Joy of Life - Chapter 287

[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:48:05]
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Chapter 287: Heroes Start Young

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

The government’s volition to investigate the Baoyue Brothel was restricted by the second prince. They were aware that the Baoyue Brothel’s owner had associations with various criminal syndicates in the capital, but they always turned a blind eye to this. The restrictions that had been enforced by the prince, however, did not apply to the Overwatch Council. Even though they lacked the authority to investigate the government’s problems, they were able to leverage the government’s malpractices as a method to obtain information.

Fan Xian was sitting in his study, reading the case files in front of him, and he was frowning. The Baoyue Brothel was owned by two individuals, and a shroud of mystique veiled both of their identities from only a select few. In regards to the establishment at large, their methods of operation were both fearless and cruel. The Baoyue Brothel had only been open since the spring, and despite that, over the course of a few months, they had utilized their hard cash and brutality to intimidate and bully several other brothel establishments to close up and shutter their doors for good. It was through these measures that they were able to exclusively employ many well-known courtesans, as well, which would only serve to heighten their reputation.

After his trip to the Baoyue Brothel, Fan Xian could see that the owner must have been exceptional at running businesses, all the way down to the finest of details. But despite the legitimacy of the establishment, there was no possible way to hide the darker side of the place, and the notoriety of the methods they had used to secure their current position were plain to see. Mu Tie was correct; for in less than a month, four underperforming escorts had completely disappeared, and for all anyone else knew, they most likely were killed and had their bodies disposed of. But there was far worse, too, for there were records indicating the employment of under-age prostitutes and their willingness to cater to sick fetishes.

As Fan Xian read more, his eyebrows became sharper and sharper; all the while his heart continued to sink. From between now and his past life, the world seemed to never be free of darkness, and here, in the clear skies of the Qing Kingdom, the obscenities and immoralities highlighted this all the more. The nobles would make frequent use of the authority that their positions yielded in order to exploit and abuse those who were below them. That which has been occurring with the Baoyue Brothel was nothing particularly unique under the administration of the government. All the nobles and officers were known to make use of these methods to line their pockets.

In regards to those who were not wealthy, and to those who scraped by in poverty and the unfairness they were treated with… Back in the day, Fan Xian would have gladly obliged to remain a bystander, letting the evil of this world be and do as it may. He would have forced himself to ignore it, if that’s what it took, for he did not think of himself as a savior to any particular person. Fan Xian himself already had enough benefits, and with the authority he had been given, he enjoyed his social standing. As a person of wealth and status, however, he still showed refrain whenever he engaged with the rich, noble circles and, for the previously mentioned issues, held his tongue.

But his silence and acceptance of the current state of affairs did not mean he had gotten used to it. And despite being in this muck for as long as he had, he had still not goten over it.

The events at the Baoyue Brothel were not enough to change his principles. Perhaps he would attempt to do what he could in the name of good, like his freeing of Sang Wen and the attempt to suppress the establishment in question, in order to reel in the nobles and have them be gentler going forward. He wanted to adjust and possibly diminish the class segregation that existed within society, but he resolved to do what he could through smaller acts; he chose to not do things by any drastic means, like a thunderbolt.

To react like a thunderbolt would be to deny everything the Baoyue Brothel had committed. It would mean he was to challenge the entire world, or some such act that was equally incredulous. Only one such other person had done so before, and that was Ye Qingmei. But considering this was Fan Xian’s mother, it would be a safe bet to say she failed.

The Baoyue Brothel did not seem quite right, and the reasons for its establishment were most certainly not so simple. Fan Xian could smell the stench of nastiness and antagonism from outside of its doors. Deep in his heart, he made repeated assumptions about the nature of the place, each one worse than the last, but it got him nowhere. His frustrations were only exacerbated.

Therefore, he resolved to return to the Baoyue Brothel and confirm whether or not his assumptions were true or not.

It was a sunny day for an autumn afternoon. The leader of the Qinian Unit, Deng Ziyue, had come again to the Baoyue Brothel.

