Book 22 Chapter 4 - Starting Rumors and Creating Trouble
In the restaurant, Ze Yue spoke in low voice, helplessly, "Tell me what should I say? Should I say that I do not support him?"
Curious, Kou Zhong asked, "Did your Ol' Die really tell you to listen to his instruction?"
Smiling bitterly, Ze Yue replied, "He only told me to look for An Long and consult him, simply because Die thought that he would not willingly succumb under Rong Fengxiang. This time I am spinning a cocoon around myself [idiom: enmeshed in a trap of one's own devising]. If I told him that earlier I was just being polite, won't it be a big joke?"
Xu Ziling said, "This man An Long is really not simple; why did you say that his martial art skill is ordinary?"
Stunned, Ze Yue replied, "But everybody says so."
Xu Ziling said, "With regards to identifying martial art masters, our school have a unique way, purely based on qi induction; it is very difficult to come up with any evidence."
Ze Yue's countenance changed, he said, "If it is true, than that is indeed a possibility. Do you think he is a Yin Gui Pai man?"
His heart moved, Xu Ziling said, "Within the demonic schools, apart from Yin Gui Pai, there are still a lot tributaries; for example, Zuo Youxian is from a sect called 'Dao Zu Zhenchuan' [lit. Dao/Tao ancestor's handed-down teachings]. However, if they are lumped together as Yin Gui Pai, perhaps it won't be totally wrong either."
Kou Zhong's pair of tiger-eyes lit up; he laughed softly and said, "Kid, you are messing up with those wicked people again!"
Naturally Ze Yue did not have interlinked-mind like they did; staring blankly at them, he asked, "What are you guys talking about?"
Remaining tranquil and calm, Xu Ziling said, "Ze Xiong need not mind what we are talking about. Tonight you must go to bed early, so that your spirit will be refreshed to deal with the Bai Ye general assembly tomorrow."
Kou Zhong interrupted, "But there is one very important thing: is Ze Xiong really unwilling to join the Bai Ye She?"
Smiling bitterly, Ze Yue said, "All along I am just a businessman, everything depends on what's at stake. If even An Long join the association, there will be no lack of people responding to his move, then we might be isolated. That would be very bad."
Full of confidence, Kou Zhong said, "Ze Xiong is so forthcoming, you have enabled us to grasp the current situation so clearly. While we are at it, what is Ze Xiong's impression on Yin Gui Pai?"
Ze Yue pondered for a moment before answering, "We are legitimate businessmen; what we are most afraid of is naturally swindlers and those who extort others. All Yin Gui Pai people seem to be full of hatred and have deep enmity toward everybody else, completely lacking comradeship, ready to harm others at the slightest pretext; nobody wants to provoke them."
Kou Zhong relaxed; he said cheerfully, "As long as most people participating in the Bai Ye general assembly tomorrow are of the same opinion as Ze Xiong, it will work!"
Lightly trembling, Ze Yue said, "Two gentlemen are not going to expose Rong Fengxiang and An Long's identity on the spot, are you? That's not funny, especially … ay!"
Xu Ziling smiled and said, "Ze Xiong, don't worry, we can't possibly put your honorable Bang in difficult situation."
Ze Yue was skeptical, "What good plan do the gentlemen have?" he asked.
Kou Zhong patted Ze Yue's shoulder, and said with a laugh, "The less Ze Xiong know, the better. Don't go around lobbying those of the same opinion either, to avoid Rong Fengxiang and An Long find out that you are not willing to join the association."
Turning toward Xu Ziling, he said, "Xu Junshi, please point out the next step."
In the small alley, the two boys sat side-by-side on a street corner, just like during their little-hoodlum's day back in Yangzhou.
Puzzled, Kou Zhong said, "The sun has already gone down! What exactly are we going to do?"
Xu Ziling said, "First of all, I want to see if An Long has seen through us."
Knitting his brows, Kou Zhong asked, "Do you have a feeling that we are being followed?"
Xu Ziling replied, "When we just left the bathhouse, I had that feeling, but it disappeared very quickly."
Emotionally moved, Kou Zhong said, "Your unique ability has never been wrong; who might have the skill of following us without you discovering his track?"
Xu Ziling said, "Definitely martial art masters of Wanwan's caliber or near that level; can't say for sure, but it might be Wanwan herself."
