Rebirth of a Star General Chapter 108

Chapter 108: Spy

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With many thoughts on her mind, He Yan couldn’t sleep soundly at night. On the second day, she woke up before dawn. After the morning training session, she went to talk to Hong Shan.

Hong Shan said, “Yesterday, Shitou and I took turns watching over him half the night, but we didn’t notice anything unusual.”

He Yan looked at Shitou, who nodded in agreement.

“No activity all night?”

“No, he slept even sounder than we did.” Hong Shan looked at He Yan with suspicion. “Aren’t you overthinking this, Ah He? Hu Yuanzhong is just an ordinary hunter. I haven’t noticed anything strange about his behavior. His family is poor, and he seems quite pitiful.”

“Brother Ah He, why are you so suspicious of him? What’s wrong with him, after all?” Xiao Mai asked curiously.

What’s wrong with him? In the end, it was just a red rash on his wrist and the back of his hand, not a significant point of suspicion. However, the timing of it all, coinciding with Xiao Jue’s absence, made her feel that something was amiss.

Having experienced the brink of life and death on the battlefield countless times, sometimes, the body’s instincts could provide a more accurate assessment than the mind. One saying of an old general she had followed was always on her mind: “The intuition of an ordinary person may be wrong, but for people like us, our instincts about danger are usually right.”

She contemplated for a moment and said, “Let me take another look.”

Hong Shan shrugged and didn’t press further.

By the late afternoon, all the daytime training had concluded, and He Yan went to get the medicine from Shen Muxue’s room before looking for Hu Yuanzhong. He was alone in his room, hunched over a piece of paper.

When He Yan entered, he immediately hid the paper in his chest.

“Why are you alone in your room, Brother Hu?” He Yan pretended not to have seen his actions and asked with a smile.

“I didn’t do anything,” Hu Yuanzhong sighed. “My leg isn’t better yet, so I can’t get out of bed. I’m sorry for troubling you all.”

“No trouble at all,” He Yan smiled. “With such a severe injury, it’s only right to take good care of yourself.”

She rolled up Hu Yuanzhong’s pant leg and knelt down to apply the medicine. She hadn’t examined closely the day before, but today she was here with suspicions, so she paid extra attention.

Both of the hunter’s legs were covered in scars, with the most significant one appearing to be from a deep gash that was visible down to the bone, making it the most severe.

“I heard from Miss Shen that Brother Hu encountered a bear when he went up the mountain,” He Yan casually asked. “Is it common to find bears at this time of year?”

Bears in White Moon Mountain would most likely be in hibernation even during the daytime. Encountering one in the winter was quite rare.

“Yes,” Hu Yuanzhong scratched his head. “I just had bad luck. I couldn’t find any foxes, and I ran into a bear first.”

“How can you say it’s bad luck?” He Yan shook her head. “Facing a bear and escaping unharmed is not something everyone can achieve. I’ve heard that bears have poor eyesight but an extremely keen sense of smell. When Brother Hu was injured and covered in blood, that bear couldn’t even catch up to uyou. Brother Hu was already quite remarkable.” 

“And,” without looking at Hu Yuanzhong’s expression, He Yan continued while her hands were still busy. “It’s quite coincidental that Brother Hu was buried in the snow and was rescued by Miss Shen. Our new recruits from Liangzhou Garrison only go up the mountain every few days. If Brother Hu had spent an extra day or fallen in the wrong place, he might not be in Liangzhou Garrison now.” 

Hu Yuanzhong paused for a moment and nodded, saying, “Indeed, it’s all thanks to Miss Shen.” 

He Yan smiled faintly, finished applying the medicine, lowered his pants, and handed him the bowl of medicine. As Hu Yuanzhong took the bowl, He Yan’s gaze once again fell on his wrist. He had pulled up his sleeves to some extent, but the redness at his wrist was still faintly visible. 

“How many years have you been a hunter, Brother Hu?” 

While sipping the medicine, Hu Yuanzhong replied, “Seven or eight years.” 

“Have you always been hunting on White Moon Mountain?”

She asked quickly, and Hu Yuanzhong hesitated for a moment before answering, “Yes.”

