Pampered Into Being the Empress – Chapter 56
Translated by: Cozy Translations
Chapter 56 – Tea Horse Exchange1
On Mu Huai’s wedding night, Tuoba Yu seized the chance when Bianjing had yet to impose its curfew to rush towards Great Qi’s Qin province.
Qin province was located in Northern Qi. It was lush with water and crops, and the area was not considered far from Kingdom Gu. One month ago, Mu Huai had designated Qin province as the trading hub of the two countries’ tea horse exchange.
Tuoba Yu didn’t sleep for the night as he ordered his guards to increase security. He was worried that Mu Huai would send assassins to kill him at any time.
This journey was a restless one as his heart hung by a thread. But when he and his guards arrived at the roadside inn in Qin province, he discovered that there really wasn’t anyone coming to kill him.
As the night slowly turned to day, the skies brightened up.
Tuoba Yu had on a dark expression as he laid on the cot in the roadside inn. Deep in his thoughts, his eyes were closed.
The trade between Kingdom Gu and Kingdom Qi this time had yet to be completed. Mu Huai had not yet received the horses he wanted, so if he were to kill him right now, it would affect Kingdom Qi’s bigger picture. After all, warhorses were important for defending Kingdom Qi. As the future monarch, he must move according to the bigger picture.
Tuoba Yu wanted to rest a while when he heard some sounds coming from outside the inn.
–“…Princess…you…how come you also arrived in Qin province.”
“Why can’t I come? Great Qi’s Crown Prince originally wanted to trade horses in Qin province with my Kingdom Gu, even the trading hub has been erected. Naturally, I needed to come with you all.”
When Tuoba Yu heard this, he immediately opened his eyes, his gaze was a little dark.
Whenever he hears this woman’s voice, he would feel very annoyed.
He couldn’t shake her off no matter where he went, she followed him everywhere. He really wanted to kill this annoying Tuoba Yue.
“The Heir is sleeping?”
Outside, Tuoba Yue asked the guards again.
The guards respectfully answered her, “Replying to Princess, the Heir has been riding throughout the night and has naturally fallen asleep. You should also rest early.”
Only then did Tuoba Yue walk away from outside the room Tuoba Yu was staying in. When the footsteps outside had receded, Tuoba Yu sat up on the bed with a dark expression.
He didn’t go back to sleep. Although it was true that he had been riding for the whole night, he didn’t really feel tired.
Although Kingdom Gu’s monarch had an Empress, there was also a favored Noble Consort. The Noble Consort had given birth to Tuoba Jing and Tuoba Yue, this pair of son and daughter, for the monarch. Naturally, the monarch also extremely favored this son and daughter as well.
As for the di son of the Empress, he did not seem to care for him very much.
Yet, this Tuoba Jing was a straw bag. He was not learned, unskilled in martial arts, and didn’t know how to ride or shoot. He was a wastrel through and through.
Usually, he liked to search for Kingdom Gu’s good-looking women, spending his days in the tent, basking in song and dance. The Noble Consort had the intention of letting Tuoba Jing come to Qi this time to hone himself, and had planted a skilled advisor by Tuoba Jing’s side. Thus, under the secret advisor’s suggestions, Tuoba Jing would not make any mistakes, and after returning to Kingdom Gu, it would also count as his credit.
The monarch agreed to let him come to Qi, but in reality, he was not confident in Tuoba Jing’s abilities, but he also did not want to embarrass the Noble Consort. As such, he let both of her children come along to Qi.
Even if he2 could not kill Mu Huai, he still had to put in some effort and obtain some rewards for Kingdom Gu this time. Thus, it was settled on bringing back sufficient tea leaves for Kingdom Gu’s aristocratic families and commoners.
Kingdom Gu’s people like to eat dairy and meat products and did not eat much vegetables. As such, people would often have gastric problems. Drinking tea daily would help digest and ease the greasiness of their meals. That’s why even the people of Kingdom Gu could not bear to not have any tea leaves.
Tuoba Yu was acutely aware that his adoptive father, Luolu Khan’s, position in Kingdom Gu was precarious as the monarch was suspicious and envious towards Luolu Khan. To show the monarch the father and son’s loyalty, he had planned a lot for Kingdom Gu this time.
The next day, the bright sun light up the sky in Qin province and the weather was very good.
Tuoba Yu laid awake the entire night. Early in the morning, he went to the river walkway because Mu Huai had requested five hundred foals from Kingdom Gu. Obviously, foals differed from adult horses in that they had not been broken in yet and needed to be trained. Moreover, they could not travel far distances.
If they were to send these foals, they needed to transport them by boat.
Tuoba Yu had personally asked the person in charge of the foals about the situation. After knowing that they needed to transport the horses via boat, it eased up the burden on them. As a result, only two or three foals had died and a majority had survived.
After confirming that nothing was wrong with the foals, Tuoba Yu hastened his horse towards the northern direction as he finally met up with Kingdom Gu’s escort.
