Ning Yuxuan took a deep breath. "Your Majesty, this subject only wants Nie Sangyu. As for the other women, Your Majesty, there's no need to trouble yourself."
He had to say everything in one breath to avoid being interrupted.
The great hall was quiet for a while.
Zhao Zhe chuckled, but his face was expressionless. "You want Nie Sangyu?"
Ning Yuxuan lifted his robe and knelt down. "Yes."
Zhao Zhe sneered and turned his back to him as he said, "This emperor also wants Nie Sangyu. How many Sangyus does Nie Clan have?"
Marquis Moyu was shocked.
He had just... straightforwardly said those words?
"If you hadn't divorced her then, then no matter how much this emperor likes her, this emperor wouldn't snatch away your wife," Zhao Zhe lowly said, "But, you've already divorced her, so she's marriable. You want her, this emperor also wants her. If this emperor helps you, who will help this emperor?"
Ning Yuxuan furrowed his brow as he looked at the emperor's back figure. Zhao Zhe had only recently ascended the throne, and he was saying these words to an important minister. It couldn't be that Zhao Zhe was genuinely in love with Nie Sangyu, right?
What should he do? No matter what, an official couldn't compete with the emperor. Although he had power, he couldn't defeat the emperor. If he chose to be unyielding, then he wouldn't be able maintain his power in this country.
What should he choose? Did he want her or the high position and wealth that he had spent half of his life to build up?
Only a teenager, who was full of love, would choose the former option without hesitation and take her away to futilely live out the rest of their lives together as smoothly as possible. But, he was Marquis Moyu. He had spent half of his life competing with others. He had gone through so much public and covert disputes and schemes for power. Was he supposed to give that all up?
Ning Yuxuan's gaze was somewhat complicated. Not knowing what to do next, he stayed kneeling on the ground
"This emperor remembers that when you married Wen Wan, you said that as long as you have her, you wouldn't have any regrets." Zhao Zhe turned around to look at him. "Right now, Wen Wan is still by your side, so why can't you let go of Sangyu?"
This is why people should absolutely never say that their current love would be the one that they'll love the most for the rest of their life. Life is long. It's inevitable that you'll be proven wrong in certain things. And so, you should wait until you're on your deathbed to recollect your life. It's only then that you have the qualification to discuss who was is that you loved the most for a lifetime.
"This subject was ignorant." Ning Yuxuan closed his eyes and said, “Sangyu and this subject already have a child. A child can't be without its mother. Wen Wan is this subject's former love. Feelings change with circumstances. Now that this subject has thought it through, it's time to let Wen Wan go, so that she can be free to live out her life."
Zhao Zhe snorted. He lightly said, "You have a child with Sangyu? Marquis, you must be remembering wrong. Ning Jinchen's mother is Xia-shi."
Ning Yuxuan furrowed his brow.
"This fact is common knowledge. You shouldn't try to force your child onto Sangyu." The emperor pursed his lips and continued, "She doesn't have any children, and you divorced her. This emperor can take her as my consort."
"Your Majesty, why do you insist on putting this subject in a difficult position?"
Zhao Zhe raised his eyebrows. “Marquis, you should be more mindful of your words when you're speaking to the emperor. No matter how you look at it, its you that's putting this emperor in a difficult position by standing in the way of this emperor adding a beauty to my harem."
Vexed, Ning Yuxuan wanted to stand up and confront Zhao Zhe. But, he couldn't openly defy him. Right now, he was able to strategically oppose the emperor due to his control of the Six Ministries. Ning Mingjie and Nie Qingyun would also be willing to help him out with their military power. But, if he let himself get flustered and gave the emperor an excuse, not only would he die, everyone else would die with him.
"Oh, by the way, this emperor heard that Sangyu came to the palace today." Zhao Zhe slightly smiled and said, "She seems to get along very well with Qing-er. She can stay in Qing-er's palace tonight."
"Your Majesty!" Ning Yuxuan's eyes were slightly red.
"Marquis, don't you still have a lot of work to do?" Zhao Zhe amicably said, "You can withdraw. If you don't finish your work, it won't be easy for you to justify yourself if this emperor asks you about those tasks tomorrow morning in the imperial court."
Tightly clenching his hand into a fist, Ning Yuxuan slowly kowtowed, then he stood up and followed a eunuch out of Zichen Hall.
Wu Yong came out from behind a nearby folding screen and looked at Marquis Moyu's distant back figure. He lightly said, "Your Majesty, that was perfect. You didn't pressure him too far or give him any breathing space."
Zhao Zhe chuckled. He stroked a jade seal that was on his desk. He clicked his tongue in admiration. "She's truly a beauty that brings disaster. Since ancient times, women have able to ruin important things. At first, this emperor didn't believe in this saying, but now, this emperor has no choice but to believe it.”
Wu Yong was smiling as he respectfully cupped his hands.
Ji Man had searched the entire palace, but she hadn't seen a trace of Haohao. She knew that if the emperor had deliberately hidden Haohao away, then even if she turned over the palace in her search, her efforts would be useless.
Seeing that it would soon be dark, Shen Youqing said, "How about staying in my palace for the night? You can continue searching in the morning."
"Your Highness, thank you for your kind offer. This humble woman still wants to leave the palace." Ji Man pursed her lips and said, "There's someone waiting for this humble woman outside the palace."
"Oh?" Shen Youqing sounded curious. "Let's go then to see who's waiting for you."
Ji Man followed her to the palace's gate.
Who else could it be? She and Ning Yuxuan had agreed that they would leave the palace together.
But, this time, there was no waiting for her at the palace's gate.
"Ah, there's no one here?" Shen Youqing smiled as she said, "Look, it'll be to far for you to go back by yourself. You should come back with this consort."
Where did he go? Ji Man furrowed her brow. Had he left her in the palace to stay the night?
Translator Ramblings: Wow. And here I was, thinking Zhao Zhe is an idiot that's driven by his hormones and is making the same mistake as Zhao Li by kidnapping Haohao. I like that his end goal is actually to get rid of Ning Yuxuan. He wants Nie Sangyu, but he's mostly using her as a way to get Marquis Moyu to act out. If he goads Marquis Moyu and his allies to openly rebel, it would give Zhao Zhe the perfect excuse to clean out the people that are potentially the biggest threat to him.