Chapter 142: A Monstrous Calamity

So she came after all — Princess He Chang! It was said that she had broken a rib before but it seems she has recovered amazingly, or perhaps her fortitude is amazing — Li Wei Yang silently took her in.
Surprisingly, He Chang didn’t bring a single entourage to follow behind her and had ridden the horse to come here alone.
Now she agilely dismounted from her horse and, grinning from ear to ear, said, “Xianzhu, may I have a walk with you to chat?”

Li Wei Yang smiled and descended from the carriage.

The two walked along the bridge, the evening breeze blowing over the lake, causing innumerable ripples in the center.
He Chang took a small box from her sleeve and presented it before Li Wei Yang.

Li Wei Yang extended her hands to receive it and opened the lid.
Upon seeing what was inside, she couldn’t help but be surprised.
Unexpectedly, nestled inside the box was a phoenix jade pendant.
Under the moonlight, it emitted a faint gleam, dazzling the eyes.

“This is the phoenix jade.” Princess He Change explained, “Father Emperor told Fourth Brother to give this to his future wife – no, it should be said, to the future Empress of Mo Bei.”

So Li Yuan Heng was already named the next Emperor of Mo Bei.
Li Wei Yang smiled, so she didn’t guess wrong after all.
Then this person coming here was truly too bold!

“This phoenix jade pendant is the only one of its kind in the entire world.
How many people have gotten hurt when trying to steal it I don’t know, plus in 100,000 years, the pendant has only ever been passed down to the Empress of Mo Bei.
You understand the meaning behind my Fourth Brother giving this to Xianzhu, right?” Princess He Chang asked in this way.

Li Wei Yang just silently looked at her, as if unconvinced.

Princess He Chang laughed, “Fourth Brother has four concubines but he hasn’t married a main wife yet.
This is because even though he had been looking for so long, he hadn’t found a woman that he thought was good enough.
But he’s observed you for a long time and he feels that you’re not only bright, capable, calm, and rational, but also that your personality matches well with his.
So he thinks you are most suitable for this phoenix jade.”

“His Majesty has already given Mo Bei’s Fourth Prince a new bride.” Li Wei Yang replied simply.
Her tone wasn’t particularly happy nor excited in any way.
With that, Princess He Chang’s pupils widened a bit in surprise but very quickly smiled and replied, “That was an act from your Da Li’s Emperor, we don’t acknowledge it.
We’ve already investigated that so-called new bride, she’s just a weak indoors Xiaojie.
I bet that once she arrives at Mo Bei’s Palace, she won’t survive past 6 months.
Fourth Brother won’t be satisfied marrying this sort of flower vase.
The one he wants is you.”

A trace of annoyance flashed over Li Wei Yang’s face but quickly disappeared.
She smiled, “Princess, this phoenix jade pendant has such a significant meaning.
Please excuse me for not being able to accept it.”

He Chang smiled, saying, “Li Wei Yang, what will you do if you stay in Da Li? You can only be like those incompetant women at the banquet, stifling your own smarts and abilities.
But if you go to Mo Bei, you will be able to do whatever you want and in the future, you will be the most powerful woman in Mo Bei.” When saying those three words, “most powerful woman”, a bit of greed flashed in He Chang’s eyes, but she hid those feelings very well, her face all smiles.

Becoming the most powerful woman in Mo Bei? Li Wei Yang coldly sneered in her heart.
In this world, how could such a thing come cheap?

“What cost would I need to pay then?” Li Wei Yang’s face only showed a slight smile.

She really was a smart woman.
He Chang sweetly said, “The cost… You know that my Fourth Brother has a lot of enemies.
They will definitely think of all kinds of ways to make trouble.
You may have to plan some nice strategies for Fourth Brother.”

Li Wei Yang knew it wasn’t as simple as that.
At the very least, Li Yuan Heng must have reached some sort of agreement with Jiang Hua for him to insist on having her! “Just that?” She very slowly repeated again, “I would just plan some strategies for the Fourth Prince?”

He Chang’s smile didn’t change, but her eyes deepened.
She said slowly, “Of course it’s not just that, but it’s not time to talk about those things yet! What you need to do now is decide on this gamble.
Are you going to bet or not?”

