After Being Abducted by the General Chapter 44

Chapter 44

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Under Da Zhuang’s guidance, Liu Jixin and his group hurried to Xiaohe Village.

It was the first time Da Zhuang had ever ridden a horse, and he clung tightly to the cavalryman who was escorting him, squeezing the cavalryman’s face pale.

Upon arriving at Xiaohe Village, Da Zhuang didn’t have time to catch his breath. He quickly explained to the village chief of Xiaohe Village about the Governor’s order to suppress the bandits.

Upon learning that the bandits were planning to raid their village but the cavalry sent by the government had arrived ahead of them, the village chief of Xiaohe Village was almost moved to tears. He led Liu Jixin and the others throughout the village.

Many women and farmers covered their children’s mouths and peeked from their doorways. The children, curious yet fearful, had clear black and white eyes that reflected the armored soldiers passing by.

The group surveyed the terrain of Xiaohe Village, and Wang Er shook his head with a heavy expression. “The terrain here is not favorable for cavalry.”

Zhong Ji anxiously asked, “Then what should we do?”

Xiaohe Village was too narrow, and several rivers divided the village into several sections. Such terrain couldn’t fully utilize the power of cavalry.

It was too limiting.

Wu Kai looked at Liu Jixin and asked for advice, “Sir, do you have any clever plans?”

Liu Jixin stroked his beard and smiled, “It may not be a clever plan, but I have an idea.”

They leaned in and discussed with Wu Kai and Wang Er, their eyes brightening, and all of them smiled. “If this plan works, we’ll follow what Sir said!”

On this day, the bandits from Jiuding Mountain sent five hundred of their men to plunder Xiaohe Village.

The rest of the bandits were feasting and reveling in a wild celebration.

Meat and alcohol were laid out on a table, grains were scattered on the ground without a care, and the beautiful young women they had looted from the village were dancing with tears in their eyes to entertain them.

The bandits, with their mouths full of meat and wine, spewed foul and indecent language that was unbearable to hear. If anyone with a bad temper was dissatisfied, they would lash out with a whip, saying, “D*mn it, your dancing is ugly as h*ll. Can’t any of you dance properly?”

“They’re all peasant women who work in the fields, what kind of dance can they do? It’s already good enough if they look pretty.”

“The women in brothels dance much better. The way they twist their waists makes me want to drool.”

A few bandits brandished their big knives and threatened the young women with their tongues hanging out. “The women in brothels can dance so beautifully. You also have hands and feet, why can’t you dance like that? Hurry up, take off your clothes and dance. If you don’t make us happy, you won’t even get to keep your hands and feet.”

Tears streamed down the faces of the young women as they trembled and undid their clothes.

They didn’t dare to resist because there had already been examples of failed resistance.

A few days ago, there was a courageous woman named Yun Niang who, unwilling to be defiled by the bandits, slashed her own face. She was beaten and thrown into the woodshed, covered in blood, and no one knew if she would survive.

The three bandit leaders sitting at the head of the table watched with relish, laughing and joking as they downed several barrels of alcohol.

These three bandit leaders had broad, muscular faces, short stature, and a fierce demeanor. They were actually three brothers surnamed Zheng, who were originally idle troublemakers in a village at the foot of Jiuding Mountain. By chance, they took over the mountain and became bandits.

“These days are really comfortable,” the youngest brother said, holding a woman in his arms and sighing. “Among the surrounding counties and prefectures, the bandits of Jiuding Mountain live the most prosperous lives. We have meat to eat and wine to drink. Even immortals can’t compare to us.”

The eldest brother was quite proud and laughed heartily, “After plundering the remaining villages, let’s bring some young women up the mountain to serve us, heating water and cooking. Then we can comfortably get through another winter.”

“Big brother, let’s also capture some men,” the second brother complained. “Women die too easily, but men can endure more. Let the men handle the work for this winter. We won’t feel sorry even if they freeze to death. We can keep the women in the house to warm our beds and bear our children.”

The eldest brother nodded, “That’s what we’ll do.”

