180,000 Southern troops were dispatched here while only 20,000 were left at Yangguan. The news of the Southern Army defeating the North had quickly reached Xiao Yin and he immediately led his remaining troops to attack Yangguan.
Ji Feng Li rushed the Southern Army back and they finally reached Yangguan after a whole day and night. When they arrived, Yangguan was in a bind with the city gates about to be breached. Before Ji Feng Li departed, he had instructed Wang Yu to hold his grounds and defend the city. He specifically instructed him to take a defensive approach and rely on the city gate’s towering walls to prolong the battle as long as possible until the main forces returned.
Once they returned they quickly set out to defend the city gates, temporarily safeguarding Yangguan.
In this war, Northern Kingdom sent 100,000 troops to annihilate Southern Army’s 80,000 troops. But unexpectedly, they faced 180,000 troops and in the end they retreated with only 20,000, incurring 80,000 casualties. As for Southern Kingdom, taking into account the casualties at Yangguan as well they were only down by 30,000. Thus the military forces between the two armies began to increase with disparity.
The Northern Army withdrew to the north of Qing Ming river. At Liangzhou, the situation was as Hua Zhu Yu had predicted. Western Liang did not have 100,000 troops and the majority of them were new recruits. Liangzhou was still holding its grounds and Western Liang has not broken through yet.
Southern Kingdom has pushed the Northern Army out of Southern territory and this can be regarded as a great victory already. Wang Yu had dispatched troops to set up defenses around the banks of Qing Ming river so it wouldn’t be an easy task if the Northern Army tried to invade again.
Since Hua Zhu Yu was injured, she did not return right away with the troops and did not reach Yangguan until 2 days later. Ji Feng Li sent the military physician to Hua Zhu Yu to check up on her but she refused. She didn’t want to risk the chance of the physician discovering her true gender. Luckily though, since Ji Feng Li had used his internal strength to help her recover, she merely had to recuperate for some time to nurse her health.
Though Hua Zhu Yu was the Hu battalion’s commander, she was still arranged to stay in a tent beside Ji Feng Li’s since she was injured. He even arranged for the army chefs to send over nutritious meals to nurse her health.
Through this battle, Commander Bao’s reputation elevated greatly. The Hu battalion was moved by her conduct. The fact that she risked her life to protect them not only garnered their admiration but deep respect as well.
Although some soldiers recognized that commander Bao was the eunuch from Eastern Palace, they never ridiculed nor scorned her. They only felt that it was truly a pity. Furthermore, they just couldn’t believe that she was the infamous evildoer who bewitched his master. Such a gallant young man can’t possible be an evildoer. After going through life and death on the battlefield, a sense of camaraderie developed among the troops that was hard to estrange.
The war between the north and south had reached a deadlock.
These few days the southern troops were practicing military drills while Hua Zhu Yu was recovering in her tent feeling somewhat depressed.
What made her even more depressed was that Ji Feng Li had instructed the chef to cook only light and nutritional dishes according to the physician’s orders who said that meat was detrimental to the recovery of internal injuries. This of course she already knew. However she had not eaten meat for almost half a month and she could no longer bear with it. This especially made her miss An Xiao Er. If he were here he would surely go hunt some game and roast it for her. She could not count on Ping Lao Da to do the same. He would strictly follow the physician’s orders.
That afternoon, she snuck away with two military officers and ventured into the woods. She reclined underneath a tree for a while and waited for them to return. Shortly after, they came back, one had caught a hare while the other had a pheasant and had already cleaned and prep the meat.
Then they went to find some firewood to start a fire while she seasoned the meat with some spices she took from the army kitchen. She then roasted it like how she saw An Xiao Er did so many times before.
Moments later, the meat was almost done, emitting a fragrant aroma. Hua Zhu Yu couldn’t help but gulp down her saliva. She could finally have meat!
“Commander Bao, you can’t eat too much though, just a taste,” an officer advised.
Hua Zhu Yu lightly smiled, “Alright, just a taste, just a taste,” just a taste of the whole pheasant!
“If Lord Chancellor were to find out we’d be screwed. He’s so frightening when he’s angry,” the other officer said cautiously.
“Frightening? How so? Enlighten me,” a cold voice sounded in the darkness.
Hua Zhu Yu’s hand slightly trembled and she almost dropped the meat into the fire.
