Joy of Life - Chapter 319[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:48:19]
Chapter 319: Who Could Kill Commissioner Fan?
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The countryside was still after the wind and snow.
The scent of tea lingered in the room and floated through the quiet space. It was after a long pause before Haitang replied in a soft voice, “I understand.”
Ku He didn’t look at her face. He smiled slightly and said, “Didn’t Fan Xian ask you for the Heart of Tianyi Dao? Give it to him.”
Give it to him? The simple words stunned Haitang into raising her head. She wasn’t sure if her teacher was joking or if he had gone crazy—the incomparable Heart of Tianyi Dao? That was a closely-guarded secretly; were they just going to casually handed it over to a powerful official of the south court?
Ku He smiled slightly and said, “That is something his mother gave me. It is right for me to return it to him… besides, the stronger Fan Xian is, the more of a headache he is for the south court royal family, which is good for Northern Qi. If it will both satisfy my wishes as well as benefit the country, why shouldn’t it be done?”
Haitang parted her lips but remained speechless. She understand her teacher’s true purpose and felt a chill in her heart.
Although the teacher and student had guessed Fan Xian’s connection to the Ye clan, they did not know of Fan Xian’s other identity. And so they assumed from their limited information that after Fan Xian’s identity was revealed he could only be a fierce tiger within the Qing Kingdom. The Ye clan had, that year long ago, disappeared in an instant. The royal family of the Qing Kingdom must take most of the responsibility. In the eyes of Northern Qi, the stronger Fan Xian was, the more trouble the Qing Kingdom would be in, and the safer their country would be.
“Teacher, if Fan Xian isn’t able to shoulder it, then what?”
All of the Ye clan’s wealth had been taken by the Qing royal family as their own. Logically, once the news that Fan Xian was a descendent of the Ye clan got out, the Qing royal family would try to kill him as quickly as possible.
However, Ku He shook his head and sighed quietly, “The people who overthrew the Ye clan mostly died a dozen years ago on the night that Jingdou ran red with blood. I really cannot guess how things will develop afterwards. Does the Ye clan still have enemies hiding within the southern Royal Palace? Perhaps that blind man also wants to use this matter to force those people to show themselves.”
As Northern Qi’s Imperial Advisor, Ku He needed to first consider Northern Qi’s interests. The kingdom of the mother and son in the Royal Palace, and even the difficulties Fan Xian would face, were not among his considerations. The old man smiled slightly and said, “With the blind man standing firmly behind him, even if Fan Xian is unable to deal with the oncoming attack, even if he failed and wanted to die, the blind man would not make that easy for him.”
Using the Heart of Tianyi Dao would make Fan Xian very powerful—it seemed too risky. Besides, that comment her teacher made revealed a terrifying thing: the Heart of Tianyi Dao was originally given to her teacher by Fan Xian’s mother!
“Lady Ye… exactly what kind of person was she?” Haitang was stunned.
Ku He furrowed his brows and thought deeply for a long time before replying softly, “At the beginning, I thought she was a goddess who did not meddle in the world of mortals. Only later did I discover this was not the case.”
“Not Tianmai.” Ku He continued smiling. “Lady Ye was a mystical woman who far superseded normal geniuses.”
After a long time, Haitang respectfully saw off Imperial Advisor Ku He. Seeing her teacher’s bare feet stepping into the snow, the girl asked softly, “Teacher, Sir Xiao En?”
In the snow, Ku He’s shadow paused and a moment later a soft voice said, “In the same place as master Zhuang. These two brothers were strangers in life but partners in death. It’s not so bad.”
Haitang lowered her head to hide her surprise. Up until now, she had not known this.
“These are the matters of the previous generation—you young people have your own world. The Heart… you need to hand it to Fan Xian personally.” After Ku He finished this sentence, he stepped into the wind and snow, and disappeared. With the flip of his hat, he hid the old, bald head from view.
