Rebirth of a Star General Chapter 117

Chapter 117: The Youth (Part 2)

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“Your Majesty, I request your grace’s permission to personally lead the Nanfu troops back to Mingshui and engage in battle against the Southern Barbarians.”

The lamp’s light flickered slightly, and the sound of rain hitting the ground outside could be heard.

The young man remained prostrated and silent for a while. Emperor Wenxuan spoke slowly, “Do you understand what you’re saying?”

“The Southern Barbarians have oppressed our Central Plains people. Now that my father has fallen in battle and the wolves remain, I am willing to inherit my father’s aspirations and return to the Southern Barbarians to reclaim Mingshui.”

Emperor Wenxuan didn’t respond immediately. Instead, Xu Jingfu spoke first, saying, “Second Young Master Xiao, though I understand your current feelings of grief and anger, leading troops into battle is not a simple matter.”

Seeing that Emperor Wenxuan didn’t object to him speaking, Xu Jingfu continued, “In the Battle of Mingshui, General Guangwu acted recklessly, missed opportunities, and caused the deaths of tens of thousands of Wei soldiers. His Majesty, out of kindness, did not investigate the matter further. But now, you have come here not to apologize, but to request military authority.”

Xiao Jue’s voice was solemn as he replied, “I am doing this for the people of Great Wei.”

“The people of Great Wei?” Xu Jingfu shook his head. “Second Young Master Xiao is only sixteen years old, and he has never been on a battlefield before. In the court of Great Wei, many great generals dare not claim to lead troops into battle. You, a young boy, are speaking boldly. It’s excessive self-confidence.”

“Go back,” Emperor Wenxuan said. “Let’s not discuss this matter any further.”

The young man hesitated for a moment and then looked at Emperor Wenxuan. “I am willing to make a military oath. If I fail in battle, I am willing to accept punishment.”

Each word he spoke was clear and resolute.

Second Young Master Xiao’s eyes had always been beautiful, clear as autumn water, and often carried a lazy and languid demeanor. But now, that hint of laziness was gone, replaced by something that had sunk deep within and was gradually resurfacing, making him appear intense and fervent in an instant.

Impossible to ignore.

“Making a military oath is easy,” Xu Jingfu said, “but if Second Young Master Xiao fails in battle, it will only cost you your life. For others, war is not child’s play. Great Wei has already suffered greatly due to General Guangwu’s defeat at Mingshui. Now, if we use your words as a gamble, risking tens of thousands of Nanfu troops…”

He sighed and shook his head. “Great Wei cannot afford to lose anymore.”

Xiao Jue fell silent for a moment and then said firmly, “I dare not.”

A glint of determination flashed in Xu Jingfu’s eyes.

Xiao Jue prostrated himself again and said, “The Southern Barbarians, an alien race, have invaded our territory, massacring our people. My father died in battle, and I am unwilling to live a life of cowardice. I beseech Your Majesty to grant me permission to lead the troops into battle. Until a victorious report is delivered, I dare not speak rashly. Your Majesty, please provide as many troops as you are willing to entrust to me, and even if I fall on the battlefield, I will have no regrets.”

His attitude was obstinate, and he seemed willing to stake everything. It was as if he would kneel there forever if Emperor Wenxuan didn’t agree.

Emperor Wenxuan rubbed his temples and said, “I don’t want to discuss this matter any further.”

“Your Majesty is merciful,” the young man’s voice had no trace of submission.

“Your Majesty,” Xu Jingfu spoke again, “Second Young Master Xiao’s determination to go to battle is also a reflection of his unwavering loyalty.”

Emperor Wenxuan glanced at him and asked, “Are you speaking up for him too?”

Xu Jingfu quickly replied, “I dare not. It’s just… Second Young Master Xiao is so confident in himself. Perhaps he believes in miracles. However, it’s true that Great Wei cannot risk tens of thousands of Nanfu troops based on his words, so….”

“Then?” Emperor Wenxuan asked.

