Chapter 137: He who is unrighteous is doomed to destruction Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
“Oh yeah,” Ning Xiaoyao rubbed her nose and turned to Grand Preceptor Xie. “The old man you tricked has already told everyone about your bad deeds. Now the refugees don’t want to kill me anymore.”
Grand Preceptor Xie knitted his brows upon hearing that.
“What other nefarious plans do you have in mind?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
“Is Your Majesty joking with this lowly subject?” Grand Preceptor Xie replied.
Why’s he putting on the same useless act again?! Ning Xiaoyao glowered at Grand Preceptor Xie, who looked cooly back at Ning Xiaoyao before breaking into a smile. Ning Xiaoyao felt stifled by the sight of him. Just who had won between us this time? Why didn’t she feel even slightly triumphant? Oh right, she thought as she felt her stomach, I even got stabbed!
“Your Majesty?” Grand Preceptor Xie called.
“Whatever,” Ning Xiaoyao suddenly lost all interest in watching the show. Head hanging, she made to turn and leave. “Do as you like. In any case, I can’t kill you just yet, so let’s face off another day.”
That really was true. Ning Yu couldn’t kill him off just yet, but Grand Preceptor Xie still felt sick to his heart. Once again, he’d suffered another crushing defeat at her hands. All of his plans against Ning Yu had failed utterly, but he couldn’t figure out why. Is one of Ning Yu’s spies hidden amongst my ranks? Could only one person make such a big difference? Just who is that spy?! Ten thousand different questions plagued Grand Preceptor Xie’s brain, making him feel unwell all over.
Ning Xiaoyao’s spirits were all withered up like a raisin as she headed back to Supreme Splendor Hall. Military power. Control over that trivial military power. When am I going to wrest it back into my hands? Empress Dowager Xie looked at the pair--one leaving in dejected spirits, the other blatantly indifferent to the plight of her son--and lost her temper upon the pair once again.
“Both of you!” Empress Dowager Xie raised her voice, “What of Prince Cheng?!”
Ning Xiaoyao simply pretended that Empress Dowager Xie didn’t exist. I am still trying to figure out what to do about myself! Grand Preceptor Xie recovered his attention with difficulty and consoled Empress Dowager Xie. “Empress Dowager needn’t panic. The justice court’s yamen officers are outside the palace, as well as the Nine Gate Infantry Commander’s troops and all of the capital city’s soldiers. Nothing will happen to the prince.”
Empress Dowager Xie stared at Ning Xiaoyao until she disappeared into the distance before turning to look at the deserted palace gates. A sneer rose to her face as she said softly, “Is there anyone that father won’t cast aside?”
“Empress Dowager, you…” Grand Preceptor Xie hastened to answer.
“This Dowager doesn’t care what kind of methods father uses,” Empress Dowager Xie cut him off. “Before the end of today, This Dowager wants to see Prince Cheng back safe and unharmed. Otherwise, Grand Preceptor--you know my methods.”
Empress Dowager Xie brought along her mama back to her palace. While she’d been in a frenzy when she arrived, now she was back to her usual self. Grand Preceptor Xie stood frozen in place. When he heard someone report that over half their forces had been lost at the ancestral hall, his expression didn’t waver. He would’ve counted this as a loss even if he didn’t lose a single man since Ning Yu was still alive. It wasn’t worth languishing over the men lost now.
“Where is Lou Zigui?” he asked the messenger.
“Supreme Commander Lou’s still at the ancestral hall,” the messenger replied hastily. Grand Preceptor Xie headed out to the ancestral hall himself, after deciding to ask Lou Zigui about Ning Yu.
Currently, Lou Zigui was talking to Prince Zhi, Ning Guangyuan, as well as the other imperial clansmen. The plaza and stairs were still littered with bodies and blood. Besides Prince Zhi, who was a veteran of the battlefield, all of the other imperial clansmen were all looking decidedly uncomfortable.
