Chapter 30: Sieging Of Du Cheng
Vaguely hearing a burst of bustling noises, Gui Wan opens her eyes, black coloured bed frame, light blue veiled curtains, a room that appears unfamiliar but is by all means neat and tidy. Her memories like a tidal wave, bits and pieces surging up into her mind, she hums a sound, sitting up, a string of bell-shaped glass is hung on the window eaves, the warm southerly breeze whisking though, sounding a clear ringing of ding-ling, hearing it through the window, it is exceptionally melodious.
Properly dressing herself up, she slowly paces to the window, pushing it open, the cold air comes rushing to her face, but only helps to freshen up her spirits.
There is the occasional racket outside the window, also mingled with the Nu language that she does not understand, constantly reminding her, this place is a little remote city in the northern region--Du Cheng (Governor City), and is not the prosperous Capital.
This area is already far from the Capital’s watch……
“Madam” Lou Sheng respectfully sounds a low calling from the doors, immediately followed by a few rhythmic knocks.
The doors open, entering a middle-aged woman, face of amiable kindness, her hands holding a basin of steaming water, greeting as she walks in: “Madam, you have just gotten up ah, with the air chilly, ground frozen, you can catch a cold with the windows open……”
Hearing her long-winded talk as always, Gui Wan faintly smiles, looking out the doors, Lou Sheng is indeed stood outside the room, face expressionless. The woman helps Gui Wan take care of her appearance with nimble hands and feet, whilst mumbling, such a beautiful person yet always dressing up like a man. Combing up a simple men’s hairstyle, the woman looks at Gui Wan as she sounds a few tuts, turning around to tidy up the room, hands working nonstop, her mouth, also working nonstop all the same, muttering interesting stories about her parents in the east, and family in west, her words rushed and fast, endlessly talking to herself, also accompanied with a few giggles.
Escaping from her grasp with great difficulty, Gui Wan hurriedly heads out the room, leaving the woman alone in the room to tidy things up, still hearing the chattering coming from the room, she could not help but to sigh in relief towards Lou Sheng: “Even more formidable than Ling Long……”
Lou Sheng was first stunned, and then reveals a slight smile.
Closely following Gui Wan as she heads outside, having just walked out the big courtyard, the people outside the alley, one by one came enthusiastically greeting them, the neighbouring Aunt Li, the fruit seller Zheng San, the one who loves to boast around all day Brother Wang……watching Gui Wan respond to each and every one of them, Lou Sheng wordlessly remains silent, if not for the current pressing situation, Madam as the dignified wife of the country’s Prime Minister, how would she possibly come in contact with these ordinary people of the general public? ……but every time he sees Gui Wan’s smile like sunrise merged within, he would also feel somewhat captivated, his intuition tells him such change may not necessarily be bad, but where exactly does the problem lies, a boorish fellow like him is unable to answer this.
Over half a month ago, half way here after leaving the Capital, they were blocked up at a check stop set up by Guan Xiu Wen’s deployment, fortunately, the horse carriages of the Prime Minister Estate were divided into three ways, diverting their interception, they doubled their speed across the starry night, horse running nonstop, and finally arrived at this most remote city in the northern region, the current peace, after the bumpy road of parting, feels so precious……
“Lou Sheng, stop always carrying such a grave face, look, you’re scaring all the children away.” Gui Wan looks around with a smile, gently reminding him.
With a little shake, he snaps out of it, Lou Sheng looks down, sure enough, there is a child, carrying a curious and inquiring look as he stares him, not daring to come close. He could only copy Gui Wan, putting on what he believes to be the most friendly smile towards that child. That child upon seeing it, instantly pales, hurriedly running away, hiding behind Aunt Li.
“Lou Sheng, it’s better to just keep to your grave face.” As though comforting him, Gui Wan says this, glancing at the already stiffened Lou Sheng.
Having dealt with the warm hospitality of the local people, the two of them walks into the main street, heading towards Zui Xiang Ju (House of Drunken Fragrance).
Zui Xiang Ju is the biggest restaurant in Du Cheng, and Du Cheng is the Nu Tribe and Qi Ling’s borderland crossover, business exchanges here is tightly knitted, the city is most distinctive in its blend of the two cultures, food, clothing, customs and so on, using a strange way to blend the two styles into one. On the road, there are both refined scholars of Qi Ling, rich in Confucian teachings, and merchants of the Nu Tribe, hearty and hospital in nature, often able to hear the communication of the two languages, happiness knowing no bounds, when they had first arrived here, the two of them were in slight disbelief, perhaps all citizens of the Capital would not be able to believe this, the two nations have fought for centuries, yet in this peculiar land they are able to gain mutual recognition and acceptance.
Walking up to where the stream ends, it is time to sit and watch the rising of clouds, perhaps it is this feeling right now, Gui Wan quietly ponders. Pacing into this loud and noisy market, contrarily makes her feel particularly calm and detached from wealth and power, she too, is but an ordinary commoner, being in this realm of commoners is so carefree, sometimes she cannot help but to think, after three months, to be able to spend the rest of her life with him amongst the commoners, what will it be like?
The geographical location of Du Cheng is extremely remote, other than military communications, other news are extremely difficult to get hold of, having left the Capital for over half a month, don’t know what kind of ground shaking changes has occurred within the Capital City, hands tightly clenching into fists, she suppresses the astringent feeling shooting up her heart, throwing away those thoughts filled with worries.
He has already said he will be here in three months, so she shall firmly believe in him like this……
“Madam,” Finding that Gui Wan’s smile appears to be slightly stiff, Lou Sheng speaks up to cut off her thoughts, “I heard General Lin is training soldiers in the outskirts of Du Cheng, entered the city a month earlier than us.”
“Training soldiers?” The clash of battles between the Nu Army and Qi Ling all occurs at Yu Xia Guan, although Du Cheng is the crossover point with the Nu, it is not an important military land, why would Lin Rui En choose to train soldiers here? Thinking again, what has this got to do with her anyway, Gui Wan lightly smiles, Lou Sheng is also the same, always without realising it, towards that cold general, groundlessly forming three points of concern.
“We’re here.” Casting a glance ahead, Zui Xiang Liu is already at a close distance, empty stomach rumbling, Gui Wan takes lead in accelerating her pace of walking.
The inside of Zui Xiang Ju is a full house of guests, extremely bustling.
“Are there no more seats?” Lou Sheng’s stern face looks around in confirmation again, the worker under the look of his seemingly vicious expression, cowardly nods his head, pleadingly eyeing that extremely delicately good looking gentleman behind him, but finds that he is very leisurely watching on, with not even the slightest thought of keeping the fierce person in control.
After a moment of deadlock, he sees two customers by the window pay their bills, the worker was happy to the point of shedding tears: “Great guests, there’s seats, there’s seats.” That look of happiness, practically made the other customers inside think that what he found was not seats, but his long lost birth mother.
Gui Wan looks towards the seats by the window, two people were just about leave, bodies very tall, straight and strong, looks like the Nu people, particularly the person walking in front, who even more has such demeanour of a moving dragon, leaping tiger, the moment he turns around, Gui Wan gains a sense of familiarity. Such air of authority only those in high positions holds, she has seen more than enough in her life, not at all surprising, but why does that person’s attitude and imposing manner feels so familiar to her……
“Ma……gentleman.” Awkwardly changing the addressment, Lou Sheng calls Gui Wan to take a seat at the empty spot by the window, and the worker had already came to get their orders in great relief, but Gui Wan was still thinking back to that deeply unforgettable figure just now.
