Wei Chongrong was far away on the southern border and was not aware of what was happening in the capital. Right now, he was planning his final attack on Zhuxia as well as constantly ordering people to find out the whereabouts of Jun Hua and Ruan Ning. But while the former was going smoothly, there was no clue regarding the latter.
Although Wei Chongrong didn’t show it on his face, Dongfang, who had followed him for many years, could see his anxiety. He said comfortingly, “Master Shizi, don’t worry too much, it is better that there is no news of Lord Consort, it means that he hasn’t fallen into Tuduo’s hands.”
Wei Chongrong was silent. If he were Tuduo, even if he captured Jun Hua, he wouldn’t make a big deal of it. He would save it till the critical moment when it came in handy. If Jun Hua hadn’t been captured, with his qinggong, he would have been able to return to Honghe County a long time ago. How could he rest assured?
Besides, Zhuxia had not invaded the Great Yan yet, and it was impossible for him to take the initiative to attack the foreign country without obtaining the emperor’s decree.
Wei Chongrong took a deep breath and sighed quietly: “I hope it is as you said.”
Outside Yisha City, in the Diancang Mountains, the Valley of Ecstasy
It had been a month since Jun Hua arrived here, but he had never met Princess Tuya, the owner of the Valley of Ecstasy.
Back then, he took Ruan Ning to the place where he had agreed to meet with Wei Chongrong. Because he missed the hour, he didn’t see Wei Chongrong and Ruan Meng.
Just when Jun Hua found traces of Wei Chongrong’s arrival and was about to catch up, Li Jing, who had been lurking for a long time, appeared.
In fact, Li Jing had seen Wei Chongrong and Ruan Meng, but he was quite self-aware. Knowing that he wasn’t Wei Chongrong’s match, he hid and waited for Jun Hua to appear. As expected, less than a shichen after Wei Chongrong left, Jun Hua got into the trap.
Naturally, Jun Hua was unwilling to get caught and resisted desperately but he fainted after the foetus was disturbed.
Ruan Ning was stunned, hugging him and crying loudly, choking as he cried.
In a half-unconscious state, Jun Hua heard Li Jing and Tuya arguing, and then he and Ruan Ning were brought to the Valley of Ecstasy by Tuya.
It was also thanks to Tuya’s superb medical skills that the foetus in Jun Hua’s abdomen could be saved.
Jun Hua still remembered that when Wei Mao was tricked into the Valley of Ecstasy, Tuya used the gu to control him and made him stab Wei Chongrong with a dagger.
It was evident that Tuya and Tuduo were on the same side. Unexpectedly, when Li Jing wanted to take him back to Jing’an City, Tuya opposed him, and Li Jing was helpless.
If he had a chance, Jun Hua would love to ask Tuya why she did this. It was a pity that on the way from Muyun Mountain to the Diancang Mountains, he was drugged by Tuya and slept most of the time. He had no chance to talk to her at all, spending all the time just eating and sleeping.
After returning to the Valley of Ecstasy, Tuya took good care of him and Ruan Ning, but she never showed up once.
Although Jun Hua didn’t understand her reasons, he didn’t look deeper into the matter as Tuya had no intention to harm him for the time being. While recuperating, he waited for the opportunity to escape. It was just that the Valley of Ecstasy was full of traps, he was pregnant, and he had Ruan Ning with him, so he couldn’t succeed for a while.
On this day, after breakfast, Jun Hua wandered around the courtyard, trying to find out how to break the traps.
The maids in the valley treated him with courtesy and didn’t try to stop him. It seemed to be Tuya’s order.
Unfortunately, Jun Hua was not Dongfang and wasn’t as skilled in Qimen Dunjia. After looking at the traps for a month, he still couldn’t crack them.
Ruan Ning followed Jun Hua, his eyes full of curiosity, and from time to time he asked some strange questions. If it was something Jun Hua knew, he would answer seriously, but if there was something he didn’t know, he could only make up some nonsense. But as the little one was still young, Jun Hua was able to fool him.
“Youngest Uncle, how long are we going to stay here?” What Ruan Ning wanted to know the most was the answer to this question.
Jun Hua took him to sit down on the swing in the yard and sighed: “It depends on when your Fourth Uncle finds us.”
He failed to return to Honghe County on time. Wei Chongrong would most likely think that he was still in Nanyue and would be looking for him in that direction, never imagining that he had been taken to the Valley of Ecstasy by Princess Tuya. It was hard to say when he would find them.
Besides, Tuya’s attitude was also a bit mystifying. She was Tuduo’s sister. Under normal circumstances, she must have been helping her brother. It was hard to say what she kept Jun Hua and Ruan Ning for, but, after all, she had no reason to betray Tuduo.
There was really no way to crack those traps. Jun Hua could only hope that Wei Chongrong’s men would be more powerful. If it dragged on like this, he might give birth to his child in the Valley of Ecstasy. If that was the case, he would be a laughing stock for the rest of his life.
“I miss my mother and brother.” Ruan Ning finished quietly, burying his head in Jun Hua’s lap.
Jun Hua reached out and rubbed his head, saying softly: “Little Ning’er, don’t be afraid, we will definitely have a chance to escape.”
Just as Jun Hua feared, Wei Chongrong’s inquiries about him were always within the scope of Nanyue. Therefore, by the time Jun Qing arrived in Dongshan Town, Wei Chongrong still found nothing. His emotions were suppressed to the extreme, threatening to explode at any moment.
