In the dense forest, a small cabin was filled with joyous vitality.
Although it was very quiet, the joyous air presence was undeniable.
On the wooden bed lied two people, caught by the joy. Perhaps they won’t be able to sleep at all that night.
“The stars tonight are particularly bright,” Chu Beijie said as he held onto the resurrected Pingting.
Pingting chuckled softly.
“Duke finally knows how to speak.” She gently smiled and saw Chu Beijie’s eyes rest on her face, his eyes so black that the depths couldn’t be seen. She couldn’t help smile shyly as she murmured, “What is Duke looking at?”
Chu Beijie looked at her for a long time before sighing, “Pingting, you’re so beautiful.”
Pingting was touched to her heart. She lowered her voice, “Duke is a lot thinner; it’s all Pingting’s fault.”
“It has nothing to do with Pingting. It was something I whole-heartedly wanted to do. I like Pingting; that’s why I’m willing to do anything for Pingting, willing to put every minute and second on Pingting.”
Pingting was silent before slowly saying, “Men are ambitious, so shouldn’t you be focusing on the world?”
“To wholeheartedly do something, remain undaunted by the setbacks, is great ambition itself.” Chu Beijie gently stroked her silky hair as he added, “My ambition is only one, to let you become the happiest woman in the world.”
Pingting raised her head, a pool of water swelling up in her eyes. She whispered, “Does Duke really think that?”
Chu Beijie held up two fingers towards the sky. His face was solemn, “I, Chu Beijie, swear to the skies that the words I just said, every single word, will never be changed, no matter what in this lifetime.”
Pingting was utterly touched as she watched him. The tears in her eyes rippled slightly before sliding down. “Then…Duke, are you willing to do one thing for Pingting?”
Chu Beijie softly replied, “Not just one, even thousands are fine. As long as Pingting desires it, no one will stop Chu Beijie from granting it.”
Pingting raised her eyes, quietly studying the man she loved so dearly. His handsome eyebrows were still very black. His straight nose and thin lips were all very much like in her dreams.
Every tiny gesture of his hand was never once lost from her heart.
This was the man she deeply loved.
Perhaps the deep love she had in this single lifetime would be more than a person would have in three.
The love was deep but so was the pain. They thought they had suffered enough, but like moths to a flame, they had turned back.
She reached out, taking an object out from the bag beside the bed.
“Duke once left this sword in the secluded residence in order to protect Pingting’s safety.” Pingting held the sword with two hands as she slowly asked, “Is Duke willing to use the very same sword to remove the turmoil and unify the four countries, so Pingting can be given a peaceful world to live in?”
Chu Beijie was isolated for so long he had not heard any news about the war. He was stunned. Knowing Pingting’s heart and mind, he knew that she would never make such a request unless it was the very last resort.
“Does Duke not want to?” Pingting’s eyebrows drooped as she softly asked.
“Chu Beijie had spent his whole lifetime in the military. The one thing he was never afraid of was going out to the battlefield to kill enemies. Not to mention, the one who made the request was Pingting, so there was no way he wouldn’t want to. “
He hesitated, breaking into a smile, “Giving wives a cosy and peaceful home is the one thing that all men must do.”
He immediately took the sword, its familiar sensation entering his palm. That day he discarded Divine Spirit at the mourning hall. Today, it returned to its former owner’s hand once more.
As well as its heaviness and coldness, he still remembered every pattern on Divine Spirit. That sword once commanded an army of several thousands of troops and killed any enemy without restriction.
Once it was out of its scabbard, it shook the world.
This was the Duke of Zhen-Bei’s sword.
In Chu Beijie’s eyes, the light of hope for the world began to sparkle.
His sword was in his hand, and the woman he loved returned.
His ambition started.
The dense forest of a hundred miles had given him a miracle, and he had to return the world with another miracle.
He would use this sword in his hand to conquer the world, for the most attractive woman who ever lived.
Although the Royal Residence of Dong Lin was burned, as long as Dong Lin’s Royal House remained alive, the country would never truly fall.
He Xia’s battle had begun. His horse didn’t stop galloping, going everywhere to direct the battle. He always dealt enemies in an organised manner, without hesitation, but when he thought of how to dispose Yaotian, he was very hesitant.
