Chapter 74: Prince Fu has ten thousand plots of fertile farmland Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
It was early evening when the lanterns were being lit when Lou Zigui and Ning Xiaoyao returned to the palace. Shadowgale and the rest had arrived long in advance, and had even sent Dragon Guards and imperial guards to look for the pair. Shadowgale himself had started thinking of the worst case scenario and thought that Grand Preceptor Xie had managed to get rid of His Majesty and Supreme Commander.
Ning Xiaoyao was still wearing her simple-minded grin when she jabbed at her nose and told Shadowgale, “How could anyone successfully assassinate me? If I couldn’t beat them, I’d just run away!”
Shadowgale looked at His Majesty’s row of little white teeth and felt that he really had worried over nothing.
“Little Fang’s still not back yet?” Ning Xiaoyao asked after looking over the crowd.
Shadowgale said, “General Fang is still at the Grand Preceptor’s estate.”
“Oh, then let’s keep him there to torment the guy,” Ning Xiaoyao said carelessly. As long as Fang Tang wasn’t bothering her, it was fine.
Shadowthunder scooted over and said, “Your Majesty, the Grand Preceptor said he’s lost a set of 24 brushes with Jiangnan scenes etched into the handles. It was given to him by the late emperor.”
“Is that so?” Ning Xiaoyao’s hand brushed against her bag, but her expression didn’t change. “Who knows if he’s telling the truth? Ignore him.”
Shadowthunder nodded. “Your Majesty is right. This subordinate doesn’t think it’s true, either. Funnily enough, the Grand Preceptor even got into an argument with Elder Li over those very brushes.”
Ning Xiaoyao cleared her throat. “Elder Li knows that the Grand Preceptor lost his brushes too?”
Shadowthunder nodded again.
Ning Xiaoyao walked towards the main hall. It looked like she’d have to hold off on selling those brushes just yet, at least until after the news died down. (Author: Just how much do you fear Elder Li? o(╯□╰)o)
“Your Majesty,” Song Jin ran through the gates of Supreme Splendor Hall with a report just then, “The imperial clansmen are asking for an audience outside the palace.”
Ning Xiaoyao subconsciously looked towards Lou Zigui, who asked, “How many of them came?”
“All the ones who should have come,” Song Jin replied in a low voice.
“There’s no need for His Majesty to see them,” Supreme Commander Lou turned towards Ning Xiaoyao. “You’re the emperor. No one can force you to do anything.”
Ning Xiaoyao inexplicably felt that she was pretty awesome. Everyone else fell silent instead. Those are the imperial clansmen. His Majesty’s currently at odds with the Grand Preceptor and empress dowager. Supreme Commander, are you egging His Majesty to fight against the entire imperial clan as well?
“Then we’ll forget about them,” Ning Xiaoyao was heading towards the hall, but now she turned to head towards the door instead. “I’ll go have a talk with Prince Fu instead.”
Lou Zigui hastened to raise his hand and block Ning Xiaoyao’s way. “What is Your Majesty planning to talk about with Prince Fu? Don’t tell me you’re going to ‘chat about life’ with him,”
“……..” said everyone else. Supreme Commander, can’t you be more respectful towards His Majesty?
“I heard Elder Li say that Fatty Fu has 10,000 plots of fertile farmland, ah,” Ning Xiaoyao replied. “I’m planning to take them off Prince Fu’s hands.” She could use money to buy seeds, but she couldn’t do much after that. Ning Xiaoyao was a thorough planner, so she’d set her sights on those 10,000 plots of fertile farmland as soon as Elder Li had mentioned them.
Lou Zigui said, “Then is Your Majesty planning to give Prince Fu his official salary from the past two years?”
“Nope,” Ning Xiaoyao shook his head.
So you’re not only going to withhold his pay, but take Prince Fu’s lands as well? Everyone looked at His Majesty in awe. You were planning to force Prince Fu to death from the start, weren’t you? That has to be it, right?
Once again, Lou Zigui pulled Ning Xiaoyao over to a corner and asked her in a soft voice, “Are you planning to dismiss the vassal lords?”
Ning Xiaoyao rubbed her nose. “What does that mean?”
Lou Zigui was rendered speechless again. She didn’t want to pay Prince Fu, but she still wanted his land. How are you going to do that without dismissing the vassal lords?
