“You think you can attack the capital just because you say so?” After leaving Advisor Niu speechless, Ning Xiaoyao aimed her explosive barbs at Xiang Nong. “Go back and discuss your plans with Modou. When you are done, I will be waiting for you here.”
Xiang Nong truly desired to command an all-out attack to kill this cowardly, fatuous ruler who dared not reveal his face. But Great Lord Xiang knew Ning Xiaoyao was right. He really needed to consult with Modou on what’s to come.
“Still don’t want to go?” Ning Xiaoyao put her hands on her hips. “Great Lord, are you waiting for your military adviser to remember how to recite the Three Character Classic?”
“Back to camp!” Xiang Nong coldly commanded.
“Hmph”, Ning Xiaoyao snorted. He wants to have a mouth battle with her? In her previous lifetime, she may not have been able to fight against the zombies. But in this lifetime, she was definitely the winner of the mouth battle and a person who was dashing enough to pierce through the heavens!
The rebel forces beneath the city walls started to return to their camps in an orderly manner.
“These people are all the original members from Xiang Nong’s troops.” Prince Fu told Ning Xiaoyao softly.
Ning Xiaoyao was not paying attention to Prince Fu. Xiang Tiange was observing her from below the city walls and they made eye contact. Ning Xiaoyao checked to see if her scarf was still covering her face. Then, she turned around. She is really foolish. Young Lord, Young Lord, isn’t that the way to address Great Lord’s son? So, that guy is Xiang Tiange. He had tricked her into thinking he was Xiang Qingshan!
“Tiange?” Xiang Nong slightly turned sideways on his horse and spoke to his stiff foster son. Tiange had remained frozen in his position. “Let’s go. Let’s not fight with this fatuous ruler in a moment of anger.”
Xiang Tiange turned around his horse. He was not planning to fight in a fit of anger. Rather, he was stunned. Although he couldn’t see the face of the dragon-robed Majesty, he clearly remembered her pair of big eyes. In fact, he had dreamt of them many times! That’s Dayao! Who exactly is this lady? Is she the mistress of that bastard emperor Ning Yu?
(Author: Young Lord, if you know the truth, what you would you do? o(╯□╰)o）
Ning Xiaoyao quickly came down from the city gate tower. If she was not trying to accommodate Prince Fu, she could have descended even faster.
“Your tongue is pretty sharp. “ Prince Fu was out of breath from speeding down. “But Your Majesty, why did you mask your face?” he panted.
Ning Xiaoyao removed the scarf and whispered, “If I end up losing next time, the enemy won’t know what I look like! That way, I’d be able to escape!” As a figure dashing enough to pierce through the heavens, she had to think of an escape route all the time!
Prince Fu had a blank expression for a long time. “Why didn’t you tell me to do so?”
Ning Xiaoyao took a glance at Prince Fu. “Uncle, you have already fought against the rebel forces with General Tao. Do you think people would fail to recognize you if you try to conceal your face now?”
Prince Fu: …
“Let’s go.” Ning Xiaoyao told everyone. “We’re not leaving until the rescue troops arrive.”
In no time, the Northern Hu had surrounded the north and east city walls. Meanwhile, the rebel forces had surrounded the south and west city walls. The capital was now completely encircled.
Some of the common people had left the capital, but there were still many who remained. Since Ning Xiaoyao was still here, they weren’t very frightened. Although the common people could not understand military matters, they understood one simple logic -if His Majesty is staying, it means the capital city can be defended. They won’t lose this war!
That night, the army tents outside the capital were brightly lit. Occasionally, the neighing of the war horses could be heard from inside the capital. However, within the capital, it was dim and quiet. It felt like it was two different worlds.
Within the Supreme Splendor Hall, Prince Fu had just finished his dinner. “Wait a minute,” Prince Fu recalled the earlier events and looked at Ning Xiaoyao, “You had been planning an escape route all along?”
Ning Xiaoyao’s mouth was stuffed with a steamed bun. She lifted her head to look at Prince Fu.
“Didn’t you say that Lou Zigui will definitely come?” Prince Fu asked Ning Xiaoyao. Ning Xiaoyao chewed her bun and swallowed it into her tummy. “Grand Preceptor is Supreme Commander’s nemesis. What if we fail to win this war?”
