Chapter 118: Feast without a feast

1 Oriole is a type of bird

2Adding frost to snow [雪上加霜] – a saying that is similar to adding salt to the wound

3含饴弄孙:to hold malt sugars in the mouth and play with one’s grandchildren: meaning a life of leisure in old age

4“瑞霭萱堂” [Rui Ai Xuan Tang]: Rui means good luck, Ai means mist, Xuan Tang is a honorific designation for mother so put together it roughly means mother with good luck


Third prince Tuoba Zhen has been absent-minded all day.
Since returning from the main hall, two Yatous came to help him change into casual clothing.
These two persons were given by the crown prince, one gentle and amicable, the other beautiful and sweet, normally Tuoba Zhen treats them with kindness, occasionally teasing them, yet today he has lost interest, not saying a single word upon returning, reclining on the couch, just slowly sipping tea.

“Dianxia, how about nubi massage your shoulder?” Bi Shui was soft and gentle, eyes rippling with tenderness of thousands words.

Tuoba Zhen gazed at Bi Shui’s gentle face, reached out a hand and grabbed her small chin, rubbing it,, Yatou meekly lowered her head, her face slowly getting red.

“What did the Crown Prince say to you, let you come here to become my concubine?” Tuoba Zhen faced this gentle and exquisite face, an image of Li Wei Yang speaking floating in his mind, at that time, her eyes were startling bright, causing his blood to surge unwittingly all over his body, looking at the girl in front of him again, his interest suddenly flagged, on Li Wei Yang’s face, never did a trace of gentle expression showed up on her face, yet that look shake one’s soul.

Bi Shui’s entire face is red, mumbling, unable to say anything, when the Crown Prince sent her over, he did say such thing.

Gui Xin carried a plate of grapes in and said smilingly: “ Dianxia, you surely like to make fun of nubis!”

Tuoba Zhen smiled and looked at her, “Oh?”

“Nubi doesn’t want to bother with you.” Gui Xin first said and pinched a handkerchief smilingly, walked swaying in front of him, curtsied, then smiled playfully and leaned over, yet looking like a oriole cooing1 asked, “Dianxia, nubi just heard from the people who came back with you, An Ping Xianzhu caused an uproar in the main hall, seeking justice for her sister!”

Tuoba Zhen’s face sank, “The news spread quite fast.”

Gui Xin looking pleased in her eyes, “Look at Dianxia.
Although nubis are in the inner courtyard, such a big case that even Bixia has to review, is there anyone who doesn’t know about it.”

Tuoba Zhen asked hesitantly: “Oh, what are they saying?”

This time Bi Shui spoked, not wanting to be outdone: “Dianxia, the people are saying, the fourth son of Jiang family is overbearing and ill-mannered, abducting daughters of officials, luckily the capital magistrate came to the rescue, and instead succeed in getting a good marriage between the two families, there are even people saying, An Ping Xianzhu spoke boldly in defense of justice, unafraid of larger power, standing up for her sister, is a good woman who mean what she say, there are also people saying, Jiang family abused their power and bully people, arrogant and despotic, held monopoly over military power, bullying above the ruler, even more people are saying, Bixia execute the laws justly without taking sides…”

Tuoba Zhen listened, a pondering smile on his face: looks like Li Wei Yang has already found storytellers to write scripts, just when the incident occur, it is already spread out in four directions, she really have some capabilities.
Each time he underestimated her, only to discover today, this yatou’s thoughts are deceitful, she is simply a schemer.
An extremely outstanding schemer!

Just like at this moment, a flash of thunderbolt ripped through the vast sky, a bit of red breaking through the black layers of clouds, followed closely by heavy rain falling.
Tuoba Zhen was startled by the sounds of the rain, he walked over to the window and raised his head to stare into the distance, behind him, Bi Shui said: “The weather today is weird, earlier it was a sunny day, now it’s a rainstorm.”

Tuoba Zhen smiled and said: “Yes, the change in the weather can be in a moment’s time, only the person who grasp the early opportunity will win!” Li Wei Yang, you won this round, what about the next round? Will you win as usual?

Half of the month went by hasilty, there is a peaceful atmosphere in the Jiang’s, now that Jiang Nan is locked up in prison, Jiang Xu only say a few words about this son, others wouldn’t even speak of it, even rarely going to the prison to visit, of course, one can’t even go visit, without the emperor’s edict, no one can go visit Jiang Nan.

Everyone in the Li family went on with their days as before, Li Wei Yang went to He Xiang Yuan every day to pay respects as usual, the days doesn't seems to have changed much.
In reality, Li Wei Yang is silently waiting, waiting for the results she want.
Until the Jiang family’s invitation has arrived then she discovered, that she was totally wrong.

