Joy of Life - Chapter 419[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:48:58]
Chapter 419: Who Is Whose Man?
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
At dusk, the Jiaozhou city gates had long closed, so Fan Xian’s last order was unnecessary. However, since such a major thing had happened, such a serious clash, Wu Gefei knew that it had to be handled carefully. Otherwise, if the tens of thousands navy soldiers fought their way into the city, then his life would be hard to preserve. He strictly ordered his trusted subordinate to watch from the gates and keep an eye on movements in the port.
At the same time, the Jiaozhou government bailiffs and provincial soldiers were carrying out a search in the city. Although the court was here to investigate the Jiaozhou Navy matter since the admiral was assassinated and had to find the assassin, they might also dig out some deeper secrets.
Wu Gefei hoped he would never come in contact with those terrifying secrets. He rubbed his slightly dry eyes and reported to Fan Xian the situation in the city as well as the movements outside in a rough voice.
Fan Xian nodded and was pleased with the speed at which this Zhizhou had reacted. Without the cooperation of Wu Gefei, if he wanted to control the admiral’s manor and put all the generals under house arrest, it would be almost impossible.
He warmly encouraged the Zhizhou to go back and rest, but Wu Gefei repeatedly said that he did not dare, thinking, How could I go back and sleep when even a prince like you stays up the night? Furthermore, the situation in the manor was still uncertain, so no one knew what unexpected changes could happen in the long night.
Seeing Wu Gefei persisting in staying by his side, the corners of Fan Xian’s mouth curved up into a smile. He lightly said, “Are you worried about what’s happening outside the city?”
Wu Gefei started and shortly after gave a forced smile. “Admiral Chang Kun controlled the navy for more than 10 years. He has many trusted aides under his banner and also has a great reputation among the lower soldiers. Today, he died unusually while you have also put the upper-level officials under house arrest. If this matter travels to the port…there only needs to be a few inciting things, then those men will probably all begin to howl.”
Fan Xian sighed. “I had originally thought to capture Chang Kun and have him come out to comfort the navy. Who would have thought he would be assassinated?” He smiled coldly. “The other party struck well. With this, they caused a massive divide between the court and the navy. It makes me rather embarrassed.”
Naturally, all of this was bullsh*t. He killed Chang Kun. If Chang Kun had not died, it would have been impossible to subdue the navy. However, since he was framing someone, he had to do it to the end.
“What do we do next?” Wu Gefei inclined his body and asked tiredly. “The news can’t always be hidden. Furthermore, with the court handling the case, the edict has to eventually be sent to the military.”
Fan Xian sank into silence. He wasn’t sure whether or not his plan would progress smoothly. In his original plan, first, he killed Chang Kun, then took down Chang Kun’s trusted aids. He would use the Overwatch Council’s methods to get hold of the first confession and then use the naval generals still loyal to the court to retake control of the situation. After which, he would search for evidence relating to the East Sea matter in the navy and make the case a solid one. He would use blood and steel to hold those naval soldiers who had other thoughts…
However, the problem now was among the navy generals. Who exactly should he trust? Oftentimes, the Overwatch Council’s intelligence reports could not be completely trusted, at least, they were not as reliable as interacting in person.
In that instant, Fan Xian very much missed young master Yan far away in Jingdou. If Bingyun was at his side, he would certainly have laid out a perfect plan and wouldn’t be like him, standing in the dark in the admiral’s manor unsure of what to say to a group of navy generals.
Fan Xian sat down beside the rock table and slightly furrowed his brows. Making up his mind, he made a hand gesture to Qing Wa at his side.
Qing Wa quickly took his orders and went. No long after, waves of wretched and tragic cries rang out from the wood house at the back of the manor. For those who had shockingly good hearing, perhaps they could also hear the sound of a branding iron landing on human flesh and the cracking sound of bones breaking.
Wu Gefei’s face was dirt colored. He knew the Overwatch Council had begun to use torture. Thinking of the rumors of the Overwatch Council methods that terrified even spirits, the Zhizhou’s hands began to shake. However, he forced down his nervousness and fear and bravely suggested, “…Sir, this…perhaps is not appropriate.”
Fan Xian understood his meaning. There were still a lot of naval people in the manor. If he used torture so openly, it might incite public anger. However, Fan Xian had this intention in mind.
Under both abuse and humiliation, the navy generals would either give out their final angry roar or be scared witless and reveal to him their deepest thoughts.
The matter would indeed develop as Wu Gefei feared. The navy generals placed under house arrests at the manor heard the repeated tragic cries and all walked out from their rooms, staring at Fan Xian with anger.
