Chapter 287: Lou Zigui and Young Master Ning’s faceoff
Should I thank Xie Wenyuan for not killing Fengzhou’s Ning Clan to silence us?
Ning Xiaomu knelt under the leafy tree. His face formed various facial expressions before coming to a chilling smile. His icy smile transformed the warm and handsome Young Master into a cold and merciless general.
“Xie Wenyuan,” First Young Master Ning spat his name out as he dug his fingers into the soil. It’s alright if you want to stir up trouble, Fengzhou’s Ning Clan is far from the capital and would only observe from the sidelines. But you cannot treat our Young Miss Ning of the Ning Clan as a toy or a chess piece.
Ning Xiaomu stood up and brushed the soil off his clothes. Flipping onto the horse, he left for Lou Zigui’s military camp.
Inside the camp, Xu Jing placed down his teacup. Glancing at Lou Zigui opposite him, he called Lou Zigui by his other name, “Chengying, in regards to military and warfare, Xie Wenyuan is not your opponent. I just want to remind you, don’t let Xie Wenyuan escape.”
Lou Zigui enquired, “Where else could Xie Wenyuan could go aside from the capital?”
“Even if your Lou Clan doesn’t go to Anyuan, you would surely have places to hide, no?” Xu Jing looked at Lou Zigui, “If Xie Wenyuan doesn’t die this time, he would definitely bring about endless troubles.”
After a pause, General Xu added, “Obviously, in regards to this, I also have my own agenda. Since I’ve betrayed him, I would not wish for him to be alive.”
If Xie Wenyuan gets away, who knows whether Grand Preceptor would find another opportunity to rise again? If he ever regains his powers, the Xu Clan would not be able to escape his wrath. Lou Zigui understood Xu Jing’s concerns.
“Supreme Commander,” a soldier reported outside the tent. “There’s a man claiming to be here under the Emperor’s orders. He wishes to see Supreme Commander.”
Miss Ning had just left, just who did this person get orders from? Lou Zigui frowned upon hearing the soldier’s words.
Although Xu Jing was a martial artist, he was a general with tact. He rose. “I will retire for now, you can meet with the visitor first.”
Lou Xigui ordered the soldier to bring Xu Jing to a nearby tent to wait temporarily.
Ning Xiaomu entered the tent with Deng Rong. After a long journey from Fengzhou to the capital, First Young Master Ning was covered in dust and dressed in commoner’s clothes. Nonetheless, it was impossible to hide the extravagant air he had as a young master.
After he entered the tent, he walked towards Lou Zigui. Lou Zigui was a bit stunned and stood up. “You are?”
First Young Master Ning greeted Lou Zigui with a cupped fist and replied, “This subject is the Duke of Yue’s Ning Xiaomu.”
“What?” When Deng Rong heard First Young Master Ning speak of his origins, he was startled. “You are the Duke of Yue’s heir? The Destruction Prisoner Army’s Marshal Ning Xiaomu? The Ning Xiaomu that had massacred half of Southwest barbarians??”
First Young Master Ning laughed, looking the part of a honorable young master. “I am the Duke of Yue’s First Young Master, as well as the Marshal of the Destruction Prisoner Army. However, I didn’t kill that many barbarians.”
Deng Rong gave a disbelieving expression, You almost killed all the Southwest barbarians. The survivors even ran all the way to the city, scared out of their wits, and begged the Yongning Emperor for mercy.
“If those people didn’t appear more pitiful, would the previous Emperor have pardoned them?” First Young Master Ning chuckled.
General Deng was speechless, Could it be that the deaths of the people really did not amount to that much? First Young Master Ning really doesn’t look like a butcher ah!
“Enough,” Lou Zigui couldn’t continue watching this farce any longer and signalled to Deng Rong. “You may retire first.”
Deng Rong made a sound of assent and bowed at First Young Master Ning before dismissing himself. General Deng felt that he was especially important. And while having small talk with his comrades, he told them how the legendary Butcher Marshal did not seem like a butcher at all.
“Please sit.” Lou Zigui invited Ning Xiaomu to sit.
The military tent was empty but there were still a few chairs and teacups lying around. First Young Master Ning and Supreme Commander Lou filled a cup of tea and sat down. Lou Zigui poured First Young Master Ning a cup of tea that looked didn’t look too good.
