Chapter 317: His Majesty Ning lacks confidence
On the outskirts of northern Xiang City, Xiang Tiange gazed expressionlessly at the fire some distance away.
“In order to capture Xie Wenyuan, Lou Zigui set the city on fire fire to the city?” squawked the general of the rebel troops. He was stunned.
“Lou Zigui’s troops are also in the city, how could he be the one who started the fire? Do you think he would burn his own men too?” another general piped up while shaking his head, “This fire can’t be the work of Lou Zigui.”
“It has to be Xie Wenyuan,” Xiang Tiange concluded.
Many of the rebel troops’ generals harshly exhaled. “There are tens of thousands of civilians in the city though!”
Xiang Tiange’s cheeks trembled as he lowered his voice, “This is what the military counsellor meant when he said Xie Wenyuan would benefit our rebel troops if we keep him alive.”
A few generals gazed at the fire engulfing Xiang City. The sky had been dyed red by the burning inferno. The generals were unable to say anything else for a long time.
“We shouldn’t have saved the old thief,” Xiang Tiange’s expression turned cold as he ordered, “Stop looking, there’s no point. The people in the city are done for. Let’s go.”
“If we hadn’t left, then we would’ve…”
Even though the aged general didn’t finish his sentence, the rest of the generals could decipher the meaning behind his words. If they had assisted in defending Xiang City, they would have also been burned alive. Xie Wenyuan had no intention of letting them live.
The rebel troops started cursing wildly at Grand Preceptor. More and more rebels started joining in. Eventually, it was just noise.
“Let’s go,” Xiang Tiange ordered. They had rescued Xie Wenyuan from the eastern suburbs of the capital. The mistake had already been made. There was no point in dwelling over it now.
The aged general turned his horse to follow behind Xiang Tiange. After this incident, Young Lord and the military counsellor’s relationship had deteriorated further. This was definitely not a good thing for their rebel forces.
Xiang Tiange brushed his fingers across the corner of his mouth as he whipped his warhorse to speed up.
Nearly 10,000 rebel troops quickly disappeared into the night.
The fire in Xiang City raged on till the afternoon of the second day. The elite soldiers and the civilians who had successfully escaped could do nothing against the fire. By the latter half of the night, the painful cries could no longer be heard in the city. The common people were no longer sobbing down on their knees. Instead, they had turned numb as they sat on the ground, motionlessly. When afternoon arrived, the sky suddenly darkened and it started to rain heavily.
Standing in the rain, the fire within the numb souls were ignited, causing everyone to bitterly sob again. God didn’t send them rain until everyone had been burned to death!
“Damn it,” Xu Feiyu wiped the rain water off his face, “If this rain came last night, it could’ve saved so many lives in Xiang City! The heavens are blind!”, he spat.
Lou Zigui stood in the rain, seemingly unaffected by the storm. “Do we still need to stay here?”, Xu Feiyu looked towards Lou Zigui as he asked in a low voice.
“We can leave now.”
“And let Xie Wenyuan escape?”
“We won’t be able to catch him,” Lou Zigui murmured, “How are we supposed to catch him if we don’t know which direction he went?”
At this moment, a corner of the city gate tower snapped from the storm and came tumbling down. The deafening sound and vibration was extremely painful to the ears.
Xu Feiyu cursed again. If they hadn’t escaped quickly last night, Xiang City would’ve been their burial site. They had managed to chase Xie Wenyuan to his wits’ end, yet he was still able to make a counterattack and bite them back ferociously.
“This can’t be Xie Wenyuan’s last minute decision,” Lou Zigui said coldly, “This was his last escape route.”
Xu Feiyu’s sharp features hardened under the rain. With Xie Wenyuan still alive, they can’t say they’ve won this war.
After an hour, the storm extinguished the flames within Xiang City. However, Lou Zigui ordered the soldiers to hold off civilians from entering the city until it was deemed safe. Everyone waited for almost another hour outside the city gates before the Supreme Commander allowed the civilians to enter Xiang City.
