The Princess Wei Yang Chapter 71 - Part 1
Chapter 71: To Save A Life__________________________________________________________
Hai Dong Qing ㅡ a Chinese bird species, also known as a gyrfalcon
Zheng fei - official wife of princes, main consort
Bi nu - maidservant
Jiugong array - lit. Nine Palaces, still not completely sure what it is. Although in context, it seems to be scriptures containing military strategies like Art of War.
The person who had spoken those words was a young boy. If someone were to say the handsome Qi Huangzi over there was no different from a painting and extraordinary when he revealed his talent, then this youth was a stark contrast. Earlier, he quietly sat there, not drawing any attention to himself. But once he spoke, others could not help but turn their attention to him. Even when he did not smile, he was already the most beautiful painting. Now that he was clearly smiling, others recognized that in this world, there was no artist who could have painted such magnificence.
As it turned out, this was the shaoye of San fang of Prime Minister Li’s residence.
Li Min De smiled. The intellect reflected in his eyes was beyond his years but there was still liveliness in them: “Gongzhu Dianxia, is it true that the person who sends the arrow furthest will be the victor? Is that right?”
Sun Xiaojie next to Yan Xiaojie murmured: “That’s the shaoye of San fang of the Li family, isn’t it? He seems to be a good person, and handsome too!”
“I heard he isn’t of the Li bloodline though! Which family does such a beautiful child belong to?”
“Indeed. Let’s see what he has to say.”
The Princess saw a youth about Ba Huangzi’s age and laughed as she said: “That is right.”
“Oh?” A bright gleam flashed across Li Min De’s eyes, “Min De wishes to try.”
The moment he finished, laughter rose from every direction.
How could that be? Li Min De was rather young and perhaps could not even draw the bow back at all. Yongning Gongzhu had thought about this too and gently said: “You can draw a bow?”
Li Min De smiled with a springlike liveliness in his eyes: “Gongzhu, if it is like you say, the person who sends the arrow furthest will be the victor, then Min De certainly can.”
“Has he lost his mind?” Yan Xiaojie blurted out, “How can he do that?”
“That is true. Fifth Prince shot his arrow that far. How can he have the strength to shoot the arrow even further?”
Beside him, Li Wei Yang looked at Li Min De, not knowing why he was suddenly doing this.
“Xiao gongzi truly wishes to try it? If you cannot do it, then do not cry later.” Tuoba Zhen finished what he was saying and glanced at Li Wei Yang as a warning to not tamper with the arrow.
Tuoba Yu shook his head, “There is no way. You cannot do it!” If he was given a second attempt, perhaps he could find a way to shoot further, but a child this young simply did not have the strength to do so.
“I will show everyone. However…” Li Min De’s smile widened as he said: “When that happens, the prize will belong to me.”
Wu Huangzi Tuoba Rui frowned and said: “San gongzi is that confident?” He carefully looked at Min De from head to toe. He smiled but there was no mirth in it, and at last, discreetly coughed once: “Do not regret it when you cannot do so.”
Li Min De ignored Tuoba Rui and stood up. He went to the center of the stage to take the bow and arrow offered to him. Everyone curiously looked on to see how he would draw back the bow. Before taking the bow, he raised his head and asked: “Is it only a contest of distance?”
Gongzhu nodded: “That is right. The farthest arrow wins.”
“Are there any other conditions?”
Li Wei Yang had a strange look, but her eyes quickly brightened. At last, Gongzhu nodded: “No, that is all.”
“Alright then.” Everyone saw Li Min De approached a bird cage hanging from a nearby tree with a Hai Dong Qing inside.
After that, he tied the arrow to its body and gently patted its wings. He unexpectedly threw the gyrfalcon up into the sky, sending it off. And a while later, it was no longer in sight.
Li Min De turned around, still standing in the center of the stage, his gaze bright as if he were taking the light of the world, stirring others’ hearts, smiling brightly: “I’m done.”
He did not rely on his strength, nor a clever, underhanded scheme of any sort. He only freed a bird, and the arrow was now thousands of miles away…
Such a simple method.
