Published at 19th of November 2020 02:41:08 PM
The vast grassland was like an enormous painting that was spread out between heaven and earth . Autumn didn’t seem to have affected this vast plain of greenery at all . It was impossible to describe the beautiful and pure nature spread out in front of her . When she looked around, she could only see a sea of green everywhere and was unable to find a point of focus . The vast, boundless grassland was like an immobile ocean . It caused people to fall into a stupor and lost in their daydream .
Yu Xiaocao was riding on a pure white horse as she gazed far into the distance . The blue sky, white clouds, gentle breeze, and the warm sun seemed to have dispelled the exhaustion she had bottled up from all the traveling . In the distance, there were a few black dots quickly approaching them . When the rider finally came into view, Xiaocao realized that she knew him——he was the commander of Prince Cheng’s Estate’s private army, Commander Liu . When the Wokou invaded, Zhu Junyang had asked for an imperial decree to be sent that exact night to allow Commander Liu to lead a private army of eight thousand soldiers and headed to Dongshan Village to rescue the people . Thus, Yu Xiaocao had met him on several occasions .
“Master, you have worked hard . This subordinate has already arranged a place for you to stay . Please come with me!” Commander Liu led his men to greet their masters . But his heart tensed up when he raised his head and saw Chief Steward Su, the emperor’s personal bodyguard, standing next to the group .
Chief Steward Su was in charge of protecting the imperial family, and he was also the head of the imperial guards . He was responsible for the safety of the emperor, so he rarely left the emperor’s side . However, he was unexpectedly assigned to investigate the horse breeding ground outside the borders . This meant that His Majesty had placed great importance on the breeding ground . Commander Liu was originally feeling a little gloomy because he was dispatched to ‘horse farm’, but that disappointment and gloominess had all disappeared .
“Cao’er, are you tired? Do you want to take a break fist?” Zhu Junyang had been paying close attention to the news from beyond the borders ever since he appointed Commander Liu and a few of his trusted aides to prepare the horse farm last year . If he wasn’t worried about Xiaocao’s wellbeing, he would’ve directly headed for the breeding farm by now .
Yu Xiaocao naturally understood his current mood . After she took a sip of the mystic-stone water, all the exhaustion in her body disappeared . She straightened her back and in high spirits, she said, “No need! Let’s head to the horse farm first! My Little Red is still there, I wonder if she still remembers me!”
During the spring season, Little Red finally accepted Fierce Wind and she quickly got pregnant with a baby horse . Since Fierce Wind and Little Red were Ferghana horses, everyone had high expectations for the baby horse . So, he asked for Xiaocao’s consent to transfer the pregnant horse to the horse farm outside borders . Little Red’s baby was used as an important observation target and was raised with great care .
Xiaocao didn’t come in person to visit the young horse after it was born, but from time to time, she would send people to deliver a ‘carefully’ formulated fodder for the young colt . She heard that the young colt was plump and strong after eating the fodder and was already a budding genius among the other young horses that were born around the same time . An experienced horse expert already confirmed that the young colt would not be less talented than his parents in the future .
Zhu Junyang’s stern and handsome face revealed a warm smile when he noticed how considerate his little lass was being, “If that’s the case, then let’s head to the stable first . ”
“Master, what should we do about those three people?” Hou Xiaoliang pointed his mouth towards three strong figures not far in the distance . The imperial horse farm was the army from the Great Ming Dynasty’s only hope . He couldn’t allow strangers with ulterior motives to spy on their secrets .
Zhu Junyang glanced at him approvingly . Although this man wasn’t very steady, he could be quick-witted when needed . He said to Liu Dekun, Commander Liu, “Send one of your subordinates to take the three guests to the place where you are staying and settle down . They are my ‘guests’, so remember to ‘treat’ them carefully!”
Commander Liu understood what he was implying and nodded his head, “This subordinate understands! Li Daming and Zhang Wenbin, the two of you should take the distinguished guests back to rest . Serve them with good tea and food . Remember to treat them well!”
