Before Shangguan Yi and Li Kang took back the six counties of Yizhou, the border line between Zhuxia and Nanyue was winding and stretching for hundreds of li. From time to time, disputes arose. Both sides gave as good as they got and neither won. They spent a lot of money but gained very little.
After Wei Su ascended to the throne, Zhuxia misjudged the situation. Instead of getting benefits from the Great Yan, it lost the six counties of Yizhou, degenerating from the original food self-sufficiency to the point where it had to buy food from other countries.
Since then, the border between Zhuxia and Nanyue was only a few tens of li of the Honghe River and they had been at peace for decades.
Unexpectedly, after Tuduo ascended the throne, Zhuxia’s style suddenly changed. First, he tested the Great Yan’s strength and was beaten to the ground. Then he forced his way past Xiaoluo and launched an attack on Nanyue. The speed of the offensive was far beyond everyone’s expectations.
Unlike Zhuxia, Nanyue had long-standing trade relations with the Great Yan and was dependent on the Great Yan in military matters. They didn’t expect Zhuxia to have such an ability, nor did they expect the Great Yan to be slow to respond, so it was no surprise that their country was destroyed and their capital lost.
On the day Jing’an City was invaded, the current king of Nanyue, Ruan Shao, was already dead. The six-year-old prince Ruan Ning, who had not yet succeeded to the throne, became a prisoner of Tuduo with his mother, younger brother and the whole royal clan.
At this moment, seeing everyone around him subconsciously looking over and then averting their eyes, Ruan Ning puffed up his little chest and bravely stood in front of Wei Kou. Behind him, Wei Kou’s expression was calm and unperturbed, while Ruan Meng, whom she was holding in her arms, looked innocent and confused.
Tuduo hooked the corners of his lips, showing an extremely wanton smile, and hummed softly: “Kid, you have some backbone, just like your dead father, but…” In the middle of the sentence, he suddenly stopped, stood up from the throne, walked to up Ruan Ning unhurriedly, stretched out his hand to pinch the boy’s chin and sneered: “Has anyone ever taught you that having a backbone is not a thing that everyone is qualified to have.”
In the end, Ruan Ning was very young. He knew that Tuduo was a bad guy, but he didn’t understand the meaning of his words. However, although he was a little afraid of Tuduo’s cruel eyes, he thought that his father was dead and he was the eldest man in the family and had the obligation to protect his mother and younger brother. Therefore, even though his cheeks hurt from being squeezed by Tuduo, he still looked up at him unfalteringly. He was just afraid that his younger brother would be scared and start crying.
After Tuduo said these words, he made a violent flinging movement, and Ruan Ning’s little body was tossed aside, first hitting a huge pillar, then rolling on the ground twice and remaining motionless. The sound of his breathing couldn’t be heard, so one couldn’t say whether he was dead or alive.
Wei Kou’s eyes moved violently. She glanced sideways at her son lying on the ground. Her fists hidden in her sleeves were tightly clenched, and her fingernails were deeply sticking into her palms, but she didn’t say a word of begging for mercy. Would it be useful to beg for mercy? The answer was no, and she knew it.
It was Ruan Meng who took advantage of his mother’s loss of concentration to get out of her arms and run towards Ruan Ning on his short legs, kneel by his side and shake him hard, calling out repeatedly, “Big Brother, wake up, Big Brother, woo woo…”
After a while, Ruan Ning coughed softly and said weakly: “Mengmeng, don’t cry, okay, ahem, your brother is fine…”
Ruan Meng cried loudly. Ruan Ning sat up with an effort and hugged his brother tightly, not saying a word.
The other members of the Ruan royal family cowered in fear, wondering what Tuduo was going to do, and even more afraid that Ruan Ning and Ruan Meng’s actions would offend him.
Tuduo ignored Ruan Ning and Ruan Meng. Instead, he leaned to Wei Kou’s ear and said in a very ambiguous tone: “Princess has a superb complexion, which is by no means comparable to ordinary people. It just so happens that you are a widow, and I have no queen. You can remarry to become my wife.”
Wei Kou glanced at him coldly: “Dream on!” Even if she died, she wouldn’t submit to him.
Tuduo wasn’t angry, but smiled even more brightly. He pointed to Ruan Ning and Ruan Meng, raised his eyebrows and said, “Princess, the two little princes of yours love each other so much, I am really touched. Do you think it’s better for them to be stepsons of this king or to go meet their dead father? The daughter of the emperor of the Great Yan and the sister of the emperor of the Great Yan seem to be two completely different things.”
“Despicable and shameless!” Wei Kou was not afraid of death, but Tuduo’s words were aimed exactly at her weak spot.
Tuduo listened to her words, looking at the sky, and sneered, “Despicable and shameless, that I am. What can you do to me, Princess?”
Wei Kou closed her eyes in contemplation and opened them again in an instant, her gaze full of perseverance: “Do I have a choice?”
“Of course you do,” Tuduo nodded, “The lives of the two little princes are in your hands.”
Without thinking, Wei Kou said calmly, “I want them to live.” Tudou’s smile became brighter.
“Queen Dowager, you…” Seeing that their own queen really had the intention of giving up her life, there was a considerable movement among the Ruan clan.
Tuduo raised his head, glared casually and said indifferently: “Do you want to go meet your late king?”
The crowd suddenly quieted down, everyone lowering their heads as much as possible. No one dared to make a sound anymore. Wei Kou smiled coldly.
