Chapter 155: Grand Preceptor refuses to accept his fate
Grand Preceptor Xie wasn’t unconscious for long. But soon after waking up, he didn’t even have a chance to speak to his two sons before a steward came with reports that His Majesty had sent over an imperial physician. Grand Preceptor Xie felt his vision go black again. Both Lady Wang and Ning Xiaoyao had succeeded in making him ill enough to feel faint at the mention of their very names. (Orz)[1. Yes, the Orz is present in the original raw version of the chapter as well!]
The three imperial physicians were all as docile as quails during the entire trip. When Grand Preceptor Xie had greeted them, they returned the greetings in turn, but never spoke on their own accord. Nor did they lift their heads to look at him. Finally, Grand Preceptor Xie ordered his men to give them thank you gifts, but none of the physicians dared to accept them.
“They left just like dogs with tails between their legs!” Xie Anji[2. Xie Anjii (谢安济) - Unfortunately, it seems I misread this character. Xie Anji is the correct name, not Xie AnQI. Ji means “aid, relieve, benefit, to cross a river.” Earlier chapters will be corrected accordingly in time...] said indignantly. Grand Preceptor Xie laughed coldly before he sighed in resignation. The physicians were all surely avoiding me just now.
“Father, what should we do now?” Xie Anshi asked.
Grand Preceptor Xie glanced at the pageboy waiting by his side, who took out a small booklet and handed it over to Xie Anshi in a hurry.
“Burn all the houses that are listed in that book,” Grand Preceptor Xie ordered.
Xie Anshi quickly opened the booklet and blanched at the sight of the first page. All of these were the Old Madame’s houses and shops. And we’re were going to burn them all?
“Hurry and complete the task you were given,” Grand Preceptor Xie urged.
“Father?” Xie Anshi was beginning to wonder whether his father’s brains had been addled by His Majesty.
“If you don’t burn them, they’ll all belong to His Majesty,” Grand Preceptor Xie said. “I refuse to yield anything we can’t keep to others.”
Both Xie brothers were stunned speechless. How could Old Madame Xie’s things be His Majesty’s now? Grand Preceptor Xie furiously waved his hand, unable to explain the circumstances behind what had happened.
“T-then what about the money and various things in the stores?” Xie Anshi asked. Even if we don’t want the buildings, aren’t we going to keep the stocks?
“Forget about them all,” Grand Preceptor Xie replied. “Would our Xie Clan fall for want of such things?”
Xie Anshi still wanted to speak up.
“Beat it!” Grand Preceptor Xie roared angrily.
Xie Anshi had no choice but to scram like a mouse spotted by a cat.
“Go make inquiries around the palace,” Grand Preceptor Xie ordered his second son Xie Anji after chasing off his third. “See if Prince Cheng has returned.”
Xie Anji grew uneasy at the command. “Father, this son isn’t able to enter the palace.”
“Find someone to look around for you,” Grand Preceptor Xie’s face was frighteningly gloomy. “Can’t you even think of a simple thing like that?”
Xie Anji could only leave and figure out a way to get the intel as requested. Lady Wang had been standing vigil by the door. When she had seen both of her sons leave, she stepped inside. Grand Preceptor Xie was leaning back against a silk cushion,when he saw Lady Wang enter, he waved a hand to beckon her near. Lady Wang stood in front of his bed and saw how much her husband had aged over the course of the past few days. Tears fell from her face at the very sight.
“I was planning to take care of young née Wang personally,” Grand Preceptor Xie wasn’t in a mood to grieve as he pressed a hand to his throat. “You should do it instead.”
Lady Wang stopped wiping away her tears so she could stare at Grand Preceptor Xie, incredulous. “His Majesty personally left words for Grand Preceptor to look after that wretch well. It wouldn’t look that good if we get rid of her now, would it? Suppose His Majesty blames our clan for yet another thing…”
“He can’t kill me,” Grand Preceptor Xie interrupted her arrogantly. “So why fear him at all? Wife, do it as soon as possible. Or...are you reluctant to lose this niece of yours?”
Lady Wang hastily shook her head in denial.
“Go on then,” Grand Preceptor Xie stopped talking with that command.
Lady Wang turned to leave, but she couldn’t resist stopping for one last question. “Are there really no more chances to reconcile with His Majesty after all?”
