After Being Abducted by the General Chapter 52

Chapter 52

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Chu Hechao remained vigilant, waiting for the support of Huyan Ting or Huyan Huntu.

When Huyan Ting led twenty thousand cavalry to provide assistance, Chu Hechao received the news. That’s why he used the thundering cannons as a deterrent, to delay Huyan Ting’s advance and wait until after killing Huyan Wuzhu to engage in battle with Huyan Ting.

However, Chu Hechao did not expect that upon learning of Huyan Wuzhu’s death, Huyan Ting did not stay for a moment and showed no intention of seizing his father’s head and body. He immediately led the twenty thousand cavalry and turned around to flee.

But upon learning that Huyan Huntu had already returned to the royal court ahead of them, Chu Hechao understood why.

The Xiongnu were not just a pure tribe; they had their own country, with its ruling center known as the “royal court” or “Chanyu court”*. The Xiongnu royal court was located in the southern desert, thus referred to as the Southern Desert Royal Court.

Huyan Ting did not possess the same bravery and skill in warfare as his father, but he had a long-term vision. Upon hearing that his younger brother, Huyan Huntu, had returned to the Southern Desert Royal Court with the cavalry, Huyan Ting eagerly led his troops with the intention of returning to the royal court. He was worried that his brother would seize control of the political power in the royal court after their father’s death.

Just as Chu Hechao had anticipated, Huyan Ting was indeed in a hurry to return to the royal court, to prevent his brother from seizing the throne after their father’s demise.

He and his accompanying soldiers did not feel any shame or remorse about their decision to turn around and flee.

The Xiongnu people did not have their own language; as long as there was profit to be gained, they would disregard civilization and moral principles.

“Father, please don’t blame me,” Huyan Ting silently thought, braving the cold wind.

Engaging in a battle with Chu Hechao, who possessed terrifying weapons, for the sake of your death is clearly not a profitable venture.

This is a lesson you once taught me, and I will always keep it firmly in my heart.

Behind him, faced with Huyan Ting’s departure, Chu Hechao had no means to stop him.

It was a practical problem. Chu Hechao didn’t have enough cavalry to pursue the Xiongnu and venture deep into the grasslands to find their royal court.

The grasslands were vast, and it was extremely difficult to completely eradicate the Xiongnu by chasing them relentlessly. It required substantial resources and investment. The fifty thousand cavalry was not the entirety of the Xiongnu’s forces. To truly intimidate the Xiongnu, there had to be a powerful empire providing logistical support and military equipment.

At the very least, Chu Hechao believed that he needed a hundred thousand elite cavalry to constantly push the Xiongnu northward, far away from the Central Plains.

However, achieving this was clearly not possible at the moment. Therefore, apart from watching the Xiongnu depart, he had no other options.

However, this victorious battle was not without its benefits.

With Huyan Wuzhu’s death, there would be a power struggle within the royal court. Huyan Huntu was not a simple man, and he would never be content to be subordinate to Huyan Ting.

The internal power shifts among the Xiongnu would prevent them from coming to disturb the border, and the feat of slaying Huyan Wuzhu would serve as a fierce deterrent to the Xianbei and Wuhuan tribes. At the very least, the border could enjoy three to four years of peace.

After the successful operation, soldiers cleaned up the battlefield and delivered a final blow to the enemies who were not yet completely dead.

The wild grass was stained with dark, dried blood, sinking into the mud as the bodies piled up like hills.

Even the fallen soldiers from their own side needed to be gathered, and the severely wounded soldiers required urgent medical attention.

The soldiers quickly cleared the battlefield. They suffered heavy casualties, but it was not without gains. All twenty thousand Xiongnu cavalrymen were killed, and out of the twenty thousand horses, five to six thousand fled, over a thousand were injured, and they ultimately gained thirteen thousand warhorses.

This could be considered a great cause for celebration.

This battle was truly exhilarating. The capture of over ten thousand horses brought a sense of joy throughout the army. Especially for those who participated in the killing of Huyan Wuzhu, they knew they had achieved a great merit, and their smiles could not be suppressed.

Among those who contributed the most to killing the Xiongnu, Wu Kai and his team stood out, especially with the Thunderclap cannon invented by Yuan Li. Without the Thunderclap cannon, this battle would have been much more difficult, and Yuan Li’s contribution accounted for a significant portion of slaying the Xiongnu leader!

Chu Hechao believed that based on this battle alone, Yuan Li deserved a noble title.

After the battle, He Lang brought out the meat that Yuan Li had given them earlier, and they celebrated with feasting and drinking.

Once they had their fill, Wu Kai prepared to leave.

Chu Hechao called him over and remained silent for a while.

Even if Wu Kai was slow, he could sense that something was on Chu Hechao’s mind. He hesitated and asked, “Do you have any message for our lord?”

Chu Hechao replied calmly.

He recalled the two sentences Yuan Li had entrusted to him.

He hadn’t driven the Xiongnu into retreat, but he had at least killed Huyan Wuzhu.

