Rebirth of a Star General Chapter 137

Chapter 137: Ten Secrets

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The young man in navy blue riding attire, having obtained the flag, gracefully dismounted and landed on the ground, astonishing everyone.

The owner of the horse arena wasn’t a stingy person and handed the purple jade whip to Xiao Jue, praising, “Young Master, you have extraordinary skills. In recent years, you’re the fastest to get the flag in the Wind Capture.”

Cui Yuezhi couldn’t help but applaud, “Huanqing, before you arrived, I heard that your foster father once found a martial arts master for you. Now it seems that the martial arts master who taught you put his heart into it. Such skill is rarely seen even in Jiyang City.”

Xiao Jue nodded and smiled, “Uncle, you’re too kind.”

He Yan thought to herself that Cui Yuezhi didn’t know that Xiao Jue had held back earlier. If he had genuinely competed, it would have surely surprised everyone and potentially exposed his identity.

As she was contemplating this, Xiao Jue walked over and threw the purple jade whip into her arms.

He Yan was pleasantly surprised and stammered, “Th-thank you.”

She felt that Xiao Jue was quite different today. He seemed more approachable, and his disposition was exceptionally pleasant.

But she couldn’t quite figure out what had changed, so she shook her head.

“Now that we have the purple jade whip,” Wei Yiniang said with a smile, “how about going to the riverbank for the festival? It’s quite lively, and you can also get offerings blessed by the Water God. After eating these offerings and being bathed in divine water, you’ll be blessed with good fortune throughout the year.”

Cui Yuezhi suddenly remembered, “You’re right! I almost forgot about that. Huanqing, Yuyan, both of you should go. Let’s seek some good omens! How could we attend the Water God Festival without going to the Water God ceremony?”

He Yan had no idea what the Water God ceremony was, but since they were so insistent, she decided to follow the crowd. As they neared the area, they saw a large open space near the river with a circular platform set up. Many people wearing masks were singing and dancing. It appeared to be local folk songs, with a lively atmosphere, attracting people of all ages.

As they arrived, a female voice called out, “Lord Cui.”

Several people looked over and saw the young lady from the Dianyi Mansion who had visited the Cui Mansion a few days ago and played the zither for everyone to hear, Ling Xiu. Standing by her side was Yan Miner, who was casting unfriendly glances. 

Ling Xiu was dressed in her finest attire today, wearing a pink fitted dress and small boots, with her long hair styled in a playful manner. She smiled and said, “Miner and I just arrived here and happened to meet Lord Cui. It’s truly a coincidence. It must be fate.” 

Cui Yuezhi also smiled and asked, “Ah Xiu, Miner, where are your parents?” 

“Both our parents are on the boat. Miner and I are accompanied by servants and guards, strolling around here to observe the festival and pick up some offerings.” Her gaze fell on Xiao Jue, who didn’t even spare her a glance as he looked in the direction of the altar. Ling Xiu felt a pang of jealousy. 

In fact, she and Yan Miner had seen Xiao Jue not here but when he won the flag at the capture wind event. The young man was as handsome as the moon, stunning everyone with his charming smile. However, this impressive display was only to win a whip for the woman he favored. 

Ling Xiu was consumed with envy. 

She was beautiful, talented, and from a prominent family in Jiyang City. Many young talents admired her, but she didn’t fancy any of them. Yet, this man had arrived, outshining everyone in the city, and was infatuated with a seemingly ordinary woman. If her initial reaction was merely annoyance at Xiao Jue’s indifference, Ling Xiu had grown to dislike him, even including He Yan. 

If it weren’t for Wen Yuyan, if it were herself who met Qiao Huanqing first… the outcome would have been different. What was so great about that woman? Qiao Huanqing had truly been deceived, mistaking a common fish for a pearl. 

He Yan watched the dancers on the stage with great interest and asked Wei Yiniang, “Why are they all wearing masks?” 

“A mask represents a character or identity. These are all stories related to the Water God. Dancing and singing during the festival actually conveys the Water God’s legends,” Wei Yiniang explained with a smile. “If Lady Yuyan likes, she can also go on stage, play one of the characters, and when it’s almost over, the elders will dip willow branches in holy water and sprinkle it on everyone. Bathing in this holy water brings good fortune.” 

