Rebirth of a Star General Chapter 106

Chapter 106: Winter Snow

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On this night, He Yan was soaked through, so she went back and took another bath in her room, changing into dry clothes afterward. Xiao Jue’s cloak had gotten wet, so He Yan went to find some soap to clean it. She hung it on a tree branch outside her door with a piece of string to dry it out, intending to return it to him once it was dry.

It was a bit of a toss and turn, but the instructors of the Liangzhou Garrison weren’t entirely unkind. When He Yan woke up the next day, she felt refreshed throughout her body, and the morning was warm.

Hot springs indeed had healing properties, and it wasn’t just baseless talk.

She quickly got up to freshen up and catch up with the day’s activities. During mealtime, she saw the soldiers from the Vanguard Camp training in the martial field.

Lei Hou was standing at the forefront, and the attire of the Vanguard Camp soldiers set them apart from the regular recruits. Regular recruits only had two sets of training uniforms, one red and one black. In spring and summer, they wore a single layer, while in autumn and winter, they had a thin layer of cotton added. These training uniforms had no additional adornments besides a belt, and the fit wasn’t tailored, so they often had to roll up their sleeves or tighten their clothing, as was the case with Hong Shan, who had a larger build and had to stretch his uniform as tightly as possible, as if it might burst at any moment.

The people in the Vanguard Camp, on the other hand, wore deep blue riding attire. The fabric was finer, and the fit was excellent. These individuals were selected from the Liangzhou Garrison’s elite and stood out with their imposing presence. 

Lei Hou, who was already tall and outstandingly handsome, looked as if his riding attire had been custom-made for him. Due to his excellent performance in the Vanguard Camp, the instructors had placed him at the very front of the formation, making him especially conspicuous.

He Yan couldn’t help but stare at him, and suddenly, Hong Shan walked up from behind and patted her shoulder. “What’s wrong? Feeling uncomfortable?”

“No,” He Yan replied, “I just think that the clothing of the Vanguard Camp is much nicer than ours.”

“Not just the clothing,” Xiao Mai chimed in, “I heard they get better food too. They get two extra steamed buns a day and meat porridge.”

“Enough, you say less,” Hong Shan interrupted Xiao Mai’s chatter, “Can’t you see that Brother Ah He here is bothered?”

He Yan: “I’m not jealous.”

“That’s right,” Xiao Mai quickly added, afraid of making He Yan upset, “He’s just someone who lost to Brother Ah He, what’s so great about that?”

He Yan smiled and was about to say something when Lei Hou seemed to notice their gaze and turned his head. He saw He Yan and hesitated for a moment, but then he shifted his gaze away, focusing on his training.

“This guy is quite arrogant, isn’t he?” Hong Shan sighed. “Incredible.”

He Yan remained silent, standing in place, watching as Lei Hou underwent his training. It wasn’t until Liang Ping urged them to move along that He Yan gave up her observation. 

As the instructors had mentioned, Lei Hou’s footwork was indeed impressive, agile and nimble, making him a suitable candidate for the Vanguard Camp. However, He Yan still remembered their encounter during flag capture on White Moon Mountain several days ago. At that time, the situation had been urgent, and she had felt something unnatural about Lei Hou’s movements. She couldn’t dwell on it then and had dismissed the thought. Seeing Lei Hou today, those memories resurfaced. 

Yet, she still couldn’t pinpoint what felt off. 

What exactly was unnatural?

Liang Ping was urging them harshly, so He Yan stood up to get her spear from the weapon rack. She thought, since we’re all in Liangzhou Garrison, if necessary, she’ll find an opportunity to spar with Lei Hou another time.

However, before He Yan could engage with Lei Hou, news arrived about Xiao Jue’s imminent departure. 

The Liangzhou Garrison had received an urgent report that the people living outside Zhangtai City, a thousand miles from Liangzhou, were constantly harassed by the Wuto people. Whenever the Wuto people came, they would loot money and food, intimidating and abusing the locals. The magistrate of Zhangtai County was at his wit’s end, so he had no choice but to seek help from Xiao Jue, asking him to lead a force to drive away these Wuto invaders. 

