TCPCHW Chapter 18 Part 2
The Crown Prince Chases His Wife
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Chapter 18 Dragon Boat Festival (2/2)
In the imperial study, the Emperor of Hui, dressed in a bright yellow dragon robe, and Taizi Feng Zhan, dressed in a black robe embroidered with golden thread, were playing chess.
After Qin Yan saluted the Emperor of Hui and Taizi, Li Fuquan asked the palace staff to set up a large carved chair not far from the chess game and arranged for Qin Yan to sit down to watch the chess game.
All three of them had very good sportsmanship in chess. Whether it was the winner, the loser, or the spectator, they didn’t make a sound. The only sound in the room was the sound of the chess piece and the occasional subtle sound of the teacups.
While tasting the imperial tribute tea, Qin Yan sometimes raised her eyes and swept toward the chess game.
Emperor of Hui’s chess strategy was steady, and he consolidated at every step.
On the other hand, Taizi Feng Zhan opposite the Emperor of Hui was an aggressive chess player, and he didn’t care that the opposite was the monarch or his imperial father.
Qin Yan glanced at Feng Zhan’s angular side face, and there was a hint of admiration in her eyes. Taizi’s style of behavior was quite to her liking.
After a cup of teatime, the Emperor of Hui lost three games in a row.
Emperor of Hui picked up the teacup that Li Fuquan handed him, took a sip, and said after sighing, “I’m old, I’m old.”
“Princess of Zhaoren, come and play a game with Taizi, let me see how many ways you young people play against each other.” Emperor of Hui said with a smile, and after he finished speaking, Li Fuquan helped him up and motioned Qin Yan to sit in his place.
Taizi Feng Zhan didn’t say a word throughout the whole process. He didn’t know whether to be happy or angry. He was playing with a white jade chess piece with his sharply articulated hand, slightly lifted his long and narrow eyes, and looked at Qin Yan.
Qin Yan didn’t know whether the other party was questioning whether she dared to take up the challenge, so she took two steps forward and sat opposite Feng Zhan.
Emperor of Hui took a seat at Qin Yan’s place just now and took time to watch the two young people talking with their hands.
“Princess of Zhaoren is in charge of black.” Feng Zhan seemed to be generous and courteous to Qin Yan.
“Guest do as a host please.” Qin Yan was not humble either, holding a black piece in her delicate hand, and dropping it on a random spot on the chessboard.
Both Feng Zhan and Qin Yan were moving at a very fast speed, seemingly at random, but between the offense and defense, they actually bit each other without letting go, and they were in a stalemate.
After several rounds, it was impossible to tell the winner.
“Good! Good! Good! Let’s end the game with a draw.” The Emperor of Hui applauded.
Qin Yan and Feng Zhan equally raised their eyes and looked at each other, both of them saw a trace of admiration in each other’s eyes. They could not meet many opponents, and today’s game of chess was also full of fun.
The three of them moved their positions, the Emperor of Hui sat on the throne, and Qin Yan and Feng Zhan sat on the large carved sandalwood chairs on either side of the Emperor of Hui.
Li Fuquan served freshly brewed tea.
“I asked you to come today because of the matter of handing over the Northwest. There are some arrangements I made before that Taizi is not aware of it. Now that Princess of Zhaoren has returned to the capital, I’ll let Princess of Zhaoren tell Taizi.” Emperor of Hui said.
Qin Yan knew that this was not something that could be finished in one or two sentences. She picked up the teacup at hand, took a sip, leaned her back slightly against the back of the chair, changed into a comfortable position, and spoke unhurriedly.
“When the war between Great Xia and Xirong and the Turks ended four years ago, Your Majesty sent a secret decree to the Pingxi Army to let the border army stay behind to strengthen the border defense, and to seize Gu City.”
“But at that time, the Three Kingdoms agreed that their respective armies would all return to the mountain pass. Regarding the matter of Gu City, it was not appropriate for the people from the Duke of Zhenguo to come forward, so I took over the task.”
“We selected 500 elites of the Pingxi Army and replaced them with new silver armors, tentatively named them as Silver Armor Guards. The Silver Armor Guards first picked out several bandit villages between Xiaoguan and Gu City and recruited some horse bandits, and then joined the guards after training. After dressing up, the Silver Armored Guards re-entered Gu City, got rid of several powerful factions, and recruited some swordsmen.”
“Today, the twenty thousand Silver Armored Guards in Gu City are composed of part of the Pingxi Army and the recruited swordsmen and horse bandits.”
