Chapter 146: His Majesty says, Supreme Commander is a thoroughly wicked man Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Old Madame Xie’s rooms were still in the same state as it was that morning right after the struggle. The chairs and table were all overturned, and the floor was littered with broken porcelain. Despite all that, the luxury of the room made the strongest impression on its visitors. A cursory glance around the residence revealed gold, silver, pearl and jade objects. Treasures that other families would hide away were displayed openly here as simple ornaments.
Dazzled by the sight, Ning Xiaoyao stopped walking. How could such a provoking room exist?! Lou Zigui glanced at the undisturbed tea table in the room and muttered, “Is that where the poison is?”
Ning Xiaoyao wrenched her head away to focus on the suspicious teacup, only to see multiple cups of tea and bowls of liquid scattered around the room. How was she supposed to find the right one? She scratched her head before dipping her finger in the nearest cup for a taste. Lou Zigui immediately grabbed her hand and said with a trace of panic in his voice, “What are you doing?”
“I’ll be able to tell which cup is poisoned after I taste their teas,” Ning Xiaoyao explained.
Lou Zigui rejected the idea. “You can’t.”
“…….” said Ning Xiaoyao. Is that the way you speak to your emperor?!
Big Boss Black jumped off of Ning Xiaoyao’s shoulder and scurried to the left of the crowds, heading for a tea table closest to the main chair of honor. He meowed back, “The magpie said it’s this one.”
Ning Xiaoyao approached the tea table and glanced at the blue and white porcelain bowl with doubt. “When did you two get talking?”
Big Boss Black swished his tail arrogantly. “While you were busy watching the show.” This ninny never knows to focus on the important bits! What’s the use of watching two old geezers duke it out?
Ning Xiaoyao rolled her eyes at him and turned back to Lou Zigui and Shadowgale, who’d followed her over. “It’s this one.”
Lou Zigui poured a bit of the clear liquid in the cup onto the table. Underneath the scrutiny of three humans and one car, four pairs of eyes watched the surface of the table froth intermittently with white foam as if it’d been burnt with acid.
“Old Madame Xie would definitely die if she drank this cup,” Ning Xiaoyao sighed with feeling. “It looks like she was fated to die today no matter what.”
“This isn’t a drink,” Lou Zigui said. “But ginseng chicken soup.”
Ginseng chicken soup? Ning Xiaoyao’s eyes brightened. Then I might as well drink it if it’s good stuff like that. Wouldn’t it be a shame if we just poured it out?
“Now that we have the evidence,” Shadowgale said, “How do we pin the crime on those military officers?”
Ning Xiaoyao silently withdrew the hand that had been reaching out for the bowl, estimating that Supreme Commander would beat her up if she finished off their evidence. Lou Zigui’s knuckles rapped against the tea table. There’s a conundrum.
At the moment, Grand Preceptor Xie in the room with them as well, but kept a healthy distance from Ning Xiaoyao since he knew he wasn’t welcome. He allowed everyone else to observe Old Madame’s rooms as he tried to fathom what Ning Yu and Lou Zigui were planning. They wouldn’t have sealed off the estate just to capture Old Madame’s killer. That’d be nothing more than a joke.
“Grand Preceptor,” a guard ran in with a hushed report. “The front, back and side gates have all been stationed with imperial guards.”
Grand Preceptor Xie waved to dismiss him, his brain spinning furiously. Sealing off the exits means that they don’t want people to run away. But who does Ning Yu want to capture right now? …the soldiers. The soldiers from the south. The seven military officials who came on my orders with their troops!
Grand Preceptor Xie’s gaze turned fierce before he summoned for Xie Anshi. Meanwhile, Ning Xiaoyao asked Lou Zigui, “Is there no more ideas? If nothing else works, we can just get physical. We’ll beat up those seven men and then lock them up. How’s that, Supreme Commander?”
Shadowgale said, “Your Majesty, you still need a reason to fight, don’t you?”
Ning Xiaoyao replied, “I didn’t like the looks of them, then. As the emperor, can’t I beat up who I like?”
Shadowgale was still trying to figure out ‘didn’t like the looks of them’ when Lou Zigui cut in. “Definitely not. That will ruin your reputation.”
Ning Xiaoyao immediately rebutted, “I don’t want any reputation, I just want military power!”
Lou Zigui still shook his head. “Forbidden. Wantonly punishing others is the conduct of a fatuous, self-indulgent ruler.”
“I don’t care,” Ning Xiaoyao said. Whether or not she was a fatuous ruler, Grand Preceptor Xie would curse her all the same. (Author: Just who’s bullying whom between the two of you….)
“I care,” Lou Zigui replied.
Ning Xiaoyao shook her head furiously as she complained, “There’s no point in me being the emperor!”
Shadowgale’s head drooped as he pretended to hear nothing. Ning Xiaoyao twisted her head to looked around, finally spotting Grand Preceptor Xie talking with Xie Anshi by the door. She tugged on Lou Zigui’s sleeve and said, “My intuition tells me that old geezer Grand Preceptor’s up to no good with his son!”
Big Boss Black soundlessly jumped off the tea table and pressed his form against the wall as he headed in Grand Preceptor Xie’s direction. Shadowgale was surprised. “Is he going to eavesdrop on them?”
Ning Xiaoyao nodded. It’s not the first time Black Tubby’s eavesdropped on humans.
Shadowgale’s thoughts were awhirl. Even if the cat hears what those two are saying, how is he supposed to tell the rest of us.
Lou Zigui took this moment to take out a small bottle from his sleeve. He told Shadowgale, “Find a way to plant this on one of the seven men. Any one of them will do.”
Afraid that others would notice, Shadowgale quickly took the bottle with one hand instead of the more polite two. “What is this?” he asked.
