The Regent’s Secret Chapter 63

Chapter 63

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Shen Zhi heard that Zhao Yuan had rejected her kindness and caused a commotion in the theater. It was clear that he wasn’t just causing trouble for the theater, but also embarrassing her. She was so angry that she almost wanted to call the emperor over and force the Regent Prince to fix this.

In the end, there was still some reason left, but she was still angry. When the Emperor came over to have a meal together, Shen Zhi casually said, “Before the establishment of the Great dynasty, there was chaos in the country and the world was not yet settled. The Regent Prince fought in the north and south, and was always mixed in the army, with no one in charge of the family affairs. It’s different now from before. It’s not convenient for me to get information from the harem. Your Majesty, have you heard of anyone that your fifth uncle is interested in?” 

Zhao Heng thought to himself, “I don’t even know who I’m interested in, but it’s all because of your pressure that the rumors are spreading outside. If it wasn’t for who Li Yi is, I would have been in trouble with the censor.”

You pushed someone until they striked back, and now you’re still not satisfied?

Knowing that Shen Zhi was someone who couldn’t be convinced easily, Zhao Heng simply said, “The regent prince has said that he won’t consider family matters until I ascend to the throne.”

Shen Zhi sneered and said, “He’s waiting for Your Majesty to arrange a marriage, pick a good one.” She couldn’t help but think about her own grievances. The emperor wasn’t intimate with her, all because of an outsider, now, he was just trying to brush her off again.

However, Shen Zhi wasn’t someone who would easily give up. She changed the topic and talked about Duke Dingguo’s birthday celebration, “If Your Majesty were to attend, it would be more impressive than any rewards.”

Zhao Heng almost turned his head, wanting to run away. Wei Che had been keeping an eye on him all day, and he knew what kind of medicine his royal mother and uncle were trying to sell him.

He had lost face in front of the regent prince and now wanted to regain his reputation.

Sure, I’ll play with you guys.

The garden at Duke Dingguo’s mansion was only fully renovated when the emperor arrived on the day of the celebration. To accommodate the emperor, the celebration was split into two days. On the first day, only nobles were invited, so there was no need to avoid any collisions. They were free to move around the garden as they pleased.

Duke Dingguo had been prepared for the emperor’s arrival from the beginning. When he moved in, he had thought that if it wasn’t the current emperor, it would be the empress dowager.

Initially, when Su Wang entered the capital, he chose the mansion of Duke Jin. Although it was the head family in the Duke’s mansion, it was not a royal palace after all, and this was an exception. Another exception was the Shen family. With the support of the Empress Dowager, they acquired a royal mansion and changed their facade to become the Dingguo Duke’s mansion. 

As a large clan that migrated from Central Plains to Yunnan, the Shen family had considerable wealth. Now that they were in the capital, they did not hesitate to spend money on construction. 

Zhao Heng appreciated the snow scene in the garden, with pavilions, towers, creeks, mountains, flowers, and trees all in abundance. The exquisite design was far superior to that of the palace, and perhaps even not inferior to the famous gardens of Jiangnan described in books.

Wei Che continued to point around and introduce the various items, saying that the jade carvings from Qianshou Mountain in Suzhou were gathered by seven or eight craftsmen over the course of three years; the Taihu stones from Huzhou were transported by an official boat with favorable winds, which Wei Che had also inquired about; and as for the strange rocks, bonsai, and peculiar pines seen everywhere when walking around, they were all gifts from the Yangzhou Prefect and, though not valuable, showed the amount of effort put into them. 

Zhao Heng saw Wei Che trying to hold back his laughter as he listed off the items like he was reciting a menu, so he interrupted him and said, “If I really do marry my cousin, I’m afraid that even one of his Duke’s mansions won’t be enough for him. I’ll have to give him the Prince Regent’s Mansion.”

Wei Che dared not say anything more as only the emperor himself could speak of his uncle, so he stepped aside and waited for Zhao Heng to calm down.

The waterside pavilion was surrounded by windows with new flooring, making it feel like spring inside even on a winter day.

Zhao Heng pushed open the window, letting in the cold air and dispelling the stuffiness inside. The lake in front was wide and not frozen, thanks to the active water from the Lingquan Mountains near the outskirts of the capital. The water sources in the mansions and gardens along this route did not freeze in winter and were cool in summer.

In the distance, on the WuGong Bridge, several indistinct figures were admiring the plum blossoms.

Zhao Heng looked and said, “Is that Ning Wang following behind my cousin?”

Wei Che had sharp eyes and nodded in agreement, “Yes, it is Ning Wang. That figure can’t be mistaken.”

Ning Wang was tall and muscular, resembling an ancient wrestler.

Perhaps they’ve come to the garden to find him. He wass afraid his cousin won’t let him go back to the palace if they can’t find him today. 

Zhao Heng mocked himself and suddenly had an idea. He whispered a few words in Wei Che’s ear.

After listening, he looked at the emperor with a surprised expression. Zhao Heng frowned and said unhappily, “I didn’t expect you to be so sentimental.”

“No, no,” Wei Che hurriedly explained, “I just thought that such a trick should have been thought of by me first.”

