On the twenty-first day of the third month in the first year of Longsheng, the fifteenth year of the sixty-year cycle, Jishi fell. The Yong army razed the city to the ground. Although the town’s garrison commander had moved its population to Anze, there were countless elderly, women, and children who were unable to make the journey. Jishi was littered with the dead and the injured. Even though the Prince of Qi’s reputation for savagery was well known, upon careful study, no massacre occurred.
—Zizhi Tongjian,1 Yong Records Volume Three
On the brink of disaster, a ferocious shout resounded and a javelin flew out from the vegetation on the side of the road, hitting lance dead center. The path of the lance changed, although it continued to rush towards Su Qing. However, this small change gave Ruyue enough time to act. Holding onto Su Qing, she tumbled off the horse and fell to the ground.
Their horse, seemingly also startled by the ruckus behind, reared up on its hind legs. The lance then pierced into the horse’s body. With a long squeal, the horse collapsed to the ground.
As soon as she dropped to the ground, Ruyue continued to hold onto Su Qing as she rolled away, avoiding the heavy horse carcass crashing down beside her by a hair’s breadth.
Almost at the same moment, Duan Lingxiao noticed the boundless killing intent bubbling out from either side of the road. He instinctively rose to his feet. Just as he leapt into the air, countless crossbow bolts shot out and flew towards him. Violently sucking in a breath of qi, Duan Lingxiao bizarrely twisted around in the air and floated to the side. The bolts collided in midair. Simultaneously, Duan Lingxiao’s horse neighed for the last time and collapsed.
As Duan Lingxiao fell to the ground, eighteen figures in black cavalry uniforms jumped out from the dense vegetation on both sides of the road, surrounding Duan Lingxiao in their midst. All of them were fairly young, between the ages of twenty-five and thirty. They wore leather armor over their clothes, and wielded sabers and shields. Every one of them had calm and steady bearings. The dirt under their feet concentrated but did not scatter, and their eyes sparkled. With one glance, he could tell that these were all handpicked experts from the Yong army.
There was another individual who was twenty-eight or twenty-nine years old. He appeared sincere and honest. However, his eyes radiated light in all directions. It could be slightly sensed that he was completely full with killing aura that did not leak out in the tiniest. From his expression and bearing, it was evident he was the leader. He held in his right hand a saber and a refined steel shield in his left. However, at this moment, his saber remained sheathed. In addition, he had two short javelins tied at his waist. It was this man who had just rescued Su Qing.
Sighing with admiration, Duan Lingxiao asked, “Who are you people? Why would you appear here to intercept me?”
The leader answered in a bright voice, “Vice Commander of His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor of Great Yong’s Stalwart Tiger Guard and Commander of the Marquis of Chu’s Imperial Bodyguards, Huyan Shou. We came on the Marquis of Chu’s orders to wait for Sire.”
Hatred flashed in Duan Lingxiao’s eyes, as he inquired, “Was this all a setup by Jiang daren to lure me into a trap? If that’s the case, then he is rather neglectful of his subordinates. Are you confident you can stop me?”
Huyan Shou replied in a loud voice, “Sire, there is no need to try to sow discord. Daren’s foresight is unmatched and knew that Sire would appear here, and would very likely attempt to cut off General Su. As a result, he ordered us to follow them in secret. Right when General Su was ambushed, she sent back a warning. That is why she risked her life to flee in this direction and led Sire to this part of the road. We have just learned a new saber formation and have come specially to test it.”
Duan Lingxiao indifferently said, “As expected, the Marquis of Chu is quite cautious. If I had not acted, there would’ve been no need for these precautions. However, if I did act, then you would be able to find my trail. However, he is truly quite vicious deep down. If General Su did not have the ability to escape, wouldn’t he have lost a capable subordinate? Isn’t it a great pity that he would use someone of Miss Su’s talents as a sacrifice? Moreover, the ones he sent to ambush wasn’t his trusted subordinate, Demonic Shadow Li Shun, and only sent the lot of you to your deaths. Is this kind of viciously ruthless and craven individual worthy of you all losing your lives?”
A scowl flashed across Huyan Shou’s face, as he uncaringly rebutted, “My daren’s character is not something for Sire to evaluate. Isn’t vicious ruthlessness a quality of a real man? As for whether the daren is a coward, didn’t he speak up openly in the presence of the Fengyi Sect Master? Besides, Lord Li is daren’s personal attendant. There was never a need for him to go into battle. All of our martial arts skills and techniques have received guidance from Lord Li. We would like to see what Sire thinks.”
