Chapter 134: His Majesty gets injured... Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
After Lou Zigui killed the man with his crossbow, hundreds of imperial guards notched their own bows with cold, gleaming arrows aimed at the crowd of refugees amassed below the steps.
“You…” someone wanted to shout again.
“You should just stop talking!” Ning Xiaoyao frowned and said before Supreme Commander had another excuse to kill a man. “If you speak, you’ll die, so what’s your rush? Let me ask you, how much are you getting paid to play the part of a refugee this time? Is your master your father? Or your true love? For the sake of an old geezer who’s almost old enough to die, you’re risking your own life? Your life is a precious thing, you should cherish it more! I seriously feel sorry for your mom. If she knew you were going to be such a shallow creature, why did she bother to give birth to you in the first place?!”
The man was left at a loss by Ning Xiaoyao’s harsh words. Many of the officials and ministers who listened in all shot glances towards Grand Preceptor Xie. Though His Majesty hadn’t mentioned any names, everyone knew who he’d been cursing in that tirade.
Grand Preceptor Xie remained unmoved. He couldn’t show any expression now, because he’d only lose if he let Ning Xiaoyao actually make him mad.
“I say, why can’t you lot actually think things through for yourselves?” Ning Xiaoyao asked the refugees. “If I wanted to poison you all, why didn’t I do it all at the beginning? Do I have brain damage? Why would I suddenly decide to kill you all off today when I’ve already given you so much grain?”
“Y, you have long had plans to kill us, bit by bit!” one of the fearless ones shouted back.
“Don’t shoot!” Ning Xiaoyao shouted at the archers first, before turning in the direction of the voice. “I could kill you all just by putting rat poison in the porridge. Why would I bother to take my time with this slow-acting poison?”
“You...” the voice hesitated, before finally shouting out, “You’re afraid that everyone will know of your misdeeds!”
Ning Xiaoyao wanted to laugh. “In any case, it’s all killing in the end. Whether I kill you slowly or quickly, it’s still murder. Why would I bother, then, to waste all that grain, kindling, water, and money used to hire workers to cook you all porridge? Just who has brain damage here, you guys, or me?!”
The person couldn’t answer. Ning Xiaoyao thought it over, before she added, “Do you know what it means to have brain damage? It means your brain has rotted away, or a donkey kicked you in the head, or your noggin got crushed by a door. Basically, when your mom gave birth, she forgot to birth out your brains to go with your body! You--”
“Cough,” Lou Zigui gave a squeeze to Ning Xiaoyao’s hand. Don’t say anymore. Though it was satisfying to hear her rant, the reigning emperor still needed to preserve their appearance. She couldn’t simply shout abuse at the crowd like some common shrew.
Ning Xiaoyao sucked in a long breath. And I had so many more curses left, too!
Elder Li chose that time to raise his voice. “You lot are nothing but refugees. If not for His Majesty’s benevolence, would anyone actually care whether you lived or died?”
Nothing but refugees. Elder Li’s words made many of the people lower their heads. Refugee lives had been cheap since ancient times. What was there for us to fight over?
“If His Majesty hadn’t provided free porridge, many of you would have starved to death already and become the corpses used as food for everyone else,” Lou Zigui added. “I’d like to ask you all something. If His Majesty could watch you die off simply by doing nothing, why would he go to the trouble of using poison on you lot instead?”
“That’s right,” Ning Xiaoyao hastened to agree.
“Then what about the people amongst us that went missing?” someone else shouted from within the crowd. “And what about the ones here, who have been poisoned? Why was there poison in the porridge?!”
Ning Xiaoyao retorted, “I’d have to say you guys poisoned the porridge yourselves!”
“That,” the person stammered, “How could that be possible?”
“Then why are you insisting that I did it? Did you see me put the poison in? Which one of you saw me?” Ning Xiaoyao pointed her finger at the crowd before her.
None of the refugees were able to answer her question. His Majesty lives in the palace, so when would he have time to visit the porridge stations?
“What good would come from you lot running in here and killing me off?” Ning Xiaoyao said. “Can you become the emperor after I’m dead? Do good things like that ever happen? I say, you lot, can’t you be less naive and easy to cheat? If I really had intentions of killing you all off, may the Heavens strike me with lightning and cast me out to be bitten by zomb--no, I mean, by lunatics!” Ning Xiaoyao’s mix of logic and heartfelt vows really did end up silencing the crowd of refugees.
Grand Preceptor Xie hadn’t expected his royal granddaughter to be willing to speak to the refugee curs, much less to speak so much. He suddenly realized that it’d been a grave mistake to give Ning Xiaoyao the chance to talk. Lou Zigui had noticed the same thing, and whispered to Ning Xiaoyao, “Keep talking.”
After all, what else was more trustworthy than the words of the nation’s sovereign with royal might? Ning Xiaoyao sniffed a few times before walking down the steps. What else is there to say? I should save the poisoned people first, or else they’ll die.
“......” said Lou Zigui, who’d grabbed Ning Xiaoyao by the arm. Letting you speak isn’t the same as letting you walk down the steps!
“We, we have an eyewitness!” a short man squeezed his way out of the crowd with a shout. “Someone who saw Your Majesty send men to plant the poison!”
Ning Xiaoyao stared at the man, who was pointing his finger at her, and wondered why her title as emperor received no respect?!
“Don’t be fooled by His Majesty!” the man slapped his chest and yelled at the people on the steps, “If you’re worried about being exposed, just shoot me dead! In any case, I wasn’t planning on going back alive after making it this far!”
Ning Xiaoyao mentally chuckled. Here is a martyr, of all things.
