Translated by Shiny
Cheng Qianye looked at Mo Qiao Sheng who was kneeling in front of her, naked, with his slender limbs and tight muscles on display. A drop of water glided along his skin, all the way to that bath towel, provoking wild thoughts.
His eyes were closed and his face was flushed scarlet. Even his toes were curled up from nervousness, assuming an attitude of being picked by the lord.
Cheng Qianye had to concede that she really wanted to lift up that towel and was even struck by an impulse to push him down and have her way with him.
She reached out and tenderly swept back the soft black hair over his forehead. She felt the skin beneath her fingertips tremble slightly at the touch.
“Qiao Sheng.” She looked at the man before her, her heart feeling slightly forlorn for no reason. “Since you’re unwilling, why do you force yourself?”
“I…..” Mo Qiao Sheng opened his eyes in astonishment and looked at that pair of eyes which were soft and gentle like autumn water.
Consequently, he swallowed back those words of “I’m not” and “I didn’t”.
Master said he doesn’t like being deceived.
He bowed his head and lowered his lashes. “I am just a humble slave and I have nothing I can give in return for Master’s benevolence. Only this body can be considered clean. If Master likes it, I’ll…..”
He was interrupted before he finished speaking.
Two soft hands clasped his face and raised his head.
The voice seemed to be coming to him from a dreamland.
“Qiao Sheng, I like and appreciate you very much.”
“I’ve never thought of or treated you as an object for me to use in the bedroom.”
“You are strong and courageous, an excellent man. In my eyes, not only do you have outstanding martial arts skills, but you are also fiercely loyal to me. There will come a day when you will stand at the same heights as General Yu Dunsu and become a dazzling star. You will become an indispensable general of our Great Jin Dynasty.”
“When that time comes, people will say that I have brilliant insight, gaining a prodigy in exchange for a mere horse.”
Finally, that voice said with a laugh, “But first, you must rise to your feet. You can’t belittle yourself any longer.”
Mo Qiao Sheng felt a fire burning in his chest, igniting the desire he had concealed deep in his humble heart.
He couldn’t help but stand up in a daze.
Cheng Qianye looked at the man in front of her as he slowly straightened his spine with a spark in his eyes as he rose to his feet.
She felt a little pleased with her success at pouring a bowl of chicken soup and couldn’t help raising her cup and taking a drink.
At that moment, that small bath towel that couldn’t read the mood came loose from its messy knot and slipped down from Mo Qiao Sheng’s waist.
Cheng Qianye spurted out all the wine in her mouth.
Mo Qiao Sheng quickly grabbed the towel in a panic, his whole body as red as a cooked prawn as he escaped at full speed.
But Cheng Qianye still managed to catch a glimpse of the scenery.
She rolled around on the recliner and touched the pit of her stomach.
She asked herself, was my heart racing for a minute there?
When Cheng Qianye led Mo Qiao Sheng out of the hotsprings manor, the blush on his face still hadn’t faded.
Xiao Xiu was especially excited. When he caught a moment when Cheng Qianye was away, he tried his best to scout out the situation from Mo Qiao Sheng.
But Mo Qiao Sheng remained tight-lipped and refused to say a word, making Xiao Xiu feel very frustrated.
Winter arrived faster than expected.
The temperature dropped lower day by day.
But for the residents of Bianzhou, this winter wasn’t nearly as difficult as they had imagined would be.
The steady stream of supplies transported from Great Jin settled the hearts of the soldiers and civilians in Bianzhou. With great expectations for the upcoming spring, they spared no efforts to get through the cold winter.
From the front lines however, they received news that the allied forces retreated one after another after being defeated.
First, Marquis Beigong’s army from the east path was too greedy for results and advanced prematurely, failing disastrously. Then, Hua Yuzhi’s armed forces from the middle were soundly defeated.
