ya is also dependent on making men happy for her survival.

    A person’s authority should arise from an objective and fair legal system. Thinking about this, he remembered the fathers of Legalism Li Si and Han Fei Zi. He wonders if he can influence them to replace Legalism instead of Confucian governance.

    After he thought deeper, he realised that as long as it is still a monarchy, real Legalism is just a reflection in the water. A reflection only and never the real thing.

    Zhao Zhi slide up to him and tugged: “Master Dong! Your face is really pale and I am worried for you.”

    Xiang Shaolong was stricken. In this state, he is not suited to lead the assassination. But he is unable to release his agitation for Shu’er.

    Reaching out and hugging Zhao Zhi’s waist, he coaxed: “Zhi Zhi must stay here tonight and await my return.”

    Zhao Zhi thundered: “Ah! No! I must be by your side, don’t look down on my swordsmanship.” Xiang Shaolong lowered his hand and patted her buttocks strongly. He officially state: “Your martial arts and swordsmanship are brilliant but you have never drawn blood before. This is a different matter altogether. Be obedient and listen to me, ok?” Thinking about killing, Zhao Zhi gave a cold consent and lowered her head in silence.

    Xiang Shaolong suddenly thought of a great way to relax. He intimately whispered besides her small ear: “Zhi Zhi you wait for me in my room. I do not want to see a piece of clothing on you. I will come and make love to you in a while; did you hear what I said?” Happy but shy, Zhao Zhi tinkled a sweet reply before she tore away from him and ran straight into his room, not daring to look back at him.

    The Tian sisters stared at them unknowingly.

    Xiang Shaolong summoned the two girls before him. Hugging one on each side, he proclaimed harmoniously: “Tomorrow night is your turn!”

    Sometime after the second watch.

    The east gate command post’s giant doors opened and out galloped two hundred over riders. In formation, they started travelling on the long street. They swerved left and entered an express lane which is part of the city wall and begin cruising.

    Except for four lanterns in front and the four behind lighting the path, the centre formation travelled in total darkness, causing anyone to be unable to see clearly who is riding.

    Two rows of forty riders formed a long line and they rode on the edge of the formation, one after another. They resemble a moving wall safeguarding the five groups of riders in the centre. Everyone is holding onto a large shield and is facing externally. If someone were to shoot an assassinating arrow from the houses or the streets, they are likely to miss them, much less the riders in the centre.

    The centre group of riders has the most soldiers, numbering fifty. Those at the perimeter all carried tall shields, showing that there is an important person in the centre.

    The remaining four groups have twenty soldiers each. They carry a long lance each and are ready to charge or use them as a throwing weapon.

    Under the sickly autumn wind, one can feel the strict chill in the air.

    The hoof beats shattered the tranquillity of the late night.

    There are thirty over feet between each group. Even in the case of an ambush, it is hard to surround them unless the enemy has a force ten times larger. After riding for half a mile, the formation left with express lane and swerved right towards the city.

    The sky is thick with clouds, hiding the moon.

    The elite members trailing them quickly climbed onto higher buildings and out of sight from the formation. They signalled their nearest teammate and pinpointed Le Cheng’s position.

    Waiting anxiously at Le Cheng’s alternative villa, Xiang Shaolong and company swiftly plotted out their travel route and laid their ambush.

    Xiang Shaolong and his troops flattened themselves on roofs. Their head and faces are all securely covered with black cloth. Only their eyes are showing, resembling ghosts. Until they saw the faint light from the lanterns appearing at the far end of the street did they finally put their mind at ease.

    If Le Cheng did not use this direction to return to his alternative villa, tonight’s operation would have gone to waste.

    As the hoof beats sounded, the prey draws nearer.

    On the left Wu Zhuo analyzed: “Le Cheng may be a cruel child predator but he still holds water as Zhao’s famed general. Looking at his formation, we can tell that he is well qualified.”

    On the right Shan Rou whispered: “Le Cheng is mine. I must cut his head personally.”

    Xiang Shaolong purposely twisted over and bit her ear softly before adding: “This is a city hunt. Whoever has the best ability will receive the biggest gains.”

    Shan Rou shot him an icy look and bend her head with disdain. Her body remained still though.

    Xiang Shaolong is high with anticipation.

    Right now, the lantern bearers in front have arrived at their ambush point and pass them.

    Group after group of enemies rode along the long street. The atmosphere becoming more and more tense.

    Xiang Shaolong knows that the time is ripe. He nudged Wu Zhuo as the biggest group of riders with Le Cheng in it entered the heart of the narrow lane below him.

    Wu Zhuo let out a shrill whistle, breaking the orderly hoof beats.

    The enemy is taken by surprised and looked at the two sides.

    The air is filled with the sound of arrows whizzing by. Prone on the two rows of roofs, the elite troops shot out arrow after arrow, killing the horses but not the men.

    The war horses’ tragic cries and the angry howls of men filled everybody’s ears.

    The lanterns have been taken out. In the darkness, the war horses jumped wildly and it was chaos.

    But the formation remained intact and this is enough to prove the Zhao army has strict training and quality soldiers.

    Wu Zhuo knows that the time is appropriate and give the signal to attack.

    Xiang Shaolong remained still but Shan Rou had leaped from the roof like a leopard. She dropped a few feet before she shot a cable from her climbing tool at her waist. Like heavenly soldiers descending, she landed on an empty area on the street.

    In the same instant, over ten burning fireballs erupted from left and right, vaguely illuminating the enemy’s position. The enemy still imagined the attackers are from the two sides. Unknown to them, the attackers have all climbed up.

    The elite troops used their flying daggers to deadly perfection. By the time the enemy realised, over half of the formation has been wounded and fallen from their horses. The complete formation is now in disarray.

    The rider-less horses started bumping around, adding to the chaos.

    Since Le Cheng’s group is the main target, it suffered the most casualties. Fifty over men are down to nearly twenty. The remaining survivors continue falling off their horses.

    Those hit by flying daggers are wounded on the face or the chest, transforming this peaceful long street into a living hell of corpses and carcasses.

    Xiang Shaolong used his waist cable and descends onto the street.

    Before his foot touch the ground, he sent out two palms on his right and left. Unable to feint, two enemies on horseback received the palm on the face and fell off their horses. When he landed, Blood wave was drawn out and he killed two of his three attackers. The last man was stabbed by Shan Rou from the back and tragically yelled before falling towards Xiang Shaolong.

    Xiang Shaolong stepped aside and scanned the area. The fireballs are still burning on the floor and ten over personal escorts are shielding the calm-looking Le Cheng as they retreated to a back alley.

    With shouts of “Kill” ringing the street, the elite soldiers leaped out from both sides. Carrying giant axes, they slayed the remaining foes and left Le Cheng’s group alone without support.

    Xiang Shaolong winked at Wu Zhuo, leading four of their troops for the kill.

    Like a tigress breaking free, Shan Rou rushed to their backs and shot out a flying dagger. She shot later but she hit the target first. Before Xiang Shaolong and Wu Zhuo make a kill, the dagger hit the throat of an enemy, proving her assassination skills.

    Le Cheng roared: “Attack!”

    Five men advanced to meet Xiang Shaolong and Wu Zhuo while he continues to retreat.

    Xiang Shaolong shouted: “Le Cheng you traitor, let me Xiang Shaolong take your worthless life!”

    Le Cheng has entered the back alley. Confident, he grinned: “Come if you dare!”

    Shan Rou dashed past Xiang Shaolong, her sword waving ferociously, engaging the enemy before he could.

    Xiang Shaolong and Wu Zhuo were afraid that she may fail and quickly attacked. The swords and sabres flashed and the aura of death was all around.

    These men are Le Cheng’s best swordsmen and they defended their attacks well.

    Le Cheng was about to turn and run into other alleys when his bodyguards were felled by arrows.

    Leading more men, Jing Jun jumped down from the roof and forced Le Cheng and his troops to panic and head back to the main street.

    Those in front can no longer hold back and start falling into their own pool of blood. Helplessly, Le Cheng commanded: “Come with me!”

    The remaining six men accompanied him back to where Xiang Shaolong was.

    Le Cheng let out a howl and drew his own sword. Fast as lightning, he exchanged three stances with Xiang Shaolong in an instant.

    His arm strength is not as strong as Xiang Shaolong. In the last strike, he lost his balance and retreated three steps. Killing the rest of the enemy, Jing Jun somersaulted and sent two flying legs to Le Cheng’s back. “Piak!” Both feet hit Le Cheng at the same time and on the same level as his heart.

    Le Cheng staggered and fell forward, his helmet landing on the floor.

    A sword flashed. Having just killed another enemy, Shan Rou pounced out from nowhere and overtook Xiang Shaolong. In a cry of triumph, Le Cheng’s head dropped onto the floor. Decapitated, he died tragically on the spot.

    Wu Zhou held up the lifeless head and gave the order to retreat.

    The cables hanging from the roofs were retrieved, leaving no evidence.

    The entire operation, taking less effort than to boil a cup of tea, completely highlights the highly efficient and explosive attacking power of the elite forces.

    Other than the strong flames, the floor is littered with carcasses and the blood soaked corpses of the Zhao soldiers.
    Last edited by kohchun; 04-06-10 at 10:14 AM.

  13. #93
    Senior Member kohchun's Avatar
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    Book 9 Chapter 4 – The new city commander

    Zhao Mu came to talk to Xiang Shaolong in the earliest hours of daylight. His eyes were lined with red veins and were flashing with uncertainty. Obviously, he has lost his footing.

    Xiang Shaolong is still in bed. Half-conscious, he struggled to stay awake. Holding his blanket, he enquired: “Why is Marquis’s complexion worse than myself?” Zhao Mu sat on his bed side was deep in thought. Finally, he replied in a deep voice: “How are your injuries?” Xiang Shaolong pretended to move his limbs with difficulty and act tough. He gave a bored answer: “It is just superficial wounds but I caught a bad chill. After lying for a whole day and night I am feeling much better.”

    Zhao Mu did not find anything suspicious. In fact, all those who survived Lord Longyang assassination are still bedridden. It would be strange if only Xiang Shaolong is walking around full of energy.

    “Ai!” Zhao Mu cried. “Le Cheng ran into trouble last night!”

    Shaken, Xiang Shaolong exclaimed: “What!?” Looking at Xiang Shaolong’s eyes wide open, Zhao Mu added: “Le Cheng was assassinated on his way home last night. Even his head was chopped off. Two hundred over personal armed escorts were either dead or heavily injured. Ai!”

    Aghast, Xiang Shaolong questioned: “That Xiang Shaolong is really so powerful?” Zhao Mu coldly said: “The residents of the neighbouring houses did hear someone saying he is Xiang Shaolong himself. But all this attackers are masked and no one can really be sure of their identity. After further investigations, we discovered another batch of soldiers was killed at the east wall, leaving only their climbing ropes. We did not find any footprints outside the city wall though.”

    Energized, Xiang Shaolong concluded: “In this case, Xiang Shaolong must be hiding in the city. Marquis must dig him out quickly.”

    Zhao Mu angrily shot back: “Do I need you to teach me to do this? The entire Handan City has been flipped over. Unless Xiang Shaolong and his men can burrow underground like rats, they will leave some traces. But we have yet to even detect his shadow. Can you explain to me what the he11 is going on?” Zhao Mu was in a bad mood and lost his usual courtesy towards this Dong Horse Fanatic.

    Xiang Shaolong was laughing inside. Faking a thinking face, he asked after a while: “Who will be the new commander?” Zhao Mu responded: “Based on the current situation, it will be Cheng Dan!”

    His face changing colours, Xiang Shaolong mused: “This is bad for us.”

    Zhao Mu recovered: “You finally understand. Le Cheng’s death only benefits King Xiaocheng and not Xiang Shaolong. If Xiang Shaolong wants to kill, it will be long before Le Cheng’s turn. King Xiaocheng has always been cruel. It could even be Zhao Ya’s instigation. If Xiang Shaolong can really come and go as he wishes, King Xiaocheng and I will be dead long ago.”

    Biting his teeth, Xiang Shaolong proposed: “The first mover gains the advantage. If Marquis can poison him through Zhao Queen, this will solve all our problems.” Zhao Mu bitterly replied: “Do you think she is my subordinate? She will not be so stupid to be directly involved in the assassination. But if we manage to kill that muddle-headed King Xiaocheng, I have a way to control her. Ai! What should I do now?” Xiang Shaolong was delighted to comprehend the relationship between Zhao Mu and Zhao Queen – they were only making use of each other.

    Zhao Mu saw that Xiang Shaolong is keeping very quiet and thought he is thinking about how to save them. He released a very long sigh before summarizing: “Some things cannot be rushed. It is my great fortune to have a nameless superman like you so I am not defeated yet. But without Le Cheng, my power will diminish greatly and Tian Dan will not be as friendly as usual.”

    Standing up, he finished “Rest well and heal your injuries first! I still have to visit other people and calm their nerves. You try to gather more news from Zhao Ya and see what other moves King Xiaocheng is planning.”

    Xiang Shaolong advised: “Marquis, please be careful of people changing sides. The mind is unfathomable. Things are not as easy as they always seem!”

    Displeased, Zhao Mu said: “How can I not know this? I will contact you in the future.”

    After he left, Xiang Shaolong remained in bed and was filled with thoughts.

    When the Tian sisters came in and helped him to wash up, Shan Rou skipped in energetically like a little girl. Grinning, she approached his back and used her shoulder to knock him lightly and proudly asked: “Who killed the biggest tiger?” “Another tigress, I admit my inferiority” came Xiang Shaolong’s irritated reply. He reached behind and held her closely against his own back, giving him much excitement.

    Shan Rou was in her best mood and did not resist his mole5t. She curiously mentioned: “We only have ten over injuries; This is indeed miraculously. Nobody will believe even if we say it. Why not we kill Tian Dan as well, then I will do whatever you wish. Zhao Zhi and I can be another pair of Tian sisters.”

    Both Tian sisters turned red-faced.

    Xiang Shaolong could feel a headache coming. Changing the topic, he asked: “Where is your nice sister?” Shan Rou broke free from his back embrace and chirped: “Don’t change the topic! What kind of hero are you?” As she was combing his hair, Tian Zhen softly mentioned: “Miss Zhi is out gathering news. Aiyah!” She was pinched by Shan Rou.

    Xiang Shaolong turned around and folded his sleeves shouting: “This is the first time I have seen such an unreasonable woman. Let me use my wild-horse-taming skill on you shrew! ”

    Jutting out her chest, Shan Rou faced him with her almond shaped eyes challenged: “You dare!”

    Tian Zhen and Tian Feng knew that he is putting up a show and held their laughter while peeping.

    Xiang Shaolong used his large palm and poked her face. Before she could retaliate, he withdrew and joked: “Sister has improved; now she only uses her hands and not her daggers.”

    Shan Rou giggled and bats her eyelid at him, showcasing her charm and adorability. Xiang Shaolong was aroused and wanted to give her a bear hug but Shan Rou slipped out of his grasp. Sliding to the door, she smiled departing: “You have not skilled enough to gain my favour. Go home and train for a few more years!” She disappeared laughing but the tinkle of her laughter remains in the air.

    Xiang Shaolong was mad and gnashed his teeth. Tian Feng smilingly commented: “Miss Rou does carry a torch for Master Dong. She often chats with us about you.”

    Embracing their two waists, Xiang Shaolong softly asked: “What about the both of you?” Both girls squirmed in embarrassment and lowered their heads.

    The two similar looking girls with two different attitudes have reignited the desire started by Shan Rou in Xiang Shaolong. Assessing that Handan City will be in mayhem today and that all his sick visitors have come, he would have plenty of free time today. If he did not enjoy his jade beauties, there would be no better time.

    Minds and bodies as one, the chamber is filled passion.

    The long awaited rewards for these two beauties were finally bestowed to them in this beautiful moment.

    When Xiang Shaolong woke up, Tian Zhen and Tian Feng’s enticing bodies are intertwined with his like an octopus securing its prey. A slight movement by him cause the two exceedingly charming sisters to awake in fright.

    Both girls looked outside the window and saw the break of dawn. Startled, they stumbled out of bed.

    Xiang Shaolong was overwhelmed by physical scrambling of the sisters jade bodies. He nearly wanted to pull them back into bed but recalling Handan’s situation, he forced himself to get out of bed too.

    The two girls were delighted to wash up and change for him.

    Happiness and joy shone out of their faces, making Xiang Shaolong delirious. His hands worked non-stop like them, causing both girls’ ears to turn deep red before he left.

    The main hall was totally quiet and no one can be seen.

    Xiang Shaolong was enjoying the rare tranquillity. Feeling lazy, he abandoned all thoughts and walked over to a sofa and lied down.

    Tian Zhen was tidying some clothes when she swayed over and kneeled down beside him. In a crystal clear voice, she asked: “What does Master Dong long to eat? I will prepare it for you.”

    Reminded by her words, his stomach rumbled like a drum. Patting her face, he replied: “Anything is fine! Hei! Where has that tigress gone to?”

    Tian Zhen could not resist replying: “The tigress is naturally sleeping in the tiger den in daytime. Little Feng is attending to her.” Finished, she left cheerfully.

    Xiang Shaolong closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep when Jing Jun and Zhao Zhi returned one after another. Neither of them brought back any negative reports. Xiang Shaolong could finally see the clouds clearing and put down a burden on his mind.

    With Le Cheng gone, the stakes have changed and he now holds the initiative.

    As Jing Jun and Zhao Zhi ate with him, Zhao Zhi commented: “I have never seen Handan City in such a state. The streets are full of soldiers and every household is being searched and interrogated. Even all our martial warriors at the school have been despatched to help out, causing widespread panic.”

    As Xiang Shaolong stuffed himself, he asked: “Did anyone suspect it was my work?” Looking at him with utmost admiration and worship, she chuckled: “Master Dong is famous for his flying needles. Because none were used, everyone is highly suspicious. Zhao Ba even suspects the mastermind to be Li Yuan. Hei! This is so funny!”

    Jing Jun added: “I have never seen Sister Zhi so happy before.”

    Zhao Zhi shot him a glare and cried: “Busybody!”

    Jing Jun quickly smilingly apologised.

    This is called everything has its relationship with one another, Xiang Shaolong thought. “Where is big brother?” he asked. Jing Jun answered: “He is back at the farm.” Lowering his voice, he added: “Now that the Zhao soldiers are searching the population, we should take the chance to send the injured brothers back to the farm for healing and cover a potential loophole.”

    Xiang Shaolong was relieved.

    Wu Zhuo is clever and cautious and will have a good excuse.

    Jing Jun continued: “Big brother had wanted to speak to third brother but third brother ... Hei!”

    Zhao Zhi stared and questioned: “Why are you stuttering, Little Jun? What is wrong is third brother?” Xiang Shaolong is unafraid of Zhao Zhi. His hand snaked under the table and began to feel her thigh. This appealing beauty instantly kept quiet and lowered her head.

    Tian Feng walked out of the kitchen, holding a huge jar of wine. She asked: “Does Master Dong want to try Lord Longyang’s tonic wine?” Jing Jun clapped and yelled: “This is what he needs right now! You should join us for a drink too.”

    Both girls’ petite faces start to become hot.

    Xiang Shaolong found the situation very ironic. He whistled: “Unless you are too weak to absorb the nutrients, every man needs this stuff. Come! Get Zhen Zhen to join us too and let’s celebrate.”

    Time passes by in this happy setting.

    In the evening, a fresh Shan Rou left her bedroom and dragged Zhao Zhi to the backyard and prayed to their departed parents.

    Jing Jun loved excitement. Leading ten over experts, he went out to spy but was actually out to party.

    Xiang Shaolong did not stop him as he agrees that it will give them more knowledge about Handan City’s current affairs.

    He was pining for Ji Yanran but knows that he must stay indoors. The only way to suppress this yearning was to seek out Tian Zhen and Tian Feng, pleasuring them to the maximum.

    All the other men only love their bodies; who is willing to share their sorrows?

