Translated with: Jia<3
After getting a scolding, Xiao Chiye still had to receive his punishment publicly in the military tent. He had been demoted, and now he could not even be considered a commanding general. So what if he was a talented genius? He still had to eat the humble pie after suffering a defeat. Never brag on the war zone about the battles once fought and the enemies once vanquished—all of these counted for nothing. Xiao Chiye killed Huhelu at the Shasan Camp, and this indeed was the subject of intense discussion in the army, but Xiao Fangxu did not reward him and instead made him a general in charge of military supplies. Others might not understand this move, but the old-school generals knew best that this meant Xiao Fangxu had the intent to entrust Xiao Chiye with heavy responsibilities.
Xiao Fangxu did not reward him because he wanted to shut up the mouths of those criticizing Xiao Chiye; he wanted to prove that he was far harsher and more exacting on his son than he was to others. Guo Weili rarely scored any wins in all his battles against Huhelu at the Tudalong Banner, but Xiao Fangxu promoted him and deployed him to the Shasan Camp to continue in his capacity as the commanding general. With such a stark contrast, the smart ones would all know to shut up, as this meant that Xiao Chiye’s promotions in the future were all based on genuine and solid military achievements, and it would also leave Xiao Chiye room for defeat.
It was not that they could not afford to lose a battle on the battlefield. Xiao Jiming could, and so could Guo Weili and Zhao Hui, because they were all generals Libei was familiar with. Their defeats were pardonable and forgivable under the circumstances, and these were all what Xiao Chiye lacked. Once Xiao Chiye really came to stand in the forefront of the frontline, he could only win. He had to prove to the dispirited Libei Armored Cavalry that he was the best choice of candidate for Libei.
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Xiao Chiye walked out of the military tent and put on his clothes. His waist and lower back were wrapped with gauze, and his right arm had sustained the worst injuries. For now, he would not be able to use the Conqueror Bow, and he even had to exercise caution while wielding Langli Blade.
Xiao Chiye huffed out a few breaths of hot air and whistled for Lang Tao Xue Jin. Lang Tao Xue Jin had just been washed and had yet to be saddled. Xiao Chiye flipped atop it, patted it on the neck, and leaned over to whisper a few words to it. Lang Tao Xue Jin then turned on its hooves and obediently galloped away into the night.
“He’s still the same.” Zuo Qianqiu stood by the entrance of the tent and lamented, “Every time he’s feeling down, he likes to go riding.”
“He’s holding in his anger.” Xiao Fangxu lifted up the boiling tea. “It can be seen that his six years in Qudu weren’t for naught; if tonight’s events had happened in the past, he would’ve even dared to fling aside the tent flap and run off when I scolded him for the second time. No one can beat those old foxes of Qudu when it comes to tempering a person.”
“The blame for this battle really can’t be entirely pinned on him.” Zuo Qianqiu looked back. “Hasen set up such a trap in the Tudalong Banner; even if it had been either of us, we might not necessarily be able to escape unscathed either.”
“The possibility of ‘if’ is nil in war. It’s his battle, and the outcome, win or loss, ought to be his to bear.” Xiao Fangxu paused for a moment. “There’s no doubt this battle is lost. That he dared to turn back to the marshlands of the Tudalong Banner to outflank and fight makes me really happy deep down.”
“Right?” Zuo Qianqiu laughed as he pointed at Xiao Fangxu. “It’s just like you to say one thing but mean another.”
Xiao Fangxu held the teacup. “But I can’t praise him.”
Zuo Qianqiu replied, “You never held back your praise for Jiming.”
“Those brothers are different.” Xiao Fangxu turned his face sideways to face him. “Jiming takes after his mother. After having a little brother, he often hears others speak of how A-Ye resembles his father, as if he’s snatching A-Ye’s place by being born a couple of years earlier. As such, I must praise Jiming often. A-Ye takes after me. What’s more, he’s the baby of the family. He has Jiming as an older brother shielding him, and that makes him a wild one who dares to play with whatever his heart desires. He almost broke his neck when he fell while taming his horse when he wasn’t even fourteen, and the moment the injury healed, he insisted on carrying on with taming the horse even if he had to sneak out to do it. That battle he fought when he was fourteen was so beautifully executed that there wasn’t a person who didn’t praise him when he returned to Dajing. At that time, he didn’t allow anyone to give him what he wanted; he had to obtain it on his own, even if he had to go without food and drink. A personality like his doesn’t lack praises, but scoldings.”
“Being a father is a skill; I can’t be compared to you.” Zuo Qianqiu’s wife had died prematurely. After the battle of Tianfei Watchtower, he had wandered all over Dazhou and did not remarry, so he naturally had no children. He sat down and said, “But there has been no lack of talents from Biansha in recent years. Amu’er has a great son too. Hasen is neither arrogant nor rash, and he is decisive and straightforward in all the moves he makes.”
“Amu’er has a good eye.” Xiao Fangxu took a sip of the hot tea. “The rarest thing about Hasen is that he doesn’t stick to one combat style, yet his character is rather steady.”
“If Jiming were to be deployed back here,” Zuo Qianqiu said, “he could more or less restrain him.”
