Book 3 Chap 2 – Tribulations in love
When Xiang Shaolong returned to his residence, Cheng Xu came up and told him, “Someone from the Wu family is looking for you.”
Xiang Shaolong was greatly surprised and with Cheng Xu’s accompaniment, went to the quiet side hall.
A tanned man of about 35 or 36, with 2 exquisite ‘lian’ made of steel crossed behind his back, looking like swords without scabbards, standing straight in the middle of the hall, his eyes shining, with an imposing aura about him.
The pair of ‘lian’ is about 5 feet long, and it looks like something between a spear and a halberd, just very much shorter.
That person saw Xiang Shaolong, a gleam shot past his eyes and he knelt down, “Wu Zhuo pays his respects to Grand Young Master-in-law.”
Xiang Shaolong was overjoyed as he knows that he is the leader of the Wu family’s secret army and hurriedly helped him up. Cheng Xu thoughtfully made his exit.
After they were seated, Wu Zhuo said, “Under Master’s orders, we’ve been scouting ahead for Grand Young Master-in-law, and indeed we found out something.”
Xiang Shaolong saw his somber expression and was secretly alarmed.
Wu Zhuo continued in a low voice, “I don’t know who leaked the news, but the most vicious horse thieves between the borders of Wei and Zhao are aware that you are bringing treasures and Zhao’s prettiest ladies and traveling towards Daliang. The situation is extremely unfavorable for you.”
Xiang Shaolong furrowed his brows, “The Weis won’t just sit by and do nothing right?”
Wu Zhuo replied, “Someone from Wei secretly told us that not only will King Anli not send anyone to protect you, he even supplied horses and weapons to one of the biggest group of horse thieves called Hui Hu and secretly ordered them to attack your convoy.”
Xiang Shaolong was shocked, “Isn’t that Hui Hu the one who attacked us within the borders of Zhao? Why did he go to Wei?”
Wu Zhuo replied, “It’s the same person. At that time they suffered heavy losses after their attack failed, and later the Zhaos pursued them, that’s why they escaped to the Wei border and gathered dissidents on the way. Now they have more than 1000 men, not a force to be taken lightly.”
Xiang Shaolong is getting a headache over all these. Firstly why would the King of Wei send men to deal with him, secondly how did he end up working with Hui Hu’s group of horse thieves.
Wu Zhuo added, “All along, we’ve suspected that the few groups of horse thieves within the Zhao border has the backing of the King of Wei so that they will weaken Zhao’s strength. That’s why every time they are in danger, they will escape to the borders of Wei and now this has affirmed our theory.”
Xiang Shaolong is getting a splitting headache, the more he finds out about the relations between the various states, the more he feels that the complicated relationship is making him even more confused. He furrowed his brows and asked, “But this time we’re giving the Third Princess of Zhao to the Weis, why would the King of Wei use such methods to receive us?”
Wu Zhuo replied, “I’m not very sure of the real reason, but we can guess that this involves the power struggle between the King of Wei and Prince Xinling. Ever since Prince Xinling stole the military token and defeated the Qin army, his accomplishments is considered greater than his master, so naturally this will incur the wrath and jealousy of the King of Wei. Besides Prince Xinling has stayed in Handan for a long time, so if the King of Wei can destroy the marriage agreement, the most affected by this will naturally be the relationship between Prince Xinling and the Zhaos.” He continued, “And the marriage agreement is brought about by Prince Xinling single handedly.”
Xiang Shaolong thought to himself ‘Heavens!’ Why are the relationships between the people in the warring states period so complicated and incomprehensible. Lady Pingyuan was trying to recruit him on behalf of Prince Xinling earlier, and the Zhaos have a more sinister plot to steal Prince Xinling’s ‘Lu Gong’s Secret Manual’. What kind of a relationship is all these?
Wu Zhuo whispered, “We have spies in Hu Hui’s camp, and apparently Hu Hui hates you to the core and is determined to capture you and all the ladies alive and rape all of them right in front of your eyes in order to give vent to his anger.”