    Zhao Zhi is unofficially his mistress and moved in as well. He could not bear to contradict her action. After dinner, he was intended on a quiet night when there was a sudden visitor – it is Marquis Pingshan Han Chuang.

    Sitting in the hall, Han Chuang scrutinized his complexion and nodded: “Brother Dong is fitter than his horses. Your complexion has improved so much. Does the wound still hurt?” “Thanks for Marquis’s concern. I am indeed much better today. Ai! General Le Cheng left so unexpectedly.”

    Han Chuang revealed a cold air and spoke with disdain: “There are some people in this world that can die suddenly and no one can guess who the murderer is. This is because they have harmed too many people. If I may, I would love to stab him myself. In the past when he was guarding the Zhao-Han border, he often trespassed my area and committed atrocities. Both his hands are full of blood. Humph!”

    Xiang Shaolong was mortified. He normally saw Han Chuang and Le Cheng behaving like close brothers but they were hiding these deep grudges. Feigning surprise, he exclaimed: “General Le Cheng is really such a person?” Han Chuang cut in: “Forget this man. Let’s discuss about the future.”

    Xiang Shaolong muttered to himself. Does this man want to use me to face off Li Yuan?

    Han Chuang received his tea from Tian Feng and lecherously looked at her back frame. Swallowing his saliva, he recomposed himself and described: “On your return to Zhao, you would hope to carve out a prosperous career. Ultimately, horse-breeding is just horse-breeding. The most you can be the next Wu Family. You will never hold an official post, do you understand Brother Dong?” Xiang Shaolong thought to himself – even if I am the real Dong Kuang, I would never go to Han as it is even weaker than Zhao. Putting up a false front, he started: “I am grateful that Marquis recognizes my talent. But...” Han Chuang interrupted: “Brother Dong is mistaken. If ever you wish to come to my state, I welcome you with open arms. But today’s topic is about the vacancy of the City Commander created by Le Cheng’s death.”

    Xiang Shaolong was befuddled. Han Chuang is a Han citizen. When is his turn to meddle with the affairs of Zhao? The City Commander is equivalent to the biggest protector of Zhao King and is someone the Zhao King would trust the most. He would never try to vie for this position even in his dreams.

    Han Chuang proudly revealed: “Brother Dong would have never guessed that the Zhao Queen has Han roots. Through her, I am able to influence Zhao politics to a certain extent.”

    Xiang Shaolong then remembered that Zhao Queen is part of the plan to unite the three states. The Han royalty married to King Xiaocheng would naturally have some connections to Han Chuang. Kicking himself for this oversight, he confessed: “I have no idea at all!”

    Han Chuang loftily added: “If I put in a few words for you to Zhao Queen, she can influence King Xiaocheng’s decision.”

    After Zhao Mu’s decline in power, Zhao Ya and Zhao Queen are the two people who have the most influence on King Xiaocheng.

    Xiang Shaolong was shaken. Like Lord Longyang, he had underestimated Han Chuang. This man is always lusting after Zhao Ya. Besides her body, the more crucial reason is to manipulate King Xiaocheng through her. He can even conquer Zhao without bloodshed. From this point of view, Zhao Mu is at best a little pawn in the hand of Zhao Queen.

    In this warring period, everyone survives by acquiring information. National conspiracies are all executed openly and discreetly.

    Frowning, he asked: “Didn’t King Xiaocheng get Cheng Dan to succeed Le Cheng?” Han Chuang scolded angrily: “Who the he11 is Cheng Dan? He stole some of Xiang Shaolong’s credit to attain his present position. His prestige and abilities are insufficient to win the hearts and minds of his subordinates. In this urgent situation, he is only temporary assigned to take charge!”

    Xiang Shaolong was agitated. If he is the City Commander, capturing Zhao Mu will be the easiest thing on earth. Disbelieving King Xiaocheng’s naivety, he bitterly joked: “I have been in Handan City for a short while only. My seat is not even warm yet and I don’t even qualify in the first place. Marquis need not waste the effort.”

    Still highly enthusiastic, Han Chuang encouraged: “Brother Dong is too humble. Everyone in Handan City knows you and your popularity is sky high. From the gift of a thousand war horses, the dissing of the Chu people, the gate-crashing, the saving of Lord Longyang, etc. If you become the City Commander, there will be no one who can offer a better candidate.”

    Xiang Shaolong shook his head: “One gate-crashing is not enough to change Zhao King’s opinion.”
    Han Chuang smiled craftily and continued: “Black can be twisted to white and white can be twisted to black. All it takes is a mouth. If King Xiaocheng appoints you, it also shows he is open-minded, generous and good at utilising talents. Brother Dong is all prepared but only lacks the mouth. I can even influence Zhao Ya and have both of them speak up for you. What more is there to worry by then?” Xiang Shaolong is finally blown over and his heart is rejuvenated. He looked at Han Chuang suspiciously and asked: “This act of kindness; what can I do to repay Marquis?” Han Chuang saw that he is tempted and is just as happy. He laughed loudly: “We are all family and there is no need for such words! Come! Let me arrange for you to meet the Queen and we can talk about the rest later.” He stood up and turned around.

    Xiang Shaolong pretends to get up forcefully and send him to the door.

    As they walked, Han Chuang advised: “Do not get involved with Zhao Mu or Guo Zhong. At the same time, do not offend Zhao Ya or Guo Kai. This way, the City Commander’s position will be yours. Hey! King Xiaocheng is very impressed with your saving of Lord Longyang.”

    “Has Lord Longyang recovered?” Xiang Shaolong queried. Han Chuang hissed: “If you need one day to recover, he will need at least ten days! Oh! Are the twin sisters thrilling?” How can Xiang Shaolong not understand his intention? Cursing to himself, he whispered: “I can send them to keep you company but we better be discreet and do not let others suspect our relationship. When I am appointed the City Commander, then we will have no fear.”

    Han Chuang reluctantly sighed: “Brother Dong is right. Better to be discreet. Once I have word from Zhao Queen, I will notify you immediately.”

    Sending off Han Chuang, Xiang Shaolong wanted to shout out for joy and express the joy and excitement in his heart.

    Who would have guessed that killing Le Cheng will bring about this wonderful ending?

  14. #94
    Senior Member kohchun's Avatar
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    Book 9 Chapter 05 – Stealing the bell while covering the ears

    Xiang Shaolong had yet to turn back to his residence when Zhao Ya’s carriage passed Han Chuang’s carriage and entered the driveway.

    Xiang Shaolong sighed and approached her carriage, opening the door personally.

    Zhao Ya simply stared at him and asked softly: “Can you get up and start walking?” Flexing his limbs, he escorted her into the hall and answered: “If I continue to stay in bed, I will be bored to death”

    Zhao Ya jested: “You are healthier than Lord Longyang. He is still bedridden. He probably needs another 10 odd days before he recovers completely.”

    She continued in a low voice: “What did Han Chuang say to you?” Xiang Shaolong did not want her to run into Shan Rou and Zhao Zhi and led her to the east guestroom. Without a care, he said: “Nothing worth mentioning. That lecher saw the twin sisters I had and wanted to borrow them for a night. I turned him away instead. Humph! So what if he is unhappy, I hate this kind of perverts.”

    His words are half true. It is true that Han Chuang did have that intention. It is untrue as it is not his actual motive. Zhao Ya could not distinguish the truth and nodded in agreement, adding a few words criticising Han Chuang.

    Xiang Shaolong was guilt-ridden. Seriously speaking, he is not better off than Han Chuang. He is also the one who snatched the Tian sisters from Zhao Mu. The only difference is that they followed him willingly!

    Out of a sudden, Zhao Ya grabbed his arm and led him out of the side door into the garden. As they walked to the pond at the centre of the garden, she whispered: “What is the relationship between Zhao Mu and you? Why did he take special care of you? Why did he look for you so early today morning?” Xiang Shaolong was taken aback. Knowing that she is working for King Xiaocheng, he shrugged his shoulders and insisted: “You ask me; I ask who? I have no need to explain to anyone why someone is treating me well or ill-treating me! I don’t give a [email protected]

    They reached the poolside and Zhao Ya dragged him to sit down together before laughing: “I love to see your angry look; it is like watching a stubborn child.”

    Xiang Shaolong pretended to be upset but was very intimidated. Based on her attention to details, his winking at Zhao Mu (during Tian Dan’s dinner) could not escape her eyes. He wonders if she has reported this to King Xiaocheng.

    Zhao Ya innocently leaned on him. Wrinkling her nose, she complained: “Oh! You are reeking of herbal smells. It is clogging my nose!”

    Xiang Shaolong rudely shot: “Nobody asked you to follow me!”

    Zhao Ya laughed like a blossoming tree and looks like she is enjoying herself.

    Xiang Shaolong was curious: “Your old flame entered the city to commit murder and you can still be carefree and unbothered. Just what in the world is going on?” Zhao Ya smoothly picked a yellow leaf from a short tree and sniffed on it: “This leaf is more fragrant than you.”

    Stunned, Xiang Shaolong demanded: “Are you not listening to me?” Zhao Ya’s beautiful gaze floated over. Batting her eye, she replied: “Your voice is so special and full of character. I cannot stop listening even if I want to” Followed by a giggle, she chuckled: “Dong Horse Fanatic is just like the others, thinking that it is Xiang Shaolong who did the killings. The ignorant cannot be blamed. You were not aware of Handan’s affairs so you can only guess blindly.”

    Xiang Shaolong was laughing to himself but on the outside, he gnashed his teeth cursing: “Who else can it be that hates Le Cheng so much that he must kill him?”

    Zhao Ya leaned even closer with half of her enticing chest resting on his arm. She threw the leaf into the river and looked up to the moon and spoke softly: “Must you hate someone to kill him? If you want to know who may be Le Cheng’s killer, you must first tell me what did Zhao Mu said this morning. Ai! Didn’t you know that I am concerned about you?” Xiang Shaolong bitterly laughed: “You are really concerned about me? I think you are more afraid that I may die and cannot detain the real Xiang Shaolong.”

    Zhao Ya’s face reddened and cooed: “I am concerned about both of you! Frank enough? Tell me quick.”

    Xiang Shaolong was mesmerized by her tireless spirit and evoked his past happy memories where they often have the usual couple’s tiff. Charmed, he was lost in thought.

    A smile formed on Zhao Ya’s face and she sighed; “You are always in your own world and do not care about me. Handan City is full of danger and any mistake would lead to the annihilation of your entire clan. I cannot protect you and you are still acting angry.”

    Xiang Shaolong pretended to be perplexed and replied: “He did not tell me any secrets but came to ask me more about Chu. I could tell that the Marquis of Julu was troubled and I guessed he must have been traumatized by the formidable old flame of yours.”

    After a moment’s thought, Zhao Ya faintly said: “This matter should be kept from you but I am afraid that you may get involved with Zhao Mu so I have to force it out from you.”

    Xiang Shaolong was delighted to know that his guess was accurate. Le Cheng is a two-headed snake whose loyalty is shuffling between King Xiaocheng and Zhao Mu. Both parties will suspect each other to be the mastermind.

    Zhao Ya reached to his ear and disclosed: “Zhao Mu is the chief suspect in Le Cheng’s death.”

    Xiang Shaolong feigned shock and cried: “What!?” Zhao Ya stated: “That’s all you need to know and do not ask anymore. Ai! Zhao Mu is really stupid, measuring others by his own yardstick and made this wrong move. King Xiaocheng no longer has any hesitation about this man and will not hold back anymore.”

    Xiang Shaolong frowned: “In this case, why didn’t King Xiaocheng seize Zhao Mu immediately?” Zhao Ya coldly snorted: “Did you know how Le Cheng died? Over two hundred of his best men killed or injured in the time needed to boil a cup of tea. Zhao Mu did not have such capabilities and must have received assistance from someone. Besides, we have no evidence and dare not act rashly. The king had wanted to recall Lian Po or Li Mu but we will fall into the mastermind’s trap. Ai! We are all in a dilemma.”

    “Oh heavens,” Xiang Shaolong told himself. Even Tian Dan has been embroiled into this case. Maybe Li Yuan will be implicated sooner or later. Le Cheng’s death has brought about many effects.

    Thinking ahead, Xiang Shaolong acted alarmed: “Guess I better head out to the farm tomorrow and leave this place of deceit. I will focus on horse-breeding and occasional pleasures of the flesh and happily live this life.”

    Zhao Ya whined: “If you really leave, then what is to become of me?”

    Xiang Shaolong declared: “You are you; I am I. What has Princess got to do with me? You promised to be frank and only shared little titbits of information with me like I am begging you for it. I seriously don’t give a hoot about your information. If not for your soothing touches, I would have thrown you out of the house and here you dare to ask me what is to become of you!”

    Not only was Zhao Ya not offended, she was laughing till she nearly couldn’t catch her breath. Holding her belly in pain, she asked: “Have you fulfilled your promise? You only know how to anger others. Ai! Times passes fast when I am with you. Too bad I still have to visit my brother in the palace. Shall I come by to accompany you later?” Xiang Shaolong moaned: “If you want my wounds to reopen and bleed, then come and find me! This is called sacrificing blood to accompany the jade beauty”

    Zhao Ya cried: “You rejected me again; am I not attractive to you?” Xiang Shaolong started to undress and hissed: “If you don’t believe, feel free to check out my body.”

    Zhao Ya laughingly helped him up and exclaimed: “I take my hat off you! Not an inch of shame and decency. I’ll need to go off. Can you send me to the door?” Holding hands, Xiang Shaolong led her back to the east room, through the corridor and back to the courtyard.

    Zhao Ya was in great spirits and began to hum a tune that Xiang Shaolong used to hear from her frequently.

    Xiang Shaolong could not endure and asked: “Why is Princess exceedingly happy tonight?” Zhao Ya’s complexion suddenly darkened and she lowered her head in silence. Until she reached the external ground and boarded her carriage did she held onto the window and waved to him softly saying: “After Xiang Shaolong’s departure, I thought of suicide on many occasions but that will only benefit Zhao Mu. I had also hoped to be able to do something for Xiang Shaolong. Now that success is nearing, how can I not be delighted?” Xiang Shaolong could feel his hostility reducing and his mind is in turmoil. Following her lead, he asked: “If Zhao Mu is dead, what are your plans?” Her face becoming burning red. Gazing at Xiang Shaolong with strong feelings, she said: “At first I did not know what to do. After your insolent attack yesterday, I know I have found someone to replace Xiang Shaolong. No one else will suffice. Does Master Dong understand my thinking?” The blind was lowered, blocking Xiang Shaolong’s sight.

    Even though the horse carriage has gone far, he is still stoned on the courtyard, tasting an indescribable sensation.

    Shan Rou and Jing Jun were waiting in the hall. Shan Rou is enthusiastically poring over a map laid on the table while Jing Jun is yawning and couldn’t wait to get away.

    “Where are they?” Xiang Shaolong asked. Shan Rou impatiently answered: “Who knows if you are coming back? I have sent them to sleep first.”

    With a pained expression, Jing Jun pleaded: “I did not sleep the whole day like sister; why didn’t you send me to sleep too?” Shan Rou rolled up the map and glared at him: “Are your legs grown on my body? You did not go to sleep on your own and now you are blaming others.”

    Jing Jun shot back: “Earlier, I said I wanted to sleep. Who is the one who dragged me out to check out the map?” Lacking a good reason, she gave him a strong shove and chimed: “Get lost! I have someone to accompany me now.”

    Jing Jun shook his head helplessly and gave Xiang Shaolong a look of sympathy before disappearing like a burst of smoke.

    Putting aside Zhao Ya’s issue, Xiang Shaolong sat opposite Shan Rou and asked: “Let me see what ugly drawing you have done.” Shan Rou was about to reopen the map but hid the map behind her upon hearing his words. Her almond eyes staring at him, she spit: “I dare you to repeat that!”

    Giving in, Xiang Shaolong toned down: “My good sister. Will you please allow me to admire your masterpiece that was resulted of your dedicated sweat, blood and tears?” From annoyance to joyfulness, Shan Rou laid out the map and hummed: “Dedicated sweat, blood and tears? You are so good at exaggeration.”

    Focusing on the map, Xiang Shaolong was quickly absorbed.

    It is a geographic map of both within Handan City and the outlaying areas. The details are precise and stunning. Although it is not as good as satellite pictures of the 21st Century, it is still a rare piece of work. Xiang Shaolong did not expect Shan Rou to be so talented but on the other hand, this is a basic requisite of an outstanding assassin.

    Shan Rou was pleased that Xiang Shaolong is giving the map plenty of attention. She began pointing out several key points and explaining them.

    Xiang Shaolong could not stop nodding his head and committing the information to memory.

    When Shan Rou finished, he heard the street watchman shouting the time. It was the third watch.

    Xiang Shaolong gave a big stretch and yawned: “Can you accompany me to sleep?” Shan Rou turned red-faced, shot him a glare and folded her map. Shaking her head, she rejected: “I am not sleepy at all. You go ahead on your own! Zhi Zhi is in my room. If you like it, you can carry your biggest fan to your room.” Xiang Shaolong casually replied: “If you do not want to sleep, so be it!” and entered his own room.

    Shan Rou jumped out with both hands on her waist interrupting: “Hey!”

    Xiang Shaolong was amused. Halting but not turning around, he asked with his back facing her: “What advice does Miss Shan has for me?” Shan Rou demanded: “Are you willing to help us sisters against Tian Dan or not?” Turning his well-built frame around, he put one hand out and offered: “Come! Let’s talk more in bed.”

    Both of Shan Rou’s cheeks turned reddish, adding more charm to this graceful beauty. Staring harshly stared at him and stomped her feet saying: “Who is afraid of going! If you are lying to me, I will kill you with one stroke of my dagger.”

    Xiang Shaolong smilingly walked to her and pulled her soft and warm hand, leading her back to his room.

    One step into the room, Shan Rou gave a violent struggle and pulled her hand back from his iron grip. She turned and tried to leave.

    Xiang Shaolong moved quickly and blocked her way taunting: “I thought we have agreed?” Shan Rou’s face was burning like fire. She use her hand to press against his chest to avoid falling into his embrace. “No! No deal!” She shook her head strongly. She withdrew her hand, stood straight up but lowered her head to avoid his devilish gaze.

    Xiang Shaolong was very aroused and laughed: “This is not the first time we shared a bed together, why is there no deal this time?” Shan Rou shook her head violently and blushed: “No! I know this time it will be different.”

    Xiang Shaolong noticed that she still dare not look straight at him and commented: “So the fierce like a tiger sister Shan also had a frightened and shy side of her!”

    Shan Rou forcefully raised her fully-red face. Catching his eyes, she was frightened into lowering her head again. Stamping her feet, she whined: “Are you giving way or not?” Xiang Shaolong started to unbutton her dress and plainly replied: “Feel free to use your dagger!”

    Under his caress, Shan Rou could not even stand straight, not to mention using her dagger.
    Trembling, she cried: “Ah! Please let me go?” Xiang Shaolong well-trained hands have already unbuttoned her outer garments, revealing her inner garments as well as the start of a deep cleavage.

    Shan Rou was shaking non-stop. She closed both eyes and was breathing quickly, causing her chest to heave a lot.

    Xiang Shaolong opened up her clothes beyond her shoulders and exposed her sword injury and her chest muscles. Pressing down her shoulders with his left hand, he pressed the sword scar with his right hand and asked: “Does it still hurt?” The trembling Shan Rou yelled: “Ah! Of course it hurts! You.... Ai! Xiang Shaolong! You big bully!”


    Xiang Shaolong moved his hand up and held onto her other shoulder tightly. He bent his head and kissed on the sword scar.

    How can Shan Rou endure this? She groaned in the most arousing manner.

    Xiang Shaolong took off her lower garments and carried her at her waist towards his bed.
    Shan Rou weakly held onto his neck and buried her head in his shoulder, panting heavily. When Xiang Shaolong climbed onto the bed, she regained her strength and slipped out from his grasp and hid in one corner of the bed with her back against the wall.

