Chapter 168: His Majesty says, the Grand Preceptor is hovering in the Heavens Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
One of the Grand Preceptor’s stewards ran all the way through the courtyard before asking for an audience at the study doors.
“Come in,” Grand Preceptor Xie said.
The steward quickly entered the room full of old men, making sure to keep his head low as he bowed. “Grand Preceptor, this servant just ran around the entire capital and didn’t see His Majesty order any men to stick up the proclamations.”
Grand Preceptor Xie waved a hand to indicate the steward should withdraw.
“Was His Majesty simply scaring those officials?” one official asked doubtfully after the steward left.
Grand Preceptor Xie stroked his beard as he muttered to himself, before declaring, “How could His Majesty be in the mood for jokes now? He probably knows by now that the eight officials have left their homes.”
“Because His Majesty knows the refugees can’t invade the capital’s barracks, he called off his scheme?” another official guessed.
“Called off?” Grand Preceptor Xie sighed and shook his head. “The capital is nothing short of calm and peaceful right now. More likely, His Majesty is waiting for those officials to leave the barracks.”
All of the officials shivered at those words. So His Majesty is determined to kill those eight officials instead?
“It’s nothing,” Grand Preceptor Xie intoned. “The barracks simply have more residents living in them now. What’s there to worry about?”
The Grand Preceptor’s faction couldn’t help but feel that the eight officials had been fortunate so far. At a time like this, it was paramount for the Grand Preceptor to protect them all. Otherwise, where would Grand Preceptor Xie show his face if His Majesty killed off eight of his faction just like that?
The Grand Preceptor moved his foot before its sudden jolt of pain made him stiffen. None of the other officials dared to look down at his feet. It really was illogical that he’d gotten bitten by a mouse. What kind of bad luck did one need to be attacked in the palace by one in broad daylight?
“Let’s talk about the Nine Gates Infantry Commander instead. When you all go back, think of who you want to recommend for the position and write it down. Have those names delivered to the Grand Preceptor’s estate,” Grand Preceptor Xie ordered.
All of the officials chroused in assent. After some more idle conversation, they withdrew and went to their homes.
Cousin Magpie’s wife asked, “Have they finished talking?”
Cousin Magpie didn’t reply. The husband and wife pair looked at the second son of Grand Preceptor Xie, Xie Anji, walk into the study.
“Let’s listen for a bit longer,” Cousin Magpie said as he smoothed out his wife’s feathers with his beak to help her be more patient.
“Father,” Xie Anji bowed to Grand Preceptor Xie in the study.
“Mm,” the Grand Preceptor’s answer was noncommittal.
“Third brother’s yet to wake,” Xie Anji said. “Mother and sister-in-law are sobbing bitterly.”
“Someone come,” Grand Preceptor Xie called towards the door. “Pass on my words, have her ladyship go to Old Madame Xie’s mourning hall.”
The little pageboy stationed outside gave a noise of assent before scurrying off. Xie Anji grew frantic. “Father, are we really going to forget about whether third brother lives or dies?”
Grand Preceptor Xie replied, “Father’s planning to make you the Nine Gates Infantry Commander.”
Xie Anji was preoccupied with thoughts of Xie Anshi, so the sudden proclamation floored him.
“You’ve stayed long enough as a member of the Ministry of War,” Grand Preceptor Xie added. “It’s time to find you a better post.”
Being the Nine Gates Infantry Commander would not only give Xie Anji more power, but a promotion in ranks as well. Xie Anji naturally couldn’t ask for anything better, but he was self-aware enough to say, “I’m afraid that His Majesty won’t agree.”
“His Majesty has aimed to chose the Lord Protector Pei Yi,” Grand Preceptor Xie replied.
“Then this son?”
“It’s not impossible for two provincial commanders to take one post,” Grand Preceptor Xie said. “If father allows Pei Yi to become the Nine Gates Infantry Commander, His Majesty will have to retreat and let you take the same job as well.”
Xie Anji wasn’t worried about that, but about Ning Xiaoyao herself. Would His Majesty really retreat?