“This is the ancestral hall of our Ning Clan imperial family! Now, not only does the central hall have a gaping hole, there’s so many dead people lying outside as well,” Prince Zhi had been calm before, but his words drove him to fury. “Just what is His Majesty doing?!” Even if you’re the emperor, you can’t disrespect your ancestors!
Two imperial guards passed by at that moment carrying a corpse between them. Long after they left, the imperial clansmen were still holding their noses while wearing a disgusted expression.
Lou Zigui’s voice was ice cold. “To all the princes present, that was an imperial guard.”
The various princes stared at Lou Zigui, not comprehending what he meant. They could tell the identity of the dead man just by looking at his clothes, so there was no need for Lou Zigui to tell them himself.
“If not for him, it might have been your corpses littering the ground here today,” Lou Zigui said.
“You!” one of the princes immediately wanted to retort.
But Prince Zhi waved him down, his tone severe. “Speak no more!”
“His Majesty didn’t want things to devolve to this extent,” Lou Zigui continued. “The Grand Preceptor wants to arrogate all authority to himself. I’ve mentioned this to you princes before.”
All of the imperial clansmen had ghastly expressions on their faces.
“If the refugees were allowed to raise a riot here,” Lou Zigui said, “Nobody would have been able to predict the outcome.”
Prince Zhi’s voice took on a hateful tone. “Xie Wenyuan’s a man who rests content with nothing--he’s like a snake trying to swallow an elephant!” Prince Zhi wasn’t someone who especially adored the Ning Clan or its kingdom, nor was he even the most upright of men. But in the end, the kingdom still belonged to the Ning Clan and that was his bottom line. Anyone who tried to topple it was his enemy! If the kingdom slipped from the Ning Clan’s grasp, what else could he do as Ning Guangyuan?
Lou Zigui replied, “What’s the use of cursing him now? Princes, it’s better to think of how to take away the Xie Clan’s means for survival.”
What was there to preserve the Xie Clan’s life? Naturally, all the imperial clansmen knew that it was their military power.
“The Xie Clan certainly has its share of men in the military,” Lou Zigui murmured as he spotted Grand Preceptor Xie heading their way. “Even if we can’t pull them out by the roots, we can at least prune some of the leaves.”
“How many men could he have?” Prince Qi, Ning Guangbei asked. “The Xie Clan is merely a family of scholars. From what this prince remembers, only five of their clansmen at most had joined as part of the military.”
“There are also faithful retainers, lest you forget,” Lou Zigui added.
“The extremely loyal types?” Prince Zhi asked.
“Whether or not they’re loyal isn’t actually all that important,” Lou Zigui explained, “The main point is that they have no way to betray the Xie Clan, such as those with family members under the Xie Clan’s control.”
“This one greets the princes,” Grand Preceptor Xie arrived in the wake of Lou Zigui’s words to cup his hands and bow. All of the princes except Prince Zhi backed away.
“Supreme Commander, let’s talk again when we have some time in the future,” Prince Zhi acknowledged Lou Zigui, before leading the other princes away.
Despite knowing that all the princes were against him now, Grand Preceptor Xie maintained a slight smile on his face. “So the princes were chatting with Supreme Commander?”
Prince Zhi replied coldly, “We have no way to vent our anger, so why can’t we exchange a few words with Supreme Commander?”
“Prince,” Grand Preceptor Xie replied, still smiling, “Everyone’s to blame for what happened today.”
Prince Zhi laughed coldly. “We haven’t even interrogated the suspects yet, so there’s no telling what’s right or wrong. But I’ll be waiting for an explanation from you, Grand Preceptor, in regards to the refugees.”
Grand Preceptor Xie only shook his head helplessly. “That old man was raving with his words. The blameless are naturally free from fault. This one believes that His Majesty will restore my innocence.”
Everyone here was shameless, so bringing them all together meant that the victor had to be the superior speaker. Prince Zhi shook his sleeves and told Lou Zigui, “Tomorrow, this prince shall find Supreme Commander to chat again.” Then he descended the steps without another word.
“........” said the officials from the astronomy department, who were still standing at the head of the steps. The imperial clansmen are gone and His Majesty’s vanished to who knows where. Isn’t anyone going to ask about the ancestral hall? And the gaping hole inside it, right in front of the altar for worshipping the imperial ancestors?!