    Xiang Shaolong was feeling very sensual and tore after her, removing other parts of her clothing. Reminded of their earlier tussle when he saw her beautiful legs while her skirt was raised, his heart was burning with wild passion.

    After a brave yet hopeless defence by Shan Rou, this normally-stubborn beauty is left with a tight and thin white singlet and a pair of sweet-smelling shorts.

    Shan Rou suddenly became clear-minded and held on to her clothes while Xiang Shaolong’s invading hands have grabbed her round and supple legs.

    Shan Rou feebly looked at him and tremblingly pleaded: “Xiang Shaolong! We cannot do this! You haven’t even closed the door!”

    Xiang Shaolong was tooting with amusement. Releasing his hold on her white jade legs, he climbed down the bed and laughed: “I thought Sister you are a fearless woman. So you were actually afraid of an open door! I will do what you want!”

    When he reached the bed again, Shan Rou was seated up and staring hard at him.

    Xiang Shaolong was smiling from ear to ear sat in front of her with their legs touching. He leaned forward and asked: “Rou Rou, did you forget your dagger?” Shan Rou gave a snort and gave him a charming look before scolding: “So what if I am armed? What can a dagger do against a pervert like you?” Xiang Shaolong unscrupulously reached into her singlet and fondled her firm breasts. “You are not only a first class assassin; you are a natural stunner as well” he praised.

    With her eyes full of passion, Shan Rou weakly pressed on his shoulders and whined: “Have you had enough?” Xiang Shaolong was high on adrenaline to conquer this difficult beauty and countered: “Has Sister Rou had enough?” Shan Rou can no longer keep her eyes open. Out of a sudden, she grabbed his evil hand through her shirt and panted: “Can you stop for a while?” This is the first time Xiang Shaolong ever hear her speak in such a pleading tone. Letting his right hand rest between her breasts, he stopped and smiled: “So what now?” Shan Rou forcefully opened her eyes and protested; “I had said you were up to no good. See what you have caused!” Xiang Shaolong acted surprised: “What have I caused? I have caused you to be so mesmerizing and adorable!”

    He started fondling again.

    Shan Rou can no longer resist and trembled with his violations. She begged: “Can I say a few words?” Xiang Shaolong arrogantly halt his invasion and victoriously exclaimed: “What else is there to say? You should know what is about to happen!”

    Shan Rou shying lowered her head and added: “I know so I am here to negotiate with you.”
    Xiang Shaolong roared: “In any battle, the loser will have to be kicked out of the city. What is there to negotiate?”

    Shan Rou roared back: “Who has surrendered? You only won a small battle, I... ...” Xiang Shaolong is even more turned-on. He withdrew his right hand and smiled: “Ai! I almost forgot you still have some territory that I have not conquered. You still have your capital.”

    When his hands retreated, Shan Rou recovered quickly and somersaulted out of his devilish claws. She rolled till she reached the bedside and giggled: “Don’t come over or I will get out of your room!”

    Xiang Shaolong has no intention of pursuing. Adopting a waiting attitude, he shifted himself and leaned against the wall. Fully stretching his legs, he pointed at her and commanded: “Wifey come here obediently.”

    In a messy state of undress with her hair out of place, the sexy Shan Rou put her arms on her waist and snubbed: “No!”

    Noticing the full-of-confidence Xiang Shaolong sitting there admiring her body, she softened and coldly offered: “Unless you promised not to mole5t me.”

    Xiang Shaolong said in a huff: “Who will retreat having tasted some victory? Shan Rou, you are a mature woman and you should know there are some things tonight that you cannot avoid.”

    Shan Rou gave him faint look and acceptingly moved to his side. Adopting the same posture and stretching her beautiful legs, she smoothly said: “You should know better. I know I was arrogant in masquerading as your wife but I am unwilling to subject myself like other females. Other girls are born to be slaves or concubines or courtesans but I will not accept such a fate. Ai! I do not know how to explain further.”

    Xiang Shaolong was filled with guilt. Shan Rou possess different views about females compared to her peers. Putting his hand around her shoulder, he locked her fragrant lips in a deep kiss and both of them were lost in paradise.

    Shan Rou responded with great sensations.

    After a while, Xiang Shaolong held her face in front of his own. Peering into his crystal clear eyes, he vowed: “I will respect Rou Rou’s thinking. Tonight shall end here. You can sleep in my bed while I find somewhere else to sleep.”

    Shan Rou was lost and faintly asked: “Are you seeking Zhi Zhi or Tian sisters?” Xiang Shaolong replied: “I do not want to wake them. There is another spare room right? I will sleep there.”

    Shan Rou was moved and said: “I have never seen someone like you who is always so considerate about other people. Fine. Let’s go there together.”

    “Let’s go together,” was Xiang Shaolong’s stunned reply.

    Shan Rou resumed her haughty composure and curled up her mouth announcing: “If you violate me again, I will personally throw you back here to sleep alone. You are to keep this between us. Do not expect me to be as obedient as Zhi Zhi. Unless I desire you myself, you are not to take any liberties with me.”

    Xiang Shaolong remarked: “Aren’t you stealing the bell while covering your ears?” Shan Rou was curious: “What is stealing the bell while covering your ears?” Xiang Shaolong explained: “The thief covered his ears while stealing the bell. When he was running and the bell was ringing, he thought that if he cannot hear it, neither can others. Isn’t that what you are doing now?” Shan Rou bent over laughing and cried: “How is it the same? Nothing is ringing now!” Xiang Shaolong chuckled: “Has Miss Rou forgotten that she can moan?” Shan Rou was deeply embarrassed and forcefully pulled him down the bed hissing: “Come! It will be daybreak soon.”

    Xiang Shaolong was doubled up in laughter: “Rou Rou, there is evidence of your bell theft on the floor and on the bed.”

    In the comfortable night, two beating hearts were ringing. Both of them felt like they were having an exciting affair under the watch of the entire world.

  15. #95
    Senior Member kohchun's Avatar
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    Book 9 Chapter 06 – Each having their own motives

    Having tasted the forbidden fruit, Shan Rou was much more compliant and well behaved. Early in the morning, she pretended nothing has happened and brought Zhao Zhi to practise their swordsmanship on the garden. Jing Jun was pining for his pretty village girl and left for the farm at daybreak, leaving Tian Zhen and Tian Feng to breakfast with Xiang Shaolong.

    Wu Guo came in and reported: “Marquis Pingshan has sent word to invite third master to his residence in the afternoon.”

    Xiang Shaolong was alarmed. The person who wanted him to be the City Commander was Zhao Queen Empress Jing and not Han Chuang. Otherwise, it will not be easy for Han Chuang to fix an appointment with the First Lady of Zhao.

    Thinking deeper, everything starts falling in place.

    Handan City’s generals were all split into different factions. He is the only one who has yet to ally with any party. If he becomes the City Commander, he will naturally be the confidant of Empress Jing. After the demise of King Xiaocheng and the power transfer to Empress Jing, he will be her most powerful weapon.

    But why did she choose him?

    Wu Guo saw that Xiang Shaolong was deep in thought and dared not interrupt. When he was about to take his leave, Xiang Shaolong questioned: “How is the situation outside?” Wu Guo strictly reported: “It is more peaceful now but there are still Zhao soldiers doing checks at every main street. King Xiaocheng has sent out an official notice that no one is allowed to house any strangers and every inn is thoroughly searched.”

    Tian Zhen and Tian Feng like Wu Guo’s character. Witnessing his strict reporting, they cannot help but laughed in secret. While Xiang Shaolong looked away, he winked at them, adding to their happiness.

    Xiang Shaolong suddenly shouted: “Wu Guo!”

    Wu Guo jumped up in fright and quickly acknowledged.

    Xiang Shaolong instructed: “Send word to Talented Lady Ji that I will officially visit her in the evening and want to have dinner with her.”

    Wu Guo received his order and left.

    Full of sweat, Zhao Zhi and Shan Rou came in and sat on his two sides. The Tian sisters hurriedly see to their needs.

    Recalling Shan Rou’s enticing figure and wild beauty, his heart sweetened and coaxed: “Aren’t the both of you going for a shower first?” Shan Rou hesitated but Zhao Zhi joyfully complained: “But I am hungry!” As she ate, she continued: “Sister Rou’s steps have slowed down and I am able to catch up.”

    Xiang Shaolong understood the reason for the slowing down and nearly spit his bun out.

    Shan Rou’s face reddened and she pinched Xiang Shaolong’s thigh fiercely under the table.

    Zhao Zhi was deep in thought before enlightenment shone on her face. Her face then turned red and lowered her head, eating in an awkward atmosphere. Xiang Shaolong was humoured. Feeling both girls under the table, he then stood up patting his stomach, mentioning: “I am going out for a walk and exercise my muscles.”

    Zhao Zhi yelped: “Wait for me! I nearly forgot Zhao Ba instructed me to bring you to the martial school.”

    Xiang Shaolong joked: “Is this considered an invitation?” Zhao Zhi’s face was fiery red by now and she retorted: “Your legs are not grown on my body; Who cares where you are going.” Smiling sweetly, she batted her eyelids and left.

    Xiang Shaolong faced the Shan Rou who is still eating and added: “We’ll wait for sister!”

    Shan Rou gave a loud howl and kicked over with her leg.

    Xiang Shaolong avoided and smiled: “My good Rou Rou. Do you still think your kicks are as formidable as last night, nearly taking my life?” Smoke coming out from her ears, Shan Rou picked up a bun and threw it at his face. Xiang Shaolong caught the bun neatly and took a bite. “Sister Rou tastes better,” he said after a short moment of thinking.

    As Shan Rou pounced up like a mad tiger, he has followed Zhao Zhi and slipped into the bath house.

    He spent the entire morning at the martial school. When Zhao Ba brought up “Long Shan,” Xiang Shaolong gave the excuse that he was at the farm.

    As Zhao Zhi was directing fifty female warriors in their practice routines, Zhao Ba pulled Xiang Shaolong aside and intimately said: “I was summoned to the palace last night by King Xiaocheng and your name came up.”

    Stunned, Xiang Shaolong asked: “What?!” Zhao Ba continued in a low voice: “He wanted to hear about how you and Long Shan battled Li Yuan. Naturally, I was full of praise.”

    Xiang Shaolong quickly gave his thanks but his heart was muttering in turmoil.

    King Xiaocheng may not be so astute to discover any suspicious points about him but the crafty and intelligent Guo Kai may raise some suspicions about this horse-breeding army. Of course, King Xiaocheng may be just thinking of a suitable position for him and is seeking advice from Zhao’s chief Martial trainer.

    From Zhao Ba’s words, there must be other stuff that King Xiaocheng had spoken about. He must ask Zhao Zhi later if she knows anything.

    For everyone’s safety, he has to win over Zhao Ya and use her to investigate Guo Kai’s schemes. Anyway, Zhao Ya had deceived him before. When he deceived her in return, this wanton woman can only accept her fate.

    After lunch, Xiang Shaolong left Zhao Zhi at the martial school and went to Han Chuang’s residence alone.

    Handan City is slowly regaining its former peace but the pedestrians are much lesser. He met some soldiers occasionally and everyone paid respects to him. He felt more prestigious than his former position of Zhao’s Number One Warrior.

    Han Chuang’s residence is swarming with strict Zhao soldiers. Xiang Shaolong deduced that Empress Jing has arrived even before him.

    Why is she so anxious about him? Maybe she has a motive and needs someone she can trust to become Handan City’s City Commander and this newcomer is the best choice.

    He remember that Empress Jing and Zhao Ya were not on good terms at Tian Dan’s feast. If Empress Jing recommends other people for the post, Zhao Ya may object but if it was Dong Horse Fanatic, Zhao Ya may adopt a different attitude altogether.

    After the servant’s report, Han Chuang came to receive him in the main hall. He brought Xiang Shaolong to a side hall and suspiciously emphasize: “Be careful when you speak later. This sister Empress is very formidable. If you say anything wrong, your City Commander promotion will be gone.”

    Han Chuang continued: “On this trip to Handan City, I have another mission – which is to escort my State’s seventh Princess here to marry the Crown Prince. Empress Jing use her as an excuse to visit so there will be no loopholes.”

    Xiang Shaolong was amazed. This political marriage must be put together by Empress Jing. Among the six states, Zhao and Han are on much better terms.

    Taking this chance, Xiang Shaolong asked about the alliance treaty. Frustrated, Han Chuang cursed: “Using Yan as an excuse, Tian Dan and Li Yuan made a huge disruption to the negotiations. These two people in cahoots are more dangerous than Qin as far as we from the Three-States Ally are concerned. Guo Zhong and I heavily suspect them to mastermind the assassination on Lord Longyang and you. Not satisfied with only his death, they wanted to kill you as well.”

    Xiang Shaolong was blown away. With Zhao Ya’s reminder, he wasn’t as sure about his initial suspicion that Prince Xinling is the assassin. Although Tian Dan wanted to recruit him, it is just another form of “killing” him. In times like these, talented people that you cannot recruit are better killed so as to deprive other people of utilising them.

    An attendant came to report that Empress Jing is ready to meet him.

    With Han Chuang at his side, Xiang Shaolong crossed two stairwells, a huge garden before meeting the First Lady of Zhao in the inner chamber.

    After they paid their respects, Empress Jing winked at Han Chuang. He retreated with all the attendants, leaving only the two of them seated and facing each other across a table.

    Dressed in a luxurious outfit, the Zhao Queen looked even more elegant and attractive.

    Compared to Lady Pingyuan, they have their own strengths and it is hard to distinguish who better.

    Flashing her eyes and scrutinizing him, Empress Jing simply said: “Does Mister Dong know why I set up an appointment to see you?” From her tone, Xiang Shaolong could tell that it was herself and not Han Chuang who wanted him to be the City Commander. Han Chuang is just the messenger. He respectfully bowed: “Marquis has mentioned. I am grateful for your kindness and I will do my utmost best to repay your favour.”

    Empress Jing seemed to be unmoved by his display of loyalty. She coldly asked: “There are two reasons I chose you. Does Mister wish to know?” Xiang Shaolong raised his head in surprise; could it be that she was attracted to his masculinity?

    Her beautiful eyes looking deeply at him, she slowly said: “The first reason is that Tian Dan looks up to you, so you cannot be incapable.”

    Xiang Shaolong was hit by realization. Curious, he asked: “Can I know what the other reason is?” Empress Jing gave a light sigh: “Because you reminded me of someone else. He is fearless like you. Too bad for the timing and he can never be of use to me.”

    Xiang Shaolong was stricken. The person she mentioned is naturally himself.

    Noticing his silence, she asked: “Doesn’t Mister want to know who he is?” Nodding, Empress Jing is pleased with his thoughtfulness. Her voice switching, she coldly asked: “What is your relationship with Zhao Mu? Why did he try all means to divert his gift of the Tian sisters to you instead?” Xiang Shaolong knows that this is a crucial moment that he cannot afford to hesitate or give an answer similar to the one he gave to Zhao Ya. He shrugged his shoulders saying: “Since I entered Handan capital, the Marquis of Julu has been showering me with gifts. I do not have the slightest idea of why he is doing that.”

    Glaring at him briefly, she deeply proclaimed: “From today onwards, you can only be loyal to the King and me, the Queen. Any deviation will result in untold misfortunes; don’t say I did not warn you. Based on Mister’s intelligence, I need not say more and you should understand what is going on!” Xiang Shaolong had to admit that she is really clever. This female strategist put herself on the same level as King Xiaocheng. He cannot even tell if her words are real or false.

    On one side, she is using Zhao Mu. At the same time, she is guarding against him.

    Empress Jing added: “Did Marquis Julu tell you anything that is of special importance?” Thinking for a while, Xiang Shaolong disclosed: “Marquis Julu is not very fond of Li Yuan and often asked me for suggestions on how to fix him. There are no other special information.”

    Empress Jing was satisfied and nodded her head. Changing the topic, she asked: “Does Zhao Ya often come to harass you? She is ugly right? What are you always so aloof towards her?”

    Xiang Shaolong knows that she is asking these personal issues to test his loyalty. He gave a bored sigh: “I do not like loose women.” Empress Jing laughed: “I love your direct character. But if you want to be the City Commander, you have to stay close to Zhao Ya. Let this be my first order for you. ”

    Xiang Shaolong acted like he was unwilling and apologised: “Please forgive me for being a rough boor but I cannot deliberately cheat on anyone. If Empress sent me out to the battlefield for a fight to my death, I will not have the slightest hesitation.”

    This is called advancing by retreating. If he forgoes his usual style just for the sake of the City Commander position, it will only cause this poisonous and cold-blooded woman to despise him.

    True enough, Empress Jing is not the least offended. She consoled: “I know Mister is not such a person. But a loose woman can tempt men easily. I am not asking you to deceive her. I just want you to showcase your manly character and treat her like a common courtesan.”

    Xiang Shaolong was enjoying her charming attitude. His heart warmed up, he teased: “That is also possible, but knowing myself, all women who have done it with me are all reluctant to leave me.”

    Empress Jing was staring hard at him but now she is laughing like a shivering squid. Looking at him meaningfully, she said: “Why do you guys all love to brag about your abilities with women? With all these exaggeration, how can we tell who has the real ability?” Xiang Shaolong was suspicious and had a dying question. He held his tongue and laughed along: “From your speech, I realised that other men are also exaggerating too.”

    Empress Jing turned red-faced, knowing that she slipped. Isn’t this as good as telling others that she had tried many other men before?

    Recollecting Cheng Dan who stole his credit, Xiang Shaolong deduced that this ingrate may have been assisted by Empress Jing to reach his current position. By why didn’t she continue to lift him up and serve as the City Commander but chose himself instead? He was enlightened that this ambitious woman must have planted people within and outside the Imperial Court and used them for political manipulation.

    Both of them did not say anything for a while and the atmosphere was awkward.

    Empress Jing stood up and recovered her impenetrable aura. She coldly concluded: “I’ll make a move first! If you tell anyone about this event, I will never let you off!”

    Xiang Shaolong was cursing inside but he acted respectfully. He finally sighed with relief after sending her away.

    As he was bidding farewell to Han Chuang, Han Chuang put on a big display of friendship and insisted on bringing him to the official brothels one day before releasing him.

    Xiang Shaolong was idle and went ahead to visit Ji Yanran. From afar, he witnessed Tian Dan’s entourage entering the Liu Residence noisily. He was frightened and returned home first.

    Shan Rou and the Tian sisters were absent. After asking, he found out that Shan Rou went out shopping and took both sisters with her. Wu Guo accompanied him to his bedroom and enquired in a low voice: “Le Cheng’s head has been sent to the farm. First Master asked Third Master what to do with it.”

    Xiang Shaolong answered: “Let First Master decide. Wait for a few days until security is not as strict and send the traitor’s head back to Xianyang Chancellor Lu. Let him hand it to Empress Ji. Inform them to keep it confidential. Otherwise, everyone will know we killed Le Cheng.”

    Wu Guo received his order and left.

    Xiang Shaolong slept for four hours and rushed towards Liu Residence. Shan Rou and the Tian sisters have yet to return.

    The sun is setting in the west and everyone stayed indoors, giving the city a lifeless look.

    Xiang Shaolong was feeling emotional. In fact, everything was caused by King Xiaocheng.

    But this could also be fate. Otherwise, Xiao Pan will never be the future Qin Shihuang.

    Ai!

    This could be the Fate that Zou Yan was always talking about.

    Arriving at Liu Residence, Ji Yanran has been pining for him. The attendant sent him straight to her loft. Zou Yan was present as well. This meeting of three was a happy occasion.

    Ji Yanran prepared a set of exquisite dishes. When the three of them sat down around the table, the beauty poured wine personally for both of them. After toasting each other, she complained: “I only receive your news today. Before, I was thinking of you tirelessly and had a few white hairs.”

    Zou Yan was humoured: “If your hair is rebelling, I will represent all men and punish you with a cup.”

    Both persons toasted and drank one cup of wine. After Xiang Shaolong apologised to Ji Yanran, he winked at her. She understood his meaning and discharged her two attendants.

