After collecting his thoughts, he gently hooked his hand onto the collar that Chu Xie had been pressing, and his voice softened a bit, “I’ll help you take a look.”
However, his long neck stiffened for a moment, and he stood up, taking a few steps back while putting on his outer garment. He said, “You asked me to dress like a Northern Xiongnu, and I agreed to it. What’s this? Pushing the boundaries?”
“Hmm, it looks very good.”
Huchi Er responded somewhat insincerely, sounding as if he wasn’t too sincere.
Chu Xie mimicked a hmm and didn’t dare to resist further. He silently adjusted his felt hat and prepared to leave the tent. However, when he went outside, he noticed that several soldiers who had been gathered around the campfire had knocked over their wine bowls. A few of those nearby glanced at him, and their eyes widened.
He raised an eyebrow, thinking of finding a corner to warm himself by the fire when suddenly Huchi Er followed him out and, with his hand around Chu Xie’s waist, pulled him back into the dimly lit tent.
Outside, there were hushed whispers mixed with the crackling of the campfire, but Chu Xie couldn’t make out what was being said.
“Tonight, get some rest early.”
Huchi Er traced his fingers down Chu Xie’s back through the fabric of his clothing, feeling his way to the injured area. Avoiding it, he pulled Chu Xie close, laying him on the warm pallet. Then, he took Chu Xie’s felt hat and placed it by the bedside.
— really too light.
Just now, he had noticed that Chu Xie didn’t want to get too close to the Northern Xiong soldiers, yet he had been huddled by the fire the whole time, holding a cup of hot tea. He suspected that Chu Xie was actually very sensitive to the cold.
Perhaps he liked ventilation or something, as he rarely bothered to close doors and windows tightly, allowing the wind to occasionally whistle in.
So, Huchi Er had someone light a charcoal fire inside the tent.
He ordered someone to keep watch throughout the night.
After tucking Chu Xie into the blankets, he didn’t make any further advances.
Chu Xie’s heart settled slightly. The success of this military operation depended on the arrangements made by Xu Chunmu.
The capital city.
An 800-mile military report reached the imperial palace and went straight to the Eastern Palace.
“They’re at a standstill?” Jiang Yanchi looked puzzled as he examined the military report in his hand. “They’ve been facing each other under Mount Langya for a full seven days without moving?”
“Yes,” the messenger from the northern border, who had arrived with the report, bowed and said. Then, he added cautiously, “Indeed, they’re at a standstill, and we don’t know if it can continue.”
Huchi Er was known for his decisiveness and had unified the North and South Xiongnu in just three short years after his last visit to the capital.
He was ambitious and radical.
How could he be deterred by the Changming Army and not dare to advance even a step under Mount Langya?
The northern border messenger hesitated and exchanged a glance with the messenger from the relay station. They received a nod before he continued, “There’s some uncertain information, but it’s said that General Xu Chunmu from the Northern Border brought an exquisite beauty as a gift to the Left Virtuous King, which brought about this moment of peace.”
The messenger couldn’t help but smile.
Great Wei had many beautiful women, it seemed that this hero had a particularly tough time resisting their charm.
The previous battles might have been relatively easy for him, but now, in the warmth of the lotus tent, Huchi Er’s blood was boiling, and he seemed to have lost his sense of direction.
“Which family’s young lady did they send to him? If a marital alliance could be established…”
The messenger inquired tentatively.
“It’s not a maiden; it’s a man,” the messenger said matter-of-factly, “I don’t know where Xu Chunmu found such an extraordinary beauty, but on the day he sent him, Huchi Er was coaxed into withdrawing his camp thirty miles away. He didn’t take a single step into the Northern Border…”
Something didn’t add up.
He had seen Huchi Er, he was not the kind of man to be swayed by beauty to this extent. It wasn’t just any beautiful woman who could make him give up the thirteen commanderies of the Northern Region, which were practically within his grasp.
For some reason, Jiang Yanchi suddenly remembered the flirtatious behavior between Chu Xie and Huchi Er in the corridor at a palace banquet four years ago.
No, perhaps he did like, a cunning and clever beauty like Chu Xie.
“I heard that the people from the state government reported that Huchi Er was searching all over for high-quality tea leaves for that little beauty, almost turning the nine counties of the Western Region upside down… If he has a liking for this, that’s good. After all, Great Wei has plenty of beautiful women! How about Your Highness sends a few more over?”
Jiang Yanchi had a vague feeling that something was off.
Chu Xie loved tea.
“What are the distinctive features of this beauty?”
