Chapter 56: Yet another failure for the Xie father and mother pair Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Ning Xiaoyao swatted aside Empress Dowager Xie’s hand before taking the Imperial Jade Seal from its casket and throwing it down the steps. The casket was jade too, so Ning Xiaoyao couldn’t bear to break that as well.
When the Imperial Jade Seal fell on the ground, it shattered with a soft pyah. The noisy vegetable market that had become the imperial court instantly fell silent. A stray gust of wind plastered one of the papers from Ning Xiaoyao’s medical records straight into Grand Preceptor Xie’s face. Even so, he didn’t budge. Empress Dowager Xie’s face turned as white as a sheet as she clutched the edges of the imperial writing desk to keep from collapsing onto the ground.
Ning Xiaoyao’s lips split into a happy grin. See what happens when you seek death? The broken pieces of the Imperial Jade Seal were an offensive sight to the Ning clansmen and court ministers alike.
“This Imperial Jade Seal is a fake,” Elder Li said angrily as he recovered to look at Grand Preceptor Xie. “Xie Wenyuan, how do you explain this?”
Grand Preceptor Xie was utterly paralyzed. Events had gone beyond his expectations, leaving his mind in chaos. Elder Li was practically roaring by now.
“Do you really think that the world belongs to your Xie Clan? Xie Wenyuan, for fabricating an Imperial Jade Seal, you deserve the nine familial exterminations!”
Grand Preceptor Xie stilled his heart and turned to kneel towards Ning Xiaoyao again until his forehead touched the ground. “Your Majesty, this subject has secret facts to report to the throne.”
Within a short time, Grand Preceptor Xie had not only calmed down, but rapidly reviewed the recent course of events in his head. If Ning Yu dared to destroy the Imperial Jade Seal, there were only two possible reasons: one was that she possessed the true seal, and two was that she’d made a trade with whoever stole the seal in the first place. If that person wanted state power, then he or she and Ning Yu would treat the Xie Clan as their mutual enemy. After getting rid of the Xie Clan, the thief could struggle with Ning Yu for power afterwards. This too, could be considered a strategy. Based on his own beliefs from before, Grand Preceptor Xie was more inclined to the second possibility. Thus, he said, “Esteemed Empress Dowager discovered the Imperial Jade Seal missing yesterday. As this was a significant event, this subject decided it wasn’t suitable to alarm the members of court. Instead, this subject and Esteemed Empress Dowager set a trap to lure the snake from its den with the seal, wishing to trade the fake for the real one.”
Ning Xiaoyao secretly admired this guy, who almost made lies sound like the truth. “Oh,” she chuckled twice, “So what you’re saying is, Zhen was too impulsive? Otherwise, you would’ve caught the thief who stole the Imperial Jade Seal by now?”
Grand Preceptor Xie knocked his head against the ground and said, “It was this subject who was useless.”
Ning Xiaoyao called towards the door. “Windy, come inside the hall with the Imperial Jade Seal.”
The sound of many footsteps sounded from outside, before Windy walked in with the Imperial Jade Seal resting in his hands. Behind he was Shadowthunder, Shadowrain, and Shadowbolt, each leading three separate lines of Dragon Guards.
“You,” Empress Dowager Xie looked at Ning Xiaoyao, her eyes nearly popping out of her sockets. Right now, she didn’t look a bit like a matchless beauty.
Ning Xiaoyao said to Windy, “Windy, give the Imperial Jade Seal to my Imperial Mother and have her try it out. See if this is the real thing.” But even without Ning Xiaoyao’s reminder, Empress Dowager Xie was determined to test it for herself.
“Esteemed Empress Dowager!” Grand Preceptor Xie yelled harshly when he saw his daughter actually reach out to take the seal.
Empress Dowager Xie’s hands froze in mid-air, and Windy handed the seal to Ning Xiaoyao instead. Ning Xiaoyao picked up the seal and slammed it down on the writing desk. Only two tries were enough to split the desk in two.
“……” said everyone in the hall.
“It’s real,” Ning Xiaoyao said as she examined the undamaged Imperial Jade Seal. Everyone was gaping dumbstruck, still at a loss for words. Without the support of the imperial writing desk, Empress Dowager Xie fell and sat heavily on the ground. On the side, a eunuch in charge of court affairs looked like he wanted to cry at the sight of the wrecked desk. Last time in court, His Majesty had destroyed the Dragon Throne, so he could only bring over the one in the imperial study as a temporary replacement. Now His Majesty had destroyed the imperial writing desk as well. If this kept on, would he empty out the imperial study entirely?
