Chapter 130: Only Out of Self-Interests


The weather gradually got colder in the autumn.
Bai Zhi knew that Li Wei Yang was born sensitive to the cold, so she quickly ordered someone to add another charcoal heater to the room.

At night, the moonlight shone through the thin screen of the window, faintly illuminating the lacquered screen of a landscape painting, matching the crackling charcoal fire in the hollow box.
It added a pleasant warmth and peace of mind to the entire residence.

Li Wei Yang was resting on a soft, satin pillow.
She squinted to see the moon beyond the window and slowly said: “Tuoba Yu is coming back soon…”

Right now, she is looking forward to Tuoba Yu’s return and hoping the Jiang family will accept her grand gift.

Recently, in the Emperor’s eyes, Li Xiao Ran’s status has only been elevated.
All the ministers in the Imperial Court were sensitive.
They discovered Li Xiao Ran was being favored.
The Emperor had no intentions to reward the Jiang family for their rescue, and the more he reprimanded Li Xiao Ran, the more this affirmed the ministers’ judgment.
For that reason, more and more people secretly joined his side, so Li Xiao Ran’s strength continued to increase.

Li Xiao Ran owed Li Wei yang some gratitude for this.
He didn’t expect that the daughter who seemed to only raise chaos actually succeeded in making the Emperor alienate the Jiang family.

Three days ago, Jiang Li sent in a request to return to the Capital to attend the funeral.
The Emperor made a decision within a day.
Therefore, in a few days, Jiang Li will have to hand over his military forces in order to return to the Capital.
Looking at it this way, it seems Duke Jiang is the only one left who can support the Jiang family now.

Seeing that Li Wei Yang could not sleep, Bai Zhi whispered to her: “Is Xiaojie worried about something?”

Among the maids, Bai Zhi is the cleverest and the most capable learner, but in the end, she was still a maid.
There were many things she wouldn’t understand.
Li Wei Yang smiled and mumbled to herself: “I’m not worried, I’m looking forward to it.
It’s not just us anymore.
Jiang Hua has begun to take action.
I’m afraid Southern Xinjiang is no longer quiet, but it’s more interesting this way.”

Bai Zhi gave her a puzzled look.

Li Wei Yang idly said: “For over a century, Da Li’s Southern Xinjiang region has been troubled by the Xuan Yuans of the kingdom of Yi Nan.
They relied on strong men and horses and collaborated with rich merchants in some cities along Southern Xinjiang.
They invaded and looted from time to time.
When the army arrived, they were nowhere to be found, so this source of the problem has never been completely eradicated.
In the past ten years, the kingdom of Yi Nan gained a new ruler and has been busy building and developing cities, so the situation has been relatively stable.
Naturally, Duke Jiang is not needed in Southern Xinjiang in the long run.
However, when the Emperor was about to replace the general, Southern Xinjiang became uneasy again.
It was no longer a matter of looting and destruction that brought the army to suppress the situation.
Say, is it because the kingdom of Yi Nan purposely caused trouble or is there another reason?”

Bai Zhi was taken aback: “What does Xiaojie mean?”

Li Wei Yang blinked and added softly: “I’m not trying to say anything.
I just feel the Emperor sent Tuoba Yu there, not necessarily with the intention of testing Duke Jiang.
However, if Tuoba Yu did not handle the situation properly, he would be falsely accused of inviting disaster and forfeiting military spirit.
I believe Jiang Hua must have made sufficient preparations and set a trap for Tuoba Yu to bury himself into, but no one knows who will ultimately fall into that trap…” Her voice grew softer by the moment until it seemed she had fallen asleep.

Bai Zhi glanced at Li Wei Yang's quiet sleeping face and smiled gently.
She tucked the quilt in for her and then quietly retreated.

Early next morning, Tuoba Yu really did return to the Imperial Court.
As soon as he came back, he entered the Palace and submitted a memorial to the throne, accusing Duke Jiang of “keeping the army to himself, letting the enemy go in fear of engaging in battle.”

The Crown Prince was taken aback.
He thought that he would not be able to find a suitable general to control the situation at Southern Xinjiang in the entire Imperial Court aside from Duke Jiang.
Based on this, he came to the conclusion that if war broke out at Southern Xinjiang, Duke Jiang would take care of it, but he did not expect Tuoba Yu would return and submit a memorial the moment he returned.

However, the person who was most shocked was Jiang Hua.
Given his arrangements, Tuoba Yu should have died at Southern Xinjiang under the crime of a rebellion.
Tuoba Yu not only returned safe and sound but was full of vigor, stunning everyone with his actions.

The Crown Prince hurriedly ushered Jiang Xu, Jiang Hua and the others into the Palace, wanting to say a few good words for Duke Jiang, but the Emperor did not wait for them to speak.
He was already furious: “Take a good look at these memorials!”

