Chapter 19: If we are drunk, crouching on the battlefield, do not laugh; since old times, how many men return from war?
Perhaps because of the snow flurries earlier, Gu Nan’s small courtyard made her shiver slightly in the cold night.
Tightly hugging her clothes, Gu Nan sat underneath the courtyard’s old tree.
The thin snow on the ground had not fully disappeared. The snow remained in small blotches on the ground.
The darkness always fell sooner in winter. Although it’s not that late, the sky was already completely dark.
The half-moon hung overhead in the sky, illuminating the land with its subtle light.
She still held her sword in her hand, looking at the sky with a blank look.
Her mind was adrift and didn’t notice that Xiao Lu walked out from the house and came behind here.
“Miss.” A voice shouted out again. Looking back, Gu Nan saw Xiao Lu standing behind her, placing a cloak upon her shoulders. “It’s night already, and it’s easy to catch a cold.”
“It’s fine.” Gu Nan smiled and shrugged her shoulders. “Being such a rough person, my body is naturally quite tough as well.”
“Miss shouldn’t talk nonsense. Miss isn’t a rough person.” Xiao Lu grinned as she sorted out the cloak’s creases.
Xiao Lu took the opportunity to whisper over Gu Nan’s shoulder. “Mr. Wang Jian came to chat with the lord. I heard them mention you, miss.”
“Hm? Wang Jian, that guy. If he’s here, he probably won’t be saying many good things.” Gu Nan waved her hand in dismissal.
“Then, miss, I’ll be off.” Xiao Lu peeked at Gu Nan’s expression and could see that she had something on her mind.
After a slight bow, Xiao Lu prepared to leave.
Gu Nan, however, thought of a question and asked, “Xiao Lu, where are you from?”
Xiao Lu was caught unprepared and took a moment to respond. “Miss, I am from Anyi.”
“Anyi…” Gu Nan nodded, somewhat remembering Bai Qi say that it wasn’t too far away from Xianyang.
“So why have you come to Xianyang?”
Xiao Lu’s voice turned a bit down, as she said, “When I was young, my family was poor and couldn’t afford more children. So, I was taken out and sold to be a servant.”
Gu Nan felt like she brought something up that shouldn’t be asked. Who would be like to live a life akin to a slave?
“Nothing.” Xiao Lu smiled a bit. Compared to other places, Bai Manor is already quite good.
Xiao Lu is roughly a few years older than Gu Nan, although she doesn’t particularly look like it. [TL: ~18-20]
“But for miss to have been orphaned at such a young age, it’s truly sad how the world is. A good girl like miss should’ve been born in a nice wealthy family. ”
“Oh, that’s not a big deal.” Gu Nan shook her head. Only she knew the discrepancy of how much she really suffered and how much people thought she suffered. She wasn’t that pitiful when she met Bai Qi.
“You know, I’m quite the boorish person. Skipping a couple meals and walking a few roads, what does that count as?”
Xiao Lu shook her head in disagreement. “Miss, you’re still going with that nonsense. You’re so handsome, and you’re a girl too. How does that count as boorish?”
“Hey, what I said was true.” Gu Nan rolled her eyes.
“Miss Gu.” A voice called out from outside the courtyard walls. A few moments later, a spirited young man walked over, carrying two earthen jars in his hands.
“Mr. Wang Jian.” Xiao Lu quickly bowed in greeting. Wang Jian was an official and furthermore a guest so she can’t be rude.
“Miss Lu doesn’t need to be so polite.” Wang Jian smiled and nodded.
“Hey, what stuff did you bring along with you?” Gu Nan asked nonchalantly. She was, for the most part, wholly uninterested in mingling with him.
Although Wang Jian has a series of embarrassing first encounters with her, she did see him as a forthright man and one that treated others based on ability rather than titles. But even still, he was one of those military guys and getting too close wasn’t good.
“Miss, I’ll go first.” Xiao Lu saw that Wang Jian had come to discuss and understood to leave
“Yeah, yeah. Go or else he’ll secretly stare at you in a daze.”
Gu Nan eyed the departing Xiao Lu before turning to face the courtyard’s new guest.
“Why have you come to visit?” While asking, her eyes drifted to the two jugs of wine in his hands.
“Care for a drink?”
