Chapter 206: Early morning with His Majesty and Supreme Commander Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
There were many sleepless nights that day, but Ning Xiaoyao had no idea. By the time she woke up, she saw Supreme Commander Lou already sitting by the edge of her bed and sunlight streaming through the lattice windows.
There’s sun, Ning Xiaoyao thought as she rubbed her eyes. Looks like we’ll have good weather today.
Lou Zigui leaned forward and asked, “Awake?”
Ning Xiaoyao closed her eyes. “Can’t we not have assembly today?” It was a common failing for humans to not want to sleep when it was night, and definitely not want to get up when it was light.
“Not today,” Lou Zigui said, “But you can sleep all day tomorrow.”
Ning Xiaoyao pouted. I might not even be sleepy tomorrow.
“Be good,” Lou Zigui murmured.
“Give me a good morning kiss,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “So I have an impetus to get out of bed.”
“Impetus?” Lou Zigui asked.
“Oh, I mean like strength. Mm, you can call it energy too,” Ning Xiaoyao pursed her lips as pale green light swept back and forth within her mouth. Just like that, His Majesty Ning’s teeth were all clean and sparkling white with fresh breath to match.
Lou Zigui grinned and straightened up. Right now, Miss Ning wasn’t smashing anyone with bricks, or chattering nonstop, or saying words that other people didn’t understand. When she was in her bed and under the covers, she looked like a little animal in his eyes. He reached down to pinch her chubby cheeks before bending down to kiss her ready lips. The faint, airy scent of grasses and trees filled his senses, unconsciously causing him to deepen their kiss.
Ning Xiaoyao opened her eyes to see Lou Zigui’s face in close relief, with his dark brows, deep eyes, and high nose over those thin lips. “Beauty,” Ning Xiaoyao lifted a hand to feel his face. Waking up to see such a pleasing sight of a gorgeous man really helped her good health!
Lou Zigui kept smiling. He didn’t know what else to do when she called him a ‘beauty’ like that. He couldn’t very well tell Miss Ning to stop, could he? On the one hand, he couldn’t bear it; on the other, he wouldn’t be able to stop her if he tried.
Ning Xiaoyao sat up and planted her lips on his face with a loud smack before pretending to affectionately greet him. “Morning!”
When Lou Zigui saw her round almond eyes curve into two crescents with her smile, he kissed each of her eyes in turn and pulled her into his arms. “Do you know what you have to do today?” he murmured softly.
“I do,” Ning Xiaoyao replied. “Rip Grand Preceptor to pieces as usual.”
That’s not wrong, Lou Zigui mused. “What about the details?”
“Stuff with the Nine Gate Infantry Commander and Tao Yu,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “I think those two things are enough for me to battle Grand Preceptor for an entire day.”
“Tao Chen has a peerage associated with his second general rank,” Lou Zigui added. “He and his two sons are both dead, so the position’s free for his brothers to take. How about handing it to Tao Yu?”
“Sure,” Ning Xiaoyao agreed easily. “Is second rank enough? If not, I can add on one more and make him a first-rank general.”
Lou Zigui fell silent before stating, “Stick with second instead.” It would be hard enough for Tao Yu to get a second rank in his previous life, to say nothing of first-rank.
“Aren’t we supposed to be winning hearts to our side?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
“But first-rank generals take a higher salary,” Lou Zigui replied. “Do you want to pay him that much?”
“Oh, then second rank it is,” Ning Xiaoyao said once Lou Zigui hit her weak point.
“Alright,” Lou Zigui turned to grab a comb and started brushing Ning Xiaoyao’s hair.
“Your Majesty?” Shadowgale called from outside the door. Lou Zigui quickly released his hands and stood up.
“Windy, ah, come in,” Ning Xiaoyao called towards the door.
“…….” said Lou Zigui, who was about to tell Ning Xiaoyao to get up and get dressed. Was there any girl who received visitors while sitting in bed? (Author: Supreme Commander, have you already counted yourself as part of Miss Ning’s inner circle? ╰(*°▽°*)╯) He silently covered her up before sighing inwardly.
Shadowgale entered the room and gave a start at seeing Lou Zigui already there. How early did he enter His Majesty’s chambers?
“Morning, Windy,” Ning Xiaoyao greeted from beneath the covers. Shadowgale didn’t kneel down to bow before His Majesty had already threatened all the Dragon Guards with suicide if they did so in the future. (o(╯□╰)o)
He only dipped his body forwards before reporting, “Your Majesty, news has come from outside the palace that the Tao Clan opened their ancestral hall last night to expel General Tao Yu and his family from their ledgers.”
“Ah?” Ning Xiaoyao’s mouth opened wide as she glanced at Lou Zigui. “We’re screwed. Can he still be a second-rank general at this rate?”
“Go tell Tao Yu the news,” Lou Zigui told Shadowgale. “Let him know that with His Majesty here, he doesn’t need to worry.”
“Yes, you have to tell Tao Yu about this,” Ning Xiaoyao hastened to nod. “Windy, you gotta break the news gently. If Tao Yu’s sad, you can comfort him about it.” At this, Ning Xiaoyao slapped herself on the forehead. “What’s there to comfort in this case? Am I supposed to find him another father when his own doesn’t want him anymore?”
Shadowgale stared at His Majesty. If I have the gall to say those things, Tao Yu would probably try to beat me up, right?
“Windy, you can just keep him company,” Ning Xiaoyao decided with a pained expression. “In silence.”
“Your servant obeys the decree,” Shadowgale accepted and left, unable to listen to anything more. Silently keep him company? What’s that supposed to mean? Tao Yu has his own wife and daughter, so what does he need me for? I’m not even familiar with the guy, alright?!
