Chapter 253: It's rather nice to have Lou Zigui's protection Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
The Pei brothers were waiting in a side hall when Lou Zigui entered the room. Both of them hastily stood up from their chairs. The Lord Protector had a personality that made him wear his heart on his sleeve, so this was to be expected. But Pei Yan had never let anything affect him before, so his face of worry was a new one. Before Lou Zigui got any closer, the Second Young Master Pei asked, “Just what happened?”
Lou Zigui gestured for both brothers to sit down before taking a seat before them. In a low voice, he said, “His Majesty was only lightly injured, neither of you needs to worry.”
The Lord Protector exhaled in relief at those words, but Pei Yan asked, “Then can we see His Majesty?”
While the Lord Protector trusted Lou Zigui, he didn’t. Lou Zigui might look calm now, but who knows whether he was pretending or not? If anything happened to His Majesty, then his favorite, Lou Zigui, would be the man in most danger right now. Who could guarantee that the man wasn’t already looking for a way out and covering up any disaster that might have befallen the emperor instead? That way, he’d have more time to escape if necessary.
Lou Zigui glanced at Pei Yan, who asked, “We can’t? Didn’t you say His Majesty was only lightly injured?”
“You can,” Lou Zigui said, “Once we finish speaking, I’ll take you both to see His Majesty.”
Hearing this, the Lord Protector felt even more at ease. Although he wasn’t a doctor, he could still tell at a glance if His Majesty’s injuries were really serious or not. Pei Yan’s expression warmed as well. “If His Majesty’s unharmed, then why hasn’t he met with the courtiers yet? The officials have blocked the front gates. If the citizens see this, they’ll only get worried and anxious.”
“Soon enough, the Black Frost Cavalry will arrive at the capital,” Lou Zigui murmured. “I want to get rid of Xie Wenyuan’s faction all at once when that happens.”
The Pei brothers exchanged glances as they grew tense again. Pei Yan asked, “Is Supreme Commander certain that the Black Frost Cavalry is on its way here now?”
Lou Zigui nodded. “My officer gave me a letter, they’re already on their way.”
“The Grand Preceptor doesn’t know about this?” the Lord Protector asked doubtfully. How could Grand Preceptor Xie overlook the presence of a large killing force coming down to the capital city from Anyuan Province?
“It’s only 5,000 horses and men,” Lou Zigui answered. “They’re disguised as merchants and refugees and coming here via different paths.”
The four gates of the capital city saw tens of thousands of travelers everyday. It would truly be hard to pick out 5,000 soldiers and horses from the crowd. But the Lord Protector still creased his brows and asked, “Isn’t 5,000 men a little sparse?”
“If there’s any more, Xie Wenyuan will catch on,” Lou Zigui murmured back.
“The Grand Preceptor has at least 100,000 troops and horses under his command,” Second Young Master Pei had already done his calculations while the Lord Protector was fretting about the cavalry forces. “No matter how skilled the Black Frost Cavalry might be in battle, can you really pit 5,000 soldiers against a 100,000 strong army?”
“That’s right, Supreme Commander,” the Lord Protector fretted. “The area surrounding the capital city is nothing but a wide expanse of grasslands. There are no places to hide from danger, much less areas for ambush. All you can do is fight sword to sword or spear to spear. 5,000 men is really too few.” That’s enough for Xie Wenyuan’s 100,000 troops to grind their teeth on, isn’t it?
“It would be impossible for Xie Wenyuan to transfer all his soldiers to the capital,” Lou Zigui said. “Only the most loyal troops are kept by his side. I’ve made calculations and I estimate that the number of faithful, capable fighting forces at his disposal are no more than 40,000 men.”
“Supreme Commander, do you think you could win in a battle of 5,000 against 40,000?” the Lord Protector asked.
Lou Zigui shook his head. “5,000 would naturally be insufficient if we fought in a wide and open space.”
“Then Supreme Commander, what are your intentions?” the Lord Protector was completely lost.
