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Chapter 143: The abrupt death of Old Madame Xie Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
“That’s impossible,” Xie Anyi shook his head as he stood in front of the altar.
Struck by a guilty conscience, Ning Xiaoyao attempted to patch things up. “Then let’s just change it for another incense burner. The quality of this one must have been lacking.”
“………” said everyone else. How could the Grand Preceptor’s estate dare to use inferior goods for Old Madame’s mourning hall incense burner?
Elder Li gave a cold laugh. “It looks like Old Madame is a very perceptive soul.” Ning Xiaoyao didn’t understand his words. Old Madame’s already dead, so what’s there for me to perceive?
“Someone come,” Grand Preceptor Xie said, “Change this to another incense burner.”
“Chirp~” Cousin Magpie’s call could be heard coming from outside the mourning hall. Ning Xiaoyao’s ears perked up at the sound.
“Xiaoyao,” Cousin Magpie spoke, “The Grand Preceptor’s locked up that little white flower in the woodhouse of the East Courtyard!”
Ning Xiaoyao tugged on her collar. Looks like Old Madame died by young née Wang’s hands, after all! Meanwhile, the other residents of the mourning hall were all bewildered at the sound of Cousin Magpie. There was funeral at the home, and yet magpies were chirping. They were usually harbingers of good tidings, so what did this really mean? It doesn’t make sense for Old Madame Xie’s death to be good tidings.
“Old Madame had her people prepare a vial of poison for the little white flower,” Cousin Magpie continued to chirp from the roof. “The little white flower refused to drink it, so Old Madame called for people to force feed it to her. In the end, little white flower pushed Old Madame aside and the old woman hit her head on the table edge and died!”
Ning Xiaoyao whirled back to stare at the wide mahogany casket. What a savage old woman!
“And also,” Cousin Magpie continued, “Little white flower had other people put something in Old Madame’s tea too. That cup of tea is still on Old Madame’s roof, chirpchirp~ I even saw it myself!”
What eyes. Ning Xiaoyao mentally gave Cousin Magpie a ‘Like’. They’re almost as good as radar by now.
Elder Li stroked his beard and looked at Grand Preceptor Xie. “The incense burner was ruined and magpies are singing good tidings over the mourning hall. Grand Preceptor, such unusual occurrences certainly would point to evil spirits about, you should take extra care.”
Aside from Ning Xiaoyao, everyone else understood the implications of Elder Li’s words. He was saying the Xie Clan’s days were numbered.
“Chase off that bird,” Grand Preceptor Xie commanded. Hearing that, Cousin Magpie flew off by himself. Ning Xiaoyao sighed. How to describe Old Madame Xie’s death? None of the people involved were any good, so it was a matter of who had the worse luck. What kind of family is this? She suddenly felt a pang of sympathy for the real Ning Yu. She must have had a very unhappy girlhood, living here for years.
“Your Majesty,” Lou Zigui pointed at the kneeling Xie Anyi. “This man must be exiled.”
“The whole family’s a bad lot,” Ning Xiaoyao said hatefully. “It’d be better if they were all exiled!”
“What?” Lou Zigui asked.
“Let’s go,” Ning Xiaoyao didn’t want to stay here any longer.
“Then young née Wang?” Lou Zigui asked her.
“Take Xie Anyi away,” Ning Xiaoyao pointed at the eldest young master of the Xie Clan. Two Dragon Guards ran forward and hauled Xie Anyi to his feet.
“Son!” Lady Wang sobbed from where she stood within the hall.
“I’m not leaving,” Xie Anyi found strength from who-knows-where and threw himself across the altar table. The two Dragon Guards were caught by surprise and chased after him, trying to drag him away. Ning Xiaoyao shouted at them to take the man away before turning to look around. Uncertainly, she asked, “Ah geez, what’s that smell?”
After the incense burner had broke, the incense sticks landed on the floor, straight onto the white shroud that was draping down while covering the coffin. The ember at the tip had slowly turned the fabric yellow, then black, until thick flames had finally enveloped the fabric. Ning Xiaoyao saw smoke rising from behind the altar table and cried, “This is bad, it’s caught on fire!”
“That’s impossible!” Xie Anyi broke free of the two Dragon Guards and planted himself across the altar table. This action of his caused two thick white candles to fall off the altar. Big Boss Black took the chance to jump onto the table as well, his claws reaching for the lopsided plate of red braised fish. Ning Xiaoyao had no strength to ridicule him. Which was more important, fish or a cat’s life?
The flames had reached even greater heights by now. By the time everyone else noticed the smell and saw the smoke, fire had overtaken the entire coffin.
“Save the people!” Grand Preceptor Xie shouted. He wasn’t talking about Ning Xiaoyao, but his own womenfolk who were still in the inner rooms! By now, the long white streamers hanging over the table had caught fire as well. The wind fanned the flames until all the streamers were lit ablaze, turning Old Madame Xie’s mourning hall into a sea of flames in an instant.
In the chaos, everyone ran outside, and it was every man for themselves. Lou Zigui grabbed the person closest to him and escaped the hall gasping for breath before going to comfort his charge. But instead of Ning Xiaoyao, he saw someone else in his hands!
“Who are you?” he asked in angry alarm, before shoving the girl aside.
Xie Duoying fell to the ground, speechless from the sudden forceful push. As soon as she had run out of the inner rooms, she’d noticed His Majesty standing next to a pillar in the burning room. She had wanted to use the chance to make him give her a second glance and see her good side. Thus, the Fifth Young Miss of the Xie Clan had given her all to run to his side. But before she even had a chance to speak, Supreme Commander Lou had grabbed her hand and pulled her out of the hall. Fifth Young Miss Xie felt extremely aggrieved by the action. Why did you pull me away? (Author: Girl, what are the chances of His Majesty falling in love with you in the middle of a fire?)
