Chapter 457 - Urgent Feeling

Although Zhu Junyang was rarely influenced by his heart devil now, he was quite upset by all of this so naturally his aggressiveness shot up. Now that he had been given the title of Zhenbei General, he had the responsibility of defending the northern borders. With his soldiers behind him, he slaughtered like a raging god on the battlefield. The invading Tartars had been beaten until they cried for their parents. It was an utter defeat for them.

The so-called Tartars was actually just a name used to describe the fierce nomadic tribes that roamed in the north. These tribes lived on horseback and had a lot of cavalry. They were relentless in battle and used guerilla warfare tactics as their movement speed was quite high. This was a headache to the Great Ming generals and soldiers in charge of defending the northern borders. 

The stationed general in the north was very disappointed when Royal Prince Yang arrived to bring reinforcements as the prince had both a youthful and devilishly handsome appearance. The general believed that the prince was a silver-spooned member of the imperial family and was merely at the border to gain some glory. He didn’t have any expectations for this youth. However, the other person soon proved him wrong. Royal Prince Yang gave a decisive victory to the Great Ming Empire and did so by only using his own men.

Whether it was the private soldiers under Royal Prince Yang’s command or the elite Jinwei soldiers, they were all staunch and experienced soldiers on the battlefield. Royal Prince Yang’s private soldiers were especially tough as they were often tormented by their master in private to spar with him. Every soldier had undergone extreme training and was extraordinarily valiant.

This time, the prince had brought along around a thousand cavalry units to the north with him and the vast majority belonged to Imperial Prince Jing’s private troops. Everyone in the capital knew that, in the younger generation, Royal Prince Yang was the wealthiest as he had brought over a dozen ships full of novel items from the western hemisphere. In the capital, he sold finely wrought clocks, delicate jewels and dazzling enamelware at sky-high prices.

Beyond that, if they only counted the amount of money he made during winter by selling vegetables and fruits out of season, he still had a large fortune in money. With plenty of money on hand, did he have to worry about equipping his private troops? Every private soldier under his command not only had a fine Mongolian steed, but even their armor and weapons were also the finest available on the market. The elite soldiers from the Jinwei troops had always thought that the emperor was their ‘true father’ as they were always supplied with good equipment compared to the other armies. However, when they compared themselves to the private troops under Royal Prince Yang’s command, they looked like a wretched bunch…

Under the command of their master, the private troops under Royal Prince Yang took the lead as they sped into battle. They swept everything away. As for the elite Jinwei soldiers, they could only follow behind and take the job of cleaning up the aftermath. As for the troops that were originally stationed here, they really had nothing left to do. 

Royal Prince Yang had a belly full of rage within him and he let it all out on the battlefield. He viciously attacked the Tartars with no mercy. On their first battle, he immediately slaughtered the Tartar’s most skilled warrior at a moment’s notice and used the man’s head as a grisly flag on the battlefield. His private soldiers charged their tall and sturdy horses into the fear-stricken Tartar ranks. It was as if a bunch of savage tigers had been unleashed and they weren’t going to be restrained! 

Morale was very important during war! On the Great Ming Empire’s side, they had already gained the upper hand on the first battle by their show of strength and easily extinguished the fires of eagerness within the Tartars. Following that battle, everything else continued on the Great Ming’s advantage. Zhu Junyang not only seized a total victory but also broke the unspoken rule to ‘not chase a retreating enemy’. He continuously forced the Tartars to retreat further and further along.

Following that, the Great Ming army continuously attacked the Tartars and obtained victory after victory! Furthermore, they even managed to win back all of the cities that they had lost prior to the establishment of the Great Ming Dynasty. The Tartars had been beaten back to the prairie grasslands and sent envoys again and again to ask for peace.

At first, Zhu Junyang refused to accept their terms for peace and only preoccupied himself with beating them back farther and farther. By the time the leader of the Tartars was about to despair, the prince finally received one of the envoys and stopped fighting. The resulting negotiations were not something that was within Zhu Junyang’s given authority, so that was handed off to someone else.

