Chapter 32: Grand Preceptor does evil again Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
As Fang Tang pointed at the alleyway, he took a step forward, planning to run over and look for himself. But Lou Zigui said sternly, “Don’t go, there are people on top of the walls.”
Fang Tang hastily looked over and saw two black robed figures standing atop the walls on both sides. Their faces were covered with black cloth, making it impossible to tell their looks. “Northern Hu?” Fang Tang was astonished. Just two people were enough to hold back Song Jin and his men?
“If they were northern barbarians, why haven’t they come to kill me?” Lou Zigui said softly. Fang Tang was astonished.
“Grand Preceptor’s estate,” Lou Zigui intoned coolly.
“What?” Fang Tang wanted to shout, but held himself back.
Lou Zigui observed the situation of the battlefield. Ning Xiaoyao was currently fighting while holding a brick above her head. A black cat sat on her shoulders with its fangs and claws bared. The two of them made a pair in black and white, amusing Lou Zigui enough for him to chortle. Grand Preceptor Xie probably never expected to raise a granddaughter like this, right?
“They’re really the Grand Preceptor’s men?” Fang Tang didn’t understand why his Supreme Commander could still laugh in such a situation. “What does that damned old fogey want to do?”
“He wants to shock and scare His Majesty with my death,” Lou Zigui withdrew his smile to speak in a cold voice. The Dragon Guards would protect Ning Xiaoyao unto death, buying enough time for him to die at Northern Hu’s hands. When he was gone, Grand Preceptor Xie could then bring his men and horses to rescue His Majesty. It was strike that dealt two blows at once: to kill his enemy while teaching a harsh lesson to his disobedient grandchild. Lou Zigui looked coldly at the two men atop the wall. The mantis stalks the cicada, unaware of the oriole behind. Grand Preceptor Xie wanted to be that oriole.
In the long and narrow alleyway, Grand Preceptor Xie stood with his hands behind his back as he paced around in circles. Song Jin and the Black Frost Cavalry, along with the rest of the Dragon Guards, were all lying on the ground. Their minds were alert, but they had no feeling in their limbs. Nor could they speak.
“Grand Preceptor,” a black-clothed man jumped down from the wall to crouch on one leg before him. He spoke in a soft voice, “The Northern Hu are about to lose.”
Grand Preceptor Xie ground to a halt. “You’re certain?”
“Yes,” the black-robed man didn’t say much, but only kept to a simple word.
The most powerful weapons from this group of northern barbarians were their Nine Arrow Crossbows. One crossbow could shoot nine arrows at once, an excellent tool on the battlefield when they were attacking cities and seizing territories. Unfortunately, Ning Xiaoyao’s 600 jin carriage injured over half of the archers. When she jumped up to kill the rest, the crossbows became useless at close-range. From that moment on, the Northern Hu were doomed to lose.
Grand Preceptor Xie waved a hand to dismiss the messenger before tugging at his collar. He slowly paced to a place with poor lighting in the alley and sat down, where no one could see his expression. His calm face instantly shifted to a gloomy one. He didn’t come today for Lou Zigui, because it wasn’t worth wasting effort on a man destined to die. He’d brought along all the expert fighters of his estate and drugged Song Jin and the rest, just so Ning Xiaoyao could watch Lou Zigui die in front of her eyes. When she felt death first-hand and understood her life wouldn't be the same without the Xie Clan’s protection, she’d understand her precarious state. Grand Preceptor Xie’s most capable assistant, Xu Yi, walked to his side and spoke in a low voice.
“Grand Preceptor, these soldiers were afflicted with a potent poison. Now that His Majesty’s taken care of the Northern Hu, perhaps Grand Preceptor should reconsider how to deal with these people?”
Grand Preceptor Xie hadn’t planned on keeping the lives of Song Jin and his men, but now he didn’t have a chance to come to the rescue of the emperor. If he couldn’t pressure Ning Xiaoyao, how could he kill Song Jin and the rest?
“Grand Preceptor could use these people’s lives as collateral in the court assembly two days later,” Xu Yi was a middle-aged man, but his hair had already turned white while his back was stooped. “But if we do it this way, Grand Preceptor and His Majesty really will have no good feelings left.” Grand Preceptor Xie shook his head with a ridiculing smile. For the sake of power and absolute authority, he and Ning Yu had long forsaken ties of friendship between them.
A few sparrows stood on the wall behind Grand Preceptor Xie. After watching the two men quiet down following their brief exchange, a few sparrows flew away from the wall and landed on a small building, where they started to chirp and cry.
“Grandfather Sparrow, that Grand Preceptor Xie is too wicked!” a small sparrow cried as it hopped around. “Too wicked, chirp chirp~”
Grandfather Sparrow used his beak to comb the little sparrow’s feathers. “A person like that will sink to the 18th level of Hell after he dies. He’ll have his time to regret then.”
“Then what about now?” another little sparrow asked anxiously.
“Go find Xiaoyao,” Grandfather Sparrow directed. “Tell her that Old Xie’s up to his evil tricks again.”
The little sparrow nodded and prepared to fly away when he stopped. “There’s a little gyrfalcon there. Will he take us away and eat us?”
“Don’t be afraid,” Grandfather Sparrow smoothed out the little sparrow’s feathers again. “If he bites you, just say you know Xiaoyao and have something urgent to tell her.”
“Mmkay,” the little sparrow flapped its wings and flew off.
“Does Xiaoyao have a way to defeat Grand Preceptor Xie?” a few sparrows started worrying for Ning Xiaoyao’s sake.
Grandfather Sparrow stood on the roof and observed the crowd at the Fragrant Storey from a distance. “Xiaoyao’s the emperor.”
