After Being Abducted by the General Chapter 67

Chapter 67

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The Wuwan people were relocated within Youzhou and were to be supervised by the Governor of Youzhou. Previously, when there was no Governor in Youzhou, they were under the supervision of Chu Hechao. Now that there was an Governor in Youzhou, according to the rules, these Wuwan chiefs should come and pay their respects to the Governor and greet Yuan Li.

Yuan Li knew about the strained relationship between Chu Hechao and the Wuwan people. Considering the provocative and boastful tone of the letter, Yuan Li didn’t need to think much to understand that these Wuwan people had ill intentions. Perhaps they wanted to establish their dominance over the newly appointed Governor.

But it just so happened that Yuan Li had the same idea. As a newly appointed official, he also wanted to establish his authority by making an example.

Isn’t this a perfect coincidence?

Gulichi, what a warm-hearted person!

Yuan Li leisurely had someone open the bag of salt. As expected, it contained the mixture of fine salt and coarse salt that he had instructed Zhang Mi to sell to the Wuwan people in a one-to-one ratio.

He became even more delighted. “Gulichi is truly considerate.”

He liked this type of grudge.

He called for Zhang Mi, who arrived and saw the large bag of salt. The more he looked at it, the more familiar it seemed. “Lord, what is this?”

“It’s the salt Gulichi sent to me,” Yuan Li couldn’t help but chuckle. “Take a look. How much can you get in exchange for this salt from them?”

Zhang Mi examined it and said, “This bag of salt can fetch at least three horses.”

Yuan Li raised an eyebrow. “A high price, huh?”

He immediately had the salt collected and asked Zhang Mi to take it away, planning to sell it to the Wuwan people again.

Zhang Mi couldn’t believe that Gulichi would send back the salt he had bought from him directly to the Lord. He found it both funny and exasperating. After a good laugh, he began discussing official matters with Yuan Li. “Lord, I’m here not only to congratulate you on your coronation but also to report an important matter.”

Yuan Li asked, “What is it?”

Zhang Mi carefully explained the matter.

It turned out that while doing business with the Wuwan people on their territory, Zhang Mi discovered many Youzhou civilians who were being treated as slaves. Many of these people pleaded for his help and wanted Zhang Mi to take them away. When conducting business with the Wuwan people, Zhang Mi not only exchanged horses but also exchanged some individuals.

Most of these civilians were ordinary people and prisoners captured by the Wuwan people during the chaos caused by the White Rice Gang in Youzhou. They had suffered greatly under the Wuwan people’s torment, who claimed to be “eliminating disasters for the country.”

When discussing this matter, Zhang Mi carefully watched Yuan Li’s expression.

When it came to exchanging goods for people, Zhang Mi hesitated and didn’t know if he should do it. In the past, he would never have had such sympathy or spare money to care about these slaves. However, he knew that when Yuan Li previously sold salt to Dadan, he exchanged it for many White Rice Gang prisoners. Zhang Mi speculated that Yuan Li would want him to do the same. In the end, Zhang Mi gritted his teeth and exchanged some people to bring back.

But he was still worried that Yuan Li would think he had taken matters into his own hands. Therefore, the goods used to acquire these slaves were not the fine salt given by Yuan Li but Zhang Mi’s own possessions. If Yuan Li was unhappy, Zhang Mi could explain and minimize the loss, avoiding Yuan Li’s displeasure.

After listening, Yuan Li didn’t condemn Zhang Mi at all. Instead, he immediately praised Zhang Mi for doing a good job. “Zi Bo, you don’t need to worry about the financial loss. I want the horses, and I want the people too. You did well in this matter. If there’s another opportunity, try to bring back even more people.”

Zhang Mi breathed a sigh of relief, hiding his inner joy and clasping his fists. “Lord, among these slaves, many are orphaned children with no place to go. I have temporarily settled them in one of my farms. How would you like to arrange them?”

Yuan Li pondered for a moment, his mind stirring.

In turbulent times, the transmission of information was particularly crucial. Sometimes, a piece of intelligence could determine the course of a battle. If they wanted to strengthen themselves, they could not neglect the means of acquiring information. To cope with the war, they should establish a comprehensive intelligence organization. The teams of spies and counter-spies could no longer be delayed.

