Chapter Seventeen Crisis on all sides
Five-coloured clouds had risen, sunlight was shining on the glazed tiles and the water was bubbling under the Jade Water Bridge.
The first lady of Dingguo had entered the palace courtyard in great makeup and was heading straight for Ning’an Palace.
There was ambergris incense burning; the smoke was heavy, and the main hall of Ning’an Palace was already hazy with it, looking even more solemn.
“Niangniang (addressing the empress), what is the urgency of summoning this servant here?”
Lady Dingguo, Huo-shi, was the wife of Shen Zhi’s half-brother, Shen Yin. Empress Dowager Shen asked someone to deliver a letter to her house last night. Huo-shi was so anxious that she came to ask what happened.
The servants all retreated to the outer room, and there were only two people left in the hall.
“His Majesty has captured a lot of the remnants of the previous dynasty, and among them there was the only remaining bloodline of Prince Chongde,” Shen Zhi said angrily, her words gloomy.
Lady Dingguo was taken aback when she heard it, “The abolished grandson of the emperor, Li Yi?! Is he not dead yet?”
“More than not dead. His Majesty already decreed his will to show mercy to these remnants of the previous dynasty. There is no need for them to hide anymore.”
“Niangniang! This…” Huo-shi didn’t dare to speak against the emperor, but her expression was very honest.
“You also think the emperor is not doing well in this matter, don’t you?” Shen Zhi sighed and said, “Heng Er is all grown up so he refuses to listen to me anymore. How can he blatantly let the tiger return to the mountain like this?”
As a matter of fact, Huo-shi was not an ordinary woman. First steadying her mind, she comforted: “Niangniang doesn’t need to worry too much. His Majesty is still young and might be unaware of it.” After thinking for a while, she continued: “Has Niangniang ever asked the regent for an idea? Perhaps, there can be a remedy.”
As soon as she mentioned it, Shen Zhi became even more angry, “His Majesty asked him for an idea, which was to urge His Majesty to draw up a decree!”
“How can it be so? Su Wang was always very proficient in political affairs, how could he support His Majesty’s idea this time?” Huo-shi was also quite surprised.
Shen Zhi didn’t say anything but twisted the Buddhist beads and looked at Lady Dingguo.
Huo-shi was agitated and said softly, “This one feels uneasy!”
Shen Zhi replied slowly: “I knew a long time ago I had to be on guard, but can you guard against a wolf? I am weaker than him now, but my status is a lot higher than his. Alas, I can’t do anything about it for a while, so we’ll see as we go.”
Huo-shi’s heart relaxed. Fortunately, the Empress Dowager didn’t intend to discuss how to deal with the regent, otherwise she really couldn’t handle it.
Shen Zhi continued: “I didn’t call you here for the regent. There are priorities, and we must first resolve the issue with the remnants of the previous dynasty. This is a first-class disaster that can shake the foundation of the society and the country. ”
To put it bluntly, Zhao Yuan was an internal problem, while Li Yi was an external problem. The internal conflict could be stabilized for the time being but the external problem needed to be solved to prevent the enemy from hurting them.
Huo-shi understood Shen Zhi’s thoughts and said, “With how this servant sees it, what Niangniang said is sensible. It is essential to think of a way to get rid of Li Yi. But now that His Majesty has issued a decree and released him, I wonder if Niangniang has any good ways?”
Cold light burst from Shen Zhi’s eyes, as she said, “It’s not necessarily a bad thing that he is released… You are outside and you can think of more ways to do it without anyone noticing than I can in the palace.”
Huo-shi was smart enough to understand what Shen Zhi meant immediately.
It was true. If people had bad luck, their lives were easily lost. There were those who got seriously ill, those who accidentally fell into the water and those whose homes caught fire; they all were easy to die.
That man was the remnant of the previous dynasty, what good luck could there be? He couldn’t even afford the holy grace given by His Majesty.
After returning to her residence, Huo-shi discussed the important matters with Dingguo Gong. Next day, the Gong’s residence sent out people to quietly inquire about Li Yi’s whereabouts.
Shen Yin, Dingguo Gong, was a man with military merits, and he was by no means a dandy.
