Chapter 33: If I leave, who will be emperor? Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Grand Preceptor Xie was starting to get annoyed by all the chirping sparrows tonight. By the time he refocused on the issue at hand, he saw with a start that Song Jin had stood up from the ground. How, how could this be?!
Ning Xiaoyao was as tired as a dog to begin with. After treating Song Jin’s poison, she was now as tired as a dead dog and plopped on the ground. From her pocket she took out some sugar beans and tossed them into her mouth. She had to recover her strength quickly when so many people were waiting for poison treatment. Grand Preceptor Xie backed up a few steps, still in shock. His first thought was that there was a problem with the person who had released the poison smoke! Had he already been drawn over to Ning Yu’s side and turned into one of her lackeys?
Song Jin didn’t know why he could move all of a sudden, but there was no time to ponder that now. He glared coldly at Grand Preceptor Xie before stepping forward to shield Ning Xiaoyao behind him. At this moment, Lou Zigui arrived with Fang Tang supporting him, walking step-by-step into the alleyway. He glanced at Ning Xiaoyao sitting on the ground and felt his heart quiver. Hastily he asked, “Your Majesty?”
Ning Xiaoyao munched on sugar beans as she waved a hand at him. “I’m over here, ah.”
Hearing her speak, Lou Zigui felt reassured. His vision shifted to Grand Preceptor Xie, who’d brought along high level experts in both archery and concealed weapons. But without Grand Preceptor Xie’s command, they didn’t dare to make a move. Grand Preceptor Xie met Lou Zigui’s icy gaze and suddenly smiled.
“His Majesty and Supreme Commander are well and safe. Now I can set my cares at rest.”
Coldly, Lou Zigui replied, “We’ve troubled Grand Preceptor to worry. The only fortunate thing tonight was that His Majesty was unhurt.”
Grand Preceptor Xie smiled. “Supreme Commander says rightly. His Majesty being unhurt is the most important thing. Supreme Commander ah, the Northern Hu won’t stop trying to destroy our Yongning, so you have to take care of yourself.”
Lou Zigui nodded. “Grand Preceptor’s instruction is apt.”
Ning Xiaoyao stayed on the ground as she asked the falcon on her shoulder, “How come they’re talking to each other? Aren’t they supposed to bite each other to death at first sight?” Instead, they were standing across from each other and exchanging words like friends. What was going on?
The little gyrfalcon first admitted he didn’t know, before adding, “All you humans know is how to pretend!” Ning Xiaoyao fell silent. This comment seemed to make sense. She actually had no rebuttal for it.
By now, Grand Preceptor Xie had spoken up again. “His Majesty was long aware of problems with those letters. But for the sake of ensnaring the capital’s northern barbarians in one net, he could only wrong Supreme Commander and play out a self-injury ruse. Now that the secret agents have all been caught, Supreme Commander won’t need to bear accusations of being a traitor anymore.” Here, Grand Preceptor Xie cupped one hand in another and raised it before his chest in obeisance. “I offended Supreme Commander much in the past. I hope that Supreme Commander won’t blame me.”
Oh my God!
Ning Xiaoyao’s hands shook. It felt like ten million alpacas were running amok in her heart. She had just acknowledged this old man’s shamelessness when he outdid himself again! Fang Tang’s hand supporting Lou Zigui was shaking as well. Grand Preceptor Xie was supposed to be an intellectual scholar renowned for his Confucian values. But he was just a damned despicable villain! The little gyrfalcon flapped his wings and cried, “Awoo, awoo, awoo, Xiaoyao, let me eat him up!”
“… …” went the people present. This falcon could howl like a wolf?
