Rebirth of a Star General Chapter 123

Chapter 123: Happy News*

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* refer to wedding news

In Liangzhou Garrison, this winter is extremely cold. For half of the month, it has been snowing heavily, and even on days without snow, the sun rarely makes an appearance.

Firewood and charcoal are in short supply. Fortunately, the new county magistrate in Liangzhou was proactive and sent some charcoal from the county office’s storage to the Garrison, which can be seen as building a good relationship with the Right Army Commander. This new county magistrate is quite young, with no family support, yet he appears sophisticated and considerate in his actions.

Lin Shuanghe was very pleased with this new county magistrate.

Time has passed, and it’s already been two months. The year is coming to an end, and soon it will be the New Year. With the arrival of the New Year, it will mark a new beginning for the recruits of Liangzhou Garrison, who will finally leave behind the title of “new recruits.”

Inside the room, Xiao Jue was having a conversation with Chiwu and Fei Nu.

“We’ve received another letter from the fief, a letter every month, and this is the second one,” says Chiwu as he retrieves the letter from his pocket and hands it to Xiao Jue.

The news of Lei Hou’s capture and imprisonment in the dungeon was known only to the instructors, Chiwu, and a few others. The new recruits in Liangzhou Garrison were unaware of it. They believed Lei Hou had deserted, and Xiao Jue ordered Lei Hou to continue communicating with the contact person hidden in Jiyang, falsely claiming that he had escaped from Liangzhou Garrison and was evading pursuers. He inquired about what to do next. 

The contact person in Jiyang was cunning and did not directly instruct Lei Hou in the letter. They only mentioned that Lei Hou should hide and that their master would send someone to pick him up. 

Xiao Jue read the letter meticulously and then handed it to Fei Nu. After Fei Nu and Chiwu had read it, they both wore grim expressions. 

The contact person stated in the letter that since Ridamuzi had been exposed, the Liangzhou Garrison’s move had been rendered useless. They advised Lei Hou to find a way to conceal himself, wait for the situation to calm down, and someone from Shuojing would come to pick him up. After this letter, they wouldn’t continue the correspondence. In these turbulent times, if this were to raise any suspicions and jeopardize their grand plan, they, as insignificant individuals, couldn’t bear the consequences. 

“What should we do?” Chiwu asked. “Does this person mean that they won’t send any more messages in the future?” Xiao Jue replied, “Lei Hou is already a liability.” 

“But Jiyang…” Fei Nu hesitated, “Is the Commander planning to go to Jiyang?” 

“Even if there’s no messenger, just based on Chai Anxi being in Jiyang, I still need to make a trip,” Xiao Jue said as he placed the letter on the burning candle on the table. The flames licked at the paper, and in moments, it turned to ashes. 

Chai Anxi was a former aide of Xiao Zhongwu. 

During the Battle of Mingshui, Xiao Zhongwu and several tens of thousands of soldiers were killed, including his aides. Chai Anxi was declared dead without a corpse to be found. Though it was believed he had likely perished, Xiao Jue had been discreetly investigating Chai Anxi’s whereabouts for several years. Time had finally favored the determined, as Chai Anxi was confirmed to be alive and had even taken on a new identity in Jiyang.

Jiyang falls under the jurisdiction of Mengji Wang’s fief. People from outside the territory can enter the city with official permits. Even with permits, outsiders cannot reside there. Chai Anxi has been living there for years, which explains why he had remained hidden from prying eyes.

“But how can we get to Jiyang?” Fei Nu asked. “If we request a travel permit from the authorities, Xu Jingfu’s men can easily find out, and our every move would be controlled by them.” 

Xiao Jue turned around and contemplated for a moment. “We’ll use a different method.” 

Chiwu asked, “What method?” 

“Find someone who has a travel permit to Jiyang and assume their identity.” 

“That….” Fei Nu was hesitant. When Mengji Wang was alive, they had strict controls on the routes in and out, and even with a travel permit, there were detailed records and portraits. Moreover, because entering the fief of a Wang was such a hassle, most people’s approach was simply: if you could avoid going, you would. Few people obtained travel permits to Jiyang throughout the year. 

The low number of people, strict regulations, and convincing someone to take the risk of being caught and losing access to the fief after switching identities with Xiao Jue made it a difficult task. 

“We’ll leave this task to Luan Ying,” Xiao Jue instructed Chiwu. “Write a letter immediately and instruct Luan Ying to prepare as soon as possible.” 