“Duke Furen’s 60th birthday, Li Lao Furen and Da Furen, An Ping Xianzhu and all the misses are specially invited to attend.” The Mama sent by the Jiangs to deliver the news smiled and quickly hand over the invitation.

Sixtieth birthday? Right now Duke Furen still have the mood to celebrate her birthday? Li Lao Furen burrowed her brows, a forced smile on her face: “Oh? Holding a party?”

The messenger Mama, neither overbearing or self-effacing, smiled and said: “Originally Duke Furen didn’t want to make arrangement unreasonably, but the Empress Dowager in the palace decreed an edict wanting our Lao Furen celebrate.”

Empress Dowager?! The smile on Li Lao Furen’s face is a bit stiff, she glanced at the calm Li Wei Yang beside her, and reluctantly said: “Of course, naturally we would go to in-laws to congratulate!”

After the messenger Mama left, Lao Furen’s cup was put heavily on the table, causing an audible snap: “How come this old hag still have the mood at this time! That grandson of hers will be executed in half a month time!”

Li Wei Yang lowered her head, thinking about her own matters, as if she didn’t hear her, Lao Furen couldn’t help spoke loudly: “Wei Yang?!”

Li Wei Yang raised her head, a trace of something flashing across her face, so quick that no one noticed anything, she smiled slightly and said: “Wanting to take the opportunity to dispel the bad luck, this can be understandable.”

Lao Furen’s expression, upon hearing these words, became a bit better.
After all, she has a low opinion of that high and mighty Duke Furen.
But if the Empress Dowager personally decreed the edict, ordering all Furens and misses with ranks must attend, then it’s really unavoidable.

The smile on Li Wei Yang’s face, after coming out of the house, slowly fade away.

Her predictions were wrong, the news that came were not Duke Furen’s passing, instead it is that she will celebrate her sixtieth birthday! The imperial physician she has bribed has clearly said, Duke Furen’s life is not long, there is definitely no chance of recovery.
Could it be Jiang Tian really the capability to return one from the dead? Li Wei Yang couldn’t help clenching her fist, if Duke Furen doesn’t die, then the rest of her plans has no possibility of carrying out!

“Wei Yang!” Raising her head, it is Li Xiao Ran standing in the courtyard.

He is coming to pay respects to Lao Furen, Li Wei Yang smiled lightly, bending her knees to curtsey.
Ever since that incident, these two people have not spoken a word to each other, when Li Xiao Ran sees her, he is always mild, as if being cautious.
It is obvious, he blamed her for not speaking to him before the matter, but Li Wei Yang is not afraid, who could have predicted that a kidnapping would have happened, she was taken to the capital magistrate's office right after the incident, with no chance to collude to make a false testimony, how can Li Xiao Ran blame her!

Lately, Li Xiao Ran has aged quite a bit, not speaking of the white hair on his temple, but also on his face, a layer of foggy aura, his energy and form is bad.

“Rise.” Li Xiao Ran’s face is full of smile.
There was already a huge misunderstanding between the father and daughter pair since the time the Jiangs wanted to talk about marriage, adding the matter of Jiang Nan is adding frost to snow2, yet today he is acting as if nothing has ever happened, smiling as if a spring breeze is stroking the face….
This kind of shrewdness, really make people unable to comprehend.

“Lao Furen is inside, Father please go in.” Li Wei Yang’s words are light, “Nv er will take leave.”

“Wait a moment!” Li Xiao Ran immediately cut off her words and ask Li Wei Yang, “Do you think the Jiangs…”

He was waiting, waiting for the Jiangs’ to take action, even if it is the other side taking revenge, but they didn’t even move, making him feel… increasingly disturbed, therefore bringing his attention to Li Wei Yang, wanting to get something from her.
But the indifference on Li Wei Yang’s face make him unsure of what to say.

Li Wei Yang bring up a polite smile, “Father, Duke Furen is holding a birthday party soon, what gift do you suggest we send?”

She is changing the topic, one with no intention to speak about the Jiangs.

Li Xiao Ran’s brows furrowed, yet brought the topic back to the Jiangs, his voice carrying a tone of interrogation: “Still have the mood to think about presents at this time?! Why didn’t you think about it, after stirring up the hornet’s nest, are you going to just pretend as if nothing happened, why don’t you think of some countermeasure…”

“Father, Nv'er (your daughter) is only a girl of the inner house, how can I understand these things.” Li Wei Yang said coldly.