In the wake of Huyan Shou’s words, each of the Stalwart Tiger Guard took a step forward. Instantly, the concentrated formation’s imposing power suddenly surged. However, to Duan Lingxiao, the changes of the “Wondrous Gates, Hidden Jia”2 Formation had numerous openings and weaknesses. He could not help smirk. By this moment, Huyan Shou had already drawn his saber. Holding his shield out in front, he advanced. When he entered the formation, the formation became far tighter and severe, and all of the holes disappeared without a trace. Duan Lingxiao was greatly startled. He had always thought that this saber formation was created based upon the principles of the Nine Palaces.3 Who could have guessed that the formation actually needed nineteen people? The original formation had caused Duan Lingxiao, who was familiar with tactical formations, to feel contemptuous. However, once Huyan Shou had joined the formation, an inescapable net was cast. This kind of mental shock would be enough to shake the confidence of anyone caught within the formation.
If the creator of the formation was specifically targeting Duan Lingxiao, then his ability and willpower was truly quite terrifying. Without moving, Duan Lingxiao ultimately could not help but speak up and ask, “Who taught you this saber formation? Is it always like this when General Huyan enters the formation last?”
Huyan Shou was stumped by the question. The words he wanted to say to start the battle were swallowed down unsaid. He thought, It doesn’t matter even if you are stalling for time. At this very moment, there are over a hundred horsemen galloping here. Once they have arrived, even if you have three heads and six arms, it will be impossible for you to escape. Because of these thoughts, Huyan Shou answered, “This saber formation was taught us by Jiang daren, while the saber techniques were personally taught by Lord Li. Originally, this was to help ensure daren’s safety. It is a wonderful thing that it is being used today to slay a villain.”
Hearing this, Duan Lingxiao smiled lightly. He had already used the Devil Sect’s secret technique to discern that there were two different army units hustling here from different directions. With the enemy situation clear, he could escape at any moment. However, it was impossible for him to fully understand this saber formation in a short period of time. The most effective way of escaping would be by killing the majority of these Stalwart Tiger Guard. However, the time required would result in him being surrounded by the Yong army, leaving him in a difficult dilemma. Fortunately, he already had a strategy of escape.
Within the saber formation, Duan Lingxiao suddenly bellowed with hearty laughter. Standing with his hands behind his back, he said, “Peculiar, most peculiar. I’ve heard that the Fengyi Sect are Great Yong’s renegades who must be exterminated. Who could have expected that I would see a disciple of the Fengyi Sect serving in the army? Su Qing, Miss Su, are you a direct disciple of Fengyi Sect Master Fan Huiyao? Wait, that’s not right. Each and every one of the Fengyi Sect Master’s disciples is well-known. I have never heard of any surnamed Su. However, by gauging Miss’s martial arts skills, you should be a prime disciple among the second and third generations of the Fengyi Sect’s disciples. I wonder who Miss Su’s master is?”
Duan Lingxiao’s words crashed like thunder. Even the hard-hearted Yong warriors could not help gazing at Su Qing in stupefaction. Having been helped up by her maid, Su Qing, her face pale as snow, quivered from Duan Lingxiao’s words. An aura of extreme despair exuded from her entire body. Even the most confused individual understood that Duan Lingxiao’s words had hit upon one of the deepest hidden secrets kept by Su Qing’s. In this changing atmosphere, Duan Lingxiao seized upon an opening in the saber formation. While everyone was caught unawares, he leaped into the air. Shimmering through the air like a rainbow, he quickly disappeared without a trace.
In the wind, his frigid voice drifted back to say, “Su Qing, your martial art forebears are already exposed. I want to see how you continue to serve in the Yong army.”
The area fell silent. Countless eyes were upon Su Qing. Proudly, she stood, almost as if she were the firm and unyielding, wintry snow plum blossoms. However, her expression looked bleak and sorrowful. It was clear that Duan Lingxiao’s words were not a ploy to sow dissension. She was truly a disciple of the Fengyi Sect.
