Chapter 259: The empress learns of the truth Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
“I know,” Ning Xiaoyao said as soon as she saw the empress. “You’re looking at me right now like you’re seeing a ghost.”
The empress stared blankly at Ning Xiaoyao. She looked at her too. Actually, His Majesty Ning felt a bit hesitant facing the woman who hated her so thoroughly right now.
“H-how can this be?” the empress muttered to herself. Meanwhile, Ning Xiaoyao pulled out a chair and sat by her side.
“How about you pinch yourself once?” Ning Xiaoyao suggested. The empress actually did as she was told. Ning Xiaoyao’s mouth quirked into a grin at the sight. She sure pinched herself hard just then. That’s gotta hurt.
Once she was sure she wasn’t dreaming, the empress looked hopelessly towards Ning Xiaoyao. “How are you planning to kill me?”
Ning Xiaoyao said, “You’re still pregnant with child. Do you really want to die?”
The empress clutched at her stomach with both hands as her hopeless gaze turned vicious again.
“Save yourself the energy,” Ning Xiaoyao sighed. “You can’t beat me in a fight. You couldn’t even kill me with poison and a knife, so empress, do you think you’ll ever succeed in murdering me in this lifetime?”
The empress stared at Ning Xiaoyao’s neck, the same one she’d plunged her dagger in with her own hands. There was no way she’d forget that. Ning Xiaoyao tilted her head so the woman could have a better view. “See, the wound’s healed over by now.”
Now Empress Zhou felt even more hopeless.
“Speaking of which, how were you planning to leave the palace after killing me?” Ning Xiaoyao asked. She’d been curious about the answer the entire time. Wasn’t the empress afraid of Supreme Commander Lou or Windy killing her first?
“Once you died, the palace would have devolved into chaos. Someone would get me out of there in the middle of the mess. But,” the empress wavered there.
Ning Xiaoyao looked at her with an are you really that naive expression. “Did the Grand Preceptor’s men show up?”
The empress froze.
“Aye,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “Allow me to tell you what’s going on outside right now It’s pretty complicated. Empress, have some patience and wait until I’m finished.”
The empress sat listening to Ning Xiaoyao speak, her body turning stiffer by the minute.
“So you see,” Ning Xiaoyao finished, “We’re nothing but idiots in the Grand Preceptor’s eyes. He’s probably beside himself with joy at home right now.”
For a long time, the empress didn’t speak.
Ning Xiaoyao sat in front of her and sighed, looking as if she couldn’t last another day and was ready to die on the spot.
“That old, old knave,” the empress finally cursed Grand Preceptor Xie.
“Yeah, that old knave. A bastard who deserves to die,” Ning Xiaoyao added.
“I don’t understand,” the empress said next, looking at her.
“Which part don’t you understand?” Ning Xiaoyao asked. “Ask me and I’ll tell you again.”
“If you just go outside the gates and show yourself to the ministers, everything will be over,” the empress said. “Why did you say that’s difficult?”
Ning Xiaoyao fell silent.
“I don’t understand,” the empress shook her head.
Ning Xiaoyao listened carefully. There were no people around, but Grandfather Sparrow was sitting on the branch of the white birch tree outside, while Big Boss Black and his brothers were hiding beneath the windows. Looking up, she could see Grandpa Ash with Oil Jar in the rafters. So much for hiding any secrets, every human had a bunch of little spies in wait!
The empress followed Ning Xiaoyao’s gaze to stare up at the ceiling. Ning Xiaoyao said, “Don’t look at the rafters, look at me instead.”
The empress looked back at her in surprise. Is he going to kill me?
Ning Xiaoyao sat up straight and suddenly tore open her robes. The scene before the empress turned her mind blank. Ning Xiaoyao flashed her a brilliant smile. “They’re not very big, but you can still tell, right?”
The empress was still staring.
Ning Xiaoyao quietly redid her robes and stared at the empress’s chest instead. Dammnit, I can’t even began to compare.
The empress abruptly rose from her seat and ran out of the room.
“......” said Ning Xiaoyao. Well, that was a intense reaction.
Empress Zhou reached as far as the doors before stopping to clutch the frame from support. Then she turned to look at Ning Xiaoyao, who quickly rose to stand at attention, military style. Empress Zhou slowly walked back to her side.
“Calmed down now?” Ning Xiaoyao asked her carefully.
“Let me take another look,” Empress Zhou said with a blank face.
“Whaa?” Ning Xiaoyao grew unhappy. You’re an ample-bosomed girl to begin with. What’s with finding a sense of superiority from my flat chest?
(Author: You’re overthinking things. The empress is just having trouble accepting the truth. o(╯□╰)o )
“Let me take another look,” the empress repeated expressionlessly.
“Alright,” Ning Xiaoyao conceded, and opened her robes again. The empress scrutinized her closely and even reached out to cop a feel. Ning Xiaoyao obediently stood there without moving.
Once the empress was sure she hadn’t dreamed everything up again, she withdrew her hand as if scalded and rubbed it furiously against her robes.
“.....” said Ning Xiaoyao. Do you have to do that? Do you think I have poop on me or something?
“You,” Empress Zhou pointed a finger at Ning Xiaoyao.
“Don’t point. Speak properly,” Ning Xiaoyao said.
“You, all of you,” Empress Zhou lost her temper. “Aren’t you afraid of being punished by the Heavens?”
