Chapter 41: Trust me, I'll protect you Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
As the wails of a baby filled the air, Lou Zigui stepped over the tall threshold of the Hall of Golden Chimes and walked to the Xie father and mother pair. He was wearing the court dress of a military officer when he entered.
Ning Xiaoyao glanced at Lou Zigui, then at Big Boss Black walking proudly beside him with his head held high, and felt her mouth twitch. Did this cat fancy himself a leopard? (Author: Why are you focusing on the kitty instead? o(╯□╰)o ) The baby in Lou Zigui’s arms kept crying incessantly while he dangled a green jade charm over the child’s head, as if trying to coax its sobs.
Grand Preceptor Xie’s face had already been stricken of all color from the moment he saw Lou Zigui step inside the door. It felt as if two of his three immortal souls had flown away. This man is still alive? He’s actually still living?! Grand Preceptor Xie couldn't believe his eyes as he stared at Lou Zigui, fervently wishing that his gaze could stab holes through his body. He was in such vehement denial that he began to wonder if everything was a nightmare.
Empress Dowager Xie was caught in the throes of fright as well. By the time she saw the charm in Lou Zigui’s hands, she lunged forward despite already nursing a broken leg. How could Lou Zigui let her hit her mark? He sidestepped Empress Dowager Xie just by turning aside. The empress dowager tumbled to the ground, her broken leg striking harshly against the floor. She gave a horrible shriek before passing out from the pain.
Lai mama stared at the jade charm in alarm. By the time she recovered her wits, she could only cry out in despair, “Prince, Prince Cheng!”
Her terrifying cry startled everyone present. All of his fur stood on end as Big Boss Black jumped up to scratch Lai mama. Miaow, she’d scared this cat to death!
Lai mama got a clawful that left her face bloody, causing her to shriek again. She rushed towards Lou Zigui like a madwoman, intent on snatching back her young master.
Lou Zigui stood there unmoving. Fang Tang approached from behind and kicked Lai mama, sending her flying into one of the palace pillars. Her body twitched a few times and lay still.
“You,” Grand Preceptor Xie knew things were bad as soon as Lai mama called out for Prince Cheng. Ning Xin had fallen into Lou Zigui’s hands, which was good as saying their lifeline was with Lou Zigui. Subconsciously, Grand Preceptor Xie reached out to grab the child as well, but when his eyes met Lou Zigui’s icy ones, his hands froze in mid-air. How could he be a match for Lou Zigui?
Lou Zigui made a detour around the empress dowager and headed towards the steps to the throne. The imperial guards had already lost half their initiative at the sight of Lou Zigui. Coupled with the sight of bloodstained swords from Fang Tang and the rest, and they'd lost all will to fight. Lou Zigui’s men were all masters who'd put their lives on the line fighting the Northern Hu at Anyuan’s six provinces. Were they supposed to risk their lives fighting these masters too? Thus, the imperial guards parted in the middle to allow Lou Zigui past. He didn't have to say a word. Ning Xiaoyao looked curiously at the baby in Lou Zigui’s arms. So this was Ning Xin?
Lou Zigui stopped at the foot of the steps and bent his knees, preparing to kneel. Yet Ning Xiaoyao had already ran down the steps and lifted the covers hiding Ning Xin’s face.
“Let me look at him.” She'd seen him after he grew up, but never when he was a baby.
With this, it was impossible for Lou Zigui to kneel anymore. An insightful Song Jin took the initiative to kneel and pay respects to Ning Xiaoyao, with Fang Tang and the rest quickly following suit. Ning Xiaoyao hastened forward, intending to help them up. They were already so familiar with each other, so why the need to kneel?
Meanwhile, Elder Li pointed a finger at Lou Zigui. “How could you enter without a summons…”
Ning Xiaoyao had just helped up Song Jin and the rest when she heard his words. They made her feel like dying again. “Enough, you,” Ning Xiaoyao turned to tell Elder Li. “Did I yell for those imperial guards to come inside either?”
Elder Li’s reply was angry. “These people are like thieves who come under cover of night to do ill. They should be killed!”
