Chapter 136: Grand Preceptor and the empress dowager have a falling-out Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Grand Preceptor Xie hadn’t even reached the empress dowager’s palace before he’d received news that Shadowrain had stolen Ning Xin away. Moreover, it was his men who had blocked Shadowrain off on his way to Supreme Splendor Hall. No matter what kinds of floods or fires were raging in Grand Preceptor Xie’s heart, he would always at least make sure no one could tell what he was thinking. This time was the same, because all he did was stop walking at the news to say, “What of Esteemed Empress Dowager?”
“Esteemed Empress Dowager chased after him,” came the small-voiced reply. “But Shadowrain refused to heed her orders.”
Of course Shadowrain would ignore them. After standing still in thought for awhile, Grand Preceptor Xie immediately issued his orders. “Watch all the gates of the palace. Don’t let Shadowrain or any of his men slip away!”
If they couldn’t get into Supreme Splendor Hall, then Lou Zigui would definitely order Shadowrain to take Ning Xin out of the palace grounds instead. There were plenty of hidden houses under Supreme Commander’s rule in the capital city. As long as Shadowrain hid in one of them with the baby, it’d be hard for Grand Preceptor Xie’s side to track them down within a short time. A few strongmen scattered to pass on the orders.
Currently, Shadowrain had followed the Black Frost Calvary general sent by Lou Zigui to the western gates of the palace. A group of capital soldiers were guarding the entrance, and its head general looked up at their approach. “Who goes there? Hold and identify yourself!”
“Don’t stop walking,” the Black Frost Calvary general named Zheng Tong1 murmured to Shadowrain. “Charge your way out!”
When the capital soldiers saw that the group approaching them had no intentions of stopping, they raised their swords and spears.
“You take the prince and go first,” Zheng Tong said before he rushed forward for the kill. “I’ll find you later.”
As the two groups clashed in battle and began to slaughter each other, Ning Xin was still sleeping sweetly in Shadowrain’s arms. The third commander of the Dragon Guards tightened his grip on the baby before warding off a blow from a military officer with his sword held in his other hand. Then he quickly darted into the crowd of fighting men. Lou Zigui had picked him for this task precisely because his speed and lightness techniques were the best of all the Dragon Guards. Once Zheng Tong was certain Shadowrain had disappeared, he raised a cry and struck down with his saber, knocking his opponent straight off his horse. When the capital soldiers saw their leader fall to the ground, they were left momentarily stunned.
“Kill!” Zheng Tong shouted. Twenty Dragon Guards rose to his cry and butchered their way out of the palace gates. A short while later, Shadowrain had sprang up from the crowd with Ning Xin in his arms and landed on an unoccupied battle horse. He pulled on the reins before glancing back in Zheng Tong’s direction.
“Go!” Zheng Tong shouted.
The horse whinnied, but no matter how Shadowrain urged or whipped, he refused to budge.
“Release the arrows!” one of the capital city’s military officers commanded.
Grandfather Sparrow landed on the yellow horse’s head and whispered in its ear, “You’re helping out Xiaoyao like this. Your master’s doing bad things with that Xie Wenyuan. Do you want to help these villains instead?”
The yellow horse whinnied as he replied. “That’s easy for you to say. If I abandon my master, who will raise me in the future?” He wanted to eat grass and soy-bean cakes! Without his master, how was he supposed to survive in the capital city?
Grandfather Sparrow pecked the horse. “If you help Xiaoyao, she’ll naturally become your master and raise you, cheep.”
“You better not be lying to this horse!” the horse replied.
Grandfather Sparrow replied, “If I am, then you can come kill me yourself.”
The yellow horse found this to be reasonable. (Author: But you’re a horse that runs on land, so how are you supposed to kill off a sparrow that flies in the air and lives in the palace to boot? o(╯□╰)o ) Shadowrain raised his sword to block an incoming arrow, just as a woman’s shrill cry came from nearby.
“Don’t!” the voice sounded hysterical. “Don’t shoot!”
The archers’ hands shook at the woman’s voice, and the yellow horse neighed before galloping out into the streets. Empress Dowager Xie sat back in her soft sedan chair, her hair in complete disarray. She’d had her eunuchs carry her all this way to the gates, but didn’t pause to catch her breath before she started cursing at the military officers.
