Rebirth of a Star General Chapter 118

Chapter 118: Chu Zilan

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After the incident with Ridamuzi, the Liangzhou Garrison was quite busy for a period.

After burying the fallen soldiers and erecting memorial steles, they had to record the names in the military register. When they returned to Shuojing in the future, they would have to distribute compensation to the families of the deceased soldiers. Most of the fallen soldiers were young sentries, and they hadn’t been in Liangzhou Garrison for even a year before meeting their demise. Their comrades who had spent day and night together were quite despondent for a while.

However, life had to go on, especially after this incident, Liangzhou Garrison was no longer as safe as before. Xiao Jue ordered Instructor Shen to begin training the new recruits in formation drills—only by mastering military formations could the new recruits hope to win in battle when they encountered enemies.

The Nanfu Army had not entirely arrived in Liangzhou yet. When Xiao Jue returned from Qingnan, he brought ten thousand soldiers from the Nanfu Army with him, but the Nine Banner Battalion remained in Qingnan and did not follow. With Liangzhou City now being a target, it was not suitable to draw attention.

The daily training of the Nanfu Army was different from that of Liangzhou Garrison, just as Xiao Jue had said; the duration and intensity of their training were three times that of Liangzhou Garrison. When Liangzhou’s new recruits saw the Nanfu Army’s dedication during training, they couldn’t help but admire them.

As a result, the previously empty drill grounds became bustling with activity. There were soldiers’ figures everywhere under the White Moon Mountain and along the Five Deer River.

He Yan’s injuries were also gradually improving day by day.

Lin Shuanghe’s medical skills were much more exquisite than Shen Muxue’s, and initially, He Yan thought that with her injuries, she would need at least a year or more to fully recover. However, at the rate things were progressing, she felt like she could be back on the training grounds in another two months.

Song Taotao placed a bowl of soup in front of He Yan and watched as she finished it. Then, she left with the bowl. The young girl couldn’t cook herself, so she often went to the sergeants’ mess to steal food, taking advantage of her status as a young lady to feed He Yan. Sometimes, He Yan would feel like she was living off someone else, but after a while, she got used to it.

After all, the soup was delicious, and if only the young girl didn’t look at her with such a loving gaze, it would be even better.

In the other part of the room, there were faint voices, and it seemed like it was Liang Ping. He sounded rather excited.

After some consideration, He Yan got up from her bed.

She took out a piece of silver wire from her sleeve and picked the lock, which she had done many times before, becoming quite proficient. Fortunately, Xiao Jue had not changed the lock to a more complicated “士” character lock. He didn’t seem to care too much about her snooping around.

He Yan pushed the middle door open just a crack and saw a man kneeling in front of Xiao Jue. Surprisingly, it was Du Mao, whom she hadn’t seen for a long time. Ever since the incident with Ridamuzi exposed the identity of Lei Hou being a spy, Du Mao had disappeared. He Yan heard from Cheng Lisu that Du Mao had apparently been imprisoned. He Yan understood this, as Lei Hou’s betrayal implicated everyone close to him.

Now, Du Mao was here, which probably meant that he had been cleared of suspicion.

Apart from Du Mao, there were also several instructors standing there. He Yan saw Liang Ping step forward and plead, “Commander, Du Mao and Lei Hou haven’t seen each other for many years. Du Mao really didn’t know about Lei Hou’s treason. Please, Commander, show some leniency.”

“Yes, Commander,” Ma Damei also couldn’t help but speak up, “Instructor Du has been in Liangzhou Garrison for ten years and has never made any mistakes. If it weren’t for Lei Hou’s deliberate concealment, things wouldn’t have come to this. Please, Commander, consider Instructor Du’s many years of hard work and go easy on him.”

All the sergeants joined in, asking for leniency for Du Mao.

Du Mao arrived in Liangzhou Garrison when he was in his twenties, enduring the harsh conditions of this cold land for a whole decade. There was little amusement to be found at the garrison, mainly restricted to the occasional festive gathering of the instructors for some drinks during holidays. On regular days, they were either training or on guard duty. 

The instructors had formed deep bonds of friendship and naturally didn’t want to see Du Mao’s life endangered by Lei Hou. Therefore, they came to plead on his behalf. 

