Chapter 313: I shall wait for you to come and fight me to death
Ning Xiaoyao decided to keep Elder Li very far from the treasure. The person who has the treasure should be the one to decide who’d get a share, should they not? “Come come, Old Gramps,” Ning Xiaoyao invited Elder Li to walk with her. “Let’s find a place to chat about life.”
Elder Li couldn’t have known about the complex thoughts running through Ning Xiaoyao’s mind. He followed Ning Xiaoyao out of the flooded “demolish and relocate” site.
Ning Xiaoyao chose a random room far away from the main palace’s bedroom. She pushed the door, entered the room and invited Elder Li to have a seat. After thinking for half a day, Ning Xiaoyao realized she and Elder Li actually had nothing to chat about life with, so she talked nonsense, “Old Gramps, were you hurt?”
Elder Li followed proper conduct as he stood up to pay obeisance to Ning Xiaoyao. “Thanks for Your Majesty’s concern, this subject is fine.”
“Oh. Then you can sit, Old Gramps. I’ll go take a walk outside.”
“Your Majesty,” Elder Li obviously had business, “If Lou Zigui cannot capture Xie Wenyuan in Xiang City, what would Your Majesty do next?”
“Keep chasing,” Ning Xiaoyao replied, “Until we catch him.”
“Has Your Majesty wondered why Xie Wenyuan was about to escape this time?” Elder Li continued questioning.
“Because it’s not time for Grand Preceptor to die yet.” Ning Xiaoyao casually responded to Elder Li.
“Your Majesty, this is because Lou Zigui…”
“Supreme Commander did his best,” Ning Xiaoyao cut off Elder Li’s speech. “We all did our best, but who could have known that Xiang Nong’s group would butt in?”
Elder Li was displeased, “Your Majesty is just trying to defend Lou Zigui.”
“If I don’t defend Supreme Commander, should I defend Grand Preceptor instead?” Ning Xiaoyao rebutted, “Old Gramps, you still blame me and Supreme Commander for teaming up to lie to you?”
Elder Li bent his back. “This subject doesn’t dare.”
“Don’t,” Ning Xiaoyao muttered, “You can lecture me like I’m your grandchild, Old Gramps, what’s there that you don’t dare to do?”
Elder Li stared at Ning Xiaoyao.
“If you kneel, then I’ll kneel too.” Ning Xiaoyao immediately reacted, “Don’t use the ‘ask for punishment’ move, ah. It won’t work.”
Elder Li stood still.
“I’m hungry. I’m going to eat a meal first.” Ning Xiaoyao excused herself and wanted to leave.
“Your Majesty!” Elder Li shouted.
“It’s alright, Old Gramps.” Ning Xiaoyao had to halt her steps. “I want to reclaim the imperial clansmen’s assets and privileges. Old Gramps, you’ll be in charge of dividing their land and payouts.”
“Your Majesty, you’re not planning to keep any?” Elder Li was stunned. “You want to divide everything?”
“Yes.” Ning Xiaoyao confirmed. “I know you’re stressed out about the matter regarding Xiang Nong. But as long as we do a good job with the division, we won’t have to worry about Xiang Nong anymore.”
“What does Your Majesty mean by this?” Elder Li didn’t understand Ning Xiaoyao’s words.
“Why did General Tao Yu win this fight?” Ning Xiaoyao explained, “Because we ensure the commoners from Prince Fu’s side could live a good life. Why would anyone be so idiotic to rebel when they have a good life? I told Prince Fu the same thing. Old Gramps, have you never considered why Xiang Nong could attract that many people to follow through with his rebellion?”
Elder Li was stunned by Ning Xiaoyao’s question.
“This has nothing to with guts or deficiency in morality.” Ning Xiaoyao gazed at Elder Li. “The root of all this is whether or not the people can survive their days.” The apocalypse was an exemplar, if it wasn’t for the survival of humanity, who would have the spare time to wrestle with zombies to death? Both cases shared the same reason, because there was no other way to survive.
Elder Li stroked his beard in silence.
“First, we’ll take away Big Boss Xiang’s source of army recruits,” Ning Xiaoyao muttered to Elder Li, “Then, we’ll think of ways to capture the rebel forces. General Tao did a good job defeating Big Boss Xiang this time. What reason do we have to be skeptical about our own ability to defeat the rebel forces? Am I right, Old Gramps?”
