Translated by Shiny
50. Not Convinced
Mo Qiao Sheng kept watch at the entrance to the bathhouse.
Seeing Cheng Qianye and Yao Tianxiang coming out of the bathhouse, he hastily got up to greet them.
Strangely, the both of them looked at him with an unclear expression which inexplicably made Mo Qiao Sheng feel somewhat frightened.
Cheng Qianye’s face flushed red, it was uncertain whether it was due to the hot spring or because of another reason. She smiled at Mo Qiao Sheng and greeted him before telling him to join them on the carriage.
Yao Tianxiang pulled Cheng Qianye’s arm and stretched out her soft, white palm towards her ear before softly whispering, “I won’t bother you two anymore and give you a chance to be alone. Remember, you can’t be soft, fix him up in one go.”
Cheng Qianye didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.1 She pinched her waist and said, “You are the most capable.”
Yao Tianxiang giggled and boarded another carriage from their retinue.
The sky gradually darkened.
Two lines of soldiers cleared their path and armed soldiers followed behind them.
The party of horses and men made their way back down the mountain towards the city amid the glow of the setting sun.
Inside the spacious carriage, Cheng Qianye reclined in front of a table and carefully studied the military report in front of her.
Soon, she fell into contemplation with her attractive eyebrows faintly furrowed.
Mo Qiao Sheng knelt and sat beside her.
The Lord had obtained the support of more and more people and had begun to develop his power so that he could pave the path towards his lofty ambitions. Hence, he had become more and more busy.
He had granted him with more trust and more opportunities so that he could gradually lift up his head and straighten his waist by virtue of his own abilities, getting equal treatment and respect from others.
Mo Qiao Sheng felt that his blood was getting hotter and hotter by the day, his broken heart filled with passion.
When he stood up, he had discovered that the world in front of him was boundlessly vast.
It was like being reborn.
He felt overwhelmed with excitement to step into this magnificent world.
But everyday, when it was the dead of the night, he still thought back to the days when he slept in front of his Master’s bed. He thought about the hand that used to stretch out from the edge of the bed and gently stroke his head.
Even after obtaining so much, I’m still not satisfied.
Mo Qiao Sheng quietly raised his head and looked at Cheng Qianye who was absorbed in reading.
He knew that the Lord attached great importance to this campaign with Qi County.
He also knew that the Lord had withstood great pressure and had acted on his own, allowing the new army to go on this military expedition. He had just been conferred with a fourth rank title and the real intention was to let him lead the army.
Mo Qiao Sheng remembered that rainy night. Han Quanlin had been unwilling to spare him.
He had been filled with icy despair, thinking that he had fallen into a dark abyss.
It was the Lord who had stretched out his warm hand and held up the him who had already relinquished all hope.
The Lord had said to others; “Don’t mention just one Qi County, one day, he will help me acquire tens of places like Qi County.”
Not just Qi County!
I will be the sword in My Lord’s hand for the rest of my life!
The place where My Lord’s gaze is directed at will be my battlefield. Whatever My Lord desires, I will seize it and present it to him with my own hands.
The sovereign’s kindness towards me is as deep as the oceans, and I will repay the sovereign with this life.
Cheng Qianye suddenly turned her head. Mo Qiao Sheng was unable to shift his line of sight and was caught red-handed.
Cheng Qianye looked at him for a long time before laughing.
“Come here, Qiao Sheng. Come to my side.”
Mo Qiao Sheng moved his position and bowed knelt down closer to Cheng Qianye.
Cheng Qianye’s arm that was resting on the ebony table stretched out with her palm open. The white palm was spread open in front of Mo Qiao Sheng’s eyes.
Mo Qiao Sheng was bewildered.
He stretched out his hand and placed it on top of that soft palm.
As soon as the warm touch came, the palm tightened and held him.
The soft and tender fingertips gently rubbed the back of his hand and Mo Qiao Sheng instantly felt that his breathing had become chaotic.
“Qiao Sheng, Tianxiang is here for the first time and I have to accompany her. There will be a lot of time in the future, we will come here by ourselves later.”
