Rebirth of a Star General Chapter 96

Chapter 96: Probing

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In the night, a row of soldiers stood at the gate of the Sun Residence, an unusual sight for guarding one’s own gate. However, given the current state of panic and paranoia that had gripped Sun Xiangfu, he didn’t care about the oddity of it all. All the servants in the residence were being questioned one by one, but so far, no suspicious individuals had been identified.

Right Army Commander Xiao Jue and Imperial Censor Yuan Baozhen were both staying in the residence. Sun Xiangfu could sense an undercurrent of tension between these two apparently calm individuals. He sat in his room, sighing with exasperation, having learned the full details of the entire incident from the servants. “Father, why are you still troubled by this matter?” Sun Ling asked.

Sun Xiangfu’s anger flared, “If it weren’t for your meddlesome actions in bringing those women back to the residence, we wouldn’t be in this predicament!”

“I brought those women back for my own use, not for you to entertain guests,” Sun Ling retorted and rolled his eyes. “Now that trouble has arisen, you blame me? Those women were useless; if they wanted to assassinate someone, they should have succeeded on their first attempt. They died for nothing, and who knows whose gain that is?”

Before he could finish his sentence, Sun Ling was silenced by a hand over his mouth, and his father, Sun Xiangfu, looked around cautiously. He whispered, “Do you want to die? Don’t say such things!”

Sun Ling, undeterred, said in a hushed tone, “I didn’t say anything wrong. Father, do you also happen to dislike Xiao Jue?”

Sun Xiangfu fell silent. Was it even a question of whether he liked Xiao Jue or not? Rather than whether he liked Xiao Jue, he should be more concerned about whether Xiao Jue liked him.

“I overheard that Xiao Jue and Yuan Baozhen seem to have some disagreements. You can just sit back and watch them go at it. Lord Yuan is quite amicable, so why not secretly assist him? An enemy’s enemy is a friend, right? If something does go wrong, you not only get rid of Xiao Jue, but you also build a connection with Lord Yuan. Wouldn’t that be killing two birds with one stone?” Sun Ling suggested.

He felt confident that he was making a valid point, but Sun Xiangfu unexpectedly slapped him on the head, scolding, “It’s not as simple as you think! Today, you didn’t see it, but Xiao Jue that person…” He hesitated as he remembered something, and a hint of fear flashed in his eyes. “He’s not easy to handle.”


Inside the room, the dimly lit lamps cast a shadowy atmosphere. Yuan Baozhen sat at the table, his expression changing as he mulled over the situation. His unassuming guard stood behind him, his eyes flickering with uncertainty.

“Xiao Jue is suspicious of me,” Yuan Baozhen finally said, “and now, the opportunity may be lost.”

“Why would he suspect you?” his guard, named Ding Yi, asked.

Thinking about what had just happened in Sun Xiangfu’s study, Yuan Baozhen was furious. Xiao Jue’s blatant suspicion and arrogant tone left him at a loss for words. He had only recently arrived in Liangzhou City and had no prior interactions with Xiao Jue. No matter how you looked at it, Xiao Jue should not have any reason to suspect him. 

“And, how did Cheng Lisu go blind?” Yuan Baozhen furrowed his brow. “Was this part of the plan as well?” 

Ding Yi shook his head. “I’ve never heard of it.”

Suspicion wouldn’t get them anywhere now. With all the assassins dead and not a single survivor, their questions remained unanswered. 

“That Cheng Lisu seems a bit strange,” Ding Yi spoke up. “If it weren’t for his timely intervention, Xiao Jue might have drunk the poisoned wine.” 

His reminder prompted Yuan Baozhen to recall. During the banquet tonight, when Xiao Jue raised his wine cup, Cheng Lisu’s sudden and loud shout of “Don’t drink!” had been unexpected but crucial in preventing the poisoning. If Cheng Lisu hadn’t spoken up… they might be facing a different situation not dire like this. 

“How did he know the wine was poisoned…” Yuan Baozhen murmured. After a moment, he began to toy with the lamp base on the table and said, “Since Xiao Jue and the others are in the mansion now, it’s our chance. Tomorrow, I’ll try to approach Cheng Lisu. If that young man is truly blind, perhaps we can use him as leverage against Xiao Jue, taking a roundabout approach to resolve this.” 