A few days after his return to Yun Chang’s capital, Fei Zhaoxing raised the matter several times, but He Xia just pushed it back, feeling annoyed. “There’s no hurry right now. Wait until we’re done with the Royal Houses of Dong Lin and Gui Le.”
Fei Zhaoxing repeatedly advised, “Prince Consort, this is currently small and pleasant to deal with, but if it isn’t treated early, I’m afraid that there will be greater suffering in the future.”
There was no way He Xia didn’t know that.
The army crusading around was all under his control, most of them from the Yun Chang army- apart from a few prisoners of war and a few new recruits. If the news of Yaotian being under house arrest were leaked or that Yaotian took the initiative in denying He Xia’s power as lead commander, then it would shake the current situation of victory.
Did he really have to harm his wife and son?
He Xia was distressed over this. His mind wasn’t in battle. He couldn’t smell the familiar scent of blood or the flavour of smoke. Even when facing good alcohol, he seemed to be even more anxious and impatient. Seeing how his expression was so terrible, the other officials in court became alarmed as they weren’t too sure whether they had offended the Prince Consort and feared that the fate of the Gui family would happen to them.
Fortunately a few days later, an army report was sent.
“We have found Royal House of Dong Lin’s hiding place, our troops have already surrounded them.”
“Good!” He Xia smiled, “The Royal House of Dong Lin has been slipping past us for many days. You mustn’t let them escape again. Surround them tightly but don’t attack for now. I will personally deal with them.”
Sending back the messenger, He Xia immediately collected his soldiers and departed. He was attentive to all details and knew the officials of Yun Chang only feared death. They didn’t actually fully surrender to him. He had to be wary, so he ordered Fei Zhaoxing to stay behind and watch over the capital with Dongzhuo.
He hadn’t expected the troops to only travel two hundred miles in less than three days. Fei Zhaoxing rushed towards them by a fast horse, stopping He Xia and his men.
“Where is the Prince Consort?”
He Xia pulled back the reins, turning back to look. Fei Zhaoxing’s face was full of dust and accompanied by only a few guards. He was immediately alarmed and raised his voice to ask, “Come here, Fei Zhaoxing!”
The crowd of people parted in the middle to lead Fei Zhaoxing to the right place. Once He Xia dismounted, he asked, “What happened at the capital?”
The matter was urgent. Fei Zhaoxing fished out a letter from his arms without even wiping the dust off his face. He looked at He Xia with a very solemn expression as he handed over the letter.
He Xia took the letter, opened it and scanned the first two lines. His expression had already become strange. As he red on, his eyebrows furrowed until they were almost knotted. There was a mask of frost as he lowered his voice, asking, “This is an Order. This…is the Princess’ handwriting?”
His eyes sank so cold it was shocking.
“Yes. I have already had the handwriting checked by specialists. It isn’t an imitation but undoubtedly from the Princess herself.”
He Xia fumed, “Weren’t the Princess’s royal maids not allowed to leave the Princess at all? With all those guards around, how could a royal maid manage to get out? And with a letter too?”
“Please calm down, Prince Consort.” Fei Zhaoxing calmly replied, “This matter has been ascertained already. One of the guards received a bribe and has already been caught. Perhaps because of concern and hidden feelings, he hasn’t exposed any hidden secrets yet. The interrogation is still continuing.”
“Interrogate him carefully.” The depths of He Xia’s eyes was like a sheet of ice, but his facial colour seemed to have restored a little calmness. “Has the maid been interrogated yet? What did she say?”
Fei Zhaoxing replied, “The maid was timid and confessed everything without any real torture used. The Princess wrote this and gave it to her personal maid, Luyi. Luyi then gave it to her, instructing her to secretly give it to Official Zhang Yin and then Official Zhang Yin to some other officials to read.”
“Some other officials?” He Xia sneered, “Which officials don’t want their lives I wonder. Where’s the list?”
