Joy of Life - Chapter 458[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:49:14]
Chapter 458: Discussing History At The Feast At Hongmen (4)
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
In this world, there were no officials that were not corrupt. The only difference was the level of corruption. The court was full of vermin. The only difference was that some were fatter than others. If it were not so, why would there be as abnormal an organization in the Qing court as the Overwatch Council?
Fan Xian discovered while he was rectifying the First Bureau that even the Overwatch Council is made up of people. Where there are people, there are politics. It was impossible for the Overwatch Council to continue being this cold and severe forever.
Furthermore, the Overwatch Council was not a god. It could not interfere with those above the third rank. Without the Emperor’s edict, it could not interfere in military matters. Even with Chen Pingping and Fan Xian together, the Overwatch Council could not change much of the current situation. When all was said and done, the Overwatch Council was not used to investigating corruption officials. It was only to, according to the Emperor’s wishes, occasionally clean out the departments, calm the people’s anger, make some room, and maintain the rule of the country.
If they were truly to investigate, then the beauties in Chen Pingping’s garden, the profits Fan Xian had scooped out of the palace treasury…how long would it take to clean these out? Not to mention that highly respected figure who sat in the Royal Palace.
Don’t say that the Emperor’s wasn’t greedy, he was the greediest under heaven. Even if his greed encompassed the entire world, what could the Overwatch Council do?
Since everyone was corrupt, when the Overwatch Council was going to do something because of Fan Xian’s craziness, it appeared to happen too easily and naturally. In the dark night, all the members of the First Bureau moved into action and spread out into the manors in those alleys and streets, capturing who knows how many of the lower level officials who were closely tied to the Second Prince and Xinyang’s side.
None of those above the third rank could be touched, but it was these lower-level officials that the court truly needed to rely on. The people in Baoyue Brothel already knew of the Overwatch Council’s earlier actions and had received Fan Xian’s personal confirmation. They couldn’t help but reveal incomparably shocked expressions.
The Deputy of the Bureau of Military Affairs, Qu Xiangdong became silent and looked deeply at Fan Xian without saying anything more. Although tonight’s information was not clear, he could see that the Overwatch Council’s first targets were Xinyang and the Second Prince’s group. There was not any deep connection to the military.
Although he didn’t understand why Fan Xian would suddenly use such a low method, the power of the Overwatch Council’s actions and Fan Xian’s ruthlessness already made him feel a thread of fear.
Inside the building, they had beauties in their arms. Meanwhile, outside, people were being killed and captured. Even the snow could not completely hide the stench of blood.
Not everyone had sunk into silence because of this sudden information. After the five messengers had carefully retreated beyond the screen, the Great Prince gazed at Fan Xian with a heavy expression and asked, “Why?”
The clash between the Overwatch Council and Xinyang’s side had been going on for a long time. It began with the palace treasury fight six years ago. The reason lay in the incident of Second Prince using a feast to assassinate Fan Xian on Niulan Street and the Baoyue Brothel. Everyone sitting in brought out the story of that autumn.
In that autumn, Fan Xian took Baoyue Brothel, killed Xie Bi’an, tricked the Jingdou government, wrecked the reputations of the Second Prince and Li Hongcheng, the heir of King Jing, and forcefully beat the Cui family in the North into becoming rebels.
In the year after that, Fan Xian went to Jiangnan to deal with the Ming family, took over the palace treasury, and killed Chang Kun in Jiaozhou.
In everyone’s opinion, Fan Xian had already exacted sufficiently severe revenge from the second Prince and Xinyang’s side and had scooped up enough benefits. There was no reason to strike so strongly again.
Fan Xian was silent for a while then calmly said, “Why? Because I am investigating the governance by imperial edict.”
The feast was silent. The Crown Prince sat up high and did not look at Fan Xian. On the contrary, he wore a thoughtful expression and looked at the Second Prince’s expression. The Great Prince shook his head and sighed. “The capital has barely had a few days of peace. Why can’t you all calm down for a while?”
Fan Xian knew that the Great Prince was speaking from his heart. The current leader of the Imperial Army had a good relationship with the Second Prince since their youth, but because of Lady Cai and Wan’er, he now stood on his side. Being put in this position, he would inevitably be in a difficult situation. Hearing these words, he couldn’t help but sigh. “Peace? I haven’t been back to the capital in a year so the capital must have had a year of peace. Perhaps I really am an evil portent…no wonder no one would let me have peace in the valley outside Jingdou.”
