With our dearest General now gone, I shall not be dragging this on further, I have pretty much finished translating COB and it is just a matter of editing the chapters and posting them up now. *Sigh* right now, the General’s death saddens me more than the ending of the novel itself T_T
Flowing frost from the sky appears not to be drifting.
The night wind intensifies, blowing against the body with a biting chill, lining the sky is a curtain of snow, spinning in such fluttering manner, descending like the scattered catkins of the willow trees. Gui Wan tightens her hold on her skirt, increasing her walking speed, night is falling, Military Advisor inviting her over right now, must be because the situation has already reached a critical stage. As she silently ponders, touches of coolness lands on her face, she reaches up to gently feel it, traces of water still remains, raising her eyes to sky, thousands and thousands flakes of snows in full bloom, her heart is abruptly hit with pain, the scene of horrifying red amongst the snowy grounds vividly rolls out before her eyes again, and instantly, her breathing shows clear signs of stuffiness, she hurriedly withdraws her line of sight, not daring to look at the snow again.
The big courtyard by the city gates is temporarily made the army’s main camp, commoners who lives near the gates were all moved deep into the city within a day, and so the originally desolate streets, only sees the figures of soldiers right now. The sky shrouded in darkness, the big courtyard dyed in a layer of white, tiles glowing in silver radiance, light grey bricks rendered a gorgeous white.
Harsh conditions of winter chilling, sun of spring nowhere to be seen.
General Lin having left the crisscrossed paths of the mortal world, did he actually take spring away with him as well?
Heart wrung in pain, a sour feeling hitting the tip of the nose, Gui Wan strongly collects her mind, before stepping into the courtyard, a thin and tall soldier awaits inside the courtyard, respectfully saying: “Military Advisor has gave orders, may gentleman follow me.” With not another word, he makes a sudden turn, and leads the way.
The two people snakes their way through to the master room, now already converted into the military discussion chamber, along the way, not even half a white banner is seen, nor does the soldier show the slightest look of mourning, Gui Wan creases her brows with doubts, when the soldier’s steps comes to a stop, silently standing before the room doors. Gui Wan understands his meaning, and lightly knocks.
“Is it Madam Lou? Please enter.” Tone loud yet quivering.
Pushing open the doors, the warm air entangled with worries, inside the chamber is a pan of red burning charcoal, she passes by the fire pan, looking around the inside of the chamber. Stood in centre of the large empty room is a well-made coffin, beside it is a sandalwood burner engraved in silver, and from it light swirls of smoke rises, the scent of sandalwood faint yet drawn out like thread. Looking around in a daze, she is surprised to find Military Advisor’s hunched body sitting at a chair, eyes big and round like brass bells, as he stares towards the coffin.
“Military Advisor?” Steps coming to a stop, Gui Wan calls out from three steps distance away.
Turning his head as though he had just awoken from a dream, Military Advisor snaps out of his daze: “Madam Lou……you’ve come.” With a long sorrowful sigh, he stands up, walking out from the solemnly quiet inner chamber.
Once the lighting hits his face, Gui Wan receives a shock, after a long while does she speak up: “Military Advisor has overworked.” Grieving led aging overnight, the desolation shown in his face, one word of gaunt is not enough to describe the bear minimum of it. His past refined self and great confidence, all traces of it completely vanished.
“Madam seems to have received a great shock?” Military Advisor notices the look in Gui Wan’s eyes, speaking as though making a joke out of himself, “Deep down, are you suspecting, yesterday I refused to send troops in aid, yet today I am carrying such appearance of fox crying for the rabbit’s death, really laughable to the extreme, is that right……?” Halfway through speaking, he madly laughs aloud, tears unknowingly, unfeelingly, rolling down from his eyes.
“Military Advisor has many concerns, completely thorough in thoughtfulness, General deeply understands your greater meaning, how could we not know……”
Laughter abruptly coming to a stop, Military Advisor looks back, shaking his head at himself: “To this very day and time, I keep it secret, not processing the mourning period, should he know of this in the netherworld, would he not blame me?”
Keep it secret, not processing the mourning period? Gui Wan repeats to herself, arriving in Du Cheng in the early hours of today, having just dismounted the horse, her body was overly exhausted and thus fainted, deeply sleeping for an entire day, could it be that within this one day, Military Advisor had actually not publicly declared General Lin’s death?
