Joy of Life - Chapter 312[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:48:16]
Chapter 312: Reward and Conversation
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
It was Eunuch Yao who came to Fan manor. The noise of three firecrackers exploding greeted his arrival, and the people of the manor were busy scrambling about to establish the incense table. They fell into the routine of this event as everyone went to the lobby. The eldest prince and the northern Qi kingdom’s princess thought it was inappropriate for them to remain, and so they left. The royal doctor, however, stubbornly stayed inside the study room.
Having a decree arrive at the manor was a big thing. Even Fan Xian was forced out of his bedroom. During his time in the palace, he did not have to get up and receive messages, for he was still in recovery, and the Emperor had ordered everyone to wait on him hand and foot.
He heard Eunuch Yao’s voice yelling, and it only just dawned on him how much the Emperor was truly rewarding him. He had not finished reading through the list, and he didn’t care much for the actual rewards, however, so he wasn’t paying too much attention to what was being called out. Instead, he thought the eunuch’s voice was effective at hypnotizing people. He was lying on the warm sofa with his eyelids half-shut, falling asleep.
Minister Fan quietly coughed and used his eyes to remind Wan’er. When she took notice, she gently rubbed Fan Xian’s hand to rouse him back into consciousness. His eyes softly opened to a reception of 500 stacks of cloth, how much land he was to get, how much gold and silver he would be given; it was the usual, nothing out of the ordinary.
The Fan family lacked everything except money, and this was something that was widely known. So, the Emperor did not gift them with too much money, for it was unnecessary. They brought back Fan Xian’s title of baron and they raised Fan Jing’s baron rank, and for this, they both shared the same honor.
After the decree was announced, the people in the lobby began leaving. Then Eunuch Yao began speaking out the secret decree that was also given to them by the Emperor.
The secret decree wasn’t very secret, but the announcements inside weren’t appropriate for accompanying the other decrees.
Fan Xian felt totally awake at the revelation of a second decree. He heard the Emperor was giving him seven tiger guards, and this at last made him think that perhaps the Emperor wasn’t all that stingy after all. In joy of this news, he ended up missing the next two announcements.
Nowadays, it was his safety he was most concerned about. Next year, he was going to Jiangnan, and who knew if he would be able to receive his zhenqi back before then? Wu Zhu did not seem to care too much about his well-being, so it was better to rely on himself.
Outside in the yard, Fan Xian saw the seven tiger guards who he was familiar with. Their leader was Gao Da. These were the tiger guards who accompanied him on his mission to the Northern Qi Kingdom as an ambassador. He considered them friends, and now the Emperor had given them the task of protecting Fan Xian, something they were very much willing to do. Staying with Fan Xian was better for them than remaining cloaked in the shadow of the Emperor. Add to that Fan Xian’s own skill, and they wouldn’t have to be as alert and tread on eggshells as they did whenever they accompanied the Emperor.
Gao Da was leading the Tiger Guards, who were bearing longswords, and they all kneeled and spoke to Fan Xian in unison. “Greetings, Mister Fan the Commissioner.”
Fan Xian coughed twice and said, “Stand up. We are friends, though my life is in your hands.”
The Tiger Guards thought Fan Xian was just joking, and so they were unsure how to reply. Instead, they all just laughed in response. They had no clue that Fan Xian was speaking the truth. Having seven tigers by his side, even if Haitang went crazy and desired to kill him, Fan Xian would not be afraid.
“You guys should go and meet my father first.” Fan Xian looked at Gao Da and gently said, “You may not have had to follow me these days, though you will now. Since you will be with me a lot, it is best that you don’t avoid getting to know my father too.”
Gao Da nodded. In his heart, he really appreciated Fan Xian’s idea, and he was looking forward to enter the front yard and meet his boss’ father.
“Silk pillows, wine, clothes and a collection of instruments.”
Fan Xian was in his room. It was only now that he decided to properly read the list of rewards. He looked at his wife with a wry smile and said, “Although I used to be a conductor, I never knew how to play this thing.”
“It’s just the way of the palace.” Wan’er explained.
Seeing Fan Xian’s tired face, she did not say the reward list included some toiletry items. Right now, the back of the yard was full of hustle and bustle. Teng Zijing was outside the manor, arranging and assorting the swathes of gifts between people and where they should put them. More of his people were in the storerooms, arranging their storage neatly as could be. There were also a number of important items they were planning to present to Fan Xian, so he could tell them what they should do with them.
