After Being Abducted by the General Chapter 82

Chapter 82

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Emperor Jianyuan is not good?

Yuan Li suddenly realized, “No wonder…”

No wonder Cai Ji was in such a rush to transport wealth and property out of the mansion. It turns out he also knew that Emperor Jianyuan was dying.

With the death of Emperor Jianyuan, chaos would ensue in the world. He was afraid that they would seek revenge for his previous actions.

Yuan Li said to Chu Hechao, “Cai Ji is planning to run away.”

Chu Hechao responded coldly, “Let him run. He’s just a worm. With or without him, it makes no difference.”

Yuan Li nodded. “Once he’s gone, I can easily appoint a new governor for Guangyang County.”

After saying that, he fell into contemplation.

Chu Hechao pinched his face. “What are you thinking?”

“I’m thinking about what to do with our parents,” Yuan Li vaguely said, patting his hand.

His parents were in Ruyang County, a day’s journey away from Luoyang. If there was a rebellion in Luoyang or any major event occurred, his parents would have some time to prepare. But Chu Hechao and the Chu family were in Luoyang, and Chu Hechao commanded a large army of 130,000 in the northern frontier of Youzhou. No matter who the new ruler was, they wouldn’t easily let Chu Hechao’s parents leave. They would use Chu Hechao’s parents to control him.

Yuan Li was worried about Chu Wang and Lady Yang, but seeing Chu Hechao’s calm demeanor as he drank with others, he guessed that Chu Wang must have given him some assurance.

Sure enough, Chu Hechao casually said, “They will leave Luoyang before the emperor’s departure and rush to Youzhou with your parents.”

Yuan Li exclaimed, “Will my parents come along as well?”

“That’s right,” Chu Hechao pinched the back of his neck. “You are far away in Youzhou and have made significant contributions. If chaos erupts in the world, there might be people who would take your parents hostage to threaten you. Moreover, both the Yuan family and the Chu family are now on the same side. If my parents escape, it is likely to implicate your parents.”

Yuan Li nodded thoughtfully and sighed. “I’m afraid my father won’t be willing to come.”

Ruyang County was their stronghold and had cost Yuan Song countless efforts. It was likely that only when Ruyang was affected and chaos truly broke out, then Yuan Song would come.

He hoped his parents would be persuaded to come to Youzhou. Just in case, he would send a letter to his family tomorrow.

Chu Hechao pinched the back of his neck again and informed him about the situation in Luoyang.

After Emperor Jianyuan fell seriously ill, the outside relatives of the emperor, and the eunuchs in the palace began to stir. They had multiple disputes and each wanted to support a puppet prince to contend for the throne after Emperor Jianyuan’s death.

Emperor Jianyuan had few children. He had only three princes, and the eldest prince, who should have been the best candidate to succeed, had died before Emperor Jianyuan’s illness.

Externally, it was said that he died of illness, but everyone knew the truth. They just didn’t know if the death of the eldest prince was orchestrated by the relatives or the eunuchs. The remaining two princes were only twelve and seven years old, and they couldn’t stabilize the turbulent Northern Zhou.

They would inevitably become pawns in the power struggle between the relatives and the eunuchs.

After hearing all this, Yuan Li became somewhat depressed and fell silent.

Chu Hechao sensed his unease and asked, “What’s wrong?”

Yuan Li remained silent.

Chu Hechao firmly lifted his chin. “Say something.”

Yuan Li slowly said, “I feel a bit uncomfortable.”

Chu Hechao frowned and suddenly stretched out his arms, pulling the young man onto his body and coaxed, “If you feel uncomfortable, give me a kiss.”

Yuan Li: “…”

Chu Hechao exclaimed, “Why are you pinching me again?”

Yuan Li couldn’t be bothered to deal with him.

The man’s hand rubbed Yuan Li’s back, over and over again, lazily satisfied. His voice was lazy but content, “Tell me, what’s bothering you.”

“It’s my grandfather…” Yuan Li buried his face in Chu Hechao’s neck, his voice muffled. “He didn’t have to die.”

If he had known that Emperor Jianyuan would pass away this year, if he had known… if he had known…

But no one could have known.

When he learned that his grandfather was sacrificing himself for him and the family, Yuan Li felt heavy and oppressed, unable to shed tears. But now, his eyes were moist, wetting a patch of Chu Hechao’s clothes on his shoulder.

He didn’t have to die.

The most painful thing for a person is not the heavy burden of death but realizing that they died so insignificantly despite sacrificing for their family.

