Chapter 100: Deep feelings for some, thin feelings for others Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Qin Xuan paid his thanks to the curtain hiding Empress Zhou on the right side of the veranda before rising to look at Ning Xiaoyao with an inscrutable expression. Ning Xiaoyao felt like his expression was rather painful to her eyes.
“Your Majesty,” Qin Xuan said quietly, “A palace mama said that elder sister and Xie Anyi have never, have never…” Qin Xuan repeated himself eight to nine times, but still couldn’t spit it out.
Ning Xiaoyao knew what he was referring to. Basically, his wife-to-be was still a virgin daylily, but despite this, she had to feign ignorance. His Majesty Ning ended up waiting for Regional Commander Qin to finish his words before growing distressed. Shadowthunder had followed Lou Zigui and Ning Xiaoyao over. Being the honest type, his reaction to Qin Xuan’s stuttering words was to speak whatever was on his mind. “Is Miss Qin unwilling to marry?”
Shadowrain had thought a bit deeper than Shadowthunder, and whispered to Ning Xiaoyao, “Could it be that Miss Qin is pregnant with that bastard Xie Anyi’s child?”
“……..” said Ning Xiaoyao. If that was the case, this would be a sad world indeed. Can’t you stop thinking up tragedies like that?
“Just what is the problem?” Supreme Commander Lou said, finally losing his patience. How long does he want Miss Ning to stare at him?!
Qin Xuan said, “Elder sis is still…”
His Majesty is dying from impatience here! Ning Xiaoyao shook her head before scratching her face. “If you’re a man, then get to the point, all right? What’s wrong with Miss Qin?”
“She didn’t consummate her marriage with Xie Anyi!” Qin Xuan blurted out in a rush.
Even though Supreme Commander Lou and Shadowgale had good ears, they didn’t understand what Regional Commander Qin meant.
Ning Xiaoyao nodded. “So it’s like that.”
“……….” said Qin Xuan. When he’d learned the news, he had exploded and wanted to beat up Xie Anyi right then and there. Even if His Majesty wasn’t angry, he couldn’t just leave it at those few words, could he?
“Mm?” Ning Xiaoyao suddenly realized something. “Mute Nanny can talk?”
Qin Xuan hastened to clarify. “That mute mama summoned two more mama to examine A’Xin.” It sounded like His Majesty was concerned with completely different details.
“Then your meaning is?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
Qin Xuang said, “If this subject may be so bold, may esteemed empress send someone to take a look at elder sister?”
Having the empress’s personal mama declare Miss Qin’s virginity to the assembled officials would make the news spread far and wide. That was no problem, but Ning Xiaoyao weighed the matter in her hand before she asked quietly, “So you care about things like that?”
Qin Xuan hastily shook his head. “This subject doesn’t care, but that was elder sister’s request.”
If that was the case, then Ning Xiaoyao had no objections. She waved a hand to summon the mama who had presented the empress’s rewards, then told her what to do in hushed tones. The mama shot Qin Xuan a glance while silently cursing Xie Anyi in her heart. Then she quickly walked back to Empress Zhou.
“Alright, alright,” Ning Xiaoyao grabbed Qin Xuan by the wrist. “Enough with the kneeling.”
Lou Zigui’s eyes narrowed at the sight of Ning Xiaoyao holding Qin Xuan’s hand. Ning Xiaoyao was completely oblivious to his glare, but Qin Xuan, Shadowgale and the rest all felt the temperatures plummet three degrees.
Lou Zigui reached over and quietly took Ning Xiaoyao’s hand into his own. “Your Majesty, we can begin the banquet now.”
Ning Xiaoyao felt another pang of pain when she remembered she was treating so many people to a meal. But if she refused now, Elder Li probably wouldn’t let her off. “Then let’s start the banquet,” she replied listlessly, before turning to Qin Xuan. “You can go accompany your elder sister.”
His Majesty wouldn’t let him kneel anymore, so Qin Xuan simply bent forwards in a bow before retreating.
“I’ll be right back,” Lou Zigui told Ning Xiaoyao quietly before he followed Qin Xuan out of the flower gardens.
Ning Xiaoyao tugged on her waistband and told Shadowgale, “Let’s go in and eat. This is my money, so we can’t shortchange those rich folks. We’ll just give it our all to eat as much as we can.” If she put the food in her own stomach, she’d lose less money overall.
Shadowgale was put in a difficult position. “Your Majesty, how could your servants sit with the emperor at the same table?” Wouldn’t their lives be forfeit?
Ning Xiaoyao said, “Dangit, Windy. Are you afraid of me? I’ve never beat up my own people before, ah.”
Though Shadowgale was proud to be one of His Majesty’s people, he didn’t understand what the ‘beat up’ part was all about. Did His Majesty not understand what I meant?
Shadowrain said, “Your Majesty, we can’t.”
Ning Xiaoyao’s expression grew grave before she cursed, “Damned feudal society!”
Shadowgale and the other Dragon Guards all exchanged glances. Why could they never understand what His Majesty was talking about?
By now, Lou Zigui was standing with Qin Xuan in a corner of the flower gardens. He lowered his voice and said, “Don’t seek out the Xie Clan and cause trouble.”
Qin Xuan gave a start before he managed to reply with some difficulty, “Supreme Commander, you’re over worrying.”
“How else will you swallow your temper unless you were planning on going? The master of the Xie Clan isn’t here today, so you don’t need act like you did in front of the late emperor,” Lou Zigui replied.
Qin Xuan’s expression shifted before he muttered viciously, “Xie Anyi deserves to die.”
Lou Zigui sighed softly. “Even His Majesty needs to think thrice when dealing with the Xie Clan. He had multiple chances to execute Xie Wenyuan after catching his grievous mistakes, but he still had to let him go. How much better are you, compared to His Majesty?”