It was obvious that He Chang thought that this was irresistible to any woman.
Although being married to the future emperor of Mo Bei meant countless dangers and fights, it also signified countless riches and immeasurable power.
This was her life’s ambition and thus she thought Li Wei Yang couldn’t possibly turn it down.

Li Wei Yang pursed her lips in a smile, and self-mockingly laughed, “You all have really overrated me.”

“A girl that can force the Jiang family into a desperate situation has given us no choice but to think highly of her.” As a matter of fact, if Jiang Hua hadn’t leaked out a lot of the things that Li Wei Yang had done, they wouldn’t have wasted so much time on her.
Such a clever and sinister woman was just what Li Yuan Heng wanted.
Princess He Chang played with her hair, and charmingly smiled, “To tell the truth, you’re a girl who had the guts to make an enemy of the entire Jiang family.
It shows you’re truly frightening but also incredibly powerful.
I really admire you and really like you, I really hope you will be my sister-in-law.”

Li Wei Yang silently looked at her without a hint of a response.

He Chang displayed a smile as if they were good friends.

Li Wei Yang looked at her, then returned the box containing the phoenix jade pendant back to her.

Seeing He Chang’s shocked expression, Li Wei Yang smiled faintly and said, “Please tell the Fourth Prince that I need some time to think it over.”

He Chang narrowed her eyes.
Was this a woman being reserved, or a tactful rejection? At this moment in time, she couldn’t grasp what Li Wei Yang was thinking.
Before, the way Li Wei Yang behaved towards Li Yuan Heng seemed to hold some sort of intention, but it was neither too close or too distant.
Even Li Yuan Heng was thrown around by her, one moment praising him to the skies, another moment throwing him to the ground.
Originally he was only a little interested in her but his heart was quickly captivated and desired her.
Looking at it like that, it seems Li Wei Yang understood a man’s heart.
Although a kite flies high and far away, the line was firmly in her grasp.

He Chang originally thought that Li Wei Yang was the same sort of person as her, risking their lives to crawl up high.
She wouldn’t reject such a fascinating proposal.
The reason why she didn’t want to marry him before, even going to the extent of causing a ruckus with the Auspicious Palace was because she didn’t want to marry beneath her station.
She wasn’t able to see the value of the Fourth Prince.
Now that she knows that the Fourth Prince is to be the future Emperor of Mo Bei, she definitely would want to be with him.
But now, she was confused.

He Chang purposely darkened her face, saying, “Li Wei Yang, don’t refuse this request only to be forced into giving in later.
My Fourth Brother deeply respects you.
If you continue to be like this…”

Li Wei Yang abruptly turned around, her gaze fixed on her, her voice deep as she said, “How come Princess is almost flying into a rage from shame?”

He Chang couldn’t help but be stunned.

Li Wei Yang said, “I just need some time to think it over.
If the Fourth Prince doesn’t even have this much patience and perseverance, then I’d invite him to just return home.”

Li Yuan Heng was someone with an abnormal amount of persistence – one would know from the jewelry he sent every day.
Those were all priceless.
Being so generous illustrated how determined he was to win her over.

“Li Wei Yang! We will be leaving the capital three days from now, around 3-5pm.” He Chang suddenly said behind her.

Li Wei Yang didn’t pause in her steps and only said indifferently, “Three days from now, I will be going into the mountains to pray for the victims of the calamity.
My apologies for being unable to see you off.”

He Chang’s brows wrinkled as she stared at Li Wei Yang’s departing carriage.
It was the first time she had felt uncertain, but she quickly started laughing.
Li Wei Yang, ah, Li Wei Yang.
To live life and turn out like that, you’re truly awesome! If you were truly uninterested in becoming Mo Bei’s Empress, why would you tell me where you will be at that time?

The carriage arrived at the Li residence.
Li Wei Yang descended from the carriage and turned around to instruct Zhao Yue to give the driver from Princess Yongning’s residence a tip.
Soon afterwards, she meant to enter when suddenly, she heard a peal of hoofbeats.

Zhao Yue excitedly called, “It’s Third Shaoye!”

