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Chapter 151: Bad guys, good guys Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Ning Xiaoyao examined Shadowgale from head to toe until his hairs stood on end. When he recalled how he’d been hugging a young Miss of the Xie Clan recently, he was struck with a guilty conscience and went running off to the pickle jars.
“There’s been a situation,” Ning Xiaoyao muttered under her breath.
“What is it?” Lou Zigui asked.
Ning Xiaoyao shook her head. There was no need to involve Supreme Commander Lou into the personal affairs of the Dragon Guards. He’s a bachelor himself. If he gets involved, Shadowgale and the rest might have to stay bachelors with him instead. (Author: Hey, don’t be like that!)
The Dragon Guards in charge of putting out the fires had now arrived with an updated report. The imperial guards were still working at fighting the flames.
“And the grain?” Ning Xiaoyao asked in a low voice.
“They’ve all been moved to the carts,” the guard replied. “But we haven’t put out the fires yet.”
Ning Xiaoyao nodded. Makes sense. If they were busy moving the grain, who had time to extinguish the fire?
Lou Zigui called the same guard to his side and murmured, “Forget about moving the grain for a sec. Have your troops move out to East Lane and guard the five residences there under the Xie Clan’s name.”
“Which five are those?” the guard asked.
“There’ll be someone to guide you there after you leave the compound,” Lou Zigui replied. “Make sure the people inside can’t leave. Identify yourselves as imperial guards and say that the Grand Preceptor’s already abandoned them.”
The guard replied an a.s.sent and hurried off. Ning Xiaoyao was currently looking at young née w.a.n.g as her eyes spun in her sockets. Finally, she said, “Grand Preceptor already said himself, Lady w.a.n.g’s not in her right mind at the moment so she’s more or less a lunatic. You have to take care of yourself. Insane people can’t be convicted for murder.”
Young née w.a.n.g weakly bowed towards Ning Xiaoyao and murmured, “This concubine accepts the decree.”
“Grand Preceptor,” Ning Xiaoyao said next, “I’ll leave her life in your hands. You can’t leave the house and make a ruckus anyways, so just protect your daughter-in-law well, ah.”
The taste of blood grew more p.r.o.nounced in Grand Preceptor Xie’s throat. This d.a.m.ned girl’s convinced that I want young née w.a.n.g dead.
“Goodbye, old gramps,” Ning Xiayoao bid Elder Li politely farewell. He bowed towards her in turn. Today, the mourning hall had caught fire, then the Old Madame’s body had rolled out of her coffin, then they’d ended up catching some murderers. Elder Li had seen a grand show. Though none of the manipulating was visible from the surface before a few disagreements, Elder Li could pinpoint everything happening from the shadows. Ning Xiaoyao had thoroughly stomped Grand Preceptor Xie into the mud, but the man still had to bring the males of his estate out to respectfully see him off.
When Lou Zigui got onto his horse, he gave one last glance to young née w.a.n.g, who was standing by the gates. She gently bowed to him in returned. Supreme Commander will probably come to find me again, she mused. After His Majesty left, a large crash came from the Grand Preceptor’s estate as more of their buildings collapsed.
Cousin Magpie carried a bag of sugar beans to one of the fake mountains in the courtyard and chirped twice. A’Mo crawled out of his anthole with a troop of his companions behind him.
“Xiaoyao doesn’t have time to stop by personally, so she told me to give you this bag,” Cousin Magpie told A’Mo. “Xiaoyao says thank you. And A’Mo, ah, if you have any news, find me like you did today. I’ll get Xiaoyao since I fly fast.”
“Okay~” A’Mo agreed, before asking, “Why does the Grand Preceptor want to harm Xiaoyao?”
Cousin Magpie thought it over before he replied seriously, “That’s how humans are. When bad guys see good guys alive, they get unhappy.”
A’Mo thought that Cousin Magpie’s words made a lot of sense!
