Chapter 204: Fang Tang silently rages in his heart Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Lou Zigui waited until he saw Ning Xiaoyao lie down and fall asleep before leaving for Tao Yu’s quarters. When Big Boss Black saw him stride in, he leapt onto the floor and meowed at Tao Yu before running to the window and jumping outside. Tao Yu could only gulp. That cat had been watching him like a dog all this time. Just then, its meow sounded like it was telling him to behave! Did this cat turn into a demon, or did the Grand Preceptor beat my brains silly?
Lou Zigui walked to the bed and glanced at Tao Yu’s wounds before asking, “His Majesty treated your injuries already?”
Tao Yu’s clothes were in a wretched state, as were his pants, which were reduced to tatters. Lou Zigui’s face turned black as he recalled how Miss Ning had been sitting on the same bed as this man. Tao Yu was only baffled. Lou Zigui was staring at him so intently that he made to cover himself up again. We’re all soldiers. Does Supreme Commander Lou take objections to seeing a man’s chest?
Lou Zigui turned to pour Tao Yu a cup of water. By the time he turned back, his expression had changed completely. He placed the cup in Tao Yu’s hands before sitting on the round stool by his bed. Tao Yu cradled the cup of water in his hands and silently made a mental comparison. He would much rather deal with His Majesty than Lou Zigui.
Lou Zigui said, “I heard His Majesty say that you’ve sworn loyalty to him?”
Tao Yu replied, “Does Supreme Commander have any words to say to me?”
“In the past, you were the one who should have been the Nine Gates Infantry Commander,” Lou Zigui said. “Unfortunately, you weren’t Tao Chen, so he took up the post instead while you were dispatched to the capital barracks as Chen Lu’s second-in-command.”
Tao Yu tightened his grip on his cup.
“You should know better than anyone,” Lou Zigui said. “As long as Tao Chen existed, you’d never have a day to shine.”
“Supreme Commander means that I should be happy?”
Lou Zigui smiled before lowering his voice. “Tao Chen’s death had nothing to do with you, so why should you take offense? Don’t tell me that you really consider him your brother.”
Tao Yu remained silent at that.
Lou Zigui had heard the crown prince speak of Tao Yu, the concubine’s son who’d been thoroughly oppressed in the Tao Clan. He had a wealth of martial arts skills but was clumsy when it came to speaking and acting in social situations. If a man like him had ran into Bo Le, an ancient judge of good talent, he could have earned a worthy list of achievements. Otherwise, he’d be a nobody all his life.
His Highness Crown Prince had originally wanted to be the Bo Le to Tao Yu, but the powers in the imperial court were tipped in Xie Wenyuan’s favor. Later on, he was killed by the Xie father and mother and lost his chance entirely.
“Go back to the capital barracks as usual tomorrow,” Lou Zigui told Tao Yu. “Behind Chen Lu stands Xie Wenyuan, but behind you stands His Majesty. General Tao, do you understand what I mean?”
“His Majesty wants to kill Chen Lu?” Tao Yu got straight to the point.
“If this Chen Lu is killed, Xie Wenyuan will just send another,” Lou Zigui said in a very low voice. “But if you have the skills to turn Chen Lu into a figurehead at the barracks, then you would’ve done great work for His Majesty.”
Tao Yu’s forehead creased. Chen Lu had been in control of the capital’s military barracks for so many years that trying to steal his troops seemed impossible.
“His Majesty is a sovereign while Xie Wenyuan is only a subject,” Lou Zigui continued. “The benefits that Xie Wenyuan offers are equally possible for His Majesty. In fact, His Majesty may be able to offer even more. Are the military barracks filled with people favored with Xie Wenyuan and Chen Lu? Every person aims for a higher branch, wouldn’t you say?”
Tao Yu was still knitting his eyebrows. In a worried tone, he asked, “Wouldn’t that cause unrest at the barracks?”
“The whole world is under unrest now, what difference does one more barracks make?” Lou Zigui retorted.
Tao Yu was left speechless.
“However,” Lou Zigui stopped smiling. “If you have any second thoughts, I won’t show mercy even if His Majesty is soft hearted.”