Jiang Xu raised his head and saw four eunuchs carrying a copper-colored wooden trunk.
The wooden trunk fell right at Jiang Xu’s feet with a thud that startled everyone.
The trunk was full of memorials.
Jiang Xu trembled as he looked at Jiang Hua, but Jiang Hua subtly shook his head, telling him not to panic and settle down first.

The Emperor picked up a memorial and hurled it in Jiang Xu’s direction.
The memorial made a crisp, crumpling sound.
Jiang Xu quickly fell to his knees.
The Emperor coldly said: “Senior General Zhou Wu Tian denounces Jiang Ming Yuan for revealing military secrets!”

Without waiting for Jiang Xu to explain, the Emperor picked up another memorial and continued in a loud voice: “Huo Xing, a scribe under the Ministry of War, denounces Jiang Ming Yuan for withholding military expenditures!” Once again, Jiang Xu was shocked.
The Emperor did not give him time to think and continued to read seven to eight memorials aloud, one after the other.
All were memorials to impeach Jiang Ming Yuan.
Every memorial fell hard on the Jiangs’ heads, a painful blow every time.
Jiang Xu trembled all over, and Jiang Hua was trying to suppress his resentment.
He desperately bent down to restrain the anger within, not daring to let the Emperor see through his thoughts.
Even though the Emperor read many of the memorials, the trunk was still full of memorials.
One could see how many people had submitted an impeachment memorial!

But why? How could this happen?! Many of these people were old subordinates of the Jiang family.
Why did they turn around and bite the Jiang family? How could this be? How could there be such strange things in this world?! There was never the slightest indication that they would act up!

The Emperor spoke every word through gritted teeth: “Keeping soldiers as their own, wasting military resources, lawlessly accepting bribes, and avoiding the enemy in fear of war? Is there such a loyal subject in the world?” When speaking of this, the Emperor’s voice became especially sharp.

Cold sweat broke out on Jiang Hua’s forehead.
He finally understood what Tuoba Yu had done.
His spy reported that Tuoba Yu did not go inspecting the situation, but rather, he even went traveling and sightseeing, comfortably having fun and seeking contentment.
It seems he had been fooled by Tuoba Yu’s pretense! He had simply been going around, buying people’s loyalty!

At this moment, Jiang Hua finally recollected himself.
Tuoba Yu had soon arranged for his soldiers to depart in two groups.
On one hand, he leisurely departed from the Capital with the majority of the soldiers and horses.
On the other hand, he had a hundred trunks of gold and treasures secretly transported to Southern Xinjiang beforehand.
Li Wei Yang told Tuoba Yu to arrange for people to buy loyalty.
Anyone who was willing to oppose going to war would receive unimaginable wealth.
Those who were unwilling or pretended to surrender would be killed.
They could drown or fall from their horse and die.
As long as they refused to submit a memorial, they would be quietly eliminated in the case that they sought to leak the news.

Naturally, to prevent the Jiangs from finding out, Li Wei Yang screened every person for Tuoba Yu in advance based on the memories of her past life and information Tuoba Yu collected from Southern Xinjiang.
Those who sought after fame and glory, those who acted out of self-interests, and those who would be loyal even in death and had to be eliminated— so, only one person ended up being assassinated, the person who absolutely refused to surrender.
For that reason, they managed to not alert the Jiangs.

Truthfully, Li Wei Yang had thought a lot about it.
Jiang Hai was dead.
Jiang Xu’s moves to rescue the situation were denounced in turn.
The Jiang family had fallen into troubled times and could not take care of things on every front.
On this matter, Li Wei Yang would not be merciful.
She knew this was the best opportunity, one that was particularly hard to find.
Although Tuoba Yu initially hesitated, he ultimately agreed because if he did not take action, the Jiangs would make it difficult for him to return safe and sound once he arrived at Southern Xinjiang.
If he had not been sufficiently prepared, he would have already died there.
Now, here he was, standing in the hall as he coldly said: “General Jiang, do you have anything else to say?”

Jiang Xu was furious.
No matter how well he had established himself, he could not watch as his own father was suspected and criticized by the Emperor.
Moreover, this was a false accusation and clearly a scheme!

Jiang Hua tightly held onto his father’s sleeve and internally sighed to himself: Oh Li Wei Yang, Li Wei Yang, you are truly cruel! He was bedridden for two months before he could even get up, and now, he understood why Li Wei Yang deliberately provoked him then.
It was because he was arrogant and unable to accept his defeat, so he easily fell.
Once he had fallen, he would have no time to revisit the arrangements at Southern Xinjiang.
Everything had to be left in the hands of Duke Jiang.
That way, it would be easy to give Tuoba Yu an opening.
She began to prepare from that moment onwards… He whispered: “Father, you cannot be angry—”

With Jiang Hua’s reminder, Jiang Xu broke out of his daze.
He suddenly raised his head.
Tears were already flowing down his eyes as he desperately begged: “Your Majesty, your subject’s father would never do these things, these are all false accusations…”

“Then let him return to the Capital and explain!” The Emperor coldly retorted.