The drifting aroma of the congee makes its way over to the table, Gui Wan lets go of the doubts in her heart, with just one spoonful, a lightning fast thought flashes past her mind, and she quietly mutters: “It’s him……”
“Sire……” Cautiously sounding a quiet calling, but receives a sharp glare in return, Ke Zhan hurriedly changes his words, “Gentleman.”
The addressed person does not speak a word as he eats, he could only take on this unpleasant task and persist: “Gentleman, to leave home during such time, doesn’t seem to be too good right? Should anything arises at home……” Voice getting quieter and quieter as he speaks, because he know that the other person is unwilling to discuss this, inwardly wailing to himself, considering that he is the head of the Nu Army’s guards, only when facing this newly ascended king, would he be this useless.
After Ye Li takes the final bite, he finds that the food in front of his head guarding officer has not even been touched, and his facial expression extremely ugly, knowing that he is worried about the safety of this travel, he comfortingly says: “This time, I must personally come, with Mo Na’s disguise, what else are you afraid of?”
“But, sire, your grand seat has only just be obtained, Eldest Prince must still not be resigned, now that you are not guarding the royal hall, would……” Softly speaking of his own worries, but finds that Ye Li’s expression deepens because of this, Ke Zhan immediately shuts his mouth, he has once again mentioned the taboo.
The old Nu King passed away half a year ago, before his death, he did not clearly state who is to succeed the throne, the two princes who shared considerably deep feeling suddenly turned against each other at that very moment, because Second Prince Ye Li has just been acknowledged by all in the Nu Tribe, gaining unanimous support from the elders, Eldest Prince could only withdraw, who knew his heart was still not resigned, assembling troops in order to confront Prince Ye Li, resulting in a crushing defeat, and was chased out to the north of Mo He (most northern county of China)……this matter, has been marked as the deepest taboo topic by the royal family of the Nu Capital.
Once again using an eye signal to stop the other person from revealing their identities, Ye Li summons for a worker to pay the bill, within such a bustling environment, to talk with this head guarding officer of his who has courage alone with no brain, he does not know how many consequences this could lead to, therefore he resolutely decides to leave the restaurant in order to discuss these matters.
Ke Zhan with an ashen face, follows Ye Li in getting up, walking out, within the absolutely noisy and crowded store, he too cannot speak too much of anything. Ye Li who was walking in front suddenly freezes on the spot, feet hesitant to walk, eyes carrying a dilemma of disbelief: “It’s her? How could that be……?”
Ke Zhan curiously looks towards the entrance, the workers’ shuttling figures brushes past, with not a particularly notable figure in sight.
Ye Li once again looks over, there is no longer anyone over there, was it a mere misconception? That’s right, how could she possibly in this place……a bitter smile revealed on his face, he suddenly feels regretful. Ignoring Ke Zhan’s doubtful eyes, he walks out.
This walk is even more quieter than coming here, the head guarding officer Ke Zhan dares not to hastily speak up, when Ye Li came out from the restaurant, his expression appears somewhat strange, he cannot help but to speculate, just what did sire see just now?
“……gentleman, this time we are taking such a risk, exactly who have we come to see?” In the end he still could not hold back his tongue.
A strong and steady voice, sweeping away the disruptions out of his mind, Ye Li simply replies: “Someone capable of defeating Lin Rui En.”
Ke Zhan’s jaw drops, unable to recover from being thunderstruck, Lin Rui En these three words, to the Nu Tribe, is a mountain, the peak, insurmountable, once the Lin family’s military flag is raised, even if it is the warriors of the Nu Tribe, they will still be hit with a moment of hesitance and anxiety. The Nu Tribe once believed, Lin Rui En is the wall of Qi Ling, without defeating him, they cannot enter the Celestial Empire. Right now, to think there is actually a person, who is able to defeat Lin Rui En?
“Exactly what kind of person is this? Is he a famous general?” Excitedly asking, only in this very moment, did Ke Zhan sense the great value that is worth them taking the risk to come here.
Ye Li reveals a strange smile: “Famous general? He cannot even be considered a general, this person is but a scoundrel who takes to cunning means.”
“Scoundrel? Able to defeat Lin Rui En?”
“Many famous generals do not die on the battlefield, but die within plotting……there is nothing particularly strange.” Knowing that the simple minded Ke Zhan would not understand, Ye Li simplifies it into a sentence for him.
But Ke Zhan actually caught onto an idea right now: “Sire, your meaning is, we are immediately going to start a war against Qi Ling?”
Glancing at Ke Zhan in appreciation: “According to the sayings of the Celestial Empire people, we are merely riding the eastern wind.” That is why we are taking the risk this time to obtain the last wave of eastern wind. (Note: the eastern wind can also be used to refer to the driving force of revolution)
Lin Rui En changes into a casual outfit before leaving the room, chilly air raiding through people’s bodies as he passes by, yet it seems to not have much of an effect on him, a blue winter shirt, clean and simple, lining this young general’s body with even more of a cold sternness. The military advisor walks over, eyeing him over once, before curiously saying: “Where is General heading to?”
“Going to wander around the city.”
“It just so happens that the army needs to buy some supplies, how about I accompany General there?” Military Advisor gracefully smiles, no one is able to guess what is hidden behind that smile of his. Lin Rui En neither agrees nor disagrees as he remains silent, indifference amplified.
The two people rushes from the outskirts to Du Cheng by horse, leaving the horses with the city soldiers, and then enters the city like ordinary people.
Purchasing some military needs in several stores, Military Advisor carries out his task in an orderly manner, as though Lin Rui En is the one accompanying him here.
Walking out of the store, Military Advisor sneaks a glance at Lin Rui En who is somewhat unfocused: “General, a few days ago someone reported, a man with a scar on his face, a vicious looking appearance, and also a woman extremely delicately handsome, dressed in men’s clothing, has arrived in the city, this matter, don’t know if General has heard of it?”
In a moment of realisation, Lin Rui En gets the feeling that he has been seen through, brows knitting together, he resonantly says: “Heard it.”
“Usually spending your days training the new recruits in the army, with the slightest free time, General would read books on the art of war, yet today you act uncharacteristically, wanting to enter the city to wander around, so it is also due to the reason of hearing this news.” Military Advisor flatly speaks, yet every word, every phrase is sharp like a needle.
“Military Advisor, you may speak directly.”
“General, what kind of time do think this is right now? Of peace and prosperity? Favourable weather conditions [for crops]? …General, you must know, this is Qi Ling’s time of crisis,” Face darkening, Military Advisor solemnly speaks, “The inner court is in turmoil, the outer court aggressively pressing. The dispute within court restless, Prime Minister Lou and his majesty with their own respective factions, I heard there is even a prominent family clan from the south involved in all this, the situation is unclear, those within the court like treading on thin ice, filled with uncertainty and unease. And the worries on the outside is even more pressing, everyone believes that with the mourning of the Nu King, no troops will be dispatched in the near future, General, only you and I know, the newly ascended Nu King Ye Li holds an ambitious heart greater than that of his father, despite only coming upon the new king’s early governance right now, the army morale has been swept clean, just like waking up to a fierce tiger, its claws and fangs could be reaching out to Qi Ling any moment right now……”
“I know.” Lin Rui En with a cold face, even his tone is completely cold.
