After Being Abducted by the General Chapter 41

Chapter 41

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Yuan Li wished he could call him back, lift his robe, and show him the square-cornered trousers he was wearing underneath, proving that he did have another pair of pants on.

But in the end, he resisted the urge.

“I am not Chu Hechao. I am an adult. I am not as childish and shameless as Chu Hechao,” Yuan Li convinced himself, taking a deep breath and forcing a gentle smile. “Yes, I am an adult. I shouldn’t be bothered with someone like Chu Hechao, who has a twisted mind.”

Repeatedly reassuring himself, Yuan Li finally calmed down and, wearing a serene smile, went back to his room to sleep.

Chu Hechao returned to his room, still thinking about the scene just now.

The servants had prepared hot water for him and left the bathroom in small groups. Chu Hechao overheard them whispering, “The General seems to be in a really good mood.”

Good mood?

Chu Hechao inexplicably raised his hand to touch his lips and realized that he had been smiling without knowing it.

He was taken aback and quickly suppressed the smile, undressed, and immersed himself in the bathtub.

During this time, Chu Hechao also examined his body and was surprised to find that although Yuan Li’s attack was not light, it didn’t leave any wounds.

This move was quite interesting. Chu Hechao narrowed his eyes and muttered under his breath, “Clever kid, you’re indeed hiding a lot.”

The steam filled the air, and the exhaustion from his body seeped out bit by bit. Chu Hechao rested his forearms on the edge of the bathtub, the steam masking his stern face. His tall figure exuded a lazy aura, and if judged solely by his appearance, he resembled a tiger with beautiful stripes, relaxing and resting. Suddenly, Chu Hechao opened his eyes, sharp and focused, and looked towards the door.

Two beauties walked in through the door, cautiously approaching and bowing, “We pay our respects to the General.”

Chu Hechao frowned, impatiently asking, “Who are you?”

The two beauties from the Yu family lowered their heads and spoke softly, “We are from the Yu family in Yizhou.”

Chu Hechao’s voice turned cold, “Who allowed you to come?”

The two beauties were somewhat afraid, their voices trembling, “It was Young Master Yuan who asked us to stay by the General’s side and serve him. We heard that the General was bathing, so we thought of coming to help the General wash his back.”

Yuan Li.

Chu Hechao turned his head and closed his eyes, a drop of water falling on his thick eyebrows, revealing a hint of coldness and anger.

He knew what this meant.

Because he accidentally bumped into Yuan Li in the river and made him uncomfortable, Yuan Li thought he was lacking women’s company, so he sent two women to him.

What a good sister-in-law.

He even considered this.

A surge of anger rose within Chu Hechao’s heart, and he didn’t know where it came from.

Seeing him remain silent, the two Yu family beauties exchanged a glance and approached him softly. One of them scooped water with a ladle and poured it over Chu Hechao’s shoulders, while the other held a handkerchief and began gently caressing his back.

Chu Hechao tightly closed his eyes, and the steam grew thicker, dripping down his high nose bridge and strong jawline. The faces of the two Yu family beauties became redder, their eyes more affectionate. As their hands moved from Chu Hechao’s back to his chest, he could no longer tolerate it. He let out a low roar, “Get out!”

The two Yu family beauties were immediately frightened, their faces pale, and they fled in panic.

Chu Hechao sat alone for a while, waiting until the hot water turned cold. He stood up from the water, grabbed the nearby robe, and draped it over himself before walking out with big strides.

The training ground was empty, and Chu Hechao picked up a long spear directly. Without any expression on his face, he casually threw it and unleashed a burst of murderous intent.

The journey of over a month had been compressed into half a month, leaving his whole body tired and sore. But Chu Hechao couldn’t sleep now, nor did he want to stay in the stuffy room.

In his usual manner, he vented the anger in his heart using this method.

On the second day, the horizon was still covered in a hazy morning fog.

Before Yuan Li could fully wake up, he heard loud knocking on the door from outside.

He was abruptly awakened, thinking something urgent had happened. He got out of bed and opened the door, only to see Chu Hechao standing straight in front of it.

Yuan Li: “… It’s you again.”

He couldn’t even be bothered to get angry, weakly asking, “General, what’s the matter?”

Chu Hechao’s tone was calm, “I want to talk to you about something. If you still want to sleep, I can wait a little longer.”

Yuan Li was awake now and leaned against the door, yawning. “Go ahead, then.”

