Rebirth of a Star General Chapter 120

Chapter 120: Drunk

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While conversing with Chu Zilan, He Yan didn’t notice that Xiao Jue and Lin Shuanghe were standing behind a nearby tree.

Lin Shuanghe, observing closely, questioning, “It appears that Little Sister He unexpectedly knows Chu Zilan? Why did she claim not to know him when I asked her yesterday?”

“Did you ask her?” 

“Yes, and I asked her if she’d take Chu Zilan’s side if there were a conflict between you and him,” Lin Shuanghe twirled his fan and grinned, “Do you want to know how she answered?”

Xiao Jue replied, “I don’t want to know.”

“Why are you like this?” Lin Shuanghe inquired. “I’ll tell you anyway. Little Sister He answered without hesitation that she didn’t know Chu Zilan and would stand on your side. However…” Lin Shuanghe looked at the pair chatting in the distance and asked, “Why did she claim not to know him when it’s clear that she does?”

Xiao Jue chuckled, “Why believe what a liar says?”

“A liar?” Lin Shuanghe glanced at Xiao Jue. “What did she lie to you about? Could it be that…” He suddenly realized something and gasped, “She’s in cahoots with Chu Zilan? Is she working for Xu Jingfu too?”

Xiao Jue couldn’t be bothered to engage with him.

Just then, the beautiful servant girl named Ying Xiang noticed them from afar. She shouted, “Commander Xiao, Young Master Lin.”

With nowhere to hide, Lin Shuanghe stepped forward, nodding politely, “Fourth Young Master Chu, Brother He.”

He Yan asked, “Did you come outside to enjoy the sun as well?”

“Just taking a leisurely walk,” Lin Shuanghe replied while holding his fan. His eyes scanned He Yan and Chu Zilan as he asked provocatively, “He Yan, do you and Fourth Young Master Chu know each other from the past?”

He Yan responded, “We’ve only met once. We encountered each other here in Liangzhou Garrison, and I was surprised to learn that he’s Fourth Young Master Chu.”

“Only once?” Lin Shuanghe wasn’t satisfied and probed further, “Can you tell us how you met?”

Chu Zhao stood in place with a gentle smile, showing no intention of explaining himself. Xiao Jue’s gaze remained calm, but it made He Yan feel a bit chilly. However, Song Taotao was quite curious and asked, “Exactly, how do you know each other?” 

“Well,” He Yan had no choice but to explain with a forced smile, “Back when I was in Shuojing, I went to Le Tong Manor to gamble one night. I won a lot of silver and was chased by some people. Coincidentally, I ran into the Fourth Young Master Chu. He found the silver I dropped and returned it to me. At the time, I didn’t know who he was, so I quickly thanked him and left.” 

“Le Tong Manor?” Song Taotao was astonished. “Big Brother He, you gamble?” 

“Didn’t you say your dad is very strict, and you rarely leave the house?” Lin Shuanghe couldn’t help but ask. 

He Yan raised her head and met Xiao Jue’s half-smile, making her scalp tingle. She took a step back and said, “I was forced by circumstances back then… I went there only once! I never went again!” 

Both Lin Shuanghe and Xiao Jue knew that she was a woman, and for a woman to go gambling alone at night was indeed quite shocking. Moreover, gambling was generally not a good thing to admit to, especially in front of this group of influential figures. It was truly embarrassing. 

“I didn’t expect Brother He to come to Liangzhou Garrison later,” Chu Zhao said with a smile. “It’s also our fate. I still remember the excellent skills you displayed that night when dealing with those pursuers.” 

“Are you really skilled?” Lin Shuanghe asked He Yan.

He Yan chuckled, “It was merely luck.”

“Tonight’s victory banquet, I’ll have to share a few more drinks with Brother He,” Chu Zilan said, “It’s only right given our serendipitous encounter.”

“Thank… Thank you, Fourth Young Master Chu,” He Yan replied, thinking to herself that Chu Zilan was unexpectedly approachable. As the son of Shi Jinbo and a top student of Xu Jingfu, no matter how he was judged, his patience and amiability were commendable. She couldn’t say whether he was good or bad, but his manner of dealing with people was indeed quite impressive.

“Ying Xiang,” Chu Zhao glanced at Song Taotao and smiled, saying, “Give the golden cake roll to this young lady to eat. I don’t need these.”

Song Taotao was pleasantly surprised, “For, for me?”

“Yes,” he said in a warm tone, “If you really like it, you can have the cook make it for you every day.”

