Chapter 82: The rich Prince Zhi Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Ning Xiaoyao stood in front of the prison gates, stroking Big Boss Black who’d scurried up to perch on her shoulder. When she lifted her head, it was to see Grandfather Sparrow fly by with a few of his little sparrows. She suddenly recalled something else and turned to Lou Zigui. “Just what were the things you talked about with Prince Zhi yesterday?”
Lou Zigui gave a start. It’s been a night, and yet you still want to talk about that?
“Afraid that I’ll abandon you? Supreme Commander, you don’t need to worry about that,” Ning Xiaoyao said sincerely. “I’m not a person who tosses someone aside after sleeping with them…”
Lou Zigui raised a hand to muffle Ning Xiaoyao. Just what did her messenger tell her last night?
Ning Xiaoyao removed Supreme Commander Lou’s hand. “Why aren’t you letting me talk again?”
Since things had gotten to this point, Lou Zigui could only lower his voice and speak. “Your Majesty, those are words I should say.” What’s with sleeping with someone and not abandoning them--aren’t those supposed to be the man’s lines? He might have been an unlucky man past 20 who’d yet to marry, but Supreme Commander Lou still understood such things.
Ning Xiaoyao replied, “Then you can say them too. In any case, I won’t abandon you. So all you have to do is not abandon me, either. Then we can be, whatchamacallit, auld lang syne with a love more solid than gold.”
Shadowgale was walking over when he heard Ning Xiaoyao’s words and silently retreated again. He couldn’t help but feel that there was something off with His Majesty’s words. Why the heck does he need a love more solid than gold with Supreme Commander?
Lou Zigui wanted to ask if her little pals knew of their relationship, but he couldn’t bring himself to open his mouth.
“Do you feel relieved now?” Ning Xiaoyao looked at Lou Zigui.
“I,” Lou Zigui said, “I won’t fail Your Majesty.”
Did failure and abandonment mean the same thing? Ning Xiaoyao wasn’t sure.
Big Boss Black flashed a claw at Ning Xiaoyao when he finally figured something out. So yesterday, when Grandfather Sparrow spoke of ‘abandonment,’ he meant the kind of person who abandoned people after sleeping with them? This stupid ninny, she’s beyond hope!
When Supreme Commander Lou saw that His Majesty was at odds with his cat again, he left ahead of them. Topics like this only left him feeling awkward, especially when Ning Xiaoyao mentioned sleeping with him. His Excellency Supreme Commander still felt warm at the thought, his entire body heating up. Now he needed to find a place to cool down.
As Lou Zigui hastily walked out of the Hall of Punishments, he saw Prince Zhi waiting in the distance by the road. Lou Zigui checked back behind him and saw that nobody was there. Then he made his way towards Prince Zhi. Prince Zhi headed towards the forests by the side of the road until he heard the sound of footsteps and turned to face Lou Zigui.
“This prince will send Song Jin to Anyuan.”
Lou Zigui replied, “Many thanks to prince.”
“This prince wants an honest word. Is the Grand Preceptor truly ill, or merely feigning his sickness?” Prince Zhi asked.
Lou Zigui replied, “This one is not a doctor, so I cannot give the prince a honest answer. But I believe it would be best for prince to leave the capital city as soon as possible. Mortals shouldn’t get involved when the gods begin to fight.”
Prince Zhi shook his sleeves before striding past Lou Zigui.
“Prince,” Lou Zigui called after him in a quiet voice. “The Grand Preceptor will go and look for you. But it’s better for prince to think things over carefully, now that there’s Prince Fu’s example.”
“You,” Prince Zhi whirled around. Now it was Lou Zigui’s turn to walk past him. This wasn’t the time for Xie Wenyuan to ally himself with the imperial clansmen. Since Prince Zhi was a man who was even afraid of his own shadow, he might as well incite doubts in his heart.
“Supreme Commander,” Prince Zhi chased after him, forcing him to stop. “This prince is doing a great favor by taking Song Jin out of the capital city. Can’t Supreme Commander spare this prince a single sentence of truth?”
