Joy of Life - Chapter 449[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:49:10]
Chapter 449: My People, Their People
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Wang Qinian pushed the door open a gap and flashed into the room. He was a 40-year-old man as agile as a 14-year-old kid, and his attitude was humble. Only the occasional wandering gaze flashing through his eyes revealed the fear in his heart.
Originally, Fan Xian felt incomparably happy in his heart to see him. Once he remembered that this bastard had actually brought Sizhe back to the South Kingdom without letting him know, without even reporting to him secretly, he also felt a glimmer of anger.
He couldn’t be bothered to acknowledge him. Instead, he turned his head and continued to speak to Fan Sizhe with a frown. “Presumably, the news of you being in Shangjing couldn’t actually be hidden from anyone. While you were there, you had Wei Hua and the Brocade Guard to protect you. On the contrary, now that you are back, you have to be more careful about your safety. You have to be cautious. Like today, taking your followers onto the street. Although you were disguised, there are many in the capital who are familiar with you, and there are your followers. I know you hired a group of Northern Qi aces, but…”
He was a bit angry at his brother’s carelessness. “They’re still wearing those curved knives at their waist. Even a blind man could see they are Northern Qi people…I say, as an economic genius, one that even those shopkeepers of the Qingyu Hall approve of, why are you so careless with these details?”
Listening to the side, Wang Qinian wanted to interrupt but didn’t dare talk. Fan Sizhe glanced at the old fellow with sympathy and carefully explained, “I’m using the identity of a Northern Qi merchant group…”
Fan Xian didn’t pay attention to his explanation and coldly said, “In any case, you acted of your own initiative. That is your problem.”
Fan Sizhe looked at his brother’s back. His mind spun and an idea came to him. He chuckled and said, “To speak of…acting of your own initiative, brother, I heard you sustained heavy injuries while in the valley. Presumably, father has certainly not allowed you to go out and wander about…how did you see me on the street?”
Fan Xian stopped and didn’t know what to say. He huffed coldly twice and dropped the subject, immediately saying in an even voice, “Never mind that. It’s good that you’re back. Having not seen you for over a year, I actually kind of missed you.”
Fan Sizhe sighed and sat beside Fan Xian. Hugging his arm, he complained, “For the last half of the year, I’ve been managing the business. Although it’s annoying to have to fight verbally with the Northern Qi people when dividing profits, at least I’m doing what I like…brother, you don’t know about those first few months…”
Before the young man’s eyes seemed to appear snowy nights, stone mills, donkey, beans…wretched images. In a trembling voice, he said, “Those are not days fit for people…”
Fan Xian’s mind suddenly turned. Bending his fingers, he calculated that by this time, Haitang had long returned to Shangjing. He couldn’t help smiling and said, “Could it be because she had returned to Shangjing so you anxiously ran away? How are you so cowardly?”
Full of grievance, Fan Sizhe said, “Brother, not every man in this world is as powerful as you to be able to trick any kind of girl…for a mother tiger like Haitang, I don’t want to see her again.”
Fan Xian laughed loudly and asked a few more questions about his brother’s life in the North. As for business affairs, they had already talked about it countless times in their letters going back and forth, so he couldn’t be bothered asking again. Listening to his brother talking about his days in Shangjing and hearing about how he walked in and out of the royal manors in Shangjing at such a young age, he felt somewhat amused.
After hearing that Fan Sizhe was now a regular guest at Marquis Ning’s manor and often competed in drinking with Wei Hua’s father, Fan Xian couldn’t resist laughing again. He thought, The body of that dirty old man probably couldn’t bear the repeated killing of the alcohol by the two of them.
Thinking of that dirty old man, his gaze moved to the strangely quiet dirty old man next to him.
Fan Xian’s mood was now much better. With a face full of warmth and smiles, he looked at Wang Qinian. Parting his thin lips slightly, he quietly said, “Sir Wang, I trust you’ve been well since we last met…”
Everyone who had interacted with Fan Xian knew that when Sir Fan junior’s smile was at its warmest, it was when the anger in his heart was at its height. In these moments, no one wanted to anger this good-looking young man.