Grand Preceptor Xie went back to his courtyard and told the various officials who came to offer condolences, “The cause of my mother’s death is still uncertain, so her funeral will be delayed. Everyone, please go home for now.”
Filled with his share of watching the hubbub, Elder Li took his people and left. The few officials who lingered behind were both uneasy and afraid, though they didn’t show it on their face. Aware of their doubts, Grand Preceptor Xie said, “It’s alright. His Majesty still considers my mother his maternal grandmother, while this old man is still the Grand Preceptor. The sky won’t fall on us.”
All of the Grand Preceptor’s faction muttered their a.s.sent. But the only reason the sky hasn’t fallen is because of the military power in the Xie Clan’s hands. Suppose His Majesty wrests that away in the days to come? Can you guarantee that the sky won’t fall then? In spite of their doubts, no one voiced the words aloud.
Grand Preceptor Xie said, “All of you, go home. Come back when my mother has her funeral.”
His faction members had no choice but to bid farewell. Once all the outsiders were gone, Grand Preceptor Xie took a few sips of water from a cup from one of his servant boys. A few Dragon Guards emerged from the courtyard with Xie Anyi in custody. Young née w.a.n.g was standing right in front of the gates. When husband and wife met gazes, he was overcome with emotion, but young née w.a.n.g remained expressionless.
“You,” Xie Anyi exclaimed, “Why did His Majesty release you?!”
Young née w.a.n.g replied, “His Majesty won’t lower himself to this concubine’s affairs.”
Xie Anyi shook his head. “Did you agree to something for His Majesty?” Wouldn’t Ning Yu rather our entire clan died? How could he released née w.a.n.g without reason? Even if you beat me to death, I refuse to believe that.
Young née w.a.n.g only smiled mockingly with no trace of her gentle, dainty tenderness. “Does my husband hope for me to accompany him into the bitter winter wastes? Then who will take care of our children?”
Xie Anyi realized at this moment that he had never truly known the woman before him right now.
“Née w.a.n.g,” Grand Preceptor Xie spoke up. “Why don’t you return to your rooms?”
Young née w.a.n.g gave Grand Preceptor Xie a large bow before moving to the gates. Xie Anyi cried out, “Father!”
Grand Preceptor Xie stepped in front of Xie Anyi but didn’t lose his temper. Instead, he said calmly, “You’ll have to rely on yourself for the future. Not even a blade of gra.s.s grows in the winter wastes. When fighting breaks out, human lives there are as worthless as trash. Anyi, do your best.”
Xie Anyi struggled free from the Dragon Guards to kneel in front of Grand Preceptor Xie. “This isn’t right, father! This isn’t what mother told me!”
Xie Ans.h.i.+ stood silently to the side. Unable to bear the sight, Xie Anqi said, “Father, why don’t you think of some other way?”
“When,” Grand Preceptor Xie bent down to look Xie Anyi in the eyes. “When father wins, you’ll be able to return to the capital.”
Win? Wait until father beats His Majesty? Xie Anyi’s expression turned hopeless. How long will I have to wait?
“If you can’t wait that long,” Grand Preceptor Xie added, “Father will leave you with some words of wisdom. Death will free you.”
Xie Anyi slumped. Completely listless, he said, “All because of one woman…” I’ve been reduced to this all because of a single Qin Xin?
“It wasn’t all because of a woman,” Grand Preceptor Xie patted his eldest son’s shoulders as his expression s.h.i.+fted. “It’s because His Majesty can’t abide the existence of our Xie Clan.”
Grand Preceptor Xie straightened up and began to walk inside. Xie Anqi and Xie Ans.h.i.+ watched as the Dragon Guards took their brother away. When they recalled how the Xie Clan had been glorious and unchallenged only recently, but now unable to protect its own eldest heir, both of them turned gloomy and silent.
“If we knew this day would come,” Xie Anqi murmured hatefully as Xie Anyi faded from sight, “If we knew this day would come, father would never have wracked his brains to put that boy on the throne.”
