Rebirth of a Star General Chapter 132

Chapter 132: Family Banquet

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“Do you want to give it a try?”

Being so close was a bit excessive.

He Yan was first surprised, then bewildered. When she collided into that clear autumn water, she felt her cheeks heating up rapidly. She wanted to retreat, but her shoulders were pinned by someone, and she couldn’t move. She could only tilt her head back from his embrace and stammer, “……. try what?”

“After seeing so much, don’t you want to try?” He raised an eyebrow, leaned in, and his gaze fell on her lips, making He Yan’s heart race.

The man’s features, compared to his youthful handsomeness, had become more refined and charismatic, exuding a kind of cool indulgence. This man, who was usually as pure as a highland flower, became incredibly alluring when he lazily curved his lips and his gaze turned scorching, making him irresistible.

He Yan replied, “I don’t want to.”

“Oh?” He curved his lips and his tone grew more dangerous, “How would you know how it’s drawn if you don’t try?”

“Well… it’s not necessarily something that needs to be tried,” He Yan explained awkwardly, “Once you’ve seen enough, you’ll understand. It’s just a matter of different details… and some things aren’t suitable for ordinary people; they’re just drawn for entertainment. There’s really no need to try; you can understand it through observation.”

Xiao Jue: “For entertainment?”

He Yan: “…Some people might be curious and eager to learn.”

Xiao Jue’s expression turned cold, and his smile became more playful. He said softly, “With this much experience, you must try.” He approached closer, pressing He Yan against the bed, and his thin lips were about to touch hers.

He Yan cried out, “Husband!”

The exclamation “Husband” was too loud and startled Xiao Jue. After a moment, he stopped, leaving only a slight distance between them, and raised an eyebrow, “What’s wrong?”

“I’m an unmarried girl,” He Yan pleaded softly, “I will marry someone in the future, and it’s not good for us to do this.”

“What’s not good about it?” Xiao Jue said calmly, “Anyway, you and I have already looked at the pictures together.”

“Looking at pictures is one thing, but doing it in real life is another,” He Yan begged, “Please spare me this time, Commander. I promise I won’t ask Commander to look at pictures together in the future.”

She thought that Xiao Jue was truly unpredictable. Just because they were looking at a picture, he wanted to take it a step further? Who would dare to look at pictures with him in the future? It could lead to trouble.

Xiao Jue looked at her with a mysterious smile and said, “Are you scared now?”

“Yes, I’m scared,” He Yan replied obediently, “I promise I won’t ask Commander to look at pictures in the future.”

“Are you saying,” he said casually, “that you might still look with someone else?”

“I won’t look with anyone else!” He Yan immediately said, “I won’t even look at them myself, I promise!”

Her grape-like eyes stared at him, bright and clear, as if she were a student caught red-handed by her teacher. Xiao Jue suddenly felt a bit perplexed, thinking that his actions were quite absurd. What did it matter if she liked to look at such things? Why did he have to worry about it as if she were his own daughter?

But then again, he wondered how her father had raised her, given that she seemed to have no understanding of modesty or shame.

He suddenly released his grip on He Yan’s hand, glanced at the painting on the wall, and found it a bit amusing that Cui Yuezhi had gone to such lengths to think of entertaining his nephew during the night. Nevertheless, it was unnecessary. He casually grabbed a piece of satin from the table and covered the painting on the wall, then swiftly used two silver needles to secure the fabric in place. 

At this point, He Yan finally understood that Xiao Jue didn’t like to see that painting. It made sense; second young master Xiao had a pristine and high-minded demeanor, and such a lewd painting would likely offend his sensibilities. 

Quite the perfectionist. 

After completing these tasks, he moved to one side of the room and retrieved a mattress from a low wooden cabinet. He spread it on the soft mat near the window. 

The soft mat was meant for guests to sit by the window and enjoy the scenery outside while having snacks and tea. He Yan was taken aback by this and asked, “Commander, are you sleeping here tonight?” 

“Why not?” 

He Yan hesitated for a moment and said, “Actually, you can sleep on the mat with me.” 

Xiao Jue paused while arranging the bedding, looked at her, and said in a cold and indifferent tone, “I see you’re quite bold.” 