Unaware of the hidden currents at play, He Yan sat inside the room, engaged in a heated argument with Fei Nu.

After her eyes had developed issues, Xiao Jue had summoned Fei Nu to guard He Yan’s room. Given the previous assassination attempt at the Sun Residence, there were concerns about the possibility of more infiltrators among the servants and attendants. The idea of He Yan being alone was not good, so having Fei Nu around provided a greater sense of security.

“Big Brother Fei Nu, please, you can go outside. I can manage on my own,” He Yan complained, her head aching.

“Your eyes can’t see,” Fei Nu responded robotically, “Young Master instructed me to watch over you.”

“If you guard the door, that should be enough. You don’t need to be my personal servant. It makes me very uncomfortable,” He Yan earnestly pleaded. “Could you please leave?”

“I cannot disobey orders.”

“Why are you as stubborn as your master? Can’t you show some understanding?”

As Xiao Jue approached the door, all he heard was the last sentence. He halted his steps at the doorway and asked, “What’s going on?”

Fei Nu replied, “Young Master…”

Before Fei Nu could finish, He Yan had already turned her gaze in the direction of the door, even though her eyes were still covered by a cloth strip. She held onto something in her hand, which might have been clothing. “Did my uncle come? Big Brother Fei Nu went crazy; he wanted to help me bathe!”

Fei Nu moved his lips as if to respond but seemed at a loss for words. He tried to explain, “He can’t see, and I was worried…”

“Uncle! You know very well I have a fiancée, and my body is as pure and virtuous. How can you let others see me like this?” The young man’s voice regained its usual liveliness, banishing the previous melancholy and panic. He put on his characteristic unreasonable demeanor once more. “If my engagement falls apart because of you, Big Brother Fei Nu, can you afford to compensate me for losing a fiancée? You don’t even have one yourself.”

Fei Nu: “….”

Xiao Jue glanced at her and taunted, “Are you sure you won’t drown?”

The bathing tub was placed in the middle of the room behind a folding screen. The water was not too deep, and the room was adorned with flower petals, a luxury He Yan was not accustomed to. She had never experienced such an exquisite floral bath even when she lived as a woman, yet now, as a man, she found herself indulging in it.

“Uncle, did you forget that in Liangzhou, I could shoot sparrows in the sky blindfolded? How could I possibly drown?” He Yan said confidently. “Don’t worry, if I truly become blind, I can’t let others do everything for me my whole life. It’s a possibility, Uncle, but I’ll manage.”

Fei Nu had nothing to say. He had seen many comrades in the Nine Banner Battalion who, when missing limbs or otherwise disabled, remained cheerful and resilient but still had to cope with a period of despondency. He Yan was the quickest he had ever seen someone recover from such a state. If it weren’t for the blindfold over her eyes, he would have doubted whether she was truly blind.

Xiao Jue saw that she was full of confidence and didn’t bother to pay her any more attention. He turned to Fei Nu and said, “Come out.” 

Fei Nu followed him outside, and the door was closed behind them. Only then did He Yan breathe a sigh of relief.

She hadn’t removed the cloth strip from her eyes, but she undressed and stepped into the bathing tub, submerging her entire body in the water. If someone were present, they would surely be surprised by how effortlessly she went about these tasks, as if she could see.

The water temperature was just right, a far cry from the cold river waters she used to bathe in by the barracks. Despite the comfort, she dared not linger. Steam rose around her, obscuring her silhouette, and the smile on her face faded.

She had anticipated attending the banquet and didn’t expect to stay here for several days. With the added presence of people around her, she needed to be extra cautious to prevent her true identity as a woman from being discovered.

She still remembered that final gesture of Ding Yi at the banquet, the subtle bending of his fingers. If she hadn’t been closely watching Ding Yi, it might have been overlooked. But because she recognized Ding Yi, she also knew that the last servant who rushed toward Xiao Jue was arranged by Ding Yi. This made the situation quite peculiar.

Ding Yi used to be He Rufei’s personal servant, and Yuan Baozhen was He Rufei’s friend. If Ding Yi was conspiring with the assassins at the banquet to kill Xiao Jue, in a way, it might have been at He Rufei’s behest. But why would He Rufei want to kill Xiao Jue?

