Jun Yixie’s request stank of conspiracy.
Heaven knows how many traps he laid in wait? But since his invitation was already here, Long Feiye and the rest had no reason to refuse. No matter what the man had in store for them, they must go.
“Reply the letter that we’ll arrive as scheduled. Have him wait for us with the tea prepared!” Long Feiye said coldly.
Jun Yixie had told them to meet on the first day of the fourth lunar month, while today was the 20th day of the third lunar month. In other words, they had eight days to prepare. Subtracting the travel time meant time was short. (Author’s Note: In ancient times, one lunar month equals 28 days.)
Three days later, Baili Yuanlong and Deputy General Xue finished arranging the last matters of battle plans and tactics and presented them to Long Feiye and Han Yunxi for review. It had to be said that these two fellows had drawn up a beautiful plan after putting their personal differences aside. Neither Long Feiye nor Han Yunxi could pick out any problems with it.
The Ning Clan troops would act as the vanguard with 500 artillerymen taking 15 red coat cannons for the first attack. Behind them would follow 30,000 cavalrymen ready to charge through Three-Way Pass as soon as they broke through. Right after that would follow 50,000 soldiers to act as a strong backup force for the first two groups.
They calculated that it’d take a most one month--half a month if they were fast--to break through Three-Way Pass. Simultaneously, 3,000 Ning Clan crack troops would team up with 5,000 East Qin crack troops to slip in from the eastern mountain woods. After the cavalrymen broke through, the crack troops would attack from the east. Moreover, the Baili Navy would head north from the Eastern Sea to complement the effects of the two armies and surround Northern Li. 5,000 Ning Clan troops and 10,000 East Qin troops would be left behind to guard the pass, be available to 1) replenish any forces left on the northern expedition and 2) guard against advances from Western Zhou and Tianan. Though the two countries couldn’t raise much waves, it was better to be prudent and guard against risks.
The expenditures of military supplies, rations, fodder, and medicine were delegated to Fifth Elder to oversee. He was a Di Clan member most loyal to Han Yunxi as well as a businessman at heart. He might be unclear about other matters, but few could match his prowess in business. Han Yunxi read over Fifth Elder’s budget statements, extremely pleased. She hadn’t chosen wrong in selecting him as her candidate. Fifth Elder was shrewd and astute, but also fair. He had no plans to favor the Di Clan.
With the military preparations set, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi only had to give orders to deploy the troops! One command would send the soldiers leaving at any time. Since His Highness hadn’t given orders after all this time, Baili Yuanlong even found a divination master to choose the most auspicious day to act. The red paper bearing the written date was handed over to Long Feiye, who read, “the 15th day of the fourth lunar month.” Immediately, he raised his eyes at Baili Yuanlong.
“Who told you this was the most auspicious day?” he asked coldly.
Baili Yuanlong saw that His Highness was displeased and dared not say more.
Gu Beiyue said, “As I see it, as long as they set out before the first day of the fourth lunar month, everything will be auspicious. Since the entire army is ready for battle, why not head north tomorrow and attack Three-Way Pass! Show Jun Yixie the severity shown by an official on assuming office!”
Although they were very worried over the safety of the hostages in Jun Yixie’s hands, they couldn’t expose their fears. Instead, they had to make Jun Yixie think that they didn’t care either way. Otherwise, Jun Yixie would definitely eat them alive. If that came to pass, it’d be hard enough to save the hostages, much less preserve their own safety.
Jun Yixie’s appointment was set on the first day of the fourth lunar month. If they delayed the troops until the 15th day, then the battle might be a moot point if they ran into trouble at Tiger’s Prison! However, if the troops set out first, they could test Jun Yixie’s bottom line and give them a counter to use for negotiation talks. Nobody knew that Gu Beiyue had a personal agenda of his own. He hoped that talks with Jun Yixie would allow both sides to yield without going into war or coming to blows.
Long Feiye had no idea about Gu Beiyue’s intentions, but he could acknowledge his views. Jun Yixie’s invitation letter was already in their hands, so he had to return the gift somehow!