Since the Zhao clan had long had a desire to dominate, the families for marriage were chosen accordingly. The Shen family was a prestigious clan in the Central Plains. Their ancestors later moved to Southern Yunnan to avoid the war. Although they lived in a corner for a hundred years, they always maintained a huge private army and a self-sufficient fortress.
Shen Yin’s army was the main branch, and he had made a lot of achievements in the east-west battles of the Southern Yunnan Royal Army.
The scouts of the Shen family were not just a bunch of idlers; of course Zhou Yi was not either.
The small courtyard on the outskirts of the capital arranged by Zhou Yi was originally very secure. In order to avoid people’s eyes and ears, on one hand, it had nothing to do with the Regent’s residence. On the other hand, it seemed very simple on the outside and the access seemed relaxed, but in fact it was rigorous. Moreover, Li Yi and Ping An had never been out of this house since they entered it. It should have been very safe.
But even though he wanted Li Yi to get on the cart as soon as possible when he was picked up that day, in that blink of an eye, he was still seen by a ‘cellmate’ who came out behind him.
Naturally, that man recognized Li Yi. When the Shen family contacted him, there was no need to use any tough methods. The Shen family was the maiden family of the current Empress Dowager. If they knocked on the door and asked politely, whether they were welcomed or not, the person being asked was just as likely to say everything.
It allowed them to follow the trail and then check the entry and exit records of carts and horses at several city gates that day; that gave them some more insights.
The Shen family, having received the news, worked intensively to trace the matter to the end, and the wangs had naturally heard about it.
As usual, Jing Wang was again in the company of his two brothers. The focus of these people was different from that of the Shen family, Zhao Yuan being the object of their worries.
“What is Zhao Yuan thinking?! This is letting the tiger return to the mountain!” Jing Wang was never the one to keep calm. He didn’t know what to think for a while, so he directly gathered his younger brothers in the residence.
Although Jing Wang didn’t admit it openly, he knew in his heart that Old Ning Wang never had many ideas, and Old Yan Wang was very clever. Now that everyone was at odds with Old Fifth, they were naturally in the same boat.
Sure enough, Ning Wang spoke first: “There must be a reason for this. One thing, when have you seen Old Fifth being compassionate and soft-hearted? His murderous intent is no worse than yours, second brother.”
Ning Wang spoke flatteringly to his face, but in his heart he thought that Jing Wang’s bad temper should be called reckless.
Yan Wang also said from the side: “Fifth brother never leaves anything to chance, but now he has left this kind of trouble to state affairs, which is quite unlike him.”
“Let’s not talk about suspicions, let’s talk about reality.” Jing Wang was really uneasy.
“Second brother, the reason for us pondering about it is that there are suspicions, so we have to sort them out and figure out a clue. Your younger brothers are thinking and deducing here.”
Ning Wang comforted Jing Wang and then turned to Yan Wang, “Eighth brother, I still find something strange here. The present emperor handled this matter properly, but Zhao Yuan was very wrong.”
Jing Wang was confused by Ning Wang again. Didn’t the two of them do the same thing? Both their seals were stamped on the same decree.
“What do you mean, third brother?”
Yan Wang explained to Ning Wang: “Third brother means that the present emperor and Su Wang are ‘in different positions and seek different things for themselves’. If His Majesty does this thing, it is out of righteousness and clarity. But Fifth Brother is not the Son of Heaven, he is the regent. If the present emperor acted like a child, for the sake of the state, he should have played the role of a strict parent.
What is strange is that Fifth Brother never secretly sent someone to kill Li Yi, but let him out of prison alive. This simply implies to the world that His Majesty is not just acting but really wants to protect him.
You know that the other clansmen are just for show. Only this abolished grandson of the emperor is different. Killing Li Yi is for the welfare of the society.
When the man dies, the present emperor will look compassionate and the hearts of people will settle.”
“That’s what it means.” Ning Wang slapped the table with his hand, “If there is really any criticism from the court, he, Zhao Yuan, should take on this black pot. With all due respect, the late emperor left Old Fifth as the regent and gave him all this power, didn’t he just want him to carry this pot?”
Jing Wang completely figured it out at this time and in a rare moment of astuteness he said, “In this way, won’t it be possible to push all the blame on him? Old Fifth has a big heart. ”
“Hehe, second brother, you’ve got it now.” Ning Wang glanced at Yan Wang, and the two exchanged gazes in tacit understanding, “I only fear Old Fifth’s plans are not small either.”