Xiang Shaolong gave a cold snort, “That’s only wishful thinking on his part.” He sighed and continued, “Are there any news of that person who does not wish to be a human but wants to be a beast instead, Xiao Weimou?”
Wu Zhuo shook his head, “This person is famous for being mysterious, every time he attacks it’s a surprise, there’s no clue about an impending attack at all. He’s a lot more frightening than Hui Hu.”
Xiang Shaolong is so vexed he felt like pulling out his hair, and said seriously, “The route to Wei was planned by Zhao Mu long ago, with the approval of the King of Zhao, so it cannot be changed. If the person who leaked the news is Zhao Mu, this means that the enemy will be very familiar with our route, so we’ll always be in a situation where we can only react to circumstances.”
Wu Zhuo smiled meaningfully, “Would Grand Young Master-in-law be someone who listens to orders blindly?”
Xiang Shaolong chortled and nodded, “You really understand me.” He thought to himself this time he will have to use all his tricks and make use of the modern military knowledge he learnt to deal with the various traps laid along the way.
Wu Zhuo added, “I’ve brought with me a hundred good fighters, to become Grand Young Master-in-law’s family warriors. Hei! To be able to work under Grand Young Master-in-law, we’re all very excited.”
Xiang Shaolong was ecstatic, and after the two of them secretly discussed the details, Wu Zhuo left in a hurry.
He’d just stepped out of the hall when he learnt that the pretty maid Xiaozhao had been waiting patiently for him for a long time.
Xiang Shaolong told her to return first. He found Cheng Xu and told him briefly the dangerous situation.
Cheng Xu’s face turned pale on hearing it and said, “I’ll find Zha Yuanyu immediately to discuss this matter and tell him to bring more rations and increase fortifications so that we can deal with the thieves’ attacks.”
Zha Yuanyu is Cheng Xu’s assistant, and also the rations officer for this trip, in charge of setting camp and all co-ordinations. If the enemy were to attack, they’ll either look for dangerous spots to lay a trap, or to steal their rations. Therefore it’s a must to increase the defenses of the camp.
After Cheng Su left, Xiang Shaolong recollected his thoughts and went to the inner courtyard.
Xiaozhao, Xiaoyu and the rest of the maids were all in the hall, happily sewing the armor for him that he will be using to hold his steel needles.
When they saw him arriving, they surrounded him and frantically helped him remove his heavy armor, and tied the inner armor made from cowhide, filled with small and long pockets, with strings around his waist. As if it’s a game, they laughed as they slipped the needles into the sturdy pouches, revealing only about an inch of the tip of the needles.
He tried a few moves, rapidly pulling out the needles and throwing them towards the wooden door, hitting it with a ‘chook chook’ noise. He realized that although he’s wearing about 20 over catties of flying needles and his armor, but he could still handle the extra weight without any hindrance to his movement and speed.
Xiang Shaolong’s mood changed for the better and after bantering with the maids for a while, he went towards Lady Ya’s room.
The 8 maids continued working hard to make this needle pouch more sturdy and perfect.
Inside the bedroom Lady Ya seems lost in thought.
Xiang Shaolong walked over and saw that Lady Ya was standing with her back to him next to a window, looking out at the woods, deep in thought.
Zhao Ya has changed into a robe with 2 long silk tassels hanging down, draped with a well tailored and eye catching robe, her hair combed into 2 buns. Contrasted with her slender waist and fair skin, she looks utterly bewitching.
Xiang Shaolong thought to himself this is truly nature’s finest specimen, no wonder she can charm so many men and become the most famous wanton in Zhao. He tiptoed behind her and grabbed her shoulders, pressing his body against her pert buttocks.
He had just uttered the word ‘Lady’ when Zhao Ya shook violently and struggled.
Xiang Shaolong was shocked and let his hands go.
That Zhao Ya ran to a side and turned around, her face filled with fury, and surprisingly it’s the royal Third Princess Zhao Qian.
