Chapter 288: The tall one, the short one
They were both in charge of leading the troops to war. After Lou Zigui and Ning Xiaomu were no longer probing and making assumptions about each other, they started discussing the war plans. Both men hit it off.
An hour later, Ning Xiaomu got up and took his leave. Lou Zigui personally walked him out the military tent and watched Ning Xiaomu leave with Deng Rong. Then, he turned around and walked towards Xu Jing. Xu Jing was standing behind him. Lou Zigui courteously apologized, “Sorry for the long wait.”
“Is that Ning Xiaomu?” Xu Jing asked.
“Yes,” Lou Zigui nodded.
“From the Duke of Yue’s estate?”
“Correct,” Lou Zigui answered again with only a word.
Xu Jing asked, “How many troops did they bring?”
“Uncle Xu, please,” Lou Zigui invited Xu Jing to enter the tent and spoke in a low voice. “The Destruction Prisoner Army will remain by His Majesty’s side to protect him. It is important not to let Xie Wenyuan escape, but in my opinion, His Majesty’s safety is even more important.”
Great General Xu had nothing to rebuke Lou Zigui. What’s more important than the safety of His Majesty?
Prior to entering the military tent, Lou Zigui gestured a Black Frost Infantry General over. He whispered in his ear. “Get Shadowgale to come and see me.”
The general hurriedly complied.
Ning Xiaoyao brought Ning Xiaoluo back to the imperial palace. However, since the palace’s gates were blocked by Elder Li’s people, Ning Xiaoyao took Ning Xiaoluo’s group to climb over the wall in order to enter.
“We stealthily entered the capital like thieves,” Ning Xiaoyao carried Ning Xiaoluo and climbed over the palace wall. When Ning Xiaoluo’s feet landed on the ground, he complained, “How come we have to enter the palace the same way?”
Ning Xiaoyao responded, ”You are the young master of Duke Yue’s estate, yet you can’t even jump over a wall!? What the heck can you do?”
Ning Xiaoluo didn’t say a word. He knew his agility techniques were a bit on the weaker side. (Author: You’re not only weak at agility techniques, ok? (￢_￢))
Ning Xiaoyao lightly tapped Ning Xiaoluo’s face. He had used a handkerchief to conceal his appearance. “You can remove the handkerchief. No one will pay attention to you once we’re inside.”
Ning Xiaoluo believed her words and removed the handkerchief. He had been hiding his face ever since he had entered the capital.
”Let’s head to the Supreme Splendor Hall,” Ning Xiaoyao told the Destruction Prisoner Army men to follow her.
Everyone followed Ning Xiaoyao to the Supreme Spendor Hall. Right now, aside from the Dragon Guards who had remained to fight the enemy troops, Chef Huang and Imperial Physician Gao were the only ones left in the palace.
“Your Majesty, you’re wearing a skirt again!” Shadowthunder blurted. Shadowthunder was on gatekeeper duty and recognized Ning Xiaoyao immediately. His mouth twitched and he couldn’t help but take another look. In his opinion, His Majesty looked rather good in a skirt. Shadowthunder averted his eyes. He must push this thought away! Otherwise, it may cost him his life!
Ji Yuerong walked across the courtyard and stood in front of the entrance. She sized up Ning Xiaoyao. ”Oh! You are wearing a skirt again!”
Ning Xiaoluo opened his mouth to ask, ”Your Majesty, do you often wear skirts?”
Ning Xiaoyao did not answer. Talking to this guy damages her IQ.
“How,” Ji Yuerong finally noticed Ning Xiaoluo. At first, she was looking down on this young man for his short height. But when Miss Ji saw Ning Xiaoluo’s face, she was flabbergasted. “How can you look like this?!”
Overcome with shock, she lifted her hand and seized Ning Xiaoluo by the collar. Third Young Master Ning was thrust in front of Miss Ji.
Shadowthunder took a look at Ning Xiaoluo’s face. He was bewildered as well. How on earth could this man look so much like His Majesty? Especially his pair of big almond eyes? He’s His Majesty’s doppelganger!
“Your Majesty, who is he?” Ji Yuerong asked.
“Don’t scare him,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “Release him now. He is struggling to breathe.”
Ji Yuerong loosened Ning Xiaoluo’s collar and stared at Third Young Master Ning, who was gasping for air. Miss Ji refuted, “I didn’t use force, ah!”