Seeing his emotionless face, each and every security guard of the Baoyue Brothel quickly gathered around with the intent of beating him to death. But taking notice of his black and dour outfit, it made his possible assailants take a step backwards. It was as if they were taken aback by an unpleasant smell that emanated from his clothing.

Deng Ziyue was wearing the Overwatch Council’s uniform on this day, so his identity was not the same as it was the prior night. It had been previously stated that the Baoyue Brothel was receiving support from the Overwatch Council, and so, they dared not attack him. They immediately called for the attention of a manager, which then approached and directed Deng Ziyue to a quiet room on the third floor.

Inside the room, there were curtains veiling someplace he could not see behind.

In front of the curtains lay a table that had been built from Qingzhou stone. The table’s surface was immaculate. Shi Qing’er, bearing a wide smile, welcomed Deng Ziyue and bid him to sit at the table. Charmingly, she then spoke, “Oh, you are the lord from the Overwatch Council? Yesterday’s kerfuffle was entirely our fault. If I had known you were from the Overwatch Council, I would have handed Sang Wen over to you right away, free of charge. I would never have dared to take your money!”

As she spoke, her eyes would occasionally flicker toward the curtain. She did not take action to present the money, either.

Deng Ziyue knew someone had to be behind the curtain, and the thought of that person being one of the elusive owners of the Baoyue Brothel crossed his mind. He had been in the Overwatch Council for eight years, but never once had he engaged in a transaction with a corrupted merchant of sorts. But Fan Xian, his master, had demanded him to return the 10,000 tael banknotes. And having made the trip, here he was once more. After a while, he coldly smiled and responded, “You are quite polite. It was just that when we departed last night, we bumped into a few puppies on the road. Today, I came here to enquire about whether or not those dogs belonged to this establishment.”

Shi Qing’er’s face did not change, but she was worried. Last night, she assumed that the guests were officers from the 13th Yamen. Who could have expected they actually came from the Overwatch Council? The second owner’s brothers were always rampaging about the capital, and no one would have guessed that they were to be the ones who beat them up as brutally as they did. But now one of them had returned and he had not come politely. It already seemed as if the day’s proceedings would go awry.

It was strange, for despite the time that had since elapsed, their inability to yet uncover that Mister Chen was Commissioner Fan of the Overwatch Council was rather quite vexing. And it was because of this that she still did not take the enigmatic Mister Chen seriously. She could also be unwilling to return the 10,000 tael because the man behind the curtains had encouraged her not to.

Shi Qing’er’s face was chilled, and she returned a fickle smile. Then, she told Deng Ziyue, “Sir, that which you say is quite interesting. Since when did the Overwatch Council become involved in the prostitution trade? Shouldn’t these matters belong to the government? If you, Mister, were to be bitten by a dog, be wary of infection. What you should do is return home and rest, rather than coming here and patronizing our establishment again.” She smiled and continued, “Sir, your stamina is impressive.”

Deng Ziyue’s voice suddenly erupted with anger. In rage, he yelled, “This is ridiculous! If you do not make amends for your misdeeds last night, be wary of inciting the wrath of my boss, who will tear this hovel down and burn it to cinders!” Fan Xian had ordered Deng Ziyue to be hostile at the Baoyue Brothel, but the man felt uncomfortable shouting at others in such a way. After all his years in the Overwatch Council, however, the ability to speak in an intimidating manner came naturally.

Behind the curtain, someone coughed.

Shi Qing’er’s face turned deadly serious, and she then slapped the Qingzhou stone table and madly replied, “You witless worm! How dare you come down here to extort money from the Baoyue Brothel? The contracts were written clearly, indicating your purchase of Sang Wen. Are you unable to read? If you do not leave now, I will strip you of your clothes and then have you thrown out. May the whole capital witness your naked body!”

Deng Ziyue, with the sharpest of gazes, peered directly into Shi Qing’er’s eyes. His ears however, were directed at the curtains, to which he then picked up movement. With a callous tone of voice, he told her, “It seems as if you people are against the Overwatch Council, also.”

