Chapter 210: His Majesty asks, do you think I'm easy to bully? Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
When Tao Yu entered the Hall of Golden Chimes and fell on his knees to give Ning Xiaoyao a grand, formal bow, she took the chance to glance at the Imperial Censor, Tao Shidong.
Ah geez, Ning Xiaoyao quickly averted her gaze. His Excellency Tao’s face has turned green. It looks like he wants to bite Tao Yu to death many times over.
“Your Excellency Tao,” Elder Li spoke up as soon as he saw Ning Xiaoyao tell Tao Yu to rise from his bow. “You should give an explanation for Tao Yu’s case.”
Since there was no play to act and no Ning Xiaoyao to ask him, His Excellency Tao simply stood amongst the officials and murmured, “Elder, this concerns our Tao Clan’s family affairs.”
“Family affairs?” Elder Li finally looked towards Tao Shidong, his voice cold. “Tao Yu is an official of the imperial court. If he has committed any offence worthy of banishment from his clan, then how could the imperial court keep him?”
“......” said Ning Xiaoyao. Just whose side is that old gramps on? Can’t he stop attacking sides indiscriminately?
Tao Shidong stared at the son of a concubine standing in the empty space between the flanking rows of officials, his cheeks quivering with suppressed emotion. Elder Li pressed on, “Tao Yu might be the son of a concubine, but you can simply live apart if you dislike him. Banishing from the clan is altogether too much! This old man asks you, where is your sense of filial piety between father and son?”
Ning Xiaoyao blinked. Looks like old gramps is trying to set the stage for Tao Yu, ah. But he seems like he wants to talk facts and reason with His Excellency Tao as well. Is that going to work?
Tao Shidong laughed coldly. “How does Elder know that that son is faultless? And when has my Tao Clan ever discriminated against sons of concubines and treated them harshly?”
In this era, people placed great importance on family and clan. A member of the family would never be banished from the clan unless they committed grievous sins of betrayal or unfilial acts. In Elder Li’s eyes, the Tao Clan must have acted as they did because of Grand Preceptor Xie’s instructions. Just because one of their sons is loyal to His Majesty, they banish him from the clan? Elder Li couldn’t bear the thought. He was going to make Tao Shidong spit out the ugly truth today.
“Elder,” Lou Zigui took this chance to speak up. “These are the Tao Clan’s family affairs. The audience hall has always been reserved for affairs of state, such things are best discussed in private instead.”
Lou Zigui was very clear on what kind of crimes Xie Wenyuan would have pinned on Tao Yu’s head. Whether or not Tao Shidong believed them, the man had chosen Xie Wenyuan’s side in the end. Thus, Tao Shidong would definitely use the accusation that Tao Yu schemed to kill his brother against them. If they gave Tao Shidong to speak those words here, they were just asking for trouble.
Elder Li gave Lou Zigui a cold glare.
“Then His Excellency Tao should just say it outright,” Grand Preceptor Xie said. “I too, am curious. Just what kind of crime has General Tao committed?” If you, Li Wuqi, wants to ruin Tao Yu, why shouldn’t I help you with your cause?
Hearing this, Tao Shidong immediately spoke up. “That son…”
“That there,” Ning Xiaoyao butted in. “This is all because of me, it’s my fault.”
“How is this related to Your Majesty?” Elder Li creased his brows in disapproval at Ning Xiaoyao. Your Majesty, why do you need to get involved in these matters?
Ning Xiaoyao sighed. No wonder old gramps has never won a fight against Grand Preceptor Xie after all these years. He’s still too kind in the end, ah. Grand Preceptor Xie wants to ruin Tao Yu, so why couldn’t their lot make up any kind of crimes against him? What if those bastards accuse Tao Yu of having an affair with his father’s concubine or something? Am I supposed to steal Tao Shidong’s concubine in public and give him to Tao Yu instead next?! (Author: I said it already, don’t think up such nonsensical things…)
“That son,” Tao Shidong tried once again to outline Tao Yu’s wrongs.
