Chapter 233: Fifteen Gold Tokens In Exchange For A Life
Long Heng had initially intended on using some delay tactics to postpone his trip to the capital. He needed at least ten days to conquer the enemy nation. Unfortunately, his plans went up in smoke as each day passed; the number of gold tokens kept increasing for every day he spent on the battlefield. Bai Xiangxiu had never seen Long Heng look so frustrated before. He took his helmet off and ran his fingers through his hair in frustration. He didn’t allow anyone to enter his tent as he just brooded inside.
“They’ve broken the record.” Two more tokens have arrived, putting our total at fifteen tokens. Xiao Lin will surely be in danger if Long Heng doesn’t return soon. On the verge of tears, Bai Xiangxiu gritted her teeth and said, “You stay here. I will go back.” I have to go back and save my son! He was in my womb for ten months! I’d be a monster if I didn’t do something to save him.
“Let’s go back together.” Long Heng stood up abruptly. It was obvious that there had been an enormous change in the imperial court, considering how abnormal this situation was.
“No you can’t. Only death awaits you if you return. They might suddenly brand you a criminal with some trumped up charge. They might even punish you in secret. It’s impossible for Xiao Lin to come out of this unscathed even if they were to let us live.”
“I know. But they won’t let our family go if I don’t return. We might as well go back and face them together as a family. I still have tens of thousands of men if they ever decide to be ruthless.”
“You…” Whoa. Is he planning to rebel?
I guess that makes sense, since Long Heng is not Yue Fei. Yue Fei would never do such a thing since he was a loyal subject, but Long Heng had always been at odds with the current emperor. He probably wouldn’t be too conflicted about it if he were forced to rebel. Bai Xiangxiu decided that she would follow the wishes of her husband. He had already made his mind. Long Heng left the tent, calling for his lieutenants. He needed to plan the army’s next couple of moves, and needed his officers’ counsel.
His men didn’t agree with his decision to return either, but Long Heng acted all patriotic and loyal to the country, which actually turned public opinion against the emperor. They questioned the emissaries if something had happened at court, but the emissaries all answered in the negative. Then why was the emperor so desperate for Long Heng to return if nothing had truly happened?
There was definitely a conspiracy afoot here. But since Long Heng was a loyal subject, he had no choice but to return. He’d received unfair treatment in the past which had already fostered unhappiness in his subordinates. They’d never go down without a fight now that it seemed to be happening all over again. However, Long Heng yanked on their leashes and told them to sit down and endure for now. He packed up his things and left with Bai Xiangxiu. But before he left, he wrote a letter and handed it to his most trusted lieutenant. “My life is not important, but I must save my mother and my son. If anything happens to me, promise me that you’ll help if you hear that I’m being detained in secret.”
“General, we will definitely help you.” Long Heng gave his lieutenants a deep bow before he left. He rode on the same horse as Bai Xiangxiu and quickly made for the capital, bringing along Yu Kuang, those from the jianghu, and some of his trusted subordinates.
Song Jiaoyue was waiting for them outside the capital, looking more than slightly disheveled. He must’ve suffered a lot in order to try and save Long Heng and Bai Xiangxiu. He had gotten much thinner since the last time they’d seen each other. He received Long Heng and his party in a barren desert not far from the capital. He shouted, “You cannot come back! His Majesty… has used fifteen gold tokens as exchange for your life. Your entire family’s life!”
Bai Xiangxiu nearly fell from the horse. Does he mean something has happened to Xiao Lin? Long Heng quickly helped her regain her balance and found a place that was sheltered from the wind to inquire for more details. Bai Xiangxiu was relieved when she heard that her son was still safe and sound. He was only being surveilled in the palace along with the old madame. They would definitely be used as hostages to control Long Heng as soon as he arrived in the capital. Long Heng nodded, “I understand, but I still have to return.”
“What about the others in the Prince Li Manor?” Bai Xiangxiu asked.
“They’re all fine. The public believes that his emperor has only invited the old madame and the little prince to the palace because he cares for them.”
Long Heng coldly asked, “He has been plotting against me for a long time, but why did he only decide to make his move now?”
“I’m not sure about the details, but I did find something very strange,” Song Jiaoyue looked at them for a moment and frowned.
“What’s strange?” Bai Xiangxiu asked.
“Miss Lin has entered the palace and is now known as Noble Lady Qian.”
Pff! Bai Xiangxiu almost coughed out blood. She finally understood what was going on. Lin Qianzi was behind all this because she wanted revenge. Isn’t her target just me? Since when did she start targeting Long Heng and everyone in the household instead? It seemed that the truth would only be revealed when they returned to the capital.
“Do the two of you really plan on going back?”
“Mm. But we must return separately.” Long Heng looked at Bai Xiangxiu and continued, “All of you change into commoner’s clothes and enter the city after I do. I will be leading my men into the city first.”
“Long Heng…” Bai Xiangxiu had grown used to calling Long Heng by his name. While it might be disrespectful to call someone by their given name in the olden days, Long Heng felt that her tone was quite gentle when she spoke his name and never really paid it any heed.
“Xiu’er, You know why I’m doing this. I don’t want to let them capture us all in one fell swoop, and this is the only way to prevent that from happening. Moreover, things will take turn for the better. Trust me on this.”
“I trust you.” Is the male lead about to go against the female lead? This sounds dangerous. It was worth a shot despite the danger. Moreover, she didn’t think that Long Heng would be so easily taken down. Isn’t it just returning to the city via separate ways? Bai Xiangxiu turned to Song Jiaoyue after Long Heng left and said, “Sir Song, why don’t you return to the city first? I don’t wish to involve the Song family in this matter.”
“He didn’t ask you to protect me because he knows that you are responsible for the Song family as well.”
“I know that. But what’s the harm in escorting you back to the city?”
If Song Jiaoyue had the Song family to consider, then Yu Kuang had the well-being of Whitecloud Mountain to consider as well. So, she immediately turned to Yu Kuang, “You better go as well. You might be implicated too if Long Heng were to fail.”
“You should know that I’m not afraid.”
“But I am.”
“Don’t be. I will always be by your side to protect you. As for the others from Whitecloud Mountain, I will have them go back.” Yu Kuang continued, “Long Heng was only protecting and defending his nation. He has done nothing wrong. None of the men from the wulin would ever approve if he is wrongly imprisoned.”
“Mm. I understand.”
Long Heng hadn’t done anything wrong at all. Everyone that had fought by his side knew that, but none of the high officials and nobles in the city did. All they had done was blindly follow the emperor’s orders. The truth didn’t even matter to them.
In the end, no one took their leave of the entourage. In fact, their numbers had just swelled instead! They were all hot-blooded people who had come from all over the country to plead mercy for Long Heng after they’d gotten wind of what had happened. They’d met a group on their way to the city who’d been bad mouthing Long Heng and said that he deserved punishment for climbing above the emperor’s head. These hot-blooded men thought that they were talking rubbish. How could this group of idiots possibly live such a carefree and comfortable life If it weren’t for Long Heng’s iron defense of the nation?