Thinking that the prince had taken his suggestion to heart, the messenger happily spilled all the information he knew, “Slender and delicate, very fair. They say he has a pair of incredibly attractive peach blossom eyes, and it’s unclear if he’s some sort of fox spirit from the mountains… Oh, and it seems the beauty had some injuries too. Huchi Er had some well-known physicians from the Western Border brought to the camp to tend to those injuries…”
“So, he does have a preference for this type.” The relay station’s messenger rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “He likes the fragile and delicate type; that’s easy to find, easy to find!”
The prince’s face alternated between red and white.
Walking back and forth with his hands behind his back, he suddenly exclaimed, “Go to the hill west of the city and dig up Chu Xie’s tomb for me!”
There was no room for doubt in that command, so the messenger could only obey.
The autumn rain felt like needles, piercing through the air. Jiang Yanchi, draped in a black cloak, rode his horse through the mountains. When he arrived at the gravesite, he saw that it had already been dug open. The workers were disassembling the coffin, and one of them mumbled, “This coffin is surprisingly light…”
Jiang Yanchi’s heart sank.
“Your Highness, I’m really not suitable to be your prince consort.”
“I prefer the unrestrained environment of the Northern Border. Tonight, I plan to return to the Northern Border.”
Jiang Yanchi had been living in a daze for some time, too preoccupied to think about these trivial matters. Now, looking back, he couldn’t help but feel that something was off.
Before this, Xu Chunmu had been so concerned about Chu Xie, both openly and secretly, but as soon as Chu Xie died, he left the capital for the Northern Border without looking back.
There was a loud clang. The coffin was finally opened.
“Hmm?” The craftsman exclaimed in surprise, “It’s empty…”
Jiang Yanchi didn’t look inside but heard those words. He immediately dismounted his horse, and his knees nearly gave way as he stumbled a few steps closer to see that the coffin indeed contained only cotton wadding and a few burial clothes. His heart was filled with joy.
He was overjoyed to the point that his eyes turned red.
But upon closer reflection, the overflowing joy gradually turned into a bitter residue, and he felt a complex mix of emotions as he leaned against the coffin.
They were indeed acquaintances of Chu Xie!
He didn’t know how the two of them managed this staged death, but they had certainly performed a grand act, and after a wave of their sleeves, they had headed for the Northern Region, deceiving everyone in the capital city.
If it weren’t for today’s exhumation, he might never have known that Chu Xie was still alive.
Marquis Zhenguo, Chu Zhangyin, truly had remarkable methods.
“Let’s go, we must leave immediately.”
“Your Highness, where are we going?”
Jiang Yanchi couldn’t hide the faint red in his eyes. “To the Northern Region.”
Chu Xie slept lightly during the late night, mindful of the passing days. These past days, he was even more alert than ever.
In the middle of the night, he heard a series of light footsteps outside his tent. He felt an immediate sense of relief but then heard a soft voice behind him say, “Lord Chu… ”
It wasn’t Xu Chunmu’s voice.
“Hush… Lord Chu, I am Vice General Yu, under the command of Young Marquis Xu. This is Young Marquis Xu’s token. You can verify its authenticity. He said that once you see this, you will follow me.”
Chu Xie accepted the token and inspected it in his hand before nodding. “You’re here to rescue me, aren’t you?”
“Yes. Young Marquis Xu said he would act tonight, and the news should reach this tent in a maximum of fifteen minutes. I must get you out of this tent before the third night watch.”
Vice General Yu noticed that Chu Xie was dressed in Northern attire after lifting the tent curtain. He also saw the expensive high leather boots and the fur hat by the bed.
“We don’t have time to change clothes. Let’s go, sir.”
Vice General Yu led Chu Xie out of the window, avoiding the North Xiong guards, hiding behind several tents, and then stunning a young soldier who was gathering firewood. He stripped the soldier and dressed Chu Xie in his clothes. During this process, he noticed Chu Xie’s bound hair and the red ribbons on his forehead.
It wasn’t clear which step exposed them, but in less than half an incense stick’s time, the pitch-dark tent was suddenly brightly lit with torches held by soldiers searching the area as if they were looking for something.
Hearing the noise of things being knocked over and shattered in Huchi Er’s tent, Chu Xie’s heart skipped a beat. “He found out I’m missing. We need to hurry. Once he learns of the attack from Young Marquis Xu, he’ll know it was me.”
Vice General Yu was agile and understood the urgency. He quickly carried Chu Xie through a less-traveled path, taking down anyone in their way. The goal was to exit the camp as soon as possible.
As the wind brushed against their faces, Chu Xie gripped Vice General Yu’s shoulder tightly. When they leaped over the fence, Chu Xie couldn’t help but glance back several times, urging, “Faster, faster.”
“But you still have injuries…”
“If they catch up, I’ll die,” Chu Xie whispered urgently. “This time, Huchi Er took quite a fall, and he won’t let me off the hook.”
