Joy of Life - Chapter 313[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:48:17]
Chapter 313: Love Letter
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
There weren’t many residences along Shenzheng Road in the capital, and there were even fewer people occupying them. The priority task was to deliver Fan Xian’s messages and receive the details from Wang Qinian in the north. Si Lili’s brother and the others were living in these houses, and they kept a study room for Fan Xian when he desired to do business here. It was because of this that they did not warm and light a fire very often.
They knew that the commissioner was on his way there that day, which is why now they started a fire to warm it up. Still, it had been cold for a long time, and the fire was unable to get rid of the chill. Fan Xian sat on a wheelchair as he came into that pocket of cold, blowing his hands. He had a wry smile and said, “Are you people too cheap to maintain a fire? Is the council that poor?”
Deng Ziyue was heating up a plate of ink on a stove, and he called for a subordinate to bring over hot water to thaw the quill, which had frosted over. Hearing what Fan Xian said, he gave a wry smile and said, “Master, you are quite busy these days, and you are still injured, which is why I didn’t make preparations for your arrival today.”
He had been busy for quite some time. He held up his hand to support his head and watched Deng Ziyue as he whisked the ink, using warm water to heat the plate, and as if he were grinding a stone against a whetstone, he was finally able to get some ink running.
Fan Xian nodded his head in satisfaction. His new favorite subordinate’s talent was almost as good as that of the royal doctors. He dipped the end of his writing quill into the ink and took to writing upon the snow-white paper…
The ink was frozen again.
“What is this crap weather?” Fan Xian was furious. He threw his quill on the floor like a burnt incense stick and yelled, “Why is it not as cold as this back home!?”
Deng Ziyue felt a draught of chilling wind course through the house. With care, he told Fan Xian, “The manor’s heater is much better. When we bought this house in the beginning, there was no heater here at all. Even the stone frame was not warm yet.”
“I am not even sleeping here.” Fan Xian looked annoyed. He continued, “You and Wang Qinian are both so cheap. Back in the day I gave Wang Qinian one thousand coins and he only spent one hundred and twenty coins to buy this broken piece of crap house. Do you want me to freeze to death?”
Deng Ziyue felt pity toward with his previous leader who was far away in the northern Qi Kingdom, for being spoken ill of by the commissioner every day. He nicely explained the location chosen by saying, “This place is quiet.”
“It’s not called quiet.” Fan Xian looked at him with wild eyes and said, “This is called cheap. If there were any other chancellors from the capital who saw this place, they’d assume we were from some useless no-name department.”
There were a few important letters he had to write out today, so he didn’t care about the issue much longer. He went back to trying his hardest to write with the solidified ink, but he couldn’t get it to flow. After a while he gave up, and so he smacked the table and said, “give me a biro!”
Deng Ziyue spent what almost felt like half the day bringing out a pen from his tight clothing. While he passed it to Fan Xian, he looked at Fan Xian with troubled eyes and spoke, “This pen is expensive. People say even the palace treasury does not have many of these left. Please, use it with great care.”
Fan Xian snatched it out of his hands with little concern and gave Deng Ziyue a look of disdain. He was thinking that it was just a pencil; why he is he being so stingy? He should just go visit a lead mine in Jiangnan and more of these pencils could be produced with ease. If they did that, Fan Xian would get the palace treasury to gift them with two crates of the things. One crate would provide a lifetime supply of pencils, so that one could write freely until their death, the others you could use to play on the street with.
The pencil skated across the snow-white parchment. It was like a the gentle skiing of a woman on an ice rink. Only seldomly would it leave marks on this sheet of ice.
Deng Ziyue knew that he was writing a private letter, so he made sure to take a step back. In this cold study room, only Fan Xian remained – pencil in hand. His mouth was producing steam that dispersed on the paper, making for a chilling sight.
The letters were spooky as well. Although it was a secret letter for the Overwatch Council, what was written was something quite important. A pencil was used, however, and that meant the words could be quite easily removed. This concerned Fan Xian, so he decided to use words that were a bit more abstract and advanced. He also made sure to use the council’s secret codes and terminology when it came to writing down times.
The letter was to be sent to Wang Qinian. What was written concerned the Cui family. Because the family had been persecuted by the capital, they were helping the second prince and Xinyang generate coin. They smuggled a lot of contraband into the Northern Qi Kingdom, but the paths there were not well-established, and the reduced speed of delivery led to a bit of a backlog.
The items that were left along the paths and what was contained in the northern warehouse was roughly worth 15-20% of the entire Qing Kingdom’s income.
With an operation of this scale and worth, you could tell that the eldest princess was extremely daring, and with her past ties to the palace treasury, she was a corruptive force of nature.
