Chapter 182: Beauty schemes are the most annoying Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Zhou mama ran into the living quarters of the little courtyard in a rush, her voice urgent. “Empress, eldest young master, a bunch of soldiers came to surround the temple grounds!”
“Whose men are they?” the empress asked immediately. Had His Majesty changed his mind to kill them instead, or was it Grand Preceptor Xie who’d gotten news of her arrival and were trapping them here?
“They’re the capital barracks’ soldiers,” Zhou mama replied. The empress backed away and fell heavily into a chair.
“Empress,” Zhou mama ran forward in fright. The empress was with child, so what if all these shocks hurt the baby?
The empress’s voice rose as she looked at Zhou Junqi. “It’s Xie Wenyuan.”
Eldest Young Master Zhou was standing in the middle of the room, staring at his little sister’s stomach with an unclear expression. The empress was cradling her abdomen, looking embarrassed. No matter whether she and Xu Feiyu were childhood sweethearts or deeply in love, she had married His Majesty and had an affair. Her eyes dimmed. It wouldn’t be outrageous for society to curse a woman like her.
Zhou mama stood in front of the empress and pled with Zhou Junqi. “Eldest young master, anything you want to say is too late now. Let’s think of solutions first.”
The empress said, “Shadowgale and the rest are already on the way back to the capital. They should have seen the capital barracks’ soldiers.”
“You want His Majesty to save you?” Zhou Junqi asked.
His words cut sharply into the empress’s ears, causing her to break out in tears. “I know that I’ve wronged His Majesty. I’m disgusted with myself too, but I had no other choice, big brother. No other choice.”
His sister’s tears extinguished Zhou Junqi’s temper. Who was really at fault here? He could only blame himself for lacking the skills to protect their family and his own little sister. If he had actually been useful, would they be in this state now?
“Judging from the times, Head Commander Shadowgale and the rest wouldn’t have met the soldiers going back,” Zhou Junqi said as he slowly settled into a chair.
Zhou mama asked, “T-then, shall we go find General Xu?”
“Distant water can’t quench present thirst,” Zhou Junqi shook his head. If Xie Wenyuan really wanted to kill then, then the letter asking Xu Feiyu for help wouldn’t even reach him before they were dead. “If you let Xie Wenyuan know about your relationship with A’Xu, would the Grand Preceptor let him off either?” Zhou Junqi didn’t want to scare the empress, but still, he had to make things clear.
“The Grand Preceptor knows already!?” The empress was shocked.
Zhou Junqi wore a bitter smile. “Why else would the empress dowager want to hurt you, unless she already knows about the pregnancy? Why then, would His Majesty send you out of the palace? Now Xie Wenyuan’s surrounded the temple with his troops—little sister, you still don’t understand?”
Both the empress and Zhou mama were stunned. After a while, the empress stammered, “T-t-then why did His Majesty still send me out of the palace?”
Zhou Junqi replied. “Let’s assume the worst. For the sake of those Zhou Clan soldiers in A’Xu’s hands, he wants to help bring you and A’Xu together.”
“Would he do that?” the empress felt cold all over. Forget about lying to herself, the feeling of losing any cover like this was completely different.
“Then will His Majesty settle accounts after everything is over?” Zhou mama had never thought favorably of Ning Xiaoyao and brought up the possibility herself. Right now, Ning Yu was willing to help them for the sake of the Zhou Clan soldiers, but would he tolerate the empress’s adultery once he had defeated the Grand Preceptor? Moreover, this was the sovereign of an entire nation that they were talking about! (Author: That there, His Majesty really isn’t a man…)
The empress seemed to be frightened out her wits at just the possibility.
“Eldest young master?” Zhou mama could only rely on Zhou Junqi now.
“Let’s get past this hurdle first,” Zhou Junqi thought it over. He could apologize for the offense by sacrificing his own life to His Majesty as long as it preserved his sister and Xu Feiyu’s lives.
