Chapter Fifteen Turn to the better
The dusk was hazy, and the autumn bamboo whispered in the evening breeze.
Zhao Xi’s wounds from caning were scabbed; Zhou Yi patted him and went back to his duties.
“Lord, the fastest way to get the person out of jail is to attack the prison.”
Zhao Yuan raised his eyes to look at him, and Zhou Yi hurriedly said, “I will definitely be able to do it without anyone noticing. Please rest assured.”
“The next best thing.“ Zhao Yuan left the chess game he was playing in front of the window, turned around and said, “Luan Yiwei isn’t to be reckoned with. I don’t know how much trouble will follow. If we get him out this way, he won’t be able to hide in the residence anymore. Where can he go? Continue to stay in a dark place after leaving the prison?”
Zhou Yi opened his mouth and couldn’t object.
“We’re not at the end of the line yet. The one in the palace hasn’t made up his mind yet, so let’s wait a little. If his path is cleared and he comes out with grace, he will be able to live the rest of his life without hiding.” After a pause, Zhao Yuan said: “if something happens, we’ll attack the prison.”
“Lord, I’m afraid that when the decree comes, it will be too late!” Zhou Yi said anxiously, “If His Majesty decides to kill him, before the execution, the Luan Yiwei will send additional manpower to the prison to prevent the attack on the death row. It is their usual practice. Then it will be several times more difficult to act without being exposed.”
He just said it would be more difficult to act without being exposed; he didn’t say it would be impossible to get the person out.
If they broke Li Yi out of prison now, there would be dark days awaiting him; and if they broke him out after the decree was issued, there would be the same dark days. The difference was that Zhao Yuan took the risk in exchange for his path being cleared by the emperor and the possibility of being free from now on.
Although this hope was only fifty-fifty, it was a chance too hard to come by, so Zhao Yuan made a decision almost immediately – to gamble.
If he lost, it was his own risk; if he won, it was Li Yi’s freedom.
Zhou Yi saw that Zhao Yuan remained unmoved. Knowing his decision, he couldn’t help but say hurriedly, “Lord, please think twice!”
It’s not that he, Zhou Yi, was afraid of attacking the prison this way. It was just that once the emperor’s Luan Yiwei was explicitly summoned, although Su Wang was not afraid of the emperor who had no troops in the palace, there were other wangs and civil and military officials watching and they were also leading the troops.
Once the regent publicly broke up with the emperor, the first consequence of the change in position would be that the wangs would attack him together, and many of the court officials would stand in opposition against him. The situation in the Great Cheng that had just stabilized would plunge into turmoil again. Once the country was torn apart, those who started it would lose their own country.
It’s not that Zhou Yi didn’t dare to help his lord, but the time was not right and the name was not right. It would be extremely difficult to accomplish anything at that time. First, he would have to deal with all the wangs. How many troops would be lost! And then hundreds of officials would be implicated; there would be bloodshed and many talents gone.
“Lord.” He didn’t believe that Zhao Yuan didn’t know this. Why was he taking such a big risk?
“No need to say more.” Zhao Yuan picked up a chess piece and settled it on the ebony mica board.
“If His Majesty makes a decision, he will let me know first. After Luan Yiwei gets the order, they will prepare the documents and arrange manpower according to the usual procedures. There will be time in the middle. If we prepare properly beforehand, it won’t be impossible to escape unscathed.”
Zhao Yuan said it with certainty. Zhou Yi’s face sank; he knew his lord was determined to take the risk.
In Ning’an Palace, floating ashes of burning incense fell and curled.
At the top of the main hall sat a beautiful woman in a stone green coat and a diaphanous horse face skirt. She was still in her prime, but her dress and her hair simply gathered in a bun made her look older.
After a few days, when he had almost finished thinking about it, the young emperor mentioned the late emperor’s decree to the Empress Dowager.
“You can’t let the tiger return to the mountain.”
Shen Zhi’s face was calm and her tone was resolute.
Zhao Heng felt a little irritated. He hadn’t yet said the pros and cons. The Empress Dowager opened her mouth without asking what he meant first and just decided everything in one breath.
To put it more seriously, this was the harem doing politics.
“Mother, I know what you mean. Killing is a natural solution but it is not without consequences. The Zhao family comes from Southern Yunnan and is not fully accepted by the established families of the Central Plains. To set the lineage right, to gain the support of the world’s scholars, to have all the talents at my disposal, the first thing is to create a stable reputation of great righteousness…”
Zhao Heng took it apart and discussed it with the Empress Dowager, but Shen Zhi didn’t finish listening. She interrupted the emperor and said, “How can Your Majesty be so soft-hearted! If we, widow and orphans, don’t stand firm and cleanse the remnants of the previous dynasty, how will others be willing to submit to us when they see this? There are tigers in the mountains. How dare you, as an elder brother, send your young brother and Aijia (empress dowager talking of herself) into the tiger’s mouth out of fear of criticism from the court?”
Zhao Heng had a headache. He said so much patiently, but his mother couldn’t hear a word.
The emperor was frozen for a while and sat there rigid and silent.
Shen Zhi asked someone to hold her young son. Zhao Yu, who was six years old, already more or less understood something and was frightened when he felt the unusual atmosphere in the hall.
Shen Zhi hugged her youngest child and wept with anger.
Zhao Heng had nothing to say, so he made an excuse of dealing with political affairs and left Ning’an Palace.
As soon as the emperor left, Shen Zhi said to the palace lady Shi: “The eldest can’t help his mother.”
After listening to these words, not only the palace lady Shi but all the attendants on duty, both inside and outside, kept their heads down and their eyes and noses to the ground.
Zhao Heng returned to Sizheng Hall and saw that Wei Che was already waiting outside. He had gotten the call and came to receive his decree.
After sending everyone away, Zhao Heng felt a little sad.
He wasn’t close with his mother. He was originally raised by his grandmother. When he was three years old, the old princess was gone. The late emperor directly set a courtyard for him and invited people to educate him; he himself also often supervised Zhao Heng’s studies. Zhao Heng didn’t dare to slacken for a day. It wasn’t until he was in his early teens that the emperor saw him already being qualified enough and got slightly reassured.
His younger brother Zhao Yu was different. He had been growing beside his mother since he was a baby.
Now that he encountered a difficult situation, his mother, for one thing, did not trust him as her eldest son, and for another, she did not relieve him of his difficulties, but instead was eager to make decisions and protect her youngest son in her arms.
The Emperor’s difficult family affairs were the difficult affairs of the state.
It was impossible to get the support of his mother at this time; Zhao Heng could only rely on himself. He turned to Wei Che: “If I leave these people alive, can Zitong be sure to pull out all the remaining minions? I want to hear the truth.”
“This subject dares to guarantee that there will be no resurgence.”
“Okay, I believe you. ”
Zhao Heng beckoned the imperial messenger in, “Call for the regent to enter the palace, I have a decree to be drawn up with him.”
Before Wei Che retreated, Zhao Heng couldn’t help asking, “Do you think the Empress Dowager thought about this matter thoroughly, or did the regent think about it thoroughly?”
The emperor clearly fell in favor of the regent in the end and would ask this because the Son of Heaven was still young, and decisions concerning the fate of the country weighed like a thousand pounds on him.
Wei Che was as clear-eyed as a mirror and said without hesitation: “I only heard the Prince Regent’s, not the Empress Dowager Regent’s.”
Zhao Heng’s eyes lit up and he waved him out.