In her previous life as “He Rufei,” she and Xiao Jue had a decent relationship, and they were even classmates at Xianchang Academy. He Yan, returning to her original self, had no prior conflicts with Xiao Jue. So, why resort to such ruthless means to take Xiao Jue’s life?

Perhaps it was time to have a conversation with Yuan Baozhen.


During the night, He Yan shared a room with Xiao Jue and Fei Nu. 

They chose not to separate due to concerns about potential assassins within the Sun Residence. However, the room had an inner and outer area. Xiao Jue naturally stayed in the inner room, while Fei Nu and He Yan each slept on one side of the outer cots. He Yan felt like she was serving as Xiao Jue’s protector in this arrangement, and she couldn’t help but feel a bit bitter about it. She had, after all, suffered injuries on Xiao Jue’s behalf, but she hadn’t even secured a cot in the inner room. It made her feel undervalued.

However, she didn’t dwell on these thoughts for long and soon fell asleep. Surprisingly, she had a peaceful night’s sleep. She was awakened early the next morning by Fei Nu.

She sat up and, instinctively, asked, “What time is it?”

“Chen Shi,” Fei Nu replied.

“Oh,” He Yan said, reaching up to touch the cloth strip covering her eyes. This time, she decided to remove it.

Transitioning from darkness to light, a sighted person would often need a moment to adjust, squinting as their eyes adapted. However, He Yan simply opened her eyes, showing no signs of discomfort. Fei Nu’s heart sank as he inquired, “Can you see?”

He Yan shook her head in confusion.

A moment of silence followed.

“Perhaps… it will get better in a few days,” Fei Nu awkwardly attempted to console her. He wasn’t particularly sympathetic toward He Yan, but he had heard that during last night’s banquet, He Yan had not only alerted Xiao Jue but had also actively assisted in dealing with the assassins. While this young man’s identity was suspicious, he hadn’t harmed Xiao Jue thus far.

“Is my uncle not here?” He Yan asked.

“Master is not here,” Fei Nu replied.

He Yan nodded in response, thought for a moment, and then covered her eyes with the cloth strip again.

Fei Nu was surprised. “Why are you putting it back on? The herbs have been used for a day, and they’re no longer effective. You didn’t complain about eye pain today, so the cloth strip isn’t necessary.”

“It’s better to wear it. It reminds others that I can’t see now,” He Yan smiled. “People should be more tolerant of a blind person. I can’t avoid others, but others can avoid me, right?”

Wearing the cloth strip made her look more like a blind person than not. Fei Nu had a sudden realization, a fleeting thought that he couldn’t quite grasp. After a while, he didn’t say anything but suggested, “Let’s go have breakfast.”

He Yan nodded.

With Xiao Jue absent, Fei Nu and He Yan washed up and then sat in the room to eat. Fei Nu had prepared the food in advance, and He Yan insisted on handling it herself, even though she ate slowly. The servants summoned by Sun Xiangfu had all been sent away. After the incident with Xiao Jue, He Yan didn’t trust any of the servants in this household.

After they finished eating, Fei Nu had the leftover dishes cleared away, leaving He Yan alone for a while. She hadn’t been alone for long when she heard approaching footsteps. The steps were light, and if it weren’t for her exceptional hearing, they might have gone unnoticed. It wasn’t just one person; there were two.

It was unlikely to be Xiao Jue, and Fei Nu had just left. He Yan had a good idea of who it might be. She didn’t show any reaction, maintaining her silence as if lost in thought.

As the footsteps approached, it seemed as though they were examining her closely. He Yan, with the cloth strip over her eyes, didn’t move.

After a while, one of the newcomers suddenly spoke, “Young Master Cheng.”

“Ah!” He Yan was startled and nearly fell off her chair. She clumsily stood up, accidentally bumping her foot against the table leg, causing her to yelp in pain. Someone rushed to her side, asking, “Are you all right?”

He Yan reached out blindly, asking, “Who is it?”

He grabbed someone’s sleeve, and the person spoke kindly to her, “I am Yuan Baozhen, not a bad person. You can relax, young master.”

He Yan finally calmed down, breathed a sigh of relief, and spoke with a lingering fear, “So it’s Imperial Censor Yuan. I thought those assassins had come again and scared me! Why didn’t you make any sound when you entered?” 

