Translated by seal.Translator’s Note: title’s literal translation was “sexy gu mang, stripping online” but anyway where can i get this video meatbun…hey…
Anyway, welcome to the Turtle Squad…i love them…weeps…unfortunately due to problems with the difficulty of pun translation I had to use the chinese name but if you ever see me rambling on twitter about turtle squad you know what I meant.
…trade everything apart from their inner robes in exchange for rice wine.
Soon after Mo Xi had received the secret letter from the Imperial Capital, the news that Gu Mang was about to return to the city was finally announced to the public by the Emperor of Chonghua, together with the method of punishment–
He would be handed over to Wangshu-Jun, who would be given full control.
The news quickly spread throughout Chonghua Country, and although Mo Xi’s army was located far away at the Northern frontier, they also learned of this by the third day after the announcement.
Excitement boiled over1[炸开了锅 (zhà kāile guō) is a saying that translates to “the lid was blown off the pot” and refers to a situation that’s out of control, exactly the same meaning as the English idiom “boiled over”] at the Northern Frontier Army.
On the outside, they remained impassive and silent as ever, but as soon as they rotated off duty, almost everyone could be seen discussing this topic animatedly. Mo Xi observed them, but for once, did not control the chatter.
He felt that it was perfectly understandable for them to be so high-strung2[意难平 (yì nán píng) is an internet slang referring to feeling irritably dissatisfied about something, and be unable to take it off your mind. Baike’s says it’s often used to describe feeling regret towards a pitiful ship LOL] — because the previous commander of the Northern Frontier Army was none other than the one who swept away everything in his path, the invincible General of the Gu Family. A great majority of the soldiers in the army had once been willing to follow Gu Mang to their graves3[出生入死 (chū shēng rù sǐ) is an idiom that means “from the cradle to the grave” and means the same as the English idiom to “risk life and limb”]. They were undoubtedly loyal to the end, but a long time ago, they had also sincerely given their allegiance to their General-in-chief Gu Mang — despite the fact that the troop title he had assigned to them was “Wangba Army” 4[This is so funny, I had a good laugh but then cried because I didn’t know how to translate it and gave up because of puns that come up later on. The troop was called 王八军 (wángbā jūn) which means “Bastard Army”, but Wangba also literally translates to ‘tortoise’ (relevant later on). Anyway I lovingly refer to them as the Turtle Squad I hope you all will do so too…].
This wasn’t a joke, but absolutely serious. Before Mo Xi had taken over, the personnel records of this division of the army used to go down as such:
Liu Dazhuang, Soldier of the Wangba Army
Zhang Dayan, Squad Leader of the Wangba Army
And so on and so forth.
At the head of it all was “Gu Mang, General-in-chief of the Wangba Army”.
According to reason, there should be no one who would want to enter a division with such a vulgar name. Yet that couldn’t be farther from the truth. At that time, Gu Mang was the most outstanding and illustrious high-ranking officer in Chonghua. A majority of the famous generals either had handicaps, were bound by obligations, or would act arrogant.
But Gu Mang was different. He was born as a slave, with no parents, no care in the world, no skin on his face5[无脸无皮 (wú liǎn wú pí) literally translates to “no face and no skin”, but strongly refers to the chinese culture of “having face” or reputation, and the measure of skin thickness associated with how daring/shameless someone was. Basically if he has no face and no skin, then that means he has no reservations about his reputation and is absolutely shameless.], and no fear of death.
If all the chief generals of Chonghua were to take off their clothes and stood in a row, Gu Mang may not necessarily have been the most robust out of them, but he would most definitely be the guy with the most scars.
He was fully deserving of the title of Chonghua Empire’s “Beast of the Altar”.
Gu Mang’s assistant at the time would always look at his injuries and criticise him: “As a chief general, why on earth would you always rush ahead of everyone? Do you not even know of the concept of hiding yourself?”
Gu Mang would just laugh it off. His face was one that didn’t belong to the battlefield; it was very gentle, and his handsomeness carried an air of childish naivety behind it. When people looked at that face, all that would come to mind would be the image of a little flower blooming on the plains after the first fall of rain, and not bloodshed or death.