Wuto had been a vassal state that paid tribute to the Da Wei Empire since the reign of the previous emperor. However, since the current emperor ascended the throne, the Wuto people had become increasingly restless. After the suppression of the revolts in the Southern Barbarians and Western Qiang territories, the Wuto people had remained quiet for some time. It was unclear why they had recently become more aggressive, daring to directly harass the border residents. 

The current emperor was known for his leniency and had turned a blind eye to the Wuto people’s actions. Additionally, there was a faction in the court led by Xu Xiang that advocated for appeasement, so other military commanders were hesitant to take on this hot potato. Consequently, the magistrate of Zhangtai County sought assistance from Xiao Jue in Liangzhou. 

“Commander, when will we set out?” All the instructors were in Xiao Jue’s room, and He Yan was sitting in the spot where Cheng Lisu normally wrote. The middle door was not closed, and they didn’t hide anything from He Yan while discussing this matter. However, it wasn’t something that needed to be kept secret, and with Zhangtai being a month away, Xiao Jue’s absence would inevitably draw attention.


“So early?” Liang Ping exclaimed, “But we haven’t had a chance to inform the Vanguard Camp in the military yet…”

“No need,” Xiao Jue said, “I don’t plan to bring them with me.”

The instructors exchanged puzzled glances, but He Yan wasn’t surprised. The new recruits of the Liangzhou Garrison had been training for over half a year, but they had never seen real combat. Sending them on a long journey to Zhangtai and engaging with the Wuto tribe there wasn’t the best strategy. It would consume too much time and energy, and the Wuto people were cunning and violent; the new recruits might not be a match for them. He Yan thought that Xiao Jue’s Nanfu troops would be more suitable.

Xiao Jue had brought the new recruits to Liangzhou, while the Nanfu troops were stationed elsewhere. With military authority in his hands, he could legitimately take them to Zhangtai. If they achieved a victory, it would please the Emperor, and he might receive some rewards, which could indirectly benefit He Yan as well.

Thinking about this, He Yan nodded secretly, feeling that Xiao Jue’s decision was a wise one.

After giving instructions to the instructors about what to pay attention to in the coming days, everyone left late into the night. Xiao Jue stood up from his desk and walked to the middle door. As he reached to lock it, unexpectedly, someone blocked it from behind, and He Yan’s head poked out from behind the door.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

Not letting him close the door, He Yan leaned her head, looking at him askew. “Commander, you’re leaving tomorrow, aren’t you?”

Xiao Jue didn’t pay her any attention. He closed the door, but He Yan’s body was wedged behind it, preventing it from closing properly. He gave up trying to close it and walked back into the room. He Yan easily slipped through the door, entering his room, and followed him, speaking earnestly, “Commander, have you ever thought about taking me with you to Zhangtai?”

“You?” Xiao Jue chuckled. “Why would I bring you? Aren’t there enough people to slow me down?”

In his eyes, anyone other than himself was potentially a hindrance.

“You’re underestimating me too much,” He Yan argued. “I can help you deal with the Wuto people.”

“Forget it,” he looked her up and down, raising an eyebrow. “You got injured by a guard, and now you’re talking about dealing with the Wuto people? Miss He, dreaming much?”

“That was a special situation,” He Yan defended herself, but she also acknowledged that Xiao Jue had a point. Her injury hadn’t fully healed, and she had been training cautiously these past few days, fearing that she might aggravate the wound. If she joined Xiao Jue in Zhangtai, it might not end well. Besides, her expertise in military formations wouldn’t be of much use in a single-commander operation.

“Alright,” He Yan said with a hint of regret, then suddenly remembered something and looked at Xiao Jue, “Commander, it will take about a month for a round trip from here to Zhangtai, and if we have to engage the Wuto invaders, by the time you return, it will be deep winter. My injury would have mostly healed by then, so what should I do during these days? Even if I follow the triple daily training, you won’t deny it when you return, will you?”

“Or,” she looked at Xiao Jue suspiciously, “are you planning to use the Zhangtai campaign as an opportunity to escape from the Liangzhou Garrison? Do you not intend to return to the Liangzhou Garrison at all? Are you going to leave me behind here?”

Xiao Jue stopped arranging his papers, turned around, and looked at He Yan, causing her to startle.