When Kingdom Gu’s soldiers saw Tuoba Yu, each of then respectfully saluted him, “Heir.”
After Tuoba Yu asked them about the herd’s condition, he walked towards the carriage that Tuoba Jing was sitting in.
Separated by the carriage covers, Tuoba Yu greeted the person inside, “Third Prince, we’ve arrived in Qin province.”
No answer came from inside the carriage.
Tuoba Yu’s gaze darkened slightly and he reached his hand out to push aside the carriage cover only to see Tuoba Jing in deep slumber.
He looked at the sky; it was almost wushi (11 AM – 1 PM). Even though he hadn’t slept the whole night, he was still not as tired as Tuoba Jing.
Tuoba Jing had dark circles and heavy eyebags. One could tell with just a look that he had overly indulged himself in lust, depleting his body’s vitality.
Tuoba Yu was helpless. He called out to the guards next to the carriage, “When we reach the trading hub later, wake up Third Prince.”
The guards assented.
Soon after, Kingdom Gu’s escort arrived at the tea-horse trading hub.
Ever since Mu Huai had conquered the Central Plains’ southernmost Kingdom Jin, Great Qi’s tea leaf production had greatly increased compared to the past.
The tea leaves that provinces Yong, Ding, and Qin3 produced every year were of superior quality. But since Mu Huai had just conquered Kingdom Jin, he was naturally afraid that the situation would not be stable and had sent down a command, ordering that the tea farmers were forbidden from privately selling tea leaves.
Inside the trading hub, there were already countless large crates of tea leaves.
Luolu Khan was also worried about him (Tuoba Yu) coming to Qi alone and had also inserted a secret advisor by his side.
It was just that this advisor was not very knowledgeable about the nomadic lifestyle but was very familiar with the current government affairs of Kingdom Qi. On the journey here, that secret advisor had told Tuoba Yu many things. He said that Great Qi’s Crown Prince currently placed an unusual amount of importance on horses. For the tea-horse exchange this time, it was very likely that they would send out the Minister of the Army, Wang Xiao.
The advisor had also clearly outlined the royal family’s hierarchy to Tuoba Yu. He said that the current emperor of Kingdom Qi’s sole brother had married the di daughter of the Wang family. Thus, they should not underestimate the power of Wang family in Kingdom Qi.
Confused, Tuoba Yu asked the advisor, “Why not send General Yin Cheng, I heard that Kingdom Qi’s Crown Prince, Mu Huai, trusts Yin Cheng more.”
The advisor shook his head helplessly and explained to Tuoba Yu, “That General Yin Cheng is the head of the Privy Council. Usually, he controls Great Qi’s military matters, but the army is in charge of logistics. That’s why it’s more likely that Kingdom Qi’s Crown Prince will send out Wang Xiao.”
Tuoba Yu knitted his brows when he heard this.
Not long after, someone from Kingdom Qi came out from the trading hub.
Just like what that advisor said, the official that came to Qin province was the Minister of the Army, Wang Xiao.
But outside of his and the advisor’s expectations, Kingdom Qi’s Crown Prince, Mu Huai, also came to Qin province.
Coincidentally, a breeze blew by as Mu Huai walked over to the two people, making him look valiant.
The advisor saw that Kingdom Qi’s Crown Prince was drawing nearer and felt even more strongly that he was truly blessed with good looks. On the other hand, Tuoba Yu felt dissatisfied.
What a dog-man.
Tuoba Yu had counted the days and was very clear that when Mu Huai had yet to give his older sister a position, his sister was most likely already pregnant by that time.
Not giving the woman a position yet impregnating her, this Mu Huai was a scum.
Although he thought this way, Tuoba Yu did not forget his purpose. Along with the advisor, he bowed and greeted Mu Huai, “Greetings to Your Highness, the Crown Prince.”
At this moment, Tuoba Jing also came out, rubbing his sleepy eyes. Observing the movements of the crowd, he also greeted Mu Huai.
On Mu Huai’s left was the Minister of Army, Wang Xiao, and on his right was his personal advisor, Yan Juxu. The two senior officials also respectfully greeted Kingdom Gu’s royalties.
Mu Huai had an indifferent expression on his face, though his gaze darkened as he glanced at Tuoba Yu.
This rascal seemed to have grown taller over the last few months. Still a growing boy, yet he already has such evil and poisonous thoughts. His eyes were the same as his older sister’s, but Rong Xi’s eyes were very moving. On the other hand, Mu Huai detested Tuoba Yu’s cunning eyes, to the extent of wanting to just dig them out.
Mu Huai saw that Tuoba Yue was missing among the group of people present, and there was only the wastel, Tuoba Jing, who was here. Ignoring Tuoba Yu, he spoke a few perfunctory words with Tuoba Jing.
Wang Xiao had already ordered the horse stewards to count the number of horses, only to discover that the horses that Kingdom Gu brought this time only amounted to around 2400, half of the 5000 that Kingdom Qi had requested.
When Mu Huai heard of this news, he couldn’t help but frown.
