In the late summer and early autumn of the first year of Chengqian, Zhao Yuan received another secret letter from his mother, which included a large stack of silver notes.
The letter said that Zhao Shen and her, mother and son, never forgot that Zhao Yuan suffered in the capital, and his father the king also thought about him returning to Dian Nan.
Zhao Yuan skipped over the true and false words and looked directly at the back of the letter.
After expressing her difficulties, his mother finally wrote that if everything goes smoothly, the family will send someone to the capital to pick him up. It could be as short as half a year or as long as a year, but they will find a way to bring him home.
After this half year, Zhao Yuan’s heart still ached from time to time, and there was no sign of improvement in the blood flow.
He changed his attitude from several years ago and now was determined to stay in the capital. Dian Nan had his father and mother, and Zhao Shen. Returning would be unnecessary. On the other hand, the capital only had Li Yi. If he really got seriously ill, he would not live long. Staying with Huan An until the end was better than going anywhere else.
Zhao Yuan had never thought of the matter of the Zhao family bloodline. He had been forced to live in the shadow of Zhao Shen since he was born. With Zhao Shen’s talents and skills, he could be considered a qualified heir. Zhao Yuan’s fate seemed destined to be a substitute.
Moreover, no one had mentioned the awakening of the bloodline for a long time. The only recorded case was in the family tree of the dynasty, besides the ancestors. This kind of ethereal matter had nothing to do with him, Zhao Yuan couldn’t imagine it.
After finishing the letter, he went straight to Exhorting Virtue Building. When he arrived, Li Yi was sitting at the last row, reading a book. As soon as he entered, Li Yi looked up, obviously always paying attention to the door.
Since becoming a hidden prince, Li Yi had voluntarily moved to the back row of the school and kept company with Zhao Yuan, who had never been popular.
After leaving the hall, Li Yi was no longer the center of attention as he used to be, with everyone clamoring around him. These classmates were still the same people, not a single one had changed, but over time they had gone from eagerly following him to avoiding him like the plague.
The cruel drama of human nature was playing out hotly on the stage of Pan Palace.
There were those who threw stones at the fallen ones, but they didn’t dare to go too far. With Guo Jijiu here and the example of killing one to warn a hundred, few people would openly provoke them.
However, pranks never ceased. People who even the emperor disliked would naturally not have an easy life.
In the dining hall, Zhao Yuan and Li Yi no longer had to worry and could eat together at the same table.
Li Yi hasn’t moved yet, but Zhao Yuan has already moved his share in front of himself, lifted the lid, and saw a layer of floating soil on the food. Li Yi leaned over and stopped Zhao Yuan’s hand from opening the lunchbox, smiling and asking, “What do you think is in there today?”
Zhao Yuan thought for a moment, “It’s the fifteenth day today, and I guess it’s supposed to be Young Master Yan Xiang’s turn. He has some bad ideas, but he’s too weak to defy everyone’s wishes. He probably just added some sauce and vinegar to the food to create a strange taste.”
Li Yi waited for Zhao Yuan to reveal the answer by opening the lid, but Zhao Yuan suddenly asked, “If I guess it right, what are you going to give me?”
Li Yi didn’t expect Zhao Yuan to play tricks, and scolded with a smile, “I have nothing, what does Shizi want?”
Zhao Yuan leaned closer to him and whispered, “Will you tell me the story of Zhao Zilong again tonight?”
Li Yi was still recovering from his illness and sometimes couldn’t sleep at night. He had made up a story about the Three Kingdoms and sent it to the palace a few days ago. There were too many stories from the Three Kingdoms, so he chose to focus on the Shu Kingdom, with an emphasis on Zhao Yun.
On that day, he was talking about how Liu Bei was defeated by Cao Cao, and Zhao Yun had also left his original lord, Gong Sun Zan, and went to meet Liu Bei. After they reunited, they slept together in the same bed, and from then on Zhao Yun followed Liu Bei.
Unintentionally, the listener took it to heart.
When Zhao Yuan mentioned it, Li Yi suddenly realized that they shared the same surname with Zhao Yun, and that Liu Bei had lost to Cao Cao, while Zhao Yun had left his original camp and followed Liu Bei. Was Zhao Yuan implying something?
“It’s just a rare storybook, even if the story is well told, there’s no need to take it seriously.”
Li Yi regretted choosing Zhao Zilong to tell. He didn’t have the ability and luck of Liu Bei, and following him, it was a dead end.
Maybe tonight he should switch to telling the story of Guan Yu? But after that, there was the incident of Hua Rong Road where Cao Cao was released, and Guan Yu was rebellious too.
Why did all the generals he liked seem to disregard propriety and etiquette, with loyalty and righteousness as their top priority?
“Who would take this book seriously?” Zhao Yuan responded lightly, calming Li Yi’s heart a little. He picked up the soy sauce and vinegar rice that Zhao Xi had washed with tea and started eating.
Because there were often problems with lunch, and Li Yi couldn’t handle it like Zhao Yuan, especially since he hadn’t fully recovered yet, he basically didn’t touch it. He only had some dry food and planned to drink the porridge that was cooked in the evening.
Since cooking was prohibited in the dormitory, Li Yi came up with the idea of secretly using a small clay stove for brewing tea to cook medicine, which was quite convenient.
After Li Yi finished his porridge, he leaned on the bed for a nap. When he woke up, the window was filled with the glow of the sunset.