“Have you ever gone up White Moon Mountain on snowy days in the past few years?”

“No, never.”

“Why did you go up this year then?”

“It was because I was starving,” Hu Yuanzhong finished the last sip of the medicine and looked at He Yan strangely. “Brother He, why are you asking all these questions?”

He Yan lowered her head and laughed: “I’m just curious.”

He Yan reached out to take the empty bowl from Hu Yuanzhong.

Hu Yuanzhong extended his hand.

But as He Yan’s hand reached out towards Hu Yuanzhong, it suddenly changed direction and aimed straight for his face. Hu Yuanzhong couldn’t dodge in time and only managed to move his head slightly to the side. He Yan’s hand struck his chest, causing him to cry out in pain and spit out a mouthful of blood.

However, He Yan’s actions didn’t pause for a moment. Her hand swiftly moved to Hu Yuanzhong’s chest, and she retrieved a piece of paper from his clothes.

“Give it back to me!” Hu Yuanzhong yelled, but due to the strike from He Yan, he sounded hoarse and weak, lying on the bed and futilely reaching out towards He Yan.

The commotion was too significant and quickly drew the attention of nearby recruits. They rushed into the room and saw Hu Yuanzhong clutching his chest, spitting blood, while He Yan stood by the bed, holding a piece of paper.

“What happened? What’s going on?”

Hu Yuanzhong struggled to speak, “He… he tried to steal from me…”

“What did you try to steal from him?” one of the recruits asked.

He Yan looked down at the yellow paper in her hand.

Written on the paper was a poem: “Remembering you is like the westward-flowing river, day and night, it never stops.”

The handwriting was elegant, clearly that of a woman.

“What is this?” He Yan frowned as she asked him.

Hu Yuanzhong glared at her, seething with anger, but he remained silent.

“What happened?” Shen Muxue’s voice came from behind. She happened to be nearby and had followed the commotion. She arrived to see this tense scene. 

“He Yan?” She looked at He Yan with suspicion and then at Hu Yuanzhong, who was clutching his chest. She walked over to Hu Yuanzhong and asked in surprise, “Why does the injury look worse now?” She also noticed the traces of blood on Hu Yuanzhong’s lips. “Who did this?” 

Hu Yuanzhong stared at He Yan. Shen Muxue frowned. “He Yan, what did you do?” 

“I just lightly patted him on the chest,” He Yan replied with a smile. “Perhaps I didn’t control the force well.” 

“Ridiculous! He still has injuries, and how can he withstand a pat from you?” 

Hu Yuanzhong struggled to get up and extended a hand towards He Yan, his voice tinged with anger. “Give it back to me!” 

He Yan shrugged and returned the paper with the love poem to him. 

“What’s this?” one of the new recruits asked. “Did you take something from him?” 

Shen Muxue also looked over, and Hu Yuanzhong somberly explained, “This is something my deceased wife wrote…” 

It turned out to be a memento from his late wife.

“He Yan, why did you take someone else’s keepsake?” one of the recruits couldn’t help commenting. “No wonder he’s so angry.”

“I didn’t know it was a keepsake. I was just playing around with Big Brother Hu,” He Yan replied apologetically. “Big Brother Hu isn’t mad at me, is he?”

Hu Yuanzhong looked at He Yan, seeming to be struggling to contain his anger. Finally, he had to suppress it and said, “It’s nothing. Just don’t do such things in the future.” Afterward, he started coughing violently, weakened by the ordeal.

Seeing this scene, Shen Muxue didn’t look pleased either. She spoke to He Yan, “That’s enough, He Yan. This isn’t your concern. You can leave now. I’ll take care of Hu Yuanzhong’s medicine from now on. You don’t need to come here every day.”

It was as if He Yan was a troublemaking jinx.

“Alright.” He Yan wasn’t angry and replied with a smile. After a brief glance at Hu Yuanzhong, she turned and left the room.

As soon as she stepped out of the room, the smile on her face faded.

She had indeed acted deliberately just now. When facing a crisis, people would react instinctively. It was similar to when Ding Yi had tested whether she was truly blind in Liangzhou City. If Hu Yuanzhong’s injuries weren’t as severe as he claimed, he would naturally retaliate against her.

