After Being Abducted by the General Chapter 46

Chapter 46

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Since the last time he slapped himself twice, Chu Hechao had forcefully avoided recalling that incident. Whenever Yuan Li flashed in his mind, he would give himself another slap. In the past few days without seeing Yuan Li, his suppression had been quite effective. It proved that the image of Yuan Li’s lips and tongue that Chu Hechao had recalled the last time was just a momentary dizziness, which relieved Chu Hechao.

He gained the confidence to face Yuan Li again.

However, when Yuan Li looked at him, Chu Hechao still felt restless.

Without Yuan Li by his side, Chu Hechao suddenly felt a lot more relaxed and able to focus on his work. He efficiently slaughtered the pig, and it didn’t take long for him to finish with the one at hand.

Yuan Li went to the back, washed his face, drank some water to moisten his throat, and sat under a tree to rest for a while.

But soon, he couldn’t stay idle and began wandering around. He would occasionally go and see how others were slaughtering pigs, count how many pigs had been killed, and then go to the fence and chat with the people.

Chu Hechao casually turned his head and saw Yuan Li standing by the fence, talking to the people. He furrowed his brows, handed the knife to a soldier, wiped his hands, and walked over.

Yuan Li was earnestly inquiring about the livelihoods of the common people, asking about their clothing, food, housing, and transportation. “The harvest in the fields this year is pretty good, right? Winter is coming soon. Do you have enough firewood and charcoal at home?”

Youzhou was located in the northeastern part of Northern Zhou, not only remote but also known for its harsh climate.

Winter here is characterized by biting cold winds and icy, snowy landscapes. Many impoverished commoners would freeze to death due to the extreme cold of winter.

Deep down, Yuan Li harbored a constant worry.

The origin of the system was unclear, but it was evident that each task it assigned was somehow related to what Yuan Li was experiencing. Moreover, the rewards for completing the tasks were items that Yuan Li could make use of, whether in the near or distant future.

For example, the property gained from the soap, the trade facilitated by fine salt, and the upcoming “Postnatal Care for Sows” that would be useful for birthing pigs.

Even the yet-to-be-started task of producing refined sugar carried a clear foresight. This reward was obtained upon becoming an apprentice, and after completing the apprenticeship, Ouyang Ting was sent to the south as a provincial governor. This prompted Yuan Li to write a letter to Ouyang Ting, requesting him to find an opportunity to acquire sugarcane for making refined sugar.

Therefore, Yuan Li believed that the task rewards given by the system carried implications for the future.

Among the incomplete system tasks, two items related to winter warmth had already been provided. One was “cotton,” which could only be obtained after entering officialdom, and the other was the reward for pacifying the Yishan Army, a “coal mine.”

These two items inevitably made Yuan Li ponder. Cotton and coal, could it be that there would be a snow disaster in Youzhou this winter?

However, upon further reflection, Yuan Li thought that perhaps it wasn’t this year but rather the winters of the coming years that would face snow disasters.

Because whether it was the task of obtaining “cotton” or the task of obtaining a “coal mine,” Yuan Li would not be able to complete them before this winter. If there was indeed a snow disaster this winter and the system had prepared “cotton” and “coal” to prevent such events, then there would be no need to set a task condition that currently cannot be fulfilled for Yuan Li. Otherwise, wouldn’t that be playing with people?

Yuan Li inferred this speculation from it. If he could really pass through this winter smoothly, then in his first winter after assuming officialdom, he would need to prepare in advance for coping with snow disasters.

He could only hope that his guess was correct. Yuan Li sighed inwardly.

Setting aside his previous thoughts, he refocused his attention on the commoners.

Although Yuan Li had a youthful appearance, his temperament was steady and extraordinary. The commoners dared not lie when questioned by him and truthfully shared the conditions of their households.

This year, with Yuan Li stationed in Youzhou and his previous display of authority to the officials of Guangyang Commandery like Cai Ji, no official at various levels dared to embezzle the harvest, especially the officials in Jixian.

The commoners in Jixian were not heavily plundered for food this year, so naturally, things were slightly better than before.

However, Youzhou was desolate with few inhabitants, and many barren lands remained uncultivated. Even if conditions improved, it was still just so-so.

The commoners had lived in Youzhou for countless years, and they had their own ways of dealing with the harsh winter. As long as there were no catastrophic events like snow disasters or hailstorms, they could barely manage to survive the winter.

Yuan Li initially thought that the commoners would anticipate a mild winter, but to his surprise, they actually wished for a colder winter.

Yuan Li was puzzled until an elderly man, trembling, explained, “A harsh winter ensures a good harvest.”