He knew that the road to Qi was long and arduous and that it was inevitable that there would be some horses that would perish along the way, but it was impossible that half of them would die.
Mu Huai’s voice became heavy as he questioned Tuoba Jing, “Third Prince, where are the remaining 2000 hourses/”
Tuoba Jing originally came to Qi because he wanted to fool around in Qi’s capital. As for matters concerning the horses, he completely handed that over to the relevant officials and Tuoba Yu to handle. Mu Huai questioned him in a cold voice, but he naturally didn’t know how to answer.
Tuoba Jing hurriedly asked Tuoba Yu next to him, “Where’s the horses?”
He spoke calmly to Mu Huai, “Your esteemed country requested too many horses, and there is a limit to my Kingdom Gu’s ability. Moreover, to transport so many horses at once, it’s inevitable that there would be horses that wouldn’t make it. It’s a loss for both countries. In order to secure the bigger picture, I will advise our monarch to order people to transport the remaining 2500 horses over after ten days.”
Mu Huai’s originally calm countenance darkened a few degrees.
This Tuoba Yu was clearly trying to play tricks with him. It seems like he wanted to use the remaining horses to negotiate with Kingdom Qi.
Mu Huai coldly questioned Tuoba Yu, “The two countries had previously already discussed and settled on the date and number of horses to be exchanged. On what basis is your Kingdom Gu breaking the contract?”
Tuoba Yu’s lips curved up. Seeing Mu Huai’s angry expression made him feel extremely happy inside.
Even so, his voice was calm, though not without a few hints of instigation as he said, ” Just now, I had explained the reason to Your Highness. If Your Highness didn’t understand, then I can repeat it again.”
Mu Huai suppressed his anger as his gaze towards Tuoba Yu became freezing. Thankfully he had predicted long ago that this wolf cub would play tricks on the horses, so had left himself a backup plan.
Standing next to Mu Huai, Yan Juxu sensed the unusual hostility between Mu Huai and Tuoba Yu. Strictly speaking, it should be the two people’s first time meeting each other, but they looked as if they were sworn enemies, each of their words full of gunpowder.
It was pointless for the two people to continue to be stubborn and in a deadlock, thus Yan Juxu spoke up, “Your Highness, Kingdom Gu is a large country, so they wouldn’t go back on their word. The remaining number of horses will arrive in Qi soon or later. What’s urgent right now is to settle on the exchange rate between the tea and horses.”
When Mu Huai heard this, his expression slightly eased up.
He raised an eyebrow and replied, “Advisor Yan is correct. Let’s first settle on the exchange rate between the tea leaves and horses.”
Tuoba Yu felt a little suspicious.
He had long heard about Kingdom Qi’s Crown Prince’s notoriety. Who knew that he was quite quick to recollect himself.
After Mu Huai agreed, Yan Juxu proceeded to invite the Kingdom Gu officials into the trading hub to rest for a while.
The actual discussion would be handled by the appropriate officials. After all, it was highly probable that both sides would argue ’til their faces and ears turned red. When it came to obtaining advantages, it was not appropriate for the royal family to personally do it, lest it harmed the harmony and peace between the two countries.
Yan Juxu was a skilled negotiator, debating until the other party’s official felt satisfied.
In the end, the two countries settled on the exchange rate of: one of Kingdom Gu’s superior-grade horse was worth 120 catties of Kingdom Qi’s tea leaves; one medium-grade horse could be exchanged for 70 catties of tea leaves; and one lower-grade horse could be exchanged for 50 catties of tea leaves.
When Yan Juxu and the other official were settling on the price inside the tent, Mu Huai had watched the horse steward lead the two thousand or so horses from Kingdom Gu into the stables and breeding grounds in Qin province.
He chose this location because it was the area in Kingdom Qi that was most abundant with water and grass. With a spacious environment, he wanted to let these horses from Kingdom Gu be raised free-range so as to ensure their robust body.
Although there were still another 2500 horses that had yet to arrive in Qi, seeing his own country’s fighting power increase, Minister Wang Xiao’s face also let out a smile.
Tuoba Yu questioned one of Kingdom Gu’s soldiers about the situation regarding the tea leaves. Coincidentally, he also saw Mu Huai’s ugly mug, yet felt that he looked very smug.
Tuoba Yu suddenly had a bad feeling and hurriedly asked the guard, “How is it, is the amount of tea leaves correct?”
The soldier from Kingdom Gu respectfully answered, “Replying to Heir, the number of tea leaves is correct, it’s just…it’s just within this batch of tea leaves…there’s none of the que she4 that the Noble Consort likes to drink.”
When Tuoba Yu heard this, his gaze immediately changed.
Mu Huai, this dog man, he actually dared to play a trick on him.
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- A form of trade in ancient China between the Central Plains and other areas where tea would be exchanged for horses
- It was unclear who this was referring to
- A different province Qin than the one they’re currently in
- From Teapedia: A rare Wuyi oolong tea that is a variant of the Da Hong Pao (also another famous tea type)