Chapter 123: When His Majesty meets with swindlers Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Currently, Qin Xuan was standing by the road outside the southern gates of the capital. He glanced at Qin Xin perched by the carriage’s window and said, “We’ve left the capital city.”
Qin Xin didn’t turn back to reply him, her thoughts on that city were that it had been her cage. She only said in a small voice, “Take me away.”
Qin Xuan nodded slightly. He wanted to smile, but he suddenly felt too stifled to do it successfully. Qin Xin smiled instead. She had always felt like everything was a dream, but now that she was out of the city, she was sure that she’d be able to go home again. When Qin Xuan saw her smile then, he believed that His Majesty’s words were right. His sister’s smile was truly peerlessly elegant and full of intellectual brilliance.
“Alright,” Qin Xuan patted the carriage window before he said loudly, “We’re going home.”
The leader of the bodyguards raised his voice. “Alright, hyaa!”
The group continued their journey on the road. About an hour later, a company of ordinary citizens dressed in merchants’ clothing passed by Qin Xuan’s group. After they left, Qin Xuan halted his horse, causing Qin Xin to lift the curtains and look outside to see why.
“Those were soldiers,” Qin Xuan murmured as he watched the retreating merchant party.
Qin Xin quickly looked back. As a daughter of a military family, she could tell the merchants were military men just by looking at their gait. “How could that be?” she asked in alarm. “Why would there be soldiers in commoner clothing moving about outside the capital?” Within the city, soldiers were soldiers and civilians were civilians. What were those soldiers thinking by disguising themselves as the latter?
Aside from Qin Xuan and Qin Xin, their bodyguards had grown anxious as well. “They had a southern accent,” one of the bodyguards said as he approached Qin Xuan. “Regional Commander, I heard them talk as they passed by. They have southern accents, but I’m not sure which specific region they’re from.”
So they aren’t soldiers from the capital city?
Qin Xuan and Qin Xin exchanged glances before the former grit his teeth. “Big sis, I’ll get Little Lu and the rest to escort you to the courier station ahead. I’m going to take a trip back to the capital.”
Qin Xin knew it’d be dangerous for Qin Xuan to go back alone, but she nodded her head all the same. “You have to be careful.”
“There are people from our Qin Clan stationed at the courier post up ahead, so you don’t need to fear big sis,” Qin Xuan patted Qin Xin’s hand, which was resting against the carriage window.
“I’m not afraid. I’ll wait for you at the courier station. Nothing can happen to His Majesty,” Qin Xin said softly.
Qin Xuan only brought a single guard with him as he rushed back towards the capital. Qin Xin slowly sat back in the carriage. Good people should meet with good ends. If Heaven had eyes, it would protect her brother and His Majesty so that both would be unharmed.
Inside the palace, Ning Xiaoyao and the astrologers had ended up at odds with each other. Their conversation was like a donkey trying to talk to a horse, completely incompatible. Finally, both His Majesty Ning and those so-called swindlers ended up feeling extremely stifled. Both parties thought the other side was completely abnormal.
I have to abstain from meat and wine and take a bath just to burn some incense? Ning Xiaoyao ridiculed in her heart. And I can’t even eat! Isn’t this just a form of punishment? What’s it all for? Dead people don’t need to eat, so the living have to keep them company?!
Why doesn’t His Majesty understand a thing? The so-called swindling astrologers ridiculed in their hearts. He’s not only ignorant, but impossible to understand. What’s going on here? Did the Grand Preceptor only raise His Majesty’s body instead of his brain? Doesn’t he even know how to use human speech?
Both the sitting party and standing parties were staring at each other before they each quickly averted their eyes, unable to bear the sight any longer.
“Aren’t you guys afraid that I, Your Majesty, will starve to death?” Ning Xiaoyao still couldn’t accept it after thinking it over.
The seven so-called swindlers stood there, all wooden-faced. They’d never heard of someone dying due to fasting a single day.
“What is it?” Ning Xiaoyao said. “Are you guys trying the silent treatment against me? Look at me, hey! I’m the emperor--the emperor, don’t you know?”
