Chapter 153: Everyone yields to him while he yields to no one Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Ning Xiaoyao was so preoccupied with dancing amongst the pickle jars that she’d long forgotten to wonder why they were filled with treasure in the first place.
“The estate has been searched twice in a row,” Old Madame Xie’s servant said with a pale face, still kneeling on the ground, “Old Madame was worried that the clan would meet with disaster one day. She already had the habit of hiding things in her pickle jars, so this time she had used them to hide all her valuables, property titles, and deeds.”
The Old Madame’s ancestors had earned military merit from suppressing rebellions in the past. She’d grown up desperately poor with a scholarly father until he gave up the brush in favor of the sword and earned his own fief and peerage. During her days of poverty, she had become an expert in pickling all sorts of vegetables. It was a habit she kept up even after her clan grew prosperous and she married into the rich and powerful Xie Clan. Anyone in the clan who was lucky enough to try some of Old Madame Xie’s personally pickled vegetables would be honored by the favor.
“Old Madame’s thoughts were that even if soldiers took over the estate, none of them would care about her pickled vegetables,” the servant said. Old Madame Xie’s exact words were that ‘if the family falls, the soldiers will dig through the ground and search through the houses for anything of note, but they won’t give a second glance to my old vegetable jars.’
Grand Preceptor Xie didn’t look at the servant woman, but stood in the hall staring at his courtyard. In truth, nobody in the family liked eating Old Madame’s pickled vegetables. They only did it to please their elderly relative. In fact, he himself absolutely loathed the things, but now they had become the most valuable thing in their estate. And yet, Ning Yu had taken them away after he freely offered them all…
Grand Preceptor Xie couldn’t hold back the mouthful of blood that welled up and trickled out past his lips. His vision finally grew dark as he lost consciousness. Lady Wang shrieked in alarm once again as the Xie Estate plunged into a new wave of chaos.
The servant woman in question had been under investigation when Grand Preceptor Xie sent off the pickle jars. When she learned the truth from a random pageboy, she found herself physically paralyzed on the ground. How could there be such a coincidence?
Ning Xiaoyao sat on the ground in Supreme Splendor Hall as she personally took the various treasures out of the pickle jars. Smiling faces surrounded her on all sides at their good fortune. Originally, they were even planning to flee to Anyuan, yet now there was no need. Moreover, their emperor had even struck it rich and brought back 20 carts’ worth of rice and flour. Lou Zigui sat next to Ning Xiaoyao, finding the entire scene inconceivable. Today had passed too much like a dream, so he needed time to adjust to reality.
“The grain should all be taken to the relief centers,” Ning Xiaoyao told Shadowgale. “We can raise the refugees for a bit longer.”
Shadowgale replied, “Your Majesty, you still want to make porridge for them, after all that happened?” When he recalled all the refugees had lawlessly barged into the palace and made their demands, he could only see them as a pack of wolves!
“Angry?” Ning Xiaoyao looked at Shadowgale with a simple smile. “They were all tricked, you know. Since everything is over, don’t dwell on it anymore, Windy. Now that they’ve gained experience from all this, they won’t be tricked so easily in the future. And what’s more, do you think any of them thinks the Grand Preceptor’s a good guy anymore?”
Shadowgale thought His Majesty’s words made sense after all.
“We didn’t suffer any losses,” Ning Xiaoyao wagged a finger as she summed things up.
Head Commander Shadowgale blurted out, “Your Majesty is wise and brilliant.”
Ning Xiaoyao laughed out loud. Lou Zigui rapped his knuckles against the tabletop and said, “Have Shadowgale’s men count the rest. Your Majesty, shouldn’t you go pay a visit to those seven military officers?”
Ning Xiaoyao puffed up her cheeks. Anyone who didn’t let her count her treasure now was her enemy!
Lou Zigui added, “If Your Majesty doesn’t want to go, then I’ll go instead. But I don’t think they’ll believe my words unless Your Majesty shows your face.”
“Forget it, I’ll take a trip over,” Ning Xiaoyao carefully set down the jade ornament in her hands and stood up. “I still want their soldiers.” Money and men were both important, ah.
After following Ning Xiaoyao out of the room, Lou Zigui lowered his voice. “Xie Wenyuan’s already threatened them, so don’t think much of it if they refuse to pledge allegiance to you, Xiaoyao. It’s not because of you; they’re just afraid of Xie Wenyuan retaliating against them.”
“What kind of retaliation?” Ning Xiaoyao asked, curious.
“There has to be some of Xie Wenyuan’s men amongst their soldiers,” Lou Zigui murmured. “If they turn disloyal, I doubt their families will survive.”
Ning Xiaoyao was in another pickle again. She scratched her head and said, “When did the Grand Preceptor threaten them? How come I didn’t know of it?”
Lou Zigui sighed softly. “Didn’t he pour poison all over an officer’s face?”
“That was the threat?”
“‘I can even kill you, to say nothing of your useless families,’” Lou Zigui explained. “That’s what Xie Wenyuan was trying to tell those seven officers.”
Ning Xiaoyao was silent. Why hadn’t I been able to decipher Grand Preceptor Xie’s sinister intentions?
“What is it?” Lou Zigui asked.
“How come I couldn’t tell?” Ning Xiaoyao wore a sour face. What could Supreme Commander Lou say to that? If he said she was foolish or stupid, the girl would only feel hurt.
After they reached the doorway of the room holding the seven southern officers, Lou Zigui purposely asked Ning Xiaoyao a question. “Do you know what to say?” If not, I can teach her.