In a valley of Cang Mountain in the Qing Kingdom, fog rose from a patch of white snow. Dozens of beautiful crowned cranes were stretching their wings in dance, flying no more than a dozen feet before floating back down. Scared and cowardly, they stretched out their long feet and tentatively stepped towards snow-covered hot springs beneath the fog.
The temperature of the hot spring was perfect, slightly on the hot side. Fan Xian soaked, half naked, in the hot springs with his eyes closed and his neck stretched out, resting on a hard and wet black rock beside the spring. Most of his body was sunk into the water, and hid skin left out was colored a light red. Although not muscular, his arms gave a feeling of strength as they lay on the rocks.
Two slightly-thin fingers landed firmly on his right wrist. Fei Jie closed his eyes while his eyebrows twitched. His usually disheveled hair, wet from the spring water, lay tamed like never before.
Only after having been summoned to the capital did Fei Jie learn that Fan Xian had taken his whole family into the Cang Mountains for winter, and had hurried over. The teacher and student had spent today soaking in the hot springs surrounded by cedar trees. Such an enjoyment was rather extravagant.
“Your figure is pretty good.” Fei Jie slowly opened his eyes and withdrew his fingers, which had been taking Fan Xian’s pulse. The ominous brown in his eyes was getting darker and darker. “Usually it is difficult to see under all the clothes.”
Fan Xian had also opened his eyes and smiled. “The brothers of the Third Bureau praised my figure a long time ago.” He paused and then asked, “Teacher, is there a
Fei Jie took his towel from his neck and wet it in the hot spring; then he forcefully rubbed the somewhat loose skin on his front and did not say anything for a moment.
Fan Xian sighed. Seeing his teacher’s face, he knew that he had no good ideas for the rapidly exploding zhenqi in his body.
“You won’t eat the medicine I left for you,” Fei Jie said worriedly. “Why are you refusing to accept help? If you take the medicine, at worse you will suffer a great loss of zhenqi, but at least it won’t burst out.”
Fan Xian shook his head. “For me, what is the difference between a great loss of zhenqi and a complete loss?”
“The difference is immense. At least you will have the strength to protect yourself.”
Fan Xian laughed and his delicate face remained full of confidence. “I have many ways to protect myself… you’ve known that ever since I was little. I was not a barbarian who depended on martial arts to conquer the world. I have always depended on other means to be able to battle Haitang. Even if I lost all my zhenqi, I don’t believe that if I ran into trouble I would only be able to wait to die.”
Fei Jie stared into his eyes for a while before sighing, “You really are a strange creature. For a fighter, the importance of zhenqi is paramount. Even if you are surrounded by the Tiger Guards, and have the Sixth Bureau watching, you should still show some sentiment and disappointment.”
“Those are unnecessary emotions.” The teachings he had received from his uncle Wu Zhu when he was young emerged in his mind and he slowly said, “If it can’t be cured then I will accept this reality. Sighing won’t help the situation at all.”
Fan Xian, at the Cang Mountain hot springs, did not know that in the distant north, the enigmatic teacher-student pair had already deduced his identity as though it were child’s play. Furthermore, they wanted to use the revealing of this identity to cause turmoil in the Qing court and set him up in opposition to the Qing royal family.
Putting aside whether or not Haitang would delay this matter from happening, the distance between the two countries was very large. No matter how fast rumors could fly, it couldn’t have made it into the Qing Kingdom yet. And so his identity as a descendent of the Ye clan was not yet Fan Xian’s biggest danger, or most pressing matter. Right now he was focused on recovering the zhenqi in his body, and to cure the punctured walls of his meridians.
“Just look after yourself for now,” Fei Jie spoke after a long moment of deep thought. “I will give you a new prescription to take. Also, don’t throw away the medicine I left you before—it still has its uses.”
Fan Xian was a little surprised. He wondered what the point was in continuing to take the power distribution medicine since his zhenqi had already dissipated. In reality, Fei Jie also didn’t know what use it could do—he had just said it without thinking.
Unexpectedly, it became useful to Fan Xian much later.