“Is Military Advisor afraid of causing chaos in the hearts of the soldiers, affecting the army morale?”
Body lightly shudders upon hearing this, Military Advisor graciously sounds a soft sigh: “This is one reason, what’s more important is, General Lin has only been here for over three months, the local army here is not under the Lin line, taming the wild horse with harsh training, is good if General is here, should his death be announced in this moment, I’m only afraid Du Cheng would immediately be thrown into chaos.”
Gui Wan nods, her knitted brows loosening: “In times of emergency, emergency procedures are to follow, in reality, this too can be considered of helplessness.”
In times of emergency, emergency procedures are to follow, Military Advisor repeats this in his head several times, like the parting of clouds revealing the moon, his heart suddenly feels a lot more relaxed, thinking back to the resentful look in the eyes of those knowing soldiers just now, he spreads a helplessly bitter smile, the woman before him actually understands how to assess the situation better than them, picking up the letter on the table, he places it in front of Gui Wan: “May Madam take a look.”
Giving her an important military document? Thinking back to everything she had just said, Gui Wan opens up the letter, it is the Nu Army’s declaration of war letter, the content of the letter, says to give Du Cheng three days of consideration time, refusal to surrender, complete annihilation!
Looking to Military Advisor in shock, yet finds him looking into the inner chamber where the coffin lies, deep sorrow difficult to restrain, Gui Wan folds the letter up and place it on the table, asking: “What is Military Advisor planning to do?”
“Facing the Nu Army’s full force of several hundred thousand cavalry with less than thirty thousand military strength, in Madam’s opinion, what are the odds of winning?”
Gui Wan finds herself speechless in response, that charcoal fire pan suddenly flashes with a spark, a sound of sputter, shocking the heart and mind.
Military Advisor dejectedly slumps into the chair, asking: “Madam must have come to Du Cheng for over a month now right? Could it be Prime Minister Lou is not concerned?”
Brows lightly twitches, Gui Wan is surprised yet doubtful towards him suddenly bringing up such irrelevant matter at a time like this, carefully thinking it over again, she comes to the sudden realisation, answering: “There’s still a month’s time.”
Military Advisor’s expressions becomes somewhat heavily solemn: “One month is a little too long, but looking at it now, there is no other choice.” Behind Du Cheng lies the thousands of Du mountains range, located in a remote area, and besieged right now, all news completely blocked with not the slightest of leakage, although he feels there’s something strange about all this, he has no way of investigating into it, recalling that Gui Wan is currently within the city, Prime Minister Lou would definitely not leave her here without keeping in touch, the reinforcements issue still holds opportunities to turn things around, but now that he hears of the one month limit……the situation of Du Cheng can be said to be of utmost severity.
“Madam, do you by chance know the key to defending the city?” Military Advisor restores his calm, leisurely speaking, “The first major key to defending the city is for everyone to become one in mind and heart, to look at death like returning home (calmly). The next major key is to be well organised, use people to the best capability, thirdly, there must be no shortage of food, back up supplies are to be sufficiently stocked up, number four, complete defence preparations are required, densely secured with not the slightest opening.”
Gui Wan’s first time being lectured the principles of military matters, making a good student to educate, as she listens on with deep thoughts. Military Advisor continues to analyse, “Du Cheng has been the land of trading for generations, the city walls firm and strong, rooted into the ground around twenty meters deep, in terms of defences, it is considerably perfect, the merchant shipping here flourishing, in terms of materials, it too is considered sufficient, but within the army right now, there is no longer a leading commander, soldiers and civilians scattered like sand, this is the core of the problem.”
“Listening to Military Advisor’s words, there’s already a solution?” Gui Wan looks at him on guard, speaking to him, one cannot lack the slightest of alertness.
Military Advisor bolts up to his feet, arriving in front of Gui Wan, one hand wrapping his fist in a formal gesture, bowing all the way down: “This matter, if Madam may extend a helping hand again.”
The frosty wind softly whistles, snow sounding “sa-sa” as it knocks on the door.
In the early morning, several defending generals of Du Cheng hurriedly rushes to the big courtyard, temporarily made the military headquarters. Their military boots covered in white, producing sounds as they tread in the snow, resonant and heavy. Meeting in the big courtyard, the usual pleasantries completely thrown aside today, all nodding to one another, is also counted as a greeting.
