After Being Abducted by the General Chapter 183

Chapter 183

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Chen Wang misspoke.

Climbing to a high position, holding control over seven states, what else should one fear?

In the face of absolute power, everyone would seal their lips.

Yuan Li openly held Chu Hechao’s hand and walked out with a smile.

At this point, he no longer needed to worry about anything.

Even Jia Qing, Yuan Congyun, Gu Yue, and others, who were still unaware of their relationship, refrained from speaking despite their desire to do so. No one said opposing words.

After capturing the enemy troops within two days, they waited for the fire in Luling City to be extinguished. On the third day, the group left Luling and returned to the battlefield.

Yang Zhongfa, Guan Zhihuai, and He Lang were still leading troops to fight against the Yangzhou soldiers. In the era of cold weapons, a large-scale battle like this could last for half a month or even longer.

When they appeared with Chen Wang’s head, the Yangzhou soldiers were in an uproar. With no leader, most of them realized the grim situation.

As Yuan Li expected, among Chen Wang’s subordinates, there were loyal followers who fought to avenge him but were eventually suppressed.

When everything was over, the war had lasted for half a month.

The elite army of 300,000 led by Yuan Li suffered 23,400 casualties.

The Yangzhou soldiers of more than 200,000 had over half killed or wounded.

In the Battle of the Yangtze River, the total death toll reached 85,700.

This was a staggering number, and the bodies of the fallen soldiers were scattered everywhere, enough to fill the entire capital of Yangzhou.

The riverbanks of Yangzhou were stained with red as the water slowly turned back to its original color after being soaked in blood for a long time.

Because of the excessive casualties, even though they won the war, Yuan Li’s mood was still heavy.

85,700 lives, over 80,000 individuals, each number represented a human life. Witnessing the battlefield, these numbers weighed heavily on him.

Even if they only considered the casualties of the troops Yuan Li brought, the loss of 23,400 soldiers might not seem like a lot compared to the overall number of 300,000, which was undoubtedly a proud achievement, demonstrating the strength and elite quality of Yuan Li’s soldiers. However, in terms of casualties, it was the largest loss since Yuan Li began recruiting soldiers.

23,400 individuals, each one was a soldier Yuan Li had nurtured with countless efforts. They helped him achieve victory, but their names would not be recorded for posterity. This war was destined to be recorded in history, but in historical records, the fallen soldiers would be reduced to a series of cold death toll numbers.

This battle marked a complete victory for Yuan Li, but he did not feel joy for the triumph. He was relieved that the war had ended.

Fortunately, the attack on Chen Wang was a success, and they managed to end the war early, reducing the number of casualties.

Finally, it was over.

After this battle, they could rest and recuperate.

After wrapping up the battlefield, Yuan Li and Chu Hechao went to Jiankang to find the emperor and the two members of the Qin imperial family, Qin Pei, and Qin Meng.

When they found the dungeon where Chen Wang was holding the Qin descendants, Yuan Li learned that Qin Pei, Qin Meng, and the other Qin family members had already died in the dungeon, unable to bear the humiliation.

Yuan Li was not very surprised.

Since Chen Wang had decided to rebel, he would certainly pave the way for his son. Chen Xi’s character was mediocre, and keeping these Qin descendants around would eventually be detrimental to him. It was expected that Chen Wang would eliminate these people, leaving only the emperor as a symbolic figurehead.

Since these people were dead, Yuan Li didn’t linger in the dungeon for long. He quickly went to Chen Wang’s mansion to find the emperor.

The Chen Wang Mansion had been transformed into a small palace for the emperor, luxurious in every aspect, showcasing the beauty and elegance of Jiangnan with its rockeries, flowing water, small bridges, and flower gardens.

Though the emperor was just a figurehead, he was still the nominal ruler of Northern Zhou. Chen Wang naturally dared not imprison him in the dungeon. However, Chen Wang confined the emperor within the mansion, guarded by soldiers, forbidding him from stepping out or communicating with outsiders.

No one dared to speak to the emperor throughout the day. The two uncles of the emperor and other relatives were imprisoned because of him, and they had also learned of Chen Wang’s duplicity, with his eyes on their lives. When Yuan Li found the emperor, he was already trembling, showing signs of mental distress. At the sound of the door being pushed open, he shrank in fear, huddling in the corner of a chair, continuously murmuring, “Don’t kill me, don’t kill me…”

Yuan Li and Chu Hechao exchanged glances. Yuan Li softly called out, “Your Majesty?”

The emperor trembled all over, cautiously turned his head, and when he saw Yuan Li, he was stunned for a moment, as if he had seen a savior. “Official Yuan…”

But the next moment, the emperor saw Chu Hechao, exuding a fierce aura, and he was immediately frightened, burying his head again, shaking all over, “Don’t kill me, don’t kill me…”

Chu Hechao furrowed his brows. “Your Majesty?”

