Joy of Life - Chapter 262

[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:47:56]
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Chapter 262: The Lone Bureau

Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio

It was nighttime in the capital, and the evening had been quieter than Shangjing ever was. Qing’s citizens were not ones for such effervescent times, and as such, they would frequently withdraw and stay in their homes at day’s end. Of course, this did not include the gondola operators taking travellers up and down the rivers and women of the night, busy in their brothels.

Fan Xian paced slowly on this night, and Deng Ziyue followed him, carrying a few large boxes. All of a sudden, Fan Xian stopped and waved to the darkness behind and in front of him. From out of the night, the presence of several of the Overwatch Council’s guards was revealed, as if by accident.

“Everyone in the capital knows that you accompany me in the shadows. Why attempt to remain out of sight?” Fan Xian laughed as he said this.

Deng Ziyue possessed a wry smile and said, “The government is not fond of seeing the Overwatch Council’s secret agents out on the streets. Their presence scares the civilians, also; that could never bode well for your reputation.”

Fan Xian understood what he had spoken and replied, “You guys are always running across people’s roofs. Aren’t you afraid of waking those who are asleep?”

The agents were speechless, for not a word came to correspond with Fan Xian’s jest. They did, however, depart the roofs and descend onto the streets. They were revealed to be the “nobodies” of the Overwatch Council; those who were trained vigorously and diligently over time by Wang Qinian, for his appropriately named “Qinian Unit” at the behest of the Council. Nowadays, these highly trained individuals tended to follow Fan Xian. In the Council, Fan Xian was boisterous and cocky, regardless of the issues he was tending to, for it seemed each and every person from any and all departments were nice to him. Alongside his generous salary, he received hefty bonuses each month, as well. The recent changes had filled the agents that watched Fan Xian with a sense of pride.

It was late into the night by now, and the air had become rather chilly. Deng Ziyue quickened his pace to place a black cloak upon Fan Xian, before returning to an appropriate distance behind. There were now eight of them walking along the streets, clad in the Overwatch Council’s specialized black outfits. Its length ended just above the knee, and its color was so dark as to mask anyone who desired concealment.

Under the moonlight, this collective held to a tight formation around Fan Xian, each in flawless sync with each other, all without saying a word.

The following day, Fan Xian went to visit the Overwatch Council building on Tianhe Road.

As he walked forward, numerous officers bowed before him.

“Good morning, Commissioner.”

“Good morning, Commissioner Fan.”

He smiled and replied to each of them, but he did not halt his own passage – he kept his pace toward the room at the back of the building. He pushed open the door and saw figures from the eight bureaus all sitting down together.

Fan Xian bowed before them all and, with nervous expressions, they each did the same to him. Yan Ruohai from the Fourth Bureau in particular was looking at Fan Xian with overwhelming joy and an expression of sincere appreciation. This was due in part to the last two days he had spent gleefully with his son, Yan Bingyun. For obvious reasons, only wheelchair-bound Chen Pingping – who sat at the end of the table – did not rise to greet Fan Xian.

Fan Xian coughed and went to sit at Chen Pingping’s right side. Fan Xian thought it surprising that his teacher was absent and, as perceptive as always, Chen Pingping knew for where his mind lay. As she rubbed his knees gently, he said, “He has gone to Jiangnan on a mission. I cannot reach him, either.”

Fan Xian laughed and lowered his voice, and looking forward, said, “When are you due for a holiday?”

Chen Pingping looked at him and replied, “That entirely depends on when you are set to replace me.”

To have a meeting like this was quite a rare occasion for the Overwatch Council and, coincidentally, Fan Xian was present for the past two. As a matter of fact, the past two meetings had revolved around him to a certain degree. They had each read Fan Xian’s detailed reports of the events that transpired up in the northern Qi Kingdom, and they were relieved to hear that the spy network that had been established there was okay, but that was the extent of their concern.

In regards to Fan Xian’s nomination of Wang Qinian being the one to handle business with the northern Qi Kingdom henceforth, nobody had any qualms with the prospect. Fan Xian was commissioner so he would have the authority to instate Wang Qinian on this job and secondly the man in question really was quite experienced with the dealings of these two kingdoms. If he had worked harder during his earlier years, the possibility of Wang Qinian becoming one of the key figures of the government was quite real. Fortunately for him, he was a follower of Fan Xian and, perhaps unsurprisingly, Fan Xian was always sure to strive to raise the rank of any who did indeed follow him. For Wang Qinian to deal with the northern Qi Kingdom, one must also account for it being quite a hostile place; dealing with such a place was quite suited for a man like Wang Qinian. Seeing what befell Yan Bingyun was a testament to this.

Later, when they announced the personnel arrangements, nobody had any idea of what to expect. The officers in the council always believed that after Zhu Ge of the First Bureau committed suicide, the position had always remained vacant, but this was not true. Chen Pingping left the position open in anticipation of Yan Bingyun’s return. But now that he had returned, Yan Bingyun chose to succeed his father in the Fourth Bureau, instead. Who was expected to fulfill the position in the First Bureau now was unknown.

