Chapter 199: Someone wants to kill Xiaoyao again…
While Supreme Commander Lou was searching for Ning Xiaoyao all over the palace, the latter was traveling with Big Boss Black on her left shoulder and Sparrow Speck on her right through the streets of the capital city. It was already late night, so there was nobody but the occasional traveler in the streets. Not a single person paid attention to the figure racing crazily through the city.
The night wind caused Big Boss Black to sneeze. He was about to rub his face with a paw when Ning Xiaoyao skidded to a halt, sending him flying through the air.
"Miaoooooow~!" Big Boss Black screeched.
Ning Xiayao had stopped by a wall, where the justice courts had posted up a public notice. "Notorious robbers," Ning Xiaoyao read the description beneath the painted portraits.
Sparrow Speck asked, "Xiaoyao, do you recognize these notorious robbers?"
Ning Xiaoyao pointed at one of the portraits and exclaimed, "Isn't that Yan Hong? She's Xie Laibao's paramour."
Sparrow Speck didn't understand. "Then how did she become a notorious robber?"
"There's a plot afoot," Ning Xiaoyao rubbed her chin. It's probably Grand Preceptor Xie's doing again.
By now, Big Boss Black had ran back to join them and yell and Ning Xiaoyao. "Ninny, did you want to smash this cat to death?"
Ning Xiaoyao was still staring at the portrait. "Well, did you die in the end?"
Big Boss Black felt a rising urge to bite this ninny to death again.
"Cats have nine lives," Ning Xiaoyao turned to Big Boss Black after memorizing all the poster portraits. She jeered and said, "Black Tubby, you have nine lives too, but you're still afraid of dying? Just how did you end up being boss of all the cats?"
"…….." said Big Boss Black. Who said us cats have nine lives?!
While Big Boss Black was preparing to fight Ning Xiaoyao to the death for the n + 1 time, a call rose up from a neighboring street.
"Stop right there!"
"Don't let the criminals escape!"
When Ning Xiaoyao heard the voices coming her way, she quickly pressed herself against the wall. Just what was going on? Why did she run into trouble as soon as she left the palace? Can't this world let me see its peaceful side for once? So vexing!
Sesame Speck flew up from Ning Xiaoyao's shoulder to scope out the situation, while Big Boss Black stood in front of her and stared at the end of the street. The sound of footsteps and panting breaths drew closer, causing Ning Xiaoyao to stick out her neck and look. Sesame Speck came back with another sparrow in tow, which Ning Xiaoyao recognized as Wheat, who lived in Prince Zhi's side courtyard.
"Wheat, why did you come?" Ning Xiaoyao waved at him.
Wheat and Sesame Speck both landed on Ning Xiaoyao's right shoulder before he said, "Xiaoyao, I came out to have a stroll~"
"……." said Ning Xiaoyao. This sparrow sure likes his strolls.
"Those are yamen attendants giving chase," Sesame Speck told Ning Xiaoyao. "I recognize their court dress."
Wheat nodded hastily. "Wheat recognizes them too. They're chasing the notorious robbers."
Ning Xiaoyao glanced at the people running over from the end of the street. "Mhm, those are the notorious robbers alright. I see Yan Hong."
"The Poison Sect's people?" Big Boss Black asked.
"That's right," Ning Xiaoyao replied. "Say, should I make a move or just watch from the sidelines?"
"I don't know," Sesame Speck and Wheat chorused at the same time.
Big Boss Black scratched Ning Xiaoyao. "They're people that Supreme Commander let go on purpose. Of course you have to save them, ah!"
Ning Xiaoyao simply sniffed and stood there doing nothing.
"This cat knew it, you're a two-faced ninny!" Big Boss Black meowed. "You said you don't blame Supreme Commander, but you're actually mad at him!"
