Joy of Life - Chapter 421

[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:48:59]
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Chapter 421: Entering The Sheep Herd

Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio

The study door was closed tight just like how the mouths of idealistic gentlemen would never open in the face of torture.

Dang Xiaobo and others were being tortured in the back garden, but their mouths had long been gagged with smelling cloths so they did not make wretched cries.

Hong Changqing looked alertly around in the dark night. Leading the few bailiffs the Jiaozhou Zhizhou had sent over around the study, they prevented anyone else from nearing the room.

The study sank into a deathly silence. No one knew what Fan Xian and Xu Maocai were talking, discussing, debating, and fighting about inside.

Looking in by the faint candlelight seeping out, the expressions of the two people could be seen becoming more and more serious and a glimmer of coldness appearing in their eyes.

Fan Xian lowered his head slightly, the shadows on the two sides of his nose become very clear. In a light voice, he said, “This matter will end here.”

Xue Maocai thought for a bit then nodded, “Yes, Sir.”

The two people temporarily paused their conversation about the fast and the future. Xu Maocai forcefully suppressed his excitement and recovered his usual calm, changing Fan Xian’s title from young master to Sir.

He knew that he and Fan Xian’s conversation was an act of treason. If someone else found out what he and Fan Xian had talked about, he would be killed without a doubt. Fan Xian would also not have a pleasant future.

“We’ll talk about the future in the future,” Fan Xian said calmly. “What are we going to do about the problem at hand?”

Xu Maocai has already been in the Jiaozhou Navy 20 years. Starting from the very lowest level of a soldier, he had worked his way up step by step and endured until he had reached his present important general rank. Among the navy, he had connections that others could only hope to have. If Fan Xian had his help in dealing with the Jiaozhou Navy, it would certainly be much easier.

“I will go connect people in the military.” Xu Maocai thought for a bit then said, “If you need someone to step out, I can try.”

Fan Xian frowned in thought. If he was able to bring a large number of middle- to low-level officers to his side, things would go much better. Although the general from the old Qin family was not willing to step out, Xu Maocai was willing to help him. It would probably be much the same. However, after thinking for a bit, he shook his head and said, “Don’t step out personally.”

Xue Maocai looked at Fan Xian in some confusion.

Fan Xian said, “I don’t anyone to find any problem…after all, you are of the Jiaozhou Navy. Since you have had this identity for all these years, there is no need to step out today.”

Until it was a critical moment, this pawn of Fan Xian’s in the military could not be exposed. For just a malformed arm like the Jiaozhou Navy, he certainly did not need to use the new sharp cleaver he gained with great difficulty along the way.

“However…help me think of some ideas of the lower levels of the navy,” Fan Xian continued saying. “Influence those you can to at least have them be a bit more peaceful. After the sky brightens, I will go to the navy to announce the edict. I don’t wish to be surrounded by tens of thousands of soldiers.

Xu Maocai smiled and bowed. “Rest assured, actually, tonight, I think you have over-thought this matter.”

“Oh, what do you mean?” Fan Xian raised his eyebrow, interested.

“You’ve underestimated the military’s loyalty to the Emperor and the influence of the Emperor on the soldiers,” Xue Maocai said peacefully. “Perhaps Chang Kun could single-handedly control one part of the navy, perhaps his trusted aids can incite those soldiers that do not know the truth…but under the current circumstances, Chang Kun is already dead while Dang Xiaobo and his people have been placed by you into jail. Regardless of whether they were soldiers or commoners, if they have the daring to move against an imperial envoy, then there needs to be a person taking the lead.”

Xu Maocai continued, “If the sheep dare to rebel against the wolf, there has to be a wolf hiding among the herd of sheep.”

Fan Xian’ eyes lit up. Looking at Xu Maocai, he didn’t speak for a moment. It was only now that he had found that the lucky person his mother had left behind indeed had a unique way of looking at problems.

“However, I am a foreign wolf,” he smiled as he said, “while the old wolves in the navy love feathers.”

Xu Maocai said lightly, “Escort them there, and they’ll have to go…they also don’t need to say anything. As long as they stand in the camp, the naval officers would naturally know their stance. If there are still people causing problems in the military, you could kill some of them.”

“Kill to establish dominance?” Fan Xian frowned. “I am afraid of causing a rebellion. The iron stench of blood is shocking and pungent. It is easy for others to lose their heads.”