The two people who were mentioned, responded, “Yes!” They took Xiao Rong and the two guards to a courtyard located more than five kilometers away from the horse farm . The courtyard was specially built for the people from the imperial family who came to inspect the horse farm . The outside of the courtyard looked simple on the outside, but the furnishings on the side were expensive . It was something only nobles can afford . This further convinced Xiao Rong and his guards that their savior had an extraordinary status .
“My Lord, based on the horse farm they mentioned, could they plan on raising horses outside the borders?” Ajige, one of Xiao Rong’s trusted guards, frowned as he said that .
Xiao Rong’s other guard, Dela Citeng, laughed so hard that his beard trembled as he said, “Raising horses? If they do not have a good stallion to breed, then all the horses they’ve bred will merely be inferior horses used to carry goods . What’s the use of that? Speaking of good stallions, I believe the best ones are the wild horses that are tamed by the people of the grassland . But after the fine stallions bred for a few generations, their bloodlines will not be as pure anymore…”
Ajige glared at Dela Citeng, who was all brawn and no brains . He ignored him and continued talking to his master, “Do you think the Great Ming Dynasty is planning on raising a calvary to deal with the various tribes located outside the borders?”
“It’s very possible!” Xiao Rong tapped his fingers on the table . His two thick eyebrows were wrinkled tightly .
The red coat cannon and the firearms camp developed by the Great Ming Dynasty already revealed how extraordinary it was during its fight against the Jurchen tribe . If they managed to create a large and strong cavalry with the firearms they already have, then his younger brother’s plan to reestablish their ancestor’s former glory would become a joke . The Great Ming Dynasty had already reached a height that was impossible for them to achieve . If Xiao Xuan continued to insist on going against the Great Ming Dynasty, then their entire tribe would become victims of his ambition!
“Why don’t I . . . secretly head down and listen to their discussion about their horse farm?” Ajige frowned when he saw that his master was caught up in his own thoughts . He wanted to share his lord’s burden .
Xiao Rong raised his hand to stop him and said, “You absolutely cannot do that! Even if we disregard the fact that they had saved our lives, the well-trained and disciplined soldiers and firearms in their hands showed that they’re people we cannot trifle with! I believe that among one of the three people in the group, one of them must be someone from the imperial family . Ajige, do you think our tribe has the power to fight against the Great Ming Dynasty even if we currently aren’t experiencing civil unrest?”
Now, it was Ajige’s turn to frown . In the past, the tribes beyond the borders relied on their strength and guerrilla warfare to barely deal with the Great Ming Dynasty’s army . However, during the recent battle between the Jurchen tribe and the Great Ming Dynasty's army, the Jurchen tribe suffered a crushing defeat with numerous casualties after they faced the red coat cannon . Not only did the Great Ming Dynasty have a new weapon, their weapon didn’t seem to miss . The Jurchen tribe suffered such heavy losses after that battle that they probably would not be able to fight again in the next ten years .
The Jurchen had united more than a dozen tribes to fight against the Great Ming Empire, yet their battle ended in a disastrous defeat . How can a small Tuha'erhanbu tribe like theirs face such a powerful enemy? Ajige shook his head slowly and sighed heavily .
“Ajige, you are one of the great warriors of our Tuha'erhanbu tribe! I didn’t expect you to be a coward! Our Tuha'erhanbu tribe doesn’t lack brave warriors who are not afraid of death! Even if the Great Ming Dynasty wishes to kill us off, I will make sure we bite a few chunks of their meat off first! I, Dela Citeng, am not a coward and I am not afraid of death!” The blockhead pounded his chest loudly . So what if they were from the Great Ming Empire’s imperial family? They looked as thin as paper; he could easily pinch them to death with his finger!
Ajige glared angrily at him and reprimanded, “Do you think this is the time for us to fight force against force? You have to look at our reality . Do you think it’s worth it to sacrifice the entire tribe just to prove ourselves?”
