Chapter 113: His Majesty injures the Grand Preceptor again Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Grand Preceptor Xie walked out of the main gates of his estate with some difficulty. At the foot of the stairs outside his gates, Lou Zigui was sitting on his battle horse. Compared to Grand Preceptor Xie’s aged form, he looked especially upright and filled with vitality even in the rain.
“Is the Grand Preceptor close to dying from sickness?” Oil Jar asked as he hid with Ning Xiaoyao at the corner of the wall.
“He’s pretending,” Ning Xiaoyao curled her lips disdainfully. That old man is too good at acting.
Inside the gates, Grand Preceptor Xie glanced at the carriage full of bodies and looked with confusion at Lou Zigui. “Supreme Commander, what is the meaning of this?”
Lou Zigui said, “This carriage belongs to the Grand Preceptor’s estate. What, does the Grand Preceptor not recognize it?”
Grand Preceptor Xie turned to one of the stewards at his side. “This is one of our carriages?”
This steward was neither Xie Laibao or Xie Laifu. He had no experience reading his master, so the question left him in a cold sweat as his mouth gaped in silence.
Lou Zigui said, “There’s the insignia of the Grand Preceptor’s estate on the carriage. Could it be that someone’s passing themselves off as one of your carriages to make a business out of murder?”
Grand Preceptor Xie ordered the steward, “You, go take a look.”
The steward ran down the stairs, while Grand Preceptor Xie shook his head at Lou Zigui. “This old man suspects those type of thieves lack the guts to even try.”
The steward got an idea of what his master wanted with those words. He reached the carriage and stared at the insignia on the front. Then he ran back up the steps and reported, “To reply Grand Preceptor’s words, this really is one of our carriages.”
“How does the Grand Preceptor plan to explain away the corpses in the carriage?” Lou Zigui asked.
The four animals by Ning Xiaoyao’s side murmured, “It looks like Ning Xiaoluo’s guards all died.”
“That old bastard!” Oil Jar cursed.
Ning Xiaoyao didn’t look at the carriage. She was used to dead bodies, but that didn’t mean she wanted to see their corpses when she didn’t have to.
“This old man heard my servants report that a pestilence spread amongst the guards,” Grand Preceptor Xie said, staring straight at Lou Zigui. “This old man never expected the disease to be incurable and kill them.”
“………..” said the Dragon Guards. What kind of balderdash was that? Grand Preceptor, why isn’t your face turning red from shame yet?
“Is that so?” Lou Zigui asked coldly. “Grand Preceptor, you’ve already ascertained that these bodies are from your estate without having to take a closer look?”
“Supreme Commander, what are you saying?” Grand Preceptor Xie replied. “The carriage is my property, so naturally those men must be mine as well. If I think back, they must belong to the guard courtyard that fell ill in the past few days.”
“Well dang,” Ning Xiaoyao fumed from the wall. “How come this old geezer’s so good at making things up?!”
Oil Jar was angry as well. “It’s a shame little gyrfalcon isn’t here. He could poop on his head!”
Elder Cousin Magpie flapped his wings. “Dangit, I can poop too!”
Ning Xiaoyao thought it over before shaking her head. “Poop alone won’t finish him off.”
A’Mo was perched on Ning Xiaoyao’s collar as he raised his voice. “Then can we bite him to death?”
Ning Xiaoyao and the other three animals all stared at the ant. Relying on him and his tiny incisors to bite Grand Preceptor Xie to death seemed like an arduous task.
Grand Preceptor Xie next asked Lou Zigui, “Supreme Commander, do you have any other business with my estate?”
Lou Zigui’s voice was still cold. “This one believes they don’t look much like the Grand Preceptor’s men.”
Grand Preceptor Xie laughed. “Then Supreme Commander means to say that I killed these men?”
Lou Zigui laughed back. “Grand Preceptor, don’t misunderstand. That’s not what I meant at all. I simply feel that their identities are suspect.”
“Why is Supreme Commander saying all those things to the Grand Preceptor?” Oil Jar asked Ning Xiaoyao.
“They’re having a catfight while being fully aware of what the other’s doing,” Ning Xiaoyao said as she dug out a brick from the wall.
