Zhang Liangdong and Yuan Li hadn’t seen each other for a long time, and they talked about many things. As they talked, they mentioned Zhan Qibo.
Whenever Zhan Qibo was mentioned, it would lead to Zhan Shaoning, who had escaped. Zhang Liangdong’s expression became complicated, and he sighed, “Shaoning fled from Luoyang, and I don’t know where he went. I’ve been worried about him, but at that time, I didn’t have the means to help him. Now that turmoil has erupted in the world again, the late Emperor has already forgotten about Zhan Qibo’s family. I only hope that he is safe and alive.”
Due to Zhan Shaoning’s special status, Yuan Li didn’t mention in his letters that he had taken in Zhan Shaoning. He was worried that the letters would be intercepted after they were sent to Luoyang. Therefore, Zhang Liangdong still didn’t know that Zhan Shaoning was in Youzhou.
Upon hearing this, Yuan Li called someone over and whispered a few words.
Zhang Liangdong thought he had some instructions, but to his surprise, after a moment, he heard someone behind him say, “Le Jun? I’m here!”
Zhang Liangdong widened his eyes in disbelief and stood up, turning around. He saw Zhan Shaoning also looking at him in astonishment.
“Lord Zhang…” Zhan Shaoning murmured.
Zhang Liangdong never expected to see Zhan Shaoning here. After the initial shock, his eyes were already moist, and he trembled as he beckoned Zhan Shaoning, “Shaoning, come here quickly. Let me have a look at you.”
Zhan Shaoning glanced at Yuan Li in confusion. After Yuan Li nodded at him with a smile, Zhan Shaoning hesitantly walked up to Zhang Liangdong.
Zhang Liangdong carefully examined his face. Zhan Shaoning had matured a lot since a year ago. In the past year and a half, both Zhan Shaoning and Yuan Li had grown out of their carefree youth.
As Zhang Liangdong looked at Zhan Shaoning’s face, he seemed to see the face of his good friend Zhan Qibo. His heart ached with sorrow, and choking back tears, he said, “Good, good child. I didn’t expect you to come to Youzhou too. Your uncle can finally rest assured knowing that you’re safe.”
Zhan Shaoning’s eyes became slightly moist, but he quickly regained his composure. He said calmly, “I also want to thank the Governor for taking me in. It allowed me to meet you properly here.”
“Good, you are all good children,” Zhang Liangdong turned around and held Yuan Li’s hand, crying and laughing. “Tonight, none of you are allowed to leave! Stay here and have dinner with me, and let’s talk properly!”
Zhan Shaoning agreed with a nod, but Yuan Li hesitated for a moment.
He thought of Chu Hechao but eventually nodded under Zhang Liangdong’s hopeful gaze. However, he sent someone to inform Chu Hechao afterward while Zhan Shaoning and Zhang Liangdong chatted and laughed.
Yuan Li didn’t get involved in their reunion and instead chatted with Xiang Hongyun on the side.
The more they talked, the more surprised they became. Yuan Li and Xiang Hongyun shared many similar ideas and thoughts, giving them a sense of having met too late.
Yuan Li was astonished.
His soul came from the future, so it was expected that his ideas would be novel. But Xiang Hongyun, a true man of the ancient era, had ideas that were too advanced and difficult for contemporary people to understand. They ranged from markets, trade, water conservancy, and encompassed everything from agriculture to handicrafts and commerce. He had a comprehensive plan.
This plan was like Shang Yang’s reforms, with forward-thinking and even somewhat radical thoughts. However, Yuan Li saw many bright spots in his ideas, despite their immaturity and flaws. It was indeed a good method.
It could be said that if Xiang Hongyun’s reforms were implemented in the weak and impoverished Northern Zhou, it could at least help them endure for another twenty years.
Yuan Li greatly appreciated his ideas and praised Xiang Hongyun as a “capable minister for governing the world.” Xiang Hongyun humbly expressed his unworthiness.
Normally, Xiang Hongyun’s ideas were not understood by anyone, and he was accustomed to keeping them to himself. But with Yuan Li’s guidance and praise, Xiang Hongyun found himself speaking more and more, inadvertently expressing everything he had been thinking.
It was only at that moment that he suddenly realized what he had done and tightly closed his mouth, refusing to say another word.
Seeing this scene, Zhang Liangdong couldn’t help but burst into laughter. He said to Yuan Li, “My disciple is usually a man of few words. Today, he has said more to you than he has said to me throughout the entire journey.”
Yuan Li laughed and retorted, “Teacher Zhang, are you finding it strange?”
Zhang Liangdong scolded with a smile, “What am I finding strange! Yuan Le Jun, let me tell you, my disciple admires Wu Shanshi, and he wants to be Wu Shanshi’s strategist!”
Xiang Hongyun smiled without saying a word, curious to see Yuan Li’s reaction.
Yuan Li raised an eyebrow and calmly said, “Wu Shanshi is indeed a hero. If the young gentleman seeks refuge with him, it wouldn’t be a waste of his talents.”