“Since General knows, then it is I who spoke too much,” Abruptly stopping, Military Advisor points to the small alley in front, “General can make the decision yourself.”
Knowing that the little alley in front is the location of Gui Wan’s current residence that the soldier had reported, Lin Rui En stands at the end of the alley, face at a loss, hesitant to make this difficult decision, why did he come here? In such a situation, even if he is to enter, what can he do? Hesitating for a long time, he gently emits a sigh, turning around, heading down the road back.
Military Advisor was quite pleased upon seeing this, how difficult this role of being a father and friend is, only he alone knows very well, he has watched Lin Rui En grow up since young, treating him just like his own child of the same blood. He only wishes that there will be no errors in his life path……this bit of tough love, even if he can only fulfil it by playing the villain, he is still willing to do so.
The two of them follows Du Cheng’s most prosperous street on their way back, with endless streams of horses and carriages, shoulders and heels rubbing against others, Lin Rui En in a trance, bumps into a brawny man who was rushing by, surprised, he extends his hand, wanting to stabilise the other person. The one who was bumped into, staggers on his feet, knocked three steps back, before he was able to stand his ground. Both sides looking at one another in surprised.
Only then did Lin Rui En clearly make out that there are two people, the one who he had bumped into, with thick brows and big eyes, orbs filled with magnanimity, signifying an upright and honest character. As for the one besides him, his eyes are deeply unpredictable, and even more has a dignified air of angered but does not speak of it. Both people has well-built figures, from appearance, they do not seem to be people of the Celestial Empire. Firstly grabbing his fist in a respectful gesture, Lin Rui En apologetically speaks: “I have offended just now.”
“No, it is us who have offended.” The opposition’s Han language is spoken with extremely smooth fluency, just that the tone is a little strange, hurriedly glancing at Lin Rui En, the means of inquiring running strong, not waiting for Lin Rui En to return the gesture, the two people had already quickly left.
Military Advisor has his gaze locked onto the direction in which the two figures had left in, speaking in surprise: “These two people, does not seem like your ordinary people.”
Lin Rui En nods in agreement, should he have bumped into an ordinary person by accident, they would definitely topple down, but just now, that person had only took three steps back, showing that he holds extraordinary skills.
At this time, no one knew, an encounter is the beginning of fate……
In heaven’s recording of the fifth year, the fist lunar month.
At the Nu Tribe military camp, a time where the first rays of the morning sun rises.
“Sire,” The head guarding officer enters the military tent with long quick strides, his face, revealing extreme excitement, “The situation in Du Cheng has already been inspected clearly, it is pretty much the same as sire has said.”
Ye Li raises his head upon hearing this, across from the head guard, he sees a scene of snow white outside the tent, the lustrous ice bright and clean, a round sun can just be seen rising up, as though claiming all the colour in this world, leaving only scarlet red just like that of blood.
“Ke Zhan, invite the generals in.”
Sounding a resounding reply, the head guarding officer withdraws from the tent faster than when he had entered. Ye Li lifts up the sheepskin in hand, carefully tracing over the distinctive markings, unable to restrain his inner excitement, his fingers slightly trembles, the distribution of Qi Ling’s frontier troops are clearly displayed before his eyes, at the touch of his fingertips, feeling as though he is penetrating into it. The Nu Tribe’s centuries of dream, seems to be written on this piece of sheepskin.
Clenching the sheepskin, Ye Li slowly closes his eyes, thousands and thousands of soldiers and horses, thunderous war drums, as if it is all happening before his eyes, he and his older brother has fought for as long as half a year, ascending the throne as king, is it not for this day that he has been waiting for?
A dozen of Nu generals enters the commander tent one after another, seeing that their King is in the middle of resting his eyes meditatively, no one dares to emit a sound, Ye Li’s current demeanour, is no different to a lion in deep sleep, lying between the vault of heaven, even when silent without a word, he is still able make people sense such air of unpredictable dignity. A month ago, after Ye Li had returned from Du Cheng, he had issued a notice to prepare for war, today, a dozen of the Nu Tribe’s senior generals received the notice for a meeting, towards the content of this discussion, their hearts also holds some thoughts. The majority of the younger generals are in a very excited mood, whilst the older generation of generals holds a mix of happiness and worries, both sides silently takes a seat within the tent, measuring up the situation before their eyes.
“Everyone, today is a joyful day, why the pensive mood?” Opening his eyes, looking over the people on the lower seats, Ye Li asks with a smile.
Under the sweeping of his sharp eagle eyes, all the generals were startled, the oldest general speaks up: “Sire, I heard you want to attack Qi Ling, is that right?
“Yes.” Ye Li clearly, forcefully admits to the mapped out plan in his heart.
“Sire, doing so will be too rash, Qi Ling is the fierce tiger on ground, and our tribe is the heroic eagle in the sky, even if the two are regularly pitting against one another, we still cannot occupy their land, should an all-out war breaks out, it will be a great great disadvantage to our tribe ah……”
Raising his hand with a wave, stopping the older general from speaking, Ye Li throws the sheepskin in hand towards the centre of the tent: “This is the distribution of Qi Ling’s frontier troops, everyone take a look.”
“Sire, such thing, how did you manage to obtain it?” The younger generals were first to take hold of the sheepskin, passing it around in exhibition, each and every person revealing excitement. With this in grasp, it is undoubtedly an additional ray of light to them. The Art of War states “know thyself, know your enemy”, such is that exact principle.
Ye Li’s eyes widens with a shine, saying: “For centuries, Qi Ling has always been living on as the Celestial Empire, occupying the most fertile land, using the best resources, and we Nu’s resides in the far northern land, deeply suffering the pain of heavenly disasters. The commoners of Qi Ling drinks fine wine, their women dressed in the best silk, what our commoners eat are of course food grains, our women dressed in rough fabric, all of this, is it fair? And right now, our opportunity has come, the dispute between Qi Ling’s Emperor and prime minister in the Capital City has reached a blazing point, the defensive forces near the northern borders have been centralised within the vicinity of the Capital City, taking advantage of their ongoing internal struggles, this is our great chance, capture the northern area in one swoop.”
Such speech, spoken in such way that made all generals present to sense an upsurge of emotions, after a moment, one general asks: “Sire, Qi Ling’s Lin Rui En is in Du Cheng, at this time, I attack Yu Xia Guan, Yu Xia Guan is completely ready on guarding duty, and is easy to defend, waiting for them to transfer troops over, then wouldn’t we practically be……”
“Who said we are going to attack Yu Xia, what we are attacking is Du Cheng,” Ye Li reveals a slight smile, seeing everyone clamour with comments like an exploding pot, he speaks with resolute decisiveness, “Du Cheng’s defending troops only has thirty thousand people, eight thousand amongst them are even new recruits currently being trained by Lin Rui En, rather than attacking Yu Xia, we might as well seize Du Cheng, along with Lin Rui En.”