“Prince,” Lou Zigui replied, “Why do you think the Grand Preceptor picked yesterday of all times to lay out his brushes? Why not earlier or later?”
Prince Zhi’s eyes flickered.
“If Prince Fu hadn’t gone to the Grand Preceptor’s estate, today’s events would never have happened,” Lou Zigui added. “As to your question about the Grand Preceptor’s illness...remember how I was once sentenced to execution by a thousand cuts?”
Prince Zhi stared at the grass beneath his feet where many little flowers were blooming. They looked like daisies, but their colors were scarlet. In Prince Zhi’s eyes, the red was akin to the shade of blood. He had gone to the execution grounds when Lou Zigui was sentenced to death as well. That’s right, Prince Zhi thought as he stared at the daisies. Compared to the day when they were slicing Lou Zigui’s flesh off piece-by-piece and eating him alive, what do Xie Wenyuan’s few mouthfuls of blood even count for?
“I ask that prince be sure to take care in all your matters,” Lou Zigui bowed towards Prince Zhi before circling around him to disappear into the forest.
A little more than an hour later, someone stopped Prince Zhi’s palanquin at the head of a city street.
“Prince, that man’s a steward from the Grand Preceptor’s estate,” one of Prince Zhi’s guards reported from the carriage window. “He says that the Grand Preceptor’s invited you over for a chat at his estate.”
Prince Zhi sat in the palanquin with his eyes squeezed shut. Because he hadn’t spoken, his guard could only remain standing by the carriage window with his back bent. Soon enough, Prince Zhi replied, “Tell the Grand Preceptor that this prince is feeling unwell, so I won’t stop by his estate. Perhaps another day.”
The guard passed on the message to the Grand Preceptor’s steward before pushing him aside. Then, Prince Zhi’s palanquin continued its journey forward.
“Go invite Prince Xi and the rest to my side courtyard later,” Prince Zhi spoke up soon afterwards.
“Yes,” the guard obeyed.
Inside the carriage, Prince Zhi’s complexion was ghastly pale. Lou Zigui wasn’t anyone good, but he had made a point. Of all the times to lay out his brushes, why did Xie Wenyuan pick yesterday? As soon as Prince Fu took one step into the Grand Preceptor’s estate, Ning Yu was quick to follow. Were there such coincidences in the world?
“Prince,” the guard outside his carriage said again, “The steward from the Grand Preceptor’s estate is still following us.”
“Have him withdraw,” Prince Zhi said coldly. “Does Xie Wenyuan dare to kill off this prince in the capital city?”
The guard didn’t answer, but signaled the carriage driver to move faster.
“I think I’ve seen that shortie at the Grand Preceptor’s estate before,” Ning Xiaoyao remarked as she observed Prince Zhi’s palanquin from a distance. She was pointing at none other than Xie Laifu in the crowd.
Before Shadowgale could answer, Shadowrain piped up, “That’s the second steward of the Grand Preceptor’s estate.”
“He’s brothers with the head steward Xie Laibao,” Shadowbolt added.
“Laibao, Laifu. Come, treasure. Come, wealth,” Ning Xiaoyao sighed with feeling. “What good names.”
“.........” said the Dragon Guards by Ning Xiaoyao’s side. What was so good about these names?
“Aroo~” a small round head poked out from the front of Ning Xiaoyao's shirt. The formerly thin and bony little snow wolf pup was now a chubby fur ball.
Ning Xiaoyao smoothed down the few stray hairs sticking up from the wolf pup’s head. “Why can't I think up good names like those? I still don't know what to call you yet.”
The Dragon Guards all stared at the fat white wolf pup with dark blue eyes. Laibao, Laifu? Are those really wolf names?
Shadowgale gave a dry cough, “Your Majesty, why did we leave the palace?”
Ning Xiaoyao replied, “Since there’s nothing else to do, we might as well follow Prince Zhi for awhile.”
Play around with Prince Zhi because they were free? The Dragon Guards exchanged glances. Is it too late to go back to the palace instead?
