Chapter 9: Hampered
“Thanks to you, my brother almost got tied to a wooden stake and beaten to death by Muercha… Three thousand war horses, your appetite is truly enormous… Chu Xie, how did you become so capable? Huh?”
He realized that his waist was thin and frail as he reached out and grabbed it.
“I…,” Chu Xie tried to assess the situation and craftily explained, “It was a misunderstanding on your part back then… I didn’t take those war horses… If you want to blame someone, blame Marquis Zhenguo Xuyi. I was…”
Huchi Er let out a cold laugh, tightening his grip on Chu Xie even more, as if he had heard a tremendous joke. “What does that half-buried old man have to do with anything?”
“If it weren’t for him meddling… we would have resolved our grievances long ago!” Chu Xie gasped for breath, pulling Huchi Er’s hand away from his chin. “I’m a victim too… seven years ago, I had no choice but to run. But I wasn’t avoiding you, the Left Virtuous King, but that Marquis Xuyi. He commands a million strong soldiers in the southwest. If he wanted to crush me back then, it would have been as easy as crushing an ant…”
“Look, it’s been seven years. Even now, Xuyi hasn’t let me off the hook. Back then, he messed up our business deal, and now he’s going to close down my gambling den. If you don’t believe me, stay here a few more days and investigate… Don’t listen to the rumors from outside. Don’t think that I’m living comfortably in the Western Capital as if I can control everything here… I’m just trying to survive among those nobles and officials… It’s not like I’m living the life of a king…”
As he spoke, he realized that he had blamed him wrongly.
Huchi Er snorted and loosened his grip a bit.
“What about the money?” he asked. “One million five hundred thousand taels of silver. You didn’t use it to build a temple for Buddha, did you?”
“Your father is now Yizhizi King, and you are his most beloved son, the renowned Left Virtuous King of the Xiongnu. Why do you remember such a small amount of silver for so long… You should be more forgiving… We have a saying in Great Wei, ‘A prime minister’s belly can hold a ship.'”
Chu Xie’s speech became slower, and his blood seemed to surge and roar in his veins, as if it were about to boil.
D*mn it, what kind of drug did this guy give me?
Sensing that Chu Xie’s body was sinking further, becoming weak and boneless, and slipping into his embrace, Huchi Er’s heart raced faster. He had different thoughts now. His other hand went around Chu Xie’s waist and lifted him up.
Wrapped in a snowy-white robe, the body was lighter than a wolf cub on the grassland.
“I know, Great Wei has a saying about eloquence. Generally speaking, it refers to people like you.”
Chu Xie grabbed the cold iron shackles on the man’s arm subconsciously, trying to maintain a normal voice, but his movements were weak and feeble. “Left Virtuous King, you’ve learned Great Wei’s language quite well.”
He opened the system, wondering why it didn’t mention anything about following this plot yesterday.
As soon as he opened it, he was startled by a loud “Ah, ah, ah,” and immediately closed it again.
After a while, he reopened it, but before he could even ask, the system exclaimed, “What’s going on?! Host, what’s happening?!”
“I was about to ask you the same thing. What’s going on with this plot? I… I feel so hot. Have I been poisoned…?”
Chu Xie instinctively tugged at his collar.
His delicate collarbones were faintly visible in the moonlight, and the cold wind blowing into his collar made him shiver involuntarily.
“Host, it’s not poison… it’s, um… that kind of medicine.”
Chu Xie immediately realized.
No wonder his lower half suddenly became active for no reason.
“I’ve been telling you to keep that special medicine, ahhhh!” The system was even more anxious than him. “What should we do, Host? You can’t let anyone discover that you’re not a fake eunuch. You can’t easily call for help and you can’t fight back now…”
“What should I do? I need to know what he plans to do first,” Chu Xie instructed in his mind. “Quick, check if there’s any antidote or something I can buy…”
While holding the man’s neck, he whispered, “Left Virtuous King, if you have any grievances, we can sit down and have a good talk. We can discuss the matter of silver… Can you please find me a woman first….?”
“Isn’t there a rumor in the capital that you prefer men?”
Huchi Er coldly snorted.
“Rumors, rumors. You can’t believe them,” Chu Xie shook his head, but he felt the man pulling himself together in his embrace, suddenly becoming aware of something.
D*mn, you don’t want to have your way with me, do you?
Chu Xie narrowed his eyes slightly and made a small effort to break free. He refused to stay in the man’s embrace and stumbled a couple of steps before stabilizing himself.
“Host, I’ve checked, and there are no new plot developments… In the original text, you were supposed to be resting at your residence during this time, and you wouldn’t have crossed paths with the Left Virtuous King. He didn’t have the opportunity to act against you, and he would have returned to the Xiongnu in five days. Your next plot point is the Jinhuan Gambling House.”
He thought for a moment, it seemed that the little prince had dragged him into this banquet unexpectedly. This main character was really foolish and good at causing trouble.
I’ve been diligently following the plot for you, even fighting for the Crown Prince position, and you’re doing this to me?
Is it because I assigned too few homework assignments?
