Chapter 249: The woman who collapsed in front of His Majesty Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
“Right now all we can do is wait and leave it to fate. Esteemed Empress Dowager, you should go back,” Chef Huang braced himself to say.
Empress Dowager Xie pointed at the prone Ning Xiaoyao. “How is His Majesty’s condition now?”
Chef Huang looked at a certain emperor who was feigning death and said, “More dead.”
“.....” said Ning Xiaoyao. Chef, you should at least add on “than alive” to those words! The complete saying goes, “more dead than alive!” (Author: Are you still haggling over details like that at a time like this?! ╮(╯_╰）╭)
Empress Dowager Xie stopped trying to approach the bed. For one thing, she didn’t want to see her daughter; for another, A’Ruan was still hissing at her from the foot of the bed. She wasn’t quite brave enough to offer herself to a poisonous snake. Chef Huang stared at her unmoving form and couldn’t help but fret. Why isn’t the Empress Dowager leaving yet? I want to go back to my kitchens!
“This official will go out a bit first,” Imperial Physician Gao murmured to Lou Zigui from their position outside of the inner chambers.
Lou Zigui’s expression was flat. “What for?”
After some internal struggles, Imperial Physician Gao ended up telling the truth, “This official wants to go to the restroom.”
Hearing this, Lou Zigui turned to stare at him. Imperial Physician Gao grit his teeth in response, his cheeks tightening with tension. That’s right, I did pee my pants in fear. Are you going to slaughter me for that, Lou Zigui?
Lou Zigui didn’t understand why Imperial Physician Gao was glaring at him like a hated enemy over something as trivial as a restroom break. Just then, the door to the inner rooms open, and he turned back to see Empress Dowager Xie standing by the door with her hand gripping the frame.
“......” said Imperial Physician Gao. Now I can’t leave at all!
Empress Dowager Xie took some time to recover by the door before collecting her strength and standing upright. Then she walked towards Lou Zigui. Meanwhile, Imperial Physician Gao gradually backed away until he was hiding behind Supreme Commander Lou. Thanks to the power and influence of the empress dowager, Imperial Physician Gao still nursed a healthy fear of her.
“Do you know about His Majesty’s master?” Empress Dowager Xie asked Lou Zigui.
Lou Zigui nodded once.
“He said there’s no guarantee that His Majesty will survive past this tribulation,” Empress Dowager Xie said.
Lou Zigui remained calm. “Is that so?”
Empress Dowager Xie lost her temper at his attitude and raised her voice. “Is this all you can say to This Dowager?!”
Lou Zigui lowered his voice. “Empress Dowager, what’s the use of getting angry now?”
Empress Dowager Xie gave a start.
“His Majesty’s respected master said that there was no guarantee, but that means it’s possible for the emperor to live past this trial,” Lou Zigui replied.
Empress Dowager Xie’s meticulously plucked eyebrow arched up in response. Lou Zigui’s words make sense.
“I’ll say what I said before. As long as I’m alive, I’ll definitely get revenge for His Majesty,” Lou Zigui continued. “But please forgive this subject for being unable to do the same for Esteemed Empress Dowager and Prince Cheng.”
Empress Dowager Xie smiled coldly. She hadn’t expected this man, who was the bane of others’ existence, to pledge loyalty to her anyways.
“The Grand Preceptor’s already arrived at the palace gates,” Lou Zigui added. “I’ve ordered the imperial guards to hold him back, but he has the military barrack soldiers under his command. I’m afraid the imperial guards won’t be able to hold out long.”
“And the empress?” Empress Dowager Xie asked.
“The empress has already been surrounded,” Lou Zigui replied. “But she’s still Esteemed Empress in the end. It’ll be more appropriate for His Majesty to make the judgment call after he regains consciousness. What does Empress Dowager think?”
Empress Dowager Xie looked at Lou Zigui. “Lou Zigui, are you trying to negotiate with This Dowager? In my opinion, that née Zhou should be executed.”
Lou Zigui’s lips drew up into a rather dull smile. “That won’t do.”
Empress Dowager Xie walked past Lou Zigui. Since you’re not going to listen to me, why should I waste time talking with you at all?
