Chapter 123 Groom or Doom! (1)
“Zhou Little Fatty, where are you from?” Shen Bu’s cold voice rang out.
Zhou Weiqing lowered his head, looking the part of an honest youth filled with a mix of profound respect, humility and trepidation. “I am from the ZhongTian City.” Of the entire ZhongTian Empire, he had after all only ever been to the ZhongTian City, and was relatively familiar with it. Since he had to pass off as a ZhongTian Empire citizen, he could only do so.
Shen Bu pursed her lips, saying: “So you’re from the capital! As a Four-Jeweled Heavenly Jewel Master, why did you come to the Duelling Corner to fight. Did you come to our Sixteenth Regiment to cause trouble?” As she said that, she slammed down hard on the table beside her.
If not for the fact that both her and her sister had been bullied by this scoundrel, perhaps Shen Bu might have been fooled by that honest, pitiful look that Zhou Weiqing had on. Thinking about how this scoundrel had torn her sister’s clothing, and even sat down on herself, grabbing her throat in front of everyone, another wave of anger rose up within her.
In the past few hours, she had been comforting her little sister.
Shen Bu and Shen Yi’s parents had passed away when they were extremely young, and they had been adopted by a powerful Heavenly Jewel Master who had brought them onto the road of cultivation. The two sisters were very close, as the only kin each other had, and they depended on each other. After finally successfully comforting her sister, Shen Bu had thought for a long time about this Zhou Little Fatty before coming to this tent. Of course, she was also taking a minor revenge on him by making him wait so long.
“Ahh, I’ve been wronged! Lord Commander, how could I possibly be here to cause trouble?! I want to join the army, to fight and kill our enemies!” Zhou Weiqing had a wronged look on his face. “When I passed through the Tian Bei City, I heard from the soldiers stationed there that we had this Duelling Corner in our army, and if I won there, I could become an officer. My family is an old noble family that has fallen terribly in bad times… After so much effort, I have finally cultivated to some results, and I am hoping to become an officer, to bring back honour to my family name. How could I go around causing trouble?”
“I am totally not familiar with the Duelling Corner, and I only just followed and fought according to their arrangements. I also didn’t know you were the Regiment Commander! Otherwise, I wouldn’t have challenged you! I have never seen a Regiment Commander so beautiful like you… this was definitely a misunderstanding. Furthermore, even though I won, that was through trickery and luck!”
Zhou Weiqing could be said to to have used all of his considerable talking skills to ingratiate himself with Shen Bu. He had no choice; after all he needed to spend the next few years under her command. Although he had said they could leave this place to join up with the army in any place, that was an option of the last resort. In any case, he had pride in his acting skills, and hopefully he would be able to get through this without any issues.
Sure enough, Zhou Weiqing’s had some effect, and Shen Bu’s expression eased up slightly, and she said passively: “Zhou Little Fatty, how old are you this year?”
Zhou Weiqing said: “Seventeen years old.”
“What!? You’re only seventeen years old?!” Shen Bu looked at him in surprise, a flash of incredulity sparked in her eyes.
Zhou Weiqing rubbed his face sheepishly and said: “I matured early, so I look older than I really am.”
Looking at him bemoaning his fate, Shen Bu almost burst out laughing, but she restrained herself, saying: “Are you really only seventeen years old?!” No matter from appearance and figure, Zhou Weiqing looked about twenty three or twenty four years old. More importantly, a seventeen year old Low Level Zun Stage Heavenly Jewel Master was considered an absolute genius talent. Shen Bu was currently twenty eight years old, and with her six-Jeweled cultivation level, she was considered one of the top echelons of the younger generation in the army.
Zhou Weiqing nodded repeatedly, saying: “I’m really only seventeen! There’s no point in lying about my age right.”
Shen Bu reclined back on her chair, looking at him with interest as she said: “Just now, you said that I am very beautiful right?”
Zhou Weiqing quickly nodded, saying: “Of course, Lord Commander! Your dazzling beauty would make wild geese fly away and fish dive down for shame, even the flowers would wilt in shame and your very face outshines the moon. 1 Even more so, as compared to those frail young beauties, you have valiant heroic air about you, every the part of the soldier yet in no way taking away from your beauty. Truly a phoenix in the human world!”
Shen Bu gave a humph and said: “Enough, enough. Stop with the incessant flattery, I can’t stand that. Alright, since you say I am so beautiful… what do you think about my sister? She is even more beautiful than I am right?”
In that point, Shen Bu was indeed not exaggerating. Although the two sisters looked very similar, Shen Yi looked gentler, younger and in the peak of her beauty.
“Your sister is very beautiful as well.” This time, Zhou Weiqing showed some restraint in his words, as he was not sure what Shen Bu was trying to follow up to.
Shen Bu nodded and said: “Very good. In that case, I shall not beat around the bush. Your power is indeed very impressive; not only are you already a Four-Jeweled Heavenly Jewel Master at your age, and your various Wind Attribute Skills are also pretty highly rated. I only recognize that Tornado Strike Skill and Fetters of Wind, and the other two are ones that I have not even heard of. Today, your performance in the Duelling Corner can be said to be perfect. According to the rules, you will definitely be awarded with the position of Battalion Commander. Even if I am a Regiment Commander, I cannot write that off just like that.”
Zhou Weiqing went along with it, revealing a look of happiness on his face. However, in his heart he sighing to himself, thinking: It looks like there will be a ‘But…” after this.
