Not long after Fang Tang, Deng Rong and Shen Mu returned, Lou Zigui’s personal bodyguards informed them to go to the Lou estate.
Lou Zigui pointed at a few passes on the map and lowered his voice, “Split up and take a look. If you discover anything amiss, don’t act recklessly and alert the enemy. Just come back to report to me.”
“What can be amiss?” Fang Tang noted that he was to go to Yong Pass and looked at Lou Zigui bewilderingly. “Haven’t the garrison generals at these passes already come to see Supreme Commander?”
“Set off now.” Lou Zigui didn’t answer Fang Tang’s question but only instructed, “Remember what I said. No matter what you guys see, don’t act rashly.”
Knowing that Lou Zigui wouldn’t let them make this journey for no reason, Fang Tang and the others didn’t speak further. They obeyed his command and departed Black Frost City with their respective personal bodyguards and headed for the northwest direction that very night.
“Go gather the troops.” After Fang Tang and the others left, Lou Zigui ordered Song Jin.
“Will the Northern Hu come to Black Frost City?” Song Jin asked.
“If they wanted to come, they would have long arrived.” Lou Zigui shook his head at Song Jin. “We should prepare for both eventualities. If the Northern Hu haven’t gotten through the pass, then we’ll defend the pass to the last of our breath. If they have already gotten through the pass, then we’ll immediately hurry to the capital.”
Song Jin had always been playing the role of Lou Zigui’s military counselor at his side. Hence, General Seventh Song could understand what Lou Zigui meant without using much brain power. It would be best if the main forces of the Northern Hu were still outside the pass. But if they have already entered the defense fort, then it’s impossible that these barbarians will stay put in Anyuan. They will only head to the capital straight away.
Lou Zigui pointed at the map to show Song Jin. On the map was a dotted line, meandering like a slithering snake. The line stretched all the way south to its final destinationーthe capital.
“This is not a path troops can march through.” Song Jin clenched his fists.
“What if the Northern Hu have long entered the pass?” Lou Zigui didn’t reveal any unusual expression. He coldly stated, “As long as there is enough time, what path can’t be trodden on?”
“I’ll go to the barracks now.” Song Jin took his leave.
Lou Zigui nodded. At the same time, he called outside the door. “Servants, go call Shadowbolt.”
Fourth Commander Shadowbolt had already fallen asleep but was woken up by Lou Zigui’s personal bodyguards. However, the moment Shadowbolt witnessed Lou Zigui sitting there with his expressionless face, the vestiges of his sleepiness vanished. Shadowbolt asked, “Supreme Commander, has the Northern Hu invaded?”
“I need you to return to the capital right away.” Lou Zigui instructed, “Then immediately send His Majesty down south to Qin Xuan.”
Shadowbolt was dumbstruck. The capital is unsafe again?!
“The Northern Hu may have already gotten through the pass.” Lou Zigui continued, “That’s why you have to rush back to the capital as fast as possible.”
“I-is it Xie Wenyuan?” Shadowbolt asked.
“No matter who it is, if we ensure His Majesty’s safety now, perhaps what I’m worried about wouldn’t happen.” Lou Zigui glanced at the blank letters he had stacked properly. Then, he untied a white jade amulet and handed it over to Shadowbolt. “Present this to His Majesty in my stead. Tell His Majesty that I will go to the capital as soon as possible and that he shouldn’t panic if he runs into trouble.”
*T/n: It is something worn by the owner to ward off evil and protect the owner from harm.
Here is the white jade version for your reference:
At this moment, Shadowbolt wished that he could grow wings and fly back. After carefully putting the amulet away, he bowed to Lou Zigui before retreating out of the study. The servants in the Lou estate had already packed his luggage for him. That very night, Shadowbolt mounted his horse and hastily left Black Frost City for the capital.
While Fang Tang and Shadowbolt were still on the way, Prince Fu received an imperial decree and returned to the capital once again. When he met Ning Xiaoyao again, he sized her up. After fighting a few battles with Tao Yu and the rebels, His Majesty hasn’t grown taller and plumper. He still looks like he only has some flesh in his face. Other than his eyes, his face doesn’t have anything else noteworthy.
“Uncle, come sit.” Ning Xiaoyao elatedly beckoned Prince Fu to sit.
