Gu Fang Bu Zi Shang Vol01 Ch20
Chu Beijie led his troops through the forests and chose a somewhat open area to take a short break. He sent orders to get the best of his spies to check the movements of the Bei Mo army.
Together with Moran, they put up the central command tent and began studying the map.
“The forest surrounds the Kanbu for several hectares all around. Lots of places have yet to be explored. This means that the Bei Mo army couldn’t have gone in too much. The best places for them to stay are here, here, and there.” Chu Beijie’s finger moved, respectively pointing out the three mountain symbols on the map.
Moran agreed. “The Bei Mo army is approximately fifty thousand, so it’s very unlikely for them to fully disappear in this forest in such a short time. Our spies can definitely find out their location. However, if they really are living up high in the mountain to defend, this war won’t be resolved any time soon.”
Chu Beijie smiled at this and warmly asked, “Does Moran know why I chose to have ten thousand soldiers with me?”
With this hint, Moran’s eyes lit up with understanding. “Duke wants them to attack first?”
“The Bei Mo army and my army have been attacking each other for ages without result. They need a big victory to heighten everyone’s spirits.” Chu Beijie’s cheerful smile was unreadable. He turned back to the map and pointed at a tall mountain in the Southeast direction.
“If my analysis is correct, Pingting should have stationed troops there.”
“Duke just mentioned that only three mountains were possible and why is Duke so confident that they’d be on that mountain?”
“Although there are three possibilities, this place is the one that suits Pingting the most.”
Moran was about to ask again when a voice from outside the tent called, “Duke, I found out where the Bei Mo army is.”
“Come in and speak.”
The spy came in and reported, “The Bei Mo army is currently stationed on Mount Dianqing. It is the most dangerous, and according to the map, there’s a strong little river flowing nearby which seems to be the source of the several streams around here.”
Surprisingly, he then asked, “If Moran was the Bei Mo main military advisor, how would you attack my ten thousand soldiers?”
Moran was familiar with the battlefield and so he knew the answer.
“One of the basics of war is to secure a lodge near a water source so that soldiers and their horses can have easier access to water. If I were the Bei Mo main advisor, I would first find the source of the main streams, then add a poison that can diminish the enemy’s fighting spirit.”
“This plan could only work once thought as it has to be before I understand the geography. Pingting must have thought that I’m usually too busy with the soldiers and don’t understand these forests well. I always take notice of the geography when I go to a place though. I study as many maps as I can beforehand.” Chu Beijie couldn’t help but grin. “I predict she’ll poison the water tonight. Then, her army will be sent down and surround my ten thousand soldiers.”
Moran studied the expression on Chu Beijie’s face and realised he had a clear idea of what was going on. “Please make your command then, Duke.”
Chu Beijie lifted the tent flap to stare at the changing clouds behind a distant mountain. His thoughts seemed far away when his deep voice full of anticipation said, “Pingting may have a plan of her own, but she’ll think that the real battle will be under the mountain. There won’t be many troops at the top though, so we can take this opportunity to shock her.”
He snapped back. “Pass on this command: everyone must cut branches to each make a fake person, and they must wear armour. Tonight, station them outside the tents and make it look like we’re asleep, unprepared for battle.’”
Moran hurriedly went outside to pass on the order.
The soldiers outside the tent immediately began to bustle into life. Not long later, Moran came back and informed, “Duke’s task has been completed.”
Chu Beijie nodded and snapped on his own armour. With sword in hand, he broke out the command tent.
“Get on your horses, take the Cloud Valley route and capture the Bei Mo generals!”
The entire army shouted ‘Yes!’ in reply and left, leaving empty tents and nearly nine thousand fake soldiers behind.
Ten thousand soldiers stealthily approached Mount Dianqing, camouflaged against the varied trees in the forest. There stealth so great that even their breaths made no sound. They soon stopped at the foot of the mountain opposite of Mount Dianqing, ready to go through the ominous Cloud Valley route, where Pingting was.
Back in the Bei Mo army, everything was as Chu Beijie had thought.
Pingting had stationed most of the army near the water source. The tents were close to the summit and having the height advantage allowed clear views of the surrounding territory.
All of the other generals were with the rest of the army. At the moment, only Pingting, Ze Yin, and Ruohan were left in the main command tent. The three sat in a circle, studying the most concise map of the forests they could find.
