The Princess Wei Yang - Chapter 96 part2
The Princess Wei Yang Chapter 96 part2
Chapter 96: No Different From Treason
Consort and concubine are not equal. Consort is for a higher ranking position, usually denoted by “fei” whereas concubine is lower-ranking and denoted by “pin”. Collectively speaking, they are all concubines.
The Empress’s heart ached. Back when her beauty was at its peak, she still fell short of De Fei, much less now, having become a wilted flower butterflies no longer visited.
If she died, Xian Fei did not have a son, but De Fei gave birth to the favored Qi Huangzi, so she could become Empress, and someone else will become Taizi. Both mother and son clearly wanted her to return to the heavens sooner than later!
The thought greatly upset her, making her furious. As if immediately recovering her strength, she stopped breathing heavily and straightened up. She coldly demanded: “Tell me then, who gave you the courage to wear a nine-tailed phoenix hairpin!”
De Fei lived in the palace for many years and was familiar with the Empress’s temper. She kowtowed and pleaded: “How could chen qie dare to wear a nine-tailed phoenix hairpin? This is a gift chen qie received from Bixia this morning, obviously only eight tails…”
Xian Fei remained in a low bow, afraid to speak up. She was not apathetic and haughty anymore. De Fei dared to wear the nine-tailed phoenix hairpin reserved for the Empress, which was forbidden.
If the Empress was open-minded, she would laugh and dismiss it, but now the Empress was gravely ill and despised those who dreamt of her position, now… It seems Xian Fei herself had also been involved with unimaginable consequences!
The Empress heard De Fei’s explanation and felt even angrier. She sneered, her lips curling back as if cracking a smile. Not waiting for De Fei to finish, she cut in: “By saying this, the one to blame is the Emperor? Bixia wanted you to become Empress?!”
De Fei wanted to kill someone. She was certain Li Wei Yang had done something to it. The hairpin was made of high quality, soft gold. Li Wei Yang must have split one of the tails of the hairpin into two when no one was paying attention!
She hesitated, aware that she had no evidence. If she told the Empress, not only would the Empress not believe her but would also punish her for making a false accusation. Li Wei Yang did not have a reason to tamper with the hairpin. She was not a concubine, so why would she harm De Fei?! Even if she begrudged De Fei for accusing her of theft, how could she retaliate immediately! Not even De Fei would believe this absurdity! Not to mention, this managed to strike a very sore spot for the Empress—
Before De Fei could answer, a nu guan by her side Xin er quickly responded: “Empress niang niang, Nubi’s niang niang’s hairpin has been lost before. Someone must have tampered with it! Empress niang niang, please don’t misunderstand niang niang!”
De Fei’s heart sank. Damn that naive Yatou!
Sure enough, the Empress scoffed: “Someone tampered with it? There are dozens of palace maids present, but among them, who could force De Fei to wear the hairpin! This is a sign of disrespect from her. You are a Yatou by De Fei’s side and hope to help Zhuzi push the blame onto someone else. Unforgivable!”
Her eyebrows rose as she ordered: “Drag this impudent servant out and beat her to death! Better than to keep troubling others!”
Xin er could not believe her ears and looked to De Fei in panic. De Fei only gave her a disapproving stare, which made her heart sank. How could that be? De Fei had always been favored, and the Empress also respected De Fei on some level, why was she so furious now… Xin er could not believe it.
Li Wei Yang smiled wryly. What the Empress hated the most was someone dreaming of her position. De Fei had Qi Huangzi, so all that’s left was for the fuse to be lit. She gave the Empress a good reason and knew how the Empress would deal with De Fei!
Heeding the Empress’s order, the eunuchs stepped forward and a while later, Xin er had been beaten countless times. Jiu Gongzhu wanted to speak up but did not dare. The Empress looked like she wanted to kill someone, so she tried to advise her: “Muhou…”
“Silence!” She barely said anything when the Empress cut her off like a clap of thunder. Terrified, Jiu Gongzhu fell silent. While she hesitated, Xin er had been beaten to death, heavily bleeding. Xin er was a palace maid from De Fei’s dowry and accompanied her for many years. To say there were no emotional ties would be a lie. Xin er and Lan er were De Fei’s most capable aids and both were suddenly lost in one day.
De Fei was terrified, feeling as if she had been plunged into cold water and nauseous at the same time. She did not dare to look at Xin er’s bleeding corpse and raw flesh.
Jiu Gongzhu only stared at the Empress in disbelief. The Empress who was always gentle, calm, generous, and kind-hearted was also just as cruel and heartless.
Tuoba Zhen coldly looked on with no intention to step in and help. He knew very well that when one’s position was threatened, anyone would become cruel and ruthless. What De Fei did unearthed the resentment buried deep in the Empress’s heart! Whether De Fei was framed or not, no one would care. The Empress only cared about the result of this action and wanted everyone to know who stood above all among the six palaces!