“Heheh,” Ning Xiaoyao replied. If they were that easy to kill, would the fighting have ended up at this point?
Elder Li’s face reddened. From a single ‘heheh,’ he could hear how His Majesty was sneering at him.
“I summon you all to enter the great hall,” Ning Xiaoyao told Fang Tang and the rest, before turning towards Elder Li. “Are you satisfied now?”
Elder Li’s beard shook. Were they fooling around with him? Were they?!
“Why is Prince Cheng in your hands?” Empress Dowager Xie asked loudly from the floor with her coiled hair was all disheveled. Abominable, couldn’t they see that her son was in Lou Zigui’s hands? Why was this man still saying such pointless words?
Lou Zigui glanced at Empress Dowager Xie before raising his hand and tossing the jade charm before her. Jade wasn't partial to being thrown about, so the green jade charm shattered into multiple pieces as soon as it hit the ground. Ning Xiaoyao felt pained at the sight. You could probably sell something like that for a lot of money outside, right? Empress Dowager Xie cradled the broken pieces of jade in her hands. This was definitely the charm she used to play with Ning Xin. She’d evenly personally tied the knotted string attached to the jade, so there was no mistaking it as her own.
“What was the point of making such a ruckus?” Lou Zigui asked the gathered crowd, his tone even. Ning Xiaoyao blinked. Supreme Commander, don’t you know why we were making a ruckus?
Nobody spoke. Could they say that the Xie father and daughter pair had rebelled? Or should they say His Majesty was unfilial, forcing the empress dowager to tears? They didn’t want to offend either side before knowing which side was superior.
“Scram,” Lou Zigui’s eyes swept over the imperial guards still standing within the great hall. The guards looked towards Grand Preceptor Xie.
“Someone, come,” Lou Zigui said when the imperial guards didn’t move. He didn’t wait for Grand Preceptor Xie’s reaction, but raised his voice to shout. The remnants of the doors to the palace was hit with a large force, causing loud echoes to ring out. Another troop of armored imperial guards ran in from outside.
“Our own men,” Fang Tang explained quietly to Ning Xiaoyao, afraid that she’d get nervous.
Ning Xiaoyao nodded. Even without Fang Tang’s words, she knew that anyone who listened to Lou Zigui’s orders couldn’t be on the Xie father and mother’s side.
“Elder Li spoke rightly,” Lou Zigui pointed at the remaining imperial guards. “These men are like thieves without any sense of the law of the land.” The newly arrived imperial guards rushed in to capture their compatriots as they met in a face-off.
“Grand Preceptor,” a few of the imperial guards yelled towards Grand Preceptor Xie. A general strode forward and struck him across the face, leaving his lips looking like rotten peaches and the man unable to speak. Ning Xiaoyao quietly swallowed her saliva. Too savage. (Author: You think you haven’t knocked your share of people to the ground? o(╯□╰)o)
Grand Preceptor Xie had to protect this group of imperial guards. If he didn’t take care of them when trouble hit and showed a cold heart, who would follow him loyally in the future? Taking a deep breath, Grand Preceptor Xie said, “All of you, withdraw.”
Hearing this, the imperial guards felt like they’d received a general amnesty and hurried to retreat.
“You want to leave?” Fang Tang waved the sabre in his hand. “How could that be so simple?!”
Song Jin pulled Fang Tang aside. Those imperial guards weren’t the important point right now.
The imperial guards practically ran out of the Hall of Golden Chimes. Outside, the bodies of the remaining imperial guards and armored palace guards littered the ground, their blood mixing with water as it flowed down the stairs. It was obvious that Lou Zigui had killed his share before entering the great hall. Now the man stood inside, head bent to look at Ning Xin in his arms as he spoke. “The late emperor indeed had a last will, but I believe his intention was for Esteemed Empress Dowager to hold court from behind the curtain as assistance to His Majesty should he need it. The late emperor’s last will on his deathbed would naturally be for His Majesty’s sake. Grand Preceptor, would the late emperor have forgotten the regulations prohibiting members of the imperial harem from participating in politics?”
What else could Grand Preceptor Xie say, with Ning Xin laying in Lou Zigui’s arms?