Chu Hechao felt Yuan Li’s silent tears, and his rough fingers touched the back of Yuan Li’s head and forehead, wiping away his tears.

“Don’t cry,” he kissed Yuan Li’s hair, “Your crying makes my heart ache.”

It truly hurt, throbbing with pain.

Yuan Li, comforted by him, found it even harder to stop his tears. He buried his head and held the man tightly.

After a while, the man sighed and his voice was low and gentle. “When we return to Ruyang in the future, I’ll accompany you to pay respects at your grandfather’s grave, okay?”

Yuan Li had regained his composure, but now he was entering the awkward stage after an emotional breakdown. He felt the dampness of his face on Chu Hechao’s clothes and his face flushed. He silently nodded.

Chu Hechao said, “Good boy.”

Yuan Li trembled. “…You’re being too intimate.”

Being intimate is ‘being mushy’ in the current modern era.

Chu Hechao blushed and looked embarrassed. “Can’t I be intimate with my wife?”

Yuan Li looked at him as if he was about to lose his temper then decided, okay, it’s fine, and wiped his tears on him again.

Chu Hechao glanced at him, complaining, “How did you get snot on me as well?”

Yuan Li earnestly said, “I didn’t have any snot.”

Chu Hechao perfunctorily replied, “Mmm, if you say you didn’t, then you didn’t. That snot is mine.”

Yuan Li’s hand became itchy. “There wasn’t any to begin with.”

Chu Hechao pressed his face down and kissed him, saying, “It’s alright. Even if there was snot, I would still like it.”

Yuan Li: “…..”

He was so angry that he kicked Chu Hechao off the bed.


The next day, Yuan Li called upon Liu Jixin and Zhou Gongdan, two advisors, to discuss the matter of Cai Ji planning to escape from Youzhou.

Upon hearing this, Liu Jixin pondered for a moment and asked, “Lord, do you intend to let him go or…”

Without hesitation, Yuan Li said, “Kill him.”

After the warning bells struck by Xiao Ce, Yuan Li understood clearly that he couldn’t show mercy towards sources of trouble.

Cai Ji was such a source of trouble.

If he were allowed to escape today, who knew what calamities he might cause in the future?

If killing him alone could avert uncertain disasters, Yuan Li would not hesitate to sacrifice him.

“He knows too much about Youzhou,” Yuan Li said calmly. “He has been the magistrate of Youzhou’s Guangyang Commandery for decades and has a thorough understanding of Youzhou. Moreover, whether it’s potatoes, cotton, or the dispatching of our troops to suppress bandits in Yanzhou, he knows at least some information. He might even be aware of the details regarding the Thunderbolt Cannon I developed and the heavy rain in April. If he decides to use this knowledge against us, it would be detrimental to us.”

Liu Jixin, who had witnessed Yuan Li’s growth, was astonished and gratified by his rapid progress. He lowered his head and said, “Lord, your thoughts align with mine.”

Zhou Gongdan also agreed, “If possible, it would be best to prevent him from leaving Youzhou alive. However, my lord, you must not act hastily. Cai Ji is not alone; he has the support of the Cai family. The Cai family is a renowned aristocratic clan, and the current highest-ranking official among their main branch is the Head of the Imperial Secretariat, Cai Yi. There are also erudite scholars in their ancestral lineage who have reached high positions, even as high as the Three Excellencies. They have numerous disciples, and the Cai family has marital ties with many influential families and clans. If we were to simply send people to pursue and kill a county magistrate, once this matter becomes known, it would ultimately be of no benefit to us.”

Yuan Li smiled, “Wenning is right.”

The three of them discussed the matter further and determined how to kill Cai Ji.

They decided to pretend to let Cai Ji escape, but after he left Youzhou, they would disguise themselves as White Rice Gang members or brigands and kill Cai Ji on the way.

On the evening of the second day, Zhao Ying reported to Yuan Li that Cai Ji had fallen ill.

According to Zhao Ying’s investigation, the magistrate’s residence was closed and no longer received guests, but the transportation of goods to the outskirts of Ji County continued every night.

This further confirmed Yuan Li’s suspicion that Cai Ji had intentions to escape. He ordered Zhao Ying to keep an eye on Cai Ji and inform him immediately if Cai Ji left Ji County with his family.

Zhao Ying closely monitored the situation, but for three consecutive days, only goods were continuously transported while Cai Ji himself remained confined due to illness, never leaving the residence.

