The Regent’s Secret Chapter 50

Chapter 50

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The setting sun was casting its last bit of light, dim and fading.

As Li Yi passed by Lord Liao, the Grand Preceptor of the Crown Prince, the old man with white hair knelt and watched Li Yi leave with his eyes. The officials and attendants of the Eastern Palace knelt in turn, separated by a few steps, forming a long line of welcoming party, making the scene less desolate.

Rouge walked slowly. At this dark moment, Li Yi imprinted every face in his heart. He sat straighter and straighter on his horse, and halfway through the journey, Rouge suddenly hummed a few times. Li Yi looked up and saw a person at the end of the line of officials, kneeling on the ground and bowing in respect to him. He stared at the figure until his eyes turned red.

Why hasn’t he left yet? Li Yi had countless questions in his mind. He wished he could grab the person in front of him and ask him directly, but his rationality stopped him. Soon, Li Yi had an epiphany. This person, Zhao Yuan, must not know the details of the palace coup. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have told Li Yi to be careful. He might have remained silent or hinted that the palace was where the danger lay. Only by not knowing the specifics would he insist on cautioning himself.

Now that the Crown Prince was dead, why did he approach Li Yi and kneel before him? Was he trying to atone for his sins? The first time they met at Pan Palace, Zhao Yuan refused to kneel. When he was seriously ill, Zhao Yuan met him with a sword. When they raced horses, Zhao Yuan rode with him. Even on his own birthday, he never lowered his head.

When he was at the peak of his power, he refused to bow his head. Now that he was about to lose, he was willing to kneel for a long time in this cold twilight. Li Yi rode step by step until he stopped in front of Zhao Yuan. He towered over him, seeing that Zhao Yuan’s head was down and his body was soaked through by the rain, indicating that he had been waiting here for a long time.

Zhao Yuan raised his head and looked at him. The shadow of the evening fell on them. Li Yi’s face was dark and unclear, his cold smirk, signaling the Shizi to approach and talk.

They left the main street together, and Zhao Yuan stood silently beside Li Yi. Li Yi gritted his teeth and said, “Aren’t you afraid that I’ll kill you?”

Zhao Yuan calmly replied, “I am.”

Li Yi was even more furious by his response and asked, “Then why didn’t you leave?”

Zhao Yuan took two steps back, knelt down again, and said, “I’m afraid someone will harm Your Highness. With me here, I can at least block a part of it.”

Li Yi looked up to the sky and laughed, acknowledging that there was a palace coup due to Dian Nan. Now he had fallen to the point where he needed the son of his enemy to protect himself.

“You go back to Dian Nan!” Li Yi’s eyes were as cold as ice, but his voice didn’t reveal any emotion. “Take advantage of His Majesty not taking action yet, take advantage of… me not being able to act.”

Zhao Yuan didn’t respond anymore. As a bystander, he knew that since the Crown Prince was the one who died, those who plotted against him wouldn’t just stop there. Either they would force Emperor Guanghua to appoint a new Crown Prince, or they wouldn’t stop until they succeeded. The emperor’s life was also in danger.

No matter what, Li Yi would soon be isolated.

Zhao Yuan didn’t know how much Dian Nan was involved, but he was certain that the palace coup had resolved the crisis in Dian Nan, and his father the king was likely to side with the plotters.

He couldn’t leave, even if it meant risking Emperor Guanghua taking his life. He had to stay and protect Li Yi. Once the plotters succeeded, how long could Li Yi last? Even if his status as Dian Nan Wang Shizi was useless, he could still help Li Yi for a while longer.

He knew that the road ahead was bleak, and he himself was powerless, but he couldn’t think about that now. His only concern was Li Yi.

This was the only ray of light in his destiny. He had to hold onto it, so there was a glimmer of hope.

Zhao Yuan watched Li Yi’s back as he left, feeling a dull pain in his chest. He felt feverish all over, and all the blood in his body seemed to rush towards his chest. It took him a while to calm down.

Late at night, Li Yi stood guard by the Crown Prince’s coffin. Everything was pale, and only a faint light from a candle could be seen. The palace was pervaded with an icy chill, something Li Yi had never experienced before.