He Yan had never heard of such a tradition and said, “That’s quite interesting.” 

Ling Xiu stepped forward and smiled, “Madam Qiao, would you like to join us on stage?” 

He Yan waved her hand, “I was just speaking.” 

“Miner and I want to dance on the stage as well. If Madam is willing to join us, it will be a lot of fun,” Ling Xiu stared at He Yan, her smile warm and considerate. However, for some reason, He Yan instinctively resisted. While she wasn’t very adept at deciphering the undercurrents between women, she could still discern between general hostility and friendliness.

Ling Xiu’s evident animosity left He Yan puzzled. She wracked her brain but couldn’t identify any reason for this girl to be hostile towards her.

Cui Yuezhi broke the silence, smiling and saying, “You’re of similar age. Yuyan, go up with them. Our water god ceremony in Jiyang is straightforward and not difficult. If there’s anything you don’t understand, Ah Xiu and Miner will teach you.”

Cui Yuezhi had already spoken, and He Yan felt that further refusal might be seen as disrespectful to the local customs. She reluctantly agreed, “All right, but I don’t know how to dance. Please don’t laugh at me.”

“You won’t be laughed at,” Ling Xiu sweetly replied. “We’ll teach you.”

With that, Ling Xiu took Yan Miner’s hand and headed toward the platform, saying, “Let’s go get some masks first.”

He Yan sighed in resignation. Even though Ling Xiu and Yan Miner seemed to harbor some hostility, they were not martial artists and unlikely to harm her. They were probably just indulging in some harmless teasing. As long as she stayed sharp, she could handle it.

While pondering this, she heard someone speaking beside her, “Why didn’t you refuse?”

He Yan turned to look, and Xiao Jue’s gaze was fixed on her face. His expression was inscrutable as he lightly mocked, “You clearly don’t like it, so why didn’t you refuse?”

He Yan hesitated and replied, “It wouldn’t be polite. Lord Cui might be unhappy if I refuse.”

He laughed and, seemingly in disagreement with He Yan’s approach, said, “If you don’t like it, just refuse. Miss He, you have the ability to refuse,” he reminded, “You can’t make everyone happy.” 

That may be the case, but… 

Trying to make everyone happy and achieving perfection seemed to have become a habit. 

On the other side, Yan Miner pulled Ling Xiu to the side and whispered, “What do you mean? Who wants to dance with her? I can’t stand her! I’m not going!” 

“Wait,” Ling Xiu grabbed her, “Let me finish.” 

“What do you want to say?” 

“I’ve heard about the incident at Embroidered Brocade Lane from someone before.” 

Yan Miner’s face immediately turned red upon hearing this. After a moment of choking, she said, “How did you find out?” 

“Everyone knows about this now; it’s been widely spread.” Ling Xiu smiled at her. “Don’t be upset, I’m on your side, of course. Besides, I don’t like that Wen Yuyan either. So, how could I let her off easily?” 

“What do you plan to do?” Yan Miner asked irritably. 

“We’re just dancing; I won’t let her steal the show. I want her to embarrass herself.” Ling Xiu pointed to the masks on the side. “Our Jiyang girls are not easy to bully.” 


“I’ve never seen the Madam dance,” Lin Shuanghe said as he waved his fan with a meaningful look. “Today is a great opportunity to broaden our horizons. I’m really looking forward to it.” 

He Yan thought to herself that she wouldn’t really be dancing; at most, she would perform a sword dance. However, as an outsider, even if she danced at the ceremony, people wouldn’t be too critical as long as she didn’t make any major mistakes. She was just here to enjoy the festive atmosphere. 

Just as she was thinking this, Ling Xiu and Yan Miner approached. Yan Miner was holding several masks, and Ling Xiu carried a wooden box. When they reached He Yan, Ling Xiu looked embarrassed and said, “I just asked the Master of Ceremonies. There are many people attending the ceremony today, and only a few masks are left. I don’t know how to distribute them. How about drawing lots to decide?” 

He Yan wasn’t too concerned about the masks and asked, “What’s the difference between them?” 

“Different masks represent different roles. In the myths and legends of Jiyang’s Water God, there are some cunning roles, some comedic roles…” Ling Xiu paused for a moment and then smiled, “But the chance of the lady drawing the comedic role is probably low, so it shouldn’t happen.” 