The ground was scorched black and houses were burnt to a crisp. Corpses that could be seen still maintained the last positions they were in before death. All of the corpses were facing the city gates. Even at the very last moment, these citizens were still trying to escape. Adults tried to shield their children by pressing their bodies over theirs. In the end, their corpses were glued together by the fire. Some imprints of human figures could be seen on the ground, as if they had been baked. Their corpses were completely burnt, leaving only their silhouettes on the ground.
Looking at the dreadful state of the city, some citizens wailed in pain, but more were traumatized to the point where they were unable to shed a single tear. They stood on the scorched earth like wooden puppets.
Lou Zigui and Xu Feiyu rode on their horses and entered the city. They had only taken a few steps before they were shortly led by a deputy general into the home of a wealthy family.
Only half of the courtyard wall remained after the fire. The house was practically destroyed. There were numerous corpses in various positions on the ground. When Lou Zigui and Xu Feiyan followed the deputy general into the estate’s back garden, even they balked at the scene at the pond in the garden despite having witnessed numerous deaths in their lifetime.
The pond wasn’t deep and there were quite a number of corpses floating on the water surface. Their skin could no longer be seen, only the colour of cooked flesh was visible on the corpses.
“They were cooked to death by the boiling water?” Xu Feiyu was bewildered. These people had wanted to escape the fire by jumping into the pond, but who would’ve thought that the pond water would end up boiling due to the fire?
A soldier tried to use a metal hook to remove a corpse from the pond, but the moment the hook touched the body, the flesh on the adult male’s body fell apart and sank to the bottom of the pond. In the blink of an eye, a skeleton was all that was left.
Some of the younger soldiers were unable to stomach this scene and vomited on the spot.
“Can people still live in this city?” Xu Feiyu asked Lou Zigui.
“Let everyone in the city come take a look at this,” Lou Zigui instructed, “This is the consequence of harbouring Xie Wenyuan.”
Since they had failed to capture Xie Wenyuan, they will make him the object of hatred and the focus of the people’s anger.
Xu Feiyu glanced at Lou Zigui and nodded his head, “I understand, I’ll settle this matter.”
“I’m going back to see His Majesty. I’ll have to trouble you with the city’s affairs,” Lou Zigui moved to leave after saying this. At this moment, a military officer burst into the courtyard and loudly reported to Lou Zigui, “Supreme Commander, the citizens are trying to kill Xiang City’s officials as well as the defense troops!”
Lou Zigui halted his footsteps. Xu Feiyu asked, “Who do they want to kill?”.
The military officer ran towards Lou Zigui and Xu Feiyu and reported, “The citizens said that the city officials were rebelling with Xie Wenyuan. They are the ones responsible for the deaths of their families. They want revenge.”
Xu Feiyu looked at Lou Zigui. Although the elite troops belonged to the Zhou Clan, Xu Feiyu understood that he wasn’t the one in charge here.
“Let them kill,” Lou Zigui ordered emotionlessly, “Those people deserve to die anyways.”
The military officer accepted the orders and dismissed himself. Xu Feiyu asked in a low voice, “Will His Majesty punish us for letting Xie Wenyuan escape?”
Lou Zigui paused. He really had no idea how Miss Ning would react to this news.
Meanwhile, in the palace, Ning Xiaoyao looked empty after sitting by the window for more than half a day. She was zoning out.
Big Boss Black licked his paws and meowed twice at Ning Xiaoyao, “Ninny, are you depressed or something?”
Ning Xiaoyao still had no reaction.
“Ao~”, Little White Fatty rubbed its head against Ning Xiaoyao’s leg.
Once again, Ning Xiaoyao looked towards Little Gyrfalcon, whom was perched on the windowsill. “Grand Preceptor really escaped?”
Little Gyrfalcon nodded its head. “Xiang City was burned to ashes?” Ning Xiaoyao asked again, with tears in her eyes.
Little Gyrfalcon couldn’t bear to speak under the gaze of Ning Xiaoyao, and could only nod its head again.
