Rebirth of a Star General Chapter 124

Chapter 124: Gentle

<Previous Chapter<Table of Contents>Next Chapter>

After having lunch, the soldiers began to look for warm places to take a short rest.

Xiao Jue was at the training grounds talking to the deputy general, giving orders for the training schedule for the next month. Lin Shuanghe walked over, gesturing from a distance with his fan for him to step aside and speak.

After Xiao Jue finished discussing the matter, he walked towards Lin Shuanghe, grumbling as he went, “Weren’t you supposed to be helping out at the medical clinic?”

Lin Shuanghe had a habit of being idle all day long and with the recent cold weather, Shen Muxue was making medicinal soup to ward off the cold and warm the stomach. They were distributing it to the soldiers. Due to the shortage of manpower, Lin Shuanghe had volunteered to help, but he had only done it for two days and then refused to continue, claiming that the soldiers in Liangzhou Garrison didn’t bathe, were untidy, and had a strange odor.

“I was indeed planning to go, but I ran into someone on the way. Some visitors have arrived at Liangzhou Garrison,” he said.

Xiao Jue asked, “Who are they?”

A mischievous smile played on Lin Shuanghe’s face as he replied, “It’s Xu Pingting’s… personal maid.”

Inside the room, a young maid stood at the door with a bright smile, instructing the servants to open the boxes one by one. She said, “These are all personally selected by the Miss to be given as gifts to Fourth Young Master.”

Xu Jingfu, the current Prime Minister, wielded immense power, and half of the officials in the court had been his students. Having lived for most of his life, he had an excellent reputation, and the Emperor trusted him. If there was anything to regret, it was the fact that he didn’t have a son. Later in life, he sought the help of a renowned doctor to treat his wife, and in his fifties, his wife finally gave birth to a daughter, Xu Pingting.

Having obtained this precious daughter only in his later years, the Xu family doted on Xu Pingting. Even a princess couldn’t compare to her. She was now seventeen years old, a beautiful young lady with countless charms. However, she had an extremely strong-willed and domineering personality that made it hard for anyone to resist.

Chu Zhao, Xu Jingfu’s most cherished student, often visited the Xu residence for dinner. As a result, he became well-acquainted with Xu Pingting.

“Little Sister Motai has traveled far and wide,” Ying Xiang smiled as she handed over a cup of tea. She said, “Have some tea to warm up.”

Motai gave a sidelong glance to Ying Xiang and replied with a sardonic smile, “Never mind, I can’t get used to the coarse tea of Liangzhou Garrison.”

Ying Xiang wasn’t offended and maintained her smile as she took the tea away. Motai watched Ying Xiang’s receding figure, a trace of contempt flickering in her eyes. She cursed the seductress silently.

This kind of seductress followed Chu Zhao around daily, and who knows if she would use her seductive techniques on her master in secret. Although Xu Pingting was young and beautiful, she couldn’t compete with this despicable woman when it came to vying for affection. Xu Pingting had considered driving Ying Xiang away from Chu Zhao, but unfortunately, Chu Zhao had firmly refused. In the end, it was Xu Jingfu himself who had stepped in to resolve the matter.

Wasn’t she just a servant? Was there any need to protect her like this? Motai was filled with dissatisfaction but couldn’t vent it to Chu Zhao.

She glanced around Chu Zhao’s room for a moment before shaking her head and saying, “The Fourth Young Master’s living conditions here are indeed too austere. I’ve only been here for a short while, and my hands and feet are already freezing. There’s not even a charcoal fire here. It seems that the Fourth Young Master has endured quite a bit in these past two months.”

“It’s alright,” Chu Zhao replied in a gentle tone. “All the new recruits here are the same.”

“How can they even compare to you?” Motai replied, “You mustn’t equate yourself with those lowly people.”

A cold gleam flashed in Chu Zhao’s eyes, but he lifted his head, once again displaying a gentle demeanor. He asked, “Miss Motai, do you have something specific to discuss coming here?”

“Nothing much,” Motai smiled, “It’s just that Miss hasn’t seen Fourth Young Master for a long time and misses him. I heard that Liangzhou is extremely cold in winter, so I had the caravan bring some warm clothing for Fourth Young Master.”

She bent down, took out a fur coat from the box, and walked over to Chu Zhao, saying, “This was personally collected by Miss from the merchants. It’s very warm. Would Fourth Young Master like to try it on?”

The fur coat was smooth, soft, and lightweight, clearly of considerable value.

