Joy of Life - Chapter 290[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:48:07]
Chapter 290: Brother
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The First Bureau of the Overwatch Council possessed the necessary sense of proportion and expertise to flawlessly handle the investigation of the Bao Yue house. As instructed, they retrieved personnel from the establishment who only belonged to the Fan family and Liu family. As for the little bastards that lived in the sovereign manors, many were beaten up by Fan Xian. There were quite a few who weren’t too deeply involved with the conspiracy of the Bao Yue house, so they were left alone.
After Mu Tie had finished gathering up those he was tasked to, he didn’t report it to Commissioner Fan, who was standing beside a particular carriage, instead delivering straight to Fan manor. The officers of the Overwatch Council saw Fan Xian standing outside the carriage for the longest time without entering. The reverse could also be said for those who were inside it; they weren’t coming out. One could almost certainly tell from a mere glance that the people inside that carriage were even more noble than Fan Xian himself. Fan Xian was a relative of the royal family, and whoever was inside it must have belonged to them.
The investigation of Bao Yue hadn’t yielded much in the way of progress. Fan Xian desired to destroy the accountancy ledger which incriminated Fan Sizhe in his involvement with Bao Yue. Strangely, however, it had become an impossible task to complete since it couldn’t be found, and it was due to his failure in this regard that Fan Xian was forced to concede and establish a temporary peace with the second prince. To continue with his investigation under such circumstances would be a foolish move.
The officers of the Overwatch Council had now left. The officers of the capital government were arriving, coming to clean up the mess and reinstate the stability of the establishment and surrounding area. For all intents and purposes, everything seemed to have gone back to normal. The Fan and the Liu family were still in possession of 70% of the shares and stocks of the Bao Yue house; they were the silent, unspoken pimps of the capital.
Fan Xian was still continuing his intense discussions with the second prince.
It seemed as if the capital city had now rediscovered harmony.
The second prince looked at Fan Xian’s peaceful face from the carriage. He felt both admiration and appreciation for the young man, deep in his heart. The events and revelations that had recently transpired within Bao Yue were enough to drive a man insane, but there was Fan Xian, perfectly calm. He had even accepted his call for peace with little to no hesitation. He really was a person who could evaluate a certain, complex scenario and make quick but effective decisions on a whim to best handle what had been dealt out.
Whenever he took sight of that familiar smile on Fan Xian’s face, deep in his heart, he thought it to be one of fondness, but that disturbed him somewhat. He repeatedly thought that Fan Xian must be a kindred spirit of his, alike in many ways. Even though he was just an officer, the second prince harbored an overwhelmingly strong desire to engage that man with a deep conversation.
“Hongcheng, you leave first. I would like to talk to Fan Xian in private.” The second prince said this quietly, and he did not care for the people on the street, simply disembarking from the carriage.
Fan Xian frowned, but he was a little surprised at the second prince wanting a private conversation with him, as earlier Fan Xian had told him of his desire to returning to the manor as soon as possible. He was not one for a long chat, at least not now, but he was the respected prince, and he had actually disembarked from the carriage especially for him. Fan Xian was keen to hear of what he had in mind to discuss, even if it was not out of respect for the second prince; so, he nodded a yes.
Li Hongcheng looked at him with a sorry face, then bid the carriage drive away from Bao Yue.
The brocade shoes that the second prince had been wearing greeted the ordinary cobbles of the street. He began leading Fan Xian to a nearby teahouse, away from the people who might nosy in and eavesdrop on their conversation. Followers of the prince had moved ahead to clear out the teahouse, so that when they arrived to sit down, they did so privately and only within their own company.
Fan Xian took a sip out of a bowl of tea and with surprising delight as he raised his eyebrows and looked at the prince.
The second prince was laughing, saying, “I knew you would like that tea. Every time we went to visit Hongcheng’s manor, you would request that very same drink.” He then gently said, “As for Bao Yue, I thought you would hate me.”
Fan Xian said, “I am not a saint, so I am afraid that I must inform you that I do have certain feelings about it.”
The second prince shook his head and responded, “In the beginning, your little brother was talking about business with my little brother. So yes, I did know about it, and I did indeed help them secretly…” The second prince studied Fan Xian’s face while continuing to talk, “but I implore you not to misunderstand my intent. At the time, everyone was under the belief that the Fan family maintained a strong relationship with me and of course, it was never my desire to possibly threaten you. I was merely looking for an opportunity that would yield benefits for the both of us, to strengthen our relationship. How was I supposed to know it would end up like this? I never wanted things to end up this way.”