“Father will find a way,” Grand Preceptor Xie said. “You just have to make preparations.”
“Preparations?” Xie Anji echoed.
“Unless Pei Yi dies, Ning Yi will only have more soldiers on her side in the future,” Grand Preceptor Xie said in a hushed tone. “Father is going to send Pei Yi off to meet his late father.”
“What is father planning to do?” Xie Anji asked in a hurry.
“You should become the Nine Gates Infantry Commander first,” Grand Preceptor Xie leaned back to sit in his chair, his voice cold. “There’s no way that Pei Yi will escape death.”
Xie Anji nodded. No one had ever escaped death when his father willed it on them. (Author: Did you forget about Supreme Commander? 囧)
“Go on,” Grand Preceptor Xie finished, “Keep vigil over your grandmother’s coffin.”
“Go find Xiaoyao,” Cousin Magpie’s wife nudged her husband. “That old thing’s just terrible!”
Cousin Magpie flew out of the Grand Preceptor’s courtyard and headed for the palace. As Grand Preceptor Xie approached the window, Cousin Magpie’s wife quickly pretended that she was looking for worms to eat on the windowsill.
“Magpie, ah, magpie,” Grand Preceptor Xie muttered to himself. “You’re known as birds of good fortune, so you should protect this old man and our Xie Clan.”
Cousin Magpie’s wife promptly flew off, unable to bear listening to such drivel.
While Grand Preceptor Xie was staring out his window, the eight officials’ homes had been broken into by the imperial guards, allowing a stream of refugees to claim the insides for themselves. The officials and their families might have brought away their valuables, but the furniture, grain, and kitchen pots, utensils, and condiments like salt and oil were still there. It wasn’t long before the refugees had taken them all.
“Let them take what they want,” Shadowgale told the guards after watching for awhile. “As long as no lives are lost.”
“Yes,” the imperial guards obeyed.
“If you see anyone claiming a room for themselves, chase them out,” Shadowgale added next. His voice was loud enough to freeze the hubbub of red-eyed, stealing refugees in the courtyard.
“And if anyone refuses to listen, kill them,” Shadowgale added with a threat. Ning Xiaoyao might not hold a grudge against these people, but the Head Commander of the Dragon Guards remembered his well.
By this point, even the shouts had died out from the refugees. Shadowgale walked out of the gates before tossing back a final word, “Guard the doors well. Beat off anyone who comes to make trouble and refer the rest to His Majesty himself if they refuse to leave.”
The military officer by the door nodded. They could even guard the palace gates, so why wouldn’t they be able to handle a simple residence?
“Try not to refer any people to His Majesty,” Shadowgale added in a low voice to the officer. “With His Majesty here, you can do anything as long as you don’t kill any of the offenders.”
The officer nodded again. He understood what the head commander was hinting—beat the intruders crippled instead. By the time Shadowgale made his rounds through all eight estates, news of the occupation had finally reached the Grand Preceptor’s ears.
“That’s absurd!” Grand Preceptor Xie pounded the desk with his fist before the messenger finished speaking. He trembled at the sight of his irate master.
Claiming houses instead of killing their owners? Once again, he’d failed to guess His Majesty’s intentions. Furious and depressed, he realized he’d lost again.
Xie Anji took this time to rush into the study, “Father, His Majesty’s gone too far! Your son will take people to claim those houses back!”
Grand Preceptor Xie picked up his teacup and downed the contents in one gulp.
Xie Anji grew anxious. “Father!”
Grand Preceptor Xie set down the teacup before he spoke. “Go to the barracks in the north of the city and tell Uncle Hao and the others that they’ll have to face off with His Majesty’s imperial guards if they want their houses back. See if they’re willing to fight, then.”
Second Young Master Xie replied, “How would they have the guts to do that?”
“Then have them offer their houses in tribute,” Grand Preceptor Xie said. “Since they’ve lost their properties, they’ll just get reputation and renown instead.”
Xie Anji grew stupefied. We can do it that way, too?
