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Chapter 15 – One Year
In May of the fifth year of Yun Tai, the Xuan Yuan Empire won the final victory against the northern barbarians. Xuan Yuan Han Cheng sat inside the main tent of the barbarians’ leader, his heart filled with a myriad of emotions.
He was baptized by war over a period of more than nine months, and his character became more reserved, making it hard for people to guess his thoughts.
The expedition was not smooth at the beginning. When Xuan Yuan Han Cheng took the army to the border city, it was already winter.
The climate in the north was extremely cold and the soldiers from the capital could not adapt and fell ill. Fortunate, there were enough herbs in the army to prevent casualties.
The barbarians knew that the army of the Xuan Yuan Empire came and also knew that the difference in strength between the two sides was great. The barbarians did not dare to respond head on. Instead, they would often ambush the army during their march or raid them at night. Although they were scattered, they still caused a lot of casualties, which gave the soldiers plenty of headache.
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The battle continued until the spring. Xuan Yuan Han Cheng calculated how to lure a part of the enemy’s main force into a trap and ambushed them, causing a great injury to the barbarians’ battle spirit.
Xuan Yuan Han Cheng followed up the victory and pressed his offense, and after several battles, he hit upon the barbarians’ ruling city.
With his maternal uncle, Zheng Yuan Hou, keeping watch in the back, army provisions and supplies kept up. After another two huge battles, Xuan Yuan Han Cheng’s army successfully broke through the barbarian’s royal city.
“Your Royal Highness, Zheng Yuan Hou asks for an audience.” The imperial bodyguard outside the ten came in to report.
“Have Zheng Yuan Hou come in.” Xuan Yuan Han Cheng just finished talking when he saw a middle-aged man wearing strong armor walk in.
“Your Royal Highness, you just passed down a command, to exterminate the barbarians, this… perhaps you should deliberate a bit more, wait for the emperor’s reply.” Zheng Yuan Hou was the blood-related older brother of the empress from the first wife. In this war, he also admired the crown prince’s excellent ability to make wise decisions, however, differences in opinion have arisen in dealing with the issue of prisoners of war.
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“No need, I have already sent reports to Imperial Father.” Xuan Yuan Han Cheng understood Zheng Yuan Hou’s thoughts. After all, his imperial father and his younger brother did not die because of the barbarians in this life, so his decision to exterminate the barbarians would seem cruel.
“But, Your Royal Highness, this is not good for your reputation! To execute all the men, women, elderly, and children of the barbarians… or how about, just execute their royal family, and the rest will be slaves.”
“Uncle, don’t try to persuade me anymore. I have decided. The barbarians have always been a cunning and tenacious bunch. If you don’t pull them out by the roots, even if you make them slaves, they are not of our nationality. There will definitely be differences at the core. Must put to death! When it comes to cruelty, which of the villages they slaughtered did not have old people, women, and children. Be cruel this time to relieve us of hidden dangers in the future and to deter other small tribes. This is the best decision. I don’t care about my reputation or anything. I think Imperial Father will agree with me,” Xuan Yun Han Cheng said.
“Without any better options, then so be it.” Zheng Yuan Hou also knew that the crown prince’s analysis was correct. Alas! But in this way, he was afraid the crown prince would have to bear the notoriety of cruelty.
In May of the fifth year of Yun Tai, the crown prince ordered the extermination of the royal city, regardless of age or gender: men, women, old, and young. The whole city was awash in blood, and more than twenty thousand were wiped clean off the face of the earth. There were no more barbarians in the world.
By the time the emperor received the news, Xuan Yuan Han Cheng was already leading the army and on their way back.
The crown prince’s command to annihilate the barbarians caused a big wave in the empire.
One after another, the imperial historians wrote and claimed that His Royal Highness’s means were too cruel, which was detrimental to the benevolence of the Xuan Yuan Dynasty.
Some people even said that His Royal Highness went over the son of heaven’s head and gave this order without the permission of the emperor. This was contempt for the emperor and should be severely punished.
But the emperor suppressed such words. Alas! The crown prince was only nineteen years old. In the end, he was in the prime of his youth, and was unlikely to consider his decisions at length. This method of handling the matter was simplistic and cruel. As a result, it was too excessive.
Under the pressure of the imperial court, the emperor had no choice but to cancel the ceremony of going outside the city walls to personally welcome the crown prince back, and after the prince returned to the palace, had to have him reflect on his errors for half a month, prevented from attending morning court, as a warning.
Translations by Vanilla Muse.
In the Imperial Study Room, Emperor Xuan Yuan Zhao Shen was right in the middle of instructing the crown prince.
“In this half a month, you have a good rest. Next time, you are not allowed to do things like this. You are the future heir apparent to the throne. A prince with a brutal reputation. What the courtiers think of you. Ugh! Forget it, you are still young, go back and think about it. You must consider what is appropriate behavior in many things. Going too far is as bad as not doing enough.”
The emperor always thought that the second son was more impulsive, but he did not expect the elder son to be the same. Ugh! No hurry, his body was still robust, he could teach for a few more years. The crown prince was already doing quite well as it were.
“Yes. Er’chen understands.”
Over the following period of time, news about the cruelty of His Royal Highness spread throughout the Xuan Yuan Empire. When people with ulterior motives propagated the news, the contents became more and more severe.