Deputy General Xue not only wanted the Baili Army to take on Three-Way Pass alone, but even set an ultimatum: if the Baili Army failed, there was no need for the two armies to work together! It had to be said that he was only lost in wishful thinking.
The hardest step of the northern expedition was this crucial Three-Way Pass. Its natural barrier made it a difficult obstacle, while the lost contact from Tiger’s Prison meant that Jun Yixie must have stopped trusting Ning Cheng by now. Thus, he would congregate his best forces at the pass. This was the Baili Army’s first battle north, much less with the Northern Li army. They weren’t familiar with the enemy or their surroundings, so such a move was obviously plotted to make them pure cannon fodder! If they played the bait, the Ning Clan troops would have an easier time breaking through the pass and showing off their prestige, thus harming the Baili Army’s momentum.
If the two armies were sincerely united, then Long Feiye wouldn’t care who contributed more than the other. But Deputy General Xue’s insincere alliance was full of his personal, petty calculations and pushed the Baili Army straight into the tiger’s mouth. This not only sapped at the Baili Army’s morale, but also made them suffer unnecessary losses! This didn’t only concern one person’s selfish gains, but hurt the cooperation between both sides to affect the entire troops’ morale. Forget about Long Feiye, even Baili Yuanlong would refuse to yield a step!
Naturally, Ning Nuo knew about this, but he and Head Elder had no way to awe or frighten their military. The East Qin side had more speaking power. Meanwhile, Han Yunxi wanted to sending Ning Nuo flying with a kick. At a time like this, he was still hesitant and wavering, irresolute and indecisive. Their style of doing things would end up with the hostages dead before they ever went to save them!
“Call out Deputy General Xue!” Han Yunxi said coldly.
Ning Nuo had no time to think of vying for advantages now. His only thought was to hurry up and save the prisoners. Now he ran out personally to fetch Deputy General Xue, who saw Long Feiye and Han Yunxi sitting loftily up high as soon as he walked into the room. Gu Qishao, Gu Beiyue, and Tang Li sat at the duo’s sides, making for a sight that startled his heart. Before Long Feiye could speak, Han Yunxi asked, “Deputy General Xue, you insist on making the Baili Army tackle Three-Way Pass alone?”
Deputy General Xue expected such a day to come and had thought of his counterattack ages ago. Before he could share his analyzation, however, Han Yunxi added coldly, “No need to waste words. Just tell me: yes or no?”
She then rose to her feet. “Deputy General Xue, if you insist on this, then this princess will formally annul the alliance with you and the Ning Clan troops today! The northern expedition will be headed wholly by the East Qin Army!”
Han Yunxi would rather have the Baili Army take a little more sacrifices than allow such a struggle for the vanguard force to disrupt the soldiers’ hearts and affect their moods! What was the meaning of a military man? Someone who galloped to the head to take the lead no matter what difficulties they faced, charging and shattering enemy positions. How could a good military man be so scheming and nitpicky before the battle even began?
“I thought you two armies would vie to be the first to attack Three-Way Pass. Heheh, looks like you’re only competing over who gets to hide first!” Han Yunxi laughed coldly, then rebuked, “Deputy General Xue, Long Feiye and I have no time to waste with you. Ning Cheng and Ning Jing have even less time to spare. Whether or not you fight, give a straight answer!”
Deputy General Xue was cursed until his face turned red. Growing ruthless, he said with dissatisfaction, “Princess, it’s not that I’m scheming, but that Baili Yuanlong schemed against us first! All of those 30,000 battle horses are good beasts, but they have ample appetites too. It takes a lot of money to raise them all, but they’ve cleared out all of the Di Clan’s provisions over the past two months. This soldier has requested to Baili Yuanlong to share his rations, but he not only refused us, but humiliated this soldier by accusing me of privately holding the provisions just to extort East Qin’s army under false pretenses.”
The more he spoke, the more wronged he felt. “Princess, this soldier is anxious for Master Ning’s sake too! If he hadn’t made himself a hostage, the East Qin Army might not even have the bluster today to dare and tackle the Three-Way Pass alone! Master Ning used his life to trade us this chance; could this soldier bear to let his efforts be in vain unless I had no other choice?”
Both Han Yunxi and Long Feiye were shocked by his words. Baili Yuanlong had never reported to them about the soldiers’ pay or provisions.
What a Baili Yuanlong. He dares to hide such secrets at a time like this.
Long Feiye was furious beyond belief. “Call out Baili Yuanlong!”
Once Baili Yuanlong arrived and the details were procured, he immediately ventured to explain. “Your Highness, Deputy General Xue is smearing this soldier! It was clearly him who refuses to give soldiers to attack Three-Way Pass first, which was why this soldier denied him provisions! This soldier has been wronged!”
“Baili Yuanlong, ten days ago this soldier asked you for temporary transfer of 30 dan of rations, which you refused. Nine days ago, this soldier asked you for 3,000 bows and arrows, which you again refused. Just seven days ago, this soldier needed 300 tents, and what did you say instead? You said there was none! You knew this soldier wasn’t planning to attack Three-Way Pass as far back as that, then?” Deputy General Xue challenged.
“Hmph, although you never stated it clearly, don’t think I didn’t know!” Baili Yuanlong retorted.
The two men began to argue. If they were really sincere about an alliance, would they end up with so many disputes? Clearly, both sides had selfish motives at heart and wanted to gain an advantage, thus making either one unwilling to yield. If not for the fact that the two men were the leaders of their respective armies and absolutely needed for the war effort, or the fact that Long Feiye and Han Yunxi needed to figure out what happened at Tiger’s Prison in person, the couple would definitely slaughter these two generals!
