After Being Abducted by the General Chapter 79

Chapter 79

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After returning to the residence, Chu Hechao immediately sent someone to investigate whether there were people from Luoyang entering or leaving the Cai Ji Residence.

Youzhou was vast, and Jixian County was not small either. With the constant flow of Hu people and refugees, it would be difficult to notice a few people from Luoyang coming and going. In these troubled times, people were fleeing from one territory to another, and even in Yizhou under the control of Inspector Wu Shanshi or in the territory of Chen Liu Wang, nobody knew who these people passing through their territories were or where they came from.

From today’s events, Yuan Li noticed a major loophole.

The control of the Chu Wang Mansion over Youzhou was too weak. Chu Wang and his wife had been staying in Luoyang for a long time and rarely returned to Youzhou. Chu Hechao himself was stationed in the northern frontier and seldom had the chance to return to Youzhou. Chu Mingfeng, although intelligent, was physically limited and thousands of miles away, making him well-intentioned but powerless.

With no lord present, Youzhou had been neglected for over a decade or two, and the influence of the Chu Wang Mansion couldn’t compare to the local gentry and landlords.

This couldn’t continue.

After a day filled with Hu people spies and Cai Ji’s unusual behavior, Yuan Li’s sense of vigilance grew stronger.

Who knew how many hidden enemies lurked in Youzhou?

They needed to gradually investigate the grassroots of Youzhou to gain true control over the region.

However, Yuan Li’s intelligence organization was just newly established and couldn’t immediately develop into a complete network.

They barely ate anything at Cai Ji’s banquet. Returning to the mansion, both of them were hungry. They hurriedly had the kitchen prepare some food, and they sat down in the dining hall to eat.

While eating, Yuan Li was still lost in thought. Suddenly, he felt a tap on his forehead. He looked up and saw Chu Hechao, his voice stern as he admonished, “Focus on eating.”

Though his words were strict, he couldn’t help but smile. Gone was the arrogance and coldness from their first meeting; he looked as happy as a fool.

Yuan Li obediently responded and began eating. He had a hearty appetite, even more so than many others, but Chu Hechao’s appetite was even greater. He ate quickly, and soon his bowl was empty.

Seeing him eat so quickly, Yuan Li extended his chopsticks to block Chu Hechao’s and said, “Don’t eat so fast, it’s not good for your health.”

Chu Hechao raised an eyebrow, put down his chopsticks, leaned back on the chair, and smirked, “Now you’re starting to manage me?”

Yuan Li silently looked at him for a moment, then retrieved his chopsticks and focused on eating without responding to him.

After a while, his hand, which was hidden under the table, was secretly held and squeezed by Chu Hechao. Chu Hechao whispered in his ear, “Alright, alright, I’ll let you manage me.”

After finishing their meal, the two of them went for a walk together.

The estate was spacious, with many trees. They had dug a lake on the southern side, and with the recent rainfall, the lake was now filled to the brim. Lily pads had grown along the lake shore, their flowers still hidden within the buds, and there were many koi fish swimming in the water.

In public, Yuan Li and Chu Hechao maintained a serious demeanor, keeping a distance of one person between them when walking. They put on a show, pretending as much as they could. But once they reached the secluded woods, Yuan Li was lifted into Chu Hechao’s arms.

Chu Hechao’s arms wrapped around Yuan Li’s waist, emanating warmth. He said, “Let me kiss you.”

Yuan Li enjoyed being kissed by him, so he tilted his head up.

Birds chirped in the trees, observing them for a while before pecking at their own feathers.

The tree trunk shook, leaves falling, covering them.

Chu Hechao removed the leaves from Yuan Li’s head, smiled, his voice husky with a hint of seduction, “Yang Zhongfa said that being married is wonderful. I didn’t understand it before, but now I finally do.”

He didn’t know the difference between kissing a woman and kissing a man, but he knew how it felt to kiss his beloved. His heart raced, the sensation something he would never forget in his lifetime.

It made Chu Hechao’s heart overflow with joy, almost to the point of bursting, an intoxicating feeling.

The young man leaned against the tree, his hair disheveled, his hairpin on the verge of falling, his face flushed, but his eyes were bright and lively. It made Chu Hechao feel somewhat parched.

Chu Hechao lowered his head and kissed him twice. Their lips stuck together, their breath mingling.

Yuan Li was dizzy from the kisses already, while Chu Hechao whispered, “Open your mouth, let me in.”

Yuan Li pushed him away and said, “Don’t you realize? You poked me.”

Both of them were young, and Yuan Li felt a bit restless as well.