The Fengyi Sect, that once celebrated and well-regarded sect, had now become a name everyone avoided. However, it still had left a profound impact upon everyone. It had at one point controlled the court for many years and had the authority to control the entire world. Because of treason and rebellion, the sect was now scattered far and wide. As for the Fengyi Sect’s former disciples, aside from those who had fled and disappeared, the majority had become scapegoats for the succession power struggle. Some of them, because they were unable to return to their parents or their husbands’ families, had gone far from home, even going so far as to become nuns. Some were able to obtain the protection of their families. However, they were henceforward dispirited and very rarely displayed their former glory. As for the military, it had done its utmost to eliminate all traces of the Fengyi Sect. All those who had some connection to the Fengyi Sect were either killed or lost all thoughts about continuing to serve in the army. However, if the news that Su Qing—the head agent of the Northern Regional Department of the Intelligence Management Section, a third-ranked general, and a heroine amongst women—was actually a disciple of the Fengyi Sect was spread, it could only make everyone feel flabbergasted.
Several of the horsemen who had seen Su Qing and Duan Lingxiao exchange blows were apprehensive. Earlier, Su Qing’s swordplay was like a raging tide, magnificent and elegant. Sure enough, there were shades of the Fengyi Sect’s swordsmanship within. It was only that they did not have any of these thoughts, and as a result, had not paid any particular attention to this detail. Because Duan Lingxiao had a comprehensive knowledge of the Fengyi Sect’s martial arts, he was thus able to discover from whom Su Qing had acquired her martial arts. The Yong warriors reflexively surrounded Su Qing.
Seeing the unconcerned look on Su Qing’s face, Ruyue suddenly shouted in a loud voice, “All of you are going too far! The Miss has risked life and limb for the sake of Great Yong these last several years. She only just barely escaped from Northern Han not long ago. Today, if the Miss hadn’t risk her life to fight bitterly, how would Duan Lingxiao have been led into this ambush? Are you all more willing to trust in the words of the enemy than your comrades who have gone through hell with you? Is that reasonable?”
As she reached the end, she was full of grief and indignation. Holding onto Su Qing, tears streamed down Ruyue’s face like rain. Everyone exchanged looks, especially those soldiers who had witnessed Su Qing fighting Duan Lingxiao in the bloody battle. These soldiers had shame and unease on their faces.
Giving a cough, Huyan Shou asked, “General Su, is what that man said true? General Su, please speak up if he is trying to accuse you by lying. If that is the case, all of us will naturally defend General Su.”
Everyone understood Huyan Shou’s intentions. As long as Su Qing refuted Duan Lingxiao’s words, Huyan Shou would be willing to conceal all of this. All shared the same thoughts. Regardless of Su Qing’s background, all of them only needed to know that Su Qing was willing to sacrifice their lives and reputations for the sake of Great Yong. That was enough.
At this moment, smoke and dust kicked up in the distance. The reinforcing cavalry had finally arrived. As they neared, they were intimidated by the strange atmosphere of the situation and they voluntarily came to a stop, gazing baffled at everyone who was present when they arrived. In the cold breeze, in the thousand men encirclement, a woman in azure clothes stood there. The expression on her face was frigid. The entirety of the area between the Heavens and the Earth was silent. Apart from the sound of the wind blowing, and the occasional sounds of horses blowing hot air and snorting, there were no other sounds.
Su Qing struggled free of Ruyue’s assistance and walked forward a few steps. Coming before Huyan Shou, she smiled faintly. That smile was as brilliant as the lone ray of sunshine shining in the depths of winter but was as lonely and mournful as the brief flowering of a desert cactus. She spoke with a hard tone, grinding out each word and line, “Duan Lingxiao was not lying in his accusations. My honored master was the first disciple of the former Fengyi Sect Master, surnamed Wen, named Ziyan. Although Su Qing was simply my master’s honorary disciple, the grace she gave me was far-reaching. To this day, Su Qing is filled with admiration and gratitude. Although I did not dare to speak of this because of the situation, I, Su Qing, have never forgotten how my life was saved by my honored master, the deep kindness that led to me learning swordsmanship. However, I, Su Qing, have also never forgotten of my identity as a general of Great Yong. I believe that I have done nothing that has let down the Yong court or my comrades-in-arms. Since this matter has been leaked today, it will be impossible to hide it from the eyes and ears of the people of the world. Su Qing is present here in her entirety. How I am to be punished is up to everyone. However, although Ruyue is my maid, she did not know of these matters. Of the brothers under my command, none of them knew of my roots. I hope that all of you will be able to serve as witnesses and help them prove their innocence.”