Chiwu: “….yes.”

Just then, someone pushed the door open, and it was Lin Shuanghe. Chiwu gave him a nod as he greeted, “Young Master Lin.”

Fei Nu discreetly stepped out of the room. 

“Huaijin, what have you been busy with these days?” Lin Shuanghe shook his fan and said, “It’s almost winter, nearly turning into spring. How many times have I met with you?” 

“Feeling bored?” Xiao Jue asked. “When Cheng Lisu departs for the capital, you can go with him.” 

“Never mind, now that I’m here, why bother going back,” Lin Shuanghe replied. “When are they planning to set off?”

“In two days.”

In the wake of the incident with Ridamuzi, Liangzhou Garrison had become unsafe, and Xiao Jue was concerned about potential changes in the future. He had already arranged for Cheng Lisu and Song Taotao to return to Shuojing in a few days.

The two children were naturally reluctant, causing quite a commotion. However, when Xiao Jue intervened, there was no resisting his arrangements.

“I won’t mention Cheng Lisu, but can you believe that Song Taotao is willing to leave He Yan?” Lin Shuanghe was incredulous. “She was practically glued to He Yan. Yet, she’s obediently going back?”

“Why don’t you ask her?” Xiao Jue sat down in his chair and poured himself a cup of tea, sipping it lazily. 

He’s had a busy period and this is one of the rare moments he can rest. 

Lin Shuanghe was seated on his couch, looking at him. “I don’t mind if you ignore me, but we’ve known each other for so many years. I won’t hold it against you, but you’re not paying any attention to my Little Sister He. While military matters are important, so is my Little Sister He. Don’t blame your brother for not warning you. If you keep this up, one day, when Little Sister He is taken away by Chu Zilan, you won’t have a place to cry.” 

Xiao Jue raised an eyebrow, his impatience showing, “How is she related to me and what does that have to do with Chu Zilan?” 

Lin Shuanghe rested his chin on the handle of his fan and spoke leisurely, “I’m not sure if it’s a coincidence or what, but for the past month, I’ve seen Little Sister He talking to Chu Zilan.” 

“She’s a girl, and she’s injured. She can’t participate in the daily training and sitting around gets boring. I don’t know what Chu Zilan is doing in Liangzhou, it’s been two months and he hasn’t mentioned when he’s leaving. They’re both bored, so they’ve become familiar.”

“Previously, He Yan called him ‘Fourth Young Master Chu’. A couple of days ago, I heard her call him ‘Brother Chu’. If it continues like this, aren’t you worried?” 

Xiao Jue, puzzled, asked, “Worried about what?” 

“Have you considered that if Little Sister He is abducted by Chu Zilan and used by him, the Liangzhou Garrison will lose a once-in-a-lifetime genius in strategy and military tactics? By allowing this to happen, you’re giving away one of your most valuable assets.” 

Xiao Jue scoffed, “Do you think the Liangzhou Garrison has no one else?” 

“Regardless, I’ve never seen a girl like her before,” Lin Shuanghe says, “Chu Zilan is adept at winning a girl’s heart. You might be more talented and capable than him, but he’s gentle and affectionate. An attractive young man who comes from a wealthy family and is there to keep her company, which girl wouldn’t like that?” 

“Like?” Xiao Jue narrowed his beautiful eyes and added a mocking tone, “She’s just a sixteen-year-old girl, what does she know about ‘liking’?” 

“So what if she’s sixteen?” Lin Shuanghe retorted, “In Shuojing City, how many sixteen-year-old girls are already married?!”

“So what?” Xiao Jue lifted his tea and took a sip, then said, “At the age of sixteen, apart from her father and brothers, she’ve met few men. She haven’t met many, so how would she know what it means to like someone? Just because I’ve seen a peony flower doesn’t mean I like peonies. It’s not the same as seeing various flowers and then deciding you like peonies.” 

“There’s a difference between choosing to like someone and having no choice but to like someone.” 

“If you put it that way, it’s not meaningful,” Lin Shuanghe rolled his eyes. “Most people are ordinary. They follow the rules of ordinary people. At sixteen, they get engaged, and they go on to live a life that may or may not be happy.” 

“There are more who are unhappy,” Xiao Jue said. “People don’t have a choice, but I can choose.” 