Seeing Teng Zijing running and sweating on this cold day, Fan Xian could not help but sigh and say, “Is this a reward or punishment?”
Teng Zijing’s wife opened her eyes wide, smiled and said, “The storing of these gifts is like the threading of a needle; we cannot afford to be imprecise. This is truly a blessing from the palace. No family in the capital’s history has ever earned such a reward. You have boosted our reputation by quite a bit.”
“It’s not as if I can accept the reward as I could food.” Fan Xian self-mockingly said.
“If I was given the option, I would remove the existence of this reputation malarky completely.” Wan’er almost said this at the exact same time as Fan Xian. This couple did not think fondly of the rewards they were given. Wan’er was simply worried that her uncle the Emperor had a more sinister motive to these swathes of gifts, thinking that the more her husband received, the more Fan Xian would attempt to defend him.
“The Emperor is quite stingy.” Fan Xian laughed and said, “When they reported how much we got, I was listening. The monetary sum was pitiful.”
Wan’er laughed and said, “You really care about that? It was a gesture more than anything. The inventory he provided had some thought behind it, and he probably did so to prove how much he cares for you and appreciate what you did.”
“Why would I not care?” Fan Xian raised his eyebrows and proceeded to say, “Our family relies on a chain of bookstores to get by. It is quite embarrassing having to go to the residence and ask my father for a handout. He is an old man, and he does have a lot of money; but I am not entitled to it. His wealth does not mean I can rely on him all my life.”
What he said was pretty simple, and Wan’er seemed to understand. She smiled, and acknowledged that there weren’t many plainfolk in the room. She quietly told Fan Xian, “Don’t you own a brothel? I heard that your brothel can earn a couple thousand coins in a single month.”
Fan Xian was laughing, and he said, “That is Si Chanli’s brothel! Don’t get me involved.”
Lin Wan’er gave a bilabial trill. She said, “You are directly in front of me and you still lie through your teeth. Don’t you get tired of spouting lies?”
“I am going to do it 24/7; it would be a tremendous thing if I could develop the talent of lying to myself and getting myself to believe what I lie about.”
“Why did my big brother come and see you earlier?” Wan’er’s eyes were wide with curiosity.
Fan Xian thought about what to say, and then told her, “He said he does not want to be leader of the Royal Guard, and asked there was something I could do about it.”
Wan’er frowned her eyebrows to say, “Judging from my brother’s personality, it comes as no surprise that he does not wish to remain in the palace.”
Fan Xian coldly laughed and said, “Who at all would like to remain in the capital? It was just that the Emperor did not feel content with his son, who was a powerful warrior, out and about away from home.”
What he said was really rude and mean. It gave Wan’er a chill, and so she said, “You speak so carelessly these days.”
“I only speak like this in front of you.” Fan Xian sighed and continued, “I am actually willing to help the eldest prince, but I am just an officer. I don’t really have any authority in this regard. I don’t really know what’s going with the eldest prince himself. Quite bravely, he told me everything straight-up.”
“Maybe Big Brother thought that it was because of me that you would not bring him harm.” Wan’er had a wry smile as she said this, “He thinks of things quite simply, and has done so since he was young.”
“The water is too deep in this swamp of a capital. I could swim for half a day and not reach the bottom.” Fan Xian furrowed his eyebrows. He then said, “In the spring, I will be going to Jiangnan. We should both go there. We should stay there for as long as we can, so we can truly relax.”
“But I really don’t know when. The officers gave you the job of investigating the palace treasury as a way of getting you to do nothing.” With a serious look of concerned analysis, Wan’er said, “If it was a real job, as a commissioner, I do not think you can bring your family. And if that job had to keep you there for a long time, then maybe I could come with you.”
Fan Xian shook his head and said, “I don’t care what arrangements they make; I am bringing you with me anyway.”
“Then that is unreasonable.” Wan’er laughed, though her heart was touched by the sweetness. She understood her and her husband’s status. If they were to break the rules, who would say anything against them? She just did not know whether or not the lady in the palace would agree in letting her go to Jiangnan. Her body had been weak ever since she was young. The furthest she had travelled was Cangshan, a place she stayed at for a winter. Hearing Fan Xian say this today, it seemed as if she could really go visit Jiangnan, a place everyone said was truly beautiful.
