I Rely On Beauty To Stabilize The Country (Chapter 11 - onwards) - Chapter 035
- I Rely On Beauty To Stabilize The Country (Chapter 11 - onwards)
- Chapter 035 - His Majesty suppresses bandits
TW: blood and slaughter, but not of anyone plot relevant.
In Gu Yuanbai’s eyes, no matter how beautiful the lady was, she can’t be compared to the picturesque beauty of his country.
What was the country’s beauty? The beauty of the country Gu Yuanbai was building.
Watching his decrees being implemented one by one, watching his country slowly move forward steered by his own hands. The political power centered around Gu Yuanbai.
It was too overwhelming, he couldn’t separate himself from it. How could such a feeling be comparable to a beautiful woman or two?
The two walked all the way back to the teahouse and then returned to the palace discreetly. The moment they entered the palace, they saw the Minister of War that had come to see the Emperor. When he saw Gu Yuanbai, he reported that over two thousand people on Xiguang Mountain1 had become bandits and were oppressing the neighboring areas and robbing food from the villages and towns in the area, making it impossible for the population to live in peace. The local officials in the region had sent a request, and the Minister of War had discussed the issue with the Military Affairs Bureau and had decided to send troops to deal with the bandits.
Gu Yuanbai nodded and asked, “Who will be the leader?”
“I discussed it with the Military Affairs Bureau,” said the Minister of War, “and I came here to ask for Your Majesty’s opinion.”
Xue Yuan couldn’t help but look over when he heard about the bandits being dealt with.
Gu Yuanbai noticed his gaze, pondered for a moment, and said, “Xue Yuan.”
Xue Yuan grinned and stepped over to salute, “Here I am.”
“Have you led soldiers in the past?” Gu Yuanbai asked.
“This official has led five thousand soldiers to battle,” said Xue Yuan, calmly and honestly, “and we defeated tens of thousands of enemies.”
Being a general and leading soldiers wasn’t easy. Some were very strong and extremely brave on the battlefield, but that didn’t mean that they were well suited for leading troops. A general’s ability to lead would be developed gradually, from leading a hundred people to fight and kill to five hundred, one thousand, two thousand… until he could lead tens of thousands.
There were few generals that might be able to lead tens of thousands.
Some people were only capable of directing a few hundred people. Adding more soldiers would end with them being distributed and used illogically, clashing with each other and messing up their positions, and losing their heads for nothing.
Xue Yuan had worked under General Xue’s command for several years. Before returning to the capital, he had felled the most enemies in the battlefield, and he already had the ability to lead tens of thousands of soldiers. However, General Xue was extremely cautious and refused to put more battalions into Xue Yuan’s hands.
In the Great Heng, there were many generals, and in the Military Examinations that were conducted every five years many good seedlings had appeared.2 Among these seedlings, though, very few would be able to lead over five thousand soldiers, and even less might handle tens of thousands. How many of those existed since ancient times whose names didn’t go down in history?
Gu Yuanbai wanted to see Xue Yuan’s abilities, and he directly said, “Since that’s the case, you will lead the troops to hunt down and suppress the bandits in Xiguang Mountain.”
Xue Yuan had been hungry for a long time. He couldn’t resist smiling. “This official will follow Your Majesty’s order.”
One thousand infantrymen and five hundred cavalry headed to Xiguang Mountain, 200 kilometers away.
Xue Yuan was also followed by a man named Qin Sheng. Qin Sheng had never been on the battlefield, but Xue Yuan was different. Even while on the road, one must stay alert and beware of sneak attacks. Sentry houses were sent out in every direction, watching for any changes in the situation.
Once he arrived at the foot of Xiguang Mountain, Xue Yuan ordered someone to wait there and brought a group of light cavalry with him to check the area.
The Xiguang Mountain was a high position, easy to defend and difficult to attack. If they were on flat ground, even five hundred cavalry alone would be enough to make the bandits cry. However, in this battle, the difficulty lay in the terrain.