As Fan Xian’s trusted aid, Wang Qinian knew his temper very well. So, seeing the smile on Fan Xian’s lips, his heart stuttered. He replied with a pained expression, “Sir, have mercy…”
“When did you arrive?” Fan Xian picked up the teacup beside him to have a sip and soothe his throat, however, he found that this cup had the scent of makeup. Only then did he realize that Shi Qing’er had drunk from it. He furrowed his brows slightly and swapped it for his brother’s cup. He then thought of another matter. He tilted his head and asked, “Where is your woman?”
The two questions were directed at two people.
Fan Sizhe chuckled and said, “I left her in Shangjing. It’s a bit too much to be with her all day.”
Wang Qinian replied honestly, “I really did arrive yesterday. I’ve already gone to the Council to report to Sir Yan. However, the Council said that after you were injured and not well, and told me not to rush to your manor.”
Fan Xian shot a glare toward his young brother, thinking, This kid was only 16 this year. Why did he talk like a middle-aged married man? However, thinking of the fact that Sizhe had started running a brothel from when he was very young and hated how he was by both man and god before he was deflowered. It was certain that it would be difficult for him to understand what it meant to treasure women in this life.
Following this, he furrowed his brows and asked Wang Qinian, “You should know about the plans for the return this time.”
Wang Qinian bowed his body and chuckled, “I heard that I am to take your place in leading the First Bureau…I am definitely not willing.”
Fan Xian started and scolded, “Even the Director guessed you would say this. That is the most powerful of the eight Bureaus and such a good position. If you don’t take it, how can I feel at ease? You’ve been in Northern Qi for one and a half years. You have both seniority and experience. If you don’t step up, I’m afraid others in the Council will begin to have thoughts.”
Wang Qinian considered this for a while then said seriously, “Sir Mu is good in the First Bureau, as for me…” He shook his head and sighed. “I’m an old man with a wife and daughter at home. I had thought I would spend my entire life working in the Council’s yamen until I died of old age. I had not thought I would be pulled out by Sir. These few years have been very tense and exciting, but I still feel that it is more comfortable to work beside you.”
“Always beside me…” Fan Xian muttered to himself irresolutely. He also liked having Lao Wang manage the Qinian Unit beside him. For almost the two years, the Qinian Unit had first been handed to Deng Zi Yue and then to Su Wenmao. For the past half a year, Hong Changqing had essentially been responsible for it. These three were all attentive and keen people, and their loyalty to him was without question, but…Fan Xian always felt he wasn’t as happy as when he first entered the capital.
He gazed at Wang Qinian and smiled slightly. “It won’t always be calm and peaceful. A lot of people died in the valley.”
The room immediately fell silent. After a long time, Wang Qinian said, “It’s exactly because of this that I feel that it would be better for me to manage the matters beside you. At least my nose is sharper, and I can run faster. Although the swordsmen of the Sixth Bureau are very skilled, when it comes to preventing trouble before it happens, I have more confidence in myself.”
Fan Xian lowered his head. His spun the little teacup between his fingers as he calculated future plans in this heart. He couldn’t help but furrow his brows.
Wang Qinian seemed to be funny, but he did things very carefully. This year he spent in Northern Qi, he didn’t make Fan Xian worry and successfully built a good relationship between the Northern Qi royal family and the Brocade Guards’ yamen. Furthermore, he also brought back to life the Sixth Bureau’s spy network in Northern Qi that had become a stagnant pool after Yan Bingyun accidentally exposed it.
All of the smuggling between the Jiangnan palace treasury and Northern Qi, as well as Fan Xian’s thorough knowledge of the going-ons in Northern Qi, were all because of this skinny old man in front of him.
These things proved Wang Qinian’s abilities. This quiet, but very capable, Overwatch Council official was a treasure that Fan Xian had picked up after entering the capital. Fan Xian wanted him to take over the First Bureau because he hoped he would be able to secretly spy on the officials in Jingdou for him and so that when a perilous situation arrived in Jingdou, there would be a trusted aide who could control the entire situation.
If he had Wang Qinian stay by his side and take on the role of the leader of the Qinian Unit, in Fan Xian’s opinion, it would truly be a waste. However, Wang Qinian was very determined. Fan Xian was caught in a difficult position.
He furrowed his brows and said, “We’ll discuss this again…however, in these last days of the year, hand over the Northern affairs to Zi Yue. Be detailed. He doesn’t have experience doing things outside the borders, so teach him carefully.”