The Crown Prince’s face changed the moment he heard this.
He immediately said: “Imperial Father, please reconsider, the situation at Southern Xinjiang cannot be without Duke Jiang at all! In case the kingdom of Yi Nan takes action, wouldn’t there be no one left to stop–”

The Emperor’s voice was as cold and resolute as before: “You mean that without Jiang Ming Yuan, my empire will fall!”

Stunned, the Crown Prince said: “Imperial Father, your son does not mean this! Imperial Father is a wise judge!”

“If he truly is loyal and whole-heartedly devoted, why did he not mobilize troops while Yi Nan caused trouble in those two months? Allowing Yi Nan to burn and loot several cities at Southern Xinjiang? I want to know what he has been doing there!”

Jiang Xu immediately said: “Your subject’s father has already made arrangements.
In a few days, there will soon be a military campaign against Yi Nan—” This was Jiang Hua’s original plan.
He secretly sent someone to reach an agreement with Yi Nan, indulging them with three months of burning and looting.
After that, Grand Duke Jiang will proceed to engage in a grand battle, Yi Nan will pretend to wildly flee, leading the Emperor to think that it was all due to Duke Jiang’s efforts.
In any case, the Emperor must be made aware of the tragic consequences of looting and witness the deaths of countless people in order to realize Duke Jiang’s importance.
That way, when Duke Jiang says he needs more time to prepare for the war, he will not have to shoulder too much of the blame.

Jiang Hua could even act on such cruel methods like indulging Yi Nan in the slaughter of ordinary people.
He was no longer a strategist loyal to his country.
Now, he could not wait to seize victory.

“When will he take action?! Why didn’t he inform me?” The Emperor angrily said, “A memorial is submitted twice a month regarding military campaigns, yet he speaks of trivial things! Not a single mention of his plan!”

Jiang Xu quickly kowtowed: “Your subject can vouch for this with his own life! The Jiang family is whole-heartedly devoted!” As long as Duke Jiang quells the war, there will be no use in investigating these crimes.

Tuoba Yu lightly said: “The fact that Duke Jiang keeps soldiers as his own has been known to everyone.
Hence, there is a saying among the common folk, ‘The Emperor in the North, the General in the South.’ Could it be that he wants to evenly divide the world between him and Imperial Father!”

Li Wei Yang told him to say these words at the most critical moment.
Sure enough, the Emperor was enraged: “Transcribe! Immediately arrest Jiang Ming Yuan, return to the Capital for questioning! End.”

“Imperial Father!” The Crown Prince quickly fell to his knees and approached the Emperor: “Imperial Father, please give Duke Jiang a chance! Do not wrong a loyal subject!”

The Emperor solemnly told the Crown Prince: “A chance? He already wants to evenly divide the world for it to be shared with me, why would I give him a chance!”

Jiang Hua hurriedly kowtowed: “Your Majesty, please allow your subject to say a few things!” His official position was a humble one.
If he had not been sent in by the Crown Prince, he would not even have the opportunity to meet the Emperor, but at this moment, he had to put everything on the line! “Your Majesty, of course Duke Jiang cann return to the Capital and explain, but what happened this time might be a trap from Yi Nan.
The general cannot be replaced in the middle of a military campaign! Begging Your Majesty to allow the Jiang family another chance, so your subject’s grandfather can atone for past mistakes with meritorious feats!”

Tuoba Yu frowned.
He was hesitating.
He had already said half of what Li Wei Yang had told him.
He was considering whether or not to say the remaining half.
At that time, she told him, if it came to a critical turning point, he only needed to remind the Emperor that Jiang Ming Yuan was once the Crown Prince Tong Xin’s teacher.
Of course, the Crown Prince Tong Xin had 14 tutors, not just Jiang Ming Yuan, but to the Emperor, at the height of his fury, this will remind him that Jiang Ming Yuan might have harbored dissatisfaction towards the reigning Emperor’s ascension early on—

However, Tuoba Yu could not bear to do so.
If he mentioned this matter, the Emperor will be furious and certainly begin to purge those in the Imperial Court, uprooting all the people who once supported the Crown Prince Tong Xin.
Then, it will be a storm of bloodied rain.
This had happened four times since the Emperor ascended to the throne.
Thousands of people died every time, ending in a cruel and bloody manner.
Even if the Jiang family did not initially help the Crown Prince Tong Xin, the Emperor would never believe it and seek to kill a scapegoat! Because in his eyes, the Crown Prince Tong Xin, this person was on the other end of the spectrum as him!

Among the influential families that supported the Crown Prince Tong Xin, quite a few of them were Tuoba Yu’s subordinates.
If the Emperor took out his anger on them, then what was he to do? Li Wei Yang clearly wanted him to sacrifice these people to put Duke Jiang to death… When the time came, he discovered that he could not bear to.