“Don’t do anything out of line.” Wan’er then thought of something all of a sudden. She looked right at Fan Xian and said, “Although the Emperor issued a secret decree, granting you ownership of these Tiger Guards, someone else in the capital is bound to know. Having them here was given to you for a good reason; you are heavily injured. But the Tiger Guard’s identity are different, and they are sure to stand out around you.”
Fan Xian touched his jaw, which had a spiky beard on it. He laughed and proclaimed, “Do not worry! The Emperor is smart. The reason they sent Tiger Guards here was for them to protect you, being the princess you are.”
Outside the door, someone knocked. Fan Xian was annoyed, and shook his head. He wasn’t annoyed at the prospect of someone disturbing them; it was because since he lost his zhenqi, he wasn’t as sensitive to his surrounding environment anymore. He did not hear footsteps approach the door as he once did.
Fan Ruoruo was leading a royal doctor into the house. The royal doctor noticed Wan’er was in there as well, and so he quickly bowed before her. Then he turned around.
The Qing Kingdom was not like the Northern Qi Kingdom. There weren’t as many rules for appropriate behavior amongst men and women here, and besides, this doctor was old enough to be her grandfather. That primitive movement he performed had everyone in the house laughing.
“Father said that if you are feeling well, you should speak to the royal doctor.” Fan Ruoruo wore a wry smile when she said this as she looked at Fan Xian.
Fan Xian’s heart was chilled, knowing that his father was a shameless man. He could not stand the constant pestering of the royal doctors, so he pushed the matters onto his poor son so that he could handle them. But Fan Xian had already made a decision concerning the royal doctor’s request. He smiled and looked at the doctor, then told him, “Old Mister, I know why you have come.”
The royal doctor was going to say something, but Fan Xian quickly interrupted him by saying, “But now that I am like this, it is impossible for me to teach others.” He looked upon the old man’s angry face and said, “But… I will stay in the manor, dictate content, and have it written down. The parchments will be sent to you.”
The royal doctor stroked his long beard, thinking that that was a fine compromise. He let out an audible “hmm” and proceeded to say, “But this is a medical matter. This stuff must be taught first-hand, and simply reading this stuff is not appropriate.”
Fan Xian took two deep breaths and then said, “Once this book is written and given out, should you have problems with its contents, I will have Ruoruo go over and explain.”
The royal doctor heard this and looked shocked, saying, “How can you allow Miss Fan do such a thing?” When the operation was underway, he was there watching the procedure. He saw Ruoruo perform the surgery, yet here he was doubting her talent.
“Ruoruo does not know much; so I will have to teach her myself.” Fan Xian sighed and said, “I think that it was the eldest prince who convinced me. We can’t let this develop too deeply, but there must be some boon or benefit to be learnt from sharing this with you doctors.”
Fan Xian smiled again and said, “And my teacher will return soon. I will have him, as an old man, go to the royal doctor and teach more. His skills are considerably greater than Ruoruo’s.”
The royal doctor was overjoyed at this news, but he looked worried and asked, “Master Fei…? I asked him quite a few times back in the day, but he never came. I could never make it work with him.”
“I will go and ask the Emperor; do not worry about it.” Fan Xian was comforting the old man as if he were comforting a child. A smile formed on his face.
When the royal doctor was satisfied, he left. Fan Ruoruo then looked shocked, and she said, “Big Brother, I don’t anything! That night, I was just doing what you told me.”
“There is nothing I can do.” Fan Xian had a wry smile and said, “I will show you how to disinfect at high temperatures. I will teach you about isolation, contagions and infections. I will select these easier subjects to have written down and taught to you. Anything else, and I will wait for the return of my teacher. You can learn from him too
Fan Ruoruo was shocked, and her she soon had a very bright smile on her face. She nodded gleefully.
Fan Xian did not expect this reaction. He did not think his sister would agree with him so quickly, and because of this, he had no words to respond with.