“What kind of proof do you have?” Grand Preceptor Xie asked the man. Elder Li immediately shot Grand Preceptor Xie a glare. You bastard, are you planning to throw aside all considerations of face and fight in the open?
The man pulled out a hunchbacked old man from the crowd of refugees. The old man stood, faltering before the crowd, his teeth chattering as he managed with to speak with great effort, “I, I saw it.”
Ning Xiaoyao stared at the old man and knew that she’d found her culprit. Here was the blockheaded gramps who’d trusted Grand Preceptor Xie’s words and gotten his own kinsfolk poisoned. It was apparent that his words held weight in the community, which was likely why Grand Preceptor Xie had picked him out in the first place. All of the refugees began discussing amongst themselves at the old man’s revelation as their stares towards Ning Xiaoyao turned ever more agitated. Ning Xiaoyao walked over to the old man, intending to talk to him one-on-one. But the short man took this chance to shoot a glance at the steps until his eyes met Grand Preceptor Xie’s.
Ning Xiaoyao said, “Old gramps, let me tell you ah, your family…” Out of the corner of her eye, she saw the flash of a weapon and hauled the old man aside. You want to silence the witness right in front of my eyes? Keep dreaming!
The old man tottered into Ning Xiaoyao’s arms after she pulled him aside, only to see a dagger shining in the short man’s hands. He had wanted to shout out a warning, but the dagger was already heading towards his waist. Ning Xiaoyao picked up the old man and moved him behind her body.
“Your Majesty!” Shadowgale shouted, his hand moving to shield Ning Xiaoyao’s shoulder. He was standing very close to Ning Xiaoyao at less than a full step away, but, so too was the short man. As Shadowgale guarded Ning Xiaoyao’s shoulder and prepared to drag her to safety, the short man switched his grip on the dagger and aimed for Ning Xiaoyao’s stomach instead. Ning Xiaoyao was already lightning quick with dodging, but still felt a sharp pain enter her abdomen anyway.
Since the short man had achieved his goal, he quickly turned and flickered away into the crowds, his dishevelled hair and dirty face combining with his ragged clothes served to make him indistinguishable amongst the others.
“Blood!” shouted the old man who’d been pushed back behind Ning Xiaoyao and then was lightly thrown to the ground.
Ning Xiaoyao looked down. Ah geez, that’s why I felt pain earlier. The shortie had managed to slash her with his dagger! Hold on a sec. Ning Xiaoyao pressed her hand against the wound before inspecting her fingers. Her blood was turning black, which meant the blade had contained poison!
Shadowgale and the rest also saw the red liquid staining Ning Xiaoyao’s dragon robes, then the blood gradually turning black. The Dragon Guards’ faces all paled at the sight of their injured emperor. Shadowgale shouted at the top of his lungs for an imperial physician as he attempted to place a hand on Ning Xiaoyao’s wound.
“It’s going to be alright,” Ning Xiaoyao consoled the wan-faced Shadowgale. Your Majesty’s not afraid of being poisoned!
Lou Zigui ran over to Ning Xiaoyao’s side, his head exploding at the sight of her bloodstained robes and blackening blood. After swaying in place for a bit, he finally regained his bearings. All of the refugees were sent into a panic from the attempted assassination of His Majesty. To Ning Xiaoyao’s eyes, it looked like zombies had infiltrated a crowd of humans, to send them shrieking and fleeing like a swarm of headless flies.
“Don’t,” Ning Xiaoyao held onto Lou Zigui and said, “Don’t kill anyone!”
Lou Zigui touched Ning Xiaoyao’s wound and pulled back with a palm covered with her black blood. His expression turned somber as he roared, “How are you doing?!”
Standing atop the steps, Grand Preceptor Xie saw Lou Zigui half kneeling as he held onto Ning Xiaoyao. The blood that had first stained the dragon robes was red, but the blood currently flowing from the wound was black, setting his worries at ease. The end was in sight. There’s no way Ning Yu can survive this. The short man just earlier was none other than the head of the Poison Sect, a man he’d quietly fostered for many years. Anyone that had been poisoned by him was sure to die.
Elder Li didn’t approach Ning Xiaoyao, but he almost went down the steps at the sight of the blood on her clothes. However, he stopped himself in time. He was no doctor nor fighter. Even if he had went to His Majesty’s side, what use could he be? Instead, he set his glare on Grand Preceptor Xie. If anything happens to His Majesty, I’ll make sure the two of us die together!
“Xiaoyao?” Lou Zigui murmured. The had he had pressed against her wound was shaking uncontrollably.
Ning Xiaoyao gently said, “Supreme Commander, move your hand. Let me see how deep the wound is.”
Lou Zigui finally let go, his palms completely stained with her black blood. Ning Xiaoyao pressed on her injury. Though the blood flow looked severe, it was only a flesh wound at most. All she had to do was treat the poison itself. Lou Zigui waited only as long as one second before he anxiously asked, “Can you treat yourself?”
“Not a problem,” Ning Xiaoyao removed her hands as if nothing extraordinary had happened, and said, “According to my diagnosis, the poison didn’t go in very deep. All I have to do is press it out. See?” Ning Xiaoyao pressed against her wound, increasing the blood flowing out of the injury. It did look less black than before to Lou Zigui’s eyes.
Lou Zigui lowered his head and pressed his lips to Ning Xiaoyao’s stomach before sucking up a mouthful of blood and spitting it out on the ground. Then he repeated the motion once more. Ning Xiaoyao was utterly flabbergasted. Just then, she’d been telling him nothing but nonsense about the poison!
“You, you’ll get poisoned like that,” Ning Xiaoyao tried to twist out of the way.
“Stop moving!” Lou Zigui shouted at her.
Ning Xiaoyao didn’t dare to budge another muscle.
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