Read Novel A Step into the Past Chapter 134, Please!
Book 13 Chapter 01 – Prince Dan From Yan
After Teng Yi finished listening, he was dazed like a wooden figure and was speechless for some time.
With her around, everyone has to withstand her tantrums; without her around, everyone is pining for her return.
Unexpectedly, she met with a tragic ending.
Shan Rou is a rare person during these ancient times to stand up for female rights. She is strong, brave and determined. As long as she sets her sights on something, she will do her utmost best to accomplish it.
And she has now sacrificed her life to achieve her biggest dream!
With both his hands supporting his face, Xiang Shaolong is tearing quietly.
An attendant came in to report something but was chased away by Teng Yi. He instructed the Guardians not to allow anyone to disturb them.
Teng Yi reached out and patted Xiang Shaolong’s shoulder, speaking out in a sorrowful voice: “The dead cannot be returned to life. Our most important task presently is to take revenge for her. She is considered my relative so it is two strong reasons we must kill him for sure!”
When Xiang Shaolong has somewhat calmed down, Teng Yi asked: “Do you think Tian Dan will report you to Lu Buwei or Crown Prince? After all, it is widely accepted that emissaries should not be killed. Qin cannot just watch you kill Tian Dan within their territory.” Xiang Shaolong give a pained reply: “It may be Shan Rou’s divine intervention. Whenever I think of her committing suicide, my mind becomes extremely clear and can identify all the issues.”
Pausing, he continued: “Even if Qin sends soldiers to escort Tian Dan home, it is limited to Qin territory. Once they left Qin’s border, it will be time to act but we must first find out the strength of his army and whether there is anyone receiving him outside Qin. I must speak to Lord Longyang. He can definitely provide me with some information.”
After thinking, he sighed: “Tian Dan can be considered isolated from the rest since he did not partic.i.p.ate in the combined army. He conspired against King Xiaocheng on his last trip and the people of Zhao hates him to the core. Han is on good terms with Zhao’s Empress Han Jing and will not make it easy for him. Under such circ.u.mstances, the only way home is to go through Wei or Chu. Wei is much nearer but is not as safe as Chu. If I am not mistaken, he will travel with Li Yuan. Thus, we can more or less know his travelling route.”
Teng Yi was startled: “If he is protected by the Qin army in Qin and the Chu army in Chu, when is a good time to kill him?”
Xiang Shaolong revealed an icy cold smile and plainly state: “For Shan Rou and Second Brother’s revenge, I will do whatever I can to kill this evildoer. First, we must force Li Yuan to leave Xianyang City. Tian Dan cannot leave without finishing his discussion with Lu Buwei.”
Teng Yi frowned: “Let’s talk about forcing Li Yuan later; how did you know that Lu Buwei and Tian Dan are still in discussion?”
Xiang Shaolong answered: “It is called intuition. Last night, they are busy whispering into each other’s ears. In addition, he used Shan Rou to blackmail me to do something for him. These are all signs that they are still in discussion. It is useless to continue talking without facts. Let’s get moving. Second Brother shall investigate Tian Dan’s army strength while I look for Lord Longyang and Prince Dan. I may learn something useful from them.”
Teng Yi was stunned: “Prince Dan?”
Xiang Shaolong reasoned: “Within Xianyang City, there is no one more concerned about Tian Dan’s life and death other than him.”
He softly added: “Send someone to inform Zhi Zhi that I do not have any free time today.” At the same time, he swore that he will never tell Zhao Zhi that Shan Rou has come to harm.
Lord Longyang is delighted to see Xiang Shaolong again. Leading him into a scheduled eastern room within his guesthouse, he listened to his account and consoled him, saying it that there is no point crying over spilt milk. The conversation turning serious, he explained: “There is a horse plague in Qi and I think he wants a few thousand warhorses from you! Naturally, he will not ask you to make trouble for Lu Buwei. In fact, he is more concerned about Lu Buwei than the Qin people. Just by looking at Lu Buwei’s political and military successes within a few years, anyone can tell that he is formidable. If Qin falls under his control, all his opponents will suffer greatly.”
Xiang Shaolong asked in a deep voice: “Will Lord disapprove of my killing of Tian Dan?”
Lord Longyang shook his head: “Not only will I not disapprove, I am exhilarated! You are right. Tian Dan will return to Qi via Chu and he has an army of ten thousand soldiers, led by his trusted general Tian Rong, waiting there for him. You must kill him before he meets up with them. Except for Qin, our next greatest threat is Qi. If Tian Dan is killed, everyone in the allied states will be overjoyed. He alone did not partic.i.p.ate in the last battle and has incurred everyone’s wrath. Obviously, he is trying to benefit from our losses.”
