Joy of Life - Chapter 452[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:49:12]
Chapter 452: Intentions As Before
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The second day was one day from the third day. This was not nonsense because on the third day, Wan’er was returning to the capital. Fan Xian was used to keeping his wife and family far away from sordid businesses, so he had set the time to be the second day. On this day, the weather was fine and sunny. The accumulated snow was gradually melting, Tianhe Avenue was soaked, and the flowing stone ponds holding snow beside the street finally began to move, taking the snow and withered leaves toward the low-lying lands.
Inside and outside Jingdou, there were four gates in all four directions with 13 city guard soldiers responsible for safety and defenses. These 13 city gate guards were sent out by the Palace. Never mind the fact that it was impossible for the Jingdou garrison to stick their hands in, even the military elders in the Bureau of Military Affairs did not make any major moves openly. Every night, the Jingdou city gates would close. In the history of Qing Kingdom, other than a few bloody coup d’états as well as a few reports of massive natural disasters and unrest on the borders, there had never been another precedent of opening the gates at night.
Old Director Chen of the Overwatch Council was an exception. He lived in Chen Garden outside of the capital. The Emperor gave this Director special permission to enter the capitol at night.
There was only this one exception. Other than Chen Pingping, no one was allowed to enter Jingdou in the dark of night without an imperial edict. After Fan Xian controlled the Overwatch Council, there was one more person added to this exception.
Even if the Yuantai Camp of the Jingdou garrison found Yan Shendu’s body and gradually reported this up until it finally reached a rank where the general knew of Yan Shendu’s true identity, the shocked and terrified general in the camp still had no way of telling the people inside Jingdou.
The Commander of the Jingdou garrison, Qin Heng, only knew about the news the next morning.
Then, the Northern Governor, Yan Xiaoyi, returning to the capital to debrief, also learned of the news. His true born son had been assassinated by someone last night in the camp.
Yan Xiaoyi sat beside the bed. His feet were spread very far apart. This was a habit formed from many years of life travelling in the army and riding horses. His eyes gazed somewhat indifferently at the messenger kneeling before the door. He tilted his head, not daring to believe his own ears.
“Master.” The two concubines on the bed forcefully suppressed the fear and unease in their hearts. They struggled out of bed and helped Governor Yan dress and fetched water for him to brush and wash.
As all this was happening, Yan Xiaoyi maintained a cold kind of calm. His hands, which were rubbing together in the hot water basin, did not shake at all.
Ever since he was young, his energy exceeded that of others. After joining the army, each night he wouldn’t be happy without a woman. He had countless concubines in his home. Even though he didn’t have a proper wife in his manor in Jingdou, he still left five concubines to serve him. Last night, under the wind and rain, these two concubines were almost unable to keep up.
Yan Xiaoyi tilted his head to glance at the concubine beside him. In the past, he was used to being secretly proud of his stamina and energy, however, his heart felt different today. He felt a glimmer of loathing toward these charming women.
Women, he had many. But son, he only had one.
He calmly rose, buckled a black gold jade belt around his waist, and threw on a large snow-blocking cape before walking out of the door. Outside the door, his personal soldiers and generals from the Jingdou garrison, with fear on their faces, had been waiting for a while.
Seeing his trusted aide holding a longbow and quiver of arrows, Yan Xiaoyi’s mind wandered as he stood beside his horse. Even so, from hearing the news until now, his expression remained calm. There was nothing unusual in that slightly black and determined expression at all.
The sound of horses’ hooves gradually left Yan manor. Inside the manor, two beautiful concubines tragically died in the bed. Their fresh blood stained an entire green curtain.
Under the protection of his soldiers, Governor Yan left the city gate and came to the main tent in the not very distant Yuantai Camp. His expression was indifferent. He did not even glance at the general of the camp who had come forward to comfort him. Even Qin Heng, who rushed over anxiously, was ignored by him.
He directly entered the middle military tent.
Yan Shendu’s body was lying in the tent. No one dared move his body because everyone was waiting for Governor Yan to come see it personally.
Yan Xiaoyi stood in front of his son’s body and didn’t say anything for a long time. He only his brows furrowed slightly. After a long time, his gaze dropped slightly. He extended a hand and forced open his son’s still rigidly extended palm.
