Chapter 120: Emergency Response
Translated by Gumihou
Please read this at kitchennovel dot com
Su Nuan Nuan replied with a simple ‘Um’ and looked up at the sky. Curses, if someone really wanted to harm us, they would attack either at dawn or nightfall, right? It’s already late afternoon now. According this boy, those bandits were really confident that their roadblocks can’t be easily penetrated. More importantly, they probably never thought I’d be suspicious enough to send people out to investigate. We still have a chance.
It’s better to consider the matter carefully: Although there are martial monks at the Pushan Temple and a few dozen bodyguards brought by the marquis family, the bandits must have taken them into consideration and still decided that they could over power us. In order words, better not count on the martial monks and bodyguards to protect us.
After pondering over the pros and cons of several plans, Su Nuan Nuan finally determined the best route to take: The time to act is now. They would have to take some risks. There was no way they could move those white marble stones and trees away by themselves quickly enough to escape the bandits in time.
After muttering to herself for awhile more, she said to the servant boy, “When we came over this morning, I noticed there are a few hamlets around, is that right?”
“Yes. Madam is right, there are a total of eight hamlets.” the servant boy had already investigate the area thoroughly and were confident in his answer.
“I shall send some guards with you. Go to these villagers and get some of the people to move those trees and stones away…”
Before she could finish, the servant boy shook his head, “Madam, I’m afraid it’s no use. This one had just spoken to the villagers just now, to see if they could lend a hand in moving the things away. However, they heard that these were tribute materials meant for the emperor. According to them, a eunuch riding along the carriage told them that anyone who dared to touch the tribute will be sentenced to the 9 Degrees Punishment.”
Su Nuan Nuan sneered, “That’s even better, the enemy thought they had frightened the villagers into submission for sure and never thought that we’d be able to find this matter out so much earlier. Whatever, now let them see how we rouse the common people’s power against them.”
Her next words was even more commanding, “You take a few guards down. I will get the abbot to find a couple of monks familiar with the villagers to go with you. Tell them this: The noble house of Marquis of An Ping wish to return to the Capital immediately, but found the way blocked. They must clear the way as quickly as possible, break the rocks, smash them, it doesn’t matter. Whatever they may salvage from those roadblocks consider it theirs. The Marquis of An Ping will personally speak to the emperor regarding this matter and bear all responsibilities. With the monks with you, the villagers will surely trust your word.”
The servant boy’s eyes brightened, and gave her a thumbs up, “Madam is wise and cunning. How clever it is to turn the enemy’s tactics against them. Won’t the villagers who had been cowed by the emperor’s name scramble to help us remove those precious logs and stones? Moreover, who doesn’t know that our old madam is the empress’ blood mother or that the lord heir is the favourite of the emperor? With the monks to back us up, this plan will definitely work.”
“Good, you come with me.” from what Su Nuan Nuan could tell, this servant boy was incredibly sharp, and brought him with her to see the abbot. Once they informed the abbot about everything they had discovered, he felt a headache coming up: He had just been celebrating the good karma of having such illustrious visitors to the temple, who would have thought that everything would suddenly turned into a huge disaster like this? If anything were to happen to the old madam while under the care of the Pushan Temple, they would incur the wrath of the emperor as well as the lord heir. There might come a time that the entire Pushan Temple be reduced to flatlands.
Therefore, without hesitation, he quickly had two monks most familiar with the villagers sent down with the servant boy. Then, he turned to Su Nuan Nuan and said, “Madam, what should we do next? It would take a lot of time and manpower to clear those roadblocks away. Also, our movements might be discovered any time.”
“Great master is right. Therefore, we must move quickly. We should take a headcount of all the monks and staffs in the temple. Once that is done,we can gather the people in one place for a proper briefing.”
At Su Nuan Nuan’s speedy answer and resolute expression, the abbot said, “Madam is concerned that enemy might have infiltrated this temple? With the assassination in mind?”
Su Nuan Nuan shook her head, “I think, it’s not as simple as assassination. If it is assassination, I believe we would all be dead by now.”
The abbot, who was also someone with great life experience, nodded in agreement. Privately he thought, that’s right, there’s no need to go through all this trouble if it was a simple assassination, right? Also, it made sense for them to infiltrate the temple rather then the servants of the An Ping group since we have more people here.
Thus, decision made, he did not hesitate and ordered people to shake down the temple monks. At this time, Su Nuan Nuan made her way through the temple grounds towards the garden, where Old Madam Fang’s group were exchanging stories with some visiting monks. She smiled at the old lady and said, “Old madam must be tired, how about we go inside for a rest? I have some good news for you, we’ll be staying the night, so we can take our time and leisurely return home tomorrow.”
Old Madam Fang’s initial reaction was to say ‘Not tired’, but at the sight of Su Nuan Nuan’s expression, she said with a mild smile, “You’re right. Since I’m tired out, let us all return to our rooms.”
Everyone felt a little puzzled over this strange exchanged, but since the old madam had spoken, they decided to go along with it. Thus, a large group of people migrated towards the guest rooms. They were halfway there when bells began to toll. Old Madam stopped and wondered, “Why are they ringing the bell at this time of the day? Master, had something happened?”
The two young monks escorting them were surprised too, they said, “That is the signal for everyone to gather. Honourable guests, please return to your rooms first, I shall come see you later.”
Old Madam Fang did not say anything, but continued on her way deep in thought. She glanced at Su Nuan Nuan, and calmed down at the her granddaughter-in-law’s serene expression.
