Chapter 112: A bastard is an egg, not a human[1. bastard...not a human (混蛋是蛋不是人) - hundan shi dan bushi ren, this joke comes from the fact that the Chinese character for ‘bastard’ (混蛋) also contains the character for ‘egg’ (蛋).] Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
“They were talking about my face,” Ning Xiaoluo said as he pointed to his face. “Supreme Commander, look. Is there anything special about my face?”
Supreme Commander and the Dragon Guards all stared at Third Young Master Ning’s face. It was so swollen that it resembled the head of a pig. Even his own parents wouldn’t be able to recognize him, much less men like them.
Ning Xiaoluo jabbed his face with his finger before he said, “My face hurts.”
A few Dragon Guards felt their mouths twitch. If your face doesn’t hurt after it’s swelled up like this, then it’d be absurd.
Lou Zigui raised his head to peer into the distance. He could see the hazy figure of tall towers in the rain, and the blurry silhouette of the city’s gate towers. He waved at Ning Xiaoluo to follow him beneath the eaves at the side of the road. “How about this?” he spoke quietly. “Don’t let Xie Wenyuan know that you’re still alive.”
Ning Xiaoluo’s face seized in fear. He clutched his neck and wanted to run away. “You want to kill me?” he asked.
Lou Zigui now believed Ning Xiaoyao’s words. This brat really has mental problems. Ning Xiaoluo wanted to run away, but the sight of five Dragon Guards on horseback behind him made him think it was impossible. Tears gathered at the edges of his eyes. The capital city was really too scary. He wanted to go home!
“Conceal your identity and change your name,” Lou Zigui said as he pulled him back beneath the eaves. “After you get back to Fengzhou, don’t let the Duke of Yue’s estate spread any news that you’re alive. See how Grand Preceptor Xie will try to explain your death.”
“What!?” Ning Xiaoluo exclaimed in his shock. “That damnable man, he has the guts to announce my death to my family!?”
“You died while giving him a birthday present. Of course he has to give your family an explanation,” Lou Zigui replied.
“...........” Ning Xiaoluo said. Can’t you make it sound less like I’m already dead?
“Most likely, Xie Wenyuan will pin the blame for your death on His Majesty’s head,” Lou Zigui murmured.
Again, Ning Xiaoluo was stunned. What did all this have to do with His Majesty?
“Take care,” Lou Zigui took out his money bag and placed it in Ning Xiaoluo’s hand.
“Why?” Ning Xiaoluo asked.
“Aren’t you penniless?” Lou Zigui asked flatly.
“That’s not it,” Third Young Master Ning said hastily, “Why does Xie Wenyuan want to sow discord between my Duke of Yue’s estate and His Majesty?”
“Because he doesn’t get along well with His Majesty,” Supreme Commander Lou’s answer was still expressionless.
Ning Xiaoluo fell silent. Our sovereign and his official are at odds? Can’t you make it sound less casual? It’s like you’re saying how the soup was saltier than usual today, or something.
“It’s almost daylight,” Lou Zigui said after glancing at the skies. “Find a place to hide yourself. Remember my words. You have to stay incognito. As to the Duke of Yue’s estate’s next actions, that’ll be up to your father and brothers to decide.” Supreme Commander Lou had once heard that the Duke of Yue and his wife treated their youngest son as their most precious treasure.
“Then what about my guards?” Ning Xiaoluo said. Thinking about them made him want to cry again.
“I’ll make sure they rest in peace,” Lou Zigui’s voice seemed to sound a bit gentler. “You have to be careful on the road back to Fengzhou.”
“But I want to bring them back with me,” Ning Xiaoluo said as his tears spilled over onto his swollen face. Fengzhou was the true home of his guards. The capital city was a foreign land. People should always return to their roots.
“There’ll be chances in the future to bring them home,” Lou Zigui waved a hand at the Dragon Guard still inside the carriage. This Dragon Guard came over with a set of outer robes. Lou Zigui draped the robes over Ning Xiaoluo’s shoulders and said, “You have to be on guard. Go on now.”