The dead person’s hands were closed extremely tight. Yan Xiaoyi pulled at them with great strength, forcefully breaking two of his son’s fingers. He removed something from his son’s palm and then raised it in front of his eyes to look at it closely.
Daylight shone in from outside the tent and gently bounced off that jade pendant. It shot into Yan Xiaoyi’s eyes and made his pupils constrict slightly.
He recognized this jade pendant. On the pendant was a little sword on one side and some carved characters on the other. His heart chilled and then immediately began to burn again.
In the tent, the other generals did not know what this jade pendant symbolized. Qin Heng sighed and went forward to offer a few words of comfort. At the same time, he expressed the Qin family’s heartfelt regret about this matter. For the son of a governor to be assassinated in the camp his family controlled, no matter what, the Qi family would have to take a great deal of the responsibility.
Yan Xiaoyi nodded his head slightly and finally opened his mouth. His voice was a bit raspy. He slowly said, “Marquis, there is no need to say more.”
Qin Heng was silent. A moment later, he said, “Governor, overcome your grief.”
However, there was no sign of grief on Yan Xiaoyi’s face. He allowed the main general of the Yuantai Camp to lead him to the tent his son had once lived in. He went in alone and stayed in the at tent for a long time.
Everyone waited outside for him. No one dared disturb him.
Inside the tent, he carried out his last conversation with his son’s aura. Yan Xiaoyi walked out from the hole in the back of the tent. His expression was wooden. Looking at the large puddles of bloodstains that had been somewhat scattered by the wind, he didn’t speak at all.
He once again returned to the center tent. Yan Xiaoyi looked at his son’s body and lowered his head. Suddenly, he stretched out his hand and grasped the arrow sticking out of his son’s heart and pulled slightly.
With a splutter, the arrow left the body and landed in Yan Xiaoyi’s hand. He personally placed this arrow into the quiver his soldier carried and then turned to Qin Heng to say, “Burn it.”
The sound of horses’ hooves rang out again, leaving Yuantai Camp and heading toward Jingdou. Even though his son had been assassinated as a major general in court, Yan Xiaoyi still had to stay in Jingdou. This was an inconvenience brought by power.
Cold wind blew over his face.
The soldiers of the Northern Expedition Army all wore sorrowful and angry expressions on their faces. They had fought against the Northern Qi people on the North border for many years. They thought they had performed meritorious service for their country. However, they had not expected that someone in Jingdou would dare assassinate a governor’s son.
Yan Xiaoyi’s expression still did not change. He only said to his personal attendant coldly, “It’s not Sigu Jian. That killer bled, ninth-level.”
The jade pendant indicated the killer’s origin. Yan Shendu’s power and the price that person paid indicated his level of skill. His personal attendant rode beside him and said, “After Ye Zhong left the capital, on the surface, there are only a few ninth-level aces in Jingdou. Now that you and Sir Fan junior have returned to the capital, there are two more. However, there could be some hidden in the dark, for example, the Overwatch Council.”
Without question, after Yan Xiaoyi returned to the capital, he had borne the brunt of the Overwatch Council’s power, particularly that day in front of the Bureau of Military Affairs when Fan Xian had waved the horse whip at him. This made the battle in the dark explode into an imminent clash.
With Yan Shendu’s death, everyone would think of Fan Xian at the first instant.
“It’s not Fan Xian,” Yan Xiaoyi said coldly, “But it certainly has something to do with Fan Xian.”
The city gates were right before them. The personal attendant carrying the arrow glanced at him with worry, thinking, If it does indeed have something to do with Sir Fan junior, what would the Governor do? Would he shoot and kill the Emperor’s illegitimate child with an arrow here in Jingdou?
Yan Xiaoyi narrowed his eyes slightly and didn’t say anything. He only coughed a few times and then covered his mouth. A trickle of fresh blood leaked out from between his fingers.
Last night’s assassination did not spread. For one, not many people knew about Yan Xiaoyi’s son being in the Jingdou garrison. Two, there hadn’t been enough time. Even the head office of the Overwatch Council had not obtained related details. The civil and martial officials in Qing court had always been split into two systems, so not many of the officials in court knew of this matter.
This day, it was a small court conference. The officials outside the Palace doors were gathered in twos and threes, each with their own faction. However, the Crown Prince in the Eastern Palace and the Second Prince had become much warmer, so the two factions of officials did not stand too far apart.