Xie Ans.h.i.+ thought back, but couldn’t even recall Ning Yu’s features during his time at the Xie Estate. “Father was tricked.” So speaking, the Third Young Master of the Xie Clan turned to enter the compound. Ning Yu’s nothing but ostentatious these days. For a person like him to exist silently over a decade in the Xie Clan meant that he was holding back the entire time. It’s not surprising that father thought he could control that little emperor after the boy took the throne.
Grand Preceptor Xie headed to Lady w.a.n.g’s courtyard, where the woman was with her clansmen brothers in a side courtyard. All of them were glowering at each other, making the various servants wis.h.i.+ng they could dearly leave the scene.
“Just what grudge do you hold against me?” Lady w.a.n.g demanded from her brothers. “How did you raise such a thing to ruin me?”
Young née w.a.n.g’s father didn’t even lift his eyes as he replied, “Elder sister, it was your side that insisted on the marriage. What now? Is my daughter the only one at fault for Xie Anyi’s misfortunes?”
“Do you know what she did?!” Lady w.a.n.g shrieked.
Grand Preceptor Xie entered the courtyard at this time and remarked, “It was nothing but a petty rivalry between women. I’m not even blaming the bystanders for née Qin’s incident, so why are you losing your temper, my wife?”
The various w.a.n.g Clan males rose to their feet to pay respects. Grand Preceptor Xie didn’t wait for Lady w.a.n.g’s retort, but told the various uncles, “Recently, the Xie Estate’s been having no end of troubles. Lady w.a.n.g herself isn’t strong enough to take it all, so I ask you not to blame her for any transgressions in etiquette.”
Grand Preceptor Xie’s soft words finally placated the various w.a.n.g brothers a bit. Next, Grand Preceptor Xie called for servants to summon Xie Anqi and Xie Ans.h.i.+ to bring the w.a.n.g uncles out of the estate. When husband and wife were the only ones in the courtyard, Lady w.a.n.g finally burst into tears. Grand Preceptor Xie slowly took a seat and picked up a cup of tea. He opened his mouth to take a sip—only to cough up blood into the cup.
Lady w.a.n.g wailed, “Old Master, His Majesty had the gall to make that wretch Anyi’s official consort. How could that be acceptable? That cheap slave—”
“Stop talking,” Grand Preceptor Xie poured the bloodstained tea on the ground, his tone nonchalant. “His Majesty only wants to makes me ill and uncomfortable. You acting like this aligns with his wishes exactly.”
Lady w.a.n.g’s sobs abruptly ceased.
Grand Preceptor Xie continued, “Make some preparations. Close the estate to all visitors for the next few days, this old man’s planning to thoroughly investigate each and every one of the servants.”
Lday w.a.n.g stood up in fright. “H-how many people is that?”
“You don’t need to ask that question,” Grand Preceptor Xie said. “Just do a good job keeping vigil over Old Madame. I’ll find the answer to her cause of death.”
Lady w.a.n.g walked to Grand Preceptor Xie’s side, her handkerchief soaked by her tears. “Bit His Majesty said that you have to protect that wretched girl’s life,” she murmured.
Grand Preceptor Xie laughed. “Could His Majesty kill me if I really took née w.a.n.g’s life?”
Lady w.a.n.g’s hands shook as her handkerchief fell to the ground.
Meanwhile, Ning Xiaoyao was leaning against the carriage window as she spoke to Lou Zigui outside. “Supreme Commander, what do you think will happen to that little white flower in the future?”
“That’ll be up to her,” Lou Zigui replied calmly. In his heart, Supreme Commander Lou knew that young née w.a.n.g wasn’t destined to live long. But he didn’t feel it was necessary to tell this to Ning Xiaoyao. Now that Old Madame Xie was dead and their goal achieved, young née w.a.n.g was completely insignificant to the current political situation. There was no need to make mention of her again.