His gaze rested on her face, and he lowered his head, saying, “First, I’m not as bored as you. Second, you’re not my fiancée; there’s no need to talk about leaving you behind. Third, when I’m not here, doesn’t that align with your desires?”

“What do you mean by ‘align with your desires’?” He Yan asked. “You shouldn’t accuse me falsely.”

He gazed at He Yan with an ambiguous smile. His dark eyes were deep and unfathomable as he asked, “Oh? Then why are you so curious about when I’ll come back or whether I’ll come back? Is it very important?”

“Of course, it’s important!” He Yan blurted out. “I’ll miss you!”

Can she not think about it? She can only get closer to He Rufei more quickly, openly, and in a somewhat equal status if she excels in front of Xiao Jue, gaining his favor and trust. This living Bodhisattva, this precious treasure, how can she not think about it?

Seemingly taken aback by her words for a moment, Xiao Jue turned his head and sneered, “You really can say anything.” 

“Don’t keep calling me a liar. Besides the matter of my identity, I have never lied to you, and what I just said was sincere. When we are temporarily separated, wouldn’t you miss me, Commander?” 

Xiao Jue: “I won’t.” 

He Yan: “…After all, we have been through life and death together. You don’t have to be so ruthless.”

Xiao Jue asked, “Are you finished? If you’re done, please go back to your own room. I’m going to lock the door.” He reached out, placing his hand on He Yan’s shoulder, and pushed her toward the middle door.

“Commander, sometimes I wonder if our roles are reversed. You’re so guarded against me, as if you were the woman and I would defile your purity.”

“You talk too much nonsense.”

He Yan managed to slip through the door before Xiao Jue locked it. She knew that he truly didn’t want her to stay in his room any longer. While she still had the use of her upper body, she quickly reached into her pocket and handed Xiao Jue something small and delicate.

With a soft “thud,” the door was closed.

He Yan spoke through the door, “Although you are so heartless, Commander, I am a person of integrity. There’s not much I can do to serve you on your trip to Zhangtai, but take these snacks with you and enjoy them on the way. I’ll be waiting for your good news at the garrison.” 

After saying that, she didn’t wait for his response and went to her own bed, blew out the lamp, and went to sleep. 

On the other side of the door, Xiao Jue looked down at his palm. 

It was a piece of persimmon-flavored soft candy, wrapped in only a thin layer of rice paper. Just looking at it, it seemed sweet and delicious. 

Song Taotao and Cheng Lisu were similar. Since coming to Liangzhou Garrison, she had occasionally sent small gifts. Loving sweets herself, she had Wuchi buy many of them in the city and shared quite a few with He Yan.

He Yan thought that when Xiao Jue was young, he used to carry a sachet containing osmanthus candy with him. His love for sweets was undeniable. Last time, he refused the candied hawthorn that she bought for him, probably because it was casually bought from a street vendor in the city, and Second Young Master Xiao didn’t eat such roadside snacks. However, this persimmon soft candy was made by a proper chef at a reputable restaurant. This should catch Xiao Jue’s eye.

Surely, he wouldn’t refuse even this. 

Hopefully, he understood the principle of repaying candy with interest!

The next day, when He Yan woke up and headed to the training ground for daytime drills, Cheng Lisu ran over at almost noon.

For the past few days, in order to avoid seeing Song Taotao, Cheng Lisu had moved into the dormitory room that He Yan had previously occupied. Everyone thought he wouldn’t last long like this, but to their surprise, he had persisted until now. However, compared to the room he used to live in, this one was much simpler, and it was hard to maintain his image as a handsome young man. He looked like he had lost some weight in his face, and he had forgotten to match his hairband with his clothes.

He panted as he ran up to He Yan, who was drinking a bowl of vegetable soup. He nearly bumped into her, and He Yan asked, “What’s the rush?”

“My uncle,” Cheng Lisu said, “Big Brother, my uncle has left!”

“I know.”

“You knew?” Cheng Lisu was stunned and then became indignant. “Then why didn’t you tell me? If it weren’t for Instructor Shen telling me today, I wouldn’t have realized he had already left!”

“He left already?” He Yan was also a bit surprised. She hadn’t paid attention to Xiao Jue’s side when she got up in the morning, and she thought Xiao Jue would depart later. He must not have wanted to disturb anyone.