At first, Li Wenguang’s forces from the west path had been advancing steadily through many cities. However, the King of Yunnan; Yuan Yizhi, who was in charge of providing army provisions envied Li Wenguang’s vast force and deliberately withheld and delayed the provisions, forcing Li Wenguang’s forces to stop at Nanyang.
At this point, the allied forces from all fronts were defeated and dispersed and Li Wenguang led his troops and circled back to Liangzhou.
Recently, straggling and disbanded soldiers appeared outside of Bianzhou from time to time.
Cheng Qianye ordered them to support those scattered soldiers and incorporate them into their own forces.
Everyone’s hearts were raised. They intensified the consolidation of the city defense and prepared military fortifications, preparing to meet a counterattack from the Quanrong army that may return at any time.
One day, the yellow sands in the horizon rose gradually as a team of defeated soldiers rushed straight to Bianzhou, cutting a sorry figure.
Hua Yuzhi appeared at the front ranks under the defense of several officers. He rushed hastily to the city walls and shouted, “I am the Marquis of Weibei, hurry up and open the city gate!”
After a long time, the leisurely figure of a young aide emerged on top of the city wall. This man had a genial smile on his face as he cupped his hands in greeting towards the Weibei Marquis, “Weibei Marquis has come a long way. We should take care of you and hold a welcoming dinner for the Old Marquis, but it’s just that our Lord is currently not in the city. Old Marquis, please don’t be impatient.”
Hua Yuzhi was livid, “Who are you? The cavalry from Quanrong will arrive here any minute now. Stop playing tricks and hurry up and call Marquis Jin Yue to come here.”
The aide was still as before and unhurriedly shook his sleeves and saluted courteously, “This one is Zhang Fu and is merely a small aide. Therefore, this one is really unable to make any moves without the Lord. This one requests for the Old Marquis to go ahead and lead the troops to resist the enemy troops. Once our Lord returns from the west mountain, we will definitely be sure to prepare our troops and order them to go out of the city and aid Old Marquis’ mighty powers.”
Hua Yuzhi looked at that tall, sturdy wall where solemn and dignified men were standing in great numbers with their gleaming armour and weapons.
In his heart, he knew that these were all excuses for shirking. The Jin Nation’s army occupied a favourable spot and refused to come forward and have their forces take the lead in the upcoming fight.
His teeth itched with hatred, but he was left with no alternative. He was forced to deploy his troops with their backs to the city wall and arrange their battle array to greet the savage foreign troops pursuing them.
Weibei Marquis’ troops had been pursued the whole way by the Quanrong army. They had long lost their will to fight and just wanted to get into the city quickly and take shelter.
But unexpectedly, they were refused outside the city walls.
At the moment, they had no route of retreat with pursuers ahead of them. Unexpectedly, the soldiers resolved themselves to fight with their backs against the river.
A’Feng and his squad stood at the front line of the troops to meet the first wave of assault from the hostile forces.
As a unit made up of slaves, they had always been placed at the most dangerous and difficult areas.
At present, his body had already been struck by an arrow and he was injured and exhausted.
But he could not retreat.
Retreat meant death.
Like a wounded wolf, he wielded his sword as he charged forward and directly clashed against the hostile forces.
His blade cut into the enemy’s body and the enemy’s blade also cut into his body, leaving them unable to distinguish whose blood had been spilled.
A’Feng felt that he could no longer feel the pain.
He knew that this was a bad omen.
Numbness meant he was close to the jaws of death.
He raised his sword and a brother by his side substituted him and took on the enemy’s attack, however, the light reflected from another sword shone in front of him.
At that moment, he didn’t have a second sword to block this incoming lethal blow.
This was it.
In that split second, A’Feng thought it might not be so bad to die on the battlefield.
Such a vapid existence, why am I still so reluctant to part from it?
A gleaming silver spear appeared by his side, breaking through that light cast from the sword with great momentum before immediately plunging into the enemy’s abdomen, throwing that Quanrong general off his horse.
