Joy of Life - Chapter 220[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:47:40]
Chapter 220: Seeing Yan Bingyun for the First Time
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Using intelligence gathered from all sources, and by resorting to all sorts of means, they gathered at a courtyard in the southeast corner of Shangjing. The envoy confirmed that Xiao En had already entered Shangjing in secret. As to where he was being held, probably only the mother and son in the palace and that Sir Shen of the Discipline Commission knew. Strangely, Northern Qi made quite a welcoming scene at Wuduhe, but everything was quiet when returning to the capital. It seemed like Shang Shanhu was still playing tug-of-war with those who wanted Xiao En dead.
Fan Xian did not care if Xiao En lived or died. More accurately, once in Shangjing, before he could be certain to utilize the various assets hidden in Northern Qi, Fan Xian did not have the power to care for Xiao En’s life.
Unless Wu Zhu came, or Wu Zhu came to give Fan Xian that chest.
That brought up another question which had been bothering Fan Xian for a while: why did the inhumanly cold Wu Zhu so adamantly refuse to come up north? Was there someone up north he didn’t want to see?”
On the other hand, the suggestion Fan Xian had given to Chang Ninghou was obviously taking effect. Having successfully baited certain people, there was much profit hidden in the suggestion he made. A meeting with that Sir Shen was also arranged in secret. Fan Xian knew, however, that despite all the secrecy, the Northern Qi empress dowager would definitely be watching over everything from the shadows.
They wouldn’t completely trust Fan Xian, but he still had to try.
Fan Xian did not trust them at all, but the bait had been set. There was always the hope something would bite.
Vice-minister Wei seemed to still be trying to delay things, but both sides involved in this negotiation could feel the pace of events speeding up. Although later than what Fan Xian had strongly requested, the Office of the Grand Herald and Discipline Commission secretly dispatched the right documents, and the envoy finally got the chance to meet with Yan Bingyun on a beautiful day.
The blue sky was clear. Shielding his eyes from the intense sunlight, Fan Xian grinned, remembering a phrase commonly used to start writing assignments in elementary school.
He was very happy, and also a bit excited—although during the journey, before this trade was agreed on, the darkness hidden in the deepest parts of his heart almost drove him to make a certain exchange. Fortunately, none of that became reality—as mentioned a while back, Fan Xian admired this Mister Yan, whom he had never met, very much.
He was a high-ranking official, and yet he was able to discard his riches and prosperity to take up the dangerous job as a spy in a foreign nation far away. Even more impressively, he was exceptionally successful, successfully entering Northern Qi’s upper levels. On that alone, Fan Xian knew this Mister Yan was more accomplished than he was in many areas.
Yan Bingyun was locked up in a heavily-guarded manor on the outskirts of Shangjing. A military base was situated right outside of it. Brocade Guards were stationed within. After the manor’s iron gates opened, the carriage entered, proceeding along the stone path, and soon the envoy arrived at a small building.
This building didn’t have the historical atmosphere of other buildings in Shangjing. It was built from hard rock. There was no courtyard, and from the corner watchtower, one could see every single movement on the lawn below; truly a great place to imprison someone.
Today, only Wang Qinian followed Fan Xian to see Yang Bingyun. Gao Da belonged to the Tiger Guards and the Lin brothers were from the Office of the Grand Herald; none of them had much to do with Council business, nor was it convenient for them to come.
Wei Hua calmly said to Fan Xian, “Sir Fan, take a look at this scenery. Wouldn’t you agree that we treated him well?”
Fan Xian was even more emotionless. “Even if it’s some palace in a divine realm, if you stay in it for too long, it’s still a prison in the end.”
The vice- arbitrator who was accompanying them said, “While it may be a prison, it’s still much more comfortable than your Overwatch Council’s dungeon.” This high-ranking member of the Brocade Guard became angry as he recalled Xiao En’s state when they received him at the border.
Fan Xian frowned, he disliked this vice- arbitrator the most. After the envoy’s arrival in Shangjing, this vice- arbitrator was supposed to be the one to contact the appropriate personnel on both sides, but he ended up hiding away. Even now, Fan Xian was still confused about the official rankings of Northern Qi. Despite being members of the Brocade Guard, why was the boss called the “Provost of the Discipline Commission” and his secret agent the “arbitrator”? When he heard the title for the first time, Fan Xian almost thought he was dealing with people from the military.
“What’s the use in so much pointless talk? I want to go in.” Fan Xian gave the man a cold look. True, Xiao En had suffered for twenty years in the south, but who knew how much torture Yan Bingyun suffered after his arrest? The fact he had survived up until now was quite a feat.
