Book 19 Chapter 11 - Heroic Feeling Covering The Sky
Chen Jiafeng ordered his men to open a boarded up restaurant; bowing, he said, "Kou Ye, Xu Ye, please feel free to sit on any table you want, we will immediately light up the kitchen stove and prepare some authentic specialty dishes. I already had someone to take care of the wine, it will be delivered here promptly."
The two boys found it all amusing. They picked a large round table in the middle and sat down. Because the shop owner left just a few days ago, the tables and chairs still had not collected dust.
Kou Zhong looked out the open wide main door at the quiet and cold main street under the illumination of the setting sun; sighing, he said, "A nice prosperous town, where the people lived in peace and worked happily, in the blink of an eye it suffered calamity. It's too bad!"
Xu Ziling has not found out what had happened, "What calamity?" he asked.
This moment a Peng Liang Hui gang member, happy and excited, came in with an earthen jar of wine, and then busied himself trying to find bowls and cups for the two boys.
Kou Zhong watched as the wine was poured into cups; he spoke indifferently, "I heard Yuwen Huagu came here!"
Shaken, Xu Ziling shouted, "What?"
Kou Zhong hastily said, "I was exaggerating a little bit. I meant to say that Yuwen Huagu's men might come here, but I don't know whether Yuwen Huagu is willing to give us the convenience by dropping by to receive his death."
The same gang member was lighting the lantern for them. Hearing Kou Zhong, with great admiration he said, "Kou Ye and Xu Ye are really amazing; practically you don't regard that Yuwen Hua … Yuwen Huaji seriously."
Kou Zhong laughed and cursed, "You have the cheek to eavesdrop our secret conversation; quickly get lost far away."
The gang member readily accepted the order; he spoke deferentially, "Xiaoren is Xie Jue, I will immediately get lost far away!" He left in high spirit, as if receiving Kou Zhong's scolding was an incomparable honor and glory.
The murderous intent in Xu Ziling's eyes flared out brightly; he spoke in heavy voice, "As long as there is a chance, we have to endure it for a little while, and wait until he comes."
Kou Zhong laughed aloud. Raising his wine cup, he said, "This toast is for Niang's soul and spirit in Heaven."
The two clinked their cups and drained it in one gulp.
Kou Zhong laughed hoarsely and said, "How come we don't seem to care if female demon Wan came back."
Xu Ziling leaned back comfortably in his chair, heaved a deep sigh, and said glibly, "Now that we know for sure that only Wan yaonu and Bian Bufu, two people came, we don't give them a damn. Ay! I am tired of hiding to the east and fleeing to the west; if they have enough guts, let them release their horses and come!"
Kou Zhong struck the table and shouted, "Well said!"
The two smelled the aroma of the cooking from the kitchen at the back, while looking at the gradually dimming light of the dusk on the main street outside; they both enjoyed the comfortable and lazy atmosphere as if they were unwilling to lift even half a finger.
It seemed like this very moment, all the people they met, as well as everything that happened to them in the past, had nothing to do with them; all those things felt so far away as if they had never happened at all.
Kou Zhong untied the Moon in the Well, and put it on the table. He stretched, and even put his feet on the table, as he sighed comfortably and said, "Ling Shao! What's your feeling on this entire town?"
Suddenly they heard rapid hoof beats coming from the city gate, which continued for quite a while before the sound stopped.
But the two boys acted as if even though they heard, they did not care; they both remained unmoved.
Looking pensive, Xu Ziling said, "You seem to forget Song Yuzhi; am I right?"
Kou Zhong stared blankly for half a day, before finally nodded and said, "Right! I haven't thought about her for a long time. Apart from you, my expectation and demand toward other people are getting less and less. Song Yuzhi is a genuinely wise and virtuous woman, who was born and raised in an honorable family and great clan. Between she and the two of us, there is one fundamental difference: she always plays by the rules, while I, Kou Zhong, am merely a destroyer who rebels against orthodoxy. But only this one difference is enough to doom us not to be together. Tell me, everything I did, all my conduct and deeds, which one would be pleasing in her eye?"
Xu Ziling pondered for a moment, and then he slowly said, "But have you ever thought that this difference is precisely what attract her to you?"
Kou Zhong smiled ruefully and said, "To her, this is only some kind of uncultured character and indulgence that she detests bitterly, hence she is hurt, and I feel very tired. You and I are people who don't understand etiquette and compass and set square; we speak vulgar language leisurely, without any scruple. But she is of different kind of people; therefore, in the end, we are all screwed. The reasoning she gave on the surface is just her excuse."
Astonished, Xu Ziling said, "Although deep down I have a feeling that the actual situation may not necessarily be as you put it, but your analysis on her is no doubt very thorough. I have never thought that you would have that kind of profound notion."
Kou Zhong sighed and said, "I have chosen the free and long road of no return; everything else will have to be thrown away, once and for all. Sometimes I really envy that kid Hou Xibai. If he were happy when he came across this beautiful girl or that lovely bubbling doll, he would leisurely moved his brush once or twice to paint his mother on his fan, while he could play as a solitary minstrel and wander around as a knight-errant, neither slowly nor rushing around roaming around the Jianghu unrestrained, watching the fires burning across the river [fig. to delay entering the fray until all others have been exhausted by fighting amongst themselves]. Ha!"
Xu Ziling smiled, "What's so funny?" he asked.
Slapping his forehead, Kou Zhong said, "I just feel sorry for him. Were it not for you, Ling Shao, made your appearance, maybe Shi Feixuan would look upon him with favor!"
Displeased, Xu Ziling said, "You want to drag me into the water? You, this kid, harbor evil intentions."