He Yan responded with a humble “Hmm” and said, “You can go ahead and draw first.” 

“Madam, since you’re not from Jiyang, you should draw first,” Ling Xiu said with a smile. 

Since declining further would be meaningless, He Yan agreed, saying, “Alright.” She reached her hand into the wooden box that Ling Xiu was holding and pulled out a folded piece of paper. 

She opened the paper and saw the word “Racoon Dog Lies” written on it. 

She hesitated and asked, “What does… ‘Racoon Dog Lies’ mean?” 

Cui Yuezhi was taken aback, and Wei Yiniang also seemed surprised. It was Ling Xiu who covered her mouth and exclaimed, “It’s ‘Racoon Dog Lies.’ Madam…. it’s quite unfortunate.” 

“Is that a bad thing?” He Yan asked, puzzled. 

“Just as I mentioned earlier, in the myths and legends of the Jiyang Water God, there are cunning roles, comedic roles, and ‘Racoon Dog Lies’ is one of them. This is a trickster who is full of lies and mischief in the mortal realm. He deceives people and steals their wealth, not sparing even the elderly and children. He has done the most shameful things imaginable, and even the heavenly immortals couldn’t tolerate it. So, they sent an immortal maiden to subdue him. In front of others, this trickster can tell lies with ease, but when facing the celestial magic of the immortal, he can only speak the truth from his heart. He revealed ten of his deepest secrets and was finally imprisoned in a watery dungeon at the bottom of the sea, where he couldn’t come ashore for eternity.” 

As He Yan listened, she couldn’t help but empathize. When she heard the part about being unable to come ashore for eternity, she said, “That sounds quite unfortunate.” 

“It is quite unfortunate,” Yan Miner said with a wry smile. “But since you’ve drawn the paper, you can only play the role of the ‘Racoon Dog Lies.’ If you decide to participate in the Water God Ceremony and then back out, you will face punishment from the Water God.” 

He Yan was tempted to ask what the Water God’s punishment would be, but then she thought about her past life, where she had drowned, and wondered if it was a coincidence. 

She replied, “Then, I’ll be the comedic role. In this world, there must always be someone to play the comedic role, right?” 

Cui Yuezhi was still somewhat hesitant and said, “But, Yuyan, that mask…” 

“What’s wrong with the mask?” 

Ling Xiu took the mask from Yan Miner and handed it to He Yan, saying, “This is the ‘Racoon Dog Lies’ mask.” 

When He Yan saw the mask’s design, she finally understood Cui Yuezhi’s earlier expression. The ‘Racoon Dog Lies’ mask resembled a Racoon Dog, and not a cute one. It was drawn with a fierce and malevolent expression. However, in the center of the eyes and nose, there was a large white area, which made it look both cunning and ugly. No girl would want to wear such a thing on her face. Moreover, the mask was heavy and made the head appear larger when worn. 

He Yan assessed it and said, “It’s okay.” 

She didn’t pay much attention to superficial things like appearance. However, Wei Yiniang’s expression was not too pleasant. Over the past few days, she had observed He Yan as a mild-mannered and cheerful person, and she couldn’t help but see through the jealousy and rivalry among women in the back courtyard. This was clearly Ling Xiu deliberately setting a trap for He Yan.

Thinking about it, acting as a comedic character in front of one’s beloved and performing various ridiculous actions would not only be a matter of concern for others but would also be deeply embarrassing for the woman herself. After all, which woman doesn’t wish to appear as beautiful and captivating in the eyes of her beloved, like legendary beauties such as Xi Shi or Diaochan? 

Wei Yiniang said, “Why not let Miss Yuyan play a different role? Can’t you talk to the Master of Ceremonies about it?” 

“It’s not a big deal,” He Yan smiled and replied, “In ceremonies like this, sincerity matters more. There’s no need to fuss over minor details.” 

Cui Yuezhi, unaware of the shift in the atmosphere, heard He Yan’s response and said, “Good! Yuyan is indeed refreshing!” 

On the other side, Lin Shuanghe and Xiao Jue both furrowed their brows simultaneously. 

Lin Shuanghe covered his face with a fan and whispered to Xiao Jue, “This is all your fault, causing trouble and making my little sister He to suffer.” 