Ning Xiaoyao nodded. She’d thought it all out. “I know. I’m an expert at negotiating.” As a girl who knew how to charm others, she was the token mascot of the army in her previous world. Nobody had disliked her there.
The seven military officers were still under the influence of their drugs, so they were drowsy and only half-alert. Still, the fact that their lives were at stake made it impossible for them to sleep. When they heard someone enter the room, all seven men grew as alert as possible. Ning Xiaoyao stood in front of the man who’d been splashed with poison by Grand Preceptor Xie and took off the cloth covering his face. Then she told Lou Zigui, “Supreme Commander, look. His face is fine now.”
Lou Zigui glanced at the man’s face. It was already surprising to him that the man was still alive, but now that his face was fully recovered, he was nothing short of stupefied. “You had the antidote?” he asked Ning Xiaoyao. Even he only had the poison on hand.
Ning Xiaoyao replied, “There’s no need for that.” All she had to do was use a bit of her powers. Who needed antidotes? Still, how was she supposed to explain that?
“Did you force out the poison with your inner energy?” Lou Zigui had thought up an answer in her place. He recalled how Ning Xiaoyao had placed her hand against the man’s face back at the Grand Preceptor’s estate.
“Ah? Ah,” Ning Xiaoyao randomly nodded her head. Inner energy works. As long as he doesn’t accuse me of using demon magic.
Lou Zigui wanted to ask more questions, but Ning Xiaoyao was already speaking again. “It’s a good thing you ran into me this time. Otherwise, Grand Preceptor Xie would’ve killed you.”
The officer in question only looked at Ning Xiaoyao with dead eyes, but there was a hint of life in them. In any case, it was a gaze that told a tale in Ning Xiaoyao’s view.
“Speak,” Lou Zigui said coldly.
The officer said, “Just kill us all.”
Ning Xiaoyao arched a brow. “You clearly don’t want to die, so why do you want me and Supreme Commander to kill you?” In the apocalypse, everyone wanted to live as long as they hadn’t been bitten by zombies. Only zombie victims pleaded for death, so she was quite clear regarding the difference between the two. Whether or not a person truly wanted to die couldn’t escape her eyes.
The officer shook his head and shouted, “I don’t want to live!”
Ning Xiaoyao glanced at Lou Zigui, who wasn’t talking, and simply said, “If you die, what about your family?”
“......” said Lou Zigui. Aren’t you pushing them closer to death by bringing up their families now? As expected, the officer’s will to live extinguished with those words. He certainly understood Grand Preceptor Xie’s intentions in poisoning him. If he didn’t die, his family certainly would. The other six officers were in the same state. They’d brought soldiers to the capital for the sake of promotions, but now they couldn’t even keep their lives.
“Then have you considered working for me instead?” Ning Xiaoyao surveyed the group before asking directly. “Although I can’t give you salaries as high as the Grand Preceptor, but don’t you think your prospects are better on my side?”
The seven officers all thought the very same thing at those words: His Majesty is fooling around with us!
Lou Zigui suddenly felt that bringing Miss Ning here had been a mistake. How could anyone talk like this to bring people to their side? Ning Xiaoyao, on the other hand, was very earnest as she spoke.
“You’ve seen it in action too. Grand Preceptor Xie, that fellow, he’s cold and heartless. As soon as something happens, he abandoned you all. Instead of trying to save you, he’s forcing you to die instead. How could a guy like him be a good commanding officer---ah no, a good leader?”
Although His Majesty’s words had some strange phrasing, the officers could understand what he meant.
“Moreover,” Ning Xiaoyao added, “Even though you guys brought soldiers with you, the Grand Preceptor didn’t even think of hiding you away when I showed up. See how little he thinks of you? But I understand types like him. He’s the kind of jerk that only cares about himself and never thinks of others, so it’s normal for him to act that way.”
Lou Zigui covered his mouth and cleared his throat. At that point in time, the mourning hall had just caught on fire and Old Madame Xie had rolled out of her coffin. How could Grand Preceptor Xie have been bothered to think about those seven officers? Ning Xiaoyao looked over at the noise, so Lou Zigui simply said, “Your Majesty, you should continue.”
“Oh,” Ning Xiaoyao went on. “You seven, this is what I think. Grand Preceptor Xie’s a guy with such shoddy morals. How can you be so sure that old geezer Xie will release your families if you remaining faithful to the death to prove your honor and loyalty to him? He’s the nasty sort.”
Although some of his terms seem excessive, His Majesty’s words do make a little sense, the seven officers thought.
“Why wouldn’t he release our families?” one of the officers finally spoke up. “They aren’t any threat to the Grand Preceptor.”
“Will he spare them just because they aren’t a threat?” Ning Xiaoyao rambled. “I was raised by Grand Preceptor Xie growing up. The number of people he’s killed is more than enough to make a mountain!”
Lou Zigui added, “If your families knew the truth behind your deaths, wouldn’t your sons and grandsons seek revenge? Why would the Grand Preceptor wait for his enemies to grow up?”
“That’s right,” Ning Xiaoyao agreed. “The Grand Preceptor taught me this, it’s called pulling up the grass by its roots!”
When the officers discovered that even their deaths would be meaningless, they were stuck. They could neither seek life nor aim for death, but were caught in a place worse than hopelessness.
“Enough,” Ning Xiaoyao murmured to Lou Zigui. “You’ve scared them. What do we do next? Treat them to a meal?”
“.......” said Lou Zigui. Girl, is inviting people to meals all you know to do?