Kou Zhong let out a heavy sigh and said, "That possibility is too great! We can hide from anybody else, but we can never hide from this yaonu."
Xu Ziling said, "Even if Wan yaonu could see it through, before the general assembly tomorrow morning, she won't make any move against Longyou Bang, we can take advantage of tonight to stir up Rong Fengxiang and An Long's nests."
Slapping his thigh, Kou Zhong laughed and said, "These words fit with what I have in mind. How are we going to proceed? Would Ling Shao give direction?"
Xu Ziling said, "The first move is called 'starting a rumor'."
Staring blankly, Kou Zhong said, "We have only one night; are you saying that we ought to go everywhere and all directions to tell people?"
Xu Ziling laughed in spite of himself, "At the restaurant just now, didn't you put an act like you completely understood? Turns out it was indeed just an act."
Embarrassed, Kou Zhong said, "I thought you were going to assert that Rong Fengxiang was Yin Gui Pai man!"
Xu Ziling nodded and said, "You did not guess wrong. Right now let's see if we could get a dozen or so jars of paint."
Stunned, Kou Zhong said, "All the general stores are already closed; where could we buy some paint?"
Remaining calm and unruffled in the midst of chaos, Xu Ziling replied, "I said get, not buy. If we buy, people will be able to trace it back to us, but if we get it, the paint might just disappear with no reason."
Kou Zhong's eyes lit up, "Good boy," he exclaimed, "You are surely an expert in starting a rumor."
Xu Ziling elbowed Kou Zhong's flank, sprang up, and said, "Let's go!"
The two boys, carrying a pail of red paint in their left hand, a big paintbrush in their right hand, stopped in front of the outside wall facing the street of a house at the southern part of the city.
It was already past the third watch [between 11pm - 1 am], they saw no other pedestrian on the street; there was only the sound of dogs barking inside the houses.
Due to the bad weather, the dark clouds were hanging low; after nightfall, the city of Hefei fell into desolate darkness.
Putting down the pail of paint, Kou Zhong gesticulated in front of the wall, which was about a zhang and a half tall, and said, "With characters about a chi high, it should be enough to write 'Rong Fengxiang is Pi Chen, yaodao [demon Taoist] of Yin Gui Pai in disguise', fourteen characters [trust me, the original Chinese has 14 characters]."
Xu Ziling nearly laughed until his belly hurt, but he knew that he must not laugh aloud because he might disturb people from their clear dream, so he struggled hard to refrain from laughing. Chuckling softly, he said, "Why be superfluous? 'Rong Fengxiang is Yin Gui Pai yaodao' is enough. Who cares about his original name? No need to draw legs on a snake even more by adding 'in disguise' at the end, two redundant words."
Fortunately, Kou Zhong was wearing his mask, so that his blushing face was not visible. Embarrassed, he cleared his throat and recited, "Rong Fengxiang is Yin Gui Pai yaodao, ha! Uh, it is a bit inappropriate. Yin Gui Pai is well-known as a Sect that produces yaonu [female demon], and not yaodao. Since this is a rumor anyway, why not give him a position? For example, 'Rong Fengxiang is Yin Gui Pai's secret Protector of the Law', or something like that."
Xu Ziling laughed so hard that he had to put his hand on Kou Zhong's shoulder for support. Gasping for breath, he said, "Since there is secret law protector, there should also be secret sect leader. So what's the difference between these secret law protector and secret sect leader with the ordinary law protector or ordinary Bangzhu?"
Distressed, Kou Zhong said, "Turns out starting a rumor is a special skill. You say it then! What his mother's thing should we write on this snow-white virgin wall?"
Biting his lower lip, Xu Ziling pondered, "We must consider the words carefully; Bai Laofuzi [see Book 1 Chapter 1] only knew how to teach 'four common characters of classical Chinese', he never taught us how to start a rumor."
A tender, gentle and sweet-sounding female voice suddenly rang out from behind the two boys, "Whatever you write is not a problem, as long as at the end you add 'there is a Taichi [the Absolute or Supreme Ultimate, the source of all things according to some interpretations of Chinese mythology, the same Taichi of Zhang Sanfeng (Wudang)] mark on his chest as a sign', that will do."
The two boys' soul nearly flew away and scattered. It should be noted that with the two boys' acute senses, even though because they were laughing and joking their mind was distracted, they should not have let someone coming behind them quietly without they knowing it.