After the Crown Prince’s death, the funeral was grand and lengthy. The Crown Prince Consort fell ill and couldn’t even get up. Emperor Guanghua was also not doing well, but he managed to accompany his beloved son on the funeral procession.

All the responsibilities of the Eastern Palace fell onto Li Yi’s shoulders. He hadn’t even had time to grieve before he had to deal with countless political affairs and other matters related to mourning.

When Emperor Guanghua sat down and looked at his grandson for the first time after his son’s death, he almost shed tears.

“Your father was so cruel to me, abandoning me like this. How could he bear to see you like this?”

Li Yi had only been gone for half a month, but he had already lost a full circle of weight. His face no longer carried the warmth and beauty of the past, and was as calm as an ancient well.

In the long summer of the twenty-eighth year of Guanghua, the empire was immersed in mourning. The court seemed to have slowed down, with political affairs stagnant. However, countless people knew that this tranquility was only the calm before the storm.

Despite investigating inside and outside the palace, Emperor Guanghua could not find any evidence of foul play in the death of the Crown Prince. Moreover, the Crown Prince had been overworked before his death, and although others may not have known, Emperor Guanghua could not help but regret and blame himself for entrusting his military duties to his beloved son.

He had hoped that the Crown Prince could shoulder the great responsibility and establish an unparalleled prestige in the court. The Emperor himself knew the state of his own health, and had paved the way for his son’s ascension. Yet, why did fate not allow it?

The Emperor must obey the will of heaven.

Li Yi watched as Emperor Guanghua grew weaker and weaker with each passing day, knowing that he had suffered an unparalleled blow to his spirit. Even Li Yi had to admit that those underhanded actions were seamless and flawless.

If he had not received a warning early on, he too would have thought that the Crown Prince had died of an illness.

Without any evidence, it was impossible to determine who was behind the Crown Prince’s death.

Li Yi thought of Zhao Shen, knowing that even the Shizi himself did not know the details, but he still wanted to ask him personally.

Qi Yuan, why did you have to be the Dian Nan Wang Shizi?

Pan Palace in autumn remained unchanged, with gingko leaves dancing in the wind and falling to the ground like golden snow.

As Li Yi approached Exhorting Virtue Building, he unexpectedly saw Zhao Shen being punished to stand outside again, as if everything had returned to the starting point. If nothing was permanent, this wouldn’t have happened.

He went straight up to him, sneering and mocking, “Without my protection, the Shizi is back to where he started. What’s the point? Whom did your father the king pledge allegiance to? Didn’t he instruct you to rush and cling to that golden thigh, wouldn’t everything be fine?”

Li Yi saw a glimpse of pain in Zhao Shen’s deep gaze, and he replied in a soft voice, “Your Highness, take care of yourself.”

At his words, Li Yi’s heart skipped a beat, but he still spoke coldly, “Don’t worry about me.” He felt the situation was absurd. Did Zhao Shen really want to confront his father? Was he standing on the opposite side of the conflict?

“Follow me, I have something to ask you.”

Zhao Shen remained calm and unflappable, unlike Li Yi’s tumultuous emotions. He had already figured everything out and followed Li Yi to a deserted place.

“If Your Highness wants to ask about the Crown Prince’s affairs, I know even less than you. As for how I found out about the palace’s conspiracy, it was through a secret message from Dian Nan, which contained only two sentences. One said that there might be a change in the palace soon, and the other said that I should protect myself.”

Zhao Shen concealed the words of his mother, who begged him to return home. He saw Li Yi’s fragile state, fearing that he would not survive the next move of the behind-the-scenes schemer and would fall first.

Li Yi knew that Zhao Shen was telling the truth, but he also knew that he wouldn’t get any more information from him. So why did he come here?

As he looked at Zhao Shen, Li Yi suddenly realized that he cared about him.

He cared about Zhao Shen being trapped in this quagmire, and he cared about him saying he would stand up for himself, even if it meant taking a hit for Li Yi.

But what could he use to protect him? His bare hands?

Since the moment Emperor Guanghua decided to deploy troops, both he and Zhao Shen had been swept into a vortex beyond their control.