“No, I know what you’re concerned about,” He Yan replied, “We only need two mattresses. When I was in Liangzhou, I used to sleep in a common dorm with ten or more people sharing a bed. Moreover, I trust your character, Commander, and I’m sure you won’t tarnish my reputation.” 

Xiao Jue smirked slightly. “But I don’t trust your character. I’m afraid you might tarnish my reputation.” 

He Yan: “….”

He Yan had no response to that. 

Seeing that Xiao Jue had finished arranging the bedding and laid down, she contemplated for a moment before blowing out the lamp and lying down as well. 

The room was bathed in a faint moonlight that seeped in through the cracks in the window, casting a silvery frost on the floor in front of the table. 

When they were younger at Xianchang Academy, two people shared a room but were quite distant from each other. He Yan had specifically asked He Yuanliang and Shi Bao to arrange for her to sleep alone. 

Now, sharing a room with Xiao Jue had brought back memories of those days. 

She laid flat, the mattress soft and warm beneath her, and He Yan said, “Are you asleep yet?” 

Xiao Jue didn’t respond. 

He Yan continued, “You’re probably not asleep yet, Com… Young Master. Shall we talk?” 

Xiao Jue still didn’t acknowledge her.

“So, why did we come to Jiyang, exactly?”

She only knew that she came to Jiyang to accompany Xiao Jue for some business, but she didn’t know the specifics. 

In the dark of night, Xiao Jue’s voice could be heard: “To find someone.” 

He Yan was momentarily stunned, not expecting Xiao Jue to respond, so she asked, “Who are we looking for?” 

“Chai Anxi.” 

“Who is Chai Anxi?” 

There was silence in the room for a moment, and then Xiao Jue said, “My father’s subordinate.” 

Xiao Zhongwu’s subordinate? He Yan was taken aback. In the Battle of Mingshui years ago, all of Xiao Zhongwu’s most trusted subordinates had died in battle. Hearing Xiao Jue’s tone, they seemed to be considered a trusted subordinate, could it be that this person was still alive and in Jiyang? 

Jiyang was the territory of  Fan Wang, and very few people from the Central Plains came here. If they did, it was usually just passing through and not staying for long. Chai Anxi’s presence in Jiyang seemed more like he was hiding from someone. Could it be that he was avoiding Xiao Jue? But why would he need to avoid Xiao Jue, who was Xiao Zhongwu’s son? He should be loyal to him. 

Perhaps generals were particularly sensitive in this regard. He Yan immediately thought that perhaps there was something suspicious about Xiao Zhongwu’s defeat and death in the Battle of Mingshui. 

After all, the defeat suffered by Xiao Zhongwu in the Battle of Mingshui was too devastating. People said he was reckless and missed opportunities, but looking at his past military achievements, he was not a reckless person. 

Perhaps… Xiao Jue came here for the events of that year. Those who knew the truth were all gone, but this Chai Anxi was still alive, which was indeed suspicious. 

He Yan thought for a moment and said, “I will definitely find this person.” 

In the dim light of the night, it seemed like she heard him chuckle softly and he asked, “Why did you come to Jiyang?” 

“Me?” He Yan was perplexed. “Isn’t it because you asked me to come?” 

Xiao Jue snorted, “Even if I didn’t ask you to come, you would have found a way to follow me, wouldn’t you?” 

He Yan’s heart skipped a beat. This man’s intuition seemed a bit too sharp. She truly had come to Jiyang with hopes of finding Liu Buwang. 

But she wasn’t going to tell Xiao Jue that. 

“You’re too suspicious,” He Yan pretended, “This time, I came purely because of you. As long as you need me, even if it means going through fire and water, I won’t hesitate.” 

There was silence on the other end for a moment, and then he said, “Flattery.”

He Yan asked, “What else can you say besides flattery?”

“Empty boasts.”

“Is there anything else?”

“Sweet talk.”

“Anything else?”

“Hiding the truth.”

He Yan: “…”

She said, “Young Master, do you know that you are really childish right now?”

Xiao Jue replied, “Sleep.”

He no longer paid attention to her.

The spring night still had a chill, but for some reason, with someone nearby, He Yan didn’t feel cold at all. She happily slipped under the covers, which were warm and soft, and soon fell asleep.


The next day, when He Yan woke up, Xiao Jue was already gone from the room.

