Book 25 Chapter 13 - Engraving Name on Whetstone
Kou Zhong followed behind Song Yuzhi toward a big rock by the stream.
Coming to a halt, with her back facing Kou Zhong, Song Yuzhi asked again, "What are you doing here?"
Suppressing the undulating emotion in his heart, Kou Zhong spoke softly, "Naturally for my Song San Xiaojie [third miss]. I came specifically to apologize."
Song Yuzhi shook her head and said with a sigh, "Kou Zhong, how could you be wading in mud and water like this, becoming a hopelessly muddled person? That day in Luoyang both of us agreed to make a clean break, so we made a clean break; henceforth we have nothing to do with each other. Beware that Yuzhi might look down on you!"
With a bitter laugh Kou Zhong said, "By all means, Yuzhi must not misunderstand. This time I came here not to plead with you to renew old cordial relations!"
Snorting disdainfully, Song Yuzhi said, "Don't flatter yourself [orig. stick gold on your face]! Who has had cordial relation with you? What old friendship is there to renew?"
Kou Zhong showed his natural instincts; laughing, he said, "That time in Rongyang, on that small alley outside Shen Luoyan's residence, didn't we have cordial relationship?"
Song Yuzhi was so angry that her large, round eyes were opened wide. She spoke furiously, "Let's see if you dare to say that again!"
Kou Zhong remembered his hooligan days in Yangzhou; when someone challenged him to repeat something, and he did really repeat it, that would be the beginning of a big fight. Thereupon he busily waved his hand and said, "Zhizhi, please calm down; forgive me for babbling nonsense. Hey! Back to the main point, I just want to see you again; there is no other wishful thinking."
Song Yuzhi stared at him without blinking at all, and without speaking. She appeared to be scrutinizing his sincerity.
The more he looked at her, the more Kou Zhong loved her. "Zhizhi is losing weight?" he spoke softly.
Displeased, Song Yuzhi said, "What does that have anything to do with you, Shao Shuai Kou Zhong? Speak up honestly! Why did you spare no effort in rushing to Lingnan?"
Kou Zhong sighed and said, "Can't we sit down and talk? Could it be that in this kind of Peach Garden Holy Land that can completely wash away the dust and the vulgarity of the world we still cannot chat civilly? Even if you don't consider me as … hey! Can't you just consider me as an acquaintance whom you once met?"
After staring blankly at him for half a day, Song Yuzhi nodded and said, "All right!"
She walked over to the riverbank and sat down, her pair of legs covered in boots swaying gently above the water.
Gently and cautiously Kou Zhong sat down side by side with her, separated by about a chi of 'safe distance'. Thinking out loud, he said, "Frankly speaking, I had never intended to come to Lingnan, simply because I am well aware that Zhizhi's temperament has not changed. But for some reason, under the full moon of the Mid-Autumn [Festival], suddenly my heart was filled with a strong desire, that is, before the army is defeated and the body perishes, I want to see Zhizhi one more time. This is the truth, coming from the bottom of my heart."
The tone of his voice revealed some kind of undisguised sincerity. Hearing that, Song Yuzhi's fragrant heart trembled.
Her jet-black eyebrows lightly knitted, she said, "Don't lie to me. You, Kou Shao Shuai had just recently spread out your divine power greatly; successively thwarting Yuwen Huaji and Li Zitong, seizing control of Pengcheng, Liangdu, Donghai, and the others, more than twenty cities. Even more, you broke Cao Yinglong, Xiao Xian, and Zhu Jie, three sides' coalition army. Unexpectedly, opening your mouth, closing your mouth, you speak like you might suffer defeat and die any moment. Are you trying to win my sympathy?"
Kou Zhong slowly said, "My current slight achievement is just like a rainbow in the sky. Although it is beautiful, not only it isn't real, it will vanish in the blink of an eye. That Li kid has already occupied Guanzhong; he also receives full support from Wulin's white way [orthodox, the 'righteous'] headed by Ci Hang Jingzhai, the heart of the people has turned toward him. My defeat is just a matter of time. If I don't see Zhizhi one more time, I, Kou Zhong, will not die with my eyes closed."
Closing her beautiful eyes, Song Yuzhi spoke word-by-word, "Since that is the case, why don't you withdraw from this whirlpool of the struggle over the world, like your good brother Xu Ziling, howling over the mountain and the forest? Wouldn't it also mean that you are not going to turn your back all your life?"
Shaking his head, Kou Zhong sighed and said, "If I could do that, I would have washed my hands in the golden dish early on. A real man is to be buried in a horsehide [idiom: to give one's life on the battlefield], dying will also have to be that kind of death. You want me to bend my head and admit defeat to Li kid, that is not going to happen. Even if I have to battle until the last soldier the last man, I still want to contend with his Li Family until the end."
Song Yuzhi pondered quietly for half a day; hanging her cicada head down, she spoke softly, "Since that's the case, why do you want to see me?"
Severely shaken, Kou Zhong blurted out, "Zhizhi!"
