Rebirth of a Star General Chapter 125

Chapter 125: The Moon (Part 1)

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The Mid-Autumn Festival in the 62nd year of Qingyuan was the coldest one in Great Wei.

It had been raining since morning, and the dark clouds were heavy and persistent, indicating that the rain would likely continue throughout the day.

The Lianxue Mountains were a chaotic tangle of peaks and forests, with clouds and mist shrouding the landscape due to the rain, making the mountain paths treacherous.

The carriage moved slowly along the mountain trail.

Despite the challenging terrain, the Lianxue Mountains were always bustling because they were home to a spiritual temple called Yuhua Temple. The temple was famous for its strong incense, and it was believed that those who prayed here would have their wishes granted. While this claim was likely an exaggeration, Yuhua Temple had stood for a hundred years and was a genuine ancient temple. The officials and nobles in Shuojing often visited the temple to pray and recite scriptures during festivals, seeking good health, happiness, and success for their families.

The curtain of the carriage was lifted, and Bai Rong, the daughter-in-law of the Xiao family, glanced outside and softly said, “We’re almost there. We’ll reach Yuhua Temple in less than the time it takes for an incense stick to burn.”

“Are you hungry?” Xiao Jing asked gently from her side.

Bai Rong shook her head and looked back at the carriage following them with some concern. “Huaijin…”

Xiao Jing let out a soft sigh but didn’t say anything.

The people of the Xiao family knew that the Second Young Master Xiao didn’t like the Mid-Autumn Festival, and he even detested it.

The year Xiao Zhongwu died in battle was approaching the Mid-Autumn Festival. If he had still been alive at that time, he should have returned to celebrate the festival with his family. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it to Mid-Autumn; he died in the Battle of Mingshui. The Xiao family’s preparations for the Mid-Autumn Festival, which had been halted halfway, were never resumed.

It never continued.

After the deaths of the Xiao couple, Xiao Jing didn’t spend Mid-Autumn in Shuojing every year. This year, it was the first time he celebrated Mid-Autumn in Shuojing since taking over command of the Nanfu Troops. The Xiao family still followed the rules established by Madam Xiao when she was alive, which included praying for blessings at Yuhua Temple on Mid-Autumn.

However, they hadn’t expected the weather to be so terrible. Not only was there no sunshine, but it also kept raining.

As Bai Rong had pointed out, it took less than the time it took for an incense stick to burn for them to see the temple gate of Yuhua Temple. A monk, dressed in green robes, was clearing fallen leaves at the entrance of the temple. When he saw the Xiao family’s carriage arriving, he put down his broom and welcomed them into the temple.

Due to the rain making the mountain path difficult to traverse, in previous years, Yuhua Temple would already be bustling at this time of day. But today, besides the Xiao family’s carriage, there was only one other carriage parked outside the temple gate, belonging to an unknown young lady.

Xiao Jing followed them inside.

The sky was dark, and though it was only afternoon, it felt like evening. The group first had a vegetarian meal with the temple’s monks before proceeding to the Buddhist hall to offer incense and pray for blessings.

Bai Rong and Xiao Jing went in first. When it was Xiao Jue’s turn, the monk in the green robes reached out to stop him and said, “Esteemed guest, you cannot enter.”

Bai Rong and Xiao Jing turned around. Bai Rong asked, “Why? This is my little brother; we are here together to pray for blessings.”

The monk in the green robe placed his palms together and bowed to her. Then, he turned to Xiao Jue, lowered his head, and said, “Esteemed guest, your killing debt is too heavy. The Buddhist hall is a place of purity and tranquility, and it does not welcome those with a heart tainted by bloodshed.”

The group was taken aback.

Killing debt too heavy.

The Battle of Guocheng Long Valley claimed the lives of all 60,000 men, isn’t that a significant killing debt? Over the years, countless barbarians have died at his hands, and his heart is indeed tainted with blood.

“Master,” Bai Rong said urgently, “Buddhism is about saving all sentient beings, and it should not distinguish between high or low, noble or common.”

“Although he has blood on his hands, he has also saved many lives,” Xiao Jing frowned. “Master, your words seem too one-sided.”

The monk in green robes remained silent with his eyes downcast.

“Please, Master, show some compassion,” Bai Rong pleaded, “Our Xiao family is willing to make additional offerings, as long as my little brother can enter the Buddha hall to pray.”

“It’s unnecessary,” a voice interrupted her.

A young man in a brocade robe looked up at the Buddha hall, where Buddha statues, including the wrathful deity and the peaceful Mahavairocana, gazed down upon him with compassion from a distance and up close.