Xue Yuan led his men to squat and wait to ambush on the mountain road. Not long after, a group of bandits, about a hundred in number, came down the mountain. Xue Yuan led his men ahead and dispatched them.
He killed most of the bandits and interrogated all the remaining prisoners.
“What’s the situation on Xiguang Mountain?”
The big blade in his hand was still dripping in blood, and his body looked even bigger and more powerful than usual when clad in armor. Xue Yuan patted a prisoner’s face with the flat of the blade. “Tell me obediently.”3
The captive soldier began to cry and talk about the situation on the mountain. Xue Yuan and the surrounding soldiers learned that there were multiple bandits on top of the mountain.
The leader of Xiguang Mountain had invited the leaders of the other two hills to discuss some important matters. It was from these that he had learned that the Imperial Court was going to send troops to get rid of them. Because of that, they wanted to join the bandits from the other two hills and form an alliance.
Xue Yuan smiled directly, and the prisoner said with a shaky voice, “Of- Officer, sir, there are many bandits when counting the three hills together.”
If they really gathered together, their number had to be around seven or eight thousand.
“It seems I owe your leader a thank you,” Xue Yuan smiled with satisfaction, “for giving me a chance to make a great contribution.”
After questioning everyone, these minions were all executed cleanly, and they only left two to lead the way.
Afterwards, Xue Yuan left five hundred people stationed in that location to set up flags and beat the drums. Once they heard his order, they would wave the flags and beat the drums energetically, making the illusion of an army pressing down unbearably, as if the Imperial Court’s entire army had been dispatched.
Once he had delivered these instructions, Xue Yuan divided the remaining soldiers and cavalry in two. One half was handed to Qin Sheng, who the Emperor seemed to be interested in cultivating, and he would lead the other half himself. He then left Xiguang Mountain and headed straight for the camps of the other two bandit leaders.
The bandit leaders of the other hills had taken most of their manpower to Xiguang Mountain, leaving very few people behind. In the eyes of their elite soldiers, who had been raised with good food and training, these men seemed like lambs prepped for slaughter.
Xue Yuan led the soldiers directly to Wangtu Mountain, killing everyone they ran into on their way up. They probably never thought that they’d run into court officers and soldiers dispatched to eliminate the bandits, and the gates had been left wide open, not even requiring them to break them down.
The soldiers were eager to make a name for themselves, and they rushed into the bandit camp at Wangtu Mountain like wolves running into the sheep pen.
Death and blood were splattered everywhere.
Xue Yuan knew that many of the soldiers he was leading were coming to the battlefield for the first time, and that it was their first time killing anyone. Since that was the situation, Xue Yuan rushed forward like a sharp blade, leading soldiers at his back in the killing.
The rebel bandits fought back with their big swords and every other weapon they could find. However, the more they resisted, the more they showed the soldiers that this was a military campaign, and that they would be rewarded for killing them.
No fear, no pause, the hand swinging the sword must do so quickly and with force. All around there was blood, corpses, and people attempting to fight back and escape. But they couldn’t back down, they had to follow Xue Yuan’s lead.
Xue Yuan’s armor was already dripping blood at the bottom. He fought even harder, the blade in his hand taking one lift after another. The bloody atmosphere enveloped his heart. The men at his back were encouraged, seeing their general daring to charge and fight, and with that same blood, they only had eyes for human heads and their legs could only rush forward. After looking at one man after another, they couldn’t feel tired anymore, and they swung their blades mechanically.
Blocking with the shield in front, and stabbing with the sword in between the gaps of the shield. After the initial rush, the soldiers had already become familiar with that tactic.
It was the easiest way to protect themselves and their companions.
Xue Yuan decapitated someone more with a single cut. With a glance, he spotted some men, not far away, guarding a person who was hurriedly escaping. He realized that the person had to be someone important.
Xue Yuan rushed straight forward, shouting, “Follow me!”