Ning Xiaoyao hugged the gyrfalcon to her chest. This old guy had so many subordinates that they’d kill the bird before he even flew in front of the old man’s face. Lou Zigui patted Fang Tang’s hand and looked at Grand Preceptor Xie with a smile that even reached to his eyes. He was a man with the looks of a painting. When he didn’t smile, his being was infused with heavy killing intent that scared people off. But when he did smile, it was as if a painter had added extra color to the corners of his eyes with a rush. The scene evoked that of spring breezes for ten li and flowers blooming in bright profusion.
Ning Xiaoyao’s heart skipped twice. She knew that Lou Zigui was good-looking, but he’d never truly smiled at her before. Ning Xiaoyao never knew that someone’s smile could look like blooming flowers–not just one, but a field of them!
Grand Preceptor Xie was smiling as well, but his hands were clenched into fists. He knew why Lou Zigui was smiling. Because he’d placed all the blame on the Northern Hu to justify himself, he was effectively admitting his failure this time. If he was a gambler, he would’ve lost all his family properties by now. Lou Zigui pushed aside Fang Tang’s hand and slowly walked to Ning Xiaoyao’s side before half crouching to speak in a low voice. “This subject invites Your Majesty to return to the palace. The Northern Hu spies have already been captured, so Your Majesty has no need to put yourself in danger anymore.”
Ning Xiaoyao asked, “Would there be those who escaped?”
Lou Zigui replied, “If there did, the numbers wouldn’t be high. Ants can’t shake a tree, so Your Majesty needn’t worry.”
Ning Xiaoyao blinked. Though she didn’t know why this man thought so little of ants, she realized that they really had no way to shake large trees. His words weren’t wrong. (Author: The two of you aren’t talking about the same thing, okay? o(╯□╰)o）
“Your Majesty,” Lou Zigui extended a hand towards Ning Xiaoyao. She placed her right hand in Lou Zigui’s palm, but didn’t really let the other pull her up. Supreme Commander was still ailing!
After standing up with her own strength, she asked in a soft voice, “Are we really leaving?”
Lou Zigui nodded. He lowered his head to glance at Ning Xiaoyao’s hands. By now, they’d turned into two dusty claws, but a glance showed that its owner enjoyed a high position and lived in comfort. Would a martial arts practitioner have hands like these?
“There’s still so many people lying on the ground,” Ning Xiaoyao didn’t want to leave. She hadn’t saved them yet, so how could she?
Lou Zigui asked Song Jin, “Are you well?”
“I’m fine now,” Song Jin hastened to reply.
“Have the men sent back to the imperial palace,” Lou Zigui said. “Let Shadowthunder escort the Northern Hu men to the justice courts with Grand Preceptor Xie and interrogate them overnight.”
Song Jin was worried. “Then wouldn’t the Grand Preceptor…?”
“He won’t,” Lou Zigui was certain. “This is the red-light district. Even though the shops are closed, news spreads fast. Xie Wenyuan wouldn’t dare to try any tricks.” When he was painted as a traitor, the people were ready to eat him alive. Faced with that kind of public sentiment, would Grand Preceptor Xie risk incurring universal condemnation?
Song Jin replied in the affirmative. Lou Zigui pulled Ning Xiaoyao along, but she dawdled and didn’t want to leave. How could she abandon so many of her companions here?
“You can’t bear to leave the grand preceptor?” Lou Zigui asked.
“……” said Ning Xiaoyao. She’d rather throw that old man to the zombies as a meal!
“Let’s go, be good and listen,” Lou Zigui said lightly. “They’ll be all right. You can treat them after you return to the palace.”
Ning Xiaoyao had gotten used to the icy-faced, chilly-gaze Lou Zigui, so his sudden warmth threw her off. Was this guy bipolar? He was a cruel commander one minute and a lover of the people the next?
Grand Preceptor Xie laughed mockingly as he watched Lou Zigui lead Ning Xiaoyao away. Now that he thought of it, he hadn’t lost yet. Once Lou Zigui died, he’d have plenty of time to teach that girl Ning Yu a lesson.
All of the Grand Preceptor’s men hastened to obey. “Yes.”