She was a bit surprised. It was still early, and Xiao Jue had risen even earlier than her? He Yan got up, quickly freshened up, put on an outer garment, and found Xiao Jue sitting on a stone bench in the courtyard. There was a dirty stray cat in front of him, nibbling on something in his hand.

He Yan approached a bit and saw him holding a plate of pastries that seemed to come from nowhere, pinching them into small pieces to feed the wild cat in front of him. When the wild cat noticed someone approaching, its fur stood on end, as if it had rolled through a dirty puddle somewhere, and its fur was covered in dirty water, forming clumps. 

“Why is there a cat here?” He Yan asked. She wanted to pet it, but the cat hissed immediately, causing He Yan to withdraw her hand, saying, “It’s quite fierce.” 

Xiao Jue glanced at her and replied, “I picked it up.” 

The young man had slender fingers and was extremely patient, breaking the pastries into small pieces. The cat seemed to be selective, and it became incredibly gentle with Xiao Jue, softly meowing as it ate.

To be honest, it looked rather lovely. 

He Yan couldn’t help but ask, “Young Master, aren’t you someone who values cleanliness? When I’m with you, you’re always picky, even dusting your sleeves, so why are you so generous with this dirty wild cat?” 

“It depends on the situation,” Xiao Jue said casually. 

He Yan thought, “What do you mean by ‘it depends on the situation’? Does that mean I’m worse than a cat?” 

Just as she was thinking this, Xiao Jue had finished feeding the last piece, patted the cat’s head, and the clever cat arched its back, jumped onto the wall, and disappeared like a streak of smoke. 

He Yan looked on, bewildered. 

At that moment, Cui Jiao’s voice could be heard from outside, “Young Master, Young Madam, breakfast from the small kitchen has been delivered.” 

He Yan realized she was hungry and said, “Let’s go eat something.” 

Xiao Jue cleaned his hands and followed He Yan into the house. He watched as Lin Shuanghe removed silver needles from the dishes and said, “Let’s eat; I’ve tried it, and it’s not poisoned.” Then he muttered quietly, “The difference in treatment between people is just too much. Why do we have a less elaborate meal?” 

He was now “Steward Lin” and couldn’t eat with Xiao Jue and He Yan. He had to eat with Chiwu Fei Nu. He couldn’t even taste a single bite, to avoid revealing anything. 

Xiao Jue said, “Get lost.” 

Lin Shuanghe left. 

Hong Qiao stood behind He Yan, and He Yan waved her hand, saying, “You two should eat with Chiwu and the others. Xiao Jue and I don’t need servants; I can handle the food and such.” 

Cui Jiao and Hong Qiao were a bit surprised. They glanced at Xiao Jue, and seeing he didn’t object, Cui Jiao replied, “Understood,” and led Hong Qiao away. 

As they left the room, Hong Qiao hesitated and asked, “Cui Jiao, is it really okay for us to leave like this? Young Madam and Young Master never want us to serve them on normal days. Does that mean they’re dissatisfied with us?” 

Cui Jiao, sharp and clever, replied, “It’s not really that. It might be because they’re different from those in the capital, and besides, I’ve heard that the Young Madam and Young Master recently got married. She probably wants to take care of the Young Master personally. It’s a matter of… personal preference.” 

At that moment, the so-called “personally taking care of” the Young Master while he ate, Young Madam, was enjoying a plum blossom bun with relish.

The last time she had such a good meal was when she accompanied Xiao Jue to Liangzhou City as his nephew. However, the food they had there was just the standard fare from the inn. This time was different. Cui Yuezhi had a significant status in Jiyang, and he hadn’t seen his nephew in a long time, so he was especially attentive in his hospitality. Looking at the spread on the table early in the morning, there were assorted pastries, Xi Shi milk, wild chicken soup, braised fish belly with ham, and a swallow’s nest and chicken soup… 

“This breakfast seems a bit too greasy,” He Yan said as she took a bite of eight treasures wild duck. 

Xiao Jue tried to endure it for a while but couldn’t hold back and said, “Am I not feeding you enough?” 

He Yan’s mouth was full as she mumbled, “Huh?” 

He looked at her disdainfully and averted his gaze, saying, “Do you have to eat like you’re starving?” 

“But don’t you find it delicious?” He Yan struggled to swallow her food. 

Xiao Jue mocked, “Is that your criterion?” 