The soldiers guarding him roared and followed Xue Yuan towards the group of people, pushing people away with their shields while listening to anything Xue Yuan said. Soon, they had created a path, protecting Xue Yuan and rushing forward.
Those who tried to stop them were all killed by a blade, their horrified expressions still fixed on their faces. The second in command of the camp, who was the one running away, panicked when he heard a sudden scream behind him. A chill rose up his back as he turned around to look, and he came face to face with a cold blade that was dripping with blood.
A human head fell to the ground.
The bandit who had been guarding the second in command cried in grief. “Second leader!!”
After learning the man’s identity, Xue Yuan immediately said out loud, “You and the leaders of the other two camps are all dead!”
The soldiers who heard him became even more violent, and they immediately cried out, “The second leader of the mountain is dead! Why don’t you all give up already?!”
Just a moment later, soldiers everywhere were echoing that sentence. The cry of ‘the second in command is dead’ grew louder and louder, and the bandits of Wangtu Mountain stared in disbelief. They were terrified of being beaten, their main leader had died, and their entire group began to collapse. Some people began to run to the foot of the mountain, and the more people ran, the bigger the collapse of the group.
They threw down their weapons, abandoned the major and minor leaders they had been protecting, and rushed down the mountain, running faster than ever in their lives, anywhere where there were no Great Heng soldiers.
If their legs were too weak and they couldn’t run, they’d have to roll down the mountain. Many of the men slipped and fell into the puddles of blood on the ground, but they didn’t have time to lament the acquaintance the blood had come from. The only thing they could think about was that they had to run, run, run faster to save their own lives.
Xue Yuan watched them flee and raised his hand, stopping the soldiers from giving chase.
All the soldiers, standing on the bloody ground, were stopped by Xue Yuan and stopped chasing after the bandits. After they did, exhaustion struck them. Some of them laid down on the ground, so tired that they looked like invalids.
Everyone was breathing through their mouths, their minds blank, and they felt as if they were floating even when they lied down.
Xue Yuan gasped a few rough breaths, wiped the blood off his face and picked up the head of the second leader of the camp. He looked at a soldier on the ground and kicked him. “Wake up, all of you.”
After being extremely concentrated on killing, one would go into a trance, and they needed to slowly come back to earth.
This was called killing stupor.4
After being awakened by Xue Yuan’s voice, the soldiers staggered up. After the fight against the bandits, they had developed an instinct to trust and obey Xue Yuan.
All of them had fury in their bodies. Xue Yuan, holding the head, pointed at a cavalryman and said, “Hurry up and go see how the other group did.”
In the middle of the village full of corpses, Xue Yuan sat on a chair, the heads collected by the soldiers on a pile nearby. He held his blade still in his hands and, leaning on it, he looked towards the entrance of the village, his gaze deep.
The bandit dens were built on hills because they were easy to defend and difficult to attack. Now, Xue Yuan would be the one leading people against invaders.
He expected the leader of Wangtu Mountain, who was in Xiguang Mountain, to rush back and enter the tiger’s mouth.
Why would they rush back? Because their wives and children were here.
On another note, the operation led by Qin Sheng had also gone exceptionally smoothly, and he also sent cavalry to inform Xue Yuan of the situation. Finally, Xue Yuan sent someone to notify the soldiers stationed below Xiguang Mountain and order them to start waving flags and beating the drums.
Half of the five hundred men were hidden among the mountains and forests, and another half was on the road. When looking down from a high position, it would seem as if there was an innumerable amount of people hidden among the layers of dense leaves.
Before the drumming started, on Xiguang Mountain, the three leaders were sitting together. The leader of Xiguang Mountain was called Liu Yun. As for the other two leaders, the leader of Wangtu Mountain was surnamed Zhang, and the leader of the bandits of Songzi Mountain was surnamed Wang.
