Joy of Life - Chapter 327[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:48:22]
Chapter 327: Secret Movements In A Little Tower In The Palace
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The carriage creaked as it rolled over the limestone of the new street. In the depths of winter, there was ice on the roads. Even four-wheeled carriages did not dare go too quickly. The coachman, Su Wenmao, carefully and lightly waved his whip. All around them, swordsmen of the Sixth Bureau of the Overwatch Council walked beside the carriage in boots. They vigilantly observed all sides. The Qinian unit walked separate and dressed like the commoners, scattered around the surrounding crowd.
On the carriage was the crest of the Fan family. A square and a circle crossed each other, and it was gold with a black border. In the carriage were Fan Xian and Gao Da, as well as two Tiger Guards who sat across from them. Fan Xian’s expression was peaceful as he said, “The formation is too big, too ostentatious.”
Gao Da lifted a corner of the heavy curtains and glanced out at the street, and spoke evenly. “Assassins suddenly turned up in the mountain, so who knows if the capital is safe? The Emperor was very angry about that, and ordered me to guarantee your safety.”
His gaze swept across the street. There were not many people walking about. Everyone in their manors and shops, however, knew it was the Fan family carriage, and could guess who was in the carriage. They all gazed towards it strangely.
The rumors had been going around, and the idea that Fan Xian was the Emperor’s illegitimate child had firmly planted itself in the hearts of the people. Seeing the direction the carriage was traveling in, the people of Jingdou all knew that Sir Fan junior was going to the palace. They all started guessing, wondering if, today, Jingdou would provide for them any more pieces of astonishing news.
The palace seemed very far that ride, though it was actually very close.
The carriage stopped as it reached the outskirts of the square outside of the palace. After the Hanging Temple incident, the defenses of the imperial guards had become much stricter. Fan Xian dismounted from the carriage and accepted the cloak Su Wenmao handed him as well as the crutch, which he put under his arm. Gao Da knew that Fan Xian’s external wounds had already healed, and couldn’t help but give him a strange look.
Fan Xian did not acknowledge his gaze, and led the group towards the cold, magnificent, red-yellow wall of the palace.
Before they reached the palace door, the imperial guards on duty had already sent a small group to welcome them. Silent but very considerate, they helped protect him from the wind, and led them through the palace entrance. This kind of privilege had always been enjoyed by old and frail ministers. Even royals sons did not receive this kind of treatment. Fan Xian couldn’t help furrowing his brows, and felt confused.
He didn’t know that the Great Prince had secretly given orders. Although the Great Prince hadn’t explained anything, the quiet declaration was enough for the generals of the imperial guard to understand. The rumors had not harmed Fan Xian’s position, but had actually helped to mend the rift between the Great Prince and Commissioner Fan.
Today, it was Eunuch Hou, the eunuch Fan Xian had met on his first trip into the palace, who was responsible for greeting him at the entrance. The two had long-ago become familiar with each other. Eunuch Hou, with a face full of charm, said, “Fan… young master. Fortunately, I was up early today. I didn’t think you would be here so early.”
Fan Xian jokingly scolded him a little before saying with a thread of hesitation, “You said you went to the Department of Internal Affairs last month. The last few times I came to the palace, it was always Lao Yao handling things. How come it is you today?” Eunuch Hou had been promoted to the head of the Department of Internal Affairs. He managed the use of medicine, and the death and mourning that went on in the palace: a very busy position. He was currently highly favored in the palace. Logically speaking, there was no reason for him to be waiting outside to greet Fan Xian.
Eunuch Hou smiled. “Lao Yao went out to carry out some business. The Emperor asked me to take his place for the day.”
Fan Xian nodded and followed him. They walked by the Daping Palace gardens and spoke occasionally. After a moment, Fan Xian finally sighed. “I’ve become tired of the looks from people these days,” he slowly said. “You’re terrific. You still treat me the same as always.”
Eunuch Hou felt a chill, but immediately his heart warmed and he said pleasantly, “Look at what you’re saying. You’ve only got good days ahead of you. Of course I’m going to serve you well.”
Fan Xian didn’t question the lie, and just laughed heartily. Some people’s behavior had become unnatural after discovering his connection with the royal family. He truly felt it was only the eunuchs in the palace that didn’t seem to have much of a reaction.
He didn’t know that the eunuchs in the Qing palace had always maintained their balance between the various princes. They didn’t dare to pick a master hastily, as they weren’t valued like officials. Once they picked the wrong master, when the other party took the throne, they could only die. And so they were respectful of the princes, but kept their distance. Furthermore, they usually served the Emperor, and other than the Crown Prince, they weren’t overly-afraid of the over three princes.
It was not important to the eunuchs that Fan Xian was not a prince, rather, it was because of his actual position that the eunuchs wanted to please him.
Along their way, they passed a few familiar palaces before finally reaching the royal study. Eunuch Hou carefully announced him outside the door before he turned and gestured to Fan Xian with his eyes, then he retreated to one side.