Deng Rong was fooled by the appearance of First Young Master Ning but Lou Zigui wasn’t. When the 81 tribes of barbarians in the Southwest decided to start a war and rebel, Ning Heng of the Duke of Yue’s estate was heavily injured. At that time, Fengzhou city was no longer safe -even their personal safety was not guaranteed. If Ning Xiaomu hadn’t used some crazy tactics, he wouldn’t have been able to survive; let alone pacify a rebellion.
First Young Master Ning became famous because of the war against the barbarians. In that war, the people he had killed would only be more, not less.
“Did Duke of Yue’s Third Young Master get back home safely?” Lou Zigui place down the teapot and asked Ning Xiaomu quietly.
“That brat is fine. This time, I came on my father’s orders. I brought him into the city to thank the Emperor.” Ning Xiaomu drank a sip of the tea, the tea was bland but First Young Master Ning still treated it as an exquisite special blend.
After finishing the tea, he let out a breath before looking at Lou Zigui. “For the matter regarding my third brother, we should also thank Supreme Commander.”
“The person who saved him is His Majesty,” Lou Zigui answered. “I was merely following his orders by sending people to guard Third Young Master Ning out of the city. Being forced into the situation, the third young master must have suffered on the road back.”
First Young Master Ning laughed. “How could that brat be called Third Young Master in front of Supreme Commander? Supreme Commander can just speak freely and refer to him by his name.”
Lou Zigui also chuckled, but his laugh was not as tender as First Young Master Ning’s laugh. Instead, it was more courteous. “I remember Third Young Master’s name is Dongfu*?”
“Yes,” First Young Master Ning replied. “When he was born, Father brought an astrologer to read his fortune. The fortune teller said that his fortune is coming from the East. Therefore, he was given the name Dongfu. Supreme Commander, this one’s name is Moyuan. Supreme Commander doesn’t have to call me First Young Master, just call me Moyuan.”
“My name is Chengying” Lou Zigui added. “First Young Master can also call me by my name instead of calling me Supreme Commander.”
“Alright.” First Young Master Ning smiled and nodded his head.
Unable to see through the thoughts of the person in front of him, Lou Zigui lowered his head and poured himself a cup of tea.
First Young Master Ning also felt that he couldn’t see through Lou Zigui. After exchanging a few words, the mighty Supreme Commander Lou could sit around and make small talk with him, as though they were close friends. How is he the rumoured cold and merciless star of misfortune?
“Moyuan, you are probably aware that the city is about to turn into a bloody battlefield.” Lou Zigui murmured, “This is not a good time for you two to be here.”
“Yes ah. Not a good time.” Ning Xiaomu sighed. “All along, the Duke of Yue’s estate’s only wish was to stand aside. We had never thought of meddling with the court affairs.”
“Oh?” Loh Zigui said. “Do you still think this is merely court affairs?”
“Of course not.” First Young Master Ning hurriedly waved his hand at Lou Zigui. “This time, Xie Wenyuan has gone too far. This old traitor is rebelling. Chengying, I have brought over a hundred Destruction Prisoner Army men. The numbers are too few to help in the ambush, so I feel that we should be stationed to protect His Majesty instead.”
Lou Zigui swirled the cup of tea in his hands.
“Xie Wenyuan sent my father a letter. The contents said that His Majesty killed my third brother.” Ning Xiaomu lowered his voice. “He asked my father to be more wary of His Majesty. And in the event of his death, he advised my father to not enter the city and to stay in Fengzhou for his own safety.”
Lou Zigui snickered. “Fake words of love and concern.”
“Yes,” replied First Young Master Ning, “He is very shameless. My father tore the letter into shreds. He even wanted to kill the messenger that sent it, but I stopped him.”
Lou Zigui looked at First Young Master Ning.
“When it comes to dealing with a shameless person like Xie Wenyuan, I’d suggest you to stay further away from him until you’re absolutely sure you can get rid of him. It’s best not to let him hurt you.” First Young Master Ning lightly flicked the teacup, “Who would’ve thought that our Duke of Yue’s estate would be able to stop pretending to be fools so quickly.”
Upon being flicked, the teacup made a “dang” sound.
