Chapter 243: His Majesty says, that's how human nature works Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Ning Xiaoyao wanted to see how Shadowgale would try to take Empress Zhou back to her palace. According to the rules of etiquette between men and women in this world, her Windy wasn’t even supposed to touch the empress with his hand. But as soon as she started to stir, Lou Zigui’s hands tightened around her as he muttered in her ear, “Don’t move!”
Ning Xiaoyao blinked at him.
Lou Zigui half choked before he managed to say, “Don’t move. I’ll carry you back. Let me, let me hold you for awhile so---so don’t you move.” His hands gripped Ning Xiaoyao like pincers as he rambled on incoherently until she felt pain from his pinch.
“It hurts,” Ning Xiaoyao whispered. Don’t you strangle me half dead after I’ve survived the empress, Supreme Commander.
Lou Zigui’s grip eased up a bit, but he still didn’t stop muttering by Ning Xiaoyao’s ear. “Don’t move, don’t you move…”
Ning Xiaoyao could only allow him to princess carry her all the way out. She was feeling quite puzzled---didn’t they say they’d only be acting? What was wrong with Supreme Commander Lou now? Had he lost himself in his role?
When they finally reached the door to Ning Xiaoyao’s bedroom, Lou Zigui kicked it open with his foot and headed straight for its inner chambers. Imperial Physician Gao huffed and puffed behind them with his medical chest on his back. When he saw Lou Zigui stride into the inner chambers, he froze in shock, too afraid to go any further. Supreme Commander’s face is far too terrifying right now. (TOT)
Lou Zigui set Ning Xiaoyao lightly on the bed before staring unblinkingly at her face. Then his eyes moved to the wound by the side of her neck.
“Supreme Commander, I’m fine now.”
“Don’t move! Let me take a look,” Lou Zigui held down Ning Xiaoyao before she could turn over.
Look as you like, Ning Xiaoyao laid still.
Most of the stab wound had already healed over, but the patches of blood over and around the wound still made Lou Zigui’s breath catch in his throat. It was a long time before he asked, “Does it hurt?”
Ning Xiaoyao looked at Lou Zigui and felt like if she said it did, he might end up crying. So she shook her head and declared resolutely, “It doesn’t hurt.”
“That bi**h,” Lou Zigui cursed.
“.....” said Ning Xiaoyao. Although it was bad to curse others, she really wanted to curse the empress too! Did she have to treat me like this!?
Lou Zigui’s fingers felt Ning Xiaoyao’s neck, where the site of the wound was still seeping blood slightly. He’d seen his share of things from the battlefield, but Ning Xiaoyao’s blood being spilled made his heart seize tight with pain. It felt worse than being stabbed himself. Ning Xiaoyao raised her own hand to carelessly brush against the wound.
“It’s fine, ah. Supreme Commander, don’t cry. I’m really okay.”
“I wasn’t going to cry!” Lou Zigui shot back.
Not expecting her words to set off his temper like that, Ning Xiaoyao scratched her palms and tried again. “Alright, you’re a man so you can’t cry. It’s me who wants to cry, alright? I’ll cry over the fact that I’m still alive, ah. Wahwahwah.”
“......” said Lou Zigui.
Ning Xiaoyao faked crying a bit more before she stole another peek at him. Lou Zigui was taking a deep breath as he sighed. Then he said, “How does this count as crying? There weren’t even any tears.”
Ning Xiaoyao grew incensed at his words. Does he think I’m some sort of movie queen or acting expert? “I was endowed with unique gifts when I was born,” Ning Xiaoyao said with a roll of her eyes. “So I naturally have no tears. I don’t even care about that, but do you, Supreme Commander?”
How was Supreme Commander supposed to follow up with that?
“Although I’m not a man, but I’ve always bled more than I’ve cried,” Ning Xiaoyao added.