Grand Preceptor Xie and Lou Zigui stood side by side, while everyone else gave them a wide berth.
“Where did Supreme Commander order your men to take Prince Cheng?” Grand Preceptor Xie wasted no time and came straight to the point.
Lou Zigui wasn’t in a mood to play around either, and replied, “When things have settled down in the palace, I’ll naturally send men to bring Prince Cheng back.”
“That’s for the best,” Grand Preceptor Xie nodded.
“Grand Preceptor has taken much pains,” Lou Zigui said with a cold tone.
Grand Preceptor Xie stared at the bloodstains by his feet before looking up again. “How is His Majesty planning to deal with the refugees?”
Before Lou Zigui could answer, a high-ranking officer from the eastern battalion hurried over to Grand Preceptor Xie’s side and whispered in his ear. Lou Zigui watched as Grand Preceptor Xie’s body swayed to the side until the officer caught him. He was still unsteady on his feet, and Supreme Commander Lou realized at that moment that young née Wang had succeeded in her task.
The officer supported Grand Preceptor Xie, too afraid to meet his master’s eyes. Old Madame Xie had suddenly passed away today, a most suspicious occurrence indeed. Grand Preceptor Xie prepared to turn around and leave, but suddenly stopped to face Lou Zigui again.
Lou Zigui clasped his hands behind his back as he stood on the blood-soaked steps, his eyebrows chilly as he remained aloof from the world. “Grand Preceptor Xie wants to ask why an upstanding man like me dared to make a move against an old woman?”
“You--” that was all Grand Preceptor Xie managed to get out before the rest of the words became stuck in his throat. All of the Lou Clan’s fathers and sons had died by his hands. If Lou Zigui chose to decimate his entire Xie Clan, he’d have no right to retort, either. Lou Zigui descended a few steps until he was on even footing with Grand Preceptor Xie. The officer supporting Grand Preceptor Xie began to grow nervous, worried that Lou Zigui would suddenly attack his master. He had no way to fight him off and defend Grand Preceptor Xie at the same time.
“The refugees were only pleading for a way to survive,” Lou Zigui told Grand Preceptor Xie. “And yet the high and mighty Grand Preceptor even calculated the lives of ants into his schemes. How admirable.”
Grand Preceptor Xie managed to speak with difficulty. “This old man doesn’t understand what you’re saying.”
“Of course you don’t understand,” Lou Zigui replied. “Even so, I’ll still say it. He who is unrighteous is doomed to destruction.”
Grand Preceptor Xie laughed out loud upon hearing his words. “It’s better if you remember those words yourself, Supreme Commander.” I, Xie Wenyuan, am not a good man. But you’re no man of integrity either, Lou Zigui.
Lou Zigui kept walking and passed by Grand Preceptor Xie.
“Supreme Commander,” Grand Preceptor Xie called from behind him. “You haven’t necessarily met the right master yet.”
Lou Zigui turned to give him a cold glare. This man still thinks I don’t know Miss Ning is female.
It was only after Lou Zigui departed that Grand Preceptor Xie’s legs went weak.
“Grand Preceptor!” the officer from the eastern battalion hastened to help him back up with renewed strength.
“Let us depart from the palace,” Grand Preceptor Xie chirped, “We go back to the Grand Preceptor’s estate.”
Now that his old mother was dead, he’ll need to observe a period of mourning for the next three years. That meant that he couldn’t do very many of his tasks in person. Moreover, the two sons he had left weren’t very useful at all. Lou Zigui had certainly taken drastic measures--like stealing the firewood out from under the cauldron.
If the officer supporting Grand Preceptor Xie knew what he was thinking of now, he’d probably turn cold with horror. The Grand Preceptor Xie’s mother had died--not from natural causes, but willful murder. But rather than thinking of revenge or funeral rites, the Grand Preceptor was only calculating the net losses in his head and how to deceive others! Xie Wenyuan was truly the epitome of the cold-blooded type...
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