Li Xiao Ran was surprised, not so subtly sizing her up, the next moment immersing into deep thoughts, under the sunlight, Li Wei Yang’s expression carry an unapproachable chilliness, he has never seen such expression of hers before, only after a while did he sighed deeply.

“Wei Yang still blame father? I was also helpless!” He expressed a resignation and loneliness that only fathers have, as if he is hurted.

Li Wei Yang only smiled slightly but didn’t say a word.

Li Xiao Ran did not expect the other side to be completely indifferent, after a moment then explained to her in a deep voice: “You are coming of age soon, how can you not understand my helplessness… in the end didn’t I didn’t bear to agree to marry you over?”

That is the result of her warning actions, not him caring about the father-daughter relationship out of the softness of his heart! Li Wei Yang furrowed her brows, a trace of disdain she couldn’t hide.

“You…” Even though Li Xiao Ran’s thoughts are deep, there is also a rare flare of temper.

“Father, since you planned to sell out daughter in the beginning, why pretend to be a kind father?” Li Wei Yang looked at him coldly.

Li Xiao Ran simply could not believe his ears, is this still the over-cautious concubine-born daughter? How could she dare to…dare to speak such traitorous words to her father! He clenched his teeth angrily, glared at her as if he want bite her in one piece.

Li Wei Yang looked at him and lightly smiled: “Father, there is no gaining an advantage without paying a price in this world, you hoped to sell me out in exchange for a temporary peace, you should also look at whether I am willing or not.
You have to know, with the fish dead and the net broken, I can also create a scene, you saw that today, my temper has never been good, if I told Bixia that you sold your daughter for honour, that’s not good.” Originally on the matter of Jiang Nan, Li Wei Yang did not intended to turn against Li Xiao Ran, but at the main hall, he did not speak up for her, with no intention of upholding justice, it’s too much to an extreme!

Li Xiao Ran’s face suddenly turned green and white, showing astonishment and embarrassment.
After all he has been an official for many years, he took several deep breath and quickly calmed down forcefully: “Wei Yang, I am after all your father, you are also my daughter, blood conglomerate in water, indulge my wrongdoing, how can you speak in contradiction!”

Li Wei Yang revealed a an indifferent smile, “Blood conglomerate in water, for benefits, you are able to continue collaborate with the Jiangs.
Anything I say, I think you wouldn’t even listen to it.
Father, that day in the main hall, not once have you spoken up for both of your daughters, thinking about it I also have chills!”

Li Xiao Ran was silent, working in the official circles, one originally do not think of good and bad, with every choice, one must do their best to maximize the benefits.
At the time, he did not think about those two as his daughters, his flesh and bones, he only thought about if Li Wei Yang was not successfully is hooking a capital offense on Jiang Nan, then in turns the Li family will also fall… that’s right, he is accustomed to keeping a distance, even if it is his biological daughter, he would not interfere.
But one can imagine, if Li Wei Yang lost at that time, he would simply drive her out of the Li family.
That being said, his thoughts being exposed by someone, he still cannot accept that, only his mouth opening and closing, infinite anger seething in his chest, after a while then he forcibly controlled his expression, revealing an amicable smile.

“Wei Yang,” he let out an hurt look, “I have let you suffered hurt before, I can promise to you, from now on such thing wouldn’t happen again, I will try my best to stand by your side, protect you all.”

The words are nice, that is because now the original situation with the Jiangs cannot be maintained, thus he thought of coming to ask her for help, perhaps it is to continue using her to deal with the Jiang family, help him reap more benefits in the court, this old man, is still very egoistic.

Li Wei Yang thought in her heart but nothing was revealed in her face, only after a moment said: “Father is broad-minded, thinking carefully, it is me who is narrow-minded.
All of us are still counting on you, in the chaos of the court, please take care of yourself!”

There was a crack in Li Xiao Ran’s face, he deeply understand, Li Wei Yang is telling him that they are one body, if he once again carelessly throw away this father status, then she wouldn’t hold back either! This is simply a threat, but he cannot say anything, she is right, now that they have split with the Jiangs, if he continue to deal with the Jiangs courteously but without sincerity, then it’s a joke! From an outsider’s point of view, Li Wei Yang’s attitude, already made clear what his attitude is, a cold smile break out on his face and he slowly said: “Wei Yang, I understand your intention, from today onwards, Father will always stand by your side.”

Li Wei Yang smiled and said: “Then this daughter thanks Father first.”

Not far down the corridor, Jiang Yue Lan and Li Chang Le watched this act from afar, Li Chang Le smiled coldly and said: “See that, in this family, we have no foothold.”