Fei Zhaoxing bent down respectfully, “Official Zhang Yin must have the list in his hands. Before leaving the capital, I have already sent men to secretly arrest Zhang Yin. He is currently being tortured. At the same time, this matter is no trivial one. One that mustn’t be known by others. That’s why Dongzhuo was left behind to guard the capital while I came to chase Prince Consort.”
He worked fast, treated everything appropriately and was quite a flexible solver. He Xia couldn’t help but glance at him with appreciation.
Fei Zhaoxing’s report had finished. He hesitated before continuing in a low voice, “Prince Consort, please immediately come back to the capital. Currently the Dong Lin Royal House isn’t important but Yun Chang’s capital. The Princess has already made her move. If they really do find out the truth, the situation will be too difficult to deal with. Those civil service officials are quite timid. They’re nothing to fear about, but the Princess is still the sole Master of Yun Chang. No one else but Prince Consort dares to deal with the Princess.”
“The Princess personally penned this Order, wanting all of the officials to secretly prepare to strip me of my right to lead the troops in one sweep…” He Xia looked down at the Order in his hand, his rage rising again. His fingers closed in, crushing the Order in his palm. He softly grinded his white teeth and became silent for the longest time. Slowly, the colour returned to his face. “Does the Princess know about this?”
“In theory, she shouldn’t. The maid was caught on the way to Official Zhang Yin. Since the Princess is in the Royal Residence, guarded by a huge number of guards, no one should be able to talk to the Princess or her royal maids.”
He Xia nodded, “You and I will immediately return to the capital. This matter mustn’t be delayed; we must immediately destroy the source of trouble.”
Fei Zhaoxing heartily nodded, “Exactly.”
Without further ado, He Xia made his choice. He immediately picked out half of the troops to return with him to the capital, leaving the other half to continue travelling with the one general chosen by him. He commanded, “When you get to Dong Lin, pass on my Order. Immediately attack and surround the Dong Lin Royal House. The Queen who holds all of Dong Lin’s power must be caught alive as my trophy. The others don’t need to live.”
Once the Order was laid out, he and Fei Zhaoxing immediately galloped towards the government.
The group didn’t stop galloping, heading for the capital day and night. Once they got through the city gates, Fei Zhaoxing lowered his voice to ask, “Prince Consort, will you first go to the Royal Residence?”
He Xia shook his head, “We’ll go to the Prince Consort Residence first.”
Once they arrived at the Prince Consort Residence, he asked about the situation. Zhang Yin hadn’t been able to last the torture early on, giving up the confidential list of officials he was supposed to contact.
He Xia took over the list, skimmed through it and raised his voice to summon a general he could trust. He ordered, “Immediately send an Order from the army. Just say Gui Le assassins have sneaked into the capital. Issue a curfew so that no one is to freely walk around on the streets.”
Once the Order for a curfew had been set, he then spoke to Dongzhuo. “Most of the civil officials on the list are in the capital. There is no need to worry for now. Use the curfew as an excuse to send troops to guard them in their own homes. Be careful to choose ones that won’t spill the beans.”
Dongzhuo acknowledged He Xia’s instructions before hurriedly leaving to personally make the arrangements.
“There is one thing I want you to immediately do.” He Xia turned his head to look at Fei Zhaoxing, “My favoured generals are trust me quite a bit. If Yun Chang is going to change, many people will chose to support me except for General Shang Lu, in charge of military vehicles. Shang Lu’s family has been looked after by the Yun Chang Royal House for generations. His loyalty is blind and old-fashioned. If I really do ascend to the throne, he will be the first to oppose me in the army.”
Having said that much, Fei Zhaoxing understood what he wanted. “Please give your instructions, Prince Consort.”
“Shang Lu is currently stationed at Bei Mo. I’ll write a military Order, to have him launch an attack against Gui Le. Find a chance for a confrontation with Gui Le’s General Le Zhen. You take the Order and personally go to Bei Mo to announce it. Lead your Weibei Regiment to destroy Le Zhen’s army with Shang Lu. For this battle, Shang Lu will be vice while you will be the main general. Do you know what to do?”
Fei Zhaoxing’s train of thought was always clear. He nodded, “The general will die in battle and become a legend of ten years. When the two armies clash, casualties are inevitable. As a general of Yun Chang, Shang Lu’s death is normal. Rest assured, Prince Consort.”