Chu Zhao stood up and put on the fur coat, thanking her with a smile. “It’s very warm. Please convey my thanks to Miss.”

Motai smiled and said, “I can’t do that for you. If you want to thank her, you should do it personally when you meet with Miss.” She seemed to remember something and asked Chu Zhao, “When do you plan to return to the capital?”

“In two days.”

“This maid feels that Liangzhou is truly not a place for people to stay. If Miss were here, she would definitely be heartbroken for you. Why not set out tomorrow? The sooner we leave, the sooner we’ll return to the capital, and you’ll be able to see Miss sooner,” she suggested. “Before I leave, Lord Xu and Miss mentioned you.”

Although she phrased it as a suggestion, her tone made it sound like an established decision, leaving no room for Chu Zhao to disagree.

Chu Zhao paused for a moment, then looked up and said with a smile, “Alright, we’ll set out tomorrow. I miss teacher too.”

“That’s great,” a radiant smile appeared on Motai’s face, and she urged the servants to unpack the items from the boxes.

“All these items in the box are for keeping warm. Let me take them out for you, and when everything is prepared, I’ll help you pack the luggage for tomorrow’s journey,” she said. “I hope Fourth Young Master won’t blame me for being meddlesome.”

“How could I?” Chu Zhao replied with a smile. “I’m just grateful.”

Ying Xiang stood behind the curtain, watching Motai’s imperious gestures in the room. Her gaze lowered, and after a brief moment of silence, she quietly left.

On this winter evening, it had turned dark early, and the room was lit with lamps.

Lin Shuanghe laid on a couch, spitting out watermelon seeds. He said, “What’s going on with Xu Pingting’s maid? From morning till night, she hasn’t allowed Chu Zhao to leave? Anyone would think she’s Miss Xu herself. The way she flaunts her possessions is a bit too obvious, isn’t it? I’m starting to feel sorry for Chu Zilan.”

Xiao Jue was sitting at a table, reading military reports. He chuckled and said, “If you feel sorry for him, you can go and rescue him.”

“Let’s forget about it,” Lin Shuanghe sat up and rested his head on his hands. “Whose fault is it anyway? It’s Chu Zilan’s fault for being good-looking and gentle. A man like him, who would be the object of everyone’s affection in the capital, was eager to please Xu Jingfu due to his connections. When Miss Xu took notice of him, it was something expected.”

Xiao Jue chuckled, “If he can become a son-in-law of the Xu family, that’s his own skill.” 

“True,” Lin Shuanghe agreed with Xiao Jue’s words, “He was originally mistreated and marginalized in Shi Jinbo’s residence. If it weren’t for his connection with Xu Jingfu, how could he have been registered under the name of the legal wife? If he really marries the Xu family’s eldest daughter…” Lin Shuanghe continued, “The Shi Jinbo’s residence would be under the control of Chu Zilan in the future!” 

People often say that women seek to attach themselves to power and find comfort in the shade of a great tree, but who’s to say that men are any different? When presented with real benefits, all choices are made to have a better life. Whether it’s about liking, willingness, or sincerity, it doesn’t really matter. 

It’s hard to tell whether the tragedy lies with Xu Pingting or Chu Zilan. 

“I think that maid’s care is just a pretense; she’s really monitoring him,” Lin Shuanghe shrugged. “Chu Zilan won’t get any sleep tonight.” 

“Chu Zilan?” Cheng Lisu’s head popped in through the window. “What happened to him? Wasn’t he going to watch the moon with my big brother tonight?” 

“What’s this about watching the moon?” Lin Shuanghe inquired. 

“They were going to White Moon Mountain to watch the moon. I wanted to show my big brother the new puppet show I’ve learned, but he said he was going to watch the moon with Fourth Young Master Chu tonight, so I had to postpone it to tomorrow,” Cheng Lisu explained, looking at Lin Shuanghe and then at Xiao Jue. “Uncle, what did you mean by what you said earlier?”

Xiao Jue pushed his head back outside, closed the window, and said, “Go back to bed.”

Cheng Lisu tried to force the window open from the outside but failed. After a while, he had to leave.

After he left, Lin Shuanghe stroked his chin and asked, “Did my little sister make plans to see the moon with Chu Zilan tonight? Are they progressing this quickly?”

Xiao Jue continued to read his military reports, ignoring him.

