Had Tang Zijin steeled his heart to make Tang Li take a concubine?
Ning Jing inwardly sneered. Tang Zijin could resort to these methods to make Tang Li take another woman even before knowing she was barren. If Tang Zijin found out the truth, how would he react?
She could admit that she couldn’t birth a son. But since Tang Li had already recovered his wits, there was no more need to hide the truth. What needed to be done had to be dealt with. She, Ning Jing, could handle anything.
But all that aside, she would never agree to something like this even if Tang Li did, because she was the official wife. Realisitcally speaking, even if Tang Li did take on a concubine, it’d only be through something like this.
“Ning Jing, you don’t have any say in the matter, do you?” Tang Zijin dropped all pretense.
Before Tang Li could speak, Lady Tang piped up with a huff. “Tang Zijin, it’s clearly her and Fifth Elder who schemed up this plan. Why are he and Xiao Lan suddenly the victims now?”
As she spoke, she walked into the room. The sight of Xiao Lan still wrapped up in the covers infuriated her. “Xiao Lan, get dressed this instant! If you need to say anything, tell everyone publicly. Don’t go wailing and weeping here! Others might actually believe my son bullied you! Hmph, it was your lot that plotted against my son. I’ll tell you now, if you don’t explain yourself today, I’ll summon the entire Council of Elders and have them be the judge!”
Xiao Lan kept crying while her mother, Lady Xiao, actually grew frightend. Although she had threatened to tell the entire Tang Clan how Tang Li had assaulted her daughter, it was all talk! If news really did spread and they couldn’t win the advantage, then Xiao Lan would never be able to marry again. It’d be difficult for her to even walk out in public without being cursed. When it came to things like this, women always suffered more than men.
At most, Tang Li would be labeled as a philanderer and get some nasty nicknames, but Xiao Lan would be ruined for life.
While Lady Xiao was at a loss, Xiao Lan raised her head with a tearful expression, looking absolutely pathetic. “Old Madame, mother, both of you go out. I’ll tidy myself up before coming out. I want to explain myself too. Otherwise, I’ll jump off Reclining Dragon Peak today! I don’t want to live anymore!”
“Daughter ah, silly daughter, don’t go to extremes!” Lady Xiao sobbed.
Lady Tang simply tossed her sleeves and left, too lazy to say anymore. She had seen plenty of this crying-fussing-suicide combo since her youth. Soon, Lady Xiao joined her outside to wait.
But when they left, Xiao Lan shouted out, “Mother, help me find some clothes. Mine are...mine are all torn to shreds.”
Silence greeted her words. Tang Li knitted his brows in annoyance.
“Did you tear them?” Ning Jing muttered, her tone rather calm. Even though she was against the idea, she could forgive him for being under the effects of the drug.
Tang Li wanted to deny it, but he paused and admitted, “I can’t remember. I only recall her hugging me before I pushed her away. Whatever happened before that...I have no idea.”
Ning Jing’s heart gave a heavy lurch! She was self-possessed to begin with, but when she recalled how Tang Li had lost all memory of his witless days, it was very possible he had no idea what had happened in that room. Now it was hard to tell whether Xiao Lan was lying at all. Moreover...Tang Li himself wasn’t sure how he’d gotten over the effects of that drug!
She knew it well enough, because she’d used it on him in the past. Some drugs were so powerful that it took more than one or two releases to dispel its effects! Her hands turnd ice cold as she stared at the tightly shut doors. She suddenly felt like this was retribution. If she hadn’t plotted against Tang Li in the past, she would be in Cloud Realm Trade Consortium right now, waiting for an arranged marriage. She might not have suffered through all sorts of torment either. Meanwhile, Tang Li might have still been a single fellow running rampant all around the world; perhaps he could have even met a different woman, one who didn’t cause him so much trouble.
She looked at Tang Li and secretly counted her blessings. Thank goodness she’d gotten his love in the end. It was enough that they had found and known each others’ feelings.
Ning Jing took his hand and squeezed it tight. She silently told herself to fight for Tang Li’s innocence and freedom no matter what the results were!
Soon enough, Lady Xiao returned with new clothes. Xiao Lan changed into them and walked out of the room. Everyone instantly saw two to three red marks on her neck. They seemed to be bite marks and were quite faint, but their positions were very eye-catching. Everyone was still modest about the entire thing. Lady Tang only glanced at them before turning away.
Tang Li looked subconsciously at Ning Jing, wanting to speak but stopping himself. But Ning JIng seemed to have noticed something as she fixated her gaze on the bites.
“Jing’er…” Tang Li panicked.
“If you said nothing happened, then nothing did. I trust you, but are you doubting yourself?” Ning Jing murmured back. She was standing tall with her chin raised high, as sedate as a queen. Tang Li thought hard and couldn’t remember a thing, but what did that prove? He wished he could slap himself.
Tang Li and Ning Jing were probably the only ones convinced that nothing had happened, right? Tang Zijin, Lady Tang, and Fifth Elder had long drawn their conclusions. There was no other way that Tang Li could have dispelled the drugs in his body. Lady Tang had to accept it even if she didn’t want to. She only wanted to fight for her son’s innocence now so Ning Jing would believe that this was all a plot of Tang Zijin and Fifth Elder. Tang Li was the victim in this case. She had found them last night with those motives in mind.