Liu Yun was a poor scholar and he had some wit. He was trying his best to persuade the two bandit leaders to join him and resist the Emperor’s troops. Seeing as the others were still unmoved, he spoke half reasoning with them half threatening. “As leaders, you should consider the situation. These hills, west of the capital, are very eye-catching. If the Imperial Court really comes after the bandits here, I will bear the brunt of it, but after me, you two will be next.”
Leader Wang hesitated. “Did the court really send troops to deal with the bandits? Where did you hear this news?”
Liu Yun was about to reply when he heard a voice wailing not too far away. “——leader!”
The three leaders immediately turned around and the expression on Leader Zhang’s face changed. He frowned and looked at his subordinate, who should have been back at their camp. “What’s the matter with you?”
“Soldiers have come to Wangtu Mountain!” His subordinate’s face was full of panic and fear, and his trousers were stained with blood. When he saw Leader Zhang, he also teared up. “The second leader is also dead!”
“What?!” Leader Wang stood up in shock.
He was in a panic. Before he could say anything else, he spotted a few people who had arrived from the mountain pass. They looked pitiful and miserable, and there were some people from Wangtu Mountain among them.
It was clear that Xiguang Mountain, which was about to be surrounded and overtaken by the Imperial Army, was fine, but the two camps whose leaders had been invited by Liu Yun had been attacked with their gates wide open.
The two leaders turned to stare at Liu Yun with an ugly expression.
Liu Yun’s face twisted. “That can’t be. We’re the ones that the Imperial Court wants to deal with. How did they end up going against you?”
He was so shocked his hair stood on end, and he said, “Could it be- could it be just a diversion?”5
Leader Zhang and Leader Wang didn’t know whether to believe him or not. They looked at the people from the camp, who had fallen to the ground and were too scared to even stand up. They felt a chill run down their backs. They had all ended like this, what could have happened to the other people in the camp?
How were their wives and children at that moment?!
Seeing their expressions, Liu Yun gritted his teeth and asked, “Leaders, do you now want to go back down the mountain?”
Leader Zhang replied, shocked and angry, “How could I not go back?!”
“But your camps have already been overtaken by the Imperial Court.” Liu Yun sighed. “Dear leaders, you two will only manage to get yourselves killed if you return. It’s better to get your people and stay with me first to discuss how to deal with this situation.”
They were locked in a stalemate for a while until, suddenly, they heard the sound of drums coming from below the mountain. Cold sweat coated Liu Yun’s back in an instant. He hurried to the edge of a high platform and looked down, and he froze in place from the fright.
On the edge of the dense forest, countless armored soldiers were standing while waving flags vigorously to the sound of drums in an intimidating way. The flags were all in a row, densely packed, and the forest beyond was also full of shadows. How could the court have sent so many soldiers?!
“Quickly,” said Liu Yun loudly, “lock up the mountain road, close the gates! The court’s army is coming up!”
The people who had just escaped there from the other two camps heard these words and abruptly stopped crying. Stunned, they looked at Liu Yun in a daze.
Liu Yun’s hair stood on end and the ominous feeling in his heart grew stronger. He roared, “Don’t leave, close the road!”
“Brother Liu,” Leader Zhang suddenly said, “You’re not safe here either.”
Leader Zhang looked down next to him, his breathing heavy, and then he muttered, “So many soldiers have come here, haven’t they…?”
Didn’t that mean they had finished slaughtering their two camps already?!
Leader Zhang couldn’t wait any longer. Not minding Liu Yun’s attempt to obstruct him, he went down the mountain with his own group and rushed to Wangtu Mountain. Seeing as the place was already unsafe, Leader Wang also ran away in a panic.
Liu Yun closed the mountain road and waited, while shaking, for the soldiers to attack. There was water in the mountains and grain at the camp. It’d be enough to last for a month. But if the Imperial army decided to attack them head on…
Liu Yun shuddered.
Xue Yuan stepped on the head of the second in command of the camp under his feet and looked at the sentry who had run back to report the news. He smiled. “Here it is.”
