Chapter 248: I’m a high-level master, she’s just some vegetables
Chef Huang sat in his armchair and watched as Ning Xiaoyao ran to the window, reached out to grab something, and scurry back to his side.
"S-snakes?!" Chef Huang almost leapt out of his seat at the two slithering things in Ning Xiaoyao's hands.
"Bamboo vipers," Ning Xiaoyao said as she placed them on his body. "The one on the left is named A'Ruan, while the one of the right is A'Liang."1
Chef Huang could only recall woodenly that bamboo vipers were poisonous.
"They're both my little pals," Ning Xiaoyao said cheerfully. "Now they're going to act as your pets. High-level masters need an air to match, right?"
"……" said Chef Huang. But do high-level masters have to raise snakes for pets?
A'Ruan and A'Liang stuck out their tongues at Chef Huang, turning him stiff with fear at the sight.
"Act well," Ning Xiaoyao said as she patted the snakes' heads.
"Don't worry," A'Ruan hissed at Ning Xiaoyao.
"I've troubled you both," Ning Xiaoyao said before lowering her head to kiss both snakes. Then she ran back to the bed and played dead again. Chef Huang stared at the two bamboo vipers on his body and lamented. What to do? I want to pee…
It was then that Lou Zigui and Imperial Physician Gao arrived at the door. Empress Dowager Xie's hair was all in disarray by now, evidence of her efforts to force open the door.
"Did His Majesty call for the empress dowager?" Lou Zigui asked.
Empress Dowager Xie shook her head. Lou Zigui raised his head to push again the door.
"High-level master, ah!" Ning Xiaoyao called towards Chef Huang from her bed.
TOT, went Chef Huang. I want to go back to my little kitchen.
It only took two tries for Lou Zigui to shatter the door bolt, which ended up in two halves on the floor. A'Ruan and A'Liang exchanged glances before slithering down Chef Huang's body and quickly heading for the entrance.
"Oh, right," Ning Xiaoyao added in a softer voice. "When the empress dowager screams later, you just have to say 'come back,' and A'Ruan and A'Liang will come back. I've already discussed how to act it out with them but forgot to give you a heads up, Chubs Huang."
Chef Huang wore a long face. "Is there anything else you forgot to tell me?" he asked.
"Nothing else," Ning Xiaoyao said before falling back on the bed to officially play dead.
Lou Zigui and Imperial Physician Gao walked in one after the other. Meanwhile, the smell of blood assaulted Empress Dowager Xie full force with the open door, causing her to dry heave.
"Esteemed Empress Dowager?" Lou Zigui called towards her from inside.
Imperial Physician Gao saw two bamboo vipers slither out the door and almost shouted, but Lou Zigui dragged him aside, choking the scream in his throat. He looked worriedly at A'Ruan and A'Liang before stammering, "Th, those are bamboo vipers, aren't they?" Green eyes and yellow eyes, they have to be it.
"Mhm," Lou Zigui replied.
Empress Dowager Xie took this moment to step over the threshold. Imperial Physician Gao held his breath at the sight of the two snakes by her feet. Before the woman could step on one, A'Ruan suddenly leered into sight and bobbed forward.
"YaaHHHHHhhh!" Empress Dowager Xie shrieked.
"……." said Shadowgale and the others from the door. Why are the empress dowager's cries so piteous? Did the play fail and force Supreme Commander Lou to attack her? (Author: Why does the attacker have to be Supreme Commander?)
Chef Huang pinched his throat and did his best to calm himself down before calling from behind the folding screen, "Come back."
A'Ruan and A'Liang stuck out their tongues a few times at Empress Dowager Xie, who had collapsed by the door, before slithering back into the inner room. The empress dowager was left reeling in shock. Imperial Physician Gao was badly shaken as well, and murmured to Lou Zigui, "Did His Majesty raise those as well?"
Lou Zigui replied, "If His Majesty can raise weasels, he can certainly raise snakes, too."