“Great plan!” Ze Yin patted his leg in praise. “My Lady really is the strongest opponent Chu Beijie could have. It’s Dong Lin’s first time entering these forests, so they can’t be too familiar with this area. Adding poison to their water before they realize it, Ze Yin can then go and attack their quarters while they’re still poisoned. Humph, I hope Chu Beijie’s in the group of ten thousand so that he will understand that even the men of Bei Mo are strong.”
An idolizing expression was on Ruohan’s eyes as he said, “You understand Chu Beijie so well. My Lady will definitely become the most famous female army advisor in the four countries.”
Pingting’s expression didn’t change or rather, it looked more like an angry-hurt expression.
She sighed. “Generals, don’t be happy yet. The tactic Pingting just mentioned of may be successful against other people, but it won’t work on Chu Beijie.”
Ze Yin was having a pretty good laugh when she said this. He stopped. “Why’s that?”
“Chu Beijie is the strongest general in the world at the moment, and his way of thinking covers everything. Don’t forget that he did once send soldiers to capture poisonous wasps so wouldn’t it be very unusual if he didn’t send someone out to find out the topography of this area as well? Underestimating the enemy is a deadly blow to commanding officers. Pingting will cause a massive defeat if she concludes that Chu Beijie would be easily outdone with a poisoned water source.”
Ruohan paled. “Chu Beijie’s that strong? Then what should we do?”
Pingting’s eyes flickered back to the map. She smiled sweetly. “Once Chu Beijie finds out we’re on Mount Dianqing from his spies, it won’t take long for him to uncover the fact that we’ve poisoned the water. To be honest, the reason why Pingting chose this mountain was really to give him this false impression.”
After speaking so much and so energetically, Pingting broke off by inhaling a few deep breaths of air. Her cheeks were flushed. She rolled her black crystal-like eyes once before continuing. “Once Chu Beijie’s thinks that he’s got my plan, he would make fake people and then look for a path that we won’t expect from and attack the supposedly, mostly empty commanding tents.”
Ze Yin and Ruohan knew that what she was saying was right.
Ze Yin’s beard bobbed up and down as he said, “We can station most of the troops close to the tents, then thrash Chu Beijie’s army.”
Pingting however, shook her head at this, “That’s not the best. Mount Dianqing isn’t the best place for an ambush.”
“There’s something I’d like My Lady to clarify.” Ruohan voiced the question in his thoughts. “My Lady said that Chu Beijie would look for a route that we won’t expect from. Which path is Lady thinking of?”
“Commander Ruohan has got the idea.” Pingting said and pointed at a route on the map.
Ze Yin and Ruohan both looked down and stared at it in shock.
Several moments later, Ruohan finally breathed out, “Chu Beijie actually dares to get ten thousand men to go through the notorious Cloud Valley Route. He’s really daring, huh. But then again, if we hadn’t been able to predict his actions, he would have definitely succeeded.”
“He likes to use bizarre tactics. This time, he’ll get a taste of his own medicine.” Ze Yin almost sneered. “I’ll immediately take some soldiers to round him from behind. I’m sure it will give him a nasty shock.”
He saluted towards Pingting, “Please give me your command, Main Advisor.”
Pingting smiled and held-up a command flag. Then, in a clear ringing voice like a black-naped creole, she commanded, “Listen, Main General Ze Yin, I, as main military advisor, command you to go down the mountain and block the enemy’s escape route. Surround them from the back, they should still be on the opposite mountain, Mount Bilei, at the moment.” After saying this, she felt a flood of unease so she lowered her voice. “Although we have more soldiers than Chu Beijie, surrounding them is more important at the moment. Do not attack without my command.”
“That’s a bit…”
Pingting handed it over nonetheless and explained, “Chu Beijie is Dong Lin’s main advisor and commander, and at the same time is the brother of Dong Lin’s King. Even if we capture him alive, the Dong Lin’s army will be lost.”
She took out another command flag and called, “Commander Ruohan.”
“Please lead another few hundred soldiers and gather at the other end of the Cloud Valley route and damage its rope bridge, so that even the Dong Lin army can’t get any closer to Mount Dianqing.”
Ruohan took the flag and replied ‘Yes Ma’am!’ loudly.
Pingting continued to order, “As an experienced fighter, Commander Ruohan, you don’t have to come back here and report back once you’ve completed your task. You may march down the mountain to help Main General.”
Pingting sighed in relief after making all of the necessary preparations. Her vision had gone blurry again. She knew it was from overworking so she sat down and closed her eyes to rest.
Most of the people had gone with Ze Yin. Their excitement had been obvious. They were ready to ambush their enemy, the army that had stressed and pressured them for so long.