Sighing, he added: “It is a pity most of our soldiers are based at the Qin-Wei border and cannot a.s.sist you. Moreover, the King may not agree. But I can always send spies to investigate the deployments of the Qi and Chu armies. Their reports are guaranteed to be accurate.”
Xiang Shaolong is grateful: “That will help a lot. I am sure that with my present forces, I can make him die a terrible death. How many men did Tian Dan bring on this trip?”
Lord Longyang detailed: “He has a few hundred men within the City. Outside the city is another elite army of one thousand Qi cavalry. With Li Yuan’s forces, their army strength will exceed three thousand. Shaolong must not underestimate them, especially when you are attacking them outside of Qin. If you make a serious mistake, you may be killed by him instead.”
Xiang Shaolong replied: “Of course I know that he is a powerful foe but I have some tricks that are beyond his imagination.” Lord Longyang can never guess that he is referring to his 21st Century warfare and strategies. Thinking that he has a large army too, he inquired: “Shaolong has official work to attend to; can you leave for a few months?”
It is hard to explain the special relationship between Crown Prince and himself.
Xiang Shaolong simply sighed: “I have my methods.”
After deciding on future communication methods, Xiang Shaolong bade his farewell and left Jifeng and the Guardians at Lord Longyang’s courtyard, walking over to Prince Dan’s guesthouse next door. After he reported his name, Prince Dan came out personally to receive him with a few escorts.
Temporary putting aside his hatred regarding Xu Yi Luan’s double ambush, he greeted: “How are you doing, Prince Dan? Please forgive me for taking such a long time before paying my respects to you.”
Staring at him, he was reminded about Jing Ke.
Without Jing Ke, he would never know of this man called Prince Dan.
The vibrant looking Prince Dan happily greeted: “General Xiang is an important military figure. I had wanted to visit you but am afraid that General is busy with his new duties and dare not interrupt. I planned to visit you after the hunting fair but since General is here, I welcome you with open arms.”
Moving forward, he grabbed his hand and whispered: “Honestly, I am so jealous that the stunningly attractive Talented Lady Ji is your wife.”
Finishing, they broke out in laughter.
In the midst of his laughter, Xiang Shaolong could start to understand why Jing Ke is willing to a.s.sa.s.sinate Qin Shi Huang for him.
These legendary men all possess extraordinary abilities.
Prince Dan began introducing his men to Xiang Shaolong.
There are three men who left an impression on him. First, it is Physician Leng Ting. This man is around forty years old with delicate features and eyes that shine with wisdom. He is rather tall, just two inches shorter than Xiang Shaolong, and has long and agile limbs. He is a man of few words but Xiang Shaolong is sure that this man has both brains and brawns.
Next is General Xu Yi Ze. From his name, he must be Xu Yi Luan’s brother. Around thirty years old, he is short and stout with a giant head. He has a figure that resembles a wrestler in unarmed combat. He has a serious look on his face that makes it hard for people to confide in him.
The last gentleman named You Zhi is a handsome man who is a few years older than Prince Dan. He carries an intimate smile on his face and leaves a good impression on everyone he meets. The moment Xiang Shaolong saw him, he is certain that this man is Prince Dan’s chief strategist.
After the usual pleasantries, Prince Dan led him into the main hall.
After everyone got seated, two ladies even prettier than Lu Buwei’s courtesans came forward and served tea.
Accompanying them are the three men as well as two generals Yan Chuang and Yan Jun who are related to the royal family. The remainder of the guards remained in the outer hall.
Xiang Shaolong took a sip from his tea cup and went straight to the point: “I wish to speak to Prince in secret.”
Prince Dan is slightly startled and dismissed the two ladies. He sincerely a.s.sured: “These men are my most trusted subordinates. Regardless of what General Xiang wishes to say, you may say it in front of these men.”
Xiang Shaolong secretly praised Prince Dan for his strong trust in his men. Under the scrutiny of the six pairs of eyes, he casually state: “I want to kill Tian Dan!”
Everyone including Prince Dan is stunned. Only You Zhi remains calm and aloof.
Xiang Shaolong stared at Prince Dan, examining his reaction.
Prince Dan’s eyes shone sharply and exchanged a glance with him. Recovering from his shock, he asked: “I am not surprised to know that General has such an intention but why are you specially telling me about it?”
Xiang Shaolong energetic eyes scanned everyone before him and slowly declare: “Before I explain, let me first bury the hatchet over Xu Yi Luan’s double ambush. We shall work sincerely from today onwards and do not keep any secrets from each other.”
With these earth-shattering words, even the collected You Zhi lost his composure. The others naturally reacted even stronger than before.
Prince Dan will now know that Dong Kuang and Xiang Shaolong are actually the same person.
There is a strange feeling in the air.