“The flesh from their shoulders were all scraped away,” Lou Zigui said as he pointed at his own left shoulder. “Conscripted military men all have seals branded into their shoulders. Grand Preceptor, doesn’t that seem too convenient for you?”
Grand Preceptor Xie didn’t understand. “There’s such a thing?”
“The Grand Preceptor isn’t even aware of such common knowledge?” Lou Zigui asked,
“Then perhaps Supreme Commander isn’t aware,” Grand Preceptor Xie replied with a grin, “That the people of my Grand Preceptor’s estate are also branded on their left shoulders.”
“Seriously?!” Ning Xiaoyao asked Elder Cousin Magpie.
“I don’t know,” Elder Cousin Magpie replied. “Is that really the case?”
“Then could the Grand Preceptor summon two guards here for an inspection?” Lou Zigui asked.
Grand Preceptor Xie shook his head with a smile. “Supreme Commander, are you treating me like one of your captives? You mustn’t act too outrageous, Supreme Commander Lou.”
“Suppose I insist tonight?” Lou Zigui asked.
Ning Xiaoyao felt like those two were about to get rowdy. But right at this moment, the sound of hoofbeats heralded the arrival of a group of cavalrymen.
“Tao Chen,” Ning Xiaoyao said once she saw the man at the head.
“Did he bring men to seize Supreme Commander?” Oil Jar grew nervous.
Tao Chen didn’t get off his horse, but looked coldly at Lou Zigui and said, “What business does Supreme Commander Lou have with Grand Preceptor Xie in the middle of the night?”
“Are you blind?” Lou Zigui asked.
“…………..” said Tao Chen. A man like Lou Zigui is really better off dead!
“Have a good departure, Supreme Commander. This old man won’t see you off,” Grand Preceptor Xie flicked his sleeves and turned to enter the estate. So what if Lou Zigui knew I killed those soldiers? Even if people blamed him for killing Ning Xiaoluo in the future, he had nothing to worry about. After all, it’d be impossible for the Duke of Yue, Ning Heng,1 to believe Lou Zigui’s words.
Tao Chen rode his horse in front of Lou Zigui to block him and said, “Supreme Commander, if you please.”
Ning Xiaoyao was currently scrabbling for an appropriate purchase on the wall. Oil Lamp asked, “Xiaoyao, what are you looking for?”
Ning Xiaoyao said, “That’s the jerk in charge of killing off Qin Xuan and Miss. A’Xin. Since I ran into him today, I can’t give him a chance to complete his bad deeds.”
“Then, then Xiaoyao, are you going to kill him?” Oil Jar asked immediately.
Ning Xiaoyao creased her brows in thought. “I don’t usually kill people.”
By now, Grand Preceptor Xie had already entered his courtyard. Lou Zigui spoke up after him. “Even if these men are from your estate, are you simply going to toss them aside in the barren hills outside the city?”
“They’ll be buried with full honors,” Grand Preceptor Xie said with his back facing the man as he issued orders to a subordinate on his right. Lou Zigui pulled on his reins and turned his horse around, before whipping the animal and galloping off. Tao Chen wore a ridiculing smile on his lips. So what if His Majesty favored Lou Zigui? Wasn’t he helpless all the same before the Grand Preceptor?
By now, Ning Xiaoyao had already broke off less than half the wall in her hands. She waited until Lou Zigui and his men were far off before throwing the chunk of wall. It whistled through the air as it flew towards Tao Chen, who half turned to find the source of the noise before the wall smashed him into the ground.
“………” said Oil Jar. This is what Xiaoyao means by ‘not killing’ anyone?
All of the Grand Preceptor’s men froze for a few seconds, before someone cried out. Immediately, chaos descended upon the Grand Preceptor’s estate once again.
Lou Zigui had stopped his horse to look at the chunk of wall that had buried Tao Chen. For some reason, he was sure that his Miss Ning was behind it all!
Ning Xiaoyao was in for the penny and the pound. She swung her arm in a circle before lobbing a brick at Grand Preceptor Xie’s head.
“Grand Preceptor!” a guard shouted as he rushed to pull aside his master.
Grand Preceptor Xie might have a formidable brain and scheming heart, but he was still a scholarly type in the end. Faced with the sudden assault, his mind turned blank. He couldn’t even react to the incoming threat. The guard wasn’t as fast as the flying projectile, so a corner of the brick ended up clipping the Grand Preceptor’s forehead. Blood covered his face before he fainted.