Several giant hands were now grappling and fighting in the sky, turning into clouds and rain. It was the struggle for power between Emperor Guanghua, the Crown Prince, Dian Nan Wang, and the behind-the-scenes manipulator.

When the sky was about to collapse, he and Zhao Yuan stood too close together and couldn’t avoid it. They had to use all their tricks to protect themselves.

Li Yi sighed, “Who knows when chaos will break out in the capital? Didn’t Dian Nan Wang order you to go back?”

Zhao Yuan remained silent. He was just a substitute. His mother hoped he would return, but that was just wishful thinking. From the perspective of Dian Nan’s interests, his father the king would only want him to stay in the capital.

But his current actions unexpectedly aligned with his father’s wishes.

Zhao Yuan tried to explain to Li Yi, “As long as I’m here, it represents Dian Nan’s attitude. This is to tell His Majesty and the world that at this critical juncture, Dian Nan is still being peaceful and not taking a single step across the border. It’s also an excellent cover. If Dian Nan really had some secret plan, with me as a cover, it would be less suspicious of my father.”

After all, only those who hadn’t done anything wrong dared to place their children under the emperor’s nose.

Li Yi couldn’t believe it, “You’re gambling with your life. If you were insignificant, Dian Nan Wang would still be able to justify his actions. You’re his heir, how could he bear to do this?”

“I’m not really his heir,” Zhao Yuan thought to himself.

“Your Highness, have you ever thought about who’s behind the scenes?” Zhao Yuan didn’t want to talk about himself and asked about something else.

Li Yi snorted, “You’re so sure it’s not Dian Nan Wang?”

“When the sky collapses, he and Zhao Yuan stand too close to each other that neither can avoid it. They have to use all means to protect themselves.

Li Yi sighed, ‘Who knows when chaos will break out in the capital? Has Dian Nan Wang not ordered you to go back?’

Zhao Yuan remained silent. He was just a substitute. His mother hoped he would go back, but that was just wishful thinking. From the perspective of Diannan’s interests, the king would only want him to stay in the capital. His current actions happened to be in line with his father’s wishes.

Zhao Yuan tried to explain to Li Yi, ‘As long as I’m here, it shows Diannan’s attitude. This is to tell His Majesty and the world that Diannan is still keeping a low profile at this critical moment and has not taken a step beyond the thunder pond. This is also an excellent pretext. If Diannan is really plotting something in secret, with me as a pretext, it is not easy to suspect the king.’

After all, only those who have not done anything wrong dare to put their offspring under the nose of the emperor.

Li Yi couldn’t believe it. ‘You are betting with your life. If you were insignificant, Dian Nan Wang wouldn’t do this. You are his Shizi. How could he bear to lose you?’

‘Actually, I’m not,’ Zhao Yuan thought to himself.

‘Your Highness, have you thought about who is behind the scenes?’ Zhao Yuan didn’t want to talk about himself and asked about something else.

Li Yi snorted. ‘Are you so sure that it’s not Dian Nan Wang?'”

Zhao Yuan was very certain. “If something happens to His Majesty at this time, I can’t say for sure, but it is most likely one of the princes.”

Li Yi fell silent for a moment and then said, “Qin Wang.”

Zhao Yuan suddenly remembered Li Yi’s birthday. When he congratulated him in the main hall, he accidentally caught a glimpse of the murderous intent in the eyes of Qin Wang when he looked at Li Yi. Startled, he looked back, but it seemed as if nothing had happened.

If it were Qin Wang, Li Yi would not be his match at all, and the only person he could rely on would be Emperor Guanghua.

“When does His Majesty plan to establish the Crown Prince?” Zhao Yuan asked the most crucial question.

Li Yi had struggled through these days and had taken a look at the situation in the court and the palace. He had a vague premonition in his heart, but the answer was disappointing, and he did not want to answer.

Li Yi stood up and was about to leave. He stood up too quickly and swayed twice.

Zhao Yuan quickly stabilized him.

Li Yi looked at Zhao Yuan, who held him as if he was afraid of breaking him. He cherished the warmth of his palms but slowly pulled away before leaving. “The emperor’s health… the establishment of the Crown Prince… at the latest, it cannot be delayed beyond this winter.”

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