Xiao Lan’s words hit upon the biggest stain in Ning Jing’s history! Her heart seized as she found herself unable to retort. Indeed, she had drugged Tang Li in the beginning. If not for that scheme, she and him would never have matched up in this lifetime.
“Fifth Elder, you had the gall to expose the secret?” Tang Li was furious.
Besides his father and mother, only the Council of Elders knew how he’d been drugged by Ning JIng and forced into a marriage with the Di Clan. Without a doubt, Xiao Lan must have found out from Fifth Elder himself!
Fifth Elder had just recovered his wits and didn’t know how to explain himself.
“Someone come, take them into custody and wait for the clan head’s orders! The Xiao Clan certainly has a list of crimes!” Tang Li commanded.
No matter how resistant the Council of Elders were, they still had to listen to the Tang Clan in the end. As the former clan head, Tang Zijin had stopped taking charge of anything, so what could Fifth Elder and the others try against Tang Li? The entire Tang Clan knew that behind him was his big brother!
Fifth Elder and Lady Xiao were completely listless from despair as they allowed the guards to drag them away. But Xiao Lan insisted on struggling like a madwoman. “Tang Li, answer me! Answer me!”
“Ning Jing is the same as me! Ning Jing, you used drugs! You’ll never wash yourself clean of that act!”
Ning Jing looked at them expressionessly, but Tang Li strode in front of Xiao Lan and snapped, “Only I know whether Ning Jing’s clean or now. It has nothing to do with anyone else, much less you! As for whether or not you’re clean, hehe, I don’t know and I don’t care!”
So speaking, he took a waist sash from a guard and used it to gag Xiao Lan’s mouth, making it impossible for her to speak or make any more noises. Meanwhile, the poor guard bereft of his sash held onto his trousers with his hands and ran far off.
Fifth Elder suddenly cried out in alarm, “Clan head! Clan head, this subordinate chooses to be a hired laborer! This subordinate is willing to work!”
Tang LI wouldn’t be paying any more attention to Fifth Elder’s choice now! He looked at the people being taken away with a vicious gleam in his eyes. If Fifth Elder dared o leak his secret, there was no guarantee that others would do it too. What kind of curses would Ning Jing face by then?
Rather that letting other people spread the rumors, he’d rather bear the facts himself. Yes, he was drugged, but he had it willingly done by Ning Jing. What of it?
“Someone, come!” Tang Li shouted.
An attendant quickly ran over. “Clan head,” he demurred.
“Write a few proclamations saying that the Xiao Clan committed a crime against their superiors and disrespected Lady Jing. Xiao Lan had deviant intentions and attempted to seduce this clan head. Xiao Dong will be stripped of his position as Fifth Elder and the Xiao Clan wholly demoted to be hired laborers.” Tang Li thought it over, then added, “And also, spread word of mouth that only Ning Jing is allowed to drug this clan head. Everyone else should watch themselves. This clan head will never take a concubine in my lifetime!”
With a proclamation on one side and a word of mouth news on the other, there were plenty of chances for people to guess what Xiao Lan had done. She would be forever doomed to lived amongst a cloud of rumors and slander. Meanwhile, the guard only felt awkward. Does the clan head have to use the phrase “drug this clan head?”
Even Lady Tang couldn’t stand it. “A’Li, don’t fool around!” she rebuked unhappily, “You can just punish the Xiao Clan. Why bother saying anything about drugging? Aren’t you just making a spectacle of yourself?”
Ning Jing’s stiff face finally broke into a smile that was have helpless, half joy.
“So what if I do? I’m willing!” Tang Li was indifferent. Rather than some clan head, he looked more like a hooligan! But it was precisely his good-for-nothing ways than shook the Tang Clan’s Council of Elders and dismissed all the ideas of those coveting the madame’s spot. Perhaps Tang Li truly cemented his position starting from this incident. His style of doing things was unique, and the Tang Clan’s future developments would be unimaginable under his guidance. Of course, this is a story for another day.
Lady Tang cherished and spoiled her son, so she could never refuse him. Perhaps her overindulgence, coupled with Tang Zijin’s extreme disciplining, combined to create Tang Li’s exceptional temperament. Or perhaps the protection of Xuanyuan Ye since his youth gave birth to such a capricious, willfull temper?
Meanwhile, the words “never take a concubine” continued to echo in Ning Jing’s ears. To her, these were the most beautiful, romantic words she’d ever heard. Unfortunately, she couldn’t afford to shoulder that blessing. She had already set her heart on giving Tang Li his freedom. Neither the Tang Clan nor the Di Clan could bind him down, so she didn’t want to either.
“Mother, please go find father. I have something important to tell you all,” Ning Jing finally spoke.
Tang Li looked at her in puzzlement. “Ning Jing, what could you possibly have to tell my father?” It was clear from his tone that he really didn’t want to see Tang Zijin!
“It’s extremely important. I have to...have a serious talk,” Ning Jing looked stern.
Tang Li finally sensed something amiss. Although Ning Jing was usually somber, her current expression showed that this was no small matter.
“Why do you have to tell something so important to my father? Can’t you just tell me?” Tang Li took Ning Jing’s hand. “Come on, let’s talk when we get back.”
