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Published at 3rd of November 2019 01:13:40 PM
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Chapter 21
Chapter 21: Wu Zheng (12:00-12:59) Part 8


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Translator: DragonRider
“Where would the steed of grassland head to?” asked Cao Poyan in Turkish behind the door .

“The direction where arrows are aimed,” replied a man in shrill voice like that of a woman .

Hearing the right code, Cao opened the door . The latter lifted his hood revealing a gaunt face and a hawk nose .

“I’m Long Bo,” he grinned, all smiles .

Cao's brows knitted as he had never seen Long Bo . The only information he knew about the latter was he was from Qiuci and had been concealing in Chang’an who had arranged this remote warehouse and the safe house . And Long Bo was the man appointed by General Yousha . He just didn’t expect the latter to be a Tang .

“Prove your identity,” requested Cao Poyan with the dagger in hands, fully alert .

Upon hearing that, Long Bo squatted down, which startled Co who immediately took a step back with murderous intent in eyes .

Long Bo smiled, “Ho! What’s all the vigilance and tension about? I won’t eat you . ” With that, he took off his left boot, forced apart the boot sole and took out a packet of thick yellow paper .

The paper felt slippery as it had been soaked in oil to make it dampproof . Cao Poyan spread it with great caution and saw the detailed panorama of Chang’an, which noted every street, Fang, Scout booth, barrack, government office, watchtower and bridge, including even the run of the culverts of Fangs and some mansions of big families .

This was the fang map Xifu Gold & Silver Ware secretly kept which had been brought to Zoroastrian Temple by the wolf guard . Long Bo took it in the disorder . It was indeed a hard evidence for his identity .

Cao Poyan felt quite stirred in heart when looking at the fang map . He had lost fifteen good hands to get it . Now the last step for General Yousha’s plan was finally completed .

“To get this damn thing, I won’t be allowed to stay in Chang’an anymore . General Yousha must make it up to me,” complained Long Bo .



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Cao Poyan’s brows knitted at the words, “Did Jing’an Department notice you?”

“I bet half of Chang’an is looking for me . Even the newly crowned champion in Imperial Exams wouldn’t enjoy such great attention,” replied Long Bo, who sounded quite proud for that .

Cao’s cloudy face lightened, “Then would the houses and this warehouse you’ve arranged lead them to you?”

Long Bo tilted his head, “All the places were arranged through different brokers in different names . And I didn’t leave any trace in the place I lived . In no way would they get to me . What are you doing? Why don’t you let me in?” urged Long Bo . Not until then did Cao put aside all the confused thoughts, and let Long Bo in before he closed the door again .

Upon entering the yard, Long Bo was greeted with corpses over the ground and the repugnant reek of blood . Not a bit surprised, he looked around, “Have the cargos from Yan Zhou arrived?”


“Well uploaded and stored . And the irrelevant people are cleaned up . ”

“Gee…poor carters . Heading all the way here for death,” nagged Long Bo as he walked to the platform in the warehouse and patted the buckets . “So this is what you call the soul of Kailu Hodo? Where is the body to hold the soul?”

Cao was quite annoyed by the slight in his voice and answered coldly, “The bamboo ware is ready . When the carters are loaded, I'll have the body sent here . Then it's up to you to do the final assembly . ”

Ironically, Kailu Hodo represented the wrath of Turk Khan, yet only Long Bo, a craftsman from Qiuci, knew how to assemble them .

Long Bo paced around in the yard and said as if chanting some scripture, “By the time when the body and soul integrate as one, the great Kailu Hodo will rise to burn . And the fang map will lead it to destroy Chang’an . ” Then he couldn’t help but laugh as he muttered, “The slogan your Khan chose is funny . ”

The corner of Cao’s mouth couldn’t help but twitch as the great Khan was humiliated . He grabbed his dagger tight, his right leg slightly bent in a position ready to attack . He decided to teach this guy a lesson . Long Bo, however, stepped forward and bent down all of a sudden as if trying to duck the attack . Cao couldn’t help but tense up, thinking the latter had seen through his mind .

However, Long Bo only bent down to pick up a delicate pouch inlaid with golden thread . It must belong to the fleet leader . Inside it put about a dozen rolled up mint leaves . Long Bo’s eyes lit up and he immediately stuffed one into his mouth . Then there came several cozy moans from his nose .



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Cao Poyan lowered his dagger secretly as he warned himself not to incur any trouble .

Long Bo chewed the leaves, its eyes flickering, “When will the body arrive?”

“The carters will leave in a quarter and will be back in an hour . And you have four hours to complete it . ”

Long Bo looked around, “The men for the job are not sufficient . Where are Mag’er and the others?”

“I only do as I’m told . You can ask General Yousha where they are,” sneered Cao Poyan .

Long Bo gave a gesture out of helplessness, “Time is running short . Get the tools and materials ready . I’m starting my job . ” With that, he shook his wrist as he chewed the leaves .

*

Taiping Fang lied in the northernmost of the second street on the west of Rosefinch Street . Facing Hanguang Gate of the imperial palace, it was very close to the government office in imperial city . Inside the Shiji Temple in the southwest of Taiping Fang existed a Jingtu (Lit . Pure Land) Yard that was reputed for being “The best in Imperial City” . The yard contained quite a few towers and buildings well arrayed in order . And with 108 Buddha statues representing good karma placed in the bamboo forest, it displayed an exuberant air of Buddhism .