Lou Zigui continued. “There’s one thing that I don’t understand. Why would Xie Wenyuan want to kill Ning Xiaoluo?”
Is it really just to prevent him from meeting His Majesty and also to cause misunderstandings between them and the Duke of Yue?
First Young Master Ning’s brows furrowed as he stared at Lou Zigui. “Xie Wenyuan’s birthday was arriving and initially, my father arranged for my second brother to send the gifts to the city. However, just before leaving for the city, my brother’s wife had a serious illness. Thus, my father sent Dongfu into the capital instead.”
“That can’t be Xie Wenyuan’s reason to kill someone.” Lou Zigui replied, “If he just wanted to create a misunderstanding, he should’ve understood that in the event of it failing, it would cause the Duke of Yue’s estate to have a change of heart. The Duke of Yue’s estate and the Xie Clan had friendly relations for over two generations. There was no need for Xie Wenyuan to take this risk.”
“My father have had some things to say about Xie Wenyuan’s actions in the past few years. Could this count as a reason?”
“From my memory, the Duke of Yue’s estate doesn’t meddle with court affairs.” Lou Zigui murmured.
“But father would still censure in private.”
“That would mean that there are Xie Wenyuan’s spies in the Duke of Yue’s estate. Xie Wenyuan is not that petty.”
First Young Master Ning shook his head. “This is also one of my objectives for coming to the capital. I want to personally ask Xie Wenyuan how the Duke of Yue’s estate had offended him.”
Lou Zigui drank a mouthful of tea and thought to himself. Is Ning Xiaomu unwilling to tell the truth, or is he truly unaware of the truth?
First Young Master Ning saw Lou Zigui drinking the tea and brought his cup to his mouth as well. “There is one thing I don’t understand. Xie Wenyuan is His Majesty’s grandfather, why would he rebel?”
“His Majesty has nothing to do with that traitor,” Lou Zigui curtly stated.
“But Xie Wenyuan had put in a lot of effort to place His Majesty on the throne.”
“This was so that he could control the court through His Majesty.” Lou Zigui’s tone chilled, “In his eyes, His Majesty is only a chess piece.”
“Then what did His Majesty say about that?”
Frowning, Lou Zigui shot Ning Xiaomu a look. “I would never dare to question His Majesty’s thoughts.”
“Then the saying of the chess piece?”
“Everyone in the palace can tell. His Majesty does not need to say anything and neither do I need to speculate. Are you worried that this is not what His Majesty wants?”
“I just don’t understand, that’s why I asked.” First Young Master Ning smiled. He could not tell if Supreme Commander Lou knew His Majesty was a woman or not.
“Where is Ning Xiaoluo now?” Lou Zigui just remembered and asked about Third Young Master Ning.
“He has gone into the capital. Chengying, how do you intend to fight this battle?” After hearing his plans from Ning Xiaoyao, First Young Master Ning wanted to see how Lou Zigui would say it.
“Which road did Moyuan come from?”
“From the South.”
“Then you must have already seen His Majesty?” Lou Zigui immediately asked.
First Young Master Ning did not think that Lou Zigui’s reaction would be that fast. After a pause, First Young Master Ning nodded his head. “Yes, His Majesty recognized Dongfu. His Majesty was wearing female garment and shocked us a little.”
Anger crept onto Lou Zigui’s face. “If it weren’t for Xie Wenyuan, His Majesty wouldn’t have to resort to something like this.”
First Young Master Ning saw Lou Zigui’s expression. This angry expression didn’t look fake. Was he really angry that His Majesty was forced by Xie Wenyuan into crossdressing as a woman?
*So I googled and used wikipedia. The reason why they have two names is because the “courtesy name” is a name traditionally given to Chinese males at the age of 20, marking their coming of age. It was sometimes given to females upon marriage. The practice is no longer common in modern Chinese society. According to the Book of Rites, after a man reaches adulthood, it is disrespectful for others of the same generation to address him by his given name, or míng. Thus, the given name was reserved for oneself and one’s elders, while the zì would be used by adults of the same generation to refer to one another on formal occasions or in writing; hence the term “courtesy name”. (That is why people have multiple names -_-)
I already have trouble remembering one name, and now they have two each? FML! LOLLLL. Good luck, readers. Check the glossary if you’re confused.