After Being Abducted by the General Chapter 76

Chapter 76

<Previous Chapter<Table of Contents>Next Chapter>

After the conscription began, there was a shortage of weapons.

The production of weapons required iron, but the iron mines in Youzhou still belonged to Zhong Ji. Yuan Li didn’t have the audacity to directly claim them for himself. Once the conscription was on track, he prepared his troops and planned to go to Yanzhou to eradicate the Yishan Army.

Upon hearing the news, Zhong Ji was extremely excited. He hurried back overnight from Zhang Mi’s place and requested to accompany the troops to eliminate the bandits.

Yuan Li knew that this was his inner struggle, so he assigned ten elite guards to protect him and nodded in agreement to his request.

Zhong Ji deeply bowed to Yuan Li and walked alone to the courtyard under the loquat tree.

The loquat tree had grown green leaves and tender branches with the arrival of spring, swaying gently in the dim sunset.

Zhong Ji looked up at the branches and leaves as the lingering sunlight pierced through the gaps, illuminating him.

He thought of the appearance and laughter of his wife and daughter, and the grim scene before their deaths. Unconsciously, tears flowed down his face.

Finally, finally, he could avenge his wife and daughter!

Five days later, Wu Kai set off with his troops towards Yishan in Yanzhou.

This operation was, after all, not a desirable task since it encroached on the territory of the Governor of Yanzhou. Therefore, they kept a low profile and only a few officials from Jixian vaguely knew about their nocturnal departure.

Half a month after Wu Kai and Zhong Ji went to eliminate the bandits, Cai Ji, the county governor of Guangyang, suddenly invited Yuan Li to a banquet.

Yuan Li was somewhat surprised when he received the invitation. Holding the invitation card, he pondered over Cai Ji’s motive for inviting him.

Usually, Cai Ji and Yuan Li had nothing to do with each other. Cai Ji had suffered a loss at his hands and would never seek his help unless it was necessary.

It was the first time Cai Ji had invited Yuan Li, and he couldn’t ignore his face. He couldn’t figure out his motive, so he decided to attend the banquet.

Upon arriving at the venue, Yuan Li realized that Cai Ji not only invited him but also invited Chu Hechao.

The man stood tall in front of the table, with a few guards standing behind him. The elderly Cai Ji stood beside him, bowing respectfully to Chu Hechao.

As soon as he saw Yuan Li from a distance, the man’s calm face twitched slightly, and he turned to Cai Ji, asking, “You invited the Governor?”

Cai Ji cheerfully replied, “The Governor has taken care of me in many ways, so I naturally can’t forget about the Governor.”

Chu Hechao didn’t believe his words and sneered. He sat down in his seat, still holding his imposing stance, and looked at Yuan Li as he approached.

Cai Ji personally guided Yuan Li to his seat and warmly said, “Governor, it’s truly an honor for me that you could attend.”

Yuan Li exchanged a few polite words with him and was then arranged to sit across from Chu Hechao.

Only then did Chu Hechao speak, saying, “Governor.”

Yuan Li remained calm, nodding slightly. “General.”

Cai Ji, sitting at the top, looked thoughtfully at the two of them and clapped his hands.

Upon hearing the sound, well-trained servants entered one after another, placing dishes and fine wines on the table. Shortly after, a group of beautiful Hu dance performers dressed in light and graceful attire entered, dancing with exotic charm to the accompaniment of music.

Judging by the appearance of these women, many of them were from the Xianbei and Xiongnu tribes. Yuan Li looked at these Hu dancers and glanced back at Cai Ji.

With such grand arrangements, Cai Ji’s intentions were not simple.

Sure enough, after three rounds of drinks, Cai Ji stood up, raised his wine cup, and said to Yuan Li and Chu Hechao, “Alas, I’m getting old and confused. I’ve made many mistakes before General and Sir arrived in Youzhou. I apologize to General and Sir.”

As he spoke, Cai Ji trembled and bowed, then drank up the contents of his cup.

Chu Hechao remained motionless, while Yuan Li asked in response, pretending not to understand, “Why do you say that, Sir?”

Cai Ji sighed deeply again. “Although I am the county governor of Guangyang, I have been idle and ineffective. I have not done what I should have done, causing hardships to the people and low tax revenue. It is my fault, and I regret it deeply.”

As he spoke, Cai Ji had five large boxes brought in. When the boxes were opened, they were filled with piles of gold.

Cai Ji secretly watched the expressions of Yuan Li and Chu Hechao and said, “This is the money I obtained after selling my properties. I heard that the Governor is currently recruiting soldiers, and there might be a shortage of funds. Although I am incapable, I understand that the Governor’s actions are for the sake of the entire Youzhou. I willingly offer this money to assist the Governor and make up for my past mistakes.”

Yuan Li understood.

Cai Ji was making amends to them. He was apologizing for embezzling tax revenues and acting like a local tyrant in Youzhou.

But why did he apologize at this moment, after all this time?

Yuan Li smiled slightly. “Sir Cai’s generosity is too valuable. I dare not accept these things.”

Cai Ji was taken aback, thinking that Yuan Li refused his apology. He glanced at the steward standing by.

The steward walked out, then came back with three more large boxes.

Cai Ji felt heartbroken, but he still wore a benevolent smile on his face. “Governor, your words are truly overwhelming for me. If you still refuse, I will empty my pockets and offer everything to you, to support the needs of the soldiers in Youzhou.”