“Then what should be done about the Tao Clan?” Tao Yu asked next. “Do you want me to do the same as Xie Anwu and break off relations with my family?”
“Do you want to?” Lou Zigui asked.
Tao Yu couldn’t decide. He was naturally honest and frank, while Xie Anwu was willing to cut off his family for the chance to accomplish greater things. Where Xie Anwu had no reservations, he had hesitations, because family would forever hold an important place in his heart.
“If you can’t decide, let the Tao Clan do the deciding instead,” Lou Zigui said. “I think you’ll need to mentally prepare yourself if they still want to follow Xie Wenyuan.” You might not want to break off relations with your family, but they just might abandon you first instead.
Tao Yu could understand Lou Zigui’s thoughts.
“With the world and its morals like thus, humans rarely have the chance to decide their own fates,” Lou Zigui stood up. “I’ll have an imperial physician come and examine you. Get washed and dressed, His Majesty will summon you to court tomorrow.”
“Tao Chen is dead. You should accept his peerage now,” Lou Zigui said.
“What?!” Tao Yu cried in shock.
After Tao Chen became Grand Preceptor Xie’s son-in-law, he was conferred the title of second-rank general. Now that Tao Chen and his two sons were both dead, the title would be passed on to his biological brothers. How could a concubine-born son like him even take the rank?
“His Majesty said that the peerage is yours, so yours it will be,” Lou Zigui patted Tao Yu lightly on the shoulder. “Rest now. I’ve already ordered men to bring your family out. An imperial physician will be here to see you shortly.”
“My family can enter the palace?” Tao Yu asked.
“For you, the palace is the only safe place left now,” Lou Zigui replied. “His Majesty has already sent out a decree to summon them here.” (Author: His Majesty is already fast asleep and never thought of these details…)
“Will the Grand Preceptor come to court assembly tomorrow?” Tao Yu asked when Lou Zigui was about to leave.
“Yes,” Lou Zigui replied with determination.
“He’s quite seriously ill,” Tao Yu said.
“Are you saying that his whole body’s so swollen that it doesn’t look human anymore?” Lou Zigu asked. Tao Yu nodded in affirmation.
“Anyone else in his state would stay at home, but Xie Wenyuan,” Lou Zigui chuckled, “How could saving face begin to compare to keeping power and influence?” Tomorrow would be the day to decide on the next Nine Gates Infantry Commander. Now that Miss Ning had successfully rescued Tao Yu, Xie Wenyuan would need to guard against their influence in the military barracks. How could he contentedly sit at home to lick his wounds?
“Then the Poison Sect…”
“Go and rest,” Lou Zigui cut him off. “You have to go to court first thing tomorrow morning, so you need to prepare.”
Lou Zigui turned to leave, and Imperial Physician Gao had soon arrived in his place, led to the room by Shadowbolt. Many of Tao Yu’s injuries had already been healed by Ning Xiaoyao, so the doctor only treated a few open wounds and wrote him a nourishing prescription before withdrawing.
“General Tao, would you like to eat anything?” Shadowbolt asked after Tao Yu finished his medicine. Tao Yu shook his head in denial. How could I be in the mood to eat right now?
Shadowbolt exhaled. “That’s good, then. It’ll save His Majesty some money.”
“……” said Tao Yu. Just what kind of people are you guys?
“Supreme Commander had business to take care of,” Shadowbolt continued. “His Majesty’s asleep, so do you have any other requests, General Tao?”
“When will my wife and children arrive?” Tao Yu asked.
“What?” Shadowbolt asked, confused.
Tao Yu stared back at Shadowbolt. Supreme Commander Lou had said that His Majesty decreed to have his family brought into the palace to seek refuge, but this leader of the Dragon Guards didn’t know?
“His Majesty agreed?” Shadowbolt asked.
Tao Yu’s face was wooden. “Supreme Commander said it was an imperial decree.”
“Oh,” Shadowbolt nodded absently. “Then all you have to do is wait, General Tao.” Whatever Supreme Commander Lou said, it’s probably all true. In any case, he always stands in for His Majesty. All four of the Dragon Guard commanders had long grown used to it.