It was just a brothel, and thus, they were hardly qualified to be a formal opponent of the Overwatch Council. But Shi Qing’er was strangely unafraid and smiled back, saying, “Don’t you bring up the Overwatch Council to scare people. Perhaps other organizations may buy into your threats, but the Baoyue Brothel most certainly won’t.”

Deng Ziyue laughed out loud and responded, “Ha! You have some nerve, lady.” He then stood up, gave another look toward the curtain, and prepared to leave.

“Stop right there!”

Save for two coughing sounds, the area behind the curtains had been silent thus far. And now, someone spoke. The voice was of a young person, unmistakably, but it possessed a tone of disdain and a flourish of nobility. The curtains then withdrew a bit. The owner of the Baoyue Brothel, who had remained out of sight from all, now appeared in front of Deng Ziyue, as clear as day.

Deng Ziyue, with great surprise, slowly turned around. His eyes were now opened wide, and his pupils receded in size. He had never expected the owner’s identity to be him, and he would never have guessed that this owner desired an audience with him.

He looked upon the young person who was stood behind the curtains, dressed up fancily in yellow clothing and, in his heart, Deng Ziyue was beginning to feel overwhelmed by the nigh unbelievable ridiculousness of the scenario. Not only was the Baoyue Brothel the biggest and most popular brothel in the capital, but it was the most wicked and heinous, too. In this place, where each and every day of business was met with countless customers and their coinciding nighttime moans and groans, it was owned by… a little boy who was less than ten years old.

Deng Ziyue stared at the young boy, who was clothed in yellow, utterly dumbfounded. When the initial shock had passed, his eyebrows descended into a frown. Even though his identity was quite special, if he was indeed the owner of the Baoyue Brothel, it was an extremely shocking revelation that shook Deng Ziyue to his very core.

After a moment of silence, he dropped to his knees and bid the boy, “I am a subordinate of the boss of the Overwatch Council. Greetings, third prince.”

The Third Prince?

…The Emperor’s youngest son was an owner of the Baoyue Brothel.

Shi Qing’er, seeing this Overwatch Council officer, who had just previously been yelling with a face of fire, now go soft and drop to his knees before the owner, began laughing in spite. Did it matter how much authority and power that the Overwatch Council possessed? They were mere dogs in comparison to the Emperor. The room was quite typical for that of a brothel, but then there stood the son of the Emperor.

“This… Mister Deng? Do you not have anything further to say?” Shi Qing’er’s face was dressed with a most scornful smile.

Exceeding Shi Qing’er’s expectations, Deng Ziyue, who had quickly descended to his knees, had already now stood up before the third prince had even responded. On his feet, he spoke, “I am following my master’s orders. I’ve come to make inquiries and yet the lady here has yet to answer any of my questions. I will report all of my findings upon my return, but as for what happens next, the Commissioner will deal with such matters.”

The third prince was the youngest son of the Emperor of the Qing Kingdom. His mother was the most favored wife in the palace, Yi Guipin. He was just a child and already he had built a brothel. The entire concept sounded ridiculous, but there it was, directly before Deng Ziyue’s eyes. His temples leapt twice, and he had to bury the feelings he wished to express deep down in his heart. Politely, he said, “I will take my leave.”

The face of the third prince was still one that looked immature, but seeing the little officer attempt to walk away from him incited great wrath. Fiercely, the prince threw his teacup at Deng Ziyue. Even Fan Xian, outside the city gates when he had first returned from Northern Qi, could see that the third prince was young, but that his age did not belie the smarts he possessed. Still, he really was just a child, and it was because of this that he became furious at a mere hint of disrespect. For all intents and purposes, he was a spoiled brat.

The third prince went forward, pointing at Deng Ziyue’s nose and began yelling, “Why are you leaving, huh? Where are you questions now? Did you not want me to return your 10,000 tael?”

Deng Ziyue gave a wry smile, and he thought to himself, “No matter how powerful the Overwatch Council is, it would be futile to go against a prince for any sum of money. But judging from the way the Emperor operates, the Overwatch Council doesn’t owe the prince anything. And Fan Xian repeatedly reminded me last night that, as a subordinate of the Commissioner, no matter what was to happen, I should not embarrass the Overwatch Council.” Therefore, Deng Ziyue maintained his composure and politely responded, “Regarding the banknotes, my boss will come here to talk it over next time. But, my third prince, would it not be best to avoid getting too involved in a business such as this?”