“Your Majesty,” Elder Li was always the first person to recover their wits. He knelt down and beseeched, “This subject asks that Xie Wenyuan be given the death sentence!”
Ning Xiaoyao’s mouth twitched. Old man, can’t you see that the Dragon Guards are preparing to duke it out with the soldiers of the capital under Grand Preceptor Xie’s command? How am I supposed to slaughter Grand Preceptor Xie?
“The imperial harem cannot interfere in such affairs,” Elder Li said, turning his temper to Empress Dowager Xie next. “This subject asks that Esteemed Empress Dowager returns to her palace!”
Empress Dowager Xie slowly raised her head to look towards her father.
“May Esteemed Empress Dowager please return to the palace,” Elder Li’s pupils chorused together.
Empress Dowager Xie next turned back to look at Ning Xiaoyao. At this moment, she finally realized the significance of the late emperor’s death. The person who doted on her most in the world was gone, so there was no one left to allow her major and minor mistakes. Nobody else would ever keep her in the palm of their hand and treat her as a treasure.
“Late em…” Empress Dowager Xie began to cry, but her tears were genuine this time.
“Stop yelling for my Imperial Father,” Ning Xiaoyao cut her off. She pointed at herself and said softly, “Do you think my Imperial Father would still love you if he knew about these things?”
Windy and the two eunuchs standing by His Majesty’s side dearly wished they were deaf at this moment. Legends said that the dead could see the living one more time from a terrace in the underworld. Empress Dowager Xie was thinking of that legend when she stared dazedly at Ning Xiaoyao. What would the late emperor think of her once he saw this daughter of his, and heard the conversations between her and her father?
“You, ah,” Ning Xiaoyao said, “Don’t think of getting a memorial archway in your name after all the whatnot you did.”
Windy really wished he was too stupid to understand what ‘whatnot’ Ning Xiaoyao was referring to.
She wasn’t the late emperor’s beloved consort anymore, but a poisonous widow? Empress Dowager Xie didn’t hear Ning Xiaoyao’s words, but her heart felt a sharp pain as soon as she thought of the words ‘poisonous widow.’ Clutching her chest, she gave a sob before fainting away. Ning Xiaoyao immediately felt delighted and had to force herself to look somber. She told the two mama who had accompanied Empress Dowager Xie inside, “Can’t you see that my Imperial Mother’s fainted? Carry her back to the palace and find an imperial physician.”
The two mama had long been scared out of their wits and ran over woodenly at Ning Xiaoyao’s words. One of them grabbed the Empress Dowager by her feet, the other near her head. They were about to leave when they saw the sword-wielding Dragon Guards and capital soldiers standing by the doors. Immediately, their legs grew weak as they stopped, not daring to move.
“Windy,” Ning Xiaoyao had to call out again, “Escort them back.”
“Yes.” Windy walked forward and gave a push to the mama supporting Empress Dowager Xie’s head. Only then did the two mama follow Shadowgale with trembling steps out of the hall.
“She still wants to tussle in court with guts like that?” Ning Xiaoyao muttered to herself as she rolled her eyes. The two eunuchs flanking her throne pretended that they didn’t exist. They didn’t hear a thing just then, nope!
“You must have been the one who forced Esteemed Empress Dowager,” Elder Li fired a shot against Grand Preceptor Xie as soon as the two mama left. “Xie Wenyuan, your heart is ruthless!”
Grand Preceptor Xie replied, “Elder Li can always trump up charges against me if he wants to condemn me.”
Elder Li gave a deep bow to Ning Xiaoyao before declaring, “This subject asks that Xie Wenyuan be given the death penalty!”
“Old gramps, calm down a bit,” Ning Xiaoyao replied.
“How can this subject be calm unless that Xie crook is dead?” Even veins were popping out from Elder Li’s head.
“Then,” Ning Xiaoyao said, “Then turn around and take a look behind you. Let’s all stay calm, it’s a devil to be impatient.”
Elder Li looked back, only to see two forces standing at face off against each other.
“Teacher,” one of his pupils said in a low voice, “Now isn’t the time to put that Xie crook to death.”