It took a few months for Fan Xian and Yan Bingyun to establish this situation. They had been hammering the second prince and hindering the Cui family to create these problems. The time they had been waiting for was now upon them. He wanted to completely eradicate them, leaving them no faint chance of them ever coming back.
In his letter to Wang Qinian, the last line read: “It is time for supper.”
Fan Xian remained in his wheelchair. He slightly moved his head as he touched the area above his wound on his chest. The area was wrapped up in bandages and it was beginning to itch. After he finished writing the letter, his hands were near frozen. He suddenly started to miss his time in Danzhou. Sisi had been helping him copy books everyday, and when his hands began to feel cold, she would lift them to her chest to warm them up. Her breasts were so soft and nice to touch.
His heart jumped, and so he picked up his pen and started writing again. This second letter was addressed to Haitang. When he started writing this letter, however, his heart felt at ease. The words came quick and easy, and the dialogue was casual and almost quite crass.
Ever since he returned from the northern Qi kingdom, his communication with Haitang rarely stopped. He had greatly enjoyed the to-and-from letter-exchange with his newfound pen pal in the north. They were, after all, two prominent figures of their respective kingdoms. To maintain a healthy channel of contact was a healthy thing to do, and it was something that could be built upon in the future.
In the letter that he now wrote, he spoke of the recent events that had transpired in the Qing Kingdom; this included the events at the Floating Temple. News of the attempted assassination had spread around the world by now, and the Northern Qi Kingdom had heard of it as well. But he was the person who was directly involved with what occurred, and so his insight provided a greater, more vivid and lively insight into the affair.
After that, there was something else hidden in the words. It stated his resolve and readiness to strike at the Cui family. He wanted to inform her so she could relay the news to the wimpy emperor of that kingdom so an effort of cooperation could be formed between them. At the end of the letter, he wrote a poem as proof that he was as talented as ever.
“I come here to reap my reward, my slaving trials are not of proliferous glory. The ancient ones are those who did good, but I fear their frozen bones sink beneath the soil of our tattered yards.
The old friends of court will long for me, as their pompous rags drag, and their waistbands wail for an escape. Rumours speak of a colder north; how do they live there?”
These were the words of Si Ma Guang; the poem “Kuhan Xing”. Fan Xian felt cocky when reading it, and he rubbed his chilled hands. He thought that the poem he had just written out was too perfect. The words written were each filled with compassion. He was only afraid how long it would take for Haitang to think about and understand the meaning behind them. It was no problem for him, however, as he enjoyed giving ladies a brainstorm.
He made sure nothing was missing or left out, and he put it in an envelope and then sealed it with glue. All of a sudden his heart jumped. He was overcome with a feeling of dissatisfaction. He looked at the envelope and then thought of the woman it was for, the woman that looked like a plain country girl. He thought he was just facing an old friend, and then he fell into silent contemplation.
After, he took out another sheet of white paper and began writing once more.
“Duo Duo, how are you? That letter earlier was merely for business, this is just for small talk. Today, the capital received its first day of snow of the fifth year of the Qing Kingdom’s calendar. It came earlier than usual , but I bet the snow in Shangjing has come in a far greater volume and that it is much colder there in response. On that day when I saw your crop garden, near the fence, a few berries had accumulated on a branch. I wonder if they have grown big and juicy yet, ready to paint the plain white colour of the snow around it.”
“And how about the ducks you raised? You should be careful and not let them freeze to death. It is a common occurrence where I live. The yellow, white and black ducks often live outside of the farms of the capital. I hear that the people feed these three big fat cats as if they were a holy figure. There should be no problem raising them.”
“My life has been good, personally. I eat and sleep. I wake up and then I eat. It is quite around in the household, and these past few days, my sister has been busy in the doctor’s office. I heard that such a thing was quite rare in the capital. Wan’er returned to the Lin Manor today and my cute uncle hasn’t received much attention lately, which has led to an upsetting of his temperament. I wonder what you’re up to right now?”
Fan Xian wrote down his thoughts in a carefree manner, as if he were engaged in idle chit-chat with Haitang directly.
“And yes, my student named Shi opened a brothel. Business there has been very good. The food there is incredible; it’s delicious! Perhaps someday, when you visit the Qing Kingdom, I will take you there. Ooh, I all of a sudden remembered that I have forgotten the name of the restaurant in Shangjing. I still recall how fine the alcohol was there. I think I spouted a lot of nonsense in your direction the last time we were there, but I’m not entirely sure how much you remember.”
“By the way, I read the letter you sent me numerous times. It has given me an eyesore. You are a powerful woman; do not and try to learn the ways of scholars and include poems in your letters. Although I have earned the title of “Poem Fairy”, I am not interested in correcting them.”
“In your previous letter, you did mention how good Si Lili has been. I am not interested in talking about that subject anymore, however. I despise what happened and I have no idea why but I am given a headache whenever I receive news about her from you.”