Xiang Hongyun found it interesting. “Is that all the Governor has to say?”
Yuan Li smiled faintly and said, “If the young gentleman wants to hear more from me, I certainly have more to say. But if I were to discuss the disadvantages of the young gentleman seeking refuge with Wu Shanshi, I can provide you with three points.”
Xiang Hongyun bowed respectfully, eagerly listening.
“First, Wu Shanshi is a provincial governor with numerous advisers. Wei Ji, Mi Tai, Wang Yun, and others from the Ru Nan gentry have already occupied prominent positions among the advisers. They and Wu Shanshi are all from Ru Nan, so they will naturally exclude scholars from other regions like you,” Yuan Li summarized concisely. “Second, Wu Shanshi himself dislikes change and has a conservative and traditional personality, which is completely incompatible with your ideas.”
Xiang Hongyun listened attentively, showing a pensive expression.
“And third…” Yuan Li smiled faintly, “You have already become Lord Zhang’s disciple and came to Youzhou together with him. If you seek refuge with Wu Shanshi, do you think he and his advisers will believe in you?”
Xiang Hongyun calmly replied, “They will certainly not believe.”
Yuan Li laughed, then shifted his tone and said, “But these three points are not the most important. The most important thing is your own thoughts. If you truly want to go, who can stop you?”
These words left Xiang Hongyun stunned for a moment before sincerely responding, “You are broad-minded, Sir.”
Yuan Li now had a considerable number of people under his command. Although he still lacked personnel, it wasn’t as dire as before, and he didn’t need to forcefully keep people in Youzhou for this matter. He shook his head with a smile and joked, “Sending away a talented person feels like something is missing in my heart, but it’s just a show of generosity.”
After the laughter and banter, it was getting late, and they moved to the dining hall to have their meal.
In the estate.
Chu Hechao returned home with wood shavings and branches, throwing a white python he had caught in the mountains to a servant. “Put it in a cage and keep it properly.”
The servant was frightened and held the snake, trembling, and said, “General, there is no cage in the estate to keep the snake!”
“Then put it in a bucket,” Chu Hechao swept his eyes over, his imposing manner intimidating. “Do I have to teach you everything?”
The servant quickly withdrew.
Yang Gonggong, who was serving him, sighed with a bitter face. “General, why did you bring these things back again?”
The general’s habit of catching wild beasts and bringing them home hadn’t changed.
Chu Hechao pretended not to hear and walked briskly to his room. Among the guards behind him, six or seven men carried a blood-stained, massive black bear. Chu Hechao instructed them to place the bear in front of Yuan Li’s door and knocked on the door. “Le Jun?”
No one responded from inside.
Chu Hechao frowned and turned to ask, “Where is the Governor?”
The servant replied, “The Governor went to Lord Zhang’s residence for a meal. He told you not to wait for him tonight.”
“Lord Zhang?” Chu Hechao narrowed his eyes. “Which Lord Zhang?”
“It’s the scholar Zhang Liangdong.”
Zhang Liangdong has arrived?
Chu Hechao pondered for a moment, changed his clothes in his room, and had someone lead the way to Zhang Liangdong’s residence.
Yuan Li and Zhang Liangdong were drinking when someone came to report that the Grand General had arrived.
Zhang Liangdong was surprised and delighted. “Quick, please invite him in. Hahaha, an old man like me is also gaining face. On the first day in Youzhou, the Governor personally welcomed me, and now the Grand General visits my home. I can die without regrets.”
“Who is dying?” a voice came from outside, and a tall man walked in with flowing robes. After scanning the dining hall, he looked at Zhang Liangdong, and the corners of his lips twitched. “On the first day in Youzhou, why are you saying such disappointing words?”
Zhang Liangdong was helped up and looked at Chu Hechao up and down. After a while, he exclaimed in amazement, “General, you are becoming more imposing.”
Chu Hechao nodded slightly at him and then turned to Yuan Li, his expression unchanged. “I heard from my household servant that you came to visit Lord Zhang. Upon hearing that Lord Zhang has arrived in Youzhou, I also came to see him.”
Upon hearing this, Zhang Liangdong was deeply moved and felt even more ashamed. “When you came to the capital for grain, I was avoiding you everywhere. I never expected that you would come to visit me in person after learning that I had arrived in Youzhou. Please sit down quickly and have a drink with this old man.”
Servants brought low tables and food, and Chu Hechao lifted his robes and sat next to Yuan Li.
Yuan Li noticed the wood shavings on his hair and whispered, “Did you rush over after returning home?”
Chu Hechao replied with a rare smile, “How did you know?”
Yuan Li’s smile became mysterious, “I calculated it.”
Just as the words fell, Zhang Liangdong asked, “Where did the Grand General come from? Why do you still have wood shavings on your head?”
Yuan Li twitched his mouth, feeling helpless.