“The Grand Preceptor’s been hurt!”
“Capture the assassin!”
“Ahhhhhhhh! There’s an assassin–!”
The chaotic scene in front of the gates had descended into utter pandemonium. Shouts of alarm mixed with sounds of running footsteps all throughout the estate. Soon enough, the rain-soaked Grand Preceptor’s estate was boiling over with excitement and agitation.
“Pah!” Ning Xiaoyao spat at the Grand Preceptor from her perch atop the half-demolished wall. Then she brought two mice and one ant with her as she jumped off the wall and fled into the night. Meanwhile, Elder Cousin Magpie had flew back home to call out his whole family so they could watch the unlucky Grand Preceptor again.
Guards carrying torches ran to the broken wall, but saw no one there. Instead, the sight of the demolished structure left them mystified. Who took it apart so silently? What kind of human has such skills? No, wait–were they even human to begin with?
“Doctor! Someone call a doctor, quick!” shouted the guard who was using a cloth to try and stem the blood flowing from Grand Preceptor Xie’s head. His other hand held another cloth, but both pieces of fabric were dyed red with blood.
The old madame had been helped to the front gates by two elderly female servants. She hadn’t even seen the unconscious, bloody Grand Preceptor Xie or her squashed grandson-in-law yet before the jittery, noisy crowds caused her to faint away. The servants and attendants of the old madame broke out into cries of alarm, adding to the fearful atmosphere enveloping the estate.
Ning Xiaoyao ran all the way to the archway of the Xie Clan that spanned over the streets. She jumped on top of it and started tearing it apart. Last time she came by, she’d promised to take it down. Now wasn’t the time to go back on her words. It even took her a monumental effort to take the thing apart. Ning Xiaoyao stomped and kicked at the archway a few times before dislodging a portion of the roof.
By now, Lou Zigui had ridden his horse to the vicinity of the archway. One of the Dragon Guards behind him lifted his head and caught sight of the busy figure atop the structure. Uncertainly, he asked, “Is, is that His Majesty?”
Lou Zigui sighed. I knew she was behind everything!
“Supreme Commander!” Oil Jar cried in the middle of his cheering. He quickly reported the news to Ning Xiaoyao. “Xiaoyao, Supreme Commander’s staring at you.”
Ning Xiaoyao stopped moving, and a colored section of the archway fell to the ground with a boom, shattering into pieces even as it created a mini crater.
“Get down,” Lou Zigui gestured at Ning Xiaoyao.
Ning Xiaoyao asked A’Mo. “A’Mo, do you want to stay as a guest at my palace?”
A’Mo happily shook his head. “Xiaoyao, I want to see all the fuss with the Grand Preceptor!”
“Alright,” Ning Xiaoyao jumped off the archway. The three Dragon Guards watched as their emperor landed soundlessly on the ground from such an impressive height and once more felt ashamed of their skills. They would never be able to land so quietly.
Ning Xiaoyao bent down to put A’Mo on a flat patch of land that wasn’t waterlogged before she murmured, “Then let’s meet again next time, A’Mo.”
A’Mo said, “Xiaoyao, you have to come back and visit!”
“Mhm,” Ning Xiaoyao nodded solemnly. She’d definitely return. She couldn’t let that Grand Preceptor feel any happiness! Lou Zigui rode his horse to Ning Xiaoyao’s side and leaned over to offer her a hand.
“Get on,” he said.
Ning Xiaoyao grasped Lou Zigui’s hand. She was short and lightweight, so Supreme Commander Lou easily pulled her astride Little Red.
“It’s not easy to dismantle that thing,” Ning Xiaoyao complained as she pointed at the now roofless archway.
Lou Zigui urged his horse forward as he murmured, “If you tear down the archway now, the Grand Preceptor will petition to the emperor tomorrow and say that someone destroyed the archway. Xiaoyao, if you can’t capture the villain, you’ll have to pay for repairs out of your own pocket.”
(#‵′)凸, said Ning Xiaoyao. That’s completely unreasonable!
- Ning Heng (宁恒) – Heng means “perseverance.” ↩