Fan Xian did even glance at them. “Ah, so you all haven’t slept yet. Is there anything you would like to say?”
As he was talking, they suddenly heard a commotion start outside the manor. The sounds gradually traveled into the garden. Fan Xian frowned and asked, “What happened?”
It was already late into the night. The admiral’s manor had long been well surrounded and the events at the birthday feast had already been sealed. Who was outside?
Wu Gefei wiped the sweat from his forehead and ordered a bailiff to go have a look. After that bailiff came back, he reported with awkwardness, “It’s the family of the generals.”
Although the news had been sealed, since the navy had been stationed for many years in Jiaozhou, someone found a way to let out some of the news. Since it was very late, the wives and concubines were already naturally worried after discovering that their men had yet to return. When they received the rumored news, although not knowing whether it was true or false, they sent people to come collect them.
Fan Xian smiled and immediately thought of the representatives of the wealthy merchants and Jiangnan merchants he had left in the great hall. Indeed, the matter could not be hidden for long. He only hoped that after the city gates closed, the reaction from the port would be slower.
Wu Gefei looked awkwardly at Fan Xian while the expressions of the generals were somewhat complicated. They had also not thought that their women would be so daring, but they were also confused. Who had let out the news?
“Since there are people here to pick you all up, please return home.”
Fan Xian’s words shocked everyone present. Wasn’t it a house arrest? How could they be released just like this?
Fan Xian lightly said, “I am investigating by order of an imperial edict. Since Dang Xiaobo has already died for his crimes and those evil spirits hiding among the navy have also jumped out, everyone else is only implicated. I will not make things difficult for you all.”
The generals met each other’s eyes, unable to believe what they were hearing was real.
“Go back,” Fan Xian smiled slightly and said. “Although I am anxious to chat with you, it is not good to offend your various wives.”
There were no proper wives in Jiaozhou; they were all concubines that the naval soldiers had taken or even just lovers. Fan Xian saying these words actually made the generals a bit awkward.
Suddenly, Dang Xiaobo and those people’s wretched cries rang out again from within the wood house.
The women outside seemed to have heard it and led their family servants into a clamor.
For a moment, inside and outside of the admiral’s manor was a lively din.
The generals left the manor with suspicions and unease, but they knew there was certain to be countless pairs of eyes in the city from the Overwatch Council staring at them. They shouldn’t even think about communicating with the naval officers outside the city. Even if they managed it, it would be impossible to explain to the court later.
As for Fan Xian’s final words, they landed deeply in the generals’ hearts.
To chat…this would involve an order. The Commissioner was giving them a chance to return to the embrace of the court. It would depend on who would rush to do the right thing and come forward to bare his heart.
Each had their own ulterior motives; each with their own thoughts. The generals left.
Wu Gefei did not know what Fan Xian was thinking and couldn’t ask too much, so he just increased the defenses around Jiaozhou. Before he left, he carefully said, “Sir, it is best to not be too intense.”
Fan Xian nodded. Judging by Wu Gefei’s behavior tonight, the Ministry of Revenue’s evaluation of him had been on the low side. Perhaps it was because of the existence of Chang Kun that this Zhizhou was not able to demonstrate the standard that reflected this ability.
Fan Xian would not kill Dang Xiaobo. This was the biggest piece of evidence for the East Sea slaughter. He would eventually be escorted to Jingdou.
Even the women in Jiaozhou knew that the Overwatch Council had taken control of the admiral’s manor. They knew about Admiral Chang Kun’s death. They knew that the navy had taken heavy losses, They knew that their men’s lives were in danger.
The news that Fan Xian could not suppress for long immediately spread into the ears of many people. Although it was the provincial soldier’s under Wu Gefei who were guarding the city gates, the navy had their own channels. The man Dang Xiaobo sent out earlier successfully got through the seal. Following a small trail along the outside of the city, he quietly neared the port.
He looked at the flickering lights in the distant port and felt excited. Although he did not know that Dang Xiaobo had already been taken down by the Overwatch Council, he knew the navy was facing its greatest danger ever. As long as he could enter the camp and mobilize soldiers and take down the entire Jiaozhou, they would be able to ensure the generals’ safety. As for how the latter matters should be handled, those were problems for the superiors to consider.
Unfortunately, when he was just hundreds of meters away from the naval camp, he suddenly felt the ground begin to shake. There was no sound, but there was someone behind him.
He turned his head back but he did not see people, he only saw a dozen horses covered in black armor. It was not until these horses came closer that he saw there were knights dressed completely in black clothing riding on the back of the horses.
