After entering the hall, Huangfu Wu Shuang ordered for the meal to be served so the little eunuchs hastily went to bring the dishes. Huangfu Wu Shuang sat there poking at his rice for a while before saying, “Jiangbei has yet to see any rain. With the prolonged drought, not even a single grain of rice can be harvested. Imperial Father wants to open up the Imperial Treasury to provide relief for the populace. Today the Imperial Tutor asked this prince if I can take charge of this issue. Should I?”
Hua Zhu Yu’s face grew solemn, Huangfu Wu Shuang was Crown Prince for many years, but he had only assisted the emperor with trivial matters. Regarding important court affairs, the emperor had yet to allow him to get involved. If he could accomplish this task, then the emperor would no longer consider him just a young, pampered kid. However, providing relief was not a simple matter. Whenever an area was affected by drought or flood, it would soon be accompanied by hunger and violence.
Hua Zhu Yu had stayed in the Western territories for many years and seen quite a few of these incidents.
However, this current matter required a high ranking court official to oversee. The Emperor couldn’t go but the Crown Prince could.
“No matter what, this time I must go,” Huangfu Wu Shuang declared as he placed his chopsticks down, not waiting for the eunuchs’ replies. Inside the Imperial Study today, a few Imperial Tutors had mentioned this matter to him but he had only felt that it was too troublesome. However, presently he felt that this matter was of the utmost importance. Perhaps the sight of Huangfu Wu Shang riding in the palace had incited him, making him feel that he should be doing something.
“This servant doesn’t know if this servant can accompany Your Highness?” Hua Zhu Yu quietly asked.
Huangfu Wu Shuang raised his head to gaze at Hua Zhu Yu through narrowed eyes. Seeing her pair of clear glistening eyes, and her subtle yet resilient gaze caused his unsettled heart to calm.
He tightly knitted his brows and looked at Hua Zhu Yu, saying “Of Course you’re coming along, if something goes wrong you’ll be the first to suffer!”
The following day in court, the emperor decreed the Ministry of Finances to prepare the necessary supplies and funds and commanded General Zhang Yan to send the Crown Prince Huangfu Wu Shuang on his way to provide the disaster relief.
From the Capital to Jiangbei, the fastest it would take by horse would be around 10 days.
However, there were many guards following along to protect Huangfu Wu Shuang which slowed down the pace of the journey. On the tenth day, they could see that the flowers and shrubberies alongside the road were all dried and withered up. It seemed they were nearing Jiangbei as the situation continued to worsen.
In the afternoon, they settled down at an inn, the relief supplies and 300,000 taels of silver were guarded by a hundred soldiers.
The inn was situated in a remote area thus it was frequented by few people on weekdays as it was located in the countryside. Beneath the dim moonlight and singing cicadas, the slightest sound could frighten others.
After dinner, Huangfu Wu Shuang immediately dozed off once his body touched the bed. He had sat in the carriage the whole journey, but to continuously sit for days was quite exhausting for him.
Hua Zhu Yu was also extremely tired, not to mention, she wasn’t even allowed to sit in the carriage. The only personal eunuchs accompanying him was her and Jixiang. They were treated like the other soldiers and only allowed to ride a horse along the journey.
Though Hua Zhu Yu was very tired, she wasn’t the least bit sleepy. As they approached Jiangbei, she became increasingly worried about the relief supplies and funds, uncertain if they’d meet any thieves along the way. She had inquired around and heard that there were no road bandits. However, with such a huge amount of money, one couldn’t help but feel restless.
As night fell and the darkness became more obscure, she left the room and headed towards the inn’s backyard to patrol.
The situation was better than she had expected. Half of the soldiers were resting while the other half were carefully guarding with sword in hand. The people who finished their watch were not sleeping but conversing beneath the trees. General Zhang Yan saw her approaching and stood up to ask, ”Bao gong gong, has His Highness rested yet?”
Hua Zhu Yu calmly replied, “He has already fallen asleep. Before sleeping he instructed this gong gong to tell General that at night you must be more vigilant when guarding!”
General Zhang nodded, “This general understands, His Highness can rest assured.”
Hua Zhu Yu nodded and thought from a glance, this General Zhang’s martial arts wasn’t bad. His subordinates were also prominent soldiers. If a common thief appears, afraid they won’t be able to get their hands on these funds.
However, Hua Zhu Yu could not have imagined, that night, 300,000 taels of silver had mysteriously disappeared.
When Huangfu Wu Shuang heard the news he rushed to get up, not even washing his face or brushing his hair before striding out.
The sun had just risen over the horizon, shedding its light upon the whole yard. However, the yard was presently very empty, even the several carriages loaded with relief supplies were gone. The soldiers were sprawled on the floor, don’t know if they were attacked with sleeping powder or Mongolian drug, but they were lying there unconscious. However, it was definitely not because the bandits were highly skilled.
Jixiang came over carrying a bucket of water and splashed it on General Zhang to wake him up.
Opening his eyes and seeing the empty yard and Huangfu Wu Shuang’s angry expression, he rushed to kneel on the floor and kowtowed to beg for mercy.
But what was the use of begging for mercy?
Hua Zhu Yu’s eyes swept around, not seeing any traces of a fight. However, if there was a fight she most definitely would’ve heard.
“You bunch of idiots, not quickly spanning out and search! Follow the carriage tracks, even if you have to dig 3 meters you still have to find the money,” Huangfu Wu Shuang coldly commanded in a voice full of murderous intent.
After being splashed awake, the soldiers went out to search with bodies full of drenched clothes.
The carriage tracks traveled in different directions. When they followed it to the end they would only find the carriage but not the money. They were in the wilderness and nearby were 3 small towns. A single night was enough time to reach any of those towns. These carriages were just a ploy for distraction. It could be seen that these weren’t just common thieves.
They stayed for 2 days but still did not receive any news.
300,000 taels of silver.
For two days, Huangfu Wu SHuang could not eat nor sleep well, he looked as though he wanted to turn those group of soldiers into silver himself. In the end, Huangfu Wu Shuang reluctantly decided to write a letter to the emperor asking for more money.
But doing so would certainly anger the emperor.
“Your Highness, how about lets conceal this matter!” Though Hua Zhu Yu was still suspicious about the whole matter, she knew that if the emperor caught news of this, it would be very unfavorable for Huangfu Wu Shuang.
Conceal? Well that’s easy to say but tell this prince where am I suppose to find 300,000 taels of silver!?” Huangfu Wu Shuang clenched his fists and said in frustration.
“Your Highness, we can go borrow!”
“Borrow?” Huangfu Wu Shuang’s eyes lit up but abruptly darken, “Where can we go borrow, not to mention if they’re willing or not, but who has that much money!”
“Actually, there is someone. We can go ask him for help.” Hua Zhu Yu contemplated for a moment before slowly asking, “Don’t know if Your Highness has heard of Nan Bai Feng Rong Luo?”