Shen Han moved his lips but ultimately didn’t say anything. It wasn’t that he lacked a deep connection with Du Mao, but with less than a year of acquaintance, Shen Han understood that the Second Young Master Xiao, standing before him, wasn’t someone who would easily change his mind due to a few words from others. 

As expected, Xiao Jue paid no attention to what others said, and he looked at Du Mao, asking, “What’s your plan?”

He Yan still remembered when she first arrived at Liangzhou Garrison, this instructor named Du Mao had a good relationship with Liang Ping and often argued with him. Among all the instructors, he was relatively young. However, in just a few days, he seemed to have aged by ten years. A few strands of white hair had appeared at his temples, and he looked much older.

Du Mao spoke, his voice unable to conceal his exhaustion. “Du Mao is willing to accept punishment.”

“Du Mao!” Liang Ping called out his name anxiously.

“It was my fault for not investigating Lei Hou’s current identity properly before recommending him to enter the Garrison. It’s dereliction of duty,” Du Mao said. “So, it’s only right for the Commander to punish me.”

“You did indeed neglect your duty,” Xiao Jue said calmly. “Because of you, Liangzhou Garrison lost many new recruits.”

The instructors who had wanted to continue pleading were silenced by Xiao Jue’s words.

“The dead won’t come back,” Xiao Jue said. “Do you understand?”

“Du Mao understands.”

The room fell into silence. Liang Ping’s expression had turned despairing as he looked at Du Mao.

“I won’t take your life.”

When these words came out, everyone in the room was stunned, including He Yan.

Xiao Jue, “Leave.”


“From today onwards, you are no longer an instructor of Liangzhou Garrison.” Xiao Jue stood up and headed outside the room, “There is no need for you to return here in the future.”

His figure disappeared outside, and after a moment of silence inside the room, Ma Damei snapped back to reality and went to help Du Mao, who was still kneeling on the ground. “Alright, alright, the Commander showed you some leniency. Get up quickly.” 

Du Mao stood still, seemingly dazed, then suddenly burst into loud wails. 

The comforting voices from the people in the room mixed with Du Mao’s cries, created a noisy environment that gave He Yan a slight headache. She hastily grabbed her clothes, put them on, and, leaning on her cane, followed everyone out. As soon as she stepped out, the snowstorm outside sent a chill down her spine. 

Where was Xiao Jue? He had left the room just a moment ago, and now he was nowhere to be seen. Could he fly? 

“Looking for me?” someone’s voice came from behind her, startling He Yan, who nearly lost her grip on her cane. 

She turned around to see Xiao Jue standing behind her, raising an eyebrow and staring at her. He asked, “Is there something you need?” 

“N-nothing,” He Yan pretended to look at the sky. “The weather is nice, and I wanted to take a walk.” 

Xiao Jue glanced at the sand-like snowflakes outside and mocked, “I thought you didn’t overhear enough earlier and had more questions for me.” 

He actually knew she was eavesdropping? That was embarrassing. He Yan scratched her head and said, “Commander, your hearing is remarkable.” 

Xiao Jue smirked. “Not as remarkable as yours.” 

“So,” he asked, “why did you come looking for me?”

Why did she come looking for him? He Yan didn’t really know; she had followed him out on impulse. She hesitated for a moment, thought for a while, and said, “Commander, you were lenient with Instructor Du just now.”

The instructors’ close friendship with Du Mao was one thing, but Du Mao’s own mistakes were another. He Yan thought that with Xiao Jue’s personality, Du Mao might not escape death. She didn’t expect that in the end, he was only expelled from Liangzhou Garrison.

Xiao Jue laughed, as if finding her words amusing. “Lenient?”

“Yes, if it were me…”

“If it were you, what would you do?”

He Yan suddenly couldn’t find the words.

What would she do if it were her? She had risen from a foot soldier to a general, and she had encountered situations like this before. In fact, Flying Phoenix General, who commanded her troops, was not much more lenient than Xiao Jue. However, most of the time, people subconsciously overlooked it because she interacted with her subordinates on a personal level and didn’t have the same unfeeling “glorious achievements” as Xiao Jue.

If it were her, would she order Du Mao’s execution?

“If it were me, I wouldn’t either,” He Yan said. “Taking Du Mao’s life may seem like strict military discipline, but it hurts people’s hearts. Liangzhou Garrison has just gone through the incident with Ridamuzi. If people’s hearts are scattered, Liangzhou Garrison will be like loose sand, unable to stand firm.”