By then, snow had already started to fall in large flakes in the north. Zhu Junyang wrapped himself in a cloak made of weasel fur and watched as the snow lazily drifted throughout the air. He felt as if he could see an image of that small and skinny figure, running around the snow like a happy little fairy.

Winter in the capital was much colder than it was in Tanggu Town. He wasn’t sure if that little lass was currently hiding in a room with a heated floor or heated wall, or whether she was coming up with another crazy idea to sell her unique pastries. 

While he was at the border, Zhu Junyang continued to think about Yu Xiaocao. The northern hunters in the area had quite a selection of valuable furs and the prince made it his mission to get as many quality specimens as possible. There was the lustrous and colorful scarlet-red fox fur that was good at keeping a person warm. He bought it! Then there was soft and delicate ferret fur with a pure color. He also bought it! As for weasel fur, silver fox fur, sable fur...all good specimens had one outcome: buy, buy, buy!

Other than good quality furs, the north also specialized in producing valuable medicinal ingredients. From what happened with Head Steward Liu, he knew that his little lass was able to make medicines of astounding efficacy. With better quality ingredients on hand, she would be able to make even better medicines. Hundred-year ginseng, thousand-year reishi mushroom, and hundred-year Chinese knotweed? He bought them all! With money, one could be willful!

His days passed like this while he waited for the envoy in charge of negotiating the treaty to get there. Finally, the envoy arrived and he had also brought the emperor’s imperial decree to withdraw the troops and head back to the capital. Zhu Junyang had long set his heart on heading home, so he braved the snows with the troops to go back. He didn't care whether it was day or night as he traveled as he was only preoccupied with speed. Despite the soldiers complaining non-stop about this breakneck speed, they arrived back in the capital about a dozen days earlier than expected.

As he got closer and closer to his little lass, Zhu Junyang started to feel a bit homesick. Was his little lass doing well? Did she miss him like he missed her? Had she been eating properly? Had she grown any taller? He had never simultaneously experienced feeling both nervous and excited before.

As the leader of the victorious army, he had to go into the Imperial Palace to ‘report’. He resisted his urge to see the little lass and entered the throne room somewhat resentfully. He was afraid that Xiaocao might worry too much, so he sent Head Steward Liu Fusheng out to report on what had happened to him. 

After hearing the entire story of their adventures from Head Steward Liu, Xiaocao felt happy for Royal Prince Yang but also worried that Head Steward Liu only told her the good and not the bad. She was afraid that he might have hid the fact that his master had gotten injured. She couldn’t stay at the farmstead anymore and needed to see Zhu Junyang as soon as possible to verify his safety in person. 

She patiently waited until Head Steward Liu Fusheng finished his tea and ate a few pastries before she proposed returning to the capital. Liu Fusheng didn’t say an extra word as he picked up his own cloak to go outside! The earlier they got back to the capital, the earlier he’d be able to let Miss Yu see his master. He was sure his master would be very happy!

After leaving Xichun at the farmstead to keep an eye on things, Yu Xiaocao declined Wutong’s and Pipa’s proposal to have her sit on the carriage. Instead, she mounted her own horse and galloped off in the falling snow. 

In the blustering snow, there was a delicate little figure clothed in a fiery red satin cloak riding on a fiery red fine steed. The bright colors of this person seemed to add a bit of warmth and light to the dusky cold of the winter evening.  This was the first snow of the season and it wasn’t as large or dense as the snow that fell in the northern parts of the country, which more resembled dense cotton balls. The ground only had a thin layer of snow at this point and didn’t negatively influence the little red horse's speed at all. The icy cold wind whipped at her face and her skin had already gone numb to the stabbing pain. She held the reins in her hands that had already frozen into ice chunks. Despite the cold, Yu Xiaocao seemed to have forgotten that she wasn’t even wearing gloves at the moment and had also forgotten to wear her scarf. The chill on her body couldn’t fight against the warmth that was rising from within her heart. The sooner she returned to the capital, the sooner she could see him. That seemed to be the only thought running through her head at this moment.

