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Chapter 140: Supreme Commander Lou helps His Majesty change clothes Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Everyone else in the room had complicated expressions after hearing Elder Li tell His Majesty to offer his condolences at the Grand Preceptor’s estate. Can His Majesty guarantee that nothing will happen when he visits the Grand Preceptor’s estate? Your Excellency Elder Li, you don’t care how big of a ruckus you cause, do you?
Ning Xiaoyao sat there thinking about funeral rites from her world. You could forget about the ones who lost their bodies after death–like those who buried themselves with the zombies after detonating an ant.i.tank grenade–but anyone with a corpse intact was lit on fire and cremated. Does Elder Li mean that I have to go to the Grand Preceptor’s estate and make sure they burn up the old madame’s corpse? (Author: Do you believe me when I say that the Xie Clan will kill you for that? ╮(╯﹏╰）╭ )
“Do I have to go?” Ning Xiaoyao asked Elder Li.
“No one will say anything if Your Majesty is unwilling,” Elder Li said, “But the old madame is still your senior. No matter what kind of relations.h.i.+p Your Majesty and the Grand Preceptor have, Your Majesty is simply expressing filial piety if you send off old madame on her final journey.”
Then that means I have to go, Ning Xiaoyao thought as she pursed her lips. First, I’ll ask around to make sure I’m familiar with funeral rites in this world. Even though both worlds had humans, the ones on this side were more unreasonable and particular with details. “That there, I…” Ning Xiaoyao wanted to ask.
“Your Majesty should refer to yourself with ‘Zhen,’” Elder Li cut her off. “Using ‘guaren’1 works as well.” The old man had put up with Ning Xiaoyao using “I” here and “I” there from day to night for a long time now.
“Your Majesty!” Elder Li’s voice turned stern.
“Isn’t it just a form of address?” Ning Xiaoyao wouldn’t give in. I’ve used ‘I’ for 18 years already, so why do I have to call myself ‘Zhen’ now? Don’t I have any freedom as the emperor? Where’s my respect and dignity? Dangit!
“Your Majesty, you cannot discard simple courtesy,” Elder Li said severely.
“Speaking of which, what’s a guaren (寡人)?” Ning Xiaoyao said after silently repeating Zhen and guaren to herself. “Are you saying that emperors can gua ren (剐人)–cut people to pieces–as they like after taking the throne?” She glanced at Supreme Commander Lou, recalling the first time she’d seen him on the execution platform.
“Your Majesty, guaren refers to dujia guaren (独家寡人)–a person isolated from the people, a king that rules above them–not the gua (剐) you find in guaxing (剐刑), or execution by dismemberment,” an official explained for Ning Xiaoyao’s benefit.
“Dujia guaren (独家寡人), like the gua in guafu (寡妇)–a widow?” Ning Xiaoyao stared at Elder Li. “I’m an emperor, but I still have to refer to myself as a widow?”
“…….” said everyone else. How they wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. What to do? Elder Li watched Ning Xiaoyao’s wide-eyed stare and puffy cheeks. It didn’t look like His Majesty was pretending to be a fool, but how there could there someone who didn’t know what a guaren (寡人) was?! Has His Majesty never read any books? Elder Li suddenly came to a frightening through.
“Has Your Majesty read the Four Books?” Elder Li asked.
Ning Xiaoyao blinked. Though the name sounded familiar, she had no idea what they were about. Elder Li stood waiting for her answer, determined to get to the bottom of this! Ning Xiaoyao twisted her head to look at Lou Zigui. Did she have to admit that she hadn’t read many books and was a complete ignoramus?
“Someone come,” Lou Zigui called towards the door. Shadowbolt answered an affirmative form outside.
Lou Zigui said, “Prepare the emperor’s carriage. His Majesty is going to the Grand Preceptor’s estate to offer condolences.”
“This servant obeys,” Shadowbolt replied loudly.
“Your Majesty, please change your clothes,” Lou Zigui told Ning Xiaoyao. Elder Li and the other officials could all see the blood still staining Ning Xiaoyao’s dragon robes. Changing clothes was only natural, so none of them could tell her to stop.