The two officers were scared witless and scrambled to their feet in horror. The looked at the white figure in the darkness and stammered, “L-Lord Chancellor, we don’t dare!”
“You best quickly leave else you’ll be charged with the crime of deserting the military camp!” Ji Feng Li said in a voice that was even frostier than before causing the two officers to run for their lives.
Hua Zhu Yu coldly humphed and looked at Ji Feng Li standing in the darkness. She was too preoccupied with roasting the meat that she hadn’t even heard him approach.
translations at peachblossomgrove . com
“Lord Chancellor’s nose is truly sensitive, even more than Cang Yun,” Hua Zhu Yu sneered.
“Who is Cang Yun?” he asked as he stood leaning against a tree with his arms crossed.
“It’s a dog I had previously raised!” Hua Zhu Yu stated honestly with no traces of courtesy. With such a sensitive nose, isn’t it comparable to a dog?
However, Ji Feng Li didn’t appear the least bit bothered by her words. Instead, the corner of his lips were lifted, revealing a touch of a smile.
Hua Zhu Yu had diligently roasted the pheasant and it was finally ready. She reached out to tear off a thigh and had opened her mouth wide for a bite.
However, Ji Feng Li suddenly raised his sleeve and a branch shot out towards her hand, causing her to release the thigh and personally witness the fragrant meat tumble to the ground.
Hua Zhu Yu was boiling with anger that she wanted to stab him right then and there. Was he trying to bully her now that her internal strength hasn’t recovered yet? She suppressed her anger and tore off another thigh. Another branch had shot out towards her but this time she was guarded and turned her body quickly. However, she didn’t expect Ji Feng Li to already predict her movements so this time like before, the meat dropped to the ground.
“ Ji Feng Li…. you….” Hua Zhu Yu said through gritted teeth.
She suddenly stood up and turned around with the remaining pheasant.
Ji Feng Li leisurely walked out from the shadows and with a single vault had appeared in front of her. He raised his sleeve and reached out for the pheasant in her arms.
Fuming, she threw it on the ground before he had the chance to take it and charged towards him.
The two wrestled in the bleak woods. Since her internal strength had yet to fully recover, she naturally was not his opponent. However, Ji Feng Li didn’t employ his full strength either and appeared more as though he was teasing her.
The longer they fought, the more annoyed she became and her moves got more vicious. But Ji Feng Li didn’t want to continue fighting. When she charged at him again she somehow stumbled and fell backwards. She braced herself for the fall yet Ji Feng Li had stretched out his arm and she fell right into his embrace.
The hands clutching her waist was hot and firm, making her so tense that she dared not breath. She tried to maintain composure and get up but he suddenly smiled and leaned down, whispering, “Okay, that’s enough. You can’t use internal force at the moment, nor eat meat either.”
The night sky was exceeding quiet and the stars were shining peacefully. Leaning down towards her was a peerlessly handsome face. She stared at his smiling phoenix eyes and abruptly shouted, “ You’re not my father, you think you have the right to govern me? I want to eat! I don’t care about restoring inner strength!”
The arms on her waist suddenly stiffen and the smile in his eyes coldly condensed. He slowly let go and turned to leave, his white robes gradually disappearing into the shadows of darkness.
Ji Feng Li had such thick skin, was he actually affected by her words? She got up and walked over to the fire. She took the hare off the stick and extinguished the fire. She then chased after Ji Feng Li. She caught up to him after a short while and tossed the hare over to him. “Forget it. I won’t eat it. I’ll give it to you.” After all this, she didn’t even have the appetite to eat meat anymore.
Ji Feng Li received the hare and tore off a piece of meat and took a bite, slowly eating.
“How’s the meat?” Hua Zhu Yu asked with narrowed eyes.
Ji Feng Li lightly smiled, “Naturally it’s delicious. It’s quite unexpected that Bao Er has such skills!”
“That’s a given!” She said with pride, she was An Xiao Er’s apprentice after all.
Standing there, Ji Feng Li’s expression was somewhat unusual. After a long while he finally was able to swallow the ‘delicious’ hare meat.
I couldy totally relate to HZY in this chapter. If I don’t eat meat for half a month I think I’ll get hangry as well, especially if I see other people eating it but I can’t. Oh, and if it wasn’t obvious, the meat she gave JFL was probably burnt already since it was on the fire for so long. Or that’s how I interpreted it anyways. I wouldn’t think she would give him the meat if it was still edible.