The head astrologer opened his mouth with effort. “Your Majesty chides aptly.”
“What do you mean, I chide aptly?” Ning Xiaoyao said. “I’m the emperor, so I can do whatever I want. Do you know why?”
The seven so-called swindlers remained staring at Ning Xiaoyao still wearing their wooden expressions.
Ning Xiaoyao raised her voice for a rousing speech, “Because I’m the emperor!”
How they wanted to die and bring His Majesty with them! The seven so-called swindlers all shared the same thought at this exact moment. (o(╯□╰)o)
Shadowgale and a few other Dragon Guards had been acting as wallflowers the entire time. When he saw His Majesty about to lose it against the astrologers, Shadowgale felt extremely stifled. If His Majesty beats them up until they’re bedridden, how will we take care of the Grand Sacrificial Ceremony in two days’ time? (Author: Is that the only thing you’re worried about…)
“And also, what if someone tries to hurt me in the Grand Sacrificial Hall that day?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
The head astrologer replied, “Your Majesty jests. What kind of scoundrel would have the gall to harm Your Majesty in the Grand Sacrificial Hall?”
“The Grand Preceptor, for example. My God,” Ning Xiaoyao said, “Just then, you cursed him as a scoundrel!”
The head astrologer wanted to go home. If I stay here any longer, I’ll go insane.
“What kind of expression are you making?” Ning Xiaoyao asked him with a constipated look herself. Doesn’t he know I’m the emperor here?
The head astrologer lowered his head. “Your Majesty, these traditions were passed down from the ancestors.”
Ning Xiaoyao said, “I was talking about the Grand Preceptor, but now you’re bringing up ancestral traditions. Your Excellency, ah, why is it so tiring to talk to you?”
“.........” said the seven astrologers. They were tired and confused, too.
“Forget it,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “I’ll switch up my words, use some common terms that you can all understand.”
The head astrologer replied, “May Your Majesty instruct us.”
“Just earlier, you said you seven would keep an eye on me the entire time,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “So how are your martial arts skills?”
The head astrologer replied, “Your Majesty, we subjects are part of the astronomy department.”
“I know that. So what?” Ning Xiaoyao said.
“We are civil officials, not military men,” the head astrologer explained bluntly.
“.........” said Ning Xiaoyao. Then what do I need you seven for?
“Your Majesty,” the head astrologer continued, “When offering sacrifices to Heaven and one’s ancestors, we must abstain from weapons or war. This is…”
“Enough, you.” Ning Xiaoyao cut him off. “You guys insist on coming that day?”
“Yes,” the head astrologer answered.
“Then fine,” Ning Xiaoyao said helplessly. “Remember to carry a cooking pot lid on your backs that day.” When a fight breaks out, the lids will shield them so they don’t lose their lives needlessly.
The seven astrologers had to keep up a mental chant in their heads. Injuring the sovereign is a capital offense, regicide is a capital offense, we mustn’t be disrespectful to His Majesty, or else our entire families will be executed…
“I’m not going to talk with you guys anymore,” Ning Xiaoyao dug her nails into her palms. “Can you guys leave now?”
“We subjects shall take our leave,” the seven astrologers chorused before withdrawing. They didn’t want to talk to a jerk like His Majesty any longer, either! And thus, the meeting between His Majesty and the astrologers came to an unhappy conclusion. When Lou Zigui returned to see the wing still in one piece, with bright windows and clean tables, he silently exhaled in relief. It was good that nothing had happened. Shadowgale and the rest all noticed Lou Zigui’s actions. A few of the Dragon Guard took on complicated looks. Certainly, His Majesty hadn’t fought with anyone this time, but he’d abused them plenty.
“How is it?” Ning Xiaoyao asked. “Is that young Ning alright?”
“He slipped into a crowd of refugees headed for the southwest,” Lou Zigui replied. “As long as everything goes well, he should reach Fengzhou safely.”
