Chapter 148: His Majesty gets tricked Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
“I….I have little pals here,” Ning Xiaoyao could only mumble out after some thought. However, Lou Zigui hadn’t seen any person speak to Ning Xiaoyao. Where are your so-called little pals?
“Is it over now?” Ning Xiaoyao asked. “How about we go home instead? Let them bury Old Madame first, maybe?”
Lou Zigui patted Ning Xiaoyao’s head before whispering a few things at a Dragon Guard behind him. Ning Xiaoyao’s sharp ears picked up Supreme Commander telling him that the men were in the northern courtyard, and to carry them over here.
The Dragon Guard obeyed before running out of the room. Ning Xiaoyao glanced at Lou Zigui. Those people already have broken bones galore. Isn’t it impossible to pin the crime on a bunch of crippled soldiers? The silence in the room remained unbroken until the sound of quick footsteps came their way.
Ning Xiaoyao stopped breathing. It’s time!
“Your Majesty,” Shadowgale’s voice sounded from outside. “We subordinates have captured seven men in the northern court of the estate.”
“And I’ve already said, those are Xie Clan members!”Xie Anji said loudly from behind. When Ning Xiaoyao saw Lou Zigui and Grand Preceptor Xie both standing there without moving, Ning Xiaoyao leaped out of her chair and covered the distance to the door in just a few strides. She was far less patient than those two. Outside in the grassy courtyard, seven bloody men were lined up side by side. A doctor had already binded up their injuries under layers of thick bandages.
Ning Xiaoyao sized them up and ascertained that these were all of the seven men they’d wanted to capture. Not one of them had escaped.
“Your Majesty,” Shadowgale bowed, awaiting orders. Ning Xiaoyao was about to walk down the steps when Lou Zigui pulled her back.
“Who are they?” Lou Zigui turned his head to ask Grand Preceptor Xie, who was just coming out himself.
“They’re distance relatives of my Xie Clan,” Grand Preceptor Xie replied.
“Are they recorded in the genealogy books?” Lou Zigui asked.
“Bring the book,” Grand Preceptor Xie ordered Xie Anshi.
“.....” said Ning Xiaoyao. Holy crap, old geezer Xie even created fake records for them on short notice?!
Soon enough, Xie Anshi arrived with the genealogy book and handed them over to Lou Zigui. Ning Xiaoyu stuck her head in to look, but didn’t understand the contents. She lowered her voice and murmured, “Are there any problems with it?”
“None,” Lou Zigui said as he closed the book again.
Well, then. Ning Xiaoyao looked at Grand Preceptor Xie, thoroughly convinced that they’d lost. Even if we can’t hold onto those guys, we can still keep hold on our dignity. “Grand Preceptor, you sure have a lot of relatives.”
Grand Preceptor Xie’s tone was full of respect. “Your Majesty, the Xie Clan has only grown in the past few centuries. Our sons and grandsons have prospered thanks to the late emperor and Your Majesty’s grace.”
Ning Xiaoyao pursed her lips. What does your Xie Clan birth rate have to do with the likes of me?
“Why were they injured?” Lou Zigui asked.
“Lou Zigui,” Xie Anshi said bluntly, “Are you interrogating my father?”
“What impudence!” Elder Li cried. “Xie Anshi, you’re only a minister at the Ministry of Civil Personnel. What right do you have to call Supreme Commander Lou by his full name”
“I’m only protecting father, since when did I---”
“That there, his upbringing was lacking,” Ning Xiaoyao cut in. “Old gramps, don’t get mad. Even Supreme Commander’s ignoring him, see?”
Everyone in the courtyard looked towards Xie Anshi. After His Majesty had called the eldest young master a bastard, now Third Young Master Xie was someone brought up with a poor education. If Grand Preceptor Xie couldn’t endure past this trial, then it’d be a pipe dream for this generation of Xie Clan men to hold government posts and command the courts like their forefathers.
Xie Anshi looked at Ning Xiaoyao, dearly wanting to flip out. But he held his temper in check and felt miserable instead.
“They met with the mobs in the capital,” Grand Preceptor Xie explained. “And were attacked by them in turn.”
“I see calluses on their hands,” Lou Zigui said. “The kind you get from frequent use of bows or other weapons. They’re familiar with those, but they couldn’t fight off a mob of civilians?”
Grand Preceptor Xie replied, “There wasn’t enough time to retaliate, so these serious injuries are excusable.”
“True enough,” Lou Zigui nodded, before looking suspiciously at the seven men. “What’s the relationship between you seven? Friends?”
Ning Xiaoyao listened ignorantly, completely unaware of the trap set in Lou Zigui’s words. Grand Preceptor Xie furtively shook his head at the men. There was no way they could claim to being friends, because they were already “relatives” of the Xie Clan. How could family members say they were friends stead?
The seven military officials had all taken painkillers, but the side effects of such drugs was to making them slow and sluggish. An alert and focused mind would have no way to ignore the pain from such injuries. Because of that, the seven men were feeling a little slow in their heads as well, and unconsciously nodded to Lou Zigui’s words.
Elder Li barked out a cold laugh. Grand Preceptor Xie’s expression remained unchanged. “They’ve grown up together since childhood, so they’re family as well as friends.”
Ning Xiaoyao gaped at Grand Preceptor Xie. You can even turn the tides at a time like this?!
“Search them,” Lou Zigui said coldly. A few Dragon Guards stepped forward and started frisking the seven men. Xie Anshi made a placating motion to Grand Preceptor Xie, indicating that it’d be alright. All seven men had been changed into new clothes already, and the poison in the planted bottle had long been replaced with a copy. At this moment, Cousin Magpie flew into the courtyard with a tiny white bottle between his beak. Cousin Magpie’s wife was resting in her nest, and glanced at the bottle her husband tossed by her feet.