Although these eight boxes of gold did not represent all of Cai Ji’s wealth, it was evident that he had to grit his teeth to bring them out. Yuan Li, with keen eyes, even noticed some traces of melting on some of the gold, indicating that he had also included the gold jewelry from his home.

This amount could nearly offset the amount of tax revenue Cai Ji embezzled previously.

Although Yuan Li didn’t know the reason for Cai Ji’s sudden apology, since the money was presented in front of him, he couldn’t refuse it. He graciously accepted it and thanked Cai Ji.

Cai Ji then looked cautiously at Chu Hechao.

Chu Hechao squinted his eyes as he looked at the eight boxes of gold, revealing a satisfied expression. He nodded, “Not bad.”

Cai Ji finally breathed a sigh of relief.

With this matter resolved, the atmosphere at the banquet became even more joyful. Cai Ji saw that the timing was right and asked, “May I inquire, General and Governor, were the troops that departed overnight heading to Yanzhou to eliminate the bandits?”

Yuan Li and Chu Hechao exchanged a glance, knowing that the main topic had arrived.

After their silent exchange, Yuan Li quickly realized the situation. His eyelid twitched, and he calmly averted his gaze, replying, “Indeed.”

Cai Ji, the county governor of Guangyang, could easily investigate the visit of Zhong Ji to Yuan Li. No matter how incompetent he was, he could guess the purpose of the group led by Wu Kai and Zhong Ji. Since he already knew, there was no need for Yuan Li to deceive him any further.

Cai Ji continued to inquire, “I wonder, is the extermination of the bandits your intention or the general’s intention?”

Chu Hechao responded indifferently, “Does it matter whose intention it is?”

Caught off guard by the response, Cai Ji smiled twice, stroked his beard, and lowered his voice discreetly, saying, “General, Governor, please don’t mind this old man’s meddlesome words. Yanzhou belongs to Che Kangbo, and if you send troops to besiege the Yishan Army in Yanzhou, setting aside the question of acting without authorization, if Che Kangbo finds out and misunderstands that we are attacking Yanzhou, it would cause significant trouble. People might think that we have ulterior motives.”

His words made sense, but they were somewhat exaggerated. Yuan Li only sent a thousand cavalrymen to eliminate the bandits, not tens of thousands of soldiers stationed menacingly on the border of Yanzhou. Even if Che Kangbo misunderstood, would he think that a thousand cavalrymen could attack him?

Che Kangbo was a weak-willed person, a fence-sitter who would bend his back to whomever bullied him. He would not dare to confront the Yishan Army, and Yuan Li did not think he would challenge Youzhou because of it.

However, Yuan Li was prepared for the worst. At most, if Che Kangbo learned about the matter and felt displeased by their unauthorized actions, Yuan Li could simply use the justification of suppressing bandits for the sake of the country and the people. Che Kangbo might hold some dissatisfaction, but he would only be able to grumble silently and make sarcastic remarks at most.

Yuan Li had no intention of backing down. He said, “The Yishan Army has become too arrogant and ruthless. Sir should also know that even a horse merchant like Zhong Ji from Jiyin County in Yanzhou has come to me for help. How can I stand by idly? Although the Yishan Army is a group of bandits in Yanzhou, their actions harm the people of various prefectures and counties passing through Yanzhou. They are a malignant tumor of the Northern Zhou Dynasty. I believe that when Che Kangbo knows that I am eliminating this menace for him, he will feel grateful and relieved for his people.”

Cai Ji wanted to say more, but Yuan Li rubbed his temples, showing a somewhat intoxicated expression, and said, “I can’t handle alcohol. I will borrow Sir Cai’s guest room to rest for a while and return later.”

Seeing that Yuan Li had barely touched the wine on his table, Cai Ji knew that it was just an excuse to avoid further discussion. Helplessly, he had someone escort Yuan Li downstairs to sober up. After Yuan Li left, Cai Ji immediately looked at Chu Hechao and said, “General, should we discuss the matter of the Yishan Army in more detail?”

Chu Hechao nonchalantly watched the Hu dance performers, then suddenly said, “Are you speaking on behalf of Che Kangbo? Did he secretly send you to persuade us?”

Cold sweat broke out on Cai Ji’s forehead, and he instinctively denied, “I swear, I’m innocent!”

“In that case…” Chu Hechao’s cold gaze turned towards Cai Ji. “Are you speaking on behalf of the Yishan Army?”

With a loud crash, Cai Ji dropped his wine cup to the ground. His face changed dramatically in an instant, and he anxiously and clumsily knelt on the ground, trembling with fear. “I dare not! I have no connection whatsoever with those bandits!”

Chu Hechao remained silent, letting him continue kneeling. After drinking a cup of wine, he furrowed his brows suddenly. “Stop.”

The Hu dance performers stopped in groups of two or three.

Chu Hechao’s gaze swept over them. “One person is missing. Where did she go?”

Suddenly, he looked at the steward of Cai Ji’s residence, his eyes sharp.

The steward knelt on the ground, burying his head between his arms, and tremblingly said, “It seems… it seems like she left with Governor Yuan Li.”

Chu Hechao’s breathing paused.

The cup in his hand cracked with a crisp sound as he forcefully crushed it.

T/N: Omg the next chapter….

<Previous Chapter<Table of Contents>Next Chapter>

Leave a comment