Yuanxi’s fifth year.
The eunuchs who served in Qianqing Palace arrived outside the Emperor’s chamber just before dawn, holding the court attire in their hands and waiting for His Majesty’s summon. Five years had passed since His Majesty’s enthronement, and he remained as benevolent, enlightened, diligent, and upright, truly the picture of a perfect monarch. It wasn’t an exaggeration to say that His Majesty was without blemish — save for a single aspect, that is, he had been on the throne for five years, yet he was without an empress.
In fact, it was not that His Majesty had never tried to get married, but all the ladies whom he had engaged with in the past all ended up dying in unfortunate circumstances. The first happened when His Majesty was still the Crown Prince. The late Emperor wanted to decree him a crown princess — as a result, the edict had not yet been delivered, but the prospective crown princess fell ill suddenly and soon passed away.
The late Emperor was very sorry for his eldest son, who had been living stranded among common people since childhood and remained single at his age. Thus, the late Emperor quickly chose another well-bred lady, only for fate to play another cruel hand. This time, the quasi-Crown Princess passed away before the wedding. The late Emperor still wanted to appoint yet another marriage, but His Majesty ended up refusing, claiming that he had no time for personal affairs before finishing his great cause. Moreover, although he and the lady had yet to legally marry, they were already a formally engaged couple — he further said. Therefore, out of consideration for his unwed wife, he wished to observe a one-year mourning for her, and thus couldn’t talk about another marriage in the meantime.
Seeing this, the late Emperor had no choice but to give up. But a year later, the confrontation between the Crown Prince faction and the Yang faction had gotten increasingly tense, and for this reason, Grand Senior Secretary Yang and Empress Dowager Yang did everything they could to prevent His Majesty from marrying a woman from a powerful family. His Majesty himself was busy with governmental affairs and had no attention to spare for private matters. Later, the Yang family was defeated, Senior Grand Secretary Yang was dismissed from office, and Empress Dowager Yang passed away from illness. Not too long after, the Second Prince colluded with a fake Taoist priest and presented a so-called immortality pill to the late Emperor, which ended up poisoning him to death.
The Yang family was thoroughly over by this incident. Following the vacancy of the throne, His Majesty ascended in accordance with the succession rule and the will of the people, changing the era name to Yuanxi. After that, His Highness Li Chengjing, as everyone wished, smoothly transformed from the perfect crown prince to the perfect emperor.
Five years of reign, and His Majesty had never made a single mistake. The only thing that was breaking the hearts of his courtiers was the fact that His Majesty’s inner palace was still empty and that he had yet to establish an empress. After the end of the mourning period for the late Emperor, the cabinet, on behalf of all subjects, stepped forward and implored His Majesty to open a palace draft. His Majesty gave his approval, and the Ministry of Rites promptly selected a reputable young miss of the right age with a clean family background and good character. As a result, before the official appointment, the girl fell into the water and drowned to death.
This time, even the cabinet had nothing to say. The bride-to-be always met unfortunate accidents before getting married, which froze Li Chengjing’s heart. He thought, maybe because he was born on the Dragon Boat Festival, he was destined to live a lonely life. That’s why his mother eventually lost her life because of giving birth to him, followed by the passing of his maternal grandparents. When he resumed his identity and returned to the palace, the Empress Dowager and the Emperor died one after another, his younger brother was imprisoned, and his stepmother ended up getting crazy. Looking around, there was not a single relative by his side.
Even a wife was no exception — whoever got engaged to him ended up losing their life.
Li Chengjing completely gave up marriage and put all his focus on governing the country. The court no longer dared to persuade him and had to let it go. Only the eunuchs serving by his side felt heartache whenever they saw His Majesty still processing memorials in the Imperial Study late into the night, alone, accompanied by just the flicker of lamps. However, no matter how much they wanted His Majesty to have company, the eunuchs dared not to make a decision on their own. Despite looking amiable, His Majesty in fact was the most decisive, and not one who tolerated his subordinate’s transgression.
Today, the eunuchs stood waiting outside the Qianqing Palace as usual, holding the complete set of imperial court attire in their hands. Since His Majesty was still the Crown Prince, he had never been absent or late for the morning court. There was never a need for his eunuchs to give a wake-up call, because His Majesty would get up on his own and call them when the time came — he was pretty much the epitome of self-discipline itself. The eunuchs, therefore, had no doubt that today’s routine would be the same. But to their puzzlement, it was now past the usual time, yet there was no sign of movement from His Majesty’s chamber.
The head eunuch started to get anxious. He never thought about the possibility of His Majesty oversleeping or forgetting today’s morning court, and the first thing that came to his mind was something had happened to His Majesty. Unable to contain his anxiety, the head eunuch stepped forward cautiously and made a light knock on the door, “Your Majesty, it’s time for the morning court.”
The head eunuch waited with a jumping heart, ready to break in if there was no response within a minute. Fortunately, only a few seconds later, a familiar voice called from inside, “Come in.”
The head eunuch heaved a sigh of relief and quickly led his subordinates into the chamber.
Li Chengjing’s face was the same as usual, handsome yet indifferent, with no signs of emotions whatsoever. He was a good-looking emperor, but something in him made others dare not to be less than respectful to him. Under the service of the eunuchs, Li Chengjing quickly changed into heavy red court attire. Once the regal cap was donned, he looked even more impressive and majestic.
As the eunuchs were busy putting on various accessories on his body, Li Chengjing’s mind couldn’t help but get distracted. Today was truly shameful for him. He woke up late and needed the reminder from the eunuchs to call him up, all because of a dream.
And not a normal dream either, as it was a truly unspeakable one.
Li Chengjing was an adult man in his prime, and a very healthy one at that. It was normal for him to occasionally have some wet dreams, but last night’s dream… how to say, it was a bit too realistic.
Hidden under layers of sleeves, Li Chengjing subconsciously rubbed his fingers, where the warm and fragrant sensation seemed to still linger on his fingertips. It was only last night that Li Chengjing learned what true charm is. Yesterday, he was busy processing memorials late into the night as usual. After he finally returned to his chamber and fell asleep, he unexpectedly found himself in an unfamiliar chamber and saw an unfamiliar woman.
Wants more chapters?