Chapter 27: Big Boss Black says, restore Supreme Commander’s innocence! Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Even with 300 more occupants, Supreme Splendor Hall still looked as spacious and empty as before. Imperial Physician Gao surveyed the 300 extra patients and keenly felt a desire to go die. How could he manage all these people?!
As soon as Grand Preceptor Xie returned home, he was summoned into the palace by Empress Dowager Xie. After learning of the events at the Hall of Punishment, he fell into a long silence.
“We misjudged her!” Empress Dowager Xie said hatefully.
Grand Preceptor Xie glanced at his eldest daughter’s angry white face and spoke in a low voice. “We did misjudge her. If my heart had been on guard that day at the execution grounds, this subject wouldn’t have followed along with her.” If he knew this girl was a man-eating wolf, he would have thought twice at the execution grounds. How could the imposing emperor be held under duress by Fang Tang and his crew? Were the imperial guards all dead people? Grand Preceptor Xie couldn’t release the temper suppressed in his chest. If he had thought more deeply back then, he and his daughter wouldn’t be the passive party now.
Empress Dowager Xie gently stroked the armrest of her chair, her tone worried. “Will there be any problems in the assembly three days from now?”
Grand Preceptor Xie wasn’t concerned about this. He smiled and said, “Once Lou Zigui dies, His Majesty will know that everything she’s done was useless.”
Empress Dowager Xie trusted that Lou Zigui would definitely die from poison, but she still felt anxious. “Who did Ning Yu learn her martial arts from? Why doesn’t father know anything about this matter?”
Grand Preceptor Xie’s face turned ugly at these words.
“Her wet nurse just happened to fall ill and die before she came to the palace,” Empress Dowager Xie continued. “Father, you were the one who arranged that wet nurse. Since Ning Yu is at cross-purposes with us, can you be sure that wet nurse really died from sickness?”
Less than four people in the world knew that Ning Yu was a female. They included Ning Yu herself, the Xie father and mother pair, and the deceased wet nurse who had raised Ning Yu and stayed by her side growing up.
Grand Preceptor Xie shook his head. “It’s pointless to investigate that old nanny’s death now.”
Empress Dowager Xie could understand her father’s meaning. Whether that wet nurse died from disease or by Ning Yu’s hands meant nothing to them when it yielded the same results. They had delivered Ning Yu to the throne, nurturing a tiger that invited calamity. Those who indulged their enemies were asking for trouble.
“Esteemed Empress Dowager should wait patiently for three days,” Grand Preceptor Xie said. “As long as Lou Zigui dies, His Majesty will have no choice but to bow her head to you.”
“Ah, men,” Empress Dowager Xie thought back to the scene of Ning Xiaoyao and Lou Zigui standing together at the Hall of Punishment and smiled coldly. “Loyalty and honor are all lies. For the sake of power and his own life, will Lou Zigui still remember to avenge the crown prince?”
Grand Preceptor Xie couldn’t help but rejoice that he’d arranged for an extra chess piece.
Currently, Ning Xiaoyao was sitting at a long table in the imperial kitchens. She’d managed to polish off three big bowls of rice, one bowl of red braised pork, and a bowl of scallop soup. Big Boss Black perched on the table as he mewled at Ning Xiaoyao.
“Ninny, are you a rice bucket1?”
Ning Xiaoyao raised her head to drink down the soy sauce for the red braised pork before replying, “Scram.”
“I want to talk about the Supreme Commander with you,” Big Boss Black said.
Ning Xiaoyao tossed the empty bowl on the table. Outside, the chefs and eunuchs she’d cleared out were standing by the door. When they heard His Majesty banging bowls in the kitchen, they didn’t even dare to breathe out loud. Many of them had assumed the current emperor was a meek sheep, but after seeing him today, anyone who still thought His Majesty was weak and easy to bully was a fool seeking his own death.
“Is the Supreme Commander your father?” Ning Xiaoyao jabbed Big Boss Black’s head with a pair of chopsticks. “Can’t you pick another topic to talk about?”
“Miaow,” Big Boss Black laid in front of Ning Xiaoyao and mewed like a spoiled child.
Ning Xiaoyao felt herself grow chills as she turned guarded. “What are you planning?” Trying to please her for no reason at all was something only a wicked thief would do.