Looking at the unruffled Supreme Commander Lou, Imperial Physician Gao began to wonder whether he'd gotten worked up over nothing.
"Empress Dowager," Lou Zigui returned to the door. "Shall this subject call for two court ladies to assist you?"
Empress Dowager Xie sat blankly on the ground before suddenly calling out, "Who's in the room?"
Ning Xiaoyao sat up on her bed and pulled up the corners of her lips, hinting that Chef Huang should laugh.
"Heh," Chef Huang managed a stiff chuckle.
"Who's there?!" Empress Dowager Xie demanded.
Ning Xiaoyao continued to tug at her lips.
"……" said Chef Huang. If I keep laughing, won't I just be labeled a fool?
Empress Dowager Xie had already climbed to her feet by now. Ignoring Lou Zigui, she simply strode straight towards the inner room. Hearing this, Ning Xiaoyao immediately laid prostrate on her bed again. Chef Huang trembled. If His Majesty's going to play dead, who's going to tell me what to do?
A'Ruan and A'Liang crawled back onto Chef Huang's body and entwined themselves around him before they stopped moving.
"Your Majesty?" Empress Dowager Xie shouted.
Unable to escape or retreat, Chef Huang bolstered his courage and picked up the bloody clothes by his feet before tossing them over the folding screen. Empress Dowager Xie halted at the sight of the bloodstained clothing. These bright yellow robes were exclusive to the emperor, Ning Yu. By now, Lou Zigui and Imperial Physician Gao had also caught up to her in the room.
"Neither of you enter!" Empress Dowager Xie barked at them.
"Your Majesty?" Lou Zigui tried hailing. Ning Xiaoyao couldn't reply in the midst of playing dead. Empress Dowager Xie picked up a piece of clothing from the ground. The fabric was soaked in so much blood that it had clotted all together. Her hands shook, and she dropped the clothes again.
Chef Huang told himself, don't be nervous, don't be nervous. I'm a high-level master and the empress dowager is just some vegetables!
Empress Dowager Xie steadied her heart before striding past the folding screen.
"Gulp," Imperial Physician Gao was finding it hard to breathe at this critical moment!
Empress Dowager Xie passed the screen and saw Chef Huang sitting in his armchair before narrowly screaming again. Both A'Ruan and A'Liang stuck out their tongues at her, their heads high in the air as they stared at the woman. Chef Huang was a tall, strapping man with a face full of muscles. Although he was only a chef, he had ferocious. Combined with the fact that he was sitting in an impressive armchair, he resembled a solid mountain of meat. The two hissing bamboo vipers entwined around his body only made him seem more savage and evil.
Empress Dowager Xie felt her face pale. Even though she was a sinister woman who'd done no end of bloodless killing, at this moment she felt afraid. Chef Huang was frightened too. Despite his scary face, he didn't have much courage. Fortunately, his dark skin and piles of meat on his face made it impossible for anyone to tell that he was about to pee his pants.
"You," Empress Dowager Xie took a step back before she managed to speak. "Just who are you?"
Chef Huang saw Empress Dowager Xie's shaking legs and realized she was scared too. The fact made him feel less flustered than before, so he said, 'His Majesty is my disciple."
Empress Dowager Xie knitted her eyebrows. She and the Grand Preceptor had long convinced themselves that His Majesty must have found a master in secret. She never expected to see him in the flesh today. Meanwhile, A'Ruan turned his head to lick Chef Huang's hand in a show of affection. The snake's tongue was both wet and slippery, making Chef Huang stiffen in response.
He keeps poisonous snakes as pets and knows how to treat injuries as well. He must know poisons as well, Empress Dowager Xie concluded after watching A'Ruan's intimate actions. She began to calculate Chef Huang's potential abilities.
A'Ruan and A'Liang exchanged glances again. Xiaoyao had told them that they had to show how close they were to Chef Huang, like lifelong friends. When had poisonous snakes like them ever befriended any humans?