Song Yuzhi rose to her full height. Bending her head down to look at him, her eyes revealed a complicated, intense emotion, as she spoke softly, "If, between the strive for the world and Yuzhi you can only choose one, what would Kou Shao Shuai pick?"
Dejected, Kou Zhong smiled ruefully and said, "Zhizhi ought to know that I have my feet deep in the mire; how could Zhizhi have the heart to force me to make such a cruel decision?"
Song Yuzhi revealed a splendid, like a fresh flower in full bloom, but sad and emotional - smile, and spoke calmly, "It's you who are cruel, not me. Yuzhi has fled back to the south, precisely in order to forget you. Why do you still want to come and see me for whatever last time you are talking about? What's the reason behind this?"
"I was wrong," Kou Zhong blamed himself, "I thought that by doing this I could still win Zhizhi's favor, to let Zhizi leave a beautiful memory in my heart. Only now do I know that Zhizhi's love for me is that deep."
Stunned, Song Yuzhi asked, "Who has deep love toward you?"
Kou Zhong was confused; grabbing his head, he said, "If Zhizhi does not love me, why did you flee to the south and make every effort to forget me?"
Song Yuzhi leaned her pretty face to the side and pondered deeply for half a day. Nodding, she said, "I have thought about this matter, and finally came to a conclusion. Do you want to hear it?"
Kou Zhong sighed and said, "Without you saying it, Xiaodi can already guess that it could not be anything that is pleasant to hear. All right! Speak up! Nothing sadder than a withered heart [idiom (attributed to Confucius by Zhuangzi): the worst sorrow is not as bad as an uncaring heart]."
Song Yuzhi spoke with great fury, "You are adept in using strategy; is in this move you are posing as a pitiful creature?"
Kou Zhong replied with a wry smile, "Affairs of the heart is just like battlefield, some strategy must be used. But now it does not seem to be effective. How about speaking forthrightly?"
Song Yuzhi bent her knees to sit on the rock again; with smiling face, she laughed tenderly and said, "You nearly angered me to death."
Beating the snake following the stick, Kou Zhong said, "Can I kiss Zhizhi's left and right cheeks one time each?
Immediately red clouds appeared on Song Yuzhi's jade cheeks; really angry, she said, "What kind of person do you think I, Song Yuzhi, am?"
In a flurry Kou Zhong changed the subject, "Zhizhi has not explain your view of the love and hate intertwining relationship between us!"
Hanging her head down, Song Yuzhi whispered the words 'love and hate intertwining relationship' twice, before speaking softly, "My conclusion is that the reason I am hopelessly muddled with you is thirty percent pity, thirty percent friendship, and the remaining forty percent involve the feeling between a man and a woman. But within this forty percent, there is a lot of hate but very few love. Am I speaking forthrightly enough for you?"
Slapping his thigh, Kou Zhong said with a laugh, "As long as there's ten percent of love between a man and a woman, I, Kou Zhong, am so happy that I feel like going crazy!"
Displeased, Song Yuzhi said, "Typical you, speaking like that."
With solemn expression Kou Zhong said, "Zhizhi believes it, great; Zhizhi don't believe it, it's also all right. This time I am sincerely paying a visit, it is indeed because I was unable to restrain my emotions; I really longed to see Zhizhi again. Why don't we throw everything out and start anew, carefree and without worries playing his mother … hey! No! Let's just treat each other as an honored guest to get along well for three days, and then Ling Shao and me will have to hurry up to Guanzhong for a treasure hunt. As for what will happen next, when human's effort fails, we will listen to the mandate of heaven."
Her countenance changed, Song Yuzhi said, "Li Family is setting up an inescapable net waiting for you in Guanzhong, the two of you still want to go there to throw your lives away?"
Greatly astonished, Kou Zhong said, "And yet you said that you have a lot of hate but very few love? Turns out Zhizhi is so concerned about me."
Song Yuzhi's pretty face blushed slightly, she angrily said, "I have never seen anybody with thicker face than yours. You and Xu Ziling are Yuzhi's friends, could it be that seeing you go to die I would just watch in vain without groaning half a word?"
Returning to his distinctive character, Kou Zhong giggled and said, "The more Li kid is adequately prepared, waiting with tight troops disposition, the trip to Guanzhong will be even more interesting. Since I was young, I, Kou Zhong, have always been one who is unwilling to be left out. That Li kid is willing to accompany me playing, I should be grateful to him."
With her beautiful eyes Song Yuzhi gazed deeply at him for a moment, and then hanging her head down, she said, "No wonder Die said that by nature you are someone who cannot be tamed!"
Taken aback, Kou Zhong asked, "Has your Die seen me?"
Song Yuzhi replied indifferently, "Do you know why you could come across me in this place?"
Kou Zhong drew a blank; he shook his head quietly.
Song Yuzhi slowly said, "I was looking for nearby Li Liao brothers to ask for help, so that I could intercept you at the earliest possible time, so that you won't go to our mountain city home."
Kou Zhong was baffled. "If I go to your mountain city home, what's the problem?" he asked.
Revealing a hint of helpless wry smile, Song Yuzhi hung her head down and said, "Die is going to kill you!"
"What?" Kou Zhong blurted out.