The Regent’s Secret Chapter 55

Chapter 55

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Early in the morning, Li Yi arrived at Wulian Mountain, and Zhao Yuan had already finished practicing a set of martial arts.

The air in the mountains was extremely fresh, and Li Yi loved the magnificent beauty of the morning sun that he, as a painter, could not resist.

Even though the weather was getting colder and he had just recovered from a serious illness, he couldn’t help but enter the mountains, hoping to paint for one more day before the heavy snow closed off the mountain.

Besides his daily morning exercises, Zhao Yuan now had another task: hunting.

It was not as easy as he thought to catch suitable prey in Wulian Mountain. There weren’t many that tasted delicious, and places with a lot of prey also increased the chances of encountering ferocious beasts.

Li Yi had some objections, but Zhao Yuan, relying on his skill and courage, wanted to hunt more mountain chickens, wild rabbits, deer, and other animals during the best hunting season of autumn, and smoke them all together. In a few months, when the frost covered the mountains, it would be difficult to find any animal tracks.

In the long winter, there was never enough food in the school, and any attempt to improve it would cost a lot of money. Keeping some smoked meat for Li Yi to try a different taste would also be good.

It is known that when Zhao Yuan was in the Pan Palace, he rarely went hunting as a sacrifice for the gods for an entire year. 

Zhao Yuan walked deep into the mountain with a bow on his back, and Ping An followed him closely with light steps. Although he was young, he was very agile. 

Zhao Yuan had the idea to bring Ping An along with him and later left Zhao Xi to take care of Li Yi painting while he went hunting.

Every day, regardless of whether they returned to the dwelling in the mountains or at night, Zhao Yuan would teach Li Yi martial arts techniques, which were mostly based on practical combat and not fancy moves. As Li Yi gradually improved, Zhao Yuan began to teach him some lethal moves that could be used in critical situations.

Li Yi understood Zhao Yuan’s intentions and studied diligently.

During the day, Zhao Yuan and Li Yi went in and out together, and at night they sat at the desk, studying their lessons.

Li Yi’s knowledge was already sufficient to handle the studies at the Palace, but he took advantage of the daily lessons as an opportunity to sit and talk with Zhao Yuan.

The warm candle light shone on the grey walls, and there was quietness all around. Li Yi couldn’t explain the feelings in his heart.

Since Zhao Yuan had been with him, he had felt much more at ease, and his fears and anxieties had been pushed to the corner and no longer bothered him.

When he was seriously ill before, Guo Shen had allowed Zhao Yuan to take care of Li Yi, but now that he was feeling better, he couldn’t neglect his studies as a Shizi.

In order to free up more time to take care of Li Yi and to appease Guo Jijiu’s recent attitude, Zhao Yuan quickly transformed into a hardworking and obedient student.

The whole Pan Palace could see that the Shizi had improved significantly in his language proficiency and in memorizing his lessons. Due to this visible progress, the several scholars who had previously punished Zhao Yuan for failing to complete his homework on time were less harsh on him.

Guo Shen even praised him in person, saying, “Although the Shizi’s talent is average, he is willing to learn and observe proper conduct, and he also has a loyal and righteous heart. He is indeed teachable.”

In the face of Zhao Yuan’s rapid progress, Li Yi no longer thought that he was unteachable. They sat together every day, and he was a first-rate actor who would not have been out of place in the entertainment industry of the past.

Zhao Yuan was writing his lessons, and Li Yi had finished his break and was now calculating his accounts in his mind.

Winter was approaching and Li Yi needed to send cotton clothes and firewood to the widowed and elderly. However, his monthly payment has not yet arrived, and he is having difficulty finding the funds to help. Li Yi started to think about what else he can sell.

The treasures left in the palace were not yet depleted, but they were difficult to sell as they were recorded and accounted for. Li Yi had already sold off the fabrics and leather goods, as well as the high-quality brushes and paper he had saved. He kept the special items, such as jade accessories and antiques, but had already sold off a few inconspicuous items and melted down the gold and silver.

He didn’t want to attract too much attention, as he was seen as a thorn in the side of the new emperor and was known as the Hidden Prince. In order to raise money quickly, Li Yi has been surviving on plain porridge and pickled vegetables, and dare not even indulge in snacks.

He may not have mentioned the matter of money, but that didn’t mean Zhao Yuan couldn’t see through it. Within two days, he took Li Yi to hunt for sacrificial offerings during their break. “We’ve sold quite a few skins we hunted recently. Let’s go to the Spring Blessing Building. You’ve been sick for so many days, aren’t you bored? After we eat, let’s go to Sajin Lane and get some paper and ink. It’s cheaper than what the palace clerk is selling,” he said. 

Li Yi was tempted by his words, and more importantly, he wanted to inquire about any opportunities to make money in Sajin Lane. 

On the appointed day, the two went to the bustling market. After finishing their meal at Spring Blessing Building, Zhao Yuan and Li Yi turned into Sajin Lane together. 

After buying paper, ink, and brushes, Li Yi said to Zhao Yuan, “You go and continue to explore the market. Chen Banban invited me to meet him at the teahouse.”

Zhao Yuan knew that Li Yi wanted to talk about matters related to the Crown Prince and he didn’t want to eavesdrop. 

In reality, Li Yi just used Chen Banban’s name as an excuse to take the opportunity to inquire about ways to make money. 

Li Yi’s first idea was to sell his paintings, but he quickly realized that this was not a good idea since he still had the title of a prince and couldn’t sell his paintings openly. He didn’t want to be caught by the new emperor and humiliated. 

What if he sold them anonymously? When he asked at the first store, the shopkeeper said clearly, “We don’t accept calligraphy and painting from anonymous people here.” 

At the second store, which was more modest, the shopkeeper said, “If an anonymous person can produce imitations as good as those made by famous artists, we can discuss the price.” 

This was clearly an invitation to sell forgeries, which crossed Li Yi’s bottom line and closed off this avenue for him.

However, the store owner may have seen many poor scholars looking for a way to survive, and gave Li Yi another opportunity, “You can go to the next door Qingteng bookstore. They often sell books with paintings, and even print various deity images and new year paintings during festivals. They may consider buying your paintings.”

In the store owner’s eyes, the first-rate artists were those who made a name for themselves, the second-rate artists were those who imitated famous painters and were in high demand. The third-rate artists had mediocre skills and lacked creative inspiration. They only drew cartoons for the common people or painted deity images for a living.

Naturally, the store owner considered Li Yi a third-rate artist and sent him to the next-door store.

The bookstore owner was a straightforward person. When he heard Li Yi’s purpose, he said, “It seems that you need money urgently. There are no new year paintings or deity images to be printed at the moment. Drawing and painting books sell slowly, and even if you draw well, you have to sell a few books before you can gradually raise your prices. I have a proposal, but if you don’t like it, just ignore it.”

Li Yi said quickly, “Please tell me.”

The bookstore owner smiled slightly and leaned in, “Erotic paintings.”

Li Yi was stunned upon hearing this.

The author has something to say: Here are some chapters that recall memories:

27 (second half) to 35 (first half)

39 (second half) to 43

47 to the latest chapter

Chapters 35-39, 44-46 are all in the real world.

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