The Regent’s Secret Chapter 67

Chapter 67

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As the moon rose to its zenith, a dark cloud covered the sky, and Zhou Yi hurried from the corner gate of the Regent’s Mansion to the main courtyard amidst the croaking of frogs and the chirping of insects.

Zhao Xi heard the report and quickly glanced at the dripping bronze dragon under the eaves. The water clock had just struck the fourth night watch. Something big must have happened, and there was no time to waste.

Zhao Xi entered the inner room where Su Wang had already put on his clothes and a young eunuch was serving him. Zhao Yuan was standing there and asked, “Is it from the border or from the palace?” 

As the regent prince of the empire, it was not common to wake up Su Wang in the middle of the night unless the sky was falling or something similar. 

“Your Highness, it’s Zhou Yi. I don’t know if it’s related to those two places.” 

This was fortune in unfortunate circumstances, at least nothing major had happened yet, and receiving news at this time meant they had an advantage. 

In Zhao Yuan’s view, anything could be applied to military strategy, and timing, especially taking the initiative, that was particularly important.

When Zhou Yi came in, Zhao Yuan had already tied up his hair and sat in the outer room. 

“Please punish me, Your Highness,” Zhou Yi knelt down and acknowledged his responsibility without hesitation. 

In the court, one would have to present a plethora of reasons and excuses to defend oneself before getting to the point. But this was in front of Su Wang, and Zhao Yuan was not just anyone. Zhou Yi, who had been in the army for a long time, did not dare to take a breath before reporting. 

“The young master happened to run into Zhu Jing, the former captain of the imperial guard, outside the Benevolence Temple the other day. He followed him to a servant’s courtyard where he met some former soldiers who had been granted amnesty and returned to the capital. As the young master had contact with some of the former imperial household members, we thought nothing of it. However, we still made some inquiries into the whereabouts of Zhu Jing and others before they returned to the capital.”

At this point, Zhou Yi lifted his head and spoke as steadily as he could, “Tonight, I have found out that Zhu Jing, the former captain of the imperial guard, Lu Sui, the companion of the late Crown Prince Chongde, Duke Jin’s young son Jiang Heng, were all involved in a conspiracy to rebel. The evidence is conclusive.”

Zhao Yuan’s face changed, his pupils contracted, and Zhao Xi was already scared, prostrating on the ground. 

Despite the midsummer heat, the room felt as cold as an ice cave. 

Zhao Yuan spoke first, “Did the Imperial Guards catch wind of this?” 

Zhou Yi prostrated on the ground and replied, “It is my negligence. I failed to perceive it in advance and take preventive measures. I did not come to report to Your Highness earlier to prevent the young master from meeting those three individuals. Moreover, I failed to delay the investigation of the Imperial Guards. The Chief Commander has already paid attention to their movements. Your Majesty, it is only a matter of time before they are discovered.” 

Zhao Yuan fell silent for a moment, and when he spoke, each word seemed to weigh heavily. “Does Li Yi know about this?” 

Zhou Yi replied with difficulty, “I do not know for sure, but the young master does not seem to be aware of this matter. However, the timing of their encounter is too coincidental, making it difficult not to arouse suspicion.” 

It was more than just suspicion. Zhao Yuan had already concluded that Zhu Jing and the other two deliberately sought out Li Yi. If it weren’t for the involvement of the Imperial Guard, he would have immediately and ruthlessly cleansed every inch of the places those people had tread upon, cleanly taking care of Li Yi.

Zhou Yi looked at the solemn expression on the regent prince’s face, and the overwhelming killing intent emanating from him was a familiar sight before battle.

He felt bitter in his heart. He had already anticipated what his master was thinking at this moment, but he hated himself for not being able to kill them cleanly before the imperial guards noticed this matter. Otherwise, at this moment, he should have been here to claim credit instead of pleading guilty.

The opportunity had passed, and the situation was difficult to reverse.

Zhao Yuan stood up and looked at Zhou Yi coldly, “Go and get fifty military sticks. When the matter is done, get another fifty.”

Li Yi woke up early and hadn’t had his breakfast yet when someone came to his courtyard.

Ping An, the messenger, came in, and Li Yi asked what had happened.

“The prince regent’s palace sent a little eunuch who said His Highness is sick.”

Li Yi hurriedly invited the messenger in and asked, “What kind of illness did he get? Is it serious? Has the imperial physician seen him? When did this happen?”

A series of repeated questions left everyone confused.

Li Yi thought for a moment and asked, “How did Zhao Gonggong instruct you?”

“He told me to inform the young master that His Highness cannot come today, and may not be able to come for a while. He asked you not to worry,” the servant replied.

Su Wang was sick, and the news was delivered to Li Yi as soon as it became known. It was obvious that Su Wang had been on his mind all night, but he didn’t give any instructions about his condition.

Li Yi was a very astute person, and he understood that Su Wang wanted him to visit, but didn’t want to ask him directly.

He asked his attendant to request leave from the palace and then went back to the Prince Regent’s Mansion with the messenger who brought the news.

When Zhao Xi came out to greet him, his face was full of worry and he had an expression that was both anxious and hesitant. This made Li Yi even more anxious than before.

“What kind of illness does His Highness have? It’s only been one night, and you’re already so worried?” Li Yi asked.

