Fields Of Gold / Fields of Gold Chapter 526
“Let me guess. You probably have some sort of treasure that can increase the yield of crops, improve the properties of medicines, make food taste better…and help inferior horses become superior ones, right?” Zhu Junyang cautiously stated his thoughts as if he was afraid this ‘little snail’ would become startled and retreat away.
Yu Xiaocao’s eyes flickered with an evasive light and she no longer met Zhu Junyang’s eyes as she nibbled on her bottom lip. She smiled unnaturally and said, “Your imagination is truly too out there ah? Is there truly such a treasure that is that powerful?”
[I can’t sense any greed or desire to snatch things from you at all. This divine stone believes that he can be trusted. How about you be honest with him for once?] The little divine stone quietly gave her a reminder in order to avoid these two having a gap between them because of this in the future. Oftentimes, a split between two people started from doubting and concealing secrets from each other.
From the way she was acting, Zhu Junyang had already gotten the answer he had wanted. He was absolutely spot on with his guess. Whenever the little lass was feeling unconfident, she always had some tell-tale signs. For example, her eyes would always shift back and forth and avoid meeting his eyes directly, or she would start picking incessantly at her own nails, or she would lower her head and play with her hair. Currently, she was pretending to be fascinated by some clouds in the sky and was looking at them quite intently.
He rubbed her small head and smiled, “Alright ah, this prince won’t force you to tell me! I believe that one day my sincerity will finally move you. I have plenty of patience to wait until you trust me heart and soul and are willing to open yourself to me.”
The guilt within Yu Xiaocao’s heart started to bubble and expand as if it was proofing dough being fermented with yeast. She lowered her head and used the toe of her foot to kick at a patch of grass as she quietly said, “I…it’s not that I don’t trust you, but it’s hard to truly understand a person’s heart. No one would willingly try to gamble and take a risk on the darkness of people’s hearts. I don’t want to lose the happiness I have right now and don’t want to lose the you who protects and cherishes me with all your heart…please forgive me for being cowardly and cautious…”
Although Zhu Junyang felt a bit downcast at this, the little lass’s desolate mood made him feel sorry again. Perhaps he shouldn’t have chosen this time to force her but he really wanted to create a new cavalry unit that was armed with the new firearms. This cavalry required many good horses of high caliber. After inspecting the horses that were being raised by some noble families, he discovered that none of their horses met his requirements…
“Xiaocao, on this hunt, I was trying to find an expert at raising horses and was planning on spending a lot of money to help this prince train and raise horses——you’re willing to help me, am I right?” Zhu Junyang tactfully expressed what he wanted. The little lass had a nimble mind and could definitely understand what he was hinting at within his words.
Raise and breed horses? Yu Xiaocao raised her head to look at him with a somewhat flabbergasted expression on her face. From the profound smile on his face, she was able to understand what he wanted. The twenty year old Zhu Junyang had already revealed his outstanding talent at leading and training troops. This was the reason why the emperor was willing to allow him to manage the usage of these new firearms.
For elite troops, relying on soldiers alone was not enough, especially when they had to fight against those tribes that fought on horseback. The cavalry currently lacked good steeds for their soldiers and it was a glaring weakness of theirs. For the Great Ming Empire, the vast majority of good horses had come from outsiders during trade.
Naturally, those nomad tribes who lived on the central plains constantly eyed the empire. During winter, they would often come to raid. Thus, how could they possibly trade their best horses away to their future enemy? Even if the Great Ming Empire was occasionally able to get one to two good horses, after generations of breeding, the quality of the animals had naturally become more average…
Zhu Junyang was determined to create a set of elite troops that could sweep away anything. Thus, he was naturally very anxious to find a way to supply his men with good horses, right? Yu Xiaocao could vaguely sense through those dark eyes of his a bit of desire and hope.
She clenched her two hands into fists and made a decision. It was always him silently helping and protecting her all of these years. Feelings naturally didn’t only exist from one side. It was time for her to sacrifice something for him now!
A brilliant smile blossomed on her face and Yu Xiaocao’s bright eyes met that handsome and manly face, “As long as you need me and as long as I can do it, I absolutely will help you with all I can!!”
The two of them stared at each other for a long time and they both revealed happy smiles. Zhu Junyang leaned over on his horse and gently raised that delicate and small body into his arms. He embraced her soft and lovely body into his chest and muttered in a deep voice, “Cao’er, meeting you was the luckiest moment of my life!”
“Young Miss!” The two of them suddenly heard Yingchun shrilly shouting next to her. Apparently, without noticing, their two horses had wandered back to the vicinity of the temporary imperial residence and they had been seen by the two maidservants.
Xiaocao felt a bit uncomfortable under the accusing looks of her maids. Zhu Junyang chuckled lightly and she could feel the chest behind her rumble. She couldn’t help but reach out a hand to grab some flesh from his waist and cruelly pinch down. It seemed like he didn’t have an extra ounce of flesh on his waist, so even her hand felt tired trying to pinch down on his rock-hard muscle. The fellow seemed to not feel anything either.
“If this prince doesn’t let you down soon, do you think your loyal and protective little maidservant will come up here and try to rip me apart?” Zhu Junyang’s voice was full of mirth, “Argh…such a pity, I wanted to hold onto you for longer ah! Xiaocao is so soft and fragrant. It feels so nice to hug you…”
Yu Xiaocao forcefully jabbed back her elbow and hit that fellow’s steel-like abdomen. She growled angrily, “Do you think I’m a toy ah? That you can hug me whenever you want? Let me go, this maiden wants to get down!”