Lou Zigui walked in front of Grand Preceptor Xie and murmured, “Grand Preceptor has misjudged this Lou.”
Grand Preceptor Xie’s gaze flickered, as Lou Zigui added, “And misjudged His Majesty as well.”
Grand Preceptor Xie was holding onto a fragment of jade from the fake Imperial Jade Seal in his hands. After his hand shook twice, the shard dug into his flesh and drew blood. Even when the liquid seeped past his fingertips, he still didn’t feel the pain. This was his first time experiencing such crushing defeat, up to the point that he was unable to retaliate.
“Let’s each take a step back,” Lou Zigui said. “Grand Preceptor should return to your estate to reflect, while His Majesty takes over the reins of government. What does Grand Preceptor think?”
“The imperial harem can’t meddle in such affairs,” Grand Preceptor Xie said, “So, Lou Zigui, a soldier like you can?”
The Yongning Dynasty had always used its civil powers to rule its military powers. The military didn’t interfere with anything as part of the precepts set down by founding ancestors of the country from the Ning Clan. Grand Preceptor Xie stared coldly at Lou Zigui. As if it’d be easy for a soldier to interfere!
Lou Zigui’s lips rose up into an icy smile. “Even though the imperial harem can’t interfere, didn’t Grand Preceptor do his best to allow Esteemed Empress Dowager to hold court from behind the screen anyways?”
Grand Preceptor Xie’s hand loosened, allowing the bloody jade fragment between his fingers to drop to the ground.
“Whether it’s war or peace, I’ll keep you company,” Lou Zigui said quietly. Grand Preceptor Xie looked at Ning Xiaoyao, who was currently playing around with the Imperial Jade Seal in her hands. What did it mean to pick up a rock and smash your own foot? Exactly this !
When Ning Xiaoyao felt someone staring at her, she looked up and discovered Grand Preceptor Xie. She tossed the Imperial Jade Seal up and down as she asked, “Grand Preceptor, do you still have more words to say?”
Slowly, Grand Preceptor Xie kowtowed to Ning Xiaoyao again. “This subject deserves death.”
“Don’t say such useless things,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “Say something more realistic.”
Grand Preceptor Xie simply said, “This subject will listen to Your Majesty handle matters.”
Ning Xiaoyao really, truly, extremely wanted to tell Grand Preceptor Xie to go die, but when she saw the two rows of people standing by the door, staring at each other like enemy zombies, she only suppressed the urge in her heart. Meanwhile, Lou ZIgui glanced at Ning Xiaoyao and lightly shook his head.
Ning Xiaoyao placed the Imperial Jade Seal to one side and said, “You’ve all just seen as well. Empress Dowager is in terrible health, fainting here and there. This isn’t a good trend at all.”
“……..” said everyone else. Esteemed Empress Dowager was actually infuriated into fainting by you, right?
Ning Xiaoyao said, “I’ll be very filial to Empress Dowager. She’s my own ma after all, right? Just have Empress Dowager recuperate in her palace. As for the Grand Preceptor, just look at what you’ve done today. I know you had good intentions, ah–you wanted to catch the thief who stole the Imperial Jade Seal, lure the snake from its den–but what if someone didn’t know? They might think you’re rebelling instead!”
“……..” said everyone else. He did want to rebel, didn’t he?
“This subject knows his wrongs,” Grand Preceptor Xie admitted.
“That’s good, then. Go home and think over your wrongs carefully,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “Once you’ve thought things through, come see Zhen again.”
“This subject accepts the decree,” Grand Preceptor Xie kowtowed to thank Ning Xiaoyao for her grace before rising to his feet and backing up three steps. Then he turned around and walked out of the Hall of Golden Chimes.
Hello Grand Preceptor, goodbye Grand Preceptor, the little person in Ning Xiaoyao’s heart was waving farewell to the old man. Once he left the hall, the capital soldiers immediately withdrew as well. Ning Xiaoyao touched the jade casket hidden by her butt. Ah-ya, this treasure was still here. White jade too, without a single flaw or blemish. I estimate it’s worth a lot of money.
“Your Majesty,” someone spoke up while Ning Xiaoyao was appraising a mental price for the jade casket. “Is Your Majesty going to let Xie Wenyuan go just like that after he fabricated an Imperial Jade Seal?”
Ning Xiaoyao looked up as her eyes locked gazes with Prince Fu, Ning Guangshun.