Now the emperor didn’t dare to say anything. His face turned pale, and he seemed to faint at any moment.

Yuan Li gave Chu Hechao a glance, asking him to leave and wait outside.

Chu Hechao lazily glanced at the palace eunuchs inside and took them out as well.

The door was gently closed, and after a while, the emperor finally timidly turned his head to look and found that only he and Yuan Li remained in the room. He mustered up the courage to stand up and held Yuan Li’s hands, bursting into tears, “Official Yuan, are you here to save me? Please, please take me away, whether it’s to Youzhou or Bingzhou, even if I have to endure hardships on the grasslands, I don’t want to stay in Yangzhou anymore… I, I, I don’t want to be the emperor anymore. Official Yuan, please save me!”

Yuan Li’s eyes flickered, gently comforting him, “You are the emperor, how can you not be the emperor?”

The emperor desperately shook his head, crying pitifully, “No, I don’t want to be the emperor, Official Yuan, can I not be the emperor?!”

Yuan Li tried to comfort the emperor for a long time, but the emperor couldn’t calm down. Carefully observing the emperor’s expression and state, he was certain that the emperor’s panic and aversion were genuine, not just an act to test him. It seemed that Chen Wang’s actions had truly traumatized the emperor.

As the evening fell, the emperor was still desperately clinging to Yuan Li’s arm, seeking help. Tears and snot flowed down, and eventually, he passed out, still murmuring, “I don’t want to be the emperor, don’t kill me.”

Yuan Li rubbed his temples, allowing the palace eunuchs to come in and attend to the emperor.

Chu Hechao walked over and asked in a low voice, “Has he gone mad?”

“Not mad, but close to being frightened to madness,” Yuan Li said with a bitter smile. “He kept yelling that he doesn’t want to be the emperor.”

Chu Hechao raised an eyebrow, his meaning unclear. “That’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

Yuan Li’s lips curled up with a hint of a charming smile in the darkness. He playfully winked at Chu Hechao. “Guo Mao is eloquent. Let him come to soothe the emperor tomorrow.”

Chu Hechao clicked his tongue, his thin lips curling into a mischievous smile. “You have a lot of wicked ideas.”

Yuan Li thought for a moment and said sincerely, “I learned it all from you.”

Chu Hechao calmly raised his hand and touched Yuan Li’s face, then playfully pinched his lips, speaking in a bandit-like tone, “You’re learning well. Learn more next time.”

The next day, Guo Mao was sent to meet with the emperor.

The emperor was disappointed to see that it wasn’t Yuan Li, and a trace of disappointment showed on his face.

Guo Mao noticed it sharply. He greeted the emperor with a smiling face and warm words, gradually building a closer relationship with him.

One of the reasons Yuan Li personally recruited Guo Mao was his eloquence, and the other was his skillful use of cunning tactics. He didn’t care about gentlemanly conduct and could deceive even the emperor with sweet words.

The emperor couldn’t resist his sweet talk, and in just a few days, he began to treat Guo Mao as his own person, revealing all his worries to him.

The emperor was never fit to be an emperor. He was hastily pushed onto the throne as the crown prince after his elder brother was killed, at the tender age of twelve. Now, because of him, all other imperial family members were demoted to commoners, and some were dead, some were injured. He was the sole surviving member of the Qin family. In his dreams, the emperor would often see the wrath of his ancestors and the scenes of other members of the imperial family being forced to their deaths. He was terrified, always feeling that he would be the next to die.

Guo Mao pretended to be hesitant. “You are the only one left among the imperial family. If you don’t want to be the emperor, who else can be the emperor?”

The emperor was like a startled bird, widening his eyes in fear and cowering behind him, “But I, but I…”

Guo Mao sighed, “You are the emperor, and you must fulfill your duty as one. There are no other imperial family members left. If you don’t become the emperor, who else can take on this role? Do you want to abdicate the throne to someone else?”

The emperor was stunned by the idea of abdication.

Guo Mao shook his head and spoke with great sincerity, “Please don’t speak like this again. The country is in constant turmoil, there are battles everywhere, and the land is ravaged by war. The people are starving, and bandits are rampant. This all requires your leadership. When I handled affairs in Youzhou, dealing with the affairs of just one province already exhausted me. I had to work day and night to process documents. When all thirteen provinces’ affairs are placed in your hands, you will undoubtedly be even more burdened. But this is the responsibility of an emperor, and I implore you to prepare yourself to shoulder it.”

The emperor trembled, feeling as if several mountains were pressing down on him, making it difficult for him to breathe.

He didn’t want to deal with official documents, nor did he want to toil day and night. He couldn’t bear the responsibility of quelling the wars and comforting the people.