Fan Xian already knew what the second prince was thinking, back when they established the Bao Yue house earlier in the spring, and he was not surprised. But hearing him admitting to what had done was quite the shock. He was unsure of exactly how to reply, and so he smiled politely and told him, “The way you have treated me is quite flattering.”
The second prince was not afraid of embellishing this branch of the conversation further, and so he continued by saying, “I would like you to know that I have always held you in high regard. You are quite dear to me… so I did not understand as to why upon your return to the capital you held me in such contempt.”
Fan Xian laughed, replying, “What you’re talking about is actually silly. I am just a chancellor, for what benefit could I possibly earn by opposing you?”
The second prince peered into his eyes and slowly told him, “I need you to tell me… I know you are unwilling to be the pawn of the Crown Prince, so I do not understand your behavior.”
Fan Xian did not expect the second prince to be so honest and straightforward. Within his delightful surprise, he smiled and asked him, “Do you truly not understand?”
The second prince looking into Fan Xian’s eyes, then shook his head.
Fan Xian looked up and used the middle phalanx of his fingers to knock the wooden table, as a call for service. As he did this, he said, “Niulan Street.”
The second prince suddenly froze. After recovering a while later, he admitted, “it was my fault, wasn’t it?” After this, the second prince himself stood up and bowed to Fan Xian.
The son of an emperor bowed before an officer!
There was no expression on Fan Xian’s face that the second prince was hoping to see. He was like a stone statue, sitting on his chair. Fan Xian simply looked him in the eye and told him, “You are a prince, and I am just an officer. You are referring to the loss of a life; do you really think apologizing to me will make everything okay? And I, as an officer, should I start crying and be simultaneously grateful for the apology and feel sorry on your behalf?”
The second prince took a deep breath, suppressing a sudden rise in anger that hadn’t visited him in many years. In response, he coldly said, “Then how am I supposed to mend fences with you?”
Fan Xian began laughing and said, “When I was investigating my last case, you obviously seemed to know why. Who makes my mother-in-law always look at me with such displeasure, wanting to go so far as to kill me? First, an assassin was sent after me. Then, it was the Imperial Censorate. And next year, I am to take over the palace treasury; this in itself will undoubtedly lead to a conflict with Xinyeng. But if you are able to promise me at least one thing–and I cannot guarantee any favoritism, at least in the future–I will ensure that the Overwatch Council is put in a neutral position.”
A chill frosted over the second prince’s heart. The anger in his heart earlier was already long gone. In the past few months, the people of the second prince, and the officers that were allied with him, were being kept tabs on by the Overwatch Council. Even the harmless astronomers of the capital were being kept in their sights. All in all, it was putting those who chose to ally themselves with the second prince under great duress. Right now, he had just heard that Fan Xian was able to change the Overwatch Council itself, and so he thought to himself, Who wouldn’t want that?
He was quiet for a while, and then he raised up his right hand and gently implored, “please speak, Commissioner.”
This sentence referred to Fan Xian by his title, which was commissioner.
Fan Xian looked at him with a smile and said, “if you can keep a certain distance away from the eldest princess, I might very well guarantee your safety for the remainder of your days. You can live happily ever after.”
The second prince was taken aback, not expecting Fan Xian to suggest such a ridiculous proposal. To guarantee my safety for the rest of my life? That is absurd! His anger could no longer be contained, and so with an outburst, he said, “You cannot be serious!?”
The both of them weren’t actually all that familiar, but it was just that their age and positions shared a certain similarity. But now here they were, just the two of them, unable to get along with each other.
Fan Xian looked at him and said, “I get it; there is something you don’t understand. But there is also something I do not understand either. Does the throne feel great to sit upon? Isn’t the safety to maintain such a position one of the hardest things to achieve? You have always been fond of literature, haven’t you? Shu Gui Fei was the character who was as obvious as daylight; why can you not get what this means?”
Even though the teahouse was quiet with the absence of any other sole individual they were not afraid of the concept of a fly upon the wall. But Fan Xian was almost a little too forthright in his speech. It was as if he was too keen on speaking his mind, and hearing all that he had to say, the prince’s heart shrivelled a bit. He mulled it over in his mind, that in this world there were many things that one could only do, but not talk about. For instance, his desire to actually take the throne. Still, he thought to himself, Oh well, at least I am super polite to the Crown Prince. But who could guess that the man in front of me could mention this desire of mine so casually?
It wasn’t until today that the second prince fully understood how audacious Fan Xian actually was. The second prince thought about it, but was unable to fathom why he was the way he was.