“Come on,” Lou Zigui urged Ning Xiaoyao to get up, before adding in a low tone, “Unless you want to discuss the Four Books and Five Cla.s.sics with Elder Li?”
Ning Xiaoyao jumped out of her seat and fled. She was already fuzzy enough on the Four Books, but there was a Five Cla.s.sics too?! Lou Zigui followed after Ning Xiaoyao, pausing by Elder Li’s side to said, “Elder and the rest should make some preparations as well and visit the Grand Preceptor’s estate via carriage.”
Elder Li asked, “Is this His Majesty’s wishes?”
Lou Zigui said, “It was Elder who proposed that His Majesty pay his respects. What now? Elder Li won’t accompany him?”
Elder Li was impervious to his persuasions. “It should be His Majesty saying these things. Isn’t Supreme Commander exceeding your position like this?”
Lou Zigui simply walked past Elder Li without a word, feeling annoyed! After the Supreme Commander left the room, Elder Li finally saw the error of his ways. He turned to ask one of the officials, “The old man asked His Majesty about his knowledge, so what did Lou Zigui mean by having His Majesty change clothes?”
The various officials could only pretend they didn’t exist to avoid getting tangled up in the mess.
Ning Xiaoyao stood gaping at the open wardrobes in her room. You’re supposed to wear black for funerals, right? But I don’t have a single piece of black clothing. What to do now? Was she supposed to borrow some night-duty robes from Windy and rest instead?
Lou Zigui walked in to see the wide open wardrobes and asked, “What’s wrong?”
“There aren’t any black clothes,” Ning Xiaoyao said frankly.
Black clothes? When Lou Zigui finally figured out what Ning Xiaoyao meant, he laughed. “Xiaoyao, you’re the emperor. You don’t need to change into mourning clothes for Old Madame Xie’s sake.”
“So it’s like that, ah,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “Then will I get hurt if I go to the Xie Estate wearing bright red robes2 instead?”
“…….” said Lou Zigui.
“Alright, I’ll forget about the bright red clothes,” Ning Xiaoyao shook her head. When she looked at the full closets, she was still stuck on deciding what to wear.
“What about the robes you usually wear?” Lou Zigui asked.
“Oh, Mute Nanny took them to wash,” Ning Xiaoyao took out a white s.h.i.+rt and asked, “How about this one?”
Lou Zigui glanced at the article of clothing before he said awkwardly, “That’s an inner robe. Later you should–you should change into that as well.”
Ning Xiaoyao sighed before draping the robe over her shoulders and looking for some outer robes. Lou Zigui helped her pick out a set of reddish purple spring robes embroidered with auspicious clouds and suggested, “How about this one?”
Ning Xiaoyao said ‘oh,’ before turning her back to Lou Zigui and stripping off her clothes. Lou Zigui was quick to speak, “You’re going to change right here?”
“Ah?” Ning Xiaoyao looked back at him with a strange expression. “No way, right? Is that what you thought of as soon as you saw my back?”
“I,” Lou Zigui wanted to tell Ning Xiaoyao about the distances between men and women again, but his eyes caught sight of her bloodstained gauze as they trailed down. He knitted his eyebrows and strode over. “Why is there blood seeping out? Does your injury hurt?”
“Impossible,” Ning Xiaoyao looked down at the injury. The skin had already healed over, so why would it still be bleeding?
“Don’t move,” Lou Zigui reached out for the gauze. Ning Xiaoyao tossed a sugar bean into her mouth and obediently stood still. When Lou Zigui removed the gauze to see the smooth, slightly plump flesh beneath marred with a faint red scar about one finger wide and two finger-lengths long, he found it almost unbelievable. After pressing on the spot to make sure the place had healed completely, Supreme Commander Lou whipped his head up to stare at Ning Xiaoyao, who waved back.
“I told you that I’m a doctor, ah. My medical skills are pretty good, haha.”
Lou Zigui’s eyes darted to the faint red mark and murmured, “Will it leave a scar?”
“Urk,” Ning Xiaoyao said. “Supreme Commander, do you like it with or without a scar?”
“You’re a girl, so why would you bother leaving scars on your body?” Lou Zigui blurted out.
