Chapter 61: Head Steward Xie despairs Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Shadowgale had already led his men to run to the door, but stopped short of touching it at the guard’s words. Lou Zigui walked in front of Xie Laibao. When Xie Laibao looked up to see Supreme Commander Lou’s serious face, he already felt pained despite not going through any sort of torture. Who else would he come to to find the key, if not me? But when Xie Laibao thought of his family members, he grit his teeth and decided not to reveal the location of the key even if they beat him to death.
Fang Tang ran over and bent over to pat down Xie Laibao’s body for the key. Then he shook his head and said, “There’s no key anywhere on him. Should we search all the guards here?” Even without Supreme Commander Lou’s orders, the Dragon Guards had started to search the other guards.
“Where’s the key?” Lou Zigui asked Xie Laibao, who refused to speak. Fang Tang raised a foot and stepped on Xie Laibao’s fingers, causing him to cry out in pain.
“Speak!” Fang Tang kicked Xie Laibao’s shoulder, causing him to roll around on the ground. The mud-covered Xie Laibao might be a slave of his house, but his master had tremendous power. Thus, Head Steward Xie’s life had always been smooth and easy, so he had never suffered such hardships before. He’d just raised his head out of the muddy water for air when Fang Tang’s foot attacked him once more, forcing him under. After swallowing a few mouthfuls of mud and water, Xie Laibao felt half dead already. Even so, some of the generals were still dissatisfied and shouted, “Why are you being so polite? Are you massaging his back for him?”
Fang Tang wasn’t content. “What do we do if I kill this cur of a servant?”
“It doesn’t matter even if he dies,” Lou Zigui said coldly.
“That there,” Ning Xiaoyao had words to say, but Lou Zigui simply waved a hand at her.
“Your Majesty, you don’t need to involve yourself in these matters.”
Xie Laibo wanted to beg for mercy and say he didn’t know where the key was, but he had no strength to speak anymore. Fang Tang’s foot stomped mercilessly on him until Head Steward Xie spat up blood.
Shadowgale ran over at this moment and spoke to Ning Xiaoyao and Lou Zigui in a low voice. “We’ve searched them all, but none of the guards have the key on them. Could they have a special location just for hiding the key?”
A general piped up, “Are there any people inside the granary?”
“Or rather, can the people inside only get out if someone outside opens the door?” another general guessed.
“We need to find the key,” Shadowgale was dressed in a palm-bark rain cape, but he was thoroughly drenched by now. Anxiously he said, “Otherwise, wouldn’t we have come in vain today?”
Ning Xiaoyao quietly took out the key from her bag and placed it in her palm for everyone to see. “I have the key, ah.”
“…….” said Supreme Commander Lou.
Σ(°△ °|︴, went everyone else.
“Th-this is impossible,” Head Steward Xie muttered in a daze.
“Why aren’t any of you talking anymore?” Ning Xiaoyao asked. Everyone else looked at her. What do you want us to say?
Ning Xiaoyao scratched her head before glancing at Supreme Commander Lou. What’s with this situation?
Lou Zigui took the key from Ning Xiaoyao’s palm. Unlike normal keys, this one was double in length. Judging by its coloring, it’d never been used before. He tested its weight in his hand before he said, “If His Majesty can find this place, then naturally he can find its key as well.”
Everyone stared at Supreme Commander Lou in silence as well. Judging by your words, this is actually a very simple matter?
“Go open the door,” Lou Zigui gave the key to Shadowgale.
Ning Xiaoyao ran along with Shadowgale so she could see what the granary looked like. When Xie Laibao heard the sound of the stone doors opening, he crawled upright despite his two broken ribs. By the time he saw both doors completely open, Head Steward Xie spat out a mouthful of blood and fell, physically paralyzed, into a puddle of mud. How could this be?!