Before going in to see Yan Bingyun, Fan Xian had imagined many scenarios in his head: Mister Yan being tied to a rack, covered in deep gashes; steel needles driven into his fingers and his toe nails all ripped out, exposing the tender flesh underneath; other parts of his body were burned black by hot irons; even his gums were bare, having lost all his teeth.
That, of course, was the cruelest possibility.
Fan Xian also imagined that perhaps Mister Yan was sitting on a cushion right now, surrounded by soft blankets and a handful of scantily-clad beauties who fed him grapes. As the juices from the grapes dripped onto Mister Yan’s firm chest, the women carefully wiped it away with soft pieces of cloth.
That, of course, was the worst possibility.
There was also an absurd scenario that wouldn’t leave Fan Xian’s mind. Perhaps, upon seeing him, Yan Bingyun would come charging like a wounded tiger and rip Fan Xian to pieces. He would be wailing, complaining about how the Council had abandoned him; he hated his homeland for coming so late to his rescue.
That, of course, was the most unlikely possibility.
Regardless of what he thought, Fan Xian still felt the human imagination was truly lacking, himself included. As he looked at the young man sitting on a chair in the room, Fan Xian opened his mouth slightly in surprise; he never would have thought Yan Bingyun would be in such a state.
Vice-minister Wei and that vice-arbitrator were also unprepared for the scene. They both gasped.
The room was decorated simply but elegantly. There was a large bed, a desk, and some everyday furnishings. It was more like a regular living quarter than a place for imprisonment. Fan Xian wasn’t sure if this was Northern Qi’s temporary arrangement to fool him; he was only looking toward that chair.
On it sat a handsome young man with a cold expression. Judging by his dashing face, he seemed to be a very fickle person. What surprised everybody was the girl sitting on the young man’s lap, her light sobs echoing in the quiet room!
Fan Xian finally closed his mouth. Confused, he grinned and thought about how the entire envoy had been so worried for this head spy of Qing. None of them had thought a romance drama would play out in this prison cell; it was not the interrogation scene from James Bond movies Fan Xian had envisioned.
The young man in the chair was none other than Yan Bingyun. Upon discovering his visitors—two of which were dressed as members of the Qing court—he frowned. A cold atmosphere began to fill the room.
This cold atmosphere seemed to have awakened the crying girl on his lap. That young woman raised her head in surprise and looked at the people at the door. Only now did Fan Xian notice this girl was quite beautiful, with a submissive expression. While Fan Xian could tell she must have come from a grand household, he didn’t know why she was here in this heavily-guarded prison.
“Miss Shen?” Wei Hua was shocked. He shouted, “Someone, lead the Lady out.”
“Shen?” Fan Xian frowned. Things were starting to get interesting.
A few Brocade Guards rushed in. Wei Hua, with a harsh expression, scolded them. “Letting Miss Shen come to such a dangerous place, what were you all doing?!” The vice-arbitrator was also full of anger. A couple of slaps later, the Brocade Guards walked toward Miss Shen while covering their faces. However, they dared not make a move.
“Miss Shen? If you still won’t leave, I must resort to using force.” The vice-arbitrator bowed to Miss Shen.
Wei Hua also walked over and gently urged her, “Miss Shen, please go back. If Sir Shen finds out, he will beat you to death.”
Fan Xian hadn’t made eye contact with Yan Bingyun, he just silently watched the girl. A girl named Shen was able to enter this manor, which was heavily guarded by the Brocade Guard. Without question, then, she must be the daughter of Sir Shen.
But Fan Xian didn’t know Miss Shen’s relationship with Yan Bingyun. Chuckling to himself, he wondered if the great Sir Shen was trying to use her to seduce Yan Bingyun.
Miss Shen quietly stood up and stared at Yan Bingyun, who hadn’t said a word. A wild and venomous hatred surfaced in her submissive eyes. She said, emphasizing each word, “I only ask you this: which part of what you said before was true?”
Yan Bingyun tilted his head slightly and met her gaze with emotionless eyes. He said quietly, “I am a member of the Fourth Bureau of Southern Qing’s Overwatch Council. Miss Shen, you should know that none of what I said was true.”
Wei Hua looked at Fan Xian, who had been coldly observing. He was afraid Miss Shen would invoke ridicule from these southern officials if she continued to talk. Hurriedly, he ordered the Brocade Guard to drag Miss Shen outside.
Miss Shen coldly shook off the hands of the Brocade Guards. Full of sadness, she said to Yan Bingyun, who was sitting motionless as a mountain, “Good. What an affectionate and honest man you are, Yan Bingyun.”