Chapter 141: Preparing a Feint Attack


(1) 炎 – the meaning for this character is “flame”.

The emperor hastily issued an edict for self-reflection and in addition, opened up the granaries to begin provisioning food to civilians affected by the disaster in various regions.
The public sentiment of unrest was quickly pacified, and the common people who had planned to flee the disaster-stricken areas began to return to their hometowns to rebuild their homes.
And the capital, which had sustained considerably lighter damage, was once more in the midst of renovations.

The situation had temporarily calmed down on the surface, but in reality, people in the capital were also beginning to get restless.
First, the emperor issued an edict to order Duke Jiang, who was originally on the way, to return and defend the southern borders.
In order to respond to the current political situation on that end, his attitude towards the Jiang family had proceeded to loosen considerably.
In ten days, he had called Jiang Xu into the palace three times in succession.
Moreover, they discussed official business in the imperial study in private.
For a while, discussion sprang up everywhere in the capital.
Such news reached Li Wei Yang's ears, but as if she wasn’t aware, she behaved with complete indifference.

This situation was originally within expectations, and there wasn’t anything strange.
Li Wei Yang saw that even Li Xiao Ran couldn't sit still.
Twice every three days, he would summon advisers to his study to assess the situation, while she minded her own business and nursed her injuries, slept, and watched over the yatou as they made an inventory of the damages.
Afterwards, she lamented a bit over the broken antiques and vases.
She occasionally comforted Sun Yan Jun, who had suffered heavy losses, just like those noble young ladies in other families.

However, the Ninth Princess suddenly sent an invitation to Li Wei Yang.
Li Wei Yang grasped the gilded invitation in her hand and thought for half a day before recalling that the meeting place was in another courtyard.

“Xiaojie, are you going to keep the appointment?” Bai Zhi asked in a low voice.

Li Wei Yang sighed and carelessly tossed the invitation aside, saying: “The princess made an appointment, so naturally I have to go.
I imagine she probably has something to tell me.”

A strange expression appeared on Bai Zhi's face.
Why would the Ninth Princess look for Li Wei Yang at this time? Furthermore, the wording on that invite seemed to be very sincere, and it must have been asking for a request.
But the danger of marriage was already gone, so just what did the Ninth Princess want to do?

Knowing that Li Min De would definitely stop her, Li Wei Yang did not inform him.
Instead, she personally kept the appointment because her intuition told her that the Ninth Princess really had an urgent matter.
Waiting until she arrived at the other courtyard, Bai Zhi supported Li Wei Yang off the carriage.
Ninth Princess was unexpectedly waiting at the door in person.
As soon as she saw Li Wei Yang, she rushed over with an anxious look in her eyes: “Sister Wei Yang! Come take a look at Seventh brother! His condition is really not good!”

Tuoba Yu? Li Wei Yang's gaze was indifferent for a moment, but she was not in a hurry: “Oh, what's wrong with Seventh Prince?”

“After Virtuous Consort niang niang passed away, he kept guarding her palace and refused to come out, and even refused to let anyone bury her.
Until the earthquake happened, he was still holding onto Virtuous Consort niang niang’s corpse and wouldn’t let go.
Later he was injured by a falling pillar.
His guards had to forcibly bring him out.” Ninth Princess's face was extremely uneasy.
“But he—in addition to a high fever and fainting spells every day, even when he wakes up, he still refuses to take medicine—I want to report this to Father Emperor.
However, both Father Emperor and Mother Empress are troubled over matters related to the earthquake.
I really can’t bear to give them more worries, but I also have no other options!”

Tears involuntarily appeared in the eyes of Ninth Princess.
Fearing that Li Wei Yang would be annoyed, she quickly raised her sleeves to wipe away the tears.
“Seventh Brother has always been strong and he’s never been like this.
He narrowly escaped during the earthquake, but if it continues like this, he can only wait for death—”

Li Wei Yang pursed her lips, and her expression returned to a smile: “Princess, heartache requires medicine for the heart to cure it.
I have no way to bring Virtuous Consort niang niang back to life.
What use is it to look for me?”