Lin Shuanghe had nothing more to say and commented, “Alright, alright, you can choose. But based on what you’re saying, the only girl you can find who appreciates all the flowers is Little Sister He.” 

“Little Sister He is in Liangzhou Garrison. She’s not just appreciating all the flowers; in Liangzhou Garrison, there are tens of thousands of young men, and they’ve seen countless flowers too. If she falls for you after seeing all those flowers, that’s great. But if she falls for Chu Zilan…” Lin Shuanghe teased, “Wouldn’t that be a blow to your ego?” 

“You’re overthinking,” Xiao Jue sneered. “Who she likes has nothing to do with me. However, Chu Zilan is the son-in-law chosen by Xu Jingfu.” 

“She could very well like Chu Zilan,” Xiao Jue’s lips curled. “As long as she’s not afraid of death.” 

Lin Shuanghe was taken aback. “That’s right. I almost forgot. Chu Zilan belongs to Xu Pingting.” 


While Lin Shuanghe and Xiao Jue discussed Chu Zilan, He Yan had just arrived at Chu Zilan’s door. 

Ying Xiang greeted her with a smiling face, saying, “Young Master He has come.” She then looked behind He Yan and added with a playful tone, “Today, Miss Song didn’t follow you, which is fortunate.” 

Song Taotao kept a close watch on He Yan. Whenever He Yan went to see Chu Zhao, Song Taotao would become alert and follow her. After all, Ying Xiang was both beautiful and charming, and she had a lively and captivating personality. Compared to Shen Muxue’s icy aloofness, she was more attractive to men.

“She’s packing her things,” He Yan smiled. “They’ll be leaving Liangzhou Garrison in a few days. It’s not feasible for her to follow me every day.”

On hearing the news of their departure, Song Taotao initially cried, created a scene, and even threatened to commit suicide, declaring she would never leave. She and Cheng Lisu reached an unprecedented level of agreement, nearly causing the roof of Liangzhou Garrison to collapse. But it was Xiao Jue who personally intervened and settled the two children down, convincing them to follow his arrangements.

However, once Song Taotao consented, she also tried to get He Yan to leave.

“Second Young Master Xiao offered you what conditions, my Song family promises you three times that. You don’t have to stay in Liangzhou Garrison,” the young girl looked at her with disdain and said, “Liangzhou Garrison is a place of bitter cold, and one small mistake can cost you your life. I heard from Cheng Lisu that you want to achieve success and fame, why take such a path? Risking your life here and not even gaining half a rank, it’s too pitiful!” 

He Yan thought, “Yes, it’s too pitiful.” 

“My Song family is different,” Song Taotao said with a serious tone, “While my father in the capital may not be all-powerful, he can still support you. You will have a better future with my Song family than in Liangzhou. As for the matter of your military status, you don’t need to worry. As long as I inform my father, he will find a way to set you free.” 

He Yan replied, “…No, no. I’m doing well in Liangzhou as it is.” 

Song Taotao’s gaze was sharp, “You’re not hesitating because of that serving girl named Ying Xiang, are you?” 

The young girl was not that old and was quite perceptive. He Yan laughed and said, “It’s not like that. It’s because of my special status in Liangzhou Garrison. If Miss Song wants me, you can go directly to Commander Xiao. If Commander Xiao agrees to release me, I will naturally follow Miss Song back to the capital.” 

Would Xiao Jue easily release her? Of course not. Liangzhou Garrison was not a backup military unit for sons-in-law of the capital. Once they set this precedent, what would the other new recruits in Liangzhou Garrison think? They would prefer to please the young lady of a wealthy family than toiling and risking their lives. If things continued this way, Liangzhou Garrison wouldn’t even need enemy attacks. When the soldiers’ morale plummeted, they would be gone in two years.

Xiao Jue wouldn’t let that happen. 

Bringing up Xiao Jue had quite an impact on the young girl. Song Taotao immediately stopped talking about taking He Yan back to the capital. 

She went into the room, and Chu Zhao was feeding the birds. 

He Yan thought that Chu Zilan was an interesting person. He either tended to his flowers, wrote, or fed the birds all day long. He lived a life that seemed like that of a 60 or 70-year-old person in the capital. But after staying in Liangzhou Garrison for just two months, living a leisurely life in the capital seemed even better. Why endure hardship here, when even the ration of charcoal was scarce? 