After three days, Yuan Li began to feel that something was amiss. He informed Chu Hechao, and the two of them, along with their guards, went directly to the magistrate’s residence to “visit” Cai Ji. However, upon breaking in, they were surprised to find that Cai Ji had long since escaped.

Only some servants and female family members were left in the residence.

After interrogation, they learned that Cai Ji had received the news when Guan Zhihuai first arrived in Ji County. He had suspected that Chu Hechao and Yuan Li might have received news of the emperor’s deteriorating condition. That very night, he decided to leave Ji County in advance, feigning illness and continuing to transport goods outside Ji County to create the appearance of his presence.

Cai Ji had been the magistrate of Youzhou for decades, and he couldn’t underestimate the spies lurking in Youzhou. He was not a fool who valued money and possessions more than his life. He knew that preserving his life was paramount, so when he sensed danger, he decisively abandoned his remaining wealth and the family members he couldn’t take with him, and escaped.

Yuan Li’s face darkened. He sent Wang Er to pursue Cai Ji.

But deep down, he knew that three days had already passed since Cai Ji’s escape. No matter how fast Wang Er was, he couldn’t catch up now. It was likely that Cai Ji had already left the borders of Youzhou.

He had underestimated Cai Ji after all. A person who could serve as a county magistrate in the chaotic Youzhou for over fifty years couldn’t be without some means.

Upon returning, he called the advisors to inform them of the situation.

In the study, Liu Jixin and Zhou Gongdan sat below, their expressions slightly solemn as they contemplated the matter.

Yuan Li sat at the head, calm once again. He took a sip of tea and asked the two advisors, “Do you have any ideas?”

Liu Jixin asked, “My Lord, do you know where Cai Ji has fled?”

Yuan Li nodded, “Among the family members he abandoned in Ji County, there is one of his concubines. Cai Ji once mentioned to her that he would escape to Yizhou and seek refuge with the Governor of Yizhou, Wu Shanshi.”

Liu Jixin was slightly surprised, “Wu Shanshi is not a easy person to associate with. He is a descendant of the Wu family in Runan. He has a reputation for being magnanimous and respectful of talented individuals. He is highly esteemed, and scholars like to seek refuge with him.”

Yuan Li had also heard of Wu Shanshi’s name. Wu Shanshi was an extraordinary hero who openly criticized the eunuchs during the time when eunuchs wreaked havoc among scholars. He stated, “If there is a eunuch sitting next to me, it is like having flies in my food. I would rather cut off the seat and robe, never associating with them.” As a result, he incurred the wrath of the eunuchs and was exiled from the central government to a local position. However, he gained the support and admiration of many scholars.

He had a fondness for forming relationships with heroic scholars and had connections throughout the country. The Wu family of Runan was one of the wealthiest aristocratic families of the time. If Yuan Li was considered a commoner scholar, then Wu Shanshi represented the elite lineage. Once great chaos erupted and armies were raised, Wu Shanshi would undoubtedly receive support and allegiance from the majority of the aristocratic families.

Yuan Li admired, “I have heard of his reputation. He is a hero of his time.”

“However,” Zhou Gongdan stood up and smiled, “this person is not without flaws. My lord, Wu Shanshi may appear magnanimous on the surface, but he is overly suspicious. Due to his family background and reputation, many people seek refuge with him, and there are countless advisors around him. While this can be a good thing, he is easily swayed by differing opinions. Whenever he encounters disagreements among subordinates, he hesitates and cannot make a decisive choice. By the time he can make up his mind, it is already past the optimal time for decision-making. Furthermore, he is also ambitious and likes to boast about his achievements, which are his two weaknesses.”

Liu Jixin sighed and said, “But his family background is enough to compensate for these flaws. He is a formidable enemy, and if Cai Ji seeks refuge with him, it could be problematic.”

Zhou Gongdan nodded and smiled faintly, saying, “Exactly, it is because of this that Gongdan has a brilliant plan to offer.” 

Yuan Li raised an eyebrow and asked, “Oh?” 

Zhou Gongdan deeply bowed to Yuan Li and declared in a loud voice, “Gongdan is willing to go to Yizhou and pretend to seek refuge with Wu Shanshi!” 

Upon hearing this, Yuan Li and Liu Jixin were somewhat surprised. 

“Wen Ning, you want to pretend to seek refuge with Wu Shanshi?” Yuan Li quickly put down his teacup, his expression serious. “This is not a matter to be taken lightly! If Wu Shanshi discovers your true intentions, you will have no place to bury yourself!” 

