Joy of Life - Chapter 404[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:48:53]
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
After Fan Xian finished reading the Council report, his eyes felt a bit dry and he couldn’t resist cursing a few times in his heart. When he was little, his name and courtesy name had already been arranged by those people. Surname Fan, name Xian, and courtesy name An Zhi. Thinking of this now, this name was given to him by that Emperor in the Palace, only…ever since he had entered Jingdou, or more accurately speaking, after the spring imperial examination last year, when had he ever been unoccupied[JW1] ?
When he sometimes asked himself honestly, judging by the experience of two lives, Fan Xian had to come to a conclusion that he was not very happy with. The old Emperor in the Palace was actually quite good to him, although he knew that a large part of the reason the Emperor had given him so much power was because he needed the existence of someone like himself to use to balance the situation in court. Furthermore, he had indeed shown great ability in this area.
The royal family had always been heartless. For him to be where he was today, credit had to be given to his mother’s favor. This meant that the Emperor did indeed have some father-son feelings for him—at least he wasn’t like the Han Emperor, he was at least still alive and living better and better.
Fan Xian would not be infatuated with this glimmer of father-son emotion. He was amazingly clear-headed and calm. He was still somewhat angry at the Emperor for throwing him to Jiangnan and so much work at him, so many troublesome matters.
He was not a donkey…although Haitang seemed to enjoy ordering Sizhe around like one.
He rubbed his eyes and took out the long rectangular box from beside him and curiously ripped open the wax seal on the outside.
This was a gift Wang Qinian had carefully asked Xia Qifei to bring back. In the letter, it said it was to show respect to him but did not explain what it was.
The box slowly opened and revealed the true appearance of the thing inside. Fan Xian narrowed his eyes. It was a sword, a sword that did not appear to be unusual but a sense of great age emanated from its entire being.
Pulling out the long sword, he wrapped his right hand firmly around the hilt and slowly pulled. Without a sound, the blade of the sword left the sheath and emerged.
Like the snow on Cang Mountain, like the blue in North Lake, like the wind in Jiangnan, the clear and bright sword light rippled in the study. It was unbelievably warm but with a glimmer of bone-piercing cold enveloped within it.
Fan Xian expression shifted slightly. He saw the preciousness and sharpness of this sword. What particularly gave him secret joyful was that this kind of murderous intent within the warmness was similar to his own strange personality.
He lightly flexed his wrist and casually swung it a few times. He felt that the weight was very suitable as well. The blade of the sword swept out silently. It passed over the candle three times, and the candle did not move at all.
The weapons Fan Xian usually used were nothing but secret crossbows and the slim, pure black dagger in his boot. Although it was enough to kill with, he still did not have a suitable weapon, particularly if he was going to fight against true aces.
Since he had been stabbed by the Shadow, Fan Xian was fortunate in learning the secrets of the Sigu Sword. These days, he practiced single-mindedly, and it could be said he has had some small successes. That night he killed Yuang Jingmeng had already proved this point. With the Sigu Sword in his heart, Fan Xian had a growing desire to match it to a good sword.
When he killed Yuan Meng, it was Haitang who lent him a soft sword.
One could not live off a woman, and it was not good to always borrow a sword.
Fan Xian lightly flicked the edge of the sword and listened closely to the soft buzzing sound. He couldn’t help but nod his head in approval. He considered this fawning of Lao Wang’s well done.
Lifting the paper in the box, on it was written Wang Qinian’s skillful supporting words. Full of fawning, it showed regret for peeking at his letter last year and talked about the history of the sword, which actually belonged to the last Emperor of the Wei Kingdom.
The Wei Kingdom had been defeated by the Qing Kingdom, and the fighting families took the opportunity to rise. The treasures in the Royal Palace had long been stolen away by the eunuchs and sold. This sword had since then fallen among the people to never be seen again. However, after 20 years, it finally resurfaced. After Wang Qinian heard, he had paid a hefty price to buy it and then carefully made some external changes before sending it to Jiangnan.
“So, it is an emperor’s sword…” Fan Xian looked at this sword and smiled, yet he did not quite accept it in his heart. If this sword truly had an imperial aura, the Emperor of the Wei Kingdom would not have died back then.
However, immediately his brows furrowed together. Wang Qinian knew that he was the Emperor’s illegitimate child. To spend a large sum to buy the Wei Emperor’s sword and then send it to him from so far away, was this truly just an act to curry favor or was he using this sword to hint at something?
Fan Xian shook his head and sighed, thinking, A man like Wang Qinian who had a wife and daughter, how could he have such bravery? It should be him who was thinking too much.
He felt a bit uncomfortable in his heart. At heart, he was just like the Emperor; they were both suspicious people.