“No, I have to check on this,” Lin Shuanghe said as he walked to the middle door between the two rooms. He knocked on the door and said, “Brother He? Brother He! Are you there? Say something if you are.”

He pressed his ear to the door, but it was quiet inside, with no response.

Lin Shuanghe knocked a few more times, but there was still no answer. He took a couple of steps back and mumbled to himself, “Maybe my sister doesn’t know that Xu Pingting’s people have arrived, and she’s gone to see the moon on her own?”

“Huaijin!” he shouted.

Xiao Jue was startled by his sudden shout, and his ears hurt. Annoyed, he said, “What do you want?”

“My Little Sister He might have gone to see the moon on her own,” Lin Shuanghe walked over to him. “You should go and check.”

“I’m not going,” Xiao Jue said indifferently. “If you want to go, then go.”

“I want to go, but White Moon Mountain is so big, and I don’t know the way. What if there are bad people on the mountain like what happened with Ridamuzi? You have martial skills to defend yourself, but if I go, I can only lie down and let them kill me. If someone dies, will you regret it later?”

Xiao Jue replied, “I won’t regret it.”

“Why are you like this?” Lin Shuanghe asked straightforwardly. He climbed onto Xiao Jue’s table, blocking the military reports, and tried to persuade him. “Look at my little sister; she’s so pitiable. Chu Zhao doesn’t know she’s a woman, and he’s gentle with everyone. But my sister has never met anyone so gentle before, and she’s sensitive as a young girl, so she’s easily touched. However, she can’t reveal her identity, so she has to keep this love hidden in her heart. Her heart’s desire made an appointment to see the moon, and she was undoubtedly overjoyed. But who knows that her heart’s desire has long been claimed by someone else as their son-in-law? Now she’s alone on the mountain, feeling cold and sad. Can’t you go and take a look at her? Comfort her?”

Xiao Jue found his thoughts peculiar, “She likes Chu Zilan, faced with rejection, and I’m supposed to console her? What kind of logic is that?” 

“Now is the perfect opportunity for you!” Lin Shuanghe encouraged him. “It’s the best time to make a move while she’s vulnerable!” 

Xiao Jue sneered, “That makes me even less likely to go.” 

“Alright, alright,” Lin Shuanghe said, “Let’s not talk about matters of the heart for now. She’s your soldier, you’re her superior, and Little Sister He helped you protect Liangzhou Garrison not too long ago. You should at least show some concern for your subordinate.” 

“I’m her boss, not her father,” Xiao Jue responded coldly. “Besides, she has legs. If she can’t wait, she’ll come back on her own.” 

Lin Shuanghe fell silent for a moment and asked, “Do you think she’s the kind of person who would give up if she can’t wait?” 

Xiao Jue’s hand holding the pen paused. 

He saw an image in his mind of a young man carrying a sandbag on his back and running with a heavy load. 

He Yan was not one to easily give up. Sometimes she was clever and cunning, but other times she was stubborn and persistent. It was hard to determine whether this was determination or foolishness, but Lin Shuanghe was right. With her personality, there was a good chance she’d spend the night on the mountain waiting.

She has a problem.

Seeing that Xiao Jue’s attitude was starting to soften, Lin Shuanghe immediately added, “Think about it. She’s only sixteen, a young girl, and she’s come a long way in Liangzhou Garrison. After being hit by Chu Zilan, she’s in a pitiable state. Consider it a good deed, go up the mountain and bring her back. She’ll be grateful to you, and she’ll serve you faithfully in the future.”

Seeing that Xiao Jue was still hesitant, Lin Shuanghe played his final card, “When Madam Xiao was alive, she was the most kind-hearted and compassionate. If she saw Little Sister He, she would definitely help.”

“Shut up,” Xiao Jue couldn’t take it anymore. He grabbed a nearby cloak, stood up, and walked towards the door, saying, “I’ll go.”

Lin Shuanghe watched his back with great satisfaction. “This is what a real man looks like.”

At the foot of White Moon Mountain, there was a massive flat rock that extended smoothly like a platform. Following the platform down to the end, you could hear the sound of the river.

Bowing your head, you’d see a broad river below, and looking up, the bright moon illuminated everything, casting its light over mountains, rivers, and great plains. 

He Yan sat down at the end of the stone, where the rushing water crashed against distant rocks in a steady, deep rhythm. It felt like ancient, solemn melodies from a distant time and space, vast and lingering. 