After the door opened, Fan Xian walked in with the help of his crutch. He stood in front of the giant bookcase and faced the Emperor, who was currently sitting on his soft divan, reading memorials. He purposely placed the crutch to the side in an awkward way, and saluted the Emperor formally.
The Emperor didn’t raise his head; he hmm’ed and said, “Find a place to sit. Wait until I finish reading these to talk.”
How could he find a seat for himself in the royal study? Hong Zhu was very clever. Understanding what the Emperor meant, he quickly went to the back and carried out an embroidered stool, and placed it next to Fan Xian. Fan Xian gave the eunuch a grateful smile and sat down. He silently wondered why this kid’s acne was still growing so vigorously.
The Emperor lowered his head and did not appear to see this exchange. But a hint of amusement flashed through the eyes that were reading the memorial.
The royal study was absolutely silent. No one dared speak; the eunuchs inside and out didn’t dare make a single sound.
This was not the first time Fan Xian had met with the Emperor individually. But, being alone with him after all the rumors, he felt a strange nervousness in his heart. His chest felt itchy and he couldn’t help but cough. The cough immediately echoed in the royal study, strikingly clearly, and it startled him a bit.
The Emperor raised his head to glance at him but didn’t say anything before continuing to read the memorial.
Fan Xian quickly sat up straight on his stool and began to quietly watch the Emperor go about his daily business. He knew that very few people had the opportunity to witness this, but after a while he began to lose focus. He started studying the Emperor’s facial features. Although the Emperor had his head lowered at this moment, Fan Xian was still able to find the shadow of some familiar features on his clear and spirited face. More accurately, they were features similar to his own.
This was the so-called connection of blood.
The Emperor spent a long time reading the memorials; there were many of them on his desk. His eyebrows sometimes furrowed in anger, and other times relaxed in joy. Sometimes they were sunk in thought, and other times they were elevated and excited.
The Qing Kingdom was vast, with seven roads, twenty-six regions, and provinces and counties beyond count. To rule the country from Jingdou was a very difficult task. The official memorials that arrived each day from all over the country were as plentiful as snowflakes. If he were a lazy Emperor, perhaps he would hand the power to the cabinet and spend his days traveling and enjoying himself. But the current emperor of the Qing Kingdom clearly did not want to be a muddle-headed master. He would not let go of any power and had even chased the Prime Minister out of the court, and would only go so far as to personally set up palace secretaries.
This is just self torture. Fan Xian quietly watched the scene before him, and cold amusement flashed through his heart. It was no fun being Emperor. In comparison, it seemed a much better choice to be like King Jing, who spent his time planting flowers.
The sun gradually shifted to noon. The sunshine poured down through the layers of cloud, but it was cold, as if it had lost all of its warmth. The people in the palace seemed to have forgotten the time. It was at this moment that the Emperor finally finished his annotations for the morning and closed the final memorial. He closed his eyes to rejuvenate himself, and finally stretched.
Eunuchs filed in. Towels, mind-clearing tea, pastries, and incense began to be cast onto the Emperor’s body and into his stomach. Fan Xian noticed that the towel did not give off a thread of steam in this cold winter’s day, and furrowed his brow. “Your Majesty… this is cold?”
The Emperor hmm’ed and accepted the towel to rub on his face vigorously. He mumbled indistinctly, “The cold enters the bone and helps wake the spirit.” He glanced at Fan Xian and smiled. “A hot towel is too warm and comfortable. I’m afraid I’ll fall asleep.”
Fan Xian smile. “I use hot—the hotter the better.” He suddenly felt like he was choking. He coughed and waved urgently, “Of course, be careful not to get burned.”
The Emperor suddenly revealed a deep and meaningful smile. He glanced at him a few times and said, “Not bad, you were fairly calm.”
Fan Xian was speechless.
The Emperor’s gaze transferred onto the crutch behind Fan Xian and he sighed in his heart. This child is as stubborn-minded as his mother… he purposely wants me to see him showing off his cleverness. He wants me to scold him and to fortify his intentions. Does he not think I can see through all this?
The Emperor began to remember all the good of that person back then, and he realized that Fan Xian did not have any inordinate ambitions. Rather, he seemed like a quiet orphan… a good son. He rose and walked out of the royal study, indicating to Fan Xian to follow him. Fan Xian quickly went to grab the crutch and the Emperor smiled. “I already know that your injury is pretty much healed. Why pretend to be pitiful in front of me?”
Although the lie had been caught, there was no imperial rage. Fan Xian paused at his fortune, as if he didn’t believe the Emperor… wouldn’t scold him. Shortly after, he laughed and tossed the crutch to one side before following the Emperor out.
In the first meeting of the hearts between Fan Xian and his father, Fan Xian had won.
They walked along beneath the long eaves of the palace towards the northwest. As they walked, the palaces gradually became rarer; they left the large palaces like the Hanguang Palace and the Taiji Palace far behind them. The eunuchs and serving girls they saw humbly lowered their heads and gave way. Behind the Emperor and Fan Xian, there was only the eunuch Hong Zhu. As they walked further, even eunuchs and serving girls became rarer to see. The winter garden was unbelievably quiet, and there was still some snow left on the rockeries. The birds had stopped singing a long time ago, and there wasn’t the screeching of bugs. Only a gentle silence.