Blowing out the candle he left the study to sleep. Fan Xian couldn’t resist muttering, “Zorro.”
The study door closed, the moonlight was peaceful, and the candle broke into four pieces. One stuck to the surface of the table while the three others rolled without stopping.
Three days later, an Imperial Messenger arrived in Suzhou from Jingdou. The Imperial Messengers were not those eunuchs with wings, they were the eunuchs only responsible for bringing messages from the Emperor. They could not fly; they could only ride horses, so were naturally slower.
Hua Garden was cleaned until it looked like new. The courtyard had been swept, incense lit, and all related tasks completed. With Fan Xian as the head and the Third Prince beside him, everyone in the Overwatch Council Qinian Unit, as well as the Sixth Bureau guards and Tiger Guards, stood densely together. They all waited patiently in the front yard for the arrival of the imperial edict.
They were accepting the imperial edict. As the Sage girl of Northern Qi, it was not suitable for Haitang to be present, so she had left earlier.
However, Fan Xian and his people waited for a long time no one arrived. Fan Xian became somewhat irritated and called for someone to bring him a chair. He sat himself in the corridor and had Sisi shell pumpkin seeds beside him while he chatted casually with the Third Prince.
Deng Zi Yue moved closer to his ear with an awkward expression and said, “Sir, be careful, the wait is inevitable.”
His gaze flicked over to the side.
Fan Xian knew what he wanted to say. His subordinates in the Overwatch Council did not matter, and the Third Prince was now firmly following him, but his insolent behavior did indeed seem a bit disrespectful of the Emperor’s might. To the side there was also Gao Da and the other six Tiger Guards, there were also the Tiger Guards responsible for the Third Prince’s safety. No one knew whether or not there were people among them sent by the Emperor to spy on him.
Fan Xian narrowed his eyes and did not say anything. In his Northern Qi trip, as well as this Jiangnan trip, it had always been Gao Da and the other six following him. The two sides had interacted happily, at least, they hadn’t dragged him back and or done anything that made him uncomfortable. Recently, Fan Xian had purposely shown his true side to them.
He suspected that these seven people would be his personal bodyguards for life, so he might as well use endless small mistakes to have them become used to his future big mistakes.
Sometimes, people’s hearts could not be bought, they could only be hooked. It was like this between men and women, and it was actually also like this between men.
As for the Third Prince’s Tiger Guards, fortunately, they didn’t make Fan Xian wait for too long. Following the sound of a canon outside, a few royal guards walked in first and then bowed a eunuch into the garden.
Fan Xian had stood long ago. He led the Third Prince forward by the hand and saluted deeply, then he quietly waited to listen to the imperial edict.
The eunuch, who had come to announce the imperial edict, was Eunuch Yao and an old acquaintance of Fan Xian’s. The two met each other’s eyes. Eunuch Yao knew that this young master was in a hurry. A chill ran through his heart, so he passed over the processes that he could and directly opened the double damask cloth edict. In a high voice, he began to announce the edict.
The contents of the imperial edict were just as Fan Xian expected. Some of the sentences within it were even matters that Fan Xian and the Emperor had already discussed and agreed on in their secret letters.
As the ruler of a country, the Emperor had to express shock and anger at the chaos in Jiangnan. The imperial edict seemed to have used severe language to harshly upbraid Fan Xian. In the imperial edict, there was not a single mention of the Ming family.
The glimmer of a smile flashed across the corner of his mouth as he knelt on the ground. This was as it should be. How could a mere wealthy family in Jiangnan affect the Emperor’s heart? Although this time the incident had not been small and the people’s blood letters had been sent to the capital, and a few corrupt officials even wanted to try the case before the Emperor in Jingdou, the Emperor’s scolding of Fan Xian could be considered an accounting for all those under heaven.
However, the imperial edict, the court’s official document, would certainly not mention the Ming family. It criticized Fan Xian for not handling matters carefully, but what matter was it? The court would not say a word on it. This was what was called politics.
It was only some scolding words and, of course, fined Fan Xian another year of salary. There were no other punishments.
Eunuch Yao’s high pitched voice stopped. Everyone thanked the Emperor then rose. They then asked after the Emperor’s health and such boring matters, after which Fan Xian finally accepted the imperial edict and handed it to an official behind him to store away.
“They fined my salary again?” Fan Xian couldn’t resist muttering. “Father and I haven’t been paid for the past few years, who is going to feed the family?”
He and the Third Prince walked in front. Eunuch Yao followed behind with his body bent forward, he walked with small steps and wore a fawning smile.
“Lao Yao…You have to return the silver to me, otherwise, I can only eat porridge.”
Fan Xian jokingly scolded.
