At the Noble Consort’s Feet Chapter 123

Chapter 123 Wedding ceremony

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Wei Peng had already arranged the defense inside and outside the city near Chang’an. He led the troops in advance to clear out the bandits and criminals.

Among the Imperial Guards who followed the Little Emperor, two staff officers wanted to lead their subordinates in resistance. However, most of the Imperial Guards were former subordinates of Pei Ji. Before they could plan properly, someone leaked the information to Wei Peng. As a result, the two individuals were beheaded in public, serving as a warning to others.

At that moment, the Imperial Guards refrained from making any hasty actions.

Meanwhile, Pei Ji returned to Chang’an with his followers from Taiyuan.

On the 27th day of the fifth lunar month, Empress Dowager Xiao performed the enthronement ceremony for the Little Emperor in the Hanyuan Hall of Daming Palace. The next day, Pei Ji held a grand ceremony to ascend the throne and announced to the public from the tower of Dafeng Gate, declaring the country’s name as Yan. The following year, the era name was changed to Longqi. A decree was issued, demoting the Little Emperor to the Prince of Qi. One month later, Pei Ji, Empress Dowager Xiao, and other ministers moved to Yizhou together.

On this day, the transfer of imperial power was finally complete, and Pei Ji finally stopped wearing mourning clothes and moved into Daming Palace. He resumed the court meetings, keeping himself busy with the task of ensuring the people’s well-being, peaceful living, and prosperous industry.

The Emperor’s position was secured, and preparations were being made for the wedding ceremony of the Emperor and Empress.

It was obvious that the Empress was naturally Li Zhi.

The ministers had long been aware of the person favored by the new monarch in his heart. At first, there were objections because Miss Zhong was a former concubine from the previous dynasty. Although women remarrying was no longer taboo, the Emperor had to stand out in some way.

However, the opposition from others did not waver Pei Ji’s determination. Even the Grand Empress Dowager and the newly titled Empress Dowager Li did not express any dissatisfaction. After weighing the options, it was no longer brought up.

After all, it was a family matter of the Emperor and did not affect the country’s governance.

According to Pei Ji’s intention, the wedding ceremony would be kept simple without extravagance. However, all the necessary rituals, including the six ceremonial steps, had to be performed without any omissions. Just because the Empress was a widow, the ceremony couldn’t be skipped.

Li Zhi laughed at him. “If you want to make sure that all the rituals are observed without missing anything, it will take at least six months. You’ll have to be patient during this time.”

Before the wedding ceremony, she couldn’t stay in the palace. Since arriving in Chang’an, she lived in the house that Pei Ji had bought for her, along with Lan Ying. They could only meet occasionally.

However, a female official would come every seven days to check her pulse. After drinking bowls of herbal medicine, her body, which was already mostly healed, was finally completely restored.

Pei Ji let out a long sigh and said, “We endured the past few months, and the remaining six months can be considered the price we have to pay for getting married. We still have many decades ahead of us.”

They exchanged glances and couldn’t help but break into laughter.

Yes, it was just another six months of waiting.

In the months that followed, she stayed in Lan Ying’s home and waited patiently.

Since she didn’t have her parents, Lan Ying took care of all the affairs, with help from the palace ceremonial officials. Everything went smoothly.

After a long wait, the day finally came when the Emperor personally came to receive her, as Chang’an was once again blanketed in snow in December.

Early in the morning, the mansion was tidied up and decorated inside and out, bustling and busy, awaiting the auspicious time in the evening.

Lan Ying didn’t leave it to others but held the hairpin and hairpiece that the Empress wore during the wedding ceremony. With Chun Yue’s assistance, she personally helped her sister put them on, one layer at a time.

The night before, Li Zhi didn’t feel nervous at all. But when she put on the wedding dress and saw her grand and dignified self in the mirror, she suddenly felt nervous, realizing it too late.

She held the corner of her dress as if the hairpins in her hair had become much heavier, on the verge of falling off.

Standing behind her, Lan Ying inserted the final golden hairpin into her hair. Her hands slowly descended onto her shoulders, and they both looked at the reflection in the mirror. Their eyes suddenly turned red.

“My little sister is finally going to be married properly.”

The nervousness in Li Zhi’s heart inexplicably lessened. She gently placed her hand on her elder sister’s hand and smiled. “But I’m already a woman who has been married once.”

Lan Ying shook her head, using a handkerchief to wipe away the tears at the corner of her eyes, and said, “It’s different this time. Last time, I remember you sitting in front of the mirror, without a hint of a smile. I also wanted to bid you farewell, but… I couldn’t bear to watch you get married like that…”

Li Zhi paused for a moment and also remembered the scene from over two years ago when she married Li Jing Hui.

At that time, she had just arrived in this world and had the sole intention of resisting and fleeing. Faced with her own wedding and the unfamiliar groom who was so pleased with himself, she had no joy in her heart whatsoever.

She remembered that on that day, Zhong Cheng Ping and Mrs. Yang were incredibly proud. Many distant relatives eagerly came to congratulate them, which truly pleased them.

Everyone said she was lucky, that with her beauty, she went from being a girl from a humble family to becoming a Princess Consort, a blessing accumulated over several lifetimes.

Only Lan Ying, on such a day, watched her from a distance without uttering a single word to her.

So, it was because she couldn’t bear it.

Li Zhi held back the tears welling up in her eyes, gripping Lan Ying’s hand and whispered, “It’s all in the past. This time, I am willingly getting married.”

“Hmm,” Lan Ying nodded, gently patting her back like when they were young, soothing her to sleep. “Both of us, sisters.”

As the sky gradually darkened, the streets outside the residence, already deserted, filled with the sound of approaching carriages, horses, and festive music. The procession of the imperial escort had arrived.

Before long, a burst of joyful commotion erupted outside, accompanied by the cheers of the court officials and the familiar voices of two individuals. It was Wei Peng and Pei Ji.

Today, as Lan Ying sent off her sister for marriage, Wei Peng also played the role of the Empress’ maternal relative.

The court officials led them closer to the entrance, and Pei Ji handed the ceremonial wild goose he was holding to Wei Peng. Accompanied by Lan Ying and two senior palace attendants, Li Zhi walked out of the door.

The cold wind howled as the warm candlelight cast a radiant glow on her perfectly beautiful face, leaving those around her in awe.

Pei Ji also stood there, stunned.

She crossed the threshold and halted on the snow-covered courtyard. Her gentle almond eyes gazed into the distance as she softly called, “Darling Third.”

Her voice was barely a whisper, swallowed by the bustling crowd, but Pei Ji heard it distinctly.

He snapped out of his daze, walked towards her with a smile, and extended one end of the rope to her, observing as she delicately held onto it.

“Hold on tight, we’re about to depart.”

“Hmm,” Li Zhi tightened her grip as instructed, feeling the uneven texture of the rope in her palm. Following his calm and assured footsteps, they gradually moved out of the courtyard and ascended the carriage.

Pei Ji disregarded the prescribed ceremonial customs and instead drove the carriage himself, relinquishing the reins to the driver after three rounds. Seated at the front, he guided the carriage back to the palace with his wife on board.

At that moment, the civil and military officials had already assembled at the palace gate, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Emperor and Empress. They dismounted from their horses and formed a procession, accompanying the couple into the palace.

The banquet tables were already arranged in Hanyuan Hall.

Under the gaze of the officials, the Emperor and Empress sat together, guided by the food attendants, sharing the same meal and participating in the ceremony of unity.

After the ceremony, the officials made their way to Linde Hall for the banquet. As was customary for a royal wedding, a lavish feast was prepared, inviting everyone to revel until the break of dawn.

Li Zhi and Pei Ji were guided by the ceremonial officials to enter Zichen Hall, where they could rest and rejuvenate.

Only after shedding the weighty ceremonial attire and donning their usual clothes did Li Zhi slowly regain her composure. As she lifted her head, she noticed Pei Ji also staring at her in a trance.

Their eyes locked, and both of them simultaneously came to a halt, silently gazing at each other without uttering a word for a moment.

Li Zhi couldn’t hold back a light laughter, extending her hand to give his chest a playful push, saying, “What’s wrong? Have you been away from me for so long that you’ve forgotten what I look like?”

Pei Ji swiftly caught her hand and gently stroked it in his palm, then smiled and shook his head. “I think of you every day, how could I forget? I’ve missed you so much, enduring this long wait, and now that I can finally have a good look, I don’t want to waste any time.”

Li Zhi had slowly regained her usual manner and, upon hearing his words, leaned in closer, presenting her face to him. “Then, let me give you a good look, my love.”

The person he had yearned for day and night had finally become his rightful wife, and now she was so close to him, causing Pei Ji’s heart to beat faster unexpectedly.

He wrapped his arms around her, leaning down to kiss the tip of her nose, and then shifted his gaze, guiding her towards the adjoining room.

In the adjoining room, several tables were arranged on a couch, adorned with a hot and tantalizing spread of their favorite dishes. A small red clay stove sat nearby, keeping a pot of warm liquor.

Li Zhi, taken aback by the scene, asked in astonishment, “Aren’t you going to Linde Hall? The officials are probably waiting to share a toast with you.”

Pei Ji smiled and guided her to sit on the couch, personally took the wine jug, and filled both of their cups, saying, “Why bother going there? The finest wine and delectable dishes are being served here, and they will surely enjoy themselves. On my wedding day, I want to be with my new bride.”

As he spoke, he handed her the wine cup.

Li Zhi felt somewhat happy in her heart and didn’t refuse. She accepted the cup and drank with him.

The clear and warm wine flowed down their throats, making their entire bodies feel warm.

The two of them sat facing each other like an affectionate couple in an ordinary household, enjoying their drink and food. Their knees touched under the small table.

After three rounds of drinking, Li Zhi’s cheeks were flushed like the evening glow, and her eyes shimmered with mist.

Just like before, Pei Ji personally fetched water and a handkerchief, helped her freshen up, and then carried her back to the bed in the inner chamber.

Under the flickering red candlelight, the silk curtains created a dim and intimate atmosphere.

The other people in the hall had long tactfully left, leaving only the newlyweds embracing each other closely.

“Darling Third,” Li Zhi nestled in Pei Ji’s arms, her voice soft as she caressed his neck, “You treat me so well.”

Pei Ji responded with a sound of affirmation and leaned down to kiss her lips.

However, Li Zhi gently placed a finger on her own lips, stopping his action.

“Shh… Darling Third, did you hear that?” 

Pei Ji ceased his movement and together they inclined their ears to listen.

The hall was filled with silence, with only the joyful melodies from the distant Linde Hall faintly audible. The people participating in the feast there were in high spirits.

“Is this music a blessing for us?”

The warm, filtered light cast a glow on her face through the sheer curtains, making her bright eyes shimmer.

“Yes,” Pei Ji lowered his head, gazing at her with a deep and trustworthy voice, “Today, the people of Chang’an are blessing us. Li-niang, we will be together for a long, long time.”

She smiled contentedly.

In this lifetime, she had finally received genuine blessings.


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