“Deputy Commander Han, exactly what is going on with General Lin?” Simple and unsophisticated in appearance, a pair of eyes bright and piercing, Du Cheng’s city defence officer pulls Han Ze Ming aside, lowering his voice as he asks this.
“Not sure, heard that General has been wounded, now that the city is already heavily besieged with not even a drip of water able to leak out, having spent an entire day’s effort of working, General Lin has still yet to show up, I fear his injury is nothing light.” Du Cheng’s defence officer nods in agreement, face darkening even more.
Several people silently enters the courtyard without a sound, having just stepped into the inner courtyard, a clear melodious sound drifts along amongst the wind, the several people all slows down their steps, attentively listening, there actually seems to be someone singing opera in the room. Zhao Xin’s face turns ashen, coldly sounding a harrumph: “Us oldies working hard for the country, no night without holding the spear, yet here someone has invited actors to sing.” His skin darkly tanned, born with such fierce and mighty appearance, such that is also harbouring anger right now, thus carrying a demeanour even more so like that of swallow jaw and tiger beard (description of a mighty appearance), power and prestige coldly flowing.
The other generals were also frowning in great dissatisfaction, increasing their speed as they head towards the room.
The resonant singing amongst the wind become more and more clear. “Thousands upon thousands of hate, in front and behind all mountains. Those by the side say my sedan chair is spacious. Does not say being sheltered by it, [makes it] difficult to look out to him……” Soft overtone-singing gracefully turns, like golden orioles circling the air, seemingly broken seemingly continuous, pulling people’s mood into rising and falling. The generals unwittingly slows down their pace, not willing to admit, three points of their souls has been enticed by this aggrieved vibrato. They are all men of great ambitions to guard all around them, only knowing the way of the blade, where would they have heard such elegantly gentle melody? As they listen and listen, as though walking into the hazily misty rain scene of Jiang Nan, they seem to see a woman leaning on the railing as she looks out, pondering over the unspeakable sorrows, such worries that tugs on the heartstrings of others, such resentment that penetrates every bone of the body, bit by bit dripping into a spring pool, forming circles and circles of ripples, wrapping people inside it.
Like a melody yet not a melody, like a play yet not a play, such voice completely cuts off in between the long vibrato, all the generals felt just like tasting fine wine, yet unable to savour the best of its flavour, before it all spills onto the floor, the lingering aftertaste like a grating itch in the heart. Just when everyone were exchanging glances, their state of surprise at its peak, the singing takes off again, a burst of sound comes from the flat ground, a silver vase abruptly smashed, that tenderly aggrieved tune just now, instantly transforms like a sea dragon leaving the waters, outflowing breath reaching thousands of li.
“……waiting for autumn to come, eighth of the ninth month, once my flowers bloom, hundred flowers perishes. Bursts of fragrance soars the skies as it penetrates Chang’an, the entire city coated in golden armoury!” 
The shadow of a sword makes a sudden appearance, rising straight from the ground, a casual sword dance amongst the strong winds, soaring straight on, forceful impact overflowing.
“Great!” A sound of loud exclamation comes from Zhao Xin’s mouth, he is originally a rough fellow, not understanding the slightest of scholarly interests, the lyrics in the singing, he does not understand half a point of it, just that these lyrics contains pride like the spreading of a huge eagle’s wings, holding deeply hidden implications of loftiness, arousing his heroic spirit as a military person, and upon hearing the singing in the inner chambers “long dormant dragon startled in its sleep, one roar quaking thousands of mountains”, he only feels the held back breath in his chest seemingly wanting to follow this melodic singing in voicing this out together, half his life of cherished high aspiration are all expressed within this play, completely exposed……
The doors suddenly open, in the moment everyone regains their lost senses, from within the chamber, they see the fluttering figure of a bright and clear “gentleman” stepping out, a delicately beautiful jade neck, a slightly pale face, dark orbs like night, whilst moving, wide sleeves opening and closing, a unique charm shines, extraordinarily elegant demeanour, taking a step out, eyes circles around the group of generals, lightly dropping a phrase: “Everyone follow me.” Neither urgent nor slow, walking towards the empty room next door.