“Supreme Commander said that this prince was doing business with the Northern Hu,” Ning Xiaoyao remarked carelessly, “I think he has a lot of money. What about you guys?”
Doing business with the Northern Hu?! Shadowgale and the rest were stunned.
“Hm?” As she walked, Ning Xiaoyao suddenly realized that there was no one by her side. She turned around to see Shadowgale and the rest and asked, “Why did you guys stop walking?”
Shadowgale ran in front of Ning Xiaoyao and asked in a low voice, “Supreme Commander’s not doing anything about it despite the fact that he knows?”
Ning Xiaoyao checked to make sure that Prince Zhi’s palanquin was still within her range of vision before she replied. “It doesn't seem like Supreme Commander can do anything.”
“........” went the Dragon Guards. How could that be?
“Supreme Commander explained it to me yesterday,” Ning Xiaoyao shook her head. “But it involves things like war and the economy, too complicated. I don't know how to explain it.” She understood the meaning, but not how to express it with Chinese idioms. Ning Xiaoyao suddenly realized that her eloquence couldn't even be compared with Big Boss Black’s Supreme Commander, a fact that left her depressed.
How could it be hard to explain? The Dragon Guards wanted to complain out loud, but didn't dare.
“Before the Northern Hu come charging in,” Ning Xiaoyao told Shadowgale and the rest, “We have to do our best to settle the domestic conflicts amongst our people.”
Shadowbolt quietly leaned in to ask his third brother, “Do you know what His Majesty’s talking about?”
Shadowrain and the other Dragon Guards all shook their heads. What’s ‘domestic conflicts amongst our people’ supposed to mean?
Shadowgale then asked, “Is Your Majesty stalking Prince Zhi so as to gather proof of his dealings with the Northern Hu?”
Ning Xiaoyao chuckled at him. “If Supreme Commander doesn't care about it, then why should I?”
Because you're Your Majesty! Shadowgale felt like exploding.
“This prince definitely has money,” Ning Xiaoyao cupped her mouth to whisper at the Dragon Guards. “Let’s follow him home. If there's a chance, why don't we grab some wealth for ourselves?”
Because you have nothing else to do, you want to steal some money instead, right? In a flash, Shadowgale and the rest realized Ning Xiaoyao’s true intentions.
“Hurry and follow after them, they've sped up,” Ning Xiaoyao’s nimble form darted into the crowds before quickly emerging from the other end, some distance away.
“His Majesty left the palace again?” Supreme Commander Lou had been planning to call on the Ji grandfather and granddaughter pair before returning to the palace when he heard the news.
Fang Tang nodded his head.
Lou Zigui glanced over at Shadowthunder, who was standing behind Fang Tang, and asked, “Where did His Majesty go?”
At first, Shadowthunder shook his head to show he didn't know. Then he added, “His Majesty was chasing after Prince Zhi.”
One of the Black Frost Cavalry generals muttered, “After Prince Fu, His Majesty’s now targeting Prince Zhi?”
Everyone fell silent.
Is that girl going to get payback for his business dealings with the Northern Hu? Lou Zigui furrowed his brows. He'd just finished setting up Prince Zhi so he and the vassal lords would be at odds with the Grand Preceptor. If Ning Xiaoyao made a move against Prince Zhi, wouldn't it drive them all to Grand Preceptor Xie’s side?
“I'll go find His Majesty,” Lou Zigui prepared to leave when he saw Song Jin heading his way. He patted the man on the shoulder and said, “I won't be able to send you off, but be careful no matter what you do.”
“Yes,” Song Jin bowed towards Lou Zigui.
Outside the palace gates, Old General Ji got off his horse and urged Ji Yuerong, “When we see His Majesty again, you cannot be rude.”
Ji Yuerong nodded listlessly.
At this moment, Lou Zigui rushed out of the palace without sparing either of them a glance. He simply got on his horse and dashed off with a few Dragon Guards in a rush.
Ji Yuerong had been raising her hand and preparing to greet Lou Zigui at the sight of him. Now that he was whipping his horse and galloping away, her expression turned gloomy.
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