Once the thundering sound of galloping horses passed, her surroundings quieted down.
Pingting calmly sat inside the command tent and woke up listening to the sound of silence, the sound of no sounds dancing in the air.
Plots in plots. She frowned and couldn’t help stroke her sore eyebrows, a habit of hers.
The flashy command flags were really too bright to look at but after so much plotting, she had realised that they weren’t part of a game. Each word she said could send several hundred soldiers, who still had families waiting back at home, to their deaths.
As for Chu Beijie, who had retreated ten kilometres for her, he had been wrong once more.
He would never be able to guess that Pingting could be so cruel, merciless.
Her eyes were dry but she couldn’t even shed half a tear. Somewhere in the immense, dense forest, lay a battlefield. Pingting slowly got up and went through the tent flap to outside.
She found the forest of Mount Dianqing.
Beijie, it’s me, it’s me again. For Yangfeng and for the several thousand people of Bei Mo who’ve lost their homes.
Pain and regret rippled through her body, attacking her from the inside. She wished that this was all a dream.
“Could this be a punishment of my previous past life?” Pingting bit her red lip, not wishing to say more.
The potential bloodshed of her complicated plotting, how was it fair to the person who’d once so tenderly placed daisies in her hair?
She missed him, missed him! Pingting clutched her chest in pain but remembered that she was also the main advisor and the promise she made to Yangfeng and her unborn child.
Parting Soul – her Master was right – her soul had left. Her homeless soul wanted to be picked up by the wind and carried into the Zhen-Bei Ducal Residence, where she could play “Heroes and Beautiful Women” once more.
It was really a pity that the wind nor the mountain wasn’t the place she wanted to be at for it only messed up her hair and did nothing to move her lonely spirit.
“They say a hundred years pass like a dream, but this dream is really long.” Surrounded by strong winds, Pingting muttered, “It’s so damn painful.”
Ze Yin was probably leading his army to where they were as the sky was slowly being dyed red.
Ruohan was probably still damaging the rope bridge.
Even if she feigned indifference – she knew it was too late.
Perhaps the two of them never had another chance to come back together.
Her thoughts almost made her laugh. Once the tactics were decided, there was no further use for an advisor. She was free to think about any rubbish she felt like thinking. In approximately two hours, Ze Yin should have successfully captured Chu Beijie.
If Chu Beijie was captured, he’d utterly hate her, a hatred that seeped from his bones.
Then again, he was almost always composed and would probably escape. Her heart beat wildly, as if his escape was a better solution, but she knew that he’d still hate her nonetheless.
Her heart darkened at the thought.
If Chu Beijie died in battle…Pingting had been constantly avoiding the thought but now she couldn’t help but to worry over it.
“You live, I’ll live as well. If you die, I’ll die with you.” When she had said that, she was in Chu Beijie’s arms, feeling like she could melt into water.
Pingting bit her lip into a sad smile. It was best if Chu Beijie died. Then she could easily giver her own life to him and be together.
“Give me your life.” She only came back to her senses when she said this, only to realise that she was sitting on a patch of grass near the tents. Wary eyes of the few soldiers, who had been left to protect their main advisor, watched.
The sky was still changing when a bomb exploded not far from her. The air was temporarily filled with ashes. Pingting stood up and silently cursed herself for daydreaming again.
“Kill! Kill! Kill! Kill!”
She wasn’t directly in front of the command tent but could still hear the coming battle cry.
Pingting was horrified. She turned backwards, her eyes widening.
The Dong Lin army!
Impossible, how could this be?
“Kill! Capture the enemy advisor alive!”
“Duke has commanded for the capture of the enemy advisor alive!”
Chu Beijie’s command flag appeared on the outskirts surrounding the camp and countless Dong Lin soldiers rushed out from the trees.
The sky was bloody red.
“Protect the main advisor! Protect the main advisor!”
The few remaining soldiers rushed up to defend, but since most of the army was with Ze Yin, their efforts were in vain against the massive Dong Lin army.
Her soldiers, soaked in blood, retreated towards her with their swords in hand.
“We must give up on the campsite! My Lady, get on the horse!”
Lost, she had lost to Chu Beijie. It was more than just obvious.
She still lost in the end.
Pingting widened her eyes and dazedly forced onto the horse by her soldiers. A gaunt, blood-stained face popped into her view.
“My Lady! We must give up on the campsite! Run! Run!”