Xu Maocai looked at him and smiled. In an even voice, he said, “Sir, the stench of blood will also easily make people fearful, particularly those lower level people who were not very brave to start with.”

Although these words were said evenly, they carried a strange resentment. It was likely that 20 years ago when the Quanzhou Navy was being purged, this man had seen many people who had remained silent out of fear at the stench of blood and did not take any action.

Fan Xian thought for a bit then nodded his head.

Xu Maocai saw that the worry between his brows had not yet been removed and knew what he was worried about. After thinking for a moment, he probingly said, “Even if I don’t step out today, I can try after this.”

Try what? Naturally, it was to experience having the Jiaozhou Navy under Fan Xian’s control. Given Xu Maocai’s present experience and position, as long as he stood out a little in the navy case the court was investigating and showed his loyalty to the Emperor more purely, even if Fan Xian did not help him, there was still a great chance that he would be promoted to the admiral of the navy.

For Xu Maocai, this suggestion was not for his future career prospects. He was thinking that he could help Fan Xian obtain a powerful support.

However, Fan Xian only shook his head.

“I knew of your matter too late,” he said. “Thus, I have no previous arrangements. The future of the Jiaozhou Navy has long been decided. After 10 days, the Bureau of Military affairs will take over. As for you…I will think of a way so you are not implicated and continue to live in Jiaozhou, however, the admiral’s position is impossible.

Xu Maocai nodded. He knew that the future of the navy had already been decided by the court. Since Fan Xian did not know of his identity, of course, he had not made previous arrangements.

“The next admiral will be?”

“Qin Yi,” Fan Xian slowly said. “Qin Heng’s younger cousin.”

Qin Heng was currently the head of the Jingdou garrison, the leading figure of the second generation of the old Qin family. While Fan Xian was in the capital, their relationship had been relatively harmonious.

However, Xu Maocai had only heard this name when his expression became a bit strange.

“What’s wrong?” Fan Xian could see his worry and asked curiously.

“Why would the Emperor allow someone of the old Qin family to take over?” Xu Maocai frowned and said. “Even if the Ye family has now lost favor, there is more than just these two families in the military. There are a number of generals in the western expedition military that have been waiting a long time for an appropriate position.”

“I also don’t understand,” Fan Xian smiled and replied. However, in his heart he thought that for such an important place as Jiaozhou, the Emperor would definitely choose his most trustworthy confidant to control it in order to avoid another Chang Kun incident.

Xu Maocai gazed at Fan Xian, wanting to speak then stopping. A moment later, he finally made up his mind and said, “The old Qin family is not that simple.”

“What do you mean?”

“I don’t have any evidence, but I always felt that the Qin family is not that simple,” Xu Maocai frowned and said. “As you know, the third-ranking person in the navy is that person from the Qin family. Chang Kun has meddled so much in the navy, leading thousands of soldiers down South, how could it have been without him knowing? Why did he never report it to the court? If he had talked to the old Qin family, yet they did not tell the Emperor…this matter is a bit strange.”

Fan Xian became silent, carefully calculating the details he then said, “Thus you need to stay in Jiaozhou and keep an eye on the admiral that is about to arrive. I believe that the Qin family would not betray the Emperor because no matter how you look at it…there is no advantage to this at all.”

Xu Maocai thought that this was indeed the logic. Right now, the Great Prince controlled the Imperial Army while the Ye family was now too terrified to make a sound after being scolded by the Emperor and could only keep their heads tucked away in Dingzhou raising horses. In the entire Qing Kingdom military, it was the Qin family whose reputation was the best. If they betrayed the Emperor, it would be impossible for them to obtain a higher position and glory.

The decisions in politics were the same as doing business. No one wanted to do those things that brought them no benefit.

“Go do what you need to do,” Fan Xian smiled warmly. “Be careful of your safety. In the future, if I do not actively seek you out, don’t do anything for me.”

Xu Maocai smiled and rose. Walking to stand in front of Fan Xian, he knelt and respectfully kowtowed once. Without saying anything, he turned and left.

Looking at the departing figure of this 40-something-year-old general, Fan Xian placed his hands behind his back and narrowed his eyes. He knew that the other person’s kowtow had been completely voluntary; he was probably incomparably happy. For something 20 years ago to come to fruition now…after all, there are not many 20 years in a lifetime. Yet, this person was able to wait for so long. It was truly a feat.