“There are fifty thousand residents in Gu City, and most of them are merchants. We have planted spies in the city from wine shops to restaurants, brothels to casinos, and small vendors to street hawkers. We collected information from all over the city and reported to Your Majesty promptly.”
While talking, Li Fuquan continued to serve tea to Qin Yan. Qin Yan stopped talking, picked up the teacup, and took a sip to moisten her throat.
Feng Zhan knew a thing or two about these things, but he didn’t know that it was the girl in front of him who handled these things.
Putting down the teacup, Qin Yan continued, “Mulan Horse Farm is located at the foot of Liangshan near the border of Xirong. The water and grass are lush and suitable for grazing. We recruited the surrounding herdsmen and collected their cattle, horses, and camels. We used their horses to crossbreed with good Dawan horses, and the horses are of excellent breed, which is suitable as military horses. Camels are more suitable than horses to walk in the Gobi Desert outside the mountain pass. Previously during severe winter, the provisions from the Central Plains were always delayed from the scheduled arrival time. The cattle and sheep raised on the horse farm can also be used to supply military provision to the Northwest Camp.”
“Mulan Horse Farm must be kept.”
Qin Yan emphasized it solemnly. Although she handed over the horse farm to protect herself, the horse farm was very important to the Northwest Army.
One thing Qin Yan didn’t mention was that the mountain pass obviously had their supply of military horses, or else why would they run a horse farm by themselves?
In those years, Shuobei and the Northwest fought on both sides, and the military resources of the Ministry of War were limited, and the Shuobei Army was often given consideration first during distribution. The reason was very simple. His Highness Taizi was in the Shuobei Camp, the Commanding General of the Shuobei Army, Marquis of Yongding, Xie An, was the Emperor’s brother-in-law, and the Shizi of Marquis of Yongding Mansion, Xie Changyuan, was the only son of Princess of Anyang.
To please the imperial family, the Ministry of War gave priority to transporting provisions and military horses to Shuobei.
As for the Pingxi Army, the status of the Duke of Zhenguo was far from being comparable to that of the imperial family, and the military resources requested from the Ministry of War were always postponed. After being turned down several times, the Duke of Zhenguo decided to find a way by himself. The battlefield was changing rapidly, and it would be too late to wait for the Ministry of War. Therefore, Qin Yan took people around to raise military funds all these years.
Qin Yan took a sip of tea and continued, “As for Jiang Mu, his real name is Jiang Xun. He is the youngest son of the former emperor of Xirong and the nephew of the current Emperor of Xirong.”
Feng Zhan said in his heart, as expected.
Qin Yan continued, “In the war between the Three Kingdoms that year, the Turks and Xirong were closing in, Great Xia was forced to fight on both sides, and the situation was tense.”
“Four years ago, the prince of Xirong mutinied, killed the emperor and seized the throne. On the day of the mutiny, the Emperor of Xirong sent his young son and the monarch seal out of the imperial palace through a secret road by an old minister. They chose the border of Great Xia and went to the Pingxi Army Camp to request a meeting with the Commanding General of the Pingxi Army.
“The place where I received Jiang Xun was in Mushui, so I changed his name to Jiang Mu casually.”
“We agreed to protect Jiang Mu’s life. In exchange, the old ministers who escorted Jiang Mu joined the other civil officials and military generals in the court of Xirong to oppose the joint deployment of troops with the Turks on the grounds that the national treasury was depleted due to the long-term wars. The two factions in the court of Xirong were deadlocked, forcing them to retreat, and Great Xia was spared.”
“Afterwards, the Turks fought alone on the north side, and the Pingxi Army could also go up north without having to be restrained by Xirong. Therefore, the Turks lost consecutive battles in the attack of the Pingxi Army and the Shuobei Army. Their spirits were greatly damaged, and they returned to the outside of Malan Mountain.”
Feng Zhan roughly knew about these things. Back then, there were actually more than two sides fighting, and there were also changes on the southern border in the south. The Count of Pingnan also brought two hundred thousand armies to the south, and the Marquis of Guannei took one hundred thousand armies to guard against Goryeo in the eastern part. He just didn’t know that there was another Jiang Mu in the hands of the Pingxi Army.
“Princess of Zhaoren, the information on Gu City can be directly handed over to Taizi. How to use Jiang Mu and when to use it, you can decide later.” Emperor of Hui said to Qin Yan and Feng Zhan.
“This minister received the order.”
Emperor of Hui added, “Princess of Zhaoren, let’s go together to the Dragon Boat Festival dinner in the palace today.”