Book 19 Chapter 6 - Hostage Exchange
Xu Ziling and Kou Zhong crouched on the roof of the multi-story building. After pricking up their ears and listening carefully to make sure that there was nobody inside the building, they craned their neck to look at the target building about thirty zhang away from the roof ridge. The two buildings were separated by a pond, a brook, complete with a small bridge across it, and a pathway paved with bluestone slabs.
On the semi-corridor circling the main hall, there were octagonal palace lanterns hanging every ten steps or so, illuminating the outside wall of the main hall, giving it the illusion that the wall was translucent. Worst yet, there were light towers on all four corners of the building, which, combined with the lanterns on the semi-corridor, provided bright illumination on the surrounding area.
After analyzing the situation, Kou Zhong said, "We have to jump at least ten zhang above the top of the building to avoid the light tower casting its light on us and creating shadow on the wall. Are you still that confident?"
Before Xu Ziling could answer, voices and footsteps were heard.
The two boys prompt ducked down, while looking at the source of the noise.
They saw a group of people walking along the corridor on the other side of the building toward the main hall. The two at the front were surprisingly Rong Fengxiang and Lang Feng. The rest were important people of Luoyang [orig. with head, with face], whom they have met during the birthday celebration.
The two were greatly disappointed. Could it be that the one riding the carriage earlier was Lang Feng? Although he usually rode a horse, if he wanted to avoid people's eyes and ears, riding a carriage was not out of question at all.
They looked on helplessly as one after another the other side entered the main hall; dejected as if they already failed.
With rueful smile Kou Zhong said, "What should we do? I am afraid grabbing Lang Feng won't have much of an effect. Nobody knows Wang Shichong better than I do."
"Don't you want to listen to them?" Xu Ziling asked in heavy voice.
Kou Zhong sighed and said, "I doubt there is anything good to listen to. It will be nothing more than government officials colluding with businessmen, dividing up the profits, while the ones suffering hardship will always be the common people. Huh?"
Sound of people talking and laughing floated by from behind.
The two turned their heads to look, another group of people, with four lantern-bearing warriors leading the way, was walking leisurely along the gravel path cutting through the yard toward the building the two boys were hiding.
The most eye-catching was naturally the lovely scene of blossoming plants swaying in the breeze, Rong Jiaojiao; but the one attracting their attention the most, even more, the one making the two boys pleased beyond their expectation, was Wang Xuanying, who was walking intimately by her side.
Indeed it was the best alternative countless times better than Dong Shuni.
The group of warriors, who were escorting the carriage earlier, were lagging several steps behind; everybody looked perfectly relaxed, obviously no one would expect the enemy to hide in the Rong Mansion, waiting for them.
The two boys exchanged glances; with tacit understanding they both knew what to do. Pulling down their masks, they exposed their true identity.
The target was getting closer.
They heard Wang Xuanying said, "Presently one after another Li Mi's men are surrendering to Fu Huang [father emperor], making him even more losing momentum, lacking strength. If we take over Heyang, Li Mi won't even have a place to escape anymore, ha!"
The two boys silently gathered their energy, ready to strike.
Since Wang Shichong selected this group of warriors to protect his treasured son, they must have real skill. Once they struck and failed, they would be in very big trouble.
Kou Zhong signaled with his hand, telling Xu Ziling that he would capture Wang Xuanying, while Xu Ziling would deal with the rest of them.
Down below, Rong Jiaojiao's warbling voice twittered coyly, "This time you dealt big blow on Li Mi, puncturing his triumph-in-every-battle legend, smashing his formidable renown that gave him authority over the whole country. Jiaojiao does not know how to express my happiness for you!"
So pleased as he seemed to lose his sense of measure, Wang Xuanying laughed aloud and said, "It was entirely due to Fu Huang's faking-injury-to-lure-the-enemy tactic, which was executed properly!"