Imperial Physician Gao watched her leave the room before venturing to ask Lou Zigui in a small voice, “Is Esteemed Empress Dowager going to leave just like that?”
“Your Excellency Gao, weren’t you going to the restroom?” Lou Zigui asked.
Once again, Imperial Physician Gao glared at him with gritted teeth. Do you think now is the time for me to run off to the restrooms?
Lou Zigui began to leave the room as well, but Imperial Physician Gao rushed to catch up and say, “Are we going to let Esteemed Empress Dowager just leave?”
“Esteemed Empress Dowager knows what to do,” Lou Zigui murmured back, “There’s no need for Your Excellency Gao to fret.”
Imperial Physician Gao could only titter. Do you think I want to worry about these kind of things?
Empress Dowager Xie was standing right outside as they emerged. Seeing them appear, she asked Lou Zigui, “You’re not going to see His Majesty?”
“His Majesty’s respected master didn’t allow us in,” Lou Zigui replied.
Empress Dowager Xie’s voice was cold. “I don’t care why you want to leave the empress alive. But Lou Zigui, you cannot let her out of the palace.”
“Yes,” Lou Zigui replied.
Empress Dowager Xie turned and walked down the steps, her leg still awkward from the last time she broke it. Still, she kept her back straight for the sake of winning a piece of the world for her son. Imperial Physician Gao looked with admiration at Lou Zigui. He never expected such a decent, respectable-looking man could spew blatant lies without so much as a blink.
“I’ll send off the empress dowager,” Lou Zigui said. “If you’re not going to the restroom, you can stand guard here.”
“Just who was pretending to be His Majesty’s master?” Imperial Physician Gao asked.
Lou Zigui sighed. “Chef Huang from the little kitchens.”
“What?!” Imperial Physician Gao couldn’t believe it. He’d seen Chef Huang before, and aside from looking a little fierce, the man had less courage than a mouse. How could he have the skills to trick a woman like the empress dowager?
Lou Zigui kept walking, but tossing back a parting remark. “I knew as soon as I heard his voice. Imperial Physician Gao, you couldn’t tell?”
Imperial Physician Gao remained silent. Supreme Commander Lou hadn’t looked at his face during their entire conversation. Can you stop treating me like nothing all the time? And also, what do you meant I ‘couldn’t tell?’ Why would I remember what a chef’s voice sounds like when I have nothing better to do?!
Empress Dowager Xie got onto her sedan chair by the courtyard gates and looked coldly towards Shadowgale and the rest. “If anything happens to His Majesty, none of you should think about living.”
Shadowgale and the rest were all silent. Even if we all died, His Majesty would still survive!
“You’ve captured all the people from the empress dowager’s palace,” Empress Dowager Xie looked to Lou Zigui again. “How is This Dowager and Prince Cheng supposed to live our days there now?”
Lou Zigui was neither haughty nor humble with his answer. “Empress Dowager, those people couldn’t be kept anymore. I’ll make other arrangements for servants to wait on Empress Dowager.”
“You’re taking control of inner palace affairs as well?” Empress Dowager Xie mocked him. “For the sake of His Majesty, Supreme Commander Lou has certainly spared no efforts.”
“It’s an exceptional case,” Lou Zigui maintained his tone. “May Empress Dowager forgive me.”
“Go,” Empress Dowager Xie ordered the two eunuchs in charge of carrying her seat. The pair lifted up the sedan chair and quickly strode off.
Lou Zigui told Shadowgale, “It’s fine now. All you have to do is guard well Supreme Splendor Hall.”
Shadowgale nodded before turning to withdraw. Lou Zigui headed towards the covered walkway and suddenly stopped. He swerved and beckoned towards Mute Nanny, who had been almost invisible despite standing right in the courtyard. She went to his side and bowed before furiously signing with her hands.
“His Majesty’s wounds are very serious,” Lou Zigui told her in a low voice.
Mute Nanny grew agitated at his words. But Lou Zigui just shook his head and said, “With things like this, it’s useless for us to panic now. Bring some trusted people with you to wait on Esteemed Empress Dowager in her palace.”
