Chapter 70: On why Prince Fu wants to commit regicide Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
“Your Majesty,” the vassal lords couldn’t stop Elder Li from talking, so they looked to the emperor next. Now that they were aware of her existence, Ning Xiaoyao finally hopped down the window. The little gyrfalcon perched on her left shoulder, while Big Boss Black sat on her right. She was holding a half-eaten pastry in her hand as she strolled slowly towards the main battlegrounds of the study. Everyone stared at His Majesty, unwilling to make any judgement on her current appearance. Prince Fu was still sprawled on the ground, a living example of anyone who went against the emperor. Who would disrespect their sovereign now?
Elder Li wrinkled his brows, but forced himself to ignore Ning Xiaoyao’s current appearance in favor of the main event: Prince Fu. He asked, “Your Majesty, what punishment does Prince Fu deserve?”
Ning Xiaoyao looked at Lou Zigui, but Elder Li popped in before the latter could speak.
“Your Majesty, why are you looking at Supreme Commander Lou?”
Because he’s the one who caused the fall of Prince Fu, ah. Ning Xiaoyao bit her cheek and replied, “If I have to be the one who decides, then let’s just lock him up in the Hall of Punishment first.”
Elder Li cried, “Attempted regicide is a heinous crime that merits the nine familial exterminations!”
Ning Xiaoyao replied, “Old gramps, I’m one of his family members too.” Prince Fu was part of the imperial family. You can’t kill off the entire imperial clan, can you?
Elder Li was temporarily left lost for words.
“Your Majesty,” Prince Zhi, Ning Guanyuan,[1. Prince Zhi, Ning Guanyuan (祉王，宁光源) - Zhi means “happiness, blessedness,” Guangyuan together means “light source, illuminiant.”] asked. “Why did Prince Fu do this?”
Ning Xiaoyao looked at her imperial uncle. Compared to Prince Fu, Prince Zhu had perfectly normal human proportions. However, he had puffy, sunken eyes with deep set shadows and a sallow complexion. His entire person looked tired and listless. Ning Xiaoyao lightly brushed her hand against Prince Zhi’s to get a complete diagnosis, before bumping into all the other vassal lords for the same thing. The results made His Majesty Ning suck in a breath. It looked like it'd be difficult to find anyone in the Ning Clan who lived with healthy bodies, much less healthy lives. The various princes had no idea why His Majesty had bumped against each of their hands, but only looked at her and waited for her to speak.
“What other reason could it be?” Lou Zigui said. “Prince Fu wanted---”
“Supreme Commander.” Prince Xi spoke up to cut him off. “You entered the room at the same time we did. Don't tell me you saw everything happening in the study when you were still outside the courtyard gates.”
Now Supreme Commander Lou couldn’t help His Majesty, either. Ning Xiaoyao thought it over before she said, “It went like this: he wanted to be the emperor, so he was going to slaughter me.”
Silence fell upon the study. The vassal lords and the officials from the Grand Preceptor’s faction all looked at Ning Xiaoyao with an expression that said, ‘you’re screwing with me!’ If Prince Fu wanted to be emperor, he would’ve tried his all while struggling with the previous emperor for the throne. Why would he wait until now? Supreme Commander Lou had a headache, but his face remained unchanged and serious as he spoke. “Your Majesty, this isn’t the time for jokes.”
This isn’t the time for jokes. Ning Xiaoyao rubbed her nose. In other words, Supreme Commander was telling her that her excuse sucked, so she needed another one. “That there, it was just a joke. I’m not dead, so you guys don’t need to be so nervous, hahaha.” Ning Xiaoyao laughed.
Nobody joined her in laughing. Ning Xiaoyao closed her mouth in embarrassment and glanced at Big Boss Black, then the little gyrfalcon. Both of them simply shook their heads. They weren’t humans, so how could they know how to lie like one? Ning Xiaoyao shook her head as well, her eyes spinning while she nearly tugged out a chunk of her hair. Finally, she squeezed out another excuse and told the vassal lords, “Prince Fu told me that the thousands of people in his estate are about to starve to death, so he wanted his official salary. I said sure, I’d give it to him, but he said that wouldn’t do, he wanted to add more money. I said that was impossible, and then it was after that the prince wanted to kill me.”
