Joy of Life - Chapter 304[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:48:13]
Chapter 304: Chrysanthemum, Ancient Swords and Alcohol
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The elegant flowers that were unafraid of the cold, and would happily reveal their buds in autumn, were the chrysanthemums. These flowers were the ones most adored by everyone on the central plain. The chrysanthemum wasn’t rare here, and in Danzhou, where Fan Xian hailed from, they were in abundance. The Danzhou chrysanthemum tea was a renowned beverage in the Qing Kingdom. In these past few years, the Fan manor had to import much of these flowers for distribution in the capital.
Because of this, Fan Xian was quite familiar with this flower. He often thought about that little yellow flower that bloomed on the coastal cliffs of Danzhou. He knew that the chrysanthemum was able to endure the cold. The historical poet from his past life, Yuan Zhen, proudly said that he liked this flower, and that if they were to cease to exist, he would not appreciate any other. But with all this being said, it was not a winter flower, and in cold weather such as this – the weather that accompanies the deepest recesses of autumn – they should have long since wilted.
The carriage passed by the heavily guarded lines that skirted the feet of the mountain. Under the watch of the Imperial Guard and Royal Guard, Fan Xian and a few young men disembarked the carriage. Following the path along an autumn stream, he went past a river that was weaker than it was in the spring and in the summer. Suddenly, he saw a temple in front of him, one that was built in the architectural style of the Qing Kingdom. Where it firmly stood, it looked as if it had been carved directly out of the mountainside.
The Floating Temple built into the cliffside was supported by great wooden beams and layered pillars. The tallest ceiling of the temple was ten meters high. The entire scene looked as if someone had hastily taped a behemoth-sized painting onto the mountainside. The autumn winds that glided across these highlands were fierce, and they bellowed far and wide. It brought an icy chill to the people that walked those slopes to observe the flowers. They were almost concerned about whether or not the frigid air would end up blowing the temple away. The legends say that this temple was the earliest construct of the Qing Kingdom, and it was built from the dervish who believed in the existence of the Holy Temple and that it ought to be constructed with cobbles, stone and wood. Its making took a few hundred years, but the reason for its existence was to display the virtues of what a Holy Temple should be and bring, and to also spread the word that people should be nice to each other.
The Holy Temple never involved itself with earthly matters; it was quite a mysterious place. But it seemed as if across these few thousand years, it always affected the world in subversive ways. There were many rumors, whose origins were lost to time, that described its appearance in ambiguous clarity. Although there weren’t many dervish, each of them were righteous and widely respected by others. So, the Holy Temple, in the minds of the civilians, was in an extremely high place.
As a member of the royal family and ruler, this Holy Temple had no effect, though it had the ability to influence other things, and so they maintained their respect for it. This fence-riding was what the politicians were best at, and were most willing to do.
Which is why the Qing Kingdom’s royal family had this Royal Flower Observation event once every three years. It was organized in the Floating Temple.and had become a law. This event, however, was most likely construed to ease tensions and soothe bitter rivalries that may crop up between the royals, and help further their bonds with one another. It was to avoid the repetition of certain events, such as the assassination of two crown princes in the Qing Kingdom two decades ago.
The royal family of the Qing Kingdom was not as active as they used to be, so in this flower observation event, they invited married relatives and other families that were close to them. Following the new rules established in the past few years, the Qin and Ye family were cornerstones of the military and were both a part of it, as well. The Qin family had considerable power within the military, while the Ye family had authored the guarding and protection of the capital for many years. In the Ye family, there was also a grandmaster with supreme status.
Aside from that, there were a few old families that were made sovereign following the construction of the kingdom. There were also a few new families like the Ren family who married a faraway princess. In regards to how Fan Xian could be a part of these flower observing proceedings, it was not due to the power that the Fan family had. In fact, they cared little for the power of any chancellor, and permission was not granted due to his marriage with Wan’er either; a marriage that gave Fan Xian a slight association with the royal family. It was because that the Elder of the Fan family, raised the Emperor and his brother King Jing and as such, were very close. This was not something that many would understand. In terms of private relations, the Fan family was arguably the closest to the royal family.
Fan Xian was gasping, and he put his hands upon his waist as he stood near the Floating Temple. Looking at all these famous and powerful people of the Qing Kingdom, he could not help but mumble to himself, “Observing chrysanthemums? Where are they?”
Minister Fan had already been invited to a spot where he could avoid the wind. The elders were always prioritized before others. His carriage stopped at the foot of the mountain. The guards stood outside the area where the Royal Guards were. The people from Fan manor were only left with one man and two women. A perfect triangle. Lin Wan’er, who was in the triangle, pointed at the foot of the mountain and said out loud, “Oveer there!”
