The Regent’s Secret Chapter 42

Chapter 42

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On a cool autumn night in the Eastern Palace, dewdrops fell on the golden steps as Li Yi gazed at the new moon, tossing and turning. He recalled Zhao Shen teasing him earlier in the day about “horses, hounds and women*”, and felt a sudden heat rush through him.
* referring to the decadent and indulgent lifestyle of wealthy and powerful people who engage in all kinds of worldly pleasures

Despite only being three years older than Li Yi, Zhao Shen was already mature beyond his years, perhaps due to the experiences he had as a prince. Li Yi couldn’t help but feel like Zhao Shen was much older than him.

“’Horses, hounds and women’, if there really were a dog like that…”

Suddenly, Li Yi thought of the scene at the Emerald Wave Pool, the youth under the waterfall, perfect lines drawn like a painting, with power hidden within him like a beast. The warmth of his body and skin pressed against Li Yi’s.

Stop, as Li Yi thought about his awkwardness at that time, he felt like he was regressing the more he lived. From a baby to becoming the crown grandson, he had almost truly gone back to his childhood in order to avoid being noticed as unusual.

Li Yi had no idea what teenage love was like. In his past life, he had devoted all his time to painting and calligraphy. After entering art school, he had been busy assimilating Western art into his work. He appreciated beauty to his very core, but when it came to love, he was completely ignorant.

As someone who had devoted his entire life and passion to painting, Li Yi found that in his second life, his existence had become richer with more colors and more people, due to his change in status.

Li Yi began counting down the days until he could go to Pan Palace. He felt joyous at the thought of it, but felt frustrated at the thought of not being able to see Zhao Shen. The crescent moon kept pulling at his heartstrings, reminding him that the Shizi would eventually return to Dian Nan.

Li Yi sighed, knowing that he couldn’t hold onto Zhao Shen forever. If the Shizi was only grateful for his help a few times, what could Li Yi do? He wasn’t a true ancient person, and he certainly didn’t want to take advantage of Zhao Shen’s kindness.

If he did, he would be no different from the likes of Qin Wang Shizi, who bullied others with his status. Li Yi had resolved not to worry about it any longer. He had never felt this way about anyone before and just wanted to treat Zhao Shen well. If he couldn’t change certain things, then he would focus on making sure that Zhao Shen returned safely to Dian Nan.

Without realizing it, Li Yi’s days in Pan Palace had passed into winter. As the Lunar New Year approached, Li Yi’s birthday was also near. 

As he had visited his classmates’ homes and villas throughout the year, he informed the Crown Prince of his desire to invite his classmates to the palace as a form of gratitude.

The Crown Prince smiled and said, “It’s rare for you to be willing to do this. Winter can be dull, so let’s make the most of it and have a good time.”

On the auspicious day, the Eastern Palace was adorned with lanterns and decorations. Although it was not as grand as the Crown Prince’s birthday celebration, it was still prepared in a very festive manner.

The Crown Prince specifically instructed the palace’s drum and bell team to perform on stage. Although they only prepared some popular and fancy songs and plays, they were all the kind that young people enjoyed.

At the auspicious hour in the morning, Li Yi wore his imperial robes and sat on the throne with resplendent glory. His red robe and colorful attire shone brightly, making him look like a heavenly being seated under the golden dragon coffered ceiling of the main hall. His imposing demeanor was different from the past.

 Zhao Yuan looked at the person on the throne and sincerely bowed down at the steps. 

After the formal congratulatory ceremony for the Crown Grandson, everyone changed into their regular clothes, and the day’s celebration began. 

Li Yi also changed into a bright yellow dragon robe and started a grand feast at noon. After that, the rest of the day was spent watching plays, and everyone finally relaxed. 

During the performance, Li Yi finally got some free time and had Ping An call for Zhao Shen to come out. The two met secretly in the alley behind the theater.

Upon seeing each other, Zhao Yuan said, “Your Highness looks stunning today, like a shining jade, it’s hard to take your eyes off.”