“...........” said everyone in the room. This reason was even more unbelievable than her last one. Prince Fu had was not lacking for money. Would he use a dagger against his sovereign for the sake of some cash, just to end up in his half-dead state now? Ning Xiaoyao observed the silent spectators in the study, then shot Supreme Commander another glance. She discovered that Lou Zigui’s mouth was twitching and realized her newest excuse still majorly sucked.
“Your Majesty, ah,” Prince Xi bowed towards Ning Xiaoyao.
“Don’t, don’t you say anything,” Ning Xiaoyao stopped Prince Xi from further nitpicking. She adopted a respectable tone and replied, “It’s not like I’m a murderer. How would I know what they’re thinking? Take Prince Fu to the Hall of Punishment and torture him a bit. Once we get the reason out of him, I’ll definitely tell you guys. Just wait a while.”
How could anyone wait for things like this? All of the vassal lords grew anxious again.
“None of you talk,” Ning Xiaoyao spoke up quicker than any of them. “Zhen’s suffered a fright, so Zhen needs some peace and quiet right now. Don’t ask who peace is, any of you.”
Though the princes were silent now, they weren’t afraid. It was simply His Majesty who had steeled her heart to prevent them from speaking.
Lou Zigui took this chance to order Shadowgale, “Take Prince Fu away to the Hall of Punishment.”
Shadowgale loudly accepted the orders before two Dragon Guards stepped forward to lift up Prince Fu. Ning Xiaoyao fretted at the side, “Add two more. Can you two really lift him up?”
The two Dragon Guards had already picked up Prince Fu, but their hands shook before sending him crashing down again. The unconscious Prince Fu coughed as he hit the ground before spitting up another mouthful of blood. Two more Dragon Guards ran over, and the total of four men lifted up Prince Fu together. On the way out, they somehow rammed Prince Fu’s head against the doorframe, leaving a large bump on his skull. The various vassal lords began to suspect whether these people from the palace were using base and shameless methods to kill off Prince Fu.
“Old gramps,” Ning Xiaoyao turned to Elder Li after Prince Fu was carried out of the room. “Help look over the Grand Preceptor’s estate, would you? I’ll be going back first.”
Elder Li asked, “What does Your Majesty want this subject to look for?”
“Urk,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “Just see if there’s any of Prince Fu’s cohorts here. And also, isn’t the Grand Preceptor sick? Chat with him about life for a bit and keep him company.”
“This subject obeys the decree,” Elder Li accepted without the slightest hesitation.
“.........” said the three young masters of the Xie Clan.
“........” said the officials from the Grand Preceptor’s faction.
His Majesty is using Elder Li to kill off Grand Preceptor! Just how deep is his grudge?!
“As for the official salaries,” Ning Xiaoyao said to the princes, “That’s something between your guys and me. It has nothing to do with the Grand Preceptor; of course, if the Grand Preceptor’s willing to shell out the money, then we’ll count him in.”
Grand Preceptor Xie had finally regained consciousness after a doctor used acupuncture needles on him. As soon as he heard Ning Xiaoyao’s words, he cried out from the bed, “Your Majesty, this subject is powerless!” Even if he had money, he wouldn’t pay for this damnable girl!
Ning Xiaoyao said, “Then this matter has nothing to do with the Grand Preceptor. If you princes have anything to say, find me and don’t bother him. Look at the Grand Preceptor now, could you bear to make him worry about such things?”
Everyone looked at the pale-faced Grand Preceptor, who seemed to be struggling for air through his shallow breaths. Then they lowered their heads and replied, “These subjects obey the decree.”