Other commoners chimed in, and Yuan Li finally understood.

If winter had abundant snowfall, it would provide insulation and replenish water for the fields. Coupled with the cold weather, it could freeze many pests and reduce the occurrence of crop diseases and pests in the following year.

A warm winter might be good for people, but it is not favorable for the fields. The commoners relied on the fields for their livelihoods and would rather endure the cold themselves to have a cold winter.

Yuan Li felt somewhat uneasy about this realization.

At that moment, while the commoners were still engaged in conversation with him, they suddenly showed signs of fear and scattered in a panic.

Yuan Li turned his head and saw something small rushing towards him. He instinctively caught it and, upon looking down, saw a golden autumn pear.

The pear had an excellent appearance, small on top and large on the bottom, indicating its sweetness.

Yuan Li lifted his head and saw the handsome face of Chu Hechao, who had a stern expression. Covered in pig’s blood and tall and robust, Chu Hechao exuded a fierce aura when expressionless, resembling a criminal capable of murder and decapitation. It was no wonder the commoners were afraid.

Yuan Li, still somewhat resentful of Chu Hechao’s earlier hostility, asked with a stiff tone, “What is this?”

Chu Hechao furrowed his brows, looked Yuan Li up and down with a strange expression, seemingly surprised that Yuan Li didn’t recognize it. “Autumn pear, haven’t you seen one before?”

Yuan Li: “…” Of course, he had seen it.

His question was meant to ask why Chu Hechao was giving him an autumn pear.

Yuan Li felt exhausted, as if he were perceived as a fool in Chu Hechao’s eyes, just as Chu Hechao appeared foolish in his eyes.

He didn’t feel like saying anything more and expressionlessly took a bite of the autumn pear. “… It’s very sweet.”

Unable to resist, he took another bite, his gentle round eyes widening.

The corner of the man’s mouth slightly curved, but he quickly composed himself, casually saying, “Didn’t I tell you to sit and rest in the back? Why are you running around?”

In consideration of the pear, Yuan Li responded, “I was asking the commoners if they have prepared enough firewood and charcoal for the winter.”

Chu Hechao pondered for a moment and confidently said, “This winter won’t be very cold.”

Yuan Li became interested and curiously asked, “Why?”

“The warmth of winter depends on the first day of November,” Chu Hechao calmly explained. “If it’s cloudy on November 1st, firewood and charcoal will be as precious as gold. But if it’s sunny on November 1st, then we’ll have a mild winter.”

“Was it sunny on November 1st this year?” Yuan Li inquired eagerly. “Is this saying accurate?”

Chu Hechao glanced at him and replied, “It’s not accurate.”

Yuan Li’s smile froze on his face.

A hint of amusement flashed in Chu Hechao’s eyes as he leisurely walked towards the well, “It’s just a farming proverb. On the first day of the tenth lunar month, even in Youzhou alone, there can be both sunny and cloudy weather. Do you really think the winter temperature in the entire Youzhou would vary?”

Yuan Li followed along and softly said, “Chu Hechao, are you deliberately teasing me?”

Chu Hechao’s strides were quick, and Yuan Li hurried to keep up. But with his long legs and vigorous gait, his thighs strong and solid as his robes fluttered, he appeared particularly relaxed. Upon hearing Yuan Li’s words, he turned his head and gave him a narrowed-eyed, slightly mischievous look, almost as if complimenting him, “Not bad, you actually realize I’m teasing you.”

Yuan Li abruptly stopped in his tracks.

Chu Hechao continued walking for two more steps before realizing, and he turned back to look. Yuan Li’s fair face looked somewhat cold, with his lips pressed down as he stared at him.

The handsome young man stood there, untouched by the bustling and bloody scene of the pig slaughterhouse behind him. Although he didn’t have a stone knife in his hand and lacked a robust physique, it still made one’s heart skip a beat and feel a hint of unease deep down.

Chu Hechao swallowed a mouthful of saliva and calmly walked up to Yuan Li’s side. His gaze calmly swept the surroundings, afraid that this submissive moment would be noticed by others. He whispered, “What’s wrong, can’t I joke with you?”

Yuan Li remained silent, just raising his head to quietly observe him. His chin was tightly clenched, a sign of his unruffled mood.

Chu Hechao noticed the change in the surrounding atmosphere and lowered his voice even further, “Are you really angry?”

Yuan Li turned around to leave.

Chu Hechao muttered a few curses under his breath and quickly strode forward, blocking Yuan Li’s path in an instant. “Stay and talk properly, why are you leaving?”

