Chapter 240: His Majesty is an exceptional case

Chapter 240: His Majesty is an exceptional case Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.

Zhou Junqi remained dazed for a while before he looked at Ning Xiaoyao again. He still had an awkward expression on his face, but at least he wasn’t looking for a crack to disappear to in the ground. If His Majesty already has someone in his heart, then my little sister doesn’t...doesn’t seem quite guilty of the most heinous crime against her husband.

Ning Xiaoyao gave a meaningful look at Lou Zigui. See? Now everyone won’t be so embarrassed when we’re together. Isn’t that good?

Lou Zigui glanced between Ning Xiaoyao’s smug face and Zhou Junqi’s relaxed mood and more or less guessed what she was saying with her eyes. Besides sighing, he couldn’t think of any other reaction to her expression.

“Say something, ah,” Ning Xiaoyao tugged at his hand. Now that she’d expressed her views on the matter, it was Supreme Commander’s turn to speak.

“Once everything’s over, you can come out of the secret chamber,” Lou Zigui told Zhou Junqi coldly. “You don’t need to worry about Esteemed Empress. His Majesty doesn’t want her life, so she can keep on living.” As for that baby… Lou Zigui’s gaze dropped as his eyes filled with ice.

“Don’t worry,” Ning Xiaoyao vouched, “Nothing will happen.”

Zhou Junqi nodded and prepared to kneel again, but Ning Xiaoyao quickly pressed a hand against his shoulder, making it impossible for him to move.

“Let’s go,” Lou Zigui pulled Ning Xiaoyao away.

Ning Xiaoyao glanced at the ground and picked up the arrow that Great Master Kumu had discarded on the ground. She peered at the insignia on the shaft and saw that it was from the capital’s barracks. Ning Xiaoyao sucked in a breath. Supreme Commander’s team has really given it their all to frame them, ah.

“Is there anything else you want to say?” Lou Zigui asked as he took the arrow from Ning Xiaoyao’s hand.

“Nothing,” Ning Xiaoyao glanced at the missing limb on Zhou Junqi’s left side and scratched her palms. She resolved to take care of General Zhou’s arm when everything was over. If she really wanted to recover the entire limb, she’d probably have to use all her powers and then faint from exhaustion. Now wasn’t the time and place for knocking out.

Lou Zigui pulled Ning Xiaoyao out of the secret chamber.

“Goodbye!” Ning Xiaoyao waved one last time at Eldest Young Master Zhou.

Only after they had left did Zhou Junqi remembered that he forgot to send off the emperor with a formal bow. He got off the bed and walked to the foot of the stone steps before standing there blankly. Even now, he still couldn’t quite believe the good luck that had befallen him and his sister. His Majesty’s really going to let us off just like that?

Lou Zigui brought Ning Xiaoyao out of the room and glanced at Great Master Kumu, who was standing by the entrance. “Great Master, we’ll have to trouble you to take care of Zhou Junqi. If the Grand Preceptor comes asking, just say that we took him with us.”

Great Master Kumu replied, “Supreme Commander, the soldiers of the military barracks have surrounded the temple. With so many eyes watching, I’m afraid the Grand Preceptor won’t believe me if I said you took Zhou Junqi away.”

“You’ve stopped calling him ‘Zhuo Xing,” Lou Zigui remarked with a chuckle.

“Amitabha,” Great Master Kumu replied. “Eldest Young Master Zhou has no fate with the Buddhist path in this lifetime. This humble monk only gave him a Dharma name of Zhuo Xing in the past as a makeshift measure.”

“Great Master, I think you’re pretty venomous,” Ning Xiaoyao remarked. “You named General Zhou ‘Zhuo Xing’ after he lost an arm? Doesn’t Zhou Xing mean someone who has trouble moving?[1. Zhuo Xing (拙行) - Zhuo means “clumsy, awkward, dull,” Xing means “behavior, conduct, to move/walk/travel.”] When you hit people, you shouldn’t aim for the face. But Great Master, you’ve soundly face-slapped Eldest Young Master Zhou.”