How was it easy to grasp everything under Heaven? The higher one’s position, the greater one’s responsibility. When problems arose, the commoners, ministers, and everyone else might not have ideas, but the emperor had to have solutions. Grandfather Sparrow lightly chirped a few times as he inexplicably felt pained for the young Miss Ning Xiaoyao.
The little sparrow ran into the gyrfalcon as soon as it arrived at the Fragrant Storey.
“I’ve come to find Xiaoyao. Grand Preceptor Xie’s doing evil things again, I’m here to report to her.” Without waiting for the gyrfalcon to bite him, the sparrow spoke up.
Hearing this, the gyrfalcon gave a call and flew up into the skies. Ning Xiaoyao had stopped waving around her brick by now and was sitting at the doorstep of a two-storey building while panting for breath. First she threw a carriage, then she beat people with bricks, how tiring. The little gyrfalcon landed on her shoulder and cast a glance at Big Boss Black by Ning Xiaoyao’s side before chirping her the news. In the end, he even used his head to nuzzle comfortingly at Ning Xiaoyao’s dirt-streaked face.
Ning Xiaoyao sat stiffly for awhile before leaping to her feet. Was this any good? That old bastard, how could he spend every minute of every day trying to hurt people?!
Shadowgale ran to Ning Xiaoyao then, his hand holding his sabre. “Your Majesty, we’ve taken down all the northern barbarians.”
Big Boss Black spoke up. “Xiaoyao, aren’t you going to take a look at the Northern Hu's lair in the capital city?”
Ning Xiaoyao mused a bit before lifting Big Boss Black and placing him on Shadowgale’s shoulders. “Windy, my cat knows where the Northern Hu’s lair is located. You guys follow him to capture all the people.”
(⊙_⊙), went Shadowgale and the Dragon Guards standing by him. Follow a cat’s directions?
Ning Xiaoyao took to her heels to dash towards the alleyway, but couldn’t help but encourage, “Go for it, Windy, you guys can do it!”
Big Boss Black leaped down from Shadowgale’s shoulder and raised his head to look at him, meowing twice before running towards the northern end of the streets.
“Second, take some people to look after the prisoners, the rest of you follow that cat,” Shadowgale still didn’t know that Song Jin and the rest had fallen to Grand Preceptor Xie’s hands, so he only gave orders to the Dragon Guards present. Ning Xiaoyao ran past Lou Zigui and Fang Tang like a burst of wind, a sparrow perched atop her head. The little gyrfalcon descended from the air. Instead of following his owner Shadowgale, he opted to land on Ning Xiaoyao’s shoulder.
“You didn’t see anything happen to little Song and the rest from the air?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
“I saw them fall to the ground, but they didn’t die,” the gyrfalcon replied.
“You still should’ve given me a heads up,” Ning Xiaoyao pulled at the falcon’s feathers.
The little gyrfalcon felt very wronged. “My owner was fine though, aroo.”
“... …” said Ning Xiaoyao. True enough, small animals only cared about their owners. The rest of humanity could live or die for all they cared.
“Xiaoyao, you were fine too,” the gyrfalcon’s wings hurt from Ning Xiaoyao’s tugging, but he didn’t get mad. Instead, he tried to make it up by nuzzling Ning Xiaoyao’s face with his head.
Fine, Ning Xiaoyao decided to forgive this idiot. Besides his owner, she was the most important person to him. She had a proper sense of pride in that.
Fang Tang watched Ning Xiaoyao run off and turned to Lou Zigui. “His Majesty’s heading for the alleyway?”
As soon as Lou Zigui took a few hasty steps forward, his head began to spin. “Help me over there,” Lou Zigui said as he exerted all his strength, brows furrowing.
Fang Tang pointed ahead and said dumbly, “Supreme Commander, His Majesty’s entered the alleyway.” She ran way too fast, didn’t she?
Lou Zigui couldn’t help but reply irritably, “Nobody can hurt His Majesty, what are you afraid of?”
“... …” said Fang Tang. Indeed, His Majesty’s valiant ways were indeed indomitable.
When Ning Xiaoyao rushed into the alleyway and saw the collapsed forms of Song Jin and the rest, her anger turned into extraordinary wrath. Grand Preceptor Xie walked into front of Ning Xiaoyao and prepared to bow to pay his respects. Ning Xiaoyao still recalled the empress dowager’s words about filial piety. She couldn’t touch her own mother, so the same thing applied to her own maternal grandfather. Instead, she looked at the hunchbacked man by Grand Preceptor Xie’s side.
A sparrow on the wall cried out, “Xiaoyao, he’s a bad guy too!”
If he was a bad guy, then what was she waiting for? Ning Xiaoyao raised a hand and slapped Assistant Xu, who was preparing to bow as well. His head had hardly dipped when Ning Xiaoyao’s slap sent him crumpling wordlessly to the ground face-first, a giant lump on his head. Slowly, it began to swell.
“You,” Grand Preceptor Xie couldn’t maintain his expression. Assistant Xu was his most handy man, one that he treated with the rites of an intimate friend. Ning Xiaoyao’s slap just then was equivalent to a slap on his face. Ignoring Grand Preceptor Xie and Assistant Xu, Ning Xiaoyao hurried forward to check on Song Jin, who was lying on the ground by her left side.
When Song Jin saw Ning Xiaoyao crouched by his side, his mouth moved rapidly. He desperately wanted to speak, but no matter what he did, no sound came out. Ning Xiaoyao placed her hand on top of his and said, “It’s all right. With me here, nothing can hurt you guys.”
Grand Preceptor Xie stood behind Ning Xiaoyao and said softly, “Your Majesty, they were poisoned. When this subject arrived with my men, the Northern Hu were just…”
“You’re lying!” the sparrows chirped at the same time. Why didn’t this old scoundrel have any face?!
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