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A note to readers: Wondering what translations do you think would be better in terms of addressing one another. Examples: Jiu Gongzhu or Ninth Princess? Bi Xia or Your Majesty? Nubi or Your Maidservant? Ruo Fei Niang Niang or Concubine Ruo?
Chapter 90: Praying Mantis Stalk the Cicada
Ninth Princess whispered: “Wei Yang Jiejie, who do you think has sent the assassin?”
Li Wei Yang just smiled without answering.
Just at this time, Tuoba Yu came over, he suddenly asked: “Why?”
Li Wei Yang answered: “Ninth Princess, I have something to say to your seventh brother.”
Ninth Princess blinked her eyes mischievously, “Okay.” After saying this, she lifted her skirt and ran away.
Tuoba Yu’s gaze contained a trace of disbelief: “It was Wei Guo Furen, just now I saw her expression, that moment---” When Concubine Zhang De was pardoned by the emperor, Wei Guo Furen’s disappointment, was all seen by Tuoba Yu.
Li Wei Yang laughed: “Wei Guo Furen just knew the truth.”
“She originally did not know this, aside from you, aside from me---” Tuoba Yu clenched his teeth, “How could you do this!” He almost could not hold back from shouting, but he did his utmost to restrain his emotions: “She is my imperial mother! You are obviously on my side!”
Li Wei Yang laughed, a trace of coldness flashed across her eyes: “What if I was really killed by her?! How would Seventh Prince compensate this life of mine! Could it be that because she is your imperial mother, therefore I must be patient with her and let her kill me?!”
Tuoba Yu was aware that he was in the wrong, but still refused to give up: “But I already said it, I will explain to mother---”
“Explain? Is explaining any use?” Li Wei Yang said lightly, “I don’t want an explanation! I want justice!”
“I already told imperial mother, she promised not to harm you again!”
“Promise?!” Li Wei Yang sneered, “Seventh Prince, your mother’s promise, pardon me for not being able to believe it.” If promises are of use, why would Zhao Yue find there are still people monitoring around the outside of her tent or that even someone would let poisonous snakes into the tent.
This showed that the concubine never actually gave up! She didn’t know how Tuoba Yu explained it, but Concubine Zhang De’s stubbornness was definitely abnormal!
There was pain in Tuoba Yu’s eyes, he felt like he was living between two cracks, this feeling caused him to not know how to explain to Li Wei Yang. Imperial Mother thought that Li Wei Yang was not suitable to be his main consort, thus doing such terrible things, he said lightly: “Wei Yang, the things that my mother did cannot hurt you, you are smart and powerful---”
Li Wei Yang suddenly laughed continuously, unable to stop.
Because she is clever, because she is strong, other people can frame her to their heart’s content? Take her for a fool?! Her face becoming cold, her voice like ice: “Seventh Prince, if I was not capable, then I deserve to die?!”
Tuoba Yu almost lost his voice, he knew that these things cannot hurt Li Wei Yang, therefore taking it lightly--- In the end, he was too confident in Li Wei Yang’s strength and cleverness, that he had forgotten that she is also a person who can get hurt and bleed, and what’s more, she is also a weak woman. For a moment, he felt an incomparable regret, it was all due to her giving him such a strong impression of her before, therefore he was left with the wrong idea, thinking that she could handle everything, involuntarily he stepped up: “Wei Yang, I’m sorry, I promise you again---”
“No need to promise! If this happens again, I cannot guarantee that Concubine Zhang De can continue to sit safely in that position!” Li Wei Yang scoffed coldly, “I am a soft stone, but my life is very hard, Concubine wants to kill me, she must be wary of having one’s head bashed and battered!”
Tuoba Yu looked at her deeply: “Even though you spoke so viciously, however I know that you are a kind-hearted person, you did not intend to kill my mother, otherwise you would not have let ninth sister say those words, Imperial Father will not believe any other words spoken by anyone else, you understand Imperial Father’s thoughts more than I do.”
Only the words of a princess with no conflict of interest, a weak naive child, one who is favored by the Emperor like a pearl in his palm, the Emperor would believe2.
Emperors are suspicious. Therefore everything that happened today, are all calculated by Li Wei Yang.