“I’ve been at Cang Mountain for a fortnight. I wonder what’s happening in Jingdou?” Fan Xian gently slapped the slightly hot water of the springs with a smile. “You have just come from the capital, tell me about it.”
“Every day, you receive at least a dozen reports,” Fei Jie scolded. “Why are you asking an old man like me?”
Fan Xian chuckled.
Fei Jie spoke coldly, “You used your injury as an excuse to hide here in Cang Mountain while the Bureaus moved against the Cui clan… Jingdou has long sunk into turmoil. The north has captured hundreds of people and seized millions in silver worth of goods. The accusations you pinned to the Cui clan have been made into reality. It seems that a large, dignified family is about to be toppled. You, kid, really struck hard.”
“It was all the court’s wishes.” Fan Xian explained with a smile.
The Overwatch Council’s declaration of war on Xinyang was unusually brutal and sudden, and they had struck very hard. Their spies, which were spread out across the country, had long controlled the Cui clan’s northern smuggling roads. When Yan Bingyun of the Fourth Bureau suddenly attacked, they did not give Xinyang any time to react before they already had control over much of the goods and silver.
After all, Fan Xian was injured, and everyone in Jingdou knew he was recovering at Cang Mountain. Who would have thought that the ill Commissioner would strike so suddenly and harshly? This plan had been in preparation since the summer and had quietly began after they received the Emperor’s implicit consent. Without proper planning, even though Xinyang had power in various states, they had still suffered a great loss.
Most importantly, Fan Xian had hidden his own thoughts deep enough. Clearly, the Eldest Princess had underestimated her own son-in-law.
“You’ve really offended the Eldest Princess this time,” Fei Jie sighed and shook his head. “The Cui clan was one of the Eldest Princess’s hands, and you have chopped it off. Are you not afraid that she…?”
Although he didn’t finish speaking, Fan Xian understood his teacher’s meaning. He thought for a bit and quietly replied, “At the beginning, I also had worries. However, after I battled against His Second Highness, I suddenly discovered that I have nothing to worry about. With the Emperor’s implicit consent and with the great power of the Overwatch Council… who could stand against me?”
Fei Jie knew that Fan Xian was not a proud or arrogant person, and so sat quietly to listen to his next words.
“The resources in my hands are too powerful,” Fan Xian sighed. “Whether it is the Princes or the Ministers in the court, none can stand against me. The Director once ordered me to aim high. I only understand now that it is not just the direction I want to take, but also a direction where I will develop this kind of confidence… perhaps even pride for my position as the Commissioner of the Overwatch Council.
“The people who can stand against me in the court today… are few,” Fan Xian concluded without expression. “The court, at its core, is an organization based on strength. Other than the army, there is not another yamen who is comparable to the Overwatch Council, and the Emperor has always tightly controlled the army. Forcing the Cui clan out of the capital this time is a clear signal. Although the Eldest Princess has her own influence in the army, the Emperor moved Yan Xiaoyi out of Jingdou early in the beginning of spring. What is Xinyang going to use to compete with me?”
From Danzhou to Jingdou, adapting to the changing situation and with the influence of Chen Pingping and Fan Jian who were… comrades of his mother, as well as with the implicit consent of the Emperor, the beautiful young man had risen to unbelievable power in just two short years. Even he had never truly experienced his power until he was able to easily banish His Second Highness in Jingdou. Only then did he suddenly realize he seemed to have far underestimated himself.
As long as the Emperor’s royal favor did not cease, as long as that old woman in the palace continued to give consideration for his royal blood, as long as Chen Pingping stayed retired at Chen Garden and gave him free reign with the Overwatch Council… Fan Xian would stand firmly at the top of the Qing court, and would not have to worry about anything.
Fei Jie suddenly said, “Yan Xiaoyi is in the north—did he not act this time?”
“The north camp is far away in Cangzhou. There are countless ferocious generals and hundreds of thousands of brave soldiers,” Fan Xian mocked, “but they didn’t have the time to react. However, some key members of the Cui clan have escaped toward the camp. We weren’t able to completely block off the road to Cangzhou.”