Although achieving this much was already commendable, Chu Hechao still felt a sense of frustration and insecurity, as if his manly pride had been compromised.

He had someone bring Huyan Wuzhu’s head, wrapped in ashes to prevent decay, and handed it to Wu Kai.

He said in a casual tone, “Deliver this to him and tell him that I personally beheaded the Xiongnu Chanyu, Huyan Wuzhu.”

Wu Kai accepted the head and nodded.

Chu Hechao continued in a nonchalant manner, “To be able to take his head is already the limit of what can be done now. Even if someone else were here, they wouldn’t have done better than me.”

Wu Kai didn’t understand and thought that Chu Hechao was boasting about his achievements. He awkwardly played along and asked, “General, is there anything else you want me to tell our lord?”

Chu Hechao remained silent for an even longer time this time. He wanted to say that there was nothing left to say, but the words rolled in his throat and came out as, “Before the new year, I will return to Youzhou to celebrate.”

Wu Kai nodded in response. That day, he took the head and five hundred cavalry back to Jixian.

Along the way, news of the slain Xiongnu leader spread from the border to various counties.

People who heard this news were overjoyed and tears streamed down their faces. When they learned that it was a victory led by Chu Hechao with the assistance of Youzhou Governor Yuan Li, the people were even more grateful for their benevolence. The fame of the two spread far and wide, especially Yuan Li’s name, which was heard for the first time by the local people, and thus gained prestige.

Those who were well-informed had already learned about the Thunderclap cannons. The Hu people who had migrated to Youzhou couldn’t help but feel fear towards Yuan Li and dare not underestimate him anymore. Especially the Xianbei, they were so frightened that they huddled in their own territory and didn’t dare to make a move.

Two days later, Yuan Li also received the news of the victory on the front lines and learned that Chu Hechao had successfully beheaded Huyan Wuzhu.

He was overjoyed and exclaimed, standing up abruptly from his chair, “Really?”

Wu Kai replied, “Yes, it’s true. Lord, General Chu has also brought Huyan Wuzhu’s head for you.”

Yuan Li blinked, curious about Huyan Wuzhu’s appearance. He said, “Bring it here, let me have a look.”

Wu Kai opened the bundle that contained Huyan Wuzhu’s head, revealing his severed head.

Several days passed, and Huyan Wuzhu’s head had turned green. However, his lean cheeks and majestic appearance could still be discerned. He had the dignified look of a man in his fifties or sixties.

So this was how the Xiongnu Chanyu looked like.

Yuan Li nodded and waved his hand happily, “Hang it on the gates of Jixian, let the people rejoice together.”

Guo Lin took the head, his face beaming with a smile, and went to carry out the order.

Yuan Li had been worried about the front lines for several days, but now that he received the confirmed news, his face was filled with joyful smiles. He looked at Wu Kai with a smile and asked him to recount the details of the battle against the Xiongnu on the battlefield.

Wu Kai recounted every detail, and Yuan Li listened with excitement. When it came to the most thrilling parts, Yuan Li applauded and his eyes sparkled.

“So you’re saying that there are now 15,000 warhorses in the army?” Yuan Li exclaimed.

Wu Kai replied, “That’s correct.”

Yuan Li couldn’t help but feel delighted but then sighed, “It’s just a pity for the cavalry and infantry who died…”

Although they killed 20,000 Xiongnu soldiers in this battle, Chu Hechao’s forces also suffered losses of about 10,000.

Especially among the dead were people Yuan Li knew.

The previous joy had faded, and Yuan Li sighed inwardly, “The fallen soldiers should all receive compensation. Wu Kai, go to the army once again and ask Chu Hechao for the list of fallen warriors.”

Wu Kai readily agreed and was prepared to leave Jixian for the military camp that day. Yuan Li smiled wryly and said, “Take a day to rest with your brothers and go the day after tomorrow.”

Wu Kai apologized, “Thank you for your concern, Lord.”

After saying that, Yuan Li let him go and rest. When Wu Kai took his leave, he felt like there was something he forgot to say, but after thinking for a while, he couldn’t remember. He left hesitantly.

After resting for two days, Wu Kai once again brought a few of his comrades to the front lines to obtain the list of fallen soldiers. But accompanying them back was Yang Zhongfa.

Yang Zhongfa had returned this time for Han Jin’s daughter. He smiled bitterly and said, “There’s nothing happening on the border, so I took leave and came back to attend to some personal matters.”

Yuan Li understood his feelings and silently patted Yang Zhongfa’s back, asking, “Do you need me to accompany you?”

“That would be great,” Yang Zhongfa breathed a sigh of relief, “I’ve never interacted with little girls before.”

Han Jin’s wife had died in childbirth several years ago, leaving behind a daughter who was being raised by maidservants and living in Jixian.

In fact, most of the military commanders’ families lived in Jixian.

First, Jixian had Chu Wang mansion, which was under Chu Hechao’s control, making it a safe place. Second, it showed loyalty to Chu Hechao by keeping their families close to the lord, which was the most common and effective method in the current era.