Hearing Miss Ning ramble on like usual slowly calmed Lou Zigui down. If she can still prattle on about nonsense, then that proves that she’s alright. (Author: Hey hey, Supreme Commander! You can’t be like that!)
“What do we do next?” Ning Xiaoyao asked. “Do I have to keep pretending to play dead while you stop up the bullets from the front lines, Supreme Commander?”
Lou Zigui had never heard of ‘stop up the bullets,’ but he could understand what she meant. He stroked her hair and said, “Rest well. You have me here to take care of palace matters.”
“So we’ll just leave the empress in the palace?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
Lou Zigui’s face instantly fell at the mention of that woman.
“It’s fine, don’t get angry,” Ning Xiaoyao said hastily. “Don’t you start gnashing your teeth as soon as you hear about the empress, ah.”
“We’ll just have her stay at the palace,” Lou Zigui said. “It’s not appropriate to send her away after you’ve met with trouble.”
“Mm, okay,” Ning Xiaoyao nodded.
“They’ll start searching for the ‘assassin’ within the palace,” Lou Zigui added. “I’m preparing to have Shadowgale and the rest capture the killer at the empress dowager’s palace.”
“What?” Ning Xiaoyao’s eyes widened. “You’re just going to make up an assassin out of thin air? Supreme Commander, who are you going to make into the unlucky scapegoat?”
Lou Zigui’s hands brushed lightly across Ning Xiaoyao’s hair. “There are eunuchs in the empress dowager’s palace who know martial arts. Any one of them will do for the assassin.”
“That’s not very good, is it?” Ning Xiaoyao said. “Suppose they have proof that they weren’t at the scene of the crime? Moreover, they’re not all bad guys just because they follow the empress dowager, right?”
“Then I’ll have all the eunuchs who know martial arts at the empress dowager’s palace captured instead,” Lou Zigui said. “I won’t cause trouble for these people. I just want to chop off the empress dowager’s hands and feet.”
Ning Xiaoyao knew that Lou Zigui meant it in a figurative sense, but she still gave a shiver as she asked carefully, “You still think the empress dowager is the most hateful one of all?”
Lou Zigui’s voice was cold. “I won’t forget about née Zhou, either.”
Née Zhou? I see, Supreme Commander Lou’s not even referring to her as empress anymore. Ning Xiaoyao sighed. “The empress is still pregnant, so you should go torment the empress dowager instead, Supreme Commander. For the sake of Ning Xin, the empress dowager will try all ways to stay alive, so you can bother her as you like.”
Lou Zigui’s hand on Ning Xiaoyao’s head stopped. “I won’t torment her. The empress…” He suddenly stopped.
“What did you want to say?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
“I heard the imperial physicians say that her baby wasn’t doing too well.”
“Not just doing unwell,” Ning Xiaoyao pursed her lips, “But extremely unwell. Still, everything’s fine now. With me here, nothing will happen to her baby!” Ning Xiaoyao said, looking somewhat smug.
Supreme Commander Lou fell silent at that.
“Hm?” Ning Xiaoyao asked. “Why aren’t you saying anything?”
Lou Zigui broke into a chuckle as he gazed warmly at her. “That woman née Zhou wanted to kill you, but you still saved her child?”
Ning Xiaoyao blinked. “Isn’t this all a play? You can’t take everything in it as reality, right?”
“We might be playacting, but the empress was still behaving in earnest,” Lou Zigui said.
Ning Xiaoyao fell silent for awhile. Without acting things out, she never would have known how brutal the empress could actually be. “Maybe the empress will stop acting this way once we’ve explained everything to her.” She considered it carefully before remarking, “It felt like she, her brother, and her true love would all die unless she killed me off. If the empress hadn’t tried to murder me, she wouldn’t have been able to face them.”
“Stop talking about killing like that,” Lou Zigui placed his hand over Ning Xiaoyao’s mouth.
