The Regent’s Secret Chapter 45

Chapter 45

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Zhao Xi led Li Yi into the room, turned around and was about to call the doctor. Li Yi originally had no problems and quickly said, “It’s not necessary. I just need to rest for a while.”

Zhao Xi then instructed someone to bring a soothing and calming soup and helped Li Yi take off his coat so that he could lean back comfortably.

Li Yi watched Zhao Xi busy around him and felt as if it was just yesterday when they were last together. After a while, the maids in the room had all left, leaving only the two of them. Li Yi couldn’t help but ask, “Gonggong, how did you become His Highness’s servant?”

Hearing this, Zhao Xi knew that he couldn’t avoid the question and had expected Li Yi to ask. He decided to face it head-on, saying, “My lord, please just call me by my name. It’s awkward for me to hear you call me ‘Gonggong’.”

As soon as Zhao Xi said this, the atmosphere between them changed. It was no longer as awkward as before.

Zhao Xi continued, “The late Emperor ordered me to serve His Highness well. I am only following orders.”

This statement was cleverly phrased to make it sound like the late Emperor had left him to serve Zhao Yuan, but in reality, it was just a casual remark made by the late Emperor. Nonetheless, Zhao Xi did not lie to Li Yi.

Li Yi did not sense anything unusual from what Zhao Xi said. He had some questions about the late Emperor that he wanted to ask, but couldn’t decide what to ask. After thinking for a while, he felt lost and didn’t know what to say.

After drinking a bowl of soothing soup, Li Yi asked softly, “How did the late Emperor pass away?”

The news of the Emperor’s death was not made clear to the public, only a few formal and dignified words were used to describe it. Moreover, Zhao Shen died suddenly of a serious illness, so the matter had to be kept confidential. Therefore, the official announcement was vague.

After thinking for a moment, Zhao Xi simply said, “His Majesty fell ill suddenly while on a military campaign, and passed away shortly after returning to the capital.”

Li Yi didn’t say anything more, and Zhao Xi quickly found an excuse to leave. He was afraid that if he stayed any longer, he might accidentally reveal some secrets.

The soothing soup really worked, and Li Yi fell asleep without realizing it. When he woke up, it was already dusk, and the room was lit by lamps. As he moved his arm, Zhao Yuan, who had been sitting in the hidden armchair, stood up and came to the side of Li Yi’s bed.

Li Yi was about to get up, but Zhao Yuan gently pressed him down and used his clearly defined fingers to adjust the thin quilt for him.

“Are you going to pay your respects to me now that you’re up? There’s no need.”

Li Yi replied, “Rituals cannot be abandoned.”

“I am not your student, Your Majesty.”

Li Yi had no response to this.

Zhao Yuan suddenly said, “If you have any questions about the late emperor in the future, just ask me directly. I know more than Zhao Xi.”

Li Yi thought to himself, “Even if you two are blood brothers, you wouldn’t be inseparable. How could you know more than the eunuchs who stick to you?” But since Zhao Yuan was the regent, whatever he said was final.

As the sky grew darker, Li Yi wondered, “Your Highness, why don’t you go ahead?”

“There is no banquet tonight, so everyone has already dispersed,” Zhao Yuan replied.

Li Yi was surprised. Only the noblewomen of the palace usually didn’t hold night banquets, as the palace gates were locked every night, and having too many people at a night banquet would compromise security. Therefore, night banquets were a rare exception, except for the Lantern Festival, Mid-Autumn Festival, and Emperor’s Birthday.

As for the officials and nobles of the court, there were no such restrictions, and night banquets were commonplace.

Perhaps Zhao Yuan was trying to be low-key in front of the emperor. Li Yi admired his caution since he was now a man of great power and influence.

However, Zhao Yuan had another reason for his actions. He saw that Li Yi was fully awake and stood up, saying, “Since it’s already this late, accompany me for a drink before you leave.”

Li Yi cursed himself for oversleeping and had to agree.

As they entered the banquet hall, the sound of silk and bamboo music wafted towards them. As soon as they sat down, Li Yi noticed a pair of delicate translucent jade cups on the table. He picked one up and saw a tiny chip at the bottom of the cup. He couldn’t help but say, “This is an old object brought into the palace by Royal Mother”

As soon as he said it, he realized his mistake. After all, he was now a commoner and had no Royal Mother.

Zhao Yuan didn’t notice anything amiss and nodded, “So that’s its origin. When the palace checked the old objects, I praised the exquisite craftsmanship, and a large cup was sent to me. It’s good to know that it’s returned to its rightful place.”

