Joy of Life - Chapter 333[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:48:25]
Chapter 333: The Qing Kingdom’s Largest Bandit Ship
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Hearing the other party causally call out her name, the female bandit was stunned. She stared at Fan Xian, her gaze as piercing as a knife. Her left hand was clutching tightly at the wound where her hand used to be.
“I’ve fallen into your hands today. What should I call you, sir?” she asked viciously.
Fan Xian sat in his chair and stuck a finger in his ear, as if he couldn’t feel the hatred of the other person’s glare.
He smiled and said, “I’m the owner of this ship, and you’re the bandit. What right do you have to know my background?”
Guan Wumei only felt a deep flash of pain in her right arm. Seeing that her wrist was cut shorter, her face went white. She knew that she’d hit rock bottom that day, so she gritted her teeth and said, “Please lay out your terms.”
Fan Xian glanced at her with amusement and thought that this situation was absurd. He and his group had been delayed by some matters, but he didn’t expected his ship to be so attractive to others. It hadn’t even been a day and it had already drawn out Yingzhou’s infamous female bandit. What’s more, after the female bandit in front of him had been captured, not only was she not afraid, she wanted him to lay out his terms.
“What kind of terms?” Fan Xian dipped his finger into some cold tea and carefully rubbed it between his eyebrows, flicking up the small hairs at the ends.
“The dark terms or the light terms? Human terms or ghost terms?” he asked.
Behind him, the ship’s curtain moved slightly and Sisi, wearing a big coat and rubbing her tired eyes, walked out in a daze.
“Young master, why are you up?” she mumbled. She was blinded by the lights in the room, and it took her a moment to see the scene clearly. When her eyes landed on Sister Guan’s sliced off hand, she couldn’t help but let out a scream at the horrifying and bloody sight.
She only screamed for a moment before Fan Xian covered her mouth with his hand.
Mockingly he said, “Do you want to wake up everyone in Yingzhou City?”
From Danzhou to Jingdou, the bloodiest sight Sisi had ever seen was the time when the second young master of the Fan family, Sizhe, had been punished. She had never seen missing hands or feet, and she was shaking from the shock and struggling to calm down. Fan Xian pinched her waist and said, “Go back to sleep; this is serious business.”
Sisi couldn’t resist taking another look at Guan Wumei before she nodded and turned around to head back to her room.
“Is he awake?”
“No,” Sisi continued. “I don’t think Sir Shi is awake either.”
“Xiao Shi sleeps like a pig. Back when I used to make a bunch of noise, he only knew how to stay asleep next to the pretty girl beside him. What does he really know about the things that happen outside his room?”
At this point, Guan Wumei’s pain was making her lips twitch and her face turn green. However, her ears could still clearly hear the conversation above her between the young man and his serving girl. She felt like the situation was getting even more strange. Just who exactly was on this boat? After being attacked at night by bandits, they were still acting calm, and even had the time and energy to chat. If the other party didn’t have extreme confidence in themselves, then the other party was just stupid. Of course, she knew that the former was much more likely. She just didn’t know how they were going to deal with her and her people.
Having ushered Sisi into the guest cabin, Fan Xian’s smile immediately faded. He said gently, “Guan Wumei, of Jiangbei Road, Ezhou. Your father is from Guanhe Mountain and your mother is of the Xia family. You’ve lived in poverty since a young age, and you were eventually sold to a brothel. Later, you became the concubine of an official in Ezhou, but because you couldn’t stand the humiliation of your mother-in-law, you killed her in anger. You were sent to prison but miraculously escaped. After this, you became the mistress of a mountain village, and even later, the mountain village was destroyed. Then, you came to the area around Yingzhou.”
Guan Wumei was shocked to her core and seemed to even have forgotten the pain of her lost hand. How could the man in front of her know so many details of her past? Did he lay out this trap on purpose to capture her?
“Who exactly are you? How do you know so much about me?” she viciously asked with her hoarse voice.
Fan Xian shook his head and said, “My memory is pretty good, but this information isn’t much because you’re not an important person.”