Zhao Xi was trembling with fear, “Young Master…please don’t ask. You’ll know as soon as you go in.”

Li Yi had no choice but to follow him quickly. When they arrived at the door, Zhao Xi stopped and did not go in.

The curtain was raised, and the room was dark with no sound.

Zhao Xi let Li Yi pass and said, “Young Master, His Highness is seriously ill. Whatever he says later, you must follow his wishes.”

Li Yi was shocked by these words, but before he could think much about it, he had already stepped over the threshold and entered the room.

The first room was tranquil like a meditation room. Li Yi didn’t see anyone there, so he cautiously made his way to the inner room. To his surprise, there was no one inside or outside, except for the solemn regent, sitting in the dark.

Li Yi suddenly felt a chill run up his spine, and his whole body shuddered. Without even daring to look at Zhao Yuan, he turned around and tried to run out.

But before he could even take a step, he was suddenly grabbed and pulled back by Zhao Yuan. Li Yi fell into his hands, realizing that shouting or struggling would be useless. He watched as Zhao Yuan forced him into a corner, feeling like he was back at the cave under the Wuliang Mountain.

Zhao Yuan’s eyes were as cold as a deep pool, bottomless. He stepped forward towards Li Yi, not allowing him to escape.

“I have questions for you. Tell me the truth, or I’ll have to use other methods,” said Zhao Yuan in a calm but terrifying tone.

Even though Zhao Yuan’s tone was not violent, anyone who heard it would feel chills down their spine.

Li Yi took a deep breath, suddenly remembering the countless souls that had been killed under Zhao Yuan’s hands. 

Perhaps feeling that his intimidating demeanor had startled Li Yi, Zhao Yuan lowered his head, took a step back, and turned his face away. 

He stated, “A few days ago, you met with Zhu Jing, Lu Sui, and Jiang Heng.” 

It was a statement, not a question. 

Li Yi’s eyes dimmed, and he replied, “Since Your Highness is constantly monitoring and aware of my whereabouts, what more is there to ask?” 

Zhao Yuan saw his distant expression, which was even more distressing than being startled. However, he had no choice but to persist and ask, “What did they say to you in the courtyard?” 

Li Yi remained silent, and Zhao Yuan asked again, raising his voice, “Do you know that Zhu Jing and the other two are plotting treason?!” 

Li Yi suddenly widened his eyes, unable to speak for a while. 

What did those words imply? Li Yi was not any less informed than Zhao Yuan.

Li Yi instinctively denied it. “No, that’s impossible. When I went in, they were still drying vegetables in the yard…”

He looked up at Zhao Yuan, hoping to see any trace of doubt in his eyes.

Shaking his head incredulously, Li Yi said, “I didn’t hear them say anything. My cousin even said that we were granted amnesty by the emperor…”

Zhao Yuan closed his eyes, convinced that Li Yi had no idea about the evidence gathered on the table. He sighed and pointed to the evidence he had collected, and Li Yi rushed over, shaking as he flipped through the papers. In the end, he collapsed weakly at the edge of the table.

Zhao Yuan couldn’t bear to see him like this anymore and pushed him away from the table, forcing him into a chair.

“From now on, you are not allowed to step out of this room,” Zhao Yuan said firmly.

Li Yi looked up at him in shock, but Zhao Yuan remained silent.

Suddenly, Li Yi jumped up and grabbed a piece of evidence from the table and threw it into the fire. His movements were swift and fierce, and in a matter of moments, the evidence was all burning.

Zhao Yuan drew his sword with a clang and held it in front of Li Yi, who stood motionless, his eyes filled with flames.

Zhao Yuan moved closer and pulled Li Yi away, using his sword to sweep the evidence onto the brick floor. He then gathered it all together, only preventing the sparks from flying around, but he had no intention of putting out the fire.

Once the fire was no longer a threat, Zhao Yuan threw his sword aside and took Li Yi’s hand. He looked at Li Yi’s burnt fingers and took out some ointment from his pocket to treat the wounds. As he did so, he said calmly, “The imperial guards have already been watching Zhu Jing and the others. The emperor will know sooner or later.”

Li Yi remained silent, and as Zhao Yuan continued to treat his wounds, he finally spoke up. “Can’t we spare a few lives?”

There are innocent people here.

Zhao Yuan stood up and tried to control his anger. “You plead for their lives, but did they plead for yours?!” he exclaimed.

Li Yi knew that Zhao Yuan was furious and didn’t say anything else. “The individuals in question are unwavering in their loyalty to the country. They do not believe that their actions contradict my principles.”

“The world is already settled like a rock, yet these insignificant clowns dare to stir up trouble. This is not loyalty; it is treason! Does Guo Shen not show respect and loyalty to his master? Has he ever acted in such ignorance before? His conduct is upright and forthright, far from comparable to these traitors!” 

Li Yi remained silent. He and Zhao Yuan held different positions on this matter, and further arguing would be pointless. 

“What is Your Highness planning to do?” 

“Wei Che is a person capable of holding the position of the Chief of the Imperial Guard, since you are unaware and uninvolved, he will not jump to conclusions and accuse you before the Emperor. As for the Emperor, his treatment of you is different from before. He is willing to learn painting and seek artistic guidance from you, showing some favoritism. While this matter is not yet exposed, I will firmly protect you within my residence and ensure your safety. Even if I have to force it, I will get you out.”

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