Chapter 260: Supreme Commander says, I'll listen to you Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
“There’s also the imperial guards, the Dragon Guards, and the Lord Protector’s men. They should be able to gather about 10,000 more there,” Ning Xiaoyao had already made her calculations before coming to visit the empress. “With the Zhou Clan’s 20,000 brothers, I think a difference of 10,000 to the enemy forces is still acceptable.”
The empress wanted to tell Ning Xiaoyao that counting numbers like this was wrong for war strategies, but she never got a chance to lecture her before the doors were forcefully kicked open from outside. Lou Zigui strode into the room the next second.
“Supreme Commander?” Ning Xiaoyao hurried to ask. “Why did you come?”
Lou Zigui approached Ning Xiaoyoa and inspected her from head to toe to make sure she was alright, then looked towards the sitting empress. She had calmed down by now, but Lou Zigui charging in made her break out into cold laughter again. “What?” she asked as she stared at him. “Supreme Commander’s worried that I’ll bully His Majesty?”
“That wouldn’t happen,” Ning Xiaoyao hastily waved her hands at her. “You can’t beat me.”
“......” said the empress. Can you stop repeating that already?
“I’ve already settled things with the emp---with Miss Zhou,” Ning Xiaoyao pulled Lou Zigui over the hand in high spirits. “The Zhou Clan army can help us, oh~”
Lou Zigui stared at Empress Zhou with a searching look, while the empress was busy staring at Ning Xiaoyao’s hand on Lou Zigui. She’s a girl, while Lou Zigui’s an unmarried man. What is she doing holding his hand?
Lou Zigui asked the empress, “What do you want?”
The empress looked at him.
Please don’t say it’s money! Ning Xiaoyao silently prayed.
Empress Zhou stared at Lou Zigui at said, “That’s between His Majesty and myself.”
“It’s the same if you tell Supreme Commander, ah,” Ning Xiaoyao said quickly. “Just that we’re both really poor.”
“Your Majesty, you and Supreme Commander?” the empress asked.
“Ah?” Ning Xiaoyao looked at the empress, then at Supreme Commander Lou by her side, and realized what she was asking. She admitted it openly, “The first time you gave me sweet soup, I fed it to Supreme Commander. Since I was by his side back then, we ended up, ah. You understand, Miss Zhou.”
Lou Zigui had drank the bowl of drugged ginseng lily soup while His Majesty was by his side. How could the empress fail to understand the meaning behind those words?
“What do you want to do?” the empress asked Lou Zigui. You knew His Majesty was female as early as that, but still remained by her side to play the part of a loyal subject. What are you planning, Lou Zigui?
Lou Zigui understand that the empress knew Ning Xiaoyao was a girl, but replied without a hint of misgiving. “That’s between His Majesty and me.”
The empress was rendered mute.
“What are you two doing?” Ning Xiaoyao asked. Shouldn’t we be discussing how to get past our current obstacles? Just what are they talking about?
The empress mentally reviewed everything that had happened so far before realizing there was no need for her to get involved. In other words, she had nothing to do with the situation at hand.
“I’ll send you out of the city,” Ning Xiaoyao let go of Lou Zigui’s hand and sat in the chair in front of the empress. “You can go find your General Xu.”
“......” said Lou Zigui. You can just write him a letter. Why are you letting her go, too?
Empress Zhou fell silent for a while after Ning Xiaoyao’s words before she asked, “Isn’t Your Majesty worried that I’ll just run away and never come back?”
Ning Xiaoyao’s lips split into a grin. “I need to show my goodwill somehow. But the road will be dangerous, so you have to be careful, Miss Zhou.”
“Then can I bring my brother with me?” Empress Zhou asked Ning Xiaoyao.
Ning Xiaoyao was about to nod when Lou Zigui spoke up. “Née Zhou, don’t be too demanding.”
The empress raised her eyes to look at Lou Zigui again.
“D-don’t fight,” Ning Xiaoyao said quickly. Everyone says girls and boys save time on work when paired together. Why isn’t that the case here? (Author: These two aren’t meant for working together, alright?)
“We don’t absolutely need the Zhou Clan troops,” Lou Zigui told the empress. “I still have the skills to safely escort His Majesty out of the capital city.”
“But,” Ning Xiaoyao grew anxious. What’s the use if I’m the only one who runs away?
“Don’t talk,” Lou Zigui said as he pulled her behind him.
Ning Xiaoyao deflated. Fine, I’ll stop talking. Why are you acting so fierce?
Xie Wenyuan’s troops hadn’t reached the capital yet. It wasn’t impossible for Lou Zigui to send Ning Xiaoyao away now. As long as those two could return to Anyuan, then the winner of the coming struggle would still be a mystery. The only reason they weren’t doing that now was because they didn’t want to leave them comrades behind. But that was His Majesty’s wish, not Lou Zigui’s. When she figured that out, née Zhou knew that she had little room to talk terms with him.
“When night falls, I’ll arrange for someone to send you away,” Lou Zigui told the empress. “If you forgot about your ties of siblinghood with Zhou Junqi after that, then I have nothing else to say.”
“She won’t,” Ning Xiaoyao couldn’t help but butt in.
Lou Zigui didn’t even look at her, but he did squeeze her hand. Ning Xiaoyao could only shut up again.
“Even with the Zhou Clan troops, your men and horses still won’t outnumber Xie Wenyuan’s forces,” Empress Zhou replied. “Lou Zigui, how certain are you of winning against him?”