“........” said Great Master Kumu. It feels like it’s impossible for His Majesty and I to speak properly.

“You don’t have any hair yourself, so why look down on someone else for missing an arm?” Ning Xiaoyao added.

Great Master Kumu still found himself speechless. What does having no hair have to do with having no arm?

“You two little kids…” Ning Xiaoyao wanted to lecture the two younger monks too, but Lou Zigui simply pulled him away. If they kept talking here, Great Master Kumu might defect to Xie Wenyuan’s side instead. Miss Ning’s words really were unpleasant to the ear and a sound slap to the face.

“Does the temple have any carriages?” Lou Zigui asked Great Master Kumu, who had to send them off despite being denounced today. Great Master Kumu could read Lou Zigui’s intentions. With a carriage in tow, they could claim that Zhou Junqi was riding in it when people came looking for him. He had his two young disciples go prepare one while he followed behind Lou Zigui and Ning Xiaoyao.

“Do we need to return it?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.

It took Great Master Kumu a while before he realized that His Majesty was asking about the carriage.

“If we do, I’ll help raise the horses for you a few days. Great Master, you’ll have to pay me the cost of their fodder,” Ning Xiaoyao said seriously. “Keeping horses takes a lot of money.”

Great Master Kumu simply wanted to stop speaking to Ning Xiaoyao altogether now. Despite being a monk for all these years, this was the first time he’d ever met someone like Ning Xiaoyao. As the emperor, didn’t he feel embarrassed haggling with others over horse feed money?

“Great Master, give me an answer,” Ning Xiaoyao pressed. Lou Zigui tactfully kept silent, because anyone who drive Miss Ning towards bankruptcy was her mortal enemy!

“The carriage is a tribute gift to Your Majesty from the temple.” No matter what Great Master Kumu was thinking, he maintained his image as a virtuous monk. By tribute gift, he meant to say that he’d give the carriage, horses and all, to Ning Xiaoyao.

She found him far more pleasing to the eye now, and said, “Alright. Great Master, is there anything else you don’t need? If you don’t want it, I’ll have it.”

Great Master Kumu managed to eek out, “This humble monk doesn’t know if anything else from Iron Buddha Temple caught Your Majesty’s eye?”

“Urk,” said Ning Xiaoyao. “I think your rooms are pretty big.” During the wintertime, they can be let out to refugees, she mentally calculated in her head.

Great Master Kumu felt on the verge of his breaking point. His Majesty wants to take over the entire Iron Buddha Temple?!

“No good? Then forget it,” Ning Xiaoyao said after surveying his expression. She sniffed and added, “It’s not like you can give me any Buddha statues, either, hah.”

“Amitabha,” Great Master Kumu chanted again, before asking, “Your Majesty wants to take a Buddha statue back to the palace?”

“Ah?” Ning Xiaoyao replied. “From what I’ve seen, your statues here are either made of gold or silver. Even the lesser ones are crafted from bronze. You can sell them for quite a bit of money, oh~”

Great Master Kumu stared at Ning Xiaoyao. Has there ever been anyone who sells such statues for money? Here was his first such specimen.

“Alright, looks like you don’t want to do that either,” Ning Xiaoyao shook her head. “Then fine. Goodbye, Great Master.”

Great Master Kumu felt liberated by those words. At last, this wastrel is leaving!

--

“Brother Deng, sit on the carriage,” Ning Xiaoyao stuck out her head to call for Deng Rong by the gates. Deng Rong took the reins from Lou Zigui’s hands and took charge of driving the ride. Meanwhile, Lou Zigui climbed onto Little Red while holding onto the reins of Deng Rong’s battle horse to lead the way up front.

“You’ve worked hard,” Ning Xiaoyao said to Chen Lu as she perched on the carriage window. “If you keep working like this, you might as well find the Grand Preceptor directly for your salary.”