Grand Preceptor Xie simply laid back and closed his eyes as he waved Lady Wang away. She covered her mouth to muffle her sobs before staggering brokenly out the door. As soon as she left, one the Grand Preceptor’s stewards walked in, hunched over, before kneeling on the ground to kowtow in obeisance.
“How are things?” Grand Preceptor Xie asked.
The steward said softly, “That old man killed himself, but his family’s still ensconced in the palace. I don’t know how His Majesty is planning to deal with the current situation.”
Grand Preceptor Xie remained indifferent to the news. “And what of the refugees?”
“They’ve all returned to their old haunts,” the steward looked carefully at Grand Preceptor Xie before adding, “His Majesty didn’t---didn’t give them any difficulties even after everything that happened.”
Grand Preceptor Xie’s eyes flew wide open at the same time the steward ducked his head in his fright.
“She certainly knows how to endure well,” Grand Preceptor Xie muttered softly to himself.
The steward said, “Grand Preceptor, there’s no longer chaos on the streets anymore.”
“Are there any people cursing this old man?” Grand Preceptor Xie asked directly.
The steward didn’t dare to answer his master.
“Speak,” Grand Preceptor Xie ordered him.
“There are,” the steward managed to spit out. But that was all he said. He didn’t dare mention how those same people were cursing the entire Xie Clan to meet with bad ends or had even beaten one of their stewards to death.
“Leave,” Grand Preceptor Xie dismissed him. Nobody else entered the room after the steward, so Grand Preceptor Xie laid listlessly against his bed. Yet another crushing defeat! Once again, I have failed!
“Someone, come!” he shouted after some hard thought.
Two pageboys scurried into their master’s room.
“Go summon Xie Laibao,” Grand Preceptor Xie ordered sternly. “And get me a brush and some ink.”
The two pageboys immediately split up so as to fulfill his requests. Grand Preceptor Xie sat in his bed and wrote a letter to the Duke of Yue, Ning Heng.[1. Ning Heng (宁恒) - Ning is a surname that means “peaceful,” Heng means “perseverance.] In the letter, he lavishly blamed Ning Xiaoyao for causing the death of Ning Heng’s third son, Ning Xiaoluo. By the time his servants had carried in Xie Laibao on a chair, Grand Preceptor Xie had already sealed up the letter and handed it off to one of his pageboys for delivery.
“Order one of the outer courtyard to travel double speed and deliver this letter to Fengzhou.”
The pageboy accepted the letter respectfully and quickly ran off. Xie Laibao privately made a note of ‘Fengzhou’ before sobbing out, “Master.”
Grand Preceptor Xie waved a hand to dismiss everyone else in the room as he looked critically at Xie Laibao. Somehow, the man had been reduced to tears in the blink of an eye. “What are you crying for? This old man hasn’t reached a dead end yet.”
Xie Laibao boxed his own ears and said, “This servant was unworthy and deserves to die. But, now of all times, I can’t move.”
“You have to move even if you can’t,” Grand Preceptor Xie glanced at the places where Xie Laibao’s injured body had been secured to the chair’s planks.
Xie Laibao hastened to say, “Master, please instruct me in this matter.”
“Three days from now, this old man will invite a monk over to recite scriptures for the old madame,” Grand Preceptor Xie said. “On that same day, the leaders of the Poison Sect will come to our estate as well.”
“They’re all coming together?” Xie Laibao asked. That’s going to be quite a bit of people.
“Their sect head has been captured, so they’ll need to come and ask me for ideas,” Grand Preceptor Xie explained. “You’ll need to prepare the banquet for that day.”
Xie Laibao glanced at Grand Preceptor Xie. That’s it? Something that simple is why I was called in?
“We can’t leave the Poison Sect alive any longer,” Grand Preceptor Xie explained. “Three days from today marks the death of their sect.”
The Head Steward Xie nearly jumped up in fright. There were tens of thousands of members in the Poison Sect, while their leaders numbered in the hundreds alone. Grand Preceptor Xie wanted to kill all the leaders?
“S-should I poison the food?” Xie Laibao asked hesitantly.
“You’re going to poison members of the Poison Sect?” Grand Preceptor Xie retorted, stupefied.
Xie Laibao boxed his ears in self-reproach again. “Master, this servant lost his brains while recovering from his injuries.”
“Transfer archers from the capital,” Grand Preceptor Xie said. “And have them shoot everyone who shows up to death.”