“Three thousand.”

Xiao Jue looked up.

Facing an army of tens of thousands from the Southern Barbarians, three thousand troops were an insufficient number, and no military commander would accept such a proposal. It was a battle destined for defeat.

Emperor Wenxuan set down his teacup, his mind clear. He realized that Xu Jingfu had proposed this number to make Xiao Jue understand the difficulties and withdraw his request. Leading three thousand soldiers against the Southern Barbarians was a daunting task even for a seasoned general, let alone a young boy. Xiao Jue would likely not agree unless he intended to throw his life away.

He set down the tea cup he held and looked at the stubborn youth in the hall, “Xiao Huaijin, if you insist on going to war, I’ll provide you with only three thousand troops. Are you still willing to go?” 

Xu Jingfu observed from the sidelines, he wouldn’t agree. 

The young man slowly lowered his head and bowed to Emperor Wenxuan, “I thank Your Majesty for your grace.” 

Several people in the hall were taken aback. 

When Xiao Jue raised his head again, his expression was calm. “A king’s word is no jest. Three thousand it is.” … The heavy snow weighed down on the bare tree branches, and with a “crack,” one of the branches snapped. Lin Shuanghe was lost in thought.

He looked at the determined youth in the hall and asked, “Xiao Huaijin, if you insist on going to battle, I will grant you three thousand soldiers. Are you still willing to go?”

Xu Jingfu kept his counsel, observing from the sidelines.

He won’t agree.

The young man slowly lowered his head and bowed to Emperor Wenxuan, saying, “Your Majesty, I thank you for your grace.”

There was a moment of astonishment among those in the hall.

When Xiao Jue raised his head again, his expression was calm. “A promise is a promise. Three thousand it is.”

The snow weighed heavily on the bare branches, causing one to snap with a “crack.”

Lin Shuanghe was lost in thought.

By the time he learned of Xiao Jue leading three thousand soldiers to Mingshui, a long time had passed. It had been long enough for the Battle of Long Valley to occur, long enough for scholars and literati to criticize Xiao Jue as cruel and ruthless behind his back. It had been long enough for Xiao Huaijin to transform into General Fengyun, the God of War of Great Wei, and it had been two years since the two friends had last seen each other.

The world was ever-changing, filled with differing opinions, but no one knew what kind of emotions the young man harbored when he led three thousand troops out of the city to face a hundred thousand enemy soldiers.

Xiao Rubi did not know that Xiao Jue had drugged him, entered the palace in the middle of the night, and that only three thousand soldiers were on their way. He thought that His Majesty had temporarily entrusted the Nanfu troops to Xiao Jue, granting him military authority.

Everyone was cursing Xiao Jue behind his back, accusing him of single-mindedly seeking power and wealth, of rushing into the palace to plead the case even before the seventh day of mourning for his parents, and of his deceitful tongue, which handed a hundred thousand Nanfu troops into the hands of a greenhorn, how absurd it all was. 

But who was truly absurd here? 

The world itself was absurd. 

When Xiao Jue left the city, it was in the middle of the night. No one knew what was on his mind as he departed. 

In Shuojing, there were countless daily occurrences, and the Xiao family’s affairs were the talk of the town, evoking both sighs of pity and gleeful satisfaction. However, within a few days, it became old news. By the end of the month, few mentioned it, and after a few more months, it had long been forgotten. 

Until news of the victory at Long Valley came. 

Second Young Master Xiao led the Nanfu troops to capture Guocheng, drowning sixty thousand Southern Barbarians, which shocked the entire nation. 

People were amazed at the young man’s military tactics, and they were equally surprised that someone so young could be so ruthless. 

Most believed that leading a hundred thousand Nanfu troops, he could have chosen a more merciful approach, at the very least, capturing some survivors, but it turned out that among the sixty thousand who drowned, there were also innocent civilians. 

But what else could have been done?

“Three thousand against a hundred thousand,” He Yan said, absently tapping a small protrusion on a bamboo stick, causing her fingers to ache. “He had no other choice.”

