Book 3 Chap 7 – Three states joined as one
After winning Hu Hui, Xiang Shaolong still remained there for the next 10 days.
During this time the injured were recovering very well and after a discussion, everyone agreed that they should no longer wait for the border guard reinforcements for fear that the Weis will have some tricks up their sleeves again. They will continue the journey on their own and hopefully be able to meet the reinforcements on the way.
With this decision made, Xiang Shaolong went to see Lady Pingyuan.
Her family warriors’ attitude towards him has changed greatly, being extremely respectful as if he is a deity.
Xiang Shaolong had fouind out from Lady Ya long ago that ever since Prince Pingyuan passed away, the 3000 odd family warriors he left behind all did not think highly of Prince Shaoyuan so many of them left and now there’s less than 500 of them left.
If not for their connection with Prince Xinling, the King of Zhao would not have tolerated Prince Shaoyuan and allowed him to become such a bully in Handan.
Most of these family warriors are from Zhao and has no feelings towards the State of Wei. Now that they are slowly realizing that after Lady Pingyuan goes to Wei, she may never return to Zhao again, they are beginning to have second thoughts. And Xiang Shaolong has become the most ideal person for them to throw their lot with, firstly because of his background as the grandson-in-law of the Wu family, and most importantly they saw how righteous he is and his astounding swordsmanship, bravery and tactics.
In this era, a powerful man will naturally have men willing to follow him. And Xiang Shaolong’s potential to become powerful is like the rising sun.
Mercenaries and family warriors represent a person’s ability.
In the past Prince Xinling was able to snatch Jin Bi’s military token to deal with the Qins because he already has a few thousand family warriors under him.
So it’s a most natural thing that those in the Pingyuan’s family changed their attitude towards him totally.
Outside Lady Pingyuan’s tent, he bumped into the almost recovered Prince Shaoyuan but the latter did not even bother to take a look at him and went in on his own.
Xiang Shaolong was secretly commenting to himself, ‘what a lad, consider yourself lucky that I did not give you trouble, and yet you have the audacity to show me your unhappiness.’
Ever since he injured Prince Shaoyuan so seriously, his hatred towards him has lessened greatly but now on seeing his antagonistic attitude, the feeling of old hatred came back.
Inside the tent, Lady Pingyuan was leaning on her couch, her wrist resting on the soft cushion, looking especially alluring, which made Xiang Shaolong’s heart beat faster.
When she gave birth to Prince Shaoyuan, Zhao De, she was not any older than 15, so although she now has a grown up son, she’s only in her 30s. This is the time a woman is most feminine, sultry and in need of the opposite sex.
Having a relationship with such a mature lady is certainly only to pursue the gratification of the body, unlike the illusions surrounding young couples which are quickly broken by reality.
That’s why when he saw how inviting Lady Pingyuan look, thoughts of copulation immediately entered his head.
But instead he behaved properly and sat down at the side of her feet.
Lady Pingyuan asked nonchalantly, “Xiang Shaolong, you’re not going to wait for reinforcements and planning to set off immediately?”
Xiang Shaolong was surprised, “You guessed!”
Lady Pingyuan rolled her eyes at him coquettishly and said, “Not a guess, but a deduction based on your character. Because you’re not the kind who will let others have the chance to move first.”
Xiang Shaolong was a little thrown off guard and said with a bitter smile, “It seems that Lady has changed your attitude towards me, not only are you not on your guard against me, but you seem to be luring me!”
Lady Pingyuan guffawed and rolled her eyes at him again, “It’s your thinking! But I am not going to lure you, instead I wish to have an honest talk with you, that’s why the change in attitude is a very natural thing.”
Xiang Shaolong pretended to be surprised, “That means that Lady has not been totally honest with me all this time.”
Lady Pingyuan replied frankly, “You can say that, because at that time I could not see through you. It was only until you defeated Hui Hu’s enormous army that I realized that you are not one who is will willingly let others control you, and you have the intelligence and ability to achieve this.”
Xiang Shaolong smiled bitterly, “You’re confusing me, how can I know when you’re telling me the truth and when you’re lying? Or maybe you only changed your tactic of dealing with me?”
Lady Pingyuan did not reply him but instead asked suddenly, “Do you know why An Li wants to destroy this wedding agreement between Zhao and Wei?”
Xiang Shaolong shook his head.
Lady Pingyuan’s eyes was filled with sadness as she slowly explained, “The story will have to start from 20 years ago, which was 3 years before the battle of Chang Ping started. Zhao Qian was only 3 years old then.”