This moment, Chen Jiafeng came to the table and spoke with grave expression, "Just received a report, there is a group of approximately five or six hundred riders coming here from the direction of Pengcheng, looks like they might be able to reach this place in about two sichen."
Xu Ziling and Kou Zhong exchanged a look of disappointment; the incoming riders could not possibly be Yuwen Huaji's men.
Chen Jiafeng continued, "The incoming must be Khitan barbarians from the East Sea Alliance. Our Peng Liang Hui has a blood debt as deep as the ocean with them. If two Daye are willing to take the initiative, we wish to follow you."
Kou Zhong was puzzled, "Aren't you thinking of slipping away?" he asked, "Why suddenly you are eager to give it a try?"
Chen Jiafeng sat down and said, "Frankly speaking, although we can't wait to eat their flesh and drink their blood, we are aware of how many catty we weigh." [My text has some gibberish characters after this; or maybe that I am not good enough to understand what it is. Anybody has better source or can help?]
Kou Zhong poured a cup of wine for him and said with a laugh, "You must not have such a high hope on us. Charging and breaking through the enemy lines on the battlefield is entirely different from decisive battle in Jianghu. Against a five, six hundred-man strong enemy, even Ning Daoqi won't be able to kill that many."
Xu Ziling waited until he raised his cup and drank the wine before asking in heavy voice, "How many people do you have?"
Chen Jiafeng wiped the wine from the corner of his mouth and replied, "Only fifty-three men. We have talked it over, as long as Kou Ye and Xu Ye are willing to give us a nod, we will fight to the death against those Khitan thieves."
"How many people are currently in the city?" Kou Zhong asked.
Chen Jiafeng replied, "Those who are able to leave have already left, those who remain are either old or unwary people; perhaps there are several hundred people."
Turning to Xu Ziling, Kou Zhong asked, "What do you think?"
Under Chen Jiafeng's hopeful look, Xu Ziling pondered quietly for half a day. Finally he smiled and said, "We have no chance of victory at all, but can only take them by ruse. Fighting them head on will only result in defeat."
Kou Zhong let out a long laugh and said, "Very well! Let us kill those Khitan thieves until they are utterly defeated. Let Ku Ge know that our Central Plains is not without any hero or towering figure who can subdue him!"
And then, slapping the table, he said, "And now, let's not worry about anything. We are going to eat this meal on the street. After we eat our fill and drink till we get drunk, perhaps Ku Ge will arrive to provide excitement for us!"
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Liangdu's city gate was wide open, the suspension bridge was down.
Starting from the city gate, torches were stuck at the interval of ten paces, like a pair of fiery dragons stretching along the main street, all the way to the round table set up in the middle of the street.
The table was full of food and wine. Both Kou Zhong and Xu Ziling were sitting facing the city gate, eating and drinking and chatting merrily.
Apart from these two, not even half a shadow of other people was seen in the city. Although the street from the city gate to the place where the two boys were sitting was lit by the torches that it was as bright as daytime, elsewhere in the city was pitch-black, so that the contrast was strange and extraordinary.
Kou Zhong took a sip of the wine and said with a wry smile, "It's all your fault; for no reason at all you mentioned Song Yuzhi, evoking the grief in my heart."
Xu Ziling was apologetic, "I have no choice but to apologize to you," he said, "What are you thinking now?"
Kou Zhong reached out to grab Xu Ziling's shoulder, he said, "One lifetime, two brothers; no need to apologize. Just now I suddenly thought that even if I reached the stage of pledging undying love with the Song Family's San Xiaojie, her happiness cannot start yet, because the chaos and the war all over the world is not over yet. Every day I am involved in life and death struggle against others, I don't know how heavy the burden I have to carry on my back. Thinking about this, Yuzhi leaving me is actually a good thing."
Xu Ziling was emotionally moved, "Up to this point, I did not really believe that your heart was moved by Song Yuzhi. Because this is the first time that you show consideration for Song Yuzhi, and not just consider her for your benefit."
Kou Zhong's throat was choked with flaming emotion that his breathing became rapid. It was quite a while later that he sighed and said, "If I did not have any consideration for her, how could I be willing to let her go? Much less I know how defensive she is toward me, just like how weak Liangdu currently is."
Xu Ziling also felt that way; he said, "We and Song Yuzhi, an honorable woman who came from honorable family and great clan, differ so much. If you insist on living together, it would lead to many problems."
Kou Zhong laughed and said, "Are you thinking of Shi Feixuan? That kind of person who has left her home to live a life of cultivating the way, as far as I'm concerned, she is like living in a serious and fantasy world that is not real at all; with heavy stocks and chains, without the least bit of freedom, giving up all the beautiful things in the world for no reason whatsoever. Isn't that also an addiction?"
Laughing involuntarily, Xu Ziling said, "Talking about Zen with a vulgar man like you is like playing the lute to a cow, or perhaps like talking to the deaf, or discussing color with the blind."
Kou Zhong laughed aloud and said, "Therefore, Shi Feixuan never gives Xiaodi any consideration, while she thinks very highly of you. Because you and she are similar! Ha! Ling Dashi [great/grand master, usually used to address a Buddhist monk], please enjoy the vegetarian dish." And then he picked a pile of green vegetables and crammed it onto Xu Ziling's rice bowl.
Xu Ziling did not know whether to laugh or cry; he said, "What evil intention are you harboring? Why are you always trying to pull me and Shi Feixuan together?"
A gust of wind blew from the direction of the city gate, blowing the hundred or so torches that their flames were jumping high and low, seemingly reminding them that the Khitan group of horse-mounted bandits could arrive at any moment.