Chapter 33: When My Spear Falls, I’ll Have You Calling for Daddy
“Plop.” A ladle knocked against the earthen bowl, pouring a scoop of thin rice soup.
Well, actually, the rice soup was basically all water with only a few grains of rice throughout. The veteran soldier grabbed the bowl and went to the side, shaking his head slightly at the meagerness of his meal. Reaching into his clothes, he took out half a piece of dried rice cake.
Taking a hard bite, he then gulped some of the rice soup, reluctantly swallowing both.
Don’t bother critiquing what they’re eating. In fact, it’s already rather good that the military provides meals and fills their stomachs. Who then dares complain about their food?
Another soldier, quite a bit younger, crouched next to the veteran, tapping on the older man’s arm with his elbow. “Hey, you have you heard?”
The veteran looked back with perked brows, his wrinkles becoming deeper. “Heard what?”
The young soldier smiled smugly and leaned closer. “I heard that General Meng Wu has requested a spar with General Bai’s disciple, and it’ll be held tomorrow.”
The veteran frowned, as if somewhat doubtful. “General Bai’s disciple?”
“Yeah.” The young soldier quickly nodded. “You weren’t there to see it. Two days ago, that girl and General Bai came, and she’s called Miss Gu. Anyway, she’s quite pretty, but it’s more than that. To describe it, hmm, it’s cool and valiant.”
“Moron.” The veteran scoffed at the man’s description. “Cool and valiant is for describing men.”
“Hey, I’m not kidding around here.” The young soldier squinted with some seriousness. “You haven’t met that miss before. I had never thought that such a graceful girl could don armor and wield a heavy spear on horseback.”
“Hm.” The veteran became more attentive at the mention of the spear.
“The spear was nearly one zhang long! (3.3m) I’m not kidding you, that spear is no less than a hundred jin. [TL: 60kg] Even untrained men would struggle merely holding it, to say nothing of a girl. I…! The young soldier paused with his mouth open, his face red from anger and excitement. “I have said my thoughts. If you still don’t believe it, go see it for yourself when the time comes.”
Noting the young soldier’s resolute stance, the veteran was slightly convinced.
“This girl may have great strength, but to be General Meng Wu’s opponent, it’s unlikely. You must remember, General Meng Wu is a martial artist, and his internal qi is neither withered by age nor underdeveloped. With his full strength of over a thousand jin [600kg], it’s not something ordinary people can oppose.”
“That’s true.” The young soldier thought for a moment and nodded.
The veteran gulped down a bit more of the rice soup. “We can go look when the time comes. But still, this Miss Gu is still a young girl, and for her to join the army, it’s certainly a rare case.”
“For General Bai Qi to take her as his disciple, it’s guaranteed to be a special individual.”
Currently, Gu Nan was sitting in her tent. Since she’s a female as well as Bai Qi’s disciple, she managed to secure a tent all to herself, even though she holds no official military rank.
The army had already set out from their previous encampment, causing two days of marching and subsequent exhaustion.
Even now, this encampment position was only considered temporary until noon today.
With only a night of rest, it’ll another day of hurried marching tomorrow.
“Hmm.” Gu Nan inspected the food in front of her with narrowed eyes.
Rice soup and dried rice cake… Ridiculous, really ridiculous.
This thing really isn’t meant for human consumption.
She reluctantly bit down. To say nothing else, this dry rice cake was frozen cold by the winter chill. Its hardness resembled a brick. Just biting down, it felt like her teeth were about to shatter.
She looked out, and sitting not too far away were some soldiers also eating. But they were instead practically hounding their food down and even alert for potential thieves.
Gu Nan bowed her head back down to her food, pausing as she gulping down her saliva.
Alright, if others can eat it, why can’t I? We’re marching to war, it’s not like I can keep eating delicacies.
Picking up a relatively clean slab of rice cake from the table, she dunked it into the soup and mixed it around. Eventually, the dried cake softened slightly and gradually became biteable.
“Crack.” Gu Nan snapped off a piece and ground it down into a chunky powder, which had no taste at all. It was no different from eating stone. The rice soup contained only the smallest portions of rice. It was just like plain water.
She took a sip, and unenthusiastically grabbed a nearby roll of bamboo slips, which held another military book.
The stomach is not filled, where then is the will to fight?
The army march had carried on without incident; and with Bai Qi busy with matters, it left no one that she could talk to. With her abundant spare time, she could do nothing except keep reading.
Although she has the accumulated knowledge of thousands of years, the wisdom of the ancient times never ceased to amaze her.
Honestly, she’s not particularly talented nor qualified in the field of military strategy. Most of it was just her plagiarizing the thoughts and actions of those throughout history.
If she really had to say something off the top of her head, her brain and mouth may be devoid of anything.
Since Bai Qi has always insisted for her to read, in hopes of saving her on the battlefield, Gu Nan can only take it seriously to make up for her deficit in knowledge.
Reading all these books has indeed been rewarding. Gradually she felt that it was no longer as soulless as it once was.
She was reading when, suddenly, she seemed to have thought of something. Stunned for a moment, she then sighed.
She had almost forgotten that she’ll be having that spar with Meng We tomorrow.