The hoarse, wild screams of the dying soldiers entered her ears. Pingting finally came back to her senses.
“Whip! Run! Run!”
Her ears were ringing, red pools of blood reflected in her shiny black pupils.
After her soldiers had gotten her on the horse, they went back and took up their fight against the intruders.
“Ahh!” Someone screamed again.
Pingting turned away, her horrified eyes meet with another pair of eyes that almost stopped her heart.
Beijie, do you want to kill me?
The moment their eyes met, Pingting’s heart shattered. She never realised that a person’s heart could shatter into thousands of pieces so easily, so quietly.
Through her tears, Pingting stiffened as she caught sight of Chu Beijie leaping over the fence, surrounding the campsite.
Against her will, she turned her horse and whipped it.
Run, run into this huge forest. Away from this person so I’ll never see him again.
This felt so familiar to her; it was like a replay of back then.
The same actions taken and the same actions felt.
“Pingting!” Chu Beijie’s deep voice came somewhere behind.
Pingting closed her eyes and whipped the horse again. The wind blew hard against her pale white cheeks.
Don’t chase me; it’s too late. There’s nothing between us anyway. Bai Pingting has long lost her soul since she can’t return to her old home in the Jing-An Ducal Residence nor your Zhen-Bei Ducal Residence.
Let’s swear to the moon, never turn against each other.
Her tears blurred her vision, but she could clearly remember his comforting smirk from that time.
Never, ever coming true.
Tears blurred her eyes and she remembered his gentle smile from that day.
Whip, whip again!
She couldn’t care less about the cold wind slapping against her face. Escaping from his field of vision, from the world he breathed air from, was the only thing she wanted to be at this moment.
But she could still hear the gallops of another horse – Chu Beijie was still chasing.
Pingting felt crazed and all she cared was galloping forward, even aimlessly.
Two people on two horses as the sunset dyed the sky light-yellow, through the forest, towards Mount Dianqing’s summit.
The once crazed horse gradually got tired. When Pingting brought down the whip once more, the horse bellowed loudly and threw her off. She fell.
“Watch out!” Chu Beijie yelled.
Pingting slammed heavily into the ground, dazed for a brief moment. She gritted her teeth as she got up and finally realised why the horse had stopped. Not far, was an impossibly steep cliff.
She hadn’t realised that Ze Yin had left such a clever horse for her, but she knew that she had to do something soon. She could never return to Chu Beijie’s side with the status of an imprisoned enemy advisor.
Facing the steep cliff, Pingting calmed down. Standing close to the edge, she secretly looked back at Chu Beijie and smiled.
“This place is really pretty and Pingting is greatly inspired to sing. May Pingting sing a song for Chu Beijie?” She looked friendly enough, her eyes were bright as they followed Chu Beijie’s movements.
Chu Beijie realised that she was acting too calmly and knew that something was wrong. He knew that the things he wanted to say were not appropriate at such a critical moment and if he did, this wonderful woman who was even harder to catch than wisps of smoke wouldn’t hesitate to jump. His mind churned at the thought. He smiled back and softened his voice too.
“Gui Le’s five year treaty is an agreement between Pingting and me. If Pingting jumps, the treaty will no longer be valid and I will lead the Dong Lin army to attack Gui Le immediately. Please reconsider.”
The moment he said this, Pingting’s fake grin disappeared and she froze.
Chu Beijie took this moment to approach her and stopped in front.
The tears in Pingting’s eyes moved but did not fall.
In a quiet voice, she whispered, “Why did Duke come?”
“For you.” Chu Beijie replied. Once he had secured himself onto the horse he reached out a hand and eyed Pingting.
“Get on this horse with me. If you do, you will no longer be a Bai but a Chu.”
Pingting shook as if she had been struck by lightning.
She raised her head and cried, “Beijie!” Despite the feelings of anger, she felt those sweet, salty, spicy, and bitter emotions that she had guarded so carefully, her uncontrollable tears were only ones of happiness.
His strong love only belonged to Bai Pingting after all.
Chu Beijie was quiet for some time before he sighed. “With you calling me Beijie, what’s the point of continuing to attack Bei Mo?” He laughed, delighted.
He looked back at Pingting and warmth filled his eyes. He reached out. “Pingting, come here.”
Pingting studied the lines in his huge hand. Did she remember their warmth? They had once stroked across her hair, her cheeks, her tears, and smile…all from this very hand.
Her hand seemed to stabilize her world, as if her soul had returned and she was free to forget the King, Jing-An Ducal Residence, Gui Le, Bei Mo, and Yangfeng.