Tuduo immediately ordered: “Come on, take these people to the royal prison to wait for their disposal. Send the princess back to the palace. As for the two little princes, find a secluded place to settle them. The people who serve them must be carefully selected, so they can’t be negligent.”
Until he lost interest in Wei Kou, Ruan Ning and Ruan Meng’s life would be spared for the time being.
Taking over Nanyue wasn’t Tuduo’s ultimate goal. His true goal was to integrate the four northern counties of Nanyue and thus form a siege on Yizhou. Wei Kou was a beautiful woman, but she was the mother of two children. Tuduo never lacked beauties around him. What he really liked was her dual identity, her looks were just added value. If she looked plain and ugly, he would have taken her just the same to maximise the impact on Nanyue.
But in the eyes of those who didn’t know Tuduo, the label of someone losing his head over lust was already attached to him.
Due to the delay in the movement from the Great Yan’s side, Tuduo didn’t impose full martial law on Jing’an City, and Wei Chongrong and Jun Hua entered the city without much effort. They found that the city was in a pretty good order, not as chaotic as they had expected.
Wei Chongrong took Jun Hua into a restaurant, and the two sat by the window on the second floor, talking quietly.
“Is Zhuxia too capable, or is Nanyue too weak?” While eating, Jun Hua said in a voice that only Wei Chongrong could hear. Less than half a month after their country was invaded, their monarch died and their queen was taken by force, they were singing and dancing peacefully.
Wei Chongrong wasn’t interested in the sweet and spicy dishes of Nanyue and simply ate white rice, picking food for Jun Hua. At the same time he said using the voice transmission technique: “The ones who attacked Honghe County before were not Zhuxia’s main forces at all.” Tuduo obviously used a cover-up.
Jun Hua was eating with gusto but didn’t delay in answering, “Indeed, the strength of Zhuxia’s army has improved too quickly. Although it is still not as strong as ours, it is really more than enough to deal with Nanyue. Tuduo must have some high level experts under him to help him.”
Wei Chongrong watched as Jun Hua added a third bowl of rice and couldn’t help but sigh at the fact that they had been on the road and rushing hard recently and Jun Hua’s appetite seemed to have soared. He reminded, “This high level expert, most likely, is someone we know.” He had already vaguely guessed the identity of that person.
Jun Hua was taken aback for a moment, and then quickly figured it out. Martial arts experts were easy to find, but the masters who could train soldiers were very difficult to come by. However, there was precisely such a person by Tuduo’s side. They just didn’t know what kind of conditions Tuduo offered him that made him agree to this.
“Forget about that for now, let’s go into the palace when it’s dark and see what’s going on.” There were scouts who had infiltrated Nanyue before Wei Chongrong and Jun Hua, but the difficult task of entering the palace to rescue someone was impossible for anyone else but the two of them to accomplish.
Wei Lan could ignore Wei Kou’s life or death, but Wei Chongrong couldn’t be so heartless. He wasn’t in the capital when Wei Xuan was assassinated, and there was nothing he could do. Wei Kou was in Jing’an City; if he didn’t try to save her, he wouldn’t feel at ease when he went to war with Zhuxia in the future.
Jun Hua finished the last bowl of rice and sighed: “Princess Yunmeng, she is very pitiful…” She had just lost her husband, and now she was forced to serve the man who had killed her husband and was deeply disdained by the whole country. It was painful to think about it.
As night fell, Wei Chongrong and Jun Hua changed into night disguise and quietly sneaked into the palace of Nanyue.
Wei Kou still lived in the queen’s palace where she used to live, but no one knew how she felt about it in her heart.
Fortunately, Tuduo went to the palace of the Third Princess of Nanyue(1) tonight and was not going to come to Wei Kou. As long as Wei Chongrong and Jun Hua avoided the guards, they were going to be able to see Wei Kou smoothly.
Wei Kou went to sleep very late, and when the candles were all out, she sat alone by the window in a daze, sleepless.
Suddenly, a small stone fell in front of the window. She raised her eyes, not paying much attention to it.
After a while, another small stone fell next to the previous one, and the two of them were placed side by side.
Wei Kou stood up and asked in a low voice, “Who is there?” She could sense that this person’s skills were not low.
“Sister, it’s me.” Wei Chongrong asked Jun Hua to lie on the roof and keep watch, and went to see Wei Kou alone.
Wei Kou was startled for a moment, and asked in a trembling voice after a long time: “Rong’er, is it you?”
“Hush!” Wei Chongrong made a gesture of silence and said solemnly: “Sister, don’t be afraid, I’m here to save you.” After speaking, he jumped inside through the window and stood in front of Wei Kou. Since the 3rd year of Tai’an, they hadn’t seen each other for eight years.
“Rong’er, you have grown up.” Wei Kou sighed in a low voice, her tone extremely painful and complicated. Her own younger brother didn’t care about her life or death, but her cousin, the same cousin who had been bullied by her younger brother, was willing to risk his life to save her.
“Now is not the time to talk, let’s get out of here first.” It was not difficult for him and Jun Hua to enter the palace, but leaving with Wei Kou without alerting anyone was going to be a bit more difficult.
Wei Kou shook her head and said softly, “I’m sorry, Rong’er, I can’t go with you.”
- That Third Princess of Nanyue, if you remember, it was her correspondence with Wei Mao that was used as evidence that Wei Mao conspired to kill the Crown Prince. There’s nothing else about her but she seems to be in relationship with Tuduo, which explains something