But at that moment, everyone was shocked.
Yongning Gongzhu suddenly laughed aloud. Wu Huangzi was furious: “What kind of tactic is this?! You did not even use the bow!”
Li Min De looked at Wu Huangzi and only smiled.
Suddenly Tuoba Rui realized, Gongzhu only said she wanted to see how far the arrow would go but did not say one had to use a bow. The first strategy to come to mind would be to use a bow to shoot the arrow. Everyone had forgotten that the task could still be completed even without the bow. This xiaozi was rather clever!
Li Wei Yang smiled clearly. This child, she had not expected him to use such an effective tactic similar to her own.
Yongning Gongzhu’s gaze was rarely as gentle as it was now: “Alright, this method of yours, although it was a bit underhanded, it is still within the rules, not to mention original. This bronze mirror belongs to you.”
Li Min De took the bronze mirror and smiled.
Everyone’s eyes fell on this youth. Just earlier, he was an unknown guest, yet now everyone knew his name. Although they felt his method was a bit unfair, they had to admit that this youth was far more interesting than anyone else. Archery prowess was not as important as understanding Gongzhu’s thoughts and making her happy was the most important thing.
Ninth Princess was no longer frightened and suddenly felt her face redden without knowing why.
Li Min De, it seemed this was the kind of person he was…
She quietly approached and told Li Min De: “I like this bronze mirror.”
Li Min De looked at her, smiling softly as if he had not heard anything. This made Jiu Gongzhu, who was masquerading as Ba Huangzi, somewhat lost interest. But she still could not move her eyes. She continued to stare intently at Li Min De.
Gao Min scoffed coldly: “Well, as you can see, it is better if less time is spent with people like that. Their minds are too different from normal people.”
Li Chang Le’s eyes were downcast, making it unclear of what she was thinking.
At that moment, Gongzhu decided to change her attire. The guests were left to freely wander in the flower gardens. The influential women with status decided to go in groups of three to five to admire the flowers while the men took a leisurely stroll or played a game of tossing items into a bottle of wine or chess.
In the Pavilion, Tuoba Zhen ordered the servants to clear the area. Someone had already brought fragrant tea and after that a chessboard. He smiled and said to Qi Huangzi, “Qi di, let us play a game of chess?”
Tuoba Yu sat down. Tuoba Rui and Jiu Gongzhu sat on the sidelines to watch them play.
This chessboard was one of the treasures of Gongzhu’s residence, the board was a single piece of white jade with engravings. The color was flawless. The radiance of the pale jade made it difficult for others to turn their eyes away from it. On its surface, gold wire outlined the squares of the chessboard, which was undoubtedly refined imperial gold. The chess pieces were made of gold and placed on the white jade chessboard, enthralling like a small sun. The presence of this treasure in Gongzhu’s residence was enough to see the Emperor’s favor for the Princess. Tuoba Yu smiled, such love and favor, perhaps conflicted with an even greater guilt.
Jiu Gongzhu blinked, looking towards Li Min De’s direction to see him giving the bronze mirror to Li Wei Yang. She drummed her fingers against her cheek, having lost interest. Beside her, Tuoba Rui asked: “What’s wrong?”
Jiu Gongzhu thought about it for a bit and said: “I once asked Fu Huang for this chessboard, but he would not give it to me. I didn’t think he would give it to Huang jie!”
Tuoba Rui smiled: “Fu Huang has always treated Huang jie a little differently.”
Then, Jiu Gongzhu waved her hand and called: “Qing Lan, bring appetizers for me.”
A maidservant nimbly brought appetizers to her, gently swaying like a tent in the wind. Tuoba Rui was focused on the chess game, but suddenly, from the corner of his eye, he caught a glimpse of a hand, pale as jade, gracefully setting the dish on the table. Stunned, his gaze trailed up that arm... As if momentarily struck by lightning, half of his body was unmoving, his soul had already risen to the Heavens.
This maidservant was truly beautiful!
