The Princess Wei Yang Chapter 95 - Part 2
Chapter 95: No Mercy
 Chen nu - what female subjects refer to themselves as when speaking to the Emperor or members of the Imperial family
 Chen qie - lit. concubine subject, essentially a form of “I” that concubines and even the Empress use in presence of higher authority, ex. Empress Dowager > concubine, Emperor > Empress
 One of Cao Cao’s most iconic quotes, adapted from Romance of the Three Kingdoms
This time, it was not the Imperial Garden but the Empress Dowager’s palace. The Empress Dowager sat in the center of the hall, her facial expressions unreadable. Xian Fei seemed as if she was looking forward to an interesting play, and De Fei niang niang was absolutely furious: “Someone thoroughly search her!”
Several palace maids flocked to her. Li Wei Yang coldly interrupted: “De Fei niang niang, what is the meaning of this!”
Zhang De Fei harshly retorted: “Li Wei Yang, where is the gold hairpin Bixia gave me; you were the only person to touch this hairpin, so now I want to search you!”
Although Li Wei Yang was a subject and daughter of the Prime Minister, she was still not married yet. If Zhang De Fei was to search her body, whether or not anything was found, if this became known, her reputation would be destroyed! Wu Xian Fei had a simple, leisurely smile like that of someone watching a play on stage.
The Empress Dowager said: “De Fei, a conclusion has not been reached yet, so do not blindly accuse anyone. If you search her, this will create trouble for this child in the future.”
Zhang De Fei eyed Li Wei Yang in disdain: “She could have stolen it despite claiming that she doesn’t need it. Once you are a thief, you no longer care for honor. Unless she can prove she is innocent, I will not forgive this act of thievery!”
Undeterred, Li Wei Yang indifferently began: “De Fei niang niang, you took the hairpin out and also put it back into the box yourself. Chen nu has never laid hands on it. What makes you say chen nu stole the gold hairpin?”
Zhang De Fei scoffed: “Whether or not you stole it, it will be known once you have been searched!”
Li Wei Yang gave her a cold stare. An Imperial consort would actually use such despicable means. Of course, this scheme seemed ordinary, but it was could take a life. If she could prove the Li Wei Yang was responsible and even stole a hairpin the Emperor gifted to a consort, death was unavoidable!
She firmly said: “Wei Yang would never steal, no matter how poor or desperate. If niang niang wants to search, why not search your palace maids?! Or Xian Fei niang niang’s palace maids and eunuchs, who knows if they stole it! By focusing on Wei Yang, did you somehow know beforehand that Wei Yang must be the thief?!”
Enraged, Zhang De Fei sneered: “Who in the palace does not know my attendants are innocent? I have never lost anything. The same goes for Xian Fei jiejie. By saying this, you clearly want to make our relationship tense, you are still young yet so malicious! Someone drag her outside and beat her twenty times as punishment for saying such nonsense!” As soon Zhang De Fei had given the order, the eunuchs brought out sticks and announced “committed a crime” and proceeded to carry out her order.
The sticks used for punishment in the palace were two finger-widths wide and barbed. If beaten twenty times, it would no different from being skinned alive! Li Wei Yang smiled thinly and raised a hand, stopping the eunuchs as she cried out: “Wait!”
Zhang De Fei’s elegant eyebrows rose, she shouted: “You dare to object—”
Li Wei Yang neutrally responded: “How could niang niang say that? Wei Yang does not dare. Wei Yang is of low status, so niang niang can simply ignore Wei Yang, but the Empress Dowager niang niang is still here. Even if this is to be investigated, the Empress Dowager will investigate or the Empress will. Niang niang wants to personally investigate, overstepping these bounds is ill-advised!”
Based on her knowledge of the Empress Dowager, she was betting that the Empress Dowager did not want her to die! She was betting that the Empress Dowager somewhat liked her and that the she would not let an Imperial consort dispose of her!
Zhang De Fei’s face changed. Realizing she was too impatient, she quickly amended: “Empress Dowager, forgive me. Chen qie momentarily—”
The Empress Dowager meaningfully glanced at Zhang De Fei. Taken aback, De Fei was overwhelmed by cold sweat. How could she forget that the Empress Dowager could not easily fooled! The Empress Dowager coldly eyed De Fei, who bowed her head, then looked over at Li Wei Yang, who remained quiet, her thoughts unknown.
At that moment, someone outside abruptly announced: “Bixia arrives.”
Everyone was stunned, except Zhang De Fei who seemed to be waiting for this moment. She had someone invite the Emperor over. Don’t get your hopes up, Li Wei Yang. The Emperor awarded her once, now let him witness it when she finds the gold hairpin on that Yatou!