The group of generals actually follows along in unison, several generals of leading commander level were a little surprised and bewildered, they are all usually figures that roars out without hesitation on the battlefield, only today did they find, some people are of natural born nobility, causing them to inexplicably be subdued.
Waiting for the generals to enter the room, all taking a seat, Gui Wan with not an ounce of modesty, walks up to the host seat, calmly, comfortably sitting down. Causing generals such as Zhao Xin, Han Ze Ming to show faces of dissatisfaction, yet does not rashly say a word.
Right when the room is flowing with an air of bizarreness, curiosity, hesitation and so on, Gui Wan with a sound of “pa––”, throws two warrant pendants out onto the floor, in centre of the room. All the generals lowers their heads, one gold, one white, one Lou (楼) one Lin (林).
“I am the wife of Prime Minister Lou, General Lin has suffered a serious injury, not in suitable condition to get up, from today onwards, he shall be operating within camp, I shall be giving orders from the commander tent.” Not awaiting for all the generals to ask questions, Gui Wan snatches the opportunity to speak first, in a leisurely manner, with quite the charisma of a commander. She and Military Advisor has discussed overnight, deciding to hide news of General Lin’s death, and because Military Advisor holds a low ranked official position, with General Lin’s death, he has lost the right to speak out, thus she is to act as commander, Military Advisor is to devise strategies from behind the scenes, and she, is responsible for keeping the all the generals in control.
Therefore, today she is to apply and exhaust her entire body of solutions, first gentle and then unyielding, using the psychological tactic of capturing their hearts and souls, be sure to bring under control everyone’s heart and mind alike, in order to resist the enemy together, as long as they hold on for an entire month, they believe help from the Capital will definitely arrive, although this hope is frail, it is still absolutely necessary to put in their all.
“What?” The first to jump up is Du Cheng’s defence officer, his face like hearing the unthinkable, “You a generation of a mere woman, issuing commands on behalf of General Lin, what kind of a joke is this, you think this is as easy as threading a needle?”
Everyone guffaws in unison, Du Cheng’s defence officer straightens himself, standing in the middle of the room, acting high and mighty.
Coldly looking at him, Gui Wan neither angry nor laughing, looking straight at him until the Du Cheng’s defence officer felt his hairs stand on end, a chill running up his body, before she leisurely says: “Defence Officer Jiang, my post as acting commander is up to General Lin to decide, and not by you, who is the leader here? Could it be you don’t understand the concept of superiority and inferiority in a hierarchy?”
All becomes like frozen cicadas, nobody dares to speak, only because the cold of that moon shooting the frosty river came like a shooting arrow, the person before them is clearly one with brows like an ink painting, amusement light and clear, but once the brows twitches, it actually carries a public onslaught that leaves one shivering in the cold, weighing down on the valiant spirits in the room. (The moon here refers to Gui Wan, whilst the river (jiāng / 江) refers to Defence Officer Jiang)
“Madam Lou since you say it is General Lin’s orders, then please do invite General Lin out to say a word.” Han Ze Ming slowly speaks up, raising doubts like one prick seeing blood.
Indeed as Military Advisor had expected, Han Ze Ming is the toughest one to handle, luckily this question was also within their expectations, Gui Wan turns her face, leisurely asking: “Deputy Commander Han, could it be you think I would pass on false military orders, coming here to play a joke on everyone?”
Such backfiring question extremely sharp, with her superior identity, even if one is to harbour doubts in their heart, they too would not dare to rashly speak of it.
“Since everyone understand the current situation, then do not waste any time,” Right when the generals were all dumbstruck, Gui Wan strikes whilst the iron is hot, finger curling like a hook, knocking on the table top, the soldiers outside were already on standby, hearing the instruction signal, they push open the doors and enters, a military relief map is very quickly spread out before everyone’s eyes.
The generals are all people who knows to assess the severity of the situation, throwing aside the idea of making things difficult for Gui Wan, they all set their line of sights onto the map, they recall the several hundred thousands of Nu Army cavalry currently outside the city, one face looking more serious than the other.
Gui Wan slowly walks to the middle of room from the host chair, standing right before the map, silently observing for a while, she finds that not one person is speaking, and thus clearly, coldly says: “If there are no objections, I shall now relay General Lin’s strategies.” Lightly smoothing her sleeves, displaying a look of casual elegance, finding that all the generals have silently nodded in approval, she spreads an extremely faint smile, in a slow leisurely manner, beginning to talk.