Ninth Princess quickly said: “That’s not my meaning.
I just—know that Seventh Brother likes you, so maybe he will listen to you! I want to ask you to give it a try, even if it's for the sake of my face, please help him!

Li Wei Yang looked into Ninth Princess’s eyes, which were filled with tears, and could not help but slowly answer: “Seventh Prince is actually very blessed.
He doesn’t have Virtuous Consort at his side, but at least he still has a younger sister who cares about him like this.
Unfortunately, I can't help him.
Nobody can help him apart from himself.”

“It doesn't matter! Just go and see him! Just one glance! Take it as me begging you, alright, Wei Yang jiejie?” Ninth Princess’s eyes were tearful.
Li Wei Yang was clearly her last hope.

Li Wei Yang shook her head, sighed and said, “I'll visit him, but I’m only going to visit a sick patient, do you understand?” Not to cure an illness.
Those were two different things.
She had no responsibility and obligation to shoulder the expectations of others, but she also wanted to know what state Tuoba Yu was currently in to be able to make Ninth Princess this anxious.

Ninth Princess’ tears turned into a smile, and she said seriously, “Wei Yang jiejie, thank you.
If you need my help with anything in the future, don’t hesitate to ask!”

Li Wei Yang smiled slightly and said, “Can’t say for sure—if I really need your help someday, remember your words first.”

Ninth Princess nodded solemnly, but her beautiful face was still glistening with tears.
Li Wei Yang didn’t say anymore and turned into the courtyard.

As soon as she entered the room, her nostrils were assailed by the smell of blood, and things on the floor were in complete disorder.
Li Wei Yang glanced around.
Sure enough, she saw Tuoba Yu sitting on a yellow rattan chair in the middle of the room.
His eyes were half open, and his expression was apathetic as he stared out into space.
There was a lot of blood on the bandage dressings on his shoulder as well.
It was clearly just like how the Ninth Princess had described it.
He refused to let others treat him.

Li Wei Yang whispered: “Seventh Prince.”

Hearing her voice, Tuoba Yu suddenly flared up and opened his eyes, but the moment he saw her face clearly, he turned his face and said hoarsely: “Didn’t you give up on me completely? Why did you come here?”

The indifference on Li Wei Yang’s face made her into a different person from the one who was outside the room just now, and she seemed to have a bit of heartfelt care: “Even if we can’t be allies, I thought we were at least friends.
Shouldn’t I also come pay a visit and see how you’re doing? Or do you not want to see me anymore?”

Tuoba Yu just smiled coldly: “Is human garbage like me even worth your attention?”

“What are you say—”

“I'm not a fool!” Tuoba Yu stared at her with pain in his pitch-black eyes.
“The Empress and the Crown Prince acted together to kill my mother, and I had no way to save her.
What good is it for a useless person like me to remain in this world! You don't have to lie to me.
I’ve known for a long time.
I’ve failed to live up to your expectations over and over again.
Even in front of Mother, I couldn’t even say no.
In your eyes that is already equivalent to trash, am I wrong?”

Li Wei Yang smiled and said, “Seventh Prince, do you blame me for failing to save your mother? So you're going to give up on yourself in here and intend to die from refusing to treat your wounds?”

Tuoba Yu suddenly fixed his stare on her, the unparalleled chill in his eyes making his handsome face look unexpectedly hostile: “Even if I died, it’s better than helplessly despising myself like this!” He had never suffered such a blow in all his years—it could be called a crushing defeat.
The result of his momentary poor decision to let go of the enemy even caused his own mother to perish within the opponent’s trap! It was all because of him—he who had always been proud had absolutely no way to accept this fact!

