“We can only give up on Northern Li,” Gu Beiyue concluded.
Although the Li Clan had caused chaos throughout Cloud Realm, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi still had control over enough resources to lose. As long as they were willing to give up Northern Li and send the soldiers south to fight against the traitors and Li Clan there, they could quell the chaos. Ning Cheng would be left to maintain the northern border and give them breathing room for a short while.
“What if the generals in Northern Li and the southern regions make peace with the Northern Li emperor? Wouldn’t we be attacked on both sides?” Han Yunxi asked cautiously.
There were no such things as eternal alliances in the world, much less forever enemies. Only interests and profits moved men. Perhaps this phrase was too materially oriented, but faced with the country’s benefits, it was quite appropriate! Perhaps the south wouldn’t ally with the Northern Li emperor, but that didn’t mean the emperor wouldn’t make overtures towards them!
Han Yunxi’s fears were sound, but Long Feiye set her mind at ease. “They won’t. Even if the Northern Li wants to, Noble Consort Xiao will convince him otherwise.”
Since Long Feiye was so certain, Han Yunxi stopped worrying. As long as north and south didn’t join hands, Ning Cheng’s troops and a little reinforcements would be enough to prevent the northern enemies from moving south. Now Han Yunxi dearly hoped that Ning Cheng had convinced Jin Zi to help out. As long as Jin Zi could subdue the former subordinates of the Black Clan, they would have even less to worry about.
Long Feiye stood with his hands behind his back as he peered at the map. After a period of silence, he issued the first orders. “Transfer 10,000 troops here to stand guard. The rest will all follow this crown prince south!”
Actually, nobody expected him to leave Ning Cheng any reinforcements at all, but he didn’t avenge personal wrongs in the name of public interest. They used a day’s time to consolidate their troops. Long Feiye stayed awake all night to re-assign garrison troops for the central and southern regions while Han Yunxi and Gu Beiyue gave counsel. She transferred a faction of female soldiers from the City of Daughters to create a mini regiment of crack troops that could help them out in case of an emergency.
Gu Qishao had no interest in these matters, but he couldn’t sleep either, so he simply sat on the side listening to them talk. In the end, he tossed in one word. “Poison lass, at worst we can just form a big Poison Corpse army and kill our way to Tianan!”
The first part of his sentence was all nonsense, but the second half hit the nail on the head. The saying went, “to catch brigands, first catch their king.” The best way to quell the chaos was to take down Tianan--or more specifically, General Mu’s headquarters! Naturally, everyone ignored Gu Qishao’s first half about the Poison Corpse army, but Gu Beiyue stated, “Perhaps Bai Yanqing is at Tianan right now with Miss Jing and the rest.”
“That’s good too, it’ll save us time searching!” Han Yunxi said coldly.
Long Feiye’s goal for heading south was naturally Tianan as well. When Tianning had fallen overnight, he’d stolen away and formally announced that he’d fight to gain the territories back. Who knew he’d be personally leading an army to retrace his steps now? He looked at Gu Beiyue and Han Yunxi before saying in a low voice, “Order a few deputy generals to lead their troops to the three central prefectures. The four of us will kill our way to Tianan, how about it?”
He didn’t care who had Mu Qingwu in their clutches. He wanted Great General Mu Yuanbo’s life! Both Han Yunxi and Gu Beiyue were shaken and surprised. Why didn’t they think of this move?
“Thrilling!” Gu Qishao laughed out loud. “Long Feiye, this old man will come with you!”
“It’s a good idea. Falsely diverting the troops can mislead the enemy,” Gu Beiue smiled.
Han Yunxi was even more to the point. “We can leave at any time!”
Before departure, Han Yunxi still went to the army’s medical tent to call Mu Linger out. In a low voice, she asked, “Linger, they’re leaving tonight.”
“The troops are being deployed tonight?” Mu Linger was puzzled. Weren’t they scheduled to leave tomorrow morning? Han Yunxi murmured a few more words by her ear until she knew what was up.
