Usually, Elder Li was full of political wisdom and able to debate with scholars. However, this time, he was left speechless by Ning Xiaoyao’s words.
“Old Gramps, make sure you live well. Regardless of who the emperor is, you have to work hard for the common people ah.”
“You,” Elder Li’s tears were pouring endlessly like the rain outside. “You’re really going to throw away your life?”
“Dream on if anyone thinks I’ll throw away my life!” Ning Xiaoyao’s smiling expression suddenly changed. “They all want me to die. I can give up the throne. Whoever wants it can take it, but they better not expect me to kneel and beg for mercy.”
The rain poured heavily. Ning Xiaoyao clenched her fists tightly, her torso straight as a ramrod. Kneeling and holding on to someone’s thigh is one way to solve the problem, but don’t expect her, Ning Xiaoyao, to kneel and beg anyone for mercy! This includes the God of Heavens!
Ning Xiaoyao’s angry roar left Elder Li speechless for quite some time.
Outside the courtyard, Shadowgale was silent for a long time. Eventually, he commanded the Dragon Guards behind him. “Go prepare, we’ll follow His Majesty out the capital.” The young Dragon Guards all nodded and quickly left.
Shadowgale looked inside the courtyard. Behind the curtains, Ning Xiaoyao’s silhouette appeared very blurry in the large courtyard. Shadowgale’s heart was suddenly moved and he turned away.
On the side of the street, Xie Duoying held an oil paper umbrella as she stood on the roadside. The bottom of her light pink skirt was soaked from the rain, turning it into a crimson color.
Fifth Young Miss Xie walked up to Shadowgale and tried to lift up her umbrella to shelter the both of them from the rain. She softly whispered, “Protect His Majesty well. If the capital is seized, I will find a way to leave. Shadowgale…” Xie Duoying looked at Shadowgale, “When the war ends, no matter how the world has become, I will return to the capital to wait for you. So, please come back so I won’t be by myself. Don’t make me wait alone until my death.”
The wind blew the rain onto Xie Duoying’s face, wetting her face completely. It looked as if she was crying, but Fifth Young Miss was actually smiling. When she smiled at Shadowgale, she was as beautiful as a blooming flower.
I want to grow old with you, but you have your loyalties to fulfill and responsibilities to bear. A good man stands with his head in the sky and his feet on the ground. A good man has a clear conscience and a guiltless heart. That’s why I won’t make things difficult for you. All I can do is make sure I stay alive and wait to spend the rest of my life with you.
There were thousands of words waiting to be said. But when it came to the actual time, she didn’t know where to begin. Ultimately, Xie Duoying sighed and said she couldn’t express herself in one line. She was an ambitious woman but also a person who adapted to circumstances. Xie Duoying decisively lowered the umbrella and stood on tiptoes as she gave Shadowgale a farewell peck on the lips.
Then, Xie Duoying turned and ran away. Her drenched dress looked just like wedding robes, brightly colored and dazzling to the eye.
Shadowgale touched his lips and his cold face broke into a smile. But then, his expression turned serious again. He turned and faced the courtyard entrance. If he makes it out alive, he’ll definitely marry Xie Duoying!
Meanwhile, Ning Xiaoyao stood in the corridor looking at Elder Li. Elder Li had been standing in a daze for awhile now. His back was drenched by the rain that blew into the corridor, but he was completely unaware of it.
“Achoo!” Ning Xiaoyao pretended to sneeze. If they just stand there, how is she going to leave the capital? Even Shadowgale has already finished with his life and death parting act!
Elder Li was surprised by Ning Xiaoyao’s sneeze. His gaze fell onto Ning Xiaoyao’s face. After a while, Elder Li kneeled in front of Ning Xiaoyao and shouted out “Your Majesty!” as his tears began to fall again.
Ning Xiaoyao half kneeled and comforted Elder Li, “Old Gramps, don’t be like this. The world won’t end because of one less person, regardless of who that may be. I will think of a way to deal with the Northern Hu and the rebel forces. After I leave, you must still defend the capital well ah.”
Elder Li rebutted, “Your Majesty, there is a magnificent army with thousands of men and horses outside the capital ah.”