Li Wei Yang no longer smiled.
She looked at him coldly with a gaze that could freeze a lake: “I originally didn't intend to tell it to you straight, since you have self-awareness.
I don't need to repeat those kinds of sugar coated words! You’re right that you only have yourself to blame for the present! Long ago, I warned you that you had to be ruthless to your enemies in order to survive! But for the sake of a little benefit, worrying that your own people would be implicated, you let the chance to deal a fatal blow to the enemy slip! To the Jiang family, to the Crown Prince, to Tuoba Zhen, again and again and again! You are right.
It is all your own fault! Virtuous Consort was killed by your own indecisiveness!”

Tuoba Yu's face paled in an instant.
He didn't expect Li Wei Yang to reprimand him like this to his face——

“What? Feeling guilty? Or regret?” Li Wei Yang sneered.
“Let me tell you, since you were born into the royal family, you should work hard and do your utmost to survive.
Otherwise, take advantage of this time and quickly get lost! No one will keep you here! Because for trash like you, there are many people who can take your place! Or I can tell you the end result now.
You, the Duke Luo residence, the strategic advisers at your side, those who depend on you to survive, they will all die! One by one, they will continue to die in front of you!”

Tuoba Yu suddenly stood up.
Because he used too much force, the bandages wrapped around his shoulders were soaked deep red.
At this moment, he had already been driven into a rage.
He rushed over and grabbed Li Wei Yang by the shoulders.
Although his face was smiling, it was warped into something sinister and scared people: “Li Wei Yang! What do you know? What basis do you have to say that! For what reason!”

Li Wei Yang's eyes were ice-cold.
WIthout the slightest hesitation, she swiftly gave him a slap across the face.
The slap was so resounding that Tuoba Yu was stunned silly.
He subconsciously stumbled back half a step, and unexpectedly, his arms weakly released her.

Li Wei Yang looked at him apathetically: “Why do you think I chose you? Because Tuoba Zhen hates you, because the person he’s most jealous of is you! Because you were born with everything he doesn't have! So I hold you up, help you, because I want to see what he looks like as he suffers.
I want to see him crushed underfoot by the person he hates and loathes and looks down on the most! Not only that.
Even though you weren’t ruthless enough before, at least I still thought you were a man with an indomitable spirit who would stop at nothing, who wouldn't place the blame on others, wouldn’t be unable to get back up because of one tiny setback! But what the hell are you like now! I am really blind to think you had the ability to fight with Tuoba Zhen.
By the looks of it now, you will die in his hands sooner or later! So get lost, or you’ll have to watch with your own eyes as Tuoba Zhen slaughters your friends, your relatives! Watch him trample your residence flat! Watch him as he ascends to the Emperor's seat!”

“Shut up! Shut your mouth!” Tuoba Yu turned around and unexpectedly drew the dagger at his side.
The dagger that glittered like frost and snow reached Li Wei Yang's ear in a moment, but he suddenly stopped.
It was unclear whether the emotion in his eyes was love or hatred, blame or poison.

Li Wei Yang looked at the dagger that glinted with chilling light but smiled faintly.
There wasn't any fear whatsoever: “What? Too harsh for your ears? I might as well tell you that Tuoba Zhen watched his biological mother die in his childhood, but for a greater cause, he could endure everything.
He knew that Able Consort Wu killed his mother, but in front of his personal enemy, he could also smile and call her mother.
Could you? For the sake of success, Tuoba Zhen can wag his tail and beg for pity in front of the Crown Prince time and time again.
Are you able to? For the throne, Tuoba Zhen will make use of everything that can be used.
Eliminate all those who oppose him.
Can you? Compared to him, you are just a coward! For a small thing, you are here to court death, your life has really been too smooth! Look at you now, you can’t even hold a dagger steady.
What qualifications do you have to vent your anger at an innocent woman like me.
It’s simply hard to understand.

Tuoba Yu quivered—her words that reprimanded him severely shook him to the depths of his soul! Violently flinging the dagger aside, he gasped for breath—did he ever think about taking action for real—towards Li Wei Yang, how could he have made a move!