    Ji Yanran lowered her voice saying: “It is really done by you. Really great. Over two hundred people dead or injured in such a short span of time. Not only was the City is chaos, even Tian Dan and Li Yuan were taken aback, confused and suspicious.”

    Zou Yan frowned: “This incident also revealed your tracks. When Tian Dan visited Ji Yanran earlier and this issue was brought up, he did mention that Xiang Shaolong could be the real killer.”

    Xiang Shaolong was slightly stunned. He knew that he can deceive King Xiaocheng and Zhao Mu but he cannot deceive a legendary hero. Fortunately, he still has Teng Yi the trump card that can add doubts to Tian Dan’s hypothesis. He nodded and asked: “What did he ask from you?” Concerned about his safety, Ji Yanran did not reply and asked in return: “What should we do? What if he really suspects it was Xiang Shaolong?” Xiang Shaolong laughed: “There is no need to worry. In Handan City, everyone is suspecting one another. King Xiaocheng and company suspects it was done by Tian Dan and Zhao Mu. Besides, I have traps that will make my enemies tired and confused with my grass army and trees soldiers.”

    Zou Yan was tickled: “Grass army and trees soldiers? This description suits Handan City very well. Ji Yanran and I did analyze Le Cheng’s assassination and thought it cannot be you. First, you have too little men; Second, you will not put the city on alert with this move without capturing Zhao Mu beforehand.”

    Filled with concern, Ji Yanran chided: “Shaolong, you are too reckless!”

    Xiang Shaolong sighed: “I thought over this many times before acting. No one will suspect me because I am heavily injured.” He continued to explain why he must kill Le Cheng and the extra benefits.

    Adding: “If anyone were to investigate, they will discover that I have only a hundred odd men in my residence and my top expert Long Shan is outside the city. Who will believe I have the ability to do such a thing. The very next morning, this same batch of men left the city back to the farm in one piece. Who could have imagined that they were Le Cheng’s assassins?”

    Ji Yanran and Zou Yan stared at him with disbelief. It is a miracle to use a hundred to fight two hundred without a single casualty.

    Because of this point, even the brilliant Tian Dan should not have suspected it was them.

    Ji Yanran was relieved and poured more wine for him, protesting: “You are always performing deeds that no one dares to perform, making me anxious. Ai! The days seem unfulfilling without seeing you every day.”

    Xiang Shaolong apologised: “But my agenda today in finding you is to ask you to separate yourself from me for a while by leaving for Xianyang first.”

    Ji Yanran’s delicate hand shook and wine splattered on the table. Her face changing colour, she exclaimed: “I reject your proposal. Unless we discuss this properly, I will not accept any reason.”

    Xiang Shaolong looked pleadingly at Zou Yan but this great philosopher can only give a helpless glance.

    After Ji Yanran filled Zou Yan’s cup, she sweetly smiled: “Even if you think I am unreasonable, it cannot be helped.”

    Zou Yan tried to help: “Why did Shaolong want us to head for Xianyang first?” Ji Yanran picked up a piece of vegetable and placed it in Zou Yan’s bowl, stated: “No one else is allowed to bring up this matter anymore.”

    Xiang Shaolong surrendered: “Fine! Let us give up this idea! Is Talented Lady satisfied?” Looking at him with strong emotions, her eyes seemed to say “Satisfied!”

    Xiang Shaolong and Zou Yan smiled at each other bitterly.

    Zou Yan asked: “Handan City is not a good place to stay around for long. Do you have any new plans?” Xiang Shaolong replied: “If I can be promoted to be City Commander, a lot of problems can be solved. If not, we have to use a good scheme to get Zhao Mu to the farm and forcibly capture him back to Xianyang.”
    Ji Yanran butt in: “Don’t even dream that he will have the guts to leave the city. Even if he did, he will be escorted by one or two thousand soldiers. Every step will be well-planned so this is the worst strategy.”

    Xiang Shaolong icily said: “I am now racing against time. The question is that Zhao is awaiting the arrival of more of my men and livestock which does not exist. So I have to get Zhao Mu to rebel in the shortest time. Once he becomes isolated, he will be an easy prey for me. But the time is still the biggest challenge.”

    Both persons were worried about him.

    Xiang Shaolong remembered Tian Dan’s earlier visit and asked again: “What is Tian Dan here for?” Ji Yanran blushed and replied: “What good can it be? He officially invited me to visit Qi as his guest.”

    Xiang Shaolong secretly admired Tian Dan’s direct actions and asked: “How did Yanran answer him?” Ji Yanran said: “I told him I needed to consider for a few days as I want to ask your opinion first.”

    After a moment’s thought, Xiang Shaolong surmised: “I guess Lord Longyang is the only person who guessed correctly about our relationship. This is favourable to us. Despite not knowing who his assassin is, we benefitted from this episode and dissolved the threat of his constant scrutiny.”

    Ji Yanran happily cried: “I don’t care. I am going to your place tonight. I have many issues in my heart that I want to share with you!”

    Xiang Shaolong was curious: “What issues? Can’t you say it here?” Zou Yan was laughing and suggested: “Shall I absent myself?” Ji Yanran’s face was burning red. She viciously kicked Xiang Shaolong under that table and shyly whined: “Mister Zou is also teasing me.”

    Xiang Shaolong suddenly realised that the “issues” are just something she said for Zou Yan’s sake. The truth is she can no longer hold back her strong desires and wanted to make out with him.

    Checking the time, Xiang Shaolong joked: “I will await Miss Ji’s presence tonight. Oh! Do you have any idea when Le Cheng’s funeral is?”

    Both of them shook their head.

    He consolidated his thoughts and asked about Li Yuan.

    Ji Yanran informed: “He came to pester me every day. From his words, it seems like he is very close to Guo Zhong. I believe Guo Zhong will marry his daughter to him for sure.”

    Thinking about Guo Xiu’er future, Xiang Shaolong gave a sigh and bid his farewell before leaving.

    There are many things that cannot be rushed. He can only pray to become the City Commander.

  16. #96
    Senior Member kohchun's Avatar
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    Book 9 Chapter 7 – A Significant Difference

    Xiang Shaolong had just stepped into his residence with Wu Guo received him and reported: “Princess Ya is here. I invited her to the east room but she insisted on going into the inner hall. She has a dreadful look on her face!”

    Earlier, he had seen Zhao Ya’s carriage and Zhao Da in the driveway. There is also a platoon of Zhao soldiers outside his door. Hearing about Zhao Ya’s dreadful look, he felt uncomfortable and inquired: “Where is Miss Shan and Miss Zhi?” Wu Guo answered: “They have gone back to visit Uncle Zheng and is not coming back tonight.”

    Xiang Shaolong frowned: “Did they meet each other?” Wu Guo stated: “Miss Shan received her personally while Miss Zhi hid herself.”

    Xiang Shaolong was relieved and strode right into the inner hall. Just as he stepped over the door ledge, Zhao Ya who was seated alone at the table lifted her pale face and looked at him.

    Xiang Shaolong sat down beside her and asked carefully: “Why is your complexion so pale?” Zhao Ya icily demanded: “Dong Kuang! Did you really send your men to hold back Xiang Shaolong?” Xiang Shaolong had a big shock and put on an irritated look before replying: “Why did Princess make such a remark? Do I look like someone who breaks my promises?” Zhao Ya shot back: “In that case, why did I receive news that Xiang Shaolong was disguised as a travelling merchant and appeared in a village thirty miles east of Handan City? He was even involved in a fight with the local guard.” Xiang Shaolong set his mind at rest. Teng Yi had finally acted. Concerned, he asked: “Did they capture Xiang Shaolong?” Zhao Ya shook her head: “In the wilderness, no one is his match!”

    Xiang Shaolong curiously asked: “In this case, why is your face so deathly pale?” Zhao Ya was shaken and lowered her head, confessing: “I have no idea too. I think I am afraid that he knows that his tracks are exposed and he may not come to Handan anymore.”

    Xiang Shaolong understood her dilemma. She wanted him to come but wanted him to stay away at the same time. He lied: “My men detained him last night and warned him in Princess’s name. At the end of the day, I still do not comprehend why he wanted to come so close to Handan City. I have just received this news and have yet to inform Princess.”

    Zhao Ya looked at him suspiciously: “Are you lying to me?” Xiang Shaolong pretended to be infuriated and roared: “You just wait here, I will show you the evidence that I am not lying. Then I will chase you out of my residence and never want to set my eyes on you again!”

    Before she can say another word, he slipped back to his bedroom and retrieved a flying needle. He fondled the Tian sisters for a moment before heading back to the inner hall and put the flying needle on the table in front of Zhao Ya.

    The flying needle shone under the lamp.

    Zhao Ya stretched out her finger and stroked the needle, hot tears pouring out from both eyes. She trembled: “Heavens! You really found him. What... What did he say?” Xiang Shaolong used his sleeve to wipe her tears and lied: “He did not say anything. When we asked him for proof, he picked out this needle from a belt that is filled with flying needles. With that he left us. I did not expect him to stick around; he is really courageous.”

    Zhao Ya did not have any more doubts left. Gritting her teeth, she spoke softly after some time: “Dong Kuang, can you help Zhao Ya with another favour?”

    Xiang Shaolong was piqued: “What favour do you want? Hey! I nearly forgot to chase you out and you still dare to ask for favour...” Zhao Ya did not even hear his words and begged in a soft voice: “Can you bring me and catch up to him?” Xiang Shaolong was aghast: “No way!”

    In a daze, her body was shivering uncontrollably and she turned around and fell into his arms. With a loud “Hoo!” She began crying her heart out.

    Filled with her sweet embrace, Xiang Shaolong was saddened as well and sighed that she should not have betrayed him knowing that this will be the end result.

    After crying out all the pain and suffering in her heart, Zhao Ya recomposed herself. Still in his arms, she sobbed silently and the front of Xiang Shaolong’s shirt is all drenched. As he is wondering how to end this situation, she calmed down.

    After she stopped crying, Zhao Ya sat still and lowered her head while Xiang Shaolong dried her tears.

    Xiang Shaolong commented: “Princess must have owed Xiang Shaolong plenty of tears in her last life so she has to return so many tears today.”

    Zhao Ya forced a smile and shook her head in silence. Her complexion remains abnormal.

    Xiang Shaolong noticed her eyes were swollen with all the crying and sighed: “No one else can replace Xiang Shaolong in your heart. Princess need not deceive myself and yourself.”

    Zhao Ya apologetically reached out and felt his wet shirt. Her pretty eyes flashing of desire, she bit her lips: “I want to try. Dong Kuang. I need a man now. Can you carry Zhao Ya into your bedroom?”

    Xiang Shaolong was in a difficult position. If he rejects her again, it would put him as an unreasonable man. At the same time, he did not wish to hurt her fragile heart anymore.

    For the sake of the City Commander promotion, he cannot offend her.

    After he is done with Zhao Ya and Ji Yanran comes along later, will he still have the energy?

    Zhao Ya’s face is burning hot and she whined: “What are you hesitating about?” Xiang Shaolong sighed loudly and lifted her up but his mind is back in the 21st century. Based on his memory, he is trying to recall the dirty films he has seen and wanted to try out something new and exciting. If he used his usual methods, he may not be able to deceive this experienced woman whom he done with on many occasions.

    For an unknown reason, Zhao Ya was trembling with strong emotions. It could be that she is carried but an athletic and well-built man like Xiang Shaolong. Without any foreplay, she is already visibly excited and cannot hold back any longer.

    Thinking that there is no way out for him, Xiang Shaolong stepped into his bedroom and placed her on his bed.

    Gazing at him, Zhao Ya’s face is red like fire and she was panting non-stop. Her unconventional look is the most enthralling.

    Xiang Shaolong stood at the bedside and was feeling very inappropriate. In the moment, he cannot understand why as well.

    Zhao Ya softly invited: “Why is Mister Dong not joining me” Xiang Shaolong is having cold feet and purposely brought up: “Did Li Yuan visit Princess recently?” Zhao Ya did not reply at once and looked at the empty bed space beside her. Upset, Xiang Shaolong forced: “Answer my question first.”

    Zhao Ya closed her beautiful eyes and whispered: “Nope. I am busy with palace duties and did not meet anyone. There are only two men on my mind. One of them is you, and the other one you know who he is.”

    Xiang Shaolong sat on the bedside and gritted his teeth, undressing her. He asked in a low voice: “Who is a better lover? Li Yuan or Xiang Shaolong?” Zhao Ya reopened her eyes and gave a trouble answer: “What a difficult question! Oh... ” Xiang Shaolong had started to fondle her breasts tenderly and whispered: “I wish to know!”

    Under his caresses, Zhao Ya was shaking uncontrollably. Fidgeting, she moaned: “No one is as good as Xiang Shaolong. He is the only man who knows how to appreciate women. Ah! Dong Kuang! Please continue your torture!” With Xiang Shaolong’s movements, Zhao Ya is stark [email protected] She continued to pant and moan under his revenge-filled invasion.

    After the heavy petting, he climbed onto her.

    Zhao Ya’s reactions were close to maniacal. After the session, both parties are dog-tired. Although he is pining for Ji Yanran, he lacked the energy to leave the room. Although this session is two hours long, it is still early and he hoped that she hasn’t arrived yet.

    Lying on the bed, Zhao Ya is truly a treasure without comparison. She knows how to please men very well. There are prettier girls than her but there are not many who are more wild and wanton than her.

    Zhao Ya suddenly entangled herself around him. When Xiang Shaolong was panicking about a second round, the beauty whispered into his ear: “I am absolutely delighted. Even if I were to die now, I would have no regrets.”

    Xiang Shaolong had to ask: “Who is better? Xiang Shaolong or me?” After two fragrant kisses on his face, Zhao Ya gazed deeply into his eyes and corrected: “Are you referring to the previous Xiang Shaolong?” Xiang Shaolong could feel his entire body turning into winter and every limb was numb. He put up a brave front and asked: “Why did Princess make such a comment?” Zhao Ya flipped over and pressed her body weight on him. After a few more hot kisses, her warm tears flowed like the fountain and she cried: “Shaolong need to hide from me anymore. You forgot to apply your fragrance and the herbal smell is gone. When I was leaning in your bosom earlier, I recognize you and therefore ask for your love session to confirm my guess. Ai! Shaolong! You may be the most capable man on earth but how can you hide from me when you are in bed? Heavens! Such a delicate mask that caused me so much agony.” She then tried to grab his mask.

    Xiang Shaolong removed his mask before her grab and revealed his real looks. Zhao Ya’s pearl-like tears were dripping all over his face. Filled with agony and happiness, she sobbed.

    Xiang Shaolong sighed to himself. He stroked her alluring back for a while and flipped over, pressing Zhao Ya below his own body. Staring deeply into her eyes, he gave a forced smile: “Tian Dan was right. My soft-heartedness is my biggest flaw. Witnessing how pitiful and desperate you are over me; I abandoned all our past hatred. Otherwise, how can you embrace me and find out who is behind the sunglasses?” Cursing at his stupidity for there are no such thing as sunglasses in this ancient times, he stuttered: “Anyway you found out my true identity.”

    Under the present circumstances, Zhao Ya is not thinking deeply and delightfully chimed: “Heavens! You have forgiven Ya’er? Shaolong! Please kiss me!”

    Even if he did not want to please her, he did not have any other choice. He bent his head and covered her face with kisses.

    Zhao Ya passionately reacted. With her adrenaline flowing, she was holding him so tightly that he almost couldn’t breathe and they descended into madness.

    After a long entanglement, Xiang Shaolong was finally able to rest his mouth.

    Flustered and in ecstasy, Zhao Ya panted: “Shaolong! Can you call my name? Ever since Ya’er committed that big and stupid mistake, I have never enjoyed a moment of happiness and seriously depressed.”

    Wasn’t she happy with Qi Yu, Han Chuang and Li Yuan? Xiang Shaolong thought of but just couldn’t bear to ask.

    Reading his face, Zhao Ya understood what is on his mind and made a solemn vow: “Ya’er knows that she has erred. From tonight onwards, if Zhao Ya betrays Xiang Shaolong in any manner, let me be subjected to the worst forms of torture until my eventual death.”

    Xiang Shaolong did not know what came over him. He reached to her ear and called: “Ya’er! Ya’er!”

    These two words heralded a new storm. When the clouds have dispersed and the rain has stopped, Zhao Ya was lying next to Xiang Shaolong. Twisting her body to face him, she praised: “You are really formidable. With a hundred men, you killed Le Cheng as swiftly as lightning and as quiet as a mute, causing plenty of suspicion.”

    Xiang Shaolong comfortably stretched his masculine and well defined body. His hand slapped her bum with a loud “Piak!” and started to caress it, asking: “Did you people suspect me?” Zhao Ya disclosed: “Of course we did! But your men left the city early next morning. All of them were fresh-looking and nobody was injured so that ended our investigations. Ai! Who can beat you?”She continued in a softly: “Can I beg you for a favour?” Xiang Shaolong was disturbed and hissed: “Are you trying to cut a deal with me?” Terrified, Zhao Ya clarified: “No! Ya’er dare not. I am begging you.”

    Xiang Shaolong coldly said: “Speak!”

    Like a frightened bird, Zhao Ya snuggled closer and buried her face in his broad chest. She whined pitifully: “I beg that you do not use such tones with me. This will cause me to fear that you will abandon me again. When I agreed to help King Xiaocheng against you, I set the condition that you must never be harmed. Otherwise, I will never betray you.”

    Xiang Shaolong remained expressionless and state: “You have yet to tell me your favour.”

    Suppressing her fear, Zhao Ya gingerly divulged: “Lady Ni’s death is caused by Zhao Mu. King Xiaocheng is guilt-ridden after the incident but there is no point crying over spilt milk. That is why he is now distancing himself from Zhao Mu. When the Wu Family and you left for Qin, he aged ten years in one night. He is tormented with sickness and joint pains. Heaven is punishing him already.”

    Xiang Shaolong protested: “He has seemed to forget about his own daughter.”

    Zhao Ya was startled: “Can you let him off?” Xiang Shaolong regained his clear mind and intelligence. He did not want to force Zhao Ya to choose between King Xiaocheng and himself. He sighed: “Fine! Since you pleaded on his behalf. I will not hold anything against him.” After all, Qin Shihuang will be the one to take care of him.

    Zhao Ya was elated: “Shaolong, you are the best! Come, tell me what assistance do you require and I will do my best to help you.”

    Thinking to himself, Xiang Shaolong concluded that this is a blessing in disguise. With Zhao Ya on his side, anything can be achieved.

    Zhao Ya dare not offend Xiang Shaolong agreed to all the missions he gave her.

    Xiang Shaolong was pining for Ji Yanran and was about to leave when Zhao Ya happily promised: “Time is of the essence. I will see the King immediately. I will make sure you become the City Commander. The only objection will be from Guo Kai as he has someone else in mind.”

    Witnessing her devotion, Xiang Shaolong was thrilled and helped her to dress up. After all the tussling did he finally send her out personally.

    Watching her entourage leaving, he returned to his residence and Wu Guo welcomed him and announced: “Talented Lady Ji just arrived, Hey! Third Master is truly capable. I will not be able to take it if it was me.”

    Xiang Shaolong groaned inwardly. How is he to account to Ji Yanran later?

    When Xiang Shaolong woke up, it was late in the morning. Shan Rou was the one who woke him up. Totally lethargic, he is aware that if this continues, even an iron man will fall apart.

    Full of disdain, Shan Rou pinched his nose scolding: “Look at your deplorable state. You obviously still lacked sleep. Seems like I cannot even leave you alone for one night.”

    Xiang Shaolong sat up on the bed and hooked his arm around her flexible waist and joked: “If you were here last night, I don’t think I can even get up!”

    Shan Rou slipped away and stomped her feet: “You did not keep your promise and fooled around with Zhao Ya. I hate you.”

    Xiang Shaolong was stunned and asked: “Wu Guo told you?” Shan Rou made a face and challenged: “He dares to keep it from me? Zhao Ya came first followed by Ji Yanran. You cannot even take care of your own health.”