He did not feel this was related to Li Wei Yang. He knew De Fei had harmed her earlier, but he still could not believe that Li Wei Yang, a xiao Yatou, could understand the Empress’s hidden sentiments and cause her anger to boil over.
No, he refused to believe it! Last time, Li Wei Yang could scheme against him because he was careless, how could she understand the affairs in the palace as if they were in the palm of her hand… Impossible!
The Empress’s expressions steeled, lips curling up. Her eyes widened, taken over by fury and the hatred that slowly spread all over her body, gradually swallowing every last bit of reason. A dreadful color darkened her face as she felt this was an unforgivable offense!
Xin er rolled to the ground, dead. The four eunuchs stopped, Xin er’s blood visible on their clothes as they solemnly stood and waited for the Empress’s order. Everyone knew it would be De Fei’s turn!
Jiu Gongzhu felt a sense of fear she never had before, frightened to see the ruthlessness and madness on Muhou’s once gentle face. She did not dare to speak up for De Fei and could only hope Qi ge is on his way over.
The tension in the atmosphere made it that if a silver needle fell, everyone would hear it. Suddenly, the silence was broken by approaching footsteps. Li Wei Yang glanced up and saw Qi Huangzi and the Emperor arriving, or rather, Tuoba Yu had invited the Emperor here! Oh, the irony. Li Wei Yang met the Emperor twice in one day, once when facing his verdict, but this time, it was to sit back and watch two tigresses fight.
The ground was covered with porcelain shards. Tuoba Yu’s face did not change as he promptly knelt down. The Empress’s face turned purple, shaking out of fury. No palace maids were supporting her. Her hand trembled as she pointed at Tuoba Yu and admonished: “You want to plead for your Mufei too?”
Even the Emperor was stunned by her aggressiveness. He had never seen her make such a face and indignantly looked at the two consorts kneeling on the ground. Concubines will be concubines and could not compare to the Empress. The Empress stayed by his side during his darkest days and played an important role in his ascension to the throne, so the Empress was not only his official wife but also an ally and friend! Seeing the Empress so furious, he already decided that De Fei and Xian Fei were at fault!
Tuoba Yu calmly knelt near the Empress and said: “Muhou, Mufei’s mistake has angered you. In any case, arguing will be counterproductive and is also harmful for your health. Please sit down, drink a cup of tea, and ease your mind. You must not exhaust yourself.”
The Empress scoffed and turned her face away.
The Emperor glanced at De Fei and frowned: “What happened? What did you do to anger the Empress?”
A palace maid brought over the hairpin. The Emperor glanced at it and still did not understand. Then he realized that although the rules in the palace were strict, if one did not pay special attention, they would not notice something like this.
The Empress covered her face and wept pitifully: “Bixia, if you want to depose me, you should have said so. Why continue to look for physicians and medicine for chen qie? Let chen qie soon return to the Heavens, then you can make someone else Empress!”
Shocked, the Emperor quickly helped her up: “Why are you saying this, Empress, when did I ever intend to depose you?! This is the hairpin I gave De Fei, is there something wrong with it?” He turned back in surprise and understood, immediately saying: “This hairpin was stolen by a palace maid earlier, perhaps it was tampered with then…”
His suspicions went to Li Wei Yang, but that was impossible. How could a fourteen year old child have the mind and courage to do that! Unless someone intervened in between and borrowed someone’s dagger to kill? He thought so, and his eyes landed on Wu Xian Fei: “Xian Fei, why did you turn a blind eye to De Fei’s wrongdoing?”
Wu Xian Fei panicked, cold sweat running down as she bowed: “Bixia, please calm down. It was not that chen qie ignored this but that chen qie did not notice.”
The Emperor frowned. The rules in the palace were as follows: the Empress’s garments consisted of a Wei set, Ju clothes, and Dian Chai Li set. The Wei set was jewelry in shape of twelve flowers drooping down on both sides of her head and a nine-tailed phoenix hairpin, but De Fei and Xian Fei could only wear phoenix hairpins with eight tails.
That phoenix hairpin somehow grew another tail, and De Fei even wore it, was this to test his relationship with the Empress? The Empress’s health was not good. De Fei and Xian Fei took turns managing palace affairs. Perhaps the two had an ulterior motive and used the phoenix hairpin to see his reaction. If he wanted to depose her, he would only laugh and let this pass – The Emperor was overly suspicious, so these speculations quickly surfaced…
De Fei saw Tuoba Yu kneeling and anxiously said: “Empress niang niang, chen qie will take responsibility for this. Please do not be too angry and involve Qi Huangzi!”
