Wei Zhao in particular already had a murderous look in his eyes as he raised his hand and pointed at Huo Qingyang, saying in a cold voice, “Huo Qingyang, you make it clear to me!”
The one who would call himself His Imperial Highness must be someone who knew his identity as Wang Qin, and Huo Qingyang claimed that he had saved his life, but when Wei Zhao thought about it, he couldn’t remember when this had happened.
Seeing that Wei Zhao frowned slightly and the doubts on his face seemed to be sincere, Huo Qingyang continued: “Six years ago, outside Ulan City, His Imperial Highness once rescued a child from under the hooves of the Fuyu’s horses.”
Six years ago?! That was the 39th year of Yongjia. It was the first time Wei Zhao went out with the army. All he thought about was how to make achievements, but Li Kang was too cautious. This was not allowed and that was forbidden; he annoyed Wei Zhao to no end. If it dragged on like this, when would the war end?
If it was anyone else, no matter how unhappy, with the commander’s orders not to act rashly, there would be no choice but to hold back and never dare to disobey. Military orders were like mountains, and those who violated them would be beheaded.
Although Wei Zhao was a prince, he was also an officer under Li Kang. It was impossible for him to disobey orders openly, but secretly, he often took hundreds of his own soldiers to wander around the border between the two countries, killing any small groups of Fuyu enemies he came across.
It was hard to say whether Wei Zhao was lucky or not, but the previous few times, he encountered small-scale Fuyu army groups, ranging from a few hundred to a couple of thousand men. His own soldiers were the Great Yan’s most elite cavalry, capable of going one against ten, and two or three times their own number of enemies was not a problem.
Unexpectedly, that day Wei Zhao was just wandering around at will, but met Dugu En, the Right General of Fuyu, who was raiding Ulan City. Although Dugu En didn’t lead the famous Golden Wolf Army, he had more than 10,000 troops at his disposal, which was more than Wei Zhao’s few hundred men could handle.
Youzhou was a vast land with thousands of li of fertile fields. To the east was the rich and abundant Songhe Plain, to the west were the vast, boundless Wusu Steppes, and the rich Arslan Mountains stretched across them. Whether for farming, grazing, or even fishing and hunting, it was a rare treasure trove.
But the one bad thing about Youzhou was that it was high in the north and low in the south, so in the hands of Fuyu it was easy to defend and difficult to attack, but in the hands of the Great Yan it was easy to attack and difficult to defend.
The terrain made it particularly easy for the Fuyu to raid Ulan; they would arrive through the grasslands, which was impossible to prevent. Besides, Li Kang’s men were mainly stationed near Baicheng, more than a hundred li away from Ulan City, and there was no time to rescue Ulan if something happened.
By the time Wei Zhao arrived with his men, the Fuyu people had already looted the city and retreated in a hurry. In the end, they were afraid of the Great Yan’s 100,000-strong army, and only dared to kill and loot, but didn’t dare to stay in the city.
“Your Highness, should we pursue them? This subordinate heard that Dugu En ordered people to kidnap hundreds of young girls from the city.” Wei Zhao’s personal aide spoke to him, his tone indignant.
When the Fuyu people went south to the Great Yan to “fight the autumn breeze”(1), apart from robbing gold, silver and grain, they were most interested in snatching young girls and young women of the right age. When those innocent women arrived in Fuyu, they were divided up among the Fuyu men who were unable to get a wife, and bore their children for them.
In the future, when their children grew up, they would never remember that they had the Han blood in them and would do the same things as their parents. Similar tragedies repeated for generations in the northern border of the Great Yan.
Wei Zhao thought for a while, then waved his hand and said, “Brothers, follow me!” How could it be possible not to pursue and just let the Fuyu go like this? It would be a shame to his family name.
In that battle, Wei Zhao defeated many enemies with only 800 of his elite horsemen, causing Dugu En to retreat with less than half of his remaining men, and at the same time rescuing many of the captive girls.