    Xiang Shaolong stood up and began some warm up exercises. “Rou Rou, shall we practise our swords together?” he invited. Shan Rou has never seen the warm up exercises of the 21st century and was taken aback: “Where did you learn such techniques?” Xiang Shaolong laughingly pointed to his brain and continued to ask: “Where is your sister?” Shan Rou replied: “She is back at the martial school. After all, she is one of the instructors.”

    The Tian sisters entered and chimed: “Master Dong is finally up.”

    Xiang Shaolong felt ashamed and began washing up. He dragged Shan Rou to the garden to be his practice partner.

    “Pi! Pi! Pa! Pa!” they were duelling when Teng Yi’s heroic laughter was heard at the side.

    Xiang Shaolong was overwhelmed to see him. Getting Wu Guo to take his place against Shan Rou, he breakfasted with Teng Yi in the main hall and updated him on his recent activities.

    When Teng Yi heard how Zhao Ya discovered his identity, he smiled: “I had anticipated such a day to come. Third Brother is soft-hearted and still has old ties to this wanton woman. But this matter only benefits us and gives her the chance to atone for her mistakes. You have better get Zhao Da to spy on her. In case of any deviation, we can still escape.”

    Xiang Shaolong was relieved that Teng Yi did not blame him. He suggested: “With Zhao Ya’s assistance, we can do a big job here and disrupt the alliance treaty of the six states. We may even create more trouble for Tian Dan and Li Yuan.”

    Teng Yi was astonished: “I thought you looked up to Tian Dan?” Exposed and embarrassed, Xiang Shaolong planned: “I had suspected the assassin to be Prince Xinling but it seems even more unlikely now. It could well be Tian Dan and Li Yuan’s scheme to break up the Three-State alliance. I will visit Lord Longyang later and test his suspicions. Ai! I trust people too easily and can be confused by them.”

    Teng Yi agreed: “This is both your strength and your flaw.”

    Wu Guo came in to report that Zhao Ya is here.

    Xiang Shaolong and Teng Yi caught each other’s glance and guessed that she is bringing good news.

  17. #97
    Senior Member kohchun's Avatar
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    Book 9 Chapter 8 – Ready to Kill

    Shedding her depressed attitude, Zhao Ya looked like a brand new person. She had regained her grace, beauty and energy. She smiled like a blossoming flower and her eyes were shining and attractive. Xiang Shaolong and Teng Yi were fascinated and stared in disbelief.

    Paying her respects from afar, she cooed: “Abundant health to Master Dong and Master Long. Zhao Ya sincerely pays her respects.”

    Xiang Shaolong and Teng Yi were embarrassed by such a greeting. The beauty behaved like nothing has happened between Xiang Shaolong and herself. Charmingly, she sat beside the small table and presented sweetly: “As per Master Dong’s command, I am lucky to stay alive. Wonder if I can redeem my sins.”

    “Please report your accomplishments first and we shall judge them.” Xiang Shaolong laughed.

    Zhao Ya smiled coquettishly and looked at him enchantingly. She then proudly state: “There are two big accomplishments and two small accomplishments. Let Miss tell you one by one.”

    Teng Yi was amused and served her tea, guessing: “The first accomplishment should be the creation of Dong City Commander, right? This accomplishment alone is enough to redeem your mistakes.”

    Zhao Ya batted her eye lashes and praised: “With Brother Long’s appreciation, Zhao Ya’s worries are gone with the wind!”

    Xiang Shaolong is full of happiness. Forgiveness is better than hatred and it serves more meaning and joy to life. Comparing the new Zhao Ya to the old is like comparing heaven and hell. He chuckled: “Quickly report the rest of the accomplishments and see how much grace you deserve from me.”

    Zhao Ya’s face is shining with delight and she gushed; “I have persuaded King Xiaocheng to recall Li Mu back to Handan City and combine forces against the traitor Zhao Mu. Does this count as a big accomplishment?” Teng Yi banged the table and lowered his voice: “In this case, everything is set. I will be surprised if Zhao Mu does not rebel at once.”

    Xiang Shaolong reached out and grabbed his hand tightly.

    When Zhao Ya added her hand to join the two united hands, Xiang Shaolong laughed: “Such an accomplishment is enough for me to have amnesia and forget about Ya’er’s previous affairs.”

    “Ah!” Zhao Ya cried. Shy but happy, she shot him a look.

    After the hands are withdrawn, Zhao Ya continued: “That woman (Empress Jing) really recommended Master Dong to King Xiaocheng. When the King came to ask my opinion, I kept praising your abilities and scored another goal.”

    Teng Yi and Shaolong stared at her in astonishment.

    Like a carefree bird, Zhao Ya proudly detailed: “I told the King – If the Dong Horse Fanatic is the City Commander, he is still considered neutral. Zhao Mu will surely tempt him to his side. That Dong Horse Fanatic can pretend to ally with him and be our spy in Zhao Mu’s camp. We can investigate Zhao Mu through him and may gather evidence of his rebellion. When Li Mu is back, we can get rid of the traitor once and for all.”

    Both men were overjoyed and praised her to the skies.

    This opportunity is unbelievable. With this, they can execute all their plans.

    Zhao Ya seriously said: “Thanks for your praises, Master Xiang and Master Long.” Teng Yi interrupted: “Have you forgotten I am Teng Yi? You can call me Second Brother!”

    Zhao Ya is at the peak of Mount Happiness and sweetly greeted Teng Yi: “Second Brother!”

    Xiang Shaolong warned: “Ya’er, if you carry on with your mood, it is as good as writing on your face that Xiang Shaolong is back.”

    Zhao Ya adorably glanced at him and reassured: “Master Dong need not worry. Princess knows what to do.”

    Teng Yi abruptly howled: “Why didn’t sister come and join us?”

    Xiang Shaolong knew that she is eavesdropping. Zhao Ya was startled and look towards the back corridor.

    Shan Rou was dressed in a luxurious long dress and swayed out in the most gorgeous manner. Her petite face remains tense and does not seemed happy about Xiang Shaolong’s renewed ties with Zhao Ya.

    Zhao Ya became awkward.

    Shan Rou was expressionless but she showed her authority by sitting right beside Xiang Shaolong.

    Teng Yi quickly winked at Xiang Shaolong. Shaolong is well-prepared and smiled at Zhao Ya: “With Ya’er’s great plan, if we do find evidence of Zhao Mu and Tian Dan’s conspiracy, does Ya’er think King Xiaocheng would dare to go against Tian Dan?” Shan Rou let out a small cry and became more focused and looked at Zhao Ya.

    Zhao Ya herself is considered quite a beauty as well. Except for her weak spot for Xiang Shaolong, she doesn’t give a [email protected] about anyone else, including Shan Rou. She purposely delayed: “We shall see what happens then. If the plot is successful, all the impossible might become possible.”

    Shan Rou is now on the losing end. She pinched vigorously Xiang Shaolong under the table and wanted him to intercede for her.

    Teng Yi spoke up first: “Qi is stronger than Zhao. In addition, Tian Dan did not come alone on this trip. Over ten thousand elite Qi soldiers are camping outside the City wall. I think King Xiaocheng can only swallow his pride.”

    Zhao Ya explained: “Qi’s current success is brought about by Tian Dan. If this man is gone, Qi will no longer be a threat to us. However, the ten thousand soldiers led by the famous general Dan Chu will not be easy to handle. Tian Dan is also escorted by a troop of the finest soldiers. Even if you attack him personally, it will still be an uphill task.”

    Shan Rou coldly snorted: “We can create a new strategy and force him back to Qi. When he retreats, we will have an opportunity.”

    Xiang Shaolong prioritised: “This matter still requires some planning. First, we must gather evidence of Tian Dan’s and Zhao Mu’s conspiracy. The rest can wait.”

    Shan Rou was ecstatic: “Make sure you keep your promise!”

    Xiang Shaolong chided: “You better be more respectful of Princess Ya so that she will help you in return.”

    Zhao Ya took the chance and said: “Master Dong is wrong. Madam Dong has been very respectful.”

    Shan Rou was embarrassed and submissively agreed.

    Xiang Shaolong was reminded of Le Cheng and asked about his funeral.

    Teng Yi suddenly asked: “Is the Lu Gong secret manual in the hands of Guo Zhong?”

    Zhao Ya protested: “Of course not! The manual is in my palace residence. Xiao Zhao and the rest are working hard to duplicate a copy. Once done, they will give the copy to Guo Zhong. But it all depends. If Guo Zhong seeks to leave Zhao, not only will he not get the manual, he will also not have a burial place.”

    Xiang Shaolong then realised why Xiao Zhao and her lovely friends are not around. He guessed that Li Yuan’s courtship of Zhao Ya is not to take revenge on him but for the manual. He blamed himself for not being sharp enough to notice this earlier. To Zhao Ya, he warned: “You must take more precautions. Tian Dan and Li Yuan would love to get their hands on the manual. Even Prince Xinling may have sent someone here to get the manual too. He hates you to the core. Oh! I better send some men to protect you.”

    Shan Rou volunteered: “Let us sisters take up this job!”

    Shaolong was annoyed: “You only want a chance to assassinate Tian Dan!”

    Shan Rou angrily retorted: “Am I such a narrow-minded person? You ingrate!”

    When all three of them looked at her with suspicion, she cutely shrugged her shoulders and surrendered: “It is fine if no one believes me.”

    Xiang Shaolong stood up: “Before I become the City Commander, let me seek out Lord Longyang and see what he thinks. Ai! It will be unbecoming if I have recovered but did not visited him.”

    Shan Rou coldly laughed: “Do not let him bewitch you.”

    Xiang Shaolong coughed and stared at her with irritation.

    Shan Rou covered her mouth and laughed in secret while Zhao Ya stood up as well and invited: “Ya’er is leaving too. Let me give you a lift!”

    Lord Longyang was seated at a corner of the living room. The seat is covered with thick fur and propped up with a soft pillow. An exquisite embroidered blanket covering both his legs, Lord Longyang’s pale complexion greeted Xiang Shaolong as he was led in by an attendant. He softly greeted: “Forgive Lord for not paying my respects. Brother Dong is most courteous to come and visit me. Please come and sit beside me.”

    Xiang Shaolong looked at his four males attendants and was curious about their delicate bodies, clear complexions and a powdery smell.

    Lord Longyang understood and apologised: “Brother Dong need not be puzzled. They are all great beauties dressed up as men!”

    Xiang Shaolong was amazed. Does Lord Longyang like women too? This will be a thousand year old tabloid article.

    After he was seated and had a drink of tea, the four cross dressers and ten over bodyguards left the room.

    Lord Longyang looked deeply into Xiang Shaolong’s eyes. His own eyes full of gratitude, he softly thanked: “Brother Dong saved my life. What can I do to repay you?” Xiang Shaolong wanted to say that the only way to thank me is not to get fresh with me anymore. Instead, he said: “I am only doing my best for a friend. It is nothing much. Is Lord getting better?” Cold rays flashed from the eyes of Lord Longyang as he hissed: “They will have to try harder to kill me.”

    Xiang Shaolong lowered his voice and directly asked: “Who could be the mastermind? A gentleman will revenge his sufferings. I will never let my enemies off.”

    Lord Longyang closed his eyes and kept quiet.

    Xiang Shaolong was bothered: “Is Lord keeping a secret from me? Who is the person who waves us to enter the gorge?” Lord Longyang opened his eyes and plainly said: “He is named Xia Yue. He has been located by Zhao soldiers. Too bad his throat has been slit and he cannot say anything anymore.”

    Xiang Shaolong was shaken: “Devious indeed. Killing the witness and eliminating the evidence.”

    Lord Longyang smiled coldly: “Killing him brings no benefit. He was originally from Qi and has been with me for only two years. I appreciate his swordsmanship and thought he was honest and reliable. To think that he turned out to be Tian Dan’s spy.”

    Xiang Shaolong was stricken: “Tian Dan is really the mastermind.”

    Lord Longyang confessed: “I have long been puzzled at Tian Dan’s coming to Handan. Now I finally know. He has no intention in the alliance at all. Now that Qin is having an internal strife, he wants to destroy our Three State Alliance. He harbours ill intentions against Zhao. With Li Mu at the border and Lian Po battling Yan, he took this chance to plot against Zhao. His huge army may have secretly entered Zhao and assumed different identities and are in hiding. Once activated, they will assist in conquering Zhao from within.”

    Xiang Shaolong has never regarded Tian Dan’s problem to be so serious. He had a rude shock and cried: “Has Lord informed Zhao King of this theory?” Lord Longyang shook his head: “This is such a big issue and I do not have any evidence; how can I say it out? After I recover, I am returning straight to Daliang and escape all the adversities. If Brother Dong wants to leave with me, I will see to it.”

    Xiang Shaolong was curious: “Lord intends to watch Zhao swallowed up by Tian Dan?” A cold smile appearing on his face, Lord Longyang calmly replied: “It won’t be so easy. Brother Dong has yet to reply me.” Xiang Shaolong shook his head: “I appreciate Lord’s kindness but my men and livestock are on the way here. How can I leave like that? After all, I am of Zhao origin and will fight Tian Dan if needed. I must avenge my injuries.”

    Lord Longyang sighed and slowly explained: “Tian Dan is the most powerful person now and your King cannot do anything to him. After Xiang Shaolong left, there are only thirty thousand soldiers left in Handan City. Most of them are old or weak. Li Mu and Lian Po are too far away to lend any assistance. If Brother Dong wishes to escape this calamity, the only way is to leave for Daliang. Unless you surrender to Tian Dan immediately, he will never let you off. This man is more vicious than anyone I have seen.”

    Xiang Shaolong is frightened by his words, knowing that he had underestimated Tian Dan. Luckily, he still has Zhao Mu’s support or he will die without knowing why. He stood up and wished: “Lord, please have a good rest!”

    Lord Longyang knew he remained unconvinced. He sighed and closed his eyes in silence.

    Standing quietly for a few seconds, Xiang Shaolong bid farewell and left.

    Sunlight was everywhere but Xiang Shaolong felt like he is soaking in ice water.

    The streets were as quiet as a graveyard but he could sense danger everywhere and feared an ambush.

    After talking to Lord Longyang, his narrow view widened a lot and he starts to think about many things that he has never thought of before. Covering all the possibilities, he managed to paint a complete picture.

    Tian Dan is filled with wild ambition and has an accurate picture of the warring landscape. While it is possible, he plans to swallow Zhao first.

    After the collapse of the Wu fortress, the Handan army suffered deaths and heavy injuries. There are no strong men to fill up the deficiencies and can only depend on weak and old women.

    The Zhao army has two big pillars. However, Lian Po is batting Yan while Li Mu is fighting the Xiong Nu at the border. Both are unable to extricate themselves from the battlefield. The capital is leaderless. Using the excuse to discuss the alliance, Tian Dan brought over ten thousand soldiers as an escort but they can threaten the survival of Zhao anytime.

    Of course! This army of ten thousand may not be enough to conquer Zhao. Lord Longyang’s speculation of a huge army ambushed with Handan City is unbelievable as it will arouse suspicion. Lord Longyang has this theory because he does not know the relationship between Tian Dan and Zhao Mu.

    Through Zhao Mu, he can manipulate the Zhao politics.

    Once King Xiaocheng is dead, Empress Jing will be named as the culprit. Using devious methods, Lian Po and Li Mu can be dealt with.

    With the two generals gone, Zhao will belong to Tian Dan.

    The assassination of Lord Longyang is due to foreign relations.

    The other five states will not sit by and watch Qi expand its territory and conquer Zhao. So Tian Dan needs their support.

    Yan and Han can be ignored. Yan is busy fighting Zhao and Han is too weak to fight. In fact, Han has lost every battle it fought.

    Only the remaining Wei and Chu are still a force to reckon with.

    Wei and Zhao are heavily interdependent and Wei will not allow Qi to overrun Zhao land.

    Chu is a different matter. Wei remains a great obstacle north of Chu. Without taking down Wei, the army of Chu will find it challenging to conquer China. Tian Dan must have enticed Li Yuan to attack Wei together and split the state between both Qi and Chu.

    That is the reason why Lord Longyang is assassinated. It will be Li Yuan’s idea to push the blame to Xiang Shaolong.

    Due to a stroke of good luck, he disrupted their plans and spoiled their calculations.

    Le Cheng’s killing has worsened the situation for Tian Dan. A fool proof plan was given the death sentence. Ultimately, Tian Dan do has reservations about attacking Zhao openly. Wei and Han, the other two states of the Three State Alliance will definitely step in.

    Now, he can only control Zhao via Zhao Mu and get rid of the two legendary generals. There are no other viable plans.

    In such times, if Xiang Shaolong can ascend to become the City Commander, he will be in the centre of all the conflicts and influences.

    After hearing his analysis, Teng Yi shook his head and sighed: “This kind of false alliance only serves to cause one’s depression.”

    Xiang Shaolong commented: “We are here in Handan for revenge only. But if this carries on, whether for ourselves or for work, we must try to destroy Tian Dan’s and Li Yuan’s conspiracy. No wonder Zhao Mu is confident of controlling Empress Jing. He has the solid backing of Tian Dan.”

    After further discussions, Xiang Shaolong head back to his room for a nap. At evening time, Zhao King sent someone to invite him into the palace. Xiang Shaolong was thrilled and set off at once.

    This round, Zhao King received him in the inner hall. Empress Jing, Zhao Ya, Guo Kai and Cheng Dan were all present. After paying his respects, King Xiaocheng got him to sit at the best seat, followed by Guo Kai and Cheng Dan.

    Empress Jing and Zhao Ya sat beyond the tables. Both women have a look of disillusion. It appears that he will not be promoted as the City Commander.

    Xiang Shaolong was feeling nervous. King Xiaocheng asked about his injuries as an ice-breaker and he answered duly. Of course, he replied that he has fully recovered.

    King Xiaocheng look slightly suspicious asked in a deep voice: “Your swordsmanship is incredible and you are good at deploying soldiers. Looking at your troops, we see evidence of your prowess. Have you thought of serving the military? If you accumulate military contributions, you can be promoted to be a Marquis in the near future, Regarding the farm, you can delegate it to your men. Subject Dong only needs to focus on the big picture and not fret about the other small issues.”

    Through the corner of his eye, he could see that Guo Kai and Cheng Dan have a jubilant look on their face. He knows that he has lost the promotion.

    But why then did King Xiaocheng hint at another important post for him? His mind turned very fast and he thought of the problem and also knew why the two ladies are frowning.

    Cheng Dan is the problem.

    Both are important military positions but to Xiang Shaolong, they are as different as black and white.

    Xiang Shaolong was alarmed. If King Xiaocheng announced his decision, the matter will be fixed and no one can change the decision in a short while.

    Although Cheng Dan was promoted due to Empress Jing’s backing, he seemed to be allying himself with Guo Kai now and broke free of Empress Jing’s control. No wonder Empress Jing changed her stand to support him now.

    Before anyone could react, Xiang Shaolong thankfully said: “Many thanks for the King’s generosity and opportunities. Even if I have to work myself to death, I must do my best to repay Your Majesty. I have some words that I am normally afraid to say but I will report them to Your Majesty now.”

    From his surprising confession, even Empress Jing and Zhao Ya were taken aback They wonder what he has to say at the risk of his life.

    King Xiaocheng was moved: “Subject Dong, feel free to say whatever you want. I will not blame you.”

    Xiang Shaolong seriously said: “I have abandoned everything I have to return to my home state to build a farm. I did this because I am a descendant of Zhao and to also fulfil my father’s dying wish to return to my roots. As long as Your Majesty has an order, I will execute it without hesitation and without complain.”

    King Xiaocheng kept nodding his head in appreciation.

    Xiang Shaolong vehemently revealed: “But after my observation of the recent developments in Zhao, I feel that we are in mortal danger and can face annihilation anytime.”

    The colour changed in everyone’s face. Guo Kai frowned: “Is Mister Dong exaggerating?” As King Xiaocheng’s top advisor, if he failed to detect what Xiang Shaolong has seen, he would have failed in his job and is obviously upset.