Restless, the emperor’s eyes suddenly brightened as he asked cautiously, “Can I hand over the documents to someone else to handle?”

“Of course not,” Guo Mao replied firmly. “These matters require the personal attention of the emperor. How can you delegate them to others? Your Majesty, please don’t worry. No one is born knowing how to do these things. You can learn to do them as quickly as possible. May I ask Your Majesty, have you studied the Four Books and Five Classics? Have you learned the laws of the Great Zhou Dynasty?”

The emperor shook his head with a bitter face, “I haven’t learned any of that. I don’t like reading and writing.”

Guo Mao sighed again, “You are the emperor, and you must learn these things. If you haven’t studied them before, what have you been doing?”

The emperor nodded in agreement.

In his daily life, he did nothing but eat, sleep, and indulge in pleasures like watching beautiful women dance or enjoying performances by actors. He played games like cricket fighting and cockfighting. 

He had indulged in all the luxuries of Yangzhou’s hot springs!

If it weren’t for Chen Wang’s sudden appearance, showing his fangs and unsettling the emperor’s peace of mind, he would have been reluctant to leave Yangzhou, where he lived a carefree life.

Chen Wang indeed had the intention to keep the emperor idle and debauched. But the emperor genuinely enjoyed such a life. Who wouldn’t like a life of luxury and leisure?

Therefore, when he heard that being an emperor required dealing with official documents and studying the Four Books and Five Classics, the emperor felt a strong aversion to the idea.

“This…” Guo Mao’s expression became solemn, and his eyebrows furrowed, “Your Majesty, please refrain from such behavior in the future. The country is still unstable, facing both external threats and internal troubles. The people are suffering, and you must not indulge in trivial matters like cricket fights, cockfights, watching performances, and entertainers. Your Majesty should focus on the affairs of the nation. If an emperor fails to govern well… think about the White Rice Gang, Li Li, Wu Shanshi, and Chen Wang, these ambitious individuals will do everything in their power to seize the throne from you and put you in the same fate as the late Emperor!”

The more Guo Mao spoke, the more frightened the emperor became, and his body trembled even more intensely.

The images of his father’s death and his elder brother’s murder flashed in his mind, followed by the faces of other members of the imperial family, the sinister countenance of Li Li, and Chen Wang’s deceitful nature…

The emperor’s face was covered in cold sweat, and his complexion turned pale. Suddenly, he stood up, his eyes shining brightly, and in a fit of excitement, he grabbed Guo Mao’s arm and said, “I can abdicate! I can pass the throne to someone else!”

Guo Mao seemed taken aback, stammering, “Abdicate, abdicate the throne?”

The emperor nodded eagerly, his face flushed, unable to contain his joy, “I can pass the throne to someone else! I may not be able to be the emperor, but there must be someone who can!”

In his desperation to persuade Guo Mao, the emperor even resorted to making grand statements, “I know that I don’t have the ability to stabilize the country and rescue the people from disasters. I lack the talents to command all the talents in the world. I’m about to come of age, but I can’t even recognize all the characters, let alone read the Four Books and Five Classics or know how to handle state affairs. With me as the emperor, I am a disaster for the people and Great Zhou! This position should be entrusted to someone capable and virtuous, someone who can stabilize the country! Although I am foolish, for the sake of the people and Great Zhou, as an emperor, this is what I should do!”

Guo Mao mentally nodded in agreement; at least, the emperor got that part right.

Indeed, him being the emperor is a disaster for the people and for those who support Yuan Li. The only right thing he can do is to let their Lord ascend the throne without any stain and replace Northern Zhou.

Pretending to be swayed by the emperor’s words, Guo Mao hesitated for a moment before asking, “Then, who do you want to abdicate to?”

The emperor was momentarily stunned.

Guo Mao unintentionally added, “You are the Emperor, so if you truly want to abdicate, you should find someone who is loyal, filial, righteous, benevolent, and able to gain the allegiance of all the court officials. Ideally, this person should also be talented and take good care of you, allowing you to live carefree and enjoy the same happy life as before. After he abdicates, if he can bestow you a title of nobility, it would be even better! He can give you countless gold and fertile lands, protect you from all dangers and conspiracies. You will never lack food and drink, nor money and wealth. Then you can just indulge yourself in eating, drinking, and enjoying life.”

The emperor couldn’t help but reveal an eager expression.

Yes, that’s right! If it could be arranged this way, he wouldn’t have to worry about being killed someday as the emperor or deal with the burdensome task of governing the country and handling state affairs. He could simply enjoy life carefree as he wished. This kind of life was exactly what he had been yearning for!

So, who could make him live such a life?

An idea struck the emperor’s mind, and he immediately cheered with excitement, his eyes lit up, and he exclaimed, “I’ve decided! I will abdicate the throne to Duke Wen!”

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