He should have expected this outcome.

“He cannot save me,” Xiao Jue smiled, “And I don’t want to turn back.”

To sink like this was not a bad option.

He turned and walked outside. “I’ll wait for you guys outside.”

When Bai Rong and Xiao Jing called after him, he wrinkled his brows in annoyance and turned a blind eye to them.

Unbeknownst to him, after he left, the monk in green robes recited a Buddhist chant and whispered, “It’s not certain that there’s no fate.”

Because of the rain, the descent down the mountain was even more treacherous than the ascent, and with the darkening sky, it didn’t seem appropriate to descend the mountain after the prayer. They had no choice but to stay overnight at Yuhua Temple.

Spending the Mid-Autumn Festival night outdoors was an unavoidable situation. The monks arranged a room for Bai Rong and her companions and then withdrew. Bai Rong sighed as she saw the mooncakes prepared by Yuhua Temple placed on the table. She turned to Xiao Jing and said, “Go call Huaijin; we’ll just make do with our Mid-Autumn banquet here.”

Xiao Jing went to the adjacent room and knocked on the door, but there was no response. He pushed the door open and found that the room was empty.

Xiao Jue was not in the room.

He looked at the temple courtyard, which had been thoroughly washed by the rain, and wondered where Xiao Jue had gone.

In the back courtyard of Yuhua Temple, there was an ancient tree that had stood there since the temple’s construction, perhaps for hundreds of years. The old tree, believed to have spiritual qualities, had lush branches and leaves, and the faithful who came to pray called it the “Immortal’s Tree.” The branches of the Immortal’s Tree were covered with red silk ribbons representing various wishes, including those for success in examinations and wishes for happiness and prosperity. In the rain, with no shelter, the wish ribbons hanging from the tree were soaked by the downpour, and they stuck to the branches like a layer of wet red silk.

The young man holding an umbrella stopped in his tracks.

A red cloth fell to the ground, adorned with yellow tassels, probably blown down by the heavy rain.

Xiao Jue paused, bent down, and picked up the red cloth.

Each red cloth had wishes written on them, and he lowered his head to inspect them. The ones on the left had been soaked by the rain and the ink was smudged beyond recognition. The one on the right was still legible, with twisted and messy handwriting that resembled a three-year-old’s scribbles, and it contained a single word, “see.”


What was he seeing? With a curious expression, he, a tall figure, gracefully tied the peculiar piece of red cloth back to the tree, choosing a spot deep within the lush branches to protect it from the rain.

Having done all this, he lifted the umbrella he had set aside. His waist pouch was revealed due to the previous movements, and he froze. 

The pouch was quite old, with a dark blue bag embroidered with a black python in golden thread. It used to be magnificent and exquisite, but time had worn it down. The stitches were blurry, and the python’s design was not as vivid as it used to be. The inside felt empty, like it no longer held anything. 

His fingertips brushed the pouch, and something sank in his eyes. 

The young men of Xianchang Academy all knew that from a young age, Xiao Jue always carried a pouch with him. Mischievous ones like Lin Shuanghe were curious about what treasures it held. When they finally got a chance to snatch it and open it, they were surprised to find it filled with osmanthus sugar candies. 

Second Young Master Xiao received quite a bit of teasing for loving sweets so much that he carried them even to school. 

Little did they know that it was a gift made by Madam Xiao when she was alive. 

Even after her passing, he still carried the pouch with him. However, it was now empty, holding only a single osmanthus sugar candy that was old, dark, and inedible.

Xiao Jue left the mountain at the age of fifteen and entered the Xianchang Academy. He had learned everything he needed to learn during his early years on the mountain, and the lessons taught by his teacher were easily absorbed. He often slept during class, always coming first without much effort. His teacher was pleased, and his classmates were envious. To outsiders, it seemed as if he had accumulated enough virtue in his past life to be reborn into such a life in this one.

But Xiao Zhongwu treated him with great severity.

Born lazy and indolent, he had no one to supervise him on the mountain except for his teacher, and Xiao Zhongwu was unable to monitor him. After descending the mountain, he was often invited by his classmates to wine parties and theater performances. They were all teenagers, about fourteen or fifteen years old, and there was no reason not to go. Although most of the time, he just sat lazily on the side, watching or even sleeping, but in Xiao Zhongwu’s eyes, he believed that this child was indulging in debauchery.

Xiao Zhongwu scolded him, enforced family rules, confiscated his allowance, and punished him by copying texts and practicing martial arts.