He Xia rapidly churned out two military Orders. One of them was to be handed to Shang Lu, the other to Fei Zhaoxing’s position as main general during the battle for Gui Le. He put down the pen and faintly smiled, “Shang Lu must be dealt with, and Le Zhen can’t be missed either. Our military power is enough with this confrontation, but I’m just afraid that you and Le Zhen’s relationship as former master and servant will cause a brief moment of hesitation.”
Fei Zhaoxing respectfully took the military Orders. He replied, “I put my life at risk for the Le family yet fell to the state where I had to cook dead dogs for food. What is the significance of a relationship as former master and servant? Le Zhen’s skill is mediocre, only becoming a general with the accomplishments of his elders. I will definitely crush him, overwhelmingly.” While carefully tucking the Orders in his sleeves, he lowered his voice again, “Prince Consort, the Royal Residence…”
He Xia cut off his words, “About the Royal Residence, I will deal with them. You go.”
Once Fei Zhaoxing was sent off, the ornate office suddenly quietened.
He Xia stood by himself for a long time, taking the Princess’ letter from his sleeves. A few days ago, he wrung the letter while feeling incredibly annoyed. It became unbearably wrinkled. He laid the letter out on the table, slowly flattening it as he re-read it again. His expression was like calm water, without ripples, but his eyes held a sharp light. Underneath those tiny sparks, no one knew exactly how many complex thoughts lay hidden.
Once Dongzhuo finished instructing, he hurried back. He only took one step into the office before seeing He Xia’s back. Feeling a bit startled, his other foot remained posed outside the door, not yet inside the room.
He Xia’s back seemed to be made up of concentrated worry. His large body seemed as heavy as mountains as if using all of the energy in one’s body wouldn’t be able to make him budge in the slightest.
“Is that Dongzhuo? Come in.”
Dongzhuo was frozen at the door and only stepped inside after hearing He Xia’s words. He slowly walked towards the table until he was standing beside He Xia. He lowered his head and was surprised to see the Order Princess Yaotian wrote. Naturally he knew what was written on it and his heart sighed. He lowered his voice to ask He Xia, “How does Master plan to deal with the Princess?”
“All of you are asking the same difficult problem.” He Xia’s smile was bitter. He pursed his lips, making him look even colder than usual. “If this letter was successfully sent out to the various officials while I was outside the capital, the moment their plans succeed and the Princess is rescued, the army of Yun Chang’s morale would shake.”
He Xia ignored Dongzhuo’s words; he continued to whisper, “If the Princess were to re-appear before the people, she will have a better grasp in the situation. No matter how many achievements I have in war, how many victories won, how many unimaginable victories, the soldiers of the Yun Chang army would gradually leave me because my opponent is Yun Chang’s one and only master. Soldiers and peasants don’t know how to choose men of talent. They only know stupid loyalty and allegiance to the Royal House.”
He Xia’s every word seemed to be cut out from ice. Dongzhuo listened which made his whole body shiver. His lips twitched, wanting to open, but he felt as if his lips had been frozen to ice and was unable to say anything.
Indeed, if Yaotian successfully got back the throne, He Xia would suffer a crushing defeat. A shocking Order would be written, sentencing the Prince Consort to death due to his betrayal by attempting to establish a new country.
The air in the office began to clot. Even fresh air could not blow apart this chill brought by power struggles.
“Say, do you think the Princess really likes me?” He Xia suddenly turned to one side.
Dongzhuo took a while processing the question before he plucked up his courage. “Master, the Princess wrote such an Order only because she wanted the Yun Chang Royal House to survive. The situation forced her heart because in her heart…in her heart…”
He Xia looked at Dongzhuo. He suddenly smiled gently, “In her heart, she doesn’t actually want to kill me, right?”
Dongzhuo looked at He Xia’s smile, instantly feeling terrified. At first he wanted to nod, but he struggled for a long time before finally dragging out a sigh. He reluctantly said the truth, “Master is right. If Princess really does regain the throne, even if the Princess doesn’t want to, she will certainly be pressured by the other officials to sentence Master to death.”