Originally, she planned for a complaint to Bai Qi about it, hopefully excusing her. Of course, Bai Qi didn’t allow this. In his words, aside from excusing himself of Meng Wu, there were true benefits to this exchange. He hoped that she could learn from others and improve her martial arts as soon as possible.
In addition, he also reminded her that Meng Wu had been practicing martial arts since childhood, refining his internal qi to a pure state. With his current strength of a bit over a thousand jin, admitting defeat would not be shameful.
What is not shameful!
Gu Nan bitterly crunched another peice of the rice cake.
Losing is shameful; it’s like saying that losing a battle is acceptable!
His pure internal qi? Pah, a thousand jin can merely be considered mediocre.
To say nothing else, Gu Nan doesn’t even have internal qi, but she can still unleash a lot of strength, all of which is her body’s natural power. Although it’s generally accepted that a female’s physique will be weaker than a man’s, this strength is very much real.
Even Bai Qi was amazed by this inexplicable anomaly. Most martial artists, after training for ten years, will develop natural strength of over three hundred jin. Those with good talents can achieve four hundred jin over the same span.
Bai Qi’s internal force is dense, but it shouldn’t be considered true internal qi. Since his age was quite old, his maximum strength fell to only about six hundred jin. [300kg]
Martial artists can indeed open mountains and crack stone, but they must rely on their internal qi.
Sure, Meng Wu can wield strength of a thousand jin, but without internal qi, three hundred jin is his upper limit.
People like Gu Nan who have no internal qi but still have so much natural strength, they’re simply monsters.
Sometimes Gu Nan would think that her body was indeed odd and fundamentally different from ordinary people.
This issue will continue to be with her for a long time, and only after a few dozen years will she understand the full extent of it, but it’s certainly not as simple as just great natural power.
But for now, it’s not a big deal to just think that she’s different from others.
It’s already been two days since the agreement for the spar was made. Thinking of the afternoon appointment tomorrow with Meng Wu, Gu Nan waved her hands with a sullen expression, not in the mood to keep thinking about it.
She returned to eating the dried rice cake in her hands and shook her head, enduring the hardship.
The sun was glaring above, and the skies were clear and cloudless, a rare sight in the winter months.
The weather was still very cold, making the onlookers’ cheeks redden.
The camp had an abnormal excitement to it, completely different from the gloomy depression from three days earlier.
Large groups of people sat around a temporary emptied field.
The soldiers sat around, laughing and chatting with each other. Entertainment in military camps, particularly in ancient times, were exceedingly rare.
A general’s spar, this definitely brought an unforeseen excitement through the entirety of the encampment. Not to mention the unprecedented situation of a girl participating, there was no one that didn’t want to come watch.
There were many who couldn’t find a spot and forced to look from afar. With a hundred thousand people, those who lacked a spot were forced to listen from the back.
Some soldiers opened up a gambling table for bets, win or lose.
Of course, the vast majority of people bet that Meng Wu would be victorious.
“Ta, ta, ta…” Amongst the bustling atmosphere, the sound of horses walking signaled the two people’s arrival.
From the left, came a black armored young man atop his white horse, holding a two-meter halberd. Although he wasn’t particularly handsome, with his fully-equipped armor, he looked exceedingly impressive.
Displaying a faint smile, he looked very confident.
From the right came a woman on horseback as well. From just a glance, everyone’s eyes were magnetized to that beautiful face. Although only looking seventeen or eighteen, she held a rare sliver of heroic aura, unspeakably charming.
Wearing the black armor and white robes, she was also armed with a long, slightly green, bronze spear.
As the two just entered the field, the feverish atmosphere calmed down as everyone unconsciously held their breath, with a bit of nervousness.
Meng Wu looked at the girl opposite him, slightly fascinated as well. Then he put on a large smile and said, “Miss Gu, today, you and I will be sparring together, but since this is for the sake of learning, I will be sure to be careful.”
“Brother Meng, do not underestimate others.” Gu Nan’s brows slightly furrowed, taking the last line as Meng Wu looking down on her.
Somewhat angry, Gu Nan clenched Blackie’s reins a bit tighter. “So, come over with your full force.”
“I will naturally not go easy, but I heard that Miss Gu doesn’t practice internal qi, and I have no intent to bully others. This is just a spar, and it doesn’t require internal qi to be used between us anyways.”
As he spoke of beginning, the white horse snorted out a column of steamy air and kicked around excitedly.
Gu Nan was slightly stunned after he proposed to not use qi, but soon her smile curled upward in a smirk.
She may not have internal qi, that she’s well aware, but she does know her own strength. Even though she would be hard pressed to fight again Meng Wu’s full thousand jin, who said that she can’t win against his three hundred jin?
Her two legs clipped Blackie’s sides, signaling the final preparations. Blackie glanced coldly at the white horse opposite him, his scarred eyelid wrinkling as he showed off his signature aloofness.
Gu Nan’s three-meter spear was also lifted up. Maybe the spear would be heavy to others, but in her hands, it felt as light as air.
Not using internal qi?
Then prepare yourself.
When my spear falls, I’ll have you calling for daddy.