He had just opened his brush and ink and was about to draw a few strokes when Zhao Xi knocked on the door under the eaves. Zhao Yuan stood aside holding a spotted pheasant, and when Li Yi poked his head out, he shook the game in his hand and said, “Let’s stew it and have an extra meal tonight.”
“Did you go to the mountains again?” The forest was more likely to encounter ferocious beasts in the evening than in the morning, and Li Yi strongly disagreed.
“I’m craving it too.”
Zhao Yuan said they could share it, but every time they caught something good, he always insisted on giving it to Li Yi. For example, this wild pheasant was best roasted after being wrapped in mud, but he insisted on making soup with it, just to make it easier for Li Yi to digest.
After dinner, Zhao Yuan sat peacefully by the window, waiting for Li Yi to fulfill their bet from earlier in the day.
Offering a cup of tea in peace, Li Yi talked all the way to the Battle of Changbanpo, where Liu Bei was defeated and separated from his troops. Someone reported that they had seen Zhao Yun defecting to Cao Cao, but Zhang Fei thought he was just lured by wealth and abandoned them in their desperate situation.
Liu Bei said, “Zilong has been with me in times of hardship, and his heart is as firm as a rock. Wealth and prosperity cannot shake him.” He even chased away the person who brought the news with a spear, saying, “Zilong’s departure must be for a reason. I believe he will not abandon me.”
At that time, Zhao Yun not only encountered accidents, but he also fought his way alone from early morning until dawn, searching everywhere for Liu Bei. Amidst thousands of troops and horses, he went back and forth several times, and finally rescued Jian Yong, Mi Zhu, Lady Gan, and the young master Liu Chan.
The moon was already high in the sky when Li Yi finally stopped talking about Zhao Zilong’s solo rescue mission. The tea had been refilled several times and had lost its flavor. In the corner, Ping An was already dozing off.
However, the young boy who had been following Li Yi suffered a lot recently. Feeling sorry for him, Li Yi decided not to wake him up again.
Outside the window, the autumn wind was blowing, and the scent of osmanthus drifted into the room. Li Yi picked up a few golden osmanthus flowers scattered on the table and put them into the teacup. The fragrance was rich and intense, spreading throughout the room and making the tea taste even sweeter.
Zhao Yuan looked at Li Yi, still lost in the story. In the quiet night, Li Yi seemed like an immortal, making this late night appear dreamlike and surreal.
The next afternoon, Li Yi didn’t get a chance to catch up on his sleep. Chen Banban from the palace came to discuss matters of money with him.
When Li Yi moved into Pan Palace, he was given an old house in the Eastern Palace. He took the opportunity to leave Chen Banban, who had taken care of him for many years, in the palace to watch over his remaining possessions.
After coming down from the clouds, Li Yi could no longer treat gold and silver as if they were worthless.
After Emperor Guanghua passed away, the new emperor was busy purging the remnants of the Crown Prince’s faction. Li Yi had not yet recovered from the shock when he began to busy himself with helping his relatives and former associates of the Eastern Palace. Many of them had been implicated simply because of their unwavering loyalty.
Now, Chen Banban and his two apprentices were handling all the details of Li Yi’s efforts to help these people.
Li Yi suffered a lot of misfortunes, and many of his friends and family members were implicated by the Crown Prince, and many of them lost their homes and lives.
In the capital alone, there were those who had been imprisoned and sentenced to death, but were hoping to have their sentences commuted to exile or another punishment; there were also orphans and widows who he couldn’t bear to see them starve, and even more pitiful were the eunuchs and servants who, if he could save their lives, would do so.
Most of the money Li Yi could use had already been spent on this, and now there was very little left. Chen Banban stood by the desk and, seeing Li Yi produce a long list of items, knew that he was going to ask him to secretly take them away. He couldn’t help but say, “Your Highness should keep some for yourself, you can’t just ignore your dignity.”
Li Yi laughed and said, “What dignity do I have to worry about? As long as we can get by. Nowadays, money is needed everywhere. The miscellaneous fees for school, the tips for the palace officials, these are all small amounts of money. The medical expenses and diagnosis fees I spent on my illness alone, I’m afraid they could bankrupt a small wealthy family. And then there’s the cost of maintaining my health, the food and drink that I have to be careful about. From pastries and cakes to rice and firewood, there’s not one thing that doesn’t require money.”
Chen Banban felt disheartened. In the past, there were people who rushed to prepare everything for the Crown Grandson, picking out the best of everything, but now everything required money. Even if money was spent, it wasn’t guaranteed that things would be done, let alone if no money was given. The Crown Grandson only received a small amount of monthly salary, and if the new emperor didn’t deduct Li Yi’s noble salary, that would be considered fortunate, let alone any rewards.
If he couldn’t establish himself before he turned thirty, he wouldn’t be able to set up his own household and wouldn’t be able to make a living. Sitting around all day eating away his fortune, he didn’t know how long he could last.
Li Yi was also well aware of this, he needed to come up with a way to make some money, and get through this period first.
The author has something to say:
Pei’s annotations in “The Records of Three Kingdoms” not only mention “sharing a bed,” but also this sentence, “Yun followed him and became the main rider for Lord Xian Zhu.” Lord Xian Zhu is Liu Bei. Uh, main rider…
By the way, the online censorship in Jinjiang has been very strict recently, have the little angels imagined anything while reading? We can only say this much~
Can’t wait until next week to see more? Want to show your support? Come to my Patreon where you can get up to 5 more chapters of The Regent’s Secret right away or get access to early chapters of all the available BL novels! Or go donate at Paypal or Ko-fi to show your appreciation! :)