The Regent’s Secret Chapter 70

Chapter 70

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As soon as the three of them disappeared into the artificial mountain, not only did the archers have no chance to shoot, but the chasing soldiers could only follow in a line. Zhao Yuan, whose face was full of killing intent, led the way.

At this point, everyone knew that there must be a secret passage inside the artificial mountain.

Zhou Yi was so anxious that he was sweating profusely and itching to hit someone. If Li Yi was really taken hostage, he would not get his military stick, but the penalty of Ling Chi.

As soon as they entered the artificial mountain, Zhu Jing let go of Li Yi and put away his sword. The three of them quickly formed a formation, with Jiang Heng and Li Yi in front and Zhu Jing following closely behind. They ran towards the depths of the mountain.

The artificial mountain had two levels. After passing a wall that obstructed the view, Jiang Heng had already reached the stone steps leading down to the tunnel under the lake. The tunnel was like a maze, and they ran along it in a frenzy. When they reached the entrance to the secret passage, Li Yi suddenly and unexpectedly ran out of the door, leaving Zhu Jing and Jiang Heng behind. He stayed in Duke Jin’s Mansion…

At the other end of the stone gate, there was a panicked voice followed by various attempts to strike it. Although the mechanism had completely sealed the gate, the sound could still be heard through it.

Li Yi leaned against the stone gate and calmly said, “Zhu Jing, cousin, listen to me.”

“Your Highness!”

“Everything I said just now was true. I voluntarily stayed in the palace and was not forced by Zhao Yuan,” Li Yi took a deep breath and didn’t hesitate to lie and use even stronger words, “I have given myself to him, and there is no other choice for you to make!”

“Your Highness!”

“I don’t believe it! Cousin, I don’t believe it!” 

Zhu Jing exclaimed while Jiang Heng pounded the stone gate making it rumble.

Li Yi saw the faint glow of fire and knew that Zhao Yuan had come very close. He only had time to shout into the other side of the gate, “Quickly go! People have come!”

Zhu Jing suddenly covered Jiang Heng’s mouth on this side of the gate and whispered, “Don’t be impulsive, let’s listen to what Li Yi and Zhao Yuan say.”

Jiang Heng finally managed to calm down and listened attentively with Zhu Jing to what was happening on the other side of the gate.

Li Yi heard that there was no more talking from the other side, but there were no footsteps indicating that the two had left. He suspected that Zhu Jing and Jiang Heng were still hiding behind the gate listening, he feared that they would not give up.

The pursuers suddenly rushed into the last corridor. In the flickering light of the fire, Li Yi clearly saw Zhao Yuan’s expression relax for a moment when he spotted him. But then, Zhao Yuan’s face became unreadable again, as if that moment had been a figment of Li Yi’s imagination.

Zhao Yuan had arrived by Li Yi’s side, holding the torch up high, and asked with concern, “Are you hurt?”

“Your Highness, I’m fine,” Li Yi shook his head.

Zhao Yuan examined him closely under the light, confirmed that Li Yi was unharmed, and then turned to inspect the stone gate and the mechanism, realizing that the chase was futile.

He turned to Li Yi and asked, “How did you escape?”

“They didn’t guard me closely enough. I took advantage of the chaos when the mechanism was activated and broke free,” Li Yi explained.

Zhao Yuan was standing close to Li Yi, the firelight dancing in his eyes, making his captivating black pupils appear even more profound. He reached out and lightly touched Li Yi’s cheek. During the previous attack on the house, the broken glass had scratched Li Yi’s jaw.

“It’s good to have you here,” Zhao Yuan said softly.

Li Yi’s heart skipped a beat, his voice distant, “I promised Your Highness, and I will follow you.” His words were not just meant for Zhao Yuan, but also for the two on the other side of the stone gate.

Zhao Yuan’s face relaxed at Li Yi’s words, and he smiled slightly. He turned and walked a few steps away to give orders to Zhou Yi, leaving only Li Yi and himself in the long corridor.

Li Yi was overwhelmed with nervousness, and he leaned against the stone door to catch his breath. Faint, disordered footsteps could be heard from the other side of the corridor, gradually fading away. 

Finally, he let out a long breath, and when he stood upright again, the long corridor was filled only with the crackling sound of burning oil. At some point, it was only him and Zhao Yuan left. 

Zhao Yuan placed the torch between the cracks in the stone, turned slowly, and began to approach Li Yi step by step. 