Elder Li returned with a question, “The imperial clansmen’s land were bestowed upon them by imperial favor. If Your Majesty reclaims their assets and privileges, isn’t Your Majesty afraid of being cursed and accused of immorality?”
Ning Xiaoyao shook her head. “Not afraid.” What can curses do? They could try biting her to death if they have the guts.
“Then what about Prince Fu and Prince Zhi?”
“There’s always exceptions for everything.” Ning Xiaoyao chuckled irresponsibly. “They’re all my nice uncles, so they can keep their land.” Prince Fu’s land is pretty much in name only. As for Prince Zhi, let’s worry about him later as he is too far to catch now. Ning Xiaoyao was in no hurry.
Elder Li gazed at Ning Xiaoyao for a while, before he suddenly make a deep bow in obeisance. “This subject thanks Your Majesty on behalf of all citizens of this country.”
“I’m very hungry, I’ll go look for some food.” Ning Xiaoyao ran off while holding her tummy. Every conversation with Elder Li was tormenting, talking about ‘all citizens of the country’ in one moment, and ‘rules and orders of the kingdom’ in the next. Is that something she could just casually shoulder? (Author: You already have…)
Elder Li watched Ning Xiaoyao run madly like a rabbit with its tail chopped off. Elder Li was loyal to the emperor. In his perception, the roving rebels deserved a thousand deaths for causing chaos. As his mind was full of ideas on how to eradicate those roving rebels, he’d truly never considered the reason why they must revolt. Ning Xiaoyao’s words opened a new window for him. This matter had nothing to do with “ruler and subject”, nor identity and status. It only concerned the human nature itself. Why would the commoners rebel if they could live normal lives?
After Ning Xiaoyao dashed out of the chamber, she didn’t even have time to catch her breath when a Dragon Guard ran up to her and muttered his report, “Your Majesty, Her Excellency Empress Dowager has arrived at the gates of the Supreme Splendor Hall.”
Ning Xiaoyao made a pained expression.
“Does Your Majesty want to meet with Her Excellency Empress Dowager?” the Dragon Guard asked.
“She’s already entered.” Ning Xiaoyao said as she looked to behind the Dragon Guard.
The Dragon Guard hastened to turn around and saw Empress Dowager Xie without a single attendant. She was walking alone towards their direction.
“It’s alright,” Ning Xiaoyao told the guard, “You can leave, I’ll handle her.”
The Dragon Guard was speechless. Does His Majesty treat Empress Dowager like an enemy every time they meet?
Ning Xiaoyao turned around and headed to a hexagon stone pavilion facing the pond. Empress Dowager Xie followed her in. Ning Xiaoyao sat down and looked at her. “What business do you have now?”
Empress Dowager Xie was wearing a full white attire, her face without makeup. She didn’t sit after entering the stone pavilion and stood in front of Ning Xiaoyao.
Ning Xiaoyao said, “Don’t simply look at me and say nothing. You could always get people to call me over if you have business, I’d go to Empress Dowager’s palace to see you.”
Empress Dowager Xie finally spoke, “All of the Concubine Dowagers are staying at Empress Dowager’s palace. Why would this Dowager want to put on a show for them?”
“Oh,” Ning Xiaoyao said, “You’re actually worried about being watched?”
“How are the members of the Xie Estate?” Empress Dowager Xie asked, acting as if she hadn’t heard Ning Xiaoyao’s ridicule.
“Dead.” Ning Xiaoyao replied, “Lady Wang committed suicide by smashing her head against the stone lion.”
All the blood appeared to have drained from Empress Dowager Xie’s face.
“Can’t blame me for this.” Ning Xiaoyao said, “Grand Preceptor took the whole family away with him, except for her. No one in her shoes could accept such fate, ah.”
Empress Dowager Xie inquired, “Grand Preceptor took all of the family members away?”
“Xie Anshi and the rest were executed during their escape.” Ning Xiaoyao stated, “You know very well the punishment for rebellion, Empress Dowager. You don’t need me to tell you about it, do you?”
“Who killed them? Lou Zigui?”
“You still want revenge?” Ning Xiaoyao furrowed her brows a little with a question.
Her birth clan had perished, while she herself and her emperor daughter were at each other’s throats. Empress Dowager Xie realized there was nothing she could do now.