Zhu Junyang easily jumped off his horse. He held onto the little lass’s thin waist and slightly raised her a bit before finally putting her down, “You’re too skinny. I could probably snap your waist in two with one hand. In the future, you’re not allowed to be picky with food. You need to eat more, especially more meat…”
“Are you done ah? You’re like a nagging housewife! I don’t have time to pay attention to you!” Yu Xiaocao raised her nose up high in a spoiled manner and shook off his hands as she headed towards the temporary imperial residence in large strides. She left with a parting sentence, “When your horse-breeding center has opened, remember to tell me. I will go over and help you a bit. I have a lucky star guiding me and I’m extremely lucky. What’s wrong with lending you a bit of luck ah?”
Zhu Junyang watched as the little lass’s figure slowly disappeared in the distance and a slight sense of happiness washed over him. Although the little lass didn’t tell her secret to him, from what she was telling him, she could absolutely be of great help in breeding better horses. The clever little girl must have understood his ambitions and would do her best to help him reach his goals!
Right now, the first thing he needed to do was find a ‘expert horse breeder’ to help cover for the little lass. Hm…last time, in battle, he had saved someone who had a mix of Han and Tartar blood. It was said that this guy had helped the Tartars raise their horses. Mhm! He would be perfect for the role!
The night passed uneventfully. The next day was the first day of the big hunt. The hunting grounds had been split up into thirty-six different areas. First, the head steward of the whole area took the cavalry out to surround the outskirts of the grounds in a tight net. Then, they slowly closed the circle and drove the game closer together.
There were also some soldiers who had disguised themselves with deer masks and hid within the forests as they blew on whistles that mimicked the sounds of wild deer. As the herds of deer slowly got closer together, it would also attract some animals who were their predators over.
As the circle got smaller and smaller, the areas that the wild animals could move in also got smaller. Once the wild beasts were concentrated to a certain point, the hunt could begin.
“Imperial Majesty, the time has come. Please, take the lead!” The head steward had come over to report on the matters.
The sons of the imperial family had all been trained in equestrian archery since they were young. Thus, shooting down a wild animal congregated in the thicket wasn’t a difficult task for Zhu Junfan. He took out a hunting bow that was elaborately decorated and drew an arrow out of his quiver. He faced a herd of deer that wasn’t far from him and aimed at a tall and sturdy buck.
The arrow flew and hit the buck squarely in the neck. After struggling for a bit, the deer fell heavily to the ground and the rest of the startled herd scattered in fright. Following that, it should have been the imperial sons and grandsons taking the lead. Unfortunately, the oldest imperial prince hadn’t reached the age of eight yet and the bow in his hands was only a tiny toy to the other people around them. Although Zhu Hanwen wanted to shoot down some game just like his imperial father, the bow in his hands was only strong enough to possibly shoot down some small wild pheasants.
Zhu Junfan waved a hand, signaling to the princes, dukes, and high-ranked officials that the hunt was officially underway. Furthermore, he took out a few impressive treasures that would be awarded to the first, second, and third places to those who killed the most game. The prizes weren’t the most important thing. The most important thing was that the winners would be able to show their faces to the emperor! All of the young children from military families who believed that they had good skills rubbed their hands together in anticipation and began to prepare for the hunt.
Yu Xiaocao was currently riding a horse not far behind the emperor. She looked at the young men who were all sitting tall on their horses and suddenly had a desire to eagerly try as well. However, when she remembered how skinny and thin her arms and legs were and that she probably couldn’t even pull even the lightest bow, she decided that only the little prince’s bow would be suitable for her. Instantly, her interest in hunting on her own waned.
“What’s the matter? Not going to try to experience it yourself?” Zhu Junyang, who was in charge of the safety here, urged his horse over and quietly asked.
Yu Xiaocao rolled her eyes at him and dully said, “What is there to experience for me? When I was in Dongshan Village, it’s not as if I didn’t experience hunting before. Why do I need to fight for game with these people?”
He Wanning spurred her horse over. She was dressed in bright red riding attire and she held a bow in her hands as she said, “Younger Sister Xiaocao, let’s go! This older sister will take you to go hunting!”
“I’ve never learned any archery. There’s no use bringing me along. You go by yourself and be careful!” Yu Xiaocao waved a hand at her.
He Wanning giggled happily at her and had an exultant smile on her face, “You guys are no fun, did you all come to the Autumn Hunt to take a tour ah? Just watch this older sister come back with a tiger for you!!”
Yu Xiaocao grinned back, “Alright, then tonight I’m waiting to eat some tiger meat and drink tiger soup!”
Zhu Junyang gave He Wanning a look full of disdain as he remarked in a voice dripping with poison, “Kill a tiger? You’d better hope the tiger doesn’t chase you and bite you down! Don’t cry when you come back empty-handed because you boasted so much earlier!”
“You’re the one who’s going to snivel like a child ah!! Can’t you say something nice for once?” He Wanning let out a huff and then spoke to Xiaocao, “You should shoo away men like him sooner rather than later. His words are enough to kill a person!”
After she finished talking, she turned around such that Zhu Junyang could only see the back of her head and spurred her horse towards the hunting area. Behind her were four highly-skilled bodyguards that had been sent over by Marquis Anning’s estate.
Zhu Junfan had heard the ruckus and had come over. He asked Zhu Junyang, “Yang’er, you’re not going to go out and try?”
“If this official participated, would there be anyone else who could compete with me for first place?” Zhu Junyang patted his nine stone bow. Whether it was his martial arts skills or his body constitution, he was much stronger than he was four to five years ago. Now, he was able to bend his nine stone bow with ease and wouldn’t end up damaging his arm tendons from pulling it.