She did not say anything wrong, but her words sounded unpleasant to the Empress. Her face darkened. Disregarding etiquette, she shouted: “You dare say “involve”? Am I that wicked in your eyes?” She angrily pointed at Zhang De Fei as if she wanted to devour her alive.
Others saw this and rushed to persuade the Empress otherwise, sending the entire Imperial Garden up in an uproar.
The Emperor looked at the Empress and knew it was not good. The Empress’s usually pale face grew unnaturally pale. He knew that normally his wife was calm and reserved but had a lot on her mind. Seeing De Fei and Qi Huangzi, her heart ached and must have led her to overthink. He loudly said: “Quickly help the Empress sit down and rest!”
Tuoba Zhen had a blank stare, suppressing the relish and cruelty in his eyes. Watching a good show and seeing the results he hoped for was very satisfying. The Empress, De Fei, Tuoba Yu, and even Wu Xian Fei who continued to kneel in silence, they all stirred his hatred and resentment. Although Wu Xian Fei was his Muqin in name, but she was domineering and used him for her own ends. Now, he felt content to see their horrified faces.
Li Wei Yang stood from afar and saw the relish in Tuoba Zhen’s eyes and sneered. The power struggle had soon twisted his mind, and he probably resented not being able to kill them all! Except this situation was not as good as he thought!
Zhang De Fei soon had sweat falling like rain, her back damp with sweat. Tuoba Yu kept his head bowed, so it was hard to tell what he was thinking. He did not speak up for De Fei, but his protectiveness was evident. Li Wei Yang sighed, she did not think about him, but De Fei had stoked the fire, causing the fire to burn her, so who was there to blame?!
Li Wei Yang’s gaze finally fell on Tuoba Yu who was kneeling, back straight. She wanted to know what he was thinking right now.
At that moment, an eunuch suddenly knelt down: “Responding to Bixia, Empress niang niang, Nucai is responsible for managing internal affairs. Nucai admits to the crime!”
Li Wei Yang thoughtfully looked to the eunuch.
The Emperor frowned: “Admit to the crime?”
The eunuch Jiang bowed low: “Nucai is in charge of those who gave the phoenix hairpin to De Fei niang niang, but the eunuch was new to the palace, so the phoenix hairpin for Empress niang niang was mistakenly given to De Fei niang niang. The phoenix hairpins are almost identical, except one is nine-tailed and the other eight-tailed. Nucai just learned of this mistake and came to accept punishment from Bixia and the niang niangs!” He kowtowed, and his head loudly hit the ground.
Tuoba Zhen sneered, so Tuoba Yu had such quick hands!
Li Wei Yang shook her head. She tampered with the hairpin, but this Jiang gonggong said it was mistakenly sent out. How could gifts from the Emperor be so easily been mistaken? This was to deliver a scapegoat and see if the Emperor and Empress will accept it!
The Emperor coldly told Jiang gonggong: “Go down and accept a hundred strokes.”
This was to take his life, but Jiang gonggong only bowed: “Obeying decree.”
Li Wei Yang saw the turn-of-events and had to applaud Tuoba Yu for having picked a suitable candidate so quickly and push the blame to the internal palace affairs. The head of internal affairs was an ally of Taizi, and Taizi being the Empress’s son, gave this act another meaning in the Emperor’s eyes. Taizi could have set Zhang De Fei up by having the wrong hairpin sent to her, so the Empress could use this excuse to punish De Fei…
Li Wei Yang sighed. Unfortunately, only a little rain followed the clap of thunder.
The Empress’s face changed and turned hostile, but she quickly realized she could not be angry anymore or the Emperor would misunderstand – she gritted her teeth and reluctantly suppressed her resentment and put on a calm front. She personally went to help Zhang De Fei up to her feet: “I was overthinking today and misunderstood meimei.”
Although she said this, the look in her eyes was full of contempt. Zhang De Fei could only pretend not to see it, slightly lowering herself, bowed and in a respectful, emotional voice, said: “Chen qie was wrong for not inspecting the hairpin at first. Hope niang niang will forgive this.”
The Empress smiled and said: “Alright, alright, it is just a misunderstanding. Quickly stand up.” She ordered someone to help Xian Fei up. The Empress held both of their hands, guilt appeared on her face: “My health has not been very good, the same goes for my temper. I hope you two meimei will generously forgive me.”
The two consorts apologized at once. The Emperor looked back and forth between the three of them and told Tuoba Yu: “Come, stand up now.”
When Tuoba Yu stood up, his knees had gone stiff. He found that Li Wei Yang was standing not far away from him. Their eyes met. Her eyes were dark as the water in a well, pitch black, with a subtle but frightening hostility. Tuoba Yu lowered his head, not wanting to see her cold and apathetic expressions.