With a raise of his hand, the head guarding officer by the side had already spread out the map, everyone gathers around, all shocked by this peculiar method, all along, Du Cheng has connected Qi Ling and the Nu Tribe, but because it is located in an extremely remote area, it has always been treated as the connecting road for businesses, and not a land of military struggles. It is not that there was no one who thought of invading into Qi Ling from there, but to start from Du Cheng is undoubtedly the long way around, and now that Lin Rui En is in Du Cheng, the situation is of a different matter, each and every person knows, Qi Ling’s elite army is the Lin family’s army, should they manage to defeat Lin Rui En, the significance of this battle is far greater than a little city can compare to. And with the internal strife within Qi Ling hitting its peak right now, it is also giving the Nu Tribe an excellent opportunity.
Ye Li points around the map, explaining the strategy for this battle, the surrounding generals are nodding their heads convinced, the older generation of generals originally had their concerns, but listening on right now, they all reveal a smile unanimously, it is just like Ye Li had said. This is indeed a rare opportunity heaven had bestowed upon them.
“Lin Rui En is training soldiers here, an hour ride away from Du Cheng by horse, we shall first entrap him to his death, whilst besieging Du Cheng, Du Cheng is a remote area, besieging it, will be cutting off all internal communications with Qi Ling, using this as base point, we shall slowly enter from the south. A month ago, I had already secretly issued orders to prepare for war, within this month, Nu trading guilds have already gradually been banned from entering Du Cheng.”
Hearing that he had arranged everything so carefully, all the generals were thoroughly convinced, everyone’s fighting spirits running high, Ye Li assigns tasks to them one by one, all of them leaves the tent in delight, they have prepared everything before the battle. Only one old general remains within the tent, not to mention he is one of the Old Nu King’s most trusted generals, famed for proceeding with caution, he stares at Ye Li for a long time, asking: “Sire, the preparations this time precisely targets each respective situation in Qi Ling. Such clear intelligence, don’t know where sire obtained all this?”
Secretly praising the opposition’s cautious heart as fine as dust, Ye Li knows that he is a highly respected old courtier, thus dares not to hide anything: “This is information offered by a prominent family clan in Qi Ling.”
“Why do they want to betray their own motherland, and instead aid us?” The old general is absolutely doubtful.
“They are not aiding us,” Ye Li harbours laughter as he explains, “They want to fight for the greater power of Qi Ling, but Qi Ling has Prime Minister Lou in literary, Lin Rui En in military, they must first eliminate these two people in order to achieve this, to offer us intelligence right now, is but only to lend our hands in order to get rid of Lin Rui En, and then they will later send for troops to force us back into retreat, this way, from the Emperor of Qi Ling’s perspective, he can only rely heavily on them.”
Once the old general hears this, he is filled with absolute lament: “The minds of the Celestial Empire people truly are terrifyingly deep and heavy……but, sire clearly knows of their schemes, do you still want to serve as their tool for lending a sword in order to kill?”
“As long as we are alert, the matter will not be in their control, besides, without their help right now, we too will not be able to easily enter their territory, as long as we besiege Du Cheng, without the use of communication that we had cut off, that family clan will not be able to leak out any news, whilst they are using us, we too can also use them, don’t you think so? General Ba Dan……”
Up to this very moment, does he finally feel sincere admiration towards this younger generation, old Ba Dan stands up, kneeling on the ground, his right hand placed on his chest: “My greatest Nu King, with the bestowment of heaven’s grace, our great Nu shall certainly no longer head into the adversity.”
Walking up to help him up, Ye Li lifts the tent curtains, the two quickly exits, the glowing red sun already hanging high up, the snow covered ground reflecting its brilliance, the northern wind blows, powdery snow drifting, Ye Li looks out towards the military troops outside the tent, currently moving forward in deployment, his heart vastly open at ease, pointing to the front, he says the old general besides him: “The snow accumulating to such thickness, is just right for masking the sound of horse hooves, on our journey to the south, three days later, be sure to defeat Lin Rui En.”
His voice perfectly resonant, a wave of silence washes over the military camp, the soldiers have already heard of their course of action from their own respective general, hearing Ye Li’s rhetoric words, no one does not raise his long spear, loudly shouting: “Nu Tribe sure win, sure win.”
An entire mountain wildly ringing with their cries, each wave louder than the other, directly surging into the skies.
Once the sun rises to the set time, the Nu troops makes their move, with the cavalry unit in lead, dressed in armour, carrying a long spear, slowly crossing the plains, each rank consistently arranged in neat rows, like a flowing tide of black heads within this scene of pure white, advancing towards Du Cheng.
This advance opens up the “Battle of the Jade Governor”, and those residing within Du Cheng still remains unaware, in celebration of the first lunar month, firecrackers are set off, mutual exchange of blessings are made, within the intoxication of beautifully sweet dreams, pleasant smiles overflows……
Within the dim moonlight, the last bit of brightness is consumed into years of darkness, gradually approaching, gradually nearing, like clouds like mist, spreading over the skies, covering the ground, fierce roaring tucked in between, brushing against the face as it comes……
Violently forcing her eyes open, Gui Wan pants with a slight haste, the dream just now, is so fear inducing, leaving only the resulting palpitating heart behind, the book beside her hand falls to the ground, emitting a sound, she lowers her body, upon picking up the book, her arm feels limp. Didn’t think that she could also sink into dreamland whilst reading. Standing up, she exercises her limbs, opening the door, outside the house is the “peng” sound of the firecrackers, suddenly giving her another scare.
The merry voices celebrating the New Year travels over, she listens to them, her lips hooking up into a shallow smile. This is the first time she had left the Capital during a festive season, she remembers how back in the Prime Minister Estate, during this festive season, Lou Che is the busiest, receiving daily blessings from the officials, once evening arrives, he would be bringing a lot of treasures to present before her, like exhibiting his riches as he lets her pick, drinking the pleasantly fragrant plum blossom wine, the two will converse, chatting about anything under the sky, with no topic being an exception, once tired, she will directly lie down on the long chair, when she wakes up, his first phrase will definitely be “look at you, how is this the appearance of the Prime Minister Madam?”
Past memories just like yesterday, today, the things are still there, but the people are no longer the same……
Hundreds and thousands of li apart, is my husband safe and sound? The Prime Minister Estate’s plum blossoms in full bloom, is the fragrance still the same?
Here, every day I rise with the sun, rest with the moon, watching the unrestrained clouds, just that I don’t know if you who is residing within the Capital City, is looking up at the same sky as I……
A little tug on the edge of her clothes, Gui Wan gathers away her reveries, looking down, it is Aunt Li’s child from next door, adorable and energetic, clever and well behaved, with a pair of big sparkling eyes, identifying people from their clothing, and would only call Gui Wan “brother.”
“Brother, go out to play……” Pulling Gui Wan along as he heads outside, his face lit with a beaming smile, the two are pulled along onto the main street, everywhere filled with pleasantly happy faces, seven out of ten places carrying the colour of red. Gui Wan looks all around the bustling street scene, feeling rather curious, from her peripheral vision, she sees Lou Sheng following behind, knowing that he is keeping them protected with great attentiveness, she is able to look around at ease.
