Chapter 247: His Majesty’s master
"What do we do?" Imperial Physician Gao asked Ning Xiaoyao. Shadowrain was looking at her blankly, too.
Ning Xiaoyao said, "Third Rain, Supreme Commander didn't tell you what to do?"
Shadowrain shook his head. Big Boss Black took this chance to scurry out from under the bed while holding something in his mouth. He meowed at Ning Xiaoyao, who looked down and saw the blood bag she'd taken from her robes between his jaws.
"Hurry, meow!" Big Boss Black urged.
Ning Xiaoyao glared at Imperial Physician Gao before she declared, "Little Gao, you're not even as smart as my Black Tubby!"
"……." said Imperial Physician Gao. You make it sound like you had some grand plan yourself when you were just as clueless as me!
Big Boss Black jumped onto the bed with the blood bag and knelt by Ning Xiaoyao's side.
"My clothes, ah," Ning Xiaoyao lamented over the fact that she'd changed to fresh ones already before slapping the bag against her body. Once again, the scent of fresh blood filled the room, and Ning Xiaoyao plopped back down on the bed, pretending to play dead again.
Shadowrain asked uncertainly, "Is this enough?"
Ning Xiaoyao opened one eye to glare at him. "Then what else you do want me to do? Stab myself again?"
Shadowrain hastily shook his head. If His Majesty really stabbed himself in front of his guard, then his big bro and the rest would definitely stab him as well.
"Third Rain, Little Gao, both of you should get out," Ning Xiaoyao said. "When you see the empress dowager, just stand there wiping away tears. If you can't make yourself cry, at least make your eyes red. Little Gao, you can just pretend that I'm your—"
Imperial Physician Gao spun on his heel and left. He still wants to take advantage of me. My father at home is perfectly fine!
"Take your acting seriously," Ning Xiaoyao made a fist pump at Shadowrain to encourage him. Shadowrain rubbed his eyes in response. Fine, I'll alright. As a follower of His Majesty, I should be able to do anything!
Once Shadowrain had left as well, Ning Xiaoyao met eyes with Big Boss Black, who scooted forward and licked the wound on her neck. "It must hurt a lot, right?"
"It's not too bad," Ning Xiaoyao breathed. "Any pain was only fleeting at most. The empress really was brutal when she stabbed me."
"Do you want me to bite her to death?" Big Boss Black asked.
Ning Xiaoyao just sighed. "Black Tubby, let me remind you again. You're a cat. Can't you be a cute little kitty instead?"
Big Boss Black wanted to claw her, but seeing that she'd just been injured, he held back. "The empress is a villain."
Ning Xiaoyao didn't answer, but she patted his head silently. He'd never understand if she tried to explain things like human nature to him.
After the length of time it took to burn a stick of incense, Empress Dowager Xie's carriage stopped before the entrance to the courtyard of the main palace. She raised her head and peered at the grand sleeping quarters of Yongning's generations of emperors and empresses. When the Yuanzong Emperor was still on the throne, she used to come here often. But now, she thought with a mocking smile, This place has turned so foreign that I don't even recognize it, just with a change in masters. It's as if I've never been here before.
Shadowrain stood expressionlessly by Lou Zigui's head and gave a slight nod. Lou Zigui told Empress Dowager Xie, "Esteemed Empress Dowager, His Majesty refuses to meet anyone, so we subjects can only wait here."
Empress Dowager Xie took a step towards the stairs. Outside the royal bedroom, Imperial Physician Gao was kneeling by the door. Once he caught sight of Empress Dowager Xie, he hastily lowered his head and bowed in greeting. Empress Dowager Xie stared at his red-rimmed eyes and asked, "Have you seen His Majesty?"
Imperial Physician Gao shook his head and said in a voice choked with sobs, "His Majesty won't let anyone inside. This subject didn't get to see him."
Empress Dowager Xie walked to the door and pushed it open. It swung in with a creak, but only revealed a crack. Immediately, the strong stench of blood assaulted her nostrils.