The soldiers around him all stood back. Their previous weapons had become worn out to the point of being unusable, so they looked for new weapons around Wangtu Mountain. The bandits had stolen many good things. After seeing their inventory, the soldiers, who had been tired and immobile a moment earlier, became reinvigorated and now they were staring at the road to the camp.
The decapitated heads had been placed on a pile to the side by Xue Yuan. Anyone who looked at them would feel their legs shaking.
Except this group of soldiers who were now blind with bloodlust.6
After they had been infected one by one, when they looked at the pile of heads they felt as if they were looking at a pile of gold. And when Leader Zhang went with his people up the mountain, what he saw was this group of wolf-like soldiers.
Xue Yuan smelled blood in the air. He looked at Leader Zhang, who stood in the middle of his men, and felt his fiery heart throb in his chest.
That head was ugly, but it was worth a lot of money and he could dedicate it to the young Emperor.
Xue Yuan took the lead, rushing ahead with the cold light of his broadsword flashing, and when he moved his soldiers all followed behind.
Leader Zhang’s heart seemed to stop for a moment, but he calmed himself down quickly. He was about to go ahead to fight when the men who had escaped the camp and returned with him immediately went crazy, running away while wailing. Their group disintegrated quickly, and even if Leader Zhang had killed them to prevent them from running away he wouldn’t have been able to avoid it.
In a battle, fear can cause a side to be defeated. A single person deflecting could be enough for a group to panic, let alone a mob.
Xue Yuan led the men into the group fiercely, and he wouldn’t have been able to remember how many he had killed. He simply spotted someone who was being protected by others and was backing away to run.
Take his valuable head.
The men around him were breathing heavily, and Xue Yuan’s own breathing was heavy as well, but he continued waving his blade again and again. If his blade broke, he’d pick up another one on the spot.
Finally, he came face to face with the dull looking man in the middle. The corner of Xue Yuan’s lips went up, he raised his hand energetically, and the enemy’s head rolled to the ground.
The blood splashed Xue Yuan’s face. Xue Yuan wiped it carelessly, glanced at the stunned men who had been guarding the camp leader, and lifted the head with the tip of his blade, easily catching it with his left hand.
Then, with a swipe of his long blade, the stunned men died.
Xue Yuan raised the dark head of Leader Zhang up in the air and shouted loudly, “The enemy leader is dead!!!”
There were many who had followed Leader Zhang, and many of them were still alive. Xue Yuan looked at them and grinned.
The Emperor seemed to be lacking laborers needed to repair the roads.
After capturing the men in Wangtu Mountain, Xue Yuan sent someone to request the Imperial Court to come and collect them, and he led the troops to Xiguang Mountain right away.
The sun had just moved somewhat to the west after the entire trip, and Xue Yuan rode his horse, facing the fading yellow sun. The horse had been tied down the mountain, clean and dry, and it had gotten so startled when it smelled the blood on Xue Yuan’s body that it couldn’t rest.
One of the soldiers next to him asked loudly, “Sir, can we capture Xiguang Mountain today?”
Xue Yuan looked up and said, “Seems difficult.”
Xiguang Mountain was on high ground and the camp was built higher up, so it was easy to defend and difficult to attack.
They had been able to capture Wangtu Mountain and Songzi Mountain by taking advantage of the fact that the camps had been left with the gates wide open. Although the soldiers covering the foothills of Xiguang Mountain had prevented the bandits from escaping, the bad part was that they now didn’t dare leave the mountain.
Since ancient times, camps and villages have been built on the water. There were water sources on the Xiguang Mountain, and they still had food. They wouldn’t bankrupt the court if they had to wait them out, but it was too inefficient, and Xue Yuan would feel ashamed.
He led the soldiers to the foot of Xiguang Mountain without a hurry. The five hundred infantry who had stayed there looked at them covered in blood carrying heads in their hands, and they felt excited and envious.