“Madam, there’s too many people. How about we stray away from here a bit?” Seeing that child let go of Gui Wan’s sleeve, running to the side to play with other children, Lou Sheng comes forward in reminder.
“En,” Gui Wan smiles as she nods her head, watching the crowded street, she turns around, just about to return, when she suddenly says, “Strange, do you find that, the amount of Nu people on the streets has lessened a lot?”
Lou Sheng looks around the streets after hearing this: “Indeed, compared to when we just arrived, there is a lot less.” This phrase is spoken with a very subtle implication, when they had arrived, Nu tradesmen could be spotted anywhere, but right now, they practically can’t even spot the shadow of any Nu tradesmen.
“Madam is worried that the one we saw the other day is really Nu King Ye Li?” After returning on that day, Gui Wan tells him of everything she had seen, he too completely baffled, logically speaking, with Ye Li’s current status, he simply should not be appearing here, back then, he was thinking perhaps Madam saw wrong, but right now, the concerns hidden in their hearts feels more realistic.
Du Cheng is only a business passage, it cannot possibly become a land of military struggles, moreover the Nu King had only ascended the throne not so long ago, would he be putting the military force to use right now?
Lou Sheng calculates the possible chances, the deeper delves into it, the more he is unable to digest it, looking towards Gui Wan, finding that she too is frowning, seeming to hesitate over making some difficult decisions.
“Madam……” Lou Sheng softly calls.
“I know, let me think it over again.” Cutting off his words, Gui Wan smiles, she knows Lou Sheng’s meaning, wanting to report this matter to Lin Rui En, towards Lin Rui En, precisely because of Lin Ran Yi, he has gained the feeling of love for the house extends to the crows perched on its roof, that is why he is taking this matter exceptionally seriously, but as of now, she is only making empty speculations with no basis, moreover she a lowly woman, with what entitlement does she has to warn the great general?
Three days later, outskirts of Du Cheng, military camp.
“Gentleman, our Military Advisor is occupied with matters right now, if you please wait here for a while.” Inside an ordinary military camp, the soldier reports as though reciting a book, those eyes stealing a few glimpses at Gui Wan, finding that “his” face shows no expression, he awkwardly withdraws.
Taking a sip of the tea, finding that the water had already cooled down, two or three yellow tea leaves floating above, Gui Wan’s heart was filled with hidden annoyance, how could she possibly not see, this Military Advisor holds the proper intention to embarrass her.
Under such anger, she was just about to throw back her sleeves in leave, when a white lustrous jade suddenly falls out from her sleeve, she picks it up, after a long moment, patiently sits back down again. In this world, such superfluous attitude of adding flowers to embroidery can be seen everywhere, yet the timely gifting of charcoal during the snowy season is but a rare sight, Lin Rui En has come to her aid several times, so why should she because of such small matters, delay the serious business.
Seeing her sit down again, Lou Sheng secretly lets out a sigh of relief.
Another long while passes, when the tent curtains are once again lifted, the gentle and refined Military Advisor slowly walks in, seeing Gui Wan and Lou Sheng, he first reveals a look of surprise, and then walks forward with a harmonious smile: “And here I was wondering who it is, a rare visitor, a rare visitor, so it is Madam Lou……gracing us with your presence!”
Clearly aware that within such smile, hypocritical and insincere feelings makes up the majority of it, Gui Wan also spreads a smile like orchids: “You’re too courteous, Military Advisor is the true noble grace here, really not easy to catch a little glimpse.”
Heartily sound a laugh, Military Advisor speaks very politely, only acting as though he is unable to understand the satire in Gui Wan’s words: “Don’t know what Madam has come to enlighten me with today?” This woman indeed isn’t a simple one, the average official madam, how would they possibly be able to withstand such trifle provocation, her identity is of extreme nobility, yet is still able to withstand a moment of anger, this too is a rare find in women.
No longer beating around the bush, Gui Wan tells him everything that she has seen and thought of with this month, her thoughts are very clear, with quick wits and eloquent tongue, Military Advisor is also a wise man, and is immediately able to understand the deeper meaning.
After listening to her, Military Advisor is deeply frowning, somewhat not daring to believe it, after a long while does he finally throw out a word: “Really?”
Of course Gui Wan would not answer such stupid question of his, who would want to make a joke out of such serious military affairs. Military Advisor stands up, his face carrying a chill, pacing two rounds of circles, occasionally sizing up Gui Wan and Lou Sheng, only seeing their calm and composed attitudes, and is only able to lament: “Madam Lou, looks like, I must ask of you to temporarily stay in camp overnight.”
Seeing that the matter this time is of utmost severity, Military Advisor is afraid to take on responsibility, having her stay in camp, should this matter prove to be false, he may very well push Gui Wan forward, saying it is Madam Lou’s false report. What a great cunning old fox, appearing to have seen through it, Gui Wan with great pleasure, nods in promise.
A person finds a pair of waterproof shoes by the river, they present their good intentions, only to get fishy water thrown all over them, looks like, being a good person really does no good. Grace laced around her laughter, Gui Wan spends the night in the military camp. Military Advisor referred to her as a noble from the Capital, thus the soldiers dares not to offend, an entire night can be said to be peaceful.
The next day, a little soldier hurriedly rushes over, telling her, Military Advisor summons her.
An ominous feeling shooting up her heart, Gui Wan brings Lou Sheng along as they head into the commander tent, Military Advisor is currently sat in centre, upon seeing the arriving people, he raises his head, Gui Wan is struck with slight shock, lines of red filling his eyes, his hair a little messy, appearing to have not slept all night, even the blue veins on his forehead can be vaguely traced out, unable to hide an expression of grieving, upon opening his mouth, even his voice has gone hoarse: “Madam……Du Cheng is in danger……”
Hands clenched into fists, Gui Wan widens her eyes upon hearing this, holding back that stunned expression, stabilising her bearings, she asks: “What does Military Advisor mean?”
Three months……only one more month is left, heart filled with absolute fear, Gui Wan locks onto Military Advisor’s expression without letting go, suppressing the fear that is slowly floating up over time, could it be, the one unable to uphold the three months promise, is not Lou Che, but her?
“Yesterday, with ten people to a team, I sent out five teams to inform General Lin, alternatively sending out two teams to head south in order to report to the imperial court, but up to now, there is still not the slightest of news……looks like the situation is extremely unfavourable.” Military Advisor quietly thinks for a moment, after his mood calms down a lot, he truthfully speaks.
Restraining the unease in her heart, Gui Wan sits down on the first seat in the tent, turning her head to look at Military Advisor: “How far from here is General Lin, how many soldiers is he leading?”
“General Lin is approximately thirty li away from Du Cheng, less than half a day horse ride away, has left to train soldiers this time, leading eight thousand young soldiers.” Barely able to open his mouth, Military Advisor concisely replies. There is nothing worse than the current situation, the head commander is not in camp, messages aren’t getting through, unclear whether there is or isn’t an enemy. Based on his many years of experience, this very moment is already the forewarning of the approaching danger.
“All eight thousand are new soldiers?” Gui Wan raises her voice in surprise, painted brows slightly knitted.