After that, this charmingly sweet man would blink his black eyes, slightly purse his soft lips, and in a voice possessing the texture of satin, he would coax his angered friend in jest: “These long legs of mine cause me to run fast. I was forced by nature I tell you, forced.”
As long as he was on the battlefield, it would seem as if it wasn’t all just the freezing cold and bloodshed, but also laughter as sweet as nectar.
He would remember every single one of his comrade’s day of birth6[悬弧之日 (xuán hú zhī rì) which translates to “Day of the Hanging Arc” is an old term that referred to the practice of hanging a wooden bow to the left of the door of a room when a boy was born into the family, and thus became a term to refer to a boy’s birthday.], and during peacetime, he would often bring the cultivators the army worked closely with to small villages to drink and be merry. Even when occasionally coming across crafty local villagers who would charge sky-high prices, Gu Mang wouldn’t get angry, he would just smile and throw down all of his money pouches onto the table to exchange for meat and wine for his men.
At the end of the night, he would then shout in a loud voice: “Eat well and drink well! Tonight, Daddy7[He uses 老子 (lǎo zi) which is a term for “father” to refer to himself. For those familiar with Japanese tropes, it’s not too different from referring to yourself like “ore-sama”] wants to see you all expand your bellies and fill it up! All of you are my precious darlings! If we run out of funds Daddy will find something else to exchange for you!”
Gu Mang was a man of his word, and one time, he stripped off all of his own military robes and armor, flung them at the liquor counter, and traded them for some White Pear Blossom Wine. The rowdy soldiers then howled with laughter, saying: “General Gu, we still want to eat beef! Do you have anything else you can strip off?”
At that time, he was down to only his snowy white inner robe, but yet he laughed and pointed towards them: “Give me a minute.”
“No way! General Gu, you’re not really going to pawn off your underpants, right!?”
“It’s not even worth much money….”
Gu Mang had no intention of pawning his underpants, though really did have nothing left of value on him. Under everyone’s surprised and amused gazes, he walked over to the wine-selling widow who was laughing heartily, and kissed her on the cheek.
The soldiers turned deafeningly silent, and the charming widow was also stunned by his actions, the wine ladle in her hand dripping wine onto the ground with a pitter-patter. After a while, she finally returned to her senses, and began to raise her ladle to chase Gu Mang out–
“Shameless! How dare you disrespect this old lady!”
There was a roar of laughter.
In the room full of laughter and hissing, Gu Mang was chased by the widow from one end to the other, and as he laughed, he begged for mercy: “I was sincere! Really! You’re so pretty! So pretty!”
“This old lady already knows she’s beautiful! You’re pretty charming yourself, youngster! But you’re just too shameless! Don’t you know how to sneak into my bed at night? But no, you had to do it in front of so many people, you Dengtu Zi8[登徒子 (Dengtu Zi) was a famous lecherous character, so basically the lady is calling him a pervert]!”
This Dengtu Zi made a ruckus so loud that it’d cause chickens to fly and dogs to jump9[鸡飞狗跳 (jī fēi gǒu tiào) is an idiom that literally translates to “chickens fly, dogs jump” and means to cause a huge racket.], yet he didn’t forget to shamelessly yell out: “Yes yes yes, I’ll come fetch you tomorrow night, I can even stay back tonight for you as long as you bestow us with another two pounds10[The measurement is actually 斤(jīn) which is a catty, and is an asian measurement scale for weight. It’s roughly about equal to 1.3 pounds, so I’ve decided to translate it as pounds.] of beef! I beg of you my fair lady!”
“Pah! Ever since setting up camp here, you’ve begged this old lady to put three rounds of beef on your tab, this is the fourth! Every single time, you’ve said you’ll ask me out tomorrow night, you lying little demon, you!”
The widow shouted, slamming her fist on the table, and with a groan, a single crack split open on the wooden surface.
The army riffraff rolled on the floor with laughter. Though in the end, after all was said and done, Gu Mang still used his dashing looks and an empty promise of “tomorrow” to coax the widow into bringing his men another two pounds of stewed beef.
“General Gu, you sure are great at the art of deception…..”
