Chapter 176: Yours and mine true love Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Ning Xiaoyao was the kind of person who did what she said, so as she told Shadowgale to prepare a carriage for the empress, while she herself headed for the empress’s palace with Oil Jar in her sleeve and Little Tangerine---the girl she saved from Lady Xiang’s estate---trotting behind her. When the eunuchs at the gate saw Ning Xiaoyao appear, they could hardly believe their eyes.
“Hey, hey,” Ning Xiaoyao waved a hand in front of the eunuch’s face. He looked back and exclaimed ‘Your Majesty!’ before preparing to fall to his knees.
“No need,” Ning Xiaoyao strode into the gates before asking casually, “Where’s the empress?”
The young eunuch hastily ran in front of her to lead the way as he said, “To reply Your Majesty, the empress is in the Warm Spring Partition.”
“Warm Spring Partition,” Ning Xiaoyao nodded in approval. “A good name, it sounds like a great spot. Let’s go, to the Warm Spring Partition!”
“Empress!” Zhou mama threw open the doors of the palace. Inside the room, Empress Zhou gave a start.
“Mama, what’s wrong?” she asked.
Zhou mama staggered into the second-story room and said urgently, “His Majesty is here!”
The empress blanched. Zhou mama glanced at the table, where a porcelain bowl of fetus-soothing soup for preventing miscarriage was still lying there half-full. The empress tugged at her sleeves and said in alarm, “What is His Majesty doing, coming at a time like this?”
Meanwhile, Zhou mama took the contents of the bowl and ran to the back window before throwing it outside. At this, Empress Zhou unconsciously clutched her stomach. Zhou mama ran back to the empress’s side and murmured, “Empress, don’t panic just yet. Ask His Majesty what he wants first.”
The empress nodded. That was the only thing she could do now. When Ning Xiaoyao arrived at the Warm Spring Partition, she glanced up at the second story before saying, “Little Tangerine, you can wait for me here.”
“Yes,” Little Tangerine quickly bowed her head.
The empress and Zhou mama emerged from the room and prepared to greet Ning Xiaoyao downstairs. Meanwhile, Ning Xiaoyao headed for the steps as Oil Jar slipped out of her sleep. She instructed the mouse, “Go find where that spy is, then tell me once you’ve found her location.”
Oil Jar nodded before jumping towards the rafters and scurrying off. Big Boss Black caught up from behind and settled across Ning Xiaoyao’s shoulders.
“Why did you show up?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
Big Boss Black licked his paws. “This cat is worried that you’ll do something stupid, so I’m here to watch over the proceedings.”
Ning Xiaoyao suddenly felt an urge to throw the fat black furball outside.
“Hurry up, miaow,” Big Boss Black urged her.
Ning Xiaoyao continued to climb the stairs as her eyes rolled in thought. Finally she said, “If you’re worried about me, just admit it. Why don’t you tell the truth? You unreasonable kitty~”
Big Boss Black really had come because he was worried about Ning Xiaoyao, but being caught like this only made his fur stand on end. He bared his claws and pawed at Ning Xiaoyao with a meow. “You ninny, stop saying such nauseating things! Don’t gross this cat out, miaow!”
After being scratched by Big Boss Black again, Ning Xiaoyao felt that she shouldn’t indulge this fat cat’s temper all the time. She plucked him up by his fat and started whapping him on the head. Big Boss Black was the leader of all the cats in the capital, so he’d never take this lying down. He showed his claws and started to counter her thwaps.
Thus, one human and one cat devolved into yet another fight. The sight left the empress and Zhou mama speechless as they stood on the steps...
“That’s the cat that His Majesty’s raising, right?” the empress said in a low voice to Zhou mama .
Zhou mama shielded Empress Zhou from the said. “It should be it. This cat was unlucky enough to raise Old Madame Xie’s corpse from the dead. Empress should take care.”
“........” said Ning Xiaoyao after hearing those words. Where did that rumor come from?!
Big Boss Black stopped trying to bite Ning Xiaoyao’s fingers off once he noticed the empress.
Empress Zhou quickly prepared to pay her respects. “This consort greets Your Majes---”
“Enough, enough,” Ning Xiaoyao waved a hand. “Why are you trying to kneel even while you’re standing on the stairs? Go on back up, I have words to say to you.”
Zhou mama looked guardedly at Big Boss Black settled on Ning Xiaoyao’s shoulders.
“What happened with Old Madame Xie was because of the mourning hall catching on fire,” Ning Xiaoyao explained. “I carried her body out of the building with me, but the coffin broke so her corpse rolled out. It really wasn’t anything like raising the dead.”
Zhou mama was completely floored. She’d been whispering, but His Majesty had heard everything?! The empress was startled as well. This mama had raised her since she was young and had come with her from the Zhou Clan to the Grand Preceptor’s estate, then the imperial palace. She was the person that the empress trusted and relied on most.
Worried that Ning Xiaoyao would be angry with Zhou mama, Empress Zhou hastily fell to one knee with a bow. “My mama’s an old woman with a muddle-headed brain. Your Majesty has no need to lower yourself to her level and acknowledge the woman.”
Ning Xiaoyao blinked. “Empress, you really don’t know how to say nice things.”
The empress gave another start, while Ning Xiaoyao rubbed her nose. “I’ve already lowered myself to her level, so are you saying I’m muddle-headed too?”
The empress really couldn’t shoulder such an accusation. Zhou mama sensed the change in tone and fell to her knees to kowtow to Ning Xiaoyao. “This servant deserves to die!”
“.......” said Ning Xiaoyao. What did I just do? I’ve scared this mama so much.
The empress was about to kneel as well, but Ning Xiaoyao stopped her and pulled her to her feet. “Enough already, I really have important things to talk about. Let’s not waste any more time.”