“A while ago, news came from Jixian that the Imperial Governor of Youzhou, Yuan Li, started sending troops to suppress the bandits in the vicinity of Jixian,” the second brother mumbled while gnawing on a piece of meat. “Big brother, do you think they’ll finish off the bandits around Jixian and then come after us?”

The youngest brother sneered, “Impossible! That inexperienced youngster who just took office? I don’t believe he has the guts to lay a finger on us. It’s probably just some minor skirmishes, and in a few days, it will all quiet down. These officials, one more cowardly than the other.”

The eldest brother didn’t care at all. “Youngest brother is right. Even if this inexperienced youngster wants to make a name for himself by targeting us bandits, he must have the ability to come after us. We’re thousands of miles away from Jixian. Will he even make it here? He might get trapped by heavy snowfall before that. Hahaha.”

The three of them laughed heartily, completely disregarding the matter.

The threat posed by Yuan Li’s suppression of the bandits was nothing compared to the emotional impact caused by a woman destroying her own face and refusing to entertain them.

The five hundred bandits sent to plunder Xiaohe Village paid no attention to the news from Jixian.

When they arrived at Xiaohe Village, intending to plunder and enjoy themselves, they found that all the villagers had disappeared.

The leader quickly sent people to search around and discovered that not only had the people fled, but also all the food and valuable items inside the houses were gone. Everything was clean and there was nothing for them to seize.

“Search for them,” the leader’s face turned dark, furious. “The people in this village are so audacious. If you find them, slaughter them!”

The five hundred men searched aggressively for the villagers, but as they were searching, they suddenly felt the ground tremble.

The leader thought it was their own people arriving and sent someone to take a look. “Go quickly and see which brother brought people here!”

The subordinate hurriedly ran outside the village and soon returned with a terrified expression, shouting, “It’s not good! It’s cavalry! The government’s cavalry has surrounded us outside!”

“What?!” The leader was shocked and pale. Looking up, he could faintly see a flag fluttering with the character “Yuan.”

His voice trembled, “What character is that?”

His subordinates were filled with fear and uncertainty. Finally, someone hesitantly said, “It seems to be the character ‘Yuan’.”


The color drained from the leader’s face.

The newly appointed Governor of Youzhou seemed to have the surname Yuan.

Outside Xiaohe Village.

A hundred cavalrymen vigorously waved their flags and paced back and forth with their horses, creating a loud spectacle that frightened the bandits in the village, causing them to huddle together.

Shortly afterward, a scout brought news, “Report! One of the bandits escaped from the back mountain of Xiaohe Village and went to deliver a message.”

Liu Jixin smiled faintly, “Good.”

The leader of the hundred cavalry, Gong Bin, looked at Liu Jixin in admiration and asked, “Mr. Liu, is it really true, as you said, that the bandits from Jiuding Mountain will send reinforcements?”

Liu Jixin stroked his beard and said, “Why have these bandits from Jiuding Mountain become the biggest thieves in Youzhou? It’s simply because they value brotherhood more than other bandits. When one place faces difficulties, the others will surely come to help. That’s why the bandits from Jiuding Mountain have grown so powerful. Rest assured, they will definitely send reinforcements.”

Jiuding Mountain had about 5,000 bandits, making it difficult to attack them in the deep mountains. Therefore, Liu Jixin planned to divide the bandits into three groups and defeat them one by one.

He led a hundred cavalrymen to create a commotion in Xiaohe Village, feigning an attack to make the bandits inside feel threatened and send a distress signal to Jiuding Mountain for reinforcements.

Once Jiuding Mountain received the news, they would definitely send reinforcements to Xiaohe Village. On the way to Xiaohe Village, there was an ambush set up by Wang Er and his four hundred cavalrymen.

After a portion of the forces from Jiuding Mountain were dispatched as reinforcements, the remaining bandits would be dealt with by Wu Kai.

Jiuding Mountain.

When the three Zheng brothers heard that their comrades had been ambushed in Xiaohe Village, they were shocked and horrified. “What? The Governor of Youzhou has sent troops to suppress the bandits?!”

Their faces turned pale, a mix of shock and anger. They couldn’t believe it, but they also knew it couldn’t be a joke.

How was it possible!