Ning Xiaoyao ran inside the granary before quickly dashing back out. She rushed in front of Lou Zigui and began to dance for joy as she shouted, “It’s all rice and flour, all rice and flour, ah!”
“Then you…” Lou Zigui said. Before he could finish, Ning Xiaoyao dashed into the granary again. When she got back to the palace, she was going to give Oil Lamp one, no, three bags of peanuts!
The rainfall seemed to have lessened. Lou Zigui lifted his head and saw that the clouds had scattered, leaving a crescent moon and a sky full of stars.
“The rain’s stopping, right?” Fang Tang asked as he stared blankly at the sky.
“Put all the grain onto the carts,” Lou Zigui told a general standing by his side. “We’ll move them overnight.”
“The rain stopped!” Fang Tang shouted. As the first general walked past him, he slapped the back of Fang Tang’s head. This guy was already a general, so why was he still blustering about so crudely?
It was easy to climb a mountain, but harder to descend, especially in rainy weather like this. At least the grain would be fine if it were to get a little wet, because drying it in the sun would take care of matters. However, the flour would be ruined by moisture. Thus, the break in the rain was good news for moving the carts as well as both rice and flour. All of the Dragon Guards were in joyful spirits. When Xie Laibao regained consciousness again, it was to see a bunch of people busying themselves with loading and moving carts. Someone lifted his face by the chin, allowing him to see Fang Tang and Supreme Commander Lou standing next to him.
“He’s awake,” Fang Tang reported to Supreme Commander Lou.
Xie Laibao trembled like a man afflicted with malaria.
“Head Steward Xie,” Lou Zigui said.
After Fang Tang kicked him once again, Xie Laibao seemed to wake up completely and repeated over and over again, “N-no, I don’t dare, this servant, this servant doesn’t dare.”
“I don’t want to kill anyone today,” Lou Zigui said.
Xie Laibao kowtowed while sprawled on the ground to thank Supreme Commander Lou for his mercy.
“But how are you going to report this to the Grand Preceptor when we empty out the grain depot?” Lou Zigui asked.
Head Steward Xie stiffened in response.
“Who else here knows the existence of the key?” Lou Zigui asked.
Xie Laibao opened and closed his mouth soundlessly a few times. Fang Tang laughed. “It’s come to this and you’re still worrying about the lives of others?”
Lou Zigui didn’t pressure Xie Laibao verbally, but simply looked at him coldly. Head Steward Xie didn’t let him wait for long, but twisted his head to look behind him. A group of Dragon Guards was looking after his guards, who were all kneeling on the ground nearby.
“Him,” Xie Laibao pointed at a person who resembled a personal assistant. “The accountant for the grain depot.”
“All right,” Lou Zigui said. “Then he was the one who handed over the key. It had nothing to do with you.”
Xie Laibao looked at Lou Zigui, his face deathly pale. This man wanted him to endure a living torture. Even if he had the guts to betray the Grand Preceptor, he didn’t have the skills to match!
“I left you alive,” Lou Zigui said in a low voice. “If there’s matters in the future, I’ll have someone look for you.”
The stench of urine emanated from beneath Head Steward Xie’s body. He really had been scared to the point of peeing his pants. Fang Tang backed away a few steps, his face filled with distaste. But Lou Zigui stood his ground, maintaining the same tone of voice as before.
“Of course, you can make a full confession to the Grand Preceptor. However, I don’t think you’ll be able to explain yourself clearly. There shouldn’t be many copies of the grain depot key.”
“……” said Xie Laibao. Please explain how His Majesty has the grain depot key? There were only two of them in total. The Grand Preceptor had one, while his own was kept either on his person or left in the secret storage box next to the granary main entrance. If his key was still here, then had the Grand Preceptor lost his own? If that was the case, would the Grand Preceptor still allow grain to be stored here? Had he gone mad?
“You should go,” Lou Zigui waved a hand at Xie Laibao.
Xie Laibao thought it over before saying, “May Supreme Commander show mercy and let me die to my satisfaction.”