De Fei and Xian Fei rushed over to greet him. The Emperor saw the two of them and gave a small nod: “What happened? Anping Xianzhu came to the palace to keep Muhou company. How did this turn into a case of theft?”
De Fei had soon sent someone to report back to the emperor. Her face seemed full of grievances: “At first, I did not want to disturb Your Imperial Majesties, but this has gotten serious. As consorts, we cannot decide, so Bixia and the Empress Dowager were invited here.”
The Emperor saw her pale face and pitied her: “Since returning from the hunt, your body has been particularly weak, what has angered you?”
Zhang De Fei’s eyes turned glassy with tears. She turned away and wiped away at the corners of her eyes, despairingly saying: “It is always peaceful and harmonious in the palace, who would have expected a misfortunate thing like theft would occur. If Xianzhu stole anything else, chen qie would pity that she is young and naive, and even think of it as a gift to her, but what was stolen was the gold hairpin Bixia had just given me.”
The Emperor was rather surprised and looked to Xian Fei nearby: “Gold hairpin?”
Regret appeared on Xian Fei’s face: “Perhaps Xianzhu is young and easily charmed. She saw the extravagant, gold hairpin and had thoughts she should not have had.”
Saying this was adding insult to injury! Li Wei Yang coldly jerked a smile at the two women acting in this play. How fortunate of her to offend two favored consorts at once! It was all because she was caught up in the Huangzis’ power struggle! She could understand Xian Fei’s resentment, but De Fei must be bored out of her mind and had nothing to do! Unless refusing to marry her son was an unspeakable crime, why would she resort to such means!
Li Wei Yang was not aware that to De Fei, Tuoba Yu was the moon in the sky. If one day, her bright moon came running to her and told her he treasured the small and insignificant Li Wei Yang… If Li Wei Yang obediently followed, De Fei could let her be Ce fei and accompany Tuoba Yu, but she rejected De Fei’s suggestion and even dared to object. Unforgivable! Not to mention, Tuoba Yu always said he would marry her as Zheng fei. How could De Fei not worry? In that case, all the prestigious, noble ladies she wanted Tuoba Yu to marry will never step foot through the doors, all for the sake of gaining support for her son. When faced with matters concerning their son, every mother would eventually become unreasonable! Every time De Fei saw Li Wei Yang, the feeling was like that of a thorn, how could she not want to get rid of it! The way she saw it, she missed the opportunity last time, but this time she will not fail!
De Fei’s eyes gleamed with tears: “At first, Xianzhu liked it, so chen qie considered giving it to her, but this is something Bixia personally gave chen qie, so I cannot part with it, no matter what…” She sadly continued: “Chen qie was furious and unable to bear it. This is something everyone clearly saw, but Xianzhu would rather die than to admit it.”
She glanced at the palace maids by her side. One of them knelt down and said: “Bixia, the Nubi personally witnessed it. Among those present, Xianzhu was closest to the gold hairpin. If the gold hairpin was stolen, Xianzhu must have stolen it!”
The Emperor looked at Li Wei Yang. He was not in the mood to deal with these things, but De Fei seemed to be wronged, so he went with it. After all, he had wronged De Fei last time.
Li Wei Yang met the Emperor’s stare without any fear: “Bixia, chen nu is not well learned but will never resort to stealing a gold hairpin from niang niang. There must be another reason, Bixia, please investigate!”
Xian Fei coldly interjected: “Seeing Xianzhu so gentle and weak, how could you have such complicated thoughts? Wrongs can be fixed for the better. If you really did steal the gold hairpin, you should admit to it sooner than later. Bixia is a generous person and will not punish you harshly. But if you know you are wrong but do not admit it and would rather die than to admit it, you will be severely punished.”
De Fei discreetly coughed, her eyes steeled and her voice was sharp yet clear: “Jiejie is right. Xianzhu left earlier and could have hidden it somewhere.” She called out, “Lan er!”
Lan er came up and responded: “Nubi is here.”
De Fei asked: “Did you see Xianzhu hide anything away earlier?”
Lan er bowed and replied: “Xianzhu did not take out the gold hairpin along the way. If Xianzhu stole it, it must still be on her somewhere.”
Li Wei Yang’s face changed. She grimaced, suppressing her anger and said: “Niang niang is always compassionate, is it necessary to search one’s body? If this spreads, how can Wei Yang live peacefully in the future?”
Zhang De Fei glanced over. Lan er hesitated before reaching towards Li Wei Yang, about to open her sleeve: “Forgive me, Xianzhu. Since the gold hairpin is with you, Nubi must search.”