Xiang Shaolong knows that he’s in trouble and hurriedly knelt down but he was at a loss as to what to say.
Zhao Qian saw that it’s Xiang Shaolong and her anger subsided. In replacement she blushed deeply, stamped her feet and ran away.
Zhao Ya could be heard calling after her outside but obviously she did not manage to stop her.
Xiang Shaolong stood up, her fragrance still lingering on his body, his heart beating erratically.
Lady Ya walked in and she looked unhappy. She stared at him and walked over, asking icily, “Shaolong! What have you done to Zhao Qian?”
Xiang Shaolong was very unhappy with her tone of voice and attitude. Besides he was not in a good mood after hearing Wu Zhuo’s news so he thought to himself, so be it that you do not trust me, why should I explain to you. He gave a cold snort and walked out the door.
After all Lady Ya is one who is used to having her orders obeyed, and although she loves Xiang Shaolong extremely, she is firstly annoyed that he touched the untouchable Third Princess, and because she could not tolerate such an attitude, she cried out angrily, “Stay there!”
Xiang Shaolong stopped walking, and thought of her promiscuous past and also how she drugged him with aphrodisiacs to help Zhao Mu deal with him, and how she allowed Zhao Mu to take liberties with her while in the carriage. He’d suppressed all these feelings usually but now they’ve come bubbling up to the surface and he felt extremely upset. He stared at her coldly and asked, “What instructions does Lady has?”
Lady Ya’s heart turned cold on seeing his look and she softened. She moved to him and asked a little fearfully, “Don’t you know you cannot antagonize Zhao Qian?”
Xiang Shaolong was not appreciative of her change in tone at all and said emotionlessly, “Your servant will not dare to do so in future, may I take my leave now?”
Lady Ya thought to herself that she has not blamed him wrongly, so how could she tolerate such an attitude from him so she stamped her feet and said, “Fine! Xiang Shaolong, get lost now.”
Xiang Shaolong thought of the past and felt that without this woman, he’ll save himself a lot of troubles. Although life in future may not be so easy, but he can’t really be bothered now and left. Of course he did not forget to take the inner armor with him as he left.
That night Xiang Shaolong did not step into Lady Ya’s abode at all. After dinner, he went to the garden to practice his flying needles and after happily practicing for a while, his anger towards Lady Ya ceased as well. Just as he was pondering if he should look for her, Zhao Da suddenly came and knelt down on seeing him, his eyes filled with unshed tears of fury and helplessness as he said, “Master Xiang please decide for us brothers. That conniving thief Prince Shaoyuan came to look for Lady and after talking to her in private for a moment, Lady invited him into her room.”
Xiang Shaolong was dumbfounded. Prince Shaoyuan had just killed Lady Ya’s loyal subordinate Zhao Er, and now this wanton is inviting him to his room. No wonder Zhao Da is so furious and for him to come and complain to him, it’s obvious that he is prepared to lose his life over this.
Xiang Shaolong helped him up and instructed, “Take it that you’ve never come to look for me, understand?”
Zhao Da was livid, “I’m not afraid of anything now.”
Xiang Shaolong secretly sighed and instructed him not to follow him. He went towards Lady Ya’s residence and deliberately took a detour and went through the back garden. Naturally the guards dared not stop him but when he reached the inner courtyard from the back garden, Xiaozhao and the other maids were all shocked and their faces turned pale, thinking of blocking his way.
Xiang Shaolong had a murderous look and uttered coldly, “Give way!”
The ladies dared not really stop him and they retreated.
Xiang Shaolong went to Lady Ya’s bedroom and kicked the door open with his leg.
Prince Shaoyuan and Lady Ya cried out in alarm at the same time.
The two of them were sitting next to each other on a long chair, Prince Shaoyuan’s hands reached out and hugged Lady Ya tightly, as if he was going to kiss her lips while Lady Ya was trying to push him off, her face coy. The scene is enough to make Xiang Shaolong burn with fury.