Mo Qiao Sheng’s face turned red in an instant. The Lord had always been like this. He was able to see through the thoughts hidden at the depths of his heart with a single glance.
The hand gave a small tug and Mo Qiao Sheng, who was unprepared, stumbled down. He quickly stretched out his other hand and propped it up against the table so that he would not fall down on top of Cheng Qianye.
He looked at the delicate skin close at hand and smelled a faint fragrance wafting from the Lord’s body, causing his heart to pound loudly like a drum on the battlefield.
“Qiao Sheng.” Cheng Qianye leaned against the table and pointed at the map spread out on the table, drawing on it with her finger. “Qi County does not have many garrisons and Han Quanlin has just recently suffered a defeat, so I’d reckon he doesn’t have the energy to manage this piece of land so far away from him. As long as you go steady and strike hard,2 it’s unlikely for there to be any big problems.”
“However, you still can’t be careless. This is your first time leading troops, you have to be doubly careful. No matter what the situation on the battlefield is, you can’t be reckless. It is more important to me that you don’t encounter any trouble.”
Mo Qiao Sheng gazed at Cheng Qianye’s mouth as it opened and closed gently. The Lord’s words seemed both distant and close. He was unable to hear what his Master was saying for the first time.
“Do you know what you mean to me?”
Since the last time, they had both been busy and hadn’t had the chance to get close to each other even for a moment.
Looking at the sapphire blooming with spring flowers in front of her, Cheng Qianye was unable to restrain her restless heart and lifted Mo Qiao Sheng’s collar before pushing him down on top of the table.
Looking at the face that was getting closer and closer, Mo Qiao Sheng instantly lost the ability to breathe, leaving him at the edge of suffocation.
But the Lord was excessive and refused to simply grant him death. The corner of his mouth hooked into an evil smile as he leaned down, bit by bit.
I think I might die. He closed his eyes.
The soft and moist object finally touched his lips.
He felt his body lightly shudder.
“Don’t cry. Qiao Sheng.”
Mo Qiao Sheng heard the sound of a sigh.
The man covered his lips and charged into his world. He took him into an abyss of joy which he was unable to extricate himself from.
When they reached the encampment, Yao Tianxiang looked at Mo Qiao Sheng, whose entire face was flushed red as he hastily asked to be excused, and leaned over curiously.
“Did you really eat him up inside the carriage?”
“How could I? I just had a taste of the sweetness.” Cheng Qianye licked her lips and looked at Mo Qiao Sheng’s figure as he left hurriedly, relishing the aftertaste.
“You see, he is so shy and already can’t endure it. How can I do it?”
Yao Tianxiang looked at her blankly, “I think you just don’t dare. I can see that your’re just a paper tiger, you are worse than me.”
“Nonsense, I am your husband, do you have any manners?”
At the encampment inside the city, the lower ranking soldiers lived in simple thatched cottages made out of clay, in groups of ten.
There were clay platforms inside the cottages which were slightly higher than the ground and covered with straw which was where the soldiers slept.3
Yang Lu Hou sat on the edge of the communal bed as he gobbled up a bowl of rough millet.
“There is a roof to sleep under, three meals a day, you can rest everyday when the sun goes down, and you don’t even have to suffer a beating. Tsk tsk, life is wonderful.”
“What is this wonderful you speak of? Look at Brother Sheng. When the war is over, there will be land and a big house, then he can marry a beautiful lady, put her down on the bed at home and give birth to a few chubby boys. This is what you call wonderful.”
“By the way Brother Sheng, why are you squeezing in here with your younger brothers? You have been conferred with a title of the second rank now and become a centurion. I’ve heard that centurions have their own rooms with a bed and a soft quilt. You can have two buns everyday and even receive meat sometimes?”
Several low-ranking soldiers inside the cottage looked at Brother Sheng who was reclining on the communal bed with his legs propped up.
“Want to eat meat?” Brother Sheng held a piece of rice straw in his mouth and gazed at the ceiling above his head. “The new army will start training tomorrow. Ten people form a team, a group of hundred form a squad, and everyone will be tested regularly. I am a centurion now. You are all my younger brothers. At that time, whoever can give me a good face,4 I will reward him with meat.”