Xue Yuan got off his horse and asked the men to bring the horses to the water for a drink before asking, “Have the people that went to Songzi Mountain returned?”
A young officer who had stayed back replied, “They haven’t returned yet.”
Xue Yuan raised his eyebrows and glanced towards Songzi Mountain. He took the water boot that a soldier handed over, raised it up to drink his fill, and then said, “He better be alright.”
After half an hour, the group of the talented Qin Sheng returned, all covered in blood, on horseback, and carrying heads. When Xue Yuan had split the soldiers and cavalry in two groups, Qin Sheng got more people, but when he counted the wounded, there were more wounded in Qin Sheng’s group than in his.
Qin Sheng pursed his lips and quietly told Xue Yuan of the events. Qin Sheng was a cautious man, neither humble nor overbearing, and he was good at executing commands. He had done things carefully following Xue Yuan’s instructions without flaw.
He didn’t have Xue Yuan’s madness, nor the confidence Xue Yuan had gained after multiple times in the battlefield. He had cleared the people remaining in the camp with his soldiers and cavalry, and then the people lurking in the mountain and the forest that were preparing for an ambush.
However, the wild forest was full of poisonous snakes, and the mountain terrain was unfamiliar. When they attacked Leader Wang and his party, there were many injured.
Xue Yuan’s face didn’t change after hearing the report. “Let’s not set a precedent.”
Qin Sheng looked at him in wonder, not understanding why he looked so neutral. After all, with Xue Yuan’s temper, he didn’t seem like a pleasant talker.
Xue Yuan noticed his expression, and suddenly he smiled darkly. “Why, do you want me to compliment you?”
“I dare not!” Qin Sheng quickly took a step back.
Xue Yuan was straightforward and merciless. He thought to himself, this Qin Sheng has some skill.
Xue Yuan was a leader and a man who was naturally gifted in war. He also appreciated others that were equally gifted. That sort of person would remember a lesson after making a mistake. Lecturing them more would only be annoying.
In any case, Xue Yuan was too impatient to listen to anyone else’s lessons, not even his old man’s.
He wasn’t as talented as Xue Yuan himself, and he did not dare lead the soldiers in battle. He carried the sadness of an old hero, but he wasn’t a match for him, so how could Xue Yuan allow it?
The setting sun gradually dyed the sky yellow, reflecting the red sunset on the horizon. Xue Yuan threw the water boot to the side and stood up, saying, “Put the pile of heads in the most obvious place.”
“Sir,” the other officers asked, “Do you want us to attack before dawn?”
“Attack my ass,” Xue Yuan replied. “The terrain is dangerous and full of traps, how could we attack?”
The officer, resisting the pressure, insisted, “Then what should we do?”
“Set up camp.” Xue Yuan looked at Xiguang Mountain, searching for a noticeable spot on the mountain where its foot could be seen at a glance. “Put the pile of heads here and light the fire. There are fish in the river and pheasants and hares at the foot of the mountain. Send someone to catch some and let’s eat a meal around the pile.”
After hearing the instructions, Qin Sheng, without asking any questions, ordered the soldiers to move the pile to the place Xue Yuan had designated as the rest of the officers looked at each other with strange faces.
Eating dinner around a pile of heads?
Sir Xue was really… really relaxed.
This chapter was very painful to translate… Highschool flashbacks of translating De Bello Gallico for Latin class… Do not worry, the Chronicles of the Emperor’s simps returns next chapter.
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- Literally West Canyon Mountain, I haven’t been able to find if it’s a real location though.
- The Military Examinations were similar to the Imperial Examinations, except on a different schedule. They would examine candidates on martial skills like horse riding and also military strategy.
- From here on Xue Yuan addresses himself as laozi every single time, basically, both with enemies and with his own troops.
- 杀懵了头 in the raws, I wasn’t sure how to phrase it.
- 声东击西 specifically, it’s one of the famous thirty-six stratagems.
- Literally “red eyes from killing”.
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