Military Advisor bitterly smiles, didn’t think that this pampered woman is this sharp-witted, with one grasp of his one phrase, she is able to analyse the formidability, he nods his head in helplessness: “That’s right, all eight thousand are new soldiers. Just over twenty thousand military force is left behind within Du Cheng right now, the local army accounting for the majority, only the lesser five thousand, are of the Lin family troops.”
The air cold, ground frozen, a charcoal brazier stands in centre of the tent, cosy heating filling the air, occasionally stars would seemingly be tucked between the charcoal, yet those within the tent does not sense this in the slightest, everyone’s faces weighing heavy, hands and feet ice cold.
“Madam, with the current situation like this, in your opinion, what should be done?” For the first time, Military Advisor assumes lower status, speaking with the tone of inquiring.
Raising her brows as she glances at Military Advisor, Gui Wan reveals a barely visible smile: “What is Military Advisor saying, such huge matters of military affairs, a mere woman like me, what plan can I possibly have……” What a great old fox, speaking of so many military defence reports just now, so he wants to drag her down as well. From the looks of it, he has clearly figured out a plan, wanting for her help, yet insists on putting on a look of consultation.
Staring at Gui Wan as he carefully eyes her, seeming to have found some sort of peculiar matter, Military Advisor lets out a long sigh: “Madam truly is a clever one, one who stands in the light does not speak shady words, Madam, with the current situation, I really cannot remain vague anymore. We must immediately get in contact with General Lin, I am unable to leave this spot, we are still lacking news of the five teams sent out to form lines of communications, therefore……”
“Therefore Military Advisor should have found a competent and capable commander to come in contact with General Lin now.” A direct flow of words cutting off Military Advisor’s speech, Gui Wan’s eyes like stars slightly squints.
The words of request stuck in his throat due to Gui Wan’s disruption, Military Advisor knits his brows, not knowing how to speak up. Unable to speak of his difficulties, with not even three months of coming to this place, the local army morale is irregular, and are not as good to command as the brothers of the Lin family troops, the current situation is unclear, he does not dare to rashly leak out any news, should panic arises, the consequences will be disastrous. Thinking over and over again, he actually thought of Gui Wan, clearly aware of how ridiculous this idea is, she is but only a weak woman, and her identity is particularly special……but in such critical moment, in such situation where no one is available, no one is trustable, he actually feels that this woman, compared to the local commander who lacks endurance, is much more reliable.
Speaking of it from another point of view, she knows the Nu King, even if the delivering message is snatched away by the Nu Tribe, with her identity, the Nu Tribe will not do such stupid thing of killing her……after repeated consideration, in this situation, she alone is the best candidate.
The inside of the tent heavily quiet like water, Military Advisor mind spinning with this idea, yet finds it difficult to speak up.
Thinking to herself, that this place she cannot stay any longer, Gui Wan appears to be ready to leave, with the tightening of her sleeve, she turns around, meeting Lou Sheng’s strongly astringent and complex look in surprise.
Under nervousness he had actually rashly grabbed onto Gui Wan’s sleeve, Lou Sheng immediately takes two steps back, silent without word, with a sound of “putong” as he drops to his knees, lowering his head, his mouth softly calling out: “Madam……”
Military Advisor who is in centre of the tent, upon seeing Lou Sheng’s actions, found it absolutely bizarre, he sees that Gui Wan because of this appeared expressionless, he decides to simply see what will happen, his intuitions tells him, Lou Sheng kneeling like this has something to with General Lin.
“Madam……” Seeing that Gui Wan is unaffected by this, Lou Sheng grows desperate, heavily knocking his head onto the ground, “May Madam look at it in favour of Ran Yi……”
Gui Wan upon hearing Lou Sheng’s begging, the lustrous jade in her sleeve seems to have been called out, taking out the jade pendant, she absently looks at it, Lin Ran Yi, Lin Rui En……these two names have accompanied several dangers in rescuing her, from the Nu Tribe to Yu Xia Guan it was Ran Yi’s laughter that accompanied her, at Feng Xi Slope it was Lin Rui En who protected her with his life at stake, when the Prime Minister Estate was besieged, it was him who bent down to pick up her handkerchief……
Each and every bit adding to her debt of gratitude, Gui Wan ah Gui Wan, how could you be so selfish?
Hundreds of feelings gathering, within a moment, she crazily looks at the jade pendant and enters a frozen state, watching Lou Sheng bend down to beg of her, her heart fires up, turning back to the Military Advisor, melodically saying: “Military Advisor, please lend me a hundred soldiers.”
Military Advisory is completely overjoyed, not exploring into the reasons for her change of mind, he immediately agrees, hurried steps leaving the tent to arrange the troops.
Lou Sheng raises his head, not knowing whether it is gratitude or something else expressed on his face, he murmurs: “Thank you Madam……”
With only half a stick of incense time, a hundred soldiers had already lined up outside the tent, the soldier’s discipline is prim and proper, carrying arrow quivers on their backs, watching Military Advisor lead an extremely delicately handsome young gentleman head towards them in such ethereal fluttering manner, they all look at each other, finding it incomprehensible. Once they hear that they are to follow this gentleman’s lead upon leaving this camp, they were even more astonished. They are all brothers of the Lin family’s troops, and so only accepts their instructions obediently, with not an uttering of a word, completely ready to go.
Gui Wan rides alone within the team, Lou Sheng closely following by her side, once he sees Gui Wan launch her body onto the horse by herself, he too was stunned by the sight, even he did not know, Madam’s horse-riding skills is quite decent.
Leaving Du Cheng, the blue skies like a clean wash, with the occasional cloud, amongst the boundless wilderness, the leisurely horse stands within this white coloured plains, everyone is in high spirits.
The sky and land so pure as though it has not been stained with a single speck of dust, such scene draws in Gui Wan, the unease felt when leaving the city is also gradually put down, seeing that all the soldiers are also sharing contented expressions, she guesses that Military Advisor did not tell them of the real intention in leaving the city, Gui Wan could only smile bitterly. In the moment they were leaving the city, she had only just come to realise, Military Advisor’s deeper meaning in wanting a woman like her to pass on the message, even if she is caught by the Nu Tribe, with her special status, there will still be negotiations available……
What a great old fox, inwardly cursing at him, Gui Wan puts on an appearance of nothing going on. Since matters have already come to this, she can only continue on.
The team of hundred people are all leisurely riding their horses, with no dangers met along the road, very quickly do they pass through the plains, nearby is a mountain scenery, the mountain steepness low and flat, stretching out like the pulse in veins. Listening to the recommendations of a soldier, they weave their way down a small mountain path, why they chose this faraway path and avoid the main little road, Gui Wan knows very well, the current mission is to contact Lin Rui En, first and foremost, of course they have to keep their own lives safe.
Over two hours of horse riding later, everyone remains silent without a sound, no one knows what the leading pretty gentleman is thinking about. Fortunately today’s wind and snow is not too big, still appropriate to make up for a nice scenery along the journey.
As they were heading down the path, originally very quiet, and then from the north, gradually getting louder and louder……seems like roars, also seems like an avalanche, surging into the ears like a powerful tidal wave. The soldiers starts muttering amongst themselves. The arrangement of the entire team becomes slightly messy.
Gui Wan upon hearing this sound, also finds it absolutely strange, she has no experience in such things, and can only inquire the soldiers beside her.
