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Chapter 155: Grand Preceptor refuses to accept his fate Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Grand Preceptor Xie wasn’t unconscious for long. But after waking up, he didn’t even get a chance to speak to his two sons before a steward came with reports that His Majesty had sent over an imperial physician. Grand Preceptor Xie felt his vision go black again. Both Lady w.a.n.g and Ning Xiaoyao had succeeded in making him ill enough to feel faint at the mention of their very names. (Orz)1
The three imperial physicians were as docile as quails during the entire trip. When Grand Preceptor Xie had greeted them, they returned the greetings in the turn, but never spoke on their own accord. Nor did they lift their heads to look at him. Finally, Grand Preceptor Xie ordered his men to give them thank you gifts, but none of the physicians dared to accept them.
“They left like dogs with tails between their legs!” Xie Anji2 said indignantly. Grand Preceptor Xie laughed coldly before he sighed. The physicians were all surely avoiding me now.
“Father, what do we do now?” Xie Ans.h.i.+ asked.
Grand Preceptor Xie glanced at the pageboy by his side, who took out a small booklet and handed it to Xie Ans.h.i.+ in a hurry.
“Burn all the houses listed in that book,” Grand Preceptor Xie ordered.
Xie Ans.h.i.+ quickly opened the booklet and blanched at the sight of the first page. All of these were the Old Madame’s houses and shops. And they were going to burn them all?
“Hurry,” Grand Preceptor Xie urged.
“Father?” Xie Ans.h.i.+ was beginning to wonder whether his father’s brains had been addled by His Majesty.
“If you don’t burn them, they’ll all belong to His Majesty,” Grand Preceptor Xie said. “I refused to yield anything we can’t keep to others.”
Both Xie brothers were stunned. How could Old Madame Xie’s things be His Majesty’s now? Grand Preceptor Xie furiously waved a hand, unable to explain the circ.u.mstances behind what had happened.
“T-then what about the money and things in the stores?” Xie Ans.h.i.+ asked. Even if we don’t want the buildings, aren’t we going to keep the stocks?
“Forget about them all,” Grand Preceptor Xie replied. “Is our Xie Clan going to fall for want of such things?”
Xie Ans.h.i.+ still wanted to speak.
“Beat it!” Grand Preceptor Xie roared.
Xie Ans.h.i.+ had no choice but to scram.
“Go make inquiries around the palace,” Grand Preceptor Xie told his second son Xie Anji after chasing off his third. “See if Prince Cheng has returned.”
Xie Anji grew uneasy. “Father, this son isn’t able to enter the palace.”
“Find someone to look around for you,” Grand Preceptor Xie’s was frighteningly gloomy. “Can’t you even do a simple thing like that?”
Xie Anji could only leave and figure out a way to get the intel. Lady w.a.n.g had been standing vigil by the door. When she saw both of her sons leave, she stepped inside. Grand Preceptor Xie was leaning back against a silk cus.h.i.+on. When he saw Lady w.a.n.g enter, he waved a hand to beckon her near. Lady w.a.n.g stood in front of his bed and saw how much her husband had aged over the course of the past few days. Tears fell from her face at the sight.
“I was planning to take care of young née w.a.n.g personally,” Grand Preceptor Xie wasn’t in a mood to grieve as he pressed a hand against his throat. “You should do it instead.”
Lady w.a.n.g stopped wiping away her tears to stare at Grand Preceptor Xie. “His Majesty personally left words for Grand Preceptor to look after that wretch well. It wouldn’t look good if we get rid of her now, will it? Suppose His Majesty blames us for yet another thing…”
“He can’t kill me,” Grand Preceptor Xie interrupted. “So why fear him at all? Wife, do it as soon as possible. Or…are you reluctant to lose this niece of yours?”
Lady w.a.n.g hastily shook her head.
“Go on then,” Grand Preceptor Xie stopped talking.
Lady w.a.n.g turned to leave, but couldn’t resist stopping for one last question. “Is there really no more chances to reconcile with His Majesty?”