Xiao Jue looked at her with a hint of surprise in his eyes. “Well said.”

He Yan grinned. “I told you, I’m the top in Liangzhou Garrison. I’m very clever. So, Commander, can you let me join the Nine Banner Battalion?”

Xiao Jue’s lips curved slightly. “No.”

This man was really stubborn. He Yan was about to argue for herself when she saw him turn and continue walking forward. She followed with her walking stick and asked, “Commander, where are you going?”

“The training grounds.”

“You’re going to watch the training?” He Yan asked. “I want to go too!”

After her injury, she couldn’t participate in the daily training. Her days were spent either lying in bed or walking in circles outside with her walking stick, which was incredibly boring. Although Song Taotao and Cheng Lisu took advantage of her situation to keep her company, they were not the best conversationalists. One of them only remembered trivial matters like which girl in the capital was beautiful and which lady had given birth to a son, while the other seemed to know nothing except for eating, drinking, and having fun. Talking to them was a real challenge. The only one who could hold a conversation with her was Lin Shuanghe, but he had been asked by Shen Muxue to help prepare medicine for the injured soldiers in the medical hall.

Therefore, when Xiao Jue mentioned going to the training grounds, He Yan couldn’t help but feel a bit excited.

The snow had lessened, and it wasn’t as cold outside as before. He Yan, who was walking slowly with her walking stick, complained, “Commander, wait for me!”

With this self-assured tone, Xiao Jue’s steps involuntarily paused, and he retorted, “Am I your servant?” 

“No,” He Yan snapped back to reality and explained, “I meant that we can take our time and discuss other matters on the way. Did Lei Hou say why Ridamuzi came to our camp to provoke us? Hasn’t Flying Phoenix General already pacified the rebellion in the Western Qiang territories? Where are all these soldiers from?” 

Tens of thousands of soldiers, do the Qiang people have that many men and horses now? He Yan had previously fought against Ridamuji and was quite familiar with the Qiang people. She couldn’t help feeling that something was amiss. 

“It’s not the Qiang people,” Xiao Jue finally answered He Yan’s question, which was rare for him. “It’s the Wutuo people.” 

“Wutuo people?” This revelation took He Yan completely by surprise. 

Xiao Jue glanced at her, noticing her astonished expression, and calmly asked, “What are you thinking?” 

Was he testing her? He Yan inquired, “Is Ridamuzi a Wutuo person?” Xiao Jue remained silent for a moment before replying, “He is not a Wutuo person, but apart from Ridamuzi and a few of his close confidants with whom you’ve crossed paths, all the other soldiers are indeed Wutuo people.” 

“Are you absolutely sure, Commander?” 

Xiao Jue paused for a moment before saying, “I’m sure.”

“If it is indeed the Wutuo people,” He Yan’s voice carried a sense of seriousness, “then their intentions go beyond just Liangzhou Garrison.”

“Why do you say that?”

“In recent years, the Wutuo nation has been amassing troops, and their power is considerable. They have been constantly harassing the people at the border. This incident may have been a test for them. Now that they have come to Liangzhou Garrison, using the excuse of the Qiang people, to hide themselves in the shadows, they are likely planning to cause trouble within Great Wei.”

“Think about it, Commander,” He Yan continued, “If you had truly gone to Zhangtai, unable to provide aid, and those Wutuo people took over Liangzhou Garrison and captured the city, it would be like tearing open a hole in Great Wei’s border defenses. They could easily advance westward, following the river, all the way to the capital.”

Xiao Jue glanced at her and asked, “Is that all?”

“Great Wei may have traitors collaborating with the enemy,” He Yan continued, “This person has connections with the Wutuo people in secret, and they are familiar with you, Commander.”

Xiao Jue prompted, “Go on.”

“He can secretly place his trusted followers within Liangzhou Garrison without anyone noticing, and he can spread false information about Zhangtai. This person’s position is not low, and his network of connections is extensive. He knows that your position in Liangzhou Garrison is as secure as an iron fortress. To draw you away, he must be very afraid of you. So, perhaps there is such a person in the imperial court with a high position, who clashed with you in the past but gained no advantage. If there is such a person, there is a high probability that he is the one behind all this.”

Xiao Jue fixed his gaze on her and asked, “Then why don’t you tell me who this person is?”