There was a glow within the second prince’s eyes, and its glow came into contact with Fan Xian. The pain that the prince had suffered over the years suddenly began to burn deep inside him, and so he looked at Fan Xian’s face and lowered his voice to say, “Everyone knows that the throne is no good to sit upon. But I am of the royal family, and because of that, I must. This throne, if I truly have to fight for it, I will. But even if I did not want to, I would still have to. If I was given the choice, I would rather go study at college each and every day than involve myself in such political intrigue.”
Fan Xian squinted his eyes and said, “Has someone forced you?”
Perhaps it was Fan Xian’s tenacity that had brought out the second prince’s anger, but now he coldly laughed and replied, “Of course someone has forced me! When I was 12, they told me I was a person of virtue. They said if I was to become a prince, it would be a waste of my talents. When I was 13, however, they made me a crown prince. When I was 14, they built me a house outside the palace. It initially looked as if I had been kicked out of the palace, but it was to provide me an opportunity to engage with other officers and chancellors freely. It was also during my fourteenth year that they allowed me to go to the Emperor’s study room so that I was able to listen in on the court. Did you know that before me, only the eldest prince was provided a similar opportunity?”
The pretty face of the second prince now began to contort as he continued. “I don’t want to fight for the throne, but these matters continue to arise again and again; pushing me towards it. What am I supposed to do? Do you think that the eastern palace believes that I do not want to fight for the throne? The eldest prince was young, but the way in which he looked at me, it was as if his eyes were full of hatred. But we are brothers. When he was 13, he already wanted to kill me. Even if I could convince the eldest prince, there’s still the matter of my mother. Do you think she would ever forgive me?”
Fan Xian was speechless, listening intently to the second prince’s speech as he spiralled further and further into madness.
“It was he who pushed me into this situation…” The second prince’s eyes were like icicles wreathed in flame. To look upon them would make a person instantly shiver. “I need to protect my mother and I need to protect my life. What can I do? If he wants to compete with me, then yes, I will do the same.”
Fan Xian looked down towards the ground. He knew that the only person who had the power to push a prince towards the competition would be the Emperor himself. He smiled and said, “Did you ever think that he is merely using you like a whetstone, ushering the eldest prince into maturity?”
“I know about that already.” The second prince uncaringly ruffled his sleeves, and said, “We are the sons of the Emperor. Who would be willing to become a whetstone, a tool that would assuredly break in the future? I am going to compete. And if I really do win this fight, and am made to see his pitiable, regretful face, I would be happier to see that than sit on the throne itself.”
Fan Xian laughed and told him, “Why have you channeled so much anger and hatred just to release it here? The Emperor has already selected a crown prince. It looks to me as if he understands matters more than you do. If someone wants to throw you into a river, forcing you into a swimming contest, the best resistance would be to not engage or swim down the river at all. Either that or go and beat up the fellow who wanted to push you in in the first place… instead of going all the way down river to strangle your competitor to death.”
The second prince finally calmed down a bit, but his face was now aghast as he stared at Fan Xian. He pried his mouth open and said, “What you have just said is close enough to revolt!”
Fan Xian acted as if he did not care. He merely shook his head and said, “You said something that was just as horrible today as well.”
The second prince’s eyebrows leapt up suddenly. He studied the entirety of Fan Xian’s face for a while, contemplating his next words. After a while, he hopelessly pleaded: “Help me, Fan Xian!”
Fan Xian maintained his composure, almost in a way that seemed to suggest a total lack of concern for the second prince’s plight. He then shook his head once again.
“Why?” The second prince quietly spoke again.”You are going to have to choose a side, sometime in the future.”
Fan Xian did not give him an answer, for he was deep in thought. He was thinking, This person in front of me could figure for a big brother, considering our relationship. But I am different from any other officer, for I do not want to make any decisions. I am just a little worried about the Emperor of the Qing Kingdom and the heart of steel that he possesses.
Seeing the near-hopeless gaze of sincerity given by the second prince, Fan Xian finally spoke. “Do not get too close to Xinyeng; that woman is a very smart maniac. Even I cannot calculate or determine her future moves.”
The second prince calmed himself once more, and with a gentle smile, returned to his seat.
Fan Xian sighed within, knowing that the second prince sought his alliance solely due to his power and influence. But still, he trusted the eldest prince’s power the most. The results of this exchange made for a decent start, but the next time that they met, he resolved to push on the second prince even harder.
“But I still don’t want to become your enemy.” The second prince said, solemnly.
Fan Xian was quiet for a bit, after some time raising his head to say, “Even if the events concerning Bao Yue had never come to pass, I would still attempt to bring you down.”