Chen Lu didn’t speak.

“I had the Lord Protector go to the military barracks,” Ning Xiaoyao added. “You already know, right, General Chen?”

Chen Lu quickly bowed. “Yes, this subject already knows.”

“I was forced to a point of no return too,” Ning Xiaoyao added. “You’re so busy working for the Grand Preceptor that I had to trouble the Lord Protector to work for me.”

Chen Lu’s lips moved, but no words came out.

“Just wait for the Grand Preceptor’s orders,” Ning Xiaoyao went on. “Fortunately, it’s cool in the mountains during the summer. You can just spend the entire season here.”

“Go,” Lou Zigui told Deng Rong before riding on ahead. Ning Xiaoyao pointed at Chen Lu with her finger.

Chen Lu bowed and said, “This subject respectfully sends off Your Majesty.”

“Forget about that,” Ning Xiaoyao replied. What ‘respectfully sending off?’ He’d probably rather wish I was dead.

Chen Lu waited until the trio were out of sight before raising his head again. All of the soldiers could see that his expression looked awful, so none of them said a word.

“Go report to the Grand Preceptor,” Chen Lu ordered one of his guards after a beat. “Just say that His Majesty and Lou Zigui have come to Iron Buddha Temple and left with one of the temple’s carriages.”

The guard obeyed and ran off on horseback with the report. Chen Lu looked left and right, causing all of his troops to scatter in fear. Only his deputy general Chen Fang scooted closer and whispered, “Big bro, His Majesty’s just left, ah. Wouldn’t he find out if we send out messenger now?”

Chen Lu simply waved a hand at him. “I have no other choice now.” He had helped the Grand Preceptor against His Majesty so many times that it was now a path of no return.

--

“Are we supporting the Grand Preceptor?”

Inside Iron Buddha Temple, a few of the head monks approached Great Master Kumu with the question.

Great Master Kumu chanted another Amitabha before he shook his head. “It’s better if monks don’t ask after worldly affairs.” He could tell at a glance at Ning Yu wasn’t someone who believed in Buddha. Otherwise, he’d never say things like selling the statues for money. Generations of Yongning emperors had worshipped Buddha, but now there was an exception. Great Master Kumu muttered ‘an exception’ under his breath multiple times before heading back to the underground chamber. Ning Yu had left Zhou Junqi in his hands. By that logic, he’ll have to hand him over perfectly healthy when Ning Yu summoned the man in the future.

Currently, the ‘exceptional case’ Ning Xiaoyao was sitting in the carriage and stroking Big Boss Black’s fur while tossing sugar beans into her mouth. She was still wondering whether the empress had formed her alliance with the empress dowager yet.

Big Boss Black felt so comfortable from her stroking that he shut his eyes and started to purr.

“Black Tubby,” Ning Xiaoyao said, “How do you think the empress dowager will curse me, ah?”

“The empress dowager will definitely say that you deserve an unnatural death,” Big Boss Black replied.

“Do you have to be so savage?”

“Then make it ‘you deserve to die young so you can reincarnate quicker.’”

Ning Xiaoyao turned over until she was lying on her belly to face Big Boss Black. “Where did you learn these things from? Do you cats curse each other the same way when you’re cussing each other out?”

“We just use our claws. We never stop to argue,” Big Boss Black replied. “This is how Jiao Jiao’s mistress denounces those little demonesses.”

“Little demonesses?”

“The concubines at the estate,” Big Boss Black exposed his stomach so that Ning Xiaoyao could scratch there too. Ning Xiaoyao indulged him as she mused over learning a random bit of trivia from the Ministry of Works’ household. These are domestic power struggles, ah.

“Stop worrying about how the empress dowager will curse you,” Big Boss Black now turned over to sprawl by Ning Xiaoyao’s head. “You’ll be sad if you know, meow.”

Ning Xiaoyao sighed. She wasn’t sad, but anyone would feel rotten if they had to go back to the palace and wait to get stabbed.


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