However, he hadn’t retaliated, enduring He Yan’s blow. If it were just that, it would be fine, but when He Yan struck Hu Yuanzhong earlier, she had been cautious.

The blow she delivered to Hu Yuanzhong appeared powerful on the surface, but she hadn’t used much strength. Hu Yuanzhong, at most, should have felt a sting, but he wouldn’t have bled. After all, He Yan didn’t want to harm someone’s life. If everything were just her imagination, Hu Yuanzhong would have suffered for no reason.

The problem laid here: He Yan was confident in her control of strength. Therefore, the fact that her seemingly non-lethal blow made Hu Yuanzhong spit blood suggested that he was lying.

He Yan believed that Hu Yuanzhong was lying.

As for the strange piece of paper he carried, it was even more peculiar. A person who carried a keepsake from his deceased wife would naturally be deeply in love. An affectionate person should not have any ulterior motives when faced with a beautiful female doctor. 

He Yan observed all of this, feeling as if she were watching a poorly staged drama. Unfortunately, even though she was full of suspicion, she couldn’t inform others of her thoughts. If she were to tell others that her previous strike was a mere feint, they might think she was avoiding responsibility and intentionally downplaying it.

This was indeed quite tricky.

As He Yan walked away, Xiao Mai and the others soon approached her. They heaved a sigh of relief upon seeing her, and Xiao Mai asked in a hushed voice, “Brother Ah He, they said you hit Hu Yuanzhong? Is it true?”

It had only been the time it took for an incense stick to burn, yet how had the whole of Liangzhou already heard about it?

“It’s true.” 

“Are you still suspicious of him?” Hong Shan frowned. “If you have suspicions, we can keep an eye on him for you. But you know, now everyone in Liangzhou Garrison is saying that you… that you…” He hesitated.

“What are they saying about me?”

“They say that you’re arrogant and bullying because you rely on your strength,” Xiao Mai said.

He Yan fell silent.

The situation had become even more bizarre.

“Brother Ah He, what should we do now?” Xiao Mai looked worried as he asked, “Shouldn’t we explain to others?”

“There’s no need,” He Yan replied, her eyes downcast. Since the rumors had spread so quickly, they were undoubtedly targeting her. Explaining things would be futile. Instead of wasting time on such baseless rumors, she was more concerned about Hu Yuanzhong’s intentions and how to expose him.

“You guys keep an eye on him tonight,” He Yan said. “I’ll take another look.”

Xiao Mai and Hong Shan exchanged glances and didn’t say anything more.


Several days passed, and everything remained calm.

In Liangzhou Garrison, there had been no significant developments. Xiao Mai had been helping He Yan keep an eye on Hu Yuanzhong, but they hadn’t noticed any flaws or suspicious behavior. On the other hand, Hong Shan and the others hadn’t slept well at night, and during their training sessions the following day, they were absent-minded due to their tiredness, earning them several scoldings from Liang Ping.

As for He Yan, she wanted to personally check on Hu Yuanzhong’s situation every day and see if she could gather more information. However, Shen Muxue watched her like a hawk, fearing that He Yan might accidentally injure Hu Yuanzhong again while “playing around.” As a result, for several days, He Yan hadn’t even gotten close to Hu Yuanzhong, let alone identified any flaws.

On this night, He Yan found herself alone in the training ground. Due to her injury, she had reduced her nightly training to once every three days.

It had been over half a month since Xiao Jue had left, and there hadn’t been any news from him. He Yan had quietly inquired with Cheng Lisu about whether there was any information from Zhangtai, but Cheng Lisu didn’t know either. While Xiao Jue was still around, He Yan hadn’t paid much attention, but now that he was gone, she realized that Liangzhou Garrison couldn’t do without him. If she could have revealed some information to Xiao Jue, given his sharp mind, he might have been able to uncover some clues. However, she was now left without anyone to discuss things with, making it much more difficult.

She walked to the side of the archery range, thinking of practicing archery. Suddenly, she heard some noise coming from the direction of the horse path. She looked up and saw a figure riding a horse swiftly toward the top of White Moon Mountain.