However, the items chosen for the regent’s mansion were from the maternal family of the Crown Prince, not for returning it to it’s rightful place.

Zhao Xi was busy pouring wine on the side, almost suffocating from holding back his laughter.

Your Highness, you’re just talking nonsense with your eyes open. I don’t know how you managed to persuade His Majesty to say that if anything was missing during the renovation, you could just ask the palace for it.

As a result, all the old items from the Eastern Palace were ransacked, and they even checked the cracks between the tiles. They would have moved the entire palace if they could.

Where was there any reserved waiting for someone to send it to the palace?

The two people at the table were unaware of what Zhao Xi was muttering in his heart. Today was Zhao Yuan’s birthday, and Li Yi naturally raised his cup to congratulate him.

“Wishing Your Highness a long life of a thousand years, achieving success and leaving a lasting name in history, and having joyful gatherings year after year like today.”

During the day, they had already exchanged the usual blessings for health and longevity with everyone else, but privately, Li Yi carefully chose his words and said a few meaningful things.

Zhao Yuan’s military exploits were remarkable, and he was now only second to one person. In the future, he would definitely be recorded in the history books, but whether it would be a good or bad reputation would depend on his actions in the coming years.

In times of raging flames and beautiful flowers, what was needed was a safe and peaceful retreat. Li Yi wished him a good reputation and the ability to enjoy the power and stability he had now in the future.

Zhao Yuan sat at the head of the table. Seeing Li Yi in his red robe and his captivating face, he stood in the flower hall like a bamboo, holding a cup to toast him.

He felt that even if Li Yi were to offer him a cup of poison at this moment, he would still accept it willingly.

He could also understand the deeper meaning behind Li Yi’s words, but he still couldn’t help but think that no matter how much the court and battlefield may change in the future, he could face it calmly. He only wished that the beauty under the moonlight tonight could be with him every year.

As the moon rose above the treetops, and the feast gradually came to an end, Li Yi had become half-drunk by Zhao Yuan’s constant toasting. By the end, Zhao Xi didn’t even know where he had gone, leaving only the Shizi personally pouring wine for Li Yi.

“Your Highness, you can’t drink anymore,” Li Yi’s cheeks were flushed, as if he were a peach blossom.

Zhao Yuan smiled slightly, “Why, are you afraid I’ll get drunk?”

“Of course not, it’s just that I can’t handle it anymore.”

Upon hearing this, Zhao Yuan knew that Li Yi was indeed a little drunk, his voice was not as clear and firm as usual, and there was a hint of teasing in his tone, which was quite enticing.

Zhao Yuan clearly loved Li Yi’s drunken state, but still put down the wine jug in his hand and served him some light dishes with chopsticks.

Li Yi sensed the thoughtfulness of the Prince Regent and was moved to speak without much thought, “Your Highness, you have taken great care of me.” His voice was unusually gentle and not like his usual self.

Zhao Yuan was slightly surprised and put down his silver chopsticks to look at Li Yi, “What do you mean?”

“I am not ungrateful. Your Highness has saved me several times and has put in a lot of effort to keep me safe. Yi understands,” Li Yi replied.

Zhao Yuan saw that Li Yi’s face was slightly red, but his eyes were still clear, so he knew that he wasn’t completely drunk. He didn’t want to pursue this topic any further and remained silent.

However, Li Yi had been feeling uncomfortable around Zhao Yuan lately and with the help of alcohol, he spoke his mind all at once, “What does Your Highness want from me? Why not just say it now?”

Zhao Yuan was taken aback by Li Yi’s sudden outburst, and his heart began to race. After a moment’s thought, he asked the question that he had been wanting to ask the most, “Do you still think of Zhao Shen?”

Like a sword being unsheathed, he asked the question directly and even used the late emperor’s name.

Li Yi was pained by Zhao Yuan’s question, and although he could have told countless lies, he chose to tell the truth, “I fear I will never forget him.”

Upon hearing this, Zhao Yuan’s emotions were in turmoil. He didn’t expect Li Yi to go further and say, “If you ask me about my heart, Yi also has good feelings towards Your Highness. But I cannot distinguish whether it is because of Qi Yuan or because of Your Highness.”

After ten long years, Zhao Yuan heard Li Yi address him as “Qi Yuan” again, and almost lost control on the spot. Looking at Li Yi’s gaze fixed on him, he wanted to merge with him badly. 

He heard Li Yi whisper, “Your Highness is too much like Qi Yuan.”

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