“Well, of course I am.” Gu Mang bragged, contently swaying back and forth, “I have been among the fields of ten thousand flowers, my conquests known throughout the lands11[万花丛中过，风流天下闻 (wàn huācóng zhōngguò, fēngliú tiānxià wén) is not a real idiom and I went for a semi-literal translation that will carry enough meaning, but basically the whole thing means that he’s infamous for his romantic escapades.]!”
With such a commander, it was no surprise that at that time, a youngster made a brave remark: “Nevermind that we’re called the ‘Wangba Army’, even if they called us the ‘Jiba12[She uses 鸡八 (jī bā) which, while meaning nothing, rhymes with Wangba. The real joke is that it sounds like 鸡巴, a slang word for dick.] Army’ to challenge General Gu, I would still enlist!”
The friend seated next to him turned away in disdain, replying: “Dear me, all those holy books you read were all in vain. How uncouth.”
“Then how would you refine it?”
“Rather than saying Jiba, why not say Ji Ba13[This was truly a chain of many wasted puns that I couldn’t translate, sorry for footnotes galore. 戟罢 (jǐ bà) translates to ‘halberd’ and ‘to cease/dismiss/stop’, but more importantly kind of sounds like Dick or 鸡巴 ( jī bā ) mentioned earlier, just different tones. I also think the joke can be interpreted as ‘cockblock’ personally, but I’m not too sure if that’s just me.], thus meaning cease the battle in order to repair weapons.”
The youngster was wowed, then said enthusiastically: “What a great name, I like it.”
“….No way, I was just horsing around. Who would really like a name like ‘Ji Ba’? Wouldn’t it be too humiliating to say it? If you don’t believe me then I dare you to try it out. If you called a dog by this, even he would be anxious.”
The youngster chuckled: “There’s nothing too bizarre in this world, just because it doesn’t exist now doesn’t mean it won’t in the future. If even our Grand Master can be called a Wangba, I’m sure it’d be completely reasonable to give some other thing the name Ji Ba.
It was fortunate this discussion wasn’t heard by Gu Mang, because who knew if he would slap the table and holler praise at this idea, rename himself to “Ji Ba Army General-in-chief Gu Mang”, then hook his arms around all his officers and soldiers, dragging them to suffer a calamity together.
The war was so grim, only a little madman like Gu Mang would strive to be original, enthusiastically joking about the fires of war. He not only held in his hand the troop title of “Wangba Army”, but even personally set off to draft their banners, cutting the jade-green flag into a brand new tortoise14[Remember how wangba means both turtle and also bastard…..gu mang himbo energy………..] shape, even giving it a vividly realistic little tail. He casted a little magical curse on the banner, making this tortoise roar out: “Wangba, Wangba! Formidable and mighty, your aspirations touch the rainbows, your power shakes this very earth.”
It could be said to be extremely embarrassing.
The first time he placed this flag out on the battlefield, they were ridiculed to death by the enemy’s General. In the end, not even half a day passed before the enemy’s hundred thousand-strong army of cultivators were chased by the Wangba Army until they cried for their mothers and fathers. After this battle, Gu Mang fought in many campaigns both large and small, and always came back victorious.
This directly lead to those years where he was appointed General-in-chief. The moment those nations opposed to Chonghua heard turtles, the colour of their faces would change, and the sight that those enemy cultivators wanted to see the least was probably — a little turtle flag raised at mast amidst the smokey battlefield, and General Gu galloping towards them on horseback, clearing his throat and introducing himself seriously:
“Ahem. Good day, brothers. I am Gu Mang, General-in-chief of the Wangba Army, and I’ve come especially to ask for some tactical advice from my dear brothers.”
It was already shameful that they couldn’t defeat this young cultivator, what was even more disgraceful was that would still have to return home and report to their Emperor while sniveling: “Oh no, your subordinates were truly too incompetent, we were powerless against the Wangba Army!”
It was an absolute nightmare.