Gu Nan loves alcohol. Wang Jian found that out because he saw her outside the manor, secretly drinking in one of the restaurants.
Since then, they could practically be considered drinking buddies
But after thinking about it, if Wang Jian walked in, wine in hand, her master probably wouldn’t let him in. Ghost Valley wouldn’t bat an eye but neither would he encourage it. If she could drink unimpeded, she wouldn’t have to resort to sneaking out.
In Bai Qi’s words, it is drinking that leads to poor thinking.
Wang Jian smiled. “Don’t worry about it. The reason I came is to have a drink with you. I already talked with Lord Wu’an about it.”
What! Seriously? It’s like I wanted to take a nap and someone gives me a pillow.
Wang Jian plopped down next to Gu Nan. He didn’t care about getting his robes a bit dirty. He placed the two giant jars down with a light thud.
He pushed one of the jars in front of Gu Nan.
“As I said, any matters will be handled by me.”
“Hoh? Haha, enough stalling, get the drinks out, quickly.” Her eagerness was plastered across her face.
Wang Jian looked at her expectant look and chuckled. Opening the seal to one of the jars, he poured it out into two cups.
The clear wine swayed in her bronze cup. It emitted a sweet and fragrant scent that permeated the chilly night.
After enjoying the soothing smell, she quickly gulped it down.
The wine went down her throat like an ingested flame. A mild burning sensation tingled through her, all the way to her stomach.
The chill she felt on her body was quickly dispelled.
Sighing comfortably, Gu Nan leaned back against that tree trunk.
She shook the now-empty cup and frowned.
“Not strong enough.”
Wang Jian was expecting for this alcoholic to say something like that. “This is still not enough? This is already the strongest wine in all of Xianyang. I had to pay a high price for these two jars. Miss, I’m afraid that no wine will be enough to for you.”
As Gu Nan leaned forward in complaint, her long hair shifted across her face.
Her sword leaned against her resting arm. Her cyan robes were somewhat relaxed, and her cup dangled from her outstretched hand. She gave off the aura of an ancient warrior relaxing to good wine and music.
Gu Nan scoffed lightly. “Ha, if I have the chance. I’ll make some myself! And then, I’ll have you taste what true drink is.”
The winemaking process during the Warring States period is still very rudimentary. The strongest alcohol isn’t much stronger than modern beer.
“Then good, I must thank Miss Gu for accompanying me.” Wang Jian smiled and drank the rest of his cup. His face began to turn a slight red. Obviously, to him, this alcohol was already quite strong.
“Nothing to be concerned about.” Gu Nan grabbed the jar and refilled her cup. “You came today to simply drink?”
Wang Jian paused at Gu Nan’s question. With a moment of silence, he let out a sigh.
With a induced leisure, he said, “I heard that you’re going to Changping?”
“The path is dangerous. This wine, I’ll gift it to you for your journey.” Wang Jian raised his cup and smiled.
Gu Nan rolled her eyes. Parting gift? More like a gift before my funeral.
Nevertheless, she also raised her cup and clinked their cups in a toast.
‘Lively drinking from the cups, time passing by without notice. By then, the wine has passed.’
Gu Nan took another sip but an inexplicable smile formed.
She turned to Wang Jian.
“I haven’t even competed in a drinking contest yet.”
Wang Jian muttered back, “What… good is there… to compete with you?”
He was in a state of near incomprehensibility, staring lazily at the fallen leaves on the ground.
Turning the leaf over and over.
Gu Nan smiled at his drunk actions and turned back to her wine.
But Wang Jian’s voice said out loud something again.
In his drunk voice, he muttered, “Us, our kind of people. We were… born to fight. …But only to die on the battlefield.”
The two didn’t continue.
Gu Nan raised her cup towards the moon, squinting at the soft light.
She gazed as the bronze wine cup reflected the cold moonlight.
“Fine wine in a jade moonlight cup;
Urge to drink but the pipa player orders us onwards.
If we are drunk, crouching on the battlefield, do not laugh;
Since olden times, how many men return from war?”
[TL: Wang Han (Tang Dynasty) “A Song of Liangzhou”]
“Miss Gu, good poetry.” Wang Jian was still quite drunk but raise his hand. “Finish this wine!”