“But, Young Master,” Ying Xiang hesitated to speak, “The cook was specially brought for you.”

“I’m not particular about food,” Chu Zhao said, “There’s no need to make these every day.”

“Well…” Song Taotao hesitated for a moment and looked at him, “Thank you, Fourth Young Master Chu.”

“You’re welcome.”

He Yan watched and thought about what Lin Shuanghe had spoken yesterday about the number one of the Great Wei girls. It’s no wonder Chu Zilan eventually became the focus. Growing up like this and being so gentle and considerate, it seemed he would be liked by people of all ages.

Ying Xiang handed the plate containing the golden cake roll to Song Taotao, and Chu Zhao looked at Xiao Jue, “Where is Commander Xiao going?”

“To the martial arts field,” Xiao Jue smiled, “Do you want to go with me, Fourth Young Master Chu?”

“I don’t need to go,” Chu Zhao smiled, “I’ll just go back to my room and read.”

Lin Shuanghe cupped his hands towards Chu Zhao, “Then see you in the evening.” He then looked at He Yan, “What will you do, Brother He?”

“Me?” He Yan didn’t want to stay with Chu Zhao for too long. He was still Xu Jingfu’s student, so she wasn’t sure whether Chu Zhao was a friend or a foe. She said, “The weather is nice today, so I plan to walk around the courtyard while the sun is still up and get some exercise.”

“That’s a good idea,” Lin Shuanghe advised, “Just don’t overexert yourself.”

He Yan nodded.

So, they went their separate ways.

Due to her proximity to Chu Zhao, He Yan didn’t dare to go out easily, even though she really wanted to ask Chu Zhao about Shuojing. But given the atmosphere between Xiao Jue and Chu Zhao, now wasn’t the right time to ask.

She went to the courtyard, tried to walk around without her crutch for a while, and stopped when she felt a bit tired. Later, she returned to her room to sleep and read, and before she knew it, it was already evening.

Cheng Lisu had been knocking on the door for a while, “Big Brother!”

He Yan went to open the door for him.

Cheng Lisu had changed into a brand-new pearl-colored robe, with a group of black-tailed koi fish embroidered at the hem. He was beaming with happiness and grabbed He Yan’s hand, saying, “I was afraid you were still sleeping, so I didn’t dare to come too early. How do you like my new robe?”

He Yan asked, “Can I ask you a question?”

“What is it?”

“Why do you embroider koi fish on every piece of your clothing?”

When they were in Liangzhou City, Cheng Lisu had given her robes with koi fish embroidered on them. He Yan had wanted to ask him for a long time if there was a special meaning behind it.

“You don’t know this,” Cheng Lisu turned around, “My father fell in love with my mother at first sight, but my mother’s family had already chosen another suitor for her. They also thought my father was too young compared to my mother. So, my father bribed the household cook and sent koi fish to the little kitchen where they cooked for her. When the cook was preparing the koi fish, he found a letter inside one of them. The letter moved my mother, and she persuaded my grandmother to accept my father as her husband.”

Cheng Li Su couldn’t remember any poetry or essays from his daily life, but now he could remember them quite well. He spoke confidently, ‘A guest from afar brings me a pair of carp; I ask my child to cook them. Inside, there’s a foot-long scroll of fine writing. I kneel for a long time, reading the scroll. What does it say? Upper lines express deep longing, lower lines request an extra meal’.” He proudly said, “My name comes from this.” 

He Yan was amazed, ‘Is it really that interesting?'”

“Indeed,” Cheng Lisu turned back to show He Yan the koi fish embroidery on his clothing, “Afterward, my clothes and hairpins often feature koi fish designs. After all, koi fish were my parents’ matchmaker, so wearing them is like wearing my parents’ love for me.”

At this moment, He Yan truly admired Cheng Lisu. She said, “Your parents are really wonderful.”

“Of course,” Cheng Lisu said, glancing at He Yan, “Big Brother, there’s a victory banquet tonight. Aren’t you going to change into something else?”

He Yan looked at herself and said, “Is there something wrong with how I’m dressed? Isn’t everyone dressed like this?”

She was still wearing the uniform of the Liangzhou Garrison’ new recruits, and today, she had intentionally chosen to wear a red outfit to celebrate.

“But you’re the hero who defeated Ridamuzi, and dressing like this is too plain.”

“I don’t have any other clothes to wear,” He Yan replied. “This is fine. Let’s go; the instructor is probably waiting for us.”

Cheng Lisu shrugged and didn’t press the matter. He casually held the door open for her, and the two of them walked towards the open field below White Moon Mountain.

