Chapter 255: Returning Home (I)
Li Yanyan almost broke a tooth in how hard she was gnashing her teeth. She glared viciously at Qin Yining’s back, wishing ardently that she could have someone drag the Qin fourth miss out and caned to death!
But she couldn’t afford the title of “Li traitors”, so she didn’t dare do anything. Setting a toe wrong would make her the villain that threw the nation’s fortunes to the winds.
“So you making an enemy out of me today is also the Qins throwing down the gauntlet with the Lis?” Li Yanyan trotted forward, looking up at the girl on the staircase and tried to dish out similar treatment.
Qin Yining responded with slowing down or turning her head. “Wasn’t it Your Majesty visiting me today to make trouble?” She’d reached the second floor and casually closed the door to the staircase.
Li Yanyan went beet red, but it was unknown whether that was from anger or embarrassment.
The exchange infuriated Li-mama and she made to charge upstairs, cursing loudly as she dashed forward. “I’ve never seen such a shameless hussy! She seduces the emperor while she walks the path of dao and shows such spoiled disregard to the empress! It would be a blow to good aristocratic upraising if this wench is allowed to live!”
A vein throbbed in Jiyun’s forehead when she heard the insults. She blocked the way to the stairs and pushed the charging granny servant back.
“Keep a civil tongue, mama! Since when did my miss become someone else’s mistress? The honorable master is born of a lofty family and is a proper noble daughter. She resides here on imperial orders. Are you doubting the Soothsayer’s fortune or His Majesty’s judgment with this slander?”
“Listen to these slippery words. Like mistress, like servant! The dogs she keeps are different from other vermin alright!” Li-mama spat at Jiyun’s face.
But Jiyun knew martial arts, how would she ever let this old woman spit on her? She dodged adroitly and responded heatedly, “My mistress just set up an altar to pray to the gods and summoned an auspicious sign from the heavens. She did so for Great Yan and the imperial family. So the empress is throwing someone away after using them and comes calling to bully us to boot! Is this Your Majesty’s intentions or the emperor’s??”
“Who the hell are you to question this seat?!” Li Yanyan flung a slap. So she couldn’t punish the mistress, but she could damn well punish the maid!
Jiyun could have dodged it easily, but a sudden thought occurred to her and she turned to lean into the slap. However, she evaded the empress’ two pure gold nail guards so that her face wouldn’t be marred.
A solid slap rang out crisply, echoing in the empty residence.
The door to the staircase was pushed aside and Qin Yining frantically stumbled downstairs. She pulled Jiyun behind her and met Li Yanyan’s eyes. “Your Majesty, it looks like you’re here today solely to make trouble and raid my house!”
The empress actually couldn’t find it within herself to meet Qin Yining’s intimidating look. Only the dignity of an empress and a belly full of hate and envy kept her standing. She doubled down. “As the mother of the nation, this seat naturally needs to be an example for all women in the lands. Your loose and licentious behavior is an affront to women everywhere!”
“Is that so.” Qin Yining intoned. “Since I am such a picture of disgrace in Your Majesty’s eyes, I am unworthy of continuing my practice here. Servants, run a quick report into the palace and ask the emperor for immediate permission to return to the Qin Manor.”
“Understood.” A guard outside responded and took off. It was the one that the Qin fourth miss had helped earlier.
This development planted seeds of panic in Li Yanyan’s heart. She knew that her husband liked the girl. If he put in an appearance, he would certainly be on Qin Yining’s side. But now that things were this way, wouldn’t it be a complete loss of face if she retreated? It’s not like I’ve done anything wrong!
Qin Yining pulled Jiyun away to apply some medicine to the maid’s cheek, leaving the brightly lit hall to the empress’ entourage. When they were a short distance away, Li-mama murmured worriedly next to the empress’ ear, “Your Majesty, if this blows up, the emperor might be angry when he learns of it. Why don’t we go back first?”
“I haven’t done anything wrong, why must I leave?” The tears swimming in Li Yanyan’s eyes finally spilled over.
Pained, the granny servant dabbed at the tears with a handkerchief. “But Your Majesty, that wench is good with words. She might paint right into wrong and push all the blame onto us. You’ve only just concluded your wedding with the emperor. Making him unhappy would only affect your relationship. That’ll just benefit the shameless trollop.”
Li Yanyan sniffled. She felt much better after crying and was much calmer.
“I understand what you’re saying. Don’t worry, she’ll be in for it if she dares say anything against me!”
Upon discerning that her mistress wanted to wait for an imperial decree, the granny servant hastily interjected, “Why don’t we avoid the edge of the blade, Your Majesty? She’s right here. There will be plenty of chances to teach her a lesson in the future.”
Hesitation had indeed crept in for the empress. She was rethinking her decision to venture into the tiger’s lair today. As the empress, visiting a subject to exchange verbal barbs both cheapened herself and gave others something to criticize her with.
There were plenty of other methods at her disposal if she wanted to kill Qin Yining. She could use poison, send assassins, or any manner of underhanded ways. Why had she come in broad daylight to announce to everyone that she didn’t like Qin Yining?
No wonder her mother had warned her again and again before the wedding to never act on her impulses, to always meet any situation with calm maturity. Just look at the enormous opening she’d given with her actions!
The more Li Yanyan thought about this, the more flustered she grew. The uncontrollable fury from earlier was gone and she nodded slowly. “Evading the edge of the blade to take resolute action later is a good strategy as well.”
“Precisely.” Li-mama raised her voice. “Your Majesty, since you’re feeling unwell, why not let this servant help you back to the palace first?”
“Mm.” Li Yanyan took the granny servant’s arm and departed with her entourage. However, she crossed paths with someone unexpected.
“Your—Your Majesty?” She stood dumbly where she was, looking at the freshly returned Weichi Yan and had absolutely no idea what to say.
Li-mama’s tug on her hand reminded the empress to kneel in greeting. “This subject greets Your Majesty.”
Weichi Yan stood with his hands behind his back and didn’t tell his wife to rise. “What are you doing here?”
Pain twisted Li Yanyan’s heart when she heard this, but she smoothed a gentle and docile expression over her face. “In response to Your Majesty, I heard there were great happenings today at the residence and came here specifically to see how younger sister Qin would pray to the heavens.”
“Mm. Then what have you seen?” Weichi Yan looked down coldly at her.
“Your Majesty, I’m slow and dense. I only came to visit younger sister Qin.”
“Your supposed visit is to blockade someone at their door, question her ability, and doubt Our judgement? It looks like the Duke of An hasn’t spent enough effort educating his daughter.”
Li Yanyan plunged into an icy abyss. She raised her head to look incredulously at Weichi Yan. This kind of censure was even more humiliating than being slapped!
By the side room, Qin Yining and Jiyun had been kneeling for a long time. Weichi Yan looked over with a frown and reached out to help her up, but Qin Yining scooted backwards on the ground. “Your Majesty, please allow this subject to live!”
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