Head Steward Liu, who was doing his best to keep up with Yu Xiaocao from behind, complained endlessly within his heart. ‘Miss Yu, Official Yu, the Honorable Miss Yu! Can you slow down a bit ah? That red horse you’re riding on is on the same level at treading through snow as the master’s Black Cloud. Although this old servant is riding a decent horse, it still can’t compare to yours.’ Unfortunately, Head Steward Liu could only blankly watch as the distance between the two of them grew larger and larger. It was almost to the point where he couldn’t see the red figure anymore.

The days were short in winter and it got dark relatively earlier. The snow fell harder and harder, which reduced her visibility by a lot. Suddenly, in the dusky light of the evening, the snow seemed to part and a tall and sturdy figure appeared within Yu Xiaocao’s line of sight.

Although that figure was a bit vague and hard to make out, Yu Xiaocao intuitively could tell that it was the person she had wanted to see!

The figure slowly grew larger and grew clearer within her eyes. Before Yu Xiaocao could clearly see that person’s face, Little Red, who she was riding, used its animal intuition and figured out the identity of that person’s mount. The little horse let out a happy and arrogant little whinny.

Both horses were rare specimens of perfect horseflesh. Two silhouettes, one red and one back, quickly come closer until they met…

Zhu Junyang greedily looked at that tiny and adorable little face...a sharp pointed chin, enormous eyes, eyelashes that were long and curly, a ruddy little mouth, and the delicate little nose that had turned red from the cold. He noticed that Xiaocao’s face and hands were both exposed to the wind and cold, so he couldn’t help but scowl.

“You...didn’t you go enter the palace to see the emperor ah?” Yu Xiaocao’s large, doe-like eyes gleamed with happiness as she inspected Royal Prince Yang from head to toe. She still wasn’t completely without worry so she asked, “Are you doing okay? Were you injured at all…”

Before she could finish speaking, she let out a cry in surprise as her body was lifted by a pair of strong arms out of the saddle. By the time she got a hold of herself, she had already been moved onto the other person’s horse and pulled into a warm hug.

A familiar rabbit fur scarf that alternated between black and white stripes and held a person’s warmth was wrapped around her tiny face until only her two bright eyes were visible. This scarf was something she had made in her leisure time. She used rabbit fur and cotton thread together to spin into a knitable yarn. After working for a bit, she finished knitting the scarf. Originally, she was planning on giving it to either her father or godfather. Who knew that Royal Prince Yang had kept an eye on it and he snatched it away like a bandit when she was done!

She didn’t expect that he had actually brought this scarf along when he went north to put down the revolt. Her little face, which had lost all feeling in it, started to warm up under the soft and cozy rabbit fur scarf. Her eyes suddenly welled up with some tears. She sniffed her nose. The scarf still had his faint smell on it that was hard for her not to notice.

In her previous life, Yu Xiaocao knew how to knit sweaters. When her younger brother and sister went to school, she bought some yarn and learned how to knit sweaters from the neighbor next door in order to save money. Later on, as their family’s financial situation improved and both her younger siblings had their own jobs, she stopped knitting them for her siblings as the sweaters in the shops and malls around her had better styles and colors. After transmigrating over, it had been many years since she last touched knitting yarn and other tools like that. She was out of practice.

This was one of her practice scarves, so there were parts of the weave that were looser and parts that were tighter. The individual stitches also had some issues, so she didn’t consider the end product a success as it didn’t truly show her skill. In actuality, she was planning on knitting the prince a better quality product after practicing on this one. However, the prince didn’t seem to care and had instead taken this ‘flawed product’ as his own.

“How come you didn’t put on a scarf or gloves? It’s such a cold day, so why did you go to the Imperial Plantation? What would you do if you got frostbite? There are so many experienced hands at the plantation, so it’s not like they need you to help!” Zhu Junyang gently and softly scolded her and his voice was full of tenderness.

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Myst's Thoughts

Sanguine’s thoughts: Zhu Junyang is such a spendthrift but at least he can afford it.

Translator: Sanguine