The Minister of Revenue, Fan Jian was standing with the two scholars from the Hall of Governmental Affairs and saying something in a lower voice. Around these three people, no one came near.
With the crack of a whip, the Palace doors slowly opened. The Commander of the Imperial Army, the Great Prince, walked out with a calm expression. He bowed to a few of the elders in front, and everyone hurriedly returned the greeting. Ever since a year ago, after the Emperor made the Great Prince responsible for the protection around the Palace, the defenses around the Palace had indeed become well-fortified. Furthermore, this Great Prince was a diligent person. Whenever it was time for a court conference, he would always be personally on duty. He did not make any excuses for his precious identity.
Because of this, all of the officials going into court felt a glimmer of fear and respect for the Great Prince.
The officials filed in in a line, going into the court to discuss the world’s gossip with the Emperor. The Palace doors immediately quieted down again. The snow on the square in front of the Palace had long been swept clean, revealing the wet green stones beneath. The snow that had been swept away was piled half-a-person high beside the square, like a low city wall.
A carriage drove behind the long pile of snow toward the Palace. The carriage, the horse, and coachman were all uniformly black. The imperial guards guarding the Palace Gate, as well as the guards inside the door, knew the identity of the person inside the carriage. They couldn’t help feeling curious and excited in their hearts.
With his hand resting on his sword, the Great Prince approached personally to welcome him. He helped the young man in the carriage, whose movements were still not wholly smooth, down from the carriage. The two of them spoke quietly along the way into the Palace.
The soldiers inside and outside the Palace gates did not even dare to breathe loudly. They only carefully glanced at this scene. It was not until the figures of the Great Prince and the young official had disappeared into the Palace did everyone let out a rattling breath and began to excitedly discuss it in small voices.
“Did you see? Everyone says that the Great Prince has a good relationship with him. Looks like it’s the truth.”
“What is strange about that? They’re brothers, after all.”
“Brothers?” Someone laughed coldly. “Do you not remember how Commissioner Fan dealt with the Second Prince a year ago?”
Although the folkways of Qing Kingdom were liberated and there were rarely cases of punishment being given out because of speaking, this was the door to the Royal Palace, yet they were wantonly discussing gossip about the royal family. It had to be said, these soldiers who had once followed the Great Prince to fight the western Hu savages and later became part of the Imperial Army to stand guard on sentry duty were indeed bold.
Two little eunuchs looked at the imperial guards like immortals.
“Is that the legendary Sir Fan junior?” A guard that had clearly not been in the Palace for a long time wore an excited expression. “He is indeed, as the legends say, as handsome as a god. However, his coloring did not seem very good.”
“Nonsense! An attack was made on his life only days ago, and he was injured heavily. How could he get better so quickly? Speaking of which, it’s very strange. Sir Fan junior’s injury has healed very quickly, and he’s even able to walk around now. Why is he in such a rush to get to court?”
“Don’t forget, Sir Fan junior is the youngest ninth-level ace of Qing Kingdom!”
“However, speaking of the attack…”
Everyone immediately fell silent. They knew this matter was too scary, so it was best to talk less about it.
Fan Xian and the Great Prince walked in the Palace and did not know what the people behind them were talking about. However, the Great Prince couldn’t help being curious. Why was he rushing to enter the Palace when his injury hadn’t healed yet?
“Why are you so rushed to enter the Palace? Recently, the Palace has been rather chaotic. Everyone is a bit nervous investigating the matter of you being attacked.”
Fan Xian smiled and said, “Have you forgot? I’ve already sent the invitation to your manor. The Great Princess should have received it personally. I’m hosting tonight at the Baoyue Brothel. If I have the energy to host yet not rush into the Palace to debrief, I’m afraid the Emperor would spank me.”
“You should call her the Great Imperial Concubine or sister-in-law is fine.
Why are you still calling her the Great Princess?”
“Never mind. The Great Imperial Concubine sounds odd. I always think of Ye Ling’er. Sister-in-law also doesn’t work…I don’t want to be scolded by someone of the Taichang Temple. My surname is Fan, but your surname is Li.” These words of Fan Xian’s were a bit wild. At least, as an official speaking to the Great Prince, it appeared to be a bit impolite.