Li Wei Yang turned her face, the fire glimmering in the distance casting shadows on her face, her voice normal, so normal to the point that no one realized that she had a weariness that was never there before: “What do I, it is also for Qi Dianxia, your own good.”
Tuoba Yu looked at her in surprise.
Li Wei Yang continued: “Today’s incident, on the surface, Concubine Zhang De appeared to have been reprimanded by His Majesty, but His Majesty already knows that he has wronged her, while thinking deeply about the assassination attempt, His Majesty would think that someone is envious of you, therefore would framed the always placid Concubine Zhang De, say, who would think of you as a threat and cannot help but reach out to exterminate you?”
“You purposely chose Wei Guo Furen??” Tuoba Yu looked at her in disbelief.
“Exactly, Wei Guo Furen’s second brother, also my second maternal uncle in name, has an illegitimate daughter who had entered the Crown Prince’s house.” Li Wei Yang said smilingly, “Watch, His Majesty will definitely feel that the Crown Prince has the intention to frame you, from today onwards, not only will he be more wary of him, he will also protect and think highly of you, to make up for what he owes you and Concubine Zhang De.”
Tuoba Yu looked at Li Wei Yang, her every steps and move are very malicious, a complex feeling arising in his heart, for a moment, he felt a burst of cold.
The emperor ordered a thorough investigation of this matter, while there was no issue with the identity and origin of that palace maid, she had never interacted overly much with people in the palace for many years and it was apparent that she had been placed there for many years. To use this kind of person, it was obvious that they wanted to drive Concubine Zhang De to the brink of death. However, the order of the Emperor was not a joke, finally, someone had spoken the truth and revealed that Wei Guo Furen had been in secret contact with this maid. As a result, Wei Guo Furen became the most suspected person, but when the imperial guards arrived at Wei Guo Furen’s tent, they discovered her fully dressed up and had swallowed gold to commit suicide. Marquis of Bo Chang was greatly shocked, thrice kneeling and bowing nine times to ask the Emperor for bearing the rod and taking the punishment3, but the Emperor still decided to execute the entire family, upon hearing this new, Li Xiao Ran immediately went to the Emperor to plead for leniency as well as trying to prove that this incident had nothing to do with Marquis of Bo Chang, but in the end the Emperor still took his rank, demoted him to a commoner and exiled him to the desolated He Zhou. When the news came out, the entire court was shaken.
When arriving, Wei Guo Furen was sitting high on a carriage, yet now she was dragged off by a broken mat. Gao Min’s arrogant appearance on horse riding still seemed to be here, but now she could only lie in the carriage and leave for He Zhou with her father.
Li Wei Yang watched from afar, an unknown indifference flowing through her eyes.
“It’s really such a pity, originally it was all fine.” Without knowing when, Sun Yan Jun had come over to her side, “If it was known that it would lead to so many incidents, it would have been better to not participate in this hunt.”
First, it was the Ninth Princess receiving a fright while riding a horse, then it was Gao Min accidentally being injured, followed by Concubine Zhang De getting framed and later discovering that the culprit behind the plotting was Wei Guo furen, and finally ended with Wei Guo Furen committing suicide. All of the entire events seemed to be interlocking, all closely linked, but Sun Yan Jun would have never thought that everything was closely tied to this seemingly ordinary girl in front of her.
Li Wei Yang answered: “Sun Xiaojie really has a kind heart. But many things have already been destined to happen. Since Wei Guo furen committed such a malevolent crime, then she must have foreseen her ending today.”
Sun Yan Jun nodded and said: “Wei Guo furen definitely shouldn’t have frame Concubine Zhang De. I’ve heard from others that Wei Guo furen has a niece who is a side consort of the Crowned Prince. So everyone is saying Wei Guo furen was instructed by the Crowned Prince to frame Concubine Zhang De and the real purpose behind this is to make His Majesty estrange Seventh Princess!” She was whispering in a low voice as if she was afraid others would hear her.
Li Wei Yang calmly smiled: “Oh, Sun Xiaojie believes in the rumors too?”