“Oh, what is his plan?” Once the important matters had been put in front of him, Jing Wang was able to let go of his authority and ask questions without shame.
Ning Wang said: “First take advantage of the chaos, then take the opportunity to find a big mistake of the present emperor and finally take the top position.”
Jing Wang was a little shocked when he heard this and subconsciously said, “This is not possible.”
Yan Wang said from the side: “Why can’t it be possible? What a deep and clever plan, to be an oriole behind the mantis hunting a cicada.
What if Li Yi changes his mind three years later, just when it is time for the present emperor to start governing? At this time, Zhao Yuan will first lead his troops to quell the rebellion, and after three years of hard work and governance, he will be at the peak of his reputation in the dynasty.
With the present emperor making the big mistake of letting the tiger return to the mountain, won’t he be able to abolish the emperor and stand on his own?”
“This is not right. The present emperor’s decree is also stamped with his regent’s seal of authority. How can he push it all to the emperor?” Jing Wang cried out in incomprehension.
Ning Wang shook his head, barely restraining himself from calling Jing Wang stupid, “Oh my good brother, you really care about that. At that time, Zhao Yuan will be only ostensibly looking for a mistake made by the present emperor. This is a big iron-cast mistake. If you list three more years of carefully woven misdeeds, you can easily justify abolishing the unworthy emperor.
In addition, don’t forget that Zhao Yuan was different from others. There was no regent who would be the same as him in the previous history books. He was born together with the late emperor. In terms of bloodline, I am afraid his was purer than the present emperor’s.”
“Not one but many people mentioned Su Wang’s ascension to the throne that day. Second brother, haven’t you considered whether to support Zhao Yuan.” Wang Yan couldn’t help but remind him.
“F*ck, I should have known Old Fifth was hiding something. If he can sit in that seat, why can’t I? I’m older than him!
This guy must not be allowed to ascend to the throne.” Jing Wang said bitterly, “If that time comes, us brothers, not to mention the result, it’s a question if we can survive at all.”
“That’s the reason. This matter has to be prevented.
We must not give Zhao Yuan another opportunity to get bigger. It is necessary to cut down his power in the next three years. ”
“Elder brothers, let’s talk it over.”
After the three of them had reached a general conclusion in this discussion, they dispersed.
Ning Wang and Yan Wang came out together. The corridor was open and clear, so that anyone approaching could be seen easily, while those accompanying them were sent away.
“Eighth brother, what do you think?”
When Ning Wang suddenly said this, Yan Wang immediately picked up what he was talking about.
“Looking at second brother, unexpectedly, he was overestimating his own capabilities to take fifth brother’s place.”
Ning Wang laughed when he heard this, “Sure enough, it saves effort to talk to smart people. How about following your third brother in the future?”
Yan Wang also looked relaxed, “Third brother is joking, when did I stop following you? What is third brother’s idea? ”
“Sitting on a mountain watching a tiger fight. There is more than one tiger on this mountain.
Second brother and the two in the palace naturally want to win us over. Apart from them, would Zhao Yuan be happy if we turned to someone else and gave him a hard time? Since everyone wants us, let’s just follow behind and muddy the water, and naturally there will be many benefits to be gained.
The world is nothing but an empty shell. Today you come, tomorrow he sits, and those who sit at the top will guard the empty one and be deceived by those below.
It is better to get something real. What is real is the people, the money, the goods. The people are all fish and meat, and the meat-eaters seek them.”
“Brother makes sense. We have to be the real fisherman, let them fight to the death if they wish so. Now that it is the world under the Zhao’s rule, no matter who replaces whom, we brothers will be indispensable.
If we don’t take advantage of this to get more of the real things under the sky in our hands, then should we just give it to the Shen family’s foreign relatives and the future Empress’s family with no foundation?”
“Haha, eighth brother really knows how to say the things in the bottom of my heart.” Ning Wang rubbed his palms and laughed.
At this point, everyone recognized Zhao Yuan’s wolf’s ambition because of Li Yi’s affairs, but no one dared to act rashly for a while because of his power as the Regent.
On the other hand, Li Yi’s situation was very different. He was in a courtyard on the outskirts of the capital. It was autumn, with scattered flowers and leaves, and his eyes were full of murderous intent.