Suddenly seeing Jun Qing, Wei Chongrong almost thought he was hallucinating, and after hesitating for a moment, he called out, “Hou Zhaoyang?”
Jun Qing nodded slightly and asked directly: “There is still no news from Hua’er, and no one is looking for you to negotiate terms, right?”
Wei Chongrong nodded helplessly. It didn’t make sense, but Tuduo was quiet. He neither attacked Yizhou nor used Jun Hua as a bargaining chip, making Wei Chongrong feel extremely passive and desperate.
Jun Qing frowned slightly, and then said, “Before I left Yujing, Wang Qin asked me to tell you that as long as you are well prepared, you can attack Zhuxia at any time without worrying about the consequences.” What it meant was that it didn’t matter if there was no decree from the emperor; Wei Lan wouldn’t be sitting on the throne for a long time.
Noting that Jun Qing was talking about Zhuxia instead of Nanyue, Wei Chongrong raised his eyebrows. Earlier, Wei Lan’s had given him the decree to send troops to Nanyue to relieve the siege of Jing’an. But Wei Zhao was telling him that if he wanted to attack Zhuxia, he could just do it.
Wei Chongrong mused aloud: “Tuduo invaded Nanyue and took away Zhuxia’s most elite troops. The rear is empty. If we send troops now, the timing is just right, but I’m worried…”
It was not easy to attack Nanyue from the direction of the Great Yan, as Jing’an City was in dangerous terrain and heavily guarded.
However, Zhuxia was empty, and if he adopted the strategy of besieging Wei to save Zhao(1), he would definitely force Tuduo into a dilemma. After all, according to the agreement between Wei Lan and Tuduo, the Great Yan’s army wouldn’t take half a step out of Yizhou, and Tuduo wouldn’t expect that Wei Chongrong could disobey the emperor’s orders.
If Wei Chongrong had any scruples, it would be Jun Hua. If Tuduo blackmailed him with Jun Hua, how should he respond?
“Speed is a crucial asset in war, how can you waste a good opportunity?” Jun Qing glanced at Wei Chongrong faintly, “Even if Hua’er is really in Tuduo’s hands, if you take Yisha City and force him to lose his way to retreat, he will have to come forward to negotiate with us.”
Wei Chongrong bit his lower lip and said worriedly: “Then what if a cornered dog jumps over the wall(2)?” Not to mention whether it was possible for him to agree to the conditions proposed by Tuduo, in case Tuduo decided to take Jun Hua and get buried with him… Wei Chongrong simply couldn’t think about it.
He raised his head, saw Jun Qing’s cold face and heard his solemn voice: “As a descendant of the Ji family and the Jun family, Hua’er should have been aware of this long ago.” The title of Wang Changning had been passed down to this day, and how many generations of the Ji family died on the battlefield, so why did his son have to be an exception?
If something really happened to Jun Hua…
He would make everyone who had anything to do with this matter regret being born into this world.
Wei Chongrong was completely stunned and said after a long time: “I understand.”
Instead of waiting endlessly, it was better to take the initiative to attack. Perhaps if Tuduo couldn’t hold back any longer, Jun Hua’s whereabouts would be revealed.
Tuduo received a report that Wei Chongrong, who was stationed in Honghe County, remained motionless, but Tuoba Xianhan, who was stationed in Yi’an County, attacked his lair, Yisha City, in disregard of the emperor’s orders. In anger, Tuduo smashed the teacup in his hand. How could this be happening? It was impossible.
Wei Lan had promised him that the defenders of Yizhou would never act rashly, so how could they have done this?
The document that ceded to him the six counties of Yizhou was still in his hands. It was written by Wei Lan himself. If it was made public, the Wei family would never tolerate Wei Lan as the emperor. That was why Tuduo had done whatever it took to help Wei Lan get rid of the elder brother who stood in the way.
With the evidence in hand, Tuduo wasn’t afraid that Wei Lan would betray him, unless he was tired of living and wanted to taste the taste of being deposed.
Of course, what Wei Lan promised was to cede, but the actual operation wouldn’t be so simple and crude. If that were the case, Wei Lan wouldn’t be able to keep his throne. When Wei Chongrong was transferred, Wei Lan deliberately created an opportunity for Tuduo to take over Nanyue in one fell swoop.
After integrating the four northern counties of Nanyue, as long as Wei Lan threw a game moderately, it would not be difficult for Tuduo to get the six counties of Yizhou.
What Tuduo didn’t expect was that the defenders of Yizhou had such courage that they dared to send troops without an imperial edict. Didn’t they want their lives?
To make matters worse, Wei Chongrong led his people to guard Dongshan Town and the Honghe River, and Tuduo didn’t even have a chance to send his troops to the rescue.
“Someone, send for the general to come and answer to me!” Tuduo roared. It was all Li Jing’s fault. Had he managed to bring Jun Hua back, he would have had a useful bargaining chip when facing Wei Chongrong. Now there was no such opportunity.
At the same time, Wei Chongrong received Tuoba Xianhan’s pigeon with a note saying that there was news from Jun Hua.
“Hou Zhaoyang, I received a letter from Xianhan. He said that Princess Tuya wanted to see me. She attached Huaixi’s jade pendant.” No matter what Tuya’s intentions were, Wei Chongrong was still overjoyed to finally know the whereabouts of Jun Hua.
- An idiom originating from the Warring States period, meaning to relieve a besieged ally by attacking the home base of the besiegers
- Act in desperation