Lin Shuanghe smiled. “Exactly.”

If he hadn’t been pushed to a dead end, who would use such a method?

The Southern Barbarian troops stationed in Guocheng had been impregnable even after Xiao Zhongwu’s prolonged siege. Now, with only three thousand soldiers, it was impossible to confront them head-on. Xiao Jue ordered his troops to secretly build a dam a hundred miles east of Guocheng, blocking the flow of water from the East Mountain Long Valley River. As the water accumulated, he gave the order to breach the dam.

Fei Nu asked, “Young Master, have you thought this through? People will insult you behind your back.”

Flooding Guocheng, even if victorious, would leave a cruel mark in the historical records. Soldiers throughout history had always hoped for fame and glory, for their names to be remembered for thousands of years. Moreover, in today’s era, the emperor valued “benevolent governance” and disliked excessive bloodshed. Such a victory would come at a much higher cost than the gain.

The young man sat under a tree, gazing in the direction of Guocheng in the distance. His fingers stroked a weed that had grown through a crack in the ground before he said in self-deprecation, “Do I have any other choices?”

Fei Nu remained silent.

“It doesn’t matter what others say about me,” he stood up, and the black cloak behind him left a trace in the snow as he said, “Open the floodgates.”

Fei Nu said nothing and made no move.

The young man continued to walk forward, his voice cold. “I said, open the floodgates.”

A thousand feet of water surged downward.

Guocheng was submerged as the floodwaters poured in from the east and flowed out from the west. The Southern Barbarian soldiers and civilians inside the city could not escape, and all sixty thousand of them drowned.

The city fell, and Xiao Jue won without a battle.

The news reached the imperial court, and even Emperor Wenxuan was astonished.

When Xiao Zhongwu died, the officials who supported the Xiao family were suppressed by the faction led by Xu Xiang. Now, with Xiao Jue’s great victory, it was a moment for them to breathe easier. Xiao Jue took advantage of the opportunity to petition Emperor Wenxuan to hand over the Nanfu troops to him. In one fell swoop, he wanted to eliminate the Southern Barbarians.

Emperor Wenxuan had been gradually delegating authority.

Xiao Jue’s victories came one after another.

In these past few years, he had pushed the Southern Barbarians back step by step, and they were finally unable to regroup. The young man who had left the city alone with three thousand soldiers that night had become the terrifying General Fengyun, who struck fear into the hearts of all.

As for the truth of the matter, no one cared anymore. People only cared about his ruthless tactics, the way he pursued military achievements, treated lives as insignificant, and showed no mercy. They cared about his arrogance and his disdain for others, even going so far as to be ruthless with the son of the Minister of Revenue.

But was that what he truly wanted?

In their youth, they had studied together at the Xianchang Academy, where they read, “Youth has its own recklessness, scornful of Kunlun, laughing at Luliang, grinding a sword for years, and revealing its brilliance today.” What a spirited and straightforward youth he had been back then. However, in the years that followed, that brilliance and clarity seemed to have faded away.

The handsome young man in white robes and a silver crown had transformed into a jade-faced killer general in black armor. This was not something to celebrate.

He had been alone from the beginning to the end.

The snowfall intensified.

It was so heavy that standing still, one could already feel the cold. Footprints were left in the snow as feet pressed down on it, but after a while, they would be covered by the falling snow, leaving no trace.

“I didn’t know at the time that the Commander only took three thousand troops to the Battle of Guocheng,” He Yan said.

“Do you know how the Nine Banners Battalion came about?” Lin Shuanghe asked.

He Yan shook his head.

“His Majesty wanted Xiao Jue to personally select three thousand troops from the Nanfu soldiers. This was his last act of kindness towards Huaijin. Huaijin stood in front of the Nanfu soldiers and asked them to choose whether they were willing to follow him to Mingshui.”

Before going, no one believed they could win this battle. It was a suicide mission, and everyone who stepped forward did so with a determination to die, following this young general.