The Governor of Youzhou was far away in Guangyang Commandery, Jizhou. How could his soldiers suddenly appear in Jiuding Mountain without any warning!

But if it was true…

If it was true, they couldn’t abandon their fallen brothers. Otherwise, who would dare to follow them and continue the fight in the future?

The eldest brother of the Zheng family, gritted his teeth. “I didn’t expect that little brat named Yuan Li to be serious!”

A fierce determination crossed his face. “Second brother, send two thousand men to Xiaohe Village. Instruct them to kill every single person and horse sent by the governor. We’ll rescue our brothers if we can, but if we can’t, there’s nothing we can do. After they finish killing those soldiers and horses, they should immediately escape to Qingzhou and meet us there. Third brother, tell the remaining men not to waste time anymore. Quickly pack their belongings, take the gold, silver, treasures, and food, and let’s leave Jiuding Mountain!”

The third brother exclaimed, “Big brother, Jiuding Mountain has been our foundation for many years. Do we really have to leave like this?”

“Idiot!” The eldest brother, angrily scolded, “If we retreat this time, do you think there won’t be a next time? Once the Governor of Youzhou decides to suppress the bandits, can our five thousand men withstand him? Hurry up and pack your things and get out of here!”

The third brother felt extremely frustrated and unwilling to move. “So, are we just going to be frightened and flee like this because of a little brat?”

“That’s why I had them kill those soldiers and horses from the government,” The eldest brother, sneered. “Even if we have to leave, we’ll make Yuan Li regret it. Let him know that it’s not so easy to mess with us. After we kill his soldiers and horses, it will take him a long time to find out about our escape. We’ll plunder villages along the way as we leave, taking everything we can. By the time we’re gone, the reputation of this Governor of Youzhou will be ruined. Once we reach Qingzhou, we’ll find an opportunity to give him a taste of his own medicine!”

Only then did the third brother feel relieved and went to organize their belongings.

Jiuding Mountain descended into chaos.

The eldest and second brother of the Zheng family, led their men to descend from the mountain, leaving only the third brother, who possessed the highest martial prowess, to gather the remaining items on the mountain. They took everything they could carry and destroyed anything they couldn’t take.

Finally, the third brother, sneered and set a fire. Even if they left Jiuding Mountain, those soldiers and officers shouldn’t boast. If Jiuding Mountain couldn’t be taken away, then it would be destroyed directly.

After setting the fire, the third brother, laughed heartily and waved his hand. “Take the things, let’s go!”

The young women who had been captured and locked in the firewood room by the bandits held themselves numbly. Upon hearing the chaotic sounds outside, the closest one to the door, a woman lying on the ground in a pool of blood, finally moved and struggled to crawl to the door crack to look outside.

Dim light shone on the bloody scars on her face.

The bandits appeared frantic, throwing many things to the ground, and their footsteps gradually faded away.

The women’s eyes, previously lifeless, slowly showed signs of movement. In a hoarse voice, she murmured, “It seems like they were saying that the government sent people to suppress the bandits, and they plan to leave Jiuding Mountain…”

Upon hearing these words, the other women, as if awakened, raised their heads and hurriedly crawled over to look outside. Their words were filled with uncertainty. “Yun Niang, is it true? Has the government really sent people?”

When they saw the chaotic scene outside the door, they finally believed it. Many of them had tears streaming down their faces, covering their mouths as they choked with sobs. It was a mixture of relief and joy, as they were about to witness hope.

While they were immersed in the joy of being rescued, someone detected the smell of burning in the air and anxiously said, “Why do I smell smoke…”

Yun Niang paused, her heart sinking. She forcefully clung to the door and looked outside, faintly glimpsing the blazing flames. Yun Niang’s hand trembled, unable to believe how these bandits could be so heartless. “They plan to set the mountain on fire…”

The young women were stunned.

Yun Niang clenched her teeth tightly, suddenly slamming herself against the door, and turned her head, shouting loudly, “Quick, help me ram the door! The bandits have all left, we can only survive if we break open the door!”

The other young women finally realized what was happening and rushed over to join her, using all their strength to try and open the door.

