The Regent’s Secret Chapter 47

Chapter 47

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In the spring of the twenty-eighth year of Guanghua, the Emperor fell ill and the Crown Prince attended to him.

At this late spring, Li Yi felt an unprecedented burden. Emperor Guanghua was already old, and each time he fell ill, his dragon body struggled to recover. The decline of the dynasty was becoming more and more apparent.

The Crown Prince was deeply worried, busy attending to the Emperor’s illness while also handling political affairs. Those with keen eyes in the court could sense the storm brewing in the shadows.

Dark currents were surging everywhere throughout the Qing dynasty, from the capital to the borderlands.

It was only today that Li Yi returned to the palace from his studies when Li Chi summoned him to Wen Hua Hall. “For a period of time in the future, suspend your classes at Pan Palace. The Imperial Hospital is still holding consultations, and I have a premonition that there may be bad news to come.”

“Father, what do you mean?” Li Yi was taken aback. The Crown Prince went to Zhonghe Palace every day to attend to the Emperor’s illness to inquire about his condition. If the Crown Prince sensed anything…

“I don’t want you to speculate, my son. I am just worried about the Emperor. Though the current illness is not severe, the recovery is proving to be very difficult and has been prolonged for a long time. Today, the Emperor told me that he was angry with the incompetence of the Imperial Physicians. I had to persuade him for a long time before he calmed down.”

After a long sigh, the Crown Prince asked Li Yi to come closer and said, “The Imperial Hospital is likely to overturn their previous diagnosis, and it may be difficult for the Emperor to recover before the summer solstice. What worries me is the funeral of Fang Ze that will follow.”

Li Yi was a bit puzzled. “If Father is worried that the Emperor cannot personally attend the ceremony, shouldn’t it be up to you to go instead?”

The affairs of the state were centered on sacrifices and warfare, which had to be carried out no matter what. When the Emperor was unable to attend, the Crown Prince would perform the sacrifices to the heavens and earth, which was not unprecedented.

Li Chi did not immediately respond but looked around before all the attendants left. Then, he spoke solemnly to Li Yi, “There are some things you should know. The Emperor has long wanted to send troops to Yunnan, and all the preparations for troop deployment, personnel arrangements, and strategies have been secretly prepared for a long time. Unexpectedly, the Emperor fell ill at this critical moment. Now that the arrow is on the bowstring, we must shoot.”

“Do you think I’ve just been attending to the Emperor’s illness day and night over these past few days? That is just a pretext for him to pass all the military affairs to me without delay. Only then can we avoid delaying the war.”

Li Yi was shocked by this earth-shattering news. From when they leaked a bit of information to him last year, to now when everything was ready, how long had it been? It was impossible to prepare for such a large-scale war without at least three to five years of preparation.

Li Yi immediately thought of Dian Nan Wang Shizi, who had entered the capital in the twenty-fourth year of Guanghua.

Now it’s already the fourth season of spring and autumn.

Was this all planned four years ago? Emperor Guanghua had already firmly grasped the Shizi and was actively preparing for war.

What about Dian Nan Wang? Did he understand Emperor Guanghua’s plans and anticipate the current situation?

Li Yi opened his mouth to ask whether Dian Nan Wang had always been disloyal or if Emperor Guanghua was forcing him to betray them. But he realized that the question was meaningless now. The Crown Prince had already made it clear that the arrow was on the bowstring and could not be avoided. Everything had already been settled.

At this point, everyone had to choose their side.

Li Yi himself was in the dark about the situation. He wondered if Qi Yuan was in the same boat.

He had a hunch that he was, otherwise, the Shizi would not have made friends with their future enemies.

The great war was about to begin. It was like a huge torrent that could overflow at any time. Both he and Qi Yuan were caught up in it, belonging to different factions. How should they handle this situation?

The only way was to draw their swords and face each other?

Li Yi stood there in a daze, his heart in turmoil. The Crown Prince only saw him as someone who was worried about the situation.

“Because we need to go to war, I cannot leave the country for even one day. This time, I cannot go to the ceremony. Huan An, Royal Father is already old, and recently I have also felt the weight of my responsibilities. As the Crown Grandson, it is time for you to share the burden for the sake of the state.”

Li Yi was almost 16 years old, and the Crown Prince felt that Emperor Guanghua’s health had only been an issue for the past few years. He intended to make Li Yi’s position as the legitimate heir more secure while the Emperor was still alive.

Representing the country in the ceremony was the clearest expression of this intention.

Starting from the second day, Li Yi was busy preparing for the various rituals of the ceremony. The ceremony for Fang Ze’s sacrifice was undoubtedly the first time in his political career that he had appeared so prominently. Not only did he have to rehearse the ritual repeatedly, but he also had to be familiar with the related matters.

Going to Pan Palace was originally something that Li Yi did outside of his schoolwork. The Crown Prince knew that he could not give up Guo Jijiu’s classes, so Guo Shen followed the Shizi and came to the palace to teach him on time. As a result, Li Yi saw no end to his return to school.

He was carrying a huge secret that he wanted to tell Qi Yuan, but it concerned lives, so he would rather wait than risk telling him recklessly.

With the impending war, there will surely be spies from the emperor around the Shizi, and not a single word can be written down, as it could easily become evidence of guilt. Nor can anyone be trusted to relay a message, as caught, it could be used as evidence. Such a significant matter cannot be believed by the Shizi without confirmation from Li Yi himself.

Only when Li Yi spoke in person can this matter be discussed.

How can he find the right opportunity to meet with Qi Yuan?

As for Zhao Yuan, he only heard that the emperor was sick, and the Crown Prince was busy overseeing the country and visiting the emperor daily. Given the situation in the palace, Li Yi couldn’t come to the school for the time being, which was perfectly natural.

By the time Li Yi became proficient in the rites and rituals, it was already the beginning of summer.

One day after class, Zhao Yuan saw that Zhao Xi was different from usual. He was waiting for him outside with a tense smile on his face.

Zhao Yuan hurried over and asked, “What’s happened?”

Zhao Xi led him to a secluded place and handed him a letter. At a glance, Zhao Yuan saw Consort Shu’s unique seal on it.

There was a normal route for messages to be delivered to him in Dian Nan, so this letter was obviously sent to him secretly by Royal Mother herself. It was no wonder that Zhao Xi looked nervous.

Opening the letter, there were only a few short sentences inside.

“The palace will soon undergo changes. My son must be careful and protect himself at all costs. I hope that you can return home safely soon.”

There will be changes in the palace!

With the emperor’s illness and the crown prince’s oversight of the country, it had been announced to the world a few days ago that the midsummer ritual to the earth would be performed by the Crown Prince.

Zhao Yuan’s first thought was of Emperor Guanghua, but the Crown Prince was still young and had a solid foundation. If someone wanted to seize the palace, it would surely result in a bloody battle with uncertain outcomes.

But why did Royal Mother not seem very worried in her letter, only cautioning him to be careful and even expressing her hope that he could return home soon? This clearly indicated that she had some assurance about the impending changes in the palace.

Zhao Yuan didn’t care about Emperor Guanghua’s life or death, but if Dian Nan was involved, it meant they didn’t want the Crown Prince to ascend the throne smoothly, which would put the Crown Grandson in danger.

The moment he thought of Li Yi, Zhao Yuan couldn’t think of anything else. He had to make Huan An aware of this. Royal Mother’s letter didn’t reveal any details, but if there were going to be changes, they would surely occur during the days when the Crown Grandson was performing the ritual outside the city, with most of the court in attendance. When would be a better time for a palace coup?

Li Yi, how can I get this message to you before the ritual?

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