He Xia was indeed worried about this matter. The words of truth were like needles that pricked until He Xia’s heart had sores. Dongzhuo said it, no longer caring about the possibly dire consequences. He did not know what He Xia’s reaction would be so he lowered his eyes, not daring to look at him.
A long time passed when he heard a faint sigh overhead.
He Xia said, “I will prepare a gift and go to the Royal Residence to see the Princess.”
In Bei Mo, about eighty miles to the right of Kanbu City, there was a settlement known as Jiangling Ancient City.
It was an abandoned ancient city; most of the walls had collapsed.
Yellow sand filled the horizon.
“Main General, have some water.”
The subordinate’s water was a muddy yellow. Jiangling Ancient City’s environment was perilous. Water and other resources were seriously inadequate. But it was remote. The secret tunnels in the city reached everywhere so even if the attention of the Yun Chang army was caught, escaping was possible.
Ruo Han took the spoon and drank a small sip. He handed it to the soldiers by his side, “Drink some.”
Bei Mo’s official military force had been defeated by He Xia in the Battle of Zhouqing. Ruo Han managed to escape with his life and collected the remnants to resist He Xia two or three times, but as the opposition was a famous general, each attempt ended in failure.
The difference between their strengths were far too great, whether it was the number of troops, ability of generals or military power. All were far less than their opposition. Being able to protect his own life and the group of soldiers around him was not easy.
Even so, everyone there had not once thought about surrendering to He Xia.
The soldiers beside him looked up at the burning sky. They suddenly asked, “Main General, how many people do you think General Senrong will bring back?”
“Quite a few,” Ruo Han replied, his heart swelling a little.
He thought of his former boss, the greatest general of Bei Mo, Ze Yin.
Ever since the story of Main General Ze Yin’s open challenge to He Xia, the number of peasants that secretly requested to join the rebel army were growing.
No one knew in the end how the story started, but everyone knew that it was true.
He Xia could bleed and there would definitely be a day when He Xia would be defeated too. That was how Main General Ze Yin put it.
As long as dreams are not forgotten, fighting spirits still exist. Even in threat of death, the steady stream of future generations would never despair as they pursue.
This time, Senrong would definitely bring back many more passionate young men.
“Main General, General Senrong has returned!” The sentinel vigorous waved.
Ruo Han abruptly got up, gazing into the distance. Far away, a few horses quickly riding appeared as expected. They headed towards the ancient city.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, it’s the General Sen Rong all right.” The sentinel affirmed, but his tone sounded doubtful as he added, “Strange, why so few this time?”
Ruo Han was curious about the same thing.
Due to Main General Ze Yin’s action, the number of people who secretly enlisted were growing by the day, yet why did Sen Rong only bring back a selected few? Could it be that something went wrong?
Sen Rong’s horse came in at the speed of light, reaching the city in a few moments. He waved at the sentinel and the soldiers hurriedly let them inside the city.
Ruo Han strode towards the city entrance towards Sen Rong who just dismounted. He asked, “What’s going on? That’s all the new soldiers you got?”
Sen Rong reached for the water his subordinates brought forward. He didn’t care about its muddiness. He raised his head to drink the entire spoon. “There were a lot of new recruits, but I didn’t bring them.”
“It’s easy to get three enemies, but hard to get a single general. Well…” Sen Rong’s heart definitely held happiness. The joy on his face couldn’t be controlled, and his face couldn’t help break into a grin.
“Don’t tell me you were able to find a general in a single trip?”
“Not just a general but more like a god! A general who can definitely defeat He Xia.”
Ruo Han heard his irresponsible remarks and his eyebrows wrinkled.
He Xia was a world-acclaimed general and deserved the title. He wondered who on earth was able to put himself on the same platform and say that he could definitely beat He Xia.
The soldiers of today had become much thinner, and the environment was harsh, shaking morale immensely. Sen Rong had always been careless. How on earth did he know? He could not take his words back once they were out of his mouth or else it would destroy the morale. He couldn’t help whisper, “Sen Rong, stop speaking nonsense. You’ve fought against He Xia. You know his strength. How is it even possible to have a general who can definitely beat He Xia? Unless…” Ruo Han abruptly stopped, sighing instead.