It was a fleeting opportunity, and the moment Tuoba Yu hesitated, Jiang Hua had already provided a dozen reasons as to why Jiang Ming Yuan should not be recalled.
Even the Crown Prince kowtowed again and again, pleading on Grand Duke Jiang’s behalf.

The Emperor paused for a moment, glancing at Tuoba Yu’s face.
However, seeing that he was still dazed, the Emperor could not help but slowly say: “Order the Deputy General to temporarily take over Jiang Ming Yuan’s post, so he may return to the Capital and explain.”

Rather than being arrested, he would be able to return to the Capital and explain himself.
The Emperor’s words were clearly at the limit of his concessions.
If he truly wanted to capture Jiang Ming Yuan, a riot might break out in the army, and the script would unfold accordingly to how Li Wei Yang had composed it.
But now, the situation was much, much better than the worst case scenario.
He only needed to return to the Capital to be investigated, it was just that—

Tuoba Yu was shocked, realizing all of his efforts were drastically reduced to nothing in an instant.
His face paled, but he did not say anything more and withdrew after the members of the Jiang family left.


Translator: Chau

Editor: Chau


Chapter 130: Only Out of Self-Interests


In the Palace, Tuoba Yu came out from the hall and went to see his Concubine Mother, Virtuous Consort Zhang.

Virtuous Consort Zhang resided in Yi Ran Palace, located along the shore of Lake Bi Bo.
Quiet and peaceful, the clear blue waters were indeed beautiful scenery.
Since the last time when she was frightened, Virtuous Consort Zhang has been ill and bedridden, but her body has begun to recover after a summer.
Tuoba Yu arrived at the courtyard and found Virtuous Consort Zhang sitting under a tree, playing Go by herself with her female attendants by her side.

Seeing Tuoba Yu had arrived, Virtuous Consort Zhang smiled: “Back already?”

“Yes, I’ve come to greet Concubine Mother.” Tuoba Yu clasped his hands in salute, and Virtuous Consort Zhang immediately reached out to help him up.

Tuoba Yu glanced at the Go board where the white pieces were surrounded by the black pieces.
He had a small smile: “Concubine Mother truly has the mind and energy, if you want to play a game of Go, why not find someone to play with you?”

Virtuous Consort Zhang smiled and glanced at her son before leisurely saying: “These days, everyone in the Palace is running to Consort Lian, His Majesty hasn’t come by in months, let alone others.”

Tuoba Yu looked at his mother.
Above Virtuous Consort Zhang’s red tinted cheeks were a pair of watchful eyes following him.
He smiled bitterly: “I cannot hide anything from Concubine Mother.”

Virtuous Consort Zhang sighed: “You sent Zhou Da Shou into the Palace and even gifted your Concubine Mother an opponent.
Forget it.
As long as it benefits you, what is losing a bit of favor worth?” After that, she carefully inspected the Go board and seemed to inadvertently ask, “I heard you do not want to marry a Princess Consort and even dismissed your uncle’s words?”

“Indeed.” Tuoba Yu’s expression was that of indifference, as if he had expected his mother would ask this question long ago.

“Why?” Virtuous Consort Zhang turned to look at him, her eyes cold.
Tuoba Yu inwardly sighed.
It was inevitable: “The Imperial Court is in disorder, the matter of concubines can be postponed for a few years.”

Virtuous Consort Zhang frowned, “How many years? How old are you to still have no heirs! What are you doing?! How could you still say postpone it!”

“Third Brother still hasn’t married—”

“He’s different! He doesn’t have a noble background, nor a mother’s support.
Neither of high status nor lowly, do you think you’re the same as him?” Virtuous Consort Zhang scolded him.

Tuoba Zhen actually had a marriage arrangement two years ago.
The Emperor bestowed this marriage himself.
It was with the eldest daughter of Duke Ying, but this Xiaojie had disappeared with the incense before she was married.
Tuoba Zhen was “devastated”, hence the matter of his marriage was delayed year after year.
Only Tuoba Yu understood that if the Emperor did not personally bestow that marriage, Tuoba Zhen would not even look at the likes of Duke Ying.
That Xiaojie of the Ying family was perfectly healthy and doing well, yet she suddenly became gravely ill and died.
This certainly made others suspicious, but what use would it be to say these things to Virtuous Consort Zhang.

In the past two years, courtiers also advised him to establish a Princess Consort.
He could disregard their words, but the person standing here is his birth mother.
Even if he is unwilling, he could only stand there and earnestly listen to her teachings.
Of course, it is one thing to listen, whether or not he will do so is another thing.
He would never marry anyone else!