Prince Shaoyuan stood up angrily and pointed at him, “What audacity!”
Xiang Shaolong recollected his thoughts and thought that if it comes to reasoning, he really does not have the authority to barge in like that and spoil their fun. But in this era where the strong represents everything, what counts is talent, so there’s nothing much to be said. Besides, Price Shaoyuan caused the death of Su Nu, and he can’t wait to rip him apart. His eyes glaring murderously, his hands on the pommel of his Rainbow Sword, he stared at him unwaveringly, making Prince Shaoyuan’s heart turn cold.
Lady Ya actually had no intention of canoodling with Prince Shaoyuan, but because Prince Shaoyuan came to look for her saying that there’s something about Xiang Shaolong and Lady Pingyuan that he has to tell her in secret, that’s why she invited him into the room. Who’d expect that after he said his words, he tried to force himself on her and Xiang Shaolong happen to barge in right at this time, scattering her wits.
It was just a lover’s quarrel for them earlier but now that Prince Shaoyuan is involved, this has turned into another matter.
She saw that Xiang Shaolong’s expression was icy cold, as if he’s going to kill someone. She was so frightened that she jumped up and stood between the two of them, screaming, “No!”
Naturally Xiang Shaolong knows he cannot kill Prince Shaoyuan, and he heard the footsteps of Prince Shaoyuan’s men hurrying over from the outside so he took the opportunity to step down and said, “Protect him if you want! From today onwards, I shall not be bothered with your private affairs.”
He turned and left, ignoring the curses of the shocked Prince Shaoyuan.
He bumped right into Prince Shaoyuan’s 4 warriors in the hall.
The 4 of them were overcome by his aura and moved aside, watching as he left.
Xiang Shaolong returned to his own room and felt relaxed instead.
All this time he has been troubled by Zhao Ya’s scandalous past.
He’s never had the experience of engaging with wanton women. Even on the day that he was sent to this era by the time machine, he was having fun with the queen of bars Zhou Xiangmei, but that was just a one night stand, and he’d never think of living with her.
Now that Zhao Ya has stated that she wants to change for the better and follow him, that is another matter. He saw for himself the 2 of them hugging and it doesn’t matter if any force was used, the fact is Zhao Ya invited him into her room. Obviously wantonness is already in her nature, and never thought of defending herself against men. This point is enough to make him furious.
The door opened, Zhao Ya walked in looking sad and angry and after she closed the door, she leaned against the wall at the side, looking sadly at the calm and composed Xiang Shaolong who was sitting on the rug.
Lady Ya lowered her head, “It’s my fault for misunderstanding you.”
Xiang Shaolong said emotionlessly, “You’ve asked Third Princess?”
Lady Ya nodded her head slightly, and asked angrily, “Why didn’t you explain to me? I have feelings of jealousy as well!”
Xiang Shaolong chortled, “This doesn’t matter now, it’s late! Lady please return and rest! We have to be on our way again tomorrow.”
Lady Ya looked at him in shock, and on seeing his cold expression, she threw herself into his arms, her arms going around his solid neck and cried in alarm, “Shaolong! Please listen to my explanation, he tried to force a kiss on me, I…”
Xiang Shaolong remained unmoving as a rock, not even twitching the muscles on his face. He looked at her coldly and said, “If you can explain why you invited a man who has just cruelly killed your loyal subordinate, and an enemy of mine, as well as a lecherous ex-lover of yours into your room, I will forgive you.”
Lady Ya was at a loss for words.
For someone like her who grew up in a rich and powerful family, she wouldn’t be overly bothered about the life and death of a subordinate. As for letting Prince Shaoyuan into her room, although it was Prince Shaoyuan who initiated it, but at that time she really harbored the thought of having her revenge against Xiang Shaolong. Of course she did not expect Xiang Shaolong to barge in.
Hot tears rushed out.