"Your Majesty?" Empress Dowager Xie called.
Ning Xiaoyao's mouth twitched as she laid on the bed. Big Boss Black licked his claws.
Empress Dowager Xie called out a few more times without response, then told Imperial Physician Gao, "Call for someone to force this door open."
Imperial Physician Gao looked up in alarm at the empress dowager, whose expression turned cold. "This is This Dowager's decree. If His Majesty reproaches you for this, This Dowager will shoulder the blame."
Imperial Physician Gao bowed towards Empress Dowager Xie before rising to run into the courtyard. He would need to have Supreme Commander Lou decide whether the woman could enter the chambers. Empress Dowager Xie stood alone in front of the bedroom door, her face finally showing traces of fear. If Ning Yu dies, what will I do then?
Ning Xiaoyao asked Big Boss Black, "Will Supreme Commander let the empress dowager in?"
"This cat doesn't know," Big Boss Black replied.
Ning Xiaoyao scratched her palms before saying, "If the empress dowager comes in, I'll have to pretend I'm almost dead. That's pretty hard."
Big Boss Black grew perturbed. "How about this cat goes out right now and bite that empress dowager to death?"
Ning Xiaoyao cradled her head in her hands. There's no helping this fat cat.
Big Boss Black said, "Just give this cat a word. If you want the empress dowager dead, this cat will go out right now."
Ning Xiaoyao could only reply listlessly, "Let me think it over first."
"You're just too full of good intentions," Big Boss Black expressed his disappointment. "You're clearly the emperor, but now look! Anyone can bully you if they want! You're a disgrace, miaow!"
Ning Xiaoyao glared at him. "Do you think I wanted to be emperor?"
Big Boss Black bared his fangs at her. "Even if you didn't, you still took the position. What's the use of bringing up such pointless things with this cat now?"
Ning Xiaoyao laid on the bed and thought furiously over how to break through this obstacle!
Meanwhile, Imperial Physician Gao had already reached Lou Zigui and reported in a low voice, "Esteemed Empress Dowager wants to go in and see His Majesty."
"How can that be allowed?!" Shadowrain blurted out first.
Imperial Physician Gao looked up at Lou Zigui. Whether or not it's permissible, you should say something ah, Your Excellency Supreme Commander.
"I'll go over to have a look," Lou Zigui said.
Imperial Physician Gao said, "If Supreme Commander goes in, Esteemed Empress Dowager will want to go in too."
"Supreme Commander," an imperial guard ran over just then with a report. "The Grand Preceptor's here. He's requesting to see His Majesty by the gates."
"So fast?" Imperial Physician Gao was stunned.
Lou Zigui told the guard, "Tell your commander to block him as long as you can."
The military officer muttered an assent and ran off. Shadowgale next spoke, "If the Grand Preceptor's kept out, he'll definitely transfer the troops from the military barracks to enter the palace. What will we do then?"
Lou Zigui said, "We only need to defend Supreme Splendor Hall when the time comes."
All four commanders of the Dragon Guards felt doubt at this decision. The military barrack soldiers outnumbered them multiple times over. Could they really hold the fort at Supreme Splendor Hall?
"Miaow," came a sound from his feet. Lou Zigui looked down and saw Big Boss Black holding a handkerchief in his mouth while staring at him. Shadowthunder crouched down and tried to take the cloth, but earned a nasty scratch in response.
"Miaow~" Big Boss Black meowed at Lou Zigui.
Lou Zigui knelt down and offered his hand to Big Boss Black, who opened his mouth and plopped the handkerchief in Lou Zigui's hands.
"….." said the scratched Shadowthunder.
Lou Zigui lightly petted Big Boss Black's head and stood up to read the words on the handkerchief.
Hurry and find someone to impersonate my master.
The writing on the cloth was crooked and ugly, but they were unmistakably Ning Xiaoyao's words.
"His Majesty really does have a master?" Shadowthunder murmured.
"Who's going to impersonate him?" Shadowrain asked.
Imperial Physician Gao said, "Not me. The empress dowager's already seen me."