The Great Prince knew what he was thinking and laughed helplessly. Suddenly serious, he said, “Do you know about that matter?”
“What matter?” Fan Xian furrowed his brows slightly.
“Yan Xiaoyi’s son was assassinated last night.” The Great Prince stared at Fan Xian’s eyes as if he wanted to judge from his gaze whether or not this assassination had anything to do with him.
Fan Xian raised his eyebrow, not bothered to purposely put on a shocked expression. “If he’s dead, then he’s dead. In any case, he’s not one of my people. Don’t guess, this matter has nothing to do with me.”
The Great Prince looked at him and shook his head. “Regardless of whether or not this matter has something to do you, I’m afraid you will still be blamed for this.”
“So be it.” Fan Xian smiled warmly. “I’ve made plenty of enemies in this life, a few more won’t matter.”
“But that person is…Yan Xiaoyi.” The Great Prince reminded in a heavier tone.
Fan Xian didn’t make any sound, he only thought to himself that this Great Prince did indeed have some power in the military. At this moment, the palace gates had probably just opened, yet he already knew the story of what happened in Yuantai Camp.
The Great Prince saw that he wasn’t acknowledging him and furrowed his brows. “I’m afraid this matter won’t end so easily. Think about it, in the Jingdou garrison camp to the left of Jingdou, an assassin actually managed to sneak in. Once this matter is exposed, there won’t be good days for anything. This matter…was done too impudently.”
Fan Xian heard the meaning hidden in his words and couldn’t resist laughing coldly. “Yuantai Camp? A few days ago, someone dared to move the military’s city-guarding crossbows into the valley to kill an imperial envoy…just who is more impudent?”
The Great Prince saw he was getting angry. He also knew that in that valley attack, he had lost a number of subordinates, so he could only change the subject. “When is Lady Chen coming back? Grandmother and my mother have missed her for a long time. I’m afraid they won’t let her go to Jiangnan in the coming year.”
Fan Xian said, “She’s arriving tomorrow. Oh right, I also brought back that princess from the Hu tribe…also, I bought a manor in Yangcong Alley. The place is isolated and quiet, perfect for keeping a mistress.”
The Great Prince started at hearing these words and mumbled, “What mistress?”
Fan Xian took out a house deed and threw it at him. The corners of his mouth tilted up, “To support your mistress.”
The Great Prince didn’t know what to say. He glared at him angrily and said, “Around people, you have the elegant and meaningful face of an immortal poet, who knew that it’s actually a sharp, unkind, and sly mouth.”
“These words are quite accurate,” Fan Xian proudly said. “Things like reputation, I have enough. Now, I am going to shed all these pretenses of cordiality and play with everyone properly.”
The Great Prince was slightly startled. Furrowing his brows, he said, “You’ve invited all these people tonight. What exactly do you want to do? Don’t mess around.”
“How could I? Everyone is of royal descent, so I don’t even have time to curry favor.” Fan Xian smiled coldly. “However, I understand what you’re thinking. If you don’t want brothers to fight amongst themselves, they must be quickly crushed.”
The Great Prince said with disapproval, “These words are not nice to hear. We are all of the same father, so we should just quietly wait for the royal decision. You should have some control as well.”
“Don’t be like this,” Fan Xian shook his head and said. “It’s still that old saying, my surname is Fan…but don’t worry, I don’t have a liking for chopping off my own fingers. After tonight, as long as they are willing to behave better, naturally, I will not do anything.”
The Great Prince began to smile. Fan Xian thought for a while and couldn’t resist smiling self-mockingly. From ancient times until now, the history books show there were very few young officials like him bold enough to threaten a Crown Prince and princess to their faces, and doing so using a lecturing tone. This matter did indeed appear to be rather absurd.
Fan Xian persisted in saying his surname was Fan. He knew that if it was not, because he should have been surnamed Li, he would certainly not have the power to negotiate with the royal family and wouldn’t even have this privilege. Given his style of doing things, he would probably have been dead as a doornail a long time ago.
When he waited for a long time in the royal study until he finally saw the Emperor surnamed Li lift the curtain and enter, his behavior was still relatively respectful. However, glimmers of coldness and stubbornness occasionally rose between his brows.
It was just as it was said, acting all the way, things were still as before.