“That’s right.” Xiao Fangxu shifted his feet slightly. “Zhao Hui’s combat style bears the closest resemblance to Jiming’s after having learned from the latter while serving under him. But when Hasen previously fought against Qidong, the one he faced up against was Qi Zhuyin, who is of the same kind as Jiming—he’s already accustomed to that kind of rhythm. Look at Zhao Hui. Although he was able to contain Hasen’s onslaughts of attacks, he was also, at the same time, firmly nailed down in place by Hasen in the northern route.”
Zuo Qianqiu started to laugh. “But when Hasen faced A-Ye, it was one formidable adversary against another. Even if their military strength were equally matched, I still think that the probability of both sides suffering losses is much higher.”
“You’re thinking too highly of him by saying both sides will suffer losses. He is currently no match for Hasen at all. Hasen has been on the battleground for even longer than Jiming, and experience is something that’s far more fearsome than talent. The discrepancy between him and A-Ye is not insignificant.” Xiao Fangxu stood up, flipping and turning a dagger between his fingers as he stared at the straw target across him. “The wolf pup can’t win.”
Zuo Qianqiu clasped his hands behind his back and said leisurely, “The general in charge of military supplies is a good post. Once he has a thorough grasp of its workings, he will know all of Libei’s major and minor military routes, the strengths and weaknesses of the various camps, and even the personalities of the commanding generals like the back of his hand.”
Xiao Fangxu threw the dagger hard and hit the bullseye. He turned his head and smiled smugly at Zuo Qianqiu. “I’m going to give Amu’er a gift and let him witness my prowess.”
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It was almost dawn when Xiao Chiye returned. He dismounted, and Chen Yang came forward to hand him a handkerchief. He wiped the sweat on his neck and saw Xiao Fangxu standing a short distance away, motioning for him to go over. He was not at all willing and thought of pretending not to have seen him.
So Xiao Fangxu hung one arm over the back of Xiao Chiye’s neck, forcing Xiao Chiye to bend down, then used his other hand to vigorously tousle the top of Xiao Chiye’s hair until it was all a mess.
“Where’s my falcon?” With some difficulty, Xiao Chiye finally broke away and rubbed his neck. “Don’t feed it raw meat.”
“It’s your falcon, so why are you asking me?” Xiao Fangxu took a few steps forward. Seeing him still unhappy, he turned around and made to kick him.
Xiao Chiye hurriedly leaped away and said, “I’m just asking!”
Xiao Fangxu ignored him and petted Lang Tao Xue Jin. “We had a new batch of horses from last year back at home. There’s one that has just the opposite color as this one. White tinted with black. A real beauty.”
“Oh.” Xiao Chiye could tell his intent. “You want to give it to me?”
Xiao Fangxu looked askance at him. “You? Your elder sister-in-law is keeping it for your wife.”
Xiao Chiye cast a glance at Hongyan Mountains behind him and said nothing.
“That arm guard is pretty good.” Xiao Fangxu stepped on the wooden railing and hoisted himself up to sit on it. Seeing Xiao Chiye looking back, he followed suit and turned sideways to shoot a glance at Xiao Chiye’s expression. “Where did you craft it? It’s not Qidong’s style.”
“Of course it’s good.” Xiao Chiye turned his head back and said secretively, as if he had something to hide, “That’s my protective amulet.”
Xiao Fangxu uttered a perfunctory acknowledgment, then followed up right after with a question, “Where is she from? You couldn’t have taken her to Bianbo Camp, could you? It’s all stinky men there. How old is she?”
Xiao Chiye said, “Stinky man?”
Xiao Fangxu did not get it.
Xiao Chiye took several steps back.
Xiao Fangxu narrowed his eyes. “Don’t tell me you brought back a girl from the Hua clan?”
Xiao Chiye continued to retreat. On seeing his father’s lost and puzzled expression, he inexplicably laughed out loud, and while he was at it, he removed Langli Blade and tossed it to the side.
“Xiao Chiye.” Xiao Fangxu sensed something amiss. “You’d better tell me honestly.”
Xiao Chiye suddenly said in a loud voice, “Stinky man!”
“Huh?” Xiao Fangxu suspected he had misheard it and even cocked his ear to one side.
“I found myself a man!” Sunlight shone on Xiao Chiye’s face, dispelling the dark clouds of yesterday. This brat was truly a little rascal as he shouted provocatively, “The best-looking man in the whole of Dazhou is my wife!”
Having said that, he did not even wait for Xiao Fangxu’s reaction before he turned around and took to his heels.
Xiao Fangxu fell silent for a very long time. Chen Yang softly swallowed his saliva and saw Xiao Fangxu jump up abruptly. As Xiao Fangxu landed on the ground, he almost tripped over himself.
Chen Yang hurriedly called out, “Your Lord—”
“Xiao Chiye!” Xiao Fangxu let out an earth-shaking roar. He pushed himself off the ground with his hands to chase after him, but he could not catch up. In a fit of anger, he picked up a piece of horse dung and flung it at Xiao Chiye, cussing, “Get your ass back here and make yourself clear!”