"To me, no, to all who are in Yutang, as long as Lord Supreme Cloud is still here, Yutang will still have hope!" Fu Baoguo's looked up at the faraway sky, a mixture of longing and gratitude in his eyes.
Yun Yang replied softly, "I didn't expect you to trust in Lord Supreme Cloud so much."
Fu Baoguo's head was still raised towards the sky, his voice sounded exceptionally distant, "When Lord Supreme Cloud came disguised as Supreme Wind, he awakened me and gave me a new life! If it weren't for Lord Supreme Cloud, I would have long been ruined; my standing and reputation, my body would have been utterly destroyed.
Yun Yang was shocked, never expecting Fu Baoguo to reveal his shortcoming in front of anyone else other than the Supreme Cloud – so this is how it was for Fu Baoguo!
"That day, it was Lord Supreme Cloud who pulled me away from the abyss!"
Fu Baoguo continued in a reverent tone, "Lord Supreme Cloud is one of the two people whom I respect the most in my entire life. The other one is my teacher and mentor, Fang Qingtian!"
"Old Grand Commandant Fang is definitely revered," Yun Yang began saying, "but Lord Supreme Cloud, he…"
He wanted to say that Lord Supreme Cloud was not looking for revenge despite his favor and would not hope for Fu Baoguo to be sacrificed on the battlefield just like this. But before Yun Yang could finish, Fu Baoguo got angry and glared at him, saying loudly, "You child, your surname is Yun and you're a son to the Marquis of Heavenly Clouds, an aristocratic descendant, in addition to possessing significant merit too, but some words shouldn't be said in this world! I'm just expressing some memories of my past at this juncture of life and death. But upon hearing your defiance, it looks like Marquis Yun's teaching at home needs to be further enforced."
Yun Yang was dumbfounded.
Fu Baoguo was not done venting his anger. "Yong Marquis Yun, seeing that we've been comrades in a battle, let me advise you. While you may not consider it a big deal to regard yourself so highly but it is still a weakness! It is better for you to shut your mouth in the future lest you attract a fatal fault! At the very least, never make idle comments about Lord Supreme Cloud in front of me!"
"You are not worthy to judge anything good or bad about Lord Supreme Cloud!"
Fu Baoguo finished in a cold voice and left immediately, leaving Yun Yang alone, rooted to the spot in astonishment.
Yun Yang was dumbstruck. What did he say that was so wrong?
He fumed and ruminated to himself, "What I said are good words. I was thinking only for your sake. Can't you tell the difference? So what if I talk about Supreme Cloud, I was merely commenting on him, what can he do to me? Supreme Cloud himself didn't say anything; did he ask you to take charge for his sake? What the f*ck? I'm commenting for myself but someone else is taking the moral high ground against me, how f*cking awkward!"
He felt like he was being reprimanded for nothing.
That night was actually the most peaceful night since the war began.
Both sides knew that tomorrow would be the pivotal moment, deciding between victory and defeat.
Yutang's army knew that perhaps tomorrow was the day that they would be defeated while Dongxuan's side was clear that they would charge through Tianxuan Cliff in the battle tomorrow and the entire Empire of Yutang's east land would be theirs to ravage!
On this night, Dongxuan's army prepared themselves for the fight. All levels of generals were briefing the soldiers, promising that all would be good as long as tomorrow's battle went well, that they could rise in ranks, that they could anticipate noble titles, rewards, and other promises.
The soldiers who listened wore glinting eyes. They were all imagining the wealthy days awaiting them after contributing merits in tomorrow's war. If they worked even harder, then they could expect to be bestowed titles of nobility just like their superiors had said.
As for the army of Yutang, silence permeated the entire base.
Everyone was doing their best to rest and adjust themselves so that they could be stronger tomorrow. They were trying to steel themselves to kill a few more invaders, even if it was in their last few moments. One or two would barely suffice, while three to five would be earning a slight advantage for their army – but if they could kill eight to ten, then they could rest in peace.
Numerous soldiers were quiet, their heads lowered without saying a word.
A sense of oppressive anguish began to spread and saturate everyone in the army.
All their fighting and perseverance had led up to this point; was this final moment for them to be silenced? There had been innumerable sacrifices and uncountable knocks at death's door, yet tomorrow was the final day.
Would this be the end of this lifetime?
A veteran who was heavily injured wiped his long saber quietly and began to sing in a low voice.
"Brothers we are at home, comrades we became in war;
For our homeland we fight, triumphant in the battlefield;
When the enemy comes, comes to our fortress;
Brother, you pick up your saber, and I raise my spear;
Together we charge through foes, together we gallop, wielding blades;
Together we drink to celebrate, together we trek through mountains, and together we go to the Yellow Spring;
Brothers are comrades, comrades are allies;
Don't you lower your head, I wouldn't bow either;
Life and death I face, wealth and fame I toss;
Here I come to my battleground, there you go to your fort;
We're all the pride of our families.
