Chapter 167: I really am dashing enough to pierce through the Heavens Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
The royal carriage reached the streets with Ning Xiaoyao leaning against the window to peer outside. She relished the sight, but the occasional glimpses of refugees she saw made her furrow her eyebrows in thought. It’s warm now, so they can sleep on the streets without catching a chill. But what happens after the weather gets colder?
“Supreme Commander,” Ning Xiaoyao asked her companion outside. “Can I let the refugees live in the palace?”
Her sudden question nearly made Lou Zigui fall off his horse. “What did you say?” he asked after regaining his seat.
“I said, let’s have the refugees live in the palace. We have so many empty rooms anyways, right?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
Open the palace gates to the refugees? It was unimaginable, so Lou Zigui just shook his head. “We can’t.”
“Why?” Ning Xiaoyao grew unhappy. “That’s my house, can’t I call the shots?”
“That’s the imperial palace!” Lou Zigui stressed back.
“That right, ah,” Ning Xiaoyao said, “Where else but the palace would you find so many empty rooms?”
“None of the imperial clansmen will agree to it. Elder Li might even bring the other officials to kneel in front of your gates in protest,” Lou Zigui said, going straight to the consequences instead of trying to argue otherwise.
Ning Xiaoyao scratched her palms and stuck her head back in the carriage. She wasn’t afraid of her kinsmen, because the strongest amongst them was Prince Fu, who was already in jail. But she dreaded Elder Li, ah.
“There are still a few months before winter sets in,” Lou Zigui could understand her worries. “Think over it a bit more, something will turn up.”
Ning Xiaoyao fell into thought. In the end, she was still poor to the extreme. If only I was rich… She clutched her head in her hands. Forget it, let’s not dream up impossible delusions.
“Xiaoyao,” a little skylark flew into the carriage and landed on Ning Xiaoyao’s leg.
“Hm? Who are you?” Ning Xiaoyao took the bird into her palm.
“My name is Cloud Petal,” the skylark replied. “The magpie from the Grand Preceptor’s estate sent me to pass on a message. Grand Preceptor Xie already knows that you and Supreme Commander went to the Lord Protector’s estate.”
“Whaa?” Ning Xiaoyao was both surprised and angry. Don’t I have any privacy at all! (Author: Does this have anything to do with privacy? Don’t think as you please, ah! Pah, geez!)
Cloud Petal added, “The Grand Preceptor’s men must be tailing you.”
Ning Xiaoyao fed Cloud Petal a sugar bean as she nodded. “Yep, I must be being tailed.”
“Elder Cousin Magpie’s eavesdropping on the Grand Preceptor talking to his subordinates,” Cloud Petal fanned her wings happily after eating the sugar bean. “He said he’ll report to you after he finishes hearing it all.”
“Mm, I’ll wait for him,” Ning Xiaoyao said as she dug out more sugar beans.
Cloud Petal said, “Xiaoyao, can I find you in the palace to play in the future?”
“Sure,” Ning Xiaoyao stroked Cloud Petal’s little head. The skylark nuzzled against her hand before pecking up a piece of sugar bean and flying off.
Lou Zigui saw the skylark come and go and asked, “You’re raising that bird too?”
Ning Xiaoyao was perched at the window as she looked behind them in the direction of the skylark. “No,” she said casually, “That’s just Cloud Petal, one of my little pals.”
“…..” said Lou Zigui.
“Supreme Commander,” said Ning Xiaoyao, “There has to be someone tailing us, who do you think it might be?”
Lou Zigui looked behind him. The streets were filled with people, so even if Grand Preceptor Xie had hidden his scouts amongst them, it was impossible to pick them out. Ning Xiaoyao couldn’t do it either, so she went back into the carriage and started fretting by herself. As they passed by an intersection, Shadowgale came riding from a side street and stopped before Ning Xiaoyao’s carriage to report in a low voice, “Your Majesty, those eight officials have already packed up their valuables and taken their families to the capital’s barracks.”
Ning Xiaoyao said, “Did they really think I was after their lives?”
Shadowgale was too embarrassed to say that he thought the same thing—that His Majesty was borrowing a sword to cut down his enemies.
