The Regent’s Secret Chapter 76

Chapter 76

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The rabbit that came to the door by itself was here, and Zhao Heng had no reason not to take the opportunity. As it happened, Ning Wang also came to test the emperor’s attitude.

Ning Wang immediately stated that he wanted to punish Jing Wang’s serious crimes and behead him for his rebellion.

Then he said again, “After receiving the edict with my eighth brother, we have been thinking day and night about the late emperor’s and Your Majesty’s grace, and we are willing to share Your Majesty’s worries. Within ten days, Eighth Brother and I will prepare to leave the capital. We have already informed the ancestral mansion and await the auspicious day.”

Yan Wang echoed from the side,”Your Majesty, we are concerned about the stability of the borders. If we, as brothers, can take the lead in setting an example for the princes and contribute our utmost to the grand cause, it would be a worthy repayment for the late Emperor’s and Your Majesty’s kindness.”

Zhao Heng heard this with a cold smile in his heart. These two are even using the late emperor to gain favor. They speak so sincerely, but they are not afraid of their own secret activities. They won’t be able to face the late emperor when they meet him in the future.

Zhao Heng felt disdainful in his heart, but still had to appease the two. Now that he had used the execution of Jing Wang as a warning to others, there were countless pairs of eyes watching in the court, and the emperor could not easily change his mind.

Ning Wang took a step back, and the emperor no longer had a reason to completely eliminate them. After all, the princes were his uncles.

Ning Wang also took advantage of Zhao Heng’s vulnerability, knowing that he had not yet assumed full power. Even Old Two’s actions were justified in the name of supporting the rightful ruler.As for Ning Wang and Eighth Brother, they didn’t even say a word openly. The Emperor had no reason to punish them. 

Furthermore, in the early stages of establishing a prosperous reign, the most important thing was to nurture and restore the country’s strength. Engaging in warfare, which greatly drained national resources, was something the court could ill afford. Now, within the court, everyone hoped for peace and harmony between the Emperor and the princes. 

That would be the best outcome for everyone. 

Two days later, during the court session, as expected, many officials from the Grand Secretariat and other departments stepped forward to speak on behalf of Ning Wang and Yan Wang. 

Zhao Heng instructed the Imperial Household Department to keep a record of these individuals, realizing that in just a few years, the three princes had already cultivated a considerable amount of influence by joining forces. If one were to ask who had the least power in the court today, it would be the Emperor himself. 

Thinking of this, Zhao Heng had to suppress his emotions for now, but he planned to settle accounts with these people in the future. 

On the day of Zhao Yuan’s return to the court, Zhao Heng personally went outside the Zhuque Gate to welcome him.

Before entering the imperial city, Su Wang had changed into his ceremonial dress. At this time, he wore a military cap, a vermilion silk robe, and led many generals to offer their prisoners to the emperor.

The triumphant music resounded, and Zhao Heng, dressed in imperial robes, ascended the city tower to proclaim his decree to the whole nation. 

The road leading to the city gates stretched for several miles, with all the officials dressed in their ceremonial attire, kneeling and arranged in an orderly manner to listen to the decree. From the Regent Prince down to the six ministries, each received recognition and rewards based on their merits. 

After Jing Wang’s escape that day, he was ultimately captured and brought back by the subordinates of Duke Dingguo. It was beneficial for Jing Wang to assist in suppressing the Regent Prince’s power but if he failed, the Shen family would not be affected. After all, they stood on the side of the Empress Dowager and the Emperor. 

Regarding the disposition of Jing Wang, Zhao Heng inquired about the Regent Prince’s opinion.

Zhao Yuan smiled and said, “He’s still loyal to the emperor, so it can’t be considered a rebellion. It’s up to Your Majesty to decide.” For the first time, the Regent Prince let go and allowed the emperor to make the final decision.

Zhao Heng instructed the Court Ceremonial Office to draft a decree, admonishing Jing Wang for his stubbornness, his unjust actions against the Emperor, and his commission of ten heinous crimes. However, due to the Emperor’s benevolence and wisdom, he decided to spare Jing Wang’s life out of respect for the late Emperor. 

When Jing Wang was bitten back by Duke Dingguo’s men, his leg was fractured and could not be properly treated, resulting in permanent disability of his right leg. The Emperor stripped him of his princely title, sent him to guard the ancestral mausoleum in his former territory in Dian Nan, and forbade him from stepping out of the mausoleum for the rest of his life, placing him under strict surveillance by the tomb guards. 