Fan Xian froze and took one step towards the mountain’s cliff. A crude autumn wind tackled his senses, but he squinted his eyes and took a deep breath before saying, “What a beautiful place.”
The cliffs that the Floating Temple resided upon were slightly caved-in, and it was shaped like the letter “U”. The roads skirted the feet of the mountain, and so Fan Xian, upon the culmination of his climb, did not notice anything special along his treading of the path. Having reached the top, he looked down and across the sweeping panorama. He now noticed the fields he walked along were full of chrysanthemums, their colors were deeper than the average sort, as well. They were golden and their petals were long.
“The golden chrysanthemums; they match the characteristics of the royal family.” Fan Xian stood on the cliffside, observing and soaking-in the view of that glistening field of flowers. He complimented it further by saying, “in this cold weather, to see them grow as marvelously as they are is a strange thing.”
Lin Wan’er explained by saying, “They are gold chrysanthemums, and people say that back in the day after the Floating Temple was built, the northern Wei kingdom’s Tian Yi Dao’s master Gen Chen brought them here himself. Ever since, it has been the provider of an odd and unique view.”
“Gen Chen?” Fan Xian sighed and said, “is that grandmaster Ku Hei’s teacher?”
Fan Xian shook his head as he continued to look down the mountain, and after a while he started to notice that much of these chrysanthemums weren’t actually growing all that well. This was due to the soil of the mountain not being so rich itself. As a result, each chrysanthemum was separated from the next by a few inches. The field looked far more fertile and bountiful from up high, as the distance mostly negated the sight of the spaces between each flower. This illusion was why they did not realize it was a field of chrysanthemums from down low. Here, from up high, it almost looked as if they were slowly taking over the entire mountainside, a far cry from the true nature of these flowers, whose reality was not as powerful or as luxurious as they initially seemed.
Someone was already approaching to greet Fan Xian. The Emperor had been quite cold to him recently, Plus, Wan’er’s status did not allow for the young noblemen to talk too frivolously of their own topics of interest with Fan Xian while in her presence. As a result, there was little more than a simple trading of greetings and formalities before they continued on their own way. Fan Xian was smiling when he spoke to others, and the words he spoke were soft. After repeated encounters that unfolded in the same manner, he got a little bored and mostly spaced out upon each meeting. Subconsciously, he would observe his environment, an action inspired by his career.
The Floating Temple looked to be hanging high before a cliffside. There was only one way to climb the mountain, and today, the royal family of the Qing Kingdom had gathered. The Imperial Guard had tread across each trail and hill well before their arrival, in assurance of their safety. The defense was solid. Inside the Royal Guards’ ranks were the palace guards as well, and in regards to the gentle-looking eunuchs, nobody knew if any of Eunuch Hong’s subordinates were amongst them. Fan Xian thought that the omission of the Tiger Guards was rather strange, but from what he could see, their exclusion was more than made up for. Assassins aside, even a mosquito would have difficulty sneaking past the protection established across these mountainsides.
Fan Xian smiled and waved to say hello to Ren Shaoan. Seeing him get pulled away embarrassingly, now his heart was brought a tidbit of joy. His father-in-law had been retired for quite some time now, and his relationship with those people had lessened as a result. As he looked up, Fan Xian could not help but squint his eyes. The few people who had the most power in the Qing Kingdom were now all gathered up in this wooden temple, all at the same time. From afar, you could watch a person clothed in yellow on the top floor, absorbing the view. That person was the Emperor.
He raised his head and had an inexplicable feeling take hold of his heart. His mind was spinning as he thought up a humorous scene. Right now, if the people of the Northern Qi Kingdom and the Dongyi City’s elites came over to burn down the entire temple, what would the earth be like? Of course, he knew that the security of the capital was impenetrably tight and this occurrence was an impossibility. These were just Fan Xian’s idle musings. He also thought that if he were to climb up to the temple, which entry should he aim for? And which trail would take the least amount of time to ascend and reach the top?
It really was just the habit of his career.
One eunuch ran over in a rush, all the way from the temple. The young nobles on plain fields in front of the temple quickly stepped aside to make a path for him. The eunuch ran before three of them to politely ask, “the Emperor is asking for Lady Wan’er.”
Lin Wan’er was surprised. She looked at Fan Xian and softly said, “Eunuch Dai, is he only asking for me?”