It was deep into the night, so who would be going up the mountain now? However, over the past few days, the snow had been melting due to clear weather, making the mountain more accessible than before. He Yan had the intention to call for someone, but the training ground was quite far from the common sleeping quarters where the recruits stayed. If she called for help, they wouldn’t arrive in time to catch up with the person.

Seeing the figure getting farther and farther away and about to disappear into the darkness of the forest, He Yan couldn’t afford to wait. She pulled a horse out of the stable, mounted it, and chased after the person.

In the winter night, White Moon Mountain was chilly, and the ground was freezing. The snow had partially melted, making it easy for the horses to slip. The person in front of her hadn’t lit any torch, and their path was only illuminated by the starlight in the woods. He Yan couldn’t clearly see the person’s face and was struggling to catch up.

This person also seemed quite familiar with the terrain of White Moon Mountain. They intentionally took smaller paths, several times trying to lead He Yan into a trap. However, He Yan had explored the mountain many times over the years, and she remembered the dangerous spots well. She didn’t fall for their tricks and kept a close pursuit. After a few attempts, the person in front changed direction and went another way.

He Yan chased closely behind.

She suspected that this person might be Hu Yuanzhong, but why was he going up the mountain in the middle of the night? It couldn’t be that he was trying to sneak away across the ridges under the cover of darkness.

There were too few clues to see the full picture. Without a clear picture, there was no need to waste time. She decided to confront this person directly.

Today, she will catch this person no matter what.

Without taking the small path, the road widened significantly. He Yan spurred her horse and closed the gap between them. When there were only a few zhang left between them, she leaped into the air, propelling herself towards the other person’s horse. The man couldn’t avoid it and was forced to halt his horse. He attempted to escape, but He Yan pounced on him, and they grappled. 

She had left in a hurry and only found an iron rod on the weapon rack, which was better than fighting empty-handed. In the dim light, the man flipped and jumped up. Only his eyes were visible, as he was completely wrapped up, making it difficult to identify him based on his eyes alone. He had a similar build to Hu Yuanzhong, but due to the poor lighting, it was challenging to confirm his identity. He stood firm, holding a large blade with a curved blade that gleamed with a chilling light in the night. 

“A curved blade?” He Yan’s heart raced. 

Qiang soldiers were known for their use of curved blades because they made it easier to cut meat. These blades were not only for killing but also for butchering. He Yan had personally witnessed the effectiveness of these curved blades; she had seen a comrade struck by such a blade, and before the blood could flow, the head had already fallen. During the years when the Western Qiang invaded the Central Plains, the leader, Ridamuji, had a gruesome habit of cutting off the heads of captives with a curved blade. He would string them together and tie them to the tails of his favorite horses. Wherever he went, he struck terror into people’s hearts. 

Upon seeing this curved blade, He Yan knew that this man was skilled in Qiang tactics. 

She furrowed her brow. “Are you really a Qiang person?”

The person, upon hearing this, began to laugh strangely, their voice hoarse and unclear. “How do you know?” 

“Cut the nonsense,” He Yan placed the iron rod on the ground and stared at them coldly. “Tell me, what is your purpose for infiltrating Liangzhou Garrison?”

“Hush,” the person extended a finger to their lips, saying, “Keep your voice down so we won’t be discovered.” Seeing He Yan’s silence, they continued, “If you defeat me, I’ll tell you.”

“Arrogant!” He Yan scolded. As she spoke, she sprang forward to confront the person.

While the iron rod wasn’t as sharp as the curved blade, it excelled in its simplicity and hardness, making it difficult for an opponent to approach. Despite her earlier injury, He Yan was no longer the weak recruit she had been when she first joined Liangzhou Garrison. Even in her current state, she held her ground well in her fight against this person.

The masked individual handled the curved blade skillfully, displaying a level of proficiency that raised eyebrows. Their strikes were ruthless, aiming for He Yan’s chest with every move. She was forced to retreat step by step. Suddenly, her foot came to a stop, and due to her abrupt halt, the snow at her feet was kicked up into the air. She turned to see an abyss behind her.

“Discovered?” The person laughed and said, “Why didn’t you fall for it?”