After a long while, Prince Dan let out a long sigh. Standing up, he bowed and apologised: “Brother Xiang, please excuse me. To save my country, I have done many things against my conscience.”
Xiang Shaolong hurriedly got up to return his courtesy, congratulating himself for choosing the right partner. If Prince Dan denied everything, he need not bother himself with this man anymore.
Both men got seated and the atmosphere is much friendlier.
Leng Ting’s eyes shone with appreciation and nodded: “I finally understood how General can triumph in Wei and Zhao, and even counter Lu Buwei in Qin.”
You Zhi plainly state: “Does General Xiang know that killing Tian Dan is more difficult than ascending to heaven? Moreover, you should know your status as a general of Qin.”
Xiang Shaolong knew that he is testing his background. If he wanted to hide in Qin while asking them to kill Tian Dan, these six men will despise him.
At the end of the day, this is a business deal. The success of the plan is dependent on the potential benefits.
Xiang Shaolong smiled: “Li Yuan and Tian Dan are committing atrocities all over the country. Li Yuan used his sister Li Yan Yan to give birth to the Crown Prince. If King Xiaolie dies, the newcomer Li Yuan will need to borrow Qi’s forces to counter the inc.u.mbent Lord Chunshen. Tian Dan needs Li Yuan’s a.s.sistance to attack the allied states and expand his territory. When fighting against Tian Dan, we must not neglect Li Yuan. Regarding the Qin military, I have my ways of dealing with them as long as it does not involved Lu Buwei. Everyone can rest easy.”
Prince Dan let out another long sigh: “I finally tasted Brother Xiang’s formidability. Since you are so knowledgeable about every state, I will not waste any more words. May I ask how Brother Xiang plans to solve the problem regarding Chu? If Tian Dan and Li Yuan travel together, their strength would increase drastically. When they are nearing Chu, they will be received by both their armies. There is no way we can intercept them. We have such an intention as well but it is an impossible task.”
Xiang Shaolong smiled mysteriously and official state: “Leave Li Yuan to me. I will make him leave Qin before the hunting fair, disrupting their travel plans. Li Yuan has always been a selfish man. If he is in deep trouble himself, he will not be bothered about Tian Dan.”
Everyone was confused.
Xu Yi Ze could not help but asked: “What clever scheme does General Xiang has?”
Xiang Shaolong spontaneously replied: “Please let me keep this little secret to myself. You will see results within these two days. If I cannot even accomplish such a small matter, I will be too ashamed to face everyone again.”
Prince Dan concluded: “Great! Xiang Shaolong is worthy of his reputation. If Li Yuan leave Qin before the hunting fair, I will do my best and cooperate with you. Tian Dan that traitor will not return to Qi alive!”
Xiang Shaolong had expected this agreement.
Qi and Yan are neighbours and have always been irreconcilable like water and fire, eyeing each other’s territory. Yan had invaded Qi but was repelled by Tian Dan, causing heavy losses to Yan. Everyone in Yan hated Tian Dan to the core and would not hesitate for an opportunity to kill him.
To them, Li Yuan plays a crucial role.
If Li Yuan is killed too, it is equivalent to offending two states that are stronger than Yan and it is not something to laugh about.
But if they can ignore Chu’s issue and even push the blame to Xiang Shaolong, it will be even better.
Xiang Shaolong shook hands with Prince Dan to seal their agreement and he left in search of Lu Gong, proceeding with the next step in his grand plan.
Ever since the return from his last mission, this is the first time he is approaching a task with such enthusiasm.
He finally know how deeply he loves Shan Rou.
The minute he sat down with Lu Gong in a private hall, Xiang Shaolong began in a deep voice: “I want to kill Tian Dan.”
Lu Gong was shocked and checked: “What did you say?”
Today, this is the fifth time he is saying he wants to kill Tian Dan. First, he said it to Tian Dan, followed by Teng Yi, Lord Longyang, Prince Dan and finally to Lu Gong, the number one head of the Qin military.
To openly kill an earth-shaking figure like Tian Dan is setting a new precedence in history.
Full of confidence and persuasion, he explained: “This is the only way to prevent Lu Buwei from dominating Qin politics.”
Lu Gong was puzzled: “What has this got to do with Tian Dan?”
Xiang Shaolong simply state: “The eastern states have recently attacked us but why is Qi not involved?” Lu Gong’s expression became thoughtful and replied after a short while: “Is Shaolong referring to Tian Dan and Lu Buwei’s secret collaboration?”
Xiang Shaolong positively explained: “In the past, Lu Buwei did not have any military accomplishments. Now, he has conquered the three eastern provinces and solidified his position. When the combined armies taught him a serious lesson, he focused on his present status and put aside any plans to mount another eastern campaign. What he plans to do now is to increase his power in Qin and the Zhengguo ca.n.a.l is the first step in his grand plan.”