Li Yi blushed at the praise, though he said, “Nowadays, the Shizi’s bureaucratic language has improved a lot, I no longer need to teach him,” he was actually quite pleased to hear the compliments.

Zhao Yuan touched his nose and replied, “Mm, without diligent practice, I’m afraid I’ll still fall behind, so I still have to trouble Your Highness.”

“I agreed to take you to see Yan Zhiliu, you must hurry up. We still need to slip back to the banquet later,” Li Yi reminded him.

Li Yi quickly brought up the “business” and the two of them went to the stable. 

The Yan Zhiliu occupied a stable alone. While the imperial blood sweat horse, with a thick neck and a high nose, was not very tall, Zhao Yuan’s eyes lit up as he looked at Li Yi inquiringly, and the latter nodded gently.

Zhao Yuan cautiously approached the horse, and Yan Zhiliu breathed heavily and stepped back a few steps, but Li Yi quickly approached to appease the horse, making a soft hissing sound. After a while, the Yan Zhiliu calmed down and stretched its neck to get close to Zhao Yuan.

Li Yi couldn’t help but feel a little sour, “You’ve only spent a little time with Yan Zhiliu and it’s already submissive to you. The Bai Yucong still has to be led by you even now. Even if I ride it, it won’t run beyond your sight.”

Zhao Yuan caressed the Yan Zhiliu that kept rubbing against him with its head and smiled at Li Yi, “I am just the crown grandson’s horse servant. As a horse servant, how can I not be good at taming horses?”

Li Yi heard the teasing in his words and couldn’t help but feel a little resentful towards Zhao Yuan for always bullying him in private. He wanted to restore his dignity and looked up, “Since you’ve recognized me as your master, why have you never let me ride you?”

Zhao Yuan was a little surprised at his words, looked at Li Yi’s expression, and guessed his thoughts. He released the Yan Zhiliu and took a step closer to Li Yi, with the sunset shining behind him, and his handsome face hidden in the shadows, only his eyes shone like a beast, making Li Yi dare not move.

It wasn’t until Zhao Yuan got close to him that his figure completely covered Li Yi’s, and he pretended to lower his body, asking in Li Yi’s ear, “Your Highness, are you sure you want to ride me?”

Li Yi wanted to stubbornly nod his head, but Zhao Yuan reached out and pinched his chin, making a clicking sound with his mouth and raising another hand to shake a finger in front of Li Yi’s face, his face full of disapproval.

“Your Highness, you’ve forgotten again, you have to listen to me.”

Li Yi felt like he was cursed and involuntarily moved. This was the second time Zhao Yuan had made him obey.

Li Yi deeply hated himself for being inferior even to Yan Zhiliu. He looked resentfully at Zhao Yuan but was defeated in less than a moment, so he had to listen obediently again.

As they left the stable, they saw a girl around eleven or twelve years old leading someone towards them. The person leading the group wore a golden brocade mandarin collar with embroidered peonies, and their bright yellow skirt had patterns of sea dragons and clouds, swaying as they walked. 

Zhao Yuan immediately knew that this was a princess.

As expected, when the girl saw Li Yi, she laughed and said, “Since the classmates of the star were celebrating his birthday today, it’s not good to go to the front and drink. I didn’t expect His Highness to hide here.”

Li Yi didn’t expect to be caught, so he changed the subject awkwardly, “Is Aunt Sixteen also here to ride a horse?”

The princess nodded and was about to leave, but she caught sight of Zhao Yuan and became suspicious, wanting to confirm his identity.

“Is this Dian Nan Wang Shizi?” she asked.

While Li Yi confirmed his identity, he felt something was not right. Princess Sixteen was the younger sister of Qin Wang and respected elder female of Guanghua Emperor. Because of their age, Li Di and she often visited each other. Li Di was said to be her nephew, but he was actually as close to her as a real brother.

Since the princess recognized Zhao Shen at a glance, it was likely that the Qin Wang Shizi had mentioned him in front of her before.

Li Yi was thinking of finding a chance to leave with his people quickly, but the princess spoke up already.

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