Right after she finished speaking, Su Qing felt herself become dizzy. The combination of her internal injuries and her discouragement left her powerless to prop herself up. As she heard the sound of Ruyue wailing, Su Qing felt her weak body fall into a warm embrace. She sighed softly. Fine, my life will be decided in the hands of the Heavens. Completely letting go, Su Qing fell into a deep coma.
So warm, thought Su Qing, as she experienced an endless string of beautiful dreams, almost as though she had returned to the protective love of her past when she was a frivolous and wild young maiden of a prominent family. In the haze, she felt like she was in her youth, when she was in the warm embrace of her mother and listening to her mother sing a nursery rhyme. With this, she was more than happy to continue her deep sleep. Unconsciously, a translucent teardrop appeared and slid down from the corner of her eye. It was happiness she could no longer bring back. She would never be able to see her father, her mother, and her family.
In a fog, Su Qing opened her eyes. She could sense that she was still alive. For many years, she had exhausted herself both physically and mentally on a daily basis in Northern Han. Even when she was asleep, she had to be on her guard. After she had returned to Great Yong, the heavy burden on her still remained. As a result, Su Qing had not been able to sleep quite so well in a long time. Sitting up, she discovered that she was on a comfortable bed with the curtains down. The air carried the scent of an expensive and high-quality incense. Su Qing pulled the blankets off and found that she was wearing a set of white middle garments. They seemed to be clothes she brought with her wherever she traveled.
Drawing the curtains of the bed, she found that the entire room was made of wood and the floor rocked gently. Although there was no window, the air in the room was not foul. This was definitely a cabin aboard a ship. After her eyes drank in her surroundings, she discovered that there weren’t too many decorations or furnishings within the cabin. However, everything a scholar needed was present—a desk, chair, and bookshelves. At the bedside was an incense burner. On the walls were paintings and calligraphy, all of which seemed to be very fresh and elegant.
Su Qing was greatly startled. Even if she woke up to discover that she was behind bars, she would not be so shocked. But receiving such preferential treatment on the battlefield caused her to feel exceptionally amazed.
Su Qing looked at the chair beside the bed. An azure military uniform and leather armor were draped upon it. Both of them were her clothes. The only difference from before was that they had been washed and mended. After she had dressed and put on her boots, she found that her personal and concealed weapons were on the desk. She armed them one by one. Realizing that she had yet to be relieved from her duties and position, Su Qing felt her heart and soul relax. After straightening her clothes, she found herself hungry. She did not know how long it had been since she had last eaten. However, from the fact that her internal injuries had been healed, she knew that at least three days had passed.
Just as she was about to push open the cabin door, it was pulled open from the outside. Ruyue walked in, her face showing slight worry. Immediately seeing Su Qing, she happily went over. Embracing Su Qing, Ruyue began to weep. Su Qing felt her heart warm and did not push her maid away. Su Qing said, “Silly girl. My clothes are getting wet from your tears.”
Ruyue promptly released her grip. As she wiped away her tears, she replied, “The Army Supervisor daren said that Miss would wake soon and had me come over to take a look. He said that if the Miss were awake to invite Miss to the parlor to eat.”
Su Qing was deeply alarmed, her complexion paling. There were some things that she ultimately could not avoid. Forcing a smile onto her face, she inquired, “Is that so? How long have I been unconscious? Why am I so hungry?”
“That day when Miss fell unconscious from her injuries, General Huyan brought Miss back to the ship,” responded Ruyue. “Army Supervisor daren checked Miss’s condition and said that Miss’s internal injuries were not too severe. You were simply too exhausted and fell unconscious combined from the mental shock. Daren said that it would be best if Miss were allowed to rest for a few days. As such, along with the injury medication, he added a sedative. It’s the fourth day today. These last several days, aside from medication, Miss has only had some ginseng broth. It is no wonder you are so hungry.”
After hesitating, Su Qing asked, “Ruyue, does Army Supervisor daren already know about that matter?”
Ruyue stole a furtive glance at Su Qing’s complexion as she answered, “Army Supervisor daren has ordered this matter be sealed, not permitting anyone present that day from leaking the information. Afterwards, he kept Miss aboard the ship for recuperation. As for everything else, I have no idea.”
Su Qing apprehensively replied, “Lead me to Jiang daren.”
When she reached Jiang Zhe’s cabin, Su Qing’s attention was almost completely enticed by the sumptuous feast on the table. At this moment, even her worries about the future and her destiny were unable to defeat the lure of food. She practically had to use all of her strength to refrain from immediately picking up chopsticks and eating. However, a single gesture from Jiang Zhe caused her to lose her self-control. Jiang Zhe pointed at the table. This was a clear message. Without even bothering to pay her respects to Jiang Zhe, Su Qing rushed over to the table and began to eat heartily.