Eunuch Yao put on a bashful expression and walked forward a few steps. “Have mercy, everyone knows you are the best at making money…you’ve not been in Jiangnan for half a year and yet you’ve earned tens of millions of silver for the court. What use do you have for my loose change?”
As Eunuch Yao spoke, he silently cast his gaze briefly toward the Third Prince. Fan Xian’s earlier joke could be a major issue or it could be nothing. In the past, the Fan family had indeed bribed these eunuchs thoroughly. Of course, he also knew that Fan Xian did not care all for his income.
However, he had made this joke in front of the Third Prince. Eunuch Yao knew that although this prince was young, his thoughts were complicated. He couldn’t help but feel slightly afraid, but he saw in this glance that the Third Prince’s expression was calm as if he had not heard anything. Then he thought, since Fan Xian dared to say such things in front of the Third Prince, then naturally he must have his reasons.
Eunuch Yao’s heart stuttered. He knew that the guesses in the Palace were not wrong, the Third Prince and Sir Fan junior were indeed something.
“I don’t have the daring to touch the silver earned for the court, are you…encouraging me to corruption?”
The three of them had already entered the middle hall. Fan Xian and the Third Prince each sat to the side of the main seat while Eunuch Yao stood to the side. Hearing these words, he gave a pained smile and said, “Sir Fan junior, please don’t make jokes at my expense.”
Fan Xian smiled and waved his hand, gesturing for him to sit.
Eunuch Yao immediately sat down. This long journey had indeed tired him out.
“I thought you would be able to arrive earlier. I had to wait for a while,” Fan Xian said as he casually shelled pumpkin seeds.
The Third Prince was also imitating Fan Xian in shelling the pumpkin seeds.
Eunuch Yao stared and suddenly felt his vision blurring. The “brothers” on the high seat indeed looked very similar, only one was a large size and the other a small.
He quickly laughed companionably and explained, “We had indeed arrived at the inn outside the city last night, but according to the rules, we could only enter the city today…this imperial edict has two copies. I first went to the governor’s manor and so came late. Please don’t blame my legs for not being agile.”
He carefully watched Fan Xian’s expression and found that this powerful young, who was so red in court as to be purple, did not appear to be truly angry. Only then did he let go of his breath.
In reality, as the eunuch imparting the imperial edict, the eunuch was like the Emperor’s mouthpiece and could arrogantly travel the seven Roads and provinces. Earlier in Xue Qing’s manor, Jiangnan Governor Xue Qing had shown full respect to Eunuch Yao from the Palace. However, he could put on airs where he wanted, except here in Hua Garden Eunuch Yao would never dare do so.
Without even mentioning the fact that Fan Xian was an imperial envoy, just these two “princes” identity and Fan Xian’s power was enough to make Eunuch Yao behave himself well.
“Of course I knew you have to go Governor Xue Qing’s manor first,” Fan Xian said with irritation. “Am I ignorant to even such basic etiquette?”
He shook his head and said, “What did the Emperor tell the governor?”
Eunuch Yao thought about it and said with difficulty, “…it’s much the same as your edict.”
“Oh? Xue Qing has also been fined a year’s salary?” Fan Xian raised his head and asked with great interest, however, the tone of his words seemed to be heavy with schadenfreude.
Eunuch Yao chuckled and put up three fingers.
“Fined for three years? Now my heart feels more balanced.” Fan Xian smiled and threw the shell of a pumpkin seed. “I did say that the Emperor is wise and kind. He would never have pitiful me carry all of the blame.”
Eunuch Yan gave a forced smile, wondering how to continue the sentence.
Fortunately, Fan Xian immediately changed the topic and asked, “For such a long and difficult journey, why did someone as old as you come? Are there no young and capable eunuchs in the Palace?”
“Lao Dai had been training a few, but as you know, after that incident this matter has been delayed. Although, he has recently been moved back out of pity. This time, the imperial edict to Jiangnan was urgent, so naturally, I had to make the trip.” Eunuch Yao sighed.
“Is Lao Dai alright?” Fan Xian asked.
Eunuch Yao smiled, “Thanks to your blessings, they are living quite well in the Palace.”
The Qing Kingdom’s Palace was not quite the same as that in history. From the beginning of this kingdom, they were very vigilant against eunuchs. After the previous Emperor took the throne 20 years ago, he further prevented eunuchs from interfering in state affairs, and the prohibition was very strict. It was difficult for eunuchs to have power, so they did not divide into multiple factions. On the contrary, these eunuchs knew that the circumstances were difficult and banded together.
