Chapter 205: Unfilial son, vile spawn, swine Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Fang Tang hid away the letter before leaving the room, but lingered outside to stare at the sky in the thought before dashing back in.
“Something the matter?” Lou Zigui asked.
“His Majesty is a miracle doctor,” Fang Tang said.
“Yes,” Lou Zigui replied. “His Majesty’s medical skills are very high.”
“Then Supreme Commander, even if I get stabbed and break a leg, His Majesty can cure me very quickly,” Fang Tang replied. “If that’s the case, how am I supposed to pretend to be recuperating from my wounds?”
“You’ll be the one who instigated Xie Anji first,” Lou Zigui intoned. “You’ll also be the one at fault, so for the sake of punishing you, His Majesty won’t cure your injuries.”
“…….” said Fang Tang. Supreme Commander, you’ve thought of everything long ago, didn’t you?
“You don’t need to take any special pains tomorrow,” Supreme Commander Lou added since Fang Tang had ran back in. “Your mouth offends people on a regular basis anyways.”
Fang Tang only looked silently at his Supreme Commander. Is my mouth really that offensive?
“Go on,” Lou Zigui waved a hand at him.
“Supreme Commander,” Shadowrain’s voice came from the door.
“Come in,” Lou Zigui called, and Shadowrain entered the room.
At the sight of him, Fang Tang asked, “Third Rain, why did you get in a fight?”
Shadowrain’s clothes were torn at the shoulders, an obvious sign of a blade. Lou Zigui knitted his eyebrows. He had ordered Shadowrain to bring back Tao Yu’s wife and children, but now…. “Did you bring back Tao Yu’s family?” he asked.
“Supreme Commander needn’t worry,” Shadowrain said hastily, “They’re unharmed. My big brother’s already ordered men to send them to see General Tao.”
Fang Tang approached Shadowrain and carefully examined his torn clothing. “Even Xie Wenyuan has men capable of slashing you with a sword?”
Shadowrain shook his head. “When I went to pick up the family, the Tao Clan had already sent men of their own to do the same. They started attacking us without a word.”
“The Tao Clan?” Fang Tang was astonished.
Shadowrain nodded. “It was dark and I needed to protect General Tao’s young Miss, so I was accidentally slashed. Fortunately, I dodged out of the way in time to avoid an injury.”
Fang Tang slapped Shadowrain on the shoulder. Lou Zigui said, “Were the mother and daughter willing to leave with you?”
“They weren’t,” Shadowrain’s expression grew unhappy at that. “The Tao Clan said that Tao Yu was waiting for them in the main estate, so they insisted on going back to the Tao Estate.”
“So you tied them up and brought them here?” Lou Zigui asked.
“Supreme Commander, it would have been impossible to bring them if we didn’t resort to force,” Shadowrain replied.
“That’s fine as well,” Lou Zigui’s lips quirked into a smile. “You’ve worked hard, go on and rest now.”
Shadowrain left with Fang Tang out of the room before he asked in a low voice, “What does Supreme Commander mean by ‘that’s good as well?’ Is he saying it’s good that we fought with the Tao Clan’s men?”
Fang Tang was too preoccupied with thinking how to manage his own affairs tomorrow, so he only gave a cursory reply after a long period of silence. “I don’t know.”
“…….” said Shadowrain. If you don’t know, then what were you thinking so hard about?
Lou Zigui sat in the palace as he tapped his fingers against the table. Tao Yu was clearly captured, but the Tao Clan insisted on telling his wife and daughter that he was waiting for them in the main estate. It’s obvious that they wanted to capture the two. Doing this shows that the Tao Clan has long forsaken their concubine-born son Tao Yu.
This is the best outcome. Lou Zigui stared at the candle burning away on the table with dark eyes. By thoroughly breaking Tao Yu’s heart, they’ll push the man to wholly devote his life and loyalties to Miss Ning, won’t they?
“All of you withdraw,” Grand Preceptor Xie ordered from within the bed curtains. The servants in the study quickly retreated from the room.
“Grand Preceptor,” Tao Shidong said, “Just what were Tao Yu’s wrongs?”
Grand Preceptor Xie gave a long sigh and murmured, “I didn’t want you to know, but now that Tao Yu’s been rescued by His Majesty’s men, it’ll be impossible to hide the truth anyways.”
