The Regent’s Secret Chapter 71

Chapter 71

<Previous Chapter<Table of Contents>Next Chapter>

The heat was like a steaming pot, causing the earth to bubble and boil. The capital had not been this hot for a long time. Not only were the common people suffering, but even the noble women in the deep palace were restless.

The Cheng dynasty was newly established, and the emperor had not yet ascended to the throne. There was no spare money or time to build gardens for summer retreats.

Shen Zhi was trapped in the Ningan Palace, feeling as if she were in a cage engulfed in flames. She could not take a step beyond the thunder pond. Even the palace servants were punished for the past few days. This morning, a personal maid was scolded by her for losing face.

Shen Zhi’s anger had not yet subsided when someone came to report that the Duchess of Dingguo was here to see her.

Not mentioning it was fine, but just mentioning the name of the Huo family made Shen Zhi’s anger rise again.

Her brother couldn’t even handle a slave of a fallen country. How could her sister-in-law have the face to come see her? She had never thought her brother and sister-in-law were so useless. Was it because they had established a country, that they were to become the emperor’s uncle by marriage, and their true colors had been revealed, and they were no longer suitable for the upper echelons?

Shen Zhi looked up at the glaring white light outside, and the tree branches extending from the eaves were burnt yellow like charcoal. On such a day, unless there was an urgent matter, why bother coming into the palace in the heat?

Despite being unbearable, she still knew the priorities of family. Shen Zhi sighed and had her subordinates announce the Duchess of Dingguo.

When the Duchess of Dingguo entered the palace, her undergarments were already soaked with sweat. Although she was uncomfortable all over, she was relieved that the empress was willing to see her.

Earlier, the person they sent out had witnessed Li Yi being poisoned. However, he miraculously survived as if nothing had happened. Both Lady Huo and Shen Yin found it unbelievable and suspected that the person they sent out was lying on purpose. Moreover, they did not dare to tell the empress the truth. She was not an ignorant countryside woman and would not believe such absurd rumors.

At that time, they did not have the time to investigate further. The Duke of Dingguo’s mansion had originally planned to think of other ways, such as drowning him in a river, which would not violate the imperial decree and quietly kill Li Yi.

However, they did not expect that before they could find a chance to act, Li Yi would be taken to the Prince Regent’s mansion, and they missed their opportunity completely.

But things were unpredictable. The Duke of Dingguo’s mansion had been closely monitoring Li Yi in hopes of finding an opportunity to strike. Unexpectedly, they discovered the strange behavior of Zhu Jing and the other former officials of the Crown Prince’s palace.

Benefiting from the disaster, the news they received afterwards made Lady Huo’s heart skip a beat whenever she thought about it.

Finally, they stabilized the situation and could explain the whole story to the Empress Dowager.

“Is there any solid evidence for this?!” Shen Zhi was shocked and asked immediately upon hearing it.

Lady Huo thought to herself, if there was really solid evidence, she wouldn’t have come to see the Empress Dowager, she would have gone directly to the Emperor. However, she understood that even with just a little circumstantial evidence, it would be more than enough to convict Li Yi of a capital crime.

She didn’t come to the palace just for one doomed man in this incendiary time. There must be something bigger and more urgent.

Now that Li Yi was in Su Wang’s residence, it was the best time to take down the Regent Prince.

Conspiring against the state was such a serious crime that even if Li Yi didn’t die, Zhao Yuan would still be stripped of his position.

“Your Majesty, you must seize the opportunity.” Shen Zhi had not expected that Su Wang would give her such a handle by himself. Although it was not very conclusive, it was not baseless. She pondered for a long time until near noon, when she finally made up her mind.

As soon as the Duchess of Dingguo left the palace, she had her maid copy the “evidence” she left behind and sent several copies to each prince with a secret letter, asking her trusted eunuch to deliver them personally.

An hour later, Ning Wang and Yan Wang arrived at the Ningan Palace, followed by Jing Wang a moment later.

“Is what the Empress said true?” Ning Wang was half a relative of the Empress Dowager and called her by her old name.

Shen Zhi nodded, “We must find a way to deal with this matter, uncles.”

Jing Wang was the eldest of the princes and had always disliked Zhao Yuan. Seeing Shen Zhi’s confident look, he rubbed his hands together and said, “What are we waiting for? With us brothers here, are we afraid of Zhao Yuan?”