The look inside the second prince’s eyes made it seem as if he thought Fan Xian had made a joke. He thought he was being far too arrogant.
Fan Xian ignored his expression as he quietly continued, “Maybe this is the only way you and Hongcheng will manage to both survive this.”
The second prince could hear from Fan Xian’s tone of voice that he harbored both pity and disdain for him. Once again, the prince was brought to anger, and so he swiftly stood up and peered right into his eyes.
Fan Xian mockingly said, “My Lord, do not for one second stop to think that you can control all matters. Take a look at what just happened at Bao Yue.”
The atmosphere in the teahouse quickly floundered, but as it did, eight people now approached the building. They were each clothed in the same manner of garb, but their faces were veiled, preventing any guess as to their age.
As they each came, every one of them looked as if they harbored a desire for murder.
They all approached with a different look of violence upon them. One came as a sabre, one could be mistaken for a straight-sword and another danced forward with the weight of a great axe. Nothing would halt their coming.
Fan Xian knew that the second prince wouldn’t call for his assassination. He squinted his eyes as this ugly band waltzed directly into the teahouse. In a low voice, he spoke, “Gan, Liu, Xie, Fan. Four generals. He, Zhang, Xu, Cao. Four scholars. The legendary subordinates of the second prince; that’s what they look like.”
The second prince looked at him and said, “Fan Xian, I think of you as an important person. But that does not necessarily mean that I have absolute need of you. Try to somewhat relinquish your overbearing arrogance, would you?”
Fan Xian stood up laughing, waving his hand. He replied to the prince, “the subordinates I have, the Qinian Group, there is no way they could defeat the eight warriors you possess. Therefore, I won’t call them out. But there is something I must tell you, and this is as honest as it comes; no matter how many fighters you command, they are useless for a situation such as this. Otherwise, Chen Pingping would already be Emperor.”
In the midst of his laughter, he was making comments that were to suggest a rebellion. Yet despite that, he merely walked out of the teahouse as proudly as he had entered.
As he was leaving the teahouse, however, he walked past those most powerful subordinates of the prince almost as if they were not even there. As he passed Gan and Xie, he shrugged. But as he passed Xu and Cao, he waved. The atmosphere was palpable and the tension would have been unbearable for most, as one could sense the desire of those eight people to kill Fan Xian. This atmosphere, having filled the teahouse, now spilt outside to mix with the fading sunlight of that autumn evening.
After Fan Xian had departed, the second prince returned to his table and lay his cheek unto the palm of his hand. He frowned his eyebrows as he began to reflect on the conversations he had just had. He did not know why he had lost his temper in front of Fan Xian, nor did he know why he spoke of so many things that troubled his heart deeply. He took a deep breath, and his pretty face almost seemed to fade away completely, lost to an appearance of stern contemplation. He coldly spoke aloud, “If there ever comes a day where I must kill Fan Xian, how many people will you need?”
Xie Bi An slowly embedded his sword in its sheath and replied, “I can do it alone.”
Fan Wu Jiu wore a darkened face and slightly shook his head, saying, “No, the eight of us will do it. That will ensure the end of Fan Xian.”
The second prince was not thinking straight, believing that the eight people in the room with him were of differing opinions, as well. Fan Xian was not a character whose motives were ever made clear. Thinking of what had just happened with Bao Yue, however, he was at least confident in the prospect of Fan Xian laying low for some time and not bothering him too much. With that in mind, he shook his head and shelved the notion of assassination for the time being.
Fan Xian, who had now returned to his carriage, carefully washed away the residue of a truth-telling formula from his fingertips. For as much as he had gleaned, he was still a little disappointed in the conversation that was held. He took a big risk in drugging the prince like so, but he hadn’t learned of anything particularly useful. And in regards to the second prince and eldest princess, his knowledge of their situation was still far too murky. He had come away thinking that the heart of the second prince was one that was strong, but the spirit of the man was one that forever obliged to the yearnings of a scholar. Fan Xian was no psychologist, though, and such information was useless to him.
The carriage had at last arrived back at Fan manor. Upon its arrival, Fan Xian leapt off the carriage and walked beyond the side door of the manor and through the backyard, ignoring the family members that watched his swift arrival and hasty departure with a perplexed look on their faces. He approached the entrance to his study room and calmly opened its door his hands. Then, all of a sudden, he threw his leg forward.
A scream erupted from within the study room and everyone in the family was stricken with sudden fear. Fan Sizhe , the victim of Fan Xian’s ruthless kick, rolled forward like a plump ball into the grandmaster’s chair. It shattered into pieces.