Seeing that Yuan Li’s immediate reaction was concern for his safety, Zhou Gongdan couldn’t help but feel grateful. He smiled with a composed expression, “Please rest assured, my lord. I have a plan in mind. Gongdan is just an insignificant pawn. Even if Wu Shanshi is formidable, he has only heard of your name. How could he pay attention to an inconspicuous strategist from your side?”

Liu Jixin pondered for a moment, realizing that this idea was indeed good. However, a thought crossed his mind—”What if Cai Ji recognizes you?” 

Zhou Gongdan laughed heartily and teased, “Chang Yue, you worry too much. If Cai Ji can genuinely seek refuge with Wu Shanshi, then wouldn’t it make sense for me, who has only been with you for a month, to also seek refuge with him.” 

After speaking, he changed his tone, “If Cai Ji truly knows me, then I wouldn’t need to explain much. If Wu Shanshi learns that I come from your side, whether he suspects me or feels proud that he can win over talented individuals from your side, he will pay more attention to me. As long as I perform well, I will quickly stand out among Wu Shanshi’s group of advisors and gain his trust.” 

Liu Jixin contemplated for a moment, realizing that this idea was feasible but still harbored some worries. What if Zhou Gongdan genuinely joins Wu Shanshi? What should we do then? 

Zhou Gongdan knew more than Cai Ji did. Liu Jixin couldn’t help but scrutinize Zhou Gongdan, keeping silent.

Liu Jixin always prioritized caution and considered every step, weighing the risks. Zhou Gongdan’s idea was good, but it was also prone to unexpected outcomes.

On the other hand, Yuan Li, without hesitation, rose from his seat and grasped Zhou Gongdan’s arm, saying sincerely, “Since Wen Ning proposes this, I will entrust this matter to you. Wen Ning, be cautious on your journey. Regardless of success or failure, your safety is the priority, and I eagerly await the day of your safe return.”

As Zhou Gongdan saw Yuan Li trust him without hesitation, he felt deeply moved. He bowed deeply once again, “Please rest assured, my lord. I will not disappoint your trust.”

Yuan Li patted his shoulder. 

Zhou Gongdan continued, “Before I go, I would like two things from you, my lord.” 

Yuan Li: “Speak.” 

“One is non-plantable potatoes, and the other is a small box of cotton,” Zhou Gongdan smiled. “With just these two items, no matter what Cai Ji says, I can make Wu Shanshi trust me.” 

Yuan Li immediately said, “Alright, I will have someone prepare these two items for you.” 

Zhou Gongdan looked deeply at Yuan Li and once again lifted his robe, kneeling down. “Please rest assured, my lord. If I ever betray your trust, let me cough up blood and die without a burial place.” 

Yuan Li helped him up, frowning as he softly scolded, “What kind of talk is that? Since I trust you, I naturally won’t doubt you. Wen Ning, go ahead, and whether this matter succeeds or not, I only wish for your safe return.” 

Zhou Gongdan took a deep breath and said, “Yes.” 

After Zhou Gongdan left, Liu Jixin expressed some concerns. “My lord, if Zhou Gongdan truly surrenders to Wu Shanshi, then…” 

Yuan Li shook his head and watched Zhou Gongdan’s figure gradually disappear into the distance. “Chang Yue, I know what you’re going to say. But I also understand the principle of not using people with suspicion and using people without suspicion. I still have that level of judgment. If I truly misjudged him, I am not afraid of the consequences of failure.” 

In history, which heroes and great men were not without their worries and failures? 

By sending Zhou Gongdan to Yizhou, there was a fifty percent chance of success in this matter. Since there was a fifty percent chance, Yuan Li dared to take the risk. 

At worst, if he failed, he would only be sending some information to Wu Shanshi. By sending this information, he could expose a lurking threat. In Yuan Li’s eyes, it would be a beneficial outcome. 

Seeing Yuan Li’s resolve, Liu Jixin hesitated for a moment and felt that compared to Yuan Li, he was truly a small-minded person. He smiled, shook his head, and let out a sigh. “My lord, I admire your broad-mindedness.” 

Yuan Li laughed. 

In the following two days, to prevent any incidents from occurring due to the passage of time, Zhou Gongdan quickly packed his belongings. On this morning, he bid farewell to Yuan Li and the others, and with his horse, he hurriedly set off for Yizhou. 

Yuan Li, Liu Jixin, and the others watched as his figure gradually disappeared into the white mist. 

Liu Jixin’s heart was filled with complexity. He sighed softly and thought, “Zhou Gongdan, I hope you don’t disappoint our lord’s trust.”

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