She had arranged to meet with Chu Zhao at the eighth hour, but she wasn’t sure what time it was now, and he still hadn’t arrived. She had found the pavilion Chu Zhao mentioned, but it wasn’t set up with food and snacks, and she wasn’t sure what was going on. 

Perhaps she should go down and look for Chu Zhao, but once she had sat down here, she didn’t feel like getting up anymore. 

All four woods were covered in snow, a pure white blanket over the entire mountain. Moonlight bathed the entire river, clear and refreshing. 

It was an exceptionally beautiful moonlit night and an extraordinarily beautiful snowy night. He Yan felt a sense of weariness and sat with her knees hugged to her chest, gazing at the end of the river. 

She loved the night more than the day, and she loved the moon more than the sun. It was because during her years as “He Rufei,” she never took off her mask except for those moments when she secretly removed it under the cover of deep, quiet nights, while lighting a stick of incense. 

No one could see her true face beneath the mask except for the moon outside the window. 

She reached out her hand, trying to grasp the moonlight hanging over the distant mountains and rivers. The moonlight gently fell onto her hand, as if it would linger there forever.

“What are you doing?” a voice came from behind her.

He Yan turned around and saw a young man in fox-fur attire emerging from the depths of the night, extremely tall with a cold, striking handsomeness. 

It was Xiao Jue. 

He Yan was taken aback and instinctively looked behind him. Seeing her reaction, Xiao Jue sneered, “Chu Zilan won’t be coming.” 

“Why?” He Yan asked. 

Xiao Jue gave her a glance, “A visitor from the capital came, and he couldn’t leave, so he sent me to convey the message.” 

He Yan nodded but continued to be surprised, “The Commander would actually pass a message for Fourth Young Master Chu?”

Xiao Jue and Chu Zhao were like water and fire, so the fact that Chu Zhao asked Xiao Jue to deliver the message was already astonishing. The fact that Xiao Jue actually came to find her based on Chu Zhao’s request was even more shocking. 

“Are you still concerned about this? It seems you’re not very sad,” he said, then sat down on the other end of the massive stone. 

The winter night wind blew, making the air extremely cold. He Yan asked, “Why should I be sad?” Just as she finished her sentence, she sneezed. 

Even with the robust winter attire of Liangzhou Garrison, the night chill was bone-piercing. He Yan sat shivering, her face pale from the cold, like translucent, delicate jade that could easily shatter. 

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

He Yan was about to look up when a fox-fur cloak was draped over her head. Everything went dark in front of her. When she emerged from the cloak, Xiao Jue had returned to his original spot. 

The fur-lined attire provided a bit of warmth and instantly kept the biting cold and snow at bay. He Yan was stunned for a while before finally saying, “Thank you.” 

Xiao Jue turned his head and looked at her. 

The young girl’s hair was tied up, and she was wearing his black fur cloak. Her shoulders were extremely narrow, making her appear fragile. She used to be constantly lively and chatty, which could be quite annoying and headache-inducing, but when she was quiet, it was like she had transformed into a different person. 

It made people uncomfortable.

Xiao Jue lowered his eyes and watched her for a moment. Then, he curved his lips and said, “You look so pitiful, it’s hard to watch.” After a pause, he added, “Are you unwilling to part with Chu Zilan?”

“What?” He Yan was puzzled.

“Even when you were on your deathbed, I never saw you look so despondent,” he lazily commented, “It seems like you really like him.”

He Yan didn’t quite understand what he was saying.

“Acting like this, all dramatic, when he hasn’t even left yet. What will you do when he departs tomorrow?” Xiao Jue gazed at the distant river.

“Tomorrow?” He Yan was surprised. “So soon?”

She remembered that Chu Zhao had told her it would be in the coming days, but he hadn’t mentioned it would be as early as tomorrow.

Xiao Jue gave her a wry smile and glanced at her. “In a hurry?”

“No,” He Yan said, “I’m just a bit surprised…” Then, she remembered something and spoke in a subdued tone, “It’s just that he needs to leave early… to make it to Lord Xu’s wedding.”

He Yan asked Xiao Jue, “Does the Commander know the eldest young master of the Xu family in the capital?”

Xiao Jue replied, “I’ve heard of him.”

“Xu Zhiheng is getting married, and Fourth Young Master Chu is rushing back just to attend his wedding,” He Yan’s voice was dry.

“It’s Xu Zhiheng’s wedding, not Chu Zilan’s,” Xiao Jue furrowed his brow. “Look at you, acting so pathetic. You still want to join the Nine Banner Battalion?”

