Chapter 38: Competition for Food
On the second day, they still woke up at the unchanged hour of 5 a.m. for the strenuous morning run with weighted packs.
The new recruits were suffering greatly. In addition to yesterday’s training, they now had to perform other tasks as well. All the new recruits were dressed in uniform crimson attire. When they assembled in the morning, they had to ensure their appearance was immaculate. Even the beds, which were messed up during the night, had to be neatly arranged before setting off in the morning. If there was any disorder, they would have to do an extra round.
With each additional round, it became unbearable. Amidst the cries and complaints, the appearance and military discipline of the new recruits were rapidly improved within just half a month. Though they might not have learned military formations and archery yet, their drill formation and discipline were already looking decent.
He Yan sighed as she watched, realizing that although Xiao Jue had become more ruthless, his methods were quite effective. Compared to Commander Xiao, she felt that her previous training methods were too lenient.
They say kindness does not suit the duties of a general or protecting wealth. It seemed she had to learn more from Xiao Jue.
As the new recruits ran in circles, the instructors took advantage of the breaks to talk.
Chief Instructor Shen Han looked at Liang Ping and asked, “Why don’t I see that… ah, that weakest boy from your squad?”
Over the past few days, everyone knew that among the new recruits who came to the Liangzhou Garrison, there was a boy who was the weakest in Liang Ping’s squad. He was thin, weak, and had very little stamina, often falling behind during the morning run. In just a day or two, everyone knew of him.
In other words, he was infamous for being weak.
“You mean He Yan?” Liang Ping pursed his lips toward the distant mountain road and said, “He’s in the front. Look, the one running with the group in the middle is him.”
Shen Han looked over and saw the boy running ahead with a sandbag on his back. Although everyone wore uniform crimson attire, due to his exceptionally frail and short figure, he could still be recognized at a glance.
Shen Han was somewhat surprised. “He hasn’t fallen behind?”
“How could he?” A complicated emotion appeared on Liang Ping’s face. “This kid is incredibly determined.”
Speaking of, Liang Ping had also been skeptical about He Yan at the beginning. To be honest, having been an instructor for so many years, he had seen many new recruits and could judge whether they could become skilled soldiers just by looking at them. He Yan’s physical aptitude was indeed very poor. It seemed that he had grown up in a privileged environment, and it was evident that he lacked strength. During the first morning run, he was panting and gasping, which led Liang Ping to make a decision in his heart: He could only be a support soldier.
Unexpectedly, this kid had a weak body, but a strong will. Even though he was always lagging behind, he still ran with the group every day. Liang Ping also noticed that from the first day to now, he had never tried to slack off. He ran with such determination.
If a fallen rich young master came to be a soldier and showed such determination and perseverance, it would have already been quite remarkable. Moreover, He Yan wasn’t just wasting his efforts.
It seemed like he had mastered some kind of technique, or perhaps he was gradually adapting to this kind of weighted running. From starting off behind everyone and gradually falling behind less, he had now managed to barely keep up with the group. Liang Ping even had the illusion that if this continued, he might even run at the front in a few more days.
Just as Liang Ping was thinking this, he heard Shen Han’s voice beside him.
“What’s the use of a strong will if he doesn’t have the talent? Even if he can barely keep up with running, he’ll find skills training too difficult in the future… I don’t know if he’ll be able to pass the skills training.”
Before skills training, the final morning run was used to evaluate the physical fitness and potential of the new recruits. Many recruits fell behind these days, and some didn’t even have the possibility of going through skills training. The military had limited manpower, and they couldn’t invest in people who weren’t worth it.
War was cruel, and before the brutal war, they could only choose some people who could bear such cruelty.
“I think he can do it.” Liang Ping said.
Shen Han looked at him, and the other instructors also looked at him. Someone said, “Instructor Liang, are you sure? Don’t be mistaken. You should know that such weak people… won’t survive on the battlefield.”
Although that may be the case… Liang Ping smiled and said, “As you know, mental fortitude can be honed to be as sharp as a blade. Who can say for sure? “
He looked at He Yan. The boy’s forehead was covered in sweat. It was a hot summer day, and his companions running with him were irritated and annoyed. Yet he was the only one with a smile, showing no sign of complaint.
Such determination was truly rare.
He Yan had no idea that she had become the center of discussion among the instructors. She finished the last lap and put down the sandbag. Just then, Hong Shan punched her shoulder as he approached her.
“Hehe, kid, you’re really something.” Hong Shan rubbed his chin as he sized her up. “Now you can keep up with us. Are you happy? No need to be a support soldier anymore, right?”
He Yan laughed, “That’s truly great.”
Seeing her in a much better state than a few days ago after finishing the run, Hong Shan was also happy for her. Just then, Xiao Mai waved at them from afar, “Brother Ah He, Brother Shan, come on, today we have meat-filled buns!”
After being here for so long, they finally got a chance to eat some meat. Hearing this, He Yan suddenly felt her mouth watering, and Hong Shan licked his lips, saying, “Finally, a good meal! Let’s go!”
There was watery porridge in the iron pot, one bowl per person, and next to it was a large wooden barrel filled with steaming meat buns. The delicious aroma could be smelled from afar. The soldier in charge of distribution stood by the barrel, and each person could take one.
He Yan also took one.
Holding the bowl of porridge, she couldn’t find a place to sit, so she decided to find a shady spot to sit down and enjoy her meal. She saw Xiao Mai, that little clever guy, waving to her under a tree, indicating that he had found a good spot to stay cool.
He Yan planned to go over there.
As she was halfway there, suddenly, someone bumped into her shoulder with great force, causing her to stagger, and half of her porridge spilled out of the bowl.
She also lost her grip on the meat-filled bun, and it rolled away. As she was about to reach for it, a hand came out of nowhere and snatched it away.
She stopped and found a tall man with a small beard standing in front of her. He had an old scar running from his left forehead to his cheek, giving him a ferocious and intimidating appearance. He took the bun as if it were his own, not even sparing a glance at He Yan, and continued walking.
A foot was placed in front of the man.
He paused and looked at the person before him.
The young boy pulled back his foot, still wearing a polite smile on his face, as if he didn’t know what had just happened. He said, “Excuse me, sir, it seems you took the wrong thing.”
“The bun in your hand is mine.”
The scar-faced man looked at him strangely, then suddenly burst into laughter, as if he had heard something funny. He spoke in a hoarse and unpleasant voice, “Do you know what you’re saying?”
“I said,” the young man remained calm, “the bun in your hand is mine.”