One soldiers after a moment of hesitation, speaks up: “Gentleman, perhaps a battle has arose in front.”
Slightly stunned, Gui Wan pulls at the reins, the entire team immediately stops on the spot. Seeing everyone hold expressions of puzzlement, her heart is met with a moment of struggles, cleanly bringing out the real purpose and the situation before their eyes, telling all of this to the soldiers. Having heard her speech, all the soldiers reveals a look of thunderstruck, sinking into silence for long while, one soldier situated at the front steps forward, resonantly saying: “Gentleman, we are all soldiers of the Lin family troops, for General Lin, we are not afraid to sacrifice, please continue forward.”
With not the slightest hesitation to sing her praises, as expected of the Lin family troops, Gui Wan thus continues to lead the team forward. Sat high on the horse, the hands holding onto the reins making a subtle move, although her face show steadiness, only she herself is aware, she is unable to suppress the fear in her heart, her back already oozing with a layer of cold sweat.
Passing this hill, exactly what will be awaiting her ahead……
Piercing their way through the little path, murderous cries shaking the skies, one look of boundless people like a huge tidal wave, completely covering the mountain in front. Gui Wan’s eyes widen, jaws dropped, as she stares ahead, her face washed white. Having marched forth through half a day of journey, facing such a scene, her heart is practically overwhelmed with great burden. Wave after wave of battle cries shaking her rational senses, immediately ordering for the team to stop, and hide their presence within the lush forest between the hills, afraid that the enemy troops ahead will learn of their existence.
Fortunately she is only leading a hundred people, very quickly do they hide their horses, Gui Wan, Lou Sheng and a few leading soldiers, stand at the mountain slope overlooking ahead.
A terrifying scene meeting their eyes……
The trees of the low mountain ahead exhausting its ability to cut off the light, the bare mountain and plains densely populated with people, a mass of black heads, erasing the snow scene, endless numbers of troops of soldiers and horses, arranged together in such congested manner, so tightly packed with not the thinnest of opening in sight, the gathered troops, surrounds one mountain in endless streams, the mountain slope is clearly different to that of other mountains, only this mountain has only the shadows of trees left.
Watching the countless soldiers and horses, blocking the paths ahead in such towering manner, murderous air heavily pressing down, vaguely exerting pressure across the entire mountain, Gui Wan’s heart runs cold, separated by one hill, she still feels immensely threatened.
“It’s the Nu Army……” A soldier stood closes speaks in a trembling tone, his voice may not be resonant, but practically everyone hears it, “General……General Lin is surrounded on that mountain.”
Having already guessed that the only mountain with not a single tree in sight is where General Lin lies, Gui Wan still could not hold back a shudder, the cold wind brushing over her face, seeps into her heart, freezing her into completely numbing her senses. General Lin is surrounded amongst the Nu Army, what is she to do? The more terrifying thought is, after surrounding General Lin here, what would the Nu Army do? Siege Du Cheng? No……no, Du Cheng has already been sieged, just that the encirclement is still very big in size, so the people of Du Cheng has still not detected it.
Seeing the Nu Army’s unprecedented mighty force of military discipline, Gui Wan’s heart races with loud sounds of peng peng, only finding the army before her eyes has faces of savages, people like tides, inducing the horror in her.
“Approximately how many people are there in front?” The foundations of singing opera since young is great help to her, despite her heart struck with absolute fear, her attitude is still like that of a clean and comfortable breeze.
Seeing this leading gentleman calm and composed, the soldiers also gradually casts away their sense of panic, the more experienced soldiers amongst them, stares ahead at the Nu army like looming black clouds, making one little estimation, each one with their faces turning ashen: “Approximately sixty thousand surrounding soldiers, stationed ahead there is approximately……no possible way to estimate……only afraid there are about a hundred thousand……”
Chills shooting up her heart, Gui Wan watches over the scene before her eyes with bated breath. There are hundreds of thousands soldiers blocking the path in front, General Lin only has eight thousand new recruits, not a real chance of winning, should she retreat back to Du Cheng, what is the use, a Du Cheng without Lin Rui En, cannot possibly bear this blow……what’s the best thing to do?
Extending her hand to summon upon a few soldiers, Gui Wan orders for them to follow the same route back, reporting the facts to Military Advisor, and to send for troops in rescue of General Lin, as long as General Lin is saved, she believes there is still a thin chance of survival……
Ten horses rapidly shoots down the path, watching the messengers head back, Lou Sheng worriedly looks towards Gui Wan, hesitant to speak. Gui Wan upon seeing this, dismissively respond with a sentence of, without the skin, what is the hair to be attached to? The soldiers hearing this, were all awe-inspired, raising their spirits, they station themselves by the mountain slope, observing the situation.
The huge Nu Army occasionally sounds a wave of loud roars, such noise like an earthquake, directly surging up to the clouds, densely surrounding the mountain, yet makes not a single move.
“They want to destroy General Lin’s confidence.” Lou Sheng stood on one side, speaks with heavy seriousness.
Gui Wan looks back at the entire group, faced with such army morale of complete oppressiveness, many soldiers were very anxious, with such pressure just from looking on at the side-lines, General Lin in direct face of this, who knows how he is feeling? Waiting up to two entire hours of time, the Nu Tribe once again emits a thunderous roar, just when Gui Wan thought they were emptily building momentum again, the Nu Army begins to take action.
First it was a few rows of archers stepping forth, pulling at the strings, releasing the arrows, a mass wave of thousands of arrows, shooting into the air like a downpour of rain, the black shadows practically covering the entire blue sky, pouring down upon the mountain slope, the arrows piercing the air emits a sound that overshadows the northern winds, like thousands and thousands of people roaring, swarming to its destination.
Gui Wan’s heart tightens as she watches this scene unfold, although she does not believe in ghosts nor gods, but right now, she too cannot help but to pray to the heavens, to protect General Lin at all costs.
After the passing of the rain of arrows, there is not a single movement from the mountain slope, the Nu army once again changes their batch of archers unit, one wave after one wave, the arrows like endlessly running ribbons, shooting towards the mountain slope, an entire mountain filled with arrow figures, the land bruised all over, it is just as Ye Li’s command stated, even it is but one little fly, it is still not to leave the mountain alive.
Under waves after waves of attacks, the mountain slope still shows not the slightest of movements, General Lin’s troops, under these bursts of battle cries and murderous attacks, appears abnormally quiet, deaths and injuries unknown. Gui Wan was secretly growing desperate, along with the passing of time, her heart has continuously been sinking downwards. Four hours of attacking, the Nu Tribe seems to also lost their patience in their one-sided dull attacks. Many soldiers were loudly shouting to advance forward, waving the broadswords and spears in hand.
Soldiers of the Nu Tribe are renowned for their bravery, strong men, strong horses, are particularly good at battling on horses, within this little area of hills and mountains, they are unable to use this to their potential, horses are naturally not suited for going uphill, thus using archery attacks. But right now, not a single shadow has made an appearance from Lin Rui En’s army, taking action with silence, the Nu people’s pride is unable to withstand this, the soldiers eager to charge up the mountain.
Ye Li immediately commands to not make a move for now, maintaining an average distance as they continue to launch arrow attacks.