Once everyone made it to the guest rooms. Old madam dismissed all irrelevant people leaving only Su Nuan Nuan with her, she even made Qiu Ling act as a lookout before saying in a grim voice, “Nuan Nuan, you better speak the truth with this old granny, just what is going on?”
Su Nuan Nuan gave a bitter smile, “Old madam, this granddaughter-in-law of yours also do not know what is going on. I only know that our way back to the Capital had been blocked…” as she continued to speak, Old Madam Fang’s expression changed. Her hand tightened on her walking stick, “Who is it? Who in the world hated our An Ping house so much that they would do this? Just what do they want? To wash Pushan Temple in blood?”
“Before leaving this morning, the lord says that there are martial monks at Pushan Temple. We also brought our bodyguards with us. If those people want bloodshed, we can give as good as they can.” a fierce look flashed across Su Nuan Nuan’s face. “But, no matter what, now that we are in this situation, we must plan our strategy well. I don’t care about throwing my life away, but we cannot let them kidnap us and use our lives to threaten the lord…”
Before she could finished, Old Madam’s face, which had flushed red with anger, paled suddenly. So she stopped speaking. She knew that this shrewd old woman understood the situation well: For the enemy to scheme to keep all the women within the Pushan Temple, it had to be for more than just their lives. As for what they really wanted, well, that wasn’t too hard to guess.
“You’re right. Xuan’er had spoken to me about this before. I’m afraid the banditry within the Capital had been nothing more than a diversion, it’s possible that everything had been planned, including the those bandits that had been captured or killed in order to make us lower our guard. When I heard that the crown prince had met with a mishap, this old lady felt that something was not right. How could bandits, of all people, would be so daring as to try and assassinate the crown prince? However, it looked like that was all an elaborate deception hiding the malicious intent. Their true target is us.”
“If they could really assassinate the crown prince, why would they even need to deal with us?” Su Nuan Nuan laughed bitterly. “I really don’t know what the people behind this plot is thinking. Maybe they have been kicked in the head by a donkey.”
“An assassination might not be successful, but it is not difficult to have us kidnapped. If not for your suspicion and sending servants down to investigate, we might not have discovered anything amiss. This old lady merely thought of bringing you up the mountain for some innocent fun. If those people wanted to subdue us, they only had to poison the well and we’re basically sitting ducks.”
Clearly Old Madam Fang deserved her title as a woman who had weathered through all kinds of strife, even in the face of major danger, she did not panic. After asking Su Nuan Nuan to explain her plan in brief, she nodded to herself and said, “Yes, I do believe we must leave this place as soon as possible. Nuan Nuan, let’s all set out for the Capital. We don’t have enough guards for a proper security detail, find out if the abbot could lend us a few of his martial monks.”
“This granddaughter-in-law have considered this too, we’re now waiting for the abbot to finish screening through his people. It’s best if we can pull out any plants among them, otherwise all our plans will be for naught.” Su Nuan Nuan stood up right. Her figure was stern and she looked ready to fight without fear of dying. The old madam looked at her granddaughter-in-law appreciatively and smiled, “Good child, you have certainly changed for the better, though I really haven’s expected this kind of courage and resolve.”
Privately, Su Nuan Nuan thought: That’s because she’s already died once, what is there to fear? After breathing the fresh air of ancient China these many months and eaten so many good organically grown food, everyday is basically a gift from god. My dying in the past life is definitely worth it.
As she was pondering over this, she went out to look for a young servant to saddle a horse. Meanwhile, the old madam decided that it was time to reveal the matter to the others. The women were called in and were given a summary of what was happening. As expected, after hearing this, Liu Min, Xu Ran Yun, Xue Zhi Lan and a few other mansion ladies with great social powers grew timid and frightened. The cowardly Concubine Lin began to cry. If not for Duan Xinqi and Duan Tingfang doing their best to comfort her, she would have fainted away to the floor.
Su Nuan Nuan soon returned after giving her orders to the servant. When she saw the servants milling about outside whispering to each other, she knew that the old madam must be in the middle of explaining their grim circumstances to the other ladies. Instead of going in, she opted to stay outside and arrange her thoughts.
Zhao Cai suddenly appeared from nowhere, and began to coil about her ankles going ‘miao-oo’. Then, when he made to leap away, Su Nuan Nuan grabbed him, tucking the large cat against her bosom and smiled grimly down at him, “You little beast, don’t go running around all over the place. If I can’t find you anywhere, don’t expect me to abandon the others just to look for you, ah. If you do that, you can find your own way back to the An Ping mansion, or just stay here as a wild cat.”
Zhao Cai stretched himself in her arms a couple of times, mewing loudly before settling down. As though to tell her that he was not so dumb as to be left behind. Su Nuan Nuan chuckled, and stroked him gently. For a while, master and pet played for a bit, but in truth, she was in no mood for fun. Soon, she saw the abbot and a few dozen monks making their way over. She hurried towards them and whispered, “Well, great master?”
Author White Pear Flower: The battle of wits have begun, auuhh!
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 9 Degrees Punishment – Execution of close and extended family members. Kind of like Nuan Nuan’s. Basically the criminal’s parents, maternal grandparents, paternal grandparents, children, grandchildren, siblings, siblings-in-law, uncles (and spouse), aunts (and spouse). Hence, the 9 degrees.
Nuan Nuan got out of being punished on a technicality, she’s no longer a ‘child’ of a criminal since women who married away are like ‘Spilled Water’ and hence had nothing to do with the original family.
Translated by Gumihou from kitchennovel dot com.
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