“The first eight hundred who stepped forward later became the Nine Banners Battalion,” he laughed.

No wonder, He Yan understood. Over the years, she had never seen Xiao Jue easily accept anyone into the Nine Banners Battalion. The bond formed through mutual support in times of adversity was something that even the most outstanding, loyal, brave, and clever soldiers could not compare to. Even those who were wounded and unable to return to the battlefield in the Nine Banners Battalion were taken care of by Xiao Jue.

Because they were worth it.

“I didn’t know about these things at the time,” Lin Shuanghe reached out to brush away a snowflake that had fallen on him. “Later, my grandfather told me about it when he was treating the Empress Dowager’s illness, and then I began to piece together the whole story from bits of rumors and hearsay from various places in the court.” 

“Didn’t Commander Xiao tell you about these things himself?” He Yan asked. She remembered that when she entered the Xianchang Academy, Xiao Jue, Lin Shuanghe, and another young man were good friends. Xiao Jue was going through a difficult time, wouldn’t he explain his difficulties to his friends back then? 

“To be honest, I’ve only met him a few times over the past few years,” Lin Shuanghe shook his head. “Even the few times he wrote to me, it was usually to borrow money.” 

“Borrow money?” 

“Surprised, aren’t you?” Lin Shuanghe said with a lighter tone when he reached this part of the story. “The original wealth of the Xiao family was confiscated when General Guangwu had his incident. During the first two years when he led the troops to the South Barbarians, their supplies were not plentiful, and his elder brother was an upright official. He was reluctant to exploit his own brother, so he came to me. Our Lin family’s pharmacies are spread all over Great Wei, and it’s especially popular among noblewomen in the capital, bringing in a lot of money every day. He treated me as his father and asked me for pocket money.” 

He Yan: “…” 

“Although he won many battles over the years and obtained a lot of spoils and rewards, it still wasn’t enough compared to what I lent him at the beginning,” Lin Shuanghe chuckled. “Of course, I’m very generous, and if he can’t repay it, then so be it.”

He Yan: “…It’s nice to have a friend like you.” 

She meant it genuinely. 

Lin Shuanghe modestly waved his hand, “You flatter me. So, this time, when Xiao Jue wrote to me, asking me to come to Liangzhou, I was quite surprised.” 

“Commander Xiao actively sought Doctor Lin to come to Liangzhou?” He Yan asked in surprise. 

“That’s right. The letter said he had a close associate with an eye injury and wanted me to come to treat him. I initially thought it was Fei Nu or Chiwu who was injured. By the time I was halfway here, I received another letter saying the person’s eye had healed. I couldn’t turn back midway, so I continued to Qingnan. While on my way to meet him, I changed course and decided to visit Liangzhou Garrison as well to see where he is now.” 

He Yan was somewhat surprised. 

In Xiao Jue’s letter, he had mentioned a “close associate with an eye injury,” which presumably referred to her. She had been injured by an assassin at Sun Xiangfu’s banquet, but she quickly realized the injury wasn’t serious. At the time, she had no idea that Xiao Jue had already sent for Lin Shuanghe to come and treat her. 

Although Lin Shuanghe only treated women, he was Lin Qingtan’s grandson and had extraordinary medical skills that no one dared to underestimate. 

This man wasn’t as heartless as he sounded. 

During their conversation, they had already arrived at He Yan’s door. 

“Here,” Lin Shuanghe handed the cloak in his hand to He Yan, “you take this to him.” 

He Yan: “….Why me?” 

Lin Shuanghe thought for a moment, “Because the current Xiao Huaijin is probably not in a good mood. If I go to join in the fun, I might get scolded. But you’re different,” he leaned closer to He Yan and whispered, “as a lovely and well-behaved young lady, he might be more lenient with you and not embarrass you.” 

He Yan raised the corner of her mouth. “Does Doctor Lin think that Commander Xiao is a person who pities and cherishes women?”