Wei Zhao had a limited number of men, so he left as soon as he achieved his goal and didn’t chase the enemy further. Just as he was about to take people back to the city, he accidentally saw a boy hanging from the horse of one of the Fuyu horsemen, about to be trampled under the horse hooves.
Without saying a word, Wei Zhao immediately turned his horse and chased forward. Liuxing(2), the horse under Wei Zhao, was a divine horse from Wusun. It was specially sent to him when he was ten years old by Princess Gaochang, who was married to Wusun, to celebrate his tenth birthday.
Liuxing was as fast as the wind, and it was by no means comparable to ordinary horses. In the blink of an eye, it chased the tail of the Fuyu people’s group. Wei Zhao picked up the spear, struck down the Fuyu horseman from the horse, and then took advantage of the situation to pick up the frightened boy, putting him across the back of the horse in front of himself.
At this time, the nearby Fuyu soldiers discovered Wei Zhao and surrounded him. Wei Zhao glanced at them coldly, and his spear was ready once again. In just a few moments, he took the boy out of the crowd, leaving a mess behind him.
“Are you the kid who was caught by mistake?” Wei Zhao narrowed his eyes slightly, the murderous intent in his eyes gradually fading, replaced by a little amusement.
Back then, Wei Zhao did save Huo Qingyang, but after he returned to the city, he handed him over to local officials and asked them to send him home. Since then, he had never asked about the boy, so he wasn’t sure how Huo Qingyang could be mixed in with all the wonderful young girls that the Fuyu people had captured.
Huo Qingyang lowered his head and whispered: “It’s not that I was caught by mistake, but those bastards, they took my sister. I wanted to save my sister and then I was caught.”
Although most of the captive girls were rescued, a small number were still taken away by the Fuyu people. Thinking that Huo Qingyang was now the only one in the Huo family, Wei Zhao didn’t mention his sister, but said indifferently: “Even if it wasn’t you, I would have saved that person. You don’t need to take it to heart.”
Huo Qingyang shook his head desperately and insisted: “For His Imperial Highness, this is a trivial matter and can be ignored, but for me, how can I forget the kindness of saving my life? I am not an ungrateful person.”
Wei Zhao said helplessly: “I just saved your life, but you saved the two of us, father and son. We’re even and if you want to calculate, I’m the one who owes you.”
Huo Qingyang blinked and suddenly smiled: “Since Your Highness owes me, do you plan to pay me back?”
Wei Zhao laughed and said with a smile: “How do you want me to pay you back?” This kid was interesting. He just said that he wanted to repay his kindness, and in the blink of an eye, he was asking him for a favour.
Huo Qingyang curbed a smile and said with a serious expression: “I want to join the army, but I have no way to do so. If I escort Your Imperial Highness and your Little Imperial Highness back to the capital, Your Highness can arrange a place for me if you see fit.”
After all was said and done, Huo Qingyang still intended to follow Wei Zhao to the capital. However, his request wasn’t excessive, and when Wei Zhao thought about his feud with the Fuyu people, he understood why he wanted to join the army.
Afterwards, Huo Qingyang gave an honest account of his family history to Wei Zhao. It turned out that the Huo family’s ancestors were from the border village of Yunzhou, but in the 29th year of Yongjia, Ji Yu, the son of Wang Changning, recovered the two counties of Baicheng and Ulan in Youzhou. Wei Su transferred tens of thousands of military and civilian troops from neighbouring Yanzhou and Yunzhou to guard the border. Huo Qingyang’s family moved to Ulan City, and he himself was born in Ulan City.
Dugu En raided Ulan City, and Huo Qingyang’s sister was taken away, and her whereabouts had been unknown since then. The following year, Wei Zhao was captured, Huo Qingyang’s father was killed in battle, and his mother died of illness soon afterwards, entrusting him to his uncle in his hometown.
Huo Qingyang’s uncle lost his wife in his early years and had no children, so he regarded Huo Qingyang as his biological son. Unexpectedly, last year, his uncle went into the mountains to hunt, and there was no news about him, and Huo Qingyang was the only one left in the Huo family.
