Chapter 138: Supreme Commander chose to hide it Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Ning Xiaoyao sat in the bedrooms bordering the main audience hall, eating the bone broth noodles that Mute Nanny had made her. There were chunks of meat attached to the large bones, and rich marrow within them. The broth itself was very white, while the noodles were firm and chewy. With a little sesame oil and some coriander scattered in, the entire meal cured Ning Xiaoyao of her disappointment at failing to kill off Grand Preceptor Xie.
Big Boss Block paced in circles on the table. “Lots of people died!”
Ning Xiaoyao drank her soup in Supreme Splendor Hall. Despite the distance from the ancestral hall, the stench of blood still hung heavy in the air. Heaven only knows how many people had died today. But what could we do? Ning Xiaoyao thought to herself. I shouted myself hoarse and told them to stop, but nobody paid any attention to me. What other ways can I find to prevent another tragedy like this?
Big Boss Black perched on the tabletop and said, “Fortunately, you’re alright, Xiaoyao.”
“I got stabbed too, ah,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “But the Grand Preceptor got off scot-free, so annoying!”
“Then,” Big Boss Black’s eyes spun in their sockets. “Shall we go beat him up?”
Ning Xiaoyao replied, “If I can’t beat him all the way to death, what’s the use of wasting all that energy in the first place?”
Big Boss Black fell silent. Meanwhile, Shadowbolt arrived outside the rooms and asked for an audience. Since the door was standing open, Ning Xiaoyao simply waved him in. As soon as he entered, the fourth commander of the Dragon Guards announced, “Your Majesty, the old madame from the Xie Clan’s passed away from illness.”
The empty bowl fell out of Ning Xiaoyao’s hands as she stared at him, dumbfounded. “Whaa? Old Madame Xie died? How is that even possible?” Not long ago, she had a chance to see the old madame up and about, and she looked perfectly healthy. But only a few days later, she’d sickened and died?
“That’s right, ah, Your Majesty,” Shadowbolt replied. “Grand Preceptor’s already left the palace for his estate. I’ve heard that they’ve hung up white streamers for mourning there, too.”
Ning Xiaoyao didn’t believe it. “For real?”
Ever since coming to this world, His Majesty Ning had been at odds with Grand Preceptor Xie. Now her suspicions against the old man only grew. She couldn’t accept that Old Madame Xie had died of natural causes. Was this yet another part of Grand Preceptor Xie’s schemes?
Shadowbolt was jolted into suspicions as well. “Would the Grand Preceptor even curse his own mother?” Old Madame Xie was well advanced in years. If Grand Preceptor Xie had tried to fake his death, wouldn’t that be cursing years from her life in the first place?
“I think he would,” Ning Xiaoyao nodded. Family means nothing to that old Xie geezer!
At this moment, Lou Zigui knocked on the open door as he stood outside. Ning Xiaoyao waved him in as she said, “Supreme Commander, did you hear about Old Madame Xie?”
Lou Zigui had Shadowbolt withdraw before moving to sit by Ning Xiaoyao’s side. “I have. I heard Old Madame Xie died.”
“For real?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
“For real,” Lou Zigui bent down, wanting to check Ning Xiaoyao’s injury again.
“Did she really die from illness?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
Lou Zigui’s hand shook in the middle of moving towards Ning Xiaoyao’s injury. “Only the Xie Clan knows for sure.”
Ning Xiaoyao slapped the table. “Then there’s no need to ask, that old madame’s definitely not dead.”
“Why do you say that?” Lou Zigui asked.
“I only saw that old woman a few days ago,” Ning Xiaoyao explained, “There’s no way she’d be able to hide any signs of illness from my eyes. Supreme Commander, did you forget? That day, she even wanted me to marry that little beauty.”
Supreme Commander would never forget that.
“Aiya,” Ning Xiaoyao sighed with feeling. “Grand Preceptor Xie, that heartless jerk. What’s the use of forcing the old woman to play dead?”
“Does your injury still hurt?” Lou Zigui asked.
“Who cares about that now?” Ning Xiaoyao waved her hands. “Supreme Commander, let’s talk about more pressing matters first, alright?”
“The old madame’s death doesn’t benefit Xie Wenyuan whatsoever,” Lou Zigui said in a low voice.