“What is this? Can we eat it?”
Cousin Magpie replied, “The men that Xiaoyao want to capture changed their clothes. This bottle was hidden in one of their robes.”
“Is it useful to Xiaoyao?” Cousin Magpie’s wife asked in a rush.
“I don’t know, ah,” Cousin Magpie shook his head. “There were men guarding the pile of discarded clothes. When I flew in the window to take this bottle, they almost discovered me!”
How heroic was it to steal things from human claws right under their noses? Cousin Magpie’s wife looked at her husband with admiring eyes. (Author: Hey, humans claws are called hands!)
“What should I do?” Cousin Magpie asked.
“Deliver it to Xiaoyao, ah,” his wife replied. “Suppose she needs it? But if she doesn’t and it’s edible, you can bring it back to us.” She had always been a magpie good at planning.
“That courtyard’s full of humans. Should I toss the bottle at Xiaoyao’s head?” Cousin Magpie asked uneasily.
Now his wife thought he was foolish. “Can’t you call Xiaoyao out of the courtyard? It’s not like the other humans can understand you, pah!”
Suddenly seeing the light, Cousin Magpie picked up the bottle in his mouth and flew off again. Currently, one of the Dragon Guards in Old Madame’s courtyard had found a bottle in the folds of one man’s clothing.
“Hold it,” Grand Preceptor Xie called out before the Dragon Guard gave the bottle to Lou Zigui. “Let this old man have a look.”
Lou Zigui nodded towards the guard, who handed the bottle over. Grand Preceptor Xie examined the object before asking, “Supreme Commander, what do you think is in this bottle?”
If Xie Wenyuan could order these men to be beaten, wouldn’t he order their clothes to be searched as well? Lou Zigui was now very clear that the white bottle in his hands wasn’t the poison at all. Perhaps it was wine or even clear water. However, he still had two bottles of the same poison hidden in his sleeve. His next goal was to somehow find a link between his poisons and those seven men. It would be easy to fabricate something when his targets were lying right there.
Although Supreme Commander Lou knew exactly how things stood, Ning Xiaoyao was completely clueless. When she heard Grand Preceptor Xie’s question and saw the bottle, she assumed it was the one that Supreme Commander had handed off to Shadowgale. In that case, she proclaimed, “It might even be poison!”
Because she spoke too quickly, Lou Zigui didn’t have time to stop her. Grand Preceptor Xie looked at her and asked, “Your Majesty, they’re members of the Xie Clan as well. What motive would they have to hurt Old Madame?”
Under Xie Anshi’s prodding, the seven men all starting crying out for injustice. Ning Xiaoyao rubbed her nose. “I’m not the one who wanted to kill her. I don’t know these men either, so how am I supposed to guess their motives?”
Grand Preceptor Xie said, “Then what if there isn’t poison in this bottle?”
Then I’ll admit that you’re the stronger one and go home to eat, wash up, and sleep! Ning Xiaoyao thought privately, but said out loud, “Then we’ll keep searching for the culprit.”
“Your Majesty,” Lou Zigui spoke up, since it was useless to pull her back now.
“Supreme Commander Lou,” Grand Preceptor Xie said, “Don’t stand in for Your Majesty for every little thing. You’re only a subject, so you should act the part.”
Ning Xiaoyao said, “What are you wasting words for? Hurry up and test it for poison.”
Lou Zigui rested his forehead against his hand. Grand Preceptor Xie said, “Your Majesty, this subject believes that they had no intention to hurt the Old Madame.”
“Then I firmly believe that they’re guilty,” Ning Xiaoyao refused to accept his claim. “How do you know what’s in that bottle unless you test it first?”
Grand Preceptor Xie sucked in a breath. Ning Xiaoyao continued, “There’s no need to find a test subject. Just pour some on the ground and see what happens. If the poison’s corrosive enough to burn the tea table, it’ll probably react against dirt, too.”
“If there’s no poison in the bottle, can Your Majesty restore their innocence?” Grand Preceptor Xie asked with the bottle in his hands.
“Ah?” Ning Xiaoyao sensed that something was amiss. Why is this old man feeling so confident?
Grand Preceptor Xie opened the bottle and poured some of its contents on the ground. No reaction came from the dirt. Next, he took a sip of the liquid and told Ning Xiaoyao, “Your Majesty, this bottle contains nothing but hard liquor.”
Even the smell of white wine was filling the air now as Ning Xiaoyao realized she’d been tricked. Grand Preceptor Xie walked back to the walkway and stood there to show that he was unharmed, before saying respectfully, “Your Majesty, can you restore these men’s innocence now?”
“.........” Ning Xiaoyao said. What should I do now?
Grand Preceptor Xie said, “Although they’re only commoners, they have filial piety as well. This subject asks that Your Majesty restore their innocence.”
Ning Xiaoyao could only mutter awkwardly, “The way you’re saying things makes me sound like a bad guy.”
“This subject wouldn’t dare,” Grand Preceptor Xie hastened to say.
Big Boss Black, who was squatting by Ning Xiaoyao’s side, couldn’t be bothered with keeping up appearances in front of his Supreme Commander anymore. He clawed Ning Xiaoyao and meowed, “You ninny, miaow!”
Ning Xiaoyao only looked helplessly at Lou Zigui. Can we still salvage the situation? Lou Zigui’s expression hadn’t changed much. He went to order the Dragon Guards, “Keep searching, but be more detailed this time.”
“.......” said the Dragon Guards. They’ve already changed the bottles, so what are we supposed to find?
“Xiaoyao!” Cousin Magpie’s call came from outside the courtyard. “Xiaoyao, hurry and come out, I have something for you~”
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