“Don’t worry,” Ning Xiaoyao randomly slid her finger on the stone table and whispered, “Since you are my birth mother, I can’t kill you anyway. You are still the empress dowager.”
“How does Your Majesty plan to treat Prince Cheng?” Empress Dowager Xie stared fixedly at Ning Xiaoyao.
“I haven’t thought about it.” Ning Xiaoyao was completely honest.
Empress Dowager Xie laughed bitterly, “You haven’t thought about it?”
“Why should I think about him? He can’t even walk yet. Grand Preceptor, Northern Hu people, the rebel forces, the refugees; they’re all more important than Ning Xing.”
Empress Dowager Xie took a few steps toward Ning Xiaoyao. “Your Majesty, are you really going to be like this for the rest of your life?”
Ning Xiaoyao was alert, “What do you mean?”
“Your Majesty is going to be unmarried and childless in this life, and is…”
“Stop.” Ning Xiaoyao cut off Empress Dowager Xie, “Didn’t you already think of this when you made me the emperor?”
Empress Dowager Xie whispered, “This Dowager has done you wrong.”
“That’s very true. You have done me wrong.”
“Your Majesty should make plan for your own sake.” Empress Dowager Xie said.
“Stop talking about that already.” Ning Xiaoyao said impatiently, “What do you want, exactly?”
Empress Dowager Xie finally revealed her intention. “This Dowager wants to meet with Your Majesty’s master.”
Ning Xiaoyao’s eyelids twitched. “What do you want to see my master for?”
“This Dowager wants to ask him to take Prince Cheng away. He is Your Majesty’s master. Your Majesty can be at ease if he keeps watch on Prince Cheng.”
“No, wait.” Ning Xiaoyao was befuddled by Empress Dowager Xie. Why the heck would this woman think of such idea?
“Your Majesty,” Empress Dowager Xie gazed at Ning Xiaoyao. “This Dowager is useless now and only begs that Your Majesty can spare a little concern for Prince Cheng, as he is your brother from the same mother.”
“You want my master to take Ning Xin away? Aren’t you afraid that my master would kill him off on the way?”
Empress Dowager Xie’s cheeks quivered.
“Ah, I understand now.” Ning Xiaoyao exclaimed, “If I kill Ning Xin, then there will be nothing left that can bother you. You can just reveal to everyone that I’m a female and drag me to death with you. That’s what you think, right, Empress Dowager?”
Empress Dowager Xie didn’t say a word and just stared at Ning Xiaoyao.
“Does my master have to take Ning Xin as his disciple, and teach Ning Xin all of his skills as well?” Ning Xiaoyao asked sardonically.
Empress Dowager Xie stressed, “Your Majesty, Prince Cheng is your brother from the same mother.”
“Don’t drag this out.” Ning Xiaoyao slightly shook her finger at Empress Dowager Xie, “What if I don’t agree?”
Empress Dowager Xie smiled icily and whispered, “If Prince Cheng is destined to be ordinary his whole life, then this Dowager would rather he not grow up.”
Ning Xiaoyao rested her chin against her palm as she gazed at Empress Dowager Xie. So their family of three are just going to perish together, then? Or do they make Ning Xin follow Chef Huang and learn to cook so he can become a cook in the future? What the heck, ah? The corner of Ning Xiaoyao’s mouth twitched.
Empress Dowager Xie questioned, “What is Your Majesty’s decision?”
“Your idea has a logical flaw. If my master takes Ning Xin and leaves, how will you know what Ning Xin would learn and the type of person he’d become?”
“This Dowager wants to meet him every three years.” Empress Dowager Xie instantly replied upon Ning Xiaoyao’s question. She already had everything planned out.
“Three years?” Ning Xiaoyao mocked, “Then my master can’t bring Ning Xin too far away, ah. Some great idea you have there, Empress Dowager.”
Empress Dowager Xie ignored the derision in Ning Xiaoyao’s tone. “This Dowager only wants to know Your Majesty’s decision.”
“Impossible.” Ning Xiaoyao’s expression sank. “My master has to take a disciple whenever you want him to? Can you have some respect? You think my master is the late emperor who would agree to your every word?”
“So Your Majesty doesn’t agree?”
“That’s right, I do not. I shall wait for you to come and fight me to death.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter