Chapter 222: When can Ning Yu be killed? Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
The roving rebel bands had taken over 19 of East Ji’s cities, but the royal court was going to send out troops to suppress them. News of this quickly spread throughout the capital and beyond. People who harbored fear of the rebels’ advance began to hold hope in their new sovereign Ning Xiaoyao. Perhaps this emperor will resolve the disaster of the attacking bandits?
As for Prince Fu, he’d thought things through by the time the Lord Protector’s men brought him to the largest grain shop in the city. He couldn’t be the only one to bleed from this mess, or the sole party to suffer. All of them were brothers of the imperial clan and such matters concerned the whole kingdom. Why should he be the only one to sacrifice? Just because his fief was at Fenglin City?
Prince Fu’s thinking was basically along the lines of ‘If I’m no good, then no one else should be good, either. If I die, you all have to die with me.’ With this idea in mind, Prince Fu brought Pei Yan and the Lord Protector’s retainers and guards to clear out all the grain shops of the imperial clansmen in the city. Of course, none of the imperial clansmen were going to take this lying down. The skies hadn’t rained money on any of them without effort. The clansmen quickly determined that His Majesty’s orders were behind Prince Fu’s actions and went to find Prince Zhi for help. It was better to get a leader to decide such things for them while they discuss their options.
Prince Zhi sat in his study and glanced at the steward who’d come to deliver a letter before looking back at Deng Rong, who was standing in front of him. “This prince is sick,” he said, “Within the next few days, I’ll be going back to Qiufeng City, so I’m not seeing any callers today.”
The steward muttered an assent and prepared to pass on the word to the imperial clansmen, but Prince Zhi added after some thought, “Spread word that Prince Fu’s behavior is normal in face of the fact that his home is in Fenglin City. The generals of the rebel bands are killing their way there as we speak. As sons and grandsons of the imperial house, we should do our best to strive for the people’s sake.”
The old steward simply couldn’t believe his ears. For once, his master had spoke such upright, decent words. Prince Zhi simply waved a hand at the steward to tell him to withdraw. Once he was gone, Prince Zhi looked back at Deng Rong. “Do you know the consequences if your Supreme Commander fails to uphold his promise?”
Deng Rong only smiled. “My Supreme Commander’s already said, if he goes back on his word, you can simply slaughter that little Fang Tang, Prince.”
Lou Zigui had promised that they would restore everything that Prince Fu told people to take this time. This was why Prince Zhi had agreed not to raise a fuss with the clansmen and bring Fang Tang over to Qiufeng City with him. As Qiufeng was located right by the border of Anyuan’s Six Provinces, Prince Zhi was very clear just how much money Lou Zigui had access to. He knew that all of the Lou Clan’s assets had been spent on the Black Frost Cavalry’s armored horses. Despite that, the crack troops of the cavalry were still having difficult days. Lou Zigui had brought over money to bribe passage with him, then promised today to restore everything that had been taken. Just where was he going to get the cash and goods from? Only through the little emperor behind him.
Between Ning Xiaoyao and Grand Preceptor Xie, Prince Zhi had hesitated before ultimately picking the emperor. For one thing, Xie Wenyuan had once sent assassins after him so he bore a grudge; for another, Prince Zhi had been paying attention when Ning Xiaoyao turned the capital’s dignified and impressive Xie Clan upside down, earned Lou Zigui’s absolute allegiance (Author: That’s because those two slept together….), control a man like Prince Fu in the palm of his hand, slowly wrest away Xie Wenyuan’s power bit by bit, and raise his own troops and horses. A ruthless, callous, wicked (Author: Hey!) emperor like that was someone Prince Zhi absolutely didn’t want to offend. He was certain that Xie Wenyuan would die by the hands of his grandson sooner or later.
“You can go back,” Prince Zhi told Deng Rong. “Tell your Supreme Commander that I’ll send someone to inform him before I leave the capital. Have Fang Tang make preparations for a long journey.”
Deng Rong muttered an assent.
Prince Zhi then added, “But Fang Tang was stabbed by Xie Anji. Is he still fit for long travel?”
Deng Rong replied, “After the incident happened, this soldier didn’t get a chance to see Fang Tang and am currently unclear as to his status. But prince doesn’t need to worry. If Fang Tang can’t travel, my Supreme Commander will send people to accompany prince on your journey.”
“Mm,” Prince Zhi replied, before waving Deng Rong away. Deng Rong bowed and withdrew. As Prince Zhi sat with his eyes shut behind his study table, he decided that he’d have to stop doing business with the Northern Hu temporarily again. If a day comes when Ning Yu grows overweening, who could guarantee that he won’t pin me for the crime of private business deals with the Northern Hu? Once that squirt gets rid of Xie Wenyuan, we imperial clansmen will be the next thorn in his eye. He’ll have to clear out his share of evidence and silence mouths as needed. As for Lou Zigui…
Prince Zhi opened a drawer to take out the silver drafts that Lou Zigui had gifted him previously. He tapped the neat stack of papers before determining to return them to Lou Zigui soon. Otherwise, I’ll have to resort to begging Lou Zigui for help when Ning Yu takes ultimate power. He didn’t really want to do it, but not everything went as one wanted. Prince Zhi sighed.
Deng Rong tugged down on his wide hat brim as he walked out of a narrow side door to the property. One of Prince Zhi’s servants handed him a horse as he came out. As Deng Rong flipped onto the horse, he accepted the reins from the servant’s hand and whipped the steed in the direction of the imperial palace.
In the antechamber, the imperial clansmen heard the steward’s message from Prince Zhi and were collectively stunned. Did those words really come from Prince Zhi, Ning Guangyuan’s lips?
The steward remained half-bowed as he put on a smiling face to address the crowd. “My master really is very ill.”
“Very ill,” Prince Xi, Ning Guangzong, abruptly rose from his chair with a cold voice. “He certainly picked a time to be sick!” So speaking, he spun on his heel and stalked out of the receiving hall.
Prince Qi quickly stood up as well. “Why are you leaving?”
“Am I supposed to stay and wait on Ning Guangyuan while he’s sick?” Prince Xi said mockingly. “If that’s the case, I might as well go find Prince Fu or His Majesty myself!” As Prince Xi stormed off in a temper, ten or more clansmen followed in his wake. Those left in the receiving hall exchanged glances, unsure of what to do next.
Prince Qi looked at the steward and said, “Go tell your master prince that I, Ning Guangbei, want to call on him during his illness.”
The steward muttered an assent before hastily running off to see Prince Zhi. Prince Qi looked at the clansmen still sitting there, then thought of Prince Fu, Prince Zhi, and who had left with Prince Xi. He silently sighed. Ning Yu actually broke up the alliance of us clansmen. But I didn’t feel him try any schemes on us at all!
While Prince Qi was sitting and sighing, Grand Preceptor Xie had ordered men to carry him to Xie Anji’s room. Although Xie Anji hadn’t broken any bones after been beaten up by Fang Tang and the Dragon Guards, then kicked down the steps by Ning Xiaoyao, he was still nursing his injuries. When Grand Preceptor Xie came in, he was currently nursing his wounds in bed. He quickly attempted to rise at the sight of his father.
“Lie down,” Grand Preceptor Xie told Xie Anji as he waved a hand to dismiss all of the servants present. They withdrew in a hurry.
“Clean up your things,” Grand Preceptor Xie told Xie Anji. “Father has a good friend in the Wu region. Recently, he’s sent me a letter saying he’s seriously ill, so you should go and visit him in my place.”
“What?” Xie Anji forgot all about his pains and pushed off the bed to sit upright, startled. “Father, you want to send me to the Wu region right now?”
“There’s no other choice,” Grand Preceptor Xie lowered his voice. “Ning Yu sent Tao Yu to lead the army to East Ji. Prince Fu’s been won over to his side as well. I can almost guarantee that he’ll send you off to the army headed for East Ji just to guard against me.”
“What is father planning to do?” Xie Anji asked in reply.
But Grand Preceptor Xie only countered, “What else can father do? Ning Yu is just being petty.”
Xie Anji thought it over before saying, “Then this son will go to the army. Father, don’t worry, this son won’t lose face for you.”
“You want to go earn military merits?” Grand Preceptor Xie looked coldly at him.
Xie Anji bore the brunt of his glare and nodded. “This son has practiced martial arts before. I---”
“Do you think Tao Yu will give you a chance to gain any merit?” Grand Preceptor Xie cut him off harshly. “You’re the son of Xie Wenyuan, but why do you have no brains?”
Xie Anji grew tongue-tied.
“Father cannot allow Tao Yu to succeed,” Grand Preceptor Xie lowered his voice to murmur. “Since Prince Fu is standing on Ning Yu’s side, don’t blame this old man for being ruthless.”
A chill stole upon Xie Anji’s heart as he asked in a trembling voice, “Father, what are you going to do? Give East Ji over to the rebels? Those are rebels, ah.”
“If Tao Yu and Prince Fu die, the royal court can always send other people to lead troops in their place,” Grand Preceptor Xie said. “Father will guarantee that the rebel bands won’t make it past Cold Pond Pass.”[1. Cold Pond Pass (寒泽关) － Han Ze Guan. Passes are usually stationed garrison checkpoints of a country either on or within its borders, usually a gate surrounded by walls or natural features that make it easily defendable against intruders.]
“How are you going to guarantee that?” Xie Anji asked hastily. “Father, once those rebel bands break through Cold Pond Pass, they’ll have nothing but flat lands all the way to the capital! It’d be impossible to defend against them then!”
“Then do you want to just watch as Ning Yu destroys our Xie Clan?” Grand Preceptor Xie challenged back.
Xie Anji fell silent.
“Father will make all the arrangements,” Grand Preceptor Xie continued. “I have great expectations for you as the only son left of my first wife, so you cannot fall into Ning Yu’s hands.”
“But what about this son’s job?”
“Father has already sent up a message asking for leave in your place,” Grand Preceptor Xie replied. “You depart tonight.”
Xie Anji grew worried. “And if His Majesty doesn’t approve of the leave?”
“Even if His Majesty doesn’t, you still have to leave,” Grand Preceptor Xie had thought it all out. “He can’t kill father, so what are you worried about? Clean up your things and leave as soon as it gets dark.”
Xie Anji could only nod to agree. Faced with Grand Preceptor Xie, the Second Young Master Xie had never said ‘no’ in his life.
“Be careful on the road,” Grand Preceptor Xie warned again.
“Yes,” Xie Anji replied.
“If you hear that something’s happened to father, you should never return,” Grand Preceptor Xie added.
Xie Anji was shocked by those words and exclaimed back, “Why not send someone in disguise as refugees to kill their way into the palace and murder Ning Yu instead?!”
Grand Preceptor Xie shook his head. “Now is not the time.”
“Then when can we kill that tyrant?!” Xie Anji asked.
Grand Preceptor Xie turned towards the window, only to see a little sparrow standing outside. “You prepare yourself,” he said as he turned back. “Father will tell you these things in the future.”
Xie Anji could only nod.
As Grand Preceptor Xie called for his pageboys to carry him away, he looked towards the window again. The sparrow that had been there before had already flown away. He gave a self-deprecating laugh as he left Xie Anji’s room. Have I been reduced to jumping at imaginary fears now? As if a sparrow could ever be Ning Yu’s informant. (Author: Grand Preceptor, it’s best if you never find out the truth.)
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