“You’re being stubborn now?” Fang Tang’s temper flared up as he strode forward for another kick. Lou Zigui patted his shoulder to keep him there, before glancing at Head Steward Xie.
“Then you’d be the one who that handed over the key. Will Xie Wenyuan spare your family afterwards?”
Head Steward Xie knew that he had no more options.
“What will the head steward choose?” Lou Zigui asked.
Xie Laibao faltered, “What does Supreme Commander want this one to do?”
Lou Zigui turned to walk towards the grain depot. Since this servant had already bowed his head to him, there was no need for him to waste words with him now.
“Why don’t you hurry and scram?” Fang Tang said. Head Steward Xie wanted to stand up, but his broken ribs caused him unbearable agony whenever he moved. When Fang Tang saw him struggling to get up for ages, he simply kicked him unconscious. If Head Steward Xie couldn’t walk, he might as well wait for the Grand Preceptor’s men to rescue him.
By now, Lou Zigui was inside the grain depot, where the piles of grain and flour reached to the ceiling. Everything was stacked in neat little hills, enough to make him suck in a breath. The capital city was filled with refugees all over the place, but the Board of Revenue had only 10 percent of its granaries stocked up. They had owed the army provisions year after year while the Xie Clan’s granary was actually such a sight. In the midst of his fury, Lou Zigui felt a pang of sadness as well.
Shadowgale walked over with a bag of grain on his shoulders before he looked around and cried out, “Where’s His Majesty?”
Everyone inside the granary stopped working. Only now did they discover that His Majesty, who had been running crazily around the granary, had disappeared! Lou Zigui lost all interest in the scene before him as well and furrowed his eyebrows. “Did His Majesty go outside?”
A Dragon Guard standing by the stone doors waved a hand. “Just then, His Majesty took his cat and left. I heard His Majesty tell the cat that they were going to the back of the mountains.”
“His Majesty was talking to the cat?” Shadowgale shouted.
Lou Zigui rested a hand on his forehead. “I’ll go to the back mountains to find His Majesty. The rest of you, hurry and take these supplies away.” After leaving instructions with Shadowgale, Lou Zigui left with quick steps.
Currently, Ning Xiaoyao was squatting beneath a protruding rock as she stared at the three round white furballs before her. One was bigger than the other two.
“Doggies?” she asked.
Big Boss Black simply raised a paw at her. “These are wolves, snow wolves!”
“………” She’d came out to pick the yummy wild fruits that Big Boss Black had mentioned, but instead of fruit, she’d ended up finding three wolves instead.
“Get lost!” the mother wolf growled at Ning Xiaoyao, baring its teeth as it prepared to stand up.
“Why should I leave?” Ning Xiaoyao asked. “Did a trap get your leg?” When the mother wolf had moved, Ning Xiaoyao had noticed the animal trap biting into its left hind leg. Even her bone was exposed.
This human understood its speech! The mother wolf was astonished.
“Don’t be afraid,” Ning Xiaoyao broke the trap on the mother wolf’s leg. She was very strong, so her fingers and thumb were enough to snap the thing in two. The mother wolf was in so much pain that its entire body shook.
“It’s alright.” Ning Xiaoyao covered the mother wolf’s injury with her hands. “It’ll recover very soon, so close your eyes and count one, two, three.”
Pale green light surrounded the mother wolf’s injury before the pain quickly disappeared. The ruthless light in the mother wolf’s eyes softened as she said, “Thank you, human.”
“You’re welcome,” Ning Xiaoyao released her hands as the wound healed. Even the fur had grown back. “My name is Ning Xiaoyao,” she said as she pointed at the mother wolf. “What’s your name?”
“Peach,” the mother wolf replied. “So you’re that Xiaoyao. I’ll give you a present as thanks.”
Ning Xiaoyao’s face broke into a grin. T-there’s gonna be a present again?!