Li Wei Yang unblinkingly stared at a not-so-distant place to see Li Min De galloping from the north direction.

He didn’t attend the banquet today, but all throughout the banquet, Li Wei Yang had been hearing many Xiaojie bringing up his name.
His outstanding beauty was known to everyone but was unwilling to become an official.
It is unknown which girl will be able to take a hold of his heart and marry into the Li residence.
Li Wei Yang of course knew why he didn’t want to become an official and at that moment silently watched him approach while riding his horse.
His bright and beautiful clothes were glittering in the dimness of the night but all that couldn’t compare to his shining, deep, and clear eyes, his face —

When Li Min De spotted her, his face showed a dazzling smile, causing those who saw it to almost go blind.

He pulled on the reins to force the horse to a stop, flew to the ground, and smiled again.
“Did the banquet go smoothly today?”

Li Wei Yang smiled, saying, “Of course it went smoothly.
So smoothly it couldn’t have gone even more smoothly.” She suddenly remembered Ninth Princess’s crying face and hesitated, but in an instant she smiled and said, “Ninth Princess and Zhang Feng’s marriage has been set.”

Li Min De’s expression showed surprise for a split second.
Afterwards he said, “This — does it have anything to do with your plan?”

Li Wei Yang’s steps paused for a bit, then as if nothing happened, said, “No, it doesn’t.” She originally wanted to tell him about Ninth Princess’s state of mind, but now she didn’t see the need.
“Is everything ready on that side?”

Li Min De perked up with a smile.
“Just wait and see the show three days from now.”

Li Wei Yang nodded, saying, “I hope they will all like this generous gift.”

Three days from now was the tenth day of the third month.
On that day, Li Wei Yang had already washed, dressed, and prepared in the middle of the night.
At day break, she entered the palace.
The Empress Dowager had requested a talk with her today.
When she reached the Empress Dowager’s building, the Ninth Princess was already there.
Seeing her come, she merely faintly nodded and smiled before turning to the Empress Dowager and saying, “Empress Dowager, look, Wei Yang Jiejie has arrived.”

Empress Dowager smiled and beckoned her over, saying, “Come, come quick.” She had always highly appreciated Li Wei Yang plus Ninth Princess also really liked her.
Today she wanted to select a few dowry items for the Ninth Princess.
Consort Rou had unfortunately fell sick and the Empress was extremely busy.
The Ninth Princess had taken the initiative to suggest Li Wei Yang to act as an advisor and although it didn’t conform to the rules, as long as the Empress Dowager was happy, everything was ok.

The Empress Dowager nodded and an eunuch managing ceremonies standing to the side continued to read, “A set of marten fur blankets, a set of fox pelt blankets, adorned python satin, 8 sets of shining satin blankets, twelve pillows, a rack of screens, a rack of bed curtains, a canopy, fifty liang of third-rate gold, fifty liang of light metal, ten thousand liang of silver, a thousand rolls of satin silk muslin, two thousand rolls of blue woven cotton —”

The Ninth Princess had been up since the early morning hours.
Even if one could say her dowry was something Consort Rou should have carefully considered, the Empress Dowager unexpectedly wanted her to personally choose the things she treasured.
Such grace had never been seen before, so no matter how tired and impatient she was, she must continue to smile and listen.

After reading for no less than an hour, they were hardly through a quarter of the list.
The Empress Dowager sighed and kneaded her temples, saying, “Listening really gives a headache.
Wei Yang, what do you think is inappropriate to include?”

Li Wei Yang smiled and said, “How could there be anything inappropriate with the things Empress Dowager has painstakingly prepared? But the Ninth Princess always has her own opinions and perhaps she should personally take a look at all of the cloths to avoid any old palace traditions that she doesn’t like.”

The Empress Dowager nodded.
This time they indeed took out a lot of old cloths from the warehouse.
Some had faded colours and truly weren’t fit to be worn.
They were too expensive to be used to reward people.
Might as well ask the Imperial Household Department to exchange them.
She nodded and said, “Let’s do that.” With that, she felt another headache and pressed and pressed her temples.
Li Wei Yang said carefully, “Empress Dowager’s headaches haven’t been fully healed yet?”