    King Xiaocheng encouraged: “Subject Dong, say what you want bravely and do not have any reservations.”

    Xiang Shaolong simply requested: “Can Your Majesty request the attendants to take their leave?” King Xiaocheng gave an order and everyone left, including the guards. The hall is only left with the six of them.

    Zhao Ya was totally intoxicated. She simply adores this heroic air of Xiang Shaolong.

    Empress Jing’s eyes are flashing with excitement, improving her opinion of him. She silently praised herself for choosing the right man.

    Guo Kai’s and Cheng Dan’s face turned unnatural, disbelieving the possibility of any earth-shattering news.

    Xiang Shaolong continued in a deep voice: “The distribution of power is for all to see. Qin is having an internal strife and every state can finally take a break and focus their energy in expanding their territory in order to unite the world. Today, the power-holders of all states are gathered in Zhao. On the surface, they are here to work together but on the contrary, they are scheming against one another. This kind of plotting is a hundred times more vicious than fighting on the battlefield.”

    Cheng Dan laughed coldly: “Aren’t you being too negative?” King Xiaocheng furrowed his brows and added: “The alliance discussion is not proceeding smoothly but it doesn’t seem as bad as it sounds.”

    Empress Jing and Zhao Ya did not know what to add so they maintained their silence.

    Xiang Shaolong burst out laughing and explained: “Only Zhao, Han and Wei are sincerely working to an alliance. Qi and Chu are not sharing borders with Qin and are not worried.”

    Guo Kai insisted: “Even if Qi and Chu bored evil motives, Zhao has just beaten Yan and our prestige is sky high. Wei and Han will not sit by and watch Qi and Chu attack us. Moreover, Qi and Chu are ultimately concerned about Qin and what can they use to conquer us?” Xiang Shaolong smiled: “Of course they will uses schemes to conquer us. The first example will be Lord Longyang. If he had not survived the assassination, the key suspect will be Prince Xinling. Even if Anli (Wei King) does not blame him, the imbalance of power will cause infighting in Wei. Then, Wei will not have the resources to deal with other states. Qi and Chu will benefit the most as the Three State Alliance will be destroyed. ”

    King Xiaocheng was agitated. He had suspected the assassins to be Tian Dan or Li Yuan but had stopped his speculation. He did not articulate the matter as clearly as or was as confident as Xiang Shaolong.

    Cheng Dan interrupted: “Mister Dong had better watch his words. If this was leaked out, it will cause uproar.”

    Zhao Ya coldly shot: “Who will leak this out?” Cheng Dan shut up.

    King Xiaocheng stared at Cheng Dan discontentedly. He asked with suspicion: “Does Subject Dong have any evidence?” Xiang Shaolong replied: “Earlier, I was right beside Lord Longyang and understood the whole circumstances from him. Lord Longyang has a personal escort named Xia Yue. Lord Longyang told me that Xia Yue is from Qi and has been serving him for less than two years. After the attack, he was found with his throat slit. Why did the mastermind want him dead? It is to prevent him from exposing the mastermind. If he is Prince Xinling’s men, he can easily escape back to Wei. The mastermind can also kill him in Wei. Killing him at all costs can only tell us that the mastermind is still in our State of Zhao.”

    Guo Kai and Cheng Dan do not know how to rebut him. After the attack, the assassins have carted away all their injured men, leaving all the Wei corpses. Lord Longyang had not told them about Xia Yue so they did not know one of the corpse belonged to the traitor.

    After some time, Guo Kai asked: “Why did Lord Longyang share this secret only with Mister Dong?” Xiang Shaolong simply said: “I had saved his life and he had wanted me to join him in Wei so he was the most honest with me.”

    King Xiaocheng’s complexion is as dreadful as can be. He cursed fiercely: “Well done, Tian Dan and Li Yuan!” and he coldly added: “Subject Dong must never forget that the people of Chu can never be trusted.”

    Xiang Shaolong continued: “The second case is about general Le Cheng’s assassination. General Le is the centre of influence of Handan’s army. With his death, if there wasn’t a promising replacement, the army will begin to destabilise. All Tian Dan or Li Yuan has to do is to collaborate with a few ambitious generals and they can manipulate our military. Our two famed generals Li Mu and Lian Po are situated far from Handan. By the time they are back, they will be too weak to put up a good defence. That is all I have to say.”

    Everyone is thinking about Tian Dan’s ten thousand strong army camped outside the city. If there is any internal chaos in Handan, this Qi army is sufficient to influence the any developments.

    If he did not conspire with Zhao Mu, the Qi soldiers are not to be feared but the situation is different now.

    Guo Kai and Cheng Dan remained dumbfounded. Like Xiang Shaolong before, they can see the danger but did not foresee the potential annihilation of Zhao.

    Paled with fear, King Xiaocheng asked: “Does Subject Dong have any plan to reverse this dangerous scenario?” Using his advancing but retreating strategy, he answered: “I am only a martial arts practitioner and do not have any brilliant strategy. This kind of big issues had better be handled by Chief Advisor Guo and General Cheng.”

    Guo Kai and Cheng Dan were very awkward. In such a short time, what can they offer to resolve this complex and intertwined circumstances?

    King Xiaocheng was disgruntled: “Can’t someone give me a good idea?” Guo Kai helplessly coughed: “The best way is to end this quickly. We will secretly capture and kill all the suspicious traitors and remove the thorn in the flesh. Even if Tian Dan and Li Yuan have a scheme, they cannot do anything... ...” Empress Jing interrupted: “Wouldn’t that cause an immediate rebellion? After the Wu Family incident, we cannot afford any more upheavals.”

    Cheng Dan volunteered: “Leave this matter to me. I guarantee that I will destroy all the traitors as fast as lightning and as quiet as a dumbbell.”

    Unconvinced, King Xiaocheng asked: “Does Subject Cheng know who the traitors are? While you are still planning, the traitors may have rebelled already.”

    Zhao Ya smiled: “Brother! Now you know that my words make sense! Only if Mister Dong becomes the City Commander, we can execute the ‘scheme within a scheme’ and capture all the rebels in one swoop.”

    King Xiaocheng decided: “Subject Dong, receive your order. From this moment, you are Handan’s City Commander. During the morning court tomorrow, I will officially issue you the military seal. Do not disappoint me.”

    Xiang Shaolong acted surprised before bowing with thanks.

    Empress Jing and Zhao Ya were over the moon. Guo Kai and Cheng Dan exchanged looks of viciousness, seeming to have a plot to get rid of him.

    All these cannot escape the sharp eyes of Xiang Shaolong. He laughed to himself. No matter how crafty they are, they will never guess that he and Zhao Mu share a special relationship.

    Ha!

    Now, he can openly conspire with Zhao Mu.

    This is truly a miracle.

    Xiang Shaolong requested King Xiaocheng that Teng Yi be made an assistant general before he left the palace.

  18. #98
    Senior Member kohchun's Avatar
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    Book 9 Chapter 9 Lucky Encounters

    After hearing the entire story from Xiang Shaolong, Zhao Mu stood up happily and faced the sky laughing: Heaven is really on my side. If I ever be the King of Zhao, you will be my Supreme Commander.

    Xiang Shaolong was amused: Time is of the essence. Let us plan against King Xiaocheng immediately. If Li Mu were to really return, the tide will turn against us.

    After a moments reflection, Zhao Mu asked: Zhao Ya has succumbed to you but why if Empress Jing helping you as well. She is in cahoots with Cheng Dan and there is no reason she will help an outsider like you.

    Xiang Shaolong then mentioned the part about Han Chuang and was bowled with laughter. With all his worries gone, he sat down again and said: I must disclose our relationship to Tian Dan and regain his confidence.

    Xiang Shaolongs face changed colour: You must never do that. Unless you reveal your own true identity, he will not believe you with his intelligence. Why dont I pretend to defect and he may even withdraw his soldiers? It is better to reveal our intentions later and take some precautions against him

    Zhao Mu nodded in agreement: You have thought through every detail. Li Mu will not be able to return so quickly. We still have some time.

    Xiang Shaolong added: Marquis had better gave me some names so that I can answer to the muddle-headed king and gain more of his trust.

    Zhao Mu smiled: So what if he knows all my spies? But let me consider this first. Once we have our strategies in place, we can then push forward. We can fake King Xiaocheng assassination by Xiang Shaolong. Once I control the military, Empress Jing will have to cooperate with me. Li Mu and Lian Po will also see the end of their career. Hai! It is better that Le Cheng is dead for I have some suspicions of his loyalty.

    Xiang Shaolong took the opportunity and asked: What is the relationship between Tian Dan and Li Yuan? Zhao Mu brushed: I see that they are just using each other!

    Xiang Shaolong can tell that Tian Dan is hiding some information from Zhao Mu regarding this issue and did not press further. He proposed: Before I am officially promoted, I must try to meet up with Tian Dan and gain his trust. Does Marquis have any pointers? Zhao Mu was pleased and clapped: I am fully confident in your abilities. Do as you wish. Let me plan a few scenarios and I will discuss the grand plan with you.

    He added: Tian Dan will be attending Guo Zhongs banquet this evening. See if you can catch him on the road.

    Xiang Shaolong thought of a preposterous idea and departed with glee.

    Xiang Shaolong is in his best mood. He slipped to Ji Yanrans loft and shared all the news with her. After a quick session, he intercepted Tian Dans entourage and entered his carriage.

    Tian Dan is indeed a cautious person. The Liu Zhong Xia and Liu Zhong Shi brothers are still protecting him in his carriage.

    Xiang Shaolong went straight to the point: I have thought over carefully and decided to serve Chancellor with all my heart.

    Tian Dan is overjoyed and asked: I thought Brother Dong needs a few days to consider? Why have you made such a quick decision? Xiang Shaolong seriously said: I have just met King Xiaocheng and he wishes to make me the new City Commander despite all odds. This has forced mu hand. I will slip away tonight and send someone to divert my incoming family and livestock to Qi to show my loyalty to Chancellor.

    Even the brilliant Tian Dan was stunned was a while before he recomposed his and cried: Is Handan so lacking in talent that King Xiaocheng has to choose such an unqualified person as you? I do not believe that King Xiaocheng has such an open mind and foresight.

    Xiang Shaolong explained: It is due to my good relationship with Princess Ya. She knows that I am still dissatisfied with King Xiaocheng and used this promotion to make me stay and accompany her. While he spoke, he scrutinised Tian Dans expression closely. When Tian Dan heard about his proximity to Zhao Ya, his eyes lit up. Xiang Shaolong deduced that Tian Dan might use his connection to Zhao Ya to steal the secret manual.

    Tian Dan stretched out his strong hand and held Xiang Shaolongs shoulder. In a serious manner, he dissuade: Brother Dong, you must never leave like that. If you stay behind as the City Commander, you will lend me an even bigger helping hand, do you understand? Xiang Shaolong pretending to protest: But... Tian Dan heavily emphasized: From today onwards, Dong Kuang is Tian Dans good brother and we will share wealth and woe. Do not worry and become the City Commander. I will come and discuss matters with you after two days.

    Xiang Shaolong gave up. In these times, everyone he spoke to are blatantly lying with their eyes with open. On one hand, Tian Dan tried to take his life. With his value going up, he addresses him as Brother. If not for his special identity, he will die without knowing why.

    The entourage is nearing the hilly roads besides Guo residence. Xiang Shaolong bid farewell and headed back to his residence.

    Before daybreak, Xiang Shaolong and Teng Yi were in the palace attending morning court.

    In front of all the officials, King Xiaocheng officially appointed Xiang Shaolong as the City Commander and Teng Yi as his Assistant General. He was given the official seal, official sword, and letter of appointment as well as other stuff.

    Guo Kai knew that the decision is final and dare not say anything in retaliation. Zhao Mus lackeys, Empress Jing and Zhao Ya cheered with delight. An impossible appointment has now become reality.

    After the court session, everyone came up to congratulate them and pave way for future collaborations, making both of them sigh with negativity.

    King Xiaocheng personally accompanied Xiang Shaolong and Teng Yi to inspect the City Army, letting the soldiers know who their new Commander is and gaining their obedience.

    King Xiaocheng proceeded to discuss with both of them the art of defending the city, Teng Yi took the chance to display his talent while Xiang Shaolong depended on his 21st century experience coupled with Mohist Founder Mo Yis art of war. King Xiaocheng could finally rest on his laurels and celebrate his excellent choice of men.

    The accompanying military leaders were all stunned into silence. From what the two men casually said, most of the strategies are something that they have never heard of. Initially unconvinced, they were finally won over by Xiang Shaolong and Teng Yi.

    After the discussion, King Xiaocheng returned to the palace while another Assistant General Zhao Ming Xiong escorted both of them back to the East Gate Army Command Centre. North of the Command Centres Great Hall, there is a raised armchair that is meant for the City Commander. When Xiang Shaolong took his seat there, over a hundred colonels, majors, captains and lieutenants lined up neatly on two sides and kneeled in respect. Xiang Shaolong felt like he was dreaming and cannot believe what is happening before his eyes.

    In the following days, both men are busy deploying the soldiers, improving their weapons and training new recruits. The elite soldiers are inserted into the City army and served as their personal escorts. At the same time, he located Pu Bu and four of his buddies within the City guards and promote them with some other soldiers to the rank of major so as to make it easier to deploy his troops in the future.

    When all is done, Xiang Shaolong was relieved and went to visit Zhao Mu.

    The traitor met him in the secret room. Zhao Mu sat down and laughed: General Dong, can you guess what Guo Kai did to topple you? That ungrateful [email protected] sent me a secret note that you are a pawn of King Xiaocheng who is out to catch traitors like me. He asks me to guard against you and I nearly died laughing.

    Xiang Shaolong was infuriated. Guo Kai this lowly scum is willing to forgo the big picture and harm him for his personal gain. Such a cunning man! Xiang Shaolong coldly asked: Can we do anything to bring him down? Zhao Mu advised: We must tolerate little nonsense like this and focus on the grand scheme. When Zhao is ours, I will destroy his family and subject him to all forms of torture. Let him enjoy his temporary freedom.

    Xiang Shaolong reported what had been discussed between Tian Dan and himself.

    Zhao Mu praised: You are a genius. No wonder Tian Dan is so enthusiastic lately. He kept visiting me to discuss plans to control the Zhao politics. Everything is ready but we still lack the chance to assassinate King Xiaocheng. Ai! I am getting impatient.

    Xiang Shaolong reasoned: This matter cannot be rushed. I am still fresh in my appointment and have yet to fully control the army. Every day, my influence grows. The most crucial issue now is to gain King Xiaochengs trust by producing some results.

    Zhao Mu waved: That is easy. We just leak some of our plans to King Xiaocheng and he will treat you like his most treasured object. After further talks, Zhao Mu came up with a bunch of names. Most of them are situated outside the City of Handan.

    Xiang Shaolong could tell from Zhao Mus flickering eyes that these men are innocent. Zhao Mu is using his hand to harm them. Cursing, he frowned: How come there is no one within the City? Zhao Mu hesitated before he added the names of two petty officials any another four military leaders. The four military leaders are guarding the Great Wall outside Handan. Wang Che of Ci District, (unabridged thread, post 25), whom Xiang Shaolong had met on his trip to Daliang, is also on the list.

    Xiang Shaolong is even more certain that this traitor is using this excuse to get rid of his enemies. Withholding this discovery, he nodded: Marquis must have some spies in the palace. It is better to divulge a few and gain the trust of King Xiaocheng.

    Zhao Mu happily added another two names; one of them is Zha Yuanyu (Post 26) who is Xiang Shaolongs camp officer on his Daliang trip. Xiang Shaolong was amused that Zhao Mu was taking advantage of his ignorance about Handan. In fact, he is more familiar with Zha Yuanyu than Zhao Mu ever will be. He teased Zhao Mu: Oh! Betraying our own people might not be appropriate. Why dont we skip this list and find some other innocent people as scapegoats and affect our enemies morale.

    Zhao Mus face changed colour. He can only keep his deceit to himself. If he did not change his list, then he will be openly lying to his confidante. He frantically argued: Lets see what happens in the next few days! If you have so much intelligence in such a short time, it will seem suspicious.

    Xiang Shaolong laughed secretly and agreed: I will obey all Marquiss instructions. When Marquis feels that the time is right, just send me the list!

    Zhao Mu sighed with relief. He appreciated that Xiang Shaolong is still as obedient despite his promotion and suggested: I heard that you have promoted some men. I have a few men too that you can promote as well so that they can help you control the security.

    Xiang Shaolong could tell that Zhao Mu is increasing his trust for him that he shared his spies details with him. He patted his own chest and swore: You can count on me. I will insert these people into important positions tomorrow.

    Zhao Mu is glad and revealed the names of four colonels.

    In the chain of command, the highest post is naturally the City Commander General. Under him will be two Assistant Generals, eight Colonels and twenty Majors. All of them have the authority to lead the soldiers.

    The City Army is divided into ten battalions. Each battalion has its own captains, lieutenants, warrant officers, sergeants and corporals.

    A corporal is the lowest rank and he takes charge of a group of five soldiers, including himself. The next higher rank will be the sergeant and he takes charge of fifty soldiers.

    The major will take charge of ten thousand soldiers and his own military leaders.

    The colonel is ranked even higher and has the authority to lead the entire army into battle. There are some differences between the colonels like there are strong armies and weak armies. If Xiang Shaolong inserts the four colonels into positions of power, it is as good as letting Zhao Mu control the City Army.

    Xiang Shaolong has a plan to counter this and is unafraid of such an arrangement.

    Xiang Shaolong knows that Zhao Mu will never fully disclose his entire list of spies. A bright idea came to his mind and he asked: The human mind is difficult to fathom. Does Marquis have any method to guarantee that they will not shy away and do their best for Marquis in times of urgent need? Zhao Mu smiled bitterly: No one can guarantee that!

    Xiang Shaolong thought of contracts and suggested: I have an idea which is called the loyalty letter. Marquis can get your spies to write a loyalty letter, swear on it and hand the letter for your safe-keeping. If you are in trouble and the letters end up with King Xiaocheng, they will be in trouble as well. Therefore, they will do their best and rebel with Marquis.

    Zhao Mu cannot tell that this is a trick and clapped: Great idea! With these, our rebellion will surely be successful!

    Xiang Shaolong naturally started: The first loyalty letter will be from me. This is to show my gratitude and loyalty to Marquis.

    Zhao Mu is so happy that he could hug Xiang Shaolong and kissed him. He got his attendant to fetch some brushes, ink and paper.

    Except for his signature, Xiang Shaolongs handwriting is unintelligible. But he had come so far and could only grit his teeth and wrote Dong Kuang is loyal to Zhao Mu messily.

    Zhao Mu does not hold it against him for he is a tribesman after all.

    Both men are now as close as brothers and there are no secrets between them.

    Leaving the Marquis Residence, Xiang Shaolong hurried into the palace to see King Xiaocheng. When Xiang Shaolong said he has a secret message, he was summoned to the royal study.

    This is the first time he was alone with King Xiaocheng and he knows that he has gained his full trust. He respectfully said: General has successfully entered Zhao Mus circle of trust.

    King Xiaocheng was surprised: How did Zhao Mu trust you so easily? Xiang Shaolong answered: We have been on good terms all along. The other reason is I wrote him a loyalty letter.

    He started to explain the whole situation and added: Once we get hold of the loyalty letters, we will be very clear of who the traitors are and will not kill anyone wrongfully.

    King Xiaocheng was elated: General Dong is brilliant to come up with such a plan. I can finally abandon my worries. When the time is ripe, General Dong must help me to raid his house and find the loyalty letters. We shall see who dares to rebel.

    Xiang Shaolong advised: That is not the best move as it will stir infighting. Besides, Tian Dan is still waiting for opportunities to make his move. Let me get my hands on these letters and investigate first. When we have eliminated the palace traitors and prevent any infighting, we will then focus on the military traitors. Till then, even if Zhao Mu has three heads and six arms, he will still bow beneath our forces.