“Big sis, wouldn’t I be a burden if I come along with you guys?” Mu Linger asked.
“Yes,” Han Yunxi replied honestly. Although it was cruel, it was better than having her along to drag at everyone’s heels.
Mu Linger smiled. “That’s perfect, I can stay far away from Qi gege then.”
“Just what’s going on with you? If you won’t tell me, don’t call me your big sis in the future!” Han Yunxi wasn’t angry, just helpless. She’d asked at least ten times about Manager Jin, but Mu Linger refused to tell her the truth.
“Big sis, Qi gege….rejected me that night,” Mu Linger lowered her head.
Surprised, Han Yunxi continued to listen as Mu Linger went on. “Big sis, since Qi gege’s rejected me, I won’t pester him in the future. But...but I can still like him, right?”
Han Yunxi still hadn’t gotten the point of her ramblings. She took Mu Linger’s hand and said, “I can’t take charge of matters between you and your Qi gege because they’re your personal affairs. But you have to tell me what’s going on with you and Jin Zi. You want to marry him one second and leave him the next? Why? Has he threatened you? Scared you somehow?”
“No!” Mu Linger rejected. “I just wanted to use him to make Qi gege mad, but...but things ended up like this.” She didn’t dare to meet Han Yunxi’s eyes as she pushed her away. “Go away, go away, how could I be so easy to scare?”
Although Han Yunxi was still uneasy, but at least they’d shared something. She carefully instructed Mu Linger, “Later, Chu Xifeng and Baili Mingxiang will come to pick you up. You should all head secretly for the Tang Clan.”
“I don’t want to!” Mu Linger refused.
“Then where else will you go?” Han Yunxi retorted with narrowed eyes. With all of them gone, could Mu Linger be content to sit around the army camp with her personality? They’d expended so much effort to rescue her that Han Yunxi wouldn’t be at ease unless she was situated somewhere safe.
“I’ll just stay in the army camps and not go anywhere. I’ll wait for your good news!” Mu Linger said anxiously.
“A few days ago, I received news from Lady Tang that little Tang Tang’s afraid of strangers. She’s been crying every night. Linger, just go for Ning Jing’s sake,” Han Yunxi’s tone grew imposing.
How could Mu Linger refuse after that? She anxiously asked, “When will Chu Xifeng’s group arrive? How long does it take to get to the Tang Clan from here?”
Actually, Mu Linger had underestimated little Tang Tang. Perhaps it was because the baby had been in mortal peril since her birth, but she’d adapted extremely well to the circumstances and was living wonderfully at the Tang Clan. There were scores of people who played with her everyday and a pair who watched over her specially at night. She had long grown used to life at the Tang Clan and didn’t need Mu Linger to worry about her at all.
Just like that, Han Yunxi tricked Mu Linger into waiting obediently for Chu Xifeng and Baili Mingxiang at the army barracks. That night, Long Feiye’s orders were quickly distributed to each army commander while his group of four headed southeast for Tianan. The next day, the 70,000 troops stationed outside the Three-Way Pass split into two. One headed north to support Ning Cheng, while the other aimed for the south. A few days later, the garrison troops in the central and southern regions received Long Feiye’s orders as well and adjusted their strategies to cooperate with the Great Generals heading south.
Only 15,000 soldiers were left within Tianning borders after the Great Generals left Three-Way Pass. They teamed up with the armies stationed on Tianning’s east and west borders to deal with Western Zhou and Tianan’s invasion. The remaining 50,000 troops didn’t stop, but kept heading persistently south. The central regions and Jiangnan in the south were Cloud Realm Continent’s richest and most prosperous land, as well as the territories most suitable for living. Naturally, they demanded the bulk of the army for protection. At the same time, the central and southern garrison troops followed Han Yunxi’s suggestion to put together a people’s militia that was paid grain and money by the various trade consortiums to deal with the traitorous soldiers. All of this was made possible thanks to Long Feiye and Han Yunxi’s past handling of the famine situation in the south. They’d left a good impression on the people there; moreover, they were naturally revered as heirs to two royal dynasties.