By now Xiang Shaolong is quite familiar with the history of that time and asked, “Is Lady referring to the time the King of Qin sent the ‘king of killing’ Bai Qi to attack the state of Han.”
Lady Pingyuan chuckled, “King of killing? Humph! This nickname is indeed very suitable for that fiend whose hands are stained with blood.”
She sighed and continued, “If the Qins were to invade east, those who will take the brunt first will be our 3 states, Wei, Zhao and Han. Facing the same calamity, feelings run especially strongly so the 3 most powerful officials in the 3 states secretly came to a deal, which is to let the 3 separated states join together and become a strong country while they are still living, which is akin to the Large State in the past. Only this way can they defeat the Qins and become the rulers of the world.”
Xiang Shaolong was stunned, “So they actually had this thought.”
Lady Pingyuan changed the topic, “Do you know why I wanted to marry Prince Pingyuan?”
Xiang Shaolong thought to himself that of course it’s because she thought that Prince Pingyuan could take over the leadership position! However, he said instead, “Is that another political agreement?”
Lady Pingyuan said, “I guess you can put it that way! It is indeed part of an agreement, which is to make use of the marriages between royalty to strengthen the relations between the various Kings.” She continued with a smile, “But the most important reason, is because Wuji and me were very interested in the state of Zhao. Before the battle of Changping, the Zhaos had the world’s best generals and fighters and were unrivalled. The state of Zhao was the first to abandon fighting battles with carriages and instead changed to using cavalry as their main force.”
Wuji is Prince Xinling’s name.
During the Spring-Autumn period, carriages were the main forces used in battles. The war carriage represents a person’s status and ability. Changing the carriages to horses is in fact a revolution of that time, which also changed how battles were fought.
Because the State of Zhao had been in constant battles with the ferocious Xiong Nu* and with their experienced gain from such battles, the Zhaos learnt that these nomadic army who fight mainly on horseback with archery is a lot more nimble and swift in their attacks. Therefore they abandoned fighting with carriages, a way of battle which looks majestic but is in fact useless.
Lady Pingyuan said sadly, “But after Chang Ping, our dreams were rudely shattered, but it also made us believe even more strongly that the only way to survive is to reunite the 3 states. This is the only way to avoid fighting and wars amongst ourselves.”
Xiang Shaolong said, “Those three important officials, naturally it’s Prince Xinling from Wei, Prince Pingyuan from Zhao, but who is the official in Han?”
Lady Pingyuan replied, “I have no wish to say it. In any way they used their influence and decided on a string of marriage agreements between the 3 states. The Empress of Zhao is a Han, and Prince Xinling married a Zhao lady. The marriage of Zhao Qian to the Crown Prince of Wei is the most important one in the agreements.”
Xiang Shaolong finally understood and he slapped his thigh as he said, “It must be that King An Li heard about this and was afraid the unification of the 3 states will make him lose his throne, that’s why he’s going all out to destroy this marriage agreement. But he is the King of Wei, if he wants to go back on the marriage agreement, he only has to say so, why waste so much effort?” He looked at her coldly and asked, “Why does Lady want to destroy Zhao Qian’s virginity?”
Lady Pingyuan’s pretty face blushed slightly and she asked, “Can you not try to settle old scores with me!”
She continued with a sad sigh, “But the situation changed, the early death of Prince Pingyuan has caused the shift of power in Zhao into that fiend Zhao Mu’s hands. That’s why Prince Xinling was forced to return to Wei and start a new round of fight with that useless King An Li, and Zhao Qian’s marriage agreement has lost it’s initial meaning.”
She was deep in thought for a moment, her eyes fixed on Xiang Shaolong before she continued, “In actual fact no one is trustworthy nowadays, but on the surface everyone pretends to be honest in the ways they deal with the world. That useless King An Li has gone back on his words on many occasions, both to people in his own state and outside of it, so how can he go back on his word with the Zhaos. Besides he’s very wary of Wuji, so he will not dare to oppose the agreement so publicly.” She paused and said quietly, “Dealing with Zhao Qian is only a secondary matter, the real person he wants to get rid of is me. Because he knows that when Wuji and I join forces, we’ll be a huge threat towards him, because I have what Wuji lacks, which is viciousness.”
No one understands more than Xiang Shaolong what her last sentence means. Looking at her bright and lengthy eyes, he said quietly, “Why is it that Lady is suddenly being so honest with me, telling me such a great secret?”