    King Xiaocheng could not stop nodding his head: General shall see to it! Everything is at your disposal.

    Xiang Shaolong continued to give his report on his defect to Tian Dan. King Xiaocheng was furious and cursed: Thanks to your testing, this scum is indeed after our land

    Xiang Shaolong held more talks with him before bidding farewell

    He had just left the study when a palace maid intercepted him on Empress Jings orders.

    He had known about King Xiaochengs issue and that he does not care much for Empress Jing. But he had no idea that she was so brave to waylay him right after his meeting with King Xiaocheng. Helpless, he followed the palace maid into the inner palace.

    Exactly like the last time, all the female attendants he met en route were all looking at him seductively.

    These days, he has to attend morning court before the sun is up. Busy with his duties, he has no time to visit Zhao Ya or Ji Yanran. Back home, all the ladies are fast asleep. Even the Tian sisters who insist on waiting till he came home were asked to sleep first for Xiang Shaolong could not bear to see them losing sleep over him.

    He has more time today and wanted to visit Talented Lady Ji or Zhao Ya. Unluckily, Empress Jing acted first and he was upset but powerless at the same time.

    Until now, he does not have a clear picture of Zhao Mus and Empress Jings relationship. This will be a good chance to find out!

    The palace maid brought him straight to a short tower in the east garden. The palace guards paid their respects to him and made him feel absolutely glorious and prestigious.

    Another two palace maids opened the tower doors and winked at him smiling: Empress is waiting for General on the second floor.

    Before he could react, the two girls are kneeling on the floor and helping him to remove his shoes.

    Xiang Shaolong had a wild thought you only live once. Since he came to this ancient time, if he could do it with a queen, it will be quite an accomplishment.

    Thinking of her rejection the last time and her beautiful posture, his heart is now on fire.

    He still has certain reservations. If King Xiaocheng found out about this, how will he deal with him?

    In a dilemma, he climbed up the stairs.

    Every step is as heavy as a ton.

    Empress Jing is dressed in a luxurious robe and was sitting alone beside a long table. Seeing his appearance at the top of the steps, she cooed: General is here. Please sit beside me.

    Xiang Shaolong pulled up his socks and sat on the other side of the long table. He sighed: What orders does Empress have for me? Empress Jing batted her extended eye lashes and slowly said: Has General Dong just seen the King? Ai! Your King has been suffering from health problems recently and he refused to get enough rest. I am really afraid that he may fall sick and can never get up anymore.

    Xiang Shaolongs desires disappeared at once, having tasted her cruelty once more.

    She sounds like she is concerned about King Xiaocheng but is secretly wishing for his end. Once the Crown Prince ascends the throne, a young chap around the age of Xiao Pan will simply listen to her command. At that point in time, she will own Xiang Shaolong. If he is smart, he will continue to do her bidding.

    In a few words, she has spelt out the penalties and incentives clearly, adding a touch of intimacy and seduction, making it hard for anyone for reject her.

    Before he could reply, Empress Jing clapped her hand once. Two palace girls came up the stairs and laid a jug of warm white wine as well as wine cups on the table between them and left.

    Empress Jing personally poured two full cups of wine. Her fingers looked like they have never done any manual work before and her nails were painted in red. She handed one cup to Xiang Shaolong and raised her own cup. Facing Xiang Shaolong, she respectfully wished: Congratulations on your glorious promotion to become our City Commander!

    Xiang Shaolong hurriedly added: Thanks for Empresss support!

    Dang!

    The two cups collided in mid air. Covering her face with her sleeve, Empress Jing drank the wine in one shot. Within a short while, her cheeks turned rosy, adding to her attractiveness.

    Xiang Shaolong swore: Dong Kuang will never forget your kindness, please rest assured.

    Empress Jing shot a charming look at him and softly said: I know you are not an ungrateful man. Ya! Your performance the other day was simply exciting. I am more and more confident in you. Hey! Look at yourself! Why are you so uneasy? Are you afraid that King Xiaocheng will find out about our meeting? Xiang Shaolong sighed and frankly explained: I am grateful for your trust but this meeting does seemed inappropriate. If the King misunderstands Empress, even my death will not be sufficient to redeem my sin.

    Empress Jing was tickled: You speak very tactfully, unlike your usual self. I was the one who summoned you but you speak as if you initiate this meeting. Rest easy! The king does not bother about my affairs. He will not be upset with you. Does this make you feel better? Xiang Shaolong is more and more confused about the abnormal state palace affairs. He was trying to get more news about Zhao Mu and her when Empress Jing suspiciously asked him: Did Zhao Mu ever mention about me in front of you? Xiang Shaolong honestly said: Forgive my bluntness. Although Zhao Mu has never said anything directly, he has hinted that Empress Jing is in his side. Naturally, I did not report this to the King. Empress can rest easy.

    Empress Jings eyes were flashing viciously. She bit her teeth cursing: So what if he knows? It is entirely his fault.

    From this, Xiang Shaolong knows that it has to do with the 5ex games between King Xiaocheng and Zhao Mu. Even Empress Jing is part of their games. King Xiaocheng is truly an immoral pervert.

    Empress Jing slowly sighed: We are lucky for your reminder. Zhao Mu is an idi0t to keep a dangerous animal at home. He even dares to provoke the ambitious Tian Dan.

    Xiang Shaolong wanted to jump for joy. This is called thinking too much. From this new information, he guessed that Empress Jing did want to conspire with Zhao Mu. With the introduction of Tian Dan, she beat a hasty retreat.

    The relationship between these people fluctuates with their rise and fall in fortunes. If Zhao Mu really sits on the throne, Empress Jing may just leap into his arms.

    Empress Jing batted her eye at him and frowned: Why are you so quiet!

    Xiang Shaolong could tell that she voice is becoming more and more intimate. He was shaken and feigned: I was thinking of what I can do next to make you happy regardless of the difficulty involved.

    Empress Jing was laughing uncontrollably for a while. She then seductively gazed at him and softly said: You are delicate despite your rough behaviour and know how to make women happy. No wonder the h0rny Zhao Ya was intoxicated by you and throw Qi Yu, Han Chuang and Li Yuan out of her residence. Her spirits at an all time high, she has even forgotten about Xiang Shaolong. I would love to have that experience as well. Fine! I know that you are occupied and will not waste any of your time.

    Xiang Shaolong was enchanted by her words and was thinking that he can taste the flavour of the high and mighty Zhao Queen. At the height of his emotions, she asked him to leave. He knows that the Empress is playing a game of acting welcome but actually rejecting. Hardening his heart with hatred, he bide his farewell helplessly.

    Exiting the palace, he was tempted to visit Xiao Zhao and the rest. Suppressing this unwise decision, he head back to the Command Centre.

  19. #99
    Senior Member kohchun's Avatar
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    Book 9 Chapter 10 – Guo’s Wedding Feast

    Back at the East Gate Army Command Centre, it is evening time and Teng Yi just came back from training the soldiers. They gathered in a study room that is filled with bamboo books and began talking.

    Teng Yi gave him a general report of the City defences and ended: “Handan’s available soldiers are actually twenty thousand only. The rest are old, weak, female or untrained recruits. If activated, they will only obstruct the rest and ruin the morale.”

    Xiang Shaolong advised: “Quality is more important than quantity. Second brother please assign the new soldiers and the weak and old to the camps outside the city. Let them undergo training or engage in preventive work.”

    Teng Yi reminded: “For this deployment, your army seal is insufficient. We need to get the other half of the seal from King Xiaocheng.”

    Xiang Shaolong reassured: “You can count on me.” He continued to relate the issue of Zhao Mu’s four colonels.

    Teng Yi understood at once and laughed: “Got it! I will promote them based on their abilities and give them a non-existent workload.”

    Xiang Shaolong sighed: “I am lucky to have your assistance. Otherwise, these complex issues will drive me crazy. How in the world did Le Cheng indulge in courtesans every night and hide so many women?” Teng Yi answered: “Easy. Delegate all the complex issues to Assistant General Zhao Ming Xiong but all the credit goes to him instead. Zhao Ming Xiong is a talent. He was sidelined as he was recommended by Lian Po. I heard that Le Cheng had wanted to demote him on many occasions but they were all overturned by your Ya’er personal intervention to King Xiaocheng. To think that Ya’er commands such influence over King Xiaocheng.”

    After a moment of reflection, Xiang Shaolong asked about the Qi soldiers camping outside the city walls.

    Teng Yi replied: “I have sent men to erect sentry towers at the four corners of the Qi camp and keep them under day and night observation. On the surface, there is nothing going on, even normal training. I suspect that they are digging tunnels and they are very discreet so we cannot detect anything. I have sent Little Jun to spy on them and we should have news soon.”

    “Oh!” Teng Yi exclaimed: “I nearly forgot. Lord Longyang has sent someone to look for you and invited you to make a trip to his place. Guo Zhong is throwing a huge feast at his residence tonight. Not only are you invited, even I am included.”

    Xiang Shaolong exchanged a look with him and they both shook their heads and sighed.

    Teng Yi decided: “I won’t be going and will manage the fort here. Handan looks peaceful on the outside but it is full of killing aura. Any negligence and it will be too late for regrets.”

    Xiang Shaolong mused: “It’s all yours! Ai! What in the world are we doing, helping the Zhao solve their problems?”

    Teng Yi stood up with him: “King Xiaocheng is giving Zhao Mu to you as a present, third brother must repay his kindness. Make a trip home first! I hardly see you talking to Shan Rou and the rest.”

    Xiang Shaolong left with a reluctant smile.

    With Wu Guo leading his entourage out of the Command Centre, he ran into Tian Dan’s entourage. Xiang Shaolong naturally knew that Tian Dan is coming specially for him and entered his carriage.

    The Liu Brothers are seated behind Tian Dan while Xiang Shaolong is seated beside him. This Qi leader smiled: “Brother Dong is an excellent City Commander. The whole situation looks powerful and refreshing.”

    After apologising, he added: “To gain the trust of King Xiaocheng, I have sent someone to monitor your entourage. Please forgive me.”

    Tian Dan joyfully patted his shoulder: “I am not an unreasonable man.” Continuing in a low voice: “Have you found out who killed Le Cheng?” Xiang Shaolong nearly fell apart and hurriedly replied: “If I am not mistaken, it is done by Xiang Shaolong. A few days later, he was detected at a village near Handan City.”

    Tian Dan mysteriously laughed at his words and plainly state: “This must be Xiang Shaolong’s doing. No one else hated Le Cheng as much as he. In fact, Le Cheng is the first target. If Zhao Mu is not the next target, then it will be King Xiaocheng himself.”

    Xiang Shaolong could feel all his bones freezing and was like a fish out of water.

    Tian Dan coldly thinks aloud: “If it is done by Xiang Shaolong, this matter will be very interesting. Where is he hiding in Handan? Who is his spy to track Le Cheng’s movements so accurately? Can Brother Dong answer these questions?” Xiang Shaolong answered in a deep voice: “If I am Xiang Shaolong, I will not be so stupid to hide in the City. Regarding the spy, it is a piece of cake. The Wu Family has deep connections here. There will surely be someone who will cooperate with him”

    Tian Dan continued smiling: “Why did he alert the city with Le Cheng’s killing? ”

    Xiang Shaolong was startled and cannot comprehend where he is coming from. He frowned: “What does Chancellor Tian thinks?” Tian Dan stared at the dark street and slowly said one word at a time: “Xiang Shaolong has been back for quite some time already. I can feel it.”

    Xiang Shaolong had a big fright. He lowered his voice and asked: “Does Chancellor Tian know where he is?” He vowed that if his cover is blown, he will kill him right away regardless of the consequences.

    Tian Dan let out a very long sigh: “Xiang Shaolong is the most extraordinary man I have ever known. King Xiaocheng did not treasure him and missed out a great opportunity to regain the glory of Zhao.”

    Shaking his head, he sighed again and patted Xiang Shaolong on his shoulder: “Mark my words. There are spies in Le Cheng’s personal escort team. Investigate those that did not go along with Le Cheng that fateful night and you will find the spy. Do a good job. If we can really apprehend Xiang Shaolong, we can use him in an exciting negotiation.”

    Xiang Shaolong was astonished: “What negotiation?” Tian Dan simply said: “Like exchanging him for Zhao Ya’s Lu Gong Secret Manual.”

    Xiang Shaolong was amazed. This man is too scary for words. If not for his fake identity, he will not be able to play this game with Tian Dan and may even lose everything he has.

    At this point, the horse carriage is driving up the hill road leading to the Guo Residence. As the carriage bumped forward, Tian Dan casually asked: “Where did Brother Dong learn his art of city defence?” Xiang Shaolong had anticipated this question and shrugged his shoulders: “Everything I know is from personal experience. After numerous battles, I know soldiering. After living with horses, I know how to breed them. It is nothing actually.”

    Tian Dan maintained his silence for a while before inquiring: “Why did Brother Dong look up to me?” Xiang Shaolong acted like he was full of sincerity and explained: “Horse breeders must first know how to take care of their horses. Please excuse my eccentricity. Comparing horses to human, among those I have seen, there are none as good as Chancellor’s Tian horses.”

    Tian Dan was laughing so hard he started to cry. He readily accepts his answer and warned: “You have to guard against Li Yuan. He is extremely narrow-minded and hates you to the core. He will not stop until you are dead. Especially after Zhao Ya become intoxicated with you and ruin his chances at Lu Gong’s Secret Manual. Remember, he will stop at nothing.”

    Xiang Shaolong has no more doubts that Tian Dan and Li Yuan are the masterminds behind Lord Longyang’s assassination. The Guo Residence came into view. Xiang Shaolong quietly cursed that he cannot even share a proper conversation with Shan Rou and the Tian sisters. He wonders if he will get to see Ji Yanran, Zhao Ya or even Zhao Zhi.

    He has lost a lot of excitement in his life.

    The Guo Residence is brightly lit and full of guests, adding to the festivities.

    Xiang Shaolong slipped out of the carriage before entering the residence separately to avoid being seen with Tian Dan.

    When he stepped into the residence after Tian Dan, he could see Guo Zhong giving Tian Dan a warm welcome and is busy introducing him to the other famous Zhao dignitaries, making him the centre of attention.

    Xiang Shaolong was secretly happy. He retreated down the road leading to the residence and glided into a big garden in front of the residence. He breathed deeply and was energised by the refreshing cool air and caught a whiff of fragrance.

    Xiang Shaolong turned around and Zhao Ya appeared at his side. Grabbing his arm, she dragged him towards a little pavilion deeper into the picturesque garden. She praised: “Ya’er thought Master Ding will be unavailable. Ai! You are really capable. Only a few days have passed and you have improved the military strength of Handan City. With such good defence, no one will miss Le Cheng.”

    After crossing two bridges, they came to a pavilion by a pond. The human voice and lights seemed to come from another dimension. They seemed to be in an isolated paradise of their own.

    Xiang Shaolong leaned on the stone fence and put his hand around her thin waist and smiled: “I have decided to help your brother (Zhao King) resolve the danger surrounding Handan City. How are you going to thank me?” Zhao Ya trembled slightly and leaned into his bosom saying: “Ya’er can only get rid of her old ways and become Master Dong’s most obedient woman!” In a low voice, she continued: “Can you really forget the past wrongdoings? Ya’er is afraid that King Xiaocheng cannot withstand another blow.”

    Xiang Shaolong cannot help but to look at her with mistrust. Zhao Ya had a big shock and cried; “You have no confidence in me!”

    Xiang Shaolong simply reassure: “Set your mind at ease. I have a great plan and I promise that your brother will never know that Xiang Shaolong has ever been to Handan or has even been the City Commander.”

    Still upset, Zhao Ya mumbled: “Zhao Ya understands.”

    Seeing her crestfallen look, Xiang Shaolong took pity on her. Kissing her lips, he smiled: “Do not worry. As long as you do what you promised, how can I not love you?”

    Zhao Ya slowly said: “Will you really bring me away?” Xiang Shaolong knows that she is terrified and may have wild thoughts or worry incessantly. He seriously state: “Why would I have the heart to deceive a poor girl like you who is looking for your drop of honey?” Zhao Ya’s face began to turn red and she stomped her feet and whined: “I am dissatisfied. After you became Dong Kuang, I still gave all my love to you and my body as well and yet you still bullied me.”

    Xiang Shaolong had a good laugh. Moving his hands lower, he strongly slapped her two firm bums and asked; “Why is Guo Zhong arranging such a huge feast tonight?”

    Zhao Ya was surprised: “You are really immersed in your work and have no inkling that Tycoon Guo is marrying his daughter to Li Yuan.”

    Xiang Shaolong was shaken and enquired: “Guo Zhong is really leaving; will your brother let him off?” Zhao Ya sighed: “The alliance discussion is on hold because of Yan and King Xiaocheng refused to give in. Guo Zhong is a man who only looks at profits. He will not wait here for the Qin army to conquer the city. With Li Yuan as his son-in-law, what can brother do?” Xiang Shaolong comment: “If you leave with me too, wouldn’t your brother be heart-broken?” Zhao Ya was in a state of panic and faintly said: “Have I not done my best for him? I did not even hold Sister Ni’s death against him and nearly cause the death of my most beloved. Only he owes me; what do I owe him? As a female, what more can I achieve? I know him better than anyone. Don’t be too happy with his appreciation. Once the danger is over, he will treat you differently. Lian Po and Li Mu did so much for the state and look at them now. He only cares about himself and my heart for him is dead. Ai! If my brother is dead and that woman becomes the Dowager, her first target will be poor me. How can I not leave?” Xiang Shaolong concluded: “I am relieved to hear these words from you.”

    Still unconvinced, Zhao Ya declared: “Still disbelieving? For you, I am willing to die without any regrets.’

    Before he could reply, Zhao Ya added: “The main banquet will be held in Chu. Guo Zhong will have to preside the dinner at the capital of Chu. You should understand!”

    Xiang Shaolong was enlightened and affirmed: “Great move! Come, let’s join in the fun!”

    He slapped her back, saying: “You go back first or everyone will be jealous of me.”

    Zhao Ya passionately asked; “Shall I come to your place tonight?” Xiang Shaolong thought of Shan Rou and frowned: “We shall confirm later! Is Talented Lady Ji coming?” Zhao Ya proudly said: “She is here long ago and is busy looking for her lover. Luckily Ya’er acted first.”

    Xiang Shaolong is very entertained and chased her away before entering the building.

    The garden is filled with performers to keep the guests occupied. Seeing this new office-bearer, everyone came to welcome him. By the time Xiang Shaolong managed to extricate himself, Han Chuang led him to a corner and praised: “General Dong is a man of talent. I have never seen Sister Jing having such a high opinion of anyone.”

    Xiang Shaolong humbly replied: “It is all thanks to Marquis’s arrangement.”

    Han Chuang cursed: “Don’t worry. I have put in the best word for you in front of Empress. You must guard against Guo Kai the scum. He is currently spreading rumours that you have laid the Queen to get your promotion to City Commander. Hei! This cunning [email protected] dared to act so recklessly only because he is the lover of King Xiaocheng. I cannot take this lying down.”

    Xiang Shaolong exclaimed: “What?!” Han Chuang continued: “No many people knows about this. Outside the palace, probably not even a single person knows. King Xiaocheng cannot do without men. Too bad you are not [email protected] or you can replace him.”

    Every strand of Xiang Shaolong’s hair is standing at its end. He coughed: “Let’s stop here.”

    Han Chuang intimately added: “It is better you love women! The Queen is a rare beauty and if you can make her happy, Zhao will be at your command when the Crown Prince ascends the throne. When that happens, do not forget your old friend Han Chuang.”

    Xiang Shaolong could tell that Han Chuang wants to control Empress Jing through him. He can also deduce that Empress Jing is not fully obedient towards him. Afraid that he will ask for the Tian sisters, he dragged Han Chuang towards the building and warned as they walked: “Marquis must take precautions. I suspect Qi and Chu are behind Lord Longyang’s attack.”