Right at the moment in a pavilion locating in the depth of the bamboo groove stood two figures, one was Li Bi in cyan robe who had just left Jing’an Department, while the other was in purple and red, exuding an extreme air of nobility . Should there be anyone else here, he would immediately recognize that it was the Crown Prince, Li Heng . The two were looking far into the distance as if appreciating the Buddhist atmosphere of the forest, yet the words they spoke were nothing related to Buddhism .

“So you forced Supervisor He to leave?” asked Li Heng with visible worries on face . He was about the same age as Li Bi .

Li Bi bowed slightly to pay respect yet took quite a hard stance, “Yes . Just as I said, if Supervisor He stays, we won’t be able to get rid of Turks . I did what is right for the greater good . ”

Li Heng sighed as he pointed overhead, “Supervisor He is just like this pavilion that will provide a shelter for us to proceed the game . If you take it down, we’ll have enough space to do whatever we want . However, how can you weather through the rains and storms without it? Changyuan, you’re being impetuous this time . ”

“With fierce tigers threatening by the side, we have no attention to spare for the rains and storms . ” Li Bi retorted right back . His tough attitude embarrassed Li Heng who, several times, had the intention to reproach but then swallowed it back after a glance at Li Bi .


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He and Li Bi’s relationship had surpassed that between emperor and subjects . Li Bi had been his companion since young, and they were close to the point of keeping no secret . Pity that Li Bi, though talented and capable, was dedicated to seek Daoism, showing no interest in official career . He had tried really hard to persuade Li Bi to establish Jing’an Department .

Li Bi always spoke bluntly in front of him . Well aware of his confidant’s temper, Li Heng waved his hand and resorted the tone of negotiation, “Er…you never listen to me . Let’s invite Supervisor He back, shall we?”

“No . I have no time for that,” said Li Bi with a sullen look . “Now it is only six hours before the Lantern Show, yet we have no clues about the Turks . Your Highness, should it not be for your skepticism, I wouldn’t even be here . ”

Li Heng clicked his tongue and patted Li Bo on the back, “I’m not being skeptical . I’m just…How shall I put it? Well, Supervisor He is like the first mark on the arm of a steelyard, who makes a great difference to how the court and His Majesty would regard Jing’an Department . ”

He Zhizhang had been chosen as the master to teach Crown Prince strategy and politics in Year Tianbao 3 . The teacher and pupil friendship of more than twenty years was no inferior than that between Li Heng and Li Bi .

He Zhizhang was greatly valued by the emperor . And Li Heng invited He to be the head of Jing’an Department to deter other officials at court so that Li Bi could do whatever he wanted . Never would he expect that these two would be on bad terms . More unexpectedly that the calm and gentle Li Bi would force Supervisor He to leave with such means…and now the situation was a bit out of control .

Jing’an Department was the most important wager in Li Heng’s hand . And if any of its errors were known by his political enemies, severe consequences would follow .

He had no protection from the imperial harem, nor did he have any powerful supporters in army, and he never dared to associate with any influential officials at court . And even in the newly established Jing’an Department, only Li Bi was trustworthy .

“You have to know that it is never easy to be Crown Prince of Tang,” complained Li Heng .

“Your Highness, I know you’re worried about doubts at court . But aren’t you afraid of His Majesty?” Li Bi said in a light voice .

Li Heng’s face changed drastically at those words . What the hell was he talking about?

Li Bi stepped forward and lowered his voice, “Skeptical as His Majesty is, he should entrust the security of Chang’an to you . You ever wondered why?”

Ling Heng went silent .

The emperor’s suspicion towards the princes were known to all, especially after the last crown prince had been dethroned and the Misfortune of the Three Illegal Born Princes . Li Heng had never been in the East Palace ever since he was crowned . This time the emperor acquiesced in Crown Prince’s establishing Jing’an Department that possessed power beyond nearly all offices in Chang’an, entrusting him the safety of the whole city . It was, apparently, a test .

A test for Crown Prince’s true intention and his capability .

Li Bi saw through it from the very beginning, so did He Zhizhang . However, the two held different ideas . He Zhizhang upheld that they must have a right mind if it might lead to a failed mission . While Li Bi, on the contrary, insisted to do the right thing even if it meant to offend others .

“Political enemies might attack in three days . But Turks might start the calamity in six hours . Your Highness, you should know the priority . If Chang’an is saved, His Majesty would be delighted and your status would be secure . However, if Chang’an falls…” Li Bi deliberately drawled as he put on a serious look, “Everything is done . ”

Li Heng was startled but still unwilling to give in, “Supervisor He is trying to catch the thieves . So are you . Why can’t you two work together?”

“No, I can’t . I don’t have the time . Jing’an Department must know whose orders to take . ” Li Bi waved his whisk as he continued with a touch of complaint in his cold voice, “I’m now involved in the intricate worldly affairs, violating the rules of Daoism . Are you suspecting me of doing it for power?”

“Nonsense! I mean none of that,” Li Heng hurried to defend himself .

Li Bi didn’t respond . Instead, he looked up, his gaze skipping the eaves of the pavilion to the sky, and sighed .

Li Heng forced a wry smile and walked over to take his arm, “I know you’re doing it for me . I’m not suspecting you . It’s just…in time of such chaotic changes, we have to be cautious . Alas, forget it . Now that Supervisor He is retired because of illness, just let it be . ” He still had some words to exhort but was stopped by Li Bi, who cupped his hand, saying, “Time is up . I need to get back to Jing’an Department . ”

Li Heng, out of embarrassment, asked, “The what can I do?”

“Your Highness, I need your firm support for the following six hours . You must support every decision of mine . No time left for any suspicion or discussion . This has to be done exactly according to my rules . ”

“What are your rules, Changyuan?” Li Heng was quite curious .

“No rules . ”

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