Shi Qing’er, who had watched the exchange, was absolutely shocked at what she heard. In her heart, she believed that if the Overwatch Council was indeed as reckless as the tales told, then he did not respect the prince at all.

The third prince was less than ten, but he was born to the royal family. This little boy had been born with power and, as such, the way his mind worked was different from most. The prince coldly smiled and said, “Since when did the Overwatch Council’s men become beggars, asking for money in such a manner? Cousin, do you know who this man is?”

After he said this, the half-open curtain fully withdrew to reveal the presence of a multitude of fighters. Seeing the faces of the fighters, Deng Ziyue was surprised, for he could immediately sense the power that emanated from them. These were not the average thugs that patrolled and bounced for the establishment.

One of the first two young men who stood in front of the fighters appeared to seethe with anger. His right hand was bandaged tightly and had blood cascading from out of the claret-soaked cloth. It was the person who had his hand pierced by the bolt of a crossbow the previous night.

Deng Ziyue did a double-take, for he knew how unlucky he was today. But he saw the person beside the boy who had been the recipient of a bolt, and noticed that his face appeared even worse. To see his face brought Deng Ziyue a surprise greater than the initial reveal of the owner being none other than the third prince himself.

He frowned and looked upon the chubby young man, who had a mole on his cheek. He then quietly said, “Sir, you are the owner of the Baoyue Brothel, too?”

This chubby young man wasn’t unknown to him, for he was Fan Xian’s little brother, Fan Sizhe.

Deng Ziyue could never have expected that the Baoyue Brothel, the establishment that Commissioner Fan Xian had decided to investigate, was owned by none other than his younger brother.

Compared to the third prince, who was profoundly arrogant, and the fighters that desired nothing more than to beat up Deng Ziyue, Fan Sizhe’s face looked notably more awkward. His face was pallid, and his eyes harbored an image that suggested a desire to murder Deng Ziyue. But this was out of fear more than anything else.

He exploded into a rage, looked towards the prince and hollered, “You idiot! Do you not know who he is!?”

The third prince was taken aback upon hearing the belligerency of the tone that was spoken toward him and, after thinking, he replied, “You dare to yell at me?!”

Fan Sizhe grinded his teeth and took a deep breath to regain composure. He knew what had occurred the previous night, and he had sent for someone to take a look and report the aftermath to him . He had hoped to learn why the 13th Yamen officer had attempted to disrupt their business, harm their reputation, and falter their stream of income. He would never have guessed it was someone from the Overwatch Council.

He closed his eyes and took two almost humorously long breaths and looked toward the third prince again. He stroked his head and, in an appeasing tone, told him, “Oh, but look at all the great deeds you have done.” His heart jumped, knowing that someone must have hidden something.

The third prince and Fan Sizhe were cousins. At the beginning of the year, they opened the Baoyue Brothel together and everything had been smooth sailing ever since. Knowing that the older cousin was a genius of managing business and finance, he could not fathom why he was not quite himself this day. The prince thought to himself, “Even if they are from the Overwatch Council, what is he afraid of? I am the prince, after all, and his brother does hold the highest position of authority in the Overwatch Council.”

His youthful face was distorted into a perplexed look.

Fan Sizhe, took yet another baritone breath and after its release, looked upon Deng Ziyue with a strange glimmer of hope. He asked, “This Mister Chen, is he…?”

Deng Ziyue calmly looked at the young man and pondered as to why he felt such regret and remorse towards his master, Fan Xian. In response, Deng Ziyue nodded.

Fan Sizhe’s face looked as if it had just been petrified, but the insides of his mind were whirling like a hurricane. He thought about whether or not he should slay Deng Ziyue right where he stood and abandon all of his dealings with the Baoyue Brothel. He was horrified at the thought of what were to happen if his big brother found out.