“You are a young master and a Commander. You live in luxury, of course, you’ve experienced the finer things in life and don’t care much about it. We, as common soldiers, are lucky if we can eat our fill, let alone eating well,” He Yan grumbled. “You’re a rich man who doesn’t know what hunger feels like.” 

Xiao Jue choked back a response and gave up reasoning with He Yan, saying lazily, “Do as you please.” 

He Yan sat beside Xiao Jue, eating and watching him with admiration for his elegant eating style. Normally, people who spend years in the military camp, regardless of their previous status as young masters or gentlemen, eventually stop caring about such niceties. When He Yan acted as “Young Master He,” she had also paid attention to etiquette, but when it came to real combat, she and others would stuff a bun in their mouths and continue working, forgetting about posture. 

He Yan couldn’t believe that Xiao Jue had never experienced this. It was just that after going through such hardships, he could seamlessly revert to the Xiao Jue of the past. This was not something an ordinary person could achieve. At least she had long forgotten how to behave like a “gentleman.” 

After finishing their meal, Cui Jiao and Hong Qiao came to help He Yan get dressed and do her makeup. Today, Cui Yuezhi was going to host a banquet in the mansion at noon, and some well-known dignitaries from Jiyang City were invited to give face to Xiao Jue. Therefore, they couldn’t afford to be careless. 

Xiao Jue went out to find Lin Shuanghe, and He Yan sat in front of the dressing table. Hong Qiao took out the “mermaid silk” from the box and asked He Yan, “Madam, should you wear this today?” 

He Yan thought for a moment. Since there were many people coming today, it was better to be safe and choose the most expensive outfit. She nodded and said, “Yes.” 

The two maids immediately started working. 

He Yan usually found these tasks most tiresome. Sometimes she even felt that these delicate activities, like dressing up and doing makeup, were more exhausting than men’s work. Just combing her hair and applying makeup, selecting jewelry and shoes, even tucking away loose strands of hair, all of it had to be done meticulously, and it wasn’t an easy task. As she was getting her hair done, she even dozed off. 

He Yan was awakened by Hong Qiao, who said, “Madam?” 

He Yan opened her eyes, still a bit groggy, and asked, “Is it done?” 

“It’s done,” Cui Jiao said with a hint of amazement in her eyes. “Madam, you look really beautiful.” 

He Yan replied, “Thank you.” 

She looked at her reflection in the mirror and was momentarily stunned. Her previous attire was simple and elegant, but this “mermaid silk” outfit was downright exquisite and glamorous. It seemed that Cui Jiao and Hong Qiao had put in extra effort today, and even the makeup couldn’t go wrong. He Yan gazed at her unfamiliar self in the mirror and felt a bit lost. 

Now, even the real Miss He didn’t look like herself. 

Cui Jiao smiled and went to open the door, saying, “Young Master is next door; I’ll call him over.” 

He Yan: “No…” 

Before she could finish saying the word “need,” Cui Jiao happily left. 

He Yan stood up and suddenly hesitated. She was still thinking about how to face Xiao Jue with a more natural attitude when she heard someone behind her casually say, “Are you ready?” 

He Yan turned around. 

The young girl didn’t seem to know what she was thinking, and there was a hint of confusion in her clear and bright pupils. She was originally beautiful and charming, and the original heroic spirit in her eyebrows was deliberately concealed by cosmetics, making her look purely charming. Her cheeks were rosy, her black hair was tied up simply, and it hung obediently on her shoulders. Her body appeared delicate and petite, outlined by a pale blue embroidered dress, which concealed very subtle floral patterns. When the sunlight shone through, it looked like fish scales, shimmering with a faint blue-purple and golden dust. She was enveloped in a layer of exquisite colors, as if she had just climbed ashore and was the legendary mermaid who had just arrived in the mortal world. 

Xiao Jue’s gaze slightly paused. 

From behind, Lin Shuanghe’s voice came, “I want to see what a hundred gold coin dress looks like when worn, show me, show me!” 

His commotion disappeared when it landed on He Yan, and all that remained in his gaze was amazement. 

Soon after, Chiwu and Fei Nu also noticed. Fei Nu was fine, but Chiwu seemed to be greatly shocked. This person…in women’s clothing, could actually be so beautiful? 

It was impossible to tell that it was a man; it’s too incredible! 