Guan Wu Mei has had an extraordinary life, and could be considered one of the most infamous and dangerous bandits on the Yangtze River. Having unexpectedly been caught, being unable to put up a fight, and having the other party act unbothered and dismissive of her made her feel a trace of humiliation at this harsh reality. The tone and attitude of the young man sitting in front of her forced her to admit that he really didn’t consider her a worthy opponent.
“Since you know who I am, then you should know that I have someone working behind me. Unless you have us all killed, then I don’t think this will end well.”
Guan Wumei was consumed with pain and began to stupidly threaten her enemy. She hoped that when they punished her people, he would be a little merciful.
The cruel reality broke her illusion. Fan Xian smiled and said, “That’s exactly what I want to do.”
Guan Wumei was startled and suddenly felt a chill come from behind her. She quickly turned her head. The sounds of sharp blades being drawn against countless throats rang out. It was a horror to hear, as if the kitchen behind a stone house was killing dozens of hens at the same time.
After the dozen bandits that had followed Guan Wumei onto the ship had their throats slit by Fan Xian’s guards, the guards simply threw them overboard after double checking that they were all dead. They acted professionally and not even one drop of blood landed on the deck. The splashing of water quieted after only a moment, as the widely flowing river took all the bodies and blood into its depths.
He didn’t even blink at having a dozen people killed; he was so ruthless.
Guan Wumei’s eyes finally revealed her fear. Seeing how the other party had acted, it was clear to her that they were used to doing this type of cruel behavior.
Turning back, she saw the young man withdraw the hand gesture he’d used to give his order. Involuntarily, her voice shook and her teeth chattered as she said, “Don’t kill me.”
Her teeth wouldn’t stop chattering and she was making a strange sound. She made herself swallow and forced herself to calm down. Since they hadn’t killed her at the same time as the others, there was still a chance of survival.
“Please give me my family’s leader face.” Guan Wumei kneeled in fear on the ground and begged Fan Xian.
“Your family leader?”
Thinking of the man’s power, some hope rose in Guan Wumei’s heart.
“After seeing how your subordinates act with such strength, I think you’re both of the same road. My leader is the head of the Jiangnan water bandits. He has hundreds of ships under his command and countless amounts of capable people. If you’re thinking of coming to Jiangnan to plan something big, you’ll certainly get along with him and enjoy talking to him.”
Fan Xian ignored the female bandit’s inappropriate word choice, but he could tell that she was asking for mercy and trying to use that so-called “head of the Jiangnan bandits” to threaten him. He couldn’t help laughing and thought, This trip to Jiangnan is truly very interesting.
“Head?” he asked warmly. “Are you talking about Seventh Ming? The seventh son of the Ming family, the one that was never truly accepted into the Ming family? I heard that his mother died many years ago, and after old master Ming passed away, the oldest young master took over the family and sent out assassins everywhere to kill this illegitimate child who was an embarrassment to the family.
“But in reality, it was because the old master Ming left too many valuable things to Seventh Ming. Seventh Ming had nowhere to hide, so he decided to throw in his lot with the dark side. He changed his name, overcame his impetuosity, and was very patient. He quietly sent out his own assassins and now, five or six years later, he’s finally made a bit of a name for himself.”
“The head of the Jiangnan water bandits, Xia Qifei, the poor illegitimate child, Seventh Ming—how did he end up like this?” Fan Xian furrowed his brow, as if he thought that this person in Jiangnan who was of some status was actually very far from what he had imagined. “He’s actually allowing his subordinates to run around stealing silver? This method is much too pathetic. Has he been running low on silver recently?”
Jiangnan had always been wealthy, and when the palace treasury was built, it produced even more wealthy people. But other than the salt merchants and sea merchants, the two most famous families were the Cui and Ming families. These two families had intermarried for generations and were friendly with the Eldest Princess. Who knew how much money they’d made depending on the palace treasury? The Cui clan was in charge of smuggling to the North of the palace treasury, while the Ming family, according to the investigations by the Overwatch Council, should be responsible for all of the smuggling headed towards Dongyi City, as well as the overseas business.