“Ah?” Ning Xiaoyao intoned.
“With Old Madame Xie dead, Xie Wenyuan must observe mourning rites for three years as the eldest son,” Lou Zigui explained.
“What are mourning rites?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
“That’s when an official quits his post to keep watch over the old madame’s memorial tablet until three years pass,” Lou Zigui believed that Miss Ning would definitely understand if he explained it like that.
As expected, Ning Xiaoyao got it immediately and grew delighted. “In other words, I don’t have to see Grand Preceptor Xie for three years?” Although she knew this wasn’t being fair to Old Madame Xie, she couldn’t help breaking into a smile.
Lou Zigui shook his head. Ning Xiaoyao’s smile stiffened before she stared at him.
“The Xie Clan is a public entity in the capital city,” Lou Zigui said, “Xie Wenyuan doesn’t need to leave the capital. Moreover, even if he’s not at court, his clansmen and various disciples can act as his eyes and ears to do his bidding.”
Ning Xiaoyao deflated like a balloon, clutching her head after a simple ‘oh.’
“But tasks done by his henchmen will naturally differ from Xie Wenyuan personally doing the job,” Lou Zigui lifted Ning Xiaoyao by the chin. “Moreover, he’s required to decline all visitors, making his job more difficult.”
Ning Xiaoyao blinked a few times before suddenly blurting out, “Then Supreme Commander, when your father and elder brother were killed on the battlefield before, did you–did you mourn for three years at home, too?”
Lou Zigui shook his head. “Military officers only need to observe a 100-day mourning period. I didn’t even spend 10 days at home before the late emperor deprived me of my right to mourn and reinstated me on pretense of military duties.”
Ning Xiaoyao scratched her palms, privately wondering if she’d sound like an idiot if she always told Lou Zigui she didn’t understand what he was talking about.
“Back then, the battles hadn’t stopped. After my father and brothers died, the Black Frost Cavalry was like a host of dragons without a head,” Lou Zigui said as he lowered his voice. “So I couldn’t stay at home to pay my respects in mourning. It’s natural and normal to mourn, so depriving me of my right to do so means steal away the natural course of human grieving.”
Ning Xiaoyao nodded in understanding. All of it sounded very sad.
“Does your wound still hurt?” Lou Zigui changed the topic back to her again.
“Not anymore,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “I’m a doctor, ah.”
“The Xie Clan’s old madame,” Lou Zigui began, and Ning Xiaoyao saw how dark his pupils had become. “No matter how she died, it still benefits us in the end.”
In the end, he didn’t tell Ning Xiaoyao the truth.
“Aye,” Ning Xiaoyao exhaled. “In any case, it’s always a sad affair when a human dies.”
“Mhm,” Lou Zigui stroked Ning Xiaoyao’s hair. “Xiaoyao, why don’t you let née Wang off?”
“Ah?” Ning Xiaoyao was stunned once more. Did she hear the wrong thing? Supreme Commander wanted to release that little white flower?
Lou Zigui said, “Have her be Xie Anyi’s official consort.”
Ning Xiaoyao felt Lou Zigui’s forehead with her hand. Had a fever burned his brains away? But the temperature beneath her fingertips was normal, so she muttered to herself, “There’s no fever, ah.”
Lou Zigui pulled aside Ning Xiaoyao’s hand and murmured, “Do you want to let go of the chance to wreck havoc for Xie Wenyuan?”
“That’s not it,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “How is Grand Preceptor Xie’s preparations for the funeral related to me releasing that little white flower?”
“I’ve already ordered men to let young née Wang out of the imperial prisons,” Lou Zigui said.
Ning Xiaoyao jumped to her feet and raised her voice. “When was this?!”
“Today,” Lou Zigui said.
“Hold on, you,” Ning Xiaoyao held up her hand to make Lou Zigui stop talking. This is wrong. There’s definitely a missing link here that I’m not aware of.
“I only want the Grand Preceptor’s estate to descend into chaotic unrest from this day on,” Lou Zigui pulled Ning Xiaoyao to sit back in her chair as he explained, “In case we were helpless against that doppelganger, I was going to take you out of the capital and have her cause chaos in the Grand Preceptor’s estate. That way, if Xie Wenyuan was distracted, we’d have more chances to escape the city, wouldn’t we?”