Fan Xian knew where they were going, and was silent. The Emperor’s emotions also seemed a little strange, and he did not say anything. It was not until the Cold Palace had disappeared and the palaces were looking rather broken that the Emperor stopped.
In front of them was a quiet little garden. The garden wasn’t large and there was only a two-story wooden tower within. The tower seemed old and broken. It had not been repaired in many years.
Fan Xian followed the Emperor as they climbed the stairs. He began to feel nervous and took a deep breath.
On the second floor, in the main hall, the Emperor finally sighed. He walked outside, and gazed at the garden across from the balcony and sank into a deep silence for a long time. The balcony faced one corner of the palace, and was the quietest, most remote area in the place. No one tended to the garden, and it had grown wild on its own before being destroyed by the autumn wind and snow. The plants had fallen to the ground, looking like the corpses of countless bodies. The yellows and whites were dismal.
In the distance, the corner tower of Huayang Gate could faintly be seen.
Fan Xian stood silently behind the Emperor. It was naturally not appropriate for him to speak. However, he had already swept the room with his gaze and could not find the painting he had expected.
As if he were performing magic, Eunuch Hong somehow produced hot water and prepared some tea, which he respectfully placed on the table before he went downstairs. He didn’t dare to serve on the side here.
“Earlier, when I had you wait in the royal study.” The Emperor faced out towards the railing; his hands gripped the rails with strength, and his voice did not waver at all. “It was because I wanted to tell you: a ruler has his path.”
Fan Xian maintained his silence.
“As the ruler of a country, I… have to consider the kingdom. I must consider the people.” The Emperor spoke slowly, his eyes fixed on a distant point. “Being Emperor is not an easy job… as your mother once said. And so, sometimes I have to sacrifice some things, even some very precious things. Don’t hold it against me, for keeping you in Danzhou for 16 years.”
Fan Xian had been waiting for this day for a long time, and had mentally prepared himself well for it. However, upon hearing these words, he couldn’t help a chill running up his neck to the top of his head. Shocked, he didn’t know what to say, and was silent for a while. He suddenly bit his lip and said clearly, “I… don’t understand what Your Majesty means.”
The Emperor seemed to have expected Fan Xian’s response. He smile was self deprecating. He did not turn his head. In an even softer voice, he said, “Including your brothers, in this world of tens of thousands of people, not many would dare express their anger at me in words, actions, or through their expressions… An Zhi, you indeed have some of your mother’s style.”
Fan Xian’s neck was very straight, and he stubbornly refused to speak.
“You don’t understand what I mean?” The Emperor turned around. His light yellow coat was even brighter than usual next to the railing. He slowly said, “I mean, you are my… true born son.”
Fan Xian was silent and suddenly smiled after a long while, then lost his smile, then smiled in a stunned manner. In his expression, there was unspeakable grief and bitterness. After much time, he slowly restrained his mouth.
He suddenly felt frustrated. He had forgotten that from the first step he’d taken into the palace, he’d been acting according to plan. Now he had fallen into the role of the illegitimate son of the Emperor, and was finding it difficult to stop acting!
He bowed deeply to the Emperor with his hands clasped, but still refused to say anything.
The Emperor internally sighed. He had been completely fooled by the emotions Fan Xian had acted out, and slowly said, “I could have chosen to not acknowledge the rumors in Jingdou. I will eventually have to acknowledge them because you, An Zhi, are still my own flesh and blood.”
The Emperor walked closer to him and looked at the unique spirit of determination and stubbornness on the beautiful young man’s face. He immediately hid the pitying look on his face. He didn’t demand that Fan Xian make a reply; instead, he said to himself, “You’ll be 18 next month.”
Fan Xian suddenly raised his head, but his words halted. After a moment, he faintly said, “I… don’t know which day I was born on.”
These words pierced the Emperor’s heart, and finally made this usually cold-hearted man feel remorse. After some thought, he slowly said, “January 18th.”
Fan Xian froze, and then melted to bitterly laugh. He sighed, “I didn’t know my birthday was the 18th until I turned 18.”
The Emperor smiled warmly. The more he looked at the child in front of him the more he liked him. Without meaning to, he said, “To think they were able to raise you as such an obedient child in the countryside. I suspect that Aunty worked very hard while you were in Danzhou. One day, I will go to Danzhou to visit her… An Zhi, how has she been recently?”
Fan Xian lowered his head and was silent for a while, thinking about something. He finally opened his mouth, “Grandma is very well. I… I often write to Danzhou.”
“Oh.” The Emperor noticed that he finally stopped referring to himself as a minister. His heart warmed and he smiled comfortingly, and began to ask gently of Fan Xian’s life as a child.
Their conversation now had a topic, and Fan Xian seemed to have somewhat become used to their new “relationship between Emperor and minister,” and began to tell the most revered and respected man under heaven about his childhood.