“Didn’t we end up not putting up those proclamations in the end?” Ning Xiaoyao didn’t understand. “Why did they still run off?”
Lou Zigui said from the side, “That’s how villains think. Your Majesty needn’t mind them.”
Ning Xiaoyao raised her head to look at the skies, before asking Shadowgale, “How big are their houses?”
“Your Majesty,” Shadowgale replied, “All of them were top-ranked officials of court, so they must have huge houses.”
Big houses with nobody living in them. Moreover, these people are from the Grand Preceptor’s faction. Ning Xiaoyao snapped her fingers and said, “I have a solution!”
Shadowgale said, “Your Majesty still wants to kill them off?”
Lou Zigui understood what she meant. “You want to take over their houses?”
“I’m taking them over,” Ning Xiaoyao patted the carriage window, her heroism reaching to the clouds. “I’d be an idiot if I didn’t!”
“T-then how do we take them?” Head Commander Shadowgale had never snatched houses before, so he wasn’t sure where to start. “Plaster their front doors with official notices?”
“Tsk,” Ning Xiaoyao clicked her tongue. “Windy, you’re too kind to fight with the likes of Grand Preceptor, oh.”
Shadowgale thought he’d never see a day where he was considered kind. Despite the compliment, he felt like His Majesty was reproving him instead.
“What are you planning?” Lou Zigui asked.
“To bring the refugees around that district to those houses,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “Then tell them that they can divide up the rooms themselves to better live through the winter.”
Shadowgale looked at Lou Zigui. Is that allowed?
“Even if they divide up the houses, they’re no guarantee that they can hold onto them,” Lou Zigui replied. “Xie Wenyuan can take those houses back as effortlessly as blowing away some dust.”
“The Grand Preceptor’s currently wracking his brains for ways to deal with me,” Ning Xiaoyao shook her head in disagreement. “Send some imperial guards to stand by the doors and beat up any of the Grand Preceptor’s men that come close.”
“We’re going to be unreasonable?” Shadowgale asked.
Ning Xiaoyao glared at him. “Who’s the unreasonable one? Someone who doesn’t want their things and threw it away but now won’t let me pick it up instead—aren’t they the ones being unreasonable?”
Would anyone just throw their houses away? All of the Dragon Guards wore 囧 expressions. Your Majesty, you’re the one who’s unreasonable!
“That’s how we’ll do it,” Ning Xiaoyao decided. “If they try anything, the imperial guardsmen can beat them up. If they start squabbling and the imperial guards can’t out talk them, have them curse their mothers and pay respects to their residence registration booklets.”1
A Dragon Guard asked, “Your Majesty, what is a residence registration booklet?”
“Oh, that refers to the eighteen generations of ancestors and descendants2 —nine from your elders and nine from your juniors.”
The various groups exchanged glances. It was very probable that the imperial guards really would start shouting abuses in public. After all, which military man didn’t have his share of curses on hand?
“If they still persist after all that, let them find me instead,” Ning Xiaoyao patted her chest. “And I’ll be the one asking after their registration booklets.” If she could do so much against Grand Preceptor Xie already, what need did she have to fear his subordinates?
Shadowgale was still looking to Lou Zigui. When His Majesty seemed unreliable, Head Commander Shadowgale preferred to get Supreme Commander Lou’s opinion. Lou Zigui told Ning Xiaoyao, “Even if you end up occupying all eight houses, it won’t be enough to room all of the capital’s refugees.”
Shadowgale quickly agreed, “That’s right, Your Majesty. It’s not just the capital city—there are refugees outside our walls, too.”
Ning Xiaoyao looked at Lou Zigui and Shadowgale with a you’re thinking too much expression. “What now? You want them to all have a room to themselves or something? Of course they’ll squish together. Even the hallways and outside pavilions can be converted into living areas with some planks of wood.”
“E-even then, there won’t be enough room,” Shadowgale shook his head.
“We’ll do what we can for now,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “If I can take eight houses today, why not eight more in the future? Windy, you’re really too kind hearted.”
“…….” said Shadowgale.
Once again, the Dragon Guards’ reverence for His Majesty reached another level. Whose house is His Majesty planning to take next?