And thinking about her image in Xiao Jue’s heart, she couldn’t be described as “lovely and well-behaved” in any way. 

“Yes, why not,” Lin Shuanghe looked at her with a mischievous smile and gently pushed her into the room. “If he discovered your identity and didn’t immediately kick you out of Liangzhou Garrison, it means he’s treating you fairly. Go on, be careful, and don’t trip.” 

He Yan: “Wait!” 

“I’ll come to see you again tomorrow.” 

He Yan was pushed into her room. 

The door closed behind her, and the room was empty. The food brought by Cheng Lisu and Song Taotao just a moment ago was still by the bed. He Yan used her walking stick to make her way over and sat down on the bed. 

The black cloak was within reach, and He Yan looked towards the other end of the room, wondering if Xiao Jue was there right now. 

If he was, should she send it to him like this? Wouldn’t that be a bit awkward? 


The window was open, and the fine, grain-like snow drifted into the room on the breeze. 

The young commander stood by the window, gazing at the snowstorm outside. 

In the dungeon, the words of Lei Hou echoed in his ears. 

The snowfall intensified, nearly blinding the eyes, and the light in his eyes gradually dimmed.

When he was young, he had learned martial arts with a hermit in the mountains. Before leaving, the hermit had said to him, “You will walk a very difficult path. You must walk it alone and not look back.”

At the time, he was still young and didn’t understand the meaning of those words. It wasn’t until he was hit by the waves of fate, causing the ship of his youthful aspirations to capsize, that he finally understood.

So that’s how it was.

Xiao Zhongwu only had two sons, and Xiao Jing was as pure as white jade, with a clear and noble demeanor. How could he be involved in such matters? Among the two of them, if someone had to walk this difficult path, bearing the weight of bloodshed, misunderstanding, infamy, and loneliness, it would be better for him to do it.

He didn’t mind.

Over all these years, he didn’t care about being misunderstood, nor did he fear scrutiny. He had never possessed those things before so why talk about losing it.


But the snowfall on this day was exceptionally cold.


There was a sound behind him.

Xiao Jue turned around, and from behind the illusory door in the room, a head emerged. He Yan, struggling with her cane, had entered, and she was holding his cloak.

“Sorry,” the youth apologized sincerely. “I knocked on the door just now, but you didn’t respond, so I…”

Xiao Jue interrupted, “So you picked the lock and entered without permission?”

He Yan felt embarrassed. “Don’t be angry. We’re neighbors.” She sneezed. “Ah-choo! Why didn’t you close the window? It’s so cold.”

“This ‘we’re neighbors’ argument, how can she say it so casually?” Xiao Jue couldn’t be bothered with her and closed the window.

He Yan was also feeling wronged. She had knocked on the door for a long time, but Xiao Jue had ignored her. She had thought that he wasn’t in, so she had taken the opportunity to pick the lock, slip in, leave the cloak, and leave quietly. It was to avoid meeting him when he was in a bad mood. However, it turned out that he was in the room all along, but he still didn’t acknowledge her. It was too disrespectful.

“Commander, here’s your cloak,” He Yan handed the garment to him.

Xiao Jue glanced at her. “Just put it on the bed.”

“Okay,” He Yan said and placed it on the bed. She then took a seat on a chair inside the room. Seeing that Xiao Jue was still standing, seemingly lost in thought, and possibly still affected by what Lei Hou had said in the dungeon, she couldn’t help feeling sympathetic.

During her time in the Fuyue Army, she had been unaware of the hardships Xiao Jue had faced. Since this kind of situation had fallen upon him, she couldn’t help but find it cruel.

It suddenly dawned on her that even the heavens weren’t fair. They seemed to give and take in a calculated manner. It was as if the heavens were a shrewd merchant who always ensured that everything balanced out.

She didn’t know what to say, so she started with, “Commander, I must say, your cloak is really beautiful! Where did you get it, and how much did it cost?”

Xiao Jue replied, “It was a gift from the palace.”