“Your Majesty,” Big Boss Black said, “You have to restore Supreme Commander’s innocence.”
Ning Xiaoyao’s train of thought was completely out of line with Big Boss Black. She rolled her eyes and said, “Sorry about that. I’ve already slept with your Supreme Commander, so there’s no such thing as innocence anymore. Neither can I bring it back.”
Big Boss Black’s fur rose up in hackles. How he wanted to bite this ninny to death. How to destroy her?!
“I’m not an expert with felines,” Ning Xiaoyao extended her neck to peer at the empty soup pot. There was nothing left to eat, so she could only lick her lips. “Let’s just part ways here. You go find a cat to talk about cat business, while I find a human to talk human business.”
Big Boss Black saw Ning Xiaoyao rise to leave and quickly bit down on her sleeve. “You have to clear Supreme Commander’s criminal name, ah. Supreme Commander’s very pitiful, miaow.”
Ning Xiaoyao sat down unmoving again. To understand someone, you had to find that person’s fans for the details. Big Boss Black sprawled on the table as he began to narrate Lou Zigui’s story from birth. First the Grand Marshal’s2 wife died from postnatal bleeding, then the Supreme Commander joined the army in his youth, then his father and brothers died in battle until there was only a sickly nephew left at home. He’d been arranged to marry six separate girls, each beautiful in her own way, but none of them lived to the wedding day. Supreme Commander Lou had fought countless battles, suppressed numerous brigands, and Big Boss Black even explained the origins of the name ‘Lou Zigui’ to Ning Xiaoyao.
By the end, Ning Xiaoyao felt like crying. What kind of life did this man lead? It would’ve been better if a zombie bit him to death instead. Living a life alone like this was truly pitiful and lonely. No, it was more accurate to ask whether such a life had any meaning?
“Miaow, Your Majesty, just help Supreme Commander,” Big Boss Black reached out a paw to lightly scratch Ning Xiaoyao’s hand. “Supreme Commander isn’t a bad guy.”
“Mm,” Ning Xiaoyao’s eyes were red as she nodded. “I’ll help him.”
“Really?” Big Boss Black’s cat eyes widened.
“I swear it on my character and principles!” Ning Xiaoyao declared.
“Good,” Big Boss Black turned serious as well. “If you can restore Supreme Commander’s innocence, in the future I, in the future I won’t call you ninny anymore.”
“… …” said Ning Xiaoyao. What a great show of gratitude. She’d rather be gifted rabbits instead!
Big Boss Black noticed Ning Xiaoyao staring at him and added on to his favors. “And in the future, you’ll be an even better girl than Jiao Jiao in my heart.”
Ning Xiaoyao had a bad premonition as she asked, “Who’s Jiao Jiao?”
“Heheh,” replied Ning Xiaoyao. She really wanted to kill this cat!
Ning Xiaoyao stood up to leave, but Big Boss Black chased after her. “Ninny, you can’t lie to this cat.”
“Didn’t you just say you’d stop calling me ‘ninny?’” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
“You haven’t restored Supreme Commander’s innocence yet,” Big Boss Black persisted upon this point.
Ning Xiaoyao kicked Big Boss Black again before walking out of the biggest kitchens of the imperial kitchens. Right at this moment, Fang Tang had brought along ten eunuchs from the Supreme Splendor Hall to the imperial kitchens. The young General Fang had never learned manners in this life, pushing aside a head eunuch blocking the path as he charged into the courtyard. As soon as he saw Ning Xiaoyao, he prepared to pay his respects.
Ning Xiaoyao waved her hand at him. “It’s better not to pay respects if you have to do it at least a dozen times a day. No matter how many times you ask me how well I’m doing, it’s no guarantee that I’ll do any better.”
A puffing Fang Tang really did just stand there unmoving as he asked, “You’ve eaten already, Your Majesty? Supreme Commander has brought all the Dragon Guards to the Supreme Splendor Hall. Right now, Imperial Physician Gao’s attending to their wounds, so your subject came to find some food.”
The young eunuchs went inside the kitchens to fetch the food. Fang Tang ran in front of Ning Xiaoyao and said in a low voice, “What if the dishes are poisoned?”