Xiang Shaolong smiled, “Lady! I am not bothered about how you and Zhao Mu joined forces to harm me, because I thought that you will concede to me with all your heard from now on. Only today did I realize it’s just wishful thinking on my part. Even if you want to copulate, you don’t have to do it with Prince Shaoyuan! There are a few hundred strong young men around here, choosing any one of them will make me feel better.”
A handprint appeared on Xiang Shaolong’s face.
Lady Ya covered her face and wailed as she retreated, crying out wretchedly, "You insult me, I really…”
Xiang Shaolong raised his voice, “Shut up!” He touched his cheek and added, “This slap will signify the end of our relationship, you can be with whoever you like, I will not be bothered. If you find me a hindrance to your eyes, just ask your imperial brother to kill me. But don’t blame me for warning you, whoever tries to kill or harm me, will have to pay a bitter price.” And he walked out of the room furiously.
Lady Ya screamed, “No!” and tugged his clothes.
Xiang Shaolong pushed her away and left.
Extremely furious, he thought of his 2 greatest enemy.
What kind of a world is this, he obviously knows that Zhao Mu and Prince Shaoyuan has committed atrocious crimes, how can he continue to let them strut about so publicly.
I must become this era’s strongest person, by then I need not bend over backwards just for survival, and live so unhappily.
In order to avoid Lady Ya, he hid himself in a dark corner. As expected, Lady Ya ran out in tears looking for him.
Xiang Shaolong went back to his room, thinking to himself that he won’t be able to get a good sleep tonight, so he might as well practice with his newly set up climbing equipment to see if it works.
Once he made up his mind, he felt like a little kid who is going to have fun. He changed into a black outfit, brought his equipment and climbed out his window into the courtyard.
The only target for his practice is naturally Lady Pingyuan and her son. Under the cover of the night, he used his ability and swiftly and quietly made his way to the courtyard where Lady Pingyuan is staying.
When that lone building came into his sight, he saw that security was tight. Unless one can morph into a bird, he can forget about slipping in. Lamps were lighted in the hall, and voices could be heard.
Luckily Xiang Shaolong has the ability to climb up high.
He first chose a tall and sturdy old tree about 10 feet high and shot out his hook, aiming at the branches about 3 feet away before attaching the rope to the clasp around his waist. Making use of the pulley he pulled on the rope and rose up, and in a short while reached the horizontal branch.
He continued on like this and after a while he was almost at the top of the wall, about 8 feet high, the scene in the courtyard right below his eyes.
He looked out for an opportunity and once again shot the hook out with the projectile, hitting right on target the wall on the other side of the courtyard. When the hooked which was wrapped in soft hide landed on the tiles, it only emitted a very faint noise.
Xiang Shaolong tugged on the hook, until the hook was tightly embedded on the wooden beam of the roof. He tested its sturdiness before hooking it to the clasp on his waist again and leapt off the tree, and quietly slid down to the roof opposite.
He then leaned down and took out a hollow and round metal tube, with the hole on one end bigger than the other. He pressed the wider hole tightly on the tile while he plastered his ears to the narrow end of the hole. Like a modern doctor with his stethoscope, the sounds in the room immediately amplified and filled his ears.
He heard Prince Shaoyuan said angrily, “If not for that Xiang Shaolong barging in, I’ll surely be able to deal with that s.lut. Humph! Let’s see if she dares to disobey me.”
Lady Pingyuan was heard saying, “My child why be so impatient now. Zhao Ya is yours sooner or later, and even Zhao Qian won’t be able to escape from your clutches, humph!”
Xiang Shaolong felt his skin go numb, he did not expect that Lady Pingyuan to actually be of the same thinking with her son.
Lady Pingyuan continued, “You better not go and bother Xiang Shaolong, this person can be made use of greatly by your uncle.”
Prince Shaoyuan said angrily, “He treats me so badly, how can I take this lying down. Unless Mother can tell me clearly what you intend to do to him, or else I will certainly be at odds with him.” He then tried cajoling, “Mother! I’m all grown up now, I should be able to share you and Uncle’s burdens!”