Wang Qinian knew that the Commissioner had essentially agreed tacitly to his request, so he couldn’t resist smiling.
Fan Sizhe saw that his brother was beginning to manage Overwatch Council affairs. He felt that it was not appropriate for him to continue sitting there, so he rose and prepared to leave.
However, Fan Xian stopped him and smiled slightly. “What you did in the North is not just business. Baoyue Brothel now has six branches all over the world, and the branch in Shangjing, Northern Qi, is also about to open for business. You have to be careful with the collection of intelligence reports. I’ve handed the South to Sang Wen, so I’ll hand the North to you. Essentially, you are now an outside member of the Council. It’ll be fine for you to listen to the matters today. In a moment, when Deng Zi Yue gets here, you should get to know him better as well. Although he is my subordinate, in the coming year, you two will have to work together. There must not be any self-inflation of position and so on.”
This was Fan Xian’s most urgent thought after being attacked in the valley. He had to build up his information network. This network did not have to be too big or draw on the resources of the large tree that was the Overwatch Council. Otherwise, once the Overwatch Council became mute and was sealed to him, Fan Xian worried that he would become blind again like he was in the valley.
Deng Zi Yue in full black robes pushed open the door and entered. He went down on one knee in greeting to Fan Xian. After rising, he saw Wang Qinian sitting beside Fan Xian and excitedly said, “Sir Wang, you’re back in the capital?”
When Fan Xian had formed the Qinian Unit, he had only picked Wang Qinian. The rest of the subordinates had been personally chosen by Wang Qinian. Deng Zi Yue was the first person Wang Qinian had picked to enter the group, thus, he always viewed Wang Qinian as a teacher and a superior. Suddenly seeing him, he couldn’t help but feel happy.
“Okay.” Fan Xian smiled. “Let’s not always talk about feelings of separation today in this building. What we planned has to be settled before talking.” He paused, and then opened his mouth to ask, “How many days before Wan’er and the others arrive?”
“Three days,” Deng Zi Yue replied steadily. “All along the way they are followed by Tiger Guard swordsmen. Furthermore, after hearing you were attacked by an assassin, each of the provinces became fearful and increased the strength of their defenses. There shouldn’t be a problem.”
Fan Xian nodded. He was actually not very worried. For things like assassination, there needed to be a benefit. Killing him was an irresistible lure for people, but there wasn’t a shred of benefit to assassinating someone of the royal family.
The room was silent. Fan Xian was the Commissioner of the Overwatch Council, and the other two people were high ranking officials, equivalent to the leader of the eight bureaus. This was Fan Sizhe’s first time participating in a Council meeting of this level. He felt the atmosphere was very different to when he gathered merchants together in the North to woo girls and count money. He couldn’t help but feel nervous and unconsciously played with his thick fingers.
It was at this moment when Fan Xian became silent.
After a long silence, Wang Qinian opened his mouth and asked, “Sir, are there more people coming?”
Fan Xian nodded and slightly furrowed his brows. “He should almost be here.”
Wang Qinian scratched his head and said, “I had made an appointment with the second young master to meet here. Deng Zi Yue was informed by you…who else is there?”
Fan Xian smiled, “Nowadays, all the power in Jingdou knows that Baoyue Brothel is my territory. Who knows how many eyes are staring at this place, I’m afraid that the matter of us talking here will travel through the various manors in a moment. That kid would certainly not relax his surveillance over this area.”
He slowly lowered his head and said, “Since he knows I am here, why would he not come.”
Wang Qinian sensed a different flavor in these words.
After a long time, steady knocks rang out for the third time on that silent wooden door.
A young man pushed open the door and entered. His clothes were whiter than snow, and the space between his brows was colder than frost. His entire body emanated a chill, surpassing the flurries of snow outside the Baoyue Brothel.
Fan Xian sighed in his heart, and the gloominess between his eyes was wiped away. He smiled and said, “You’re here pretty quick.”
However, the white-clothed man did not want to humor him and coldly said, “As the full Commissioner of the Overwatch Council, you should know that your life is not just your business.”
All the seated people quickly rose, bowed, and paid their respects, “Greetings to Sir Yan.”