“Even cannons can’t kill me, why would I fear their ‘magnificent’ army ah?” Ning Xiaoyao courageously asserted while her hand patted Elder Li on the shoulder. “We have to face the reality. If I stay in the capital, only death awaits me.”
Elder Li muttered, “I’m not as astute as Xie Wenyuan.”
Ning Xiaoyao: ...
“The country is in chaos, this is Xie Wenyuan’s way to survive. As long as Yongning dynasty falls, the country is without an Emperor. He wouldn’t be guilty of rebellion with everyone vying for the throne.”
“Oh, so it’s like that.” Ning Xiaoyao suddenly realized. If everyone’s a bad guy, then no one would care who did what ah.
“Previously, this subject had only thought to capture the remaining supporters of Xie Wenyuan’s party. But this official overlooked the fact that there are also others dissatisfied with the imperial court. They are wolves, filled with wild schemes and ambition!”
“Are you talking about those who opened the Yong Pass as well as Hubei’s city gates?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
Elder Li nodded, “The one who opened the Yong Pass should be the former cavalry general of the capital, Lu Feiyi. His sister of the same mother, Imperial Concubine Lu, died from sickness in the palace. Afterwards, the Lu Clan was demoted to guard the frontier fortress, the Yong Pass.”
Ning Xiaoyao wiped her face. Most likely, Concubine Lu’s death had something to do with Empress Dowager Xie ah.
“Never mind, don’t talk about it anymore, Old Gramps,” Ning Xiaoyao didn’t want to listen to secrets and injustices of the past.
“He’s precisely a scoundrel.” Ning Xiaoyao pulled Elder Li up. “Old Gramps, sooner or later, I’m going to kill Grand Preceptor Xie.” She must kill him, or else she would be letting herself down.
The court officials were quickly ordered into the palace. The ministers were all stunned speechless after hearing Ning Xiaoyao’s decision. Pei Yan took some time to think about it before he spoke. “Then, this subject will also take a troop of soldiers out the capital.”
“Whaa?” Ning Xiaoyao could guarantee her own safety but she couldn’t look after so many people ah.
“If Your Majesty leaves the capital alone, would the Northern Hu and rebel forces believe that it’s really you?”
Ning Xiaoyao blinked her eyes. He has a point.
“Your Majesty will take one path, while the troops and I will take another. Your Majesty will be safer like this.” Second Young Master Pei didn’t care to find out why Ning Xiaoyao was leaving the capital. Since Lou Zigui isn’t coming, then His Majesty must leave. Staying in the capital would only lead to eventual death.
“What about you ah?” Ning Xiaoyao was worried about Pei Yan. “This subject will not go too far out the capital. This subject will quickly return to the city so don’t worry about my safety, Your Majesty.”
“Your Majesty, please give us the permission then,” said Elder Li. Right now, Old Gramps had regained his senses. Rather than stay here and wait for death, His Majesty might as well take a gamble and leave the capital.
“Does Your Majesty think that this subject’s martial arts skills are too weak?” Pei Yan asked Ning Xiaoyao with his eyebrows raised.
They haven’t quarrel in a long time. Are they about to start a mouth battle again? Ning Xiaoyao sighed, “Fine then. Second Young Master, be careful.” If worst comes to worst, she’ll escort this Second Young Master back into the capital before she leaves.
“When does Your Majesty plan to leave the capital?” Pei Yan asked.
“Tonight.” Since she had already made up her mind, it was better to leave sooner than later. No point in wasting time.
“This subject will go make preparations.” Pei Yan left after speaking. The ministers in the palace hall looked at Ning Xiaoyao, then looked at the silent Elder Li. They all looked lifeless. How can such an important matter be decided in a few words?!
“That’s all, you can all go back now.” Ning Xiaoyao waved her hand to dismiss the ministers. Then, she stood up and left.
The ministers were all momentarily dumbfounded before one of them finally regained his senses and rushed up to Elder Li. He exclaimed, “Elder Li, ah!”
“Ai!” Elder Li sighed faintly and uttered four words, “For the common people.”
After Ning Xiaoyao left the main palace hall, she headed straight to the palace room where Xie Duoying was staying. She spoke to Fifth Young Miss Xie from outside the door. “I won’t let Shadowgale follow me. He wants me to watch him die. Not just him, Second Thunder and Third Rain all want me to watch them die.”