Chu Hechao got straight to the point, “The two Yu family beauties in my room, did you send them?”

Yuan Li couldn’t comprehend, “Yes, I sent them.”

Chu Hechao’s gaze turned cold.

Unbeknownst to Yuan Li, he looked at Chu Hechao’s damp and misty appearance, instantly understanding something. He said with deep meaning, “General, there’s no need for you to come here and thank me specially.”

“Thank you?” Chu Hechao smirked, his eyes devoid of humor. “Sister-in-law, may I ask why you didn’t keep these two for yourself?”

This question instantly brought clarity to Yuan Li’s mind. He recalled the instructions that Chu Mingfeng had given him before his death.

—”Just in front of Ciyue, we have to hide the secret of ‘husband and wife not being true’.”

—”I will tell him that I regard you as my true wife and let him treat you as his own sister-in-law.”

—”With his temper, he might be willing to compromise a little with his family. Whether it’s him or me, we can rest assured to entrust the matter of arranging military funds to our own people.”

Yuan Li lowered his eyes slowly. “Because Chu Mingfeng has recently passed away, I currently have no mood to think about that matter.”

Chu Hechao didn’t expect him to say this, and he was taken aback. “Are you keeping yourself pure for Chu Mingfeng?”

Yuan Li had never placed much importance on romantic relationships, especially in these chaotic times. He only wanted to gradually strengthen himself and had no interest in such matters. After thinking for a moment, he realized that he wouldn’t engage in a romantic relationship in the near future, so he nodded candidly, full of confidence. “In this case, you’re not wrong.”

It was only now that Chu Hechao remembered that Chu Mingfeng had indeed told him before his death that he and Yuan Li were mutually in love.

His eyebrows furrowed, unable to express his current mood. After a long while, Chu Hechao lifted his eyelids and calmly asked, “So you sent these two Yu Clan beauties to me?”

Yuan Li sensed something amiss from his tone and asked, “Don’t you like them?”

Chu Hechao burst into mocking laughter, unsure whether he was laughing at Yuan Li’s presumption or at his own unexpected appearance. “If you don’t want to take them for yourself, why would you think that I would accept them?”

“Sister-in-law,” he continued, “not every man is indiscriminate when it comes to women.”

“Or are you implying that in your eyes, I, Chu Hechao, am a person obsessed with women?”

Yuan Li opened his mouth but couldn’t find words to defend himself as he looked into Chu Hechao’s cold gaze.

Chu Hechao was right; Yuan Li had made an assumption without considering his own preferences. He himself did not want to accept beauties sent by others, yet he thought that Chu Hechao, being a man of this era, would be the best recipient for them.

But he never bothered to ask if Chu Hechao was willing.

His actions were no different from those of others who wanted to gift him with beauties.

“Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you.” Yuan Li opened his mouth and said, “… I’m sorry.”

Chu Hechao’s anger was momentarily stifled. “What?”

His younger sister-in-law’s expression was filled with seriousness, and his bright eyes carried a hint of guilt. He solemnly repeated, “I’m sorry.”

With just a glance at Yuan Li’s eyes, one could understand how sincere he was. The sincerity was overflowing, enough to extinguish even the fiercest anger.

“It was my mistake to send them to you without asking,” Yuan Li pursed his lips, his voice filled with apology. “I won’t do such a thing again in the future.”

After a long while, Chu Hechao finally turned his head slightly, revealing only his firm profile to Yuan Li. “Mmm.”

Pausing for a moment, he awkwardly said, “I’m not angry with you.”

Yuan Li smiled and breathed a sigh of relief.

A gust of cold wind blew, causing Chu Hechao’s sweaty clothes to stick to his body. Seeing this, Yuan Li asked, “General, your clothes are wet, and the weather is getting colder. You should go and change.”

After speaking, Yuan Li felt that something was amiss.

The cold morning breeze was blowing outside, yet he didn’t invite Chu Hechao to come inside and sit down. Instead, he urged him to return to his own room from afar to change clothes, making it seem like he was feigning concern. Yuan Li, feeling guilty at this moment, opened the door, “Or, General, why don’t you come inside and sit down? I’ll have someone bring you new clothes.”

Since the incident in the military camp that had angered Yuan Li, they hadn’t spoken to each other so cordially in a long time. By the time Chu Hechao realized what was happening, he had already walked into Yuan Li’s room.

Yuan Li had tea brought in and poured a cup for himself and Chu Hechao. After taking a sip of tea, his expression became much clearer.

