Joy of Life - Chapter 202[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:47:33]
Chapter 202: Prelude to Psychological Warfare
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Haitang gave a seemingly pained sigh and sank once more to the bottom of the lake, trying to put out the blazing fire inside her. Her body writhed and calmed, roving from place to place. Looking at her from the surface of the lake, she looked like a beautiful and incessantly moving white fish. In the distance, fish followed behind her, carefully swimming up beside her naked body.
Some time later, white froth churned on the lake surface, and Haitang burst forth, swimming to the lakeside. A cool breeze swept past her. She put on her simple clothes.
She was not a particularly pretty girl, but there was a faint sense of rural character to her appearance that was quite endearing. Her eyes were unusually bright and clear, contrasting with the white birds and sandy islets of the lake. At that moment, they were filled with a hint of fury.
“Fan Xian, I will kill you!”
Clearly, her attempts to dispel the poison had failed.
Fan Xian awoke from his meditation and strolled around the camp. The ambushing Northern Qi troops had already been almost completely massacred by the Black Knights. The corpses on the battlefield were the clearest proof of this. An envoy had passed through Wuduhe to express the strongest possible protest to Northern Qi.
“It is rather regrettable,” said Wang Qinian with a sigh, following behind him. “With some difficulty, we accurately calculated the point where the enemy attacked. We can attribute his death to their attempt to free him. All kinds of evidence has been prepared appropriately. But your plan for Xiao En’s death has been unexpectedly disrupted by that woman.”
Fan Xian shook his head and strolled underneath a tree, looking at the slowly drifting fog in the distant mountains. “Perhaps I have also disrupted her plans. Though Xiao En did not die in that exact spot at that exact moment, it may yet still be a good thing. At least it has allowed me to learn what he is hiding.”
“Use torture, then.” Wang Qinian had begun to come out with rotten ideas.
Fan Xian glared at him. “Chen Pingping tortured him for 20 years and got nothing out of him. Do you think we can make any kind of progress within two days?”
“Then what do we do? Are we really going to give Xiao En to the north?” Although he did not know what it was that Xiao En knew, from the position of an official of the Overwatch Council, Wang Qinian was very much unwilling to deliver Xiao En and his secrets into the hands of their northern enemy.
“Give him to the north. In any case, there are powerful people there who want him dead. There are also powerful people who want to protect him.” Fan Xian frowned. Did he really want to make use of that box? But the box wasn’t with him, and he had no idea where Wu Zhu was.
“Don’t think too much about it.” Fan Xian shook his head. “Tomorrow we get ready to pass through Wuduhe. We must watch out for Haitang. If she kills Xiao En within our borders, then the responsibility will be entirely ours.”
“Do you want to dispatch the Black Knights to get rid of her?”
“Your ideas are terrible today.” Fan Xian coughed and found that his chest still ached. He leaned against the trunk of the tree. “If it were a fight between two armies, coming across a line of Black Knights, they’d have no choice but to flee even if it were a grandmaster. But if we use the Black Knights to assassinate her, I fear they’d all be silently snuffed out by her blade.”
“You know yourself quite well.”
From the mountain road ahead of them came an angry voice and a woman wearing simple clothing, her long hair somewhat wet. She stared at Fan Xian.
They were some meters away from the camp. The Tiger Guards, tired by working through the night, had been ordered by Fan Xian to rest. Wang Qinian glanced at Fan Xian, shocked. He knew that this was the upper ninth-level master who had almost killed Commissioner Fan – Haitang of Northern Qi!
Fan Xian’s face was calm. He waved a hand. “You came back.”
Wang Qinian, not giving a damn, ran frenetically back to the camp, trying desperately to call for Gao Da and the other swordsmen. The Black Knights’ horses had all gone into heat, and they were unsure what had gotten into them.
Fan Xian cocked his head slightly as he looked at Haitang. “Aren’t you worried that he’s gone to call for help?”
“Aren’t you worried that I’m just about to kill you? It’s not the same as this morning. I reckon I’ll have your head off your shoulders within three rounds.”
“You can try… if the poison has been cleansed from your body.” Fan Xian’s intonation was somewhat frivolous.
Haitang bit her lip as she looked at Fan Xian, her bright eyes full of resentment. After a long while, she spoke a single word. “Shameless.”
Fan Xian softly licked his own dry lips, narrowing his eyes as he looked back at her. His face was shameless and his reply was quick. “Thank you.”
“Give me the antidote.”
“Why should I?”
“If you don’t, I’ll kill you.” Haitang spoke viciously, but fan Xian could see in her eyes that she was slightly flustered.
“Kill me, and you’ll be bathing in the waters of the northern sea every day.” Fan Xian appeared to be completely unrestrained.