Empress Zhou felt unwell all over as Ning Xiaoyao took her hand to lead her to the rooms. But she didn’t dare to wrest free, either. Ning Xiaoyao only nodded silently to herself. Looks like the baby in her stomach is very healthy right now.
After entering the rooms, the empress went to offer Ning Xiaoyao a plate of fruit, but hesitated to say anything out loud. Ning Xiaoyao grabbed a big apple and took a huge bite, crunching as she spoke. “Why aren’t you sitting down?”
The empress replied, “Thanks to Your Majesty for allowing me to sit, but this consort shall just stand.”
“Whatever makes you happy, ah,” Ning Xiaoyao replied. “I’ve received word that the empress dowager wants to take action against you.”
The empress gave a start at the words, but Zhou mama simply ran in front of Ning Xiaoyao and fell to her knees again. “Your Majesty, you---you have to save the empress!”
Ning Xiaoyao had no choice but to pull Zhou mama to her feet as well. “Isn’t that why I’ve come?”
The empress silently exhaled and asked, “Does Esteemed Empress Dowager want Your Majesty to abolish this empress?”
“Your palace contains spies from the empress dowager,” Ning Xiaoyao straightforwardly replied.
Zhou mama’s head whipped back towards her mistress, who looked ashen from the revelation. Subconsciously, her hands had gone to clutch her stomach again.
Ning Xiaoyao feigned ignorance after dropping her bombshell while trying to work things out. Should I just say, ‘empress, I know you’re pregnant with General Xu Feiyu’s baby?’ Then how am I supposed to explain my own indifference? Tell her I have a true love too? So in the end, it’ll be ‘empress, you go find your true love while I guard mine?’
When Ning Xiaoyao had thought of true love, a miniature Lou Zigui appeared in her mind until she slapped her head repeatedly to get the picture away. Both the empress and Zhou mama only started at her doubtfully. What’s wrong with His Majesty now?
“That there,” Ning Xiaoyao sat up and asked Empress Zhou, “Is there anything else you want to tell me?”
The empress shook her head before she continued. “How could this consort have anything to say? If Your Majesty is well, then so is this consort.”
Ning Xiaoyao sighed and muttered to herself, “Why can’t you love courageously?”
Although neither the empress nor Zhou mama heard her words, Big Boss Black caught them loud and clear from her shoulders. He meowed back, “Could she dare to love him openly? This is called adultery, don’t you know?”
Ning Xiaoyao placed Big Boss Black in her lap and held him there. This fat black furball needs to calm himself down.
“Your Majesty?” Zhou mama blinked at Ning Xiaoyao’s actions.
“No matter what the empress dowager’s planning, you should pack your things right now, empress. I’ll send you out of the palace tonight,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “Isn’t your big brother at that whachamacallit temple…”
“Iron Buddha Temple,” Big Boss Black struggled free to show his head with a meow.
“Oh, right, that Iron Buddha Temple,” Ning Xiaoyao told the empress. “Go and live there for awhile.”
The empress gave a start. “Your Majesty wants this consort to go to Iron Buddha Temple?”
“Yeah, ah,” Ning Xiaoyao replied. Did I not speak clearly enough?
“The late emperor set a decree,” the empress continued, “That this consort’s big brother would have to atone for his crimes before Buddha for the rest of his life. He’s forbidden to see any outsiders aside from the monks in the temple.”
“Because of that incident where the imperial uncle was killed by bandits?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
The empress nodded. This time, she didn’t feel as resentful or sad as before.
“Nonsense,” Ning Xiaoyao pursed her lips disdainfully. “That useless imperial uncle died on his own. What does that have to do with your big brother? Was your big brother his full-time bodyguard?”
The empress was at a loss. Had she heard correctly? His Majesty’s saying that it served Imperial Uncle Hong right for dying, and that my big brother’s not to blame?
“The late emperor’s already dead, so why should you care what he said?” Ning Xiaoyao added. “Go pack your things, you’re seeing your big brother tonight.”
The empress was about to nod and say yes when Zhou mama hissed, “Empress!”
The empress saw Zhou mama staring at her stomach and realized what she meant. She quickly turned back to Ning Xiaoyao and said, “If this consort leaves, won’t Esteemed Empress Dowager set all her temper against Your Majesty? This consort cannot leave Your Majesty in such difficult straits.”
Now it was time for Ning Xiaoyao to be clueless. Why is the empress thinking for my sake now? What’s with all this kindness and understanding?
The empress walked over to Ning Xiaoyao and tried to place her hands on top of Ning Xiaoyao’s. Immediately Ning Xiaoyao backed away and muttered to Big Boss Black, “Dang it, she couldn’t have fallen in love with me, right?” After all, I’m dashing enough to pierce through the Heavens. (Author: Why are you always so lost in blind delusions? o(╯□╰)o )
Big Boss Black didn’t reply. He simply scratched Ning Xiaoyao instead. The empress’s face flushed as she murmured softly to Ning Xiaoyao, “Your Majesty, just stay with this consort tonight.”
After the roaring stopped in her head, Ning Xiaoyao finally understood. The empress still wants me to be her baby’s father!
Empress Zhou’s face flushed even redder.
Ning Xiaoyao could guess that the empress wasn’t feeling shy, but oppressed instead.
“Go to Iron Buddha Temple,” Ning Xiaoyao said as she gently pushed the empress’s hand aside. Her face adopted a stern expression as she got to her feet. “After I take care of the empress dowager, I’ll have someone deliver you back.”
Empress Zhou looked disappointed, but still she was silently relieved in her heart. Although she knew what she had to do, she wouldn’t want to even if she was dead. The pressure was almost enough to drive her mad.
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