An untraceable mood flash on Jiang Yue Lan’s face, she lowered her eyes and said: “Da Xiaojie’s intention is?”

Jiang Tian didn’t come, she do not have enough medicine to stop the itchiness, she cannot bear it anymore, to the point of becoming crazy, all of this are thanks to Li Wei Yang! A light of hate appeared in Li Chang Le’s eyes and she said: “Cooperate with our plan, get rid of her in one act!”

Jiang Yue Lan was silent for a while, up until Li Wei Yang’s figure has disappeared, she was still silent, in the end, she said clearly: “Help me inform Duke Furen, I will do my best.”

Li Chang Le smiled smile slightly, even though her body already began to rot, but as long as she can see Li Wei Yang die, she is willing to bear this torture! Duke Furen’s birthday celebration, Li Wei Yang as a granddaughter in name, must attend, at that time, it would be the best chance…

Since the Empress Dowager has already decreed it, the Jiangs’ celebration is naturally prepared with care.
Sixty years old to normal people, is reaching the point to hold malt sugars in the mouth and play with one’s grandchildren3, the age to enjoy a leisure life, but to Duke Furen, this day has another meaning.
Originally the eyes of the officials in the capital are sharp, who still can’t see, the recent situation of the Lis suppressing the Jiangs, originally their attitude were to observe, but with the Empress Dowager’s edict, it immediately make people feel that the Jiangs are still the almighty family as before, after all, the Lao Furens of other family celebrating their birthdays, there were never an imperial order specially ordered by the Empress Dowager to prepare it.
What most surprising is, at this time, the Emperor even personally use a brush and ink, wrote a plaque for Duke Furen to congratulate, this has shook the entire capital.
Therefore on the day of Duke Furen’s birthday celebration, the capital’s officials, regardless of their post, all lined up to deliver their gifts! The gifts are placed in a hall, using the words “piled up like a mountain” to describe it, it’s not at all exaggerating.
The Jiangs even placed forty banquet tables, the guests first enter the house, bow to the plaque awarded by the Emperor with the four giant words “瑞霭萱堂” [Rui Ai Xuan Tang](4), then go and take a seat that was already arranged.

This time coming to the Jiangs, members of the Li Family did not come in through the main entrance, but rather was led by a Yatou sent by the Jiangs, walking in directly to the inner courtyard.

Jiang Da Furen was personally greeting guests at the secondary entrance, seeing the Li family members, she immediately revealed a smile.

“Li Lao Furen has personally arrived, please come in.” Compared to the last time meeting, this time, Jiang Da Furen is more enthusiastic, after Jiang Nan’s incident, there is actually no difference in her face.

“Sixtieth birthday celebration is a big deal, naturally I would come personally to congratulate.” Li Lao Furen smile seems bit like she didn’t mean it.

She originally didn’t want to come, but first there was the Empress Dowager’s edict, then there was the plaque bestowed by the Emperor, as if declaring to the people, the Jiangs still have the Imperial care, it wouldn’t do for her to not come.

Jiang Da Furen welcomed Li Lao Furen into the main hall, after being seated, naturally someone served them boiling hot tea.

Li Wei Yang’s expression was indifferent, there was no special expression on her face, however everyone in the main hall was looking at her in curiosity.
Jiang Nan’s matter was stirred like a wildfire, now that the injured party are almost all here, regrettably that Li Chang Xi as the victim is not here, otherwise it would be more of a spectacle! But what’s odd is, Li Lao Furen speaks and laughs calmly, Jiang Da Furen did her duties, Jiang Yue Lan smiling pleasantly, Li Chang Le looks delicate, but Li Wei Yang who hold most of everyone’s attention, there is a slight smile on her face from the start, as if not at all influenced by the outside world, this whole family, is too weird!

Sun Yan Jun quietly walked over and sat down beside Li Wei Yang, and spoke quietly with an astonished look: “You also came?”

Li Wei Yang smiled and said: “The Empress Dowager decreed, all womenfolks of ranked officials must attend the birthday celebration, how can I not come?” Not only attend, but also need to attend happily, otherwise it would leave it countless gossips/

Sun Yan Jun nodded and said: “Yes, you must attend, otherwise a lot of people will gossip, did you see, a lot of people have arrived today, what I can see, it’s more grandish than the celebration held by your family, the Crown Prince, Third Prince, Fifth Prince, Seventh Prince are all gathered outside!”

Li Wei Yang smiled slightly, the Emperor is particular about balance, after ferociously attacking the Jiangs, naturally he needs to give them a boost, in case the Lis become expand too quickly, this is the way of an emperor, however today’s banquet, is obviously not a good banquet…

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