He thought of Bai Pingting.
Back then, her eloquence during the Battle of Kanbu was still in the depths of his memory, as if carved in by a knife.
During the Battle of Zhouqing, He Xia’s strategy had been evil and unpredictable. Only Lady Pingting’s piece at the edge of Kanbu, forcing back Chu Beijie’s army of a hundred men in such tranquillity, could be compared to it.
Unfortunately, that beauty was gone.
Ruo Han pondered many times of the result if Pingting was the main advisor during the Battle of Zhouqing.
“Don’t sigh, Main General. Come, come, I have something for Main General to see.” Senrong laughed, taking a step forward. He untied his bag from his back. He pulled Ruo Han to one side as he opened it. He warned, “Main General, be careful. This treasure is quite dazzling, so do protect your eyes.”
Ruo Han saw his high spirits. He couldn’t help feel a bit strange as he patiently waited for him to open the bag. At first look, it was only a few muddy red, black or blue dyed cloths. There was even a few old stains of sweat and blood but when he looked even closer, it felt like his cheeks were drawn to it like a magical hold. He just stared at the opened bag, no longer able to move.
Senrong had long expected his reaction. He triumphantly asked, “What do you think?”
Ruo Han widened his eyes, staring at that bag. Others may not be able to tell but he could. Those old clothes were the cloaks the Bei Mo generals gave to Pingting in order to express their gratitude and loyalty after the Battle of Kanbu.
The bloodstained cloaks to these generals were full of meaning to themselves. They would only ever offer their cloaks when they felt inexpressible reverence. That bag contained Ze Yin’s, Senrong’s and Ruo Han’s own…
It was a while before Ruo Han finally reacted. His entire body trembled with excitement. “This…this…Sen Rong,” he stretched out his hands, tightly grabbing onto Senrong. He stuttered out, rather incoherently, “You mean, don’t tell me, Miss Bai, she…she didn’t die?”
Senrong was very pleased. At first he wanted to tease Ruo Han a bit, but seeing his excitement, he couldn’t help but push the thought down. He immediately nodded, loudly replying, “That’s right, Miss Bai didn’t die. She’s still alive.”
“Alive…” Ruo Han’s eyes lit up, “Then where is she?” Since being promoted to Main General, he had become even more attentive to details than before. He immediately turned, his gaze falling on the other people Sen Rong returned with.
One of the figures was particularly petite. She didn’t hide even when seeing Ruohan’s gaze. She raised her delicate hand to lift the big hat that veiled her face. “General Ruohan, long time no see.”
Her smile was exquisite, charming her surroundings.
At that moment, who else could possibly compare to that calm elegance apart from Bai Pingting?
Ruohan stayed rooted to the spot, staring at Pingting for a time long enough to burn a whole incense stick before slowly lifting a foot to walk towards Pingting. He slowly adjusted himself, slowly straightening his back, as if still not quiet believing Pingting was in front of his eyes. He finally let out a long breath and with great feeling, commented, “Ruohan finally understands what is called a gift from the heavens.”
Pingting chuckled lightly, “Main General, don’t be so quick to thank the heavens. This time Pingting has come to oppose He Xia’s Yun Chang army, but to do this she must collect her old debt.”
Ruohan saw Pingting’s long-lost smile, inspiring like the spring breeze. His confidence rose. He broke into a smile, “Ruohan is willing to offer his life to return My Lady’s help during the Battle of Kanbu. Ahh, even if you didn’t have these cloaks or helped during Kanbu, as long as My Lady is willing to oppose He Xia, there is nothing I can’t give My Lady.”
“That’s good…” The light in Pingting’s eyes shifted slightly as she breezily said, “Pingting boldly asks Main General to grant Pingting’s wish.”
“Please say it, My Lady.”
“Pingting brought a person that I hope all of Main General’s men will be loyal to him and listen to his orders. No matter who this person is, Main General must acknowledge him as the main advisor. Does Main General approve?”
Ruohan was stunned. “Who on earth has such capability that My Lady is willing to give him the rights to being the Main General?”
