Chapter 36: A New World? That’s Ridiculous
The high winds tugged at the corners of Gu Nan’s clothes. But as if not noticing, she leisurely sat on the rock, stretching her hands behind her head.
The weather in Changping was certainly freezing, but as a martial artist, she never felt it to be noteworthy.
Compared to that carefree attitude, the young man sitting nearby had been eyeing her silently for a while now. His right hand never straying too far from his hilt.
Although the opposite party stated their position, he didn’t dare relax his vigilance.
They’re someone from the Qin army. For someone to appear here in the dead of night, it’s impossible to just be letting their horse graze. Although granted, he was also here to let his horse graze.
“I must say, you don’t need to be so antsy. I said that we’re unrelated, so I won’t go back on it.”
Although the snow flurried and the surroundings dark, she couldn’t directly see the other’s face and neither could he see her’s, only the vague contours of his face and outlines of his robes. But her perception still felt his eyes eyeing her with hardly-disguised suspicion.
She disdainfully curled her lip. This guy’s courage is so pitiable.
The young man looked at her with some surprise and embarrassment. Although they were so casual, he remained so nervous. It’s really the shame of a gentleman.
Arching his hand upwards, he conceded, “It is my error.”
Afterward, he began to more intently try to understand this Qin soldier. This night was pitch dark and the dim moonlight was scattered by the falling snow, making the short distance seem huge.
He could make out that the other person was sitting leisurely on a stone, but he couldn’t make out their appearance. That voice was a bit neutral, even somewhat reminiscent of a woman’s…
No, unlikely. The young man had thought about it but quickly quashed the notion. Why would the army have women in it?
Since that brief exchange of words, the atmosphere eased by several degrees.
The young man thought for a moment. Deciding, he held his fists in a light salute, he spoke with a smile. “This is Zhao Shi of the State of Zhao. Brother, you really have a good eye. This area is all frozen over and perhaps within a ten-mile radius, this hill is the only place with green grass for horses.”
“You’re daring enough to say you’re from Zhao? Are you afraid of me drawing my blade?” Gu Nan said, bemused.
This person is quite interesting. He was all timid and tense but now dares to reveal himself.
“I am Gu Nan from the State of Qin.”
Thinking about it, Zhao Shi, I don’t really have any memories of this person. I’m guessing he’s just another one of the countless young men in the Zhao army.
Zhao and Qin, once these two statuses were unveiled, it’s impossible for there not to be conflict. But neither of them moved.
Zhao Shi chuckled a bit at his thoughts. This “man” doesn’t sound like a muscle-head, but his character is as direct as one. Rather, he much prefers talking with direct people that speak less, but mean more.
“Since Brother is so relaxed, I should be as well, or else I’d be looked down upon.”
“En.” Gu Nan responded with a quick nod. A silence followed again but that’s because they were from different armies after all.
In the dark wilderness, much of the surroundings were piled with snow. Far away, only the twin lights of the Qin and Zhao camps were distinguishable.
“Shu, shu.” There was a light whistling of the winds atop the hill. The horses rustled around as they chewed on the grass. Meanwhile, Gu Nan was resting on her stone with her eyes closed.
When on the march, it becomes a habit to rest whenever possible.
A low grumbling entered her ear, causing her brows to furrow.
Zhao Shi, sitting nearby, had an awkward expression on his face.
That sound again.
Her eyebrows perked up.
Zhao Shi’s face turned ugly at the rumbling of his stomach. He’s only had two meals today and both meals were lacking. But who could have guessed that his stomach would be so disappointing.
“Brother Zhao, you’re hungry?” Gu Nan asked after some hesitation.
“Eh.” His face was quite bitter. “Yes, Brother probably got a laugh out of it.”
“Hmm, how about this.” Gu Nan fumbled around her outer robe and took out an uneaten dried cake.
This was from her lunch at noon, and although her stomach isn’t full either, the dried cake is really too unbearable to eat.
“If you don’t mind, I still have some dried cake that I haven’t eaten.”
Gu Nan held the hard lump and handed it out.
“This…” Zhao Shi looked at the dried cake and quickly took it after a moment of hesitation.
