At the Noble Consort’s Feet Chapter 102

Chapter 102 Worried

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Pei Yan rested at home for a few days, taking medicine by mouth and applying it externally. The Grand Princess also invited an imperial physician to give him acupuncture. Finally, his body, which had collapsed, began to show signs of recovery.

Although his spirit was better, his face was getting worse every day.

During these days, he was idle at home and kept listening to Pei Ji’s frontline news brought from the Ministry of War, feeling very worried.

The rebel army was well-prepared and had already gathered near Dingzhou on the day of the proclamation. They quickly marched towards the area.

Dingzhou was under the jurisdiction of Yiwu, but it was not a border area and did not have a strong standing army with a unified command.

Yiwu’s army received a call-up order from the court and hurried south to catch up with the rebel army. 

However, at that moment, the Turkic people in the north, who had been quiet for a long time, suddenly raised their army without warning. Ashina Doubi almost used the strength of his entire tribe to launch a fierce attack with 70,000 elite soldiers towards the border between Yiwu and Hedong!

Seated in his study, Pei Yan couldn’t bear it any longer when he heard his son’s words. He clenched his right hand into a fist and slammed it hard on the table. “How can this be reasonable? Prince Rui— he disregards the people of Great Wei and conspires with those barbarians! He doesn’t deserve to be called a citizen from the Central Plains!”

Pei Ji also had a stern face, his eyes filled with not only anger but also some regret. “When I led the army to repel the Turks, I suspected that there was something unusual about that battle. I had General Zhang investigate it for half a year, but I never thought that they were actually committing treason!”

At this moment, he finally understood the rebels’ last resort, which was to ally themselves with the Turks. Ashina Duobi was a young new ruler with ambitious goals, and he was not so easy to deceive. The collusion between the two sides must have started a long time ago.

He could not imagine that Prince Rui, who grew up in the capital Chang’an and had imperial blood, would betray Great Wei for his own selfish interests. The wealth and lives of thousands of people on the border were easily sold to the wolf-like Turks, like cattle and sheep on the grassland.

Pei Yan gritted his teeth and scolded, “Who would have thought that he, as a Royal Prince, would do such a thing!”

“General Zhang has led troops to meet the enemy. However, Ashina Duobi seems to have been prepared and sent another ten thousand troops to attack near the western Hedong Road, holding him back and preventing him from quickly providing reinforcements.” Pei Ji’s hand moved from the map on the table and then pointed towards the direction of Dingzhou. “Father, do you remember who the commander of Yiwu was?”

Pei Yan’s expression stiffened, and he slowly spoke, “Cao Si Liang.”

“Yes,” Pei Ji breathed in deeply, gritting his teeth as he said, “He’s from the Western Cao country, one of the nine surnames of the Zhaowu region, and an old friend of An Yi Kang. The latest news tells us that Cao Si Liang is surrounded by enemies, unable to hold on, and the reinforcements from Hedong are too far away to help. He has now switched sides and joined the rebels. The rebel army is not just Lulong’s army anymore.”

Father and son both gazed down at the map covered in countless markings, their hearts filled with waves of emotion.

“Father,” Pei Ji rested his hands on his knees and spoke slowly, “I want to ask His Majesty’s permission to lead the troops into battle.”

The situation in the northern border was dire. Although Hedong’s army was brave and well-trained, they faced internal and external threats and their morale was low. They needed a strong leader to stabilize the situation. As the Military Governor who had previously repelled the Turks six months ago, he could inspire fear and respect among his troops.

The ongoing court chaos was irrelevant. As a true Great Wei man, he would not allow foreign forces to invade and harm Great Wei’s land or people.

“No,” Pei Yan said with a serious face, looking at him for a moment. “You stay here, and I’ll go.”

“Father!” Pei Ji cried out, shocked and worried.

At the same time, there was a sound of porcelain breaking outside the room.

Both father and son turned to see the Grand Princess standing in the half-open door, with a bowl of broken ginseng soup at her feet, steaming hot.

“Mother!” Pei Ji rushed over to help her carefully step over the broken shards and sit down in the room.

The Grand Princess didn’t say anything, staring at Pei Yan for a long time. Suddenly, her eyes turned red and she whispered, “Third Son, let him go.”

“Mother, Father has just been released from the prison of the Ministry of Justice. He hasn’t fully recovered yet. How can he go to battle?” Pei Ji couldn’t believe that his mother would agree so easily after hearing this.

The Grand Princess gazed at Pei Yan with a touch of sympathy. “He’ll regret it forever if he doesn’t go.”

Pei Yan’s face softened, and he took her hand. “You heard your mother. Go outside first. I’ll speak with her.”

Pei Ji frowned and left the room, shutting the door behind him.

“I’ve agreed to everything you’ve asked,” the Grand Princess said, wiping away tears from her reddened eyes.

Pei Yan observed her, noting how different she was from her usual dignified and noble self. He appeared to be holding back his own sorrow and bitterness, offering a faint smile.

“Hua’er.” He wiped away her tears and loosened his grip on her hand. “You’re still the same as when we first met. Open-hearted and generous, like a child.”

The Grand Princess glared at him once more, but there was no trace of resentment in her eyes.