He Yan felt at a loss under their scrutiny. She felt like a monkey on display for their amusement, tugging at her clothes, and pitifully said, “Is it…a bit too much?” 

It was just attending a banquet, was all this grooming and dressing up really necessary? 

She didn’t make this expression when she was a man, but as soon as she did, with a seemingly furrowed brow, she appeared pitiful, leaving Xiao Jue at a loss for words. “…Don’t use this expression to speak.” 

“Not too much!” Lin Shuanghe became excited, “It’s perfect, just perfect! This hundred gold coin dress is truly extraordinary, money well spent!” 

Cui Jiao joined in the excitement, “Isn’t it? Madam, I told you it looks really good!” 

He Yan, who had always been praised as “mighty and heroic, incredibly handsome” when she was a man, had never experienced being complimented on her appearance as a woman and felt a little shy. For a moment, she didn’t know how to respond and politely raised her hand and said with a clear voice, “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy.” 

Xiao Jue: “…” 

Lin Shuanghe: “…” 

Others: “…” 

Lin Shuanghe said, “…It does look good, but madam, sometimes you don’t need to be too frank.” 

Xiao Jue sneered, “You should speak with the expression you had just now, otherwise I might forget that you were originally a woman.” 

He Yan: “…” 

Okay, she got carried away for a moment.


By noon, the Cui residence was bustling with activity. 

Carriages continued to arrive at the entrance of the Cui residence, with ladies, young misses, young masters, and gentlemen all making their way inside. 

Jiyang was Fu Wang’s fiefdom, and the current Princess Mu Hongjin, who had grown up alongside Cui Yuezhi, was Cui Yuezhi’s trusted confidant and also a prominent equestrian in Jiyang. Everyone had to give him face. When they heard that Cui Yuezhi had found his long-lost nephew and was hosting a banquet in his honor, everyone wanted to come and see. 

The Cui residence was quite spacious, and it had a lake at the back. Jiyang was abundant in water, and the lake had a pavilion in the center, where the banquet was set up for the day. 

Inside the pavilion, the servants had already set up long tables and a sumptuous feast, and some esteemed guests had taken their seats. Cui Yuezhi, the host, had not yet emerged from the residence. Since he had not taken a wife and only had four concubines, the one responsible for greeting the guests was the old steward, Zhong Fu. 

Seated next to a lady on the right side of the pavilion, there was a girl in pink attire. She was exceptionally beautiful, with slightly tanned skin, and had applied some cosmetics, which diminished her wild charm but added a touch of melancholy maturity. There was a hint of impatience in her expression as she asked, “It’s this late, and Young Master Qiao and his wife still haven’t arrived?” 

“What’s the rush?” the lady by her side, presumably her mother, consoled her with a smile. “The banquet hasn’t started yet, and Lord Cui hasn’t even arrived. How can Young Master Qiao show up first? Are you hungry, Min Er?” 

Yan Miner, the girl in pink, furrowed her brow and replied, “Not hungry. We’re waiting for Master Cui, and that’s only natural. But I’ve heard that Lord Cui’s nephew, who was lost and adopted by merchants outside the city, is now just a common merchant. A common merchant, smelling of copper and money, how can he be worthy of our long wait? Does he really think he’s someone special?” 

After all, the fact that Qiao Huanqing was a merchant was known in noble circles in Jiyang. Even though they were attending today’s banquet to show respect for Cui Yuezhi, in private, they looked down on Qiao Huanqing. However, they wouldn’t express it as directly as Yan Miner did. 

“Hush,” Lady Yan covered her daughter’s mouth. “Don’t speak recklessly. Besides, he is Lord Cui’s nephew, and I think it’s because he spoils you too much that you’re acting so unruly. You haven’t seen that Lord Cui is hosting this banquet today to welcome Young Master Qiao. If you speak ill of Young Master Qiao, do you think Lord Cui will be happy?” 

“So what?” Yan Miner said disdainfully. “Lord Cui and my father are friends, and he won’t blame me.” 

“You,” Lady Yan wanted to reprimand her daughter for her unfiltered words but couldn’t bring herself to do it. 

Yan Miner rolled her beautiful eyes, pondered for a moment, and then said dismissively, “I think maybe he’s never seen such a grand occasion before. Perhaps he’s hiding somewhere, afraid to come out, and he’s waiting for Lord Cui to help guide him.”

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