Xiao Jue’s expression turned slightly cold, and after a moment of silence, he suddenly spoke, “You just mentioned that ‘Racoon Dog Lies’ has to reveal its secrets to the immortal.” 

Ling Xiu, seeing Xiao Jue initiate a conversation with her, felt delighted. She smiled and said, “Yes. When Madam goes up to the platform, she has to reveal her ten secrets to the person playing the immortal.” She paused for a moment and continued with a smile, “And these ten secrets must all be true. According to the legend, the ‘Racoon Dog Lies,’ who is known for his lies, must speak the truth when faced with the celestial magic of the immortal. So, Madam, you will have to reveal all ten secrets.” 

He Yan was at a loss for words and couldn’t help but wonder if this immortal was just a nosy person who liked to pry into others’ secrets. 

“Even immortals engage in role-playing,” Xiao Jue said in a calm tone, although his expression was cold. “In that case, I’ll take on the role.” 

“What…?” Ling Xiu was momentarily stunned. 

He Yan was also left in shock. 

“Don’t understand?” Xiao Jue’s gaze was sharp, and although his tone was calm, his expression remained indifferent. “I want to play the role of the listener.” 

He Yan almost choked on her own saliva. Did Xiao Jue mean to go up on the platform to dance alongside her? Was he out of his mind, or had the world gone mad? He Yan couldn’t comprehend it. The idea of Xiao Jue, the second young master, doing such a thing was so unbelievable that no one in Shuojing City would believe it. 

Chiwu and Fei Nu also couldn’t believe their eyes and suspected that their ears had malfunctioned and misheard. 

With Xiao Jue bringing up this matter, Ling Xiu was caught off guard and didn’t know how to react. The coldness in Xiao Jue’s gaze was somewhat intimidating, and she instinctively asked, “Wh-why?” 

“Because,” Xiao Jue replied with a sly smile, “how can I allow others to know my wife’s secrets?” 

With just one sentence, Ling Xiu turned beet red, her earlier fear forgotten.

He Yan: “…” 

She felt like she was about to faint, as she couldn’t make sense of why Xiao Jue was acting so out of character today. 

Xiao Jue didn’t pay attention to He Yan’s expression and asked Ling Xiu, “Which mask is it?” 

Ling Xiu pointed to one held by Yan Miner, who immediately passed it over to him. He Yan took a quick look, but the mask of the immortal was quite ordinary, just a piece of black iron with a cloud-pattern design in the middle. 

He asked, “What should I do?” 

Wei Yiniang, who understood the situation, smiled and said, “In fact, there aren’t many rules when dancing on the ceremony platform. Locals understand it, but if you’re from out of town, as long as your heart is sincere and you pray to the Water God, how you dance is just a formality. The Water Goddess is very forgiving and won’t nitpick about minor matters.” 

Xiao Jue replied, “Understood.” 

He glanced at He Yan, who was still holding the mask, and held her wrist, pulling her along, saying, “Come.” 

After taking a few steps towards the ceremony platform, He Yan looked back and saw Ling Xiu and Yan Miner’s gazes fixed on her. Their animosity was even more apparent than before. She asked, “What’s going on? Commander, have you gone mad?” 

“It’s you who’s gone mad,” Xiao Jue said displeased. “Why did you agree to this?” 

“I told you, since we’re here, I didn’t want to upset Lord Cui. Besides, it’s just wearing a mask and dancing; it’s not like I’m wielding a sword and causing any harm. What’s the big deal?” 

Xiao Jue turned to her and stared at her, smirking sarcastically. “Why weren’t you this obedient when it came to me?” 

He Yan retorted, “…Am I not obedient enough for you?” 

This man, Xiao Jue, was just too difficult to please! 

“In the future, if you don’t want to do such things, you can refuse,” Xiao Jue said, his beautiful eyes narrowing slightly. “Don’t make people think you’re compromising yourself, it’s really unattractive.” 

“I’m not compromising.” 

“You are,” he said, looking down at He Yan, a hint of mockery in his lips. “You like deceiving people, do you even deceive yourself?” 

He Yan couldn’t find the words to respond. She instinctively wanted to argue, but she also faintly felt that Xiao Jue was right. 