Qin Xuan’s knuckles cracked as he clenched his fists.
“You’ve endured for so many years. You might as well endure a bit longer,” Lou Zigui said. “After all, Miss Qin will be counting on the Regional Commander for the rest of her life. If something happens to him, what will she do?”
“How long must I endure?” Qin Xuan asked.
Lou Zigui’s smile was faint, his tone polite yet distant. “Regional Commander, you should be clear on just how useless the navy is to the capital city.”
Regional Commander Qin’s face turned gloomy at the words.
“His Majesty knows it too, but he still chose to save Miss Qin and fulfill your wish for marriage,” Lou Zigui said. “His Majesty only hopes that you two can live peacefully until your old age. However, I believe that Regional Commander’s life should belong to His Majesty now.”
“That’s only natural,” Qin Xuan said seriously.
“Then I ask that Regional Commander take good care of your life,” Lou Zigui said. “Do you think Xie Wenyuan will simply leave the matter at that?”
Qin Xuan fell silent. Of course he wouldn’t. He was more clear than anyone how much the Jiangnan navy represented to the Xie Clan.
“Stay at Supreme Splendor Hall,” Lou Zigui said in a low voice. “Before Xie Wenyuan takes the chance to find more killers, I’ll arrange for you two to depart the capital for Jiangnan.”
Qin Xuan nodded and gave Lou Zigui a deep bow.
Lou Zigui raised a hand to indicate the path before them and said, “Regional Commander, please go on.”
Qin Xuan left in the direction of Supreme Splendor Hall. Lou Zigui stood still until his form disappeared, before calling out to a nearby lantern stand. “Come out.”
The lantern stand was located in the direction of the Hall of Punishment. It was as tall as a man, and the figure that slipped out from behind its cover wore a face full of excitement. “Supreme Commander, that Northern Hu woman can’t hold out much longer. She says she wants to see you.”
Lou Zigui took one last glance at the full moon gate. Strains of music were starting to drift out from the entrance. He beckoned over one of the Dragon Guards standing guard there and murmured, “Please tell His Majesty that I’ve gone to the Hall of Punishment.”
The Dragon Guard muttered an assent.
“Hall of Punishment?” Ning Xiaoyao blinked in the middle of scarfing down as much food as she could to minimize her monetary losses.
By her side, Shadowgale bent down and reminded her, “It should be related to that Northern Hu woman.”
“I know, ah,” Ning Xiaoyao replied. “But Supreme Commander gave up on a feast to go interrogate a criminal? Windy, don’t you think he’s being a fool?”
Shadowgale was silent. He really didn’t know who was the true fool.
“Ah geez, there’s even giant meat balls,” Ning Xiaoyao forgot all about Supreme Commander Lou when she saw the eunuchs carrying plates of huge meatballs. She rested a hand over her heart and murmured, “How much money am I spending on these?!”
The Dragon Guards simply pretended they hadn’t heard a thing.
At the same time Ning Xiaoyao was giving her all to polish off the meatballs, a single Dragon Guard ran into the room atop the veranda. Shadowgale quickly cut him off and listened to his report, before he hastily returned to Ning Xiaoyao and half-knelt in front of her. “Your Majesty, esteemed empress dowager insists on leaving her palace. Shadowbolt’s already locked up her front and back gates, so now she’s stuck inside and sobbing furiously.”
Ning Xiaoyao gulped down the meatball in her mouth and cocked her head to one side. “Tell Fourth Lightning that he can let the empress dowager cry as she likes. She has a son to raise, so she wouldn’t really want to die.”
“Just like that?” Shadowgale asked.
“Tell Fourth Lightning I’ll leave some food for him too,” Ning Xiaoyao added.
Shadowgale rubbed his nose before rising to pass on the message to the other Dragon Guard. Once he left, someone from the imperial guards arrived. Shadowgale intercepted the messenger once more and went back to tell Ning Xiaoyao, “Your Majesty, Xie Anji and Xie Anshi have left the palace with their wives.”
Ning Xiaoyao hummed in response, but kept eating. She wasn’t going to let the Xie Clan ruin her appetite!
Xie Anshi and his wife were both sitting in the carriage. The Xie Clan’s Third Young Madame had been weeping the whole way out. She was still shedding tears even now. As a young Miss of an old and established family and a first wife of the Xie Clan, she’d never suffered such humiliation before now.
“Don’t’ cry anymore,” Xie Anshi only spoke up after they’d left the long street in front of the palace. “What’s the use of tears?”
Third Young Madame sobbed, “How will this wife have any face to see people in the future?”
“It was elder brother who was at fault and née Wang who was called a slut,” Xie Anshi was actually smiling now. “What need do we have to be sad?”
Third Young Madame’s sobs stilled.
“After we return, we’ll see what father thinks first,” Third Young Master Xie said softly. “If he abandons elder brother, then the successor to the Xie Clan could be anyone in the future.”
“Husband, what do you mean?”
“I’ve long told elder brother that née Wang’s nothing but a source of calamity,” Xie Anshi smiled coldly. “But since elder brother insisted on indulging his passions, he can’t blame His Majesty for using that against him today. The only way to avoid waves is to have calm and windless water.”
Third Young Madame looked at him in shock, as if her husband had turned into a stranger. Xie Anshi had always been on good terms with the eldest young master, so she’d gotten along with née Wang as well. But as things stood, her husband never intended to be a faithful little brother at all, it had all been an act.
Xie Anshi lifted the window curtains to peer outside at the busy streets. He was the third son of the family, so he would never inherit the family properties. He had a better life than children born out of the stomachs of slaves or servants, but he was regarded as unimportant in the family. Things were better, though, and he even felt a little excited.
It’s over for Xie Anyi now.