Li Wei Yang saw her hand come closer. Her hand flew out and slapped Lan er’s face, angrily saying: “Impudence! As if you could lay a hand on me!”
Lan er was struck hard and immediately stiffened. She was De Fei’s most trusted palace maid and served her for many years. She thought highly of herself, De Fei had yet to ever scold her, much less let her be slapped like that? She had yet to recover from that slap. Zhang De Fei could not hold back anymore and furiously shouted: “Li Wei Yang, what are you doing!” Li Wei Yang was not hitting Lan er but De Fei’s self-respect!
Not just De Fei, even the Emperor and Empress Dowager were shocked!
Xian Fei’s voice was particularly stern: “Anping Xianzhu, you are too bold. This is the Imperial Palace and you dare to strike someone!”
Li Wei Yang was not afraid in the least. She slowly glanced over at the Emperor: “Bixia is a wise ruler and would certainly not punish an innocent person.” She coldly smiled and said: “Wei Yang is not wearing many layers. If the gold hairpin is with me, then it will simply fall out if my clothes are rustled. Niang niang does not need to search, Wei Yang will take it off for niang niang to see!” She began to shed her outer robe, her hand trembling. Then her hands went up to the collar of her garments, leaving everyone stunned. The Empress Dowager interrupted her: “Stop! This is inappropriate!”
Li Wei Yang despairingly said: “Empress Dowager niang niang, Wei Yang is doing exactly what niang niang said in order to prove my innocence!”
This Yatou was clever and determined, not willing to lose the slightest. The Empress Dowager and Emperor exchanged a glance and conflicted smile. The Empress Dowager did not believe Li Wei Yang stole it, that child was not selfishly shortsighted.
De Fei’s eyes were cold as frost: “Acting recklessly in the Palace, Li Wei Yang, you have lost your mind. You even dared to do such immoral things!”
Hostility flashed across Li Wei Yang’s face: “Responding to Bixia, Empress Dowager, chen nu would not dare to act recklessly. Although chen nu is of humble origins, chen nu is also an innocent girl and would not allow anyone to search my person. Chen nu would rather do it than to let niang niang search to avoid trouble!” Her initiative to prove her innocence and having others search her were completely different things.
Zhang De Fei’s face flushed and grew unpleasant. She had not expected Li Wei Yang to dare to resist, nor did she think nothing would fall out. Her beautiful eyes shot over to Lan er. Lan er panicked, feeling more uneasy. She did not understand; she clearly put the gold hairpin in Li Wei Yang’s sleeve when she wasn’t paying attention. Li Wei Yang had shed her outer robe, but why didn’t anything fall out?”
The Empress Dowager noticed and said: “Anping is right. If the intent is to search, then everyone else must also be searched, not just her.”
A nu guan stepped forward and called all the palace maids by Xian Fei and De Fei’s side and had them stand in two lines. The Empress Dowager sternly said: “If it is found on them, they must be severely punished!”
The palace maids looked at one another, not daring to refuse.
Li Wei Yang looked on from afar but did not speak up. Although her concubine-born status was looked down on, she still had the blood of the Li family running through her veins and the title of Xianzhu bestowed by the Emperor. If the Emperor did not give the order, others could not search her, so she dared to lay a hand on Lan er. In the end, her status could not be considered equal to that of the Nubi!
Every person was searched, but nothing was found. De Fei arched an eyebrow: “See, those by my side are clean!”
The Empress Dowager frowned. If nothing was found, then the crime remained with Li Wei Yang. The child had just shed her outer robe, must they check her inner garments as well?
Li Wei Yang’s lips curled back in a smile as she suddenly pointed at someone: “There’s still one person who has not been searched.”
Everyone’s eyes fell on Lan er. She stared at Li Wei Yang, dumbfounded. The nu guan looked to the Empress Dowager, who nodded. The nu guan immediately went over to Lan er and began to carefully search. A moment later, a clattering sound rang out. Something fell to the ground.
Everyone saw that it was indeed the gold hairpin the Emperor gave De Fei. A sudden uproar ensued.
The Emperor looked at Zhang De Fei who fearfully stared back: “You were discourteous, raising a thief by your side and wrongly accusing Xianzhu. It is only right that you let her be punished.”
De Fei looked as if she were choking, speechless. Even Xian Fei seemed to be stunned by this.
Zhang De Fei looked over in Lan er’s direction. Terrified, Lan er fell to her knees and knelt on the ground, trembling. She always helped De Fei niang niang with these things and never failed. She thought it would be a small task this time, who would have thought she would be unexpectedly caught!
De Fei clenched her teeth: “Lan er followed me for many years and would never do such a thing.”