“Chu Xie, don’t think you’re the only ruthless one. In these turbulent times, there are plenty of decisive people… Do you think you can gain any benefits by relying on that old fox Su Mingan? By offending the Marquis Zhenbei and Ningan Wang, not to mention you, even that rootless little Crown Prince won’t have a way to survive!”
As he said this, he lowered his head slightly, smelling the fragrant scent coming from the man’s body, and said, “Why don’t you come with me…”
“I’ve already chosen my path, and it has nothing to do with the Left Virtuous King,” Chu Xie responded coldly.
“Host, there’s no antidote. But there is a sleeping potion available for purchase. How about… you just faint and sleep it off? Maybe the effects of this drug will wear off while you’re asleep…”
“Are you stupid… Never mind, just exchange the drug for me quickly.”
After receiving it, Chu Xie stabilized his stance and took two stumbling steps closer to Huchi Er, as if he were seeking support, grabbing the sleeve of his arm.
Seeing his struggling appearance, Huchi Er’s heart couldn’t help but waver. He lowered his head slightly, gently holding Chu Xie’s wrist, and asked in a warm voice, “Are you feeling very uncomfortable? How about… instead of finding a woman, I help you…”
A sudden shower of white powder scattered in front of him without warning.
His vision darkened, and he collapsed at Chu Xie’s feet in an instant. The last thing he saw before losing consciousness was the mocking smile on the other man’s face.
He was indeed a cunning fox.
A rustling sound came from the bushes, and Chu Xie’s keen senses immediately detected it. He exclaimed, “Who’s there? Come out!”
A slender figure stood up from the bushes, with a few flowers still stuck in their hair. Chu Xie narrowed his eyes slightly and said, “Lord Qi?”
It turned out that the sneaky figure was none other than Qi Sui, the newly appointed top scholar who had recently passed the imperial examination.
Qi Sui had misinterpreted the situation in front of him and seemed shocked. He took a few steps back, his face turning pale, and stammered, “I… I didn’t see anything…”
After a while, he couldn’t help but take another look at the person lying on the ground.
Thinking about Qi Sui’s simple nature, Chu Xie called him over and said, “Escort me out of the Imperial City. This is a matter of great importance, so don’t make any noise about it.”
Ever since the incident where Qi Sui pointed out a deer as a horse, he had developed a certain fear of Chu Xie. Hearing this, he had no choice but to comply and promptly escorted Chu Xie out of the city.
Having suffered such a huge loss, Chu Xie refrained from entering the palace for several days. Jiang Yanchi thought this was for the best, as the Minister of Personnel was currently heavily involved in the case of the Jinhuan Gambling House.
However, to his surprise, on the day Left Virtuous King returned to Northern Xiongnu, Chu Xie appeared at the farewell banquet. He arrived late, entering the palace gates with an eight-lifted sedan chair, making quite a grand entrance.
Chu Xie had brought an urgent report from the border.
Jiang Yanchi couldn’t hide the darkness in his eyes when he saw that memorial. Even though it was an urgent report from the border, it had been sent to Chu Xie’s residence before anywhere else.
Chu Xie quickly summarized the situation in just a few sentences. The report mentioned that the Western Qiang tribes on the border were causing trouble and disrupting the lives of the people. After conveying this, Chu Xie turned to Huchi Er and said, “The border in question is not only the northern border of Great Wei but also the eastern border of your Northern Xiongnu. I thought this matter might be troublesome, so I came here early in the morning. With Left Virtuous King here, it’s convenient for us to discuss a strategy.”
Chu Xie wore a polite and friendly smile.
Jiang Yanchi was quite familiar with that smile.
It was the same smile he had seen when Chu Xie was plotting and waiting for his prey to fall into his trap, just like the day he welcomed Jiang Yanchi and his mother into the mansion.
“Lord Zhangyin, do you have any suggestions? Please share them with us,” the Minister of War, who hadn’t had a chance to speak for a while, had a significant say in this matter and spoke up, “Should we engage in war or seek peace?”
Chu Xie raised his cup of hot tea, “We are still in the midst of discussing this, aren’t we?”
Taking a sip, he continued, “I’ve heard that the Northern Xiongnu and the Qiang tribes have always been at odds. Their repeated provocations are likely an attempt to gauge our response. Great Wei can be both friendly and confrontational… but if we align with one side, it may be difficult to reconcile with the various Western tribes under Northern Xiongnu’s control.”
Chu Xie’s words were measured, leaving room for interpretation while also revealing a subtle hint.
Huchi Er, with his ambitions, detected the subtle hint in Chu Xie’s words and decided to follow along with it. He continued, “The Northern Xiongnu has had friendly relations with Great Wei for over a decade, and the Qiang tribes have been relatively quiet in recent years. If you were to ask for our opinion, we would naturally hope for war. Of course, we would need to contribute our efforts as well, and we can provide five thousand elite soldiers…”
“Hey, isn’t this conversation a bit premature?”
Chu Xie placed his cup down and adopted an even friendlier tone, “Let’s not rush into discussions about assistance. We can take our time.”
Huchi Er is a hero on horseback and didn’t understand the hidden meanings in the words of someone like Chu Xie.