"Who amongst us hasn't the empress dowager seen?" Shadowbolt asked Imperial Physician Gao. Scholars are supposed to be smart, but why's this one so foolish?
"It has to be someone she's never seen before," Shadowgale agreed.
"Who do you think is appropriate?" Lou Zigui asked them.
All of them stared back at him instead. You're the one who made this mess, but now you don't have any ideas?
Lou Zigui glanced at the Dragon Guards behind them, who all felt flustered by the sudden attention.
Imperial Physician Gao said, "Supreme Commander, hurry and pick someone. It's no good if Esteemed Empress Dowager's kept waiting, right?"
"It's fine," Lou Zigui said, "She doesn't have the strength to kick apart the door bolt."
"…….." said everyone else. Now isn't the time for you to look down on the empress dowager's strength!
"Meow~" Another meow came from the covered walkway, earning everyone's attention. Now the long-furred Little White ran over with another handkerchief in its mouth. Lou Zigui's mouth twitched before taking the cloth from Little White's mouth. Everyone gathered around to read the new message written on the handkerchief.
I've already found a candidate for my master. Hurry and get over here, the empress dowager's already pounding on the door!
"Who did His Majesty find to impersonate his master?" the second commander of the Dragon Guards asked.
"Well, it can't be an outsider, that's for sure," the third commander of the Dragon Guards remarked.
"You, come with me," Lou Zigui told Imperial Physician Gao before heading off. Big Boss Black and Little White both darted off towards the main palace as well.
Inside the bedroom, Ning xiaoyao was trying to calm down a trembling Chef Huang. "Just pretend the empress dowager is a plate of vegetables. Don't be afraid of her."
"But she's the empress dowager!" Chef Huang exclaimed with a shiver.
"You're already my master, so what does the empress dowager count for?" Ning Xiaoyao said as she stretched the folding screen out to cover his figure. "Pretend she's some vegetables, bring out your imposing manner as a chef."
Chef Huang felt like peeing in his pants right now. "Your Majesty, this servant is only a chef."
"And I'm only an emperor," Ning Xiaoyao said as she straightened out the folding screen. "But I'm still acting all the same! Chubs Huang, you can do it!"
Chef Huang was still shaking. "If Esteemed Empress Dowager recognizes who I am, I'll die."
"It's not just you," Ning Xiaoyao corrected, "We'll all die."
Now Chef Huang really was going to pee his pants.
"You're a high-level master," Ning Xiaoyao said as she set Chef Huang in an old-fashioned wooden armchair. "Just imagine you're facing some vegetables. What would you do to them?"
Chef Huang replied, "Wash them first, then chop them, then—then put them in a pot to boil."
Ning Xiaoyao gave him a big thumbs up. "Right now, the empress dowager is a bunch of vegetables. Wash her and chop her, then put her in a pot to boil."
"……" said Chef Huang. But the problem is, Esteemed Empress Dowager isn't any vegetables at all!
"Just say that I'm at death's door," Ning Xiaoyao rehearsed his lines with him, "And that you can't guarantee that I'll survive."
Chef Huang stared at the bloody clothes that Ning Xiaoyao had piled by his feet and grew even more afraid.
"After that, you can just toss these clothes outside the folding screen," Ning Xiaoyao continued to coach.
"T, then what if Esteemed Empress Dowager wants to come in?" Chef Huang refused to believe that a single folding screen would be enough to keep her out.
"Even if she does, you just sit there and don't move," Ning Xiaoyao replied. "Remember, she's just some vegetables. Do you need to pay respects to your vegetables before you boil them in a pot?"
Chef Huang shook his head. He'd never heard of any chef who did such things with their ingredients.
"Then isn't that fine?" Ning Xiaoyao gave him an earnest look. "You've said it before, the empress dowager's never seen you before. What's there to be scared of?"
Chef Huang wanted to cry. If he had known he was being summoned to do something like this, he'd never have admitted that the empress dowager had never seen him before! Was it already too late to take back his words? （╥﹏╥。)