To the officers and soldiers of Chonghua, even though Gu Mang was mischievous and whimsical, he was full of charisma. At that time, there were many who revered him, to the point where some who would believe in Gu Mang’s ridiculous theory that “Crappy Names Bring Good Life”, taking it as gospel15[奉为圭臬 (fèng wéi guī niè) is an idiom that means “to take as a guiding principle”], and there were many children born then who had the misfortune of being given crappy names by their parents. The trend was once like this:
Jiang Dantong. 16[楚根壮 literally translates to Chu Strong Roots. 薛铁柱 literally translates to Xue Iron Pillar. 姜蛋痛 translates to Jiang Painful Eggs, but is similar to 蛋疼 (dan teng) which means “pain in the balls (ass)”. winks at 2ha fans… recognise these surnames? (If you’ve finished the novel you might notice more easter eggs within the literal translation of these names!)]
Therefore the first thing Mo Xi did after taking over the Wangba Army was to rename this cursed army.
He never allow for his personal military record to be “Mo Xi, General-in-chief of the Wangba Army”. Absolutely not!
And so the Wangba Army was renamed to the Northern Frontier Army, the troops were reassigned to Mo Xi, and that dark humour that was as unyielding as smoke and bloodshed, just like Gu Mang’s legendary reputation, had its curtains closed to a disappointing end.
And those little turtles that screamed, shouted and roared out ” Wangba, Wangba! Formidable and mighty!” were just like an incredulous joke heard within a mirage17[镜花水月 (jìng huā shuǐ yuè) is an idiom that translates to “flowers in a mirror, and the moon reflected in the lake” and means something like a mirage, something insubstation, like a beautiful but fleeting dream], never to be seen again on the boundless battlefield.
Once again, everything became very solemn, there were no flowers, no honey, no one who would even try to remember the most insignificant name, no one to take the officers out to play around, and no one who would trade everything apart from their inner robes in exchange for rice wine.
The war returned to an absolute cold-blooded grimness.
The winter was here to stay.
Although nowadays, the majority of those at the Northern Frontier Army hated Gu Mang’s guts, it was probably for this reason that when the topic of him came up, their reactions were not quite the same as the common folk.
This was especially so for those who used to went to war and back together with General Gu, the veterans of the “Wangba Army”. Every time they read out Gu Mang’s name, their eyes would somewhat glaze over dimly.
“Ah, I really wouldn’t have imagined that he would come to this kind of end.”
“Wangshu-Jun is a well-known tyrant, and with his Majesty passing Gu Mang to him to deal with, I’m afraid everything bodes ill for him with no positive signs.”
“I’m sure he’ll die without his corpse intact….”
A fiercely ambitious person will not necessarily be hated, but traitors are destined to be punished by all. It’s only when those veterans of the former Wangba Army get together, where they would chatter endlessly about things that have nothing to do with “hate”.
As the conversation winded down, the enthusiasm of some of the elders began to wane, and they sighed: “He was such a great man….. If it wasn’t for what had happened that here, he wouldn’t have–“
“Shh! Lower down your voice! To dare mention such an old story, do you not want to live?!”
That old veteran mumbled an “oops” before coming back to his senses, and realising what he had almost just said, the drunken stars in his eyes immediately scattered, and he couldn’t help but quiver.
The soldier next to him continued to remind him: “Nowadays we’re working under General Mo, and the one General Mo hates the most is Gu Mang. It’s not like you don’t know what his temper is like, if he really were to hear you, we’ll both be screwed18[吃不了兜着走 is an idiom that translates to “if you can’t eat it all, you have to take it away”, and means that one has to face the consequences of their actions]!
“Yes yes, what you said is right. Look at me, the moment I have a drink I get all confused…”
The soldiers sitting around the fire stove didn’t speak another word, silently staring at that ball of flame, all of them with something on their mind. After a long while, someone finally let out a breath with great difficulty and said: “But I guess, people will change. All that we can say is that this is now General Gu’s fate.”
“How many years has it been already, why are you still calling him General Gu?”
“Oh, whoops. Yes. Gu Mang, Gu Mang.”
The night scene at the frontier fortress was silent, and the bonfire crackled, spitting out sparks in a gold brighter than the stars.