Grand Preceptor Xie simply closed his eyes and waved Lady w.a.n.g away. She covered her mouth to m.u.f.fle her sobs before staggering out the door. As soon as she left, one the Grand Preceptor’s stewards walked in hunched over before kneeling on the ground to kowtow.
“How is it?” Grand Preceptor Xie asked.
The steward said softly, “That old man killed himself, but his family’s still in the palace. I don’t know how His Majesty is planning to deal with the situation.”
Grand Preceptor Xie remained indifferent. “And the refugees?”
“They’ve returned to their old haunts,” the steward looked carefully at Grand Preceptor Xie before adding, “His Majesty didn’t—didn’t give them any difficulties.”
Grand Preceptor Xie’s eyes flew open at the same time the steward ducked his head in fright.
“She certainly knows how to endure,” Grand Preceptor Xie muttered softly to himself.
The steward said, “Grand Preceptor, there’s no more chaos on the streets anymore.”
“Are there any people cursing this old man?” Grand Preceptor Xie asked.
The steward didn’t dare to say.
“Speak,” Grand Preceptor Xie ordered.
“There are,” the steward managed to say. But that was all. He didn’t mentioned how those people were cursing the entire Xie Clan to bad ends or had even beaten one of their stewards to death.
“Leave,” Grand Preceptor Xie dismissed him. n.o.body else entered the room after the steward, so Grand Preceptor Xie beat listlessly against his bed. Yet another crus.h.i.+ng defeat! Once again, I failed!
“Someone, come!” he shouted after some thought.
Two pageboys scurried into the room.
“Go summon Xie Laibao,” Grand Preceptor Xie ordered. “And get me a brush and some ink.”
The two pageboys immediately split up to fulfill his requests. Grand Preceptor Xie sat in his bed and wrote a letter to the Duke of Yue, Ning Heng.3 In the letter, he blamed Ning Xiaoyao for causing the death of Ning Heng’s third son, Ning Xiaoluo. By the time his servants carried in Xie Laibao on a chair, Grand Preceptor Xie had already sealed up the letter and handed it off to one of his pageboys.
“Order the outer courtyard to travel double speed and deliver this letter to Fengzhou.”
The pageboy accepted the letter and quickly ran off. Xie Laibao privately made a note of ‘Fengzhou’ before sobbing out, “Master.”
Grand Preceptor Xie waved a hand to dismiss everyone else in the room as he looked at Xie Laibao. Somehow, the man had been reduced to tears in the blink of an eye. “What are you crying for? This old man hasn’t reached a dead end yet.”
Xie Laibao boxed his ears and said, “This servant was unworthy and deserves to die. But now of all times, I can’t move.”
“You have to move even if you can’t,” Grand Preceptor Xie glanced at the places where Xie Laibao’s injured body had been secured to planks.
Xie Laibao hastened to say, “Master, please instruct me.”
“Three days from now, this old man will invite a monk to recite scriptures for the old madame,” Grand Preceptor Xie said. “On that day, the leaders of the Poison Sect will come to our estate as well.”
“They’re all coming together?” Xie Laibao asked. That’s quite a bit of people.
“Their head has been captured, so they’ll need to ask me for ideas,” Grand Preceptor Xie explained. “You’ll prepare the banquet for that day.”
Xie Laibao glanced at Grand Preceptor Xie. That’s it? Something that simple?
“We can’t leave the Poison Sect alive any longer,” Grand Preceptor Xie explained. “Three days later marks the death of their sect.”
The Head Steward Xie nearly jumped up in fright. There were tens of thousands of members in the Poison Sect, while their leaders numbered in the hundreds alone. Grand Preceptor Xie wanted to kill all the leaders?
“S-should I poison the food?” Xie Laibao asked.
“You’re going to poison members of the Poison Sect?” Grand Preceptor Xie retorted.
Xie Laibao boxed his ears again. “Master, this servant lost his brains while recovering from his injuries.”
“Transfer archers from the capital,” Grand Preceptor Xie said. “And shoot everyone who shows up to death.”
“Yes,” Xie Laibao obeyed before looking Grand Preceptor Xie with a conflicted expression. He wanted to asked a question, but didn’t dare.