“This is not a rumor, everyone knows that Wei Guo furen’s eldest son Gao Yuan, who was the Crowned Prince’s study partner, had lost his life because of the Crowned Prince so she was conferred a title. Moreover, Duke Jiang’s first and second household continuously birthed five sons without any daughters. In order to draw their alliance, the Crowned Prince married a girl born from a concubine and since her status wasn’t high, she was only given the position of a side consort. If she didn’t do this for the Crowned Prince, then why would Wei Guo furen want to harm Concubine Zhang De. One, there is no animosity and two, there is no clash of conflicts between them ---” Sun Yan Jun casually told Li Wei Yang the analysis of General Sun.
Li Wei Yang’s face exposed a slight astonishment: “Is it really like this?”
Sun Yan Jun expressed sympathy: “You should be wary of others, but you all don’t have much to worry about. Your father does not participate in any of the power struggles between the princes. Let’s consider this a fortunate misfortune.”
Did not participate? This was merely an impression; Li Xiao Ran was basically holding back and waiting for the right time to reap the most profits. The only problem was his dream of seeing her daughter become the queen had already been shattered so he didn’t know what steps to take next.
“Because His Majesty had wronged Concubine Zhang De, he had been pacifying her! And I’ve also heard that Seventh Prince captured a white wolf so he was rewarded heavily ….” Sun Yan Jun continued to speak as Li Wei Yang’s gaze followed the Marquis of Bo Chang’s carriage, unsure of what she was thinking about.
This hunting event had finally ended. She gracefully declined Sun Yan Jun’s invitation and Li Wei Yang returned back to the Prime Minister’s residence.
After returning to her room, Li Wei Yang ordered everyone to leave. At this moment, seeing no one else here, she didn’t have to work hard to be strong, she can be weak without worries, and she didn’t have to be as courageous as she was.
Tuoba Yu said: “I felt that you are strong enough to face everything.” At that point, how did she respond to him? Li Wei Yang couldn’t remember, she only felt extremely angry at that moment, very furious. Even if she saw him as an ally, she had at least invested a little of her feelings. She thought they could be soulmates and friends who would work together for the same goal. But with Tuoba Yu saying this to her, she couldn’t help but feel disappointed.
She was, of course, very strong, but she wasn’t strong enough that she could dealt with all situations of danger. And especially when confronted by death, she was more frightened than anyone else. In her dreams day and night, she was always in the desolated cold palace. At times, she would even dream of her body crawling with lice. This kind of terror, no one had experienced before so no one would be able to understand. Tuoba Yu thought she was strong and had nothing to fear. In actuality, it was the exact opposite; it was because she is afraid, frightened that if she became weaker, she would be toppled. That was the main reason why she would eliminate every obstacle at all costs.
She knew that sharp arrow would pierce through Gao Min but she still invited her.
She knew Wei Guo furen would do whatever she could to frame Concubine Zhang De but she still told her who was the mastermind behind the incident.
Li Wei Yang was a cold-hearted woman.
She was thinking of this as she buried her face in the pillow.
It had a scent of sunlight and fresh grass, which was entirely different from the scent of poison and blood in her dream.
“Open your mouth!”
Suddenly, a voice was heard from the side of the bed.
Li Wei Yang was startled. She lifted her gaze and saw Li Min De holding his head in one hand and pinching something in his other hand as he watched her.
Li Wei Yang let out a smile: “What is that?”
“Lotus balls.” Li Min De answered directly, “Don’t you like to eat this?”
Li Wei Yang often ate the sweets from the Jade Pavilion but now she didn’t really have an appetite.
Li Min De couldn’t help but frown. He threw away the molded flour and said: “Then what do you want to eat?”
“I don’t want to eat anything!” Li Wei Yang seldom feels impatient and she had instructed everyone to leave her and not let anyone enter. How could Zhao Yue let this youngster come in?
It was as if Min De had entered a room without the presence of anyone.
After a long while, Li Wei Yang couldn’t hear him speak anyone. She opened her eyes and discovered that the young boy had drooped his head. She wasn’t able to fully see his expression but could notice an aura of sadness lingering in the air. Instead of thinking he was upset to see Li Wei Yang who had always been gentle was able to become this annoyed, it was better to think that his feelings stemmed from her unexplained reason of reprimanding him!