He suddenly understood everything.
The Emperor personally walked the Empress back to her palace. Zhang De Fei and Xian Fei suffered from quite the shock and were helped by palace maids. When De Fei walked past Li Wei Yang, De Fei gave her a complicated look. It could be said that it was hatred and a pinch of horror, and fear with a hint of resentment. Li Wei Yang bowed, “Seeing niang niang off.” Her smile was lively but far from kind. De Fei’s entire body went limp, barely able to stand as she leaned against the palace maid. She said nothing and quickly left.
After this incident, the traumatized De Fei would fall severely ill and be bedridden for three months. Of course, this would come at a later time.
Tuoba Zhen smiled coldly and left with Wu Xian Fei without looking back at Li Wei Yang. Tuoba Yu paused and told Jiu Gongzhu: “Jiumei, you should go on ahead. I will lead Xianzhu out of the palace.”
His voice was strangely calm as if he did not know anything at all, but Jiu Gongzhu was picked up on it. She stared wide-eyed at Li Wei Yang and only saw a cold smile appear on Li Wei Yang’s lips as her eyes remained cold and detached. She did not dare to point it out and only lowered her head and left, but she still occasionally turned and looked back.
Tuoba Yu’s expressions were quite normal, but his words came like a bolt of lightning: “Was this your doing?”
Li Wei Yang looked at a peony under the sun and indifferently smiled: “Indeed.”
Tuoba Yu’s expressions froze, his lips twitched as if he wanted to say something, but no words came out. Her small smile was like a bright, crescent moon. Even though she was smiling, it was a detached smile without any remorse.
His proud heart began to stir in agony for whatever reason.
“I’m sorry.” He earnestly said, “I know. Mufei must have done something to you for you to retaliate.”
Li Wei Yang smiled: “Thank you, Qi Dianxia, for thinking of me.”
Noticing how distant she was with him, Tuoba Yu felt numb. He said that he would not let De Fei harm Li Wei Yang, and Mufei had agreed, only to turn around and do as she pleased. Tuoba Yu knew the more he liked Li Wei Yang, the more Mufei will see them as an eyesore. Like she once said, to be a ruler, one must be heartless. Mufei targeted Li Wei Yang, fearing she will become a threat to him, but she did not know how much he valued Li Wei Yang. He closed his eyes and murmured: “Wei Yang.”
Li Wei Yang paused, her gaze drifting over to Tuoba Yu. A faint gold tinge from the sun shone against his handsome face. Tuoba Yu only called her name and did not say anything else until she reached the carriage.
He even lifted the curtain of the carriage up for her: “I said that in the future, I would not make you worry. I thought I could easily keep this promise, but now, it seems I was overconfident. However, I assure you, this will be the last time.”
Li Wei Yang sighed: “One thing leads to another. Things will still be good the next time we meet. If I truly wanted De Fei niang niang’s life, that would mean disregarding our friendship and a friend like Dianxia, so I understand the extent of the situation. I hope De Fei niang niang understands as well. I can only forgive her twice but definitely not a third! By that time, do not blame me!”
Li Wei Yang climbed onto the carriage, which traveled down the long road. She lifted the side curtain to look outside. The wide road was especially clean with not even a leaf in sight. There were eunuchs carefully sweeping up in the distance. Combined with the sound of horse hooves and sweeping of brooms, the ground seemed to rumble below them.
Li Wei Yang frowned as she saw a tall silhouette galloping towards them from afar. At the last moment, that person pulled the reins and stopped directly in front of Li Wei Yang’s carriage, making the horse neigh loudly. It was unclear if this was an accident or intentional. Hostility appeared on that person’s young, handsome face under the sunlight.
“Who are you, why are you stopping Xianzhu’s carriage?!” The carriage driver raised his voice. The road was wide enough for four carriages to pass through at once. What motive did this person have?
The whip in the young man’s hands reared back twice as a cruel smile flashed across his face. The carriage driver saw the horse whip being raised and struck his face with a “pa.” He cried out and fell from the carriage to the ground.
Terrified, Bai Zhi leapt out of the carriage. Li Wei Yang shook her head and lifted the curtain. The carriage driver was still howling in pain, his hands covering the red marks on both sides of his face.
Bai Zhi trembled, either out of anger or cowering from fear. Her lips trembled with every word she managed to say: “Impudence! Daring to be disrespectful to Xianzhu!”
The man scoffed. Li Wei Yang looked over in his direction. The sun that touched the horizon at the end of road reflected on her youthful face, making her eyes shine brighter than jade and more like stars that had fallen into the mortal world.
The man did not turn to look and acknowledge Li Wei Yang. With a provocative smile on his face, he asked: “Xianzhu? What’s that?”