Chapter 196: What Supreme Commander Lou hates the most Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
As their group of people entered the palace, they didn’t see any sign of Elder Li by the gates. Lou Zigui’s heart grew flustered from the fact. Judging by the time, Elder Li would’ve shown up there by now if he really wanted an audience with Miss Ning. Meanwhile, Ning Xiaoyao surveyed every man standing by the palace gates without seeing the white-haired, white-bearded Elder Li. She gave a long exhalation in relief.
Ah geez, the old gramps didn’t come! She was so happy that she began to sway her head and sing a song instead. When Lou Zigui saw that Miss Ning wasn’t shouting at him for tricking her again and actually seemed pretty happy, he then began to listen closely to her lyrics.
♪ The giant saber hacks towards the zombie’s headElder Li never showed up yah~Yah, wow, hey! ♬
“......” said Lou Zigui.
“Oh, that’s right,” Ning Xiaoyao said next, “Supreme Commander, what should we eat for lunch? Rice? Or maybe noodles?”
“.....” said Lou Zigui. You’ve been snacking nonstop on that street, but you’re still hungry?!
“Let’s eat noodles,” Ning Xiaoyao nodded and answered her own question. “We had rice yesterday.”
Lou Zigui didn’t bother to remind the girl that she had only just polished off a bowl of beef noodles recently. He was afraid that she’d remember the egg yolk guoba as soon as he mentioned the street full of eats, then recall how he’d tricked her about Elder Li.
Once she was back in the palace, Ning Xiaoyao dove off into the little kitchens to wait for the chef to make her a bowl of noodles. Soon enough, Shadowgale found his way there and made a request. “Your Majesty, this servant wants to take a trip outside the palace.”
Ning Xiaoyao was currently drinking a glass of water, but she stopped as soon as she heard him speak. She carefully surveyed his face and asked, “That there, are you going to visit you know who?”
Ning Xiaoyao didn’t say her name, but Shadowgale still knew who she meant. He shook his head and spoke plainly, “Your Majesty, fifth young Miss has already become a nun and severed her bonds with the secular world. This servant and fifth young Miss…”
“Nothing will ever happen between you two?” Ning Xiaoyao finished for him.
“Yes,” Shadowgale replied quietly.
“These are matters regarding one’s feelings. Windy, you do what you think is best,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “If you’re having any troubles, just tell me. I’ll definitely come help.”
Shadowgale’s head hung, making it impossible for Ning Xiaoyao to see his current expression. “Alright, you can leave the palace,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “Just make sure to be careful. If anyone tries to hurt you Windy, slice ‘em.”
Shadowgale smiled at Ning Xiaoyao after those words and bowed. “This servant accepts the decree.”
Ning Xiaoyao watched Shadowgale walk out the door before commenting to Chef Huang, who was busying himself at the counter, “Our Windy is such a good chap.”
The 200 some pound, 1.9m (6 feet 2 inches) tall Chef Huang nodded his head. “Your Majesty is right on that, the Head Commander is a good man with good looks.”
Ning Xiaoyao sighed dramatically. “He only has troubles in the love department. Even though there are beauties all over the palace, he still has trouble with romance!” This isn’t scientific at all!
Chef Huang’s hands shook so hard he dropped the extra long chopsticks he’d been using to cook the noodles. All of the women in the palace belong to You Majesty. Do you really want Shadowgale to act promiscuously at court?
Meanwhile, a general from the Black Frost Cavalry entered Lou Zigui’s rooms and bowed, before reporting, “Supreme Commander, the Zhou mama by esteemed empress’s side arrived at the palace two hours ago to ask for an audience with His Majesty. The imperial guards chased her away, but she still came back claiming she had verbal instructions that allows her to see His Majesty directly.”
Lou Zigui set down the teacup in his hands and glanced over at his general, who continued, “Did this mama see His Majesty in the streets and knew His Majesty returned to the palace?”
“Iron Buddha Temple’s already been surrounded by the capital’s soldiers,” Lou Zigui muttered. “But that mama was still able to slip away.”