He instructed his servant to bring clothes for Chu Hechao. Once the servant left, the whole room fell into silence.

They didn’t know what to say, so they didn’t force the conversation. Chu Hechao didn’t seem to be thinking about anything in particular, as he lowered his head and toyed with the tea cup in his hand, remaining silent.

In this slightly awkward silence, the servant who went to fetch the clothes quickly returned. Chu Hechao directly loosened his belt, and Yuan Li’s face darkened. “General, there are other people in this room!”

Chu Hechao, who had spent years in military camps surrounded by men, had become accustomed to such casualness. Upon hearing Yuan Li’s words, he stood up and walked to the bedside, changing clothes behind the curtain.

The servant later brought the washing utensils, and after both of them finished freshening up, they had breakfast together.

Yuan Li asked, “General, what are your plans for the two Yu Clan beauties?”

“I’ll give them to my subordinates,” Chu Hechao’s tone was indifferent. “I won’t keep them in my backyard.”

Yuan Li secretly thought that he didn’t understand how to appreciate beauty, and after some consideration, he said, “There’s no need for that. In the Chu Mansion, they can find useful tasks to do.”

The embroidery skills of the two Yu Clan beauties were quite good. Perhaps in the future, when cotton became available, they could lead female workers in textile production.

Chu Hechao didn’t care at all. “Then it’s up to you to handle it.”

After breakfast, Chu Hechao went to attend to military affairs.

When he returned, he happened to come across Yuan Li training the cavalry.

Seeing Chu Hechao’s figure, Yuan Li quickly called him over and discussed the matter of selecting cavalry for his army.

As they got down to business, Chu Hechao became serious. He didn’t immediately agree and said, “I need to see the results of your training.”

Yuan Li readily agreed and had two hundred troops run a lap in front of Chu Hechao.

Chu Hechao’s gaze focused on the stirrups. He wasn’t Liu Jixin, but he could understand the function of the stirrups without trying them out. His eyes sparkled, and his slender fingers tapped the large sword at his waist. After a while, he said, “Can we equip our cavalry with this thing?”

Yuan Li smiled meaningfully. “Will the general agree to let me choose the people?”

Chu Hechao asked, “How many people do you want to choose?”

Yuan Li currently had only six hundred horses. He intended to form a cavalry of one thousand soldiers. He coughed and said, “Not many. Eight hundred soldiers and four hundred horses. What do you think, General?”

Chu Hechao repeated, “Four hundred horses?”

Yuan Li rubbed his hands together, ready to get four hundred horses from Chu Hechao. He smiled and said, “General, you must have acquired quite a few horses from the White Rice Gang, right? Can’t you come up with four hundred horses?”

“The White Rice Gang are all ordinary people who have gathered together. Even if there are other forces behind them, they are impoverished and can’t provide much cavalry. The entire Shanggu County’s White Rice Gang can’t come up with four hundred live horses.”

Suddenly, Chu Hechao changed the topic. “But you have made meritorious contributions in this battle and have also organized a wounded camp for disabled soldiers in our rear. Even if the court rewards you, I can’t do nothing. I was actually thinking of giving you something. Since you want both people and horses, I’ll give you both.”

After saying that, he turned around and ordered his trusted subordinate, “Spread the word. The Military Advisor Lieutenant General will establish a cavalry company. Any cavalry who wishes to join should assemble at the training ground at three o’clock in the afternoon.”

The subordinate received the order and left.

Chu Hechao turned back and looked at Yuan Li. “If you want to train cavalry, the horses must be strong and tall. The newly confiscated batch of horses is not good enough. You should go to the horse camp and select four hundred horses.”

Yuan Li didn’t expect him to be so generous and straightforward. For a moment, he was a bit stunned and began to understand why so many people followed Chu Hechao with unwavering loyalty.

Although Chu Hechao himself was frugal and impoverished, he never treated his subordinates harshly. He wouldn’t let go of a single copper coin in the mud, but he was extremely generous when it came to rewarding others, without batting an eye. He was also willing to give his subordinates opportunities to make achievements and wouldn’t steal their credit.

Being able to lower his status and live and eat together with his subordinates, as well as displaying an indomitable aura on the battlefield, made him a charismatic commander.

Yuan Li couldn’t help but smile. “Thank you, General.”

“No need,” Chu Hechao said. “This is what you deserve.”