Ning Xiaoyao sucked in a breath. “If I say I had no choice, would you believe me, empress?”
“Don’t call me empress!” Empress Zhou shrieked.
“Alright,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “Should I call you younger sister instead?”
“I’m not your younger sister!”
But you are a girl. Why is it so hard to get along with you? Ning Xiaoyao watched the empress’s trembling form and decided to hold back this time. “Then I’ll call you---that’s right, what was your name again?”
We’re supposed to be husband and wife, but you don’t even know my name? Now Empress Zhou was even more furious. Ning Xiaoyao sensed that the woman was ready to kill them both and quickly spoke up. “Let me remind you of two things. One, you can’t beat me in a fight, and two, if you’re too angry it’ll hurt the fetus in your womb.”
The empress’s breathing quickened.
“Take deep breaths,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “Think of all the wonderful things in this world.”
“Shut up!” the empress shouted. Ning Xiaoyao wiped her face from all the spittle.
“You deserve to die,” Empress Zhou kept cursing. “All of you deserve to die! You petty bastards, you’re all….” For a second, she didn’t know what to say.
“We’re all wretches who deserve a miserable death,” Ning Xiaoyao suggested. “Lady, I understand your feelings right now. Actually, I’m in a bad mood too. Can’t we both sit down and talk about the situation at hand first?”
“The situation at hand?” the empress laughed coldly. “I’ll go to the courts right now and expose you. Ning Yu, you can take Xie Wenyuan née Xie, and the Xie Clan to the grave together!”
“Urk,” said Ning Xiaoyao. “It’s already too late. Even if you expose me, it’ll be no use.”
The empress looked at her in disbelief.
“Did you forget you shouted to the entire palace that I was already dead?” Ning Xiaoyao asked. “Now the whole capital knows. If I say I’m not dead now, the Grand Preceptor will just point at me and say ‘Strip!’ Lady, do you think I should strip or not strip then?”
“What?” the empress couldn’t catch up to her train of thought.
“Ning Yu’s dead, ah,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “I’m a faker. I’d be the one who burnt Ning Yu in a fire and replaced her or whatever. Isn’t that exactly what the Grand Preceptor will claim?”
The empress grew listless again.
“I told you all that stuff just then, but it looks like you weren’t listening,” Ning Xiaoyao shook her head.
Empress Zhou walked to her seat and sat back down again. Ning Xiaoyao decided to give her some time to calm down untli the woman raised her head and looked at her.
“Have you calmed down now?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
“I could say you’re a fake and that His Majesty’s already dead,” the empress said.
“Sure,” Ning Xiaoyao walked to her side. “But in that case, you’ll have to remain a widow in the palace for the rest of your life. Don’t you want your General Xu anymore?”
The empress only laughed. “It’s also possible that my son will become emperor instead.”
“They’ll kill the son and kill the mother,” Ning Xiaoyao said sympathetically. “The empress dowager loves Ning Xin, but even she has to wait until he grows up before finding a way to kill me. Are you sure you want your son to be emperor? An infant doesn’t understand a thing. If some imperial prince decides to kill him off, are you going to haunt him as a ghost for your revenge?”
“Shut up!” the empress screamed again.
“If I could solve my problems by shutting up, then I would, ah,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “I wronged you in the past and wasted your youth, preventing you and your sweetheart General Xu from getting together. But I’ve already eaten your poison and taken your knife and was still preparing to let you leave with General Xu. Lady, look. Can’t you lighten your grudge against me a bit?”
The empress stared at Ning Xiaoyao for a long time before bursting into laughter. It wasn’t cold anymore, but filled with grief. “You still trust me?” she asked. “Aren’t you afraid that I’ll stab you again? Or that I’ll find an even more potent poison to hurt you?”
“It’s fine,” Ning Xiaoyao said sincerely. “Once we pass through our trials together, I’ll stand here and let you stab me all you like.”
“If you’re that tough, you can just go kill Xie Wenyuan,” the empress said.
“Killing him won’t solve the problem, ah,” Ning Xiaoyao spread open her arms. “Supreme Commander said that he’ll be bringing at least 40,000 soldiers to the capital this time. 40,000, you know!”
Empress Zhou could understand Ning Xiaoyao’s words. It was useless to target the head of a hundred year old prominent family unless you had the skills to eradicate their entire clan with it.
“Can we join hands?” Ning Xiaoyao asked the empress.
“You still have the guts to trust me?” the empress asked.
“I do,” Ning Xiaoyao nodded. “I’ve always felt that you’re not a bad guy.”
Hearing this, Empress Zhou suddenly felt the urge to burst into tears.
“Really,” Ning Xiaoyao said frankly. “You’re savage and cruel to me, but you’re definitely a good girl in front of General Xu. In the future,” she paused to look at her stomach, “You’ll be a good mother, too.”
“Don’t say any more,” Empress Zhou still had a nasty tone to her voice, but she’d stopped telling Ning Xiaoyao to shut up.
“Help me out,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “I’ve thought of escaping, but if I run away by myself, what about Supreme Commander, Windy, Elder Li, the Lord Protector estate’s old madame, and a whole bunch of other people? I want everyone to be okay.”
After a moment’s silence, Empress Zhou said, “The Zhou Clan army doesn’t number past 30,000 men. Only 20,000 of them are capable of battle. You said that Xie Wenyuan will bring around 40,000 men and horses to the capital? Do you think 20,000 against 40,000 will still stand a chance of winning?”