Fan Xian had come down to Jiangnan to manage the palace treasury. Now that the Cui clan had fallen, his first order of business was to stun the Ming family. Naturally, he had done his homework well before leaving the capital. After talking all night with Mr. Yan, he had long decided on his plan.
He had spoken slowly in the cabin and almost scared Guan Wumei to death, who was kneeling on the floor. Ever since her young master had been chased out of the Ming family, he’d been planning for all these years on how to take back the family business. However, his true identity was their closest guarded secret. The heads of the Jiangnan water villages had no idea that their boss was actually a descendant of a wealthy family. The Ming family, those rich merchants, were also completely in the dark. They even sometimes had shady business deals with the water villages in Jiangnan.
Other than herself, nobody knew of this secret because of an extra layer of closeness with Seventh Ming, one that outsiders didn’t know about. Guan Wumei didn’t believe that there was another person who knew the head of Jiangnan’s water villages’, Xia Qifei’s, true past. How could she expect this young master in front of her to break through to the truth at once?
Fan Xian suddenly thought of something and smiled happily.
“I get it now. The Cui family fell, and although the Ming family is sad, they are also happy to take over the Cui family’s portion. I’m guessing that Seventh Ming wouldn’t pass up this opportunity to enter the market and set himself up against the Ming family. In March, the palace treasury will put out new bids, and the Jiangnan water villages will be a blank slate. Seventh Ming wants revenge, and he wants to steal the palace treasury sales documents. This all needs money, and it’s no wonder he’s as anxious as ever.”
Guan Wumei stared at Fan Xian with terror, thinking, What god is this frail looking young man? How does he know so much? The matters of the palace treasury were closely guarded court secrets, yet the other party guessed young master’s true thoughts in just a moment. She saw that there was a warm smile on the corner of Fan Xian’s lips, but her body was frozen and unable to move.
“Seventh Ming doesn’t have very good etiquette. Why bother for just a few hundred liang of silver?” Fan Xian sighed.
Before he had come to Jiangnan, he originally had a measure of curiosity for the Seventh Ming that the Overwatch Council had discovered in their secret investigations. After all, the other party had a somewhat similar past to him. Now that he had discovered that the other party’s methods weren’t very good, he couldn’t help but feel disappointed.
He sighed to himself and lowered his head. It was only then that he noticed the silent Guan Wumei with her own head down. He smiled apologetically and said, “I like to talk to myself sometimes. Don’t worry, I’ll stop your bleeding in a moment.”
Guan Wumei asked, “Why not kill me instead?”
Fan Xian thought about this and said, “I’m not someone who likes to kill people. Besides, I still have to talk business with your master. If I killed his cousin, I’m afraid he might get too vengeful without knowing enough information. It could damage the business between us.”
That night, Guan Wumei had been stunned so often that she felt numb now. Since this man was able to discover the young master’s true identity, then of course he would be able to find out about the connection between them. Only, he’d said…business? She wished she could be reincarnated.
With difficulty she said, “Sir, my family leader is currently downstream.”
By this point, she guessed that Fan Xian was likely a representative from a great power in Jingdou, and that was why he had such powerful guards and knew so many secrets. She gritted her teeth and said, “Tonight was our fault. I’ll bring gifts as an apology in the future.”
After hearing their previous conversation, she thought that the other party would let her go. Unexpectedly, the young master sank into deep thought and for a while, didn’t speak. Unable to help herself, she dejectedly said, “Sir, we all walk the jianghu. You’ve already killed a dozen of my subordinates. Is that not enough to satisfy your anger?”
“Jianghu? Does this world really have a jianghu?” Fan Xian smiled slightly. “Besides, those kills weren’t enough to satisfy my anger; it was just one way to deal with the issue. I won’t let you leave this ship, at least until I need you to. This is to prevent you from slipping up and revealing my identity. That would just bring unnecessary trouble to Jiangnan.”
Guan Wumei didn’t understand what he was saying, but she did recognize the great amount of self-confidence in his tone. In a hoarse and hopeless voice she asked, “Matters of the jianghu are resolved on the jianghu. What exactly do you want to do?”