You actually know yourself. Vice General Yu thought to himself. Chu Xie was indeed a fearless individual, always willing to take such life-threatening risks in front of anyone.
Chu Xie knew that his life was at stake, and he was genuinely worried and scared.
Vice General Yu didn’t dare to delay, and he quickened his pace.
After crossing two mountains, they still couldn’t hear any pursuit behind them. Vice General Yu said, “Don’t worry, my lord. There are carriages at the foot of the mountain, and five miles to the north, there are 8,000 cavalry troops guarding the border. We’ll safely enter Changye Commandery…”
Chu Xie’s heart settled a bit. It seemed that the news of the destruction of the supplies in Hengshan County had reached their camp, and Huchi Er didn’t have time to deal with this matter. He had to withdraw his camp overnight and retreat 270 miles, relinquish three counties, and establish a defensive position beyond the natural barriers of the south Mountains.
Everything was going smoothly.
That was until Chu Xie and Vice General Yu saw the horses at the end of the mountain path being slaughtered, with blood splattering on the carriages.
Chu Xie’s face turned as white as snow when he saw the figure standing next to the carriage. He grabbed Vice General Yu’s shoulder tightly, his fingernails digging into the flesh.
“Don’t be afraid, my lord,” Vice General Yu drew his blade, its edge glistening with frost.
Chu Xie’s grip relaxed slightly. “Let me down.”
“Put me down, and you go north to get reinforcements.” The more urgent the situation, the calmer the voice of the person behind him seemed to become. Vice General Yu had initially been panicking, but hearing this instruction made him feel somewhat settled. He hesitated and asked, “But…”
“I’m just a burden. If they catch up with us, we won’t escape. If we get entangled further, both of us will die. Hurry, the faster, the better.”
Vice General Yu hesitated for only a moment before placing the blade, which was as sharp as a carving knife, into Chu Xie’s hand. He also handed him a short dagger. “One incense stick’s worth of time. Just hold on for one incense stick’s worth of time.”
Then, he disappeared into the night, vanishing like a wild boar darting into the forest.
Chu Xie stood still, and when he saw Vice General Yu attempting to retreat, after just a moment, Huchi Er suddenly appeared in front of him. His face was still tainted with the smell of horse blood, and he immediately seized Chu Xie’s wrist, striking the blade he hadn’t yet swung out with his palm.
Chu Xie felt the pain, and his entire hand went numb as he heard the sound of the blade clattering to the ground a great distance away.
Huchi Er’s entire hand forced Chu Xie’s arm to bend backward, twisting it behind his back. He stepped on Chu Xie’s lower leg bone with a stomp, and Chu Xie heard the furious voice coming from above, “Chu Xie, you really deceived me!”
“You even dared to go north! You…”
His hand was twisted even harder, and with a bit more force, his shoulder would dislocate. Chu Xie dared not speak any further and had to soften his tone. “You… Please don’t be angry.”
“You promised me that you’d keep your word!”
The words I said, none of them have not counted.
If they don’t count, you’ll be in big trouble.
“Why are you running?!” Huchi Er flipped him over, grasping his neck and pressing him down onto the rough grassy ground. The wound on his back instantly tore open from the impact, causing excruciating pain and making everything before him go dark.
“I should have killed you back on the grasslands!”
Huchi Er roared with extreme anger. Seeing that Chu Xie was trying to sneakily reach for his waist, he swiftly drew a short knife from it.
He grabbed Chu Xie’s right hand and placed the knife near his wrist, asking, “Was it this hand that stole it?”
Chu Xie, in excruciating pain and feeling dizzy, shook his head and conceded, “No, it wasn’t…”
“Then the left hand.”
He let go of Chu Xie’s right hand and switched to the left, preparing to strike. Chu Xie, terrified, began to struggle, saying, “No, no, it wasn’t! Listen to me…”
With a snort, Huchi Er raised his hand high, and the cold light reflected in Chu Xie’s eyes.
Suddenly, an arrow whizzed through the air, knocking the sharp blade from Huchi Er’s hand, causing his entire arm to go numb. He turned to look at the opposite hilltop.
But all he saw was a dark silhouette.
Huchi Er still wasn’t convinced. He immediately grabbed Chu Xie and threw him over his shoulder. Chu Xie’s back was torn with pain again. After taking just a few steps, two more arrows flew towards them. One narrowly missed Huchi Er’s left ear, and the other passed over his knee, blocking their path.
It was a warning.
The author has a message to share: Chu Xie: Almost messed it up
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 Transmigrating Into The Weak Villain right away ! Or go donate at Paypal or Ko-fi to show your appreciation! :)