    Han Chuang turned pale: “What?!” Xiang Shaolong is confident that Empress Jing does not share all her knowledge with Han Chuang. They ran into another group of guests and Xiang Shaolong took the chance to slip away and strode towards the main banquet hall.

    In the centre of the hall, Guo Zhong stood there and welcomed him: “General Dong is newly promoted to be our City Commander and I have yet to send my congratulations.”

    Xiang Shaolong swept his gaze and did not see his two sons. He guessed that Guo Zhong must have followed Wu Yingyuan’s example and sent his sons away first. He shook his hands and politely said: “It should be General congratulating Mister. You have gained such a handsome son-in-law. All the potential father-in-laws in Handan can only stand aside and watch with hatred and jealousy.”

    Guo Zhong laughed: “Talking with you is always a joyful occasion.”

    The main hall is now filled with various guests, numbering almost a thousand. Some of the more reclusive powerful families were also present in their best outfits. With the grand attires and fanfare, who could have guessed that Handan is in danger of war?

    Xiang Shaolong’s sharp eyes caught Li Yuan who is situated at the other side of the main hall. He is cheerfully chatting with Tian Dan, Guo Kai and Cheng Dan.

    Empress Jing made her entrance but King Xiaocheng is absent to show his displeasure.

    Ji Yanran can also be seen with another group of people. Even the anti-social Zou Yan is here. Yanran is chatting intimately with the just-recovered Lord Longyang. Both of them are old friends and are naturally close.

    Zhao Ba and Zhao Zhi are helping to usher in the guests. Zhao Zhi saw Xiang Shaolong and her eyes widened. Abandoning her company of extinguished ladies, she flew over like a bird.

    Xiang Shaolong was blaming himself for being muddle-headed and coming without a present so he took the chance to excuse himself and met up with Zhao Zhi.

    This unique beauty whined upon contact: “General Dong! Zhi Zhi hasn’t seen you for so many days and is suffering in agony! You must accompany me tonight no matter what happens.”

    Before anything could happened, Lord Longyang appeared out of nowhere between them. With his warm eyes staring deeply into his own eyes, he stretched his hand and held onto Xiang Shaolong’s hands tightly and cooed: “Except for Wei King, I have never felt as much gratitude to anyone compared to Brother Dong. No matter what happens, Brother Dong must not forget that there is someone waiting for you in Daliang.”

    Xiang Shaolong could feel all his goose pimples standing. He was embarrassed and upset but cannot bear to pull his hand away after seeing how emotional and lonely the other party is. Choosing to believe that he is just affectionate towards both sexes, he started to feel better and consoled him by patting in his shoulder and said: “Dong Kuang understands. Please have a safe journey.”

    As Lord Longyang released his hand, he caught Han Chuang walking over. Afraid that he may ask for the Tian sisters, he begged Lord Longyang: “Lord, please help me detain this man.”

    Lord Longyang was surprised momentarily and happily intercepted Han Chuang.

    With the help of Zou Yan, Ji Yanran managed to extricate herself from a group of admirers and greeted him: “Dong Kuang! You are so busy that you do not have time to visit me?” Xiang Shaolong wanted to say that he will bed her tonight but he remembered Zhao Ya and Zhao Zhi and held back his tongue. To distract her, he asked in a low voice: “What are they here for?” Ji Yanran was annoyed and drummed: “I had said that they were after the Lu Gong Secret Manual! What else is there? Dong Kuang! Are you ignoring me?”

    This time, he is really in trouble. He laughed: “You are not afraid of Mister Zou teasing?” In his heart he is groaning. Only a few days of rest and he has to manage three sessions tonight?

    Ji Yanran looked over at Zou Yan and laughed: “Why are you so formal? He is my godfather! There is no one here and you, Dong the heartless man, need not be so polite.”

    Xiang Shaolong looked at the sniggering Zou Yan and smiled: “I’ll have no reservations then. Tonight, I will dig out my heart for Talented Lady Ji’s to see.”

    Ji Yanran then brightened up.

    Xiang Shaolong took the opportunity to ask: “What did Miss Ji do that ended the dreams of Li Yuan and make him willing to marry Miss Guo?” Ji Yanran hissed: “Nothing works. He came to me today and told me that the official wife position is still available but I kicked him out.”

    Li Yuan looked over to them and his face is full of hatred.

    The bell sounded and it is time to start the banquet.

  20. #100
    Senior Member kohchun's Avatar
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    Book 9 Chapter 11 – Zhao Palace On Fire

    As all the guests are swarming in, Xiang Shaolong pondered over Ji Yanran’s words. The more he thought, the more uneasy he is and slipped out to find Wu Guo.

    Wu Guo happened to be spouting nonsense with a group of guests who have yet to enter the banquet hall. He was startled to see Xiang Shaolong and he embarrassedly came to his side and asked: “Third Master is leaving so soon?” Xiang Shaolong does not hold it against him and seriously spoke: “Notify Second Master at once. Tell him that Prince Xinling has sent a team of experts to Handan and could take tonight’s chance to steal the Lu Gong Secret Manual”

    Wu Guo scratched his head: “The palace guards and the city guards like us do not mix. Unless approved by King Xiaocheng, we will get thrown out.”

    Xiang Shaolong agreed that this is a problem. He warned: “In this case, get second master to send someone to monitor the palace from outside. If there are any suspicious people, he can use this excuse to infiltrate. Oh! If we can only use our elite troops. Pay attention to the secret tunnels entrances. Prince Xinling may even have the map of the secret tunnels or even a spy in the palace.”

    Wu Guo left with his order.

    Xiang Shaolong heaved a sigh of relief and head back to the banquet.

    Before he could take another step, a melodious voice sounded out from his left: “Mister Dong! Please wait.”

    Xiang Shaolong found the voice familiar and looked towards the source.

    Under the company of eight female attendants, Guo Xiu’er was dressed in a flamboyant red cheongsam. Walking along the left stone path, it appears that she is about to take part in the engagement dinner.

    Xiang Shaolong halted and unnaturally congratulates her.

    Guo Xiu’er returned the favour and discharged the attendants: “I need to have a word with Mister Dong; all of you wait for me at the side.”

    The attendants were taken by surprise and retreated to a distance.

    Guo Xiu’er ran her eyes over Xiang Shaolong. In an unhappy tone, she sighed: “Father’s orders cannot be disobeyed. Xiu’er has no choice. Can Mister understand what I mean?” Xiang Shaolong is stunned by her frankness and was dumbfounded. In such a short time, he does not know how to reply her.

    Even if there is no obstacle between them, based on the family rivalry between Wu and Guo, there is no way that he can marry her!

    Guo Xiu’er smiled sadly and turned around. When she turned back, there is a jade pendant on her hand. She stepped closer and pressed it into his hand, emotionally saying: “Xiu’er cannot give my body to Mister so I have to replace it with this jade pendant. If you have feelings for me, please wear it and I will die without regrets.”
    Finishing, she lowered her head and hastily walked towards the main hall while the attendants frantically caught up.

    In ecstasy, Xiang Shaolong held the jade pendant tightly. The jade pendant is still warm with her holding.

    He opened up his palm and took a closer look.

    It is an ancient jade carving of a phoenix. If he had brought back to a 21st Century auction, the proceeds will be able to last his expenditure for a lifetime.

    Thinking of this, he scolded himself.

    The girl is passionate and innocent but he has such crazy notions.

    Shaking his head, he hanged the pendant around his neck before participating in the feast.

    The main hall is full of activity. Hundreds of servants are shuttling in and out of the main hall, serving the guests with dishes and wine.

    There are four VIP tables facing the main door.

    The first table is Guo Zhong and his wife with Li Yuan and Guo Xiu’er. The other three tables are taken by Empress Jing, Tian Dan, Lord Longyang, Han Chuang, Ji Zhong and other people.

    The other tables are lined up on the two sides. Each side has three layers of tables and each table seats four people. The centre area is left open for the performances of singers and dancers.

    A group of musicians were based on both sides of the main door and were actively playing their instruments. The air is filled with drumming and cheering and everyone is in a celebratory mood.

    While everyone is distracted by Guo Xiu’er entry, Xiang Shaolong slipped to the back row of the tables and wondered where he should sit?

    The seats are arranged according to status and he cannot just take any empty seat.

    Fortunately, the Guo Chief Housekeeper Gao Bai saw him from afar and rushed forward informing: “Princess Ya has instructed servant that she wants to sit with General. General, please come with me.”

    Xiang Shaolong panicked. If he is seated with Zhao Mu, Ji Yanran and Zhao Zhi have nothing to say. If he sits with Zhao Ya, they will be jealous and throw tantrums at him. There is a price to pay for having multiple lovers.

    He ignored this potential problem and accompanied Gao Bai to the VIP tables.

    Among the distinguished guests, many of them are viewing this legendary City Commander for the first time and many of them greeted him.

    The women are all eyeing his well-build frame and heroic air. Xiang Shaolong was having mixed feelings. He disregarded every stare and blindly followed Gao Bai, walking between the tables and the wall. Gao Bai stopped and bowed: “General please be seated.”

    Xiang Shaolong looked carefully and he saw three pairs of beautiful eyes staring straight back at him.

    Zhao Ya, Ji Yanran and Zhao Zhi are seated on the same table as him. The other table is Zhao Mu, Guo Kai, Cheng Dan and Zou Yan.

    Xiang Shaolong was rejuvenated and silently admire Zhao Ya’s thoughtfulness. He sat on the far end of the table beside Zhao Zhi. This is a smart move. If he had sat between two girls, the third one will be neglected. This is also to show his respect for the three girls.

    Every guy is envious of him to share the table with three ladies while every girl is dying to replace the three girls to get closer to this popular figure.

    The drumming stopped suddenly and sounded again. Over a hundred pretty courtesans glide into the main area and began singing and dancing.

    Zhao Zhi whispered: “Sister Yanran told me to ask you where you went earlier?” Xiang Shaolong joked: “Can’t I even go to the bathroom?” Zhao Zhi leaned towards Ji Yanran to pass the answer and whispered back: “Why are you in the bathroom for such a long time?” Xiang Shaolong could not hold back his laughter and nearly choked on his food. He endured and asked: “When has Zhi Zhi become a telephone? Every business can be big or small. Even the heavenly gods has no control.”

    Zhao Zhi burst out in laughter too and passed the message after she tried to hold her laughter.

    Zhao Ya and Ji Yanran were laughing till their tears came out. Zhao Zhi cheekily asked again: “Princess saw that you and Guo Xiu’er almost came in at the same time and there is a change in both your expressions. Did you pull a fast one on her and snatched Li Yuan’s prize?”

    Xiang Shaolong could only acknowledge her sharp observation and denied everything.

    The singing and dancing ended and so did their flirting.

    Guo Zhong stood up and gave a speech, announcing Guo Xiu’er engagement to Li Yuan. The actual wedding will be held in the Capital of Chu. This is followed by toasting and the hall is filled with happiness.

    Xiang Shaolong look at Guo Xiu’er’s complexion carefully and she looks like a woman resigned to her fate. Feelings swell up in him

    If he had never entered the picture, Guo Xiu’er will never have that expression for Li Yuan is indeed a dream son-in-law.

    No matter how talented he is, he cannot solve her problem for it is fated that they can never be together.

    For the power-holders in these warring times, marriage is just a political game. The higher the status of the female, the higher the stakes in politics. Thinking deeply, when Wu Yingyuan married his daughter to him, it is also a strategy to keep his loyalty. It is a coincidence that Wu Tingfang really loved him or it will be just another tragedy.

    For Zhao Qian and him to succeed as a couple is another miracle.

    Xiang Shaolong became very emotional and drank another two cups and wine.

    Zhao Zhi whispered again: “Zhi Zhi wished that she could make mincemeat out of Tian Dan right now but I am willing to wait because I know that Master Dong will get him at the end.”

    Xiang Shaolong thinks that Zhao Zhi is overestimating him and softly comment: “Isn’t it better to think about happy stuff?” Zhao Zhi thought that he is teasing her and her face became red and she added: “Zhi Zhi will await Master Dong’s instructions!”

    Xiang Shaolong had a sudden inspiration.

    There is a difference between Zhao Zhi and Guo Xiu’er. Both of them agree that the man should be the head of the household and should obey his will even at the cost of their own dreams and thinking.

    The difference is that Zhao Zhi has more luck than Guo Xiu’er!

    In the same light, Ji Yanran and Shan Rou are women who are opposed to the normal treatment of women. Just like Mo Zi’s opposition of absolute power in a single person and the unnecessary rituals and ceremonies.

    Mo Zi is a male so his teachings are carried forward for years.

    No matter how profound are Ji Yanran’s philosophies, others will only take note of her beauty.

    Simply because of Guo Xiu’er forced marriage to Li Yuan, Xiang Shaolong was thinking about an entire chain of events and is lost in his thoughts. Out of a sudden, a round of fierce footsteps roused him from his semi-consciousness.

    The main hall quietened down and every one watched in puzzlement as a group of Zhao soldiers scrambled into the main hall and even knocked down a tray of food and wine in the process. They continue to fill up the centre of the hall and when they identified Xiang Shaolong, they frantically rush to him and under the looks of everyone, reported: “General Dong, the palace is on fire!”

    Everyone present was in a state of shock.

    The palace fire was soon extinguished but Zhao Ya’s chamber is burnt to the ground. There are over thirty charred corpses, including that of Xiao Zhao and over ten palace guards. No one escaped alive and all the bodies have sword scars or arrow scars.

    Zhao Ya is crying her eyes out and is supported by two palace maids.

    By the time Xiang Shaolong and the rest have checked out the scene, the palace guards have searched the entire palace but cannot find a trace of the enemy. The only discovery is that a nearby tunnel has been broken into and the four palace guards securing it are strangled to death.

    Cheng Dan’s expression is even worse than King Xiaocheng’s. As the leader of the palace guards, he must take responsibility for this intrusion. He could be stripped of his post or even beheaded as a result.

    King Xiaocheng’s hands were shaking like a leaf. Under the heavy escort of the palace guardians, he blew his top and harshly scolded: “All of you are idiots, if the attackers are not after the book but after me, won’t I be... Humph!”

    All the palace guardians were terrified and they all kneeled down in silence.

    Xiang Shaolong thought of Xiao Zhao and his heart was bleeding.

    Guo Kai and the rest of the officials are lost as they witness the horrific disaster.

    Xiang Shaolong is burning with a thirst for revenge. If the enemy just wants the secret manual, he can just grab it and escape. There is no need to take any lives or even set fire. The act of killing Xiao Zhao shows that the attacker is doing this for revenge.

    Teng Yi came to Xiang Shaolong’s back and gave him small tug to signal that he has something to say.

    Xiang Shaolong left the crowd with him and Teng Yi whispered: “We have discovered the hideout of the criminals. They are hiding in Han Chuang’s residence.”

    Xiang Shaolong was blown away. “What!” He exclaimed. Teng Yi affirmed: “There is no mistake. Jing Jun personally led our elite men and trailed them. They were seen entering Han Chuang’s residence and are still under observation. Even with wings, they will not be able to escape.”

    Thoughts raced through Xiang Shaolong’s mind.

    He thought of the Three State Alliance plan and the three leaders who pushed for it. Zhao’s Lord Pingyuan is dead, leaving Wei’s Prince Xinling Wei Wuji and Han Chuang’s senior. It cannot be Han Chuang as he is too young and lack foresight.

    A clear picture appeared in his brain.

    After Lord Pingyuan’s death, there is no strong official pushing for this alliance. Wei and Han are still working hard on this dream.

    This is the reason why Han Chuang harboured Prince Xinling’s men.

    If Prince Xinling’s men did not kill, Xiang Shaolong may let them off as he does not place any importance on Lu Gong’s Secret Manual.

    But when this involves the blood debt of Xiao Zhao, even the gods will not be able to stop him.

    Out of the blue, King Xiaocheng hollered: “Where is Dong Kuang?!”

    Xiang Shaolong told Teng Yi: “Assemble our forces and be ready to move.”

    He then strode towards King Xiaocheng.

    Zhao Mu, Tian Dan, Lord Longyang, Han Chuang, Ji Zhong, Empress Jing and Li Yuan were all present. They were expressionless and wanted to see how King Xiaocheng manage this affair.

    Pale-faced, King Xiaocheng stared hard at Xiang Shaolong and roared: “What kind of City Commander are you? You can’t even tell that we have enemies entering the city!”

    Li Yuan, Guo Kai and Ji Zhong were delighted at his failure. Han Chuang quietly lowered his head as he did not expect Prince Xinling’s men to be so cruel and got his buddy Dong Kuang into trouble.

    Empress Jing’s face is void of colour and supported King Xiaocheng while maintaining her silence.

    Xiang Shaolong swept his eyes round the room and gathered everyone’s reaction.

    He did not kneel down like Cheng Dan and proudly declared: “The murderers have entered the City long ago but only execute their plans tonight.”

    Han Chuang was frightened and was in a state of panic.

    Li Yuan and company looked at him with disdain, meaning that he is running away from responsibility. If the attackers had come to Handan much earlier, he is not the City Commander yet and so he is not responsible for the slip-up.

    King Xiaocheng seemed to have lost his senses and pointed his finger, scolding: “What makes you so sure?” Xiang Shaolong is beginning to understand this king better. As calm as still water, he reasoned: “This attack is carried out by people who have spies within the palace. The perpetrators have chosen the best time and acted with the best information. They come and go without leaving trace. Such plans cannot be consolidated on such a short notice. Based on my deductions, they must have been in Handan for some time and only chose to make their move tonight.”

    King Xiaocheng regained his senses and began to analyse his words.

    Tian Dan interrupted: “Why don’t Your Majesty let General Dong conduct a search for the enemies and atone for his mistakes?” Lord Longyang seconded his opinion.

    Empress Jing whispered a few words into King Xiaocheng’s ears.

    King Xiaocheng raised his blood-red eyes and glared at Xiang Shaolong, commanding: “I am giving you three day to dig out the culprits.” He faced the kneeling cum trembling Cheng Dan and added: “Lock this clown in the prison first. If we cannot find the criminals, he shall accompany those who have died in the attack.”

    Cheng Dan gave a tragic cry as he is dragged away by a few palace guards.

    He turned to Xiang Shaolong again and warmly coughed: “You are not leaving yet?” Xiang Shaolong look at everyone and even smiled at the depressed Zhao Mu. He plainly said: “Such a simple matter; three days is too long. Before the sun is up tomorrow, the lost item will be placed on Your Majesty’s desk. Each and every one of the thieves will be captured. Even if they are dead, their heads will be presented. If I fail, Your Majesty need not lift a finger; I will not see the sun tomorrow myself.”

    Finished and leaving the entire crowd dumbfounded, he stride in huge steps towards the palace doors.

    Han Chuang’s complexion lost all colours of life. As everyone is focusing on the departing Xiang Shaolong, he smoothly sneaked away and chased Xiang Shaolong from another path.

    At the big courtyard outside the palace door, Wu Guo and over a hundred elite troops are waiting by their horses.

    Xiang Shaolong has a stern look and flew up his horse without a single word.

    Han Chuang caught up to him and called for him to wait.

    Xiang Shaolong had known that he would chase him and got a horse for him and they rode out of the palace together.

    Han Chuang is horrified: “Where is General Dong going to find the attackers?” Xiang Shaolong eyes were shining and he coldly look at him, replying: “Of course to your residence. Does Marquis think they will be hiding anywhere else?” Han Chuang was mortified: “General must be joking!”

    Xiang Shaolong sighed: “I am not joking. I have received your kindness and I know that Marquis did not expect them to kill anyone. The matter can still be salvaged, depending on Marquis’s cooperation. Otherwise, I will not take responsibility for the end result. Marquis should know better!” He squeezed the horse belly and his war horse dashed forward.

    Wu Guo and the rest followed his lead. Raising their horse whips, they rode forward at full speed. Gritting his teeth, Han Chuang pushed his horse to catch up.

    Thunderous hoof beats filled the air and shattered the sleep of Handan’s citizens.

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