Chapter 27 Medicine
<Previous Chapter<Table of Contents>Next Chapter>
Li Zhi was seated on her bed, about to let down the gauzy curtains when she heard a sound and saw a dark figure landing on the ground. She was so startled that a scream was about to escape her lips.
Before she could utter a word, the shadowy figure swiftly moved towards her, covering her mouth and nose with one hand, whispering softly, “It’s me.”
The voice was low and familiar, and Li Zhi froze as she struggled to make out the features of the deep and handsome face before her, finally realizing that it was Pei Ji.
Pei Ji had already changed out of his wet clothes, but his hair was still tightly tied, hinting that he had come straight to the imperial palace after changing.
Seeing that she stop resisting, Pei Ji lowered his hand.
Li Zhi’s heart was pounding in her chest as she stared at him angrily, her alluring eyes shimmering with indignation, causing his heart to skip a beat.
“General, are you truly unable to bear my absence? It’s barely been half an hour since we parted ways, and you have already scaled the walls of the imperial palace and pushed open my window. I thought you were an honorable man…”
She spoke in a gentle, teasing tone, mixed with a hint of annoyance and helplessness. After the initial shock had subsided, she suddenly remembered something and covered her mouth, letting out a soft laugh. “I almost forgot, General, this isn’t your first time breaking into my room by climbing over the wall.”
Pei Ji’s thin lips pursed even tighter, and he avoided her deep gaze by lowering his eyes.
The memory of that incident was crystal clear in his mind.
When Prince Rui stormed into Wangxian Temple, she had secretly sent a maid to find him. To avoid detection, he climbed over the wall and entered the temple through the door.
In order to avoid being discovered by the palace maids sent from Zichen Hall, he even had to hide between her sheets.
Looking back now, he had always prided himself on being calm and composed, never crossing any boundaries. But in the face of her, he had long since crossed his own limits. Tonight, it was beyond absurd and he could not control himself.
His heart sank as his left hand squeezed tightly at his side. Withdrawing a small porcelain bottle from his pocket, he placed it on the nightstand beside her bed and whispered, “This is a healing medicine that I frequently use on the battlefield. It works wonders for bruises and injuries.”
As he helped her dress, he couldn’t help but recall the marks he had left on her lustrous skin, marks of kisses and fingers that he had struggled to suppress.
She was taken aback by his thoughtfulness, surprised that he would go to such lengths to bring her healing medicine for such a trivial issue.
She smiled and cast a sidelong glance at him, “Be more careful next time, General.”
The mere mention of a “next time” caused Pei Ji’s face to redden. Fortunately, the darkness concealed his embarrassment.
He cleared his throat and turned to leave, “This is not a place where I should be. I must take my leave.”
But he didn’t reject her hints as dutifully as he did when they parted ways.
Li Zhi reached out and lightly tugged on his hem, stopping him in his tracks. She looked up at him with a pleading gaze and said, “Since General has brought medicine, could you also help me apply it? There are some places that I can’t reach.”
Suddenly, Pei Ji’s body stiffened and tensed up.
“Why not let your maid come, Your Highness?”
Those small marks and bruises were scattered across her body, mostly on her waist, back, chest, and thighs. Pei Ji hesitated, not daring to touch her again.
Li Zhi held onto his clothes, her voice wavering with emotion. “Chun Yue was frightened today, and I don’t want her to worry anymore. I can’t trust anyone else, and I can’t let them see what’s happened. Only you can help me, General.”
Pei Ji’s temples throbbed, his mind racing. He knew she was telling the truth. She had always been fiercely protective of her closest maid, Chun Yue.
The way she cared for the girl was unlike anything he had seen before, more like the way a sister or a lover would care for a dear one.
As for the other palace maids, they were all transferred there later. Given the trouble that Qian Yang had caused previously, it was difficult for Li Zhi to trust anyone else.
Nevertheless, Pei Ji couldn’t help but feel that her words were a deliberate attempt to entice him.