“All of, all of you, why aren’t you hurrying to get Prince Cheng back for This Dowager? Go already!”
The gate guards felt their heads spin at the revelation. Just then, that baby in the Dragon Guard’s arms was Prince Cheng, Ning Xin?!
“Hurry up and go!” Empress Dowager Xie screamed. “If anything happens to Prince Cheng, This Dowager will curse you with the nine familial exterminations!”
By now, Zheng Tong had brought his men out through the palace gates. His last glance back saw the crazed empress dowager raving from her seat. He was filled with loathing at the sight, and dearly wished he could stab that poisonous shrew to death right now.
“Let’s go.” After suppressing his killing intent with great difficulty, Zheng Tong led away the other Dragon Guards.
By the time Grand Preceptor Xie arrived at the western gates, nobody was there except for Empress Dowager Xie. He stood in front of his bitterly sobbing daughter and asked her urgently, “Did Shadowrain take the prince out of the palace?”
When Empress Dowager Xie heard her father’s voice, she quickly lifted her head and sobbed, “Father, you have to find him and get him back for me!”
Grand Preceptor Xie signaled the two mama by Empress Dowager Xie’s side to support her in her chair as he offered words of comfort. “Naturally so. This subject will definitely make sure the prince is returned unharmed.”
Empress Dowager Xie was crying so hard that she had trouble breathing, but still found the strength to curse, “Ning Yu deserves to die!”
“Empress Dowager must mind your speech,” Grand Preceptor Xie spoke hurriedly. Although there was no one else around, cursing the emperor to die was simply asking for trouble.
“Grand Preceptor said the right thing for once,” Ning Xiaoyao said coldly from not far away. Both Empress Dowager Xie shoved Grand Preceptor Xie aside as she glowered at Ning Xiaoyao, ready to curse her again. But Ning Xiaoyao beat her to the punch. “You really believe your father’s words? Will he actually protect Ning Xin? Don’t you think he would just find another infant for you to raise if Ning Xin dies?!”
Empress Dowager Xie abruptly stopped sobbing.
“Hmph,” Ning Xiaoyao scoffed. “Grand Preceptor, I’m not wrong, am I?”
Grand Preceptor Xie stared at Ning Xiaoyao’s injured stomach, so she patted her abdomen and said, “You think I’d die so easily?”
“Who is your master?” Grand Preceptor Xie asked.
“Well it’s not you, that’s for sure,” Ning Xiaoyao retorted. “Esteemed Empress Dowager, ah, it’s not that easy to kill me, but your son’s a different matter. If the Grand Preceptor’s men can’t recover him, they’ll definitely kill him off instead.”
“He’s your little brother!” Empress Dowager Xie shrieked at Ning Xiaoyao.
“Heheh,” Ning Xiaoyao replied.
“You–you want your little brother’s death too?!” If not for the two mama holding her back, Empress Dowager Xie would have long fallen limp in her seat.
“Heheh,” Ning Xiaoyao chuckled again. Her ominous reaction made Empress Dowager Xie helpless and distraught.
She clutched at Grand Preceptor Xie’s sleeves and asked him in a nervous tone, “Do, do you want to hurt my child, too?”
“Empress Dowager!” Grand Preceptor Xie exclaimed.
“It won’t work even if you call her your mother,” Ning Xiaoyao added as she sowed discord from the side.
“No, you can’t, you just can’t do that,” Empress Dowager Xie shook her head. Her son couldn’t die. If she lost Ning Xin, then she wouldn’t have anything left. Empress Dowager Xie ordered the eunuchs by her sedan chair to take her out of the palace so she could search for Ning Xin herself.
“Empress Dowager!” Grand Preceptor Xie rebuked sternly. Empress Dowager Xie turned a deaf ear to his cries and shook herself free from the two mama that held her. Her eyes were fixated on the palace gates.
“Why aren’t you taking Esteemed Empress Dowager back to her palace yet?” Grand Preceptor Xie demanded of the two eunuchs. They braced themselves and turned the sedan chair in the direction of the empress dowager’s palace instead.
