Chapter 31: What Else is there but to Wait for Death in this Army?
How many people is a hundred thousand?
At this scale, it becomes just a number, because they are uncountable. Gu Nan has never seen this before, therefore she didn’t understand the concept. But if someone has, then the size and magnitude of it would be impressed onto them.
More than ten miles outside Xianyang, there was a vast military encampment. As the two riders rode towards it, Gu Nan could only see part of the seemingly endless tents.
This was the result of the King of Qin’s long preparations.
Zhao will change. With Lord Wu’an commanding, this can be considered a fortuitous thing.
These hundred thousand men have encamped here for the last few days, waiting for Bai Qi to arrive.
As they got closer and closer, it began to feel different from Gu Nan’s expectations. She envisioned that with so many people, it’d be a loud and bustling place.
But the military camp was unnaturally quiet. Occasionally, a few soldiers will pass by, muttering a few sentences to each other, but their voices soon disappeared into silence.
“Halt.” The sentries at the gate crossed their spears, barring the way of Bai Qi and Gu Nan.
“Nn.” Bai Qi pulled back his reins, and the horse came to a quick halt. Gu Nan also patted Blackie’s neck, and he similarly stopped.
Bai Qi didn’t say anything except taking off an insignia hanging from his waist.
The soldier glanced at him and quickly pulled back his spear and bowed.
“En.” Bai Qi nodded and gestured to Gu Nan, both urged their horses into the encampment.
The soldier’s eyes swept past Gu Nan’s face, hiding his surprise. It was not until the two went into the distance that he relaxed.
Someone asked, “Hey, did you see?”
Another voice replied. “You’re not lying. Did you see, just behind the General, was that a female?”
“It’s certainly a female, quite the striking one at that. I almost didn’t realize my actions.”
“Why did Lord Wu’an bring a woman in?”
“Miss Gu…” A soldier muttered in thought.
“Yes, as I thought about it, Lord Wu’an recently received a girl as his disciple. She was surnamed Gu.”
“Ah, yes, now that you mention it. It’s said that this ‘Miss Gu’ is a talented girl with high prospects. Her poetry is excellent and her military strategy is highly valued by Lord Wu’an.”
But a veteran began to frown. “Excellent poetry? The battlefield is not a place for young ladies, even our men must latch onto their lives.”
“Stop talking.” Someone who seemed to be the captain of the group hushed everyone up. “These baseless rumors, speak of them privately if you must. But if people hear about it, our squad won’t have it good.”
The person in the back shrank his neck and no one else spoke.
The main camp was in the middle of the encampment. Going from the gate, it took more than ten minutes to get to the center.
Along the way, besides the occasional pairs of soldiers chatting, most of the soldiers had a face of “awaiting death.” Their eyes were dull and unfocused. Their hands weakly clutched their swords. Their clothes were soiled with dirt and grime, ragged from several days of neglect.
To march into a clash of overwhelming numbers, isn’t that just marching to one’s death?
Gu Nan looked around at the gloomy camp, her brows somewhat furrowed together.
Bai Qi seemed to notice and glanced at the soldiers walking past with heads lowered. “Do you think something is strange?”
After a moment of hesitation, she nodded. “It’s so depressing. There’s no fighting spirit among them.”
“What do you think it ought to be like?” Bai Qi replied with a simple question.
What it ought to be? Enthusiastic, shouting for Great Qin and its people? Embracing death to fight for justice?
These soldiers are also human.
Most came to provide food for their families, for the money given to recruits. Others were forcibly conscripted from the surrounding lands.
Everyone here knows their purpose and eventuality, to fight and die.
What else can cause such grim faces besides waiting for death?
As Bai Qi rode in front of Gu Nan, he said solemnly, “Year after year, there are still people like these, it can count as doing well.” As he spoke, he looked at the soldiers huddled around, eating their dry, frozen rations.
Gu Nan could only see his back, but she could see the faint heartache in his eyes. It was so fleeting that she doubted that she saw wrong.
“Lord Wu’An.” A voice shouted out, drawing her attention.
In the distance, an older boy, wearing a general’s set of decorated black armor, rode towards them on a white horse.
The person’s face was still slightly immature, probably less than twenty years old. For such a young man to be a general, it’s a very rare sight.
He held a long halberd in effortlessly his hand. The white horse underneath him seemed extraordinary and handsome, although some would argue that a white horse is a dangerous option on the battlefield. After all, a white horse is too conspicuous, and simply attracts arrows. If you lack the slightest confidence in yourself and your horse, don’t ride one into battle.
The young man took a few breaths and jumped down in front of the two, looking at Bai Qi with undisguised admiration.
It felt out of place for such an energetic young man to be in this gloomy encampment.
Gu Nan felt the corner of her mouth begin to twitch slightly.
To be honest, she can’t help but admire the hearts of these youngsters. After all, they are so spirited, which makes her feel a bit old. Considering everything, she is like a person in their thirties, basically almost middle-aged.
Unfortunately, she sort of forgot that her body only looked about seventeen or eighteen. Compared to the young general in front of her, she’s still younger.
“Lord Wu’an, it’s been a long time since we’ve last met.” The young general began to happily talk. “Last time you brought up a couple military issues and strategic theories; anyhow, I now have some answers that I thought up. When you’re free, I’d like for you to give pointers. I cannot describe my gratefulness.”