However, their bodies were covered in injuries, and they hadn’t had a proper meal for several days. After several attempts, the door remained unmoved.

Down the mountain.

Wu Kai, leading five hundred cavalry, laid in ambush in the forest. After the eldest brother of the Zheng family, and over a thousand bandits descended from the mountain and reached the flat ground, Wu Kai suddenly led his men out from the deep forest and launched a surprise attack. In the faces of the bewildered enemy, they swiftly claimed the first casualty.

Dust filled the air as the five hundred cavalry rode proudly. With their unparalleled ferocity, the bandits lost their will to fight before even clashing with them.

“They are government soldiers…!”

“Please don’t kill me! I beg you, don’t kill me!”

The second eldest of the Zheng family, was terrified, his face pale. He turned to shout to his older brother to run, but before he could utter a word, Wu Kai swung his weapon and decapitated him, the head rolling to the ground.

Blood splattered across the eldest brother’s face.

The eldest brother stared blankly and raised his head. The man leading the charge, Wu Kai, stood tall and mighty like a black bear. The gleaming blade of the large sword he had just used to kill the Zheng brother drew closer and closer.

They had been domineering for too long, looking down on the soldiers of the government, thinking highly of themselves like frogs in a well.

Only at this moment did the eldest Zheng brother, truly feel fear and terror.

He even belatedly realized that in the face of such cavalry, they had no ability to resist.

In this state of fear, he met his death.

One thousand mounted bandits were no match for five hundred cavalry. Soon, Wu Kai and his men killed them all, leaving no survivors.

The mountain path was unsuitable for riding horses, so Wu Kai ordered the cavalry to dismount and tie the horses to the trees. Leaving a group of soldiers to guard the horses, he led the rest of the men up to the mountaintop.

There were still over a thousand bandits left in their stronghold, but Wu Kai was confident in his ability to defeat them. The soldiers trained under Yuan Li were not just cavalry capable of fighting on horseback; they could also fight as infantry in close combat.

Liu Jixin’s plan was to cut off the head and tail, to annihilate this gang of five thousand bandits in one fell swoop.

Wu Kai executed his mission flawlessly. He led the charge, displaying great bravery, and his soldiers were greatly inspired, charging forward without hesitation.

Rushing halfway up the mountain, Wu Kai suddenly noticed a flickering firelight coming from the mountaintop.

“Oh no!” Wu Kai’s face changed dramatically. “These bandits are setting fire to the mountain!”

The Jiuding Mountain stretched far and wide. If the fire spread, it would likely reach many villages.

These bandits were truly despicable!

With a stern expression, Wu Kai quickened his pace up the mountain. Before long, he caught sight of the last group of bandits descending.

Some of the bandits were leading pack horses and mules, while others were carrying boxes and bedding. Wu Kai and his men charged towards them, and although the leader among the bandits had decent martial arts skills, he too was beheaded by Wu Kai. Wu Kai didn’t even have time to collect the spoils of war; he hastily led his men up the mountain to extinguish the fire.

The young women trapped in the woodshed had exhausted all their efforts, trying various methods to break open the door. They believed they were about to be burned to death when they heard the chaotic sound of footsteps outside.

Thinking it was the bandits returning, they huddled together in fear. However, they suddenly heard a conversation.

“Sir, there’s water here!”

“Quick, bring water to put out the fire!”

Yun Niang, lying by the door with bloodstained hands, was momentarily stunned. Then she frantically pounded on the door panels and exclaimed, “There are people here! There are people here!”

The eyes of the others reignited with hope. They seemed to regain their strength, continuously pounding on the door panels and shouting, “Help us!”

“Someone, help! There are still people here!”

Finally, they heard a hesitant voice, “Sir, it seems like there are people locked in here.”

Immediately, someone strode towards the woodshed, getting closer and closer. The sunlight at the door was blocked by a figure. A glint of a cold blade passed by, and the door lock slammed heavily onto the ground.

The wooden door was forcefully pulled open, and the dazzling sunlight shone into the woodshed.

Yun Niang, who was leaning against the door, was caught off guard and fell, but Wu Kai caught her in time. When he realized that he was supporting a woman, a blush appeared on his dark face. He carefully set Yun Niang down, then looked at the other young women who were crying tears of joy.