“Why did he leave without taking Song Taotao?” Cheng Lisu began to complain. “Leaving her in the Liangzhou Garrison, who do you think this will trouble?”

He Yan was speechless. In theory, Song Taotao, a cute and lovely girl, would attract the attention of young men, but Cheng Lisu avoided her as if she were a snake or scorpion. What kind of taste did this child have?

She asked, “What did Song Taotao do to you? She seems sensible and well-behaved.”

“Big brother, please spare me,” Cheng Lisu said with a bitter face. “When I first learned about this marriage, I wanted to sneak a peek, but I ended up running into her. I don’t know how she guessed my identity but she scolded me at the door.” 

“What did she scold you for?” 

“What else could it be? She said I was good for nothing, not excelling in either literature or martial arts, just a useless son with no prospects. I wouldn’t be so angry just for that. But later, she said that we could get married, but I had to study hard in the mansion, pass the imperial examination, and strive for a successful career. If my literary talents were truly lacking, I could take the military examination route. In any case, I had to be diligent and hardworking.” 

“Is there such a ruthless woman in the world?” Cheng Lisu spoke of this matter with resentment. “My beloved girl must also be like me, uninterested in worldly affairs, carefree, enjoying wine together, and sharing the same interests. If I really end up with her, the second half of my life won’t be any different from being in prison. So, big brother, please don’t speak well of her anymore. I’m truly terrified, and I don’t want to live that kind of life!”

Now He Yan, even if she wanted to advise him, didn’t know what to say. Sometimes, being infatuated at first sight was one thing, but getting along well in the long run was another. You hoped that he would be determined and diligent, but he longed for a carefree life. They were not the same kind of people, yet they tried to come together. Although it might not have been obvious at first, time would eventually provide the answer.

She had spent a lifetime without understanding this truth, and it was better for these two kids to see it clearly.

“If you truly don’t like her, find a way to break off this engagement, and there’s no need to confront a girl like this. At least, you can still be friends,” He Yan suggested after thinking it over.

“Forget it,” Cheng Lisu waved his hand, showing that he didn’t want to talk about it any further. “I can’t be friends with her. Our views are completely different.”

He Yan then changed the subject and asked Cheng Lisu if he wanted to move to Xiao Jue’s room now that Xiao Jue had left. Cheng Lisu surprisingly refused, only saying that he wanted to be as far away from Song Taotao as possible.

He seemed to be avoiding her like the plague.

After the day’s training ended, He Yan returned to her room. After freshening up, she found herself staring at the locked middle door.

Although she and Xiao Jue didn’t exchange many words on ordinary days, she always knew that he was just in the adjacent room. Now that he was gone, the spacious room felt very empty and desolate. Suddenly, she missed the times when she lived in the dormitory with Xiao Mai and the others. At times like this, listening to everyone’s casual conversations would alleviate her boredom.

It was too quiet now, and she found it hard to fall asleep. When she couldn’t sleep, she tended to overthink things. He Yan sat up on her bed and thought for a moment. She then got up, put on her shoes, and walked to the middle door. She took out a silver wire from her sleeve.

This silver wire was from Cheng Lisu’s hairpin, which was shaped like a yellow carp. The silver wire represented the carp’s whiskers, and it looked particularly cute when it was curved. The first time He Yan saw it, she touched it a bit too hard, causing the whisker to come loose. Cheng Lisu didn’t mind and told her to throw it away, but He Yan felt a bit sorry for it. Who knows maybe she might be able to sell it for tea money? So, she decided to keep it.

Now, she took out the curled silver wire and straightened it. She extended it through the door crack, pressed her ear against the central door, and listened intently to any sounds.

This skill was something a craftsman had taught her when she was in the military camp. The craftsman was a locksmith, and sometimes, when wealthy families couldn’t open a locked box that had been passed down from their ancestors or was accidentally dug up, they would ask him for help. He was quite famous in their hometown. Later, when the city started conscripting men to serve in the army, the locksmith hid his grandchildren and came himself.

He Yan still remembered that the locksmith was somewhat old, and he smiled with a missing front tooth, which was somewhat funny. Since He Yan was about the same age as his grandson, they got along well. He even taught her a couple of tricks about lockpicking.

