Translator: Casse Choco
On the way back, He Yun Sheng could not stop observing He Yan’s face.
“You won’t keep getting yourself involved that one surnamed Fan, will you?” He confirmed repeatedly.
“I promise you, I will never associate with him again,” He Yan assured him. “Is it alright?”
Seeing her firm attitude, He Yun Sheng was a little relieved.
He Yun Sheng didn’t know what was going on in He Yan’s head. He chatted the entire way back home, more like a grandma than a youth.
“It’s not that I don’t believe you. It’s just that, that one surnamed Fan is too cunning and liable to lie.” He Yun Sheng continued talking to himself, “What’s so good about a man like him? You were blind when you first saw him. If you ask me, General Feng Yun is the one who is truly worthy of admiration……”
Unbeknownst to He Yun Sheng, his murmuring was heard by He Yan. She let the words enter one ear and leave through the other. But when she heard the last statement, she suddenly interjected, “What does this have to do with Xiao Jue?”
“Isn’t the Xiao family’s second son handsome?” He Yun Sheng probed.
Not only was he handsome, but his demeanour and bearing were also delicate and neat.
“What about his family background?”
As for his family, General Xiao, Xiao Zhong Wu was the Emperor’s beloved general who accompanied him to countless battles throughout ten thousand miles of rivers and mountains and was together with him in victory and defeat. Not only that, his wife was also the Empress Dowager’s niece. As for his two sons, the eldest became a senior official/doctor at a very young age. The second son, Xiao Jue, was now a chief commander and his status was sky-rocketing. He was the well-known General Feng Yun.
“What about his cultural and military strategies?”
“……one in a million. Superb!”
“This is what I don’t understand.” He Yun Sheng came up with a conclusion, “This man, who is not only so handsome but is also from a golden household with no flaws, is he not worth admiring? If I were a woman, I would admire only him my whole life!”
He Yan: “……you can just be quiet.”
Although Xiao Jue had thousands of good aspects, that indifferent, cold and irritating temperament of his was very uncomfortable. Add to it a huge bunch of women who were crazy for him, despite his cold temper. She guessed that there was no woman admired by him until then. Did that guy even give a second glance to a woman? The answer would be a big ‘no’. That man was extremely arrogant, and his expectations were as high as the sky. She suspected that even she couldn’t catch up to him.
One had to wonder what kind of beautiful girl he would choose in the future, a peerless beauty that could make the gaudy swallows and orioles pale with envy1.
He Yan was looking forward to it.
He Yun Sheng suddenly stopped walking, “What is going on over there?”
Not far away, was a notice posted on the stone wall beside the road, and quite a few people were gathered around it. He Yan and He Yun Sheng walked a little closer to it to see what was written on the notice. As they went near, they got to know what it was.
“It turned out to be a conscription document.”
“It hasn’t been that long since they recruited troops. Why are they suddenly recruiting troops again?”
He Yun Sheng asked suspiciously.
Unlike He Yun Sheng, He Yan was clear on this matter. She had spent several years with Xiao Jue settling the chaos of West and South but ignored the neighbouring Uto. The people of Uto, no longer able to hide their ambitious nature, took advantage of the years of development and growth. Even after marrying into the Xu family, she had been paying attention to the northwest fortress. This conscription document was about going to Liang Zhou; to station recruits and train them.
He Yun Sheng looked at the conscription notice, tore it from the wall and kept the ripped part with him.
He Yan said, “What are you doing?”
“……Nothing, just want to keep it as a memorial.” He Yun Sheng continued, “Unfortunately, I am not strong enough now to go and fight to kill the enemy. In the future, when the level of my martial arts is higher, I will go and join the army.”
He Yan smiled, “Joining the army is not an easy task. You have to suffer from the wind and sand, watching the sacrifices of the people around you. On the battlefield, you have to be prepared to die at any time. You don’t even dare to kill the fish…… how are you going to kill the enemy?”
He Yun Sheng was struck dumb. He spoke after a while, “You are speaking as if you have been there.”
He Yan didn’t say anything and continued walking home with him. She tilted her head down and smiled.
Of course, she had been there, when she was the same age as He Yun Sheng.
At that time, the Fu Yue Army was recruiting troops to Mo Xian. After arguing with her adoptive father, He Yuan Sheng, again, she secretly packed some silver and clothes, concealed herself using a mask and left for the army in the middle of the night.
She had used He Ru Fei’s name to join the army.
No one, including the He family, expected that He Yan would go join the army. It wasn’t until He Yan fought her first victorious battle, was promoted to an official position and received the rewards, did this matter reach the ears of the He family.
The time she joined the army was not as smooth-sailing as others thought. She was a teenager, still a girl cross-dressing as a teenage boy, had to be careful not to be disowned, and had to compete with men who were stronger than she was. On the battlefield, even more so, as she couldn’t cry nor utter a complaint. She was often scolded by generals, and many a time couldn’t even say anything when she was being robbed of military honors, and despite this, she had to laugh and pour tea with her superiors.
He Yan felt that before joining the army she was a dumb, indifferent little girl who hid everything in her heart but after joining the army, she learned to grow up.
Outside of life and death, everything else was trivial, and living was what mattered most. General Fei Hong had replaced the He family’s young lady, and since then she had persevered step by step, her suffering unspeakable to others.
Thinking about it, the name of General Fei Hong was closely related to her life. So close that when she saw the ripped conscription document in He Yun Sheng’s hands, she was not as calm as she seemed.
He Yan’s sudden silence was noticed by He Yun Sheng, who thought that she was still thinking about Fan Cheng’s matters. After returning home, he asked He Yan to go back to fer room.
Qing Mei had long since retired, and the notice that He Yun Sheng had torn was still placed on the table, under the oil lamp. The thin paper weighed heavily on He Yan’s heart.
Having been busy with matters regarding the He family for so long, now that there was money and that He Yun Sheng had found a school, she could plan for herself. But, how was she going to approach He Ru Fei? This was the biggest problem. As of that day, she had no power and her words carried no weight. If she went to fight against those people, no one would listen to what she said.
In her last life, when she was living as He Ru Fei, and later on as Mistress Xu, she only knew how to fight with the sword and had no idea about anything related to conspiracies. Even now after being reborn, she still couldn’t do those dirty and insidious things.
What did she have? She only had this life. What could she do? All she could do was fight and kill the enemy.
But what could she do at this moment?
He Yan’s eyes fell on the conscription notice, and those few lines of words brought up a surge of emotions that had been bottled up in her heart till then, and she felt as if she had returned to her fifteen-year-old self. Having made the decision, taking advantage of the darkness of the night, she took some silver and tied a bundle of cloth on her back as she ran into the army camp. Once she reached there, she immediately wrote down her name and began her new career in the army.
Everything had to be done again, from scratch.
It was the worst way but also the best.
She was going to start from square one, but this time with her own name, He Yan.
1 莺惭燕妒: make the gaudy swallows and orioles pale with envy (idiom); fig. so beautiful that even swallows and orioles feel jealous of her