Since the first day of the bet between He Yan and Wang Ba, the barracks followed suit in private.
The people who weren’t present when He Yan drew the bow deliberately sneaked a look to see if He Yan had improved before going to bed at night. He Yan remembered that the last time she was so noticeable was when General Fei Hong was rewarded by the court for his victory.
Although the situation was quite different now, she was still well known.
“Those people are too much!” Mak returned from the outside, dissatisfied, “I heard that people who bet on Brother He could be counted with one hand. It’s like they are sure that Brother He won’t win!”
“This is just a normal choice for people.” Hong Shan said while he supported his forehead.
Originally, the recruits have been unable to do anything except drills every day. But, thanks to He Yan, once this happened, there was a lot of fun and laughter everywhere, as if they came to the city of Beijing.
“My eldest brother and I are also going to join in the fun, so to give Brother He a little momentum, we also betted on Brother He.” Mak looked at He Yan, pleased, and said, “Brother He, aren’t we very loyal?”
Before He Yan had time to speak, Hong Shan asked first. “How many loaves of bread did you bet on?”
“One piece for me and my big brother.”
“One piece—” Hong Shan deliberately lengthened his voice, “Then how much did you bet for the king?”
“Ten pieces,” Mak answered without even thinking about it. After he recovered and met He Yan’s gaze, he blushed and stammered, “No, no, we thought of winning a few more pieces of bread so that we could share it together. If Brother He loses, we won’t be… able to fill our stomachs…” The more he talked, the lower his voice became, and finally, he didn’t dare to speak as he looked at He Yan pitifully.
He Yan was surprised, “Where did you get the ten dry loaves of bread?”
Wouldn’t one only be to save a single piece a day?
He Yan was amazed at the fact that they could still use credit and thought that it was still a big gambling game, not just a small mess.
She spoke earnestly to Mak, “Mak, you’d better quickly withdraw the king’s bet, ten pieces of dry bread. If you plan to starve for ten days, would you be able to endure it?”
Hong Shan had a headache: “Bother He, you have to be reasonable, now is not the time to get angry.”
He Yan, “…What should I say so that you guys will believe that I am not angry?”
How they refused to believe it was almost written on their faces.
He Yan had no choice but to stand up and say, “Then I will go out to practice first,” as she left the room.
“Huh.” Mak sighed sadly.
“Huh.” Hong Shan joined him.
Shi watched them silently without a sound, and then quietly sighed as well.
A gloomy cloud floated in the room.
This bet with Wang Ba was only the beginning of He Yan’s fame.
These days, people could hear He Yan’s name wherever they went.
“Have you heard? The recruit named He Yan under Instructor Liang is crazy!”
“I know, the one who bet with Wang Ba that he’d compete with the crossbow in ten days, isn’t he crazy for betting?”
“He’s even crazier now, and instead of practicing his crossbow properly during the day, he’s throwing stone locks! He doesn’t even try to shoot the arrows.”
“Then he must be insane.”
He Yan threw stone locks in the open space. When everyone trained with the crossbow during the daytime, many people watched her, as she simply stopped practicing the crossbow. She even asked the instructor to borrow a big stone lock and started to throw it for fun, as if she didn’t have anything to do.
She had to increase her strength.
To make the best use of the crossbow, of course, she needed enough strength to draw the bow to its full extent. In the past, when she was in the barracks, there was a man under her command who used to be a street performer. He learned to play with the stone lock since he was a child and was able to play with them in a variety of ways, such as catching lotus leaves, fanning beams, chopping, fighting, covering the roof with snowflakes, and taking off the robe of the God of Guan.
That same man was also an excellent archer. Not only did he have a good aim, but other people couldn’t even draw the bow as full as he could. And unlike anyone else, he could fully use the power of the crossbow. He Yan once practiced arm strength together with him. The two of them threw stone locks at each other while they moved around and dodged them. This method resulted in the development of their arm strength, wrist strength, hand strength, and waist strength.
But now, no one was there to throw against her. She wanted to practice her arm strength first, so that she would be able to draw the bow to its full extent.
Practicing stone locks was a much faster method in order to grow in strength than drawing a bow. In the daytime, He Yan threw stone locks, and at night, after everyone was asleep, she sneaked to the practice field. Fortunately, there were always one or two bows left in the practice field, which allowed her to practice secretly. Since the last time she saw Xiao Jue, she came back at night and did not continue to encounter him.
Although she was not afraid of the presence of Xiao Jue, whenever he noticed that she practiced secretly at night, she always felt a vague embarrassment. It made her look back to the time when she was clumsy and had to work hard every night before she could sprint to “third from the bottom”.
This was probably the humiliation of the despisement by the proud son of heaven!
She had already gotten rid of this humiliation, but who knew that God, by mistake, would make her feel it all over again.
How can she make God take her more seriously?
She practiced daily, and it was these brothers around her who understood the least.
“Brother He,” Hong Shan hesitated, “No matter how well you draw the bow, you can’t beat the king.”
“Yes, I’ve been keeping an eye out for Wang Ba for you every day, he can hit the center of the target every time, and he barely ever missed.” Mak followed.
“Wang Ba is a good archer,” He Yan said, “He should be good at hurting people with bows and arrows. It seems that he’s even more skilled than Shi.”
Shi nodded. After a look at He Yan’s opponent’s skill, he had to admit that he himself was no match.
“Then Brother He, why don’t you practice arrows every day?” Mak was even more puzzled. “You should shoot a few times at least and practice your aim a few times as well. What if the feather arrows fly into the woods?”
“No need.” He Yan said.
Mak stared at him, “Could it be…”
Did He Yan have any secret magic weapon?
He Yan laughed. She didn’t have any secret magic weapon. She just used the time when other people slept to practice arrows. She drew her bow daily and shot arrows under the moonlight, and day by day, the bow was drawn better, which was very effective, and the accuracy of archery did not regress. It was a blessing in misfortune.
“I just have a terrible aptitude compared to a normal person.” She thought about it for a while and said seriously, “But I am very lucky. You have to believe that even if I don’t practice arrows, as long as I can draw the bow open and full when the time comes, the arrow will fly to the target by itself like it has eyes.”
Everyone looked at He Yan who smiled, and the same thought flashed through their minds.
He Yan really was crazy.