Ning Xiaoyao waved her hand and said confidently, “No fear, I’m here.” Besides that fraudulent aphrodisiac, Ning Xiaoyao trusted her skills to treat hundreds of poisons. Although she’d been helpless against the aphrodisiac, that was because it wasn’t a poison in the first place!
While Ning Xiaoyao’s words were referring to herself, Fang Tang interpreted His Majesty’s words to mean that no one dared to provoke him in the palace right now. “Your Majesty, this subject heard that the Grand Preceptor entered the palace again,” he reported.
Ning Xiaoyao curled her lip. Those two must be doing bad things again. “Tell me about what happened this time,” she said. “What’s the deal with the Supreme Commander sending letters to Northern Hu’s royal court?”
Right now, restoring the Supreme Commander’s innocence was the most important thing. As for the two bastards in the empress dowager’s palace, Ning Xiaoyao curled her lips again. If nothing else, I’ll resort to violence. Who knew where those two were when she was still hacking at zombies! (Author: It’s a completely different dimension. What’s the point of comparing stuff like that? o(╯□╰)o )
As soon as the Supreme Commander was mentioned, Fang Tang grew restless. The young General Fang gesticulated with his hands as he said, “Those letters must have been faked by Modou!”
“A supreme khan of the Northern Hu, a man from the southern Man tribe,” Fang Tang explained.
“Then how the did Grand Preceptor get these faked letters? Did he have them made?” Ning Xiaoyao asked. If those two could even fabricate a testamentary edict, how hard could it be to fake a few more letters?
“They were taken from the Northern Hu king’s tent,” Fang Tang shook his head. “The mounted scout who did it isn’t one of the Grand Preceptor’s men.”
“Then whose man is he?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
“A spy sent to Northern Hu by the late emperor,” Fang Tang said in a small voice.
Right now, the eunuchs were either running, lifting, or carrying mantou and various dishes on their shoulders in the form of baskets, pots, and steamers as they streamed out of the kitchens. Ning Xiaoyao had these eunuchs walk in front while she and Fang Tang brought up the rear. Big Boss Black still trailed after her. The little animals had their own standards for judging people. When Ning Xiaoyao helped the gyrfalcon save his master, they didn’t think it was to accumulate power and influence or to bribe people’s hearts. They only thought that Ning Xiaoyao was a good person, a human they could approach without cares.
Ning Xiaoyao bent down to pick up Big Boss Black and place him on her shoulders so he could perch there. Fang Tang’s mouth twitched as he looked at the tubby black furball without a hair out of place. “Your Majesty, you’re raising a black cat?”
Big Boss Black’s fur suddenly rose into hackles again. Humans believed that black cats could re-animate the dead and communicate with spirits, so they were considered unlucky creatures. Nobody in this world wanted to raise a black cat, so Big Boss Black was very clear on how much humans disliked him for his body of black fur.
Ning Xiaoyao carelessly nodded her head. “Yes, I’m raising him. Let’s keep talking about the Supreme Commander.” This Fang brother doesn’t stay on topic either, does he? Supreme Commander Lou’s still waiting for his innocence to be restored, why talk about cats now?
Big Boss Black’s tubby round body gave a shudder before a ‘miaow’ rose from the very depths of his throat. He extended a paw and lightly scratched at Ning Xiaoyao’s neck. This ninny is a very, very good human. Big Boss Black decided from here on to never call Ning Xiaoyao ‘ninny’ again.
- rice bucket (饭桶) – fan tong, a phrase that both means a “big/piggish eater” and a “fathead, good-for-nothing.” ↩
- Grand Marshal (元帅) – a title for the highest rank in the army, formerly held by Lou Zigui’s late father. ↩
- Ministry of Public Works (工部) – gongbu, also known as the Board of Works or Ministry of Works, one of the Three Departments and Six Ministries of ancient Chinese bureaucracy. The Ministry of Public Works is one of the Six Ministries beneath the Department of State Affairs, which itself ranks just below the emperor. Such a ministry is in charge of government construction projects, hiring of artisans and laborers for temporary service, manufacturing government equipment, the maintenance of roads and canals, standardisation of weights and measures, and the gathering of resources from the countryside. ↩
- mantou (馒头) – steamed bread. ↩