But although he hadn’t been in a relationship or experienced romantic love, he knew that kissing on the first day was already quite fast.

Yuan Li believed they needed to take things step by step.

Chu Hechao said, “I didn’t notice.”

Yuan Li glared at him, thinking he really had no shame. But Chu Hechao grabbed his hand and pulled him closer.

More leaves fell, and the birds that had been watching the spectacle flapped their wings and flew away, hovering in the sky above the woods.

The sound of frogs croaking filled the air, and small flying insects buzzed around, causing a commotion.

It was early spring, the weather not too hot or too cold, but both of them were sweating under the trees. Yuan Li, feeling tired, couldn’t help but pinch Chu Hechao.

Chu Hechao’s forehead furrowed in pain.

Yuan Li watched his face.

As sweat rolled down, his handsome face took on a sexy and restrained expression, his jaw tensing.

Yuan Li averted his gaze, feeling his heart beating faster.

Chu Hechao opened his eyes, a mixture of anger and amusement on his face. “You’re so naughty.”

Yuan Li pulled his hand away, unceremoniously wiping it a few times on Chu Hechao’s body. With a satisfied and content expression, Chu Hechao didn’t mind. He used a handkerchief to hastily clean himself and the surroundings before holding Yuan Li’s hand and continuing their walk along the lake.

As they passed by a few willow branches that were almost touching the surface of the lake, Yuan Li couldn’t resist reaching out and plucking a long branch. He fiddled with it in his hand and said, “Let me tell you something.”

Chu Hechao also plucked a stalk of grass and chewed on it lazily, exuding a relaxed aura. “Go ahead.”

“Do you remember the method I mentioned earlier for resettling wounded soldiers?” Yuan Li asked.

Chu Hechao nodded, swaying the stalk of grass in his mouth. “I remember. It’s because of you and the way you handle the wounded soldiers that the soldiers fought so bravely alongside me against Huyan Wuzhu.”

Yuan Li smiled faintly. “As I mentioned before, wounded soldiers have many roles to play, one of which is to send them deep into the grassroots level, enabling us to control every corner of Youzhou.”

This was equivalent to providing employment opportunities for disabled soldiers.

Of course, they could do more than just becoming information gatherers at the grassroots level. They could also become village chiefs or minor officials. Yuan Li would teach them literacy and knowledge, hoping that these disabled soldiers could pass on this knowledge to the common people, starting from the grassroots level.

Yuan Li didn’t expect the common people to gain profound knowledge, but he hoped that they could at least learn to read a few characters, even if it was just “one, two, three, four, five, six, seven.”

This was a secret ambition that Yuan Li had never shared with anyone.

He wanted to break the monopoly of scholarly knowledge held by the literati over the common people. He wanted to enlighten the people, transform the selection system from a local recommendation system to an imperial examination system, and provide the common people with a ladder to success, allowing those arrogant literati who cared nothing for human life to lose their privileges.

But this goal had to be achieved gradually.

He continued, “There are many Hu people in Youzhou, and the majority of them have already intermarried and assimilated into the Northern Zhou population. We cannot expel this portion of the population from Youzhou. However, there are still some spies and assassins among them. I want to send lightly wounded disabled soldiers to infiltrate their ranks and investigate from the bottom up, gradually identifying those with suspicious identities throughout Youzhou.”

“And there’s also the matter with Cai Ji,” Yuan Li sighed. He had woven the willow branch in his hand into a makeshift wreath and placed it on Chu Hechao’s head. Worriedly, he said, “Look, Cai Ji might know some of the information that has come from Luoyang. We’re both high-ranking generals, yet we know nothing.”

Chu Hechao, with his handsome appearance and a hint of masculinity, looked somewhat amusing with the wreath of green leaves on his head. His lips twitched, and he took off the wreath and placed it on Yuan Li’s head. “We also have our people in Luoyang.”

Yuan Li’s eyes lit up, and he immediately lowered his voice to ask, “Who are our people?”

Chu Hechao glanced at him lazily. “Why should I tell you?”

Yuan Li replied, “…”

He turned and walked away.

Chu Hechao quickly caught up, wrapping his arm around Yuan Li’s shoulder and teased, “Are you angry?”

Yuan Li kept a straight face and didn’t smile.

Chu Hechao stood up and looked around. Not seeing anyone nearby, he embraced Yuan Li from behind, his broad back bending, chin resting on Yuan Li’s shoulder. He whispered softly, “Are you pretending to be angry again?”