The maid saw Tuoba Rui unblinkingly staring at her and only smiled softly, her face radiant as a flower in bloom, truly beautiful. It was then Tuoba Rui realized he was holding his breath and forced a cough, intending to say something to cover it up, but he could not utter a word.
He excelled in literature and martial arts, but his flaw was that he was easily drawn to beauty. He was enchanted by Li Chang Le’s refined beauty, but now, looking at this yatou, she had an allure, a charm that was different from that of xiao jia jade.
Seeing Wu Huangzi’s gaze lost in her, the binu’s smile grew even more charming, her waist slightly swaying as she withdrew.
Tuoba Rui was intrigued: “Xiao Jiu, that yatou has a good appearance. Where did you find her? I have never seen her before in the palace.”
Jiu Gongzhu glanced over the chessboard and boredly said: “The last time I left the palace, I met her and brought her back with me. Back then, she was a street vendor selling almond cakes. Some terrible youngsters were about to rob her, so I intervened in the Heavens’ stead!”
Surprised, Tuoba Rui said: “Mei? Intervened in the Heavens’ stead?”
Tuoba Zhen set his chess piece down, looked up and said: “I’m afraid mei deliberately caused trouble here.”
Jiu Gongzhu giggled and said: “That’s not wrong either, I can’t stand seeing the weak and helpless being pushed around like that. They have no shame! So I used force to beat the gongzi Jingzhao Yin once——”
Having said that, she suddenly realized she had overstepped the bounds and fell silent.
The three brothers briefly looked up and stared at her. Her face immediately reddened: “Why are you all looking at me? I only witnessed injustice and sympathized! After Fu Huang found out, he did not blame me either, and even told that Jingzhao Yin to apologize to me!”
A Gongzhu ran to save someone, claiming to intervene in place of the Heavens. The three brothers all shook their heads.
“You are too much!” Tuoba Rui tapped her forehead.
Jiu Gongzhu pouted. Her cheeks flushed, bright red like an apple: “Mei is not the kind of person who would do something just because I can and feel like it. I heard that yatou’s grandfather was an official that followed Lao Luo Guogong. It’s a pity that after her grandfather died in battle, her father gambled away all of their wealth and even their home.”
Lao Luo Guogong? Qi Huangzi suddenly raised his head, the blank stare on his face had now disappeared altogether. Lao Luo Guogong - this was his mu fei, Zhang Defei’s father, and his grandfather, who died seven years ago. The Luo Guogong now was his uncle.
If so, that yatou had a special connection to his grandfather.
The chess piece in Qi Huangzi’s hand froze.
“Why? Wu ge likes her? Compared to Da Xiaojie of the Li family, her beauty is only average, if not a bit crude.” Jiu Gongzhu did not notice Qi Huangzi’s expressions, she was focused on Tuoba Rui.
“You see, Mei, I was only asking.” Tuoba Rui continued to shake his head, his face reddening a bit more. Li Chang Le, he had intended to marry her as zheng fei, but why did that lovely yatou——
Tuoba Zhen quietly listened. When it seemed like an appropriate time, he laughed aloud and added: “Jiu mei, it seems Wu di really likes that yatou, why don’t you give her to him?”
Jiu Gongzhu did not think much of that yatou, nor did she care, so she did not hesitate. She was direct in saying: “If Wu ge likes her, I will give her to Wu ge. But next time, Wu ge has to accompany me when I leave the palace!”
Tuoba Rui was overjoyed but outwardly, he declined: “How can I accept this?”
“You can just play with her.” Jiu Gongzhu seemed serious: “Wu ge does not need to overthink!”
“Just to play with,” Tuoba Rui firmly set his resolve: “Since it is this way——”
The Emperor always favored Tuoba Rui the most, but he had a terrible habit, unable to look away from beautiful women, even from a young age. The Emperor realized this, as this was a concerning sign. A hint of a subtle, cold smile appeared on Tuoba Zhen’s face.
Suddenly, Qi Huangzi asserted: “Since Wu ge is so humble, I will take that yatou then.”
Everyone was taken aback. A hidden satisfactory light appeared in Tuoba Zhen’s eyes.