Ning Xiaoluo stood in front of the horse carriage, wiping his tears as he stared at the bodies of his guards. Then he turned to bow at Lou Zigui before running off.
“You two, follow him,” Lou Zigui instructed two Dragon Guards. “Don’t let him discover you. Only show yourselves if his life is at risk. Return once you’ve seen him out of the capital city.”
The two Dragon Guards obeyed and ran after Ning Xiaoluo.
Next, Lou Zigui pointed to the carriage driver and said, “Kill him.”
The Dragon Guards holding the driver in place twisted the driver’s head and snapped his neck. He died without a murmur.
“Take this carriage with us. We’ll going back to the Grand Preceptor’s estate,” Lou Zigui said as he strode away with broad strides. The three remaining Dragon Guards exchanged glances. Including their Supreme Commander, they were only four men strong. Isn’t that too few people to kill our way into the Grand Preceptor’s estate?
“It’s fine,” Lou Zigui said as he mounted his horse. “We’re not going to make a move this time.”
By now, Ning Xiaoyao was sitting on the roof of the Grand Preceptor’s study. Elder Cousin Magpie was perched by her side, his feathers thoroughly drenched.
“Secret room?” Ning Xiaoyao rubbed her chin. “That old geezer even has one of those?”
Oil Jar was squatting on Ning Xiaoyao’s shoulders as he spoke. “All bad guys like having secret rooms. That’s because they can’t afford to expose any of their dastardly deeds!”
Oil Lamp was lying prostrate on the other shoulder. “Oil Jar, you even know things like that?”
“Ancestral Grandfather taught me,” Oil Jar declared proudly.
Elder Cousin Magpie asked, “Then did Grandpa Ash teach you how to sneak into one?”
Oil Jar fell silent. He was familiar with the layout of the Grand Preceptor’s estate. A little figure shifted before Ning Xiaoyao’s eyes from the chinks between the roof tiles. Ning Xiaoyao pinched her fingers and picked up a tiny ant.
“D-don’t kill me!” the ant pled shrilly.
“Little brother, what’s your honorable surname?” Ning Xiaoyao grinned at the ant.
“My name’s A’Mo,”[2. A’Mo (阿墨) - A is a moniker for nicknames, Mo is “ink.”] the ant said sheepishly.
“Oh, I’m Ning Xiaoyao. Hello, A’Mo,” Ning Xiaoyao greeted him.
“Ahhhhh----!” the little ant shrieked again, in surprise this time. “So you’re Ning Xiaoyao!”
Ning Xiaoyao was certain that she was famous in the animal kingdom!
“Yeah, she’s Xiaoyao,” Oil Jar said as he stared at the ant in Ning Xiaoyao’s palm. His tone took on a disdainful air, “Would any other human bother to talk to you?”
“Xiaoyao, are you going to tear down the Grand Preceptor’s house again?” A’Mo ignored Oil Jar’s snub and asked Ning Xiaoyao happily.
Ning Xiaoyao shook her head. “Not today. It’s inconvenient to set fires when it’s raining.” She’d have to spend money and buy oil to make a fire work in this weather.
“That’s true,” A’Mo said understandingly. It really is inconvenient to light fires during a rainstorm.
“A’Mo, I want to ask you something. Have you ever entered the secret chamber in the Grand Preceptor’s study?” Ning Xiaoyao asked. “The one he built underground.”
A’Mo tilted his head to the side. “I have, ah.”
Oil Jar, Oil Lamp, and Elder Cousin Magpie all looked with worshipful eyes at Ning Xiaoyao. That’s right. We have no way to get inside that chamber, but little ants like A’Mo can go anywhere!
“Did you go in there today?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
“Not today,” A’Mo said. “But my big brother did. I went to look for food in the gardens.”
“Oh, so it’s like that,” Ning Xiaoyao felt a little disappointed. She hadn’t found the answer she was looking for, so she gently poked A’Mo and said, “I’ll treat you to sugar beans when I visit next time.”
“Really?” A’Mo was so happy that his feelers started dancing. “Xiaoyao, thank you.”