He Yan managed a weak smile and was about to say something when Xiao Jue waved his sleeve and threw something into her lap.

He Yan looked down and saw that it was a string of candied haws. They had been left outside for a while and were as cold as ice. Amidst the snowy landscape, they still appeared bright and red.

“Where… did these come from?” 

“They’re from Song Taotao,” Xiao Jue said. “I grabbed a string on my way.”

He didn’t really know how to console a young girl. When he was leaving, he had asked Lin Shuanghe for advice, and Lin Shuanghe had replied, “If it were someone else, consoling a grieving girl would require a lot of effort, taking her to see lanterns, flowers, and stars, buying jade, pearls, and golden hairpins. But you’re different; you can just sit there with your face, and that should be enough.”

Xiao Jue had no response to that, and as he was passing through Shen Muxue’s room, he had seen a string of candied haws that Song Taotao had bought, so he had taken a string.

The last time he saw her eating this, she looked very happy. 

He Yan picked up a candied hawthorn skewer, peeled away the rice paper on top, and licked it. The candied hawthorn was ice-cold, and a bit of sweetness slowly spread across her tongue, making her heart feel bittersweet. 

Suddenly, she recalled the conversation she had with Chu Zhao earlier. 

She asked Chu Zhao, “What is the name of the new Madam Xu?” 

Chu Zhao replied, “She’s called He Xinying, the second young lady of the He family. She’s the cousin of the previous Madam Xu. I’ve seen her once, and she’s naive and gentle. If you ask me, she’s a suitable match for Lord Xu.” 

“He Xinying…” He Yan muttered to herself. “Do you know what the previous Madam Xu was called?” 

Chu Zhao hesitated for a moment and then shook his head. “The previous Madam Xu was reclusive and rarely seen. She wasn’t in Shuojing before, so I’ve never met her, and I don’t know her name.” 

She hadn’t even left behind her name. 

People remembered Flying Phoenix General, they remembered He Rufei, they remembered Xu Zhiheng, and they even remembered Xu Zhiheng’s new bride, but no one remembered He Yan. 

She thought that after all these years, she knew the true face of Xu Zhiheng, and she wouldn’t feel heartache anymore. But the moment she heard that he was getting married, the pain was still there, different but familiar. It was as if her years of dedication and trust had collapsed overnight, not even leaving behind a lie. 

All that remained was her foolishness and unwillingness. 

She looked up at the moon. The moonlight gently bathed the desolate mountains and the great river, the snow-covered woods, her lonely and barren years, and her eyes behind the mask. 

The moon knew her secrets, but the moon didn’t speak. 

“Do you know,” she spoke softly, “the name of Xu Zhiheng’s new wife?” 

Xiao Jue lazily replied, “Why would I know?” 

He Yan chuckled at herself and asked again, “Then do you know the name of the previous Madam Xu?” 

The river roared as it crashed against the rocks, as if time itself was rushing from the distant past. 

He gave He Yan a faint look, his features incredibly handsome in the moonlight. His eyes, like autumn water, revealed a hint of mockery, and he said softly, “So what, if the names are the same, do you want to be Madam Xu?”

He Yan was stunned.

“Do you know… Do you know her name?” Her heart raced.

“He Yan.”

The waves fell on the rocks, shattering into tiny droplets that merged into the river, making it impossible to discern the origin of each wave.


The name “He Yan” had been remembered.

He Yan suddenly looked up and gazed at him.

“Do you know… no, have you seen Madam Xu?” 

She thought to herself that it couldn’t be possible. She had been classmates with Xiao Jue for only a year, and then they had gone their separate ways. When she returned to Shuojing, she had become Miss He and was no longer “He Rufei.” She had been quickly engaged and married, rarely leaving her home, let alone having contact with other men. After marrying into the Xu family, she had gone blind shortly after her marriage and spent most of her time at home, virtually isolated from the outside world.

How could Xiao Jue have seen her?


“I’ve seen her,” he replied.

The young man reclined lazily, his features captivating, and the beauty of the mountains and rivers under the moonlight paled in comparison to the glint in his eyes.

In an instant, his voice overlapped with a voice from another night.

It was a night like this, in such a landscape, with rain gently falling, her world was dark and devoid of light, and she was only a hair’s breadth away from despair.

Xiao Jue continued, “She owes me a piece of candy.”

<Previous Chapter<Table of Contents>Next Chapter>

Leave a comment