This is originally part of Military Advisor’s planning preparations, she spent an entire night listening to it, also practiced for almost two whole hours, for her to be able to display such sense of adeptness. Military Advisor’s strategy splits the city defences into four important divisions, food supplies is not a problem, and the foundations of the city walls are firm, with just the need for a little strengthening, it too is not a crucial problem, this time, the Nu Army’s “strike where and when the enemy is unprepared” tactic has indeed been executed effectively well, but at the same time, due to wanting to launch a “surprise attack”, they have not brought any heavy-duty city invading preparations, this little point, has been firmly grasped hold of by Military Advisor. Du Cheng is to remain dead set on guarding from within the walls, using self-prolonging to outstand the opposing party’s short term stay, is indeed extremely wise. And the finer details within all of this, includes distributing supplies to the personnel, and reasonable division of labour. The entire plan can be considered to have taken consideration to all aspects, seamlessly meticulous.
The generals listens on attentively, Gui Wan’s voice clearly smooth and indifferent, between the enunciation of words, there carries a uniquely soft tone found only in the Capital, and she is an eloquent speaker, logical and consistent, with not the slightest ambiguity, so sweet and moving to the ears, that there is actually not one person interrupting her explanation. To the moment of completely explaining the entire plan, the general all gets a sudden feeling, like the clearing of mist and clouds revealing a clear blue sky, as though hope has suddenly appeared before their eyes.
Whispering amongst themselves in discussion, several generals nods their heads from time to time, amongst the whispering, Han Ze Ming deeply frowns, without relaxing, resonantly speaking up in questioning: “General Lin’s strategy is indeed thoughtful, but the Nu Army’s arrival this time, is clearly premediated, their army morale at its peak, the invasion in two days will definitely shatter the earth and quake the heavens, with such huge difference of power between the two armies, should they achieve their goals in one strike, then would these plans not all be in vain?”
A resounding question, once again sharply pointing out the core problem. The generals finds his point very valid, thus turning their eyes to Gui Wan, awaiting a reply.
Gui Wan maintains a faint smile of sureness, but deep inside she is crying out endless grievances, she too had mentioned this same question yesterday, Military Advisor’s strategy targets a month of acting on the defence to counter the offense, but should they come under the attack of the Nu Army’s boosted morale, unable to withstand the first wave of attacks, how tragic the consequences will be. Military Advisor thought for a bit, before helplessly saying “then we will just have to resign to our fate”. 
Resign to our fate……how is she to throw out these four words to everyone?
“Generals, does anyone have any good plans to resist the enemy?” Gracefully returning the question, Gui Wan turns back to the host seat, averting her gaze from the generals’ reactions.
The atmosphere that had only just gained a little uplifting once again drops back down to the starting point, falling into silence. The sound of snow can still be heard knocking at the doors along with the wind, “xi li xi li” it seeps into one’s heart.
Han Ze Ming does not speak again, the most bold and unruly one amongst the generals, Zhao Xin, strongly rubs his hands together, don’t know whether it is due to the cold, or due to having no ideas. Gathering the look of the varying expressions into her eyes, Gui Wan lightly presses her lips together, organising her thoughts within the boundless stillness.
Du Cheng’s troops only adds up to over twenty thousand, and the Nu Army has as many as hundreds of thousands, such huge difference in strength, causes all the generals who has been through hundreds of battles, remain mute as though their lips a tightly sealed, should the current Du Cheng had a leading army of a hundred thousands, the generals could surely come up with many practical strategies to face the enemy, but right now, even a housewife, cannot cook a meal with no rice.
A pair of hands clasped together, Gui Wan blankly stares at the map in centre of the room, this blotchy map is filled with bruised-like markings, the lines of complication all in one area, also making some symbols with unknown meaning……could this be the frontier? Is exactly where they are currently standing? The thing General Lin fought to death in order to protect……is within such an insignificant map?
Countless soldiers on the battlefield, what the shedding of their blood forged, is not a sword, not a sabre, but is one map like this, or even just that one line of marking on the map, short distances and worlds apart, turns out to be so distinguished.
“Defence Officer Jiang, right now within Du Cheng, how many Nu people remains?” Nonchalantly turning away her line of sight, Gui Wan casually asks this.