Chen Pingping was struggling to keep his eyes open and said, “Ruohai has been in the Council for too long and has become tired of his position. Therefore, he will be quitting his position in the Fourth Bureau. He has prepared a letter for the Ministry of Personnel, requesting a quieter job better suited for him in his old age.” Chen Pingping didn’t seem pleased at the revelation that Yan Ruohai was leaving his position, but he knew that he was concerned about his son’s life each and every day during his time away, in addition to being tired of being in the Council. Yan Ruohai also knew that it would be unwise for him to remain in a position of power alongside another family member. Therefore, if he was to allow Yan Bingyun a position within the Council, he himself would have to leave first.

Amongst the Overwatch Council’s eight bureaus, it would seem like the chiefs of each bureau were lacking authority, but this was most certainly not the case. If you were in charge of one department, not even the higher-ups in the Council would dare offend you.

Fan Xian looked at Yan Bingyun’s father and noticed that his eyes did indeed look tired, but that did not beguile the obvious look of relief concerning his departure from the Council.

Now that Mister Yan and the Director of the Overwatch Council had established who was to succeed Yan Ruohai in the Fourth Bureau, nobody said a word until the chief of the Second Bureau asked, “The position in the First Bureau has been empty for quite some time; someone must take it on… Mu Tie…” He stroked his head before continuing, “No, though he is peerlessly loyal, he is a hopeless flatterer. He is not suited for such a position. The First Bureau is perhaps the single most important bureau within the Council. It is in charge of observing each and every officer within every facet and organization of the government – we must find someone suitable for such a position.”

All the others in the room nodded and agreed. The First Bureau was the most revered of all the bureaus. Aside from Yan Bingyun’s father, all the other chiefs present began to mull the possibility of them ascending to lead the bureau.

Chen Pingping slowly turned his head to look at Fan Xian, who had a dubious look upon his face and said, “Starting from today, the First Bureau will have no chief. The authority of this position will be given to Fan Xian.”

These words were spoken lightly, but the implications weighed upon everyone’s hearts like stone. Their sudden thoughts of taking such a position had quickly dispersed, as nobody would dare to compete with Fan Xian. He was already everybody else’s superior, and it would come as no surprise for them to learn that Fan Xian would one day succeed Chen Pingping upon his retirement. But for now, at least, he was to take control of the First Bureau, and nobody would dare to object.

The hearts of all who were present fell stern. The position of Commissioner was already one of high authority and little restriction, but for a single person to now possess the powers of Commissioner and chief of the First Bureau at the same time? That was unheard of, and it would also mean the Council would never need to comply with any activity of the First Bureau. This was slightly unfair, for every other bureau would have to cooperate with each other to get something done, which made the current position of the First Bureau higher than the rest. In a matter of minutes, Fan Xian had become their boss, and whatever he said had to be carried out.

But even Fan Xian was surprised at this sudden turn of events. He pondered as to why Chen Pingping would give him control over the First Bureau. He turned to him and asked, “Chen Pingping, I was reluctant to become a Commissioner, and in my time in this position, I haven’t taken care of much business. If I also take control of the First Bureau, what benefit could that yield the Council?”

Chen Pingping replied, “If you haven’t yet had to deal with certain fragile matters specifically, that is why I am putting you in charge of the First Bureau – so you can gain the experience you need.”

After the meeting, every officer present went to congratulate Fan Xian on his new position. Those in the Overwatch Council were prone to do such things in finer grace and, as such, Fan Xian did thankfully not receive many words that would constitute an eye-rolling suck-up. As everyone left, only Yan Bingyun’s father remained with Fan Xian to thank him.

In his heart, Fan Xian was humbled and so he laughed, saying, “Yan Bingyun and I are friends. And besides, it was purely business, I did not have to go to great lengths. There is no need to thank me so much.”

Yan Ruohai, seeing Fan Xian’s humility, really admired the young man. He slapped his shoulders and smiled, before saying, “In a few days, I will send you an invitation so that you may visit my manor.”

“Of course, of course.” Fan Xian did not think to reject, for he was curious as to how Miss Shen was faring in Yan Manor.

In the room now, only Fan Xian and Chen Pingping remained.

“This is ridiculous!” Chen Pingping looked at Fan Xian with a scowl. “I know Yan Bingyun is a calm and rational fellow; he would never have thought to bring that woman back to the capital. This was your idea, wasn’t it?”

Everyone was afraid of Chen Pingping, but Fan Xian never had been. He was quite playful before him, but not this time. He had been wronged, and so he said, “Director Chen, this has nothing to do with me! That Miss Shen, as soon as she entered the envoy, she went to stay with the princess inside her carriage. It’s not as if I could have dragged her out and killed her.”

Chen Pingping replied, “On the way back to the capital, I had riders follow the envoy. If this was not your idea, how could that woman have entered the envoy alone?”

Fan Xian froze, unable to explain. Upon thawing, he said, “It was an ill-fated relationship.”

Chen Pingping cared deeply for Fan Xian, and so he decided not yell at him. He simply asked, “Why are you exposing the Qinian Unit?”

Fan Xian knew he could not hide this, but he had a prepared response for it if he was ever asked about it. He told him, “It is because I desire for the Council to have more presence and transparency. To perpetually hide and conspire in the dark, it is no wonder why people fear us. It is not necessary for us to do this.”

“More presence?” Chen Pingping’s eyebrows were skewed somewhat, and so he said, “You are quite thoughtful. Perhaps you are correct, and this is for the best.”

Fan Xian aided Chen Pingping in lifting the blanket above his knee and said, “Slowly, now. Take your time.”