Nevertheless, He Yan was still willing to visit Chu Zilan’s room frequently. The reason was simple—Chu Zhao was an extremely patient person. Besides, He Yan couldn’t participate in the daily martial training at the arena. Listening to Chu Zhao talk about the “interesting things” in the capital was not bad. In her previous life, she had been fighting on the front lines, and by the time she returned to Shuojing, He Rufei had replaced her. She wasn’t very knowledgeable about the matters in the official circles of Shuojing, and she didn’t know her colleagues either. It had been fine before, but after working on a few things with Xiao Jue, He Yan knew that she needed to understand the overall power dynamics. 

At the very least, she needed to understand the general situation of the Crown Prince’s faction, Xu Xiang’s party, and Xiao Jue’s faction. 

He Yan learned a lot from Chu Zilan, and to reciprocate, she couldn’t show too much hostility towards Chu Zhao. Besides, Chu Zhao had never really been against her from the start. 

Today, Chu Zhao had sent Ying Xiang to find He Yan for a discussion. 

“Brother Chu,” she said.

Chu Zilan placed the last bit of bird feed into the bowl, and the birds flapped their wings with a crisp chirp. In such cold weather, it wasn’t suitable to keep birds, and Chu Zilan had moved all the coal near the birdcage.

He was equally considerate with his birds.

“You’re here,” Chu Zilan said, walking over to wash his hands by the water basin.

“Brother Chu, did you ask Ying Xiang to find me today? Is there something important?” He Yan inquired. Normally, it was He Yan who initiated conversations with Chu Zilan, so if Chu Zilan was taking the initiative, it was likely due to some serious matter.

“It’s nothing, really,” Chu Zilan smiled and invited He Yan to sit down. “I might be returning to the capital in a few days. When I leave, I plan to bid farewell to Brother He.”

He Yan was taken aback. “You’re leaving?”

Certainly,” Chu Zhao smiled. “I’ve been in Liangzhou for two months now, and the journey back is quite long. By the time we return, it will already be spring.” He continued, “During these two months in Liangzhou, I’ve been well taken care of, thanks to Brother He. It has been quite enjoyable, and I appreciate your kindness.” 

He Yan quickly responded, “Not at all, it’s not me taking care of you, it’s more like you taking care of me.” 

“My people will probably arrive in the next few days,” Chu Zhao smiled. “I thought that there hasn’t been any snow in these past few days. How about we set up a farewell pavilion feast on White Moon Mountain and have a parting drink, Brother He?” 

“Our commander doesn’t allow us to go up the mountain privately,” He Yan hesitated, “And, as you know, my tolerance for alcohol is not great. If I get drunk, I might cause some trouble.” 

Chu Zhao, upon hearing this, shook his head and smiled, “No worries. We won’t go up the mountain. There’s a cool pavilion at the foot of White Moon Mountain, overlooking the Five Deer River, offering a great view of the moon. It’s right at the mountain’s base. As for alcohol, even if you wanted to drink, I don’t have any. We can use tea instead. It’s the thought that counts.” 

Since they had come to this point, He Yan couldn’t really refuse, so she agreed readily, “Of course, that sounds good. If you’re leaving, I should accompany you. When is this pavilion feast you mentioned? I’ll prepare for it.” 

“Tonight will do,” Chu Zhao smiled. “It will save us from any snow at night, and tomorrow, there won’t be a good view of the moon.” 

He Yan responded, “Tonight it is! Tonight, I must have a thorough conversation with Brother Chu!” 

She thought, Chu Zhao was about to leave, and who else could explain the complex relationships among the esteemed people of the capital to her in the future? It was better to take this opportunity to have as many conversations as possible tonight, to avoid missing such an opportunity in the future. 

Chu Zhao smiled, “You’re very enthusiastic, Brother He.”

“By the way,” He Yan suddenly remembered, “Why are you leaving so suddenly? Didn’t you say you’d stay until the weather got warmer in the spring? Starting your journey now might be quite cold.”

“I have no choice,” Chu Zilan replied with some resignation. “It’s because my colleague, the Hanlin scholar, Lord Xu, is getting married. I need to rush back to the capital for his wedding.”

As He Yan held the warm teacup in her hand, she was suddenly taken aback. She felt a coldness creep into her palm, and her heart began to sink. She almost couldn’t control her facial expression.

Stiffening her smile, she inquired, “Lord Xu? Which Lord Xu?”