Long Feiye’s fist pounded against the table. In a flash, both Baili Yuanlong and Deputy General Xue lowered their heads without daring to say a word.
“Baili Yuanlong, this crown prince will give you one day to record all soldiers’ pay and provisions clearly and hand them over to the West Qin princess!” Long Feiye said icily.
“No need to give them to me, just hand them over to Myriad Merchant Hall’s Fifth Elder from the Council of Elders,” Han Yunxi said seriously. “Deputy General Xue, I’ll give you half a day to calculate all of the military provisions under Master Ning and report them to Fifth Elder. From now on, the allocation of such rations will be headed completely by Fifth Elder. Anyone who disagrees can be dealt with using military law!”
Fifth Elder was a member of the Di Clan, so Deputy General Xue was thoroughly convinced. Baili Yuanlong looked at Long Feiye, whose angry face cowed him into submission.
“Deputy General Xue, you still haven’t answered this princess’s first question yet!” Han Yunxi added.
East Qin had taken a big step back on the matter of military provisions, so Deputy General Xue didn’t dare ask for more despite his reluctance. Instead he cupped his fists and said, “Everything will be as the princess decrees!”
Here was a hard-won phrase! If this was any other day, Han Yunxi might even grin at herself, but her current petite, small, and exquisite face was cold enough to frighten a man.
“Do you two have any other questions?” Han Yunxi asked coldly.
Of course there was, but they were small potatoes compared to the attack of Three-Way Pass and military rations. Faced with two enraged masters, Baili Yuanlong and Deputy General Xue knew their place and didn’t bring up any more demands.
“This crown prince will give you two three days to re-negotiate all the plans. If there’s any more problems, just wait and see!” Long Feiye warned frostily.
“This soldier obeys.”
Neither Baili Yuanlong and Deputy General Xue dared to tarry, but quickly withdrew. Gu Qishao had already rolled his eyes multiple times, while Gu Beiyue only shook his helplessly. Ning Nuo exhaled in relief and quickly asked, “Your Highness, princess, when will we go to Tiger’s Prison for the rescue mission?”
Now that Ning Nuo had lost contact with Tiger’s Prison, they could only make conjectures on the situation over there. However, one thing was certain: Bai Yuqiao was in trouble. Otherwise, they wouldn’t go this long without a letter. If she was in trouble, then Ning Cheng’s plot had been exposed. Thus, whether Ning Jing and the rest were still at Tiger’s Prison or somewhere else was uncertain. They had to make quick arrangements for the northern expedition so they could hurry to Tiger’s Prison and figure out what was going on. After that would come the rescue plans.
Long Feiye looked towards Gu Beiyue, who immediately understood his meaning.
“Your Highness, princess, this subordinate will leave first to scope out the situation,” Gu Beiyue rose to his feet.
“Make sure you get a clear idea. Don’t act rashly, Ning Cheng’s still in Jun Yixie’s army,” Han Yunxi added hastily.
Ning Jing’s group had been imprisoned in Tiger’s Prison while Ning Cheng left with Jun Yixie and his troops. Thus, alerting any side would startle the snake in the grass and hurt the other. Long before leaving Celestial Mountain, Han Yunxi had already figured out a counter. She and Long Feiye, Gu Qishao, and Tang Li would make up the four-person rescue team while Gu Beiyue headed solo into the army to save Ning Cheng.
Tiger’s Prison would probably be full of traps, making it hard to charge in. They needed more manpower for that side, while Jun Yixie’s army was a different matter. Even if the man knew poisons, Gu Beiyue’s shadow arts could avoid them to take the hostage and run.
However, now that the situation had changed, Gu Beiyue had to act as their scout first. With his frightful speeds, he’d be at Tiger’s Prison and back by the time Baili Yuanlong and Deputy General Xue finalized their talks.
“Don’t worry princess, this subordinate knows his proper limits,” Gu Beiyue said seriously. As he prepared to set out, a servant suddenly rushed inside in a panic.
“Young Master Nuo! Young Master Nuo, there’s a letter for you! From Tiger’s Prison!”
Everyone grew stunned. Tang Li was the first to stand up and almost ran over to snatch the thing. Ning Nuo stepped forward and grabbed the envelope before ripping it open in a frenzy. As soon as he saw the contents, he cried, “It’s bad!”
“What is it? What’s happened to Ning Jing?” Tang Li was so scared his heart almost stopped.
Ning Nuo handed the letter to Long Feiye as he muttered, “It’s Jun Yixie’s invitation letter for you and the princess to drink tea at Tiger’s Prison…”
Long Feiye was taken aback, but didn’t panic. He looked at Gu Beiyue and said, “You should make a trip first.”
“Your Highness, is Jun Yixie abandoning his army?” Gu Beiyue asked seriously.
Even if Jun Yixie was to threaten them, he should bring his hostage to the battlefield to force them into a retreat. But instead, the man had chosen Tiger’s Prison to meet.
It was clear he was confronting them with his all!
1. Honestly, they’re only like this because they’re kinda biased towards their “own” side (aka Baili Army, which has shown serious insubordination before)....where is the famous HYX calm that would have demanded Deputy General Xue for answers before accusing him outright based on a report from, again, “their side?” I realize now that chapters with HYX and LFY in it never fail to annoy me these days. =.=
Late but here we are, Chapter 1079. Petty squabbles like this really annoy me, so I'm glad we dealt with the generals fast.