The Regent’s Secret Chapter 49

Chapter 49

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Three days before the sacrificial ceremony, everything was ready. Li Yi wore a golden winged crown and a dragon robe, and left the palace in a royal carriage.

Ten ministers led the way in front of the carriage, followed by twenty ministers and a hundred imperial guards in colorful attire, some holding long spears, and some carrying strong bows and sharp arrows, guarding the sides. The procession was followed by a long line of officials and nobles.

As they approached Yanping Gate, Li Yi got off the carriage and switched to a sedan chair. The waiting officials had already split into two groups and were kneeling to send off the Crown Grandson, reciting blessings and waiting for his return.

Countless people knelt and worshiped outside the main street, while the music played and the drums sounded as the procession slowly made its way through the west gate.

All the grand ceremonies were as magnificent as when the emperors of the past visited. Although Li Yi had been the Crown Grandson for over ten years and was used to the pomp and circumstance, the officials only bowed to him, and at this moment, all beings were beneath him. Regardless of who it was, they were awed by the imperial power.

When the day of the sacrificial ceremony in the outskirts of the capital arrived, Li Yi dressed in his coronation robes entered Fang Ze through the right gate.

As the music played, Li Yi ascended the sacrificial altar, while the princes and nobles stood on the steps in front of the main hall, followed by countless civil and military officials standing in the square below.

Li Yi offered incense and jade and prayed for the safety of the palace. Before leaving, he hinted to his father that war was imminent and there might be bad actors lurking within the palace.

The crown prince looked at Li Yi in confusion and asked, “Why do you say this, my son?”

Li Yi only vaguely said: “Although the matter of using troops in Dian Nan is confidential, the closer the date is, the more people are afraid to see it, especially the Ministry of War, which is the most difficult to keep any news from leaking out. At such a time, I have seen in the historical records that many secret plans have failed at the last moment. Please be careful, Royal Father.”

The Crown Prince nodded when he heard this. “My son is very thoughtful. I will be on guard. When you go to the suburban sacrifice, the imperial guards will also deploy more people to secretly protect you. In addition, the army in the capital will allocate troops and horses to protect the officials who accompany you.”

When Qi Yuan said that there was a change in the palace, Li Yi was not worried about himself. From the perspective of political importance, he was the least important person, and even if there was a problem, it would not affect the overall situation. Naturally, no one would spend a lot of effort to target him.

Regardless of who it is, the first thing that comes to mind is Emperor Guanghua.

Li Yi had done everything he could, and he could only leave the rest to fate.

After offering incense and jade, he went to make a subordinate offering and finally a final offering.

The Grand Master of the Ministry of Rites offered the Fuxi wine to the Crown Grandson, who drank it all, and then buried the jade and silk offering dedicated to the heavens in the burial site.

When all the ceremonies were completed, it was already past noon. Li Yi rested in the Zhaigong behind the temple. Everything went smoothly, and everyone waited quietly for tomorrow to return to the palace.

In the evening, fine rain fell from the sky, and the officials saw this scene and said that it was a sign of the emperor’s grace to the people.

By midnight, the rain grew heavier and gradually became a heavy rain.

Li Yi slept until deep into the night but was suddenly awakened by thunder and unable to fall asleep again.

When the sky was faintly bright, a small eunuch rode overnight in pouring rain to Fang Ze. The palace guards who were on duty hurried out to greet him, but they saw that the man and horse were all exhausted and covered in mud.

The messenger was brought to Li Yi’s presence, and he immediately knelt down and cried, reporting: “Your Majesty asks the Crown Grandson to return to the palace immediately. It’s not looking good for the Crown Prince!”

“What did you say!”

When Li Yi left the palace, his father, the king, bid him farewell in front of Wen Hua Hall. Due to his recent hard work, the Crown Prince had faint dark circles under his eyes, and only the vermilion-colored court dress on his body added some vigor to his appearance.

Li Yi remembered his father’s final words before he left, “Be careful of the cold dew in the suburbs at night.”