You have an aged mother, I have my young children;
Confidant you treasure, a woman I cherish;
When we hold spears in our hands, when we see the enemy;
You and I, blood boils in us!
When I turn into earth and soil, glory to the militants;
When you leave as scorched ashes, rainbows you shall become;
Oh brothers, we still smile proudly!
Because we are all Yutang's pride!
Blood flows in your chest, this saber I bear in my hands;
Shoulder to shoulder you and I, today we fight side by side;
If I die after a battle, my father and mother smile for me;
For what can the life of a man be, if he doesn't serve his country?
Father and mother, look at the east when you miss me;
Where smoke rises, I'm beaming with pride,
Proudly I smile for eternity!
Proudly I smile in life or death!
The song was sung very softly, it was called 'Proudly I Smile'; it was composed by a soldier after a war and gradually gained popularity in Yutang's military, becoming a military song that everyone was familiar with and could sing along to.
At that moment, countless hoarse voices joined in, giving the song a strange rhythm that drifted slowly across the base amidst the night breeze.
All the soldiers who heard the song sang along quietly.
Some of them took out letters from their families while they sang, reading sheets of paper that were so worn from multiple readings that they would crumble to dust with another flip; even when the letters had long since lost their shape and were stained with blood, the owners read each word carefully, over and over again.
After that, they kept the letters gently, close to their hearts, with tears in their eyes, but smiles on their lips.
Some soldiers lied down with their blades as pillows, watching the starry night unblinkingly. Who knew what thoughts were going through their minds, but they hummed along to the tune nonetheless.
Slowly but surely, the singing rang through Yutang's military base; engulfing the mountain that the army was in; reverberating all around them, like the gentle caress of a breeze.
Fu Baoguo was also humming to the song, patrolling his troops, tent by tent. Before the ultimate battle came tomorrow, he wanted to look at each of his brothers again – at least for another glance. He wanted to etch the image of each brother into his heart, that even when they had gone to the underworld, he would not forget them, he wouldn't dare forget them!
"Are you scared of dying?"
"I was but now I'm not!"
"Why so, why aren't you afraid now?"
"Because… anyway, I'm just not afraid now!"
Fu Baoguo recalled the conversation he had with a young soldier and could not help chuckling, albeit with tears. The soldier had barely reached twenty years of age but he was already a veteran who had gone through multiple battles. In spite of his young life, he had already experienced massive battles aplenty.
"Tomorrow, we're fighting to our deaths."
Fu Baoguo's voice echoed throughout the camp.
"Brothers, do any of you have unfulfilled wishes? Say it quickly! If possible, I'll complete it for you with what I can!"
"This may be the last chance. There won't be another opportunity if you don't say it now!"
The singing was still present but no one replied to the marshal.
"Dying with me, Fu Baoguo, does anyone regret it?"
No one answered, still; the melodic singing continued to drift in the air.
"Then I'll speak a little more. If all of us die in the battle tomorrow, our souls shall still stand guard here and continue fighting against Dongxuan! "I, Fu Baoguo, will continue to lead all of you, to go together to the Nine Spring and fight the enemy!" Fu Baoguo announced loudly.
The quiet military camp suddenly roared in agreement.
"That's right! If we die fighting tomorrow, our souls shall continue to stand guard here and fight against Dongxuan!"
"We shall go together to the Nine Spring and fight the enemy!"
"We won't rest till we die in this world! We won't even rest if we die in another world!"
"We have no regrets!"
The thunderous roar of the soldiers' replies sounded like the rumbling thunder from the god of thunder himself, ricocheting from the mountain to the heavens above.
Towards the end of their replies, only four words remained, "We have no regrets!"
"We have no regrets!"
Shangguan Lingxiu who was overlooking the scene from the top of the mountain covered her mouth, sobbing. Big fat tears rolled from her eyes and onto her cheeks, she felt choked with emotion.
Fu Baoguo's Adam's apple bobbed up and down, unable to speak for a moment; he breathed harshly, like a broken wind box.
Suddenly, he roared like an angry lion, "Fight to the end!"
"Fight to the end!"
The sound of the army's roar resonated in everyone's ears.
Fu Baoguo laughed suddenly. "Brothers, all of us here, remember to leave together tomorrow, no one is allowed to fall behind! Your father's military law dictates that whether it's the human world or the underworld, heads can still be severed and military discipline can still be executed!"
Laughter broke out in the base as the army guffawed in response. "We won't fall behind! We won't fall behind when we're alive and not even when we die! What military law are we afraid of?"
"Let us sing! Let us continue to sing!"
Fu Baoguo hollered, "All of you haven't heard your father sing, have you? Let your father start off today, I'll let all of you hear my tune."
Fu Baoguo kept quiet for a moment as he cultivated his emotions. All the soldiers stood up, puffed up their chests and waiting for the singing that they had never heard, the singing from Marshal Fu.
After a while, Fu Baoguo's voice began in a rousing tone, "Brothers we are at home, comrades we become in war…"