“Damnable servants!” Empress Dowager Xie howled. When Ning Xiaoyao saw her behaving like an insane woman, she could only click her tongue. Just which part of her had the late emperor loved? He’d been utterly besotted with that wretch of a woman.
“You can’t hurt Prince Cheng!” Empress Dowager Xie shouted at Grand Preceptor Xie after ordering the eunuchs to stop. “Otherwise, I won’t forgive you! Grand Preceptor, I forbid you from hurting my son!”
Ning Xiaoyao’s eyes brightened at the sight of Empress Dowager Xie shouting at Grand Preceptor Xie. Looks like they’re about to have a fight!
Grand Preceptor Xie knew that his eldest daughter had taken Ning Xiaoyao’s taunts to heart and heaved a low sigh. Then he murmured softly, “Empress Dowager, you trust His Majesty’s words?”
Empress Dowager Xie gave a start.
“What do you mean, ‘trust my words?’” Ning Xiaoyao yelled back. “Did I say anything wrong? I just heard that your men shot arrows at Ning Xin!”
Grand Preceptor Xie replied, “They were aiming for that guard, Shadowrain.”
“You string sentences along like you’re singing a song,” Ning Xiaoyao retorted. “Why didn’t you mention how Shadowrain was holding that whelp Ning Xin in his arms?”
“Shut up!” Empress Dowager Xie shouted.
“What’s the use of you losing your temper at me?” Ning Xiaoyao was completely unaffected by Empress Dowager Xie’s outburst. “Do you think I’m just standing around to watch you two act all sentimental with each other?”
“…….” said everyone else. What part of the Grand Preceptor and Esteemed Empress Dowager look like they’re being sentimental right now?!
“See this?” Ning Xiaoyao pointed down at her dragon robes. “Blood! I was stabbed by a knife!”
The large bloodstains on the dragon robes made Empress Dowager Xie’s eyes dart about in their sockets.
“Empress Dowager,” Grand Preceptor Xie wanted to coax her away.
“Dowager your sister,” Ning Xiaoyao cut in. “I say, Empress Dowager, why do you think the Grand Preceptor sent men over to your palace? If I died, he was going to make Ning Xin the emperor. I’ve heard Supreme Commander say that you’d have to die if Ning Xin ascends the throne, right?”
Empress Dowager Xie stared at her father, who remained unmoved as he looked towards Ning Xiaoyao. “Your Majesty, it’s better for you to mind your speech when it comes to certain topics.”
“Yep,” Ning Xiaoyao replied. “We should both show discretion in our speech, so we can stand around when it’s your time to rule?”
“Escort Esteemed Empress Dowager back to the palace,” Grand Preceptor Xie knew that Empress Dowager Xie couldn’t stay here any longer.
“Stop,” Empress Dowager Xie had finally grown sober as she commanded her eunuchs. “If you don’t want to die, you better halt for This Dowager!”
The two eunuchs were Grand Preceptor Xie’s men, but they didn’t dare to move again after her words. Empress Dowager Xie glared icily at Grand Preceptor Xie. “This Dowager wants to know as well. If anything had happened to His Majesty, what was Grand Preceptor planning to do?” He’d found a wholly unacceptable doppelganger to take Ning Yu’s place. Perhaps her father hadn’t put any thought in the replacement plan at all, but was planning to make Ning Xin emperor from the start.
Grand Preceptor Xie’s heart filled with complaints as he lowered his voice. “Empress Dowager, you mustn’t believe in His Majesty’s goadings.”
Empress Dowager Xie had no mind to listen to Grand Preceptor Xie’s explanations right now, and said coldly, “If This Dowager can’t see Ning Xin, Grand Preceptor, then neither of us will spend our days very well.”
“That’s right,” Ning Xiaoyao nodded. If the two of them could just finish each other off, she’d be free to spend her days touring the world.
“……..” said Grand Preceptor Xie. He’d been speaking so softly with his daughter, but Ning Yu had still overheard them. What kind of ears does she have?!
- Zheng Tong (郑桐) – Zheng is a surname, Tong means “paulownia (tree).” ↩