Prince Fu sat down unceremoniously. For this little emperor, he had taxed his mind and body. He even forked out money and manpower. With all that he’s done, he definitely deserves to speak while sitting down! “May I know why Your Majesty has summoned this subject to the capital?” Prince Fu asked.
“Umm, about that...” Ning Xiaoyao had already thought over how she was going to phrase it. She looked at Prince Fu and prompted, “I wanted to inquire about something from Uncle…”
“Your Majesty!” Ning Xiaoyao had spoken halfway when she heard Shadowgale’s abnormal tone coming from outside the palace hall.
“What’s wrong?” Ning Xiaoyao jumped in surprise. Did Fifth Young Miss change her mind again? She regretted her decision and decided she would rather die than to live an average life and be a blissful young lady?
Shadowgale hastily walked into the palace hall and didn’t even have the time to glance at Prince Fu. “Your Majesty, the son of Hubei’s governor has come. The Hubei’s garrison general betrayed the country and opened the city gates and allowed the rebels to enter the city. The governor has committed suicide and offered his life for the nation.”
Prince Fu leaped up from his chair and knocked the chair onto the floor. “Hubei?!” Prince Fu bellowed at Shadowgale.
These few days, Ning Xiaoyao had memorized the toponyms on the map. She knew about Hubei. It was still rather far away from the capital and its environs.
“Waterway.” Prince Fu had a ghastly expression, “The rebels want to enter the capital by traveling through the waterway!”
That’s right. Ning Xiaoyao dug her nails into her palms. There is a canal and dock in Hubei.
“Hurry! Invite the son of the governor in.” Prince Fu ordered Shadowgale without waiting for Ning Xiaoyao’s instructions.
“Yes yes yes,” Ning Xiaoyao also hastily agreed, “Let the young master come in.”
Shadowgale dismissed himself to get the guest. Prince Fu paced back and forth in front of Ning Xiaoyao. “If the rebels had used Hubei’s waterway to get to the capital......” Prince Fu widened his eyes as he looked at Ning Xiaoyao, “Then they would have already entered the capital and its environs by now!”
At this moment, Ning Xiaoyao was thinking to herself, it is still ultimately happening. She is simply an unlucky person. Grand Preceptor hasn’t died and still wants to fight her to the death.
“The Hubei’s garrison general.” Prince Fu started to pace around in circles again. “Could he be related to Xie Wenyuan?”
Ning Xiaoyao spread our hands. How would she know?
“Your Majesty didn’t send people to investigate?” Prince Fu stopped pacing around and gawked at Ning Xiaoyao again.
“I have gotten someone to investigate already.” Ning Xiaoyao felt that she was extremely innocent. “Elder Li personally handled this matter.”
“Li Wuqi?” Prince Fu snorted, “It looks like this old thing doesn’t know how to manage matters. No wonder he couldn’t do anything to Xie Wenyuan despite spending half of his life fighting him!”
At this moment, Shadowgale entered the palace hall with the son of Hubei’s governor. Ning Xiaoyao took a look. She had assumed that the young master would be an adult. She didn’t expect to see an eleven to twelve-year-old little boy.
“You.” Prince Fu stared blankly at this little boy.
He looked exactly like a refugee. The little boy dressed in rags knelt before Ning Xiaoyao. “Your Majesty, this commoner’s father and elder brother, as well as mother have all died.”
Ning Xiaoyao felt a staggering blow. His Majesty Ning didn’t speak for a very long time. The little boy knelt on the ground. He looked like he wanted to cry yet had run out of tears.
Prince Fu noticed his tiny “imperial nephew” was standing numb like an idiot. Then he shifted his eyes and gazed at the miserable looking Hubei governor’s orphan. Prince Fu knocked his head and told himself he had to hang on and remain composed.
“Your Majesty?” At this moment, Shadowgale called out. Ning Xiaoyao stood from the couch and helped the boy up. Prince Fu stamped his feet and ordered Shadowgale, “Go summon Elder Li and the Minister of War officials to the palace.”
Shadowgale watched as Ning Xiaoyao squatted down to coax the child. For the first time ever, he didn’t ask for Ning Xiaoyao’s opinion. He turned around and left to summon the important court ministers to the palace.
The boy didn’t know much and was unable to explicate how the rebels took down Hubei. He only knew that his ‘Uncle Hong’, Hong Tonghu, was the one who opened the city gates for them.