Pingting pursed her lips as if in thought. It wasn’t long before she smiled again. She softly sighed, “The battlefield situation is urgent and soldiers must know fraud. I wanted Main General to agree before saying it. Oh well, I’ll let Main General know who it is before considering whether to agree to Pingting’s request or not.” The light in her eyes flickered to the side as she gently called, “Duke.”
At this, Ruohan felt like his head had been fiercely struck by lightning, suddenly causing his world to spiral out of control.
No way, it couldn’t be…
His gaze gradually moved over.
The tall man beside Pingting removed his veiled hat, revealing an angular face. His eyes were tiger-like in spirit and when they met with Ruohan’s, he smiled. “That late night attack in the barracks was really just my desire to look for my wife. If Chu Beijie has offended Main General, please do forgive me.”
That tall figure, immovable as a mountain, was the Duke of Zhen-Bei who had been missing for so long.
Shock waves hit him, each one stronger than the last. Ruohan had many experiences, but at that moment, even he felt stunned. He stared at Chu Beijie for ages as if seeing his prodigal son.
Of the two renowned generals, apart from He Xia, the other was still alive.
He was still mighty and still had that look of confidence beyond measure.
“Is Main General willing to throw away the hatred between Dong Lin and Bei Mo to follow the Duke and oppose He Xia?” Pingting’s voice seemed to travel from far away, leaving bounce after bounce of gentle echoes.
Ruohan’s eyes gradually focused, stopping on Chu Beijie’s face. This person had once led troops to invade and almost destroy Bei Mo. He was the very same person who snuck into the barracks and toyed around with him until he had tricked them all into giving Main General Ze Yin’s whereabouts.
But this person was indeed the only general who could oppose He Xia in the world.
“Main General?” Senrong appeared behind him at some unknown time. He lightly pushed him.
Ruohan was startled, his senses returning. Pingting and the other generals all had their gazes pinned on him. When he raised his head, he saw the soldiers who followed him pop out from all over the city, straining their necks to see the famous Chu Beijie.
Everyone held their breath, waiting for his reply.
Ruohan raised his head, loudly asking, “Soldiers, you’ve seen it all. This man is Dong Lin’s Duke of Zhen-Bei, the Chu Beijie who had almost destroyed our Bei Mo. Today he is before us, wanting us to follow him to oppose He Xia’s army. Tell me, should I refuse him?”
The surroundings were silent, not even a cough could be heard.
Ruohan asked again, but he was answered with silence once more.
“Fine…” Ruohan looked around, “I understand.” He then looked at Chu Beijie, lowering his voice, “The Royal House of Bei Mo has already been butchered by He Xia while Bei Mo’s territory is currently happily trampled on by the army of Yun Chang. It’s the most stupid thing to continue to hate Dong Lin at this moment. Whoever can defeat He Xia and save all the peasants of this place, I will acknowledge him as main advisor and will follow him onto the battlefield.”
Chu Beijie smiled faintly. His elbow was tugged before he heard a sonorous voice echo in his ear.
Under the hot sun, the famous Divine Soul sword’s cold light radiated in all four directions. The Duke of Zhen-Bei’s sword was unsheathed.
“I will defeat He Xia and save all peasants of this place. Soldiers, who is willing to follow me?”
Everyone listened to his deep voice, hidden with power.
The surroundings were even quieter than before.
“Who is willing to follow me, Chu Beijie?” Chu Beijie raised his voice, asking loudly.
Pingting slowly raised her head, her gaze lightly sweeping across the dusty faces.
“Me.” A soft sound was heard in the crowd.
“Me.” Said another sound.
“Me!” Someone yelled loudly.
“Me, I’m willing!”
“Me, me too!”
The echoes were like thunder as the crowd burst into wave after wave of roaring.
To follow the Duke of Zhen-Bei.
Following the old enemy of Bei Mo, following this man who expelled despair from the earth, following this famous general who could defeat He Xia.
Their King was dead, the Royal Residence destroyed. The hearts were trampled on, and their parents were now being tortured by cavalry units.
But all they needed was fighting spirit, the courage to never succumb, to not be afraid of letting blood fall onto the yellow mud, rusty weapons and elderly horses.