“Go on,” Lou Zigui waved a hand at Shadowgale, who rubbed his nose. If Supreme Commander wants to be as unreliable as His Majesty, then I have no choice but to obey them both. He went on ahead to tell the imperial guards to station themselves in front of the houses.
Ning Xiaoyao watched his retreating form before telling Lou Zigui. “I was just thinking about houses and then they suddenly appeared. And it was even eight big compounds! Supreme Commander, I really am dashing enough to pierce through the Heavens.”
Lou Zigui didn’t reply. He simply reached out a hand towards the girl half dangling out her carriage window to push her back inside. Whatever makes you happy.
While Ning Xiaoyao was preparing to take over the houses, Grand Preceptor Xie was still in his study having a meeting with his faction.
“So evil, ah,” Cousin Magpie’s wife sighed with feeling to her husband. They had been listening in since the start.
Cousin Magpie replied, “That’s why he’s a villain, chirp!”
His wife was in full agreement. “Poor Xiaoyao, having to face off against such a wretch.”
“Mm,” Cousin Magpie nodded. “That’s why we have to help Xiaoyao, chirp.” (Author: If the Grand Preceptor could understand you now, he’d cry himself to death, you know? ╮(╯▽╰)╭)
Inside the study, Grand Preceptor Xie said, “Pei Yi has enmity with this old man since I was responsible for his father’s death. We’re absolutely irreconcilable.”
One of the officials replied, “Grand Preceptor, do you have a counter if His Majesty insists on making Pei Yi the Nine Gates Infantry Commander?”
Grand Preceptor Xie laughed. “Pei Yi is a valorous man, but he lacks strategy. It’s not bad if he becomes the Nine Gates Infantry Commander, either. It’d save this old man some worries.” A man like him could never hope to match the likes of me. In the past, the previous Lord Protector was even the commanding general of an army, yet he’d still been forced by the Grand Preceptor to demonstrate his innocence through death. Grand Preceptor Xie was confident that he could kill Pei Yi as easily as lifting a finger.
Another official flattered, “If the old matriarch of the Lord Protector’s estate is smart enough, she’ll keep Pei Yi at home to stay idle.”
Everyone laughed at his remarks. Even when ridiculing others, scholarly types like them were restrained and reserved, so they didn’t raise a din.
“His Majesty picked the wrong man this time,” Grand Preceptor Xie shook his head with a smile.
“I want to peck him to death!” Cousin Magpie’s wife raged from the flower bed.
Cousin Magpie replied, “Calm down. A’Mo and the rest of his den of ants have already planned something out. Tonight they’re going to bite the Grand Preceptor to death. We just have to wait and see the results.”
His wife looked uncertain. “Can they do it? Oil Jar had such a good set of teeth, but he still didn’t kill off the Grand Preceptor.”
Cousin Magpie wanted to cry from his wife’s sheer stupidity. Oil Jar’s a mouse, not a wolf! What ‘good set of teeth’ are you talking about?! “Haven’t you heard of the saying, ‘ten thousand ants gnawing at one heart?’ A’Mo and the rest are attacking the Grand Preceptor tonight because Xiaoyao’s given them so many sugar beans. They wanted to repay her in some way.”
Cousin Magpie’s wife grew astonished.
“That’s why grandpa always told us not to provoke the ants,” Cousin Magpie seized the chance to educate his spouse.
Meanwhile, Grand Preceptor Xie suddenly felt his heart lurch as he sat inside the study. It put him instantly on guard. What is that damned girl Ning Yu planning now? (Author: His Majesty’s only preoccupied with stealing houses at the moment. Grand Preceptor, you’ve been targeted by a swarm of ants instead. ╮(╯﹏╰）╭)
- residence registration booklet (一户口本) – yihukouben, technically a record of all people living in a residence, but also a form of Internet slang that more or less is shorthand for ‘your entire family.’ ↩
- eighteen familial relations (祖宗十八代) – zuzong shiba dai, the 18 generations are divided in half, with nine from your father, grandfather, great grandfather, etc. and nine from your son, grandson, great grandson, etc. ↩