“Big Brother, you said that being a human, you should find what you love to do most and then keep doing it.” Fan Ruoruo lowered her head and sighed. She then said, “That night, although I did not do much, seeing my big brother’s vitality restored, I realized that the saving of others is something that would bring me so much joy. So, although you did not arrange this today, I was planning to ask you to teach me about these medical skills anyway.”
Fan Xian opened his mouth wide, as if to say something. He thought that it was because of his reckless decision that a female doctor was about to exist. He did not even know if Fei Jie would take Ruoruo as a female student and turn her into either Hua Bianque or Fenghua.
No, it could not be Hua Bianque; that female monster. It should be like Fenghua, that sort of beautiful mother of an Emperor. Fan Xian saw his sister was incredibly happy, and seeing that warm face of hers, he comforted himself by saying, it is not too bad to have Daichokon in the Qing Kingdom.
It was the nighttime.
Sisi was resetting the bed, and as she did so, she positioned the heater to face it. She exited the house with Siqi, who had brought water with her. The wife and husband quietly lay on the bed, watching the candles outside dim. Not a word was spoken, and all was silent.
“You can’t sleep?”
“Yes. It is because I sleep too much, resting through half of the day. What about you? Why can you not sleep? I remember in Cangshan, you would sleep like a cat each and every night.”
“Talking about cats, I wonder how Xiao Huang, Xiao Bai and Xiao Hei are doing.”
“Mister Tang brought them to the farm. It was your idea; since when did you begin missing them?” Fan Xian opened his eyes and laughed after he said this.
Wan’er was mumbling to say, “You told me that having a cat while I am pregnant would be no good.”
Fan Xian froze. He had a wry smile and did not say anything. Fan Xian spoke to himself, saying, I don’t think it would be very nice for me to tell her I actually just hate cats a lot. Young or old, seeing the evil faces of cats just makes me mad.
“My dear, am I useless?” Wan’er turned over, breathing on Fan Xian’s face.
“I am itchy; help me scratch the itch.” Fan Xian signalled for his wife his desire for her to scratch his face. Curiously, he asked, “Why would you ask me this?”
Wan’er helped him scratch beneath his ear. He lifted her lips in the dark and replied, “People around me, it seems as if they each have a talent; they can help you in various ways. Sizhe knows how to do business, Ruoruo is now learning about the medical profession, but she was a smart woman in the capital before this anyway. Yan Bingyun helps you with the Overwatch Council, and that Haitang in the north…”
Fan Xian coughed twice, so hard it almost broke the wound in his chest.
Wan’er was rubbing the spot slightly above his wound and continued, “That is a strange woman. But she is still determined in keeping her country safe. As for me, I have been weak of body ever since I was young. The people in the palace spoilt me all my life. Because of this, I don’t know how to do much of anything. I am not very smart, and I cannot fight.”
Fan Xian knew exactly what she meant. He remained quiet for a while, and when he responded, he said, “Wan’er, there is something I have wanted to tell you.”
“Being in this world, it is not about whether usefulness is good and uselessness is bad.” He softly proceeded, “These characters we play, it is not as if we were willing and selectively chose who we were to become. Like me, I wanted to become a rich and lazy person in the beginning. And Yan Bingyun? He has wanted to become leader of the spies his entire life. The situation between him and Miss Zheng is not something we can’t see.”
“And to me, you are very special.” Fan Xian’s lips were smiling, but his eyes did not look for his wife. “You grew up in the palace, and that place is a very dirty, dangerous place, full of evil. Yet that did not change who you are. You are like a healthy, blooming flower that has grown freely. I am the lucky man who picked it. This is a rare thing, too.”
Wan’er listened to his sweet talk intently, and she felt love in what was spoken. Still, the sadness didn’t completely leave her, and so she said, “But still…”
Fan Xian stopped her from continuing to talk. “And you are really smart. Even my little brother couldn’t beat you in mahjong.”
Both of them started laughing.
“Besides, I actually know what you are really good at.” Fan Xian was quiet for a bit, but then he seriously told her, “In regards to the situations at court, you are better than me. And what you say is always accurate, and quite shocking. After the spring exam, if it wasn’t for you in the palace, I do not believe I would be a free man right now. I believe that if you were going to plan a strategy for me, your abilities would not be worse than Yan Bingyun. But…”
Wan’er opened her bright eyes, and they looked really calm. “But what?”