Zhao Heng did not implicate too many others in this matter, demonstrating the leniency of the monarch. He confiscated all of Jing Wang’s properties and sent a message to Ning Wang, stating that some of the fields and estates were adjacent and difficult to separate, and that there were reports of shared management in certain places. Ning Wang gritted his teeth and accepted it. Before leaving, he not only handed over his own properties but he even took the opportunity to present most of Yan Wang’s properties in the capital as an additional gesture. He had his own calculations in mind and now he had no intention of confronting the Emperor.

From lands and silver reserves to various businesses, the Emperor’s private treasury was now full to the brim. 

Wei Che, with a flattering face, approached the Emperor to request rewards, as he played a significant role in uncovering these properties. 

Zhao Heng chuckled and said, “I have already restored your position in the imperial Ceremonial Guard, and recently rewarded you with Ning Wang’s private residence, which is very close to the imperial palace, what more do you want?”

Even the consecutive rows of imperial plaques could indicate that the Emperor was in a very good mood, not to mention Wei Che.

His amber-colored eyes flickered, and he leaned closer to the emperor and said, “Your Majesty, how about granting me a favor? I will repay you in the future.”

“Pah! Do you think it’s so easy to get a golden promise from me?” Zhao Heng scolded him, but his face was still smiling and not angry. “At best, it’s a small promise. If you don’t perform well in the future, I will have to remove you.”

“What?” Wei Che exaggeratedly opened his mouth and was speechless. How could an emperor be so petty? If he didn’t want to grant him anything, it was fine, but he actually wanted to take it back through legal means.

Liu Shunzhong, who was standing behind, couldn’t help but laugh, and the emperor’s mood became even better when he saw Wei Che being defeated.

In the year of Dacheng, many new imperial scholars had not yet received official positions, but they had already witnessed several changes in the court.

From the beginning of the year when the Regent Prince was promoted to an unattainable rank, to the marriage alliance between Ning Wang and the Empress Dowager, and then to the decree to limit the power of the princes, the princes were defeated. After finally becoming calm, these imperial scholars who didn’t want to be idle began to discuss the Regent Prince’s dominance.

Someone started it, and Zhao Heng deliberately let Wei Che push from behind. Soon, the rumor spread throughout the court and the people, accusing the Regent Prince of excessive power.

Zhao Yuan heard the rumours and laughed. The emperor was making a show, and it seemed that the road to overthrow the Regent Prince was already paved for him.

During the political discussion in the palace, Zhao Yuan was absent-minded while speaking. Zhao Heng called him from the top, “Royal Uncle?”

Zhao Yuan was different from the past, and his thoughts were getting more and more lazy. He casually replied, “You handle it, Your Majesty.”

After hearing this, Zhao Heng thought that the Regent Prince had been lazy for several days, and he wasn’t angry. He stopped the political discussion and whispered a few words to the eunuch next to him.

Zhao Yuan had excellent hearing and had already heard the words “Li Yi” and “painting.”

Zhao Heng smiled as he saw his sharp gaze and said, “Li Yi made a new painting for me, and I asked them to show it to you.”

When the eunuch came back to the hall and opened the scroll, Zhao Yuan forgot for a moment that he was still in front of the emperor. The person in the painting was wearing a red robe and standing on top of a city tower, with strong winds blowing the flags and banners nonstop. The fluttering clothes and sleeves made him look like a god or king in the world. Under the jade crown and the tassel, were a pair of eyes as deep and cold as an abyss, which seemed to be able to steal the souls of the viewers if they looked at them for too long.

Zhao Heng walked over and deliberately ignored the center of the painting, pointing only at the captives below, each of whom looked like a small demon being trampled on. He remarked, “Even these little demons have their own unique shapes.”

Finally, the emperor joked, “Why have I never thought that my uncle is so handsome? I should ask Li Yi to paint a portrait of me as an intelligent and heroic ruler.”

The entire painting depicted the scene of the triumphal offering of captives. Zhao Yuan’s heart moved slightly, and he said to the emperor, “Thank you, Your Majesty, for allowing Li Yi to come and see it.”

Zhao Heng nodded his head and was pleased in his heart, but remained nonchalant on the surface. “Li Yi said that the scene is rare, and he wants to see it. I also consider myself half an art lover, so I allowed it.”

“I also ask Your Majesty to convey a message to Li Yi and ask him to live in peace. I will go to pick him up soon.”

Zhao Heng was surprised, “Doesn’t my uncle want to write a letter?”

Zhao Yuan replied, “No need.”

Rather than writing a letter that could be opened and read by someone else, it was better to let the emperor deliver the message directly. Moreover, it was better for him to release Li Yi sooner rather than later.

Zhao Heng wanted to ask for the painting, but seeing that the Prince Regent had no intention of returning it, he had to let it go and not mention it again.

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