“How can we pass it?” the empress asked.
“Zhou mama, find a way to get out of the temple and find His Majesty,” Zhou Junqi said. “If His Majesty really wants the Zhou Clan soldiers, he won’t stand by and watch us suffer a mishap.”
“The capital soldiers made such a stir to surround the temple, wouldn’t His Majesty already know?” the empress asked her brother desperately.
“Empress.” Zhou Junqi didn’t answer her question, but continued to instruct Zhou mama. “Meet with His Majesty first. Tell His Majesty that I’ll stay in the Iron Buddha Temple for my remaining years.”
The empress shot up from her seat at that and shouted, “Big brother!”
Zhou Junqi waved a hand at her. “I’m already a cripple. The only reason I’m still alive to is see how Xie Wenyuan will die. You and A’Xu don’t need to bother about me.”
The empress stood with tears streaming down her face.
“Don’t cry anymore,” Zhou Junqi creased his brows. “You’re pregnant, it’s not good for the baby if you’re always tearing up.”
How could the empress stop her tears now? Zhou mama looked at the siblings before she grit her teeth. “Eldest young master, empress, this servant will find a way to sneak out of the temple. Even if this servant ends up dead and kneeling by His Majesty’s feet, I will still beg His Majesty to send troops to the rescue.”
When Zhou mama left, the Zhou siblings remained sitting in the room, staring at each other wordlessly. The empress wiped her tears clean and said to her brother, “His Majesty doesn’t love me either.”
“Don’t talk about that anymore,” Zhou Junqi stopped her. “You should know too, His Majesty had no choice regarding your marriage back then either. Something like ‘no love’ isn’t your….” Zhou Junqi had to stop here, because how he could curse his little sister as a wanton, lascivious woman? This was his own sister he was talking about. Despite knowing her wrongs, he couldn’t bring himself to say them out loud.
The empress could only fall silent.
“In the future, neither of us will have face to see His Majesty,” Zhou Junqi said.
The empress clutched the hem of her robes, unable to speak.
Meanwhile, where was the Ning Xiaoyao that Zhou Junqi had resolved to give up his life for? She was currently standing in one of the watchtowers around the palace, watching the Poison Sect head walk out of the gates.
“He’ll come back to find you,” Lou Zigui whispered by her side.
Ning Xiaoyao replied, “Even if he didn’t, I’d go find him myself. He stabbed me once, so we’re not over.”
Lou Zigui lowered his gaze to look at Ning Xiaoyao’s stomach.
“I’m fine, I’m fine,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “But he really did stab me with a knife!”
Behind them, Shadowthunder spoke up. “Your Majesty, how are you planning to deal with that sect head?”
Ning Xiaoyao tilted her head to one side. “Well dang, I don’t know yet.”
“…….” said the second commander of the Dragon Guards. You were so enthusiastic just now, but you actually have no idea what you want to do?
Lou Zigui gave a soft chortle before taking Ning Xiaoyao’s hand. “Let’s go back.”
“Back where, ah?” Ning Xiaoyao didn’t want to budge. “I just remembered, I still need to visit the Lord Protector’s estate.”
“Why do you need to go there?” Lou Zigui asked.
Ning Xiaoyao stood on her tiptoes while pulling Lou Zigui down, then whispered in his ear, “For the sake of Pei Yan, ah.”
Lou Zigui said, “Didn’t you examine him already?”
“Then why are you still going to see him?”
Ning Xiaoyao cleared her throat before she continued to whisper, “I want to see how much he’s recovered his you-know-what skills.”
You-know-what, skills, recovered….
Lou Zigui broke down Ning Xiaoyao’s words into three distinct phrases before finally figuring out what she meant and why she wanted to go.
“Supreme Commander,” Ning Xiaoyao’s lips split into a grin, her eyes curved like crescents. “Do you want to check out the bustle with me?”