Feeling dizzy and disoriented, Li Yi stumbled forward, but quickly regained his composure with the help of those around him. 

He couldn’t believe that it would be the Crown Prince.

After a moment of confusion, he asked tremblingly, “What happened? Don’t leave out any details!”

“After Your Highness left the day before yesterday, the Crown Prince suddenly fell ill and became seriously ill, with a high fever and loss of consciousness by midnight. His Majesty persisted through the night despite his own illness, and by the summer solstice, the illness appeared to be easing. His Majesty and the empresses breathed a sigh of relief, but unexpectedly, in the evening, the Crown Prince’s condition suddenly worsened again. By nightfall, he couldn’t even recognize anyone.”

In just two days, a young and robust man was now on the brink of life and death.

“Upon seeing the Crown Prince’s condition, His Majesty immediately sent me to report to Your Highness, hoping to arrive in time.”

Li Yi immediately returned to the palace with twenty imperial guards, leaving behind the other officials. As he rode, his thoughts drifted to Qi Yuan’s warning of trouble in the palace. But how could it be the Crown Prince? Did Qi Yuan really know something? Could Dian Nan have had a hand in the harming of his father?

Thinking of the deep affection that the late emperor had for his father, this blow to Emperor Guanghua, who was already ill, was nothing short of fatal.

Regardless of who was behind this scheme, it was a direct hit to the vital point, removing the central pillar and causing the entire structure to collapse.

Li Yi’s thoughts were in turmoil as he rode, and by the time he reached the Yanping Gate in the west, he was exhausted. From afar, he could see white flags and yellow banners flying atop the city walls. With just one glance, Li Yi lost all his strength and almost fell off his horse.

The vice envoy of the Imperial Guard, quick of eye and hand, caught the Crown Grandson as he stumbled, and said in a low voice, “Your Highness, you have not yet entered the palace. His Majesty is still waiting for you.”

Li Yi nodded and pulled himself together. He rode his horse into the city in his blue robe. Only a few people came to welcome him on both sides of Yanping Gate. The stone steps were cold after the rain, and officials who had changed into mourning clothes knelt along the gray street, giving a desolate impression.

Just two days ago, the grand and magnificent scene of the court with the sound of bells and drums was still fresh in his mind, but in a blink of an eye, everything had changed.

Li Yi loosened the reins and slowly proceeded forward. The head of the officials from the Eastern Palace who came to welcome him was Lord Liao, the Grand Preceptor. The old man personally led the Eastern Palace officials to welcome him, which showed the most powerful loyalty and support during this turbulent time.

The court was about to undergo a great change. The Crown Prince had suddenly passed away, and Emperor Guanghua was seriously ill. The succession was bound to cause waves.

At this critical moment, apart from the officials under the Crown Prince, there were not many people coming to welcome him. Li Yi knew that the situation was very unfavorable.

He understood that he was not even sixteen years old, and everyone regarded him as a young boy with no power to compete with the many political factions in the court, including the several Royal uncles who were deeply rooted and intertwined.

Li Yi had heard the story of Emperor Jianwen and Zhu Di. Emperor Jianwen ascended the throne when he was already an adult, and he had a large number of civilian and military officials under his command, but he still could not resist Zhu Di’s power. How could Li Yi compete against them?

To investigate the death of his father and gain power and influence over the Eastern Palace’s old guards would take time and prestige, and seizing the throne would require resources and support in terms of personnel, wealth, power, and prestige…

Li Yi felt that his insides were being twisted. With his father and grandfather above him, he was far from being in touch with the real power of the court. At present, with wolves lurking around him on all sides, he had no actual power.

At this critical moment of life and death, what right did Li Yi have to fight for power?

At this moment, Li Yi was soberly aware that regardless of who planned today’s situation, it had already become half set in stone. After the Crown Prince’s death, the old were sick, and the young were weak.

The only solution for Li Yi was to rely on Emperor Guanghua and hope that his grandfather could buy him some time.

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