"You're not allowed to yell at Xiaoyao!" Wheat lost his temper and flew over to peck at Big Boss Black's head. Seeing this, Sesame Speck went to help him. The two sparrows and one fat cat began to fight until they reached the middle of the lane. Ning Xiaoyao's baby face turned wooden at the sight. They're making such a racket that I have no more chances to stand by and stay quietly.
The fighting animals immediately attracted the attention of the Poison Sect fugitives, whose faces turned 囧 at the sight of two birds and cat fighting. How did they get into a tussle? Ning Xiaoyao raised a hand to hide her face, but was still spotted by Yan Hong.
A black cat and a still-growing body, that's His Majesty! Yan Hong's eyes spun in their sockets before she ran to her side and called softly, "Your Majesty?"
Ning Xiaoyao dropped her hands. "Is my figure that distinctive? You can recognize me even without seeing my face?"
Yan Hong looked at Ning Xiaoyao's petite form and managed a laugh, before pointing at Big Boss Black. "Isn't that Your Majesty's black cat?"
Ning Xiaoyao rolled her eyes at Big Boss Black. So it's you who has the distinctive figure.
Big Boss Black shot back, "Don't believe that woman just because she says so!"
Ning Xiaoyao next saw the Poison Sect head, who was being shielded on all sides by his sect members. "Eh?" she said in surprise, "Sect Head, you're here too? Have you see the Grand Preceptor's true face by now?"
The sect head only looked coldly at Ning Xiaoyao. Yan Hong was afraid that her leader would say something disrespectful to the emperor and offend the only person who could save them now. She quickly stepped in between him and Ning Xiaoyao and murmured, "Your Majesty, the justice courts have sent men to chase after us."
Ning Xiaoyao looked at the guards in the distance and replied, "I see them. You don't need to tell me, thanks."
Yan Hong said, "Your Majesty, this concubine is not a notorious robber."
Ning Xiaoyao raised her eyes to look at her and simply chuckled. "You're not a notorious robber, but you're not a good guy, either."
Yan Hong's face stiffened.
"Apprehend those criminals!" the head of the yamen attendants yelled.
Should or shouldn't I save these bad guys? Ning Xiaoyao mused to herself.
Yan Hong simply stood behind Ning Xiaoyao. Following that, the sect head and his sect members all did the same thing, placing her in front.
"There's one more," the leader said after noticing Ning Xiaoyao.
"Hm?" Ning Xiaoyao looked left and right, only to realize she was facing the yamen attendants head-on. Big Boss Black quickly ran to stand in front of Ning Xiaoyao, arching his body as his fur stood on end. He was ready to fight at any time.
Sesame Speck and Wheat flew in anxious circles above everyone's heads. They weren't sure whether to call for reinforcements or stay and help out the battle. Ning Xiaoyao wasn't nervous at all. These men were part of her armed forces, so they couldn't simply arrest the emperor.
"You guys don't recognize me?" she asked them.
The leader stared at Ning Xiaoyao. The emperor's face was considered a heavenly countenance, so how could a lowly yamen attendant recognize her on sight? "Are you one of their reinforcements?" he asked.
"Whaa?" Ning Xiaoyao replied. "Me, coming to reinforce them all by myself? Do you think I look like an idiot?"
The leader replied, "You don't, but you look every bit the villain with those shifty eyes."
"…….." said the cat and two sparrows.
"…….." said the Poison Sect members.
Ning Xiaoyao truly felt that she had no respect as the emperor at all. "You're sure handsome, with a fat head and big ears. It's a pretty jolly look, ha," she shot back.
"You're seeking death!" the leader unsheathed his sword and charged at Ning Xiaoyao. Soon enough, hoofbeats followed in his wake.
Behind Ning Xiaoyao, Yan Hong murmured, "The Nine Gate Provincial Commander's forces are here." In a flash, men and horses appeared before Ning Xiaoyao.
"Who're you?" Ning Xiaoyao asked the high-ranking military official leading the troops.
"He's Xie Anyuan,"1 Yan Hong explained. "The Grand Preceptor's third nephew on his brother's side."