Seeing that within the Nu Army, there is an on-foot team with a dress code different from the general Nu Army, and messenger soldiers running back and forth, seeming to all gather in that area, Gui Wan makes some calculations, that tent is precisely Ye Li’s king tent. The Nu army’s attacks on and off, under the circumstances of absolutely no counterattack from Lin Rui En, the unease in the Nu Army slowly spreads. But the great difference between the strengths of both armies is extremely obvious, so the Nu Army is still able to refrain from panic, only obeying orders as they continue to attack in waves.
Night gradually falls, daylight heavily sinking, the northern wind strengthens, white snow drifting across the sky, the Nu Army stops their attacks, setting up camp, lighting up torches, the fires forming spots of sparks, looking from high up, like the starry sky descended to earth, the milkyway like chains, forming a circle, heavily surrounding the mountain.
Seeing the fire torches of the Nu army below her feet, forming a map of stars, Gui Wan remains speechlessly silent, afraid of the Nu Army discovering their presence, they did not even dare to light up any torches, to face the grand occasion of starry fires lighting the wilderness, no one could utter a sound, the soldiers gnaw at the dry food, Gui Wan worriedly hangs her heart up high, not even able to place the food near her mouth, as she silently stares over the mountains, thoughts spinning.
The sound of horse hooves gradually drawing in, all the soldiers raise to their feet, Gui Wan also looks back, the dozen of the horses stops behind her, so the messengers have returned. Everyone surrounds them, disorderly asking. The leading soldier of the messenger group, knits his brows as he lowers his head, not a sound of answer.
“How did it go?” Opening up a path between everyone, Gui Wan walks up to him, voice revealing nervousness.
Upon hearing her voice, the dozen of soldiers drops to their knees, the leader looks to Gui Wan, tiger-like eyes vaguely containing tears, with a low hoarse voice, he answers: “Military Advisor is unwilling to send troops over.”
“What?” Unable to hold back in exclaiming, Gui Wan’s heart fires up, taking two steps forward, her eyes like the frosty moon, locked on the soldier, “Why?”
Those wave after wave of attacks leaving an immensely strong impression in her heart, if not for the support of holding faith in reinforcements, she would not have possibly held on to this moment, personally hearing such news, thunderstruck, the anger inside surges up. This Military Advisor, exactly what does he want to do……
Stunned by the imposing manner of her frost cold attitude, the soldier grievingly says: “Military Advisor said, they are unable to contact the imperial court, Du Cheng has already been sieged, there are only over twenty thousand military power, too late to save, also incapable of saving……”
“But without General Lin, how is twenty thousand soldiers able to defend Du Cheng?” Gui Wan raises her voice, unable to suppress her rage.
The leading soldier kneeling at the front has to bear the brunt of tasting Gui Wan’s anger, recalling the scene of being rejected by the Military Advisor back in the city, and also thinking of Lin Rui En leading eight thousand soldiers, trapped within the surrounding Nu Army alone, tears comes splashing against the ground: “Gentleman, Military Advisor has said, deploying troops now, Du Cheng will then immediately fall into the hands of the Nu Army……the Nu Army still isn’t aware of Du Cheng’s actual situation right now, not sending out troops in aid, still holds a trace of hope, sending troops, leads to certain death……”
Lips forming a thin line, Gui Wan mournfully looks back, looking at the sea of starry firelight in the wilderness, her eyes faintly lightens, be it anger, be it sorrows, all are swallowed up in the dark night, leaving not a single trace behind.
“Military Advisor also said……” The soldier seeing Gui Wan turn around, hurriedly chokes back his tears as he speaks.
“Also said what?” Whatever said is already too late to be spoken……
“Military Advisor said, he is the person who wants to save General the most, but……but Du Cheng still has hundreds of thousands of citizens, who is to care for their life and death? Sending troops out to save General Lin today, will be at the expense of abandoning the overall situation, should General Lin die in battle right now, that is still a glorious defeat, if troops are sent, even if General Lin is rescued, he too will be living life like death……such is more painful than death itself……”
The messenger soldier sorrowfully wails, the remaining soldiers were also hiding their faces, these soldiers who have been through battlefields are all able to understand the meaning behind those words. Soldiers, fights for their home, fights for their country, fights for their people, but are unable to fight for themselves……
Lou Sheng walks forward, slowly coming up to Gui Wan’s side, suddenly discovering she is grievingly looking in front, tears like crystals dripping down in blank unawareness.
It was at this very moment, a huge racket sounds from the mountain plains, on that distant mountain slope, the originally neat arrangement of flickering firelights, is abruptly messed up, gradually spreading out from that mountain slope spot, the entire map of fired up milky way shattering to pieces, issuing a deafening angry roar.
“Moving, their moving” Lou Sheng softly cries out, everyone was absolutely shocked, hastily going forward. Gui Wan wipes away the light tears on her cheeks, attentive eyes looking over the mountain plains.
The moon hides behind the layer of clouds, the northern wind still growling, the night sky like black ink, the flickering firelight becoming the only guide of direction, the rows of firelight on the mountain slope spreads out, as though chopped out by a knife, initially a little messy, but behind it actually gradually expands. Suddenly smoke sluggishly rises, firelight growing unnecessarily bigger, the mountain slope where General Lin is stationed suddenly reflecting red in the sky, breath-snatching roars and wild chanting, gradually rises, gradually nears, the Nu Army’s encirclement also beginning to shrink.
“It’s General Lin……it’s General Lin trying to breakout……” It is unclear who this sound of cry came from, but due to this cry, everyone rises with force and spirit, hearts hung high, eyes intently overlooking the battle.
With numerous attacks from the Nu army, he did not take any action, enduring after enduring, right now, he lends the disarray during night to breakout: fire burning the forest, pushing himself to the rear path, all in order to resurrect after presumed dead, encouraging the soldiers’ courage to survive……even if she does not understand the arts of war, Gui Wan is still able to bit by bit analyse the reason and purpose behind such course of action, heart holding deep admiration, indeed a illustrious military success, General Lin……
But the difference in strength is far too large, the result of this battle of life and death is practically set in stone, could it be that she is just going to watch on like this, awaiting for fate to fall upon them?
The firelight before them, shines brightly in her eyes, the glimmer in her eyes makes a light turn, she has never felt more clearly than she does in this very moment, how wonderful of a thing, the existence of life and death is……
Although a small force cannot triumph the heavens, she still wants to strive forth and pitch out her best efforts……
 Capital as in jīng jī / 京畿 - the capital city and its surrounding territory
 These two lines comes from the poem Villa on Mount Zhong Nan by Wáng Wéi/ 王維
 When the military advisor refers to himself as the villain, the actual words he used is bái liǎn / 白脸 which correctly translates to white face. The villainous connotation of these words comes from Peking or Beijing Opera, where the role of the villain is traditionally completed with a painted white face.
 Adorable and energetic is what the original phrase hǔ tóu hǔ nǎo / 虎头虎脑 refers to, with the literal translation being - tiger head, tiger brain - often used to describe a healthy young boy who is simple and honest by nature.
 Love for the house extends to the crows perched on its roof - I think the meaning of this idiom is pretty straightforward, although the translation for it ended up being so long -_- …… ài wū jí wū /爱屋及乌 - means to extend your love for other things in relation to the thing/person you love.
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