Translated by Shiny
56. How to Capture A Girl’s Heart
After a day’s rest, the soldiers returned to the training grounds and discovered that they had finally been liberated from the tedious formation training and were allowed to practice with weaponry.
They were divided into two groups; one side receiving shields and short swords, whilst the other received spears.
Consequently, for three shichen1 since the early morning, half of the soldiers brandished their swords and swung repeatedly as the other half raised their shields and blocked.
The other group of soldiers faced the straw dummies in front of them and repeated a set of movements; lifting their spears – striding forward – and piercing.
And what should one do if they became too tired?
When tired, repeat the formation practice to readjust yourself.
They trained from the break of dawn right up until mealtime.
When the cooks brought out the food during the break time, many of the soldiers’ hands trembled as they held their bowls and chopsticks.
The sounds of dining, occasionally intermingled with the random sounds of chopsticks falling down, pervaded the surroundings.
“When we had formation training, I disliked it for being dull and spent every day looking forward to the time when we would be able to train our martial arts skills.” Yang Lu Hou said with a bitter expression. “If I had known earlier, I would have preferred to have formation training for a few more days. I can’t even lift up my right arm to pick up the bowl.”
His brothers laughed heartily. “If you can’t lift up your bowl, then you can’t eat. Just give the meat and vegetables in your bowl to your brothers.”
Yang Lu Hou protected his food: “I was just joking, don’t be like this.”
A soldier named Deng Zhu responded, “Liu Hou’er, don’t be lazy.2 The war is just around the corner. You can’t let Brother Sheng set another head aside for you to make up the numbers again.”
Yang Lu Hou didn’t reply and bowed his head, shoveling food into his mouth.
Another soldier called Cai Shi spoke up; “Other than Brother Sheng, Zhuzhi3 was the first one among us to obtain a head. At the time, the enemy forces came violently, killing everyone in their path. I was so scared, my legs went soft. Then I saw Zhuzhi rushing over and cutting down an enemy, and only then did I manage to pluck up the courage to follow him. After fighting to the point our eyes were red,4 I finally managed to seize a head.”
Deng Zhu stopped moving his chopsticks: “I’m different from you, I still have an old mother in the slave camp in Jiangcheng, I just want to get more heads as fast as I can and liberate my mother from her status as a slave as soon as possible so that I can pick her up and live a good life together with her.”
Hearing him, Yang Sheng stretched out his arm and wrapped it around Deng Zhu’s shoulders. “In this battle, let’s fight hard. As long as you get enough heads, you can pick up whoever you want. My house is completely empty, so you can live with me when the time comes.”
The group of people were filled with excitement after hearing this, and those with family members just felt that their bodies were brimming with energy. And even if they were single, they were full of longing for their future life with a family of their own.
At the end of mealtime.
Mo Qiao Sheng, ‘Mo Yanwang’5 climbed up onto the general’s platform, and amidst the mournful wailing of the whole army, he announced that all members of the army would resist an onslaught of huge logs of wood6 and run outside the city.
A long line of soldiers ran along the forest path outside the city.
“Let me take it.” Yang Sheng said as he ran past Yang Lu Hou who was gasping for breath.
“No, no. Brother Sheng, I, Liu Hou’er, cannot rely on you forever. Today, I must carry it by myself.”
Han Shen, the centurion of the fourth team, was berating the soldiers of his team who were gradually falling behind. Unexpectedly, he saw a captain within the procession carrying two logs on his shoulders and running past him.
He caught up with him and asked, “A’Yuan, what are you doing?”
“Team, Team Leader, look.” A’Yuan panted roughly as he continued moving, “That man, he always carries two of them, and sometimes even three. He has already won the title of ‘Higher Officer’, and I heard that he even went and received a house and 200 mu of farmland yesterday. But I, I can’t even afford a piece of cloth.”
Han Shen looked up and saw the annoying fifth team running ahead of them.
From the centurion to the lowest soldier, their entire team came from a background of slavery. Furthermore, the Centurion, Yang Sheng, had no self-awareness whatsoever. He was proud and unrestrained. He had to lead his team to surpass the fourth team each time before he would be willing to stop.
“Damn it, Laozi7 will also carry two in the future.” Han Shen spat on the ground and took the log from the shoulders of the thinnest and weakest soldier running at the rear of their team before placing it on top of his own shoulders and running forward.
After running back from a long-distance weight-bearing run of more than twenty li.
Yang Lu Hou’s hands and feet were weak and he could barely walk. He spoke to Deng Zhu who was walking with him, “Zhu… Brother Zhuzi, I really can’t walk. You go first and leave me here.”
“Look over there.” Deng Zhu didn’t move and tilted his head. “Brother Sheng has gone to challenge Mo Yanwang again.”
Yang Lu Hou straightened his body and happened to see the area beneath the stage where Yang Sheng had stopped Mo Qiao Sheng who had just stepped down from the platform.