Tuoba Yu knelt down in front of her and buried his head in his hands.
Even though the wounds on his shoulders were already oozing with blood, he was completely unaware of it.
He seemed to have lost the rage and vivacity he just had: “I'm sorry —I…I’m dizzy.
I—I’ve never failed like this—I watched mother concubine lose her life because of my own mistakes! Wei Yang, I—I really hate myself—”

Li Wei Yang knew that the most suitable opportunity had arrived.
The reason she came today was all for such an opportunity.
She sighed, as if the former coldness had never existed.
Contrary to expectation, she crouched down and spoke tenderly: “Seventh Prince, you are the Emperor’s most beloved prince.
This is where you have an advantage over Tuoba Zhen.
I know that the death of Virtuous Consort niang niang will be an enormous blow to you, but if you are unable to recover, who can help her seek her revenge? Think about it.
The Crown Prince and Empress, and also Tuoba Zhen, and of course there’s Jiang Hua who’s plotting all of this behind the scenes.
All of them are waiting to see you make a fool of yourself.
Do you want them to keep being this arrogant? Or do you want to be the person with the dagger tearing them to sheds one by one?” Her voice was incredibly gentle, carrying a bewitching power.
Tuoba Yu slowly raised his head and gazed at her.

Li Wei Yang’s smile was overwhelmingly beautiful, but there wasn’t the least bit of softness in it.
She slowly picked up the dagger from the ground and personally handed it to Tuoba Yu, then unhurriedly, protractedly let his hand grip that dagger.
Tuoba Yu finally grasped it tightly, even though it was the dagger’s sharp blade that had already cut his palm open.
Scarlet blood dripped down without his notice.
He merely looked at the dagger seriously without saying a word, as if lost in his thoughts.

Li Wei Yang smiled slightly.
She got up to open the door of the room without another glance at Tuoba Yu, who was still in a daze.
Soon after, she gently closed the door.

Faced with the eager expression of Ninth Princess, Li Wei Yang said: “Let him be alone for a while.
I think you will see him cheer up soon.”

Knowing the Crown Prince and the Empress’ plans, it was clear that they were planning to use the death of the Virtuous Consort to deal a blow to Tuoba Yu.
They knew that the mother and son relationship between Virtuous Consort and Tuoba Yu had not been ordinary.
They were aware that Tuoba Yu's only weakness might well be that mother of his.
The reason why Li Wei Yang watched unfeelingly as Consort Lian fanned the flames and didn’t stop it all for this day.
She needed Tuoba Yu’s power.
When she contended against Tuoba Zhen, Tuoba Yu would become the knife that would pierce the chest of the other party.
But this knife was too blunt.
She had no choice but to polish him a little faster with her own hands.
The ringleaders behind the death of Virtuous Consort were the Crown Prince and the Empress, and of course there was also Tuoba Zhen.
One can imagine how deep Tuoba Yu’s enmity was, and this hatred would erase his last trace of compassion and weakness.

This was the best way.
Because Tuoba Yu’s days ordinarily passed too smoothly, because he was too outstanding and never tasted defeat, people who didn’t understand defeat had no motivation, and had no faith that there would be certain victory…
in the future, everything would be different.

Li Wei Yang sat in the carriage.
Flickers of sunlight occasionally filtered through the carriage curtains and fell on her face, leaving behind wavering light and shadow.
At this moment, she seemed to be a person who resided in the light and the darkness, her features indistinguishable.

“Xiaojie, nubi feels—you were a bit too cold towards Seventh Prince.” Mo Zhu said quietly.

Li Wei Yang raised her eyes and looked at her but smiled slightly: “He is merely an ally.
Why would I need to be compassionate and softhearted towards him?”