“Are you all villagers from down the mountain?”

Everyone’s vision was blurred as they cried softly. Someone choked and said, “Yes, sir, we are all abducted villagers.”

“You wait here,” Wu Kai stepped back a few steps. “Once we put out the fire, we’ll send you down the mountain.”

After saying that, Wu Kai turned around and hurriedly left.

Yun Niang, lying on the ground, watched his departing figure with shimmering eyes.

Wu Kai and his men worked tirelessly for a full half hour. During this time, Wang Er and Liu Jixin also arrived at Jiuding Mountain after finishing off the bandits. With everyone’s joint efforts, they managed to extinguish the fire before it spread.

Liu Jixin wiped off his cold sweat, saying, “Fortunately, fortunately, there was no wind today.”

Zhong Ji gritted his teeth and said, “These despicable bandits!”

However, amidst the hatred, as he looked at the corpses of the bandits scattered across the mountain, a sudden sense of relief surged within Zhong Ji’s heart.

Witnessing the bandits being brought to justice, even if these bandits were not the Yishan Army who had killed his wife and daughter, Zhong Ji felt an immense satisfaction. The long-held grievances within him also dissipated to some extent. But after the relief, he felt a profound sense of desolation and sorrow.

He wanted to laugh, but couldn’t find the joy. He wanted to cry, but the tears wouldn’t come.

Why weren’t his wife and daughter as fortunate to encounter a governor like Yuan Gongzi back then?

It was detestable, truly detestable…

After extinguishing the fire, the group of people became covered in ashes and dirt. When they were about to descend the mountain, Wu Kai didn’t forget to assign someone to escort the women down the mountain.

These women were all from nearby villages. However, when Wu Kai asked them about their homes, except for a few young women who told him, the rest fell into silent tears.

Wu Kai was puzzled. “Why are you crying?”

“Sir, you may not know,” one woman wiped her tears and explained with a lowered head, “We were abducted by the bandits and brought to these mountains. Even if we weren’t violated, we won’t be considered respectable women when we return. Except for a few sisters who are cherished by their families, the rest of us have nowhere to go.”

Liu Jixin pondered for a moment and asked, “Do any of you have marriage arrangements?”

Some of the women shook their heads, while others nodded, their expressions timid.

“Since you have nowhere to go, why not become wives to our soldiers?” Liu Jixin smiled and said, “Among us good lads, there are many who are still unmarried. Would you be willing to marry them?”

The women immediately blushed and glanced at each other, subtly nodding their heads.

These soldiers who had saved them were all tall and imposing, with handsome appearances. They had escorted them down the mountain without even a glance, displaying impeccable conduct. In the eyes of these women, the soldiers seemed like heroes. How could they refuse?

Liu Jixin immediately instructed the cavalry to line up according to their merits in killing the enemy and allowed them to choose the women they were interested in. If a soldier chose a woman who wasn’t willing, Liu Jixin wouldn’t force the matter. If both parties were willing, then it would be a good thing.

The faces of the cavalry turned red as they jostled to form a queue. The twenty or so young women quickly found their preferred partners. When they stood side by side, a hint of joy appeared on their blushing faces.

Yun Niang was the last one. Her injuries were too severe, and she could only stand with the help of others. The scars on her face were also quite unsightly, causing none of the soldiers to dare choose her.

Yun Niang pursed her lips and asked her sisters to help her stand in front of Wu Kai. Weakly, she said, “Sir, have you a wife?”

Wu Kai honestly replied, “I am not married.”

He recognized this woman as the one he had accidentally held in his arms earlier. Wu Kai seemed to know what Yun Niang was going to say, and his ears turned red in an instant.

Yun Niang’s slightly dirty and blushing face turned even redder. “Then, would you be willing to marry me?”

Wang Er and Liu Jixin stood by, trying hard to suppress their laughter as they watched the scene unfold.

Wu Kai stammered, “I… I have an elderly blind mother at home, and we are very poor.”

“It doesn’t matter,” Yun Niang’s voice was hoarse yet gentle, “I will take good care of your mother.”