His expectations were indeed met.
“But… although your performance today was indeed dazzling, but it was at the cost of trampling over us two sisters, making us lose much face. More importantly, you actually purposely tore my sister’s clothing, ruining her honour and reputation. She is twenty three years old, and though she is already a Battalion Commander, she is still a naive young woman. Just now, the reason I was late is because I was stopping her from committing suicide. Losing face, that I can ignore, but I cannot ignore what you did to my sister, and you must give an accounting for that. There are only the two of us here, and I’m not afraid to tell you; in this Sixteenth Regiment, even if you are at the Battalion Commander level, it will not be tough for me to take care of you.”
Shen Bu’s words were threatening, and the cold light in her eyes grew stronger, the intense pressure from the stage once again appearing.
Zhou Weiqing furrowed his brow, but he stopped the humble, abasing act. “So… Regiment Commander, what do you want then?”
Shen Bu held out two fingers, saying: “You have two choices: First one is, I can send you to the Ruffian Battalion to be their Battalion Commander, and you will never be able to return to the ordinary army formation, to grow old and die there. Hmm, it is likely you can’t even retire there. My teacher is the overall in charge of the northern armies, and as long as I tell you that you bullied Shen Yi, you can stay in the Ruffian Battalion forever.”
Zhou Weiqing started momentarily, thinking back to Green Wolf who he had fought earlier. Puzzled, he asked curiously: “Regiment Commander, what is this Ruffian Battalion?”
Shen Bu gave a cold smile as she said: “The Ruffian Battalion, as the name suggests, are a bunch of ruffians and scoundrels in the army. They are the worst dredges from various Regiments in the north, all the troublemakers, the filthy, and the useless scoundrels. The Ruffian Battalion I speak of is made up of those from within the northwest armies, besides us, the Fourth, Seventh and Eighth Regiments as well, about a thousand in total forming the Battalion. They are stationed closest to the border, with the three Legions behind them as a secondary guard. Once our enemies attack, the Ruffian Battalion is usually the first to meet the enemy. Usually, only those who have committed grievous faults or felonies will be sent there. They do not have sufficient weapons, with the worst tents and food, but facing the fiercest enemies. If you really want to become the Battalion Commander there, I will not stop you.”
Zhou Weiqing asked tentatively, trying to sound things out: “These men of the Ruffian Battalion… can they move about freely in the army camp?”
Shen Bu replied: “During times where there is no actual combat, ordinary soldiers are given a day off every week. However, the soldiers of the Ruffian Battalion are only given one day off every month, and they are also not allowed to leave the confines of the camp, otherwise they will be considered deserters and killed.”
Zhou Weiqing stared at her in shock and bewilderment. “That’s too ruthless! Ruffians are also human! Scoundrels also have human rights!”
Shen Bu gave a cold laugh: “Of course they do, but you’ll also have to see what crimes they have committed. You have also seen for yourself, our ZhongTian Empire Army does not restrict women from joining. Some of these bastards have committed serious indecent acts against other female soldiers; shouldn’t they be punished? Thieving, shirking, deserters, cheating about their achievements… These are some who are sent to the Ruffian Battalion. In truth, it is already a mercy for some of those to not be executed. In any case, my point is that the Ruffian Battalion is the filthiest, worst place in the entire army. The combined Legions have sent eleven Battalion Commanders in total there, and not a single one managed to stay for more than a month. Of them, many were powerhouses, yet in the end, six sustained heavy injuries, four light injuries.”
Zhou Weiqing asked: “What about the last one?”
The cold in Shen Bu’s eyes intensified. “The last one was said to have died from falling off his horse. However, that Battalion Commander was just like you, a Four-Jeweled Heavenly Jewel Master, so you can think about that. In any case, after that, the Ruffian Battalion has been without a Battalion Commander for years, even the Company Leaders within are all chosen from amongst them. There is another nickname for their Battalion, ‘The Battalion of Devils.’”
Zhou Weiqing thought about it for a moment, then said: “For those in the Ruffian Battalion, are they stuck there forever?”
Shen Bu said passively: “If they can live to the retirement age of the army, the age of sixty, they will be allowed to retire and leave of course. Otherwise, they can only stay in the Ruffian Battalion. In fact, almost every few months, there will be a batch of soldiers sent to the Ruffian Battalion from the Legions, of those who have committed crimes. However, all these years, the Ruffian Battalion’s strength is almost always maintained around at a thousand men or so. The death rate in the Ruffian Battalion is definitely one of the highest in the entire north.”
Zhou Weiqing couldn’t help but say: “Being treated like that, wouldn’t they just run away? Or even worse… defect to the enemy?”
Shen Bu laughed, looking at Zhou Weiqing like he had said something very stupid. “Where can they run off to? Between the two armies, there is almost a square kilometre of deserted land separating us. Besides some sparse grass, there is no vegetation or food. The Ruffian Battalion is only sent a sparing amount of food and water daily, only sufficient for their needs, so how could they possibly run? As for surrendering to the enemy, I can tell that you did not research much into our enemies. The WanShou Empire army does not take prisoners, because they do not need them! To the WanShou Empire, they lack food supplies severely, and that is the main reason they fight. Any food supplies will go to their people; they will never waste food on an enemy. In such a circumstance, I ask you, how could the members of the Ruffian Battalion run?”
- Very literal translation of a chinese idiom. ↩