“Oh, I didn’t do it on purpose, Min De, I am just not feeling well.” Li Wei Yang sighed, she sat up and consoled him.
Li Min De glanced up and blinked his eyes as if he was wronged. His gentle expressions made her involuntarily felt that she had committed a grave sin.
Li Wei Yang couldn’t stand this innocent expression and said: “Okay, okay, okay, I’m sorry.”
“Did you encounter something unhappy during this trip?” Li Min De asked.
Li Wei Yang stopped for a moment to think and said: “I’ve caused the deaths of a few people, I feel a little discontent in the heart.”
“Survival of the fittest, the weak serves as the prey to the strong, these are the words you taught me.” The young boy lifted his head and locked his gaze with hers.
Li Wei Yang was stunned, all of her actions were exactly like this. If she didn’t kill, she would be killed. She didn’t want to spend time grieving but seeing Wei Guo furen’s pain over her daughter’s incident, she could imagine Qi Yiniang (her mother) ……. She dropped her glance, “You are right ……”
He suddenly thought of something, his face sunk, “Did someone anger you?” After saying this, he immediately became regretful. He tested the waters by reaching out his hand and when he was about to lift her face, a cold droplet of tear unexpectedly landed on his palm. It was indubitably icy cold, but the young boy’s heart felt as if it had been burnt, causing a piercing pain.
Li Wei Yang lifted her head, her eyes didn’t have any trace of tears, making it seem like the tear in his palm was a mere delusion. She smiled and at the young boy who didn’t know what to do with his hands, she said: “You …….”
Now, the person who she could completely trust only remains him.
If she could, she wished he would never change.
“I won’t let anyone bully you.” He reached and caressed her soft hair.
Li Wei Yang was stunned and she smiled. At this moment, she thought he was simply joking, but she finds out afterward that she was wrong.
This day, Zhao Nan quickly rode his horse to the Li residence.
Zhao Nan rushed in front of Li Wei Yang and kneeled to report: “Xiaojie, your servant has failed you and didn’t succeed.”
Li Wei Yang glanced at him and saw the blood on his shoulder. She immediately understood what happened and softly said: “Are your injuries severe?”
Zhao Nan lowered his head, he was very ashamed and self-condemned, “Your servant is fine.”
Li Wei Yang told the astonished Zhao Yue: “Go help your brother wrap up his wound.”
Zhao Nan injured his shoulder and a long sword had slit his chest, leaving a wound half a foot long. Terrified, Zhao Yue couldn’t believe it: “Brother, who has the capability to inflict such an injury on you.”
Zhao Nan shook his head; he almost could have bought back Li Min Feng’s head. Unfortunately --- there had to be a group of people that appeared and the old leading them was a young man. Zhao Nan proudly deemed himself highly skilled in martial arts, so who would have expected him to suffer from such injuries. Those people wielded long swords, allowing them to easily triumph over him and in the end, took Li Min Feng away from his hands ……. He must also blame himself, he didn’t expect his opponents to be this powerful!
Li Wei Yang listened to his words and coldly laughed: “They are no doubt people of the Jiang family.”
Li Min De had been listening on the side, he gently raised his brows and said: “Jiang family?” He thought it was odd, why was Li Wei Yang this certain that the people who saved Li Min Feng were from the Jiang family?
Li Wei Yang nodded and smilingly said: “Min De, Da furen’s two older brothers have a total of five sons. Each has its own talent, unlike ordinary people!”
Li Min De smiled: “This I’ve actually heard of before, it’s only that --- all of the Jiang’s men are assigned to the borders, how could they appear here?”
Li Wei Yang calmly said: “Yes, they should be protecting the borders, yet they’ve left their posts. Unfortunately, we don’t have any evidence or else this would be a death penalty for the Jiangs.” She raised her teacup and gently took a sip: “Zhao Nan, you’ve lost to the Jiang’s, that is not embarrassing at all. You must know that the Jiang’s most important is not their family origin or their standing, but it is their five extremely talented sons. They won’t watch Li Min Feng die and therefore would save him at all costs. I just didn’t expect them to receive the news this quickly. But this means they will find out what I have done and very soon, they will seek me out to settle this.”