"What do we do next?" A'Liang hissed at A'Ruan.
"What if you curl yourself up on top of this fatty's head?" A'Ruan suggested. "I see Big Boss Black and Little White Fatty doing things like that all the time."
A'Liang thought that made sense. It wasn't just Big Boss Black and Little White Fatty, but various birds and mice who did the same thing. All of them liked to perch on Xiaoyao's head, so he followed suit to curl up on top of Chef Huang.
"……" said Chef Huang. I want to go back to the kitchens again. What to do?
Empress Dowager Xie took an experimental step forward. "You know His Majesty?"
"His Majesty is my disciple," Chef Huang pinched his thigh to keep his voice from shaking. "What don't I know?"
So he already knows that Ning Yu is female? Empress Dowager Xie sucked in a cold breath.
I'm a high-level expert, she's just some vegetables, Chef Huang chanted in his head.
"How is His Majesty doing?" Empress Dowager Xie began walking towards the bed.
A'Ruan suddenly leaped to the ground and blocked her way, arching up with a stare at Empress Dowager Xie. She turned to look towards Chef Huang instead.
"His Majesty's at death's door," Chef Huang said dully, "I can't guarantee that he'll survive this time."
"W-what?!" Empress Dowager Xie's voice was shaking.
"It all depends on fate," Chef Huang said.
#@*!(ADF. On the bed, Ning Xiaoyao mentally roasted Chef Huang. It's supposed to be 'One can only do all that is possible with little chance of success, but in the end it's all up to Heaven's will.' It's so depressing when people don't have any culture, the things they say aren't literary or graceful at all. (Author: Enough, you…)
Empress Dowager Xie looked at Ning Xiaoyao lying on the bed. This damned girl. She's lying face-up and her face doesn't look injured, but there's blood all over her body. I can't get close enough to see where she's been wounded.
I'm a high-level master, she's just some vegetables. Chef Huang chanted the same mantra in his head before he said, "Those I can't cure have no choice but to die."
Empress Dowager Xie shook her head. Ning Yu can't die.
Chef Huang thought that her action meant that she didn't believe him, so he added, "Esteemed Empress Dowager can invite other experts, but I only hope that His Majesty will still be alive by the time they arrive."
"He's your disciple," Empress Dowager Xie trilled. "Aren't you going to save him?"
"Didn't Esteemed Empress Dowager hear my words just then?"
"He can't die!" Empress Dowager Xie's voice rose again.
Chef Huang's expression was wooden.
"This Dowager is talking to you!" Empress Dowager Xie shouted.
"Hisssss~" A'Liang threatened from the top of Chef Huang's head. If you keep shouting, be careful that I don't bite you!
Empress Dowager Xie instantly deflated. Chef Huang managed to spit out, "I wasn't the one who injured His Majesty." His expressionless face, coupled with his ample jowls and monotone delivery, served to make his words sound merciless and cold.
Empress Dowager Xie continued to shake her head. This can't be happening. Ning Yu can't die right now!
She still doesn't believe me? Chef Huang recalled Ning Xiaoyao's directions and gave a bark of laughter while waving his hand at the window.
"Miaow!" Big Boss Black, who had already ran into the room, suddenly meowed out the window. At the same time, Little White Fatty took the rope tied to the top of the window and started running like mad.
Bang! The embroidered wood cover of the window slammed open harshly against the wall. Simultaneously, the cat Yellow Fatty led a few other kitties to shake all the plants in the flower beds. In the distance, Yellow Great Immortal knocked aside a piece of broken wood (courtesy of Ning Xiaoyao) that had been used to prop up a small tree, which now crashed to the ground.
Chef Huang was stunned. What did I just do?!
Empress Dowager Xie simply stared at him with wide eyes. This is a high-level master!
(Author: He's only a chef…)
A'Ruan, A'Liang (阿软，阿亮) – Ruan means "soft," Liang means "bright." ↩