Hearing this, His Excellency Tao began to feel uneasy.
“Tao Chen’s death was related to Tao Yu,” Grand Preceptor Xie stated without saying anything else. Tao Shidong rose to his feet, then fell back down in his chair, too shocked to speak for awhile. Grand Preceptor Xie remained lying on his bed to wait.
“That, that scoundrel, that unfilial son!” Tao Shidong’s voice exploded from his chest, mixed with grief and rage. If Tao Yu was in front of him right now, he would definitely kill his son with his own hands.
“Right now His Majesty has taken his wife and daughter into the palace as well,” Grand Preceptor Xie replied. “He has even less to worry about now.”
“W-what else does he want to do?” Tao Shidong asked loudly, his voice filled with anger. It gave one the impression that Grand Preceptor Xie was his enemy, too.
Grand Preceptor Xie sighed. “He has His Majesty protecting him now, what’s the use of your rage?” His words poured cold water over His Excellency Tao’s fury, enough to chill his very heart.
“Tao Chen’s peerage,” Grand Preceptor Xie continued, “Will definitely be given to Tao Yu by His Majesty. The emperor will do it the very next day, so what are your plans?”
“That swine is nothing more than a son born from a concubine,” Tao Shidong was a man who could hold his temper, but this time he lost it and stood up. “There are still sons of the first wife around, so how could a mere concubine-born child gain the peerage?”
Grand Preceptor Xie replied, “That’s the logic of things, but if His Majesty decrees it, will you argue reason with the emperor?” Anyone who defied an imperial decree was destined for death. How could you say anything to His Majesty then?
Tao Shidong slowly sank back down in his chair. “Is His Majesty really going to pass on the peerage to that swine?”
Grand Preceptor Xie replied, “If you think about it, a second-rank general is only a small rank at most. Losing it doesn’t count for much.”
“I want to chase this swine out of the clan,” Tao Shidong muttered under his breath. “He caused the death of his own brother, but still wants his brother’s rank?”
Grand Preceptor Xie was waiting for these exact words, but still he said, “You’ve thought it through? After all, he’s still your son. You…”
“Grand Preceptor, you don’t need to coax this official anymore,” Tao Shidong cut him off, a hint of sorrow in his voice “Such vile spawn is a disgrace to his family, I cannot keep him as a son.”
Grand Preceptor Xie sighed. “These are your domestic affairs, so I won’t say much. But it’s best for you to think it over carefully. His Majesty is the person standing behind him. By kicking him out of the clan, where have you put His Majesty in your eyes?”
Tao Shidong rose to his feet and bowed towards Grand Preceptor Xie. “Grand Preceptor, this official has always received your support and guidance and knows what should be done.”
Grand Preceptor Xie gave another long sigh.
Tao Shidong bid his farewells and left. Once he was out of the Grand Preceptor’s estate, his back stooped as if a single night had been enough to keep him bending down forever.
“Grand Preceptor,” Grand Preceptor Xie’s most capable aide strode out from behind a folding screen once Tao Shidong was gone. His name was Xu Yiming.2
On Grand Preceptor Xie’s orders, Xu Yiming had made the rounds of the capital’s various barracks over the past few days as his eyes and ears to pass on news. The soldiers weren’t to have second thoughts but obediently follow Grand Preceptor Xie. But this sir Xu would never imagine in his absence that Grand Preceptor Xie’s relations with His Majesty could devolve to a state where the two couldn’t even coexist in the same place.
“Have a seat,” Grand Preceptor Xie said from behind the bed curtains.
Xu Yiming sat on the stool that His Excellency Tao had vacated and murmured, “Grand Preceptor, wouldn’t this just make Tao Yu completely loyal to His Majesty instead?”
Grand Preceptor Xie’s voice was cold. “If this old man didn’t do this, he would still follow His Majesty wholeheartedly just the same. That bastard is just like Xie Anwu, with aspirations to overturn the Heavens.”
Xu Yiming knitted his brows. He wanted to ask the Grand Preceptor whether Tao Yu really was that kind of man. But in light of the fact that the Tao Clan was going to cast Tao Yu out tonight, he felt it’d be useless to defend the man any further.
“Since this old man lost Tao Yu, I’ll move to control the Tao Clan instead,” Grand Preceptor Xie added. “These old prominent families are all about fame and reputation. This old man won’t force them to break off relations right now in case that hastens them to His Majesty’s side in the future.”