There was absolute silence in the cabin, and after a moment, Fan Xian laughed lightly.
“You’re mistaken. I’m not of the jianghu.” He propped up his chin and looked at Guan Wumei’s white face with amusement. “I don’t have the time or effort to deal with such a messy and chaotic place as jianghu.”
Guan Wumei thought that her enemy was becoming more and more mysterious. Unable to stop herself she asked, “Who. . . who exactly are you?”
“Me?” Fan Xian thought about this seriously. “I am a no-good, waiting to die second generation man. Of course, I might be the most powerful second generation man in all of the Qing Kingdom.”
Thinking of her men’s guesses before they had boarded the ship, Guan Wumei almost spat out a mouthful of blood.
“You’re a bandit.” Fan Xian stared into her eyes, and spoke each of his words clearly. “And I am a powerful bandit. Now that you’re on my bandit ship, I, as the host, will look after you well. Of course, your Seventh Ming is also about to come onto my ship, and he won’t be getting off again in this lifetime.”
Guan Wumei finally understood that this other party didn’t want to do business with Seventh Ming, they wanted to use him for their own ends.
“You’re only dreaming! You’re only worthy enough to polish my master’s shoes!” she viciously spat.
Fan Xian didn’t get angry, he just laughed out loud and rose from his chair. He took out a golden needle and pricked her a few times near her elbow to stop the bleeding. He was originally going to respond to her, but then decided that there wasn’t much point. He thought, Your master, that Seventh Ming, will likely be sincerely polishing my shoes n just a few days. I only hope that you won’t be too surprised when it happens.
After everything was dealt with, the sailors who had been waiting in the lower level brought up a huge bucket of water from the river to wash away the spilled blood. Although Guan Wumei was the only one who had bled on the ship, she’d lost a lot of blood from her severed wrist and it took quite some effort to clean it all up.
The wind picked up again after all the cleaning was done. Everyone yawned exhaustedly and went back to sleep. The ship resumed its silence, as if the earlier events had never happened.
“Go to sleep; there will be someone on duty for the late shift,” said Fan Xian, glancing at Gao Da. The regulations of the Qing Kingdom officials demanded that personal guards worked in two shifts, but Fan Xian forcefully changed it to three shifts. Although there were less people each shift, he believed that those capitalistic people in the world had their own reasons for splitting the people they exploited into three shifts. It probably ensured better work efficiency.
Pushing aside the thick, cloth curtain, he walked along the passageway that went through the cabins until he reached the end. Fan Xian stopped and twisted his head to glance at Shi Chanli’s room. As expected, the scholar was still sound asleep. Su Wenmao had woken up a long time ago and was guarding the door with an exhausted expression. It was deep into the night, and the two didn’t speak to each other.
Walking to the room opposite of his own, Fan Xian said something to the Tiger Guards on duty outside and gently pushed the door open. He walked straight to the bed and sat down. Looking at the little boy beneath the blankets, he remained silent for quite some time.
The Third Prince had regular features and seemed very delicate in his young age. But, Fan Xian knew that this kid was a lot tougher than he looked. The ship rocked and he pulled up the blanket on the bed, covering the boy’s shoulders. The wind on the river was icy, and it wouldn’t be good for him to catch a cold.
The Third Prince’s tightly shut eyes twitched slightly.
Fan Xian laughed quietly. The child had probably woken up long ago, and was only pretending to be asleep. He suddenly realized that a child of eight or nine that was easier to wake up than Shi Chanli probably had many burdens weighing down on his heart. Thinking of this, he couldn’t help but emotionally sigh. It was easy, when born to a royal family, for immoral desires and ploys for power to result in the creation of strange children. This little boy was sometimes loathsome, but he was also very pitiful.
He didn’t have the energy to expose the child’s trick, but he instead lost focus and thought of the issue Wan’er had reminded him of. He had something completely different in mind, but couldn’t make up his mind just yet.