But in many situations, sacrificing her own emotions and preferences had become a habit. There were more important things to consider. And no one could tell her, “You can refuse, you can be stubborn, you can be unhappy.” 

So gradually, these things faded away. 

Seeing He Yan’s listless expression, Xiao Jue paused, tapped her head, and said, “Put it on quickly.” With that, he picked up the mask in his hand and put it on his face. 

The mask was made of iron, very smooth but quite heavy. Xiao Jue used one hand to put the mask on his face and the other to fasten the mechanism behind his head. He struggled for a moment, and seeing this, He Yan placed her “Racoon Dog Lies” aside and said, “Let me help you.” 

She walked behind Xiao Jue and told him, “You position the mask properly, and I’ll help you fasten it from behind.” 

Xiao Jue was tall, so she had to tiptoe to fasten the mechanism on his head. While fastening it, she said, “Have you never worn a mask before? Why can’t you do something so simple?” 

Xiao Jue mocked, “Have you worn many masks before?” 

He Yan paused, laughed, and said, “Even if you haven’t eaten pork, you’ve seen pigs run.” After helping Xiao Jue put on the mask, she also put her “Racoon Dog Lies” mask on her own face.

Two people; one person wearing a mask looked mysterious and noble, while the other appeared comically cunning, making them seem rather ridiculous. 

Xiao Jue held her hand, and they both climbed onto the ceremonial platform. The officiant nodded to them and pushed them toward the center of the platform. 

Surrounded by people wearing masks, all singing and dancing, He Yan couldn’t understand what was going on. She asked Xiao Jue, “Commander, how are we supposed to dance in this?” 

Xiao Jue replied, “I have no idea.” 

He Yan tried to mimic the people around her and danced for a while, but it quickly became too challenging, and she gave up. She pulled Xiao Jue to a corner of the platform where they wouldn’t be noticed and said, “Forget it, let’s not dance anymore. Let’s do something else.” 

Xiao Jue, masked and unreadable, undoubtedly had a face full of impatience beneath the mask. 

“Commander, won’t we incur the wrath of the Water God by avoiding the dance?” 

Xiao Jue asked, “Are you scared?” 

“I’d rather believe it’s real than believe it’s not*.”
* not to arbitrarily deny things that cannot be determined, and it is better to prepare in advance.

The person was quite indifferent, “So, you continue to dance.” 

“I really can’t dance.” 

After a while, He Yan said, “Commander… the lady Ling said that ‘Racoon Dog Lies’ requires us to confess ten secrets to the immortal. Since we’re here, let’s commit to the act. I’ll tell you my ten secrets. Maybe the immortal will be lenient if they see our commitment, and they won’t mind us not dancing.” 

Xiao Jue laughed lazily and said, “Sure, go ahead, tell me.” 

Ten secrets, and they had to be true. This was a real challenge. 

She began counting on her fingers. 

“I used to have a high alcohol tolerance, but now it’s decreased.” 

“I can recite ‘Wuzi’s art of war’.” 

“I am number one in Liangzhou Garrison.” 

“I really want to join the Nine Banner Battalion.” 

“I made money by selling the buttons on Cheng Lisu’s clothes.” 

These were just five, and Xiao Jue, hearing them, felt somewhat speechless. He said, “Boring.” 

But He Yan was encouraged and continued. 

“In my heart, Commander, you are a very good person, and I am very grateful to you.” 

Xiao Jue sneered, “I won’t let you join the Nine Banner Battalion.” 

“Every time you misunderstand me, Commander, it really hurts my feelings!” 

Xiao Jue retorted, “Keep lying.”

“I and the Commander have a connection from our past lives!” 

Xiao Jue didn’t even bother to give her a glance. 

He Yan said, “In my previous life, I was a female general.” 

This was even more absurd. 

There was only one secret left. 

He Yan lifted her head and looked at the person in front of her. His face was covered by a mask, and his gaze was fixed on her, only revealing his beautiful chin with exquisitely defined lines. His thin, vibrant lips were lazily curved, conveying both the youth’s ruthlessness and tenderness. 

Her own face was concealed by the mask, hidden in the darkness, providing an infinite sense of security. 

“For the last secret,” He Yan tiptoed, getting close to his chin, her voice soft, “I love the moon.” 

“The moon doesn’t know.”

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