Xie Duoying walked to the door, one of them was standing inside while the other stood outside. Fifth Young Miss Xie was still in her wet dress as she greeted Ning Xiaoyao in a curtsy, “Your Majesty, let Shadowgale follow you. He’s a Dragon Guard ah.”
“You clearly can’t bear to let him go,” Ning Xiaoyao dug at her palms.
“Even if I can’t bear to let him go, he’ll still go. So, I don’t want to make it difficult for him.”
“Forget it then,” Ning Xiaoyao turned to leave. Second Young Master is correct. If she leaves the city on her own, the Northern Hu and rebel forces definitely won’t believe that she’s the emperor. Those two forces surely has never met such a formidable opponent like herself! After all, she is dashing enough to pierce through the heavens! Who else would dare to fight on a mighty force single-handedly?
Xie Duoying watched as Ning Xiaoyao left.
“You don’t have to worry,” Ning Xiaoyao took two steps forwards before stopping and looking back at Xie Duoying. “I won’t let anything happen to Shadowgale. Since you’ve promised to wait for him, you must wait for him.”
“This peasant girl obeys,” Xie Duoying’s voice trembled as she replied with her head bowed.
She obviously can’t bear for him to leave. Ning Xiaoyao drooped her head and walked away.
Xie Duoying sat alone in the palace room and watched as the sky gradually turned dark. When Shadowgale walked into the room with silver banknotes in his hands, Xie Duoying was crying in anguish. The tears of beauties were always pitiful. Shadowgale felt terrible for causing her pain.
Shadowgale put the silver banknotes on the table. “This is for you to use. The bottom three sheets are worth more, so keep them safe.”
Xie Duoying walked to the table and looked at the worn silver banknotes. Shadowgale must have been saving these for years.
“Don’t wait for me like a fool.” Shadowgale looked at Xie Duoying. His mouth opened and closed many times before he finally uttered this sentence.
“Am I not already a fool for falling for you?” Xie Duoying laughed. Shadowgale fell silent again before finally saying, “I don’t want…..”
“It’s ok,” Xie Duoying covered his lips with her hand and gently assured, “I willingly want to wait.”
Shadowgale’s large hand stroked Xie Duoying’s tear-stained face. Then, he bent down to kiss her forehead. The kiss felt very hot, but very gentle at the same time. Out the window, twilight broke and the sky was dyed an inky black. Shadowgale turned and strode out, not looking back.
Xie Duoying’s face was soaked with tears but she didn’t make a sound. It turns out liking someone could cause so much suffering.
In Lord Protector’s estate, Ning Yan helped Pei Yan put on his armor. Looking at her husband, she wanted to speak but then held back.
“I’ll be back soon,” Pei Yan smiled at his wife in a very elegant and loose manner.
“Mhmm,” Ning Yan softly replied as she walked behind Pei Yan. She wanted to see him off.
“You don’t have to see me off. Wait for me at home. Since I said that I’ll be back, I’ll definitely make it back.” Pei Yan halted his steps. Lady Ning obediently listened and paused her steps.
“I won’t abandon you.” Pei Yan quickened his pace after he finished speaking. The night breeze blew open his cloak, revealing the inner red lining.
Ning Xiaoyao stood in front of her bedroom window and tossed the white jade amulet from her hand. It landed onto the soil in the flowerbed.
“Your Majesty?” Shadowgale stood outside the door and knocked gently. Ning Xiaoyao took a deep breath before closing the window and carrying a little bundle on her back. Then, she opened the door. “Let’s go, Windy.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
This chapter is still sad but we'll have funny chapters soon! It really takes too long to edit/TLC so I'm sorry you guys have to wait. :( But it's going to get better once Xiaoyao leaves. I read all your comments and I can understand from everyone's perspectives. Sighhhhh.
Note: I would like to thank Alyssa for her donation to me! (<3 . Every little bit counts and I am putting it in a fund to split with my newbies later on. ) Furthermore, Eden assisted me with this chapter.
Lastly, this is unrelated to translating, but it's a blog post I wrote a few weeks ago when I found out I almost lost my friend to suicide. :( You can read it here if you are interested
P.S. It's sad how Xiaoyao tossed the amulet outside *cries*. Lou Zigui is going to see it eventually and... *dun dun dun*