Long Feiye looked towards Han Yunxi and asked, “How do you see all this?”
Han Yunxi agreed with Gu Beiyue’s views too. Leaving aside Tang Li, Ning Jing, Mu Linger and the rest, she and Long Feiye were all for the northern expedition. If needed, they would yield as required, or even sacrifice something instead. However, she didn’t return Long Feiye’s question and looked towards Tang Li. “Tang Li, what do you think?”
Gu Beiyue’s words were considering the big picture, but by threatening Jun Yixie, they ran the risk of angering him too. The consequences of an angry Jun Yixie would reflect directly on his hostages. When two armies were at war, the agreements between nations to not mistreat their hostages were nothing more than dog farts in Jun Yixie’s eyes.
Perhaps Han Yunxi and Long Feiye’s return had given Tang Li faith and courage, but he had been exceptionally well-behaved in the past few days. He went to bed and got up early and maintained an energetic state everyday. Besides understanding more about the northern expedition details, most of his time was spent practicing his martial arts and hidden weapon skills. While Long Feiye and the rest were discussing important matters, he would sit to one side, simply listening without giving input.
Han Yunxi’s sudden question now left him at a loss. Still, he quickly recovered and said, “Everything should be for the big picture! Do what we have to do!”
No one could tell whether Tang Li’s words were sincere or forced, but since he said them out loud, it proved his determination and bravery. Long Feiye nodded and proclaimed, “Baili Yuanlong, Deputy General Xue, the two of you will issue orders immediately. All troops heed orders to rest well tonight. We head north tomorrow!”
“Yes!” Baili Yuanlong and Deputy General Xue chorused before they left.
Long Feiye asked seriously, “Gu Beiyue, if you set out tonight, how fast can you reach Tiger’s Prison?”
“Three days,” Gu Beiyue answered truthfully. Without Xu Donglin here, he had been in charge of arranging multiple matters. Naturally, he’d long found out the time it took to travel between Three-Way Black Market and Tiger’s Prison by now.
“Three days. Then three days after that…” Long Feiye trailed off.
“Three days after that would be the 28th day of the second lunar month,” Han Yunxi added hastily. “Thus, we can’t afford to leave any later than after the two armies tomorrow.”
But Long Feiye only said, “We won’t participate in the northern expedition when the troops head out. Have Ning Nuo give Jun Yixie a letter and say this crown prince will personally lead the troops to attack Skyriver City and meet him for tea then!”
For a second, Tang Li didn’t get what he meant and looked confused.
Then Long Feiye added, “Tang Li, go make preparations. We’ll head for Tiger’s Prison tonight! After arriving on the 28th, we’ll secure the hostages first, then have a good time drinking tea with Jun Yixie on the 1st!”
Thrilled by his words, Tang Li’s dark pupils instantly lit up.
“Your words are my command, big bro!”
Like last night, he sprang to his feet in excitement. He had been waiting for this day for a long, long time!
Sitting on one side, Gu Qishao slammed his fists and laughed. “Long Feiye, this old man likes that idea!”
Who cares when Jun Yixie wanted to drink tea? They would slip in and save the hostages first, then find him for their date! See how Jun Yixie would waddle about then! Han Yunxi was thrilled as well. Although there was some difficulty to this method, they would manage it since Long Feiye said so!
Actually, they had to succeed!
Without hostages in Jun Yixie’s hands, they could have a nice long drink of tea!
Gu Beiyue smiled lightly. “Your Highness, this subordinate will do my best to coordinate with you.”
With that decided, everyone left to make preparations. Han Yunxi was in charge of personally packing Long Feiye’s things while he went to see Manager Luo at Kangan Private Bank. After East Qin and the Di Clan started working together, the central and south regions relaxed many of their restrictions against the Di Clan’s merchants, allowing Cloud Realm Trade Consortium a chance to be reborn. However, this displeased many of the wealthy consortiums and families of the south central regions, who had been raising a ruckus from the south quite a few times.