“No need to thank me,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “Let’s meet on the roof next time as well.”
“Mm,” A’Mo raised his head up high to look at Ning Xiaoyao. “Xiaoyao, my big brother said they brought a little idiot into the secret chamber today.”
“Mm. His face isn’t ugly at all, but they covered it up with white cloth,” A’Mo’s feelers moved constantly as he talked.
That should be her doppelganger--but an idiot? Ning Xiaoyao rubbed her chin. Is it because idiots are more obedient?
“What did that person look like?” Oil Jar asked.
“He looked like a human,” A’Mo responded seriously.
Oil Jar and Oil Lamp both clutched at their whiskers, while Elder Cousin Magpie shook his head. Didn’t that count as telling them nothing at all?
“...........” said Ning Xiaoyao. Ahh, right, ant vision can only cover 10% of what humans see, so it’ll be too difficult to ask A’Mo’s big brother what that person looked like.
“Xiaoyao, are we going to secret chamber to see for ourselves?” Oil Lamp asked.
Ning Xiaoyao shook her head. “No need. I just needed to confirm that such a person exists.”
“What kind of bad things is the Grand Preceptor planning now?” Elder Cousin Magpie asked.
Ning Xiaoyao sighed. “He found a boy and changed his face so it’d look like mine. Then he’s planning to kill me off and make that boy the emperor in my place.”
Σ(°△ °|︴, went the four animals. How can humans be so cruel?
“Then,” Oil Jar’s fur was all standing on end from shock and fear. “Then when we saw that body with the mutilated face...were they trying to change his face to look like yours too, Xiaoyao?”
“Mhm,” Ning Xiaoyao nodded.
“So, so scary,” Oil Lamp breathed.
Elder Cousin Magpie said, “He’s a bastard!”
The other three all nodded in agreement. A bastard was an egg, not a human!
“Oh!” Oil Lamp suddenly remembered as his fur stood on end as well. “Then, Xiaoyao, aren’t you in danger?”
Ning Xiaoyao lifted her arm and swung it a few times. “Nothing to fear, he can’t beat me in a fight.”
“Then what do we do about that idiot?” A’Mo asked worriedly.
“If he wasn’t an idiot to begin with, then I can heal him,” Ning Xiaoyao said confidently.
“Xiaoyao’s so tough,” Oil Jar clapped.
“Haha, it’s nothing, it’s nothing,” Ning Xiaoyao felt a little smug after Oil Jar praised her again. Defeating me with a doppelganger? In their dreams.
“Xiaoyao, there really won’t be any problems?”
“None,” Ning Xiaoyao patted herself on the chest.
“I’ll keep an eye on the Grand Preceptor for you,” Elder Cousin Magpie promised. “If anything happens, I’ll come to the palace and tell you.”
“A’Mo will help too,” A’Mo said as he raised his two front legs.
“Thank you all,” Ning Xiaoyao was truly touched. She hugged Elder Cousin Magpie and gave him a kiss along with A’Mo. “Next time, I’ll definitely treat you guys to sugar beans!”
Elder Cousin Magpie looked nervously around him. Hopefully, his wife hadn’t caught Miss Xiaoyao kissing him. A’Mo was so thrilled that he rolled around in Ning Xiaoyao’s palm. He hadn’t found a wife yet! (Author: Wake up, you. It’s impossible for an ant and a human to get hitched! ╮(╯▽╰)╭)
At that moment, a middle-aged man that resembled a steward ran into the courtyard, headed in the direction of Grand Preceptor Xie’s study. Ning Xiaoyao quickly removed one of the roof tiles beneath her to listen in on the conversation below.
The man told Grand Preceptor Xie, “Grand Preceptor, Lou Zigui and three imperial guards came over with the carriage that had the bodies.”
Grand Preceptor Xie shut the book in his hands and stared at the steward, who stood half-bent, afraid to meet his master’s eyes.
Hm? Ning Xiaoyao gave a start from the rooftop. If Supreme Commander only returned with the Dragon Guards, then where did that Ning guy go?