Ning Xiaoyao called for Mute Nanny and instructed her to take the child away for a bath and meal.
“Your Majesty.” The little young master looked at Ning Xiaoyao and didn’t leave.
“I will avenge your father, mother and your elder brother.” Ning Xiaoyao promised the child. “I am the emperor. The emperor doesn’t lie.”
The child rubbed his eyes and withdrew with Mute Nanny. When his mother sent him out of the house gates, she had told him that as the sole male of the household, he must live on no matter the circumstances.
After ensuring that both of them had left, Ning Xiaoyao and Prince Fu sat gazing at each other at wit’s end. Suddenly, Prince Fu quivered and glared at Ning Xiaoyao, “Your Majesty, y-you did that on purpose?!”
“Ah?” Ning Xiaoyao was nonplussed.
“Despite knowing that war is about to break out, you want me come back to the capital again?!” At this point, an indescribable amount of anger and grief rose within him. He has just stepped into the capital, yet there’s going to be another war again!
“It’s not like you’re a general.” Ning Xiaoyao felt wronged. “You wouldn’t be able to help me with war-related matters anyway.”
“I have no more money!” Prince Fu was still glaring at Ning Xiaoyao. This person is definitely eyeing his silvers again!
Ning Xiaoyao: …True. Fighting a war requires money.
“I’ll reiterate this again.” Prince Fu was furious, “My money has all been spent on fighting the rebels. I have no money left!”
“Regardless of whether you have money or not,” Ning Xiaoyao shrugged her shoulders, “Uncle, you can’t leave anymore anyway.”
Prince Fu wanted to perish with Ning Xiaoyao again. Why is he always trying to screw him over? There are so many imperial clansmen. Oh, that’s right. Prince Fu looked at Ning Xiaoyao as he panted heavily. This fellow reclaimed all their assets and privileges. Now, hardly any of them has money.
“Calm down.” Ning Xiaoyao made Prince Fu sit down. “We don’t exactly know where the rebels are now, right?”
Prince Fu sat down again. “How many soldiers does the capital currently have?”
“Eh, I don’t know, ah.” Ning Xiaoyao shook her head.
“You have already killed all of Xie Wenyuan’s men.” Prince Fu asked, “How did you arrange the troops of the thirty-six barracks?”
“I don’t know.” Ning Xiaoyao still shook her head.
Prince Fu asked exasperatedly, “Then what does Your Majesty know?”
Ning Xiaoyao rolled her eyes around as she pondered the question. Finally, she replied, “I don’t know anything at all, ah.” The thirty-six barracks were arranged by Lord Protector and Great General Xu. Since they weren’t back yet, Second Young Master Pei handled the matter of transferring the troops into the capital. Second Young Master Pei did actually inform her a little about the deployment but she didn’t pay attention so she forgot everything.
Prince Fu really couldn’t understand. How could someone like this punk defeat Xie Wenyuan? That’s not right either. Prince Fu mulled over it again. Right now it’s still too early to tell who the ultimate winner will be.
“How is Hong Tonghu related to Grand Preceptor?” Ning Xiaoyao asked Prince Fu.
“How would I know?” Prince Fu shouted at Ning Xiaoyao, “Is Xie Wenyuan my maternal grandfather?!”
Ning Xiaoyao’s mouth twitched. “He is my maternal grandfather, but I still don’t know, ah.”
Prince Fu thought, if he leaves now, he may still make it in time.
“If the rebels are here,” Ning Xiaoyao clenched her fists as she sat on the couch. “That means the Northern Hu also won’t be far.”
“What did you say?” Prince Fu jumped again.
“The Northern Hu. Uncle, Grand Preceptor has even colluded with Modou.”
Prince Fu felt like his head was going to explode. Why did he have to be so well-behaved and run back to the capital?! He should’ve known that Ning Yu wouldn’t think of himself when there are joyous occasions. So why did he still rush here so compliantly?!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
lol this chapter is kinda funny but also still confusing. All these names are messing up with my head. I don't know why the author keeps adding more characters. My brain hurts. lol
Rakumon assisted me with this chapter. Sometimes, I forget to mention my helpers but I'll thank them all again in the end. The chapters are soooooo LONGGGGGG. T_T Xiaoyao is so funny though. "Xie Wenyuan is my maternal grandfather but I still don't know." LOL