And the most suitable candidates to form the intelligence organization are the homeless orphans.

Having experienced war, they would have excellent psychological resilience. Once they are given shelter and sustenance, it would be easy to gain their loyalty and dedication.

Yuan Li knew that establishing a comprehensive intelligence organization would require a significant amount of manpower, resources, and finances, but he understood that it was necessary. Accurate information was always the foundation of strategy. With this in mind, Yuan Li promptly made a decision, “Send them to my estate; I have other uses for them.”

Zhang Mi acknowledged and stepped back.

After Zhang Mi left, Yuan Li had Zhao Ying summoned. When Zhao Ying arrived, Yuan Li dismissed the others and instructed Zhao Ying to carefully select suitable orphans from the refugee camp for special training, regardless of gender.

He also asked Zhao Ying to provide a separate living space for these orphans, away from the crowds, for intensive training. Using the methods Yuan Li had previously taught Zhao Ying, they would educate these individuals in some modern knowledge, techniques, and combat skills.

This knowledge included literacy, farming, first aid, and information transmission, among others, which were essential for intelligence operatives.

Zhao Ying was like a hidden blade, cautious and meticulous in his actions. Yuan Li trusted him to train these individuals.

“I understand,” Zhao Ying bowed. “How many of such individuals does Lord want?”

“As many as possible,” Yuan Li replied.

Yuan Li had heard a saying that intelligence operatives should value quality over quantity. However, in their current situation, that approach was not applicable.

From the capital to the borderlands, from the imperial eunuchs to the common people, they needed a large and diverse pool of intelligence personnel. While elites were valuable, could one elite surpass the effectiveness of ten individuals? Could they surpass the effectiveness of a hundred?

Yuan Li emphasized, “Their loyalty is the most crucial factor. When selecting individuals, prioritize loyalty. Investigate their backgrounds to ensure their integrity. If there are any doubts, do not accept them. Secondly, consider their physical strength. Look for individuals with sound health and limbs, as they will have a longer lifespan. As for their food, clothing, and finances, you can discuss it with me.”

Zhao Ying nodded and contemplated, “Lord, I’m afraid I alone might not be enough. The two young masters, Yuan Lou and Yuan Dan, brought back some of their followers from Ruyang. I request that the young masters allocate a portion of them for my use.”

Yuan Li directly allocated him a hundred people.

Then, the two of them further discussed and solidified their ideas about the intelligence organization. Finally, Zhao Ying asked what kind of name this intelligence organization should have.

Yuan Li pondered for a moment.

In such chaotic times, the name for the intelligence organization had to be low-profile, so inconspicuous that others wouldn’t suspect it to be an intelligence organization. This would serve to deceive and mislead others, similar to the “Zhan Gan Chu” of the Qing Dynasty.

“Let’s call it Liangliao Yuan,” Yuan Li decided, “ostensibly a place for distributing officials’ salaries.”

Upon hearing the name, Zhao Ying thought it was indeed quite misleading. Who would think that a department distributing officials’ salaries would be an intelligence organization? He nodded in agreement, “Lord, the name is well chosen. I will ensure the success of Liangliao Yuan.”

Yuan Li smiled and said, “Excellent!”

While they were discussing Liangliao Yuan, a group of riders arrived from a distant place and stopped in front of Liu Jixin’s mansion.

When Liu Jixin rushed out upon hearing the news, he saw his brother-in-law, Zheng Rong, with a pale face being carried out of the carriage by servants. Behind him was a scholar with a similarly unwell complexion, but still supporting Zheng Rong’s back.

“What happened?” Liu Jixin was startled and quickly made way. “Quick, bring him inside and lay him on the bed. Wuren, go and fetch a physician!”

His attendant hurriedly left.

The scholar supporting Zheng Rong gave a bitter smile. “Sir, you don’t need to worry. Brother Zheng should be fine. It’s just the exhaustion from the journey that has caused some dizziness.”

Liu Jixin breathed a sigh of relief and looked the scholar up and down before bowing, “And who might you be?”

“I am Zhou Gongdan, courtesy name Wenning,” the young scholar smiled. “I hail from Jingzhou. Upon hearing the Governor’s reputation in Youzhou, I came here to seek refuge. Along the way, I had the fortune to meet Brother Zheng, who kindly invited me to travel together. Thanks to Brother Zheng’s assistance, I was able to arrive safely in Youzhou.”

So, finally, people are coming to seek refuge with the Lord.

Liu Jixin sighed inwardly, his eyebrows raising slightly, finding it intriguing. “You traveled all the way from Jingzhou to Youzhou alone with just a donkey?”

“Indeed, it is precisely because of this one person and one donkey that I made thorough preparations,” Zhou Gongdan said with a hint of teasing. “If there are bandits or robbers, they would take one look at my appearance and naturally know that I have no money. They would probably be too lazy to bother robbing me and end up with their weapons worn out for nothing. And if someone truly intends to take my life instead of robbing me, this little donkey may not look impressive, but it runs fast and has great endurance. I believe it can help me escape safely.”

Liu Jixin couldn’t help but burst into laughter. “Your words are quite interesting. I am Liu Jixin, courtesy name Changyue. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

The two of them entered the mansion together. The more they talked, the more Liu Jixin admired Zhou Gongdan, but he concealed his emotions and first arranged for servants to take Zhou Gongdan to rest. He then went to find Zheng Rong.

After a brief rest, Zheng Rong had regained some strength. He was being cared for by his sister, Lady Zheng. When she saw Liu Jixin approaching and sensed that he had something to discuss, she considerately left.

Liu Jixin sat by the bedside, stroking his beard and smiling at Zheng Rong. “Jie Zhi, I knew you would come to Youzhou.”

Zheng Rong, thin and weak, was lying on the bed, his lips turning blue but there was a sense of joy in his expression. “Eldest Brother, you have no idea. When I received your letter, I didn’t hesitate for a moment. I packed my belongings and came to seek refuge with you directly.”

Liu Jixin understood his aspirations and the anxiety and pressure he felt. He reassured him, “Rest assured, I value talents and treat virtuous individuals with respect. Even those who I have left my service twice have been given important positions. Your talent is no less than mine. As long as you perform well, there is no need to worry. Once you recover, I will take you to meet the Lord.”

Upon hearing this, Zheng Rong became anxious. He sat up in bed and pleaded, “Eldest Brother, I can’t wait another moment. I beg you to take me to meet the Governor tomorrow.”

Liu Jixin couldn’t help but laugh and cry, but he understood Zheng Rong’s sense of urgency and nodded in agreement.

Zheng Rong breathed a sigh of relief and began recounting their journey.

They traveled all the way to Youzhou, hearing many praises for Chu Hechao and Yuan Li. They also learned about the incident where General Chu Ciye had killed the Xiongnu leader with Yuan Li’s help. Upon hearing this, Zheng Rong was overjoyed and believed that the Lord his brother-in-law followed was truly remarkable and extraordinary. Little did they know that it didn’t stop there. As they continued toward Youzhou, they encountered fewer and fewer bandits and robbers, and once they entered Youzhou, they couldn’t see any of them at all.

Zheng Rong also inquired about the reason behind this. The common people along the way praised the credit of the Governor’s men in suppressing the bandits.

People often say that Youzhou is remote, desolate, and chaotic, and while it is true that it is remote and desolate, it is much more stable than those other prefectures and counties outside!

The more Zheng Rong inquired, the more he admired the Governor, who was only nineteen years old. Unfortunately, they arrived late and missed witnessing the Governor’s inauguration ceremony.

After listening to his words, Liu Jixin paused as he stroked his beard, pondering. “It seems that many people will come to seek refuge with the Lord in the future.”

Upon hearing this, Zheng Rong became even more anxious, wishing to meet Yuan Li immediately. Liu Jixin smiled and calmed him down, then inquired about Zhou Gongdan’s character. Once he confirmed that Zhou Gongdan was just a talented person from a humble background, he promised to take them to meet Yuan Li the next morning.

Manor, dinner.

During the meal, Yuan Li informed Chu Hechao that Gulichi would come to pay respects to him in a few days.

Chu Hechao showed no surprise. He ate his meal while saying calmly, “They are not here with good intentions.”

“I can sense that,” Yuan Li took a bite of his food and licked his lips. “But I’m quite looking forward to their arrival.”

Chu Hechao simply responded with a noncommittal “Mmm” but after a while, he felt that he might be too indifferent. He forced out two words, “That’s good.”

Yuan Li didn’t respond further and focused on eating.

After a while, Chu Hechao couldn’t bear it any longer and frowned, looking at Yuan Li. “Why are you constantly licking your lips?”


Yuan Li was confused. “Am I licking my lips?”

Chu Hechao’s temples throbbed, his voice low and hoarse. “Since we started eating, you’ve licked your lips five times.”

Yuan Li had no awareness of it, and he subconsciously licked his lips again, causing Chu Hechao’s bowl to almost slip from his grasp.

Yuan Li didn’t understand why he had such a strong reaction. He innocently explained, “My lips are too dry, it’s uncomfortable if I don’t lick them.”

Chu Hechao clenched his jaw, speaking in a low voice, “Then drink more water.”

“I’ve drunk a lot of water, but it doesn’t help. The weather in Youzhou is too dry,” Yuan Li subconsciously glanced at the weather forecast in his system, there was no rain for the entire week ahead. He sighed, “Look, my lips are even chapped.”

Chu Hechao glanced at Yuan Li but quickly averted his gaze, swallowing his saliva as if impatiently saying, “So delicate.”

Yuan Li chuckled twice and replied, “…It’s just chapped lips. How does that make me delicate?”

The man gave him a silent glance and then put down his chopsticks, walking out. It didn’t take long before he returned with a small bowl, placing it on the table in front of Yuan Li. “Apply this on your lips, they won’t be dry anymore.”

Yuan Li looked inside and saw that it contained hot rendered pork fat, emitting a strong, fishy odor. He pushed it aside and said dismissively, “I’ll use it after finishing the meal.”

Chu Hechao noticed his disdain and furrowed his brows, pulling a stool to Yuan Li’s side and sitting down directly. “Are you going to apply it or not?”

His tall and imposing figure was mighty, despite it being only March, he was already wearing just a single layer of clothing. The general had just come down from the training ground, with his collar soaked in sweat and a distinct odor of perspiration emanating from his body.

It was stuffy and hot, the heat was overwhelming, making Yuan Li feel somewhat uncomfortable.

Yuan Li’s mouth stung a bit, and he didn’t want to do it, so he pretended not to hear and buried his head, eating his meal.

Chu Hechao grabbed his wrist and forcibly took the bowl and chopsticks from Yuan Li’s hand, placing them on the table. With one hand, he pulled the chair Yuan Li was sitting on, using his arm strength to make Yuan Li turn around to face him.

Yuan Li’s eyes widened, looking at Chu Hechao in disbelief.

He was an adult man, not light in weight! The ground wasn’t slippery either, but Chu Hechao effortlessly achieved this, not even blinking an eye.

Chu Hechao placed his legs on either side of the chair to prevent Yuan Li from escaping. He extended his arm and took the bowl, intending to dab some oil and apply it to Yuan Li.

“Wait!” Yuan Li’s eyelid twitched, and he said tactfully, “Did you wash your gloves?”

Chu Hechao’s mouth twitched. He took off his gloves, took a bit of the pork fat with his scarred hand, and lightly touched Yuan Li’s lips.

Yuan Li hissed and furrowed his brow, muttering, “You’d better put your gloves back on. It’s even more painful with your hand touching it.”

Yuan Li’s lips were so dry that his skin felt tight, as if it were swollen. When Chu Hechao’s hand made contact, it felt like being stabbed with a knife.

“Gloves won’t work, and neither will my hand,” Chu Hechao’s brows furrowed tighter and tighter. He stared at Yuan Li’s lips, an inner anger burning more fiercely. He became extremely irritable and blurted out, “Then should I use my tongue to apply it for you?”

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