Just like Yuan Li’s subordinates, the majority of their families were in Ruyang County. Most of those who had brought their families with them when they came to Youzhou were artisans from the soap factory.

When they arrived at Han Jin’s doorstep, Yuan Li didn’t go in. He only let Yang Zhongfa go in alone.

After about fifteen minutes, Yang Zhongfa walked out with red eyes, holding a seven or eight-year-old girl who was quietly shedding tears. Behind the girl were two uneasy maidservants.

When Yang Zhongfa saw Yuan Li, he tugged at the girl and softly said, “Yan Er, this is Young Master Yuan. Quickly greet him as Uncle.”

Han Yan obediently greeted, “Hello, Uncle.”

Yuan Li smiled and responded, taking out a paper windmill from his sleeve, “This is a gift from Uncle to Yan Er.”

Han Yan’s attention was diverted for a moment, and she whispered, “What is this?”

“This is called a windmill,” Yuan Li said, “Isn’t it beautiful when it spins?”

As the wind blew, the windmill began to rotate, fluttering like the wings of a bird.

Han Yan’s eyes widened slightly, and she nodded involuntarily, “Thank you, Uncle.”

Yang Zhongfa breathed a sigh of relief, and jokingly said, “Young Master Yuan, do you have any more of these little toys? I have another young child at home. How about giving me one more?”

“Unfortunately, no,” Yuan Li shrugged and continued with a smile, “Mr. Yang, this is not just a simple children’s toy.”

Yang Zhongfa wondered, “Then what’s so special about it?”

“This is called a windmill,” Yuan Li explained, “It can be used to grind grains.”

Yang Zhongfa was taken aback and closely examined the windmill, but he couldn’t figure out how it could be used to grind grains.

However, he knew that Young Master Yuan never deceived people, so he thought it was his own lack of insight.

Yuan Li carefully explained to him that the windmill used for grinding was not the large European tower windmill, but a vertical windmill. It was similar to a revolving door, with the bottom part used for grinding, reducing the burden on human and animal labor.

Yang Zhongfa suddenly realized and excitedly pointed at the windmill, saying, “I think this kind of windmill has another use.”

There were too many uncultivated fields in Youzhou, and some of them were just slightly higher in terrain, making it difficult for the people to cultivate them.

Because it was too laborious.

Irrigation has always been a challenge in farming. Water naturally flows downhill, so if they wanted to irrigate the higher uncultivated fields, they had to manually carry buckets of water to irrigate. It was exhausting work, and by the time they finished watering an acre of land, people would be worn out.

“When the windmill turns, it can indeed transfer water from a lower area to a higher one,” Yang Zhongfa realized his own brilliance and shared his idea, “Young Master Yuan, is this feasible?”

Yuan Li couldn’t help but smile, “The idea is feasible, but this type of windmill cannot be used in agricultural fields.”

Perplexed, Yang Zhongfa asked, “Why not?”

“Because of the wind,” Yuan Li patiently explained, “The winds in the Central Plains are not consistent. In winter, the northwest wind blows, while in summer, the southwest wind prevails. Sometimes, we even experience multiple wind patterns in a single day. If the wind changes direction, the water that was originally intended to flow uphill will return to the lower area, and the windmill’s intended direction will be disrupted. Then what should we do?”

Yang Zhongfa hadn’t considered this issue before and was left scratching his head in embarrassment. “I didn’t think about that. I apologize for my oversight, Young Master.”

“Mr. Yang, your idea isn’t wrong,” Yuan Li shook his head, “Although this type of windmill cannot be used in agricultural fields, there is another device that can achieve what you just mentioned.”

Excited, Yang Zhongfa asked, “What is it?”

“A waterwheel,” Yuan Li confidently replied, “Instead of using wind as the driving force, it utilizes water to irrigate the fields.”

Yang Zhongfa listened, trying to grasp the concept.

Helplessly, Yuan Li smiled and said, “If you’re interested in these things, once I have finished building it, you can come to the Chu Mansion and take a look.”

Yang Zhongfa nodded eagerly, “Yes, yes, of course.”

However, before Yuan Li could start tinkering with windmills and waterwheels, a heavy snowfall hit Jixian. The snow was thick, lasting for two to three consecutive days.

Looking outside, everything was covered in a blanket of white. The cold wind cut through the air like knives as soon as one stepped outside.

This heavy snowfall seemed to announce the arrival of the bitter cold days before the Lunar New Year. Yuan Li lit the kang bed, feeling warm and comfortable as he laid on it, emptying his mind and enjoying the tranquility.

But just a few days into his rest, Zhao Ying, the manager of the livestock farm, hurriedly arrived. “Master, it seems that several sows are about to give birth.”

Yuan Li, who had been lying lazily, suddenly sat up, quickly put on his clothes, and began searching for “Postpartum Care for Sows.” His eyes lit up with excitement, and he was filled with high spirits. “I’ll go right away!”

Finally, he could try assisting in the delivery of piglets!

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