Xiang Shaolong secretly prayed, hoping that she’ll reveal it.
Luckily Lady Pingyuan has always spoiled her son and couldn’t withstand his begging and said, “Do you know why Uncle kept pushing for the marriage between Zhao and Wei, and deliberately leaked the news about the ‘Lu Gong’s Secret Manual’ to the Zhaos?”
Xiang Shaolong felt his body turn cold on hearing this, so it turns out that ‘Lu Gong’s secret manual’ is part of the plot. From this one can see that how Prince Xinling, one of the 4 Princes of the Warring States period, is so formidable.
Prince Shaoyuan begged, “Mother! Tell me quickly!”
Lady Pingyuan said, “This is a big secret, besides you and me, not a third person must know of this, understand?”
Prince Shaoyuan hurriedly gave his promise.
Lady Pingyuan was silent for a moment before she said, “I have no choice but to let you know as well, because we’ll need you to coordinate with the skilled pugilists Uncle sent to put this important mission into motion.”
Prince Shaoyuan tapped his chest and said, “Leave it to me.”
Lady Pingyuan said, “In order to steal ‘Lu Gong’s Secret Manual’, the Zhaos will certainly send their best warrior to Wei. Now that they’ve sent Xiang Shaolong, this person is both skilled in swordplay and intelligent, just the right person for us.”
Prince Shaoyuan is not an idiot, and he uttered in shock, “Is Uncle trying to recruit him/ But he and I…”
Lady Pingyuan interrupted him coldly, “Don’t worry! Your enemy is my enemy, I’ll make sure he’ll die without even a proper burial place.”
Prince Shaoyuan said happily, “That’s really great.”
Xiang Shaolong who was eavesdropping from the roof was furious and really felt like leaping down and stabbing both of them.
So it turns out that Lady Pingyuan has an ulterior motive with him.
Such a vicious women, is really a fine specimen of this era where the strongest will survive.
Lady Pingyuan said in a low voice, “Once we bribe that fool, we can arrange for him to assassinate the useless King of Wei. With your uncle’s help and that fool’s excellent martial arts, it will certainly succeed.”
Prince Shaoyuan shivered and asked hoarsely, “What?”
Lady Pingyuan humph, “Look how alarmed you are, as soon as Xiang Shaolong succeeds, your uncle’s men will kill him on the spot and there’ll be no witnesses left. Then we’ll push all the blame to the Zhaos, and by then your uncle will be able to openly send troops to attack Zhao and gain control of military power. By then won’t the state of Wei will be in his pocket?”
Xiang Shaolong felt cold sweat running down his body on hearing it. Only now did he understand why Lady Pingyuan said Prince Shaoyuan will be able to get both Zhao Qian and Zhao Ya.
Prince Shaoyuam exclaimed joyously, “This is indeed a perfect plan, but Xiang Shaolong is no fool. I’m afraid that he might pretend to be on our side but later complain about us to the King of Wei. That would be terrible.”
Lady Pingyuan smiled icily, “Do not belittle me and your uncle. I married your father in the past with the hope that he can ascend the throne. Unfortunately he was unable to succeed and died early as well, or else you could have already be the King of Zhao. We have thought of a way to deal with Xiang Shaolong, and that is to force him to a dead end so that he has no choice but to throw in his lot with us.”
Xiang Shaolong furrowed his brow, and thought to himself what are the ways they have to force him to a dead end?
Naturally Prince Shaoyuan couldn’t guess as well and kept pressing Lady Pingyuan for the answer.
The regal lady who is beautiful on the outside but venomous as a snake on the inside said with a lowered voice, “As long as Zhao Qian’s virginity is lost, where else can he go?”
Xiang Shaolong almost exclaimed out loud on hearing this, and at the same time was glad that his unplanned trip here has allowed him to overhear such an important plot. Naturally he concentrated hard to continue to listen in on the plans this mother and son team has for Zhao Qian.