He suddenly lowered his voice and looked deeply into Yuan Li’s eyes. “Rest assured, Yuan Li. I remember everything you have done. Whether it’s medicinal herbs, ice blocks, fine salt, or now the stirrups, I know the value of these things. I don’t have anything precious to repay you with at the moment, but as long as it’s something you want and within my ability, I won’t treat you unfairly.”

Yuan Li knew that Chu Hechao was speaking to him as a grand general, not as a sister-in-law.

Yuan Li breathed a sigh of relief. “Good, I will remember what you said, General!”

Three o’clock in the afternoon, at the training ground.

Due to Yuan Li’s high prestige among the soldiers, there were particularly many people willing to come. When Yuan Li and Liu Jixin arrived, they saw a crowd of people.

Yang Zhongfa, Han Jin, and He Lang also came to watch the excitement. They knew more about the situation, so when they saw so many people, Yang Zhongfa smiled bitterly and said, “Young Master Yuan, do you know how many people have come this time?”

Yuan Li was curious. “How many?”

“Ten thousand!” Yang Zhongfa held up a finger. “Nearly half of them have come! I finally get to witness Young Master Yuan’s prestige in the army.”

He Lang also couldn’t help but sigh, “You don’t even know how the soldiers secretly express their gratitude to you.”

Half-jokingly, he said, “They wish they could worship you as a living deity.”

Yuan Li could only laugh and cry. “Don’t make fun of me.”

In fact, it wasn’t really a joke. Just by taking care of the disabled and wounded soldiers, Yuan Li had earned the admiration and gratitude of the soldiers.

Moreover, Yuan Li was recruiting cavalry, and the treatment for cavalry and infantry was like night and day. Who wouldn’t want a chance to become a cavalry?

Although there were ten thousand people who came, Yuan Li would only select eight hundred. His selection criteria were extremely strict. First, he didn’t want anyone with a tainted background.

To make the army united and cohesive, it was necessary to cultivate a sense of honor among the troops. Each person in the army should be proud of their own identity. Yuan Li would never accept anyone who had made mistakes and been punished by military law.

Second, he didn’t want smooth-talking individuals with poor character. Third, he didn’t want people who didn’t meet the height and physique requirements.

Yuan Li wanted to cultivate elite cavalry and had very high physical standards for the cavalry. Liu Jixin and others were carefully screened according to his criteria, but even among a hundred people, it was difficult to find those who met the requirements.

Yang Zhongfa was astonished by what he saw. “Young Master Yuan, aren’t you being too strict?”

Was he selecting cavalry or talented generals?

Yuan Li shook his head. “Lord Yang, I’m strict because I only need eight hundred people. Since there are conditions, naturally I have to select the most outstanding eight hundred from the ten thousand.”

Not only Yang Zhongfa and others were stunned, but the soldiers waiting to be screened were also nervous.

“Gong Bin, the selection criteria are so strict.”

A few soldiers huddled together and whispered, their faces filled with unease. Gong Bin, a tall soldier standing in the middle of the group, stared intently at the soldiers being screened, his face showing a mix of nervousness and excitement.

“Yes,” Gong Bin said, “I just saw our village leader go up, but he didn’t pass.”

“What? The village leader wasn’t selected?”

The other soldiers felt even more disheartened, sighing and lamenting, “If the village leader wasn’t selected, there’s no way we will be either.”

Gong Bin didn’t see it that way. If Yuan Li only wanted to select based on rank, he could directly choose from among the various military officers. Why bother with the selection process? He encouraged his brothers, saying, “Don’t you all want to become Young Master Yuan’s personal guards? Now the opportunity has come. How can you give up without even trying?”

“But so many people weren’t selected. How can we be selected?”

Gong Bin was about to say more when someone ahead called out, “Next!”

The discouraged brothers instantly straightened their chests and walked confidently towards the front.

Gong Bin couldn’t help but smile wryly. He finally understood that although these people said they wanted to give up, each and every one of them secretly hoped to be selected.

Soon, it was Gong Bin’s turn to step forward.

Gong Bin happened to be in the same line as Liu Jixin. His heart pounded as he stood upright, his gaze fixed ahead.

Liu Jixin assessed Gong Bin from top to bottom. Gong Bin had a tall and commanding figure, and his appearance was respectable. Liu Jixin had a favorable impression of him. “What’s your name?”

Gong Bin boomed in a loud voice, “I am Gong Bin, from Jixian in Youzhou.”

Liu Jixin glanced at the roster. “You’re still a sergeant?”

