Chapter 177: His Majesty tears down the house again Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Zhou mama withdrew to pack Empress Zhou’s things, leaving only the ‘husband and wife’ pair alone in the Warm Spring Partition—and one fat cat on the side. Ning Xiaoyao glanced around at all the furniture in the room and saw quite a bit of nice things. But when she spotted the empress again, she figured it wouldn’t be nice to just sell off all her stuff. Ning Xiaoyao grabbed another apple and prepared to munch when she suddenly recalled another detail. If the empress ends up eloping with her true love General Xu, wouldn’t the things in this room belong to me?
After untangling that little conundrum, Ning Xiaoyao felt much happier. Her warm gaze settled on the empress as she thought to herself, the faster you find your happiness, the faster I’ll find mine!
Empress Zhou felt flustered by Ning Xiaoyao’s heated look and quietly retreated a few steps. Ning Xiaoyao sat gnawing on her apple as she glanced up, surprised to see the empress still standing there. “How about you go pack your things too?” she suggested.
“This consort shall take her leave then,” the empress said. She dropped to one knee to give Ning Xiaoyao a formal bow before leaving the room.
“…….” said Ning Xiaoyao. Do you have to be so blunt? Am I poison to you?!
Big Boss Black rolled around on the couch before saying, “Ninny, you scared off the empress.”
“Give up already,” Ning Xiaoyao said as she stuffed the rest of the apples into her pockets. “She simply doesn’t have any insight. My gender’s all wrong as well. If I was a man, I’d definitely be stronger than even that foster son of Grand Preceptor Xie’s.”
Big Boss Black stared at Ning Xiaoyao before he finally spoke. “That’s true. Right now, you’re only Grand Preceptor Xie’s granddaughter, miaow!”
Ning Xiaoyao lost her temper and grabbed Big Boss Black, preparing for another bout. Oil Jar took this chance to run inside and stop below the couch. “Xiaoyao, that spy’s in the a wing at the western end of the palace. There’s a bunch of other people with her there too.”
Ning Xiaoyao released Big Boss Black, who bared his fangs as he declared, “Let’s all go bite them to death!”
“Wake up, you’re just a cat!” Ning Xiaoyao whapped Big Boss Black on his head.
Oil Jar said, “Xiaoyao, if you want I’ll go back and call Ancestral Grandfather and the rest to bite that spy to death.”
The mice in this world are even brave enough to bite humans to death. Ning Xiaoyao didn’t even want to say anything more.
“Just what are you planning?” Big Boss Black was getting antsy with Ning Xiaoyao’s lack of replies.
“Let’s go,” Ning Xiaoyao rose to her feet. “We’ll need to take a look first.”
“We still have to look?” Big Boss Black muttered unhappily.
Ning Xiaoyao said, “This is what we called scoping out the enemy, do you understand?” She headed towards the western facing windows, pushed them open and prepared to jump out.
“You’re going to jump out of the window!!!?” Big Boss Black cried.
“There’s a person stationed outside the doors,” Ning Xiaoyao said as she peered outside. “Moreover, investigations like this should be done in secret. Aye, a cat like you won’t understand even if I explained things to you.”
Oil Jar said, “Xiaoyao, just who is the person outside the door?”
Ning Xiaoyao shook her head as she answered. “Don’t know, ah. In any case, she’s from the empress’s palace.”
Big Boss Black rolled his eyes from his perch where he was draped across Ning Xiaoyao’s shoulders. This ninny doesn’t nothing but say nonsense all day long. Who else would the people at the empress’s palace belong to if not the empress herself?
Ning Xiaoyao gauged the distance between her current location and the ground with her naked eye before jumping down with cat and mouse in tow. The servant girl assigned to stand by the door currently had a pale face. She hadn’t heard what His Majesty said specifically, but she did hear meows and squeaks. There was no one else in the room besides His Majesty, so was he talking to a cat and mouse? But how can humans speak to animals? Moreover, how could a cat and mouse agree to stay in the same room? (Author: Hey hey, do you have to ask so many questions after hearing just a few noises?) Rumors had it that His Majesty had mental problems and was half-made. The servant girl hadn’t believed it in the past, but she did a bit, now. (Author: Hey!)
“Does His Majesty really want to protect me?” The empress was currently sitting uneasily in her bedroom with Zhou mama.
Zhou mama’s head was bowed as she packed the bags. She’d followed her family’s young lady all the way here and had personally witnessed how her old master, mistress, and young master had lost their heads to the bandits. She had also seen how their eldest young master had been encumbered by Prince Hong in the struggle until he lost his left arm to the thieves. After that, she’d watched as her young mistress was forced to marry His Majesty and Grand Preceptor Xie stole away the Zhou Clan soldiers. In Zhou mama’s heart, the imperial clan was full of nothing but heartless, petty souls, so she had difficulty thinking well of Ning Xiaoyao.
“Will His Majesty pardon my big brother?” Empress Zhou asked her next.
Zhou mama tied a knot on the bundle of clothes and straightened up. “Empress, this servant believes that this is simply a struggle between His Majesty and the empress dowager. His Majesty will naturally protect the people the empress dowager wants to harm.”
“So, he’s not trying protect me because he wants to?” the empress suddenly felt relieved. She could owe other people debts, but not to Ning Yu. She was the one who betrayed him first, so it’d be impossible for her to turn back. She would never be able to return any feelings Ning Yu held for her in this lifetime.
Zhou mama said, “It’s a good thing for the empress if His Majesty is fighting with the empress dowager.”
The empress asked, “But what if His Majesty loses?”
Zhou mama gave a cold laugh. “Even if His Majesty loses, he won’t lose right this instant. As long as we can safely leave the palace, empress, you’ll have your chance.”