“The Tao Clan seems deadset on following Xie Wenyuan,” Lou Zigui remarked.
“They can follow as they want,” Ning Xiaoyao replied. “Even if they’re everlasting and unchanging, they still can’t hurt me. Do you know why?”
Lou Zigui resumed his seat as he shook his head.
“Haha,” Ning Xiaoyao said, “Because the Tao Clan will never be as unchanging and everlasting as me!”
It was impossible for Lou Zigui to follow up on those words.
“Tao Yu will be sad, right?” Ning Xiaoyao’s expression fell after her brief burst of mirth. “Why do I feel like we’ve committed a sin? He was perfectly fine until he and his family were driven out of their home.”
“He’ll never make anything of himself if he stays with the Tao Clan,” Lou Zigui picked up his comb to brush Ning Xiaoyao’s hair. “A brief period of sadness is better than a lifetime of weariness.”
Ning Xiaoyao obediently sat still as she sighed. “Things are already like this, so it’s no use whatever we say. Why did the Tao Clan do that?”
“This way,” Lou Zigui said, “Tao Yu won’t be able to inherit Tao Chen’s peerage anymore.”
“Just because of one peerage?”
That really is awful. Ning Xiaoyao didn’t know how to retort. For the sake of a single rank, a father could disown his own son? Did it have to be like that?
“Xie Wenyuan should’ve placed the blame for Tao Chen’s death on Tao Yu,” Lou Zigui added.
“And Tao Yu’s father believed it?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
“It doesn’t matter whether he did or not,” Lou Zigui replied as he twisted Ning Xiaoyao’s hair into a coil above her head, “Tao Shidong needed an excuse to expel Tao Yu from the family. Killing his own brother is a very good reason.”
Ning Xiaoyao suddenly turned around to stare intently at Lou Zigui. “Let me ask a question. Was Tao Yu the biological son of his father and mother?”
Lou Zigui was startled by the question, but soon smiled. “They are biological father and son, but if Tao Shidong wants to be Xie Wenyuan’s dog, he can’t afford to keep his son.”
Ning Xiaoyao coughed. “That there, the man’s still General Tao’s father. Supreme Commander, you should be more polite when you speak. Besides, it’s not like any dog’s ever offended you.”
“……” said Lou Zigui.
On the other side of the palace, Shadowgale had just finished breaking the news to Tao Yu, who hadn’t spoken a word throughout it out.
“His Majesty says that as long as he’s here, you don’t need to worry, general,” Shadowgale finished.
Tao Yu nodded woodenly.
“I’ll be right outside the door,” Shadowgale continued. “If there’s anything general needs, please feel free to call me.”
“Alright,” Tao Yu managed to say with effort.
Once Shadowgale shut the door to the room behind him, the sounds of sobbing from Tao Yu’s wife drifted out from inside. Née He stepped out from the folding screen with a face full of tears while her six-year-old daughter only looked clueless. She had no idea why her mother was crying.
“What do we do now?” née He asked between her sobs.
“Daddy,” the little daughter threw herself at the bed as she called out to Tao Yu.
With his wife and child before him, Tao Yu’s blank face turned lively again. He smiled as he patted his daughter’s head and said to née He, “Since that family doesn’t want us, then we’ll just leave. Don’t cry.”
Née He hugged her daughter and sat sideways on the bed, her voice choked with sobs. “You’ve thought it through?”
Tao Yu nodded. “It doesn’t matter what I think. It’s the Tao Clan that doesn’t want me anymore.”
Née He said, “Exactly what happened?” Yesterday when they reunited, Tao Yu had been unconscious after drinking a bowl of medicine. The husband and wife pair didn’t have a chance to speak much, so she still didn’t know what was going on.
“I’m following His Majesty,” Tao Yu said. “But father has always been supported by Grand Preceptor Xie. That’s what happened.”
“Is it wrong to follow His Majesty, then?” née He didn’t understand. Subjects should be loyal to the emperor, what’s wrong about that?
“Don’t ask too many questions,” Tao Yu stood up and straightened out his clothes. “For now, you and Xiu’er should stay in the palace temporarily.”
Née He nodded. Wives in those times followed their husbands, so whatever Tao Yu said would go.
Meanwhile, Ning Xiaoyao had finished getting dressed and was admiring her reflection in the bronze mirror. Handsome! Today I’m still dashing enough to pierce through the Heavens! After giving herself a ‘Like,’ Ning Xiaoyao told Lou Zigui, “Let’s go, to breakfast.”
“It’s called zao shan (早膳), the morning repast,” Lou Zigui replied.
“Whatever works,” Ning Xiaoyao said as she headed for the door. Breakfast is fine, so is this shan business. Whatever fills me up!
Lou Zigui waved a hand to signal Mute Nanny to retreat after she delivered the hot water, then said, “Come and wash your face.”
“…..” said Ning Xiaoyao. Can’t Supreme Commander Lou see that my face is plenty clean already?
Lou Zigui saw Ning Xiaoyao standing there unmoving and stepped forward to pull her towards the basin, then wash her face for her. In the end, he even remembered to wipe her dry.
Ning Xiaoyao wore a blank expression as she spoke. “While you were washing my face, I just remembered something. Will Pei Yan come today? If he doesn’t, how am I supposed to argue with Grand Preceptor Xie about the Nine Gates Infantry Commander issue?”
“If he doesn’t come, Xiaoyao, then you can issue a decree to confiscate the Lord Protector’s property and execute his entire family,” Lou Zigui dropped the washcloth back into the basin.
“Whaa?” Ning Xiaoyao grew alarmed.