Ning Xiaoyao shifted his hand aside and held it in her own. “I’ve thought this through, so I’m just explaining Empress Zhou’s point of view now.”
Lou Zigui held onto his patience as he said, “Do you have to keep talking about née Zhou with me?”
“Compared to her elder brother and her true love, I’m someone she can throw away,” Ning Xiaoyao said as she looked at Lou Zigui. “So the empress decided to kill me without mercy to prevent the slightest possibility of my survival.”
After bleeding and being hurt, Ning Xiaoyao had suddenly understood the empress’s intentions. The empress wasn’t a very complicated woman at all. This was similar to fighting zombies in the apocalypse, because there were always people you could afford to keep or sacrifice in your group. In the empress’s eyes, Zhou Junqi was her own brother while Xu Feiyu was her beloved. What did Ning Xiaoyao count for? She was definitely a disposable element.
“You,” Lou Zigui’s heart seized up again to hear Ning Xiaoyao talk about being ‘thrown away’ so casually.
“It’s liking comparing a day when only I or Lou Nan could live,” Ning Xiaoyao rubbed her nose and continued explaining. “If you could only pick between one of us, Supreme Commander, who would you choose?”
Lou Zigui couldn’t immediately answer the question.
“See that?” Ning Xiaoyao spread out her arms. “So you shouldn’t be mad at the empress. That’s just how human nature works.”
Lou Zigui fell silent again.
Ning Xiaoyao stared at the canopy of her bed and wonder if she should eat a few sugar beans to recover from her shock. She’d lost quite a bit of blood today. Lou Zigui rose to his feet to sit by the edge of her bed, staring at Ning Xiaoyao for awhile. Finally, he bent down and took her into his arms, his voice somewhat hoarse. “Nothing like that will ever happen.”
“You mean choosing between me and Lou Nan?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
“Mm,” Lou Zigui said. “That will never happen. I’ll be sure to protect both of you.”
“Hahah,” Ning Xiaoyao grew amused. “I was only speculating, ah. Who could ever hurt me?” The empress had both poisoned and stabbed her without success. Who could ever hold the skills to kill her?
“I’ve said it before, this will be the last time,” Lou Zigui shot back. “Xiaoyao, I promise you, this is the very last time something like this happens.”
Ning Xiaoyao could sense that Lou Zigui’s mood was shifting again, so she patted his back. “Mhm, I remember that. We said that there’d be no more than three times.”
Lou Zigui held her tighter before lowering his head to kiss the injury on her neck. Ning Xiaoyao felt a little ticklish from that and said, “Hey! My body’s covered in blood, you know. Supreme Commander, let me go first. I’ll change into another set of clothes.”
“Have a bath,” Lou Zigui suggested instead.
“That works too,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “But only if you let me go first.”
“Is there any water in the rooms?” Lou Zigui asked.
“None, ah,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “I can go wash up in the pond in the gardens.”
Go wash up in broad daylight out there? Lou Zigui let go of Ning Xiaoyao and sat bolt upright to stare at her, incredulous.
“Would anyone be in the mood to spy on me bathing now?” Ning Xiaoyao asked him in surprise. No way, right?
“I’ll go fetch some water for you instead,” Lou Zigui stood up, suddenly feeling very hot.
Ning Xiaoyao scratched her palms before blurting out, “Hold on, something’s not right. Supreme Commander, if you’re going to deal with the empress dowager, wouldn’t she be expecting you already if she planned this ahead of time?”
Lou Zigui bent down to look at her again. “The empress dowager only planned for the empress to hurt you so you could be controlled, not kill you outright.”
Ning Xiaoyao blinked, “And so?”
“The empress dowager gave the empress a slow-acting poison, its effects won’t become apparent immediately,” Lou Zigui explained. “She did that to buy time for the empress to escape from blame.”
“Whaa?” Ning Xiaoyao was shocked. “So after the empress dowager and empress teamed up, they became friends who looked out for each other too?”
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