After pondering for a while, Huchi Er asked, “So, what you’re saying is, you want to offer Northern Xiongnu a favor today, and they can return it another day?”
“There’s no need to make it sound so serious. Why wait for another day when we can settle things today, while we’re all here?” Chu Xie casually poured himself another cup of tea.
The room fell into silence as everyone tried to grasp the meaning behind Chu Xie’s words.
Jiang Yanchi remained silent, not offering a word of approval. He thought about what Huchi Er had mentioned the previous night, realizing that Chu Xie and the Northern Border Marquis Zhenguo had been at odds for a long time. He could vaguely guess their intentions.
Only when almost a teapot had cooled did Chu Xie make a subtle move, leaning forward slightly, supported by his knees.
Huchi Er caught the familiar scent of cypress and inexplicably recalled the slender clavicle visible beneath the moonlight.
His gaze grew deeper.
“How about this: the Northern Border offers financial support, and we will take the lead in this battle.”
This statement immediately caught Jiang Yanchi’s attention, and his gaze sharpened.
The Minister of Personnel Xue, had a slight change in his expression. He wanted to say something, but when he opened his mouth, he could only utter, “This might be a bit inappropriate…”
The Minister of War exchanged a glance with him and immediately bowed, saying, “It’s appropriate. It’s absolutely appropriate! The Xu family has held their position for a hundred years, guarding the northern border for three generations. Dealing with a minor uprising among the Qiang tribes should be a walk in the park.”
Chu Xie traced the rim of his cup with his fingertip, looking serious as he glanced at Huchi Er in front of him. He smiled faintly, lowering his voice a bit, “Three million silver coins in exchange for ten years of peace in your western region. If you’re capable, you might even get more than that. It’s a very profitable deal.”
Huchi Er was awakened by his words.
Chu Xie, just like seven years ago, appeared youthful and eloquent. In just a few sentences, he hit the bullseye and stepped on his ambitions, making him feel the illusion of being seen through from the bottom of his heart.
Only when the western region was peaceful could he have a faster chance of unifying the remaining stubborn tribes.
If they continued to struggle with the Qiang tribes for a few more years, it would become increasingly difficult, and the losses incurred could not be recovered with a mere three million silver coins.
But Great Wei was different.
With a million troops stationed in the northern border, a slight movement could make the Qiang tribes hesitate to take action.
Although there was a risk of taking advantage of someone’s crisis, it was still beneficial for himself.
Huchi Er couldn’t hide the ambition in his eyes and asked in a deep voice, suppressing his excitement, “Do you have the authority? Can you command the Xu family’s troops?”
“Haha.” Chu Xie rarely laughed heartily and called Jiang Yanchi over. “This is our newly appointed Crown Prince of Great Wei. This idea didn’t come from me. Our Crown Prince is a young and talented man. He sent me a letter last night, which made me think of this win-win solution… This is the intention of our Crown Prince. What do you say? If an edict is issued, can the loyal and righteous Changming Army remain motionless?”
Jiang Yanchi couldn’t pretend not to see Chu Xie’s subtle eye signals. He could only nod and say, “Yes, it’s my idea.”
As a newly appointed Crown Prince, he was making use of this opportunity.
These scheming eunuchs were indeed deep thinkers. Many loyal officials remained silent, only daring to exchange knowing glances, but none of them dared to speak up.
However, the northern Xiongnu had been at war for several years, and it was feared that there might be a shortage of silver coins. It remained to be seen if three million silver coins could be produced.
Chu Xie had dealt with him before and knew that he was a daring and bold man with great courage. He was also quite aggressive.
“Alright, I’ll make the trade,” the expected response lifted the corner of Chu Xie’s mouth.
Huchi Er couldn’t have imagined that he would encounter the same young man who had swindled him out of one million and five hundred thousand silver seven years ago in the Western Capital once again.
He hadn’t recovered those one million and five hundred thousand silver, and now he was losing another three million. It was utterly absurd.
Chu Xie pushed a cup of tea in front of Huchi Er, saying, “In recent days, we’ve been offering wine instead of tea to accommodate your preferences. But the tea in Great Wei is fragrant and mellow, not inferior to the strong liquor on your grasslands. It has a unique taste. Give it a try.”
Huchi Er sneered and finished the tea in one gulp, saying, “In my opinion, the tea in Great Wei is much stronger than the liquor on the grasslands.”
Chu Xie smiled but didn’t say anything.
Jiang Yanchi felt a chill in his heart.
In just a few words, Chu Xie had managed to strike a deal and favor with the future new Khan of the Northern Xiongnu and secured three million silver coins to address the urgent financial needs of the Ministry of Revenue. The troublesome part was given to the Changming Army of the Xu family in the Northern Region.
This was a masterstroke that allowed him to borrow strength from others while repaying it with their resources.
The Marquis of Zhenguo, Xu Yi, was the one who will have to put in effort while Chu Xie and the Ministry of Revenue had also gained from it.
Jiang Yanchi glanced at the two officials from the Ministry of Revenue.
It turned out—-
that the Ministry of Revenue, which had always remained neutral, was under Chu Xie’s control.