Chapter 141: Elder Li's secret Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Head Commander Shadowgale stood in the doorway staring at the pair in front of the bronze mirror and felt there was something off about the entire scene. Still, he couldn’t place his finger on the specifics. Supreme Commander’s brushed his nephew’s hair before? Is he really treating His Majesty as his son to raise now?
“It’s finished,” Lou Zigui backed away as he told Ning Xiaoyao, who looked at her reflection in the mirror before her face split into a grin.
“Am I as handsome enough to rend the Heavens now?” she asked them.
Lou Zigui turned to Shadowgale, who instantly dropped his head. I didn’t hear a thing!
“Handsome!” Ning Xiaoyao mentally gave her reflection a ‘like’ as she headed for the doors. On the way out, she told Lou Zigui and Shadowgale, “Come on, let’s head over to the Grand Preceptor’s estate and watch them cremate the old madame.”
“.......” said Lou Zigui. What did I just hear her say? Cremation? That wasn’t my imagination, right?! Right??!!!
Shadowgale had completely disregarded Ning Xiaoyao’s words, since he didn’t understand half of what she said anyways. He’d long learned to simply follow along His Majesty’s whims instead. By the time Lou Zigui had recovered his senses, Ning Xiaoyao had already left the rooms like a gust of wind.
“I’ll be taking you home soon,” Ning Xiaoyao said as she stood in the courtyard with A’Mo the ant on her collar. “I was originally planning for Black Tubby and the rest to take you back, but now there’s no need.”
A’Mo used his feelers to poke at Ning Xiaoyao’s face. “Xiaoyao, is everything okay now?” He was still feeling lightheaded since he couldn’t clearly see what all the humans were doing.
“It’s fine now,” Ning Xiaoyao patted her sleeves and added, “I’ve brought along an entire bag of sugar beans. When I bring you home, A’Mo, you and your family can all have a taste.”
Hearing that there’d be an entire bag of sugar beans for him and his family thrilled A’Mo to no end. He hastened to say, “Okay, okay. Thank you, Xiaoyao.”
“Haha, you’re welcome,” Ning Xiaoyao laughed happily.
Big Boss Black jumped onto Ning Xiaoyao’s shoulders and stared at A’Mo, before speaking in an affected voice, “You should’ve reported the news earlier. You only came after things had started happening; weren’t you afraid of seeing Xiaoyao’s corpse instead?”
Ning Xiaoyao rapped her knuckles on Big Boss Black’s head. “Do you really have to curse me like that?!”
A’Mo said, “I was already going very, very fast!”
Big Boss Black said, “Couldn’t you have found a cat to pass on the message in your place? This cat knew it! All you wanted was sugar beans from Xiaoyao!”
“That’s not true!” A’Mo wailed, his feelers moving wildly. “It’s not like I know any of you cats!”
“A’Mo’s right,” Ning Xiaoyao stood on A’Mo’s side to look down on Big Boss Black. “Do you think it’s easy to find a cat?”
“That’s right,” A’Mo humphed.
“.......” said Lou Zigui, who’d finally caught up with the trio. He could see a tiny ant on Ning Xiaoyao’s collar. So much for talking to cats, but now she’s chatting up ants, too?
“Your Majesty?” Shadowgale asked. He’d followed Lou Zigui out of the palace rooms.
Ning Xiaoyao only said two words: “Let’s go.”
“Shadowthunder and Shadowbolt will stay behind at the palace,” Lou Zigui told the Dragon Guards. “No more disturbances will be allowed.”
“Oh, then Second Thunder and Fourth Lightning can go ahead and stay home,” Ning Xiaoyao waved her hand, readily accepting the good advice without thinking twice about it. Although Shadowthunder and Shadowbolt knew that this wasn’t His Majesty’s original idea, they had no choice but to obey. Orders were orders, after all.
Ning Xiaoyao was about to depart the palace when another mama arrived from the empress dowager’s palace with a timid air. “Esteemed Empress Dowager ordered this servant to see Your Majesty.”
Ning Xiaoyao said, “That I already know. If the empress dowager hadn’t shouted for you to come, you wouldn’t want to see me, either.”