Can I really choose not to be a Bai?
She knew the answer as she looked at his hand.
Little by little she came towards him, through the countless mountains of their countries, through the fiery battles of their armies, and by forgetting her past.
From then on, Bai Pingting was no longer a Bai.
The danger in Bei Mo was solved and one day, Yangfeng would probably forget about Pingting and her child would probably never realise that his or her mother once had such a good friend.
Little by little she had gotten closer until finally she had touched those loving hands.
“Ah!” Pingting found herself being hoisted up from the waist the moment her hand tightened around his. In seconds her feet were in the air, but she was on the horse in his arms.
Chu Beijie’s familiar smile entered her field of vision.
“Hey Pingting, the moon’s out.”
She raised her head. It was true, the moon had risen. It was bright and curved, like a silver bowl that had laughed so much until it was permanently ruined its back.
“Let’s swear to the moon to never betray each other.” He spoke each word earnestly.
She studied his solemn expression and replied, “I swear to the moon to never betray each other.”
Under the cold moonlight, the leader of the winning Dong Lin army crossed the Cloud Valley route, carried his one and only woman back to the campsite.
“Why frown?” Chu Beijie looked down at the treasure in his arms that he had spent so much time trying to get.
Pingting’s frown loosened as she replied, puzzled, “A weird feeling I can’t really describe; it feels a bit like frustration.”
“Why’s that?” Chu Beijie softly kissed the top of her hair. “Losing and winning is common in fighting; it’s not embarrassing to lose against your husband you know.”
The Cloud Valley route lay ahead.
“Can…I ask you something about the battle though?” She was still his enemy’s main advisor up until a few moments ago. Even now, she couldn’t help but feel a little uneasy.
Chu Beijie’s expression didn’t change as he replied, “Sure.”
“How is Duke going to punish Ze Yin? He’s Yangfeng’s husband and I…”
“I don’t plan to punish him at all. That’s why I chose the Cloud Valley route.” Chu Beijie chuckled, “I knew that you would poison the water source and then attack our quarters, so I decided to act first and attack your campsite. As for Ze Yin, let him muck around in my campsite of empty tents and fake soldiers.”
Pingting stopped breathing as she realised why she had lost.
Her guesses were completely right, but she had forgotten one thing — that his soldiers moved at an unusually fast pace.
His speed was indeed amazing, attacking several hours earlier than expected. She hadn’t remembered this when she first saw him because back then she was torn between misery and happiness.
Such a simple reason had caused her to lose.
Having said that, does that mean Chu Beijie has no idea that Ze Yin was on the other side of the route. Chasing after his disappearing soldiers?
The horse reached the Cloud Valley route’s rope bridge yet Pingting’s brain could barely work as she’s still in a trance-like state from meeting Chu Beijie. Keeping the Dong Lin army’s speed, they would have long crossed the rope bridge and hidden themselves in the forest before Ruohan damaged it.
No, Ruohan didn’t know that Chu Beijie had already crossed the bridge, meaning that he’d damage it according to the plan.
But…why did the rope bridge look perfectly fine?
During this puzzling moment, there was a nasty cracking sound and the bridge began to sway.
The truth dawned on Pingting like a strike of lightning. Ruohan had indeed followed the plan as he didn’t know that Chu Beijie and his soldiers had already crossed. It was damaged all right and it was still waiting for the enemy to cross it.
Chu Beijie didn’t fall in the trap as he came, but fell into the trap as he returned. It was just like a joke from the Gods.
Crack…crack…the snapping rope bridge gave off ear-splitting noises.
Pingting snapped out of her trance and yelled fiercely at Chu Beijie, “Go back! The bridge has been tamp—” She hadn’t finished before the rope bridge broke in half with a bang and Pingting’s body lost all support and her words plummeted with her body.
She was still in the air when she felt her waist being grabbed by Chu Beijie.
The wind whipped against their faces as he held tight.
The two squeezed their eyes and plunged towards the darkness, the dangerous valley that had yet to be recorded onto maps.
- Heroes and Beautiful Women: The song Pingting always sings. I don’t think it’s ever been given a name, so this is it.
- Hundred years pass like a dream: Pretty much what you see. It’s said that life passes so fast, like a dream (most dreams are happy). Pingting disagrees with this because she thinks time passes really slowly (she is upset after all). It’s often used to describe ironic situations.
- Joke from the gods: It’s said that gods like to play very nasty, mean jokes on humans.