He obeyed each command, but he was a stubborn and rebellious young man who couldn’t truly accept the situation. The more calmly he accepted the punishment, the more irritated Xiao Zhongwu became. Then, they had a heated argument.

Xiao Jue raised an eyebrow and said, “I’ve done everything you’ve asked. Since you only care about the results, the results are now there. Father, why are you being so difficult?”

The slight smile at the corner of the young man’s mouth was full of mockery. In an instant, Xiao Zhongwu, holding a whip, couldn’t bring himself to continue the punishment. Xiao Jue chuckled, turned, and left.

That was the last time he saw his living father.

Xiao Zhongwu left for the Southern Barbarians shortly afterward, and not long after, he died tragically in the Battle of Mingshui. The news of his death was tragic.

Xiao Jue’s mother was in the kitchen making osmanthus candy for him when she heard the news. Upon receiving the news, she knocked a plate of osmanthus candy to the ground, and they were covered in dust.

A surviving aide knelt in front of Madam Xiao, crying, and said, “Originally, the plan was to leave for Mingshui two days earlier, but General wanted to acquire a sword from Fuguan near Mingshui, which is known for its ironworks. He thought he would get a sword for our Second Young Master since he quarreled with him before his departure, hurting Second Young Master’s feelings. He hoped that this sword would help Second Young Master understand his intentions. Unexpectedly… unexpectedly…”

The room echoed with Madam Xiao’s heart-wrenching wails. 

She lunged at Xiao Jue, pounding on him recklessly, crying and berating him, “Why did you have to quarrel with him? Why! If it weren’t for your argument with him, he wouldn’t have stayed so long in Mingshui, he wouldn’t have fallen into an ambush, and he wouldn’t have died!”

He endured this terrible accusation, letting her fists fall upon him softly. He didn’t say a word.

How could it be possible? His father, the stern man who would show no mercy when raising a whip. The man who had left his child on the unfamiliar mountain all year long without ever coming to visit. How could he die? He was cold and unfeeling, but he held a great sense of justice. How could he die?

The harrowing accusations continued.

“It’s your fault he’s dead! Your father’s dead because of you!”

He couldn’t bear it any longer. He pushed his mother away, saying, “It’s not me! It’s not my fault!”

His mother stared at him in disbelief, and he couldn’t stand the despair in her eyes. He turned and ran out.

He didn’t know where he should go or who he should talk to. He had only been away from Shuojing for a year, and during that time, he hadn’t really gotten to know the people of the Xiao family, let alone how to interact naturally with his family.

That’s…. just how it was.

In times of extreme pain, tears couldn’t be shed. At this point, he didn’t feel pain; he just felt dazed. It was like hearing a joke that couldn’t possibly be true, not knowing how to react. He just felt heavy on his feet, not daring to go forward, unable to face the desperate gaze of his mother.

Many years later, Xiao Jue would often think that if he hadn’t been so timid at that moment, if he had taken a step forward, gone back into the room, perhaps none of the later events would have unfolded.

But there were no “ifs.”

When he returned, it was already evening. Xiao Jing and Bai Rong had come back, their eyes swollen as if they had been crying. Xiao Jing rushed up to him, punched him, grabbed his collar, and yelled at him with red eyes, “Where did you go? Why weren’t you at home? Why weren’t you by Mother’s side?” 

He suddenly felt a wave of disgust and self-derision and tugged at the corners of his mouth, saying, “We’re both sons. You’re asking me, but why don’t you ask yourself?” 


“Huaijin,” Bai Rong sobbed, “Mother is gone.” 

His forced smile froze. 

“Mother… is gone.” Xiao Jing let go and took two steps back, covering his face and sobbing. 

Madam Xiao had always been as delicate as a flower that had never experienced the storms of life. When Xiao Zhongwu was alive, she had many grievances and frequent quarrels with him, as if they were an unhappy couple. After Xiao Zhongwu’s death, this flower withered away abruptly, losing its source of nourishment and fading away. 

Her departure was so resolute that she didn’t even consider how her two sons would manage in Shuojing after her death. What would happen to the Xiao family? Her life lost all meaning the moment she lost Xiao Zhongwu, so she used a piece of pure white silk to end her own life.

The last words she said to Xiao Jue were: “It’s your fault, you killed him, you killed your father!”

This sentence would become an eternal nightmare, haunting Xiao Jue for years, often causing him to wake up from a deep sleep in the middle of the night, tossing and turning.

He could never escape it.

Xiao Zhongwu and Madam Xiao were buried together. All the lanterns and paintings for the Mid-Autumn Festival a few days ago had been taken down and replaced with snow-white lanterns.