In the dark of the night, the black armor reflected the dim light of the moon in the sky and seemed to carry a glimmer of death.
His pupils shrank and his body began to shake. These were the Black Knights, the Overwatch Council’s Black Knights.
The head flew into the sky and fresh blood sprayed from the opening. It was not until the moment of his death that this naval officer began to feel his stupidity. Since the Overwatch Council was here to deal with the navy, how could they not bring the Black Knights feared by all under heaven?
Jing Ge’s face was still covered by that silver mask. He glanced coldly at the body and nodded to the guard beside him.
The guard pulled on his reins and flipped away. Standing at the foot of the mountain, he made a few hand signals. However, it was so dark right now and the moonlight was so weak, who could see these orders?
After his hands dropped, on the low range between Jiaozhou and the naval port, it was suddenly like the woods after a rain. Rows of densely packed things grew out. Looking at it, it had a strange beauty.
They were all riders. Lines of neat black colored riders stood on the mountain, waiting as silently as spirits for their orders. Arrayed in a battle formation, they directly faced the distant naval campground.
The array did not move at all. It was unclear how these riders controlled their horses. There wasn’t a single neigh, and the hooves did not even paw randomly at the ground.
The tens of thousands of naval soldiers seemed to not know a thing.
Leading his 10 hand-picked riders behind him, Jing Ge looked coldly in the direction of the naval camp. He suddenly opened his mouth and said, “Another moment.”
The riders behind him hooked a foot through their stirrups and began to string their bows. They then slowly and uniformly pulled out their straight knives. Left-hand crossbow and right-hand knife, this was the Black Knights standard get up.
A glimmer of murder flashed between Jing Ge’s brows. Following Fan Xian’s orders, he was outside the city preventing the navy generals in the city from contacting the naval soldiers, but even he had not expected that the naval generals would react so quickly. At the same time, Dang Xiaobo had that naval officer leave the city, there were a number of other navy generals who had made the same decision.
Although the Black Knights had already killed seven people around this low mountain range, Jing Ge could not promise that none of the navy’s people had gotten through this blockade and entered the navy camp.
Watching in the direction of the distant port, Jing Ge’s eyes narrowed, the silver mask on his face carried a cold light. There was movement in the naval camp, and the lights were also brighter than before. It looked like the soldiers already knew about the news inside the city. There were currently a few generals fanning the flames and trying to entice the navy soldiers to attack Jiaozhou, to go rescue those long dead people and to have these soldiers go to their deaths.
Jing Ge waited silently for that moment. He knew that the navy wasn’t of one mind At most, the other party would be able to mobilize 2,000 people. This was something the Commissioner had already calculated for.
Four hundred Black Knights were not enough to stand against 2,000 navy soldiers.
Jing Ge couldn’t help but shake his head. They were all people of the Qing court and soldiers of the Qing court. He didn’t actually want to slaughter the other party.
Fan Xian did not know about the tense situation outside the city, but he could guess. The navy should have already started moving. The Black Knights surprise attacks were second to none under heaven, particularly at night. No one should be able to be a threat to Jiaozhou. However, the night was already late. If by the time day came and he was still unable to have the navy generals go out to subdue people’s hearts, it would probably be difficult to avoid an even larger rebellion.
While he worried for the Black Knights, he sat in the admiral’s manor with a slight self-mocking smile waiting for the return of the generals.
It was the same as the ranking order. The first general to return to the manor was that third-ranking figure in the navy. This forty-something-year-old general straightforwardly knelt to Fan Xian and expressed his undying loyalty to the court, his incomparable pain and hatred toward Chang Kun’s rebellious and traitorous actions, as well as his sympathy for the Commissioner’s hard work in investigating this case through the night.
This expression made Fan Xian very happy. It did not waste all that he had done tonight and the mental attack he had planned for so long.
However, his later words made Fan Xian slightly angry. Although this general, surnamed He, had a relatively high position in the navy, he also admitted that in a situation without either Chang Kun or Dang Xiaobo, it would be a very difficult matter for him to completely control the navy.
What particularly made Fan Xian angry was that this General He directly expressed his unwillingness to be the first to step out. Under the current situation, whoever stood out first would certainly receive the navy soldiers’ most direct resentment. If he wanted to have a leadership position in the future, it would be a very large problem.
Faced with this shameless old man, Fan Xian couldn’t be overly fierce.