“A’Li, you…” Lady Tang exclaimed pitifully, wanting to cry but having no tears. Ning Jing was dragged away by Tang Li too quickly to respond.
“This is very important. Tang Li, when I gave birth to our daughter, I had no choice but to take medicine that sped up the delivery process. The cost is that I can never bear children again. I can’t give you a son anymore,” Ning Jing said out of the blue.
She didn’t mention a word of her suffering during the childbirth or all the ills she fell victim to in the months afterwards. She only went straight to the conclusion. Both Tang Li and Lady Tang were stunned, never expecting this to be Ning Jing’s “important news!”
Tang Li could only gape, while Lady Tang’s face had turnd as white as a sheet. She couldn’t believe it, nor did she dare. If Ning Jing couldn’t birth a son, then wouldn’t the Tang Clan...have no more heirs? Growing flustered, she stammered, “A’Li, we have to tell your father this. We can’t--”
“We can’t tell him!” Tang Li shot back furiously.
“A’Li, this isn’t a minor issue,” Lady Tang murmured. She could yield to him on all other things, but definitely not this. It concerned the fates of succeeding generations! She couldn’t be the judge of that!
“Mother, even you’re trying to force us away?” Tang Li muttered.
Lady Tang shed tears at his words. “Mother isn’t--how could mother do such a thing! How could I?”
“Tang Li, don’t--” Ning Jing didn’t finish before Tang Li interrupted with a yell.
“Ning Jing, why did you say it? Why do you want to tell them? Have you lost your wits?”
Ning Jing was left speechless. This was probably the first time Tang Li had ever shouted at her.
Why did she have to say it?
She should have hidden it ages ago and taken little Tang Tang off the mountain before running away with Tang Li. But she didn’t run. She even climbed up the mountain instead. Many months ago, when she first set foot in the Tang Clan, she knew that the day would come when she revealed the truth. She had no right to hide this fact when it wasn’t her personal concern. It wasn’t even an issue between her and Tang Li, but one that concerned the entire clan!
She couldn’t help Tang Li refuse concubines while hiding the reality of her own body. The saying went that there were three ways to be unfilial, but having no son was the worst! Although Tang Li and Tang Zijin fought frequently, they were still father and son by blood. She couldn’t make Tang Li be unfilial to his parents. Otherwise, she would have taken him from the Tang Clan ages ago.
Moreover, when her elder brother accepted the responsibilities of the Di Clan in his youth, he lost all right to act willfull. It was the same for Tang Li, who shouldered the entirety of the Tang Clan’s fate. She didn’t answer his question, making him even more irascible.
Again he asked, “Why?”
“Because you’re the Tang Clan Head,” Ning Jing said simply, explaining everything.
Lady Tang looked at her daughter-in-law in silence. For the first time ever, she thanked her stars that Tang Li had married such a woman. But Tang Li only shook his head. He still hadn’t figured out why he ended up liking Ning Jing or forgave her for drugging him, much less serve her so willingly. They were like south and north, two people with completely opposite personalities.
To Ning Jing, what was forbidden was set, and some rules were made to be respected no matter what. She didn’t rebel against anything except her marriage.
To Tang Li, he disliked the things he disliked and refused to do things he didn’t want to do. He never forced himself into anything except his marriage.
“I’m the Tang Clan Head? And then?” Tang Li pressed on.
“I, I won’t reject you keeping concubines,” Ning Jing was exceptionally placid.
“So after all that, you wanted me to take a concubine? Heh! Heheheh!” Tang Li broke into a bitter, self-mocking laugh. “Ning Jing, what if I refuse?”
“Then I…” Ning Jing hesitated.
Tang Li’s gaze on her grew cold as he waited. He didn’t press her for answers, but stood patiently. Lady Tang was waiting as well. She was suddenly terrified that Ning Jing, who hadn’t been forced out by Tang Zijin, might end up giving up the clan head’s wife position out of her own will.
Tang Li was afraid too! He was both flustered and fearful! If Ning Jing dared to say she’d leave, he would retaliate--and fiercely! She had no right to make a mess of his heart and then leave without taking any responsibility!
At last, he lost his patience and demanded, “Keep talking!”
Ning Jing was still wearing her cold, placid expression. She looked at the angry Tang Li, finding him both strange yet familiar.
She said, “Tang Li, if you refuse to take a concubine, then I will...feel very happy!”
She finished with a smile.
Actually, what she really wanted to say was that if he refused, she’d divorce him and go away. From then on she wouldn’t care whether he married anyone or had more sons, because it’d have nothing to do with her. But in the end, she couldn’t convince her own heart.
Tang Li was left blank for a long time before he recovered his wits. Without a word, he scooped Ning Jing into his arms and pressed her tightly against him with a passionate kiss. No matter how different they were, as long as they made each other their exception, then there was nothing they couldn’t conquer!
After Tang Li kissed his fill of Ning Jing, he held her close and muttered by her ear, “Idiot, what would you birth a son for? I like girls. It’s enough to wait on you and our daughter. Anymore...hehe, and I won’t be able to manage it!”
Ning Jing never thought Tang Li’s voice could be so tender and soft! Her heart melted at the sound.
Lady Tang looked at them both with a complicated expression.
What to do?Previous Chapter Next Chapter
Whew, a breather for today. We'll continue with more Tang Clan drama tomorrow, haha!