“So what? He is rather delicate. He needs to be treated with care. Treated with care!” Ning Xiaoyao continued walking as she dragged Ning Xiaoluo with her. “I can walk on my own two feet!” Ning Xiaoluo shouted.
“First, can you tell me how you look like that?” Ji Yuerong was at their heels.
“Second Thunder, go and wait on my Big Bro Ning,” When Ning Xiaoyao was walking through the corridor, she suddenly recalled that Ning Xiaomu was going to come to the palace. So, she quickly instructed Shadowthunder.
Shadowthunder asked, “Who is Big Bro Ning?”
“Eh?” Ning Xiaoyao thought about it. No one here had met Ning Xiaomu. She relaxed her grip on Ning Xiaoluo and told her companions, “He’s the person that I am going to go out and receive now.”
Before Shadowthunder even had a chance to open his mouth to ask, Who are you going to receive?, His Majesty had already vanished from his field of vision.
The moment Ning Xiaoyao disappeared from view, the Destruction Prisoner Army men were ill at ease. They couldn’t help but feel it was inappropriate to walk upright at a place like the Supreme Splendor Hall.
Meanwhile, Ning Xiaoluo was surrounded by a bunch of Dragon Guards and Ji Yuerong. Ning Xiaoluo was waiting for Ning Xiaoyao to return so that he could yell at her. You liar! You said no one would pay attention to me once we were inside!
“Could they be brothers?” Ji Yuerong quietly asked Shadowgale. Shadowgale had just rushed back to the courtyard with news.
“I am the Duke of Yue’s estate’s Third Young Master,” said Ning Xiaoluo. He had a stiff expression on his face.
“Your face,” Shadowthunder tugged Ning Xiaoluo’s face, then told the others. “His face is real.”
Ning Xiaoluo: …
“Why did you return to the capital?” After Shadowgale found out about Ning Xiaoyao’s whereabouts, he turned to ask Ning Xiaoluo.
Ning Xiaoluo replied, ”I came to the capital with my big brother to thank His Majesty.”
Shadowgale observed Third Young Master Ning’s face, “His Majesty had mentioned you resembled him very much. The last time I saw you, your face was injured. Now that your face is clear, His Majesty is correct. You do look very much like His Majesty.”
Ji Yuerong was curious. “The teenager from the Grand Sacrificial Ceremony is still living in the palace. Could it be that Third Young Master Ning is the same as him? Perhaps, his face had gone under the knife by Grand Preceptor’s men?”
Shadowgale and others were speechless as they continued gawking at Ning Xiaoluo.
“I didn’t go under the knife,” Ning Xiaoluo lowered his head. “I was beaten up by His Majesty.”
“Oh, then you must have deserved it,” Miss Ji immediately declared, not bothering to distinguish between right and wrong. Ning Xiaoluo was sullen.
The Destruction Prisoner Army men stood at a distance from their third young master. Every time they followed him, they would lose face.
“Their eyes are the most similar,” Ji Yuerong continued sizing up Ning Xiaoluo, “They are also roughly the same height. Third Young Master Ning, how old are you this year? His Majesty is still growing. But how old are you?”
If it weren’t for the fact that he was probably no match for the tall woman in front of him, Ning Xiaoluo would have already started beating her up. So what if you’re tall?
Since Ning Xiaoluo remained silent, Ji Yuerong turned around to ask the Destruction Prisoner Army men instead. “How old is your third young master this year?”
The men thought that Miss Ji was being unkind. Do you really have to keep jabbing our young master’s sore spot?
“What has it got to do with you?” Ning Xiaoluo couldn’t help but retort.
Miss Ji countered, “Are you upset? Then you must have already passed that growth spurt.”
“So what if I’m short?” Ning Xiaoluo glared at Miss Ji. In this world, married and unmarried women wore different hairstyles. Furthermore, their makeup would be done differently as well. There was a very obvious distinction. As a result, Third Young Master Ning could instantly tell that the woman in front of him was still unmarried.
“You are very tall. But you also don’t look very young. So what’s the use of being tall? Are you married yet?” Third Young Master Ning used his poisonous tongue.
The courtyard grew quiet.
“I,” Ning Xiaoluo immediately regretted his words. He lowered his head and avoided looking at Ji Yuerong, “I didn’t mean it…”
Ji Yuerong didn’t say anything else. She lifted her leg and kicked Ning Xiaoluo out of the corridor.
“So what if I am not married? It’s none of your business!” Miss Ji was furious.