Long Feiye was too busy and simply feigned ignorance about this matter while having his subordinates handle it. After all, the people in the south didn’t dare run too rampant so they wouldn’t affect the ultimate conclusion.
Very soon, Han Yunxi finished her preparations. She was about to find Long Feiye when a servant girl came over with a bowl of brownish-black medicine. Puzzled, Han Yunxi assumed this was a delivery on Long Feiye’s orders since he would often give her nourishing medicine.
“This servant brought this on Doctor Gu’s orders . Doctor Gu said that the princess hasn’t been looking well and needs to travel far. He fears that princess won’t be able to take it, so he made this medicine for you to drink up while it’s hot before you leave,” the servant said. “Doctor Gu also said that this is the first bowl. Once princess returns, you’ll need to keep drinking this.”
Han Yunxi picked up the bowl and took a sniff before tasting its contents. Aside from a few common medicinal plants, she couldn’t figure out any of the other ingredients. Without much thought, she downed the contents. Besides Long Feiye, Gu Beiyue was the one other man in this world she never had to worry about.
After finishing the bowl, she sat for a while until Long Feiye and Gu Beiyue returned. The latter made no mention of the medicine, so Long Feiye naturally remained clueless.
For their journey to Tiger’s Prison, Long Feiye only picked a few shadow guards to follow them on the sly. They would make running errands more convenient. The team was kept small because there was no need for additional people. To kill Jun Yixie, only he, Han Yunxi, Gu Beiyue, and Gu Qishao were sufficient. To rescue the hostages needed more than their combined strength, but more strategy and tactics. Long Feiye’s team and one Tang Li left as a group of five in secret that night from Three-Way Black Market. They chose to keep to the small forest paths as they headed for Tiger’s Prison.
On the 28th night of the third lunar month, they arrived outside the mountain forests surrounding Tiger’s Prison. This was a dense patch of woods west of Northern Li’s Skyriver City and made up the country’s largest swath of mountain wilderness. The peaks were high with deep ravines, steep slopes, and many connected ranges like a row of jigsaw fangs. Mountain after mountain, peak after peak, made up an unending mass.
Tiger’s Prison was hidden in the deepest part of the mountains in the densest, thickest gully. The geography affected the climate here, which was full of thick, full-leaf trees dense enough to blot out the skies and sun. Jun Yixie had invited Long Feiye and Han Yunxi to drink tea on the eastern cliffs of Tiger’s Prison, a place called Tiger Roar Cliff. It got its name from the multiple tigers within the mountains who often roared over the cliffs. Standing on its edge, one could see the deep gully beneath but not Tiger’s Prison itself because of all the trees and greenery.
Jun Yixie had drawn a map in his invitation letter which detailed a path from the base of the mountain to Tiger Roar Cliff. However, Bai Yuqiao had long given them a clear map of Tiger’s Prison and its surrounding peaks in the past. She even added notes on the known ambushes lying in wait around the area. There were many different paths to Tiger Roar Cliff, but Jun Yixie had drawn them the most dangerous one!
Currently, Han Yunxi and the rest were looking up at the mountain from its base. Jun Yixie had arranged to meet with them at sunset tomorrow. In other words, they only had tonight and tomorrow’s daytime to slip into Tiger’s Prison and rescue its prisoners!
2. This is a little confusing, but basically LFY calculated 6 days total for GBY to head there and back. Since it’s the 20th now and GBY is leaving at night, he’ll see daylight on the day of the 21st and likely arrive by the night of the 23rd. Assuming some time to snoop around during the day of the 24th, he’ll leave and be back closer to the night of the 27th, which makes it the 28th day when he’s finally back. ….okay yeah I’m confused too, but that’s the gist of it.
Okay guys, starting with this chapter I'll keep the snarky comments about HYX and LFY to myself. Apologies for the annoyance--I realized that reading them on other translator's works irk me too.
Take care and stay clean! ^-^