“She was dressed in servant’s clothing,” the general replied. “Maybe she ran out under a disguise?”
“Xie Wenyuan should have given orders to not let anyone through,” Lou Zigui tapped thoughtfully on the table. “Why would he let her escape?”
“Then,” the general suggested, “She bribed her way out with money?”
“Whatever the case may be,” Lou Zigui replied, “Expose her whereabouts to the empress dowager.”
The general’s eyes flew open at those words. The empress had left the palace all to escape Empress Dowager Xie, but now they were telling that woman that Zhou mama had arrived? Does Supreme Commander what that mama dead?
“Still not going?” Lou Zigui asked. The general hastily cupped his fists to accept the order and strode off. Lou Zigui watched the man leave before drinking another mouthful of tea. As the liquid ran down his throat, he experienced a bitter taste that soon morphed into sweetness. Despite the fresh fragrance of tea on his tongue, he was still creasing his brows. Empress Dowager Xie only wants to use the empress as a way to hurt Ning Xiaoyao. But if I do this, I’m simply pushing Empress Dowager Xie to hurt Miss Ning myself. Every time there’s danger, Ning Xiaoyao changes bad luck to good fortune. It’ll probably go the same way this time, right? Moreover, Empress Dowager Xie won’t be able to take Xiaoyao’s life before Ning Xin comes of age. Lou Zigui made some quick calculations in his head. As long as the situation isn’t life-threatening, I’m willing to take a risk.
The next thing he knew, Ning Xiaoyao soundly pushed open his door and poked her head in with a cheeky grin. “Supreme Commander, do you want to eat noodles? Chef Huang makes delicious ones.”
Lou Zigui’s forehead smoothed out as he smiled and rose to his feet. When he reached the door, he patted and smoothed out Ning Xiaoyao’s messy bun again. “If I eat them, won’t you have one less bowl for yourself?”
Ning Xiaoyao blinked. “There’s plenty of noodles, so I won’t lack for any.”
Lou Zigui walked out of his room and asked, “Then what if there’s only one bowl?”
Would things ever get that bad? Ning Xiaoyao’s expression turned pained just from imagining it. “Then I’ll cut wood to earn us money,” she said sincerely, “So we’ll never be reduced to those circumstances!” Even if I can’t beat the story and Yongning collapses, I’ll never allow such a tragic thing to happen.
Lou Zigui only felt dumbfounded. How did we get to woodcutting from noodles? What kind of logic is this? (Author: It’s expected that you can’t make heads or tails of it. The two of you are always on different wavelengths. (￢_￢))
“So are you eating any noodles or not?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
“Let’s go,” Lou Zigui walked down the covered walkway. It was best to drop the topic---or rather, he’d probably get a headache if he left Ning Xiaoyao to ramble for too long.
Meanwhile, news of Zhou mama’s request to seek His Majesty spread out from Supreme Splendor Hall and into the ears of the empress dowager’s extensive spies in the palace, from there to the empress dowager’s own palace.
“The Grand Preceptor had sent troops to surround Iron Buddha Temple. Zhou mama must have come back to beg for His Majesty to rescue them,” a few mama behind Empress Dowager Xie immediately connected the dots.
Empress Dowager Xie waved to dismiss the servant who’d reported the news and looked at her own mama. “Then why isn’t His Majesty meeting with her?”
“His Majesty’s only just returned to the palace,” a mama guessed. “Perhaps he doesn’t know that Zhou mama wanted to see him?”
“His Majesty is currently busying himself with the Grand Preceptor’s…” another mama trailed off, too afraid to continue. Empress Dowager Xie’s grew gloomy as her sharp nail sheaths scratched against her armrest. The scraping noise made the mama around her tremble. It was at that moment that a eunuch came to report everything that had happened at the Grand Preceptor’s estate this morning.
When she finished listening to the tale, Empress Dowager Xie felt lightheaded. The mama were worried that she’d faint away again, but she abruptly slapped her armrest and raged, “Hogwash! Why was she fighting against His Majesty?!”