One disaster led to another. Xiao Zhongwu’s death struck a heavy blow to the Xiao family. Xiao Jing had to endure countless hidden dangers and attacks in the imperial court. Xiao Jue, in the shadows, would bear the same burden. How were the Nanfu Army and the Xiao family? How was the blame from the Mingshui battle, falsely accused, going to be resolved?

He still hadn’t shed a single tear. His actions became robotic, with tightly packed arrangements. He slept less and less, and he returned to the family later and later.

That night, he came home very late. After Xiao Zhongwu’s death, many of the family’s servants had been dismissed. Aside from his personal guards, he didn’t need any servants. He felt hungry when he returned, only to realize he hadn’t eaten all day.

It was already late, and it wasn’t worth bothering Bai Rong. Xiao Jue walked to the kitchen to see if there were any leftovers from the daytime to have a makeshift dinner.

The stove was cold, and there wasn’t much food in the kitchen. Everyone had been busy in these days, and had little appetite. He found two steamed buns and a bowl of pickled vegetables. 

The dim light in the kitchen seemed like it was about to go out. There were no chairs, and the young man, exhausted, found a corner against the wall to sit down. As he lifted the bowl, he suddenly caught sight of a piece of osmanthus sugar lying at the end of a long table, by the corner of the wall. 

When the tragic news of Xiao Zhongwu’s death arrived, Madam Xiao was making osmanthus sugar for Xiao Jue. Startled by the news, she accidentally knocked over a tray of osmanthus sugar, which was later cleaned up by a servant, and all of it was gone. 

However, one piece had escaped notice and was quietly lying in the corner, covered in dust. 

He crawled over and carefully picked up the osmanthus sugar, wiping away the dust. The candy still emitted the faint fragrance of osmanthus, just as sweet as ever. 

Madam Xiao always made the osmanthus sugar very sweet, almost sickeningly so. He wasn’t fond of sweet things. 

But this was the last piece he would have in the mortal world. 

There was still some candy wrappers in the sachet. He wrapped the candy and placed it back in the sachet. Then, he picked up his bowl and the steamed bun. 

Second Young Master Xiao, who had always been refined and particular about cleanliness, was now eating on the floor, not minding his appearance. He hadn’t changed his clothes in two days, and his stomach hadn’t seen a grain of rice in the same time. Gone were the days of being elegantly dressed in brocade and sable fur, showcasing his grace and charm. 

The young man leaned against the wall, looking up as he slowly bit into the steamed bun. As he ate, he let out a self-deprecating smile. A glimmer of light, like a lone star in the night sky, seemed to appear in his clear, autumn-like eyes before quickly fading away. 


Time passed by, leaving no trace behind. The past, it seemed, had become a distant memory of a previous lifetime. The complex emotions were intertwined, and eventually turned into a seemingly carefree smile. 

It was not a hurdle that couldn’t be overcome.

He stared blankly at the sachet in his hand, lost in thought. After a moment, he let go and continued walking.

“Master,” Fei Nu walked up from behind. He took the umbrella and held it up for Xiao Jue, asking, “Do you want to go back to the temple now?”

“Let’s go for a walk,” Xiao Jue said. “Get some fresh air.”

The last glimmers of light disappeared, and Lianxue Mountain was completely shrouded in darkness. Thick fog filled the air, creating an illusion of a mountain-bound dream. 

Such a rainy night was rare on Mid-Autumn Festival, and the night was almost devoid of travelers. The rain was light, but continuous, like a thin, cool veil that enveloped the mountains.

“I wonder when this rain will stop,” Fei Nu muttered.

On most Mid-Autumn nights, it was clear and bright, so this kind of night was truly unusual. Xiao Jue gazed upward, but the dark night was so deep he couldn’t see the end.

“There’s no moon tonight.”

Without a moon, there’s no perfect circle.

The mountain path was muddy and slippery, and apart from the sound of rain, there was nothing to be heard. The further they walked, the denser the trees became, and people’s shadows were almost indistinguishable. Suddenly, there was a rustling sound in front, and Fei Nu cautioned, “Young Master.”

Xiao Jue shook his head, indicating that he had heard it too.

At this late hour, with the rain still falling, who would be out here?

Fei Nu extended his lantern forward for a closer look. In the heavy rain, there was a figure standing beneath a tree. At first, it was just a blurry silhouette, probably a woman, busy with something. After taking a couple of steps closer, they saw the woman standing on a rock, pulling at something long and stretched out.

Tied to the tree was a white silk cloth.

It was a woman seeking death.

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