Lady Pingyuan’s smooth thighs moved slightly, touching the side of Xiang Shaolong’s buttocks, her pretty face blushing and she said gently, “Because I saw a new ray of hope in you. Unless you do not step foot into Zhao forever, or else you will certainly have to engage in a life and death duel with Zhao Mu. If you can eliminate Zhao Mu, or take over his position, then it will again be possible for the 3 states to unite.” She lowered her voice and added, “But this is not the most important reason, do you want to go on listening?”
Xiang Shaolong felt a headache coming on, he does not know if this is another of her ploy to deal with him. Because after eavesdropping on her conversation with her son the other night, her venomous nature has carved a very deep impression on him. Besides, she dotes on her son so much, so how can she really fall for her son’s enemy and tell him what’s really on her mind?
He thought to himself that if she wants to play games with him, he’ll play along with her. He extended his hand and put it on her thigh, gently caressing her sensitive inner thigh, looked in her eyes and explained, “Of course I want to listen!”
Lady Pingyuan’s eyes revealed an alluring gaze as she lowered her head to look at his invasive hand, saying gently, “Because I want to surrender to you, and beg for your love and pity.”
Xiang Shaolong shifted forward and sealed her fragrant lips, his hands attacking her at the same time. Lady Pingyuan’s body was shaking violently, her tongue cold as ice due to her passion and nervousness. Such unhidden natural reaction served to fuel Xiang Shaolong’s lust.
A cold snort was heard from outside the tent.
The 2 of them were so shocked they separated and looked towards the entrance of the tent.
Prince Shaoyuan lifted the flap and entered, a flash of hatred and anger went across his eyes.
They both guessed that Prince Shaoyuan had actually entered earlier and saw them in their heated embrace but he stepped out again and snorted to surprise them before pretending that nothing has happened and stepped into the tent again.
Joy at having taken revenge surged in Xiang Shaolong’s heart and without waiting for Prince Shaoyuan to speak, he rose and said, “We’ll be traveling in the night tonight, so will Lady please make preparations.”
Without even looking at Prince Shaoyuan, he left.
Xiang Shaolong finally understood some things that seemed so foggy long ago, for example the reason Tian Dan sent Xiao Weimou to destroy the wedding agreement between Zhao and Wei is because he does not want the 3 states to unite. Not only will that be disadvantageous for Qin, it will also become a threat to the state of Qi and the other states.
Although the 3 states all had different family names, but they had once served the same master so naturally they are a lot closer to one another compared to other states.
In the past Prince Xinling risked himself to steal the military token and wrestle over the military power because he wants to preserve the state of Zhao, with the hope that one day the 3 states can unite into one and become the strongest state.
But Tao Fang once said that the Weis are most untrustworthy. Lady Pingyuan may have some true feelings for him, but for Price Xinling, he’s just a useful pawn.
And the thing that influenced his decision the most, is that he knows that the 3 states will never unify. This has already been written in history books.
Can he change history?
Xiang Shaolong turned towards the direction of the voice, it turns out to be one of two Zhao Qian’s personal maid, Cui Tong.
These 2 maids were extremely pretty and outstanding, about one or two years older than Zhao Qian, which makes them about 17 or 18 years old.
Cui Tong stopped him and with a lowered head, said “Third Princess would like to request the audience of Sir.”
Xiang Shaolong’s lust which was stirred up by Lady Pingyuan was not appeased, and on seeing how alluring and shy she looked, he felt a strong desire. But he thought that if he allow himself to do that, it will only serve to make Zhao Qian look down on him so he suppressed his urge and followed her to Zhao Qian’s tent.
Cui Tong dared not walk alongside him, and walked half a step behind him instead.
Xiang Shaolong turned his head around and threw a glance at her. When he saw her blushing, he asked quizzically, “Why is Sister Xiaotong so shy?”
Cui Tong was showered and kept her head so low that her forehead was almost touching her chest and dared not look at him.
By now the two of them have passed the guards and entered the compound and there’s no one else around the ladies camps. Xiang Shaolong is after all a flirt and he grabbed her hand and asked gently, “Is there anyone in your tent?”
Cui Tong’s petite body trembled as she exclaimed in a mixture of shock and joy, “Commander! Please, others will find out.”
The flap of the tent where Xiao Zhao and the rest stayed in flipped open, startling Xiang Shaolong and he hurriedly released his hold on Cui Tong’s hand and hurriedly walked into Zhao Qian’s tent.