Gong Bin continued in a loud voice, “Yes!”

Liu Jixin nodded. “Go practice with that person.”

Gong Bin turned around and saw that Liu Jixin was pointing at Wu Kai.

Yuan Li was present throughout the entire process of selecting soldiers. There were many promising candidates among the ten thousand people, and by the time the sun had set, eight hundred individuals had been chosen.

Yuan Li immediately ordered these eight hundred people to move out of the military camp and live with his own troops.

That evening, Yuan Li assigned the positions of sergeants, corporals, and captains.

After assigning the military officers, Yuan Li addressed the soldiers, saying, “The positions of sergeant, corporal, and captain are not set in stone. At the end of each month, I will conduct evaluations, and anyone who performs well can become a new military officer.”

Upon hearing this, the appointed soldiers felt an immediate sense of urgency. They secretly vowed to do their best every month and never be demoted.

The ordinary soldiers became even more eager and excited.

Yuan Li didn’t appoint a thousand-man commander but instead entrusted Wu Kai and Wang Er with leading five hundred men each.

Wu Kai and Wang Er were surprised to be given such a significant responsibility. They immediately stood up with excitement, expressing their determination not to disappoint Yuan Li’s trust.

In addition to these two individuals, Wu Kai and Wang Er also recommended several talented individuals, among whom two caught Yuan Li’s attention.

One was Gong Bin, a local from Jixian, and the other was Lu Hui, who came from Liangzhou.

Both of these individuals displayed impressive martial skills, and Wu Kai and Wang Er believed they could be given important roles.

In addition to establishing the management structure, Yuan Li did not forget to establish military regulations.

The regulations he set were equally strict, prohibiting any plundering from the civilians and unauthorized actions. Complete obedience to discipline was required, and those who acted recklessly would be killed. Deserters would also be killed, and so on.

Upon seeing the military regulations, many of the eight hundred selected individuals instantly regretted their decision.

Yuan Li had always been known for his benevolence and kindness in the army. They didn’t expect that the kind-hearted Young Master Yuan would establish rules even more stringent than those set by the Grand General.

Yuan Li calmly observed their expressions and said in a deep voice, “Each and every one of you has been chosen by me from among ten thousand soldiers. Out of ten thousand soldiers, only eight hundred have been selected. In my eyes, all of you are outstanding individuals, capable of taking on ten opponents at once.”

After hearing this statement, many people felt embarrassed and smiled, while others became excited and looked at Yuan Li in embarrassment.

Yuan Li’s expression remained calm. “However, I know that some of you have grievances and doubts in your hearts after seeing the military regulations I have set. If anyone wishes to retreat, I will not stop you. You can leave now.”

The crowd erupted in commotion.

Yuan Li paused for a moment and continued, “But I want to make it clear that those who are frightened by such military laws are not the kind of people I want. If you can’t even abide by this, what else can you do? Become deserters on the battlefield? In that case, I hope you leave as soon as possible!”

As soon as these words were spoken, those who had doubts in their hearts felt embarrassed and lowered their heads in shame.

Yuan Li said, “Those who want to leave, go ahead. I’ll leave my words here. You only have this one chance to leave!”

The soldiers looked at each other, and some of them had already entertained the thought of leaving. However, as they looked around, not a single person took the initiative to leave.

No one stepped forward, and those who wanted to leave hesitated and didn’t dare to go. Half an hour later, not a single soldier left.

Yuan Li called out, “Well done!” and smiled. He said, “You are all true heroes! I also assure you that as long as I have a meal to eat, there will always be a meal for you. As long as I have breath in me, I will take care of you and your families! Bring the food!”

At his command, servants carried in abundant dishes. Roasted meat, meat soup, and large roasted sheep and pigs were placed in the center, capturing the soldiers’ attention.

The aroma of the meat wafted through the air, and everyone couldn’t help but salivate.

Yuan Li instructed Wu Kai and Wang Er to distribute the meat to the captains, who then distributed it to the corporals, and the seargeants further distributed it to each soldier, ensuring that every soldier received a portion of the meat.

For many soldiers who had never tasted meat until now, as soon as they got a piece, they couldn’t resist the urge and quickly stuffed it into their mouths.

After this meal, everyone had forgotten about the strict military laws. They were all grateful that they hadn’t left and were relieved that they had stayed.

Such emotions reached their peak when they heard Yuan Li say that there would be a meat meal every three days.

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