If they could prove that Fifth Elder, Xiao Lan, and Tang Zijin all had a hand in this, then Tang Li didn’t need to assume any responsibility. But if Tang Zijin was the sole mastermind and the Xiao family victims of their own, then Tang Li would have to take responsibility for Xiao Lan!
Lady Tang hadn’t planned on speaking out when they arrived, but she never thought things would develop to this point. Tang Zijin actually took all the blame and used all sorts of ways to force Tang Li into taking a concubine!
Everyone fell silent, each lost in their own thoughts and ulterior motives. Whether or not anything happened between the man and woman, only Xiao Lan would know for certain. In the end, Lady Tang opened her mouth. Her voice wasn’t angry, but unusually calm and tinged with a touch of despair.
Her sentence was very simple. She said, “Tang Zijin, I’ll ask you one last time. Did Fifth Elder and Xiao Lan play any part in drugging him?”
Tang Zijin’s heart seized up as he looked at his wife. After being married for so many years, he knew her best. Her heart was like cold ashes right now as she gave him a warning. This finally caused Tang Zijin’s conviction to waver. But just as Tang Zijin decided to admit the truth, Ning Jing suddenly spoke up.
“Forget about who’s involved first,” she said, “Let’s first verify whether Tang Li’s touched her or not! I refuse to believe this!”
Lady Tang grew helpless. What she feared most of all was Ning Jing’s objections! Before she could coax her, Ning Jing shot her a reassuring look. “Mother, Tang Li is a man after all. Whatever he did, we should ascertain first, right?”
Lady Tang felt that Ning Jing’s words sounded off, but she couldn’t tell why. She only nodded and withdrew to let Ning Jing take the reins. But Tang Zijin was against this. Still rude, he protested, “Ning Jing, you don’t need to talk! I’ll give Tang Li an explanation myself!”
Tang Zijin still had room to retreat. He could admit to the drugging and say that Fifth Elder and Xiao Lan were both involved, thus placating his wife. Then he could use the fact that Fifth Elder had sacrificed his life for the Tang Clan and the merits he’d incurred in the construction of the royal capital to plea for mercy on his and his daughter’s behalf. At the very least, it’d prevent the Xiao family from being kicked out of the Tang Clan. As long as Xiao Lan could still stay, then her skills would mean she’d have more chances in the future. Of course, if Xiao Lan could get pregnant from this time alone, then things would be very different indeed!
At last, the silent Tang Li lost his temper. “If NIng Jing has no right to speak up here, then who does? Ning Jing is my official wife. Even if it’s a concubine, she has to nod and agree first. Father, there’s nothing wrong with such etiquette, is there?”
Lady Tang laughed. “A’Li, don’t be rude to your father. Of course he knows about such etiquette. Back when your grandfather forced your father to take a concubine, he told the entire Tang Clan that no one should think of stepping through the doors without a nod from me!”
Tang Zijin flushed to the tips of his ears. All that aside, his wife’s family was a different case from Ning Jing! Feeling extremely helpless, he didn’t explain and only said, “Ning Jing, there’s clear evidence in this case. You have to believe it even if you don’t want.”
“If Tang Li said nothing happened, then nothing did!” Ning Jing insisted, her voice cold. “Unless we inspect Eldest Miss Xiao’s body, I won’t believe a thing!”
Tang Li tightened his grip on Ning Jing’s hand again, but he didn’t speak. Lady Tang looked at Ning Jing’s aggrieved state and felt her heart ache. Tang Zijin and Fifth Elder were probably secretly laughing to themselves. Why is Ning Jing forcing herself? She won’t cry until she sees a coffin, is that it?
Nobody knew that Ning Jing was making a bet by going to extremes!
Xiao Lan bit her lip before looking pitifully at Tang Li. Finally she murmured, “Alright, do the inspection.”
Tang Li grew flustered at those words! Xiao Lan was an unmarried virgin. If they inspected her body, there would be no more room to argue. He must have been a bastard and done those things to her. But Ning Jing’s eyes only flashed with a cold smile that nobody else noticed.
“Mother, I’ll have to trouble you,” Ning Jing intoned.
Lady Tang sighed, then told Xiao Lan coldly, “Come inside with me!”
The time they spent waiting felt interminable. Ning Jing could clearly sense Tang Li sweating in his palm, but she simply held him tight without a word.
Clack. The door finally opened.
Lady Tang and Xiao Lan came out one after the other. Lady Tang looked nothing except hopeless, while Xiao Lan had her head bowed to hide her blushing face.
“How is it, mother?” Ning Jing asked.
Lady Tang looked at Ning Jing with an aching heart as she told the truth. “Xiao Lan’s body isn’t intact anymore.”
Tang Li abruptly let go of Ning Jing’s hands, but she immediately took it back with a cold smile. “So what if it isn’t? Who can prove she was a virgin in the first place?”
The crowd was shocked by her words.
Xiao Lan couldn’t stand it and demanded angrily, “Ning Jing, what do you mean by that?”Previous Chapter Next Chapter
*cracks knuckles* Who's ready for some major face-slapping? >:)