Lou ZIgui turned towards Elder Li next. “Elder, what do you think?”
Elder Li was dissatisfied with Ning Xiaoyao’s unfilial ways, but he definitely didn’t want the Xie Clan controlling everything under Heaven. Quickly, he nodded his head. “Exactly so.”
Lou Zigui turned back to Grand Preceptor Xie. “The late emperor was only thinking for His Majesty’s sake. Why is it, do you suppose, that by the time his intentions reached the Grand Preceptor, it became a requirement for Esteemed Empress Dowager to hold court from behind the curtain?”
When Empress Dowager Xie saw Lou Zigui move his hand towards Ning Xin’s neck, she cried out, “Don’t!”
Lou Zigui’s hand rested on Ning Xin’s throat, and Prince Cheng’s cries grew more shrill.
“You can’t,” Empress Dowager Xie felt like a knife had sliced through her heart as she sobbed. “You can’t just let him cry like this.”
Ning Xiaoyao stood in silent tribute for Ning Yu for three seconds. This mother of hers had a heart that changed from the Arctic Ocean to the Antarctic Continent. She walked to Lou Zigui’s side and reached out a hand to touch Ning Xin’s tearstained face. Pale green light flashed from her fingertips before Ning Xin stopped wailing.
Lou Zigui didn’t care a whit about Ning Xin, but pressed Grand Preceptor Xie, “Does the Grand Preceptor have nothing to say?”
Grand Preceptor Xie crouched down, his motions suggesting he was going to help up Empress Dowager Xie. “Is that really Prince Cheng?” he asked her in a low voice.
Empress Dowager Xie gave a start. She’d only seen the charm, but not what the infant looked like. After careful thought, she realized she couldn’t be sure that the child was Ning Xin. Still, she replied softly, “Do you want to gamble with Prince Cheng’s life?”
What if the baby really was Ning Xin? If anything happened to him, where was she supposed to find another son to take his place? Grand Preceptor Xie gave a low sigh. If this daughter and that mama hadn’t claimed this child as Ning Xin, he would’ve had other ideas. If it was just a baby, they could switch him for another one. But now, Grand Preceptor Xie sucked in a breath, now he had no choice but to admit defeat.
Big Boss Black had been keeping a close watch over the Xie father and daughter pair the whole time. Hearing their conversation, he swished his tail. Instead of thinking how to save the baby, these two were still debating whether the child in Lou Zigui’s arms was actually Ning Xin. As a cat, he couldn’t understand how villains used their heads.
Grand Preceptor Xie stood up and cupped his hands to Lou Zigui. “It looks like this old man has to thank Supreme Commander for your pointers. It was this old man who was muddleheaded and misunderstood the late emperor’s last will.”
“You should apologize to His Majesty,” Lou Zigui said simply.
Grand Preceptor Xie promptly knelt down to Ning Xiaoyao, kowtowing his head against the ground. “Your Majesty, this subject deserves ten thousand deaths.”
Ning Xiaoyao said, “Then you can go…”
Ning Xiaoyao wanted Grand Preceptor Xie to die, but Lou Zigui quietly called out before she could finish speaking. “Your Majesty.”
“Hn?” Ning Xiaoyao looked over.
“Now isn’t the time to kill them,” Lou Zigui inclined his head slightly towards Ning Xiaoyao and spoke in a very soft voice. “Trust me, I’ll protect you.”
Original Chapter Teaser:[expand]
Ning Xiaoyao: *sighs*
Ning Xiaoyao: What took you so long, Supreme Commander? I was about to lose my mind!
Lou Zigui: Had to change some diapers.
Ning Xiaoyao: Ooooh, you bold thing, you!
Lou Zigui: What?
Ning Xiaoyao: Changing his royalness' royal diapers!
Lou Zigui: *stiffens* Excuse me--
Ning Xiaoyao: Ministers and officials! Loyal subjects, hear ye! Announcing the Royal Nappie Master, Supreme Commander Lou Zigu--
Lou Zigui: That will be enough.
Ning Xiaoyao: Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt--
Elder Li: *severe tone* Your Majesty.
Ning Xiaoyao: --I take it back, I take it all back!
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