Listening to him, Kou Zhong was burning with rage. This moment Wang Xuanying was about four zhang away from the main entrance of the building, the exact position most beneficial to their surprise attack. Two palms pressed against the surface of the roof, his entire body slid down the back of inverted V-shaped roof, and shot like an arrow toward Wang Xuanying. He applied his internal strength to control the fluttering of his clothes, so that like a vicious fish attacking its prey in the deep sea, without creating any noise, he dove on his target down below.
Xu Ziling made his move simultaneously; soaring to the sky, he made three somersaults consecutively close behind Kou Zhong to pounce on the enemy.
While Kou Zhong was about two zhang above, and at an angle from, Wang Xuanying, the first to react to the two boys' unexpected attack was surprisingly not Wang Xuanying, or any one of the martial art masters protecting him, but Rong Jiaojiao.
She raised her pretty face up, and as soon as she saw Kou Zhong, her pair of beautiful eyes lit up with strange light, while like magic, a sword appeared in her hand and created a flash of sword light to meet Kou Zhong's Moon in the Well head on. Her reaction was fast, her sword move was ruthless and well-trained. Even with his level of skill, Kou Zhong was still at a loss of what to do, since her action has upset the overall situation.
It was only then did Wang Xuanying and the group of martial art masters of the imperial bodyguards realize that there were assassins dropping down from the sky. Not only that, the assassins were two top masters of the new generation. Shocked, they hastily drew their weapons while whistling a warning, urgently summoning martial art masters of the Rong Mansion to come to their aid.
Facing Rong Jiaojiao's bright flash of sword qi dashing up to the sky, Kou Zhong was so mad that he felt like killing himself.
It should be noted that the window of opportunity to kidnap Wang Xuanying was extremely narrow; if Rong Jiaojiao managed to hold him, even for only the blink of an eye, the entire situation would be reversed. They might end up fleeing for the lives in panic, or else they would regret of coming to this place, this moment.
Forget about provoking martial art masters like Yang Xuyan, if Rong Fengxiang and Lang Feng in the other building rushed out, they would not get the desired outcome.
But Rong Jiaojiao's astonishing accuracy, timing and speed as she intercepted him midair was enough to make him unable to change his move, so he could only meet it head on. This was a fact that was difficult to change.
Wang Xuanying has already started to run to the side, while the expert personal guards were closing in to protect him. For a short while saber's light and sword's shadow flashed, battle cry filled the sky.
The moment it seemed like their enterprise would be ruined for the sake of a basketful, Xu Ziling, who started later but arrived sooner, flashed past Kou Zhong. His head down his feet up, both palms pressed on the ground, he charged into Rong Jiaojiao's sword net.
As he and Kou Zhong brushed past each other, Xu Ziling backhandedly pushed Kou Zhong.
Originally Kou Zhong could not alter his momentum, but with Xu Ziling's push, he somersaulted, the Moon in the Well hacked down on Wang Xuanying's head and face, who, by this time, was running away.
Cold, swift and severe spiraling saber power completely enshrouded Wang Xuanying, forcing him to stop dead on his track, while brandishing his sword to block.
Rong Jiaojiao cried out tenderly, as Xu Ziling's left and right palm slammed onto the blade of her sword in succession, and violent spiraling energy entered the left part of her body before circling to the right, jolting her that her meridians were nearly thrown into disorder. Shocked, she flew sideways to evade, and thus lost the opportunity to rescue Wang Xuanying.
Xu Ziling was shocked as well.
Until today, anybody who met his spiraling energy for the first time had never been able to produce qi power of their own; everybody would suffer a little bit.
Moreover, he was using left and right hand in sequence to ingeniously reverse the flow of his true qi. Based on his calculation, she would have to dispose her weapon. Who would have thought that not only it did not happen as he expected, she was also able to exploit the reaction force to evade sideways? From this, it was obvious how brilliant her martial art skill was.
If the daughter was like this, the father must also be like this. Rong Fengxiang was indeed not a simple character.