“Are you still thinking about that Li Wei Yang?” Virtuous Consort Zhang asked, blank-faced.
A hint of a blush appeared on Tuoba Yu’s cold, indifferent face.
He coughed uncomfortably and slowly let out words that fell upon ears like a clap of thunder: “I already said that if Concubine Mother does not agree to let me marry her, I won’t marry a Princess Consort at all!”

This was not simply a statement but an assertion.
Virtuous Consort Zhang’s expressionless face finally changed as she angrily said: “Have you truly been bewitched by that fox demon?!”

Tuoba Yu knelt on the ground and solemnly continued: “I’ve already said so; not only is she worthy of my love, she is also worthy of my respect.
If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be here today, nor would I be able to hold out against the Crown Prince and Tuoba Zhen! I will need her in the future as well, please Concubine Mother, I am asking for your permission!” He told Virtuous Consort Zhang countless times.
Li Wei Yang was not only a Xiaojie in her boudoir, she was also a resourceful strategist, but Virtuous Consort Zhang refused to listen to his explanations.

Virtuous Consort Zhang stared intently at her son and recognized his stubbornness and refusal to concede and sighed to herself: “You still insist on it— I’ve already said that it doesn’t matter who you truly love or if you have a respectable background.
Make her a Side Consort if you must, but you insist on making her Princess Consort…” She sternly looked into Tuoba Yu’s dark eyes and forced out the words: “Alright.
Even though I admit that she is clever and will be useful to you, what about her reputation? She can be wronged, she can be fighting back, but she forced her eldest sister and maternal grandmother down a dead end, these are stains on her name that cannot be erased! You think I won’t hear about the things outsiders say because I am in the Palace? Yu er, Concubine Mother always hopes that you can marry a Princess Consort who can help you, but it’s different now.
I only hope you can marry a Princess Consort who is a dignified, generous and ordinary Xiaojie.
Li Wei Yang’s hands are full of blood now, and everyone is talking about it.
If she truly becomes your Princess Consort, do you truly only want to marry her in this life?”

No matter how it is defended, Li Wei Yang’s lethal reputation has reached everyone’s ears, and everyone is talking.
Tuoba Yu pursed his lips and remained in a stone-faced silence.
Virtuous Consort Zhang sighed.
The sharp gleam in her eyes turned deadly: “Your Concubine Mother knows you like her, but Li Wei Yang cannot be your Princess Consort, nor become the Empress of Da Li, do you understand?! If you choose such a woman, you will be subject to endless critique.
How can you fight for the throne? You’re right, she is a powerful strategist, but she simply cannot be a gentle, virtuous wife! If you insist on marrying her, I will die here without closing my eyes!” These words were like arrowtips! Steeled and solemn down to the last word, each word burying itself into the heart.

Virtuous Consort Zhang’s interrogation almost rendered Tuoba Yu speechless.
“Concubine Mother!” Tuoba Yu couldn’t help but take a step forward, but he looked at Virtuous Consort Zhang’s slightly reddened temples—though it wasn’t very obvious, but ever since that incident, Virtuous Consort Zhang seemed to have aged overnight.
The retort he prepared suddenly got caught—

Virtuous Consort Zhang saw that her son hesitated and hammered the final point in: “I’ve said so much to make you understand that you are not only inheriting my hopes but the lives of countless people as well.
If you lose your way, thousands of people who follow you will be hurt!”

Tuoba Yu could only remain silent, conflicted.
Virtuous Consort Zhang quietly eyed him for a while before slowly saying: “Li Wei Yang isn’t too young anymore.
You are right.
She is a good girl, clever and decisive, so she should not be lonely for the rest of her life.
You have two cousins who haven’t married yet, and now that she has also reached a marriageable age, why not—”

The cousins that Virtuous Consort Zhang were referring to obviously did not include Zhang Feng, the Ninth Princess’s childhood friend, but rather his two handsome older brothers.
Well-versed in the literary and martial arts, they were role models that young ladies in the Capital vied for.
Virtuous Consort Zhang felt that Tuoba Yu’s hopes will not be extinguished no matter who Li Wei Yang marries, but if she marries his cousin, it will be a completely matter.
Even if Tuoba Yu liked her, he could not yearn for his cousin’s wife.
It was absolutely forbidden.

“Concubine Mother!” Tuoba Yu’s heart felt cold all over.
There seemed to be a bottomless hole in his heart, overflowing with bitterness: “Concubine Mother! She won’t agree!”

Virtuous Consort Zhang scoffed: “How do you know she won’t agree? You aren’t her, so how can you decide this for her? Are you even certain that she likes you? You must know that she keeps saying she doesn’t want to marry you!”

In the blink of an eye, Tuoba Yu stiffened as if someone had exposed the scar he always wanted to hide away.
Virtuous Consort Zhang knew he was proud and arrogant, and these words were no different than a slap to the face, delivering a hot and throbbing pain.

That’s right.
Li Wei Yang never said she liked him, nor mentioned that she wanted to marry him.
It was all his imagination, he was only deceiving himself, so he couldn’t refute anything.