At that moment, Fang Tang stuck his head in to look for Lou Zigui. When he saw no sign of the man, he asked Shadowbolt, “Fourth Lightning, where’s my Supreme Commander?”
“Supreme Commander went on back to rest,” Shadowbolt replied. Fang Tang hastily hurried off. Tao Yu was mute. Just earlier, this guy clearly said Supreme Commander had to busy himself with business…
When Fang Tang ran over to Lou Zigui’s room, he saw the man sitting behind a desk and cried, “Supreme Commander, that head of the Poison Sect wants to meet with His Majesty.”
“His Majesty’s already retired to bed,” Lou Zigui was currently writing a letter as he spoke. “Let them all wait till morning.”
Fang Tang asked, “Then when will His Majesty meet them?”
Lou Zigui lifted his eyes to stare at Fang Tang, who gave a start and exclaimed, “Supreme Commander, did I say the wrong thing?”
“They’re nothing but a bunch of captives,” Lou Zigui said coldly. “Whether or not His Majesty meets them is up to his whims. Those people still don’t know their place?”
Fang Tang spread out his hands. “I’d say they’re all like dogs in the water—villains down on their luck—but they still do have a clear set of skills, and probably grew arrogant at the thought of His Majesty needing to use them.”
“Forget about them,” Lou Zigui finished his letter and set down his brush, before gesturing Fang Tang to come forward.
Fang Tang quickly approached the table, but refrained from looking at the letter to ask, “Supreme Commander, did you have orders?”
“Prepare yourself,” Lou Zigui replied, “Within the next few days, Prince Zhi will leave the capital and return to Qiufeng City. You’re to leave with him.”
“Didn’t Seventh Song already go back?” Fang Tang asked.
“It’s safer if more people go back,” Lou Zigui said as he tapped his fingers against the still drying letter. “Take this letter with you. Even if you run into trouble on the road and can’t return on your own, you have to find ways to deliver this letter to our base.”
Fang Tang carefully lifted the letter in his hands and blew softly against the wet ink, hoping that it’d dry faster. Then he asked, “Supreme Commander, wouldn’t it be much easier to just sent a courier directly?”
“It’s easy for Xie Wenyuan to send spies after my messengers,” Lou Zigui replied. “Better to have you find one on the road instead.”
Fang Tang asked, “Will Xie Wenyuan make a move against Prince Zhi, then?”
“Neither Xie Wenyuan nor Prince Zhi can be trusted,” Lou Zigui warned, “Consider yourself as traveling solo and rely on no one but yourself.”
Fang Tang nodded. “Supreme Commander, I’ll remember your words.”
“Tomorrow, at court, after Xie Anji fails to get his post of Nine Gates Infantry Commander,” Lou Zigui began, “Find a way to enrage him in public.”
Fang Tang’s eyes shone. “And then I’ll be able to beat him to death?”
“Will you be able to leave the city after that?” Lou Zigui asked drolly. Fang Tang’s head hung.
“You have to be hurt at his hands,” Lou Zigui said. “This way, you’ll require recovery time for your serious injuries and be out of public sight from ten days to half a month. Xie Wenyuan won’t suspect that you’ve left the city then.”
Fang Tang grew unhappy at these words. “Supreme Commander, how am I supposed to travel if I’m injured for real?”
“We have His Majesty with us, remember?” Lou Zigui replied.
“…….” said Fang Tang.
“Just have Xie Anji stab you once,” Lou Zigui suggested. “Then you can roll down the steps and break a leg.”
(@﹏@), went Fang Tang. What kind of big mistake did I make for Supreme Commander to want my life?!
“I won’t let you get beat up for nothing,” Lou Zigui promised once more.
“Then,” Fang Tang said, “Then what if His Majesty has no way to treat my injuries?” Someone has to ask this question, right?
Lou Zigui muttered to himself, before stating, “I believe in His Majesty’s medical skills. Why don’t you?”
But I’m the one who has to pick a fight, get stabbed, and break a leg, ah! Fang Tang silently raged at Supreme Commander in his heart. What’s the use if you believe in His Majesty? Can’t you consider for my sake a little?!