General He cried and sobbed, saying, “Sir, I have long followed the Great Prince on his western expeditions fighting the Hu people. I’ve only been in Jiaozhou for half a year. I truly do not know much about the navy’s situation.”
Fan Xian sighed in his heart. After all that, General He was one of the Great Prince’s people. Although the Overwatch Council intelligence report had mentioned this, once this shameless man had exposed his identity, no matter what Fan Xian wanted, he had to give the Great Prince this face.
Following that, an endless broken stream of generals returned to the manor, expressing their loyalty to the Emperor and their greetings to Fan Xian. At the same time, they carefully took out the related evidence to explain where their faction stood.
None of these generals were Chang Kun’s trusted aides or agents planted by the Eldest Princess in Jiaozhou. However, no one was willing to stand out to help Fan Xian resolve his difficulty because the matter was indeed too big. For the sake of their future prospects and their masters behind them, they were more willing to temporarily maintain their silence.
As for why they had come to talk to Fan Xian, it was nothing more than the fact they were scared that if Fan Xian became angry, they would be captured like Dang Xiaobo and be labelled with crimes such as colluding with bandits and betraying the country.
Each had their own factions and supports. Those whose supports in Jingdou had some connection, whether deep or shallow, with the Fan family, so Fan Xian had to give them some face.
Fan Xian didn’t have to give the Eldest Princess or the Eastern Palace face, but he had to give these people face.
“Sir, I am Shao Renan’s distant uncle.”
“Sir, I am old master Qin’s…”
When a deputy general in charge of logistics mysterious and awkwardly said, “Sir, my surname is Liu…” Fan Xian finally exploded. This was one of the three most powerful Qing navies?
He had never thought that the faction connections of one naval officer could be so complicated. Surnamed Liu? You have a connection to my step-mother’s relatives. Why didn’t you say so earlier? Fan Xian angrily chased this bastard out, but did not allow him to leave the manor since he was a roundabout relative. Even if you don’t want to play the card of being a crafty scoundrel upon meeting, you have to play it!
For Fan Xian, the largest benefit was knowing that the military was not one cohesive unit. The internal factions were complicated. There were people from the Palace, people from the previous Prime Minister’s manor, people from the old Qin family and people from the Hall of Governmental Affairs. None of them could be pushed too hard, but all of them were extremely sly. None were willing to jump out to be Fan Xian’s knife.
In the end, Fan Xian picked two people to be his knives and at the same time allowed the last person to walk in.
He did not look at the person. Rather, he was just thinking his own thoughts. He couldn’t help a thread of anger in his heart. In the end, of the two generals he had chosen, one was from Duke Liu’s manor and the other was a connection from his father-in-law’s past. In any case, these were the closest connections, so they couldn’t escape.
Fan Xian smiled self-mockingly. The military had become like this: a place for those major figures in court to arrange employment. If it continued like this, even the military would become a cesspool of corruption. How much of the battle power that the Qing Kingdom had always been so proud of would remain? With such an army, how could they protect the boundaries and keep peace among the people?
Chang Kun was indeed not a good person, but what were these generals as well as the people behind them?
He looked at the last general with a gaze full of ridicule. He knew that the other party was an old general of the navy and had some measure of respect among the soldiers, however, he did not know which family he belonged to. He couldn’t help mockingly saying, “May I ask which person in the court you have a past with? Prime Minister Lin? Shu the Scholar? Or the old master of the Qin family? Don’t say it’s the Director or that father of mine, I won’t believe that.”
Fan Xian sighed in his heart. Seeing the navy officers, he knew that if this continued, Qing Kingdom would truly have generals who knew nothing of the military and commanders who were not loyal. Soldiers were an important matter to a country. To have students and old friends scooping benefits from the military, how could these people be so shameless?
The general stood in front of Fan Xian. His expression tightened slightly, then he smiled slightly and said, “Young master, I am your person.”
Fan Xian started and didn’t say anything for a moment. He narrowed his eyes and said, “Whose person are you?”
The general’s expression did not change, he smiled slightly and repeated, “I am your person.”
Fan Xian sucked in a deep breath, an absurd feeling welling up in his heart. Earlier, he had been righteously and angrily criticizing the officials, how could a fist now smash into his own face?
However, he never had a trusted aide in the military. Chen Pingping and his father were closely watched by the Emperor. Even if they had placed someone in, they wouldn’t not tell him. Fan Xian narrowed his eyes and evaluated the person in front of him. He couldn’t help asking again, “Whose person are you exactly?”
The general repeated for the third time. “I am your person…” he said very respectfully. “I have nothing to do with anyone else. I am only your person.”