On the other hand, Pei Yan gave a start, “You’re going to open war on Xie Wenyuan within the capital city?”
A trace of admiration came to Lou Zigui’s eyes as he studied Pei Yan. Miss Ning really had insight in choosing this younger Pei sibling. Pei Yan’s much brighter than his brother.
“The streets in the capital are all connected and break off into numerous lanes and alleys,” Pei Yan told his brother. “To those unfamiliar with its layout, it’ll just be like entering a maze. Furthermore, to wage battle between these streets, the advantage won’t lay in numbers, but on which side has the better killing force.”
No matter how many men one had, the narrow city streets could only hold a limited number of people. In this way, Grand Preceptor Xie’s superior numbers would become a moot point. As for killing force, the capital barracks soldiers were mainly stationed as defense throughout the city and hadn’t engaged any enemies for years. Meanwhile, the Black Frost Cavalry were frequently fighting skirmishes on the borders against the Northern Hu. How could the capital’s forces be a match against their slaughter skills?
When the Lord Protector finished thinking things through, he looked at Lou Zigui in admiration. This was a man who had been forced to shoulder the burdens of his clan ever since he was young. He certainly hadn’t made it this far on pure luck.
“But how many people will die in the capital as a result?” Pei Yan asked next. “Supreme Commander, have you considered how the citizens are supposed to survive once the armies start fighting?”
Lou Zigui’s hand was resting on his armrest, but now he lifted it briefly. “I can promise that my men and horses won’t hurt any of the people in the city.”
His words were worth nothing. Even if your men doesn’t hurt them, what about Xie Wenyuan’s soldiers? The Pei siblings wanted to call him out, but the words died on their lips. People always suffered when war broke out. Could you really accuse either side of being wrong? With every war, the losers were decried as the enemy while the winners stood as kings atop a mountain of bones.
The Lord Protector heaved a long sigh and told Pei Yan, “Ol’ second, don’t fret over the people. Count them lucky if they survive, and unlucky if they don’t. No one can be blamed for their fates.”
Pei Yan looked at Lou Zigui instead. “Did His Majesty agree to this?”
“I didn’t tell His Majesty,” Lou Zigui replied.
“What?” the Lord Protector was shocked.
“This is something I’m doing, it has nothing to do with His Majesty,” Lou Zigui said in a heavy tone. “Once it’s done, I’ll find His Majesty to mete punishment.”
The Lord Protector still wanted to speak, but his brother slapped the back of his hand to keep him quiet. “Opening war in the city streets will lead to the countless deaths of its citizens,” Pei Yan’s handsome face had turned sinister as he spoke. “If someone starts a fire, who knows how many more will lose their homes and fortunes? His Majesty cannot do such a thing.”
No sovereign could take on the name of a ruthless and hard-hearted ruler. The Lord Protector nodded. There was no doubt to Lou Zigui’s loyalty if he was willing to do this much in His Majesty’s place.
“When will Xie Wenyuan start transferring his troops?” Pei Yan asked next.
“Very soon,” Lou Zigui replied. “Before that happens, Lord Protector, how possible is it for you to kill Chen Lu?”
The Lord Protector considered the idea. “I don’t have as many soldiers as Chen Lu, but if I can catch him unawares, I can kill him. His martial arts can’t compare to mine.”
“Your Excellency Pei,” Lou Zigui moved on, “You need to help the Lord Protector.”
Pei Yan nodded.
“After the military barracks soldiers turn useless,” Lou Zigui added, “Xie Wenyuan will transfer the rest of his troops into the capital.”
“Why not kill Xie Wenyuan now?” the Lord Protector suggested.
“If we kill him now, his soldiers won’t need to come to the capital,” Pei Yan replied. “Better to kill them all at once. If we limit all our battles to this bout in the capital, it’ll be easier than putting down errant skirmishes in the future.”
The Lord Protector grew speechless. He wasn’t good at stratagems to begin with, so Lou Zigui and Pei Yan’s words had long left him muddle-headed.