This time, He Yan truly felt baffled. Although she had a friendship with Xiao Jue from their school days, it had only been a year. After that, they hadn’t seen each other for many years, with one in the south and the other in the north. Xiao Jue was deeply entangled in the court’s turmoil due to Xiao Zhongwu’s matter, while she had risen through the ranks based on her military achievements, remaining in the border camps day after day. Therefore, she knew very little about the political intrigues in the court. How could she guess who that person might be?

Even though it was a casual inquiry, it seemed too challenging, and not everyone could achieve the level where they could sleep and become the top student at Xianchang Academy. 

Thinking of the previous events involving Yuan Baozhen, He Yan casually asked, “Xu Jingfu?” 

Xiao Jue paused. 

Seeing his reaction, He Yan’s thoughts raced. “Is it really him?” 

Xiao Jue didn’t answer. 

“Xu Jingfu colluding with an enemy nation?” He Yan was shocked. “Is he crazy? He’s the current Prime Minister. What does he gain from doing such a thing?” 

“You can speak a bit louder,” Xiao Jue said indifferently, “Making baseless accusations against a government official can lead to charges against you at any time.” 

He Yan thought to herself, “Who isn’t a government official here?” In her previous life as Flying Phoenix General, she also received her salary from the imperial court. 

“But, but…” She wanted to say more, but Xiao Jue had stopped walking and was looking ahead. Not far away, the low shouts of soldiers forming into battle formations could be heard. 

Unconsciously, the two of them had walked to the training grounds. 

The training ground was initially used for the daily drills of the new recruits of the Liangzhou Garrison. However, it was now divided into two sections, with the eastern side being used by the soldiers of the Nanfu for training and the western side by the Liangzhou Garrison. At this moment, both sides were conducting their training simultaneously, revealing a noticeable difference in their abilities.

The deputy commander of the Nanfu soldiers was conducting a formation exercise without the need for any specific commands. Just by looking at it, one could sense their discipline and prowess. On the other hand, the new recruits from Liangzhou Garrison had just begun to learn formation and appeared somewhat clumsy. Shen Han stood on a platform, shouting at the top of his lungs.

As He Yan watched, she hesitated and said, “Are they practicing the… Fish Scale Formation?”

Xiao Jue glanced at her and asked, “You know about it?”

Here he went again, testing her. Although He Yan was a bit puzzled by Xiao Jue’s frequent questions, she thought he might be preparing to evaluate whether she could join the Nine Banner Battalion, so she answered sincerely, “It’s a formation with staggered ranks. The front is slightly convex, and the main force is gathered in the center, forming multiple fish scale-like smaller formations. When facing the enemy, they can concentrate their forces and launch a fierce attack at the center of the enemy’s formation. However, the weakness lies in the rear. If the enemy breaks through from the rear, they can break this formation. So, yes, it’s the Fish Scale Formation, but…”

She continued, “They’re too disorganized.”

“Too disorganized! If they take this long to form up, they would have been killed five times over.” 

Xiao Jue looked at her with a thoughtful expression. He then smirked and said, “Not bad.”

He Yan felt quite proud. All her hard work had paid off. Who would have thought that she, who was ranked last in Xianchang Academy, would now be able to confidently answer even the questions posed by the top student of Xianchang Academy? These years of studying and practicing martial arts were not in vain.

“Have you studied military strategy?” Xiao Jue raised an eyebrow.

“I have a basic understanding,” He Yan replied.

“Do you know how to deploy troops?”

“I wouldn’t dare claim to know it well.”

“Good,” Xiao Jue said, looking at the soldiers practicing below. “If, on that day, when Ridamuzi attacked Liangzhou Garrison, you hadn’t been imprisoned, and Shen Han handed over command to you, how would you have fought?”

So, he was going to give her a challenge now?

He Yan contemplated for a moment and then slowly explained, “The Western….Wutuo soldiers are strong and brutal. Liangzhou Garrison’s new recruits have never been to the battlefield, and their morale is low, making it difficult for them to confront the enemy head-on. It’s not something that can be resolved quickly. If I were in charge… I would use the ‘Chariot Array.'”

Xiao Jue quietly watched her. “Go on.”

“I, as the commander, would position myself at the center of the formation, with layers of troops deployed around the periphery. These external troops would form a mobile formation, and in the face of battle, they would rotate in the same direction, taking turns to attack the enemy formation. This formation would resemble a turning chariot wheel. By continuously applying pressure to the enemy’s formation, the Wutuo soldiers would become exhausted and eventually collapse. Meanwhile, our side would replenish and reorganize as we took turns attacking.”