All of the mama could easily guess who she was talking about, but stood silent with bowed heads. They secretly agreed with the empress dowager’s views. If even the empress dowager and Grand Preceptor combined couldn’t best the likes of His Majesty, why would the Grand Preceptor’s wife fare any better? Now all of the Xie Clan’s daughters would see difficult days ahead.
“Tell the Grand Preceptor’s people that This Dowager knows,” Empress Dowager Xie instructed the eunuch, who assented and waited, kneeling, for his next orders.
“What are you still standing around for?” Empress Dowager Xie asked. “Waiting for me to confer a reward?” After she saw that Grand Preceptor Xie was someone who could fully abandon her for the sake of glory and rank, she had found fewer and fewer reasons to speak with him anymore.
The eunuch quickly beat the retreat.
“Go capture Zhou mama,” Empress Dowager Xie told a mama by her side. “Interrogate her. This Dowager wants to know whether or not the empress is truly pregnant.”
The mama murmured an assent and went off to do her assigned work.
“Doesn’t Empress Dowager already know that Esteemed Empress is pregnant?” a mama by her side asked in a small voice.
“This Dowager can’t truly be at ease unless I verify those claims,” Empress Dowager Xie replied. “What if it turns out to be one of His Majesty’s schemes?” It wasn’t her first time losing to Ning Yu anymore. Although she couldn’t figure out how a pseudopregnancy from the empress could benefit Ning Yu in any way, Empress Dowager Xie still preferred to be prudent. She couldn’t let that damned girl trap her in another scheme again.
One hour later, Lou Zigui received news that two men had forcefully taken Zhou mama off of the streets.
“Supreme Commander, what should we do next?” the same general from the Black Frost Cavalry asked him.
“Wait and see, that is all for now,” Lou Zigui replied.
“Yes,” the general obeyed. If that’s what Supreme Commander says, then that’s all I can do. Still, he was worried enough about the issue to ask, “Supreme Commander, what if Zhou mama dies at the empress dowager’s hands?”
Lou Zigui’s tone was light and easy. “She’s no one but a palace mama, at most.”
The general didn’t speak up again and quietly waited.
How could anyone who helped the empress lie to Miss Ning be a good person? Zhou mama had always looked at Ning Xiaoyao with suspicion and dislike---and even hints of hatred. Lou Zigui saw her every gaze clearly. Since you treated Ning Xiaoyao as your enemy, why should I care whether you live or die? Zhou mama’s debts were kept on record in his heart.
“See if Deng Rong’s[1. Deng Rong (邓荣) - Deng is a surname, Rong means “glory, honor.”] returned yet,” Lou Zigui ordered him next. Deng Rong was the man he sent to keep watch on the Grand Preceptor's estate. Judging by the hour, it was about time he came back to report. The general accepted his new instructions and left.
“Ayeayeaye!” Ning Xiaoyao’s shouts carried through the walls then to reach Lou Zigui’s quarters. “Windy, I love you to death, ayeayeaye! Memeda~”[2. Memeda (么么哒) - modern slang used to indicate kissing noises.]
Lou Zigui furiously strode out of his room and across the courtyard until he reached its entrance. There he saw Ning Xiaoyao hugging two oilpaper packages as she skipped and jumped in front of Shadowgale.
“Egg yolk guoba!” Ning Xiaoyao had heard his footsteps and turned to smile at him so widely that her eyes turned into curved lines again. “Windy helped me buy egg yolk guoba!”
“.......” said Lou Zigui.
“Windy, thank you,” Ning Xiaoyao turned back to smile at Shadowgale again. If she hadn’t remembered how people held back from public displays of affection in this world, she would have already jumped up to kiss him. Shadowgale smiled, his face a little flush from Ning Xiaoyao’s exuberant reactions.
As for Lou Zigui, he vowed anew that he’d hate egg yolk guoba most of all for the rest of his life! o(╯□╰)o