That tipsy veteran laid down on the ground, and using his arms as a pillow under his head, he gazed towards the night sky and began to count the stars19[斗数 (dòu shù) refers to 紫微斗数, Ziwei Doushu, or Ancient Chinese Astronomy], the Ziwei Star20[紫薇 refers to Purple multiflora rose, and in Chinese astrology, the colour is related to spiritual aspiration. Ziwei Star referred to the Emperor Star of the Big Dipper (Beidou) Constellation. Basically tl;dr it’s a Really Bright Star.] sparkling brightly. He swallowed hard, then muttered under his breath, so that no one but him would hear: “Ah, to be honest, back when I enlisted, it was to follow Gu Mang. I even had a drink with him while we sat around a bonfire, and he didn’t have a single air of arrogance at all. At that time I…..I’d look at him laugh and think, ah, if there was one day I could die in battle for him, then that could be considered a meaningful way to die. Who knew that in the end, he would unexpectedly…”
Unexpectedly face this kind of destiny.
After the birds were shot down, the bows were put away.21[飞鸟尽，角弓藏 is the root of the idiom 鸟尽弓藏 and it means to get rid of something after it’s of no more use.]
After exhausting their use of Gu Mang, the enemy country once again sent him back to Chonghua Empire as a gift to symbolise peace. This person had finally gone through the ups and downs of life, viewed a beautiful romantic scene, and one misplaced chess piece22[Do note this refers to Xiangqi, or Chinese chess as not western Chess.] made him a traitor, but there was no room for regrets23[落子无悔 (lào zǐ wú huǐ) refers to how in chess, once you’ve played a piece and it’s fallen, you cannot bring it back, and you cannot regret your choices.], and no way to return.
So what would you say is being trapped in one’s own devices24[作茧自缚 (zuò jiǎn zì fù) is an idiom that translates to spinning a cocoon around yourself, or trapping youself in your own plans]?
What do you mean by the fact that persisting in evil only brings your own demise?
Returning back to the main topic, although his fate was tragic, he could only blame himself for it, and for him to fall into a such a thankless position on both sides was great news for the people. For a moment, almost all of the people within Chonghua’s borders would raise their heads in hopes of catching a glimpse of Gu Mang’s outcome.
Beheading, a thousand cuts, boiling alive, hacked into minced meat, dragged apart by five horse carts, even a naive little girl who had barely learnt to speak would know to roll up her soft little tongue and vaguely keep up with the adults, saying: “We shudn’t wet gwo of dis shamewess pwig hed25[she babie speak uwu].”
Therefore, Gu Mang, General Gu, the former heroic commander of the Chonghua Empire, Mo Xi’s sworn enemy.
The legendary man once praised as the “Beast of the Altar”
That youth brimming with heroic spirit, who had once represented warmth and hope.
He finally lived up to his expectations and became a — “shwamewess pwig hed“.
The author has something to say:
Mo Ran: I feel like there were already a lot of mini-theatres in today’s chapter. By the way, Gu Mang, you can’t use the name Ji Ba Army. I’ll let you off on the issue of copyright26[This is a 2ha easter egg, but Taxian-Jun also named the years of his ruling as Wangba and Jiba, using exactly the same puns…], but the problem is your army banner. When you called yourself the Wangba Army, you cut them into tortoise flags and make them shout “Bastards! Bastards! Formidable and mighty”. Then if you’re called the Ji Ba Army, wouldn’t you have to cut a pillar-shaped flag, and have it yell “Dicks! Dicks!27[Again, it’s a pun on the chinese slang for penis] Formidable and mighty”?
Gu Mang: ??? Hey pal, what on earth are you talking about? You’re in the wrong place.
Chu Wanning: Mo Ran, you get back here right now!?
p.s. Mo Ran and Mo Xi are not related by blood. The time frame of this novel is approximately set a long, long, long, long time before the tale of the two dogs28[Refers to her other novel, Dumb Husky and his White Cat Shizun, or 2ha as fandom affectionately calls it. Link to the novel! RANWAN!!!!!!!]…..The continent is still separated, there isn’t an upper and lower cultivation world, only separated kingdoms. Some of the ancestors of our old friends, the origins of some of sects, and the causes and effects of old events, may even be mentioned later in this novel, some which are very obvious, and some will be very difficult to find, like hidden easter eggs, waiting for their fated person (hehehe) to find them out on their own~ kiss kiss~~