“Because your skills are just too shabby,” He Yan replied coldly. With that, she pounded the iron rod into the ground, used it as a springboard, and leaped forward, landing behind the masked person. She continued with relentless attacks, aiming a powerful strike at the person’s head.

However, the attack missed, and the person dodged to the side. The iron rod landed on their shoulder instead. Although the strike didn’t hit their vital organs, it was still powerful enough. The masked person winced in pain, and their right hand lost strength, making it impossible for them to wield their curved blade for the time being.

“How about that?” He Yan sneered.

The person remained silent, turned, and attempted to flee. He Yan frowned and chased after them. She had exceptional endurance and strength, and she was fast. For a while, the masked person couldn’t shake her pursuit.

As long as she caught up to this person, removed their mask, she could discover their identity. With both physical evidence and a witness, given their strange attire and late-night escapades into the mountains, even if it was truly Hu Yuanzhong, some interrogation by Shen Han would surely reveal their intentions.

But just as she was thinking this, the person in front suddenly stopped. They shouted at He Yan, “Here’s a gift for you!” and threw their curved blade directly at her heart. He Yan instinctively caught it, gripping the hilt. However, in the darkness of the forest, she suddenly saw another figure tumbling out.

In the night, this person tumbled out and was still wearing the red uniform of Liangzhou Garrison’s new recruits.

The mountain path was sloped downhill, and this recruit continued to roll faster and faster. They didn’t utter a sound of pain. He Yan’s heart sank. She leaped into the air and landed in the middle of the slope, blocking the way. The two of them rolled together until they finally stopped against a tree.

The body in her arms still had some warmth, but there was no sound. He Yan lowered her head and saw the young face under the starlight.

She was stunned for a moment.

There were tens of thousands of new recruits in Liangzhou Garrison, and she couldn’t remember the name of every single one. At most, there were a few familiar faces she could recall. She remembered this person’s face; it was Wang Xiaohan, the coward she had encountered on the descent from White Moon Mountain during the flag competition.

A few days ago, this young man who had blushed and thanked her was now devoid of color in his face. His eyes were wide, seemingly filled with terror before his death. He was dressed in red, but it was soaked and clung wetly to his body. He Yan looked down at her own hands and saw them stained with blood. She trembled as she unfastened the young man’s clothes, revealing a massive bloody hole in his chest, missing some flesh and appearing somewhat hollow.

He had died by the curved blade.

Despite witnessing countless life and death situations, He Yan couldn’t remain unaffected each time she faced the death of someone beside her. She closed her eyes, feeling a surge of anger inside, murmuring softly, “Beast!”

He was still so young, and he hadn’t even truly experienced the battlefield yet. He died in the desolate night of White Moon Mountain. If it weren’t for He Yan’s pursuit of the masked person tonight, he would have died without a sound, only to be discovered missing by his comrades the next day.

Missing… just one person?

Why would they drag this young man up the mountain to kill him? Had he stumbled upon something and needed to be silenced, or was there another reason?

No, not right!

He Yan tightened her grip on the young man’s hand. She had fallen into a trap!

Just as she realized this, she heard the rustling sounds of approaching people ahead. Someone shouted, “Has anyone seen anyone? Where are they?”

Suddenly, the dense bushes in front of her were pushed aside, revealing the face of a new recruit holding a torch. Their eyes met with He Yan’s.

Without needing to think, she knew how gruesome the current scene looked.

She was holding a curved blade, which was still stained with blood. Her hands were also covered in blood. In her hands, a Liangzhou recruit laid dead with his eyes wide open, a blurry bloody hole in his chest, a gruesome sight to behold.

“Found it! Found it!” The new recruit shouted in panic, backing away, “Someone’s been killed! He Yan killed someone!”

People quickly arrived, including Shen Han, Liang Ping, and several instructors. They stared at He Yan with suspicious and incredulous eyes. Du Mao shouted, “He Yan, you killed someone?”

With the murder weapon in her hand, the body at her feet, the suspicious late-night ascent into the mountains – no matter how you looked at it, she appeared to be a sinister spy with ulterior motives.

This was the real “gift” the masked person had given her.

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