The negotiations had broken down, with neither side willing to concede, and neither able to take the next step toward mutual benefit. The young man and woman stared at each other like a pair of angry young children. As they stood under the trees of the mountain road, glaring at each other, the whole scene looked rather amusing.
“Have you killed Xiao En?” Haitang suddenly changed the subject, looking at him as she talked. “If you have misgivings about me, I presume you are unaware. My journey south was not to prevent you from killing him. In fact, we have the same goal.”
Fan Xian shook his head. “I really would like to kill Xiao En, but as you want to kill him, then I must protect him.”
“Oh, nothing.” Fan Xian wasn’t going to tell her that he really wanted to know what Xiao En’s secret was.
Haitang was angry now. She withdrew her sword, and with none of the natural gracefulness she had shown before, she soared upward and chopped a tree sapling in half.
The corner of Fan Xian’s eye twitched. Though his face remained calm, deep down he was aghast. If she really wanted to kill him, with no Black Knights or Tiger Guards by his side, he was unsure as to what he should do.
Suddenly Haitang’s brow twitched and she ran up the mountain road, looking back to call to Fan Xian. “I don’t want anything to do with these servants. Are you coming or not?”
“Am I coming?” What kind of invitation was this? Was this a fight to the death or a tea party?
With a smile, Fan Xian clasped his hands behind his back and followed behind her. As an official of the Overwatch Council, there was no one else more willing to cause trouble than him. In terms of seriousness, this was the irresponsible behavior of someone who held his own life to be of no importance.
Watching the shadows of the young man and woman disappear down the end of the mountain road, there was a rustling sound as a number of figures flew from the tree branches. As they converged in one place, Gao Da drew his long blade and frowned, looking at the mountain road. “Master Wang, we should follow them,” he said to Wang Qinian.
Anxiousness showed on Wang Qinian’s face. “The Master is exceptionally wise and excessively horny.”
Of course, Fan Xian had not followed Haitang because he was entranced by her beauty. But he knew that what she was about to say was not to be heard by others. Otherwise, she would fly into a rage out of humiliation, would no longer accept his threats, and would likely kill him.
“I can cure the poison.” Fan Xian looked calmly at the girl as she leant against a tree, seeing the wet clothing that clung to her body. “But I need you to promise me something.”
“I’m not listening to your threats.”
“It’s not a threat.” There was a slight look of distress on Fan Xian’s face. “I am an official of the Overwatch Council of the Kingdom of Qing. As you have crossed our border in an attempt to murder a criminal under my escort, then I must use every method I can to stop you. Do you think I am particularly pleased about using such underhanded tactics?”
His lips curled into a self-deprecating smile.
Haitang was somewhat surprised. After a moment of silence, she suddenly spoke. “What do you need me to promise?”
“It is about a day’s travel from here to the north side of Wuduhe. I hope that you will not make your move during that time.”
Haitang looked at him calmly. “You must know that if you are to enter Qi territory, I cannot move against you.”
“Why?” Fan Xian seemed rather surprised.
“Because… I am a citizen of Qi. I must think of the common people of this nation. I cannot break this agreement within the borders of my own country. If I were to provoke the anger of the royal family, then the two countries might declare war once more. Those who suffered and died, in the end, would be the unarmed and defenseless common people.” A look of worry floated across Haitang’s eyes. “But I cannot allow Xiao En to return to Northern Qi alive.”
Fan Xian listened, his face calm, his heart gradually sobering. It seemed to be just as Si Lili had said. Did this upper ninth-level master before him really have the character of a village girl, bemoaning the state of the universe and pitying the fate of mankind? Such was the fine moral character of Fan Xian’s most beloved enemy.
“Why do you want to kill Xiao En?” Strangely, there was a hint of disapproval and loathing in Haitang’s eyes. “You do know that if Xiao En dies, then your official who fell into the hands of the royal court must die too?”
Fan Xian was silent. Of course, he could not tell her his darkest secrets. He smiled. “Has he not already been killed? Even if Xiao En were to die, that would be the responsibility of Northern Qi. You dispatched troops to sneak across the border. How can you wash your hands of this? As for Master Yan, I believe I can still bring him back to the Kingdom of Qing.”
He waited a moment, then asked with curiosity, “Why is it that you want to kill Xiao En?” His face was naive, even a little stupid.
Haitang looked at him with loathing. “I don’t have to explain why to you.”
Fan Xian shrugged, and took out a pill from his breast pocket. “The… aphrodisiac you were administered was one of my own creation. It cannot be dispelled with zhenqi.” Having said this, he threw the pill far.
Haitang’s face was filled with anger, and then shame, before returning to anger once more. It seemed to fluctuate. She caught the pill and looked at him coldly. “I didn’t answer you. Why were you willing to give me the antidote?”
Fan Xian sighed and turned away, turning his back to her. Leaning against a sapling, he looked at the green valleys of the mountain range, and the wildflowers on the distant hillsides.