Only after she had eaten her fill did she regain her thoughts. Recalling how she had forgotten her manners moments ago, Su Qing blushed. Rising to her feet, she said, “This general has been rude. Daren, please forgive me.”
Up until now, I had been watching Su Qing’s behavior. With regards to this woman, she truly lived up to her family background. Although she wolfed down her food, she maintained basic table manners. It was only that her movements were fast. However, I could understand her frame of mind. Hunger and an ease of mind were enough for anyone to lose their self-control. If she were in the enemy’s hands, she would definitely not allow herself to relax in such a manner. The stress from these last several days had immediately vanished into thin air and I finally made up my mind on how to handle Su Qing.
I made eye contact with Xiaoshunzi, who had stood to the side to help serve the dishes but was really there to protect me. Of Su Qing, I inquired, “General Su, I wonder if it is possible to give the details about your honored master?”
Su Qing knew that her life and death, honor and disgrace, hung in the balance at this very moment. Not daring to be neglectful in the slightest, she responded, “Seven years ago, after this general separated from Duan Wudi, I fled deep into the mountains because of the grief and heartbreak I felt. In my confusion, I did not know how long I walked and how long I was unconscious. Within the depths of the wilderness, there were tigers and leopards. At that point, this general was ready to die. However, after waking, I discovered that I was in a cave. At my side, wild game cooked on a bonfire. Someone had saved this general and settled me in the cave. The one who saved me was my deceased master, Wen Ziyan. After asking about my life’s experiences, my deceased master was incredibly sympathetic. After finding out that this general had learned some martial arts in my youth, she seemed interested in taking me as her disciple.
“However, after questioning my deceased master, I learned that the disciples of the Fengyi Sect had to adhere to the Sect Master’s commands, making it impossible to enlist and attack the enemy. Having narrowly avoided death, this general had vowed to enlist in the Yong army and take revenge. As a result, I declined my deceased master’s kind invitation. After learning of my intentions, my deceased master treasured me greatly and specially stayed behind for ten extra days, imparting swordplay and martial arts techniques to Su Qing. However, in order to prevent others from learning about this matter and seeing that the cultivation techniques I had previously learned were from orthodox Daoist origins, she did not teach any of the Fengyi Sect’s internal energy cultivation to me. As for the swordplay she taught me, they were the killing techniques my deceased master had herself comprehended. Although we were master and disciple, we did not have any formal relationship.
“Afterwards, when Su Qing had mastered the swordplay and established my name in Great Yong, I was able to successfully join the Yong army. From that point, communication between myself and my deceased master became ever more secretive. Aside from meeting every year in the cave where we first encountered one another, we did not have any other meetings. My deceased master told me that, because of the deep grace she received from her sect, regardless of life or death, disaster or happiness, she would not abandon or leave her sect. As for me, I only learned some cursory sword techniques. She did not want me to become involved in the power struggle. As a result, no one in the Fengyi Sect knew of the relationship between this general and my deceased master.
“Before the coup attempt at the Hunting Palace, she left behind her swordplay insights and a testament for this general. The letter explained that her sect was about to commit treason. It was no problem if they succeeded. If they failed, she made this general not bear any grudges to the person who killed her. She was perfectly happy to die with her sect.”
Approaching the end of her tale, Su Qing’s eyes glistened with tears. Rising, she kneeled down and said, “Daren, although my deceased master committed treason, I hope that daren will allow Su Qing to go pay my respects to my deceased master, because of her unquestioning loyalty and fealty for her sect.”
Hearing Su Qing words, I felt only distress. I replied, “Although your master made the wrong choice, even His Imperial Majesty, the Emperor, remarked that her leadership covertly contained the art of war. In addition, her nature was incomparably unyielding. On that day, your master personally led an army to pursue the Emperor, using the few to defeat the many4 and nearly forced the Emperor to the brink. Afterwards, your master dueled with Xiaoshunzi in front of the two armies. After being defeated, she committed suicide. The Emperor himself sighed with admiration at her resolute and upright character. The Bloody Handed Rakshasa was truly the Fengyi Sect Master’s most outstanding disciple. Now, learning of these past matters from you, Heroine Wen was an astounding woman capable of knowing right from wrong. It was indeed a pity that she was trapped by her loyalty and filial piety, leading to her death and the stain upon her reputation.