“I’m really sorry, really sorry. I didn’t expect to startle the young lord,” Yuan Baozhen chuckled. “I heard that the young lord can’t see, so I came to check on you.” 

As he said this, Yuan Baozhen’s tone was filled with concern and compassion, but his face showed no signs of a smile. He stared intently at He Yan’s expression, as if trying to determine whether He Yan was truly blind or just pretending. However, He Yan’s eyes were covered with a cloth, rendering her completely sightless. 

When you can’t see a person’s gaze, it’s challenging to detect any flaws in their expression. 

Yuan Baozhen’s scrutiny was intense, something an ordinary person might not notice, but He Yan could feel it acutely. She held onto Ding Yi, as Yuan Baozhen was cautious and hesitant, not daring to approach directly. Yet, his gaze was as persistent as a maggot burrowing into one’s bones.

Despite this, He Yan didn’t show any signs of suspicion. She appeared somewhat distressed and displayed a carefree attitude typical of a young person. She replied, “Yes, I can’t see now, but my uncle said he would find a divine healer to cure me, so it should only be temporary blindness.”

Her response, meant to reassure and placate, made it seem like she was genuinely blind. Mentioning a “divine healer” was designed to sound comforting and reassuring, something one might say to console a child.

Yuan Baozhen took a seat on a nearby chair, shook his head, and sighed, “I didn’t expect that this trip would result in the Young Lord’s injury. Fortunately, it didn’t cost a life, and Commander Xiao is unharmed.” He then seemed to remember something and looked at He Yan with a puzzled expression, asking, “But Young Lord, how did you know there were assassins during last night’s banquet and prevented Commander from drinking that cup of wine?” 

Since no one knew whether the wine was poisoned, Yuan Baozhen cleverly avoided mentioning the wine itself and focused on the assassination attempt. He Yan inwardly smirked, seeing through his probing. She tilted her head as if unaware of Yuan Baozhen’s location and hesitated for a moment before answering, “I didn’t know about the assassins at the time. I just saw a flying insect land in my uncle’s wine cup.” 

Her unexpected response left Ding Yi and Yuan Baozhen baffled. Both of them were momentarily stunned, and Yuan Baozhen asked, “A flying insect?” 

“Yes, you see, my uncle is quite particular about cleanliness,” He Yan sighed. “If his clothes get dusty, he’ll change them immediately. If his shoes get muddy, he’ll never wear them again. When I saw a flying insect in his wine cup, I just wanted to remind him not to drink it and get a different cup. Who would have thought there were assassins? I was startled myself. Who could have anticipated that?”

So, it was for this reason? Yuan Baozhen was somewhat incredulous. At that moment, Cheng Lisu’s cry had been desperate and anxious, causing everyone to worry. And it turned out to be because of this? If it weren’t for this reason, how could a young master who knew nothing be so prescient and aware that there was something wrong with the wine?

Perhaps it was just a lucky accident? Yuan Baozhen couldn’t help but feel a mix of annoyance and suspicion. Looking at Cheng Lisu, he found the young man to be particularly annoying.

However, “Cheng Lisu” didn’t seem to realize the antipathy directed towards him. Instead, he seemed especially close and friendly in the presence of Yuan Baozhen. He asked with a smile, “I heard from my uncle that you came from Shuo Jing?”

“That’s right.”

“Do you happen to know the Flying Phoenix General, He Rufei?” He Yan inquired.

This question instantly filled the room with silence. Ding Yi, who was very close to He Yan, had his hand on his long knife, ready to draw it in an instant. For a moment, the air was thick with tension.

Yuan Baozhen, however, was looking at He Yan’s face, his expression puzzled as he asked, “Young Lord, why would you suddenly ask about Flying Phoenix General?”

“People say that Flying Phoenix General and my uncle are archenemies and that their martial skills are evenly matched. I’ve never met the Flying Phoenix General, so I don’t know how skilled he is or what he looks like,” He Yan said. “Since Lord Yuan came from Shuo Jing and serves in the same court, you might have met him. I’ve heard that he used to wear a mask, but he’s removed it now. Is he handsome?”

The “Cheng Lisu” in front of them spoke with a light and carefree tone. He seemed unaware of the nearly drawn blade on his side. His questions were posed like those of a playful young man from the capital, and it put Yuan Baozhen at ease. For a moment, he thought that this young man had discovered something and almost considered silencing him.