Virtuous Consort Zhang looked at him and eventually said: “You have to think carefully.”

Tuoba Yu didn’t say anything more and turned to leave.

Virtuous Consort Zhang turned back and faced a large tree off to the side as she said: “Come out, Anping Xianzhu.”

Li Wei Yang came out from behind the tree.
Virtuous Consort Zhang gave her a complicated look: “Xianzhu has heard everything.
The reason why I called you here, Xianzhu, must be clear to you now.” Li Wei Yang walked over to the Go board once again: “It is very clear, extremely clear, perhaps too clear.”

Virtuous Consort Zhang looked at her with anticipation: “I hope you will advise my son to establish a Princess Consort as soon as possible and act, Xianzhu.”

Li Wei Yang smiled vaguely and said, “May I ask niang niang what you wish me to advise? Simply because His Seventh Highness likes me? Niang niang, don’t you think this is ironic?”

She couldn’t control her own son, so she wants Li Wei Yang to help her? Moreover, she was not asking, it was an order, but on what basis? Did she think Li Wei Yang was a soft persimmon? Why didn’t she put her ability for bullying young girls to good use and fight the Empress and help her son onto the throne as soon as possible? Just now, behind the tree, she heard everything the two of them said and better understood Virtuous Consort Zhang’s intentions, but what did that have to do with her? Whether Tuoba Yu refused to marry a Princess Consort or in regards to his feelings towards her, it had nothing to do with her.
Why should she be held accountable for his decisions? This was the greatest laughing matter under the skies.

They had a working relationship, but Virtuous Consort Zhang had the impression she was responsible for Tuoba Yu and reached out to her.
Could it be that she hurt her head?

Li Wei Yang was someone who was downright selfish, coldhearted and selfish to the extremes.
Why would she do something if it wouldn’t benefit her? It was a shame that throughout the ordeal, Virtuous Consort Zhang was convinced that Li Wei Yang was clinging to her son and didn’t think that she wasn’t interested in the great and mighty Seventh Highness.

“Niang niang, I will make it clear to His Seventh Highness, but as for what His Seventh Highness does, I have no way to stop him.”

“Then marry Zhang Bo of Duke Luo’s residence.
He is already the Vice Minister of Rites at a young age and also among the best of the best.
Countless girls want to marry him!”

“Niang niang, His Majesty has not even mentioned my marriage.
What right do you have to command me to do so?” Li Wei Yang could face her with a better attitude, perhaps even lie to Virtuous Consort Zhang to let this matter pass, but she tolerated this woman for a long time.

From the moment she entered the Palace today, that woman aggressively demanded she marry into Duke Luo’s residence.
She didn’t even hesitate to use Tan Shi and Li Min Chi to threaten her.
This Virtuous Consort Zhang has lived too comfortably and can’t wait to seek out trouble! Li Wei Yang felt that there are some people who want to advance another step after gaining an inch.
If you let her have her way, who knows if she will take more provocative actions instead.
That being said, Li Wei Yang doesn’t have to be polite!

Virtuous Consort Zhang looked at her in surprise.
Her face became even uglier: “You dare talk to me that way?!”

“Niang niang, you are of the second rank.
I am also of the second rank.
In terms of Palace rules, I don’t need to stand on ceremony, yet I still respectfully salute you.
This is because I respect you as an elder, but this doesn’t mean you can involve yourself in my personal life on a whim! If you really want me to marry into Duke Luo’s residence, then go to His Majesty and see if he will agree!” Li Wei Yang said coldly.

Of course Virtuous Consort Zhang mentioned it, more than once even, but every time, she was interrupted by the new, beloved Consort Lian! Upon hearing Li Wei Yang’s words, Virtuous Consort Zhang’s eyes darkened with hatred.
She pointed at Li Wei Yang, almost at a loss for words.

“Niang niang, I am helping your son approach the throne step by step.
I’m not doing this out of obligation.
You are too anxious.
What good does it do you? If I am truly angered, I may turn the other way and not help Tuoba Yu.
What should I do? I suggest that you drink tea, admire flowers and raise birds when you are free.
Don’t mix up things that should not be mixed up, don’t control things you can’t control, otherwise, if you don’t—” The cold gleam in Li Wei Yang’s eyes displayed no respect for Virtuous Consort Zhang.
It was clearly a look of impatience.

Virtuous Consort Zhang’s eyes reached a point where they couldn’t get any wider.
She had been honored her entire life, and no one had ever dared to talk to her like this, and Li Wei Yang even warned her that there was a possibility she could help someone else instead? How could this be?! She thought that although Li Wei Yang outwardly refused, she still loved him in her heart, why else would she help him? The essence of the problem was that Virtuous Consort Zhang could not let her be Princess Consort, which hurt Li Wei Yang’s self-esteem.
Virtuous Consort Zhang originally thought that as long as she intimidated her, even if Li Wei Yang felt wronged, she would certainly marry into Duke Luo’s residence for Tuoba Yu’s own good.
Not to mention, water in irrigation channels would not flow to faraway fields.
Her wisdom and strategies would still belong to them.
But now, with her strong and unwavering attitude, Virtuous Consort Zhang suddenly realized she had misjudged this little girl all this time!