“I’ll write Xu Feiyu a letter,” Lou Zigui said. “I’ll have to trouble you to take it to him personally.”
Is he bypassing me to discuss tactics with A’Xu instead? The empress stared at Lou Zigui for awhile before finally nodding her head. She didn’t have much choice.
“Let’s go,” Lou Zigui turned to face Ning Xiaoyao.
“No rush,” Ning Xiaoyao stood unmoving. “I want to say a few more words to Miss Zhou.”
Lou Zigui murmured a noise of assent before leaving the rooms first.
Once he was gone, the empress lowered her voice to ask, “Are you going to be the emperor forever? If the world finds out, the people won’t forgive you whether you’re innocent or not.”
“I-it’s not that serious,” Ning Xiaoyao sat in front of her again. “At most, the ministers, officials, and imperial clansmen will react. The common people are still busy worrying about their own lives. Why would they care about the imperial family? They’ve got enough problems to deal with.”
Empress Zhou fell silent. That’s true.
“No matter what happens to me in the future, I’ll still live on,” Ning Xiaoyao declared. “Miss Zhou, you just go live happily ever after with General Xu instead. No need to worry about me.”
“......” said Empress Zhou. I’ve never worried about you.
“Sorry about what happened in the past,” Ning Xiaoyao added after some thought.
Empress Zhou was somewhat moved. “I’ve hurt you as well, so don’t bring this up anymore. You haven’t wronged me.”
“Mhm.” The weight in her chest vanished, leaving Ning Xiaoyao with a smile. “Then can we be pals when we meet again?”
“You really look foolish when you smile like that,” the empress scoffed instead.
“Really?” Ning Xiaoyao’s smile stiffened. My figure’s no good and my face is chubby. Now even my smiles look foolish? Isn’t there anything good about me?
“Do you like Lou Zigui?” the empress asked.
Such a direct question made Ning Xiaoyao’s expression stiffen further.
“Aren’t you afraid he’ll curse you to death?” the empress asked next.
“Supreme Commander’s super good,” Ning Xiaoyao said unhappily at the words. “He doesn’t curse people.”
The empress only nodded her head in silence. So she does like him.
Ning Xiaoyao glanced at the unlocked door behind them before scooting forward and dropping her voice. “Supreme Commander just has a bad reputation, that’s all. But think about it. If he had a good rep, how would a man like him ever end up as my subordiante?”
The empress grew dazed at her words.
Ning Xiaoyao grinned at her. “Speaking of which, Miss Zhou. Who’s more handsome, your General Xu or Supreme Commander?”
“Of course it’s A’Xu,” the empress replied without a second thought.
“Impossible,” Ning Xiaoyao shook her head. “There’s even someone more handsome than Supreme Commander?”
The empress rolled her eyes at her. Only you would treat the bane of others’ existence as a precious treasure.
“Forget it. I’ll compare them myself when I meet your General Xu in the future,” Ning Xiaoyao waved a hand, before looking cheerfully at the empress. “You’re going to see him, oh. Are you happy?”
The empress felt very happy, but she didn’t want Ning Xiaoyao to see her smile.
“You have to be happy,” Ning Xiaoyao said confidently. “I can see you smiing.”
The empress quickly felt her face. I’m smiling?
“Haha,” Ning Xiaoyao rose to her feet. “Just teasing. You’re not smiling at all. Be careful on the road. If we have a chance, let’s meet again.”
As she turned to leave, Empress Zhou inexplicably reached out to grab her by the sleeve.
“Hm?” Ning Xiaoyao stopped and turned around. “Is there something else?”
The empress let go, uncertain of what to say.
“Don’t be afraid,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “Supreme Commander’s a man of his word. If he says he’ll deliver you to General Xu, then he’ll definitely get you there. If you’re comparing who’s more despicable, neither him nor I can compete with the Grand Preceptor. Otherwise, how would we have fallen for his trap in the first place?”
“Leave the fighting to Lou Zigui,” Empress Zhou said quietly. “You should get out of the city and avoid all this for awhile.”
Ning Xiaoyao looked uncertain. “Miss Zhou, are you worrying about me?”
The empress immediately clammed up.
“Nothing will happen to me,” Ning Xiaoyao smiled at her. “Let’s be pals when we meet again. It’s decided!”
As Ning Xiaoyao scampered out, Empress Zhou was left sitting by herself in the palace. After some time had passed, she suddenly chuckled, then burst into laughter. Eventually the laughs gave way to long, painful sobs. She never thought that the person to send her to Xu Feiyu in the end would turn out to be Ning Yu herself.
Ning Xiaoyao joined Lou Zigui in the empress’s flower gardens. As they walked, she tilted her head to look up at him and said, “Supreme Commander, can we get serious against the Grand Preceptor with the Zhou Clan troops?”
“Suppose they don’t show up at all?” Lou Zigui challenged back.
“Then we run away, ah,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “Don’t worry. I’ll ask my little pals to follow the empress. If General Xu doesn’t want to help, we’ll know very soon.”
“Xiaoyao.” Lou Zigui gripped her hand.
“If we really can’t afford to fight the Grand Preceptor for real, then we flee,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “We’ll have as many of us survive as we can. I can accept it if some of us die.” Who hasn’t seen their companions die in the apocalypse? She sighed, then added, “But before that happens, we still have to try our hardest first, right?”
“Yes,” Lou Zigui stroked her cheek, his voice soft. “I’ll listen to you.”
Previous Chapter Next Chapter