“I’ve met him, and he’s quite handsome, but he probably can’t compare to Commander Xiao,” Yuan Baozhen answered with a smile.

“Not as handsome as my uncle?” He Yan instantly looked disappointed but quickly added, “So, Imperial Censor Yuan, are you close to Flying Phoenix General? If you are, when I return to Shuo Jing in the future, could you introduce me to Flying Phoenix General? I’ve heard so much about his exploits and would like to see for myself what kind of person he is. Just make sure my uncle doesn’t find out about it; I’m afraid he’ll punish me with copying books.”

“Young Master, you might be disappointed,” Yuan Baozhen shook his head. “I only know Flying Phoenix General in passing; we’re not acquainted. If you want an introduction, it would be better to have Commander Xiao introduce you.”

He Yan muttered quietly, “I wouldn’t dare ask him to introduce me.”

Hearing this, Yuan Baozhen looked at her and suddenly said, “I came here today because I was worried that Young Master might be upset about your eye condition. But seeing you now, it seems I worried needlessly. You don’t appear very sad.”

He Yan asked in surprise, “Why would Imperial Censor Yuan say that? I cried for a full two hours last night. If my uncle hadn’t scolded me to stop making sounds, you wouldn’t even see me now. Besides, I’ve thought about it since then. Who am I? I’m the Young Master of the Right Division director’s young lord. Even though I don’t know anything, as long as I have my uncle, my eyes will surely recover. My uncle said a divine healer could cure them, so they will definitely be healed!”

Her words were filled with admiration and trust in Xiao Jue, leaving Yuan Baozhen momentarily speechless. He Yan’s words were cleverly crafted, and he couldn’t find any loopholes for now. However…he still felt uneasy.

“Young Master is right. Commander Xiao can do anything, and he’ll definitely find a way,” Yuan Baozhen said with a smile as he stood up. “In that case, I should leave now. Young Master is not feeling well, so you should lie down in bed. I noticed there are no servants in this room. Where are they?”

“I asked them to leave,” He Yan said with a smile. “After what happened last night, I can’t trust the servants in this mansion. Do you dare to use them, Imperial Censor Yuan? You have quite the courage.”

Yuan Baozhen chuckled. “But now that you can’t see, you still need someone to attend to you.”

“Fei Nu will take care of me, and I can manage on my own,” He Yan said with a smile. “Imperial Censor Yuan, don’t worry, I can handle it myself.”

Yuan Baozhen smiled and said, “Young Master is clever. I’ll take my leave now.” With that, he turned to leave but stopped just outside the door. Standing at the entrance, he didn’t move.

Inside the room, Ding Yi hadn’t made a single move.

When they entered, Yuan Baozhen had been the one talking, and Ding Yi hadn’t uttered a word. He Yan might easily assume that there was only one person in the room.

Yuan Baozhen stood at the door, gesturing with his eyes to Ding Yi.

He Yan stood up, her steps unsteady, and began to walk into the room. Ding Yi was right in front of her, and she could feel that there was a hidden Emei Thorn in his sleeve. She had already thought about what to do if Ding Yi made a move—how to avoid him and how to thrust the Emei Thorn into his heart.

The young man had a cloth blindfold over his eyes but didn’t reach out to take it off. She held onto the wall and slowly walked into the room. Perhaps the people in the room were worried that her movements would be hindered by obstacles, so they had moved chairs and other things to the side, creating a clear path from the table to the bed. All she had to do was feel her way along the wall.

He Yan did the same.

As she approached the bed, Ding Yi bent down and placed a stool in front of her.

Unaware, He Yan took a step forward, and with a loud “clang,” she tripped and fell forward. It was an unfortunate fall, as she hit her forehead against the bed frame, immediately forming a swelling bump. She tumbled to the ground, half of her body sprawled out, her hand scraped and bleeding. It took her a while to get back up.

Ding Yi shook his head at Yuan Baozhen.

Seeing this, Yuan Baozhen turned to leave, and Ding Yi followed him quietly.

In the room, only He Yan remained.

He Yan moaned and cried out while clutching her head, but no one saw her. A cold smile played at the corners of her lips.

—Side Note—

Yan Yan: Not winning an Oscar is a pity…

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