“Commander.” Yang Sheng cupped his fists and performed a military salute. “Commander was in the lead when running laps but doesn’t appear to be tired at all. It really doesn’t leave us with any room to remain unconvinced.”
“I wonder whether Your Excellency happens to be free today, and can give Xiaoren some pointers once again.” He spoke modestly, however, his demeanor was a bit brazen. After training ended every day, as long as he was able to, he would block Mo Qiao Sheng and spar with him. Although he lost each time, he was still not afraid to fight.
Mo Qiao Sheng didn’t say much and took off his jacket. “Alright, let’s compare barehanded fighting skills today.”
Both men had muscular arms and narrow waists with tight muscles. They both bent down and stared at each other.
Yang Sheng looked closely at the man standing opposite him.
This man had a pair of cold and indifferent eyes and carried a terrifying fighting spirit. When he stared at him, it reminded him of a wolf he had encountered in the wilderness back when he had been a child.
When a wolf looked at its prey, it would also show this kind of gaze which caused a chill to run down the back of one’s neck and left them wishing to turn around and flee.
But he, Yang Sheng, had never run away since he had been a child.
The stronger the opponent, the more excited he was.
Yang Sheng roared and rushed forward.
However, before he could attack, he suddenly felt a twinge of pain from his ankle and lost his balance.
Yang Sheng rolled around on the ground and quickly got up before charging towards Mo Qiao Sheng once again.
This time, he was able to see that, upon his approach, Mo Qiao Sheng had stepped forward and kicked him as fast as a lightning bolt.
Right after Mo Qiao Sheng’s surprise attack, Yang Sheng felt a sudden pain in the bend of his knee, causing his left leg to go soft and almost sending him to his knees. Gnashing his teeth, he prevented himself from toppling over and hurled his fist towards Mo Qiao Sheng’s face whilst throwing a kick towards his crotch at the same time.
Mo Qiao Sheng grabbed both his arm and his leg.
For a moment, the two were at a standstill. Mo Qiao Sheng waved Yang Sheng’s arm away and punched him directly in the chest, knocking him several steps backward.
“This is no good, this is only at the level of a scuffle. Come, I’ll teach you how to fight for real.” Mo Qiao Sheng stopped Yang Sheng who was about to pounce once again.
“Commander. We, can we learn as well?” One of the onlooking soldiers spoke up, his face bright red.
“Yes, teach us as well, Commander.”
“Teach us, Mo Yan… er no, Commander.”
The soldiers who hadn’t returned to the barracks and stayed back to watch shouted loudly, one by one.
“Alright, what’s your name? Come here and demonstrate.” Mo Qiao Sheng pointed at the first soldier who spoke.
“Xiaoren’s8 name is A’Yuan, thank you Commander.”
Mo Qiao Sheng caught A’Yuan’s arms and began to explain the key points of fighting skills.
“Not bad, you have great arm strength. On the battlefield, great strength can defeat ten trained soldiers. From now on, you should take note of it and continue to strengthen yourself.” Mo Qiao Sheng praised.
When Helan Zhen went out to the training grounds, he could still hear sounds of shouting.
This Xiao Mo was too enthusiastic. The time for the end of training had already passed long ago, yet he tossed himself until it was so late every time.
At this moment, on top of the platform;
A’Yuan’s face was completely flushed, yet he was still unable to budge the steely pincer-like arms.
Suddenly, a loud voice roared from the distance, “Xiao Mo, My Lord summoned us to the government office.”
The stable arms that had been firmly restraining A’Yuan’s arms suddenly slackened. A’Yuan seized the opportunity and threw Commander Mo down.
“S… sorry!” A’Yuan hastily helped his commander to his feet.
However, he saw a suspicious blush spread across the face of this superior who had always been cold and strict.
I must be dazed. A’Yuan thought.
Mo Qiao Sheng stood up and patted the dust off of his body. He gave a few simple instructions before hurrying over to leave the training grounds with Helan Zhen.
The two of them arrived at the main hall where Cheng Qianye was waiting.
She was already surrounded by a few officers who were reporting the recent military situation from various regions to her.
Mo Qiao Sheng stood within the periphery, gazing at the Lord who was sitting amidst the crowd.
The Lord had one hand propped up against her cheek, the fingers of her other hand slowly tapping the table as she listened with rapt attention whilst contemplating.
Mo Qiao Sheng suddenly felt a little restless. He found that he couldn’t focus. Regardless of whether his gaze fell upon the Lord’s fair face, the red lips that were pursed softly, or even the fingers that were tapping lightly, nothing seemed right.
“Commander Mo.” Cheng Qianye suddenly called out to him. “How is the training of your troops going? Are you having any trouble?”
Xiao Mo is so distracted. I wonder what’s troubling him.
Mo Qiao Sheng curbed his wandering thoughts. Evading Cheng Qianye’s gaze, he bowed and saluted before tersely replying, “My Lord, please rest assured. Thanks to General Helan’s help, the training of the new army is going off without a hitch.”