Zhao Heng blushed and spat at him. Wei Che quickly ran away, leaving the emperor waiting in the pavilion for the show.

In the distance, the group of people looked like a colorful blur in the snowy scenery. Just as they were about to cross the stone bridge, Ning Wang slipped and fell forward. Shen Miaohua couldn’t avoid him and was knocked down as well.

The maidservant tried to pull him off, but the fur and feathers of his robe slipped through her grasp. Shen Miaohua was about to fall off the bridge.

In a moment of desperation, the Shizi simply threw himself forward and caught Shen Miaohua in his arms. The two of them fell down the stone steps in a tangle.

The commotion attracted the nearby guests in the plum forest.

Zhao Heng was too far away to see clearly, but Wei Che returned to the pavilion and vividly described the scene. He slapped his thigh and laughed heartily, “I have no choice but to ask my cousin to choose another husband. After all, her surname is Shen.”

“Ning Wang and the Empress Dowager are angry…” Wei Che couldn’t help but worry.

“With the Regent Prince around,” Zhao Heng spoke confidently, “no one can make a fuss.”

After the incident, Ning Wang knew he had been put at a disadvantage but dared not speak up. He could guess who would dare to make a move in the Duke’s backyard. Besides, he had long been fond of Shen Miaohua. She had always treated him coldly, but now he had a chance to hold her in his arms.

Ning Wang couldn’t ask his nephew about it and he gained an advantage, so he sent his consort to the Empress Dowager’s palace to speak while he himself went to Duke Ding’s mansion to apologize.

Duke Ding and his wife were the most wronged. Lady Huo also had to go to Ningan Palace to plead her case.

Everyone wanted Shen Zhi to mediate, but the Emperor stubbornly refused. Shen Zhi was so angry that she couldn’t help but want to beat up anyone around Zhao Heng who made even a slight mistake. 

At night, Zhao Heng sighed on his bed, unable to sleep. He got up and went to the palace to see the falling snow. In the pitch-black world, only the areas illuminated by the palace lamps were visible, with snowflakes swirling in a chaotic dance.

The servants and attendants who were old or close to him couldn’t get up after being beaten, and those who were left were too afraid to approach the Emperor. Only Wei Che came over and said, “Your Majesty, why don’t you go to bed?” He gestured inside and finally had a eunuch bring over a coat. 

The Emperor was angry and strode out of the hall, with Wei Che grabbing the coat and following him. The wind and snow blew in their faces, and Wei Che hurriedly put the coat on the Emperor’s shoulders. 

Zhao Heng turned his hand and happened to touch Wei Che’s hand. Wei Che was about to let go after seeing that the Emperor had caught the coat, but Zhao Heng held on to him. 

The Emperor’s fingers were slender and white, with a hint of coldness. Wei Che dared not withdraw his hand and was also confused about Zhao Heng’s meaning. 

“I wish I could take over the court affairs tomorrow!”

Unlike now, where he cannot even protect a few servants and he was always following him, suffering.

Hearing this, Wei Che no longer had the heart to let go of his hand. He even lifted his other hand to hold the Emperor’s hand and slowly brought it in front of him, then knelt down.

Wei Che, warming the Emperor’s hand, faced Zhao Heng and said, “Your Majesty will have that day soon.”

His words were warm and powerful, not empty comfort, but rather like a loyal servant willing to die for his king. Zhao Heng held back the warmth that rose in his eyes, walked forward, and hugged Wei Che.

In the wind and snow, the shadows flickered in front of the corridor’s palace lamps. A few night watchmen and groups of imperial guards silently witnessed this touching moment.

At the end of the year, the Emperor issued an edict, which was originally a customary reward edict filled with flowers and congratulations. However, the one given to Zhao Yuan this year caused a sensation in the court.

In the imperial edict, the emperor said that since his ascension to the throne, the regent prince has been devoted to the state and burdened with great responsibilities, comparable to the wise kings of ancient times. Starting from the third year of Qi Yuan, he, the king, could no longer sit alongside the regent prince and had to bow to him upon seeing him.

This means that Su Wang will no longer have to pay respects to other princes and will truly become the only person under the emperor.

Privately, some have already called him the “Nine Thousand-Year-Old”.

Li Yi frowned when he heard the edict and looked towards Zhao Yuan, who was sitting on the Grand Tutor’s chair with a faint smile on his face, unmoving like a mountain. He naturally understood Li Yi’s meaning and directly replied to him, “His Majesty is no longer a child. Putting me on the fire to roast is just a matter of sooner or later.”

He said it as if it didn’t matter.

Later on, when Zhao Yuan got up to leave, Li Yi escorted him to the door.

Zhao Yuan turned around and said, “We made a deal that you would follow me once he ascended the throne. If it happens earlier, you won’t back out, right?”

Even at this moment, he still had the mood to joke around.

Li Yi couldn’t help but admire him and replied, “Your Highness, please take care of yourself first.”

Zhao Yuan said solemnly, “Naturally.”

After saying this, he still didn’t want to leave and waited for Li Yi’s reply. Li Yi had no choice but to answer him, “I won’t back out.”

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