“Ah?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
Lou Zigui could only stand there and explain to Ning Xiaoyao what it meant to dismiss the vassal lords. In the end, he emphasized one point, “If you dismiss the vassal lords now, it’ll definitely lead to another war.”
“Aren’t those princes not allowed to keep troops?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
“They’re not allowed,” Lou Zigui replied, “But they have retainers to guard their estates and hired men as part of their retinue. It’s precisely those people that make up their private armies.”
Dismissing the vassal lords would mean waging war. After making that connection in her head, Ning Xiaoyao said, “I won’t do something as fierce and cruel to the people as causing a war. That doesn’t match my personality.”
Did waging war have anything to do with one’s personality? Lou Zigui still didn’t understand His Majesty’s words.
“We’ll have a talk first,” Ning Xiaoyao lowered her voice. “If that doesn’t work, I’ll think of a way to secretly kill off Prince Fu instead.”
Lou Zigui replied, “Even if you kill off Prince Fu, his eldest son will still inherit his land.”
“Heheh,” Ning Xiaoyao chuckled. “If I can kill off the father, why can’t I kill off the son?”
By that logic, you’d be able to kill the grandson if you kill the son, too? Lou Zigui looked at His Majesty Ning in silence. And you still want to say you’re not fierce and cruel?
“Let’s go,” Ning Xiaoyao pulled along Lou Zigui as she headed for the exit of Supreme Splendor Hall. How could she kill off people so easily? Negotiation talks meant talking it out until both sides came to an agreement. Ning Xiaoyao’s back was absolutely straight as she walked and did mental calculations. Prince Fu had competed with the previous emperor for the throne before losing. The previous emperor had doted on a woman like Empress Dowager Xie and heavily used Grand Preceptor Xie, a treacherous official with a mouth full of nonsense. Really, the previous emperor’s IQ level couldn’t be very much at all. If that was the case, how smart could Prince Fu be? He was defeated by that very same emperor, after all! Ning Xiaoyao felt no pressure and was full of confidence. (Author: Hey hey, you can’t calculate IQs like that!)
Prince Fu was wearing a cangue and handcuffs, sitting on the floor of a relatively clean cell. The underground prisons made it impossible for the prisoners to see the hours of the day, completely depriving them of all sense of time. Prince Fu had no idea how long he’d been sitting in this cell. He’d suddenly fallen from being a dignified and impressive Prince Fu of the first rank to a criminal guilty of regicide. It was impossible for him to accept such a fact, and thinking about it only made his head hurt. He wasn’t even sure how he ended up like this when he truly had no intentions to kill the emperor, ah!
Ning Xiaoyao pushed open the door to the cell and walked in with Lou Zigui, but Prince Fu simply remained sitting on the ground, staring at nothing. When Ning Xiaoyao saw his blank stare, she asked Lou Zigui, “Has he been scared senseless?”
Lou Zigui shouted at the prisoner, “Prince Fu?”
Meanwhile, Shadowgale ran inside to place a few more oil lamps around the cell. Either Lou Zigui’s shout or the added light helped Prince Fu recover his wits. His head whipped up to look at Ning Xiaoyao, who waved at him and said, “So we meet again.”
Prince Fu wanted to stand up, but he gave a wretched cry as soon as he straightened his back. Ning Xiaoyao explained to Lou Zigui and the Dragon Guards, “He has bad circulation.”
“……..” said everyone else. We’re not interested in the reasons behind Prince Fu’s screams at all.
Prince Fu glared at Ning Xiaoyao. “You ruined me! I had no intention to kill you.”
Ning Xiaoyao feigned ignorance as she adopted an astonished expression. “Really?”
Prince Fu started to shout, “You’re the one who handed the dagger to this prince!”
Ning Xiaoyao spread out her hands. “Am I an idiot? Give you a blade when I have nothing else to do, just so you can kill me for fun?”
Prince Fu was absolutely floored. Ning Xiaoyao heaved a sigh. “I know you hate me. After all, my father defeated you when you wanted to be the emperor. That’s about equal to stealing your wife away. You’re holding a big grudge, right?”
Nobody on the site could stomach these words. Lou Zigui could only muffle his mouth and cough, shaking his head when Ning Xiaoyao looked his way. Don’t speak nonsense!