He Yan, “…”

It was clear that he had no intention of engaging in a conversation with her and was deliberately making it difficult for her to continue. He Yan hesitated for a moment, wondering if she should leave. However, she remembered that when she was injured, Xiao Jue had given her medicine from a mandarin duck-shaped pot. With a sigh, she decided to stay.

She was the kind of person who repaid kindness and vengeance, and now that Xiao Jue was clearly in a low mood, leaving like this didn’t seem right.

“Commander, the wound on my waist really hurts,” He Yan changed the subject, trying to divert his attention to something else. “Will there be any lasting effects in the future?”

“Does it hurt?” Xiao Jue sat down at the table in front of her and replied nonchalantly, “You seem to be able to walk around just fine, so there shouldn’t be any problems.”

He Yan, “…”

She said, “Commander, please don’t take your frustration with Lei Hou out on me.”

This man was like a firecracker, and she couldn’t have a proper conversation with him right now.

Xiao Jue turned the pages of the military reports in front of him, not looking up. “You’re overthinking it.”

He Yan watched him. It should be a report from Liangzhou Garrison regarding the attack by Ridamuzi, detailing the casualties suffered by the Garrison. 

It was really not easy for Xiao Jue.

He Yan thought to herself; he had gone to Qingnan, rushed back with the Nanfu troops without stopping, defeated Ridamuzi’s forces, and then tended to the wounded. Following that, he questioned Lei Hou, and after Lei Hou insulted him, he was now back here, continuing to review military reports, without a moment’s rest.

He Yan, on the other hand, had managed to get some rest after her injury, but this man hadn’t stopped working from the beginning to the end. 

But back when they were at Xianchang Academy, he was the one who enjoyed lazing around the most. So, it seemed like Xiao Jue couldn’t avoid it either?

His back was always as straight as a tree, seeming like he would never get tired, but wasn’t he also exhausted? 

Sitting in her chair, He Yan gazed at his back and said, “Commander, don’t take Lei Hou’s words to heart.” 

There was no response from Xiao Jue. He Yan didn’t pay it any mind and continued talking to herself. “He’s an enemy after all, so, of course, he’s thrilled to see you angry. Those words are meant to provoke you. It’s not just you who gets scolded; he’s scolded me too. He called me effeminate.” He Yan started to babble again, “He also said I have some hidden ailment, that my fiancé would run off with someone else sooner or later, leaving me alone. I’d end up living as a recluse, buying tofu in the east side of the city, and no one would want to buy it.” 

This comfort was genuinely awful. After He Yan finished speaking, she realized that it was pretty half-hearted. But what could she do? She was rarely consoled by others, and thus, wasn’t very good at consoling others either. 

Some things really didn’t have a clear right or wrong. Depending on your position, you made different decisions. Outsiders might not understand the feeling of bearing everything alone. She had genuinely experienced it. 

So, she could also understand how Xiao Jue felt. 

He Yan stood up, used her walking stick to support herself, and moved over to his side. She clenched her right hand into a fist and tapped it on his desk. 

“I’m giving you something,” she said. “I’m leaving.” 

She slowly shuffled her steps back to her room and closed the door behind her. 

After He Yan left, Xiao Jue’s actions stopped, and he looked at the desk. 

Where she had just covered with her palm, there was a piece of sesame candy. 

It looked very sweet.

— Side Note —

The event of flooding Guocheng has a historical prototype, which is based on the Battle of Yan City, where Bai Qi of the Qin state captured the city. Of course, there have been some adaptations made. Interested friends can look it up. We’re not trying to whitewash Xiao Jue, as there’s no right or wrong in such matters; it’s all about different perspectives. If we have to say something is wrong, it’s the fact that war itself is inherently wrong, and it’s the common people who suffer from it. However, this story is just a fictional, feel-good Mary Sue story with no deep meaning. I wrote it randomly, so feel free to enjoy it – as long as it’s fun and sweet enough (puts on the chef’s hat and runs away).

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