Prince Fu thought to himself. Does this mean he’s going to die by staying here?
“Don’t worry, uncle.” Ning Xiaoyao assured him, “When I escape, I will definitely take you with me. Don’t worry, I may not be great at fighting wars, but running away is definitely my forte.”
Is that something to be proud of? Prince Fu stared at Ning Xiaoyao, unsure of whether he could trust her words.
“Prepare to win, but at the same time prepare to lose.” Ning Xiaoyao took a bite of her bun and smiled at Prince Fu. “Uncle, don’t worry.”
Prince Fu was still anxious. He could not feel assured!
At dawn, the Northern Hu and the rebel forces started to attack the capital. Ning Xiaoyao went around the four city gate towers. She realized there was nothing she could do to help, so she simply went back to Supreme Splendor Hall to sleep.
Half a month had gone by, but the capital city remained impregnable. However, there were still no rescue troops in sight.
“Those people deserve death!” Prince Fu scolded angrily within the main hall of the Supreme Splendor Hall. “What kind of gain do they think they’ll get if Yongning falls?”
A few of the princes who were called into the palace lowered their heads silently. They have no military power, no martial arts skills and do not understand the art of war. Currently, they were as good as sitting ducks, waiting for death.
“Your Majesty, ah!” Prince Fu finished his tirade against the border region governors and commanders who had refused to help them. He turned his head to shout at Ning Xiaoyao.
Ning Xiaoyao felt her belly and replied calmly, “It’s okay, uncle! When I run away, I will definitely bring you along.”
“Can you not talk about this?” Prince Fu was very agitated. “Then shall we discuss about the defense of our capital?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
Prince Fu: … he doesn’t know anything about defense of the capital!
“Let’s wait a bit longer.” Ning Xiaoyao gazed at the princes that were sitting down. “Supreme Commander should be here soon. Second Young Master Pei said that if the Black Frost Cavalry arrive, we can turn the tables around and counterattack from both within the capital and outside, surrounding the Northern Hu army and the rebel forces!”
Prince Fu demanded, “When will Lou Zigui arrive?”
Ning Xiaoyao shrugged. “Should be soon.” Prince Fu kept quiet. There was no point in suggesting that Lou Zigui may not arrive. Even if he doesn’t come, it’s not like they could do anything to that cuckoo* anyway.
Ning Xiaoyao gripped the arm of her chair. Several days ago, Wheat told her that a migratory bird heading south saw the Black Frost Cavalry army leaving Anyuan. Supreme Commander should be on his way to the capital right now. Where is he now?
Meanwhile, Lou Zigui was sitting in his army tent. Placed in front of him, was the head of Prince Zhi, Ning Guangyuan.
“This prince said he has no grains.” Shen Mu gave an appearance of trustworthiness even though he was the one who killed Ning Guangyuan. “He still wanted to deduct from our army rations.”
“So that’s why you killed him?” Lou Zigui questioned.
“If we don’t do so, he would’ve arrested us!” Fang Tang exclaimed loudly. Lou Zigui frowned. The generals could see Lou Zigui’s change of expression. They did not dare to make a sound.
“Supreme Commander,” a soldier outside the tent reported, “Mister Huihu is here.”
Mister Huihu was a famous scholar and Lou Zigui’s respected teacher. Once, he had publicly reprimanded Xie Wenyuan and his daughter for causing harm to the country. For that, the late emperor ordered him to be killed. He was eventually punished by having his face branded with a mark of a criminal and went into seclusion in the forests thereafter.
Lou Zigui’s frown deepened upon hearing that his teacher had arrived. Why would his teacher be here at this time?
The generals quietly stood there. Lou Zigui raised his eyes to look at them, “How come none of you appear to be surprised that Mister Huihu is here?”
Fang Tang replied, “Supreme Commander, Mister is your respected teacher and would naturally come and see you. Why should we be astonished?”
Lou Zigui looked at Prince Zhi’s head. Currently, the Ning Clan was counting on them to help fight the war. Would Prince Zhi come and find trouble with the Black Frost Cavalry? Absolutely not.
“Supreme Commander?” Fang Tang called out to Lou Zigui. “Are you planning to keep Mister waiting?”
Lou Zigui did not reply but stood up and walked outside the tent.
