After a horse ride for several miles, I heard some clop. I stood on the horseback and looked into the distance. A line of black and grey could be dimly seen, which seemed to be a large number of people. Were they sent by my father to chase me? I couldn’t see their flags clearly due to the long distance. Anxiety drove me to ride towards Tian Gen Mountain. If I rushed into Tujue’s territory and encountered grandfather’s men, it would be hard for my father to take me back.
The cavalry in pursuit was getting closer. My little red horse was like an arrow shot from a bow, running fast on the vast grassland. Although it could run a long distance, there was nowhere to hide, sooner or later I would be caught.
I kept looking back at the cavalrymen as they got increasingly closer. There were nearly one thousand cavalrymen. Such huge calvary was astonishing on the grasslands, even my father wouldn’t send a troop like this indeliberately. If they were sent to chase me up, it would be a fuss over me. I wondered where the cavalry came from while riding the horse.
It didn’t take me long to ride to the foot of Tian Gen mountain. I saw some black dots in the distance and heard the long, familiar and cordial pastoral song sung by people in Tujue. They must be sent by Aweng to pick me up, thus I drove my red horse to run even faster. When those Tujue’ men saw me, they stood on the horseback and waved their hands warmly towards me.
I waved my hands back strongly. They must have seen the cavalry behind me. As getting near, I saw Tujue’s white gonfalon with a long tail fluttering in the wind at dusk, just like a fish swimming in the water. I knew the man who was holding the flagpole, he was the most popular archer in grandfather’s army, He Shi. Seeing a mass of cavalrymen caught up, He Shi put the flagpole into the rocks and took off the bow on his back.
I saw clearly on the galloping horse and shouted, “I don’t know who they are. They are chasing me all the way, but I want to figure out where they come from.”
My horse slowly stopped about 30 meters behind He Shi’s horse. The arrow bunch in the archers’ hands behind He Shi flickered blue light under the setting sun. They surrounded me with the horses while aiming at the cavalry. He Shi smiled and greeted me happily, “Hello, little princess.” I was not the Crown Princess in Tujue, but because of my mother, Neng Gan in the great Chanyu’s army started to call me this way since I was very young. Seeing He Shi made me relieved, and even forgot hundreds of cavalrymen chasing after. I replied in great joy, “Hello, He Shi.” The cavalry was getting close enough, making the earth shake and the clop filled up my ears. He Shi felt excited and said, “Is such a huge cavalry coming to fight with us?” He Shi talked to me while preparing to shoot. Tujue’s white flag was flapping in the air. Everyone in the tribe on the grasslands knew Tieergeda’s (the great Chanyu) people were somewhere around when they saw the white flag. Anyone who fought with Tujue’s warriors would be killed, and people in their tribe would be executed. Their cows and sheep would be rob away. Everyone showed their respect to the white flag outside Yumen Gate.
It seemed that the cavalry didn’t see the white flag and continued rushing towards He Shi’ troop. The golden light of the setting sun shone on their armor and reflected in cyan. I took a deep breath suddenly.
This was Yuezhi’s cavalry, their light armor, saddle, and helmet… Although there was no flag, I still could recognize it Yuezhi’s cavalry. Though I had not been to Yuezhi, when I went to Protectorate General to Pacify the West, I saw Yuezhi’s cavalry training. They had good horses, bright armors, elastic bows, and sharp arrows. What’s more, their knights were brave and good at fighting.
He Shi also found it. He looked back at me and said: “Princess, first go east and bypass the Bin Li river. The Chanyu’s tent is in the east of the river.”
I spoke loudly, “If the fight is inevitable, I would fight. I won’t run away alone.”
He Shi seemed to admire my words and nodded, then he gave me his own machete. I took the machete, with lots of sweat in my hands. I knew what a good cavalry Yuezhi’s was. What’s more, there were so many people marching over here. Though He Shi was the greatest archer, we, dozens of people, couldn’t resist them, no matter how hard we tried.
Seeing the cavalry getting closer and closer, I even couldn’t hold the saber. Although I thought I was as good as my brothers since I was a child, to be honest, it was the first time for me to fight in a battle.
The white gonfalon was behind us, rustling. At the end of the prairie, the sun went down slowly, and the grass was undulated by the wind, just like the sand in the desert.
The temperature suddenly became colder. I blinked because sweat drip down into the corner of my eye and it made me very uncomfortable.
The cavalry saw the white gonfalon and then slowed down gradually. They took up position and approached gradually. He Shi loudly said: “He Shi is here. You have stepped into the grassland of Tujue. Would you want to start an undeclared war?” He Shi was a famous archer in the land and the meaning of his name, He Shi, is the arrow. It was said that if he wanted to shoot the left eye of the geese in the sky, he would never shoot the right eye wrongly. So the Great Chanyu specially trusted him.
As expected, those people heard He Shi’s name and were shocked. Then one person rode out from a row and said something. I didn’t know Yuezhi’s language, so He Shi translated it for me. That person said that they were running after a lost slave. As for another aspect that they were in Tujue, they said it was at the foot of Tian Gen mountain. The place was actually the boundary among Yuezhi, Tujue, and Xiliang, where was not controlled by all three sides. If He Shi said it was the territory of Tujue, it was not persuasive.
“Lost a slave?” I repeated the words inexplicably. Their general pointed me with his horsewhip and said some words.
He Shi seemed to be angry for what the general said. He said in a loud voice: “That man should say you’re their lost slave.”
I became angry as well, and said as drawing my machetes out: “Nonsense!”
He Shi nodded: “It is just their excuse.”
That Yuezhi’s general started saying again. I asked He Shi: “What is he talking about?”
He Shi said: “He said, if we don’t hand you over, he will lead the cavalry to catch you. Once we start a battle with Yuezhi because of our hiding Yuezhi’s slave, we will have no excuse.”
I was so angry that I laughed out inversely, “It is he that behaves so rudely. Now, he dares to say that we have no excuse?”
He Shi said in a deep voice: “You are right, little princess. But there are so many people coming for you…” He said to me, “Little princess, go east to the Chanyu’s tent and take reinforcements here. Yuezhi is so arrogant and rude, and if we cannot stop them, you must report it to Chanyu in case of that they plot to attack Chanyu.”
Anyway, He Shi still persuaded me to withdraw first. Frightened as I was, I straightened my chest and exclaimed: “Send another one to report it. I won’t go!”
He Shi said softly: “If princess stays here, I cannot send more people to protect you.”
Thinking over what he said, I understood that if I insisted on staying here, I would only drag them down. Although I was also good at archery, I had never practiced it in a real battle. However, all people here, except for me, were experienced warriors of Tujue.