“Husband, you haven’t changed a bit since those days of war, when your heart was torn between me and the call of duty. Even though we live in times of peace, your spirit still has the warrior’s fire ready to face the Turks in the north.” She wiped away her tears and chuckled. “Our son is just like his father, willing to risk everything. Though I’m a Great Wei Princess, I’m not as brave and fearless as you and your family. I can’t bear to send you to the front lines, but I can’t bear to change you either, I can’t bear to see you regret for the rest of your life…”

Pei Yan let out a gentle sigh, caressing her cheek, and whispered, “As a husband to a Princess of Great Wei, it’s my duty to serve the empire and my beloved wife.”

The Great Princess gave him a sideways glance, pursed her lips, and lifted her chin. “Then I command you to take good care of yourself.”

Pei Yan knelt down, exerting all his strength to get closer to her, firmly grasping her hand, and vowed, “I will obey your command.”

Pei Ji walked a long way outside the house and finally sat down on the steps of the deserted corridor. He looked at the setting sun in the sky and waited for a long time before his father came out.

“Father—” he quickly approached to speak.

But Pei Yan stopped him with a hand. “Third Son, don’t be hasty. Let me finish speaking first.”

He pulled his son to sit down beside him. “Now, we not only need to fight back against the Turks, but also protect the capital. Although the rebels are still near Dingzhou, we can’t let our guard down. You have always been in charge of the Left and Right Imperial Guards in the capital. Only with you personally in control can people feel most assured. If the rebels really approach the capital, they will inevitably have to cross the Puzhou Crossing, where Huangfu Jing is responsible for the defense. He is your subordinate, and we’ll have to rely on him at that time. You must stay here to control the situation, defend the last line of defense, and as for the barbarians— although I am old, I have no reason to be afraid. I will treat it as a way to reminisce about the past and loosen up my muscles and bones.”

Pei Ji listened and frowned for a long time before speaking slowly, “I understand. Tomorrow, I will ask His Majesty for war on my father’s behalf.”

Pei Yan patted his shoulder and nodded.

Pei Ji hesitated and stayed where he was, then asked, “Father, what will happen to His Majesty after the war ends? Have you thought about it?”

With His Majesty becoming more paranoid and unable to win over the people’s support, should they let this situation continue after the war?

Pei Yan’s expression turned serious. He looked around and saw no one nearby before saying, “Third Son, don’t let your father’s struggles influence your thinking. Your mother and I didn’t raise you that way.”

He paused and looked at his son with a complicated and somewhat doubtful expression. Then he took a deep breath and spoke with a serious tone, “Third Son, today I want to tell you that even though the situation now is chaotic, no one can claim to be better or more righteous than others in terms of power or legitimacy. When many equally matched forces compete, it will inevitably cause suffering for the people. Only when one of them becomes stronger and can suppress others, can the world return to peace and stability. The current ruler is the one who can suppress those who seek to cause trouble, regardless of whether he is wise or not.”

Until someone with unbeatable power appears, the Emperor’s position cannot be threatened. Only by safeguarding the Emperor can the country be stable.

He had a thought that came and went quickly, but he couldn’t catch it.

He nodded slowly after remaining silent with his head down for a while, “I understand, Father.”

“Alright, it’s getting late,” Pei Yan stood up with the support of the corridor pillar and waved at him. “Aren’t you supposed to be on duty in the palace today? Hurry up, don’t be late.”

“Yes.” He turned around and left quickly. After grooming himself, he rode his horse towards the palace before sunset.

After returning from her walk outside, Li Zhi rested for a bit in Chenghuan Palace. She then let everyone else go and left only Chun Yue in the room to pack her things carefully.

Since the news of Li Jing Hui’s rebellion, she had been intentionally asking about the situation on the front line. Today, she heard that the Yiwu’s army had defected, and realized that the day when everyone in the palace would flee was approaching.

She spent some time each day quietly packing her bags with Chun Yue. They had to be careful not to make noise or move things around too much. They only used one box and had to take things out and put things in a few times until they had everything they needed.

They would just pick up any other items they needed later.

After finishing, Chun Yue checked everything carefully before closing the box.

“I’ll make some strong purses for you in the next few days, so you can keep important things with you,” Chun Yue said.

Li Zhi agreed. “Make them plain.”

After a brief conversation, Chun Yue left once Li Zhi took her medicine and rinsed her mouth, leaving Li Zhi alone in the room.

She sat down to comb her long hair in front of the bronze mirror and counted the days, suddenly remembering that today was the day Pei Ji was on duty in the palace.

She thought of her father’s troubles and worried about him, even wanting to see him.

She put on a thicker coat and opened the window to look outside at the night.

The cold wind came in and made her shiver, but she smiled when she saw his familiar eyes and reached out to him.

On the autumn night, Pei Ji emerged from the darkness, holding her soft and warm hand, and walking into the light.

“It’s cold outside, don’t freeze.”

He quickly came into the room and closed the window, but did not take the initiative to embrace her. Instead, he took off his cold coat to reveal the warm clothes underneath before opening his arms and pulling her into his embrace.

“I just wanted to see if you were coming today.” The chill on Li Zhi’s body was driven away, and she couldn’t help but snuggle into his broad and sturdy embrace for a slow rub or two. “Darling Third, have you been well these days?”

Pei Ji’s eyes glimmered slightly as he rubbed her arm and shoulder with his palm and leaned his chin against her forehead. His deep voice transmitted to her ears, “Of course I had to come. Li-niang, were you worried about me?”

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