“There has to be a spy amongst the Poison Sect’s ranks,” Grand Preceptor Xie said. “If I can’t find them, I’d rather kill them all.”
Xie Laibao was all consideration for his master. “Master, the Poison Sect’s full of disciples. If you kill off all their leaders just like that, wouldn’t the survivors come to cause you trouble?”
“It was this old man who helped to raise the Poison Sect,” Grand Preceptor Xie said, not worried at all, “If I say they’re good, then they’re good. If I say they’re bad, then they’re nothing more than rats in the streets.”
Xie Laibao felt his heart clench in fear at the words. If he finds out that I’m working with Lou Zigui, how will he treat me?!
“Go on now,” Grand Preceptor Xie dismissed Xie Laibao.
“Master, then how do we explain to the Poison Sect head?” Xie Laibao asked.
“Tell him that we weren’t the ones who sent in the archers,” Grand Preceptor Xie replied coldly. “If he’s not one of Ning Yu’s men, he’ll naturally seek revenge on her for his subordinates.”
Xie Laibao’s voice shook. “So the archers were sent by His Majesty?”
“All of my men are those His Majesty wants to kill,” Grand Preceptor Xie leveled Xie Laibao with a stare. “Only by understanding that will those half-hearted types give up their second thoughts.”
Xie Laibao was fearful, but held out long enough to praise his master and call him wise and brilliant. Impatient with such praise, Grand Preceptor Xie simply waved him away. Two servants were called into the room to carry Xie Laibao out again. The Head Steward of the Xie Clan heard Grand Preceptor Xie muttering to himself as he left the room.
“You think that Lou Zigui’s so great?”
Xie Laibao’s soul nearly flew out of his body at the words. He was about to crawl off his chair and beg for mercy when he heard Grand Preceptor Xie mutter again, “You’ll regret it, Your Majesty.”
Xie Laibao motioned for his carriers to move faster. If he stayed here any longer, he’d definitely lose his nerve. Meanwhile, Grand Preceptor Xie coughed up a fresh mouthful of blood.
The spring breeze was very warm outside, but Xie Laibao felt as if it were the dead of winter. Because Grand Preceptor Xie suspected the Poison Sect of harboring spies, he ordered their leaders summarily executed. But what about the likes of him? Perhaps, Xie Laibao thought as he shook back and forth on his chair, Perhaps my only chance at survival is to hope His Majesty gets rid of Grand Preceptor Xie once and for all?
Grand Preceptor Xie leaned over his little desk and lifted his brush again, this time to write a letter to Empress Dowager Xie. With no way to kill Ning Yu, he couldn’t afford any discord with his daughter in the palace. By the time dusk set in, the rioting capital had settled down to its previous calm. Ning Xiaoyao sat in the main hall of her palace eating dinner with Lou Zigui. She was a quick eater, but Lou Zigui wasn’t slow either thanks to his experience in the military. Big Boss Black, the snow wolf pup and Grandfather Sparrow on the window all held admiration for their speed.
“You’re a girl, so can’t you be more reserved when you eat?” Big Boss Black meowed from below the table.
Ning Xiaoyao rolled her eyes.
“Look at my Supreme Commander!” Big Boss Black scratched Ning Xiaoyao’s calves. Although Supreme Commander Lou ate fast, his movements were refined and aristocratic. Ning Xiaoyao pouted at the sight. He looks good even when he’s eating, so what’s a girl as handsome as the Heavens like me supposed to do? (Author: Enough, you….)
“What’s wrong?” Lou Zigui put down his soup and asked in a low voice.
Ning Xiaoyao copied Lou Zigui’s way of drinking soup but only got a pitiful mouthful. When she tried again, she got the same results. If she wanted to drink more soup, she’d have to open her mouth wider.
How did Supreme Commander finish off his soup like this?
In a moment of anger, Ning Xiaoyao opened wide and polished off her mushroom soup in two gulps. With a clang, she set the empty bowl on the table.
“This is what you call drinking soup!” Ning Xiaoyao said with a glare.
“…….” said Lou Zigui. Can someone tell me what just happened?