Chapter 30: No Path Behind
A black iron set of armor was carefully set on Gu Nan’s body. Although she wore several layers of clothing, the wintery metal sent a clear chill through her.
Underneath, Gu Nan had changed from the usual white gown into a fresh uniform. She also wore a pair of heavy leather boots. Xiao Lu stood behind her as she quietly arranged and tied her hair.
The departure date happened to be at the end of the year, which nullified Wei Lan’s annual feast preparations.
Gu Nan stood in front of a polished bronze mirror. Although she generally didn’t care to usee the mirror, today she was surprisingly curious.
Her black armor was a combination of leather and metal. Her black hair was being tied and organized. Her forearms were covered with a pair of bronze bracers. The white clothes underneath were tucked neatly but wrinkled by the tightly-strapped armor.
Gu Nan gave a simple glimpse and then smiled. I really didn’t think that I become like this one day.
“Miss.” As Xiao Lu started on the finishing touches to her hair, she softly spoke, “Near the border, it’ll be colder than in Xianyang. You should wear more clothes when you’re there.”
Gu Nan smiled and nodded. “Understood.”
“Military camp isn’t like home. There’s less alcohol. I don’t really know the army’s regulations but there’s punishment for drinking.”
“The rations in the army isn’t that much. Miss eats so much, I’m afraid you might not be used to it. But soon you need to learn to fight when hungry.”
Gu Nan stood up with her hair all completed.
Turning around, she found Xiao Lu red-eyed behind her.
Smiling, she reached out her hand and plucked the girl’s nose. “Hey, you better remember, when I get back, prepare some good food for me. And some good booze too. I want a feast.”
Laughing and hanging the sword on her waist, she grabbed the tall spear and stepped out the door.
Blackie was standing in his stall, munching on his fresh bundles of green grass. On this winter day, this lush material was not simply expensive, it basically eating money! It was near comparable to an entire household’s daily food expenditures.
Thankfully, Wu’an Manor doesn’t have to buy this themselves, the military encampment will always send more over.
Having been fed generously all this time, Blackie gained quite a bit of weight. Although he remained slightly thin, he seemed much bulkier and started to resemble a true, fully-fledged warhorse.
As the horse was going to take another mouthful, he suddenly stopped. The eye under the one scarred eyelid slanted to a certain place.
Gu Nan was sneaking around.
“Humph!” Blackie snorted in dissatisfaction, but no longer bothered to waste any more attention on her and resumed eating.
Of course, it knows why she’s here.
In Wu’an Manor, alcohol is forbidden, which is an issue for Gu Nan who is practically a raging alcoholic. To endure such loneliness, she found a place to stash some wine without risking having to sneak out.
Choosing a location was rather troublesome. It must be rather secluded and certainly not somewhere Bai Qi would walk casually.
Considering the criteria, there was nowhere more suitable than the horse stables.
Although it wasn’t the cleanest place, it’s probably the safest. Generally, Old Lian is the only that comes to feed the horses, tending to them is his duty as well.
Don’t look at his unemotional face, he’s quite easy to get along with.
After some friendly chats between the two, he would occasionally come and take a couple mouthfuls of wine here and there, eventually turning a blind eye to these misdemeanors.
Gu Nan checked around and determined that no one had slipped into Blackie’s stall.
Reaching out, she grabbed hold of the wine jar hidden in the stable’s thatched roof.
Squinting as she carefully unsealed the lid and quickly poured a mouthful of wine.
“Nhnn.” Blackie obviously held strong contempt for a cowardly thief.
Of course, Gu Nan didn’t care about whether a horse looked down on her or not. And so, one person and one horse remained undisturbed in the stable, drinking and munching.
“Blackie, have you ever been in battle?”
The horse glanced at her, probably not understanding her question, but still shook his head.
She smiled. “It’s quite the terrible thing. But my fate will be with you, partner.”
She took her wine jar and swallowed another cup.
Blackie’s ear twitched for a moment, then he resumed to silently eating his grass.
It was about afternoon.
Gu Nan led Blackie to stand in front of the manor entrance. Bai Qi quickly arrived at her side.
Wei Lan was beside Gu Nan, finishing tidying her collar. “Our family’s Miss is so striking.”
“When you get there, stay with your master. He must protect you well. If he lets you get hurt, tell me and I’ll smash in thoroughly.”
Bai Qi suddenly felt a bit nervous but quickly whispered, “Madam, we’re on the street, in public. At least leave some face for your husband.”
Gu Nan got on Blackie and lightly reminded him. Therefore, his speed was not too fast nor too slow, matching Bai Qi as they left Wu’an Manor.
“Hm? Did you just drink alcohol?” Bai Qi asked with a glance.
“…He he, master’s eyes are still ruthless.” She understood the awkward predicament she was in, but she could only smirk it off.
“Muddled girl, you should learn what is good and bad, picking up these poor habits. It must be that Old Ghost taught you poorly. I’ll spare you this time, but again, it’ll be your turn to count your wrongs.”
Bai Qi didn’t dare actually reprimand her right then, mostly because he could still feel his wife’s gaze from the distance.
Painting Fairy hadn’t come to send Gu Nan off, but yesterday she had presented a roll of cloth as a gift. It was a painting of when she was at the poetry gathering, drinking and looking out the window.
It just so happened to be small enough, and Gu Nan eventually folded it and tucked inside her inner robes.
Finally, she wanted to take another, last glance at the Wu’an Manor.
But Bai Qi’s voice was heard faintly from her side. “Do not look back. We must be steadfast, we are people going down a path of death. There is no path behind us.”
Gu Nan nodded and clenched the cold spear in her hands.