On that day in Tianmen Ridge, Huo Qingyang recognised Wei Zhao at a glance. He would never forget that six years ago, when he thought he was bound to die, the young prince in red armour descended like a god and rescued him from under the iron hooves of the Fuyu’s horses.
It was precisely because it was Wei Zhao that Huo Qingyang would treat them so well along the way. In Huo Qingyang’s view, Wei Zhao’s kindness to him was something he could never repay. At that time, the Fuyu people were retreating, and Wei Zhao took a great risk when he turned around to save him.
From the moment Huo Qingyang said that Wei Zhao had saved him, Yi Yin hadn’t spoken. He was sitting aside and listening to the conversation between Huo Qingyang and Wei Zhao.
Finally, when Huo Qingyang said that he wanted to join the army, Yi Yin suddenly remembered who he was, not in the present, but in the future.
Huo Qingyang was Huo Dongjun, the great general who restored the whole territory of Youzhou in the 10th year of Taiping and completely defeated Tiele and Fuyu. He once told Yi Yin personally that the most respected person in his life was Wang Qin Wei Zhao.
Yi Yin didn’t connect the two people together at first, not only because of the different names, but because Huo Qingyang in front of him really had nothing in common with the great General Huo in his memory.
At this moment, Huo Qingyang was a handsome young man with clear eyebrows, while the future General Huo was a big, brawny man. Standing in front of Yi Yin, who had always been known for his height, Huo Dongjun was half a head taller than him; who knew how he’d grown like that.
Thinking of this, Yi Yin couldn’t help but keep looking at Huo Qingyang, puzzled. Their eyes met and locked, and they stared at each other, their eyes widening more and more.
In the end, Yi Yin was the first to admit defeat, smiling and wiping away the tears that were forced out of his eyes from staring for so long. He thought and thought about it, feeling that it was unbelievable that Huo Qingyang should grow up to look like Huo Dongjun.
But Yi Yin could guess why he changed his name. After Wei Su’s death, the Sixth Prince Wei Yang succeeded to the throne. Huo Qingyang’s name violated the taboo of the new emperor’s name(3), so he had to change it. The word “Dongjun” was the name of the legendary sun god.
It was just that in this life, he and Wei Zhao returned to the Great Yan safely, and they would never give Wei Yang another chance to ascend to the throne. Huo Qingyang’s name probably wouldn’t need to be changed anymore.
After some bargaining, Huo Qingyang finally persuaded Wei Zhao to stay in his house for a while, and wait for him to handle the affairs of his family before setting off together.
There was no one else in the Huo family. Huo Qingyang was leaving and he didn’t plan to come back in the short term, so he had a lot to deal with. Wei Zhao and Yi Yin didn’t expect that Huo Qingyang looked so poor, but there were still a lot of good things in his home.
On the day of the market, Huo Qingyang borrowed an ox cart from the village official, intending to take all the prey brought down the mountains this time and the medicinal herbs accumulated at home to the county to sell.
Wei Zhao saw that many medicinal herbs were old(4), so he persuaded Huo Qingyang not to sell them for the time being. These things couldn’t be sold for a lot of money in a small place. Anyway, they were not heavy. It was better to take them to the capital. If he sold them there, he could buy at least a two-entry house(5).
Huo Qingyang agreed, so he went through his things again, took away all the light and precious ones, and sold only the bulky ones. The silver he got in the end also made him overjoyed.
Wei Zhao couldn’t help sighing when he saw this. This stupid boy, how much money he had been cheated out of before. No wonder he was so skilled but lived in such poverty. Bringing him to the capital, he’d probably have his hands full.
- Drain rich people of their wealth
- Shooting Star
- The part of his name “yang” coincided with the emperor’s name, which was taboo
- With medical herbs, the older is considered the better
- A house with three rows of buildings and two sections of courtyard between them (looking somewhat like this 日)