Today is a celebration banquet, marking the victory of the new soldiers from Liangzhou Garrison in annihilating the rebel forces of Ridamuzi. Despite the absence of snow tonight, the air is chillier than usual. Bonfires blaze in the wilderness as the new soldiers sit on the ground, enjoying food and drinks. 

Though it’s a feast with food and drinks, it’s much more subdued compared to the recent Mid-Autumn Festival. After all, they’ve just lost comrades, and the trauma of war is still fresh in their minds. The celebration… feels somewhat forced. 

Rewards have already been distributed to the various unit leaders, and Xiao Jue has been generous, distributing all the spoils to the soldiers without keeping any of the rewards sent by the Emperor for himself. Cheng Lisu went to find Xiao Jue when they arrived in the wilderness, while He Yan headed straight for Hong Shan. She hadn’t been to the martial arts training ground in days, and her interactions with them had become much less frequent.

Xiao Mai saw her and called out, “Brother Ah He, you’re here!”

He Yan sat down beside him.

“How are you feeling?” Hong Shan handed her a piece of roasted rabbit meat. “Is your body better now? I see you’re not using the crutch. Can you walk now?”

He Yan took the rabbit meat; it was sizzling with juices, and in the winter, when most wild animals were hibernating and rabbits were difficult to catch, the mere scent was enough to make her mouth water. She took a bite and said as she chewed, “I’m doing okay. In another two months, I’ll be able to fight alongside all of you again.”

“Come on, don’t be modest,” Wang Ba said with disdain. “Every time, you’re the one who takes all the credit. I heard that the rewards from above, just in silver, gave you ten taels. You’re making a fortune!”

“Brother Ah He nearly lost his life. What’s ten taels of silver? He should have received more,” Jiang Jiao chimed in. “I thought Brother He would be promoted this time, but it seems not.”

As they discussed this, He Yan felt a surge of frustration. She had achieved success and had indeed helped the Liangzhou Garrison. At the very least, she shouldn’t still be just a regular soldier. Even if she didn’t get a promotion, she should have been transferred to the Nine Banner Battalion, or if not, at least the Vanguard Camp. But so far, while her rewards were greater than those of ordinary new recruits, there was no sign of a promotion.

Was it really so difficult to advance in the Liangzhou Garrison under Xiao Jue’s command?

“Enough, don’t say more. Brother He will get upset again,” Huang Xiong noticed her unhappiness and advised, “You’ve gained everyone’s respect in the Liangzhou Garrison. Even if it’s not now, you’ll be promoted sooner or later. There’s no need to rush.”

He Yan said with a guilty conscience, “I’m not in a hurry.”

But in the quiet of the night, she couldn’t help tossing and turning in her bed, wishing she could storm into the neighboring room and demand an explanation from Xiao Jue.

Although it was a victory banquet, it lacked the presence of Xiao Jue, and rewards had already been distributed in advance to everyone. Tonight was simply a gathering for the new recruits. The Liangzhou Garrison sat on one side near White Moon Mountain, while the Nanfu soldiers were on the other side near Five Deer River, ensuring there was no mixing of water from different sources.

Shitou poured a bowl of wine for He Yan and said, “Drink up.”

He Yan stared at the wine in the bowl, “I have an injury now; I can’t drink so much.”

“Right, I almost forgot,” Hong Shan took the wine bowl away, “Then don’t drink alcohol; water is fine.”

He Yan agreed, saying, “Okay.”

After sitting for a while, she heard someone call her from behind, “Brother He.”

He Yan turned around and was stunned to see Chu Zhao.

Chu Zhao was accompanied by the incredibly beautiful maid Ying Xiang. Beautiful women like her were a rarity in the Liangzhou Garrison, and for a moment, Hong Shan and the others were all mesmerized. Wang Ba whispered, “This guy is so lucky every time.”

He thought he was speaking quietly, but everyone in the vicinity heard him. Ying Xiang couldn’t help but stifle a laugh, and Chu Zhao smiled, saying, “I promised Brother He earlier that we would have a drink together today.”

Ying Xiang added, “Our young master brought Changan Spring before coming here. He invites Young Master He to join for a drink.”

As soon as this was said, Wang Ba audibly swallowed a mouthful of saliva.

He Yan: “…” She was somewhat in a dilemma. If Xiao Jue found out she was drinking with Chu Zhao, would he think she and Chu Zhao were conspiring together? 

That would be disastrous.