From the side, the Ninth Princess quickly said, deeply concerned, “Empress Dowager, it’s all my fault.
You’ve tired yourself for my marriage.
I truly feel apologetic.”

Because Consort Rou’s body was not well and the Empress wasn’t Ninth Princess’s birth mother, this matter was being handled too half-heartedly.
The Empress Dowager couldn’t bear to watch any longer and took it into her own hands.
In the past few days, just thinking about the dowry would cause a splitting headache.
She shook her head, saying, “It’s an old illness.”

Li Wei Yang softly said, “Wei Yang will be bold and offer you a type of peppermint cream.
Perhaps it will help.” The Empress Dowager glanced at her, her gaze revealing a bit of warmth, “You have a good attitude.
But this is an old illness.
The imperial physicians have used not a few methods without success.”

Already, not a trace of sadness could be seen on Ninth Princess’s tender and pretty face.
She looked at the Empress Dowager and spoiledly said, “Empress Dowager, just try it!” Then, on her own accord, walked to Li Wei Yang to take the offered peony decorated little vase.
She opened it for a sniff and felt the cool and refreshing scent of peppermint.
She used her fourth finger to gently dip into the cream and softly rubbed it onto the Empress Dowager’s temples for her, saying in a low voice, “You should always try it at least…”

After a long time, Empress Dowager lightly let out a sigh, “It really is very comfortable.”

Li Wei Yang smiled.
This peppermint cream was different from a regular physician’s treatment for headaches.
That year, to ingratiate herself with the Empress Dowager, she exerted an extraordinary amount of effort to think of this secret recipe.
Bringing it out now would of course have great effect.
“I had heard this recipe from my grandmother who fortuitously brought it up.
I remembered Empress Dowager also had headaches and took a risk.
If it was effective, that would be good, and if it wasn’t effective, there would likely be no harmful effects to the body.”

Sure enough, the Empress Dowager was really happy and looked at Li Wei Yang with an even gentler expression, “Thank you for your efforts.”

The atmosphere inside the hall seemed even more harmonious.
Ninth Princess, smiling, personally peeled red-skinned tangerines and handed them to the Empress Dowager one piece at a time.
When the time came to have a meal, Empress Dowager even said, “Wei Yang, stay and have the meal with us.”

This was an unprecedented imperial favour.
Li Wei Yang said smiling, “Thank you, Empress Dowager.”

And so, ten or so eunuchs arranged two dining tables to form a square table in the middle of the hall and then placed silver-coated dinnerware on the table.
The elaborately carved, old-fashioned wooden armchair to the east of the dining table was naturally for the Empress Dowager, while the slightly smaller chairs on either side of the dining table were for herself and the Ninth Princess.

A group of well-trained eunuchs started to place the dishes.
The aroma of delicious delicacies with all sorts of flavours started wafting through the air.
The food and drink here far exceeded the New Years extravagant dinner at the Li residence.
And yet, this meal was specially arranged to be simple.
The eunuch kneeled on the ground and said, “The meal has been served, please begin.”

The Ninth Princess wanted to remind Li Wei Yang of the expected dining etiquette, fearing that she would make some blunder at the dining table and perhaps make the Empress Dowager unhappy.
But she truly didn’t expect Li Wei Yang to very accurately walk to the place that was meant for her, turn towards the Empress Dowager, bow her head, and thank her for the seat.
Then she stood there, waiting for the Empress Dowager and the Ninth Princess to take a seat before finally sitting down.
While they were eating, the Ninth Princess gazed at Li Wei Yang with surprised eyes.
She was just too surprised.
She didn’t know how Li Wei Yang could display such practiced yet elegant manners.
The way she had her meal was even more dignified than her own.

This sort of bearing wasn’t something that could be learned in a day.
It wasn’t just the Ninth Princess, but even the Empress Dowager gave Li Wei Yang a few extra glances, feeling that something was strange.
But no one said anything.
The Empress Dowager even felt that this was Li Wei Yang’s inborn grace.