His breath brushed against Yuan Li’s cheek and neck, causing goosebumps to rise. Yuan Li couldn’t maintain a facade of anger and burst into laughter. He turned his head, trying to avoid Chu Hechao’s head, which was tickling him, and said, “It’s too itchy, please get up.”

Chu Hechao chuckled softly, then kissed Yuan Li’s neck.

By evening, Chu Hechao had some stubble, which pricked and tickled.

The wreath made of grass was lopsided and about to fall off. Chu Hechao grabbed it and placed it back on Yuan Li’s head.

Yuan Li looked at Chu Hechao earnestly. “I want to see you wearing it.”

Chu Hechao’s eyelid twitched, but he acted as if he hadn’t heard. “What?”

“Wear the wreath,” Yuan Li suppressed a smile, making a disappointed expression. “When we were at the county magistrate’s residence, you said I could have anything I wanted…”

Veins bulged on Chu Hechao’s forehead, and after a while, he gritted his teeth and said, “Give it to me.”

The young man, who had been disappointed a moment ago, immediately smiled and adjusted the wreath. Unsatisfied, he hurriedly picked a few red and yellow wildflowers from the roadside and added them to the wreath.

Chu Hechao watched helplessly as the wreath became increasingly adorned with flowers, swallowing his frustration.

Finally, Yuan Li was satisfied and placed the wreath on Chu Hechao’s head.

At that moment, Chu Hechao became calm, his eyes fixed on Yuan Li. “Are you happy now?”

Yuan Li nodded.

Chu Hechao felt relieved, rubbed Yuan Li’s hand, and smiled discreetly. “Being my wife, are you happier than being Chu Mingfeng’s wife?”

Yuan Li said, “Actually, with Chu Mingfeng…”

Chu Hechao’s brow furrowed, his smile vanished, and a gloomy expression crossed his face. “Don’t mention him to me.”

Yuan Li: “…”

Chu Hechao touched Yuan Li’s face, his expression softening. “Alright, I don’t care about him anymore, and you shouldn’t think about him either. From now on, he’ll either be your late husband or your elder brother. Come on, lower your head and call the people in the ground ‘elder brother.'”

Yuan Li thought he was joking, but Chu Hechao’s expression was serious. After thinking for a moment, he decided to make the man happy and silently apologized to Chu Mingfeng in his heart. He lowered his head and called out, “Elder brother.”

Chu Mingfeng, I’m sorry.

It seems like I’ve influenced your younger brother to not be straight.

But I’ve been influenced too.

Are we even now?

Chu Hechao became happy, caressing Yuan Li’s neck, and kissed him again. “Good boy.”

Yuan Li was covered in sweat from the affectionate gestures, and his mouth felt dry. He blinked slowly, pushed the man away, and said, “We still haven’t finished discussing something. If we have our people in Luoyang, will they send us information during major events?”

“They will,” Chu Hechao replied absentmindedly. After pondering for a while, he continued, “Although my father is not involved in court affairs, he has colleagues who are. Chu Mingfeng also has many followers. If there is truly an important matter, they will surely send a message to me.”

Yuan Li mused, “Perhaps they have already sent a message, but they believe you are in the Northern Frontier and have sent the message there.”

Chu Hechao remained calm. “No need to rush. We’ll wait patiently for the news. As for sending wounded soldiers to infiltrate the grassroots level, I believe you can arrange it properly. Do what you want to do.”

The two of them strolled for a whole half hour. After circling the lake, they leisurely left the woods.

Once they were out of the woods, their joined hands separated, leaving a gap wide enough for another person to stand in between.

Yuan Li clenched his fist, his palm damp with sweat.

He caught a glimpse of Chu Hechao and the man seemed to sense something, looking over at him. 

Their gazes collided, and Chu Hechao tugged at his lips, revealing a smile. 

In the estate, their rooms were next to each other. As they walked towards their rooms, they could see Yuan Dan pacing anxiously in front of Yuan Li’s door from a distance. 

Yuan Li felt curious and quickened his pace, calling out, “Wen Han?” 

Seeing them return, Yuan Dan’s face lit up with joy. He quickly took a few steps forward and held Yuan Li’s hand, excitedly saying, “Le Jun, you’re finally back!” 

Chu Hechao glanced at their joined hands for a moment, then withdrew his gaze as if he hadn’t seen anything. 

Yuan Li gently patted Yuan Dan’s hand to soothe him and calmly asked, “Don’t be anxious, what happened?” 

“It’s good news! Great news!” Yuan Dan’s face was flushed, and his words sounded somewhat erratic, indicating his excitement had reached a certain level. “Cui Yan has made a repeating crossbow! It can fire continuously and has much greater firepower than a bow and arrow!”

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