“Oh, then I’ll stop worrying about him,” Ning Xiaoyao waved a hand before speaking to Shadowgale. “Windy, call everyone over. We’re going to have a meeting.”
Shadowgale ran off to call the other Dragon Guards for a meeting. Lou Zigui waved a hand to dismiss Shadowrain and his men before walking to Ning Xiaoyao’s side. “What is it?” he asked her quietly.
“The Grand Sacrificial Hall, ah,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “I suspect the Grand Preceptor will make his move that day to replace me with my doppelganger.”
Lou Zigui immediately grew alert and mentally reviewed the rites and rituals of the ceremony. “Then he’ll take advantage of the time when Your Majesty is alone in the ancestral hall to make his move?”
Ning Xiaoyao snapped her fingers. “Bingo, you’re right.”
Lou Zigui rested a hand against his forehead. What in the world is ‘bingo?’
“We have a place and time,” Ning Xiaoyao counted off with her fingers. “But we don’t know the method. How are they going to bring in the doppelganger? If nobody’s allowed to enter the ancestral hall, then how are they planning to kill me?”
“Don’t speak nonsense,” Lou Zigui raised a hand to cover Ning Xiaoyao’s mouth when she started talking about dying. Ning Xiaoyao puffed up her cheeks in protest. Since when did I say any nonsense?
Lou Zigui paced back and forth in front of Ning Xiaoyao a few times before he said, “If he’s planning to make a move at the ancestral hall, that means he has his people planted there.”
“Then suppose we capture all the people stationed at the ancestral hall?” Ning Xiaoyao suggested.
“Even if we do, Xiaoyao, you’ll still need to replace them with other men,” Lou Zigui said. “How can you be sure that none of the replacements are questionable as well?”
Ning Xiaoyao thought it over. “Then what if we sent Windy and Little Fang in their place?”
Lou Zigui shook his head. “Weapons and war are forbidden when making offerings to Heaven and one’s ancestors. They’re all military men, so they won’t be allowed to enter the hall.”
“How come you’re saying those things too?” Ning Xiaoyao cried out.
Lou Zigui smiled before he sneered. “Military men carry the aura of blood on their bodies. They’ll offend the spirits and late emperors with their presence.”
“Nonsense,” Ning Xiaoyao spat out.
“Now isn’t the time for things like that,” Lou Zigui stroked Ning Xiaoyao’s drooping head. “Let’s talk about the Grand Sacrificial Ceremony first.”
At this moment, one of the guards by the door ran inside and announced, “Your Majesty, Qin Xuan begs for an audience.”
“What?” Ning Xiaoyao jumped out of her seat. Why is he coming back again right after he left? Did they suffer at the hands of the Grand Preceptor’s men?
“Don’t panic,” Lou Zigui pushed Ning Xiaoyao back into her seat and murmured, “Let Qin Xuan in.”
Could Qin Xuan run any faster than me? Ning Xiaoyao thought, before springing back up to her feet again. If something really had happened, she could still run out of the palace and save them. What if Qin Xin had gotten injured again? She could heal her if she had to. “Supreme Commander, wait here for me. I’ll be right back.”
Ning Xiaoyao didn’t give Lou Zigui another chance to stop her, but sped out of the room. By the time Lou Zigui had chased her outside, she had already vanished from sight. Meanwhile, the seven astrologers were still on their way out of the palace. They were currently fretting over the fact that they had such an unpleasant emperor to deal with for the ceremony in two days when a burst of wind rushed past them.
The head astrologer stopped and said uncertainly, “Was that, was that His Majesty?” He couldn’t see the figure clearly, but it was dressed in those familiar bright robes.
“It is His Majesty,” the head astrologer said again. All of the seven astrologers fell silent. They couldn’t win against the emperor in words, fights, or rules. At this moment, they keenly understand the same suffering that Grand Preceptor Xie had experienced.
Ning Xiaoyao ran frantically out of the palace in one long breath. She hadn’t even faced Qin Xuan yet before she was tugging at his sleeve.
“What is it, ah? Did something happen to Miss Qin?!”
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