Li Wei Yang forced her to take a few steps backwards until she finally sat down onto the chair, but she couldn’t even say a thing and only trembled in fury.

“Niang niang, I have been in the Palace for too long, so I should bid farewell.” Li Wei Yang swept a hand over her skirt, brushing off non-existent dust.
“It’s windy outside, please take care.”

Li Wei Yang came out of Virtuous Consort Zhang’s palace and saw Tuoba Yu waiting for her by the door.
His face didn’t look good.

“You heard everything?” Tuoba Yu stared intently at her.

In contrast to his vaguely eager expression, Li Wei Yang remained terrifyingly calm.

“I already said that Princess Consort would only be you.” Tuoba Yu put emphasis on every word.

Li Wei Yang suddenly laughed.
What she said next made Tuoba Yu feel like a bucket of cold water had been dumped on him.
He immediately fell silent, rendered speechless.

She stared into his eyes and only said one thing: “What about the Secondary Consort?”

Tuoba Yu sighed the moment he heard it and immediately understood what she meant.
However, it was impossible for him to only marry just Princess Consort.
This has never happened in the 100 years since the founding of the Da Li dynasty.
His identity and status already decided the fact that there cannot be only one woman by his side.

Li Wei Yang smiled.
She already knew his answer and said: “Your Seventh Highness, I hope we will treat this as if it never happened and cooperate at ease, what do you think, Your Highness?”

Tuoba Yu looked into her clear but cold eyes and could hardly say a word.
Furthermore, Li Wei Yang was the most clear-headed one.
If she knew it could not be guaranteed, it would be best to let go of it from the start.
To her, he was simply foolish.

Over the past few months, many things happened.
He had been openly fighting with the Crown Prince and Tuoba Zhen, countless dangers everywhere in Southern Xinjiang.
Many things piled up making him extremely busy, with no energy to be distracted by anything else.
For the time being, he could rest assured and take advantage of Li Wei Yang’s assistance from behind.
She was meticulous and made careful arrangements, making him think otherwise, almost thinking that Li Wei Yang loved him, like he loved her.
However, that thought was only a thought.
In truth, he knew in his heart that she had no feelings for him and was only working with him.
He smiled bitterly.
So when faced with his Concubine Mother’s interrogation, and now faced with her flat rejection, he could not refute.

He should really think about what he should do now.

“Earlier in the main hall, did you do as I said?” This was what Li Wei Yang cared about most!

Tuoba Yu’s face slightly fell: “Imperial Father ordered Duke Jiang to return to the Capital to explain everything.”

Li Wei Yang’s smile slowly faded: “You didn’t do as I said?!” She gave him so many opportunities, and everytime he always made a decision that disappointed her! It seems she could no longer have such high hopes for Tuoba Yu.
This person lacked the kind of mercilessness that an Emperor needed to possess, and what is frustrating is that it is Tuoba Zhen who always has this mercilessness! Li Wei Yang felt she needed to visit Consort Rou niang niang…

Tuoba Yu was about to explain the real reason to her when he was suddenly interrupted.

“Greetings, Your Seventh Highness.” The sharp of an eunuch suddenly interrupted his thoughts.
It was a servant who came from the palace gates and greeted Tuoba Yu.
Tuoba Yu broke out of his contemplative daze and nodded.

Li Wei Yang glanced at him and said nothing more.
She saluted him, then turned and left.

Tuoba Yu was completely dumbstruck.
Li Wei Yang had always looked at him with anticipation and encouragement, but just now, there was clearly disappointment and coldness in her eyes as if she was looking at a useless thing.
Did he disappoint her? Because he was too soft-hearted and let his enemy go?!

An unfamiliar chill invaded Tuoba Yu’s body.
He—would she completely abandon him too?! No, this is absolutely impossible!

The Third Prince’s Residence

In the study of the Third Prince’s residence, Tuoba Zhen’s desk was covered with paintings of beautiful women.
Tuoba Zhen was sitting in a chair.
There was only a single candle in the room, illuminating his solemn face and flickering.
His eyes weren’t on the paintings of the beauties but closed, thinking about something.

The spy reported: “Virtuous Consort Zhang niang niang summoned Anping Xianzhu into the Palace today to talk.
Anping Xianzhu encountered the Seventh Prince at the palace gates.”

“What did they talk about?” Tuoba Zhen suddenly opened his eyes.

The spy broke out in a cold sweat and stuttered: “This…
I didn’t hear clearly.”