“His name is Xu Zhiheng, the eldest son of the Crown Prince’s grand tutor,” Chu Zilan explained. “Haven’t I mentioned him to you? He’s very accomplished, well-versed in literature and talented. He’s quite remarkable.”

The steaming tea turned to ice in an instant.

He Yan’s fingers curled slightly, and she asked in a restrained tone, “Xu Zhiheng…”

He Yan couldn’t recall how she made her way back to her room. She couldn’t remember what Chu Zilan had said afterward. She just tried her best not to reveal any emotions, fearing that someone might notice her vulnerability.

When she returned to her room, she could hardly keep her balance. She sat down on the bed, holding onto the edge to steady herself.

The words Chu Zilan had said earlier echoed in her mind.

“Lord Xu was previously married and had a wife. His uncle-in-law is the current Flying Phoenix General, He Rufei. His cousin, the young lady of the He family, married him half a year ago and lost her sight due to illness. However, Lord Xu didn’t hold it against his wife. He searched for famous doctors and was very considerate.”

He Yan asked, “Considerate… very considerate?”

“Yes, Madam Xu hoped that Lord Xu would take a concubine or find another wife, but he firmly refused. Unfortunately, Madam Xu had a stroke of bad luck. About a year ago, when she was alone in the mansion, a servant didn’t notice, and she accidentally fell into a pond and drowned.”

“Madam Xu passed away about a year ago, and Lord Xu originally informed his relatives that he wouldn’t marry again. However, given his young age, the Xu family couldn’t let him remain a widower for life. He’s quite affectionate, and even Madam Xu’s maternal family couldn’t bear to see him alone. They selected another young lady from the He family for him, from the second madam who is three years younger than Madam Xu was, and she’s just seventeen this year.”

From the He family’s second wife, just seventeen years old… He Yan closed her eyes briefly, realizing that this must be her younger sister.

The He family had already made plans. He Yan had to die, but her death would dissolve the marriage alliance between the He and Xu families, something neither side wanted. So instead of losing the alliance, they decided to replace one woman with another, using He Yan’s death to welcome a new Madam Xu.

She touched her head, feeling as if it might explode.

Suddenly, a voice rang out, “Big brother? What’s wrong with you?”

He Yan looked up and saw that it was Cheng Lisu.

She asked, “How did you get here?”

The young boy replied, “I knocked on the door outside for quite some time, but no one answered. I thought you weren’t here, I brought some snacks for you. Big brother, you don’t look well. Is your wound hurting? Should I call Uncle Lin for you?”

He Yan waved him off and forced a smile, saying, “No need. I just didn’t sleep well last night, and I’m a bit drowsy.”

Cheng Lisu had a big heart and didn’t doubt her, nodding and saying, “Alright.” Then he remembered something and said, “Big brother, you’ve seemed quite busy these days. I’ll be returning to Shuojing in a short while, and I’m not sure when we’ll meet again. I’ve been learning stick puppetry from Instructor Ma for the past few days. How about I perform for you tonight?”

He Yan’s mind was still occupied by what Chu Zilan had said, and she had no interest in what Cheng Lisu was saying. Moreover, she remembered the arrangement with Chu Zilan and replied, “Not tonight. I already made plans with Fourth Brother Chu to go to the White Moon Mountain tonight to watch the moon.”

“What are two grown men doing watching the moon?” Cheng Lisu said in discontent. “Besides, what’s so special about the moon? It’s not something you can see every day. Is it really that interesting?”

As he complained, Cheng Lisu’s words pulled He Yan’s thoughts back a little. She tried to explain patiently, “It’s not just about watching the moon; it’s because Fourth Brother Chu is leaving soon. We’re having a drink together before his departure.”

“It’s a good thing that you have a good relationship with Fourth Young Master Chu, but don’t forget about me,” Cheng Lisu, unaware of the hidden dynamics between Xiao Jue and Chu Zhao, saw Chu Zhao as someone from Shuojing who happened to have Emperor’s favor and a decent personality. He said, “After all, I’ve known you much longer than he has, both in terms of sentiment and reason, you should be more familiar with me. Big brother, you can’t leave me behind!” 

This kid, getting jealous over something like this. He Yan could only console him, “I understand. I’ll accompany him for a drink today, and tomorrow I’ll watch your puppet show, how about that?” 

Cheng Lisu was satisfied with this, and he grinned, “That sounds about right!”

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