From afar, Li Wei Yang saw everything as it unfolded. Her gaze shifted to the yatou that had withdrawn from the table. She could not help but scoff coldly. Tuoba Zhen, ah Tuoba Zhen, your schemes have always been as elaborate as this.
The memory of one night, half a year after she was married, reappeared before her.
Back then, Tuoba Zhen was considerate and looked after her, but he was sometimes close yet sometimes distant, as if taking precautions against her. It was because at the time, Li Chang Le was to be married to Qi Huangzi, and Li Chang Xi would be married off to Wu Huangzi. He feared she was a spy sent to him and was always concerned she would betray him one day. For that reason, he maintained appearances and treated her well, but he did not tell her anything.
Li Wei Yang was deeply conflicted from the bottom of her heart. She was already married to him and was certainly willing to shoulder every burden with him. That night, Tuoba Zhen returned, wounded, but he silently headed to his study. Li Wei Yang followed him to his study and saw Tuoba Zhen applying medicinal ointment. She was heartbroken by the sight and could not help but say: “Dianxia, allow me to serve you as your wife, will you? I am willing to do anything for you… Let me remain by your side, will you?”
“What are you saying? Have you not been with me all this time?” Tuoba Zhen reluctantly smiled.
“No, you’re clearly hiding something from me!” Li Wei Yang stared at him with a hint of defiance.
“Haizz…” Tuoba Zhen had a strained smile, outwardly indifferent. He pulled her close until her head rested on his shoulder. He gently stroked her hair, and his expressions suddenly became solemn: “I knew you would understand me… The Heavens are rather unfair. Taizi and I are both Fu Huang’s sons, yet in the future, he will become the Emperor, and I can only become one of his subjects. When he becomes Emperor, I must kneel down and offer my well wishes to him, to live a thousand years. This is nothing, you see, my injury, this was a warning from him, only because he suspected I was not loyal to him. Wei Yang, in the future, living under his wing, it only takes a slight offense for him to take my life. In this life, I can only shy away in fear and flatter him, tell me, what should I do now? Can I continue to follow Crown Prince?”
Back then, Li Wei Yang’s heart ached painfully, so she did not think much of the sly gleam in Tuoba Zhen’s eyes: “You have devoted your mind, body, and soul to Taizi, and have done countless things for him. I did not expect him to be such a cold, heartless bastard!”
A subtle hint of a smile appeared at the corner of Tuoba Zhen’s mouth as he tightly embraced her: “That is why he can become the Crown Prince. Not only is he the eldest son, but he is also the son of the Empress. Fu Huang always respects and loves Imperial Mother, but with her health, who knows how much longer she can live? She cannot always shield Taizi. Wei Yang, now, I need you to help me with something, are you willing?”
Li Wei Yang did not need to think about it. She immediately nodded.
Tuoba Zhen smiled and gently touched her face: “There is still one person, whose influence on Fu Huang surpasses that of the Empress, and that is the Empress Dowager. I have tried my best to express my filial piety before the Empress Dowager, not only to make the Empress Dowager support me, but also to influence Fu Huang through her. Of course, to please the Empress Dowager, taking the time and care to grow close to her is necessary. But as a man, it would not be appropriate for me to remain by her side, so I need your help.”
Tuoba Zhen pretended as if nothing was wrong when he tasked her with that. He even let Li Wei Yang willingly fulfill filial duties in his place, winning the Empress Dowager’s favor for him. From the very beginning, his malicious scheme was certainly praiseworthy.
Li Wei Yang simply did not recognize his motives. She justified them as a way to save her husband, so he would not be the target of Taizi or anyone’s schemes. She only felt his position and status was jeopardized, and as a woman, she could not protect him, so it was the least she could do.
After that, in their hearts, they understood and did not have to say anything as they took action. Tuoba Zhen secretly borrowed Taizi’s hand to influence his own authority and forces, pitting one against another, but in front of the Emperor, he always expressed his loyalty to Taizi with every ounce of filial piety. Li Wei Yang came to visit the Empress Dowager everyday, pleasing the Huang Zhu Mu for him. Everything would become useful in the future.