Ning Wang seemed to be cooling things down, but in fact, he was adding fuel to the fire, “Second brother, don’t rush. Maybe fifth brother was deceived by someone? We shouldn’t alarm the Emperor about this. Let’s find Old Five and ask him first.”

Yan Wang nodded in agreement while exchanging a glance with Ning Wang. There was deep meaning in Ning Wang’s words.

It sounded nice to say that Old Five was deceived by someone, but can such a serious matter as treason be easily solved by just saying he was deceived? Regardless of whether Zhao Yuan had intentions, what the court officials saw was that the Regent Prince was harboring a rebel, which was a serious matter.

The princes and the Empress Dowager understood each other’s intentions, and it was necessary to strip the Regent Prince of his power. If Zhao Yuan was willing to bow his head obediently, he would be given a chance to be a leisurely prince. If he did not know how to behave, then don’t blame them for being heartless.

As for Jing Wang’s statement that it was not appropriate to alarm the Emperor, it was just a matter of leaving out the irrelevant child. When it came to major political matters, when was it the turn of a minor to speak up?

As for finding the Regent Prince to ask him, everyone in the room understood each other well. This was not an inquiry, it was a public trial.

The judges were all seated, waiting for the little eunuch to summon the accused.

Zhao Yuan had hardly slept a wink throughout the entire night. The weather was scorching hot, stirring up the smoldering embers within him from yesterday. The seemingly extinguished fire still lingered deep in his lungs, like molten lava beneath thick layers of rock, ready to erupt and bring destruction upon the world. 

In this terrifying state that he kept hidden from outsiders, the solemn demeanor of the military had carried over to the court. From the beginning to the end of the morning court session, Zhao Yuan remained silent, his face grave, and listened to matters of state. 

The prohibition of speech was as if even uttering a single word would unleash the untamed beast within him, rendering it impossible to be restrained. 

Wei Chi accompanied Zhao Yuan as they left the court, observing the appearance of his master and feeling that he looked even worse than the Su Wang before the siege of the capital. 

He carefully pondered again and again, finding that there was peace and tranquility in all regions with no reports of military affairs. There were no rumors of any significant events in the court either. As for the palace, the emperor and empress dowager had issued an edict the day before, announcing a grand Mid-Autumn Festival banquet. Everything seemed fine. 

Could it be that it was due to Li Yi, the person who had been recently captured and brought to the palace, causing such a commotion? Wei Chi had seen the beauty of Li Yi, and his master had an excellent eye for such things.

Was it that the beauty was unwilling? It could be inferred that he probably wasn’t but there was no need to get angry. After all, what kind of beauty couldn’t be conquered? It was more frustrating than failing to capture a city and set one’s heart ablaze. 

Wei Chi was eager to share his master’s concerns and wished to employ his skills in coaxing the madam, regardless of whether it was appropriate or not. 

But in the end, all those thoughts and ideas were merely swirling around in his head. He could only obediently follow behind Zhao Xi, just like Zhao Xi did with Zhao Yuan. In this situation, he dared not make a sound. 

At that moment, he looked up and saw a young eunuch approaching him, informing him that the empress dowager and the princes were in the Ningan Palace and requested the presence of the regent king. 

Wei Chi’s intuition, honed through countless trials and tribulations, silently emerged, sensing that something bad was about to happen. 

“Master?” he anxiously asked. 

Zhao Yuan didn’t reply. There was no expression on his face, not even a flicker. He turned his head and followed the young eunuch. 

Wei Chi quickly gestured to Zhao Xi. They were quite familiar with each other, and Zhao Xi nodded, indicating that he would take care of Su Wang. 

Walking on the scorching Hanbaiyu palace road, Zhao Yuan crossed the palace gate. What came into view was a vast expanse of golden glazed tiles. Under the midday sun, the dazzling light blurred the boundaries, and the intense yellow color seemed to melt and flow down, shocking to behold. 

As he entered the corridor, he looked up and saw the vibrant and elaborate arches and pillars, which only made him feel nauseous. 

Once Zhao Yuan completely entered the main hall of the Ningan Palace, he could sense that the atmosphere was unusually different. 

Shen Zhi had a tense expression, and her voice sounded somewhat stiff. Jing Wang greeted him casually as usual but instinctively placed his right hand on his waist, a posture of subconscious defense and readiness to strike.

Ning Wang held the teacup and his eyes wandered about as he spoke.

As for Yan Wang, he hastily paid his respects before retreating to the last chair, avoiding attention.