Xu Yiming nodded. “Grand Preceptor is wise and brilliant.”
“His Majesty will recommend the Lord Protector Pei Yi to the post of Nine Gates Infantry Commander,” Grand Preceptor Xie changed the topic. “What do you think of this, sir?”
“The Lord Protector is full of loyalty and courage, but lacks quick wits,” Xu Yiming replied. “Even if he becomes the Nine Gates Infantry Commander, he’ll have plenty of trouble maintaining his post.”
“But this old man doesn’t want him to be Nine Gates Infantry Commander,” Grand Preceptor Xie replied. “I cannot allow His Majesty to make mistake after mistake.”
“Grand Preceptor wants to recommend Second Young Master Xie?” Xu Yiming asked.
“What do you think of that, sir?”
Xie Anji’s brains are even worse than the Lord Protector’s. His only advantage is that he’s the Grand Preceptor’s son. After some thought, Xu Yiming murmured back, “You can emphasize the Lord Protectors inadequacies. How could anyone without a single redeeming feature shoulder the heavy burdens of Nine Gates Infantry Commander? If His Majesty refuses to consent, then the imperial censor can remonstrate with him to work out a stalemate. Grand Preceptor could then take the chance to have Second Young Master Xie take temporary commander of the post. In that case, even if His Majesty makes Lord Protector the Nine Gates Infantry Commander by the end, Second Young Master Xie would have already taken control of the real power.”
Grand Preceptor Xie laid on the bed without a word.
“Grand Preceptor,” Xu Yiming coaxed. “It’s inadvisable to struggle with His Majesty on the surface right now. His Majesty is still the sovereign, after all. If the sovereign wants his subjects to die, the subjects have no choice but to submit.”
“Are you afraid that His Majesty will force this old man to reveal the dagger in the map?”3 Grand Preceptor Xie asked.
“Grand Preceptor has the capital’s soldiers under your command and can force His Majesty into a difficult corner,” Xu Yiming said in a low voice as Grand Preceptor Xie listened with rapt attention to the almost inaudible words. “But Lou Zigui has the Black Frost Cavalry in his hands. Although his soldiers are in far-off lands, Grand Preceptor, they can kill their way to the capital should they aim for the city one day. When that time comes, what will Grand Preceptor use to face them?”
Grand Preceptor Xie grew silent again.
“If anything happens to His Majesty, all Lou Zigui has to do is claim he’s clearing out evil ministers for the emperor’s sake to summon his troops to the Central Plains,” Xu Yiming added. “Who in the world would dare accuse Lou Zigui of rebellion then? Like that, Grand Preceptor will not only lose your chance to take control, but be labeled with infamy instead.”
Grand Preceptor Xie fell silent for a long while before he finally spoke. “Right now it’s not I who is forcing the emperor, but His Majesty who is forcing this old man.”
“Grand Preceptor, endure it a bit longer,” Xu Yiming advised.
“Sir’s meaning is?”
“Wait until Grand Preceptor finds a way to deal with the Black Frost Cavalry,” Xu Yiming replied. “When that happens, Grand Preceptor will need to endure no longer. This follower believes that Second Young Master Xie can be stationed at the Nine Gate Infantry Commander’s quarters first. The position itself can be left to His Majesty and the imperial censors for argument. Once Second Young Master Xie manages to establish a foothold in the Commander’s quarters, His Majesty can do as he likes. What do you think, Grand Preceptor?”
- Tao Shidong (陶士东) – Shi is “soldier, army man,” Dong is “east.” ↩
- Xu Yiming (徐义名) – Xu is a surname that means “slowly, gently,” Yi is “justice, righteousness,” Ming is “name.” ↩
- reveal the dagger in the map (图穷匕见) – tu qiong bi jian, an idiom based on the attempted assassination of King Zheng of the Qin State (later emperor Qin Shi Huang) by Jing Ke, a retainer of Crown Prince Dan from Yan State. Jing Ke was able to get close to his target by proffering to offer him a rolled up scroll of a map. When the king unfurled the map, Jing Ke seized the poisoned dagger hidden inside and attempted to kill him. This idiom thus describes someone acting friendly until the time comes to show their true intentions in the end. ↩