Yuan Li kept his head down, his expression hidden. His fair and delicate ears were brushed by his black hair as he tried to move to the right, bypassing Chu Hechao.

Chu Hechao immediately took a step to the right, solidly blocking his way like a boulder. “Yuan Li, look up.”

Unable to see Yuan Li’s expression, he felt a bit anxious in his heart, and his tone unintentionally became more forceful.

Yuan Li stubbornly twirled his hair and moved to the left. Chu Hechao closely followed, taking two steps to the left, just like a bandit blocking someone’s path and refusing to let them pass.

“Don’t be angry,” Chu Hechao had never tried to coax someone so humbly before, and he felt embarrassed and sweaty. “There are people watching. Let’s go back to the residence before causing a scene. I was wrong, let’s forget about it this time, okay?”

Suddenly, Yuan Li’s shoulders began to tremble.

Chu Hechao’s expression changed. Was he crying?

He quickly bent down to look at Yuan Li’s face, but what he saw was Yuan Li’s face reddening from holding back laughter, with the corners of his lips raised high.

As soon as Chu Hechao discovered Yuan Li’s amusement, Yuan Li couldn’t hold it in any longer. He took a few steps back and burst into laughter, almost to the point of tears. His eyes gleamed with a triumphant mischief. “General, there’s no need to apologize. After all, I played a trick on you too.”

After saying that, Yuan Li couldn’t contain his amusement any longer. He turned around and ran away, laughing heartily.

Chu Hechao stood still for a moment, his face changing between red and pale. He quickly caught up with Yuan Li in large strides.

Two thousand pigs were slaughtered, from morning till evening, before they were finally finished.

After the slaughter, the whole pig slaughtering area was filled with a strong stench of blood. The people who had been slaughtering pigs all day were so exhausted that they couldn’t even lift their hands and were lying on the ground, gasping for breath.

At this point, let alone eating meat, they didn’t want to see meat for a short period of time.

Especially the ordinary people who had come to help with the slaughter, they were even more repulsed by the blood and the foul odor.

But when Yuan Li began to calculate their wages and distribute the pork, these people suddenly regained their strength and crawled up from the ground, eagerly and excitedly lining up.

In front of Yuan Li were two tables, with Guo Lin and Zhao Ying, who were responsible for calculating the accounts for the people.

The total number of pigs slaughtered by each person who came to help was recorded by the soldiers. For each pig slaughtered, they were given 100 wen in money and an additional jin of meat. Guo Lin was responsible for giving out the money, while Zhao Ying was in charge of weighing the meat. When each person finished settling their accounts, they would smile wide, pocketing the money and carrying the meat in their hands. The fatigue and discomfort from a busy day had been washed away by joy.

To prevent them from being robbed, Yuan Li even sent people to escort them back home.

After all the people had been sent away, half an hour had passed, and the sky had already darkened.

The onlookers were also dispersed, leaving only the busy soldiers who had worked all day.

Yuan Li raised his voice and said, “Everyone, you’ve worked hard all day. We’ve slaughtered a total of two thousand pigs today, and this is all fresh pork. Let’s have a feast and eat to our heart’s content tonight!”

Upon hearing this, the soldiers cheered and excitedly began to tidy up the spacious area, lighting bonfires and setting up stoves.

Yuan Li had already brought the cooks from the army and the Chu Mansion, providing them with plenty of seasonings to expedite the processing of the pork.

The generals felt somewhat embarrassed. “We’re making Young Master Yuan spend so much. If they eat with abandon, it’s estimated that we’ll consume around a hundred pigs.”

“It’s only natural,” Yuan Li smiled. “I have already set aside the remaining pork for all of you. Take a look and see if the quantity is enough.”

Among the two thousand pigs, Yuan Li only kept a hundred pigs’ worth of meat, along with all the offal and trimmings, while the rest of the pork was given to the army.

Upon hearing that the army would receive so much, several generals were taken aback and quickly waved their hands. “This is too much, Young Master Yuan! It’s really too much!”

“Young Master Yuan, these pigs were bought by you, and it’s only right that our soldiers help you. Giving us so much, we really feel unworthy.”

“What’s the big deal?” Yuan Li laughed without a care. “I only need a small amount, and if it’s not sent to the army, it won’t be finished. Please take it.”


All eyes turned to Chu Hechao.

After Chu Hechao nodded, they dared to accept the offer and quickly thanked Yuan Li.

Yuan Li was already responsible for the logistics of the army, and these two thousand pigs were originally intended to supply the army. It was just that these generals were unaware of his intentions.