“Poison,” Lou Zigui replied.
Ning Xiaoyao was shocked. “Supreme Commander, you carry around things like that so casually?”
Lou Zigui’s expression didn’t change. “Just in case.”
Ning Xiaoyao could think up any situations where Supreme Commander Lou would need poison ‘just in case.’
Shadowgale said, “What do I do after planting the poison on them?”
“Leave that up to me,” Lou Zigui glanced at the Xie father and son pair by doors. “Go on.”
“Just go, Windy,” Ning Xiaoyao echoed. “Actually, Supreme Commander’s a thoroughly wicked man, too. You can’t go wrong if you follow his lead in trapping others.”
Shadowgale didn’t dare to look at Supreme Commander Lou’s current expression, but turn and fled. In any case, Supreme Commander Lou wouldn’t be able to beat up His Majesty.
“I’m thoroughly wicked?” Lou Zigui asked Ning Xiaoyao. The Dragon Guards around the pair all backed away, knowing that interfering now would be useless.
Ning Xiaoyao blinked before realizing she’d used an unkind term. Lou Zigui pulled Ning Xiaoyao to stand in front of her, and she quickly blurted out, “I’m saying that you’re smart. It’s a compliment.”
“The Grand Preceptor should have figured out what we want by now,” the smart Supreme Commander said as he shifted the subject. He had Ning Xiaoyao look back at Grand Preceptor Xie.
Ning Xiaoyao said, “Then should we just go home and give up?” If the victim of their plot already knew what they were up to, what was the point in seeing it through? They might as well go home and go to bed.
“Wait for Shadowgale to come back,” Lou Zigui stood there unmoving.
Ning Xiaoyao said, “Will he plant the poison successfully? Why do I feel like the odds are really low?”
Lou Zigui squeezed Ning Xiaoyao’s hand. “If it fails, we won’t lose anything by it. There’s nothing to worry about, so consider it a trial run.”
Ning Xiaoyao looked at the Dragon Guards. So all of us ran over here just to see if we could get away with our schemes? Oh wait, that’s not right. Ning Xiaoyao immediately consoled herself. I still got to carry away Grand Preceptor Xie’s grain, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.
Xie Anshi took this moment to walk out of the room. Big Boss Black ran back like a streak of smoke. Thanks to all the vegetation growing around Old Madame’s rooms, the lighting in the premises was quite poor. Big Boss Black and his body of black fur blended easily into the shadows. Ning Xiaoyao asked for half a bag’s worth of sugar beans from Lou Zigui and sat on a chair to snack on them. She didn’t want to bother with any of this anymore.
Big Boss Black landed on her shoulder and said, “The Grand Preceptor told his son to say those seven men are distant relatives of the Xie Clan. Now that his son’s gone on to spread the message, everyone else in the Xie Clan will be fed the same story pretty soon.”
Ning Xiaoyao curled her lips in disbelief. “Tch, that’s identical to the excuse I thought up. The Grand Preceptor doesn’t have any creativity.”
“What’s creativity?” Big Boss Black asked.
“Forget it, you don’t have to tell me. This cat doesn’t want to know,” Big Boss Black cut her off. “Will Supreme Commander’s side be alright?”
Ning Xiaoyao stuffed more sugar beans in her mouth. She didn’t want to talk to this fat black furball anymore!
Elder Li had only lingered briefly in the room before stepping out again. He too, didn’t think Lou Zigui had sealed off the estate just to investigate Old Madame Xie’s death. The man had to be aiming for something else, so he decided to watch from the sidelines. Once he grew still, his cohorts joined him in their silence. None of them were as loud or combative as before in the mourning hall.
By the time Xie Anshi finished his rounds around the estate, the courtyard surrounding the Old Madame’s quarters had turned utterly silent, the kind of quiet that made your heart pound.
“How is it?” Grand Preceptor Xie asked his son when he returned as if it was an ordinary request.
Xie Anshi shook his head. “A few of the military officers tried but couldn’t get out. Father, should we leave them in a random room instead?”
Grand Preceptor Xie sighed. “His Majesty and Lou Zigui are targeting them. Wouldn’t they lead a search if those seven disappear from sight?” The imperial guards and Dragon Guards already had experience from searching through the Xie Estate in the paste.
Xie Anshi cast a glance at Ning Xiaoyao, who was still sitting in her chair and munching on sugar beans, before he lowered his voice. “What if His Majesty trumps up charges against them?”
Grand Preceptor Xie replied, “That wouldn’t be enough as long as I’m still here.”
“……..” said Xie Anshi. Even if His Majesty’s methods are limited, you haven’t gained any advantage from him either, father!
Ning Xiaoyao had held her breath to concentrate on the noises coming from the door to the room. Add that to the fact that it was silent to begin with and she heard the Xie father and son’s conversation loud and clear. Spitting at the floor, Ning Xiaoyao suddenly felt like it’d be better to end it all with a brawl. Setting up shadowy plots and sinister plans was way too annoying!
Shadowgale ran into the room at this time. He didn’t say a word, but simply inclined his head slightly towards Lou Zigui. Ning Xiaoyao muttered to herself, “Heavens, he actually succeeded.”
Lou Zigui made sure to remind Ning Xiaoyao, “When the time comes, don’t say a word. No matter what Xie Wenyuan says, you’re not to speak up.”
Not allowed to speak again? Ning Xiaoyao said unhappily, “Then what if he curses me?”
Lou Zigui pinched Ning Xiaoyao’s puffed-up cheeks and murmured, “Cursing the emperor is a serious form of disrespect. You can just hit him then.”
Ning Xiaoyao looked in the direction of Grand Preceptor Xie. Grand Preceptor, you better curse me when the time comes, ah!