When these few soldiers who had all just been freed from slavery heard the word ‘meat’, they all collectively swallowed their saliva.
“Of course, this is how it should be, we all listen to you. We will do whatever Brother Sheng says.” Yang Lu Hou anxiously expressed his loyalty.
The next day, at the first glimmer of dawn.
With his upper body bare, Yang Sheng fetched water from the well and washed his face before heading to the military drill ground early.
Within the cold morning fog, he saw a dark figure moving up and down in the drill ground.
The man heard the sound of footsteps and halted the movement of the spear before turning to look at him.
Yang Sheng recognized this man. It was Mo Qiao Sheng who had cut off the heads of several enemies in the first battle and had been promoted to a title of the fourth rank in one fell swoop.
This person had been a slave just like himself, but he had become famous in the first battle and had become a military officer with five thousand men under him, becoming his immediate superior.
Yang Sheng knelt down and performed a military salute. “Your humble subordinate is called Yang Sheng, as a low-ranking centurion, I greet Your Excellency.”
Mo Qiao Sheng nodded, “You came quite early.”
Yang Sheng raised his head and opened his mouth, “Xiaoren5 is boorish and had always admired the General’s reputation. There is still some time today. I don’t know whether it would be possible for General to spare some time and give some pointers to Xiaoren?”
Mo Qiao Sheng glanced at Yang Sheng and pointed at the weapons rack. “Pick your weapon.”
He knew that this man wasn’t convinced with him.
For those people who weren’t convinced with him, Mo Qiao Sheng did not have any superfluous methods.
If you’re not convinced, then fight until you are.
As the colour of the sky brightened, more and more people came to drill grounds.
Yang Lu Hou came to the drill ground and saw that there was a crowd of people encircling people in the middle of the training grounds.
He squeezed through the crowd of people and looked ahead.
He saw two fierce soldiers locked together in a fight.
A man dressed in black was using an iron spear, the dazzling tip of the spear was like a silver serpent gleaming brightly in the sky.
Another man who was bare chested was wielding a practice sword. The gale brought about by the movement of the sword was outstandingly fierce, like a tiger crossing a mountain.
A tiger against a dragon, an eagle against a python.
How could the people have seen such a ferocious fight? For a moment, they all cheered.
“Oh, Brother Sheng!”
Yang Lu Hou was immediately excited when he saw that Brother Sheng was competing with others again.
In his impression, Brother Sheng had never lost a fight. All the slaves in their area had all been afraid of being beaten by Brother Sheng.
But this time, things went contrary to his expectations.
Yang Lu Hou did not have time to cheer.
Brother Sheng was defeated and jumped out of the ring.
Propping his hand against the ground, the drops of sweat dripped down from his head and fell into the red soil as he panted, “I admit defeat.”
Mo Qiao Sheng put away his spear and bent down, stretching his hand out to help him. “You are very good. You will be better than a centurion in the future.”
Mo Qiao Sheng: Yao Tianxiang, you aren’t allowed to corrupt My Lord.
Yao Tianxiang: Crybaby Mo, what are you thinking?
Mo Qiao Sheng: Q-Q
1. (哭笑不得 – kū xiào bù dé) Idiom; both funny and annoying/both funny and embarrassing/between laughter and tears↩
2. (稳扎稳打 – wěn zhā wěn dǎ) Idiom; fighting with confidence; metaphor for working confidently, step by step / fighting steadily without seeking quick results.↩
3. A single and large communal bed which is big enough for all of them to sleep on.↩
4. (争一口气 – zhēng yī kǒu qì) – “fight for a sigh of relief” (dunno how else to english this but literal meaning) – means to be angry, make a difference, add brilliance to friends, relatives or oneself. Here it’s like Brother Sheng takes them all as his younger brothers so if they perform well, they make him look good as a result.↩
5. (小人 – Xiaoren) – I, me / This humble man / This ordinary man / Villain, Base person [A humble way to refer to oneself / Used by a person of low social status when speaking to his betters.]↩