Throughout the entirety of the lunch, the hall was very quiet.
Even the usually lively Ninth Princess didn’t dare talk randomly.
After lunch, Li Wei Yang retreated with the Ninth Princess to the screened areas at the two ends of the hall.
An eunuch brought them water to wash their mouths and a warm towel to wipe their hands, then soon afterwards, brought up a small silver box, inside of which had a round cardamom and white sand for them to suck in their mouths.
On one hand, it helped with digestion and on the other hand, it let their breaths carry a sweet fragrance when talking to each other.

The Ninth Princess quietly watched Li Wei Yang, observing that her movements were elegant and noble, her bearing dignified and natural.
She could not help but think while she had grown up in the palace and had long ago memorized those types of movements, the movements she made were merely following a prescribed order.
Even Consort Rou had once criticized her, saying she wasn’t taking it seriously when learning the rules.
At that time, she had even thought, it was just a daily habit, what sort of serious learning is there? But today, she saw Li Wei Yang’s movements move like floating clouds and flowing water, appearing much more dignified and beautiful than Mother Consort’s daily bearing.
Even the old Mamas that have stayed within the palace for many many years may not be up to par… The uncertainty in her heart grew ever deeper but in front of Empress Dowager, she didn’t dare ask a thing.

It was at this time that an eunuch with a panic-stricken expression abruptly entered and kneeled, saying, “Empress Dowager, Consort Dowager Liu1 was travelling to Pu Ji Temple to burn incense when she was kidnapped by someone on the road! Now those female officials have all returned weeping and wailing and causing a big ruckus at the entrance of the palace!”

Consort Dowager Liu was a consort the late Emperor had married in his later years.
Because she had entered the palace at a very young age, she didn’t understand how to win favours and didn’t receive the Emperor’s love.
Thus she didn’t have any offspring and instead had a great relationship with the Empress Dowager.
Nowadays, she still isn’t very old and can’t constantly stay in the palace like the Empress Dowager.
So on a fixed day every month, she goes to Pu Ji Temple to burn incense and pray for good fortune, which could be counted as a way to relieve her boredom.
But who would have guessed that someone would be brave enough to kidnap this dignified Consort Dowager!

Empress Dowager turned pale with fright.
“Who on earth would dare do such a thing in broad daylight?” The more she thought about it, the stranger it seemed.
She said with hatred, “They truly must have eaten ambitious leopard guts!” As she talked, she felt the headache that had just gotten better come back with a vengeance.
She practically couldn’t even sit steadily.
The Ninth Princess hurriedly dipped her fingers into the peppermint cream and brought it under the Empress Dowager’s nose for her to smell.
After a while, the Empress Dowager felt like she could finally breathe again.

Ninth Princess promptly scolded the eunuch.
“You didn’t explain very clearly.
What exactly happened…”

The eunuch hurriedly said, “All was well when Consort Dowager left from inside the Palace, but just when they started up the mountain, for some reason, a gang of villains rushed out.
With no explanation, they attacked and snatched the sedan away!”

The Empress Dowager felt a chill run down her back and said with surprise, “The sedan would have had the insignia of the inner palace! Who knew such a thing could happen.
What does calling upon me do any good…”

Ninth Princess glanced at Li Wei Yang, hiding her smile, her face full of remorse, and said, “Empress Dowager, I’m to blame.
Actually, today I chanced upon Consort Dowager when she was about to leave the palace and saw that she was bringing so many people and the insignia was displayed in full splendor.
I said that in these troubled times, she shouldn’t make such a display.
Consort Dowager deeply reconsidered, that important people can travel without such flair and not indulge in enormous publicity.
If she had travelled as originally intended, the villains definitely would not have dared commit such a crime—”

Empress Dowager was stunned, but soon after shook her head, saying, “How can this be your fault? After the calamity, all events were to conform to the principle of simplicity.
Moreover, who would think that such a thing could happen while on the road to pray at a temple!” Her tone was frigid and soon lowered, “Does his Majesty know of this?”

The eunuch hastily said, “The Emperor’s health isn’t too good today and summoned a doctor.
Nucai still hasn’t dared to make a report.”

The Empress Dowager frowned, saying, “We can’t make this situation widely known.
Hurry and take my decree to look for Official Yin.
Tell him to find Consort Dowager Liu before nightfall, or else he will be offering up his head!”