These pigs had not been castrated and had a strong stench, which Yuan Li couldn’t tolerate. The hundred pigs’ worth of meat he kept was only for his personal guards.

With the meat hanging in front of them, the soldiers worked exceptionally fast.

The empty space was cleaned up, and the bonfires illuminated the dark night. Yuan Li and a few generals sat around the bonfire, dining at separate tables, and tasted the first fresh pork of the day.

Even though Yuan Li provided plenty of seasonings, the meat still had a strong smell. After taking a bite, Yuan Li forced himself to swallow it and had no intention of picking up his chopsticks for a second time.

But the others were oblivious, eating with gusto, laughing and talking loudly, their mouths shiny with oil. He Lang, in high spirits, had someone play music on a bowl and dragged the other generals to join him in a warrior dance.

After they finished their dance, Yang Zhongfa also cheerfully sang a song with his deep voice: “Reeds are tall, flute sounds are long, cows and sheep graze on the grass for miles, cows and sheep lower their heads to eat wild grass, causing one to miss their parents.”

This was a local nursery rhyme from Youzhou. After Yang Zhongfa finished singing, everyone burst into laughter. “Lord Yang, why are you singing nursery rhymes?”

Yang Zhongfa proudly said, “My youngest son Xuan Er learned this nursery rhyme from his mother recently. He sings it every day, and I’ve heard it so many times that I remember it now. Please pardon my lack of talent.”

This scene of family affairs made Yuan Li couldn’t help but laugh.

The joyful night quickly passed, and the next day, Yuan Li had the pork sent to the military camp. To prevent the meat from spoiling, He Lang took on the responsibility and led a team to protect the meat as they hurried back to the northern border.

The hundred pigs’ worth of meat that Yuan Li kept would be turned into cured and smoked meat for long-term preservation.

Originally, Chu Hechao and the others were also planning to return to the northern border. However, with winter approaching, it would be inconvenient to transport food and supplies during the harsh winter. Therefore, they needed to transport the winter provisions to the northern border before the arrival of winter.

But it would still take half a month for all the tax grains from various regions to arrive in Jixian. As a result, Chu Hechao decided to delay their return to the northern border and stay in Jixian for half a month. This way, Yuan Li wouldn’t have to expend energy sending people to deliver provisions to them after they left.

As the end of autumn approached, the weather became colder, and the nights grew darker.

Ten days later, during a regular noon, Yuan Li was taking a nap when the system in his mind suddenly sounded.

【The Encyclopedia of All Things system has been activated. The mission to suppress the rebellion in Youzhou has been completed, and rewards have been issued. Please explore on your own, host.】

Yuan Li suddenly opened his eyes, sat up in bed, and his eyes gleamed.

Yuan Congyun’s battle with the White Rice Gang was a success!

Yuan Li would never forget that the reward for suppressing the rebellion in Youzhou was potatoes. They had a high yield, provided satiety, and were easy to cultivate.

He quickly got out of bed and summoned Lin Tian, Guo Lin, and the servants in the courtyard. “Quickly search the courtyard for any unfamiliar plants.”

The servants busily searched the entire yard but ultimately found nothing.

Yuan Li furrowed his brows tightly, filled with worry.

The rewards given by the system had always been logical, with a source that wouldn’t arouse suspicion. Could it be that, like the previous “Postpartum Care of Sows,” it was brought in from outside?

The more Yuan Li thought about it, the more feasible it seemed. He quickly changed his clothes and hurried outside.

However, even after it became dark, Yuan Li didn’t come across any crops that resembled potatoes. He could only return to the Chu Wang’s Mansion, puzzled.

Upon his return, Guo Lin hurriedly came to inform Yuan Li, “My lord, when you were out this afternoon, Lord Yuan, who was fighting in Liaoxi County, sent news of victory. Along with the good news, a large number of spoils of war were also sent and have been delivered to the general’s courtyard. The general sent someone to invite you over about an hour ago, seemingly wanting you to see if there’s anything you desire among the spoils.”

Spoils of war…

Yuan Li’s eyes brightened, and he hurriedly walked towards Chu Hechao’s courtyard.

Strangely, there was no one in Chu Hechao’s courtyard.

But Yuan Li was anxious and didn’t pay attention to this. He called out, “Chu Hechao?”

A sound came from behind the door.

Yuan Li quickly pushed open the door, his face beaming with a smile. “I heard you just received a lot of spoils of war…”

His voice trailed off.

Chu Hechao, who had just come out of the bath, was naked with his arms outstretched, holding a towel, and he looked equally astonished at him.

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