The locksmith had long since died in the battle of Moxian, but He Yan still remembered the lockpicking skills he had taught her. The locksmith could open locks in the shape of the character “士” that were used by high-ranking officials, locks in the shape of the character “吉” used for wedding celebrations, but he had only taught He Yan how to open common locks in the shape of the character “一” used by commoners. Perhaps he had the intention that if she could return to her hometown one day and make a living as a locksmith, she would still have a means of livelihood. He didn’t want to teach his apprentice skills that might leave them penniless. Who knew that this intention would ultimately go unfulfilled.

He Yan used this skill to open the lock. Fortunately, the middle door to Xiao Jue and Cheng Lisu’s room was in the shape of the character “一.”

In a moment, there was a “click,” and it seemed like the lock on the other side had been broken. He Yan gently pushed the door open.

Moonlight illuminated the desk near the window, and the window was left open, causing the tree shadows outside to sway gently. They resembled aquatic plants in a pond. He Yan quietly walked in, and after entering, she stood still, wondering why she had impulsively done such a thing. After a moment, she felt remorseful.

If someone were hiding in the dark at this moment, they would probably think she was a thief. She didn’t come to steal anything, and this wasn’t her first time in Xiao Jue’s room. She had opened the central door simply because she couldn’t sleep and was extremely bored.

But now that she was here, it felt a bit regrettable to leave.

He Yan looked around. There was no longer the sword that Xiao Jue used to hang on the wall, and there were two or three books scattered on the table, all related to military strategy. His ancient zither was not taken away either, but it was placed on the side, gleaming with a radiant luster under the moonlight, like a precious treasure.

Xiao Jue’s room, in fact, wasn’t particularly lavish. It appeared somewhat austere compared to Cheng Lisu’s elaborate room, giving off a sense of simplicity that even felt a bit desolate. However, He Yan remembered that the former Xiao Jue, during his time at Xianchang Academy, was quite particular about his living quarters. The room he occupied alone was even more luxurious than Master Bao’s room, with blankets on the floor that made it feel warm even in the winter.

He seemed to be somewhat sensitive to the cold. As soon as the weather turned chilly, he always donned fine clothing and a fox fur cloak. But now, the room seemed to exude a chilliness that wasn’t there in the past.

What had he gone through in these years to become the current Commander of the Right Army?

As He Yan pondered this, she found herself standing by the desk. Her fingers brushed against something, and she looked down to see a handful of colorful candies scattered near the pen holder. She picked one up and examined it in the moonlight. Surprisingly, they were the persimmon-flavored soft candies she had given to Xiao Jue yesterday.

Having been left outside for a while, the candies had lost some of their softness, and their sweet aroma had faded somewhat. She counted them and found that not a single one was missing. He had actually not eaten any or taken them with him to Zhangtai?


Even if he had refused the candied haws due to their simplicity or because of Xiao Jue’s pride, this soft candy was made by a pastry chef from a restaurant in the city. While it might not be considered a delicacy, it was far from being crude. After she had given them to Xiao Jue last night, she had closed the door, so no one knew if he had taken them or how he had reacted. However, if he genuinely liked sweets, he wouldn’t have left them behind like this.

It was as if she could see him casually tossing the candies onto the table, withholding even a slight reaction.

Was he afraid that she had poisoned them? Or had Xiao Jue’s tastes changed over the years?

This question remained unanswered as He Yan contemplated. Suddenly, she felt something brushing against her face, bringing a slight chill and dampness. It was soft and furry. She raised her head and saw tiny salt-like particles falling outside the window, drifting in the air and landing on the table.

Deep into the night, the snow was heavy, sometimes hearing the sound of bamboo breaking.

She took a couple of steps forward and looked through the window. In the distance, the majestic White Moon Mountain stood tall. The moonlight was cold and distant, casting its glow over the wilderness and dancing with the falling snowflakes.

“It’s snowing,” she silently remarked to herself.

It turned out that winter snow in Liangzhou came this early.

—Side Note—

Uncle is on a short mission and will be offline for a few days. In the meantime, our Yanyan will enjoy some beautiful chapters on her own.

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