Every time Fan Xian interacted with the eunuchs, he truly did not see them as strange and evil people. He treated them as usual; he did not purposely try to curry favor or humiliate them. He was not warm to their face, and then turn around and stab them in the back. With these actions, the eunuchs very much liked this young commissioner.
“As long as they are living well.” Fan Xian couldn’t help shaking his head. The eunuchs in Qing Kingdom did not have a bad record. These irregular people were indeed quite pitiful. Putting on a show of casualness, he said, “Lao Dai did not manage to train any…but, last year, that kid in the royal study, Hong Zhu, seemed to be quite clever.”
“Hong Zhu…has already been moved to the Eastern Palace to be the deputy head eunuch. It was the Emperor’s blessing.” Eunuch Yao answered carefully as everyone in the Palace knew that Hong Zhu had been sent away from the royal study because Fan Xian has said some things in front of the Emperor. The rumor was that Hong Zhu had been blinded by greed and dared to extend his hand for a bribe from Sir Fan junior.
Fan Xian’s expression darkened slightly. After thinking for a while, he sighed. “Perhaps it is for the best. It is not appropriate for someone too clever to serve the Emperor…not knowing when to push and when to retreat, not knowing when to stop.”
Too clever? This was clearly an insult. Eunuch Yao thought that the rumours were indeed true. Hong Zhu didn’t seem stupid, so how could he dare to provoke Sir Fan junior? It looked like that kid would not be able to rise again in the Palace.
After seeing off Eunuch Yao, Fan Xian led the Third Prince to the study. After a moment of silence, he quietly said, “Do you understand why?”
The Third Prince thought for a while. After all, was said and done, he was still young and didn’t understand the reason within. He shook his head helplessly.
“Right now it is the end of spring and the beginning of summer.” Fan Xian’s eyelids lowered slightly as he talked. “We are about to go to Hangzhou. During the journey, I have to make a trip out. The Jiangnan matter has pretty much been set. At most…the Palace will leave you by my side for a year. That means, at the end of the year, we are sure to return to the capital. When the time comes to leave again, there will only be me and not you.”
“Why?” The Third Prince asked with surprise.
“There is no why.” Fan Xian smiled slightly. “In the eyes of some people, perhaps I have a sly and unkind aura. You are a proper prince of the heavenly bloodline. If you are with me for too long, you might be contaminated with some bad habits.”
“But…” The Third Prince anxiously said, “following you to Jiangnan to learn was something father personally approved.”
“Fa…the Emperor…” Fan Xian couldn’t help but shake his head. “If the empress dowager misses her youngest grandchild, then the Emperor can only summon you back.”
The Third Prince became silent. He knew that the empress dowager was not like other grandmother’s. She did not particularly like her youngest grandson, rather, she preferred the Crown Prince and the Second Prince more.
“Which is to say,” Fan Xian said, “from next year onwards, you will be alone in Jingdou and I…will not able to be by your side at all times.”
The Third Prince raised his head and a ruthlessness, at odds with his childish face, appeared on face. “Sir, don’t worry. I will live well and wait for your return.”
“You’re being childish again,” Fan Xian smilingly scolded. “With the Emperor beside you, who would dare to do anything to you?”
He slowly said, “Only, from now on, you have to stand out…at least have the officials in court and the generals in the army know you and be used to you.”
“Used to what?”
“Used to the fact that you are also a proper person and not just a snotty-nosed kid,” Fan Xian said coldly. “Used to you…you are also a possibility.”
The Third Prince had been with Fan Xian for half a year and was deeply admiring of this “elder brother” and felt that being beside Fan Xian was much more cheerful than the cold atmosphere in the Royal Palace. At such a young age, he could only trust and only wanted to trust the things Fan Xian said.
But he still asked, “Sir, shouldn’t the first move be to silently endure? You once said, when the wood becomes a forest, the wind will surely destroy it.”
“You are not yet a sky-reaching tree.” Fan Xian smiled and rubbed the Third Prince’s head, although this action was not respectful. “Since the Emperor had you come with me to Jiangnan, it is already impossible to hide you. Since it is impossible to hide…then I might as well stand up behind you and see what wind dares to blow at you.”
The Third Prince scratched his head, not quite understanding.
“I want to send a message to Jingdou through Eunuch Yao’s mouth.” Fan Xian pulled back his hand and slowly closed his eyes. “You, are the person I chose.”
The Third Prince suddenly screwed up his courage and said, “Even though the Crown Prince…but in the end, it is father’s choice.”
Fan Xian did not open his eyes, he only said quietly, “The Eldest Princess has chosen your second brother, and the empress dowager as chosen the Crown Prince. Although the Emperor has not chosen, in reality, many people have already begun to choose, what is one more?”
[JW1] The Xian character in his name means to be unoccupied, leisure, etc.