Chapter 7: A Cruel System
“Alright, do you want to go?” King Zhaoxiang casually gestured his hand.
Bai Qi turned silent for a few moments. “Great king, if I lead the army, I want to bring another person with me.”
“Wang Jian?” He’s the most popular and promising of the young generals. Many years ago, Bai Qi had persistently brought up his name in the courts and in private.
“No, it’s not him.”Bai Qi shook his head. “It is a promising little disciple I recently took in.”
“Oh? So it’s like this.” King Zhaoxiang flashed a smile of surprise. “Good, it seems Qin will have another pillar in the future. Then the king agrees.”
Outside the palace gate, a sparrow was perched above the palace walls. The wind ruffled its feathers and then came fluttering of its wings.
Bai Qi walked out with heavy steps, his figure was solemn and grieved. His face showed traces of restlessness and worry.
He looked up at the reddening skies and the endless clouds.
Truth be told, he didn’t really want Lian Po to be replaced, least of all now.
Lian Po is an old and aged commander, someone that follows his own style. Unlike the younger and rasher generals, his strategy is easy to predict. Hence it’s a certainty that he’ll play defensively.
However, the Zhao army is at a tipping point. Their supply lines have been under constant harassment and resources are inevitably scarce.
If the Zhao army’s supply lines are severed in one fell swoop, even Lian Po would be forced into a desperate offensive. Dwindling supplies only further cripple your army, and it would be foolish not to attack.
But this is the one advantage the Qin had. They could choose to cut the Zhao supply lines anytime, allowing them to thoroughly prepare for the inevitable attack. But with Zhao Kuo, who knows when or where they’ll try to break out. This unpredictableness is a general’s nightmare.
If the Zhao army really launched a frenzied charge at their lines without warning, the Qin encirclement would be in a difficult situation.
“My lord.” The carriage driver waiting outside the palace gate ran up and greeted him.
Ah, forget it.
Bai Qi sighed helplessly and walked over.
“Xiao Lu, squeeze here, it’s still sore. Uuuu~ Um, yes, right. Ahhh~”
Gu Nan laid on her couch as chairs didn’t exist in this era. Her only options were the stiff bed or the stiff couch.
After reading The Art of War all morning, a massage is the apex of comfort.
Behind her, a small girl wore a neat dress and pressed down gently on Gu Nan’s shoulder, listening to her constant oohhs and aahhs. She muttered, “Miss, you’re teasing me again.”
“Hey, what teasing. Your massages are just really comfortable.” Gu Nan just chuckled and rested her head back down.
“Miss, I’ll get angry if you keep doing it.”
“umhm.” Gu Nan reached out and grabbed the bamboo book.
What a cruel era this book was written in.
To be honest, she’s found herself severely lacking in any motivation to read. Besides, she’s already familiar with The Art of War. She was never bored enough to read it out of leisure, but at least there’s a working comprehension.
The Art of War, although Gu Nan lacked the interest, it was still something that held significance. It’s one of the earliest military books in China and even the world. Heralded as being the scripture of the military world.
But how did Bai Qi get this? Wasn’t this only compiled at the end of the Warring States Period? Oh well, it doesn’t matter.
Gu Nan got up and stretched the remainder of the fatigue away. Then she grabbed the spear from the wall and strolled out into the courtyard.
In Chinese warfare, the history of the [heavy] spear (矛 Máo) is much more extensive than that of the spear (槍 Qiāng). The shaft of the Qiāng is softer and shorter than the Máo. She also picked this weapon because she envisioned the ancient warriors that rode mighty steeds, carried silver spears, and led invincible armies.
[TL: The MC uses the Máo, and both the Máo and the Qiāng mean spear. But just think of the Máo she uses as being a lance.]
Besides, the Qiāng wasn’t yet a thing in this era.
The spear was a heavy weapon and rather unwieldy. In Qin, few used this weapon outside of the footsoldiers and cannon fodder.
Among the commanders and officers, it is very rare. Because they usually ride on horses, the spear is too long and heavy to be agile enough for combat.
But this wasn’t a problem for Gu Nan. Although she was a girl, she still possessed remarkable strength beyond that of most men. But even now, she feels as though her power hasn’t been fully developed. Maybe at its peak, she could wield this heavy spear with indomitable might. Like a raging lion, she could roam the battlefield uncontested.
Gu Nan and her spear stood alone in the courtyard. The air near the end of September still retained the heat of late summer, but fallen leaves were sparsely strewn across the ground.
A gust of wind passed, and a couple more leaves fell from the tree overhead.
Gu Nan, standing motionless, flicked her wrists abruptly. A cold light streaked past, and the nearly three-meter spear cut forward like lightning.
Like a black serpent, it maneuvered into position. The spear tip traced across the air in one continuous slash, unnoticeably quiet as the leaf-halves brushed upon the ground.
As soon as the spear settled, Gu Nan flicked her wrist again. A whirlwind of thrusts, slashes, and parries was practiced one by one. For a few minutes, a coldness pervaded the open air. Almost unbounded by physics, the spear waved and twisted through the air as fast and silent as a lurking snake.
“Swift and deadly.” Bai Qi's murmured of her spear style. Even though her spear still had openings, it’s remarkable to have reached such a spot so quickly.
But to have begun finding her own distinct style so early…
Looking at the spear in her hand and the aura she exuded, he saw a glimpse of her future potential.
Her spear lacks the energy and boiling malice of the battlefield. No, rather than a warrior, it’s an assassin. It’s cold and formless, a soundless ripple but deadly nonetheless.
Clap, clap, clap.
After a round of her spear dance, Gu Nan stopped and turned towards the faint applause coming from the side.
She saw Bai Qi standing at the entrance to the courtyard. His face was in a smile as he walked closer.
“Nan’er, your spear carries its own fire now, good. However, to further develop your spear will require you to find it yourself. Everyone has a unique martial arts style, even I cannot teach you in this. But, you need to know, your spear is strong but lacks killing intent. When it comes time for the battlefield, it could hold you back.”
Sighing, he waved his hand casually, “But, I’ll teach you all that later. It’s not something to worry about. For now, take this and go out and buy a horse and a sword.”
A sack of coins was thrown towards the still-confused Gu Nan.
Gu Nan asked as she caught the bag. “Why do I need a horse?”
Ever since she arrived, this is the first time she’s held such a large amount of money. But after weighing it, she felt disappointed and cheated. The coins in Qin wasn’t even gold! It was brass and felt disgustingly light.
To have coins but not gold, what’s the point then!
“I’m going to teach you the art of horse riding.” Bai Qi looked at Gu Nan’s expression and sighed. “You’re going to the battlefield with me, and I can’t let my disciple walk all the way there.”
“Haha, so it’s that.” Gu Nan nonchalantly tied the bag to her waist.
“Remember, buy the one you like the most. It doesn’t matter if it’s a qianlima (Thousand-Mile Horse), the most important aspect is that you must trust it unconditionally.”
Looking at Gu Nan walking out, Bai Qi sighed once again and turned his thoughts to more serious matters.
If Zhao Kuo really does replace Lian Po, it will still take another half year until he’s commander of Shangdang.
To put a half-baked soldier without even a year of training onto the blood-craven battlefield, furthermore a little girl, it’s an undeniably vicious act. But, he has no other way.
War has its knack for growing people up the fastest.