“You need to look on the brighter side,” Big Boss Black exclaimed, “Supreme Commander is safe ah!”
“That’s right, Empress’s true love is safe too.” Ning Xiaoyao mumbled.
“Then why do you look like you wanna die? From now on, Old Xie is an escaped criminal. What are you afraid of?”
“A whole city’s worth of people ah,” Ning Xiaoyao wasn’t in the mood to argue with Big Boss Black. She cradled her head and lamented, “How could we let Grand Preceptor kill so many people? I should’ve killed that evil-doer back when we were in the capital!”
Little Gyrfalcon shook its feathers and voiced out quietly, “It’s true. Many people died. Many were unable to escape from the raging fire on time.”
Ning Xiaoyao hugged her head in a daze. Little Gyrfalcon was going to continue, but Grandfather Sparrow shook his head at him. The more they talk about the fire in Xiang City, the more depressed Xiaoyao will be.
“Should we find out where Old Xie had escaped to?” Big Boss Black asked as he tried to change the subject. “Little Gyrfalcon, did you see where that Old Xie ran off to?”
Little Gyrfalcon shook its head. “When Supreme Commander and I arrived at Xiang City, Old Xie was still in the city’s garrison. But by the time we entered the city, Old Xie was already missing.”
“He knows how to fly or something?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
“Old Xie must have escaped via a different gate when Little Gyrfalcon was still outside the city.” Big Boss Black jumped onto Ning Xiaoyao’s lap and meowed, “Xiaoyao, don’t be sad, you will definitely be able to kill Old Xie.”
Ning Xiaoyao frowned. She really wasn’t all that confident in herself. Would she really be able to kill the Grand Preceptor? Grand Preceptor was able to escape even when she gained control over all of his troops.
“Your Majesty,” Shadowgale’s voice could be heard from outside the hall.
“Come in, Windy.” Shadowgale pushed the door open to enter, but was shocked once he saw Ning Xiaoyao’s pained expression. He hurriedly asked, “What’s the matter, Your Majesty?”
“I’m fine,” Ning Xiaoyao replied, “Xie Wenyuan escaped, and set Xiang City on fire. He nearly burnt Supreme Commander and the rest to death.” Shadowgale stood there, dumbfounded.
Ning Xiaoyao spread her hands. “You can’t accept this outcome either, right?” In just a few large strides, Shadowgale stood in front of Ning Xiaoyao. “Supreme Commander sent people back already?”
“No, my little pal sent the news back to me.”
Little Gyrfalcon made a noise towards its owner. I’m the little pal ah!~
“Then,” Shadowgale wanted to say something else, but wasn’t sure of what to say.
“What should we do now?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
“Xie Wenyuan really burnt the entire Xiang City down?” Shadowgale asked again, in disbelief.
“That’s right,” Ning Xiaoyao felt like crying again. Seeing the unshed tears in His Majesty’s eyes, Shadowgale didn’t dare to ask about the events of Xiang City anymore. He only said, “Why don’t we wait for Supreme Commander to return and ask for a detailed report of the events that occurred before Your Majesty makes any decision?”
“Will Grand Preceptor behave well while he is on the run?”
Shadowgale shook his head. That was obviously impossible.
“Alright,” Ning Xiaoyao rubbed her eyes, “I was too naive.”
“Elder Li is requesting to see Your Majesty,” Shadowgale reported. “Would Your Majesty like to discuss things with Elder Li?”
Ning Xiaoyao immediately clutched her brain again. “No, I always get a headache when I see him.”
Shadowgale tried to persuade Ning Xiaoyao. “While it is necessary to listen to Supreme Commander’s ideas, I think Your Majesty should also listen to Elder Li and the other ministers’ opinions. Wouldn’t more ideas be a good thing?”
Ning Xiaoyao blinked her eyes while looking at Shadowngale. His words do make sense.
Ning Xiaoyao toughen up and declared, “Alright, I’ll take the scolding. I’ll go chat with Old Gramps.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter