At the Noble Consort’s Feet Chapter 94

Chapter 94 Bored

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When the fourteenth day of the eighth lunar month arrived, Chang’an was filled with a bustling crowd, as lively as during a festive season.

Over the past two days, envoys from different nations had been arriving in the city. They were all waiting for the fifteenth day to enter the palace and offer their gifts to the Emperor of Great Wei. The common people were also overjoyed as the big day approached. The vendors in the eastern and western markets were working tirelessly, coming up with creative ways to make more money during the Emperor’s birthday festivities.

The Daming Palace was livelier than ever before.

The reason was clear. In the last few months, several newcomers had joined. These young and inexperienced ladies were in their prime, full of innocence and beauty. Since their recent arrival in the palace, they all desired to showcase their singing and dancing skills at the Zhongqiu Festival banquet, aiming to dazzle the Emperor just as Noble Consort Zhong did last year.

For two whole weeks, the melodies and graceful movements from the music hall filled the air from morning till night. Near Qinghui Pavilion, one could spot the ladies practicing their routines with utmost focus and enthusiasm, eagerly awaiting their moment to shine.

However, as his birthday drew near, Li Jing Ye remained devoid of any joy. Instead, his mood grew darker day by day.

More than two months had passed since the incident involving Du Heng, and the court officials, realizing their advice fell on deaf ears, gradually stopped persisting with their pleas. Observing this change, and upon the earnest requests of many ministers, Li Jing Ye agreed to resume the daily morning court assemblies.

But just a few days after the court meetings resumed, the officials started discussing another important matter—the succession to the throne.

He had only one legitimate son, whom he cherished dearly, but the matter of establishing an heir was crucial. After all, behind the late Pure Consort Xiao, there was the influential clan of Xiao Ling Fu. If he were to crown this only son too early, it might actually become a threat.

It had been almost half a year, but none of the women in the palace had reported being pregnant. He felt anxious and had to brush off the court officials’ advice by saying that he was still in his prime and could postpone the matter for now.

However, some of the censors were not easily appeased. They brought up the Late Emperor and spoke out loud that when the Emperor’s first son was born, he had been crowned as the Crown Prince, and his succession had made the country stable for over twenty years. Now, he had been the Emperor for seven years, and yet the position of the Crown Prince was still vacant. They felt that it was a shame to the ancestors of Great Wei.

He was furious, but he had to hold back his anger because of the late Emperor’s reputation. He ordered the court officials to discuss the matter.

Unexpectedly, except for Xiao Ling Fu and two or three others who argued that the country was peaceful and stable, and it was unnecessary to rush, many officials insisted that the matter of the heir should be settled as soon as possible. Some even suggested that the young prince was not experienced enough, and they should appoint Li Jing Hui, the Prince Rui, as the Crown Prince instead!

They almost treated him as if he were an old man on his deathbed, and that a slight mistake would bring an end to his reign, and the throne must be handed over to the Sixth Prince, who was almost his age!

This was too ridiculous for him to endure, so he scolded those few people in front of everyone before storming out in anger.

The throne and the country were inherited from his predecessor, passed down only to his own children and grandchildren. No one else, not even his own brothers, should have the audacity to desire them!


It had been so long, and still he had only one child. In previous years there were reasons for this, but what about these past few months?

Was it really his fate to be like this?

That night, the newly arrived Lady Feng had been called upon to attend to him in bed. She had only been in the palace for two weeks.

Lady Feng was the daughter of a small official from the eastern capital, Luoyang. Although she was not a stunning beauty, she had a lively personality and her almond-shaped eyes were round and lovely. Sometimes she appeared pure and innocent, and other times, she was charming, exuding a different kind of allure.

Li Jing Ye had been initially drawn to her by her eyes and had summoned her to attend to him for three consecutive days. However, when he saw her again today, he suddenly felt bored and uninterested.

He spent the past few months wandering among the palace’s beauties almost every day, except for his monthly solitary confinement.

At first, the new faces could still spark some novelty in his heart, prompting him to chat and flirt with them patiently.

However, after a month or two, the novelty faded away, leaving only weariness and boredom.

These young and delicate women were like a bunch of blooming flowers, appearing different in color and shape but ultimately just one of many in the garden, each with its own charm but not worth stopping to admire.

In this world, there was only one delicate flower he wanted to cultivate personally in the palace.

But unfortunately, on that precious flower he had cultivated himself, there were the sharpest thorns, keeping him from getting too close.

“Your Majesty,” Lady Feng Feng knelt halfway beside the Emperor, softly reminding him with a wine cup and medicine in her hand, “It’s time to take the medicine.”

Li Jing Ye looked away from her hopeful eyes and took the medicine. He mixed it with wine, closed his eyes, and meditated. Then he said, “It’s late, you can go now.”

Lady Feng looked worried and asked, “Did I do something wrong, Your Majesty?”

Li Jing Ye explained patiently, “I just want to be alone today.”

He called out to Yuan Shi, “Send Lady Feng back.”

Two eunuchs came in and respectfully bowed to Lady Feng.

Lady Feng had to leave, feeling reluctant.

He Yuan Shi asked, “Do you want to summon other concubines over?”

After taking the medicine, Li Jing Ye’s face turned slightly red. In his mind, there seemed to be Li Zhi’s figure.

Li Jing Ye sighed and said, “Never mind, I have to get up early tomorrow for Qianqiu Festival. I should rest now.”

He Yuan Shi helped him lie down and turned off the lights.

Today was the Qianqiu Festival, celebrated on the fifteenth day of the eighth lunar month.

The former dynasty and the imperial harem were both very busy.

Li Jing Ye and his officials were in Xuanzheng Hall, receiving foreign envoys. Meanwhile, the palace servants were preparing for the night banquet in Linde Hall.

Only Li Zhi, alone in Chenghuan Palace, had no trace of joy in her heart.

She didn’t know why, but since she woke up this morning, her heart had been pounding as if something important was going to happen.

“Miss, which dress do you want to wear today?” Chun Yue asked as she took out several luxurious and beautiful dresses that had just arrived from the Imperial Wardrobe Bureau and laid them out on the couch.

Although Emperor Li Jing Ye no longer visited Chenghuan Palace, everything was still meticulously maintained, just as it was before. Li Zhi oversaw any rare treasures brought from all over the country.

Li Zhi touched her fast-beating heart and looked at the clothes on the bed. She shook her head and said, “They’re too bright and noticeable, not the right choice.”

There must be many women today trying to catch Li Jing Ye’s attention, dressed in vibrant, attention-grabbing clothes. Although she was still the Noble Consort, she didn’t want to attract attention at all.

Chun Yue looked at the dresses and slowly pictured how Li Zhi would look stunning in them. She was excited about it, but also agreed that they were too much, so she reluctantly put them away.

“This one is good enough.” Li Zhi got up and chose a simple lotus-colored dress from the closet.

Chun Yue smoothed out the wrinkles in the dress and laid it out on the incense burner. Soon, a light fragrance filled the air.

In the evening, the palace was illuminated by thousands of lanterns, making it as bright as daylight.

In Linde Hall, most of the guests had arrived, talking and laughing in small groups. Occasionally, a few noble people entered, causing everyone to stand up and bow.

When Li Zhi arrived, she met several other beautiful women and their handmaidens. Together, they entered the hall, and though they attracted many stares, the attention wasn’t solely focused on Li Zhi like it used to be.

After she took her seat, she instinctively looked towards the royal relatives across from her, and as expected, met eyes with Pei Ji.

Their gazes touched briefly and then moved away, looking very natural and unnoticed by others. However, both of them were reminded of something at the same time…

During last year’s Qianqiu Festival, she had performed a dance for the court, and he had been drugged by the princess. They had crossed the forbidden boundary between the imperial harem and court officials for the first time, in the most secluded corner of Linde Hall.

Li Zhi remembered Pei Ji’s restraint and inexperience at that time, and his now familiar and strong-willed, yet demanding demeanor. The only thing that hadn’t changed was his ability to maintain boundaries and never make her feel uncomfortable.

She suddenly wondered if she could entrust her life to such a husband and feel completely at ease.

She silently took a sip of clear wine and then chuckled to herself. She didn’t know which young lady would marry him after she was gone. With only a limited amount of time left, she felt a bit sad to leave.

On the opposite side, Pei Ji hung his head with a distracted look. Even his usually emotionless face betrayed a faint smile that he couldn’t resist.

A year ago, he despised that woman from the bottom of his heart because of her involvement with his two cousins. He never thought that he would easily fall into her trap, step by step, until now, he had completely forgotten the pain and guilt.

“Third Son,” the Grand Princess beside him saw her son’s demeanor and was surprised. “What’s going on with you?”

Others couldn’t see it, but as a mother, she knew her son the best. She had just seen that fleeting smile, which clearly looked like he remembered something extremely precious and joyful. She didn’t know what kind of scene today had reminded her usually serious and unsmiling son of.

Pei Ji’s hand on the table clenched, but he didn’t show any change in his expression. He simply returned to his usual cool and self-controlled demeanor and said to the Grand Princess, “Nothing, perhaps I was just preoccupied with official duties these past few days.”

His words make sense.

Because of the upcoming festival, he had to personally arrange the city defenses in Chang’an, just like he always did. But this year, he also had more work to do from the Ministry of War, which almost doubled his usual workload. He had been running around all day and reading official documents at night for several days in a row, which was certainly very tiring.

The Grand Princess took another look at him before nodding and looking away.

Soon after, the Empress Dowager and the Emperor arrived together.

The Empress Dowager’s body was still weak. She got off the sedan chair and walked very slowly on the way to the high platform’s couch. She had to stop and catch her breath every few steps.

Li Jing Ye walked beside her, looking gentle and calm. He did not seem unusual, but he did not personally extend a helping hand to her as he had done before. Instead, he let two palace ladies half-support the Empress Dowager as they walked up the long stairs.

Li Zhi thought that if it were not for the many visitors today, including relatives, court officials, and foreign envoys, he might have simply asked the Empress Dowager to stay in the Chang’an Hall and not come.

After the Empress Dowager finally sat down with much difficulty, Li Jing Ye also sat down in the middle and gestured for everyone to stand up.

He glanced indifferently at the people on both sides, paused briefly when he saw Li Zhi, then looked away. He spoke a few words and then ordered the music and dance performances to start.

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