Check out the bustle? Lou Zigui rested a hand against his forehead.
“Shall we go?” Ning Xiaoyao pulled at him.
Shadowthunder was full of zeal. “Your Majesty, where are you going? Shall I guard you the way there?”
“Enough,” Lou Zigui couldn’t beat up Ning Xiaoyao, so he could only lose his temper at Shadowthunder. “Where do you want to guard His Majesty to? What hour is it now? Are there armies coming to strike, or cities being invaded? Or is Elder Li about to die, giving His Majesty no choice but to leave the palace?”
Shadowthunder was left dazed and dumbfounded by Lou Zigui’s torrent of words. What did I say to get such a scolding?
Ning Xiaoyao shrank her shoulders and slinked off to stand on one side.
“What’s up with you?” Lou Zigui asked.
Ning Xiaoyao’s tone was careful. “That there, Supreme Commander, ah. I never thought you were looking forward so much to that old grandpa Li’s death.”
Lou Zigui gave a start.
“I don’t have thoughts like that,” Ning Xiaoyao pled her innocence. Offend someone like Elder Li? I’d only do that if I had a hole in my head.
“Stop changing the topic,” Lou Zigui said. “When did I say I wanted Elder Li dead?”
“…….” said Ning Xiaoyao. You just said it yourself, but now you’re denying it?
Lou Zigui looked at Shadowthunder, whose mouth opened.
“What do you want to say?” Lou Zigui said first.
“Nothing,” Shadowthunder shook his head. I didn’t want to say a thing.
“There’s nothing going on tonight, so why should His Majesty leave the palace?” Lou Zigui asked Shadowthunder. Shadowthunder was a straightforward, simple and honest man. How could he stand such questioning from Lou Zigui? He immediately shrank down a few inches despite his towering frame.
“I’m going to the Lord Protector’s estate, so why are you scolding Second Thunder, Supreme Commander?” Ning Xiaoyao stood out to defend Shadowthunder.
“Go back to your bed,” Lou Zigui said.
“No,” Ning Xiaoyao puffed up her chest and rejected him.
Lou Zigui’s face hung. Ning Xiaoyao scooted closer to Shadowthunder. Even now, she had no idea why Supreme Commander was losing his temper. Lou Zigui simply pulled her back to him and murmured, “Are you going back on your own, or do I have to carry you on my shoulders?”
Ning Xiaoyao didn’t speak but started scuffing the ground with her shoe. She was debating how to rebel in silence. Unless she went to have a look for herself at the Lord Protector’s estate, she wouldn’t stop worrying, much less sleep. (Author: Are you sure it’s just because of that?)
Lou Zigui’s expression turned even more ghastly, causing Shadowthunder to tense up. He couldn’t help but stammer out, “D-don’t get physical. If–if there’s anything to say, talk it out.”
Ning Xiaoyao gave a snort, her face unreconciled. Lou Zigui couldn’t really haul Ning Xiaoyao away on his shoulders. In the end, she was still the emperor.
“If you won’t go, I’ll just go myself,” Ning Xiaoyao glanced at the city below her and prepared to leave. Seeing this, Lou Zigui picked her up in a princess carry and started striding down the watchtower steps. Shadowthunder looked after them gaping all the while. All of the imperial guards on duty were floored as well. Was it already too late to remind Supreme Commander that he was carrying His Majesty like a girl?
Ning Xiaoyao only remembered to struggle once Lou Zigui carried her down the steps. She shouted, “I won’t–”
“Be good,” Lou Zigui lowered his head and murmured. “Listen to me.”
Ning Xiaoyao pursed her lips. “Supreme Commander, just how old am I in your eyes?”
“You’re not very old,” Lou Zigui grinned at her. “Go back and sleep, alright? Mm?” His murmur seem to echo endlessly in her ears.
Ning Xiaoyao looked at the smiling man with a stifled heart. Male beauty schemes are the most annoying!