Wu Kai looked down at her.

Seeing Yun Niang’s scarred hands and face, Wu Kai knew she must be a fiercely determined woman. Most of the soldiers were destitute and came from refugees or military households who had been serving for generations. They held low social status, struggling to have enough to eat, let alone find a bride. Proper young women would never consider marrying a common soldier.

Wu Kai had always felt that his poverty prevented him from finding a wife. Faced with Yun Niang’s sudden proposition, he was nervous and remained silent for a long time. However, seeing that Yun Niang had no other options and fearing there was no way out for her, he finally nodded slowly and firmly. “Alright.”

“Hahaha, a perfect match!” Liu Jixin clapped his hands and laughed heartily. “Wu Kai, don’t worry. After we return, I will report to our lord and have him arrange a splendid wedding banquet for you and your wife!”

Wu Kai felt embarrassed and lowered his head.

Liu Jixin and Wang Er burst into laughter once again.

After the laughter subsided, they got down to business. In addition to collecting spoils of war and binding the surviving bandit captives, Liu Jixin had one more task entrusted to him by the court—to deal with the local magistrate.

The bandits of Jiuding Mountain were notorious for their wickedness, and they had close ties with the ineffective magistrate of Yuyang Commandery.

Yuan Li had considered replacing the magistrate of Yuyang Commandery directly, but a practical problem arose—there were no suitable talents in his hands to fill the position.

After Liu Jixin dealt with the local magistrate, he sighed inwardly.

There were still too few capable people around their lord.

They had enough military personnel; whether it was Wu Kai, Wang Er, Gong Bin, or Lu Hui, who had shown their mettle in this operation, they were all talented individuals. However, in terms of civil administration, there was only Liu Jixin himself, and at most, Zhan Shaoning could be considered half a person.

Liu Jixin felt that he should write to his friends and inquire if they were willing to come to Youzhou and serve their virtuous lord together.

After completing these tasks, the group did not linger in Yuyang Commandery and eagerly set off for Jixian.


Yuan Li also faced a sweet dilemma.

Zhang Shi, Liu Shi, and Yu Shi had already received the first batch of silver from the sales of soap in Youzhou, Yanzhou, and Yizhou. According to the agreement with Yuan Li, they exchanged a portion of the silver for grain, medicinal herbs, cloth, and livestock such as cattle, sheep, pigs, and chickens, and sent them to Jixian.

Coincidentally, the cattle and sheep sent by the Da Dan tribe had also arrived in Jixian.

Among these livestock, there were fewer cattle and sheep, and more pigs and chickens. Especially pigs, there were already over three thousand of them.

There were so many that Yuan Li ordered people to hastily construct a huge pig farm overnight, but it still couldn’t accommodate them all.

Yuan Li was quite distressed about this.

Previously, due to their inland location in the Central Plains, both Yuan Li and Liu Jixin had always believed that pigs needed to be raised in pens and fed. However, after these pigs arrived and Yuan Li learned about the pig-rearing methods of the people in Youzhou from Zhang Mi, he discovered that in Youzhou, pig-rearing was similar to raising sheep, where they could be allowed to graze freely and forage for their own food. The people who herded pigs were even called pig herders.

If it were spring, then these three thousand pigs would have been a delight rather than a headache. Yuan Li could have learned from the locals and directly enclosed a mountain to let the pigs, sheep, and cattle graze. However, it was already deep autumn, on the verge of winter, and the vegetation had withered. To raise these animals, they would need to provide them with grain.

The number of cattle and sheep was manageable and didn’t pose a significant burden. However, these over three thousand pigs were simply too many. Pigs reproduced rapidly, and among the delivered pigs, over eight hundred were sows, with more than half of them already pregnant and nearing delivery. Without suitable temperatures in winter, these piglets would freeze to death once they were born.

Feeding them and attending to the sows’ delivery would require a significant amount of money and grain. After calculating, Yuan Li realized that he couldn’t afford to raise so many pigs.

Therefore, he made a decisive decision.

He selected three hundred breeding boars, and the remaining two thousand were to be slaughtered.

Before the New Year, he planned to have a grand pig slaughter!

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