Outside the alleyway, Lou Zigui spoke to Fang Tang who had followed after them. “You stay and help Seventh Song.”
“Then who will protect you two?”
“Who’s Seventh Song?”
Fang Tang and Ning Xiaoyao opened their mouths at the same time.
“Seventh Song is Song Jin,” Lou Zigui explained to her as he walked towards the streets. Fang Tang watched the two leave from the alleyway until they were far away. Then he turned back. With the emperor’s strength and skills with bricks, His Majesty could definitely protect their Supreme Commander.
Since Ning Xiaoyao had smashed the carriage, she could only walk out of the red light district with Lou Zigui on foot. It seemed like it’d only take a few minutes, but they were still stuck in the street half an hour later.
“How about I carry you?” an impatient Ning Xiaoyao offered.
Lou Zigui lowered his voice. “Am I going to die?”
“What?” Ning Xiaoyao gave a start.
Lou Zigui repeated his question. “Am I going to die? Very soon, at that?” Grand Preceptor Xie, that crafty sycophant, had looked at him as one would look at a dead man.
“There’s no such thing,” Ning Xiaoyao replied. “The grand preceptor put poison on the executioner’s blade, but I’ve already treated that for you. Didn’t you know?”
Lou Zigui staggered in his steps. Like hell he knew! Nobody had ever told him!
“Seems like you didn’t know,” Ning Xiaoyao shook her head, smiling broadly until her eyes disappeared. “So I didn’t tell you after all. Heheh, I thought I did.”
Lou Zigui could hear all sorts of evil intentions hidden in that ‘heheh.’
“That Old Xie doesn’t know,” Ning Xiaoyao was still grinning. “He thinks that you’ll die on the day of the court assembly. When that day comes, Supreme Commander you should stand in front of him and have him pee his pants from fright!”
Lou Zigui felt another headache coming on. Was his only purpose after escaping death to make Xie Wenyuan pee in his pants? It seemed like he was never on the same wavelength with this other person’s brain.
Ning Xiaoyao kept talking. “If I can treat Song Jin, then I can treat the rest. Supreme Commander you don’t have to worry.”
“You know medicine, and your medical skills are brilliant,” Lou Zigui gazed at Ning Xiaoyao. “Who’s your master?”
Ning Xiaoyao stiffened. Shoot, she’d been exposed.
Lou Zigui wasn’t planning to pressure her for answers, so when she kept mute with a foolish grin on her face, he said, “Fine, I won’t ask this. Can you tell me what you want instead?” If this person still wanted to ask for his military power, Lou Zigui mused, I should offer it up with my two hands. This person saved my life and the lives of Fang Tang and the rest. She’s only been on the throne for three days, but she’s saved so many people.
Ning Xiaoyao still shook her head. “What do I want military power for?”
Lou Zigui stared at Ning Xiaoyao, who puffed out her cheeks.
“Then how about I ask you a question. I can leave, but will you guys be okay if I did?”
Now it was Lou Zigui’s turn to feel startled. The person beside him wanted to cast off everything and leave? Ning Xiaoyao supported Lou Zigui while they walked as she whispered, “My strength isn’t bad, and I won’t suffer losses if I get into a fight. I can treat illnesses for people as well, so I won’t starve to death no matter where I go, right? What’s there that I can’t do?”
Lou Zigui lowered his head to stare at the ground.
“If I leave, who will be the emperor?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
Lou Zigui stopped. Besides the crown prince, there were no other outstanding imperial sons from the late emperor. Moreover, the grand preceptor’s party held the reins of power today. The capital city’s troops and horses were controlled by the Xie father and daughter, so if any other imperial son took the throne, wouldn’t they assuredly be a puppet?
- Nine Gate Infantry Commander (九门提督) – military appointment during imperial China. The person with this title was in charge of overseeing and safeguarding the nine city gates of the imperial capital. ↩