Eunuch Dai was an old friend of Fan Xian, and he knew what people may begin saying if he was not also invited into the temple, with the eyes of all upon him. With a guilty look, he remorsefully told Fan Xian, “the Emperor did not have any further commands.”
Fan Xian smiled and said to Wan’er, “You go.” After that, he quietly laughed and continued, “Uncles love their nieces, I know that.”
Watching Wan’er disappear behind a darkened door frame of the Floating Temple, Fan Xian squinted and did not say anything. He led his sister away to see if there were any greater sights to behold. Someone, however, was not willing to let him relax. There was a disturbing voice heard on the wind, and it yelled, “Master!”
Fan Xian turned around to see Ye Ling’er. He noticed that her face looked slightly agitated, and he knew why. Next year, Ye Ling’er was going to marry the second prince. The ongoing feud between him and Fan Xian may have looked like child’s play on the surface, but it was real, and it was brutal. She was the daughter of Ye Zhong, and there was no way Fan Xian would fail to understand what was between them.
He looked at Ye Ling’er, and with a smile, mockingly asked, “What is on your mind? Are you concerned about me bullying your future husband a little too much?”
Ye Ling’er saw his face was calm, and she recovered her happy personality, laughing as she responded, “I was worried you would not be willing to talk to me anymore.”
Ruoruo was nearby, and she also laughed. She said, “What is that supposed to mean?”
Ye Ling’er sighed and said, “I have been pondering the whereabouts of your second brother. In the future, when I play mahjong, his absence will be a blight.” In the backyard of the Fan manor, many mahjong parties had taken place there over the past two years. On the table, the presence of Fan Ruoruo and Fan Sizhe was a guarantee; making up the other two spots were Lin Wan’er and Ye Ling’er. They were a group of good friends.
“It looked to me as if you and Ruoruo enjoyed giving out free money to Fan Sizhe and Wan’er.” Fan Xian smiled and said, “With the party having been split up, you will lose less. That sounds like something to be happy about, to me.”
As they were talking, Qin Heng approached them from afar. He was a ways away from reaching them, but he already began shouting. He hollered, “What are you guys hiding over there for?! What are you talking about?!” His voice was really loud, almost as if he deliberately desired everyone else to hear his words. Fan Xian bore a wry smile and responded, “We were talking about mahjong!”
Qin Heng looked happy. He patted Fan Xian’s shoulders and told him, “I am good at mahjong.” He looked around and furrowed his eyebrows a little before speaking again. “The flower observation event was devised by the Emperor as an opportunity for the royals and nobles to mix, interact and get to know each other a little better. So tell me, why is it so lonely in your presence?” With Fan Xian’s situation in recent days, even those who believed themselves to be far inferior and low would go around chatting. There was no discernible reason for it to be so quiet around Fan Xian.
Fan Xian’s face was all calm as he said, “I have only come to learn that these flowers are only visible from afar today. I cannot even get close enough to touch them. My personality should be well understood by you; I have absolutely no interest in talking with the others. And in regards to making friends…” He laughed and continued, “I have little interest there either.”
For the so-called “Flower Observation Event”, it was similar to the prom in his past life; an opportunity for people to get together and socializee. Either that or a tea party. It was an opportunity for others to show off and brag about their relation to the royal family, and assure their position in the eyes of others. But to Fan Xian, he held great disdain for presenting his existence by the metric of how close he was with the Emperor. As a result, he thought it was extremely boring.
Qin Heng was already thirty, and he had a family at home. But the Qin family members had to come out here to view the flowers every three years. He had seen them countless times and had grown tired of the event a long, long time ago. Hearing Fan Xian say his piece, he couldn’t help but nod in agreement.
Today, the second prince and King Jing’s crown prince, Honcheng, were not released from their manors, and they were still imprisoned. Because of this, they did not come out to visit the Floating Temple.
“Master, this view is not bad. Make a poem!” Ye Linger was fluttering her sparkling eyes.
Every time he looked into this lady’s bright eyes, which shone like jewelry, he always felt as if he were going to get blinded. He unwittingly squinted his eyes and replied, “as a teacher, I have already told you that I do not compose poems anymore.”
Ye Ling’er had called him master. The way it was said was in the manner of a little girl playing around, and this joke was fairly well-known throughout the capital. Fan Xian would always play along and refer to himself as teacher, which made the jest all the more humorous. Qin Heng and Fan Ruoruo could not help but laugh in amusement.
Qin Heng was making fun by saying, “That song you wrote in the Northern Qi Kingdom is pretty popular. How could you attempt to hide it from us?”