“Oh, then I won’t leave a scar,” Ning Xiaoyao patted her stomach twice. Originally, she wanted to keep the scar as a proof of her heroics after fighting with evil, but if Supreme Commander didn’t like it, then she’d let it go. Better to have skin like a freshly-peeled egg instead.
Lou Zigui gently stroked the mark beneath his fingertips before he said, “You have to be careful in the future. Don’t get hurt again.”
“Mhm,” Ning Xiaoyao crunched on the sugar beans in her mouth. She wouldn’t have gotten stabbed in the first place if she hadn’t been protecting that old man.
“Your Majesty?” Shadowgale’s voice called from outside.
“Here,” Ning Xiaoyao answered.
Lou Zigui came to his senses with Shadowgale’s voice and quickly withdrew his hand before his eyes drifted upwards. Immediately, his face flushed as he shouted at the door, “Don’t come in!”
“……” said Head Commander Shadowgale, who was just about to enter.
Ning Xiaoyao munched on her sugar beans and asked, “What’s wrong?”
“You,” Lou Zigui wanted to say, but only ended up sighing. He resigned himself to helping Ning Xiaoyao get dressed–first with her inner robes, then her outer robes.
Ning Xiaoyao asked, “Supreme Commander, do I have to change my pants too?” (Author: Girl, if you take off your pants, do you think Supreme Commander Lou will be able to hold back anymore?)
Lou Zigui’s face seemed to turn even redder. Ning Xiaoyao looked at his burning cheeks, then at herself, and finally understood. “That there, I won’t change my pants then, haha. It’s not like my b.u.t.t’s injured, so why would I need to change my pants, right?”
“Stop talking,” Lou Zigui covered Ning Xiaoyao’s mouth. She dutifully shut up. Truthfully speaking, he’s the one that walked in front of me, isn’t it?
Lou Zigui released his hand and watched Ning Xiaoyao comb through her hair with her hands, leaving the strands messed up this way and that. Supreme Commander Lou couldn’t help but wonder why this girl was so cool and collected. Am I not a man in her eyes?
“Supreme Commander, you don’t have to be so embarra.s.sed,” Ning Xiaoyao said after she finished brus.h.i.+ng her hair. “It’s not like I’ll lose a few pieces of flesh if you peek at a me a few times.”
“…….” said Lou Zigui. This has nothing to do with missing meat, alright?
“How is it?” Ning Xiaoyao spread out her arms and let Lou Zigui survey her looks. He was still left mute. Why does it feel like we’re best friends together in a house?
“Your Majesty?” Shadowgale shouted, having gotten anxious with waiting.
“Come in,” Ning Xiaoyao said loudly.
Shadowgale pushed open the door and walked inside. He saw the discarded dragon robes on a chair and His Majesty dressed in a new set of robes. Everything about Ning Xiaoyao looked normal and whole, so Head Commander Shadowgale stopped worrying. “Your Majesty, the carriage’s already been prepared.”
“Then we’ll set off,” Ning Xiaoyao prepared to march off.
“Hold it,” Lou Zigui called her back. He walked in front of the tabletop mirror and took out a jade headpiece used for binding the hair from a small casket on the table. “Come here and put this on.”
Ning Xiaoyao had seen this jade headpiece before and was even planning to sell it off, but it was very finely made, so the insignia was difficult to sc.r.a.pe off. That’s why it had survived for so long in the palace. She sat in front of the bronze mirror as Lou Zigui helped her re-comb her hair.
Ning Xiaoyao asked, “Supreme Commander, you even have skills like this?”
Lou Zigui replied softly, “I’ve helped my nephew comb his hair before.”
That’s right. Ning Xiaoyao stared at Lou Zigui’s reflection in the mirror. Supreme Commander still has a sickly young nephew. “Supreme Commander, what’s your nephew’s name?” she asked.
“Lou Nan,3” Lou Zigui said.
“Lou Nan,” Ning Xiaoyao repeated to herself. “When I see him in the future–or when you bring him to see me–I’ll help him treat his illness.”
Lou Zigui placed the jade hairpiece squarely over Ning Xiaoyao’s topknot, his cool fingers brus.h.i.+ng past her face before pausing briefly at her sugar-stained lips. Finally, he said in a low voice, “Alright.”