Upon hearing that, the mama started crying for His Majesty to spare her life.
“Enough already,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “Why would I kill people for no reason? Speak, what’s gone wrong with Esteemed Empress Dowager now?”
The mama replied, “Your Majesty, after hearing of Old Madame Xie’s death, Esteemed Empress Dowager was so grieved that she fainted away. The Imperial Physician Courtyard has already been sent…”
“She fainted again, huh?” Ning Xiaoyao cut her off. “All day and night, she’s nothing if not sad and fainting all over the place. Does Esteemed Empress Dowager have that many emotions to spare?”
The mama looked back at Ning Xiaoyao, not knowing what to say. Lou Zigui rested a hand against his forehead before he softly murmured to Ning Xiaoyao, “Just ask her what business she has.”
“Oh, that’s right,” Ning Xiaoyao faced the mama. “Just what does the empress dowager want now?”
The mama said, “Esteemed Empress Dowager wishes to offer her condolences at the Grand Preceptor’s estate.”
It looked like Ning Xiaoyao’s plans to sow discord hadn’t worked well at all. Is the empress dowager planning to discuss more devious schemes with Grand Preceptor Xie again so soon? “She doesn’t care about her son anymore?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
The mama kept her head bowed and didn’t say a word in argument.
“Her body’s long been unwell to begin with. What if she goes to the Grand Preceptor’s estate and gets sad again, wouldn’t her health just get worse?” Ning Xiaoyao attempted to look sincere as she could as she spoke. “Go on back and tell the empress dowager that I said I’m distressed for her sake, and that I want her to rest plenty at the empress dowager’s palace. As for offering condolences, I can do it in her place.”
“Y-Your Majesty?” The mama was flustered at Ning Xiaoyao’s words.
“If the empress dowager asks you anything, just say it’s because I care about her deeply,” Ning Xiaoyao said. Of course, I’ll give Esteemed Empress Dowager no end of cares to grieve about~
“........” said everyone else. It seemed like Esteemed Empress Dowager was due for another bout of fainting again after this.
“Why aren’t you withdrawing yet?” Lou Zigui asked with a cold face when he saw the mama standing stubbornly by. “Just how many times does His Majesty have to repeat himself?”
The timid mama grew even more terrified at Lou Zigui’s words. In the middle of her farewell, she half turned and lost her footing, falling into a heap on the ground. Ning Xiaoyao bent down to help her up, patting her shoulder to check on her status.
Mm, this mama’s health has no major problems, either. “Go on back and have a good talk with Esteemed Empress Dowager. An upright person can’t be unreasonable, isn’t that right?”
The mama wanted to cry herself to death. Nobody in this family has any form of reason!
Ning Xiaoyao didn’t even bother with considering Empress Dowager Xie’s eventual reaction to her words. After leaving the palace and discovering that Elder Li would accompany her to the Grand Preceptor’s estate, her mood had been somewhat soured. She wanted to tell him that it’d be best if he went home, but her courage wilted in the face of his serious, dignified look. It looked like he’d never smiled in his life.
“Go on, get in the carriage,” Lou Zigui lightly pushed Ning Xiaoyao forward. Ning Xiaoyao settled into the emperor’s exclusive carriage and waited until she heard the wheels rolling along the street before she clenched her fists. “Forget it,” she said to Big Boss Black and A’Mo. “If I die, then I die!”
Big Boss Black asked, “Why would you die when you’re off to see Old Madame Xie’s corpse?”
A’Mo must have been a cultured ant, because he asked her, “Xiaoyao, are you talking about the custom of being buried alive with the dead?”
“What? Why would I be buried alive?” Ning Xiaoyao said as she clutched her head. “I’m talking about that old geezer Elder Li.”
Big Boss Black swished his tail. Why does an emperor need to fear one of her subjects? This ninny, she’s beyond help.
A’Mo moved his feelers as he thought and said, “Xiaoyao, I’ve heard my elder cousin say that Elder Li is a henpecked husband.”
“What’s a henpecked husband?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
“Someone who’s afraid of their wife,” Big Boss Black explained rather unhappily.