“Duo Duo, come to the Qing Kingdom and play. My wife is curious about you, and I would like to ask you something. Can you teach outsiders the Tian Yidao? I am really interested in the way you train.”
This may seem like an ordinary question, but in Fan Xian’s heart, it was an obscene one. It was one that was full of evil.
“The snow outside the window has started to thicken. The young man outside the house is still chopping wood, and it always surprises me how much energy the young men have. I am young too, but I have no idea why I feel so old. Seeing people around me, and observing the things that go on, it is difficult for me to generate excitement. Everything seems so boring… The blizzard outside is really strong. Perhaps it is hurrying me to end this letter. I suppose this is the end. The heater in this room is too crappy, and it has become a futile effort to try and raise the temperature in here. Although I would like to talk more, it is impossible to go against the plight of the weather. But there is one more thing; please take care of him. Thank you. I wish you all the best.”
The letter looked ordinary, but there was a lot of useful intel to be gathered and learnt. He read the letter again and added a single sentence at the end of it. “Wang Qinian, if you are peeping again, I will make Wu Tie’s cousin go and peep on your daughter while she showers.”
“Why is there more than one?” Deng Ziyue’s eyes were widened as he looked upon Fan Xian. He counted the letters in his hand and asked, “You are sending two to Haitang?”
“Why are you asking so many questions?” Fan Xian rebutted. “Follow the old rules and just have it sent all the way to Shangjing.”
Deng Ziyue nodded and promptly left the house. He handed over the few letters that were sealed over to the members of the Qinian Group, who were already waiting outside in the snowfall. They counted the letters in-hand and asked the same question Deng Ziyue did. “Why are there two letters?”
Deng Ziyue looked at the subordinate and his lips twitched twice. He took a deep, cold breath and replied, “Why are you asking so many questions?”
They both looked at each other and then nodded before going their separate ways. They were thinking: Commissioner Fan is using the supreme postal service to send a love letter? That is far too luxurious.
Fan Xian remained seated in his wheelchair, and he went out into the garden of Shenzheng Road. He mounted his carriage and went towards Lin Manor, ready to bring Wan’er and Da Bao back home. In the carriage, he suddenly asked, “Being a teacher of the Imperial College, is there anything strange about having this job? I am long gone from the Supreme Court. Why am I being brought up to become a Commandant of Justice?”
Deng Ziyue resolved to explain his second question first. He told Fan Xian, “There are two Commandants of Justice. Commandant of Justice Ren is the leader, whereas you would become the vice-Commandant of Justice. But this is just a made-up position, it is not as if you would have to show up everyday. The Imperial College’s academicians are in charge of seven departments in there, and these two positions are above fourth rank.” He reminded Fan Xian, “Master, although you took over the Commissioner’s position and you cannot be a politician of the courts anymore, the court did not send a message to say you have been removed from those two positions. And this time, the Emperor has ordered you to accept these two made-up positions. This shows that he cares for you deeply; I don’t think there are any ulterior motives to discern from this.”
Fan Xian shook his head. These two positions were the last things the Emperor mentioned in his decree. In the beginning, Fan Xian did not take them seriously, and he felt something odd regarding the declaration. The Emperor was a deep-thinker, and Fan Xian didn’t believe he would not use his authority willy-nilly.
“These two positions… is there anything special about them?” Fan Xian furrowed his eyebrows as he attempted to articulate his words with care.
Deng Ziyue spent some time in thought before responding. He said, “The Commandant of Justice is a common position and nothing all too special. It’s just for taking care of issues of lesser importance to the Supreme Court; but it does allow easy access to the palace. Academics of the Imperial College, on the other hand, have become a rare sight in recent years. After a few new policies were introduced, the position was a little messed up.”
All of a sudden he slapped his lap and happily proclaimed, “I remember! In the past, the academics of the Imperial College were given permission to enter the palace and educate the princes there. The academics are assistants of the tutors.”
Fan Xian froze and opened his mouth wide without saying a word. He finally understood why the Emperor had put him in these two positions. A Commandant of Justice of the Supreme Court plus the position of an academic of the Imperial College meant that Fan Xian was to become a teacher of the princes.
Basically, it meant that he was in charge of teaching the third prince.
He thought of this a little more and in frightened shock, yelled, “I don’t have the time to go to the palace every day! Am I not supposed to go to Jiangnan? How could he arrange such wretched positions for me?”
The neighing of horses could be heard. It seemed as if the carriage was brought to a stop by the sound of Fan Xian’s yelling. He lifted the curtains and took notice of a few guards being led by eunuchs to block their passage of the carriage.
Eunuch Yao saw Fan Xian inside the carriage. He was freezing, and his eyelashes were frosted. With a shaky, trembling tone he said, “Master, would you be so kind as to follow me? The Emperor desires your presence in the palace.”