Mute Nanny pointed in the direction of the emperor’s palace instead. If I go, what about His Majesty?
“His Majesty’s respected master is looking after him,” Lou Zigui said, “He won’t allow any of us into the inner rooms.”
Mute Nanny already knew that His Majesty had a master. Now that he was here, she felt more reassured. His Majesty’s master was a miracle doctor and a secluded high-level expert. With him here, His Majesty was sure to be saved.
“Right now, the empress dowager can even be a shield for His Majesty,” Lou Zigui murmured. “Do your best to serve her well.”
Mute Nanny nodded.
“It’s good for you that I’m sending you over, too,” Lou Zigui added. “The empress dowager will assume that I’m seizing the chance to send away the agent she’s planted by His Majesty’s side. This will ensure that she doesn’t suspect you of betraying her in the days to come.”
Mute Nanny leveled a steady stare at Lou Zigui before falling to one knee for a bow.
“Go on,” Lou Zigui waved at her. Mute Nanny backed out of the covered walkway and scurried off. Once she was gone, General Shen Mu[1. Shen Mu (沈沐) - Shen is a surname meaning “sink,” Mu is “be given (a kindness/favor), to bathe/cleanse.”] entered the courtyard. The two of them walked until they met mid-way, upon which Lou Zigui asked, “How is the situation by the palace gates?”
General Shen Mu shook his head. “More and more ministers are coming. All of them are crying to see His Majesty.”
“And Xie Wenyuan?”
“After he saw others making a ruckus, that old Xie withdrew to the back of the crowd,” Shen Mu answered. “Supreme Commander, we can block Grand Preceptor Xie’s faction, but what if Elder Li’s men come?”
“Elder Li isn’t there?” Lou Zigui asked.
“No, but this soldier thinks it won’t take long before he reaches the gates as well,” Shen Mu said. “As long as news of His Majesty’s situation spreads beyond the court, the whole capital will find out sooner or later.”
“Stop him,” Lou Zigui replied.
“If Elder Li and his men come, stop them as well.”
Shen Mu nodded. That makes sense. You can’t let Elder Li’s faction in while keeping Grand Preceptor Xie’s faction out. That’ll just lead to a fight right in front of the gates.
“Have Deng Rong go find the Lord Protector,” Lou Zigui added in a small voice. “The Lord Protector and Pei Yan should enter the palace, but not through its front gates.”
Shen Mu accepted his orders and rushed off. By now, two Dragon Guards had been standing in waiting before Lou Zigui for awhile.
“How’s the situation?” Lou Zigui asked them,
One Dragon Guard replied, “That eunuch passed on a message to a court lady. Then this one did as Supreme Commander ordered and killed him off.”
“That court lady didn’t go far either,” the other Dragon Guard replied. “She could hear us when we murdered the eunuch.”
“Did someone follow her?” Lou Zigui asked.
“Yes,” the two Dragon Guards nodded at the same time.
“Good, you’ve worked hard,” Lou Zigui said warmly. “Withdraw for now.”
The two Dragon Guards wanted to ask about Ning Xiaoyao’s condition as well, but Lou Zigui had already turned and left. They didn’t have the nerve to stop him, so they simply watched as he rounded a corner and vanished before their eyes.
Imperial Physician Gao dawdled in front of the bedroom for awhile until he saw no signs of Empress Dowager Xie coming back, then ran into the rooms himself. Ning Xiaoyao had been worrying about the same thing, so she was still dressed in her bloodstained clothes as she sat on the edge of bed to play with A’Ruan and A’Liang in her hands. Imperial Physician Gao came in and stared at Chef Huang, who was still sitting in his armchair.
“It really was you?” he exclaimed.
Chef Huang’s legs currently felt like jelly, so he was unable to leave the room.
“The sage presented as an ordinary man,” Imperial Physician Gao sighed with feeling as he quoted an idiom. Empress Dowager Xie isn’t an easy woman to deal with.
Chef Huang’s face twitched. I’m not some sage presented as an ordinary man, just someone forced into this by His Majesty!
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