The Emperor’s voice was as gentle as the wind in April: “Alright. The evidence is all here, no need to repeat yourself.”
De Fei was still reluctant to accept this conclusion: “Bixia, this…”
The Emperor’s voice was warm but firm: “To put this bluntly, it is a trivial matter.”
De Fei still had hope: “Aside from theft, Xianzhu also acted inappropriately today. This is a great crime, how could Bixia let this go? She has acting impudently…”
The Emperor frowned. The Empress Dowager smiled and said: “You insisted on beating and killing, intimidating the child. No need to pursue what has been lost. In my opinion, the Emperor must settle this by rewarding and punishing accordingly.” Then, she idly said: “Drag that palace maid down and beat her to death.”
Lan er fearfully trembled and cried out: “Empress Dowager niang niang, have mercy, please have mercy!”
The head eunuch responded: “Yes.” Then, he nodded at several other eunuchs, who understood and began to drag Lan er out. Lan er was terrified to the point where she could no longer beg for mercy, her body limp as she was dragged out like a torn bag.
Everyone heard the series of screams outside gradually growing quieter. The eunuchs returned to report: “Empress Dowager, she is dead.”
De Fei involuntarily shivered. A cruel smile ghosted across Li Wei Yang’s lips, disappearing in an instant.
The Emperor agreed with the Emperor’s methods and nodded: “Behead her and hang her head at the palace gates, so the palace maids and eunuchs in the palace will see what awaits them if they steal from their Zhuzi!”
Zhang De Fei turned to glare at her, but met the Emperor’s contemplative gaze. Her heart constricted. Terrified, she involuntarily trembled. The Emperor said: “Your servant has done something wrong, you must manage them more strictly in the future.”
Zhang De Fei was not dumb. She quickly reacted, reluctantly smiling: “Yes. A Nubi that steals cannot be kept. If the Emperor did not punish her, chen qie would have wanted to kill her as an example too.”
The Empress Dowager solemnly eyed everyone around her, her voice stern: “This is a lesson those in the inner palace must remember. Before you do anything, think carefully about what you should do and should not do, do not follow that despicable servant’s example!”
The palace maids’ souls had flown away in fear. They immediately knelt down: “Yes, Empress Dowager, please do not be too angry.”
Li Wei Yang also knelt down: “Empress Dowager niang niang, please do not be too angry.”
The Empress Dowager glanced at Zhou nu guan, who went over and helped Li Wei Yang up. The Empress Dowager softly said: “You have been wronged. Deliver my decree, award Anping Xianzhu a hundred liang of gold and a hundred rolls of silk.”
Xian Fei looked at Li Wei Yang differently than before. She thought that Yatou would die today and did not think she would be able to escape it. After all, the person who was furious now was De Fei.
Li Wei Yang thanked her for her grace then went to the center of the hall. She picked up the phoenix hairpin and examined it before saying: “Truly is a beautiful treasure.” She tightly held the hairpin, which disappeared under her sleeve. She walked over and said: “Such a beautiful hairpin, niang niang should wear it.” She smiled and pinned it on De Fei’s hair.
De Fei resented not being able to toss that hairpin away. Seeing the Emperor and Empress Dowager looking at her, she suppressed her anger and smiled: “Anping Xianzhu, I was discourteous and wrongly accused you. I hope you will not take this to heart.”
Li Wei Yang smiled politely and replied: “How could niang niang say that, it was all because of an ignorant, despicable servant. Wei Yang will not mind it.”
When she said “despicable servant,” her cold stare swept over De Fei. De Fei shook with fury but had to endure it.
The Empress Dowager nodded: “Alright. Things will end here, everyone should return.”
The Emperor left first, then Xian Fei and De Fei followed. As they walked past Li Wei Yang, Xian Fei’s gaze slid over to her without the slightest warmth or emotion as if looking at a speck of dust, indifferent: “Xianzhu is truly clever and capable.”
Li Wei Yang responded: “Xian Fei niang niang gives too high of a praise.”
Xian Fei smiled but did not say anything else. De Fei glared at her, then left with Xian Fei. Li Wei Yang looked at the hairpin on De Fei’s head and vaguely smiled.
Outside of the hall, Li Wei Yang looked up at the blue sky, then looked off into the distance. Her gaze shifted from Tai Yong Palace, Zhong He Palace, then to the magnificent Jia Xing Palace of the court affairs.
A white pigeon on the eaves that suddenly spread its wings and flew away.
Li Wei Yang smiled. De Fei niang niang, there is a consequence to everything. You have wrongly accused me, so I must return the favor!
I would rather to have wronged every person in the world than let anyone in this world wrong me. This was what you have started, do not blame me being merciless!