“The Duke of Zhen-Bei!”
“The Duke of Zhen-Bei! Defeat He Xia!”
“Defeat He Xia! Defeat He Xia! Drive away the Yun Chang army…”
Jiangling Ancient City seemed to be teeming.
Every young face, covered in dust, dirt, blood, and wounds, was excited, full of smiles and hot tears.
Ruohan widened his eyes, trying to stop his touched tears from falling. He placed a hand at the sword on his waist. He took a step forward and declared, “I, Ruohan, swear to my sword that from now on, I am no longer Main General Ruohan of Bei Mo. I am the Duke of Zhen-Bei’s General Ruohan! Duke of Zhen-Bei, please remember your promise too.”
“I will defeat all people who cause loss of life, including He Xia.” Chu Beijie solemnly replied. His gaze shifted to Pingting, turning extremely gentle, “Because I promised my most beloved woman I would give her a peaceful world to live in.”
Pingting never thought Chu Beijie would display such affection before this massive crowd. Even though there was thunderous applause from all around, Chu Beijie’s gentle words were heard by Ruohan, Senrong and a few other acquaintances standing nearby. Pingting instantly reddened, not knowing how to reply. She lowered her eyes and barely managed to restore her usual calm appearance. She advised, “The morale is rising, so you should raise the important matters quickly. This is the first army Duke has formed since returning. Perhaps an official name should be given? For example…Zhen-Bei army.”
Her words held another meaning. This time each country’s troops had been slain, attacked by Yun Chang. These soldiers under Chu Beijie weren’t just Dong Lin any more. That meant he could no longer use that name or national pride would tatter the soldiers’ hearts.
Chu Beijie led troops for many years so he obviously knew what Pingting meant. He laughed as he nodded, “True, we do need to give it a name.”
He held up his sword to the sky, shouting, “All soldiers and generals, be quiet for a moment. I have something to say!”
With just one word, everyone silenced immediately. Everyone was full of anticipation as they looked at this invincible general.
“From today on, we will be the army that will oppose He Xia.” Chu Beijie slowly said, “This army will not be called the Zhen-Bei Army, the Beijie Army nor Dong Lin Army. We will be known as the Ting Army!”
Pingting softly gasped, looking at Chu Beijie in disbelief.
“Some of you may ask why it’s called Ting Army.” Chu Beijie’s strong shoulders suddenly reached out, pulling the petite Pingting into his arms. Chu Beijie raised his voice, “Because my most beloved woman is called Bai Pingting. I promised her I will sweep away her panic and unify the four countries so that she has a comfortable world to live in. I challenge He Xia because I want to protect Pingting, protect the most precious thing in my, Chu Beijie’s, life.”
“Dear soldiers, you follow me not because of power, wealth, land, nor for dominance or ambition, nor is it a forced Order. It’s isn’t for me, Chu Beijie either.”
“Then why on earth do you run the risk of following me?”
“Because, aren’t you all the same as me, Chu Beijie?”
“In order to protect your loved ones, you go through bloodshed. You get hurt for your injured ones; you give up your life to get your wish.”
“Tell me, you are the same as me!”
“Tell me, soldiers of the Ting Army, you will never forget why you are called the Ting Army!”
“Tell me, soldiers of the Ting Army, that you will never forget the people you love, never forget the things you cherish the most! Never forget why you are fighting!”
“Tell me in a loud voice, what is this army called?” Chu Beijie’s voice rang out in the ancient city, into the clouds in the sky.
After a moment of silence, roars broke out.
“Ting Army! Ting Army!”
The entire Jiangling Ancient City was roaring, shaking.
Pingting remained in Chu Beijie’s warm embrace, her hot tears silently dripping onto Chu Beijie’s chest.
Senrong walked over. “The Duke of Zhen-Bei is the world’s most powerful lover,” he admired.
“I don’t know about being the most powerful lover,” Ruohan sighed, “but I’m certain he is the one general who understands how to boost an army’s morale the best.”
- “Two fingers”: A gesture for a very formal oath. Imagine the peace sign, but the two fingers are touching. When swearing to God, heavens etc, your palm is away from you and the upright fingers point straight up to the sky.