Mister Huihu was already nearly seventy years old. From his forehead to his nose, there was a large black word “criminal” branded on his face due to his earlier punishment. No matter how good looking he may have been, he now looked malevolent.
“Respected teacher.” Lou Zigui walked forward to Mister Huihu and kneeled in front of him. “Disciple pays respect to teacher.”
Mister Huihu laughed and bend down to help Lou Zigui up. “Rise.”
Lou Zigui stood up and saw a Taoist priest standing beside Mister Huihu. He was stunned. “Who is this?”
“Master Priest You.” Mister Huihu explained. “He is an old friend of mine.”
The generals behind Lou Zigui were in an uproar. Master Priest You was a name they had heard of since he was Yongning’s most famous face reader. The generals appraised the Taoist priest beside Mister Huihu. He had white hair and eyebrows, giving off an appearance of divinity and sageness.
“What is it?” Mister Huihu saw Lou Zigui staring at his good friend and laughed. “Chengying, are you not going to invite your teacher in for a word?”
Lou Zigui tilted his body to one side. “Respected teacher, please.”
The group returned back to the tent. Prince Zhi’s head had been taken away but there was still a slight smell of rotting flesh lingering within.
“All of you, retreat.” Lou Zigui commanded the generals who came into the tent with them. “We will set off early tomorrow. There shall be no delay.” The soldiers assented in unison and left the tent.
“Respected teacher,” After the generals left, Lou Zigui personally poured a cup of tea for both Mister Huihu and Master Priest You. “Why are you here?”
“It is the same for teacher wherever I go.” Mister Huihu took a sip of the tea. “But Chengying, where are you going?”
“To the capital city.”
“The Northern Hu troops and the rebel forces have already surrounded the capital. Teacher is aware of this matter.”
“Then why did teacher ask where I am going?”
“You really intend to go there?” Mister Huihu put down his cup of tea and looked at Lou Zigui.
“What?” Lou Zigui said laughingly, “Respected teacher, what are you trying to say? The monarch is in trouble. This disciple is a subject of the emperor, and would naturally fight for him through water and fire.”
“His Majesty has handed down an imperial order asking for rescue troops from various regions.” Mister Huihu replied, “But few answered the call. Why do you think this is so?”
Lou Zigui did not reply. Master Priest You said with a laugh, “Naturally, these border region governors and commanders are thinking, once the emperor has fallen, the world will turn into chaos. When that happens, they can fight for power and attempt to seize the throne.”
“This is the outcome that Xie Wenyuan wanted.” Mister Huihu looked at Lou Zigui. “With the collapse of the country and the fall of the emperor, he will no longer be a traitor. He would even have an opportunity to take over the country.”
“He can dream on.” Lou Zigui icily responded.
“Even if he can’t have the country in the palm of his hands, he could possibly turn the situation around to make himself look like a loyal subject of the kingdom.” Mister Huihu continued, “I know the reigning emperor is a good one, but unfortunately, he cannot escape his destiny.”
Lou Zigui clenched his hands tightly. “So respected teacher wants me to follow the steps of those governors and commanders and abandon His Majesty?”
“Not abandon,” Mister Huihu explained, “Teacher wants you to take it to the next level.”
Lou Zigui raised an eyebrow. “It is late. I have arranged someone to tidy up a tent for teacher. Respected teacher, please take a rest.”
“Chengying!” Mister Huihu shouted in frustration.
“The reigning emperor is my savior.” Lou Zigui reasoned in a low voice, “I would no longer be a righteous person if I am to fight for power now and abandon him. Respected teacher, ever since I was young, you have taught me to be honest and honorable. Until today, Chengying has not forgotten respected teacher’s teachings.”
“But teacher had also taught you, when a man makes his mark in this world, he has to follow where destiny takes to him.” Mister Huihu retorted, “Have you forgotten the teachings?”
*Lou Zigui has been described as Cuckoo Lou in chapter 6.Previous Chapter Next Chapter
HF assisted me with this chapter! It's pretty good, except we're heading towards a bad direction. Readers, please don't go insane next chapter.
The novel has a happy ending though. So don't worry!!!! Also, what's gonna happen with Young Lord and Xiaoyao? Hehe. That guy fell for her despite only meeting her once. *sigh* poor young lorddd