A faint glimmer of white rose in the distant horizon, Fan Xian watched it with narrowed eyes. His mind drifted somewhere else with tightly furrowed brows. He felt there was an additional thread of pressure on his heart and an added excitement. Rebellion was not something he would do, just like what Ye Qingmei had said in the letter all those years ago. Unite the world? She did not think it was worth doing, and Fan Xian also did not like to play these games. However, in the future, other than rebellion, there would always be many meaningful things to do such as living happily, having the person who just left live happily, and making some people live very unhappily.

At this moment, there was no clamor in the admiral’s manor, there was only a surrounding silence. Many people were not sleeping, and the dawn had just arrived.

As the morning light gradually grew brighter, the closed Jiaozhou city gates were slowly pulled open. The provincial soldiers that had sealed the city for an entire night tiredly retreated, standing weakly to the two sides of the city gate. They used their gazes to send off a group leaving Jiaozhou heading toward the navy camp not far in the distance.

In the center of the group was Fan Xian. Riding on a horse, he had already changed into his official robes and was looking unusually luxurious and full of might. On his left was Hong Changqing, coldly holding the Imperial Sword granted by the Emperor. On his right, the Overwatch Council member held the golden yellow imperial edict.

In front, there were soldiers holding signs and puffing as they walked, behind him were a row of golden yellow umbrellas flying high.

Somehow they had found a musical band in Jiaozhou, which was blowing and banging gongs and drums. There was endlessly liveliness.

It was a simple honor guard for the imperial envoy. Fan Xian looked at it with cold eyes and couldn’t help but smile in his heart. The Jiaozhou Zhizhou was indeed quite capable. In less than half a night, he had managed to rustle up all these things. However, why was the smell of makeup so strong on the musicians? Had he borrowed them from the brothels?

The honor guard of the imperial envoy had been left in Suzhou since Fan Xian had not thought he would use it beside the sea. However, since he was going to the navy to announce an edict, putting on such a show would always be beneficial. However, Fan Xian was a bit worried for Wu Gefei. Would this trickery make those old scholars in Jingdou unhappy?

All of the Jiaozhou officials and the innocent navy generals were following obediently behind Fan Xian. Judging by their expressions, it was impossible to tell whether these people were happy or sad. However, they had been up all night so very few were in a good mood.

The Jiaozhou people who had risen early had already vaguely learned of last night’s incident from the breakfast stalls. They all flocked to the inside of the city gates to watch the scene. The brave commoners pointed at the imperial envoy’s honor guard and spread the news that the young noble as beautiful as a girl on the big horse at the front was the Sir Fan junior of legend.

Fan Xian’s reputation in the public was truly bright.

While the Jiaozhou Navy’s reputation in the city was not very good.

It was unknown who began it, but the thousands of people around the city gates cried out, wishing for the imperial envoy’s health. They then knelt down and bowed disorderly.

Looking at the black wave of people’s heads, Fan Xian couldn’t help feeling a bit dazed. Thinking of the words Xu Maocai had said in the early hours of the morning, only now did he understand that the people at the lowest level of society did indeed have an instinctual fear and respect for the lofty imperial envoy.

This knowledge did not make Fan Xian any more comfortable. He glanced unconsciously at Xu Maocai.

Xu Maocai put on a charming expression and smiled.

Unwillingly, Fan Xian waved his hand to stop the procession of the group. Pushing a warm smile onto his face, he dismounted under the escort of the officials and lightly approached the people outside the line. He warmly returned the greetings and respectfully helped up a few elderly people. He then exchanged a few pleasantries and repeated a few useless phrases such as the Emperor was well and everything was well before mounting his horse and starting the procession.

On the navy’s training field, Fan Xian sat peacefully in the chair on the high stage looking down on the soldiers. The expressions of the soldiers were strange. They were either excited, angry, or fearful. However, all the gazes were flickering in the direction of the imperial envoy and officials on the stage.

Most of the navy soldiers already knew about last night’s events. The timing had been too tight, so Chang Kun’s trusted aides in the middle level did not have the opportunity to incite the emotions of the entire camp. They only led a group of soldiers in an attempt to enter the city and rescue people. However, this group had suddenly disappeared in the dark.