Mo Zhu and Bai Zhi looked at each.
Bai Zhi gave her a meaningful glance, which told her not to go on, but Mo Zhu still sympathized with the cold-faced yet inwardly affectionate Seventh Highness, and said in a low voice, “But he likes you so much—”

“He initially liked me because I was useful to him, didn't he?” Tuoba Yu wouldn't like a person who was completely useless.
Just like that time he first saw her in the pergola at the entrance of the village, he had merely found her interesting but had no intention to help her.

Mo Zhu felt very strange and said: “Then towards Third Shaoye, you—” She said halfway through, suddenly realized that she had said too much, and her face paled in fear.

Li Wei Yang heard this, but her expression became much softer.
She did not answer Mo Zhu's words, despite the fact that this time, even Bai Zhi was staring at her curiously.
As observers, did they feel she treated Li Min De differently?

Perhaps it was really different.

Li Wei Yang smiled, lowered her eyes, and then whispered: “Naturally, there is a reason for this…”

The two girls in the carriage pricked up their ears at the same time and listened attentively.

“He likes me for no reason.” Her voice was very light and soft, and the expression in her eyes was tender.
She said with a heartfelt emotion, “Without caring about identity or about gains and losses, purely because I am me.
And he likes me like this.
Am I Li Wei Yang? Or someone else? Or what will I be like in the future? He doesn’t care about that.
It’s really nice to be liked by someone like this.” She sighed softly, lost in thought, and didn't go on.

Maybe even she herself didn’t know how to deal with such feelings…

Back in her own yard, Li Wei Yang ordered Bai Zhi to grind ink.
At this moment, the window was half open and the wind rushed in, dispersing the fragrance of ink within the room.
Li Wei Yang held the writing brush and stared down at the paper on the table.
Her brows wrinkled slightly, unwilling to put the brush to paper.

The character was still so ugly.
She even said she wouldn’t write anymore, but she still couldn't help picking up the pen again.

The door squeaked, pushed open from the outside.
The person who came in was Li Min De.

He threw a brocade box towards the table, then turned and walked towards her: “That guy sends gifts like three meals a day.
Looks like he’s really trying to deceive your maiden heart.”

Li Wei Yang hummed in agreement.

“The day before yesterday, it was a luminous pearl bigger than a chicken egg.
Yesterday, it was an extremely hard to find Lantian jade annulus.
Today, it’s an ink stick that will never dry.
It must have taken a lot of thought.” Li Min De said.

Li Wei Yang agreed again.

Li Min De couldn't help but ask: “He’s still preparing to meet you tomorrow.
Are you going?”

Li Wei Yang smiled, still hummed, and finally put down the brush.
She had actually written a Yan (1) character.
Li Min De's gaze twinkled a few times, and he simply took a seat on the table.
Turning sideways, he carefully scrutinized the word she had written at close range, he suddenly raised his brows and said, “Is it almost the crucial moment?”

Li Wei Yang laughed: “It is indeed.”

Li Min De gazed at her brightly: “When do we make a move?”

Li Wei Yang's smile was even lighter: “By my guess, the army in Mo Bei has now assembled at the northern border, and the other side will soon make a move.
So the plan to elope will probably speed up as well.”

“But will he believe you so easily?” Li Min De looked at her.

Li Wei Yang sighed, as if regretful, and said: “That’s why we need to put on a performance.”

Li Min De looked at her and suddenly smiled faintly: “Actually, have you ever thought that this play would be a bit difficult for you? A girl experiencing her first love.
Do you think it's similar?”

Li Wei Yang raised her eyes in astonishment.

Li Min De's gaze was abstruse and transparent, possessing an indescribable brightness.
He looked and watched at her, speaking one word at a time: “Unless you know how to act like a girl in love towards a man, it’s tough to convince anyone otherwise.”

Li Wei Yang would have never thought that he could actually come up with such a statement.
After her initial astonishment, she laughed.
With a sigh, she said: “Right, a girl experiencing her first love.
It’s really not easy to act out.”

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