He cast a grateful look towards Gu Nan and said, “Many thanks, Brother.”
“It’s nothing.” Her voice was a bit light. “It’s just a chunk of dried cake.”
Zhao Shi didn’t continue talking. Soon after, there were a couple loud sounds of snapping and crunching.
Occasionally, it would also be accompanied by some light coughing.
It’s probably too dry.
“Your Zhao army is so low on grain? Looking at your clothes, you should be a junior officer and you still don’t get enough food?” Gu Nan asked faintly.
However, based on her status, it’s probably not appropriate to ask these questions. Then, she added, “If it’s sensitive, then there’s no need to answer.”
Zhao Shi swallowed the crumbs in his mouth and sighed. “Nothing sensitive about it. It’s not a secret. If the common soldiers under me starve, how can I hoard all the food?”
“So it’s that.” Gu Nan nodded. “Then that is the conduct of a responsible officer.”
“That’s enough.” Zhao Shi said. Holding the remaining half of the dry cake, he gulped down his urge to continue eating, and silently put it into his sleeves.
Through the blowing snow, Gu Nan watched as the young man very carefully put up the dried cake, shaking her head.
“If you don’t even have enough food, why bother to fight?”
Zhao Shi was a bit stunned at the sudden question. After a while, he smirked. “Who wants to fight? We’re only defending our country.”
“After Changping is the capital of Handan, where my wife and children all are. If the city is besieged, it will become a place of ruins and death.”
After speaking, he closed his mouth.
Gu Nan untied the water bag off her waist and took a sip. “Really, we’re sorry for you all.”
Zhao Shi waved his hand. “There’s no meaning for that, everyone has their master.”
“If you didn’t fight, it would be better.” Gu Nan found herself muttering this without much thought.
Zhao Shi listened to this innocent thought and shrugged his shoulders. “Sometimes, it’s impossible to not fight.”
“Why can’t we be one country, united and together?” Gu Nan asked again, caught up in hearing Zhao Shi’s perspective.
“A united country?” Zhao Shi shook his head. Talking about military matters, his attitude became more serious. “If there is a country, there will be a king. Each king has their pride and struggle. When these struggles appear, war breaks out.”
“What if there is no king?” Gu Nan suddenly remembered the governments of the future.
“No king?” Zhao Shi was startled. This was his first time hearing such an absurd and unreasonable idea. If such words were heard by the king or the princes, it would be difficult for this Gu Nan to live peacefully.
Moreover, how can anything function without a king?
“Without a king, the world would be one of chaos and strife.”
“What if it was by the people?”
“By the people?” Zhao Shi didn’t understand.
“Yeah.” Gu Nan once again thought about the scenes of the later generations and nodded.
“To be by the people, it means that the people rule themselves. There will be no nobility, no kings. The fertile land will be divided and books will educate all people. If the government is without virtue, people can choose a new one. If the people rule themselves, then even if there is no king, will the world be chaotic?”
Zhao Shi’s head became muddled, as deeply-rooted beliefs clashed in his brain.
Governing like this, would the world be peaceful? It’s not impossible… No, no, a country cannot be without a king.
Gu Nan’s remarks broke the concept of monarchy that he had fostered since childhood.
If it’s true, would this work?
Zhao Shi wanted to refute, but he couldn’t think of how to.
Because if it is so, maybe people can live and work in peace. This world could be peaceful.
Zhao Kuo’s eyes flashed with brilliance, but that light slowly faded.
It’s easy to say, but how easy would it be to achieve?
There is no future.
Zhao Shi is said, disheartened, “Brother Gu, your ideas are impossible to achieve. This is the era of the court’s wars, from where can the common people rule?
“Who knows?”Gu Nan snorted and muttered. “You don’t think such a day will come?
“Then it must be in a new world, unlike the one now.”
The conversation ended there, and once Blackie finished eating, Gu Nan got up.
Gu Nan took the reins and looked back at the young man before leading Blackie off down the hill.
Zhao Shi continued to sit alone. He turned his head and thoughtfully looked at the sky and the snow.
“If I can see such a world within my lifetime, I then can live life without regret.”