For the past 10 days, Xiang Shaolong and Zhao Qian has been behaving intimately. Other than the last hurdle, they have tried every other physical things possible and also suffering from trying to hold themselves back. That’s why for these 2 days, they are restricting themselves instead and dare not overstep the border, afraid that they will do something that they might regret and let others catch him deflowering the beautiful Third Princess.
Zhao Qian saw him arriving and happily gave him a long pouch which she sewed personally and said, “I made this especially for your wooden sword. Qian’er has never liked swords or weapons, but Xiang Lang’s wooden sword is an exception.” And she stared with irritation at Flying Rainbow, which was hung at his waist.
Xiang Shaolong like to carry Flying Rainbow with him because it’s light and swift and on seeing the beauty’s gift, he hugged her slender waist and kissed her tender cheeks before saying with a laugh, “You don’t even like the famous sword from Yue?”
Zhao Qian glared at him and said, “The Yue sword is well made and pretty, but it’s still a gift from Zhao Mu, and seeing it reminds me of him. Therefore I have no wish to see it.”
Xiang Shaolong exclaimed in surprise, “So you don’t like Zhao Mu.”
Zhao Qian’s eyes reddened as she replied, “Not only do I hate him, but I hate Imperial Father even more.”
Xiang Shaolong hugged her and moved to a side and sat down with her. Lying on the soft cushion, his hands roaming about her bosom, he asked, “Did Zhao Mu try to do anything overboard with you?”
Zhao Qian was weak from his fondles and burrowed herself into his chest, saying sadly, “I have a marriage agreement with the Weis, so he dare not be so bold. However Qian’er’s mother died because of him.”
Xiang Shaolong was so shocked that he stopped his hand activity and asked hoarsely, “What?”
Hot tears rushed out as Zhao Qian hugged Xiang Shaolong tightly, “Xiang Lang must decide for Qian’er, and kill that fiend for me.”
Xiang Shaolong wiped away her tears and asked gently, “Tell me first how he caused your mother’s death.”
He has never asked Zhao Qian about matters involving the imperial court, and thought that the Zhao empress now is her birth mother.
Zhao Qian related sadly with tears in her eyes, “At that time Qian’er’s mother was still Imperial Father’s most beloved concubine. One night Zhao Mu and Imperial Father summoned Mother into the bedroom and the next day Mother hanged herself. Qian’er was only 10 years old, but I will never forget that scene. Mother died horribly!” And she cried bitterly again.
Xiang Shaolong did not imagine that such a flawless and pretty princess would have such a horrible childhood and allowed her to cry and vent her anger. Caressing her back, he felt a wave of inextinguishable anger welling up.
Zhao Mu and King Xiao Cheng are really worst than beasts, to actually engage in such sadistic sexual play in the palace. From this he can deduce that there are many more victims in the palace.”
The imperial palace is a place filled with the filthiest and unreasonable people.
The only way to change such immoralities is for himself to unite the world and install new values.
He remembered the words of Yuan Zong, the last great man of Mohism.
When he was discussing the philosophy of this era with Yuan Zong, Xiang Shaolong mentioned Confucius and Yuan Zong said dismissively, “He just refused to face reality, thinking of the past and present all the time and only knows how to protect tradition. He’s is not worthy to have such a high and respected position. He advocates so-called rituals, which only serves to make the various heads of states spends even more excessively and the country’s wealth will be in the selfish hands of a small group. He only theorizes but is not aware of the actual situations, and totally ignorant about hardship of wars. The most irritating thing is that he belittles those who works with their hands, and makes fun of his disciple Fan Chi who is a farmer as ‘a small man’.”
Naturally Xiang Shaolong is not intellectual enough to have a debate with him, but he does know that the 2 schools of thought, Mohism and Confucianism, are like the north and south poles, both opposite extremes.
Not only is Mozi a famed warrior, he’s also a craftsman, something that Confucius look down on. He worked with his hands and feet and regard rituals as a false pretense and a waste of resources. The biggest difference is, the teachings of Confucius is to the benefit of the traditional monarch while Mozi goes after a new outlook in society.
No monarch will like Mozi’s ideals.
This is also the main reason why Confucius was almost regarded as a deity later.
It was also from Yuan Zong that Xiang Shaolong realized that the term ‘ru’* is not a term used only by the disciples of Confucius during that era.
A ‘ru’ was initially the scholar who maintains the clan’s parents, ancestors, family history etc but after the family clan fell into hard times, they stayed around the commoners and using their knowledge of poetry, books, rituals, helped others with the rites for funerals etc, or teach others what they learnt in order to earn some money for living expenses.
