This moment Xu Ziling's small boat had just pulled under the shade of a tree on the River Luo's dike west of Tianjian Bridge; he stopped and turned his gaze into the distance at the bridge.
Anybody willing to think a little bit would immediately know that the situation around the Tianjin Bridge was abnormal.
Because Luoyang was bustling, but only on this segment of the long street and on the Bridge there were no pedestrians. Moreover, all the shops nearby were closed.
Xu Ziling was greatly astounded.
It should be noted that Tianjin Bridge spanned the River Luo; it was one of the three major bridges connecting the market places on the north and south of the city. Even more, it connected the most flourishing street, the Heavenly Street, which was the traffic hub of Luoyang.
It would be strange indeed if the closure of this Bridge did not provoke chaos. To say the least, there should be a long queue of pedestrians, vehicles and horses forming on either side of the Bridge. But now from what he saw, none of this sort of thing was happening.
Evidently some people were directing the traffic to use other streets and other bridges. And to make this happen, there must be a large number of well-trained and well-organized warriors in this operation. And they must have received Luoyang's residents' cooperation.
In Luoyang, only two groups of troops had this kind of ability.
Naturally, Wang Shichong's army was one of them.
The other group represented the Emperor Taizhu, Yang Dong, which was secretly collaborating with, and receiving assistance from, the Dugu Clan's power.
In that instant, Xu Ziling understood what has been happening, while at the same time he also figured out the mystery of why Dugu Ba was going to visit the Tiele people that day.
The Dugu Clan was playing the ‘strike the water right and left' game. On one side they collaborate with Li Mi, on the other side, they colluded with the Tiele people and Yin Gui Pai; and thus they need not fall under any side's control.
This time the Dugu Clan closed the Tianjin Bridge to let Tiele people and Yin Gui Pai to have a free hand in dealing with Ba Fenghan and Kou Zhong, two men; quite possibly it was part of their ‘pulling a snake from its hole' plot.
As soon as Wang Shichong lost his patience and hastily left the Imperial City to get involved in this matter, the Dugu Clan's five thousand strong elite troops would join hands with the Tieles and Yin Gui Pai, relying on the advantage of their adequate preparation and meticulous planning, to fix the rivers and mountains [i.e. country] and seize control over Luoyang in one battle.
The situation was extremely dangerous.
And Ba Fenghan and Kou Zhong were caught unaware and had fallen into the center of this dangerous web of power struggle.
By opening up one li, they would clear their way for a hundred li.
As soon as Xu Ziling figured out this link, he suddenly realized why Dugu Ce mingled with Qian Duguan's beloved concubine Bai Qing'er.
Qian Duguan was perhaps not a Yin Gui Pai man, but the possibility that the ‘Mad Scholar of Henan' Zheng Shiru was one was probably very high.
Through these two people, Xiangyang City was practically under Yin Gui Pai's control. No wonder Qian Duguan was not too friendly toward them. But under current circumstances, what could he do?