Helan Zhen couldn’t help interjecting, “Commander Mo is very meticulous in his management of the army and shows great results. Before long, Beizhi9 guarantees that his new army will become sharp soldiers within our Jin Army and will be of great use to us.”
After leaving the conference hall.
Helan Zhen threw his arm around Mo Qiao Sheng’s shoulder. “Xiao Mo, what’s the matter with you today? When responding to My Lord, how dare you be so absent-minded?”
Mo Qiao Sheng’s face turned slightly red.
“But it’s all right, your military training is truly effective and you are diligent everyday. My Lord and everyone else can see it as well.”
Mo Qiao Sheng stopped walking and hesitated for a moment.
“What’s the matter, Qiao Sheng? Just tell me if you have any worries.”
Mo Qiao Sheng’s face was red as he asked, “General Helan, if I may be so bold as to ask, do you happen to have a wife at home?”
“No wife. There are only two concubines.” Helan Zhen replied, feeling puzzled.
“Then… General, do you have someone you like?” Mo Qiao Sheng averted his gaze, “What sort of gift would General give to someone he likes?”
Helan Zhen was surprised, “So you’ve got a crush, no wonder you’re so restless. Could it be from last time when we went to Tianxiang Pavilion? Which girl caught your fancy?”
He slapped Mo Qiao Sheng’s shoulder and laughed, “Haha, those girls, they like nothing more than flowers and makeup. Qiao Sheng, you have such a handsome and dignified appearance, which girl wouldn’t like you? Just buy her some jewellery as a gift.”
Mo Qiao Sheng left as if he was fleeing.
Helan Zhen added another sentence, “Don’t worry, according to Brother’s teachings, you can easily capture a girl’s heart if you put it on her yourself while saying some words of affection.”
Sima Tu was tending to the horses in the stables.
Although he was no longer a stable lad, he was still the one who personally took care of Princess Tianxiang’s mounts.
Hearing someone calling his name, he turned around.
He saw Mo Qiao Sheng who had always been taciturn standing at the gates of the stables.
His expression was somewhat ill at ease and his complexion was slightly flushed, appearing as though he was hesitant to speak.
“What’s the matter, Qiao Sheng? Is there anything I can do for you?” Sima Tu was quite happy that Mo Qiao Sheng went to look for him.
Mo Qiao Sheng endured his shame and falteringly mumbled his purpose.
Sima Tu wanted to laugh, but held back desperately. For a moment, his expression was extremely strange.
Mo Qiao Sheng’s face turned red and he turned to leave.
“Don’t, don’t.” Sima Tu grabbed him. “What’s the point of giving My Lord a gift? He must be the happiest if you were to wash yourself clean and deliver yourself to his mouth.”
A’Feng sat in his room and looked at Xiao Qiu who had just brought him a bowl of medicine. He coldly turned his face away and said, “Put it down. I’ve already told you several times, there’s no need for you to bother with my affairs.”
“That’s no good. My Lord told me that I have to watch you drink medicine every day for a month, without missing a single day.” Xiao Qiu blocked the doorway and insisted on watching A’Feng drink the medicine. “As Big Sis said, whatever My Lord orders, whether big or small, I can’t be even a little bit careless about it.”
A’Feng was left with no other choice. He picked up the bowl of medicine and drank it up in one gulp. “Now can you go?”
“Not yet. My Lord said that I have to watch over you according to the doctor’s instructions. You have to slowly walk around the house twice a day, you are not allowed to go out wilfully, you have to change your medicine every three days, and we have to invite the doctor for consultation every five days…”
When Mo Qiao Sheng arrived, he saw a chubby little bun blocking A’Feng’s doorway and chattering endlessly as A’Feng held his head helplessly and sat at the table inside the house.
1. (时辰 – shí chén) Back in ancient china, before the introduction of western chronology, one day’s time was divided into 12 hours instead of 24. So, one shichen was equal to two hours of modern day time, and 3 shichen was equal to six hours.↩
2. (躲懒 – duǒ lǎn) – Avoid work or labour/performing your duties because of laziness or fear.↩
3. I’m not really sure about this name. He’s actually called Deng Zhu, but it said Zhuzhi here.. Maybe it’s like a nickname or smth? Zhuzhi means pillar btw.↩
4. (后面杀红了眼) – Raws basically say fighting/killing red eyes. (very rough literal tl) This is basically just saying that they’re fighting really hard until they enter a state of mental numbness and just fight mechanically with only killing on their minds.↩
5. (阎王 – yán wang) – Yama, King of Hell.↩
6. (檑木 – léi mù) – Large pieces of wood that was rolled down from a height to hit the enemy in ancient battles.↩
7. (老子 – Lǎo Zi) father; daddy; I, your father [said in anger or out of contempt]↩
8. (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.]↩
9. (卑职 – Beizhi) – Your humble subordinate, I. [Used by subordinate officials when speaking to their superiors.]↩