“I’ll take you to see His Majesty,” Lou Zigui rose to his feet. “I don’t want His Majesty to hear about the things I just said.”
The Pei brothers stood up and nodded back.
Currently, Ning Xiaoyao was listening to Oil Jar finish his story while lying on the bed.
“General Song even has an older brother,” Oil Jar explained as Ning Xiaoyao fed him and Wheat sugar beans. “I heard Supreme Commander calls him Fifth Song.”
Fifth Song, Ning Xiaoyao mused. Song Jin’s nickname is Seventh Song, so this one must be his fifth brother.
Wheat swallowed the sugar bean in his mouth and added, “General Song even wrote a letter back, so the Black Frost Cavalry must be on its way here already.”
“Mm,” Ning Xiaoyao nodded. Now she didn’t have to worry. If they still couldn’t kill off Grand Preceptor Xie with the Black Frost Cavalry here, then she might as well make Grand Preceptor the emperor instead and run away with Supreme Commander Lou.
“Xiaoyao,” the little gyrfalcon flew onto the windowsill. “Supreme Commander is bringing the Lord Protector and his brother over here.”
Oil Jar immediately spoke up, “Xiaoyao, then I’ll leave first. We’ll meet again tonight.”
Wheat added, “Xiaoyao, I’ll spread the news that you’re still alright.”
“Mhm,” Ning Xiaoyao stroked both Oil Jar and Wheat before they left. Not long later, Lou Zigui entered the room and saw that Ning Xiaoyao was already dressed.
“You knew I was bringing the Lord Protector and Pei Yan over?” he asked.
“I do,” Ning Xiaoyao said as she got off the bed and walked over. “You’re not hiding the truth from them?”
“They need to exert themselves for our plans,” Lou Zigui said as he helped her with her hair.
“Alright,” Ning Xiaoyao had no objections to that. She followed him out of the room. When the Pei brothers saw Ning Xiaoyao in lively form appear in front of their eyes, they felt much better. As long as His Majesty wasn’t dead, then their family would be safe. Otherwise, Xie Wenyuan would definitely screw them over.
“Listen to what Supreme Commander says,” Ning Xiaoyao said cheerfully. “We’ll strive to kill off the Grand Preceptor this time.”
“This subject awaits the decree,” the two brothers chorused.
“Protect the old madame well,” Ning Xiaoyao urged after some thought. “When you start fighting, don’t let her suffer a shock.”
The Lord Protector was quite touched by those words. Even at these harrowing times, His Majesty could still think of his family’s old madame. Pei Yan stared at Ning Xiaoyao with some concern. “Your Majesty must be careful too.”
“Mm,” Ning Xiaoyao nodded. “I will. I won’t die unless the Grand Preceptor dies, too.”
“.....” said the Lord Protector. Is there anything that requires special effort from you when it comes to dealing with Xie Wenyuan?
“Go on,” Lou Zigui saw that everyone had spoken their piece. “Let His Majesty rest.”
Ning Xiaoyao decided that now wasn’t the time for idle chat, so she nodded and said, “All of us should work hard. Our goal is to kill Grand Preceptor Xie.”
Both Pi brothers bowed before withdrawing from the room. After exiting the palace from a small side door, the Lord Protector told Pei Yan, “I think this is pretty good.”
Pei Yan looked at his brother.
“Having Lou Zigui protect His Majesty, I mean,” the Lord Protector clarified. “It’s pretty nice.”
His Majesty looked both too young and too short, a weak and skinny thing. It didn’t fit his tastes to have the fate of an entire kingdom resting on his shoulders, especially when the kingdom wasn’t even flourishing at the moment. Having someone like Lou Zigui stand by His Majesty’s side to protect him made things much better.
Pei Yan turned back to peer at the glazed rooftops and vermillion walls of the impressive palace grounds before murmuring in a small voice, “I only hope that Lou Zigui will always remain a loyal subject.”
Previous Chapter Next Chapter