Hearing his name, Du Cheng’s defence officer jumps up, upon seeing all the generals casting surprised looks, he realises his one sudden movement, had already treated Gui Wan as leading commander, his old face flushes red, and could only respond: “The Nu Tribe merchants groups had already been gradually lessening since a month ago, the amount of Nu people remaining in Du Cheng now is approximately around four hundred.” One after another, the generals all casts him a “since there had already been circumstances of lessening Nu people, why not report earlier” look, directly causing Defence Officer Jiang to freeze on the spot.
Time seems to have already frozen without advancing, there is no brazier within the room, frosty air flowing, looking outside through the windows, a hazy scene of snow, all trees and plants rustling, Gui Wan softly sounds a long gratuitous sigh, within the crisp and sweet sound of breath, there contains numerous types of melancholy.
“Send people to capture all Nu people within the city, regardless of elderly women and children.”
“What?” The first to jump up and shout out is the towering Zhou Xin with head as big as a leopard’s, eyes big and round, both eyes widening in anger, “They are all ordinary commoners, why capture them?”
The room instantly seems to have suddenly exploded, the originally succumbed generals all reveal a resentful look, Han Ze Ming waves his hand to indicate silence, he sternly locks his gaze onto Gui Wan: “Could it be, we have to use Nu people to resist the Nu army? Such method is too despicable.” They are military people, despite two opposing sides at war, captives cannot be easily killed, right now, to actually want to capture Nu people who are only ordinary commoners to threaten the Nu Army, such a strategy is simply an insult to the great and prideful country of Qi Ling.
“The Nu Army morale greatly vigorous, strong and unstoppable, should we not avoid this spearhead, great damage is bound to be inflicted, there is currently no better way than to use the Nu people in order to shake their morale.” Plainly laying out a fact.
The room quietens down a little, all generals revealing an expression of deep thoughts, weighing out the stakes at play. Han Ze Ming suspiciously asks: “This is also General Lin’s command?”
That calm face of steel-willed indifference flashes a trace of practically undetectable pain, vanishing in an instance, Gui Wan lifts her hand, picking up the brush on the table, brush gliding down the white paper before her, speedily forming words, such that fills the entire paper in a blink of an eye, the generals were all curious of her movements, not one took their eyes off her. After finishing her writing, she dazedly looks at the paper, loss, pain, conflict……various emotions circulating in her eyes. Suddenly raising the paper, throwing it to the centre of the room: “This is not General Lin’s command, it is my command.”
Admission of guilt––all generals sharply eyes the three impressively written words on the paper.
This is not General Lin’s command, it is hers! Using the lives of commoners to threaten the enemy army, such damning deed, coming from the hands of Gui Wan. The Nu Army wanting to invade the city, they must first step on the blood of their own, four hundred human lives, old and young, worthless dirt or fellow countrymen, she too would like to see how the Nu Army will respond……
Facing the enemy on the battlefield, real swords real spears, she is incapable of, she does not have General Lin’s running streak of triumphant records, she does not have Military Advisor’s strategic mind to earn victories from thousands of li away, what she has, are little schemes of psychological trickery. And now, she is to apply this onto the battlefield.
Later generations of notoriety, disgrace, allow her to bear it all……
She does not know how the later arts will depict this cruel decision she made today, but today, she is determined to press on.
The stunned generals watches that paper of yet to dry ink lightly drifting like cotton as it lands on the floor, unable to tell how much it is weighing on their hearts, appearance of weariness emerges as they look at Gui Wan, those righteous and severely stern words stuck in their throats. All of a sudden, they actually could not differentiate good and evil, incapable of possibly distinguishing, how much controversy this approach will have, only knowing, that pair of eyes still like deep lake, is as firm as a mountain, proudly chilling like plum blossoms.
Saying no more, the generals accept orders and leaves.
Watching them file out like a stream of fishes, Gui Wan secretly releases a long sigh, slowly standing, her eyes emptily sweeps across her surroundings, suppressing the astringent feelings filling her chest, she walks out of the room.
Military Advisor was standing right outside the doors, body coated in a thin layer of snow, seeming to have waited for a long time, his expression complex and unpredictable.