Sensing her hesitation, Chu Zhao smiled gently, “It’s just a drink. If it’s inconvenient for Brother He, then forget it.”

He Yan has always preferred a gentle approach, and seeing this celestial-looking young man extend a polite invitation, with a sense of propriety and respect, she couldn’t help but feel a bit sorry. She’s not a particularly important figure, and for someone like him to come and invite her, even if it’s just for a drink, she takes it as repaying a favor for the silver ingot he returned. 

He Yan replied, “Just a drink, it’s not inconvenient at all.” 

“In that case, please come with me, Young Master He,” Ying Xiang turned and smiled. 

He Yan initially thought that when Chu Zhao mentioned having a drink, it would be in the wilderness where the new soldiers were. Little did she know that she’d be taken to Chu Zhao’s residence. She wondered if Xiao Jue might have played a part in this decision. Chu Zhao’s house wasn’t particularly luxurious, and it might not even be as nice as Cheng Lisu’s. It was slightly better than the common barracks the new soldiers stayed in. However, the courtyard was quite spacious and had a stone bench with a jug of wine and some dried snacks. 

“I’m not sure what Young Master He likes to eat, so I prepared some light dishes,” Ying Xiang said apologetically. “If they don’t suit your taste, please bear with it.”

“Don’t worry; it’s already more than enough,” He Yan was pleasantly surprised. As a new recruit in the Liangzhou Garrison, she had never received such treatment before. However, He Yan was also puzzled. Why was Chu Zhao being so kind to her? A new recruit didn’t warrant this level of politeness. 

Just as she was pondering, Ying Xiang lifted the white jade wine pot on the table and poured wine into two jade cups. She smiled and said, “Young Master Lin mentioned earlier that Brother He has an injury and might not be able to drink. Changan Spring is mild and not too strong; a little sip shouldn’t hurt.”

He Yan smiled and said, “You’re very considerate, Miss Ying Xiang.”

Ying Xiang suppressed a smile, put down the wine pot, and retreated behind Chu Zhao.

“When we met in Shuojing last time, it was too rushed, and we didn’t get to know each other properly,” Chu Zhao smiled and spoke, “Meeting you again in Liangzhou shows that we have a close connection. Let’s toast to it.” He raised his wine cup and made a symbolic clinking gesture towards He Yan.

He Yan understood the situation, raised her wine cup, and thought to herself, last time on Mid-Autumn night, she got drunk and fought with Xiao Jue, even breaking his zither. She mustn’t repeat that mistake tonight. However, this wine wasn’t strong liquor; it wouldn’t have the same intoxicating effect as last time, and she was only taking a small sip, so she thought she would be fine. 

She tilted her head back, and the wine in the cup went down her throat. 

He Yan froze. 

Chu Zhao also froze. 

After a while, Chu Zhao chuckled and said, “Brother He is indeed straightforward.” 

He Yan: “…” 

Taking a big gulp of wine had become a habit, and she intended to take small sips, but her hand acted instinctively. When she came to her senses, she regretted it deeply, almost wanting to scold herself: “Why can’t I control my hand?” 

However… He Yan praised, “This wine is so fragrant!” 

Ying Xiang laughed, “Changan Spring isn’t something you can drink every day. In the Chu residence, this is the only remaining jug for this year, and it’s right here.”

“It’s that rare?” He Yan was shocked and pushed the cup back, hesitating to drink more.

“Although the wine is precious, it can’t compare to Brother He,” Chu Zhao smiled and reached for the wine pot, refilling He Yan’s empty cup. “When Changan Spring is gone, you can always buy more, but when you lose like-minded friends, they’re not easy to find.”

He Yan, “…”

She continued, “Do you know, Brother Chu, that you’re ranked first as the dream person of Great Wei women?”

Chu Zhao was momentarily stunned.

“Now I think maybe it should also include men.” He was so gentle and accommodating with men; anyone who spent time with him was in danger.

The courtyard fell into silence.

After a while, Chu Zhao smiled warmly and shook his head. “Brother He, you’re quite amusing.”

“I’m speaking the truth,” He Yan said earnestly.

“Brother He, you’re too kind,” he waved his hand. “I can’t accept the title of number one.”

Changan Spring had a refreshing fragrance and, while not as robust as Eighteen Immortals, it had a decent kick. He Yan felt a little lightheaded. The man in front of her had a gentle and clear smile. She raised her cup to him and said, “Brother Chu, you deserve it. I toast to you!”

And she drained the cup.

On the other side, Lin Shuanghe was searching for He Yan.