The shopkeepers from the Qingyu Hall were not on the ship heading south. Since Fan Xian was secretly going to Jiangnan, the group of family members heading towards Danzhou needed to look very realistic. At the middle of the Wei River, the fake Commissioner would have already led the group east. Along the way, there were Black Knights protecting them, and they had all of the shopkeepers. Everyone in the court would probably think that he was travelling with that group, and no one would ever imagine that he’d already reached the crossing point of the Wei River and the Yangtze River.
Although they were taking the waterways and couldn’t have the Black Knights give them the quickest and strongest defense, Fan Xian wasn’t worried at all about their safety. There were seven Tiger Guards on board, as well as swordsman from the Sixth Bureau. With so many masters and assassins on one ship, besides a personal visit from a Great Grandmaster, who in this world could even manage to touch his finger?
His warm hand gently patted the Third Prince’s back, but his face was turned away and lost in thought. The most valuable person on the ship was this prince. With such a valuable gem like this beside him, even if wanted to use his privilege to move his family soldiers and provincial warriors in the future, he could probably find a good excuse to do so.
The current scenario was a bit odd, but Fan Xian was a daring man and didn’t care much for the dignity of the royal family. Continuing to treat the Third Prince as a student and younger brother was already giving the Emperor and Yi Guipin a good reputation.
After making sure everything was as it should be, Guan Wumei, with her severed hand wound, was thrown into the ordinary prison in the lower level. It was only then could Fan Xian completely relax. Rubbing his slightly swollen temples, he returned to his room to find a sleepy Sisi half sitting on the side of the bed. She had her chin propped up with one hand, and her entire body swayed back and forth with the rocking of the ship. The girl was amusing. She was already this sleepy and she still didn’t fall down.
Fan Xian chuckled and knew that she wouldn’t let herself sleep until he was resting as well. Not daring to make a noise, he tiptoed over and slid one hand under her arms and another under her knees. She was a wearing a red and green old coat and felt like a big round bundle. It was like he was holding a large furry bear.
He carefully placed Sisi onto the bed, not wanting to disturb her dreams. Unexpectedly, she still woke up and opened her eyes, her sleepy confusion immediately disappearing. She forced herself to sit up and said with a smile, “I’ll spread out young master’s blanket.”
Fan Xian gently laughed and scolded her, “I’ve already slept earlier; who needs sheets? You’re already disorientated from sleeping; go rest.”
Sisi covered her mouth and laughed. “The bed is all cold now. When you were little, you hated cold blankets. Didn’t you always have me warm them first?”
Hearing these words, Fan Xian paused and suddenly reminisced the time the two of them had spent together in the old manor, back in Danzhou a couple years ago. In just a blink of an eye, two years had passed. He’d been busy scrambling for power, getting married, and going out as an envoy. Without meaning to, he had drifted apart from Sisi. Luckily, Sisi still treated him with intimacy. Unintentionally, his heart warmed as he smiled at her.
“Are you going to warm my bed tonight?”
These words were a bit flirtatious, but they both were aware that Sisi was a girl who would eventually have to prepare herself to marry. She’d already, long ago, prepared herself mentally for that. She blushed slightly at his question, and didn’t make a cheerful reply as she would have in the past. She only took off her outer coat and slipped herself entirely under the blankets.
She slid into the young master’s bed with only a headful of black locks visible on the white pillow. It was ridiculously alluring.
Fan Xian paused, then removed his clothes and burrowed into the blankets as well. While they were in Danzhou, they’d grown up together and shared a bed numerous times. They’d rolled around together in the blankets on plenty of occasions. Other than that final thing, they’d already done every other possible intimate act multiple times.
The lights had yet to be put out in their cabin. Fan Xian hugged the girl from behind, his hands wrapped around her front. He held onto her slightly cold hands. His chest was pressed against her back, and he could hear her breathing in front of him. Without thinking, he tightened his hold on her even more.
“I’m 20, young master,” Sisi gently bit her lower lip as she said this. There was a trace of grief and hidden bitterness in her voice.
Fan Xian didn’t say anything back. He just breathed in the light scent of her hair and took in the feel of her nimble body with his embrace. He easily allowed his mind to return back to the situation in Danzhou. His whole body felt unbelievably relaxed and at ease.