Chapter 242: Toxic syrup, venomous dagger Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Three days later, Ning Xiaoyao didn’t go to the empress’s palace, but did as Lou Zigui instructed and invited her to Supreme Splendor Hall instead. Empress Zhou came bearing a covered tray which she gently set in front of Ning Xiaoyao. In a small voice, she said, “This is syrup soup personally prepared by this consort. I put in yacon, lilum, tremella, and wolfberries. Your Majesty, have a taste.”
Ning Xiaoyao immediately felt depressed. Why is she using the same tactics again? Last time it was sweet soup, this time it’s syrup soup---both of them were drugged!
Empress Zhou backed away from the table a few steps before she smiled. “This consort thanks Your Majesty for letting me go to Iron Buddha Temple. This consort’s brother has been living rather well, so this consort’s heart is at peace now.”
“Mm,” Ning Xiaoyao could only nod. “Since your brother’s alright, I can stop worrying as well.”
Empress Zhou hesitated before circling around the table to stand by Ning Xiaoyao’s side. She uncovered the tray and took out the bowl of syrup soup. It was in a jade lotus-shaped bowl, so the contrast of white soup against pale green was quite pretty.
Two possible pictures of the lotus-themed jade bowl.
Empress Zhou said, “This consort went to see the empress dowager on the day I returned to the palace.”
“Oh,” Ning Xiaoyao replied. “What did she say to you?”
“Only a few domestic trivialities,” Empress Zhou replied simply.
“The empress dowager didn’t make any trouble for you?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
The empress smiled and shook her head. “This consort is Your Majesty’s empress. Who in the world would dare to make trouble for this consort?”
Ning Xiaoyao’s mouth twitched as she listened. She hadn’t been sure whether the empress could keep up an act, but now she found herself slipping out of character. If we keep pretending like that, I’ll want to throw up! This isn’t how you playact a loving husband and wife!
“I heard that Your Majesty likes to eat egg yolk guoba?” the empress asked next.
Ning Xiaoyao felt that she’d pretended enough by now. It’d be easier to just drink the poison now before the empress ruined egg yolk guoba for her forever. Life was hard enough!
“This consort will learn how to make them. Whatever Your Majesty likes, this consort will learn to make,” the empress added with a small smile.
Ning Xiaoyao circulated her breathing as she prepared to polish off the bowl of drugged syrup soup. But Empress Zhou suddenly rested her hand over Ning Xiaoyao’s and murmured in a soft voice, “Your Majesty.”
Ning Xiaoyao gave a start before looking up at the empress. What’s wrong with this girl’s baby? It was growing into a perfectly healthy fetus, but now it’s about to miscarry after taking a single trip out of the palace?
Empress Zhou felt antsy from Ning Xiaoyao’s gaze as her smile turned strained. She rubbed her face and asked, “Why is Your Majesty looking at this consort like that?”
If you lose your baby, will you give rise to a rebellion? Ning Xiaoyao creased her brows at the empress, making her even more flustered.
Has His Majesty noticed something wrong with the soup?
Ning Xiaoyao’s eyes dropped to the empress’s hands, which were resting on her shoulder, before grabbing one with her own. The sudden movement seemed to burn Empress Zhou, who instinctively tried to draw back. Ning Xiaoyao released the empress before briefly pressing her fingers against the woman’s stomach and sending a few balls of pale green light streaming into her womb.
The empress wanted to cry out after Ning Xiaoyao touched her stomach, but she next felt a warm current moving within her womb, finally easing some of the discomfort she’d been feeling over the past few days.
Someone wants to hurt the empress’s child! When Ning Xiaoyao thought of this, she raised the jade-lotus bowl and downed all the contents of the syrup soup. The empress opened and closed her mouth, feeling a twinge of reluctance as her expression flashed guiltily. But soon it was replaced with a ruthless look. Ning Xiaoyao set down the bowl and smacked her lips. Actually, this syrup soup really does taste pretty good. It’s very sweet, but it has a faint astringent note from the lilies that perfectly pairs with the little squares of yacon. If the empress really made this by herself, then she’s got pretty good cooking skills.
“Your Majesty?” Empress Zhou called out.
You’ve got to make it realistic when you’re acting. Thus, Ning Xiaoyao hadn’t started self-healing as soon as she downed the soup. Now she looked up at the empress and said, “Hm?”
Empress Zhou asked, “How does Your Majesty feel about the flavor of this syrup soup?”
“It’s very…” Ning Xiaoyao felt stabbing pain as soon as she spoke before she felt liquid rising up her throat. She opened her mouth to spit out a mouthful of blood on the table. Empress Zhou backed away a few steps, her lips pursed shut.