“Hmph! Useless!” Tuoba Zhen lowered his eyes and coldly scoffed.

The spy prostrated on the ground.
Sneaking a glance at his master’s solemn face, he tentatively asked, “Does this servant need to go to the Seventh Prince’s residence and investigate?” There was still a spy there.

“…No need.” Tuoba Zhen tiredly closed his eyes and gestured for him to withdraw.

The spy held his breath and quickly yet respectfully retreated.
Tuoba Zhen frowned, his eyes fixated on the paintings of the beauties on the table.
All these women were prestigious ladies of large, influential families, chosen by his courtiers.
Regardless of their appearance, they would be useful to him.
Marrying any one of them would greatly enhance his strength.

In the past, he would definitely find and choose the most useful person and marry without the slightest hesitation—even if she was an ugly monster! He only needed to take advantage of the power in his hands to ascend to the throne and rule the world! But now, he looked at these unfamiliar faces and became even more upset.
He suddenly flung his arm out and swept everything to the ground with a “shua.” The scroll paintings flew everywhere and got dirty at once.

Among all the scrolls, there was a portrait that he personally painted.
At this moment, it finally turned up.
He was stunned to discover that the woman he subconsciously drew looked a lot like Anping Xianzhu, Li Wei Yang.
He looked at the lovely beauty in the painting and couldn’t help but reach out.
His fingertips gently traced the light ink lines on paper, deep in thought.

At this moment, a clap of thunder interrupted his thoughts.
It was going to rain soon.
Tuoba Zhen walked to the window.
His dark, solemn eyes looked up at the sky and dark clouds, the silence was like the calm before the storm.

Returning to the desk once more, he made up his mind.
He picked up the scroll painting and suddenly tore it in half before sneering: “Li Wei Yang, you want to marry Tuoba Yu? It won’t be that easy! If I can’t have it, no one will be able to either!”

At the Li Residence, the autumn wind came, and the room seemed a bit chilly.
Li Wei Yang could even hear the billowing wind outside as well as the thunder above in the clouds.
The candlelight slightly flickered, casting her slender shadow on the plain wall, making others feel unspeakably cold.

Li Wei Yang put down the book in her hand and stared at her shadow for a while.
Bai Zhi said: “Xiaojie, do you want to rest?”

Li Wei Yang shook her head and said, “I'm not sleepy yet.”

At that moment, Li Min De leapt in from the window—as if he’d done this many times, this action had been well-practiced.
Li Wei Yang blinked and said, “Your body hasn’t recovered yet, and you’ve already run wild, I won’t look after you if you get sick again!”

Li Min De smiled slightly and said, “How could I get sick? My body has fully recovered.”

Strange indeed, who is the person that dies every night and comes back to life the next morning, only to act like it was nothing! Li Wei Yang glanced at him: “What are you doing here?”

“I bought some small dishes from Mo Li Pavillion.
Let’s eat together!” He said with a grin.
The food container held in his hand was still steaming hot.
It seems like it was just bought.
The corner of Li Wei Yang’s mouth lifted, then immediately fell: “Such a cold day and you’re still running outside—” Mid-speech, he casually opened the box and put a piece into her mouth.

With a mouthful of the aromatic snack, alright, she admitted, the Mo Li Pavillion chef indeed made more refined foods than her small kitchen.
There was no way to refuse.
Afterwards, Li Min De walked over behind her and smiled warmly: “What book are you reading?”

“Not exactly a book—” Li Wei Yang flipped to the cover.

“Jiang Hua’s writings?” Li Min De was slightly surprised.
Li Wei Yang smiled and said: “By understanding one another, a hundred battles can be won.
While he is despicable, the military records are decently written, do you want to take a look?”

Li Min De made a disgusted face.
Li Wei Yang smiled and said: “If you’re not interested, then forget it.”

Li Min De smiled and said: “Reading his military records can’t be compared to close surveillance.” He pulled a list out from his sleeve, “This is everything he has done in the army in the past ten years, recorded in detail and perhaps more useful than military records.”

It's much more useful to monitor his actions than to read his so-called writings.
A hint of surprise appeared in Li Wei Yang’s eyes as she accepted it: “How did you get this?”

Li Min De sighed and said: “Of course, it took quite a bit of effort, but as long as it’s useful, it’s all good.”

Li Wei Yang looked at him and smiled: “Don’t show off.” As she flipped through the records in hand, there was amusement in her eyes: “You definitely shouldn’t be having someone secretly watch Tuoba Yu either.”

She apparently knew that he had sent someone to keep a close eye on the Seventh Prince.
Underneath the candlelight, Li Min De’s light amber eyes were exceptionally clear and bright.
The corners of his eyes curved up.
He smiled in a cheerful, warm manner: “He has such a cold, indifferent face and couldn't be more useless; you’re really not going to reconsider and pick someone else?”


Translator: Chau

Editor: Chau

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