The person who had come was indeed Fan Xian’s brain, the always icy cold Yan Bingyun. The five people in the room were all powerful people of the new generation of the Overwatch Council. Remarkably, these five people were also, coincidentally, the key figures in the clash last year against the Second Prince because of the Baoyue Brothel. The night that Fan Xian had exiled Fan Sizhe out of Jingdou, these five people had been in the same location.
Other than the Black Knight Jing Ge far away in a camp outside of the capital and Su Wenman who had been left in Jiangnan to handle palace treasury matters, including the uncle and niece of the Mu family outside the door as well as Hong Changqing who made records in the Council, the people in the room were all of Fan Xian’s direct subordinates in the Overwatch Council.
Each took a seat. Fan Xian gazed at Yan Bingyun with an almost smile and used his index finger to rub between his eyes. “There are three things.”
Everyone listened quietly. Even Yan Bingyun brought his hands together slightly.
“One, the Emperor summoned 14 young officials into the Palace,” Fan Xian said calmly. “The court is going to go through some changes in personnel, but it is uncertain how much ruckus it’s going to make. By tomorrow, have the files and information of these 14 people sent to me. Those we can control, immediately take action to control. Those that can’t be controlled, find something wrong they did while they were still in swaddling clothes and find a way to control them.”
Swaddling clothes…naturally, they had to dig into the deepest parts of the officials’ souls.
It was quiet in the room. Everyone’s hearts were slightly uneasy. When the court promoted officials, sometimes it needed the Overwatch Council to first thoroughly investigate the person’s past connections to imperial officials. However, these orders of the Commissioner were clearly not for the court, rather…
Fan Xian knew his trusted aides all understood and didn’t explain further. Because of the attempted assassination of his person, the Emperor took this opportunity to do some things. For him, this was also a rare opportunity. Of these young officials, other than a few people, most of them did not belong to any clear factions. As they were clean and without a powerful force as a support, it gave Fan Xian an opportunity to secretly stick his hands into court politics.
Yan Bingyun suddenly shook his head and said, “Do I have to give mine as well?”
Of the 14 young officials, there was also Yan Bingyun’s name. This was something that had only happened a few hours ago. After Yan Bingyun left the Palace, he learned that Fan Xian had come to Baoyue Brothel, so he had hurried over. However, he knew there were not many things in Jingdou that could pass unnoticed by Fan Xian’s eyes and ears.
“Pretend to write one,” Fan Xian said without good humor. “There is no need for one for Qin Heng. The file in the Council is clear. The focus is on He Zongwei. It looks like the Emperor likes him a great deal.”
Immediately after, he smiled coldly. “But…I really dislike him.”
“The second matter,” Fan Xian said in a quiet voice, “there is a spy in the council. After Zhu Ge died, internal investigation seems to have weakened. Find him. I don’t want problems in the future.”
Yan Bingyun smiled and didn’t say anything. However, Fan Xian refused to smile and glared at him.
“The third matter,” he gazed at Yan Bingyun as he spoke, “get some paper ready and get ready to clean up the Council’s mess…I am going to kill some people.”
“Who are you killing?” Yan Bingyun met Fan Xian’s imposing gaze and calmly asked. “If it is high-level officials, I object. After this assassination incident, the Emperor will not put up with more. If you act rashly, it will be of no help to this matter.”
Fan Xian lowered his head. His palm unconsciously rubbed the head of his brother beside him. He raised his head and said, “The killing is not the purpose or a way to obtain some kind of benefit. It is only a warning and provocation…presumably you know something of the Director’s thoughts. You should know that if we follow the flow and add another handful of fire, it would be beneficial for the big picture.”
The other people did not understand and didn’t know what the big picture the Director was talking about meant. However, Yan Bingyun smiled bitterly. “If you want to make trouble, then do so. However, it is a very childish revenge and venting of anger. Don’t connect it to some big picture.”
“I just want revenge,” Fan Xian narrowed his eyes and said. “You are all my people, the people who died in the valley were also my people. Since my people have died, their people also have to die.”
Finally, he gave orders to his most trusted subordinates. “A day before Wan’er returns to the capital, I will host a feast in Baoyue Brothel. I will invite the Crown Prince, the Great Prince, the Second Prince, Qin Heng, and the two deputies of the Bureau of Military Affairs. Make some preparations.”
“Governor Yan?” Wang Qinian found that Fan Xian had forgotten an important figure in the Eldest Princess’ faction and reminded him.