“Have you seen He Yan?” he asked.

The grilled meat on this side was almost gone, and Xiao Mai had sneaked two pieces from the fire pit nearby. Hearing the question, he turned around and said, “Are you looking for Brother Ah He? Brother Ah He was just taken away by Fourth Young Master Chu from the capital.”

“Chu Zhao?” Lin Shuanghe was puzzled. “Why did he take Brother He away?”

“He invited Brother He to drink,” Xiao Mai scratched his head. “He said they were going to taste Changan Spring.”

Upon receiving this information, Lin Shuanghe hurriedly rushed back. He arrived at Xiao Jue’s residence, and the door was open, so he pushed it open without hesitation. 

Xiao Jue was sitting at a table, cleaning his sword. 

Drinking Autumn was not an ordinary sword; it needed daily cleaning and polishing to maintain its crystal-clear appearance. Lin Shuanghe asked, “Do you know where He Yan has gone?” 

Xiao Jue didn’t bother responding. 

“She was taken out for a drink by Chu Zhao!” 

Xiao Jue raised his gaze slightly, “So what?” 

“Aren’t you worried, big brother?” Lin Shuanghe slapped his fan on the table. “That’s Chu Zhao we’re talking about!” 

“Move aside,” Xiao Jue said impatiently, “You’re blocking the light.” 

Lin Shuanghe stepped aside and continued, “Xiao Jue, Chu Zhao is one of Xu Jingfu’s people. If he intends to recruit He Yan into their camp, what will you do? I’ve heard that He Yan is one of the top talents in Liangzhou Garrison. Having someone like that fall into Xu Jingfu’s hands would be very troublesome!”

Seeing that Xiao Jue remained unfazed, Lin Shuanghe continued from another angle. “On a personal level, how could you let your girl go to drink with another man?”

Xiao Jue paused in his actions, raised his head, and gave Lin Shuanghe a cold look. “Who told you she’s mine?”

“Don’t play around,” Lin Shuanghe made it clear that he didn’t believe it. “She’s not your person? You let her stay in the room next to yours, with just a door between, and even let her pick the lock. How did I not notice this before? Do you find it amusing?”

Xiao Jue said, “…If you’re not busy, just get out. Don’t come and bother me.”

“Xiao Huaijin, if you’re so fierce, you won’t be able to compete with Chu Zilan.”

As he said this, noises like scurrying rats came from the center of the door. Both of them raised their eyes and saw that a silver wire had emerged from the door’s “一” shaped lock, which skillfully manipulated the lock cylinder, and with a click, the lock fell to the ground, and the door opened.

With a “click,” the lock fell to the ground, and the door swung open.

 Lin Shuanghe clapped his hands, “Impressive skill!” He then glanced at Xiao Jue and added, “And you said she’s not your person!” 

Xiao Jue remained silent for a moment and then stood up. 

He Yan walked in from the doorway. 

She moved slowly, with a deliberate and steady gait. Upon seeing Lin Shuanghe, she even gave him a courteous nod and said, “Brother Lin.” 

Lin Shuanghe responded, “…Why not call me Doctor Lin now?” 

However, He Yan seemed as though she hadn’t noticed him at all and walked directly to Xiao Jue. 

Xiao Jue’s gaze fell on He Yan. 

The youth was dressed in the standard crimson attire of the Liangzhou Garrison new recruits, standing with perfect posture and immaculate hair. She respectfully bowed to him. 

Now, Lin Shuanghe and Xiao Jue were both stunned. 

The window was left open, allowing a breeze to enter, causing the scrolls on the table to gently flutter. It carried a hint of coolness and a faint, elusive scent of alcohol, not quite tangible. It had a sweet and refreshing aroma, reminiscent of a spring day in Changan, with all its grace and beauty. 

Even more enchanting was the look in her eyes. 

Xiao Jue’s heart shuddered, feeling a sense of déjà vu. He vaguely remembered that on Mid-Autumn night, someone had also looked at him with eyes like these.

“Have you been drinking?” He spoke while instinctively pushing the guqin inside.

It was impossible to tell if she was drunk from her facial expression alone. But her actions were truly baffling.

Lin Shuanghe sipped his tea with a bemused smile, intending to watch the show.

He Yan lifted her head, revealing a broad smile to Xiao Jue.

“I’ve memorized ‘The Way of Great Learning,’ Father.”

Lin Shuanghe sprayed his tea out in surprise.

— Side Note —-

Congratulations to the Commander for becoming a father.

Yan Yan: Obedient.jpg

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