Despite this, Pei Ji did not feel any anger. His mind was too preoccupied with the tender moment they had just shared.
As she hesitated, Li Zhi slowly released her grip on Pei Ji’s clothes and turned her back towards him, removing her already sheer gauze dress.
Her long black hair was gently swept to one side, exposing a broad expanse of snow-white skin on her back.
Marked on her back were traces of kisses and finger imprints.
“General, please help me,” she whispered, her lips trembling.
Pei Ji fell silent for a moment, but eventually took the medicine and sat down beside her on the bed. Carefully, he applied the salve to her aching muscles, all the while trying to suppress the growing feelings in his heart.
The cool touch of the medicine spread over her skin, and his touch was so gentle that Li Zhi couldn’t help but straighten her back and let out a soft gasp.
Pei Ji’s movements halted abruptly, and he asked in a hoarse voice, “Does it hurt?”
Li Zhi turned her head, revealing the soft curve of her profile, and shook her head, saying, “It doesn’t hurt. Thank you, General.”
Pei Ji’s index finger became even more delicate as he continued to apply the medicine.
He couldn’t shake off the strange feeling in his heart.
When he left Linde Hall earlier, he overheard the Emperor’s intention to stay in the Chenghuan Palace, which made him instinctively anxious.
No matter what, today’s events were his fault, and he was deeply apologetic to both the Emperor and the Noble Consort. If the Emperor had caught them in the act, it would have been a relief for him, but he couldn’t bear to drag her down with him.
No matter what the reason for the incident was, he had failed to control himself and had offended her.
Fortunately, she later refused the Emperor.
He had only brought her a bottle of medicine, but she insisted on thanking him. It didn’t make sense to him.
He knew she was a woman of great depth and every word she spoke had an ulterior motive, yet he found himself unable to resist her.
Despite the thin layer of medicine between his fingers and her skin, he could feel the heat and softness of her flesh.
In the darkness, his throat moved silently, and his blood gathered in his lower belly. It was as if the drug had taken over him once again, making his movements a little frantic.
After hastily applying the medicine to her back, he took a piece of gauze robe and draped it over her shoulders.
In his haste, he reached behind her and accidentally touched a certain part of her body.
Li Zhi shuddered all over and instinctively grabbed his hand. When she turned her head, she met his increasingly intense gaze.
Pei Ji was like a man under a spell, his gaze suddenly deepened. He leaned down slightly and kissed her passionately on the lips he had already tasted countless times tonight.
Li Zhi surrendered to his gentle touch, allowing herself to be held by him. Her body, already weak and weary, leaned against his strong chest, taking in his scent and warmth.
After a while, he suddenly noticed a spot on her shoulder where he had applied ointment earlier, and a pang of guilt hit him. He quickly released her, as if he had been caught doing something inappropriate.
Li Zhi, sensing his unease, slowly gathered her collar and composed herself, avoiding his gaze.
He cursed himself inwardly, feeling guilty for causing her any discomfort. He pressed his forehead in frustration and said in a low voice, “Apply the medicine two more times tomorrow. It should be all right by the day after tomorrow.”
He turned around abruptly, opened the window, and checked if anyone was watching. Then, he left in a hurry, hoping to escape from his own complicated emotions.
In the silence of the room, Li Zhi applied more ointment to her chest.
The next day was a day of rest for the officials, and the Emperor had no court affairs to attend to.
Early in the morning, Li Jing Ye went to the Chang’an Hall to pay his respects to the Empress Dowager, and he later recounted the events of the previous night.
At first, she was able to remain composed, but eventually her patience ran out, and she exploded in anger. She not only threw two porcelain vases on her desk, but also demanded that Li Jing Ye be sent away.
Li Jing Ye was also stubborn, and in the face of his mother’s anger and sorrow, he coldly declared, “I am still your son.” He then turned and left in a huff.
It was said that everyone in the palace knew that the Empress Dowager had a preference for her younger son, and that this incident was related to Prince Rui being sent to the border to experience hardship.
However, Li Zhi understood that there were probably other matters, perhaps even regarding the princess, that had contributed to his mother’s outburst.
The Empress Dowager was reeling from the sudden turn of events involving her children. Li Jing Ye’s decision to send her son to the border and marry her daughter off to Zhong Hao only added insult to injury.
And the incidents involving these two individuals were all coincidentally related to the Noble Consort.
Li Zhi couldn’t help but chuckle to herself. Despite having done nothing wrong, trouble always seemed to find a way to her doorstep.
The Empress Dowager couldn’t solely blame Li Jing Ye for everything. But since the son and daughter were so dear to her heart, he could only vent her anger on this powerless concubine.
Li Zhi cautioned the people of Chenghuan Palace to be wary and not venture out unnecessarily.
At night, Li Zhi sat on her bed reading two new novels by the light of a flickering candle.
These novels depicted young maidens and learned scholars pledging themselves to each other for life, only to be betrayed in the end, or tales of scholars encountering malevolent spirits on their nocturnal wanderings.
Li Zhi had initially read these novels to familiarize herself with the written language of Great Wei, but as she read on, she couldn’t help but snort at the melodramatic and improbable plotlines.
These folk tales that appeared to be romantic and heartwarming seemed to be admonishing men not to let beauty lead them astray, and to avoid being lost in a daze. For women, it seemed to tell them that men in the world were all lecherous and their fickleness was innate, and as women, they must accept and learn to let go to live in peace.
She found it all absurd.
It was true that men were innately lascivious and that women needed to let go. But why should they have to accept it?
However, when she thought about being trapped by Li Jing Ye now, she had no choice but to temporarily accept it. The sneer on her lips gradually turned into self-mockery.
She was afraid that she would one day become one of the many women in this era who passively accepted their fate.
When Chun Yue entered the room, she saw her lost and confused expression, and her heart felt a little sad.
Closing the door behind her, Chun Yue approached Li Zhi and whispered, “Don’t worry, Miss. His Majesty won’t come tonight. The doors to the back palace have been sealed shut, and he is resting in the Zichen Hall.”
She thought Li Zhi was worried about Li Jing Ye coming at night.
Li Zhi, who had momentarily drifted into her thoughts, regained her composure at Chun Yue’s words. “That’s good,” she said quietly.
Chun Yue guessed that Li Jing Ye had had a heated disagreement with the Empress Dowager and was probably in a foul mood. It was better if he kept to himself, which was undoubtedly Li Zhi’s preference as well.
Relieved by Li Zhi’s relaxed demeanor, Chun Yue went on to share the day’s scandalous news. “They say that everyone in the Princess’s palace was beaten to death today. Not one was spared.”
The news caused Li Zhi to frown in concern. “What are people in the palace saying?”
“They’re saying that the Princess incurred the Emperor’s wrath by openly defying the matter about Prince Rui being sent to the border. The Emperor then punished everyone in the Princess’s palace who had encouraged her impertinence.”
Li Zhi nodded. “I never expected the Worthy Consort to be so decisive in her actions.” It was almost cruel to a fault.
She had always thought of the Worthy Consort as someone who was indifferent and apathetic to everything. But this incident came as a surprise to her.
She clearly remembered Li Jing Ye’s words from yesterday. Those who were not involved in the incident of Li Ling Yue drugging someone could be sent to the Yeting Palace, but the Worthy Consort had them all beaten to death.
There were over ten palace maids and eunuchs in the Princess’s palace, and not a single one leaked any news until the incident was discovered. It was clear that very few people knew about it. So, why did the Worthy Consort act in such a way? Was she afraid that the others would leak the news or did she have some other personal grudge against the Princess?
She couldn’t help but harbor some doubts in her heart.
<Previous Chapter<Table of Contents>Next Chapter>