Lu Gong was agitated upon hearing this.
For the past two days, he himself has been complaining to Xu Xian, w.a.n.g Ling and other military leaders, cursing Lu Buwei for having an ulterior motive and wasting manpower and resources over the ca.n.a.l. This will weaken the country and interfere with plans to unite the world.
Xiang Shaolong is sure that he is disturbed and egged him further: “Therefore, Lu Buwei is now in league with Chu and Qi, isolating Yan and the allied states. This is to safeguard his external interests and focus on internal issues. He can then focus on building up his influence. If he is successful, our state of Qin will land in the hands of this outsider.”
His latest words have an even greater impact that the last sentence, stunning this strong advocate of Qin race superiority. Lu Gong thought for a while and raised his head, his eyes shining with energy and stared straight at Xiang Shaolong, asking in a deep voice: “Before we continue further, I need you to clear something up. Why are you so certain that the Crown Prince is not Lu Buwei’s illegitimate child?”
Xiang Shaolong was secretly glad that Lu Gong is moved and therefore asked such a question. If he can a.s.sure him, the discussion can continue smoothly.
He sincerely looked back at him and revealed: “It is very simple. I have my own suspicions as well and questioned Lu Buwei’s confidante Xiao Yuetan about this. He swore that Crown Prince is indeed the late king’s flesh and blood because when Zhu Ji became pregnant, the only man she is sleeping with is King Zhuangxiang.”
Lu Gong frowned: “I know this man Xiao Yuetan and he is someone who should know the truth. But since he is Lu Buwei’s trusted subordinate, he may continue to conceal this secret for Lu Buwei despite his own death.”
Xiang Shaolong’s eyes reddened and intimately disclosed: “When Xiao Yuetan died, not only does he declare himself free from Lu Buwei’s control; he even hated Lu Buwei to the core. It is all because the man who killed him is Lu Buwei.”
Lu Gong was not horrific at this news. Stretching out his hand, he grabbed Xiang Shaolong’s shoulder and nervously asked: “Do you have any proof of this?”
Xiang Shaolong shook his head in grief.
Lu Gong released him and remarked: “We have investigated this matter on our side but those who came back alive did not know what happened. Qu Dou Qi and the others have disappeared so there are many suspicious points but there is nothing we can do to Lu Buwei. When you came back and hurriedly retreated to the farms, we know that something is amiss.”
Sighing, he added: “I believe Shaolong is telling the truth. I guess we need not carry on with the blood test.”
Determined, Xiang Shaolong shook his head: “No! The blood test must still be conducted. Only this way can we fully verify that the Crown Prince is the late king’s flesh and blood.”
Lu Gong stared at him solemnly and inquired: “I like the way you handled things. Yesterday, Du Bi came looking for me and told me you said something to the late king on his deathbed. The late king then pa.s.sed away peacefully. What did Shaolong say to him?”
Xiang Shaolong is certain that Du Bi learnt about this from Lady Xiuli. Without hesitation, he divulged: “I told the late king that if he is murdered by someone, I will do whatever I can to avenge him.”
Of course he made some changes to the words and purposely left Lu Buwei’s name out.
Lu Gong stood up and his eyes shone with determination. Looking up to the sky with agony, he took some time to recompose himself. Finally, he barked: “Fine! Shaolong, what can I do to help you?”
Xiang Shaolong quickly stood up to match him and respectfully state: “Lu Buwei’s influence is growing day by day. To stop him, we must first destroy his alliance with the outsiders. If we can kill Tian Dan, it will not only help in uniting the world, it will also force Lu Buwei to spend some effort against foreign attacks and protect the three eastern provinces. We can then slowly erode his power within Qin.”
Lu Gong shows signs of anger and grabbed Xiang Shaolong’s arm, leading him to the rear garden. His face tight with emotion, he gritted his teeth: “Why don’t we command our army and attack his residence, annihilating every single person related to him? As long as the Crown Prince nods his head, I can accomplish this easily.”
Xiang Shaolong lowered his voice, saying: “You must not do this. Lu Buwei has gained the loyalty of many officials. If this matter is leaked out and he strikes first, it will be disastrous and may even cause the death of Crown Prince and Empress. Even if we succeeded, Cheng Chongqiao and Lord Gaoling will immediately vie for the throne. If Qin deteriorates to such a condition and the six states adding fuel to fire, our country may be split into three factions just like in the past.”
Lu Gong’s face changed colour and he softly held Xiang Shaolong’s shoulder and asked in a low voice: “Tell me how I can help you?”
Xiang Shaolong is mad with joy. With Lu Gong’s consent, Tian Dan is almost as good as dead.