The empress cradled her stomach in her hands as she sat on the bed. That’s right. As long as I can leave the palace, I’ll have other ways to escape.
“Let’s get away from the palace first,” Zhou mama murmured under her breath. “Once we’re out, empress should send a letter to General Xu immediately. While His Majesty and the empress dowager are too distracted with each other, empress and General Xu should hurry to think up a plan themselves.”
The empress dowager. She was rather sorry to His Majesty for running away this time, but she couldn’t care about the emperor while worrying for her lover and brother. As the empress made up her mind to flee the capital for good after leaving the palace, Ning Xiaoyao had arrived on top of the roof of the wing at the western end of the palace. She pried off one of the roof tiles to peek inside.
“That’s the mama who’s a spy,” Oil Jar pointed out a slightly chubby woman.
Ning Xiaoyao narrowed her eyes. Inside the room, a servant girl told Chen mama, “Mama, the empress has returned to her bedroom, but His Majesty’s still in the Warm Spring Partition.”
Chen mama replied, “What about the servant girl that His Majesty had brought with him?”
The girl replied, “She’s still standing outside the building.”
Chen mama looked around at the various servant girls and eunuchs standing around her. Then she pointed to a younger eunuch and said, “Go to the empress dowager’s palace and tell her about His Majesty coming to the empress’s palace. Say that this servant will send another report if His Majesty spends the night here.”
The young eunuch muttered an assent and ran towards the door. Ning Xiaoyao mused that it wouldn’t be good for the empress dowager to get wind of this news before the empress had escaped from the palace. Most likely, that woman would show up here to kick up another row again. Ning Xiaoyao felt weary just imagining their next bout.
“What should we do?” Big Boss Black gnawed at Ning Xiaoyao’s sleeve.
Ning Xiaoyao quickly pried apart some more roof tiles to reveal the central roof beam of the building. Then she bent down, held her breath, and used all her strength to punch towards the beam. At this point, the young eunuch had yet to reach the door. Chen mama heard a noise coming from the roof and quickly looked up. By now, Ning Xiaoyao had already punched the beam five to six times in quick succession. Now she stood up to kick and stomp on the cracked structure.
“There’s people on the roof!” Chen mama shouted.
Big Boss Black was running wildly back and forth over the tiles with Oil Jar on his back. Ning Xiaoyao leapt into the air and landed heavily on the roof beam multiple times. Finally, the main roof beam split in half with a crack. Chen mama and the rest all ran for the exit, but Ning Xiaoyao gave the support beam a final punch.
“Ning Xiaoyao, you no-good bastard!” Big Boss Black gave a wretched cry as he jumped off the roof with Oil Jar in tow. The entire roof beam had broken into four separate pieces. Cracks appeared on the walls of the room before the building split in half, then caved in on itself with a resounding crash. Chen mama and the rest were all trapped inside the house and its remains.
“Pah, pah, pah!” Ning Xiaoyao stood atop the rubble and spat a few times while dusting the grime from her hair.
“Xiaoyao’s tearing down houses again,” Oil Jar remarked from on top of Big Boss Black’s head, a little stunned to see a perfectly good building disappear so quickly.
Big Boss Black regarded the pile of rubble and shivered. Judging from this show of her ninny’s strength, she was capable of destroying a house with her bare hands. If that was the case, she hadn’t used a fraction of her true strength in their daily spats. It was impossible for the noise to go unnoticed in the empress’s palace. Soon enough, more people came to the scene and grew dumbfounded at the sight.
“The building collapsed,” Ning Xiaoyao said as she stood on a tall piece of rock in the midst of the debris. “That’s all, it’s no big deal, haha.”
“…….” said the empress’s servants. The house is all but destroyed, but you’re saying it’s no big deal?
“T-there are people inside,” a young eunuch said as he shook with fear.
Ning Xiaoyao shook her head. “There’s no one there.”
The young eunuch pointed at Ning Xiaoyao’s feet, and she looked down to see a pair of legs and the corner of a robe. “That’s just clothing,” Ning Xiaoyao explained.
“………” said the crowd. But how do you explain that pair of legs?
The empress arrived next with Zhou mama’s help. Zhou mama let go of her as soon as she noticed Ning Xiaoyao looking their way. Ning Xiaoyao jumped off her rock and walked around from the disaster pile until she was in front of the empress. In a low voice, she murmured, “All the people in that building were the empress dowager’s spies, oh.”
A flash of killing intent flickered across the empress’s eyes. Ning Xiaoyao silently nodded in approval. It’s good that she has a temper. That’s how the daughter of a general should act. Looks like the palace hasn’t turned this girl into a weak-minded chicken yet. (Author: Why are you worrying about those details right now? o(╯□╰)o )
“All of you, withdraw,” the empress commanded the crowd. In the palace, her words were ineffective compared to the empress dowager’s, but they held full sway in her own quarters. The eunuchs and servant girls left without a murmur.
Zhou mama looked at the buildings bordering the collapsed structure and exclaimed in alarm, “This is that old Chen woman’s house!”
“Old Chen woman?” Ning Xiaoyao asked. “I did hear people call for a Chen mama inside.”
The empress’s face looked unsightly. “So it was her.”
Ning Xiaoyao said, “Forget about her now. And don’t bring anyone from the palace with you, either. Just take your Zhou mama and get out of here, quick.”
Zhou mama said, “Only this servant and the empress shall go?”
Ning Xiaoyao spread out her hands. “How else can you be sure that anyone else you take isn’t actually working for the empress dowager instead?”
“We’re going,” the empress said promptly. “Just the two of us.” No matter who it was, the empress didn’t want to see another member of the palace ever again.