Chu Hechao glanced at Yuan Li with a smile that seemed like a smirk, then replied, “I went to the mountains and just returned.”
They enjoyed the meal, with Zhang Liangdong and Zhan Shaoning eventually sobbing with their heads in their hands. Yuan Li watched with deep emotions, drinking cup after cup of bitter wine, and feeling slightly intoxicated.
Chu Hechao didn’t say much, occasionally picking up his chopsticks and eating a few bites of food.
After the meal, it was already dark outside. Yuan Li and Chu Hechao bid farewell to Zhang Liangdong and started their journey back. Along the way, Yuan Li gradually felt dizzy and disoriented.
He rubbed his temples with a headache, gradually losing consciousness. Could it be that the low-alcohol drinks in this ancient era could actually make him drunk?
But then he thought, he hadn’t really had more than a few drinks in his previous life. It seemed understandable.
Chu Hechao keenly noticed that something was wrong with Yuan Li and called out, “Yuan Li?”
Yuan Li looked up at him dazedly, a rosy flush on his face. “Hmm?”
Chu Hechao felt an itch in his palm and asked, “Are you drunk?”
Yuan Li instinctively replied, “I’m not drunk.”
Chu Hechao muttered to himself, “This is truly being drunk.”
He looked around and crouched down, with his back facing Yuan Li. “Get on.”
Yuan Li, in a dazed state, stared at the person crouching in front of him.
A broad back, tight clothing accentuating powerful thighs—familiar and reliable. He stared for a while before crawling onto Chu Hechao’s back.
Chu Hechao lifted him up and stood, motioning for his guards to keep their distance. Step by step, he carried Yuan Li towards the estate.
Yuan Li furrowed his brows. “This alcohol isn’t good.”
Chu Hechao chuckled. “If it’s not good, why did you drink it?”
Yuan Li sighed. “You don’t understand the intricacies of social etiquette among adults.”
“Kid, be careful what you say,” Chu Hechao’s tone turned dangerous. “Take a look at who is in front of you.”
Yuan Li mumbled hazily, “My boyfriend.”
Chu Hechao didn’t understand the term. “What does ‘boyfriend’ mean?”
Yuan Li furrowed his brows, thinking, How can you not even know this? “I don’t want to deal with you.”
Chu Hechao chuckled, stopped walking, and threatened, “Explain it to me.”
The response he received was the sound of Yuan Li’s sleeping breath.
Helpless, Chu Hechao had no choice but to continue walking.
The night grew darker. After an unknown amount of time, Yuan Li suddenly woke up and realized he was still on Chu Hechao’s back.
“Why haven’t we arrived yet?” He peered ahead into the darkness and rubbed against Chu Hechao’s neck.
Chu Hechao spoke quickly.
Yuan Li responded with an “Oh” and suddenly said, “Brother, don’t feel bad.”
Chu Hechao was startled and replied hoarsely, “How do you know I feel bad?”
“It’s been days since you kissed me.” Yuan Li stated bluntly.
Chu Hechao laughed helplessly. “I’ll kiss you when we get back. Today, I killed a black bear in the mountains and caught a rare white snake. I’ll take you to see them when you wake up tomorrow.”
“Okay,” Yuan Li suddenly became excited. “Is it the White Snake Lady?”
Chu Hechao didn’t understand the term Yuan Li used and casually appeased him, “Yes, yes, it’s the White Snake Lady.”
Yuan Li’s eyes darkened, and he suddenly tightened his grip around Chu Hechao’s neck. A murderous intent appeared on his face. “How can you save the White Snake Lady? What if she comes to seek gratitude from you?”
Chu Hechao coughed twice and soothed him, “Then should I kill her?”
Yuan Li worriedly replied, “But what if she comes for revenge against us?”
Chu Hechao’s temple throbbed, finding it difficult to take care of a drunk spouse. Killing wouldn’t work, and not killing wouldn’t work either. How was he supposed to handle this? “Then what do you suggest?”
Yuan Li frowned, thinking for a while, and suddenly felt nauseous. He spoke slowly, “I think I’m going to vomit.”
Chu Hechao’s expression slightly changed. “Don’t vomit on me.”
He immediately put Yuan Li down and supported him against the wall, allowing him to vomit. After a while, Yuan Li looked up pitifully. “I don’t feel like vomiting anymore.”
Chu Hechao sighed and lifted Yuan Li again. “I’ve never been so accommodating to someone in my life.”
Yuan Li chuckled and wrapped his arms around Chu Hechao’s neck. The drowsiness washed over him once more, and soon he fell asleep again.
Chu Hechao jostled the person on his back, ensuring they were secure, and steadily carried Yuan Li back to the estate.
Can’t wait until next week to see more? Want to show your support? Come to my Patreon where you can get up to 5 more chapters of After Being Abducted by the General right away or get access to early chapters of all the available BL novels translated by Lazy Girl T! Go donate at Paypal or Ko-fi to show your appreciation! :)