“You would be the commander?” Xiao Jue teased.

“What I meant is that I would temporarily assume the role of commander at the forefront, but you, Commander, would be the one to lead the actual battle. I chose the Chariot Array to buy time so that you could return in time to provide support,” He Yan said earnestly.

Xiao Jue turned away, leaned slightly forward, and looked down at her, a faint smile playing on his lips. “Miss He is quite knowledgeable in military strategy. It’s a pity not to become a general.”

Xiao Jue had good judgment in this regard. He Yan nodded and said, “I also feel that way. I believe I’m naturally suited to be a general. Sometimes, I even think that I was a female general in my past life.”

Xiao Jue: “…..”

“You don’t believe it?” He Yan poked a hole in the snow with her stick. “Or do you think that women shouldn’t be generals?” 

“I don’t think that way.” 

He Yan raised her head to look at him. The world believed that women should stay in their chambers, doing embroidery and waiting for their husband’s favor. It was rare for women to become generals or even engage in public activities. Those who dared to step forward faced the judgmental eyes of others. 

“Anything you want to do, you can do,” the young man said lazily, a faint smile tugging at his lips. “Just do it if you can.” 

He Yan fell silent, gazing at him. 

His eyes were fixed on the soldiers practicing on the training field in the distance, and he seemed not to notice He Yan’s gaze behind him. 

“Thank you,” He Yan whispered in her heart. 

As the snow gradually ceased falling, the new soldiers under Shen Han’s command became more proficient in their drills, and their initial anxiety had diminished. The formation they were practicing seemed to be working, and Xiao Jue and He Yan stood there for a while. 

Then, a familiar voice rang out from behind, “Huaijin! He… Brother!” 

He Yan turned around to see that it was Lin Shuanghe. Lin Shuanghe climbed up to the pavilion, dusted the snow off his boots, and asked, “No wonder I couldn’t find you two anywhere; you’re here. What’s this? Did you bring our little sister He to watch the training?”

He Yan: “….Doctor Lin, please don’t call me ‘little sister’ in public.”

“I’m sorry,” Lin Shuanghe covered his mouth with a fan and apologized, “I forgot for a moment. But there are no outsiders here anyway.” He glanced at the cane He Yan was using and asked, “Are you able to get out of bed and walk this far today? How is the wound? Does it still hurt?”

“Not too much,” He Yan replied. “Doctor Lin’s medical skills are excellent, and I’ve already improved a lot today.”

“That’s great,” Lin Shuanghe shook his fan. “If I couldn’t cure you, I would feel very guilty.”

They exchanged compliments, but Xiao Jue, who was observing from the side, seemed unable to tolerate it. Impatiently, he said, “If you have something to say, say it.”

Lin Shuanghe paused and said, “Oh! I almost forgot the important matter. Some people arrived at the Liangzhou Garrison. I was initially looking for Instructor Shen, but he’s not around. It took me quite a while to find you here.” 

“Who are these people?” 

“They’re from the palace, saying that in light of the recent great victory of the Liangzhou Garrison, the Emperor is rewarding you. Oh, and there’s that… that…” He struggled to remember a name, choking for a moment before recalling it. “The fourth young master of Shi Jinbo’s mansion, Chu Zilan! Yes, Chu Zilan is here too.” 

“Chu Zhao?” Xiao Jue furrowed his brow. “What is he here for?” 

Lin Shuanghe shrugged. “I have no idea. People are waiting at the garrison gate right now. Won’t you go check it out?” 

Xiao Jue paused for a moment and then headed downstairs. “Let’s go.” 

“Hey, Commander, what about me?” He Yan, holding her stick, attempted to keep up. She wasn’t sure if she could accompany them in such an official situation. Judging by Xiao Jue’s demeanor, it didn’t seem like a casual reunion with an old friend. 

Xiao Jue glanced at her and said, “You should go back. No need to follow.” 

“Alright,” He Yan obediently agreed. Lin Shuanghe waved to her, and the two of them quickly descended the stairs, their figures disappearing into the distance. 

He Yan watched the vast snowy landscape, feeling somewhat puzzled.

Chu Zilan, who exactly was this person?

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