Lou Zigui had no time to consider who this girl was. “Your Majesty!?” Supreme Commander Lou shouted from the courtyard. Shadowgale and his fellow head commanders all looked around in panic. His Majesty wasn’t amongst them!
When Ning Xiaoyao saw Lou Zigui grab the little beauty’s hand and run away through the smoke and flames, she’d silently withdrawn her own hand to rub her nose. She felt a little saddened by the sight. Of all the times for him to run away with another girl, why did he have to pick now?
Big Boss Black jumped onto Ning Xiaoyao’s shoulder and shouted, “Ninny, why aren’t you escaping yet?”
Ning Xiaoyao rolled her eyes at him. “So you’ve finished eating your fish?”
Big Boss Black fell silent before he boldly replied, “You can’t keep a cat from his fish!”
“Mother, mother’s still inside!” Lady Wang’s sobs came from outside the hall. Next to Ning Xiaoyao, a ceiling rafter crashed to the ground with a loud thud.
“Run already!” Big Boss Black meowed at his ninny.
Ning Xiaoyao held her breath and prepared to dash away until she heard the sound of a girl crying from the direction of the Old Madame’s coffin.
Lou Zigui started to run back into the flames. Even two generals from the Black Frost Cavalry couldn’t hold him back. Right now, their Supreme Commander looked like a man who’d gone mad. Grand Preceptor Xie stared at the raging inferno and silently wished it’d burn faster. It’d be best if Ning Yu was buried in the flames. It was a strange fire to begin with. Perhaps this is Old Madame’s way of protecting our Xie Clan. By inciting a large fire, she’s sending Ning Yu off to the Yellow Springs.
The left side of the mourning hall collapsed under the growing flames, raising a giant cloud of dust that momentarily blinded Lou Zigui as he charged in. Elder Li pointed a finger at Grand Preceptor Xie and shouted with red eyes, “Xie Wenyuan!”
Instead of calling for help to put out the fire, this man was watching the flames engulf everything. Xie Wenyuan wants to see His Majesty die. Elder Li was so frantic that he fainted dead away. Meanwhile, Grand Preceptor Xie stood there as if he’d heard nothing at all. When the other members of the Xie Clan saw their head behaving thus, their sounds of crying ceased. The other officials present wanted to put out the fire, but none of them knew where to find water in the Grand Preceptor’s estate. They could only search the surrounding courtyards for liquid.
“Your Majesty? Xiaoyao?”
Lou Zigui was too choked for words. Inside the mourning hall, he couldn’t see a thing besides the thick smoke and flames. In the midst of the suffocating atmosphere, a hand reached out to grab his own. Then Lou Zigui heard Miss Ning speak.
“Why did you come back?”
Shadowgale and the other Dragon Guards wanted to enter the flames as well, but the sheer temperatures roasted their skin as they drew near. Meanwhile, Ning Xiaoyao shouted from the flames, “Windy, what are you lot playing at? There’s a fire and you’re still not running away?!”
Shadowgale nearly wept with joy at the sound of Ning Xiaoyao’s voice. His Majesty’s alright!
The newly revived Elder Li kneeled on the ground and thanked Heaven. Grand Preceptor Xie shut his eyes tightly. This damned girl still isn’t dead yet!
Ning Xiaoyao took a step out of the conflagration at the same time the right side of the mourning hall collapsed. “My God,” Ning Xiaoyao sighed. Wooden houses can’t touch fire at all. This building burned down just way too fast!
The courtyard was utterly silently as its occupants stared at His Majesty striding out of the flames. That’s right, His Majesty really was simply taking a walk, his steps easy and carefree. Ning Xiaoyao let go of Lou Zigui’s hand and stared at them all. “What’s wrong with all you guys?”
Elder Li staggered over in front of her and pointed at her shoulder in silence. Ning Xiaoyao casually put down the coffin resting there, striking the ground with a loud thump. The little servant girl still clutching to its surface was currently crying up a storm.
Ning Xiaoyao said, “Don’t cry, ah. Didn’t we make it out? It’s alright now.”
The little servant girl rolled off Old Madame’s coffin and knelt in front of Ning Xiaoyao to thank her for saving her life.
“That coffin is so heavy. How—how in the world did you manage to move it?” Elder Li was beginning to wonder whether he was still dreaming. It wasn’t just him, because everyone else had the same thought as well. A single coffin was already around a hundred pounds without including the extra cat and human. Just how strong is His Majesty?
Ning Xiaoyao rubbed her half-blackened face and said, “Old gramps, is now really the time to worry about that?”
Elder Li gave a start before he suddenly cried, “Your Majesty, you’re still injured!”
Lou Zigui grabbed Ning Xiaoyao’s hand. “Are you alright?”
Ning Xiaoyao didn’t get to speak before the mahogany coffin split open and coughed out Old Madame Xie’s body. Everyone sucked in a breath at her corpse. The Old Madame had been neatly covered up before being placed in the coffin, but all the jostling had displaced the mourning shroud atop her face, revealing the gaping wound on the side of her temples. Old Madame Xie hadn’t died of natural causes at all!
Everyone looked towards Grand Preceptor Xie. She clearly died a violent death, and yet you hid that fact and went straight to funeral preparations. Xie Wenyuan, do you want the world to curse you for being unfilial?