His shadow stretched and distorted on the stone wall, his robes and armor twisted along with it. As he drew closer, his presence loomed over Li Yi like a dark, malevolent cloud. 

Li Yi’s breathing became rapid, and as he watched Zhao Yuan, he saw a completely different person before him. There was a hint of bloodlust in Zhao Yuan’s eyes. 

Instinctively, Li Yi took two steps back, and as he continued to retreat, he found himself pressed against the stone door behind him.

“In the quiet room, at first you stopped me from taking action, which is fine. I respected your wishes and let them go. But later, you actually encouraged Zhu Jing to hold you hostage. You protected them all the way from the quiet room to the garden. Do you know how long that distance is? 223 steps. What if Zhu Jing had made a mistake? What if the archer accidentally shot an arrow? You disregarded everything, fine. I’ll take care of the constant anxiety for you. It’s true that I’ve been watching over you, and I’m confident that I can protect you. But you shouldn’t have done it, shouldn’t have followed them into the secret passage!” 

With those words, Zhao Yuan pressed Li Yi firmly against the stone door, leaving no room for escape. 

“Even after everyone has already fled, you still want to play a game with me, to deceive me. You’ve thought of everything for these people, but have you ever considered me?!” 

Li Yi’s heart raced with shock, and a chilling sensation spread through his chest. 

“Your Highness, I didn’t…” 

“Yes! It’s true that you didn’t go with them, but what if you escaped? Where should I go to find you?!” 

“Should I alert the imperial guards and have to see your lifeless body?!” 

“Or perhaps you want me to personally lead an army to conquer your self-proclaimed kingdom?!”

Zhao Yuan’s eyes were bloodshot, as if he wanted to tear open their hearts and put them together.

After ten years of separation, countless lonely nights and the poison in his blood, he was able to endure it. Even when they met again and couldn’t recognize each other, they could start over slowly and he could still bear it.

But a death farewell, Li Yi, how could you make me return to such a deep abyss? If it happens again, I will have no chance of crawling out, only to be crushed to pieces.

Li Yi was truly frightened by Zhao Yuan, not because of his crazed appearance, but because of the meaning behind his words. He dared not think deeply about it.

Under the rage, Zhao Yuan suddenly said something even more terrifying.

“Li Yi, if you really want to restore the country, I’ll accompany you.”

Li Yi jumped up in shock and realized he had covered Zhao Yuan’s mouth with his hand.

Zhao Yuan silently stared at him until Li Yi wanted to retreat. Then, Zhao Yuan grabbed him and pressed him against the wall, lifting him up and pinching his hands, forcing Li Yi to open himself up completely. It was not so much a kiss as it was a release that spanned a decade, a heartburn that set fire to everything inside him and burned it all away with their entangled tongues.

Their entwined licking and sucking was insatiable, and soon Li Yi couldn’t breathe. He was turned into a puddle of water that couldn’t stand up straight, completely surrendering.

Each time, he only had a few breaths before Zhao Yuan took his consciousness away again, countless times, until Li Yi could no longer distinguish time and space, his soul completely taken away by the person in front of him.

Zhao Yuan slowly peeled away from him.

The emptiness caused by the separation was so great that Li Yi could barely endure it and groaned.

Zhao Yuan stepped back, staggering towards the exit. His shadow was as sharp as a blade, trailing long behind him.

Li Yi propped himself up, and the fear that had once frozen him was replaced by a raging flame that made his blood boil.

Between gasps, Li Yi hoarsely called out to him.

“Qi Yuan…”

Zhao Yuan’s shoulders trembled, but he didn’t turn around.

After a moment, Li Yi heard him whisper very softly, as if he was asking a question, “When did you… know… it was me?”

It was so vague, like a low growl in his throat, but Li Yi understood every word clearly, as if it had come from his own mouth.

At this moment, deep beneath the surface, he could finally open his heart and face the past.

Perhaps he had known for a very long time.

There were things they never wanted to bear, and if Zhao Yuan wanted to start over and not acknowledge it, Li Yi could pretend it never happened.

His heart was clear as a mirror. It wasn’t his heart he wanted to hide, but himself.

Memories floated forward and Li Yi said, “You said, you weren’t Zhao Shen.”

At that moment, he was determined to drag himself back from the heavens and gods. He already knew the truth.

The corridor seemed endless. Zhao Yuan never looked back and walked straight out.

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