Ning Xiaoyao processed the head shake and thought, since Supreme Commander doesn’t want me to waste time (Author: Can’t you two read each other’s mind better?), “That there,” Ning Xiaoyao told Prince Fu, “Let’s cut to the chase. I’m not going to give you any money. It’s impossible even if you beat me to death. So, that there, I want your 10,000 plots of fertile farmland. Give me a price.”
Prince Fu stared at her in a daze. “You’re going to pay for them?”
“I don’t have any money right now. I’ll write you an IOU.” Ning Xiaoyao had already thought it over on the way here. “First I’ll owe you, then I’ll give you the money when I get some.”
‘Aren’t you just stealing all the same, then?’ thought everyone else.
Ning Xiaoyao wore a slight smile as she asked, “What do you think?”
Prince Fu stared woodenly at Ning Xiaoyao for a long time. Gradually, the flesh on his body began to tremble. When Ning Xiaoyao saw Prince Fu’s expression distort, she maintained her smile and said, “If there’s anything you can’t take, just bring it up. We can talk it over.”
“I,” Prince Fu had been shaking for so long that Supreme Commander Lou and the Dragon Guards were worried that he’d shake his meat right off. Finally, he howled with rage, “I’m not satisfied with any of this! Ning Yu, do you take this prince for an idiot? Absolutely intolerable! If you have the guts, just kill this prince!”
“If an uncle can endure, why not an aunt?”1 Ning Xiaoyao was still slow and leisurely as she spoke. “Prince, getting mad won’t solve the problem. Can you fix your attitude?”
“Just kill me!” Prince Fu roared.
“You should calm down.”
“Ning Yu, kill me if you have the guts!” Prince Fu was still yelling with rage.
Ning Xiaoyao stopped trying to calm Prince Fu this time. Instead, she lifted her leg and kicked him into the wall. The mountain of flesh that was Prince Fu crashed against the wall and caused the entire cell to shudder twice. He left a gaping hole in his wake as he fell to the ground and spat out a mouthful of blood, along with two teeth.
“You, you hit me?” Prince Fu said in disbelief as he laid sprawled on the floor.
Ning Xiaoyao spoke with the self-assurance of justice on her side. “You’re the one who told me to kill you!”
“Ptui!” Prince Fu spat out another mouthful of blood.
Supreme Commander Lou and the Dragon Guards could only act as silent bystanders. There was no place for them to pitch in and help. Ning Xiaoyao said, “I’m going to make sure one last time. Do you really want me to kill you?”
Prince Fu didn’t say another word. He didn’t want to die; at the same time, he had discovered that this Ning Yu was a little madman. A lunatic!
When Ning Xiaoyao saw that Prince Fu had turned docile, she crossed her legs and sat down in front of him. Her hand lifted to the wooden cangue resting on Prince Fu’s shoulders before she snapped the 100 pound thing in half with her fingers. Now Prince Fu grew even more docile. If it was so easy for this lunatic to break that 100 pound instrument of torture into two pieces, it’d probably take him less effort to break off my head if he wanted.
Ning Xiaoyao patted Prince Fu’s shoulder before pulling him upright into a sitting position. He hadn’t grown a body of flesh for nothing. A single touch of his shoulder revealed to Ning Xiaoyao the condition of his injuries. Thanks to his thick layers of fat, he didn’t have any internal injuries despite wrecking a hole in the wall.
Prince Fu finally gathered his courage after being stared at by Ning Xiaoyao and asked, “Y-you, just what do you want?”
“Speak up,” Ning Xiaoyao said, “Name your conditions. What will convince you to sell your land?”
Prince Fu said, “It was bestowed upon me by the late emperor.”
Ning Xiaoyao drew back the corners of her mouth into a grin that revealed her little white teeth. “Conditions.”
“………” said Prince Fu. If Yongning’s emperor is a lunatic, then the country is doomed, ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
- If an uncle can endure, why not an aunt (叔叔能忍…婶婶就不能忍) – SHUSHU nengren, shenshen bunengren, long story short, this is the vernacular version of Prince Fu’s quote of “Absolutely intolerable!” which itself is a Confucius quote of 是可忍，孰不可忍 shi keren, SHU bukeren. Both quotes mean the same thing–something is completely unacceptable–but Ning Xiaoyao’s quote is a modern variant used today that has a play on words for two homonyms, 孰 (SHU, “who, which, what”) and 叔 (SHU, “uncle”). Naturally, the joke sounds funnier in Chinese… ↩