Thus, the navy soldiers were currently all a bit scared. They didn’t know why the court had suddenly sent an imperial envoy. They also did not understand why Admiral Chang Kun and Deputy General Dang were not on the board. Were the rumors true?

Fan Xian looked down the stage at the moving heads with narrowed eyes. He found the blackness stretched all the way to the side of the port.

It was not until now that he felt a glimmer of worry. He had seen the Imperial Guards before, and the Black Knights were often at his side. Suddenly seeing tens of thousands of soldiers lined up neatly in front of him, only now did he feel the imposing manner the numbers brought. If these ten thousand soldiers were all his enemy, then he probably wouldn’t be able to continue sitting on this stage.

The corners of Fan Xian’s mouth twitched up in a self-mocking smile. He didn’t seriously listen to the words of that third-ranked navy general. He was thinking his luck was pretty good to have found Xu Maocai in the navy. Although the emotions of the soldiers below the stage appeared to be a little unstable, there shouldn’t be any big problems. Xu Maocai must have done a great deal of secret work after midnight.

Chang Kun was already dead, and Dang Xiaobo had been punished. Without anyone in the charge, no matter how bloodthirsty these soldiers were, they would not be able to do anything. Xu Maocai was right. He had overestimated the danger of the situation.

Fan Xian touched the thin paper tucked into his clothes. This was a confession written by a general that had participated in the East Sea matter. Dang Xiaobo had indeed been a tough one. Even after being beaten unconsciously, he still refused to open his mouth. However, not everyone in the military was this tough. Under the torture and forced confessions of the Overwatch Council, finally, someone had caved.

Having gotten the confession, he could act in the name of righteousness. Fan Xian was no longer worried about anything. He listened attentively to the general talking with dry enthusiasm.

The general was the one from the old Qin family. He originally had been unwilling to step out, but Fan Xian listened to Xu Maocai’s suggestion and didn’t even give him an opportunity. He simply shed pretense of cordiality and invited him to step out to admonish with an insincere smile. At the same time, he had given him the arduous task of announcing Dang Xiaobo’s crimes.

Just as Fan Xian expected, when the general announced Dang Xiaobo’s three great crimes, colluding with foreign enemies, privately communicating with sea bandits, and moving troops against orders, the soldiers below the stage began to shuffle around. The middle-level officers in particular began to show the first negative signs.

Fan Xian looked at this scene and slowly left his chair. Walking to the front of the stage, he gazed at the tens of thousands of soldiers below and warmly said, “I am Fan Xian, here by imperial edict.”

He was not an immortal, so he didn’t have the ability to have the entire scene sink into silence using just his gaze. However, his words were imbued with a thread of the Tyrannical zhenqi in his body. It felt out quickly, rising in spirals over the entire training ground and making the soldiers pause.

In this space, Fan Xian began to state his ostensible purpose. “Admiral Chang Kun was assassinated last night.”

A clamor broke out below the stage. It was full of disbelieving discussion and shocked voices.

Jiaozhou Zhizhou Wu Gefei glanced worriedly at Sir Fan junior at the front of the stage. He had not approved of announcing the news to the entire navy together from the very beginning. They could have talked to each camp separately. He didn’t know what Sir Fan junior was thinking.

Fan Xian gazed at the soldiers below the stage and slowly said, “Admiral Chang has been stationed in Jiaozhou for many years. He willingly lived in a miserable place in order to guard a border for his country. He was truly one of the pillars of the country. Each time the Emperor discussed him, he would sigh in praise that Admiral Chang was a merit to the country and that his loyalty was commendable.”

The only three people who knew the inside story on the stage were silent. They had received the results of the case that Fan Xian would announce on behalf of the court earlier. However, the other officials and generals were immediately struck dumb upon hearing these words. Wasn’t Sir Fan junior here to investigate Admiral Chang?

The soldiers below the stage were also gradually quieting down. They looked at the stage with confusion. Not a person had understood what the imperial envoy was saying.

With a glimmer of seriousness on his face, Fan Xian faintly said, “Heaven is blind for Admiral Chang to have died so early…it was those vicious evildoers. They actually dared to do such a wicked thing!”

His voice gradually became higher and filled with anger. His gaze was also filled with a ruthless sternness as if he wanted to find the true suspect from among the tens of thousands of soldiers standing below the stage.