Fan Xian was given a headache. He randomly described the view to change the topic, but then shook his head to say, “Don’t talk about this with anyone else. I utterly despise writing poems nowadays.”
Fan Ruoruo looked to the ground and recalled a poem of his and quoted it, “It is not that I especially love the chrysanthemum, it is just that if they were all to die, there would be no other flower I could appreciate.” After reciting these two lines she heard Fan Xian sigh. She asked, “Why?”
“Because someone is chomping at the bit, asking me to write another one effortlessly. It is the most painful thing in the world.”
Fan Xian spoke these words slowly, and it made the three people who looked confused start laughing. The laugh was one of unbridled joy; almost giddily like that of children.
The nobles who gathered up in front of the Floating Temple, while they were drinking tea and chatting, all of a sudden heard laughing. They were shocked and looked towards four young people near the cliff. They were quick to recognize their identity, and their hearts trembled a little. Fan Xian’s name was everywhere; everyone knew about him. He had already yanked the second prince from off his saddle and, now he was standing with young members of the Qin and Ye family. Did this mean something?
Fan Xian did not care much for how others viewed him. All of a sudden, though, his nose twitched to smell of something burning. He was thinking about whether or not tonight’s meal was ham. He turned around and saw that a black smoke was rising from the corner of the Floating Temple. It was unmistakable.
Fan Xian could sense everything, and so he was the first one to take notice. Nobody else had yet to become aware that something was amiss, even those Palace Guards that were everywhere had yet make a single move.
Those who saw these four young men who were still standing against the wind on the cliff greatly envied them in their hearts.
After the wind blew, the black smoke looked as if it had been provoked. It suddenly kicked up into a rage. There was fire in the smoke, and Fan Xian’s body was already racing off towards it, as quick as the wind that pushed against him.
“Qin Heng! Protect the girls!”
By the time he said this, he had already arrived in front of the temple. Seeing the fire lashing wildly, and feeling the heat press against his face, he pushed the guards who were approaching him with swords out of the way. He yelled to them, “Are you blind!?”
The fire was rising. Because the Floating Temple was made of wood, the fire spread quickly. The young nobles who had come to watch the flowers began screaming and started running away. All of a sudden, their relaxed posture warped to madness as chaos engulfed the previously relaxed plains of leisure. The autumn was prone to making things dry, but this fire was by no means a natural occurrence. Something was amiss. The Royal Guards that were leading the people from the palace were on top of the building, and so the guards downstairs were a little frightened.
Fan Xian was yelling to the guards and eunuchs, “Where is the sand to quell the flames?!”
After he spoke, the people were roused. They finally realized who he was, and immediately did as he commanded. Step by step, they did everything that they were ordered to. First, they asked the old chancellors of the first floor to exit. Then, they sent the guards to run upstairs and protect the Emperor. At the same time, they sent out a dozen elites to fan out, inspect and secure the area.
They reacted at once, and they did as they were told quickly. The nobles were terrified, but the guards and eunuchs still maintained their courage in their attempts to quell the fire. Before long, it looked as if the flames were beginning to be brought under control. Minister Fan was included among the old chancellors, and they safely escaped the first floor. The stairs of the Floating Temple were really tight, and those who went to warn those on the upper floors were slow in doing their task. Because of this, they had yet to descend to safety.
Seeing that his father was okay, Fan Xian was calm. But in his heart, he was still a little frightened. He did not expect that his amusing imagining earlier would become a reality. If the fire really did spread, the Emperor who was on the top floor enjoying the view, there was every possibility that he could have died.
This must have been arson. He did not know how this person hid his identity and managed to get past the guards to do as he did. The method used to start the fire was sloppy, however, and it got Fan Xian to notice.
Things could not have been this simple. Fan Xian was standing in front of the temple, which was still a scene of chaos. He forced himself to maintain his composure and think it all through. But when he thought of Wan’er being on the top floor, his mind was disturbed and a state of calm could not be achieved. He had a bad feeling about this entire affair. Still, he did not dare to enter and ascend, for he did not want to risk the possibility of being framed once more.
Minister Fan ran in front of him and coldly said, “Fan Xian, go and protect the Emperor!”
“Yes.” Fan Xian was ready for this, but at the same time, he did not have time to contemplate his father’s feelings. He then told two elite guards to accompany him in his ascent of the Floating Temple. He did not want to walk stairs, so he used both of his feet to leap from off the ground. At this moment, his person resembled a black shadow as he hopped along the cornices of the Floating Temple to reach the top, as if a ghost.