A young general in black robes who was sitting astride a horse passed by A’Feng and led a team of cleanly clothed cavalrymen who were full of energy as they rushed forward to directly face the enemy.
That young general took the lead, bravely warding off the enemies as their sharp blades tore open the enemy’s square shaped formation.
That familiar yet unfamiliar figure was bursting with spirit, daring and energetic.
“Qiao Sheng.” A’Feng’s throat was dry as he softly spit out that familiar name.
With the timely support of the Jin Army, Weibei Marquis’ troops were able to repel the Quanrong troops.
With a renewed lease of life, the troops set up camp outside the city walls.
Weibei Marquis was inside a big tent at that moment. In great rage, he furiously smashed his wine cup at Zhang Fu’s feet.
“How dare Marquis Jin Yue actually have the audacity to treat me so rudely. Only letting this old man bring my family and personal attendants into the city. Does he think Bianzhou is the private property of your Jin Nation?!”
Zhang Fu did not take offense and beamingly replied, “Old Marquis has misunderstood, My Lord has always revered the Old Marquis, how could one dare to slight you? Old Marquis’ troops have worked laboriously and it is precisely to welcome the Old Marquis that My Lord has decided to hold a banquet in the city. If Old Marquis is determined to share weal and woe with his men and wants to stay in the camp, this humble one will also be forced to leave with regret.”
His manner was amiable with impeccable etiquette as he yielded to let him choose.
But there was no hint of concession in his words.
At present, Bianzhou, regardless whether it was the military, the government, or the people, were firmly grasped in the hands of Jin Nation.
Not to mention the fact that Weibei Marquis was now leading a horde of defeated troops, and they had a powerful army of several tens of thousands. Even if he wanted to seize this city, Bianzhou was prepared with elite soldiers and ample provisions. It was impossible.
Weibei Marquis sighed internally. The ridiculing words he had said to Marquis Jin Yue at that time seemed to sound in his ears. Now that he thought about it, out of all the feudal lords, he was the only one that had taken an advantage.
The character of a monarch was an indication of the character of their subjects. Just looking at this Zhang Fu who did not eat oil or salt, you could see that this Marquis Jin Yue was also a crafty person who disguised himself as a pig to eat a tiger. (油盐不进 – does not eat oil or salt, idiom; meaning a very stubborn person.)
Weibei Marquis deeply regretted that he had lost his vision.
However unexpected, he could not break off ties with Jin Nation.
He could only swallow his resentment and put on a smile to face this Zhang Fu.
Cheng Qianye held a big banquet at Bianzhou’s newly established City Lord’s Mansion to welcome the Weibei Marquis, Hua Yuzhi.
At the banquet, the guests drank and mutually flattered each other, both guests and hosts thoroughly enjoying themselves.
Cheng Qianye was very impatient with these kinds of social niceties .
But she knew that as the monarch of a feudal state, and especially a young monarch without a firm foothold, these sorts of social engagements were unavoidable and an essential technical ability she needed to survive here.
With a smile, she lifted her golden cup and proposed a toast to Hua Yuzhi.
Hua Yuzhi lifted up his cup of wine. “Thanks to worthy younger brother’s timely help this time. I can’t express the appreciation in my heart. I will respect worthy little brother with three cups of wine to show my gratitude.”
Cheng Qianye had a great capacity for liquor. She was not afraid in the slightest and didn’t refuse.
Hua Yuzhi laughed heartily. “It is still worthy younger brother who is best at training people.”
He looked at Mo Qiao Sheng who was standing behind Cheng Qianye. “How long has it been since this slave has been at worthy younger brother’s side? He seems as if he’s been reborn. I hardly recognized him on the battlefield today.”
Cheng Qianye looked at the man beside her and smiled before turning her hand to pour a cup of wine, handing it to him.
Mo Qiao Sheng lifted the hem of his robe and knelt on one knee before taking the cup of wine and drinking it.