The Regent’s Secret Chapter 65

Chapter 65

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At the western end of the Sizheng Hall in Zhonghe Palace, there was a small study room that Zhao Heng had named “Listen Rain Pavilion.” This was where he would come to read and paint in his leisure time, as opposed to attending formal lectures.

Zhao Heng had just finished copying the last few strokes of Li Yi’s painting of a crane standing in the bamboo forest, and was pondering over which brush strokes needed improvement and which parts of the painting were different from the original. Liu Shunzhong came in and said, “Lord Wei has been waiting outside for quite a while now.”

“Why didn’t you inform me earlier?” Zhao Heng was slightly displeased.

Liu Shunzhong hastily explained, “Lord Wei knew that Your Majesty was painting and instructed us not to disturb you. He said there was nothing urgent and he had some news from outside to share with you, to help you pass the time.”

Only then did Zhao Heng smile and say, “Let Zitong come in.”

Wei Che came in wearing a silver and red brocade robe, with his snow-white suede boots peeking out from under the hem. The study was a plain and simple room, but Wei Che’s entrance made the entire room glitter and shine.

Zhao Heng thought to himself, when should I draw Wei Che into a painting?

Wei Che first paid his respects to the emperor, and then Zhao Heng asked him, “Zitong, what interesting news have you heard?”

The imperial guards were the emperor’s eyes and ears, from the court to the common people. They occasionally report to the emperor to prevent any misinformation.

Wei Che explained before adding with a smile, “Your Majesty, you should quickly hide this painting by Li Yi. If you wait too long, you might regret it.”

Zhao Heng was puzzled and asked, “What’s wrong with Li Yi’s painting? I saw him bring several paintings to the shop recently and he said he will bring more in the future. It’s not like in the past where he never painted for ten years.”

“That’s the fresh news I wanted to tell you,” Wei Che replied mysteriously. “His paintings were put in the shop, but before they could be displayed or advertised, they were all bought up.”

“Did they buy them all?” Zhao Heng was surprised.

“Not a single one was left,” Wei Che confirmed.

Zhao Heng looked at Wei Che with some confusion.

“Several paintings were put up for sale, but none of them were seen. When someone tried to ask about it, no matter how much money was offered, they refused to reveal any information. Even when asked about the buyer, the seller dared not say a word. Two grand councilors even hit a wall when they tried to investigate.” 

“Such a thing happened?” Zhao Heng couldn’t help but feel amused and frustrated. 

Wei Che continued to tease, “Your Majesty, guess who the buyer was?” 

Zhao Heng shook his head, hesitating to play along. 

“Don’t tell me, it was the Regent Prince,” he finally said, smiling and trying to humor Wei Che. 

Wei Che nodded vigorously, “Your Majesty is wise.” 

Zhao Heng couldn’t help but feel helpless, “Uncle, you’re too obsessed with him.”

“The buyer was Regent Prince,” Wei Che said, winking and playing coy.

Zhao Heng shook his head, smiling. “My uncle’s obsession has gone too far.”

Wei Che didn’t know what to say, so he just laughed along.

Zhao Heng suddenly remembered something and asked, “I remember that Li Yi used to restrain himself from selling paintings when he was a commoner. If he lacked silver, now that he has added the bundle from Pan Palace, shouldn’t he have enough money to spend? Why did he change his mind?”

Wei Che replied, “Li Yi himself is not lacking money, but if he wants to help others, that little bit of silver is not enough.”

Zhao Heng immediately thought of the old acquaintances of the Crown Prince Chongde’s faction, “I remember that after Qin Wang usurped the throne, there were several upheavals in the capital, and now there are only a few of them left in the city.”

Before Wei Che could respond, Liu Shunzhong, who was also in the room, spoke up first, “Your Majesty, I happen to know a little about this matter.”

As someone who served in the palace every day, Liu Shunzhong knew about Li Yi’s financial situation. Zhao Heng became interested.

Liu Shunzhong respectfully said, “Not far from the southeast corner of the Imperial City, there is a four-cornered alley where there is a nursing home for old eunuchs who are sick and disabled. To be honest with Your Majesty, I have an older brother who was a eunuch in the previous dynasty, and he was better off than I was at that time. When the rebel army entered the capital, he injured his leg and is now living in the nursing home.”

The nursing home used to rely on the pity of the well-off eunuchs to support the elderly at the front. Now that times have changed, many slaves were unwilling to associate with the former eunuchs, and the elderly in the nursing home have experienced more difficulties than before. When I visited my brother, I left some silver for him. He told me that Li Yi started to provide financial assistance to the nursing home not long after he went to Pan Palace.”

Liu Shunzhong dared to speak out about these things because he knew that the emperor had a soft spot for old acquaintances. Although he did not show it on his face, he remembered the kindness of others in his heart. The emperor praised Liu Shunzhong and sighed, “I know you are a good man. Li Yi is really softhearted.”

Wei Che nodded beside him, “He gave some of his money to help charity, and these places are indeed particularly difficult after the chaos in the capital.”