Ning Xiaoyao's eyes widen. When she peered at the official's features and bone structure, he did bear some resemblance to Xie Anshi. The Grand Preceptor even has a nephew?! (Author: Not only that, he's got nephews on his sister's side too. Can't accept that? ╮(╯▽╰)╭)
Xie Anyuan sat on his horse, his face and body both stiff. His gaze on Ning Xiaoyao was mixed with traces of fear and hesitation. Ning Xiaoyao felt that something was wrong. It was impossible that someone from the Xie Clan wouldn't recognize her, but why was this third nephew staring at her with such a complicated expression? What does he want to do?
"Xiaoyao!" Sesame Speck's voice came from the end of the lane. "It's the Grand Preceptor. The Grand Preceptor's in the street right behind ours, he gave orders to kill you. Xiaoyao, be careful!" Sesame Speck's voice was hoarse and shrill.
She was in big trouble now!
Ning Xiaoyao plucked Big Boss Black into her arms and called for Yan Hong and the others to run as she leaped up to kick Xie Anyuan on his horse. Because of that, Xie Anyuan's men charged forward for the attack as well.
Ning Xiaoyao kicked Xie Anyuan straight off his horse just as Big Boss Black meowed, "Xiaoyao, watch out!"
Beneath of eaves of a store on the opposite side of the street, two black-robed men shot arrows towards Ning Xiaoyao. She flipped mid-air to avoid one arrow while catch the other bare-handed.
"There's poison on the arrows!" the Poison Sect head hollered as he fought with the Nine Gate Provincial Commander's men. Ning Xiaoyao glanced at the weapon in her hands and saw that the tip was faintly blue.
"Throw it away, ah!" the Poison Sect head cried desperately as he saw Ning Xiaoyao still studying the arrow.
Ning Xiaoyao threw the thing to the ground before picking up two soldiers who were about to rush her and flinging them to the opposite end of the street. If the black-robed archers evaded those two, she'd simply throw more things at them. Genetically evolved humans had no fear of combat.
"Miaow!" Big Boss Black saw Xie Anyuan sitting up and and lifting his right arm at his ninny. Like a flash of lightning, he jumped onto the arm and gave it a vicious scratch. Xie Anyuan dropped his arm in response to the sudden attack. As his hand contracted within his sleeve, Big Boss Black bit him through the fabric in retaliation. Bastard human, see if you hurt my Xiaoyao again!
Xie Anyuan's right hand filled with pain. He instinctively bent his wrist and accidentally activated the switch for the hidden crossbow located in his sleeve. Blood entered Big Boss Black's mouth, but he didn't let go. He wanted to bite the bastard's finger off!
A single arrow shot forth from Xie Anyuan's arm and sank into his right leg. Because of his proximity to the weapon, the entire arrow sank into his flesh.
"Ah!" Xie Anyuan gave a wretched cry. Big Boss Black felt a sense of accomplishment. See how I'm thrashing this bastard human!
The Poison Sect leader simply looked coldly at Xie Anyuan as he tossed and turned on the ground. Xie Anyuan's poison arrows would make a very person's bones ache with pain. It wouldn't be long until the man died.
Meanwhile, Wheat had flew back to the palace for call for help, and was now urging the battle horse Little Red to gallop even faster. "Hurry, hurry a bit more! Xiaoyao's in danger!"
Little Red ran as if his life depended on it. The other horses behind him did the same, but none of them were as fast as Little Red himself. It was the first time that Lou Zigui had failed to take command of his steed, so he only assumed the stallion had been spooked. (Author: As if one horse being spooked could set off the rest…) But by the time they reached the street where Ning Xiaoyao was fighting, Lou Zigui stopped trying to slow down Little Red.
Could Xiaoyao be on that street up ahead?
Supreme Commander Lou's heart suddenly lurched at the thought.
Xie Anyuan (谢安源) – An means "peaceful," Yuan means "source (of a river/fountainhead), cause." ↩