All the princes with real power were gathered today, and Zhao Yuan didn’t want to speak unless necessary. He sat directly at the head, holding his teacup steadily, waiting to hear what they had to say.

Even the youngest Yan Wang had been on the battlefield before. Seeing this situation, the princes realized something was amiss. Their side had not yet fought, but they were already losing momentum.

Ning Wang signaled to Shen Zhi to follow their previously discussed plan and take the initiative.

The empress dowager’s expression turned angry as she immediately questioned Zhao Yuan, “As the regent prince, you are an example to the people and half a teacher to the emperor. Now rumors are spreading that you have done something against human relations?”

Something against human relations? He actually wanted to do something outrageous.

Zhao Yuan held his teacup and did not put it down. He drank the tea, ignoring the froth, before finally speaking slowly, “I just invited a friend to stay for a few days.”

The composed Su Wang had been polite before entering the hall, but now he seemed irritated. Ning Wang frowned, unsure of what kind of mood Zhao Yuan was in.

Jing Wang didn’t notice anything wrong and raised his eyebrows, “I heard that your friend is good at painting. That’s great! I just renovated my garden. Why don’t you have them stay there for a few days and paint some scenes?”

If there was anything Zhao Yuan disliked the most now, it was the word “garden.” Yesterday, Li Yi almost got kidnapped, and now someone dared to ask for a favor in front of him.

Zhao Yuan closed his eyes slightly, lowered his shoulders, and spoke slowly, “Second brother is confused.”

When he opened his eyes again, Jing Wang felt that the pupils that looked back at him were sharp knives that cut through him, causing his throat to ache. He had been about to say something, but stopped himself.

At this point, he couldn’t just ask for someone to be handed over so easily. If he did, and things got worse, his brothers wouldn’t be able to save face by taking a softer approach.

Regardless of the circumstances, today they must capture this Li Yi. First, they would accuse him of treason, condemning him and his nine generations, wiping out all the remnants of the previous dynasty. Then they would subject him to severe punishment, even resorting to torture if necessary, just to make him tightly entangle himself with Zhao Yuan. 

Seeing that Su Wang refused to surrender the person willingly, Shen Zhi had someone bring forth the “evidence” and presented it to the regent prince. 

Zhao Yuan glanced at it and tossed it aside. 

He sat there, resembling a Buddha, refusing to speak. Unable to contain her anger, Shen Zhi spoke first, saying, “Regardless of whether you forcibly abducted him into the residence or he was invited as a guest, now that such a major incident has occurred, you still want to protect him, don’t you? Hand him over. It’s our family’s disgrace, and there’s no need to publicize it. Today, we will deal with him, and I believe the princes will agree with my decision. There’s no need to disturb the Emperor. At the very least, I’ll leave you some face.” 

Jing Wang also chimed in, saying, “He’s just a remnant of the previous dynasty. If you desire a beauty, brother has better options to offer you.”

Zhao Yuan couldn’t help but laugh when he heard this. He started with a few cold laughs, then gradually shook his head and laughed loudly.

There was something invisible beneath that smile, which quietly emerged.

Zhao Yuan picked up the few pages of paper and squinted, “This is a bunch of rumors that are not as good as the rumors on the street. When did they become evidence? Now that Wei Che is no longer in charge of the imperial guard, they dare to spread rumors and mislead the public!”

At this moment, Zhao Yuan already knew what the Empress Dowagers had gathered here for and what the summoning was for. These people didn’t know much about the details, so Zhao Yuan didn’t want to listen anymore. He stood up and walked out.

“Old Five, you don’t even care about the Empress Dowager?!” Jing Wang pointed at him and jumped.

Zhao Yuan was not like his usual self. Since he became the regent, he had always followed the etiquette of a minister, even though he had power over the court and the imperial palace. At this moment, he didn’t even pause his pace and walked straight out of the hall.

Soft words couldn’t persuade him, and threats couldn’t scare him. Seeing that they couldn’t keep him, the people in the hall quickly exchanged glances.


Before Zhao Yuan could leave the main hall, the twenty or so experts accompanying the three princes rushed into the palace from outside, and the gates of the main hall of Ningan Palace were immediately sealed shut. 

The doors of the hall closed abruptly, like the mouth of a beast swallowing everything, plunging the interior into darkness. With the princes surrounding him, Zhao Yuan was completely trapped within Ningan Palace.

<Previous Chapter<Table of Contents>Next Chapter>

Leave a comment