“It’s like this, I took a fancy to the Tao Clan’s estate,” Ning Xiaoyao sniffed as she wrested the talking point back again. “So then I had General Tao go home and ask for the house. Then His Excellency Tao got mad and beat General Tao up. But when he was sleeping that night, His Excellency Tao was still feeling depressed so he opened up the ancestral hall and banished General Tao officially from the family ledgers. Mm,” Ning Xiaoyao nodded once she was done. “That’s what happened, haha. Blame me.”
The Hall of Golden Chimes was absolutely silent. The officials who were ignorant of the truth were completely floored, while those who knew what had actually happened were stunned speechless by His Majesty’s audacity. Others, such as Lou Zigui, couldn’t wrap their minds around Miss Ning’s words, much less continue the conversation!
“W-what?” Elder Li was even stuttering.
“Oh, I took a fancy to the Tao Clan’s estate,” Ning Xiaoyao reiterated as she winked at Elder Li.
“.......” said Elder Li. Looks like the situation is more complicated than I thought...
“Your Majesty took a fancy to---”
“General Tao, ah,” Ning Xiaoyao cut in, knowing that she couldn’t give Tao Shidong any chance to speak up now. “From now on, you’ll have a peerage of your own. How does a second-rank general position sound to you, General Tao?”
How could Tao Yu be anything except satisfied?
“Your Majesty!” Tao Shidong was a scholarly, urbane-looking man, but his sudden cry was shrill and high. Everyone in the hall went (￣△￣；) . Was it really Tao Shidong who screamed like a woman just then?
Ning Xiaoyao looked at Tao Shidong’s black face as he heaved for breath and stared at her. She grinned back and said, “Court adjourned.”
“Your Majesty!” Tao Shidong shrieked again. How could I let this nonsense-spewing, shameless bastard dismiss the court and escape?! (Author: Hey hey, Your Excellency Tao, do you have to curse the emperor like that? o(╯□╰)o)
“How can Tao Chen’s peerage be left to Tao Yu?” Grand Preceptor Xie said. Tao Shidong had never confronted Ning Xiaoyao directly before, but he was different and had experience. His Excellency Grand Preceptor knew that yelling at the girl now was useless. You had to speak up instead!
“Tao Yu has already been banished from his clan. What right does he have to enjoy his brother’s peerage?” one of the Grand Preceptor’s faction representatives added. “If we take a step back and still consider him part of the clan, then he’s nothing more than concubine-born son. Since when has a clan favored the concubine’s issue over that of the first wife?”
Tao Shidong fell to his knees with a thump and said to Ning Xiaoyao, “Your Majesty, this official already discussed things with the clan last night. We decided to choose a male child from the clan to become Tao Chen’s adopted son.”
Ning Xiaoyao looked at Tao Shidong in shock. “What? Your family actually forced one of your own children to become an orphan without parents overnight? Just what kind of grudge are you holding against that child?!”
“.....” said Tao Shidong.
“......” said the rest of the hall. Who can explain to us why adopting a son from one’s relatives sounds like such a crime in His Majesty’s words?
Tao Shidong’s lips quivered once again before he cried out mournfully, “Does Your Majesty want Tao Chen’s line to have no issue henceforth?”
Ning Xiaoyao sniffed as she curled her lip in disappointment. “You make it sound as if your Tao Chen didn’t have any children at all.”
“That’s why the Tao Clan decided to give one of their children to Tao Chen’s line,” Grand Preceptor Xie spoke up. “Your Majesty, these are not joking matters.”
Lou Zigui shook his head at Ning Xiaoyao as well. We’re talking about peerages here. Why are you making a fuss about children instead?
“Oh.” Seeing Lou Zigui shake his head, Ning Xiaoyao cleared her throat and said to Tao Shidong in a voice full of sorrow, “Your Excellency Tao, you must restrain your grief. The dead can’t come back to life. Eighteen years later, your Tao Chen replacement will become a fine man again; it’s just too bad he won’t be able to call you ‘father.’ That’s pretty cruel.”
None of the officials could continue Ning Xiaoyao’s words. His Majesty sounded well-meaning by wanting to comfort His Excellency Tao, but those words were simply inhuman. (Author: Hey hey!)
Tao Shidong looked at Ning Xiaoyao with an expression of grief and indignation.
“Of course,” Ning Xiaoyao didn’t mind adding a few words if no one else wanted to talk, “Your Excellency Tao, there’s no guarantee that your Tao Chen replacement will be a fine man for sure. Maybe he’ll snatch a girl somewhere and---”
“Your Majesty!” Tao Shidong couldn’t bear to hear any more.
“Impudence!” Elder Li grew incensed and rebuked him. “You dared to interrupt His Majesty’s words?”
“Don’t,” Ning Xiaoyao played the part of the good guy. “His son is dead, so you should be more understanding, old gramps. Show more tolerance.”
Tao Shidong took deep breaths. He had to calm down before he tried to murder his sovereign.
“Since Tao Chen has issue now,” Grand Preceptor Xie continued, “The peerage of second-rank general should go to that adopted son.”
“No problem,” Ning Xiaoyao waved a hand. “That peerage wasn’t counted as an inheritance, but something I gave to Tao Yu instead. Doesn’t that take care of things?”
The crowd exchanged glances. That really does makes sense. If His Majesty’s chosen to confer a title by his own will, then the matter has nothing to do with Tao Chen at all.
Grand Preceptor Xie’s tone grew frigid though. “This official would like to ask Your Majesty whether Tao Yu has ever contributed meritorious service to the country?”
“Sure, ah,” Ning Xiaoyao nodded. “General Tao worked hard in the service of the country.”
“Your Majesty,” Grand Preceptor Xie continued, “Who amongst all the officials in this hall have not worked hard for their country?”
“Heheh,” Ning Xiaoyao grinned. “Grand Preceptor, as humans we should know to show some self-restraint.” If everyone in this hall was working in the service of the country, would Yongning be in such a sorry state right now?
“......” said Grand Preceptor Xie.
“What does Your Majesty mean?” one of the senior officials from the Grand Preceptor’s faction asked.
Ning Xiaoyao gave him a long look. “Your Majesty is reproving you.”
The official stiffened in response.
Grand Preceptor Xie said, “Your Majesty might be the emperor, but it’s unseemly for a sovereign to reprimand his officials without cause.”
“Well I insist on reprimanding them, so what are you going to do about it, Grand Preceptor?” Ning Xiaoyao asked. “Bite me to death?”
Grand Preceptor Xie was in no mood to continue the conversation with that damnable girl. Meanwhile, Lou Zigui glanced at Tao Yu and said, “General Tao, aren’t you going to thank His Majesty for his grace?”
Kneeling on the ground, Tao Yu could only feel his mouth twitch. Did I get the peerage of a second-rank general just like that?
“Regarding Tao Chen’s peerage,” Ning Xiaoyao said to Tao Shidong after letting Tao Yu rise, “I’m taking it back.”
“T-taking it back?” Tao Shidong suffered another blow.
“Mhm, because I didn’t like the looks of him,” Ning Xiaoyao explained, “So I’m taking his peerage back.”
“Your Majesty,” Tao Shidong was really crying now. “Tao Chen’s corpse has yet to even cool, ah!”
“Look at what you’re saying,” Ning Xiaoyao tsked, “What does your son’s corpse have to do with me?”
“Your Majesty!” Grand Preceptor Xie roared then.
Ning Xiaoyao stood up and walked straight to Tao Shidong, who was still kneeling on the ground. She towered over him as she spoke. “You know very well in your heart what you’ve done, so don’t act so miserable in front of me.”
Tao Shidong’s body shook.
“I wanted to use Tao Yu, yet you expelled him from your household,” Ning Xiaoyao continued. “Am I not allowed to retaliate after you’ve figuratively slapped me in the face? What? Do you think that I’m someone easy to bully?”
Tao Shidong was rendered completely speechless. He had chosen to side with the Grand Preceptor in the end, so there was nothing absurd about how His Majesty was treating him now.
Ning Xiaoyao walked past Tao Shidong, then swept by Grand Preceptor Xie with a final parting remark.
“Just wait and see.”
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