“Yes,” Xie Laibao obeyed before looking Grand Preceptor Xie with a conflicted expression. He wanted to asked a question, but didn’t dare.
“There just has to be a spy amongst the Poison Sect’s ranks,” Grand Preceptor Xie said. “If I can’t find them, I’d rather kill them all.”
Xie Laibao was all consideration for his master as he spoke. “Master, the Poison Sect’s full of disciples. If you kill off all their leaders just like that, wouldn’t the survivors come to cause you trouble?”
“It was this old man who helped to raise the Poison Sect,” Grand Preceptor Xie said, not worried at all about the possibility, “If I say they’re good, then they’re good. If I say they’re bad, then they’re nothing more than rats in the streets.”
Xie Laibao felt his heart clench in fear at the words spoken. If he finds out that I’m working with Lou Zigui, how will he treat me?!
“Go on now,” Grand Preceptor Xie dismissed Xie Laibao.
“Master, then how do we explain things to the Poison Sect head?” Xie Laibao asked.
“Tell him that we weren’t the ones who sent in the archers,” Grand Preceptor Xie replied coldly. “If he’s not one of Ning Yu’s men, he’ll naturally seek revenge on her for his subordinates’ deaths.”
Xie Laibao’s voice shook. “So the archers were sent by His Majesty?”
“All of my men are men His Majesty wants to kill,” Grand Preceptor Xie leveled Xie Laibao with a stare. “Only by understanding that matter will those half-hearted types give up their second thoughts.”
Xie Laibao was very fearful, but he held out long enough to praise his master and call him wise and brilliant. Impatient with such praise, Grand Preceptor Xie simply waved him away. Two servants were called into the room to carry Xie Laibao out again. The Head Steward of the Xie Clan heard Grand Preceptor Xie muttering to himself as he left the room.
“You really think that Lou Zigui’s so great?”
Xie Laibao’s soul nearly flew out of his body at the words. He was about to crawl off his chair and beg for mercy when he heard Grand Preceptor Xie mutter again, “You’ll come to regret it, Your Majesty.”
Xie Laibao motioned for his carriers to move faster. If he stayed any longer, he’d definitely lose his nerve. Meanwhile, Grand Preceptor Xie coughed up a fresh mouthful of blood.
The spring breeze was very warm outside, but Xie Laibao still felt as if it were the dead of winter. Because Grand Preceptor Xie suspected the Poison Sect of harboring spies, he ordered their leaders summarily executed. But what about the likes of him? Perhaps, Xie Laibao thought as he shook back and forth on his chair, Perhaps my only chance at survival is to hope His Majesty gets rid of Grand Preceptor Xie once and for all?
Grand Preceptor Xie leaned over his little desk and lifted his brush again, this time to write a letter to Empress Dowager Xie. With no way to kill off Ning Yu, he couldn’t afford any discord with his daughter in the palace. By the time dusk set in, the rioting capital had settled down to its previous calm. Ning Xiaoyao sat in the main hall of her palace eating dinner with Lou Zigui. She was a quick eater, but Lou Zigui wasn’t slow either thanks to his experience in the military. Big Boss Black, the snow wolf pup and Grandfather Sparrow on the window all held admiration for their speed at eating.
“You’re a girl, so why can’t you be more reserved when you eat?” Big Boss Black meowed from below the table.
Ning Xiaoyao rolled her eyes.
“Look at my Supreme Commander!” Big Boss Black scratched Ning Xiaoyao’s calves. Although Supreme Commander Lou ate quite fast, his movements were still refined and aristocratic. Ning Xiaoyao pouted at the sight. He looks good even when he’s eating, so what’s a girl as handsome as the Heavens like me supposed to do? (Author: Enough, you….)
“What’s wrong?” Lou Zigui put down his soup spoon and asked in a low voice.
Ning Xiaoyao copied Lou Zigui’s way of drinking soup but only got a pitiful mouthful. When she tried again, she got the same results. If she wanted to drink more soup, she’d have to open her mouth wider.
How did Supreme Commander finish off his soup when eating like this?
In a moment of anger, Ning Xiaoyao opened wide and polished off her mushroom soup in two gulps. With a clang, she set the empty bowl on the table.
“This is what you call drinking soup!” Ning Xiaoyao said with a glare.
“.......” said Lou Zigui. Can someone please tell me what just happened?