Fei Jie stared at him and suddenly smiled. “Not bad, not bad indeed.”
Fan Xian finally showed some modesty. “I am only the person who made the decision. Things going this smoothly is all thanks to Yan Bingyun.”
Fei Jie smiled. “In less than half a year, you have managed to pull Ruohai’s precious son into your camp and have him working hard plotting for you. You… have really done well.”
Fan Xian was silent and suddenly remembered Lady Shen. At this moment, she was probably in the Cang Mountain manor playing mahjong with Wan’er and others. He wondered if he should invite Mister Yan to the mountain for the winter after the Cui clan matter was concluded.
Thinking of the manors in Cang Mountain, his spirit suddenly lifted, and he made an earnest request to Fei Jie: “Teacher, please carefully consider the matter we discussed yesterday.”
Fei Jie’s brows furrowed; he coughed a few times and said, “You want a girl who is as beautiful as a freshly-bloomed flower to study medicine with me… isn’t that too pitiable? Even if I promise you, Minister Shang would not allow it.”
“Leave father to me,” Fan Xian said earnestly. “My baby sister truly likes medicine, please consider it.”
Fei Jie scolded, “I’m called Fei Jie, not Fei Xin.”
Fan Xian laughed. He knew that if his teacher was angry, he had agreed.
After a while, a trace of worry flashed across Fei Jie’s brow. He said, “Have you thought about the fact that the Director and I are both getting old? There will be a day when we will not be here.”
Fan Xian was silent, and suddenly spoke after a moment, “I think, the Director must have told you that I have guessed my past.”
Fei Jie nodded expressionlessly. “At least up until now, the Emperor… has treated you very well.”
Fan Xian did not deny this. For the Emperor to be “generous” enough to hand him the Overwatch Council and the treasury, positions of power that were difficult even for Princes to achieve, it would be enough for most people to compensate any issue of name.
However, the problem was that Fan Xian was not originally from this world. What he wanted was actually much simpler, and how he viewed problems was also simpler. These two giant organisations originally belonged to my mother, not to the Qing royal family. You should give them to me. If you don’t, then you are being shameless.
Fei Jie did not completely know his innermost thoughts, and so sighed, “The year we were in Danzhou, you said you wanted to be a doctor or a chef. I was actually very happy, but also a little disappointed. There had to be someone who could inherit Lady Ye’s family business. Only, now that I see you have inherited everything from her, I feel slightly afraid. I wonder if you will regret this in the future.”
Fan Xian understood. His teacher was worried that one day the Emperor might suddenly feel he held too much power and could become a threat to future Emperors. What would happen then? He smiled and comforted Fei Jie, “Don’t worry. I think the Emperor will believe in my loyalty for at least a few years.”
He touched the scar on his chest. The area of the scar was a little itchy and looked very ferocious today; it had turned red soaking in the hot springs.
“Don’t forget, she is the empress dowager’s most precious daughter,” Fei Jie warned. “Furthermore, she is crazy. She isn’t a match for you on the battlefield but she will use some crazy methods, like what happened on Niulan Street.”
Fan Xian suddenly sank into a deep silence, and spoke after a moment, “She won’t make a move with Wan’er in the other garden. As for within Jingdou… even if she is going to do something crazy, she has to consider the Emperor. If she really wants to get even, her best choice would be to kill me while I am injured as well as not in Jingdou, under the eye of the Emperor.”
Fei Jie sighed, “It is good you understand this.”
“I am not so easy to kill right now.”
There was a tch sound, just like the sound of someone using a knife to slice apart a piece of rice paper.
Over 1,500 feet behind the Cang Mountain hot springs, on the crystalline snow between the cedar trees, a flash of brilliant red liquid suddenly flew outward and landed on the ground. It immediately dyed the snow and sank into the ground beneath it, and the color took a long time to fade away.
An assassin covered his throat and utter a choked sound before falling onto the snow.