Dela Citeng was usually somewhat afraid of his crafty partner . When he saw that the other party was angry, he only muttered a few words in response before he fell silent .
“My Lord, from our current viewpoint, we can only try to be on friendly terms with the Great Ming Dynasty . We cannot be aggressive against them!” Ajige persuaded Xiao Rong patiently . He was afraid that his lord’s mind would be spurred on by Dela Citeng’s words .
Xiao Rong smiled bitterly and said, “I am like a stray dog right now . I don’t even have the power to protect myself, so how can I fight against the mighty and formidable Great Ming Empire?”
“My Lord, this subordinate has a plan . I don’t know if you’ll allow me to discuss it!” Ajige pondered for a while and based on the current situation, he felt that this was the only feasible plan .
“Tell us your plan!” Xiao Rong could already guess part of his plan, so he nodded his head at him .
“The Han people believe strongly in the saying, ‘enduring hardships while plotting your revenge’ . My Lord can pretend to surrender to the Great Ming Dynasty and use their power to help you regain your tribe!” Ajige paused as he secretly observed his lord’s reaction .
Xiao Rong smiled bitterly and said, “The emperor of the Great Ming Dynasty is not someone who can be easily fooled . If we want to borrow troops from them, we will have to show them a certain degree of sincerity! Do you think we can come up with anything that can stir the emperor’s desire based on our Tuha'erhanbu tribe’s current financial resources?”
Ajige gritted his teeth and continued, “Isn’t the Great Ming Dynasty’s army short on horses? We can pay tribute to them every year with horses…”
“Ajige! You clearly know that the Great Ming Dynasty is planning to build a calvary! What do you think the purpose of their cavalry is? Of course, the cavalry they built will be used against us! In the end, we will be victims either way . What do you think you’re suggesting?” Dela Citeng was so angry that he roared at Ajige .
Ajige glanced at him and said, “Even if they don’t have a cavalry, they will still be able to subdue all the tribes beyond the borders if we give them time . Do you believe me or not?”
“Humph! I only know that they will become stronger once they have calvary! They’re already a tiger, and with their enhanced cavalry, they’ll become a tiger with wings . It will be very difficult for our tribe to continue to survive once that happens . How would you know that the Great Ming Dynasty would not destroy all the tribes outside the borders once they developed a strong army and cavalry?” Dela Citeng paced around impatiently .
“Even if we don’t do this, just relying on the three of us and the traitors from our tribe, we will still be helpless against the Great Ming Dynasty . We have nothing that will give us an advantage against the Great Ming Dynasty . ” Ajige knew that this was only a temporary measure to sate the Great Ming Dynasty’s thirst .
However, he had noticed that the emperor of the Great Ming Dynasty seemed to want to pacify the tribes located beyond the borders . In the past two years, the emperor increased the trade between the tribes and people from the Great Ming Dynasty . He has also strengthened the connection between the tribes beyond the borders and the people from the Central Plains . This was the reason why he had proposed such a plan .
“Stop fighting! The Great Ming Dynasty has already started building their own horse breeding farm to raise horses for war . Even if Ajige’s plan was not implemented, they will still manage to build their own calvary in a few years!” Xiao Rong felt that he had sighed more times today than the thirty years he had lived combined .
Dela Citeng whispered apprehensively, “If they don’t have a good stallion to breed, how can they easily raise an army of military horses? Didn’t the Great Ming Dynasty have a cavalry before? But those horses were bred from inferior horses, so they were only worthy of eating the dirt behind us!”
Xiao Rong interrupted him and sighed, “At the present, our priority is to inquire about the Great Ming Dynasty’s policies towards the tribes beyond the borders . The first matter we should focus on is to quell down the civil unrest . Otherwise, Xiao Xuan, that idiot, will be spurred on by that vile character and start a war with the Great Ming Dynasty . I’m afraid that if that happens, no matter how ingenious our plans are, we will have no use for it!”