“Mhm,” A’Mo said. “All of my older cousins say that Elder Li’s scared of his wife. If his wife tells him to sleep on the floor, he wouldn’t dare to sleep in bed!”“......” said Ning Xiaoyao. It seems like I’ve heard something I wasn’t supposed to know again.
“Xiaoyao, you don’t have to be scared of Elder Li,” A’Mo encouraged her. “He’s afraid of females. Aren’t you one of them?”
Ning Xiaoyao sucked on her lips. Fearing one’s wife and fearing women were two completely different things. But she figured it’d be hard to make A’Mo understand the differences. That’d be like trying to turn the little ant into a human himself. Still, Ning Xiaoyao thought as she rubbed her chin, Now I have one more goal in this world. I have to get on the good side of Elder Li’s wife. I have to hug her thigh and become her close friend!
Ning Xiaoyao sat in her carriage and began to sketch out her plans to get on Elder Li’s wife’s good side. She wanted to accomplish her goal in the shortest time possible so that the wife would make sure Elder Li never appeared in front of her again. (Author: Wake up, you. No matter how much Lady Li dotes on you, she’ll never let her husband lose his job!)
The emperor’s carriage passed through the streets, which were still a mess from the recent disorder. However, all of the frightened, panicked people stilled when they saw His Majesty’s carriage. If His Majesty’s still alright, then the sky hasn’t fallen on Yongning yet! The masses kneeled on the ground and wished Ning Xiaoyao 10,000 years of blessings from their positions on the ground. Lou Zigui glanced back from his horse to look at Elder Li, who was also riding on his own steed. This was the real reason you called Ning Xiaoyao out of the palace, isn’t it?
Elder Li silently nodded his head as he viewed the scene. It looks like the people’s hearts are still with His Majesty.
When the carriage and horses had just about reached their destination, Lou Zigui rode up to the carriage window and asked Ning Xiaoyao, “Your Majesty, we’re almost at the Xie Clan’s archway. Will the various officials need to dismount and pay their respects?”
“Don’t dismount,” Ning Xiaoyao said immediately. “Why bother getting off the horses? Sooner or later, I’ll take that archway back!”
“Alright,” Lou Zigui said. “This subject obeys the decree.”
The archway in front of the Grand Preceptor’s estate had witnessed the entire reign of Emperor Yuanzong’s rule in glory. Now, for the first time ever, it finally saw people pass beneath its archway on horseback instead of on foot.
When Grand Preceptor Xie caught news of His Majesty coming to pay his condolences, he was left stunned for the amount of time it took to brew a cup of tea. Ning Yu’s coming to offer condolences? This girl’s simply here to cause trouble and difficulties instead, isn’t she?!
“His Majesty’s nearly at the gates,” the Dragon Guard sent to report the news said respectfully. “It’s better for Grand Preceptor to welcome His Majesty quickly.”
Grand Preceptor Xie nodded. The Dragon Guard turned to leave with an easy conscience, He hadn’t accepted the bag of cash that the Xie estate steward had tried to stuff in his hands. Why would I be afraid of going poor when I am following His Majesty. This particular Dragon Guard was full of aspirations of his own!
“Father?” in the hall for receiving guests, Xie Anshi called out to Grand Preceptor Xie.
“Call your second brother,” Grand Preceptor Xie said. “All the adult males of the estate are required to come with me to welcome the emperor.”
While the Grand Preceptor’s estate was hastily preparing its welcome, an imperial guard caught up to Lou Zigui and reported quietly, “Supreme Commander, Xie Anyi’s already been brought out of the imperial prisons.”
Lou Zigui asked, “How did you explain the situation to him?”
The imperial guard hastened to reply, “Exactly as Supreme Commander had instructed. This one told him that he was to be escorted home to send off the old madame on her final journey.”
“Good,” Lou Zigui nodded. “I know now. You’ve all done extremely well.”
The imperial guard cupped his fist astride his horse in polite thanks, before turning to gallop off.
“What is it?” Ning Xiaoyao stuck her head out the carriage window.
“When we reach the Grand Preceptor’s estate later,” Lou Zigui answered in a low voice, “Don’t forget to remit young née Wang’s punishment and make her Xie Anyi’s official consort.”
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