“Let them make their own decisions,” Grand Preceptor Xie said. “If they have the skills, they can wrest it back from His Majesty of their own will.”
“And you, father?”
“This old man doesn’t want to raise arms against His Majesty yet.”
Xie Anji stopped talking. If you won’t raise arms, then what other choice do the officials have but to obediently hand over their homes?
An hour later, Xie Anji arrived at the barracks. Soon after that, news that all eight officials were willing to give up their houses to the refugees spread throughout the capital. Hearing this, Lou Zigui laughed coldly from Supreme Splendor Hall. Ning Xiaoyao was munching on mantou when she heard his odd-sounding laugh, and asked, “The Grand Preceptor’s side already admitted their loss, so why are you still unhappy, Supreme Commander?”
“The fact that the officials were willing to hand over the houses after Your Majesty took them with the imperial guards—doesn’t that imply Your Majesty was vying against your officials for a good reputation amongst the people?” Lou Zigui stated.
Ning Xiaoyao swallowed her mouthful of mantou. “Well dang, Grand Preceptor Xie wants us to boost the reputation of his faction, too? Why hasn’t he considered the fact that he’s a rock in a latrine pit before trying to counter scheme me? The Grand Preceptor’s faction being the good guys? Don’t try to fool me.”
“…….” said Lou Zigui. This girl’s words always leave me speechless.
“It’s fine,” Ning Xiaoyao reassured as she grabbed another mantou. “Grand Preceptor thinks he’s hovering in the Heavens, but he doesn’t know the human world’s already passed him by, with the oceans long changed to mulberry fields.”
Lou Zigui pinched his eyebrows. Where does this girl get her ideas from?
“Second Thunder,” Ning Xiaoyao shouted at the door.
Shadowthunder came in with half a mantou in his hand.
“Take a trip to tell the refugees that the Grand Preceptor’s men don’t dare to claim the houses because the imperial guards are protecting them. That’s why his faction’s dumping dirty water on me instead,” Ning Xiaoyao said.
The second commander of the Dragon Guards was thrilled by the idea. “Shall this servant take the refugees to kill their way through the Grand Preceptor’s estate?”
Lou Zigui didn’t wait for Ning Xiaoyao to reply. “Just pass on the message. You’re not allowed to do any of that.”
Shadowthunder was disappointed and whispered, “So no killing…”
Lou Zigui realized that these Dragon Guards were getting more and more talkative as of late. Is it true what they say, that the subordinates’ conduct reflect their masters?
“What are you looking at me for?” Ning Xiaoyao bit off a mouthful of mantou as she mumbled, “I didn’t say to kill the Grand Preceptor, ah.”
“You should just go,” Lou Zigui waved at hand at Shadowthunder, who went off with his half-finished mantou in one hand.
“Judging from the reports of my little pals,” Ning Xiaoyao swallowed and spoke, “Grand Preceptor Xie wants Xie Anji to be the next Nine Gates Infantry Commander. What do you think of this, Supreme Commander?”
“It’s not unexpected,” Lou Zigui said.
“Didn’t you say that son was useless?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
“He’s sending him into the battle,” Lou Zigui said with a laugh, “Because Xie Wenyuan only trusts his own son.”
Ning Xiaoyao tilted her head to think. “I’ll ask Pei Yan for his thoughts. If he doesn’t know what to do, then I’ll figure out a way to bring down Xie Anji myself.”
Lou Zigui didn’t speak. There were plenty of ways to kill Xie Anji now, but killing all three of the first wife’s sons so soon would simply force the Xie Clan to revolt, right?
“That’s right,” Ning Xiaoyao said as she poured herself some water. “Those seven military officers are just about recovered. Can we let them go tonight?”
“Recovered?” Lou Zigui had been so busy that he hadn’t had time to ask after their status.
“Mhm,” Ning Xiaoyao nodded. It’s the same as what I said before. If the Grand Preceptor can wreck it, then I can fix it.
Lou Zigui played around with his teacup, its surface as fine and thin as cicada’s wings.
“……..”” siad Ning Xiaoyao. Is he plotting something nefarious again?