“General Su, on that day, the Emperor admired Heroine Wen. As a result, the Emperor had her secretly buried at Mount Li. Sometime in the future, when you’ve returned to the capital, I will have someone take you there to offer sacrifices.”
Gratitude showed on Su Qing’s face and she respectfully kowtowed several times. At this moment, Xiaoshunzi suddenly interrupted in an icy voice and asked, “Do you not hate me?”
Su Qing glanced at Xiaoshunzi and impassively answered, “My deceased master sought benevolence and received it. What’s there to complain about?”
Xiaoshunzi looked to me, silent and not speaking. Knowing he had agreed with my decision, I said, “General Su, although your secret has been sealed, there are no secrets that can be kept hidden forever. As a result, I will secret submit a petition to His Imperial Majesty. However, the Emperor is magnanimous. With General Su’s loyalty to the court and your great deeds for the Empire, the Emperor will not place blame. As far as future arrangements go, I cannot be certain as to how the Emperor will handle this matter. However, General Su, do not worry. At the very least, you will be able to see Northern Han fall.”
Wild with joy, Su Qing once again kowtowed and said, “The only desire in Su Qing holds is seeing Northern Han fall. Even if the Emperor punishes me harshly, Su Qing will die without regrets in satisfying this desire. Daren, please allow Su Qing to return to the battlefield and serve Great Yong.”
Gesturing for her to get up, I stated, “I will explain this matter to the Prince of Qi. He will not object. General Su can leave after resting for one more day. Right now, the situation greatly requires that General Su take charge and scout for military intelligence.”
“Many thanks for the Army Supervisor daren’s kind intentions,” replied Su Qing, rising to her feet. “Su Qing has already completely recovered. I can return and go into battle right now. I wonder, how is the situation outside?”
Smiling, I answered, “Yesterday, our army captured Jishi. Before the battle, Jishi’s garrison commander had withdrawn all of the civilians to Anze. After defending resolutely for one day, he escaped during the night. Our army has burned Jishi to the ground. Even now, the fire has yet to be extinguished. His Imperial Highness, the Prince of Qi, has led an army directly towards Anze. The fleet is also currently moving towards Anze. However, because of the heavy losses suffered by the supply ships several days ago, the subsequent supplies will take two days to arrive.”
Su Qing informed, “Anze is personally defended by Duan Wudi. It is easily defended and difficult to attack. I’m afraid it will be difficult to take. How about this general disseminates rumors about Duan Wudi framing Shi Ying. Duan Wudi will definitely find it hard to explain himself. What does daren think?”
Clapping my heads, I smiled and responded, “That is my intent. Even if General Su hadn’t regain consciousness today, I would’ve issued orders to implement such a plan. Aside from Duan Wudi’s own troops, Anze’s garrison also includes many of Shi Ying’s former subordinates. If we can induce internal strife within Anze, then our army will be able to easily capture it.”
“Although Duan Wudi has contributed mightily in battle, there is no way to act directly against him,” said Su Qing cautiously. “Even if we are using a stratagem that sows dissension within the army, daren, please inform His Imperial Highness, the Prince of Qi, that he should not underestimate Anze’s garrison.”
Nodding, I replied, “What you say is correct. Were this not the case, it would have been impossible for Duan Wudi to be so trusted by Long Tingfei. If we consider the Ghost-Faced General, Tan Ji, Long Tingfei’s spear, then the Boulder General, Duan Wudi, is Long Tingfei’s shield. At present, the spear has been smashed and the shield is cracked. I want to see how Long Tingfei will conduct this battle.”
To Su Qing’s surprise, despair rose in her mind. How will Duan Wudi respond to pressure as heavy as Mount Tai? I want to destroy Northern Han, while you want to save it. I wonder which of us will be successful? However, Su Qing knew that regardless of who could attain their desires, there was no hope of reconciliation for her and Duan Wudi.
资治通鉴, Zizhi Tongjian was a famous work by the Song Dynasty historian, Sima Guang (司马光), that was a universal compilation of Chinese history until the Song Dynasty.
奇门遁甲, qimendunjia – lit. wondrous gates, hidden jia; one of the Three Arts or Three Styles used in Chinese divination
九宫, jiugong – the nine palaces are a system used in feng shui and Chinese divination
以少胜多, yishaoshengduo – idiom, lit. using the few to defeat the many; fig. to win from a position of weakness