“Understood!” The eunuch hurriedly left.

Ninth Princess saw that the Empress Dowager’s face was even more ashen, and busily said, “Don’t worry Empress Dowager, Consort Dowager Liu always acts with a kind heart.
The Heavens will protect her.
There’s no way anything serious would happen.
Maybe it’s all a misunderstanding—”

A misunderstanding, how could such a misunderstanding happen? In the hundred-odd years since the country has been founded, such a thing has never happened before! A consort from the imperial harem has been kidnapped, and the kidnapped consort was even a Consort Dowager— If this got out, people would be laughing their teeth off! So after hearing her words, the Empress Dowager didn’t have a trace of relief on her face.
Consort Dowager Liu was only 14 years old when the previous emperor passed away… Over the years, she’s maintained a very beautiful appearance and is still attractive even as she’s gotten older.
It’s still unknown if these baffling villains were after money or beauty.
If something bad actually happened, she was afraid she would have to ask her to be buried alongside the previous emperor.

The Empress Dowager’s eyelids began to involuntarily twitch.
She really couldn’t think of anyone who would kidnap a middle-aged gentle old lady.
Moreover, she was going to the temple so she would not have any riches and what would be the use of having the person herself? It simply was — too ridiculous! What do they do now? Don’t talk about not being able to find her, if they did find her, it would be an even bigger problem!

Li Wei Yang glanced at Ninth Princess, her eyes cast down, and with great difficulty suppressed a smile.
She knew of Consort Dowager Liu, she was actually quite pretty and had a slim figure.
She was a slender, tall woman.
Although she had single-edged eyelids, her eyes slanted upwards, although she was the Consort Dowager and could not wear eye-catching clothes, she always managed to show off with her style of dress without overstepping the rules.

In the year that the late Emperor passed away, she was very young.
Afterwards, there was even a rumour that she had gotten close with some man.
If it wasn’t for the protection of the Empress Dowager, Consort Dowager Liu would have long been buried along with the late Emperor, not to mention she was living quite well these days.

The truth of the matter was, she first had Ninth Princess think of a way to change Consort Dowager Liu’s insignia and make it as plain as possible, to make it seem like it was just a normal noble lady’s day out.
Then she arranged for an identical imperial carriage and purposefully put it in front of their eyes… As for how to make them think that the two carriages were the same one was up to how well Zhao Yue had disguised herself as the servant girl driving the carriage…

At this moment, she heard the Empress Dowager let out a “Aiyo!”.
The female official next to them had inadvertently overturned a tea cup and the tea had scalded the Empress Dowager’s hand.
Empress Dowager’s fury had reached a limit and she unexpectedly raised her hand and slapped the female official.
Naturally, every single one in the entire hall was startled.
In the past 10 plus years, the Empress Dowager had never once hit a maid! You must understand that the master of the palace was the person who gave out punishments, you didn’t need to make a move yourself.
But today she had gotten angry to this degree—

Ninth Princess stealthily winked at Li Wei Yang, don’t say a word.

Li Wei Yang lightly let out a breath.
Now, she just needed to wait and see if the next step had executed smoothly, then she would know if the entire plan was a success or not…

Of course, the Empress Dowager’s worries weren’t over.
When she took a sip of her tea, the eunuch came again in a great flurry to report, “Just now, the Mo Bei’s Fourth Prince took his people and in a great rush, headed north.
However, they came across Crown Prince’s hunting party as they were returning and accidentally collided with Crown Prince’s carriages and horses.
Yet, they didn’t announce their status and merely continued north.
The sky was getting dark and the bodyguards under the Crown Prince couldn’t clearly see the other party’s status.
All of a sudden, they heard a female calling for help inside the carriage and, thinking they were villains, rushed forward to kill.
They took the carriage, only to discover Consort Dowager was inside!”


Editor: Are you thinking of punishing the Fourth Prince because he kidnapped the Consort Dowager?

Xiao Qin: Do you think this is considered a crime? Here’s some foreshadowing, next chapter will be to cut off Li Yuan Heng, cut off the entire Jiang family, just like that.

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