At the Noble Consort’s Feet Chapter 107

Chapter 107 Post station

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The night grew darker, and the post station was buffeted by the cold wind, causing a shiver of coldness.

After tying his horse to a tree half a mile away, Xiao Chong grumbled to himself and quickly made his way back.

Even though he had been the General of the Left Golden Shield Guards for a while, it was his first time inspecting the camp and giving orders at night. He had only left to save his life, but his father reminded him not to let Pei Ji handle everything and make them helpless. He didn’t care about anything else.

The Imperial Guards and the Golden Shield Guards were always clearly distinguished. Today, walking side by side, the difference was truly embarrassing— the Imperial Guards were strict and efficient, while the Golden Shield Guards seemed much more laid back and disorderly.

He had just shown his anger in the camp, commanding them to get organized, but a few brave deputy generals had interrupted and argued. He couldn’t control his anger, and even now, as he returned to the post station, he still felt furious.

However, the post station was full of people, and the Emperor was there. It wasn’t as big and private as the mansions in the city. He didn’t dare to go back and vent, so he decided to walk a few more laps in the dark where there were fewer people and quietly release his frustration.

Just when he felt his emotions had calmed down a bit and was about to enter the post station’s gate, he suddenly caught sight of a familiar figure leaning against the wall under a bare and sturdy cinnamon tree.

On a cold winter night, the north wind howled from time to time. The person stood quietly, gently touching a long and slender object in their hand. Every now and then, he glanced at the moon above the trees, as if expecting something.

Xiao Chong halted and narrowed his eyes as he looked into the distance. He quickly recognized the person who had been bothering him a lot recently—Pei Ji.

At this time, even the Imperial Guards who usually patrolled around had become less frequent. They quietly stood at their designated spots. Why was Pei Ji the only one standing there?

Xiao Chong carefully looked and vaguely recognized the long and shiny object in Pei Ji’s hand under the moonlight—it appeared to be a hairpin for women.

Something inside him prompted a sudden action, and almost without thinking, he swiftly stepped aside. He endured the chilling cold and concealed himself among the dense bushes, secretly observing.

Young Master Pei was still single, and he had always been distant and unfriendly in front of others. He could be seen as an oddity among the high-class youth in the city, with many noble children secretly hating his cold and deceitful appearance without any flaws! Now, in the midst of a great crisis during their escape, he stood alone, captivated by a woman’s hairpin under the moonlight. It was truly strange.

It’s unclear how long had passed until Xiao Chong’s hands and feet started to feel numb, and his body became stiff from the freezing cold. Just when he couldn’t endure any longer, Pei Ji finally made a sudden move.

He gently placed the jade hairpin into his sleeve, quickly walked a few steps along the tall wall, and silently moved outside the boundary of a courtyard wall. After looking around in all directions, he took a couple of steps back, then suddenly increased his speed. With great proficiency, he used his feet to push against the wall twice. Then, he reached out and grabbed the top of the wall, effortlessly flipping over it!

Xiao Chong stared in amazement, standing still in the cluster of trees for a while. It took him some time to regain his composure. He leaned against the rough and chilly tree trunk, stood up, and waited for his blood to flow, driving away the numbness in his limbs. Then, he couldn’t resist the urge to go back.

Surprisingly, Young Master Pei, who had always portrayed himself as an honest and noble gentleman, was actually climbing over the wall under the darkness of night! It seemed like he had done it numerous times before, showing great familiarity and ease.

However, he was the General of the Imperial Guards, tasked with guarding the post station. Why would he need to clandestinely climb over the wall instead of openly going wherever he wanted?

A sudden realization dawned on Xiao Chong, making him widen his eyes. He turned back to glance at the place where he had seen Pei Ji climbing over the wall—

If he recalled correctly, his younger sister, the Pure Consort, and a few other consorts lived behind that wall!

Suddenly, he remembered the scene from earlier that morning when he witnessed Pei Ji blocking Noble Consort Zhong’s carriage. Back then, it didn’t strike him as inappropriate, but now, it gave rise to an unbelievable thought within him.

Inside the bedroom, Li Zhi was about to pull Chun Yue and turn off the lamp to go to sleep together.

The rooms in the post station were not as big as those in the palace. This bedroom had only one bed and one couch, and she decided to let Chun Yue stay with her.

Suddenly, a familiar knocking sound came from the window. Chun Yue was taken aback and quickly walked closer to open it. Seeing that it was Pei Ji, she said, “Miss, tonight I will sleep with Qing Zi and the others.”

Saying that, she put on her clothes and then left with her head lowered.

“Li-niang,” Pei Ji lowered his voice and took a few steps forward, sitting beside Li Zhi, looking directly at her face. “Are you feeling well today?

He had been worried about her since early morning, and only now, when it was late at night and many people had already gone to sleep, could he come to visit her.

More than a year ago, when she first entered the palace, there were already many unpleasant discussions and criticisms from outside. At that time, he didn’t really care about them.

Firstly, even he himself had once selfishly blamed her for the dispute between his two cousins. Secondly, at that time, the people who gossiped were still held back by His Majesty’s high regard for her, and they didn’t dare to be so open about it. Their words, aside from disdain, also contained unclear feelings of jealousy and admiration.

But now, things had changed.

Great Wei had fallen into turmoil, and the people, who lacked understanding, blamed her, a woman, for everything. Even his mother, in a moment of anger, said such words.

Li Zhi was clearly innocent, but she was forced to face countless insults and accusations. Even if she had shown strength and freedom in the past, it was hard not to worry and feel sorry for her.

Li Zhi sat by the edge of the bed and almost immediately understood what he was referring to. It must be about the incident in the early morning.

“I’m fine. When I heard them say those things, I was indeed shocked and felt uneasy, but it got better afterwards.”

She smiled and gently twirled a strand of long hair hanging in front of her.

During the daytime, as she sat in the carriage, there was a moment when she felt deeply wronged and had no place to release her feelings.

This was a world that belonged to men.

In this era that relied on farming for survival, men’s inherent strength naturally gave them an advantage. However, since they already dominated this world, they should have taken responsibility. Why did they always shift the blame onto women?

The conflicts between those two brothers had clearly planted the seeds of disaster many years ago.

What abilities and virtues did she possess that could have upturned an entire country by her own strength? She was merely a vulnerable woman who had to rely on others even for her own protection.

However, later on, when she recalled the hateful glares of the common people, apart from feeling wronged and sad, she also experienced a mixture of complex helplessness.

“They were all ordinary citizens who knew nothing about what had happened before. They genuinely believed that everything happened because of me, simply because my name was mentioned in the edict issued by Prince Rui.”

Ultimately, they were all insignificant beings controlled by those in power. If one day the Emperor were to release an impassioned proclamation, declaring that the source of all these troubles lay elsewhere and had no relation to her as a Noble Consort, the words spoken by the people would likely be entirely different.

Pei Ji gazed at her as she pretended to be at ease, but his heart was filled with a throbbing ache.

Recently, he had gone through many experiences and witnessed the people he held dear facing hardships one after another. He had an increasing desire to shield them all under his wings, free from any pain or suffering.

“During today’s military inspection, I had already informed the soldiers that if anyone failed to discern right from wrong and blindly echoed the misconceptions of the people, unjustly accusing innocent individuals, we would deal with them according to military law.”

His words had always held great sway among the Imperial Guards, and by uttering them, he could effectively alter the course of events within the military.

However, his words made Li Zhi sharply sense the hidden implications.

Perhaps, similar to the civilian world, rumors of “the Noble Consort brings calamity to the nation” had permeated the military as well. He may have authority over the Imperial Guards, but what about the countless others?

She rose from her seat and approached the candlestick, reaching out her hand to feel the warmth of the flame. When it became too hot, she pulled her hand back, and as it cooled down, she reached out again, repeating the cycle.

“Let it be, we can’t silence the murmurs of the world. My reputation has already been thoroughly ruined, and these curses won’t matter much. Regardless, I am on the verge of leaving. When that time comes, I will disappear and lead a peaceful life.”

Pei Ji pursed his lips, observing her intently. He rose from his seat, approached her, and clasped her hand, which was close to the candle’s flame. With a grave expression, he spoke, “Those who were sent to scout different routes have already been dispatched. They should return in a day or two. I will select the safest path and accompany you on your departure tomorrow night.”

The day after tomorrow marked his departure from Fufeng to join the reinforcements. It would be the day when everything would be resolved, alleviating one of his concerns.

Upon hearing this news, Li Zhi gradually felt a sense of ease in her heart, as if an imminent joy was about to burst forth. However, the closer one gets to the final moment, the more they must hold on tightly and not let their guard down.

She pulled her hand away from his hold and leaned in to give a gentle kiss to the corner of his lips. Speaking softly, she said, “It’s getting late, Darling Third. You should go and rest now. You’ve been exhausted for so long, and there’s still a military expedition ahead.”

The lodgings of the people at the post station were situated very closely together, and even the slightest disturbance would draw attention. It was simply impossible to allow him to stay.

Pei Ji experienced a brief moment of sadness in his heart, but he comprehended the significance of the situation. He nodded without hesitation, embracing her tightly and planting a gentle kiss on her lips before turning around to depart.

“Darling Third.” As they approached the window, Li Zhi held onto him once more. “You’ve done so much for me already. You don’t have to protect me any further. I’m not concerned about other people’s opinions.”

Pei Ji’s steps came to a halt, and he turned to gaze at her, momentarily speechless. He wanted to say that it was his responsibility and she needn’t be concerned, but he didn’t wish to burden her with his worries. Instead, the words that reached his lips were, “Don’t worry, I understand.”

Once she bid him farewell, Li Zhi snuffed out the candles and settled into sleep, experiencing a night of tranquility without any dreams.

Upon waking up the next morning, Li Zhi was handed water and breakfast by Chun Yue. It was at that moment she revealed her intention of discreetly departing during the upcoming night.

Chun Yue’s spirits soared as she listened, and she promptly nodded with a serious countenance. “I understand. Tomorrow night, I will follow the guidance of Miss and General Pei.”

Li Zhi nodded and said, “Summon Qing Zi here shortly. I wish to have a personal conversation with her.”

After completing their morning meal, Chun Yue went to call for Qing Zi.

Yet, Li Zhi waited in the room for a moment, only to witness Chun Yue’s solitary return.

“Is Qing Zi not here?”

Chun Yue nodded, her expression filled with puzzlement. “When I came here earlier, she was still present, but when I went to search for her just now, she had vanished. The others in the room thought she had gone to the restroom, but she didn’t come back after leaving. It’s possible she went out to converse with acquaintances.”

During their time in Chenghuan Palace, Li Zhi didn’t impose strict rules on them, so it was quite common for them to venture outside and engage in conversations with familiar individuals.

“If that’s the case, wait until you see her later and bring her over then.”

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