The Li Clan might have won the hearts of the soldiers, but Long Feiye and Han Yunxi could win the hearts of the citizens. How could soldiers’ hearts fight against the people? Soldiers were citizens too!
The 50,000 soldiers had hardly reached the central regions when good news came from Jiangnan in the south. The people’s militia had successfully repelled the traitorous factions from attacking and occupying a large territory responsible for grain. At the same time, they cut of multiple sources of grain to the enemy in other places.
Tianning and the three central prefectures were in a more serious state. Although the two opposing armies had yet to fight, those with experience could tell that the region would be plunged into a long-scale war. That was the worst possible outcome for both Long Feiye and Han Yunxi. Unexpectedly, Ning Cheng actually told the troops that Long Feiye had transferred him to head south to support Tianning.
Under these circumstances, it was unclear whether his agreement with Long Feiye of “no defeats” still stood.
Whatever the case, Ning Cheng wasn’t swayed by personal feelings. He could return the 10,000 men back to Long Feiye because Jin Zi had created a tiger regiment of his own to “prove” his identity as a Black Clan direct bloodline descendant. As soon as he brought the tigers to parade around the battlefield, news spread throughout Northern Li’s southern regions. Nearly half of the Black Clan’s old subordinates surrendered at the sight, though the rest held out.
Long Feiye’s group had already been hidden in Tianan for days when the news reached them. While they silently gave Ning Cheng a thumbs up, the central and southern regions stood poised for battle. Meanwhile, they themselves were investigating General Mu’s headquarters and waiting for an opportune moment to strike.
Each of the four had different thoughts about Ning Cheng’s actions.
“Tsk tsk tsk, this Ning Cheng’s pretty impressive! I’ve really underestimated him,” Gu Qishao said with amusement.
Han Yunxi didn’t speak, but was silently laughing at Ning Cheng’s actions. Most likely, he came up with the idea for Jin Zi to claim he was the Black Clan descendant who’d sided with the West Qin Dynasty. Not only did this help West Qin claim the Black Clan, but also slap Long Feiye’s face. After all, the Black Clan were originally followers of East Qin!
“Princess, no matter whether Jin Zi is a Black Clan descendant or not, it’ll be very advantageous if we can use him,” Gu Beiyue had a knack for seeing these things behind his placid smile.
Long Feiye only laughed coldly. “Since he gained the Black Clan, this crown prince will wait for him to take all of Northern Li!”
No one would know that Ning Cheng’s letter contained a piece of paper for Long Feiye alone. On it was written clearly: no matter how things changed in Northern Li, he and Long Feiye’s agreement still stood. After that display of attitude, Long Feiye was going to wait expectantly for results.
Two days later, the shadow guards verified that Great General Mu was still in Tianan’s capital city, but there was no sign of Bai Yanqing. Han Yunxi’s group didn’t hesitate to leave for the capital. However, they hadn’t gone far when bad news spread overnight across all of Cloud Realm Continent--especially in the central and Jiangnan regions. It happened so fast that it must have been prepared ahead of time by scouts planted in each region.
The bad news said that Great General Mu had personally led 10,000 soldiers to guard Tianan’s imperial capital and seal off its exits. No one was allowed to come in or out, thus trapping 30,000 citizens inside.
And Great General Mu was calling for Han Yunxi to demand they make a deal!
1. Mu Yuanbo (穆元博) - Mu is a surname meaning “solemn, reverent,” Yuan is “key element, essential factor, first/chief/fundamental,” Bo is “rich, abundant, plentiful, erudite, loose/big.” You know things are getting serious when the novel finally gives you a full name! Congratulations, Great General Mu! It’s only been 1098 chapters…
Really wanted to add something to the end of this sentence:
Actually, nobody expected him to leave Ning Cheng any reinforcements at all, but he didn’t avenge personal wrongs in the name of public interest (this time).
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