“You,” Ning Xiaoyao wanted to speak, but couldn’t form any words between heaving up more mouthfuls of blood. Soon enough, she’d stained the entire table and half the bowl red. Ning Xiaoyao then sprawled on the table and played dead. The empress definitely didn’t put the empress dowager’s Lostsoul Pill into that soup. This is something much more fatal. Really, she isn’t showing me any mercy at all.
“Your Majesty?” Empress Zhou tried when she saw that Ning Xiaoyao had stopped moving.
Ning Xiaoyao pretended she was an animal offered up for sacrifice while she quietly healed the poison. Empress Zhou called out a few more times before determining to approach her. She pushed Ning Xiaoyao slightly and asked, “Your Majesty?”
You’ve already acted enough, aren’t you leaving yet? Ning Xiaoyao thought.
Empress Zhou shot a glance at the closed doors before looking down at the “dead” Ning Xiaoyao. Then she suddenly screamed in alarm, “Who are you?!”
Ning Xiaoyao almost leapt out of her seat. What’s going on now!?
“Your Majesty!” Empress Zhou shrieked before stabbing the dagger in her hands towards Ning Xiaoyao’s neck. The blade coated in poison sliced across Ning Xiaoyao’s skin before Empress Zhou turned her wrist to twist the blade into her neck, forming a gaping hole. Blood poured from the wound, dying half of Ning Xiaoyao’s robes a bright red.
At the same time, footsteps sounded from outside the room. The empress sobbed and cried out for ‘Your Majesty’ as she moved to stem the blood flowing from Ning Xiaoyao’s neck.
If Ning Xiaoyao wasn’t playing dead right now, she would’ve hauled the empress by her collar and demanded, ‘Poison’s already enough, but you have to stab my neck too? Just how much of a grudge do you have against me now?!’
The first one to kick open the doors was Shadowgale, while the first one to enter the room was Lou Zigui. Supreme Commander Lou’s first sight of the room Ning Xiaoyao soaking in a pool of her own blood on the scarlet-dyed table. All sound and sight disappeared from his mind except that single figure lying prone. He rushed to Ning Xiaoyao’s side without sparing the empress a single glance except to shove her out of the way. Once her hand was knocked aside, the stab wound on Ning Xiaoyao’s neck began to gush with fresh blood.
“Assassin! There was an assassin!” Empress Zhou fall back onto the ground. Her robes were stained with blood as she pointed a finger at the windows to the left. Lou Zigui pressed his hand tightly against Ning Xiaoyao’s injury, his face expressionless. But he was already having trouble breathing at the sight. It seemed like no matter what he did, he just couldn’t get enough air into his lungs.
“Hurry and catch the assassin!” Empress Zhou cried shrilly at the Dragon Guards. Yet, all they did was circle her on all sides with cold eyes.
“Xiao, Xiaoyao?” Lou Zigui half knelt on the ground, cradling Ning Xiaoyao in his arms as he whispered into her ear.
“I-Imperial,” Shadowgale shouted towards the doors, “Imperial physician!”
Imperial Physician Gao rushed into the room with his medical chest on his back, before being stunned by the bloody scene before him. He stood rooted to the spot, at a loss for what to do. Shadowgale lost all strength and sank to his knees in front of Ning Xiaoyao. This time, he was really kneeling in disbelief. Lou Zigui stared fixedly at the girl as his body began to tremble.
Then, Ning Xiaoyao stuck out her tongue until it was lolling out of her mouth like a dead animal. We already discussed this. I’m supposed to play dead while you and Windy mourn my loss, Supreme Commander. Don’t just leave me acting by myself! If our cover gets blown, I would’ve bled all over the place for nothing!
Lou Zigui sucked in a breath at the same time Shadowgale reacted to choke out in half-sobs, “Your Majesty!”
Seeing him, Imperial Physician Gao took his cue and stammered in a shaking voice, “His Majesty has…”
“Shut up!” Lou Zigui rebuked him sternly, joining in on the act. “Hurry and treat His Majesty’s injury!”
Imperial Physician Gao all but threw himself at his medical chest before busying himself with its contents and Ning Xiaoyao’s injury.
“Escort Esteemed Empress back to her palace,” Lou Zigui ordered with a cold look at Empress Zhou.
The empress sat unmoving on the ground, unable to get up.
“Shadowgale,” Lou Zigui shouted.
Shadowgale was still kneeling, so he slowly picked himself up and walked over to the empress. With an icy tone, he said, “This servant asks that Esteemed Empress go back to the empress’s palace.”
The empress still couldn’t get up. Just then, she had killed the emperor with her own hands, but now she didn’t even have the strength to stand.
Lou Zigui took off his outer robes and draped them over Ning Xiaoyao before picking her up in his arms. Then he headed for the doors with large strides.
“How is His Majesty doing?!” Empress Zhou cried after him.
Lou Zigui neither paused nor looked back, instead walked straight out of the room.
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