The swordsman from the Sixth Bureau of the Overwatch Council slowly pulled back his ice sword and saluted Gao Da, who was over 30 feet away, then disappeared into the snow.
“Number seven.” Gao Da’s face was serious and he still carried that long knife on his back. He gave an order to his subordinate, “Move it to the back of the mountain and burn it in a while.”
Gao Da was deep in thought. Recently, there had been more and more assassins trying to enter Cang Mountain to assassinate Commissioner Fan. He also knew where these assassins were coming from. Xinyang was indeed a little crazy. After the Cui clan was destroyed, they chose the most direct method of revenge… it was unfortunate they had underestimated the strength of the protection around Commissioner Fan.
Seven Tiger Guards had been given to Fan Xian by the Emperor as bodyguards.
In this battle between the assassins and guards, what was truly terrifying were the swordsmen of the Sixth Bureau. These swordsmen were originally assassins, and were the Qing Kingdom’s official assassins. As they were in the snowy mountains, they were far more familiar of the surrounding environment than the assassins from Xinfang. They let none escape. After three days, although they had already killed seven assassins, they remained unharmed.
Gao Da looked at the red blood smeared on the snow and sighed. He was one of the palace guards and he learned today that although he and the other Tiger Guards were ideal for killing and intercepting, the people of the Six Bureau of the Overwatch Council were much better at assassinating and protection.
As the leader of the Tiger Guards, he knew that if these Sixth Bureau swordsmen fought against him face to face, no one would be able to defeat him. However, the problem remained that assassins… never fought face to face.
Gao Da silently thought that if the assassin leader of the Sixth Bureau tried to assassinate him, he probably didn’t have any chance of surviving.
After Fan Xian was injured, the protection around him had already gone up a few levels. Particularly after Chen Pingping’s great display of anger, the Sixth Bureau of the Overwatch Council acted out of shame. Straight away they placed 12 swordsman around Fan Xian’s person—this standard of protection had, in the past, only been used by the Emperor when he went traveling. After the Emperor began to often use the Tiger Guards, only the Chen Garden had such tight protection.
After Fan Xian learned about this matter, he didn’t make any comment and only ordered much of Qinian’s group to leave, and refused to let anyone follow him into the mountain. He only left Deng Zi Yue and Su Wenmao to carry out communications. As to Chen Pingping’s “anger,” he treated it like a joke. The old cripple had someone stab me and then scolded his subordinates for not protecting me properly, he is truly shameless.
As Gao Da was quietly admiring the strength of the Overwatch Council, someone was thinking along similar lines. The leader of the assassins that Xinyang had sent to Cang Mountain was currently hiding in the snow in white clothing. He carefully observed everything that was happening on the mountain.
He was a soldier with a death oath to Xinyang; his life had long been given to Her Highness, the Eldest Princess. However, as he looked at the scene before him, he couldn’t help feeling a chill in his heart. It had already been three days. Never mind assassinating Fan Xian, the Xinyang assassins hadn’t even been able to see Fan Xian’s face! The consecutive deaths of his subordinates had forced the leader to consider, for the first time, a temporary retreat.
Even if it were the Emperor’s Tiger Guards guarding Fan Xian, he would have the confidence to try it. Xinyang had guessed that Fan Xian’s injury was strange, and suspected that it wouldn’t heal anytime soon.
The problem was in the Sixth Bureau of the Overwatch Council: the official assassins were too powerful. They seemed to have the innate ability to smell every strange scent on the snow, and could find all the hidden elements of danger. With this group guarding Fan Xian, Xinyang would only be able to kill him by sending a branch of their army up the mountain!
The assassin leader furrowed his brows and decided to slide down the tree, and return to Xinyang to report the details of their failure this time. He was very confident in his martial arts abilities. As long as he made plans dealing specifically with the Sixth Bureau of the Overwatch Council, he was confident that he would be able to kill Fan Xian next time.
His body shifted slightly and a piece of snow entered his neck. At first it was a slight cold, and then an extreme freeze.
A black metal rod accurately pierced his throat all the way through to the thick snow.