“But I don’t want that. I don’t want you to get involved with my sordid businesses. What I’m involved in is too dirty, and I don’t you to go anywhere near it. You are my wife, and I am responsible for providing you a relaxed and happy life, not bringing you trouble or sadness.”
“I am a chauvinist,” he said in conclusion, “at least in regards to these things.”
A while later, Wan’er sighed. In the sound you could hear satisfaction and comfort. She quietly said, “After all, I am of the royal family. In the future, there will be certain things you should not hear about, although I know you trust me, but it is as you said: these things are dirty. It is something difficult to avoid, in the relationship between a husband and wife. I do not want you to doubt me in the future, so I would rather you did not tell me anything.”
The marriage between her and Fan Xian was willed by the desire of the Emperor. Its composure was due to the politics that could arise between its conception, but it was greatly fortuitous that the two got along and loved each other as dearly as they did. Compared to the average politically motivated marriage, this was far more steady.
But before the politics, it did not really matter how close couples were; many tragic marriages took place due to their adherence of bureaucracy. Since the eldest princess was her mother, what Wan’er said wasn’t just her being hypocritical. And she wasn’t withdrawing, she was just deeply concerned for Fan Xian.
“Do not think too much.” Fan Xian was calm when he said this in a very solid manner. “If you live your life without being able to trust the person you are closest to, why even remain in such a state?”
What he desired to say was, if he had the chance to be reborn and he always had to be on guard with whomever he would spend that next life with, he would rather not be reborn at all.
In the capital, the first of the snow arrived. The gentle, pioneering snowflake reached the ground and dissolved into nothing. Those that followed were unable to stack up, but it was a start. In the residence, it was both humid and cold. Fortunately, the Qing Kingdom was in one of its strongest years. The resources they had were bountiful, and even the average citizens did not lack the necessities to stay warm both in and out of their home. You could see from afar where the civilians lived, as steam would incessantly arrive from the eaves of their homes. It seemed as if everyone had a heater in their home to keep them warm.
There was an ordinary looking carriage writhing its way around the capital. It finally arrived at the detached garden before the yard. The day was cold, so there weren’t many people occupying the streets. It was quiet out, and no one could see who dismounted that carriage.
Deng Ziyue carefully put Fan Xian in his wheelchair, and slowly pushed him to the yard.
Fan Xian was wearing a thick winter coat. The collar extended to cover his whole neck, maintaining his warmth. He brought his hands to his mouth and blew at them to keep them warm. He was looking at the young people who were being commanded by Su Wenmao to log firewood.
This young man looked quite familiar. His upper body wasn’t clothed, and on this cold winter day, he was chopping wood with no reprieve. He did not look cold at all.
“Is that Si Lili’s little brother?” Fan Xian squinted to get a good look at that young man, and it seemed as if he was trying to spy traces of the shadow of that northern lady and his heritage.
Deng Ziyue quietly said, “Mmhm. When you gave us the command, and Chen Pingping made the order, we removed him from jail. Lady Si went to the Northern Qi Kingdom’s palace, and his identity became a rather awkward affair. We weren’t sure of what to do with him, so, following your instructions, we brought him here.”
Fan Xian nodded. This little yard was his sole private place. Aside from him and the Qinian Unit, only Chen Pingping knew. It was a safe zone for him. The reason why he did not care about his wound and came here was because the Emperor granted him a few Tiger Guards. With them being here, keeping Fan Xian safe, he still had the sneaking suspicion that a couple from the outfit were merely here to keep tabs on him on the Emperor’s behalf.
He was thinking it would be difficult to come here easily in the future, so he came here even when it was snowing.
“That Mister Si is a crazy man. He ran all the way to the Qing Kingdom from the Northern Qi Kingdom for his big sister. It will be difficult to ensure that he wouldn’t one day flee the yard.” Fan Xian held a fist in front of his mouth and gently coughed. He said, “Watch him. If there’s any funny business, just kill him.”
Deng Ziyue emotionlessly agreed. He was pushing Fan Xian, and the wheelchair rolled across the frosty slush.
The officers from the Overwatch Council exited the house to welcome him. Seeing the commissioner there, sitting in a wheelchair, they were each brought a chill. For a moment, their eyes were disillusioned with the terrible thought of the Qing Kingdom receiving its second Chen Pingping.