“If you defy an imperial decree, you’ll lose your heads, ha,” Ning Xiaoyao warned the princes somewhat smugly. Grand Preceptor Xie wants to team up with the vassal lords to knock her down? Keep dreaming. Do you see all this? Her Majesty Ning’s torn apart this alliance before it even began!
All of the princes could only reply, “These subjects wouldn’t dare.”
Ning Xiaoyao looked at Grand Preceptor Xie, who avoided her eyes to signal his first and second sons to help him up.
Ning Xiaoyao said, “No need to send me off. Grand Preceptor, you should recuperate. Oh, that’s right,” Thinking up to here, Ning Xiaoyao added, “I was planning to talk to you today about whether you’ve recognized your wrongs. But seeing as how you’re still unwell, let’s save that for a different day. Today, you can just tell Old Gramps Li what you’ve realized about your mistakes.”
A vein on Grand Preceptor Xie’s forehead suddenly started twitching, but he maintained his calm and murmured, “This subject obeys the decree.” Ning Xiaoyao spun around and left, a little disappointed that she hadn’t angered the Grand Preceptor into fainting a second time.
Lou Zigui told the vassal lords, “Do you all still have words to say to the Grand Preceptor?”
All of the princes took a step outside the study. Anyone that spoke to the Grand Preceptor now would be doomed. Ning Xiaoyao stood in the walkway and took a breath of fresh air. She glanced at the half-eaten pastry still in her hand. It really was too sweet for her to finish, and all she wanted now was some water. Lou Zigui walked to her side and said in a low voice, “Your Majesty, shall we return to the palace?”
Ning Xiaoyao looked at Supreme Commander Lou before lifting her hand and stuffing the half-eaten pastry into his mouth. “This is a pastry from the Grand Preceptor’s estate, have a taste.”
The sickeningly sweet flavor made Lou Zigui crease his eyebrows immediately. He even wondered whether this pastry was poisoned.
“We can’t waste food,” Ning Xiaoyao encouraged Supreme Commander Lou to finish his pastry. The princes witnessed His Majesty feeding Supreme Commander all too clearly, and couldn’t help but feel that the scene was off somehow. By now, Shadowgale had ran back in from outside the courtyard to report.
“Your Majesty, the Xie Clan’s old madame begs for an audience.”
Ning Xiaoyao said, “It’s getting late, have that old madame go wash up and prepare for bed instead.”
Everyone looked at the blue skies and white clouds above their heads. Is this called ‘getting late?’
“Have a look,” Lou Zigui forced himself to swallow the pastry before he spoke. “She’s Your Majesty’s great-grandmother. It won’t be good if news spread that you went to the estate without visiting her.”
Ning Xiaoyao understood. Here was another issue of filial piety. “Then have the old lady come in,” Ning Xiaoyao told Shadowgale. It didn’t take long for him to run out to relay the news. Soon enough, Old Madame Xie came into the courtyard, supported by a young girl.
“No need to bow,” Ning Xiaoyao said with a wave of her hand before the old lady could pay her respects. The old lady was so ancient that Ning Xiaoyao couldn’t bear to have her get on her knees and kowtow. Being on the recieving end of such behavior from old people was more than she deserved!
Despite this, Old Madame Xie and the girl by her side still bent their knees for a bow, before the old woman looked at Ning Xiaoyao silently. Ning Xiaoyao surveyed the old lady and said, “Old lady, your body looks pretty well.”
Old Madame Xie seemed to have no idea of what had happened here. She wiped her eyes and said, “This old woman can die without regrets, now that I’ve gotten the chance to see Your Majesty while I’m still living. Your Majesty, this old woman misses you.”
“Heheh,” said Ning Xiaoyao. Seriously? Did this old woman really miss her?
“Elder cousin,” the young girl supporting the old woman called out shyly to Ning Xiaoyao, her face bright red as she revealed a smile. Ning Xiaoyao gave a start at the moniker and felt a bad premonition. Adultery was in the air!
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