It’s only when Confucius expounded on the philosophy of ‘Education of a Scholar’ (Jun Zi Ru), did the term ‘ru’ became a term specifically used for Confucianism.
Each school of thought represents their ideals towards governance.
To Xiang Shaolong, Mozi’s teachings are more suited to his taste. But of course he won’t just accept everything in the teachings.
Zhao Qian’s sobbing stopped and on seeing him so quiet, she can’t help but call out, “Xiang Lang!”
Xiang Shaolong lifted her face up and kissed her a few times before saying. “Don’t be afraid! I’ll be there to protect you in future.”
Zhao Qian said sadly, “I don’t wish to return to Zhao.”
Xiang Shaolong was stunned and asked, “You want to stay in Wei?”
Zhao Qian exclaimed, “Of course not, but as long as I can stay by your side, I am not afraid of any hardship.” She continued with a cry, “If I return to the Zhao palace, and there’s no marriage agreement, Zhao Mu will certainly not let me off. Then death will be the only way for Qian’er to repay Xiang Lang.”
Xiang Shaolong furrowed his brows and asked, “Can he really be so lawless? Isn’t Lady Ni able to escape from his evil clutches and remain unscathed?”
Zhao Qian exclaimed. “Lady Ni is different! Her father-in-law is the famous Zhao general Zhao She and most of the leaders and generals in the army were taught by him. Therefore no matter how much Zhao Mu covets her, he dare not force himself on her. But my status is entirely dependant on my Imperial Father, if he doesn’t protect me, there’s no one who can save me.”
Xiang Shaolong consoled her, “There’s me!” Only now did he realize that Zhao Ni had married Zhao Gua’s brother, no wonder Zhao Ni and Lady Ya are so close to each other.
Zhao Qian sighed, “Zhao Mu knows how to use drugs very well, if he’s really intent on having me, there’s no way Qian’er will be able to stop him. I can only copy my Mother!” She felt a deep sorrow and started crying again.
A fire of hatred burned in Xiang Shaolong’s heart.
For Zhao Qian, for Shu’er’s revenge, when he returns to Zhao, that will be the time he’ll have a life and death duel with Zhao Mu! He will use all methods to attack this fiend, it doesn’t matter even if he has to use the help of Prince Xinling and Lady Pingyuan.
After he left Zhao Qian, he returned to his commander’s tent.
Cheng Xu and Wu Zhuo were waiting for him to discuss the route to take to Fengqiu.
After his conversation with Lady Pingyuan, he was suddenly enlightened and understood what used to baffle him.
If he can return to the 21st century, he’ll certainly become the leading expert in the history of the warring states period.
The 3 states disintegrated and became Han, Zhao and Wei, but the most ironic part is that these 3 states have been constantly hoping to reunited again. The only problem is who will become the king!
The most direct way is to attack and conquer.
The first to start was the very magnificent Wei who even managed to invade Handan and stayed there for 2 years until they were forced to retreat by the state of Qi.
Naturally the state of Qi did not come to the Zhaos rescue because they felt a special liking for them, but because what Qi fears most is the unification of the 3 states. Because under that situation, the first to be in trouble will be the state of Qi due to its close proximity to the 3 states.
Later the Weis suffered heavy losses at the battle of Maling and 100,000 brave troops were eliminated in one day. Even the Chief Commander Prince Shen and the great general Pang Juan lost their lives and they never managed to pick themselves up after that fall.
For the Weis, the battle of Maling is akin to the battle of Chang Ping to the Zhaos, with deep reaching influence.
Because the other states were afraid of the unification of the 3 states, they took the opportunity to keep invading Wei. The continuous attacks by Qi, Qin and Chu made Wei unable to use their military power to unify the 3 states.
But the threat by the Qins are growing bigger day by day.
Therefore the most influential senior officials in the 3 states secretly arranged marriage agreements and such, hoping to unify the 3 states in a more peaceful way. Naturally they are the only ones who know the details.
But the State of Qi has been keeping their eye on them all the time, that’s why Tian Dan sent Xiao Weimou this time to destroy this marriage agreement.
Now Xiang Shaolong is very certain that Xiao Weimou will not let them off.
Xiao Weimou is not like Hui Hu, who was a mix of soldier and thief. He is a professional killer, a little like the special task force he used to be in, specializing in infiltrating enemy camps to investigate, search, destroy or assassinate, and will be a difficult person to deal with.
Therefore they have to meet up with their reinforcements earlier, only then will they be really safe.