After hearing this, Zhao Heng pondered for a moment and said, “At the beginning of Da Cheng, everything needed to be rebuilt, and everywhere needed money. The Regent Prince only chose the Duke of Jin close to the palace gate, and Shen Yin is renovating his garden in the Mansion. There are also those you reported to me earlier. I often think about the people’s livelihood, but these princes and dukes are already competing to be extravagant!”

Wei Che and Liu Shunzhong dared not speak and waited for Zhao Heng to calm down on his own.

The emperor had the imperial guards as his ears and eyes, while the empress dowager received news from Duke Dingguo’s Mansion from time to time.

Lady Huo also came to talk about the matter between the Regent Prince and Li Yi, which made Shen Zhi very angry after hearing it.

“This Li Yi is truly a monster, a slippery and harmful person. Not only did he deceive the emperor into releasing him, he also escaped the law several times. Now he has even made the Regent Prince obsessed with him? Are the things you said all true?”

“Your Majesty, the Duke personally verified it, which is why I dared to come and tell you.” Lady Huo hurriedly added, “Whenever the Regent Prince has free time, he runs to Li Yi’s place. Although they aren’t together yet, it’s only a matter of time.”

Shen Zhi cursed, “This shameless traitor is playing hard-to-get, holding onto Old Five and not letting go. I’m not worried about anything else, I’m afraid he’s plotting something sinister! “

Lady Huo was a little confused and asked, “What does Your Majesty mean?”

“Old Five is treating him like this, what else does a traitor who has lost his country want? He is probably planning something big. I’m afraid he is tempting Old Five with inappropriate intentions, which will be detrimental to the emperor!”

After hearing this, Lady Huo finally understood and exclaimed in shock, “Your Majesty is afraid that he will incite the Regent Prince to commit a crime?!”

Shen Zhi sneered, “Not afraid of ten thousand, just afraid of that one time. He must have his reasons for doing this.”

Lady Huo thought about it and realized that it was possible. In the previous dynasty, the princess of the fallen country had captivated the general of the new emperor, and later seized military power, making the princess the empress.

“I have an idea. You go back and discuss it with your brother,” said Lady Huo, who had received an imperial edict and hurriedly went back to discuss important matters with Shen Yin.

In a few days, Wei Che received information confirming the Empress Dowager and Shen family’s plan. This time, he did not wait and directly requested an audience, interrupting Zhao Heng’s reading.

In the Listen Rain Hall, Zhao Heng was rarely so serious when he saw Wei Che. He threw down his book and asked, “What happened?”

“The Empress Dowager secretly ordered the Duke of Dingguo to poison Li Yi.”

“What?!” Zhao Heng was shocked and angry. “How dare they openly defy my edict?!”

“Your Majesty, did you forget about setting fire to the house? At that time, there was no evidence, but this is the second time now,” Wei Che reminded him.

Zhao Heng suddenly felt a headache. At that time, he really didn’t care about Li Yi’s life or death, but now he couldn’t allow others to take matters into their own hands.

“Why did the Empress Dowager have this idea?” he asked.

“The Empress Dowager thinks that Li Yi will instigate the Regent Prince to act against the state,” Wei Che replied.

Zhao Heng snorted a few times, “Mother really cares about me. She can think of everything for me.”

She not only treated him like a child but also like a baby in swaddling clothes. He thought about taking the throne himself, but if he did, the Empress Dowager would probably replace him with the Regent Prince as the ruler.

Wei Che asked for the emperor’s instructions, “Your Majesty, do you want me to secretly stop this, or openly ask Duke of Dingguo to back off?”

Unexpectedly, Zhao Heng didn’t say anything for a while, but finally said, “Prepare the antidote and watch Li Yi take it. If he has a reaction, save him.”

Wei Che was confused, “Your Majesty, I don’t understand what you mean.”

Zhao Heng stepped out from behind the bookcase and said, “I have been thinking for a long time and have become increasingly suspicious recently about the matter of the Regent awakening his bloodline. I have told you about it before. I suspect that the person behind it is Li Yi.”

Wei Che fell into deep thought while the emperor continued, “Ever since I asked Li Yi about the matter in Pan Palace before, I have had doubts. Whenever it comes to the Dian Nan Wang Shizi, he refuses to talk about it, claiming it is to avoid taboo of the late emperor. However, I have pestered Guo Shen who said some matters which is somewhat unusual.

As for how the Regent treats Li Yi… he understood his uncle well and felt that he wouldn’t easily be infatuated with someone.”

“I understand. I will take the opportunity to test Li Yi for Your Majesty,” Wei Che replied.

“Be careful not to cause any real trouble,” Zhao Heng sighed, “You don’t have to stay by my side for the next few days, keep a close eye on him.”

Wei Che acknowledged and left with the imperial decree.

Zhao Heng looked out of the window, the sun had already set, and the afterglow dyed the walls red. He remembered the dusk in the Da Cheng Hall and the late emperor’s instructions to him.

“You must find this person and hold him in your own hands to be the safest.”

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