Third Young Master Ning painfully screamed in response.
Everyone else… This situation was out of their control.
Ning Xiaoyao had no idea Miss Ji was beating Third Young Master Ning up. Currently, she was waiting for the First Young Master Ning on the side street while eating her sugar beans. After she had finished an entire bag of sugar beans, Ning Xiaomu had arrived.
“Your Majesty, why are you here?” The moment Ning Xiaomu saw her, he quickly got down from his horse.
“I came to receive you and take you into the palace!” Ning Xiaoyao happily chirped. “Elder Li’s men blocked the palace gates. In order to enter the palace, you have to climb over the wall.”
Ning Xiaomu broke into laughter.
“Big Bro Ning, let’s go.” Ning Xiaoyao pulled Ning Xiaomu with her.
“Your Majesty, there is still quite a distance from the palace. Why don’t you get on this subject’s horse?” First Young Master suggested.
“Okay,” Ning Xiaoyao agreed without thinking.
Ning Xiaomu climbed back on his horse and held out his hand for Ning Xiaoyao. Ning Xiaoyao grabbed his hand and was helped onto the horse.
“Sit tight.” Ning Xiaomu didn’t really touch Ning Xiaoyao. He reached out to hold on the reins, while Ning Xiaoyao sat within his arms.
“Jia,” Ning Xiaoyao patted the warhorse’s head. “Off we go!”
First Young Master Ning’s horse moved forward.
“Wow, a white horse ah!” Ning Xiaoyao exclaimed, “Big Bro Ning, what’s the name of your horse?”
“Ming Guang*. Its name is Ming Guang.”
Ming Guang, Little Ming? Ning Xiaoyao was a bit muddled. She hasn’t found her Little Ming yet, but her Big Bro Ning already has a horse named Little Ming? “Its pet name is Little Ming?” asked Ning Xiaoyao.
First Young Master Ning fell silent. Why should a warhorse have a pet name?
Ning Xiaoyao raised her head to look at Ning Xiaomu. Even though the person sitting in front of him was fifteen years old, she did not look her age. Her build was small and thin. He didn’t know how his sister had survive these past fifteen years in the hands of Xie Wenyuan and Empress Dowager Xie. Ning Xiaomu’s heart tightened and he smiled. “Your Majesty, do you want to name this horse Little Ming?”
“Eh?” Ning Xiaoyao didn’t understand Big Bro Ning’s words. What does he mean by she wants?
“Then Little Ming it will be,” Ning Xiaomu lifted his hand and stroked Ning Xiaoyao’s head.
Ning Xiaoyao: …alright, now that Little Ming’s name has already been taken by a male horse, Little Red has no match.
“Your Majesty, this subject heard that you got hurt?” asked Ning Xiaomu.
“Mhm,” answered Ning Xiaoyao. “Grand Preceptor wanted to kill me. But he can’t get rid of me, ha ha ha!”
“Damn that Xie Wenyuan,” First Young Master Ning spoke in a low voice.
Looking down at Xiao Ming’s mane, Ning Xiaoyao did not see the flash of pain in Ning Xiaomu’s eyes. She nodded and continued, “Yes. Damn him to hell. Don’t worry, Big Bro Ning! I won’t let Grand Preceptor harm you guys again.”
“Your Majesty will protect this subject?” First Young Master Ning laughed.
“I will,” Ning Xiaoyao nodded. She knew at a glance that Big Bro Ning was a good person. She must make sure to protect him well.
First Young Master Ning sighed, “Your Majesty, this subject will protect you.”
Ning Xiaoyao fiddled with the bag of sugar beans in her hand. When she heard the First Young Master Ning say he would protect her, she lifted her head and beamed at him. “Alright! Alright. Big Bro Ning, you will help me from now on, right?”
“Yes,” the smile vanished from Ning Xiaomu’s face and he answered earnestly. “This subject will certainly help and assist you, Your Majesty.”
Ning Xiaoyao was so happy that she stuffed sugar beans into Ning Xiaomu’s mouth, “Deal! Let me treat you to some sugar beans. They’re so sweet!”
“Very sweet indeed,” First Young Master Ning smiled. He lifted his hand again and patted Ning Xiaoyao’s head.
*Ming Guang means “bright light” in Chinese. Little Ming would be Little Bright.
Dude, he shouldn’t keep patting His Majesty on the head. It’s soooo weird! (and kinda inappropriate, to be honest) lol