Ning Xiaoyao’s mind was in tangled a mess.
“I promised née Wang her freedom and the status of Xie Anyi’s official consort,” Lou Zigui said.
“And the terms were that she’d go back and cause trouble for the Grand Preceptor’s estate?” Ning Xiaoyao asked him.
Lou Zigui nodded once.
“So she ended up causing so much chaos that she killed off the old madame?” Ning Xiaoyao asked next. She could easily guess how Old Madame Xie had really died by now.
“Perhaps, perhaps not,” Lou Zigui said. “I really don’t think young née Wang has that much gall.”
“I wonder,” Ning Xiaoyao knitted her brows as she lost herself in thought. “Do you not remember how she hurt Miss A’Xin? That little white flower’s savage enough to have killed off the old madame.”
Lou Zigui said, “There are so many people in the Grand Preceptor’s estate, so how could a simple married woman like her be able to kill off the old madame?”
“Aye,” Ning Xiaoyao replied easily, “She doesn’t have to get physical if she just uses poison.”
Lou Zigui’s heart gave a start at Ning Xiaoyao’s words. Ning Xiaoyao rubbed her chin and continued, “Supreme Commander, let me tell you, that’s probably what really happened. The old madame died by young née Wang’s hands using poison.”
“Then the things I’ve promised née Wang?” Lou Zigui asked.
“I,” Ning Xiaoyao said with difficulty, “I really think the old madame was too wronged by all this.”
“She’s still Xie Wenyuan’s mother,” Lou Zigui’s gaze turned frosty.
“……..” said Ning Xiaoyao. Well, I’m Xie Wenyuan’s granddaughter. There’s no need to sound so cold.
“Young née Wang won’t have an easy time of things even if she lives,” Lou Zigui’s eyes quickly resumed their usual gaze as he spoke. “Letting her die in the prisons would be helping to free her from her suffering instead.”
“Do we really have to do it this way?” Ning Xiaoyao asked.
Big Boss Black jumped onto Ning Xiaoyao’s shoulders and scratched her. “Why can’t you give Supreme Commander what he wants? Did you forget you took his virginity? You still have to take responsibility for my Supreme Commander, miaow!”
Lou Zigui grabbed Big Boss Black by the scruff of his chubby neck to dangle him in mid-air.
“Miaow,” Big Boss Black withdrew his claws back into his paw pads to meow at his Supreme Commander. Ning Xiaoyao shut her eyes. It’s too beautiful of a sight, I can’t stand looking at this anymore.
“You can’t scratch your master,” Lou Zigui told Big Boss Black seriously.
Huh? Ning Xiaoyao’s eyes flew open. Supreme Commander’s standing up for me!
“Do you hear me?” Lou Zigui asked Big Boss Black. Ning Xiaoyao pulled at her eyelids as she stuck out her tongue at Big Boss Black, who felt like dying. My Supreme Commander, how could you stand on the ninny’s side?
“You’re ignoring me?” Lou Zigui stared at Big Boss Black.
“Meow~” Big Boss Black’s fur was all standing on end.
“Did he understand me just then?” Lou Zigui asked Ning Xiaoyao.
“Nah, he’s thinking of all sorts of ways to die right now,” Ning Xiaoyao replied.
“Miaow!” Big Boss Black snarled at Ning Xiaoyao, but soon after that, Lou Zigui’s two fingers turned his head around again, and he meowed in Lou Zigui’s direction instead. “Miaow~”
“……” said Lou Zigui. He couldn’t help but feel that this cat looked at him differently than Miss Ning. Am I just imagining things? (Author: It’s not your imagination. Supreme Commander, you’re just the male god of that fat cat, ah!)
“Young née Wang,” Ning Xiaoyao hit the table as she spoke. “Supreme Commander, if I agree to young née Wang’s terms, how are you planning to thank me?” Though she regretted the words as soon as she said them, she still wanted to know.
Lou Zigui looked at Ning Xiaoyao before suddenly pulling her to his side and sitting her on his lap. He kissed her on the cheek before murmuring, “Then Xiaoyao, what do you want?”