Chapter 36: Narrow is the path of enemies
The sixth lap, the seventh lap…
By the time He Yan finished the last lap, she felt like she had been pulled out of water.
Xiao Mai hurried over and handed her a water bottle, “Ah He, drink some water quickly.”
He Yan tilted her head back and gulped down the water.
While she was drinking, instructor Liang walked by, glanced at her up and down, shook his head, and walked away. That look clearly indicated that He Yan was only suitable to be a support soldier.
“Why did you run it all?” Hong Shan said, “You’re really stubborn. I’ve seen others running fewer laps; they’re smarter than you!”
He Yan was too tired to speak and simply replied, “I don’t want to be a support soldier.”
“What’s wrong with being a support soldier? Don’t underestimate them; they might live longer than us,” Hong Shan retorted.
“I agree,” Xiao Mai said dreamily, “If I were a support soldier, I could cook for everyone and make delicious food!”
He Yan: “….if you want to cook, you should be a chef, not join the army.”
Xiao Mai looked helplessly at Shitou, “Big brother asked me to come.”
What kind of people are they? He Yan sighed inwardly.
She was extremely exhausted, and her legs were starting to feel weak. Hong Shan and Xiao Mai supported her from both sides and asked, “How long do you think you can hold on? It’s only the first day.”
As long as I can endure, He Yan thought.
The day passed in exhaustion. Instructor Shen was stern and merciless. At noon, several soldiers who tried to slack off by running fewer laps were caught and punished in front of everyone, enduring a severe beating with sticks. This served as a warning to others, and during the afternoon training, no one dared to be lazy or escape the drills.
As He Yan had predicted, the first half month focused on physical training, mainly carrying heavy loads and standing under the scorching sun, along with other formation drills. After half a month, they would begin their skill training, and eventually, they would be divided into different units.
In her previous life, He Yan was in the Vanguard Battalion, and she still wanted to join it this time. However, the problem was that if Xiao Jue’s training method continued, she wouldn’t make it to the Vanguard Battalion; her physical strength was her weak point.
As she ate her porridge, He Yan pondered.
The porridge is made from thick rice porridge, with various wild vegetables, fruits, and beans added. In the morning, half a dou of rice is given, and in the evening, one-third dou of millet, occasionally with some dumplings. If things are better, there might also be soup cakes and meat.
However, it’s just the beginning, so there’s only porridge.
Originally it had a plain and bland taste, but because of today’s extreme exhaustion, the hunger had long been intense. There was almost no conversation at the dining place; everyone was burying their heads and eating diligently.
“It would be nice if we had some wine,” Hong Shan smacked his lips, “Now I finally understand why only desperate people come to join the army. Who would willingly do this?”
“I want to go hunting,” Xiao Mai pouted at Shitou, “Big brother, I want to eat roasted rabbit.”
Shitou replied, “….Wait a few days.”
He Yan found it funny. Waiting a few days wouldn’t change anything; there was no chance for hunting. If you tried to escape after entering the camp, you would be labeled a deserter and executed.
After dinner, everyone went to take a bath. Hong Shan hesitated for a moment and asked, “Ah He, aren’t you going?”
After being exposed to the sun all day, covered in sweat, everyone was sticky and smelled bad. The river was already crowded with people. Hong Shan said, “Don’t worry; I’ll hold onto you. You won’t slip.”
He Yan looked hesitant, “It’s okay, Brother Shan. When it’s late at night, I’ll get some buckets of water from the river and wash up on the shallow bank.”
“Alright then,” Hong Shan didn’t insist, “You rest first.”
After Hong Shan and the others left, He Yan finally relaxed.
Entering the military camp was indeed inconvenient. As a common soldier in the outpost, there were no individual rooms in the barracks, nor were there separate tents in the wilderness. Bathing became a major issue. She had experienced a period of constrained life before, where she had to be on guard at all times to avoid exposure. However, as she climbed up the ranks and became a vice-general, and then a main general, she had her own private tent or room, and these problems were no longer an issue.
But now, starting all over again, she had to walk the same old path.
He Yan rested on her bed for a while. By the time the people who went to the river for a bath returned one after another, everyone had settled down, and Hong Shan’s snoring started next to her. He Yan woke up and glanced at the moon outside. Judging by the time, it was already midnight. She quietly got up from the bed, passed by Xiao Mai, and rolled up her clean clothes. Then she slipped out of the room, trying not to make any noise.
Outside the Liangzhou garrison, the wilderness was vast, and a bright moon shone overhead. Perhaps because it was a border area, the moonlight here was different from that of the capital. He Yan quietly made her way to the river.
This river surrounding the garrison was at the foot of the White Moon Mountain and had an interesting name – Five Deer River. Legend has it that one day, a fisherman living by the river returned late at night and saw a fairy in plain clothes riding a five-colored deer on the river. That’s how the river got its name.
There were many boulders by the river, and He Yan found a large rock to place her clean clothes on to keep them from getting wet. Then she took off her outer garment and stepped into the water.
As she had told Hong Shan, she didn’t dare to get too close to the water after the incident where she drowned in the pond at the Xu family. If it weren’t necessary, she wouldn’t even come to the river. Even when she did enter the water, she only dared to stay in the shallows.
The river water was icy cold, a relief in the scorching summer. The river breeze was refreshing as well. He Yan splashed water on her face, and the exhaustion from carrying the sandbag under the scorching sun disappeared instantly. Her whole body felt comfortable and relaxed. Here, the moonlight was as cold as frost and snow, shining on the vast wilderness and the wide river, creating a magnificent and beautiful scene.
“White Moon Mountain, Five Deer River…” He Yan mumbled softly. The names were so elegant and indeed fitting. She looked at the silver moon and couldn’t help but think that if there was a fisherman passing by at this moment, he might mistake her for the rumored “Beauty Fairy”.
As she pondered this, she found it amusing and laughed to herself.
“Who’s there?” A voice sounded in the silence, unfamiliar yet familiar.
He Yan almost swallowed a mouthful of water.
Seriously? It’s already this late, and someone’s still coming?
The person’s footsteps paused for a moment before approaching He Yan’s direction. At first, she was stunned, but then she quickly hid behind a giant rock. Since she was standing in shallow water near the riverbank, the person could clearly see her.
It was a young man wearing a blue dark-patterned robe embroidered with immortal cranes. The embroidered cranes seemed like they were about to take flight in the wind. He was exceptionally good-looking, with a graceful and elegant demeanor, and his eyes and brows were as handsome as a painting. The longsword at his waist, shining like ice and snow under the moonlight, added a touch of coldness to his demeanor.
This beautiful youth was none other than the Right Army Commander, Xiao Jue.
He Yan recognized him, and her heart sighed in despair.
What a ‘narrow is the path of enemies’.