Guessing that he had heard the command she issued, she opens her mouth wanting to explain, but Military Advisor turns around, striding away with no concerns, without even turning his head, he throws behind the phrase “in times of emergency, emergency procedures are to follow.”
Gui Wan bitterly smiles as she hums a reply, her stomach full of excuses is held back with this phrase, nowhere to put them to use. The sound of movements from the soldiers outside the courtyard gradually changing, gradually sounding, she can practically imagine the scene happening in the streets of Du Cheng.
In a blink of an eye, it is the final night of the Nu Army’s stated surrender warning, the night moon like a hook, radiance like melting silver spills across the ground, the view of snow boundless, particularly heart moving.
Tension on the rise, Gui Wan is unable to sleep and walks into the courtyard, hearing the noisy voices outside the walls, the wailing cries amongst them, were especially pricking the ears, like sharp needles shooting into the eardrums. After a moment, the sound of someone singing is suddenly heard, faint and weak at start, drifting in the wind, it spreads extremely fast, seeming to be many people softly singing together. This melody is so familiar, stopping Gui Wan’s body that was just about to return to her room, carefully listening, this tune of tender warmth, is precisely the Nu Tribe’s “Suo Ge Ta”. (Refer to chapter 13 for lyrics)
The reverberating melody lingers, filled with endless sorrows……
It is this burst of distinctively clear and bright singing, that caused the Nu Army to not dare take any impulsive action for three entire days, their vigorous spirits diminishing, at the same time, when historians of later generations wrote “Chaos of Beauty”, this very incident also became the object of defamation, or of criticism.
People often remarked this period as the following: the sieging of Du Cheng and the “Lou Clan Banquet” in the Capital are the most significant events in heaven’s recording of the fifth year, and these two events indirectly altered and guided the future of the imperial court of Qi Ling. The record keepers at the time were unable to use words to record all of this, silently lamenting, such characters that are Prime Minister Lou and his madam, they too do not know how to depict them with brush and ink, words and painting.
 Opening poetry line from Spring Blossoms On The Moonlit River by Zhāng Ruò Xū / 张若虚
 The original words used for grieving led aging is bēi qiū / 悲秋 which literally translates to sorrowful autumn. These words comes from the phrase shāng chūn bēi qiū / 伤春悲秋 which translates to distressed spring [leads to] grieving autumn – a phrase used by ancient Chinese scholars to express the aging of the body caused by the dispirited soul.
 Swallow jaw and tiger beard or yàn hàn hǔ xū / 燕颔虎须 is the description that refers to a mighty appearance, wide jaw and thick beard, the phrase first seen(?) as the description of Zhang Fei’s appearance in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. In fact, the description of Zhao Xin’s character, practically sounds like a replica of Zhang Fei. The leopard head, round eyes part is also a description used to describe Zhang Fei. All referring to a mighty and fierce look.
 The song/poem sang by Gui Wan here is called Song of the South · Thousands Upon Thousands of Hate by Xīn Qì Jí /辛弃疾
 Sea dragon leaving the waters or leaving the sea – jiāo lóng chū hǎi / 蛟龙出海 comes from the believes of the ancients, where marine reptiles can grow to become a sea dragon after living five hundred years, holding the power to cause storms and floods, and the sea dragon can later grow to become a mighty dragon after living a thousand years, taking off into the skies, hence leaving the waters/sea.
 The poem/song sang here is called Composing Chrysanthemum [Poem] After Failing The Imperial Examination by Huáng Cháo / 黄巢 and actually holds two meanings, whilst one is to portray the magnificence of chrysanthemums, there is also the underlying meaning of an upcoming uprising as the poet is also known throughout history for leading the Huang Chao Rebellion.
 The proverb used for being sure or having everything planned out is xiōng yǒu chéng zhú / 胸有成竹 which literally translates to having a complete [image of] of bamboo embedded in one’s chest (heart) – before painting bamboo, the image of bamboo is already in one’s heart.
 The original phrase for resign to one’s fate is tīng tiān yóu mìng / 听天由命 which more accurately translates to succumb to the heavens and resign to our fate.
 In ancient China, painting can be referred to as dān qīng / 丹青 with dān meaning red and qīng meaning blue and/or green. These “paints” are made from mineral pigments and if you look at ancient Chinese paintings, you will find that red, blue and green are the fundamental colours used in them.