The feast once more became silent. Everyone faintly understood that this was Fan Xian making a spectacle for the incident in the valley, but this spectacle was a bit too big and absurd.
“Many things in the world are very absurd.” Fan Xian seemed to know what these people were thinking in their hearts. “Like the assassination on my life in the valley. The court has been investigating, but because they have no evidence, they still have no results.”
He slowly said, “Who will acknowledge my subordinates? As I said earlier, my coachman. When the first arrow came, I wanted to pull him back into the carriage, but he persisted in standing up and took that arrow for me. I often ask myself, if no evidence is ever found, is there nothing I can do for him?”
The Jiangnan Governor, Xue Qing, looked at Fan Xian meaningfully.
The Crown Prince slowly said, “Naturally, the court has to investigate.” This was the third time he had said this.
Fan Xian nodded and smiled. “It was this matter that suddenly made me think of a story I heard long ago.”
“A long time ago, in a forest, there was only a little white rabbit. Early in the morning, he happily left his home, but he then ran into a big grey wolf. The big grey wolf grabbed the little white rabbit and slapped him twice in the face and then said, ‘I told you not to wear a hat!\'”
Everyone looked at each other. They didn’t know why Fan Xian was suddenly telling a story for children. Fan Xian continued, “The next day, the white rabbit put on his hat and left his house again. As he walked, he ran into the big grey wolf again. The big grey wolf caught him again and once more slapped him twice on the face, ‘That’ll teach you to wear a hat!\'”
“The little white rabbit felt very gloomy, so he ran to the old tiger to tell on the big grey wolf. The old tiger listened to the little white rabbit’s grievances and said with heartfelt pain, ‘Be at ease, naturally, I will find justice for you.’ Following this, the old tiger found the big grey wolf and said, ‘Old wolf, today, the little white rabbit has come to complain about you, saying that you always bully him for no reason. Do you think you can find a different reason to beat on him? For example, you could say, rabbit, go find me a piece of meat.\'”
“If he found a fatty piece, you can say you wanted lean. Hf he brings a lean piece, you can say you wanted a fatty piece. In this way, you’ll be able to beat him. Or, you can have him find you female rabbits. If he brings plump ones, you can say you like slender ones. If he brings you slender ones, you can just say you like plump ones!”
Fan Xian told the story very seriously, but his words were very childish and absurd. However, everyone in the feast wore an expression of deep thought. Even the Crown Prince and Xue Qing were thinking deeply. They faintly understood who that old tiger was…but no one dared to express it.
Fan Xian took a drink of wine and said seriously, “After the old wolf heard this, he was very happy and repeatedly praised the old tiger for being clever. However, their words were heard by the little white rabbit who was weeding outside the room.”
“Very coincidental? But in stories, without coincidences, there wouldn’t be a story. Continuing on…” Fan Xian smiled coldly and said. “On the third day, the little white rabbit went out again and once again met the big grey wolf. The big grey wolf said, ‘Rabbit, go bring me a piece of meat!\'”
“The little white rabbit said, ‘Do you want fatty or lean?\'”
“The big grey wolf furrowed his brows. Smiling, he thought, fortunately, I have a second trick. ‘Never mind, never mind. I don’t want meat, go find me a female rabbit.\'”
“The little rabbit said, ‘Do you like plump ones or slender ones?\'”
Fan Xian furrowed his brows tightly and shook his head. “Having run into such a sly rabbit, what do you think should be done?”
Everyone at the feast also began to think, What would the big grey wolf do next? They couldn’t help but be curious as to how Fan Xian would continue the story. Fan Xian pressed his slightly dry lips and smiled. “The big grey wolf was startled and slapped the little white rabbit twice on the face and cursed, ‘I told you not to wear a hat!\'”
The most unreasonable, shameless, boring, and nonsensical excuse was the most sufficient excuse. It meant that no excuse was needed. It just depended on whose fist was bigger.
In the end, Fan Xian seriously said, “I don’t want to continue being the little white rabbit. I want to be the big grey wolf.”
This was a joke he had heard in his previous life. However, telling it tonight, it was a bit heavy. Everyone was meant to laugh uproariously. At this moment, no one could muster a laugh.
Everyone sighed with fear in their hearts. The incident of the attack on Fan Xian would probably never be solved. The assassination of the Eight Generals by the Overwatch Council, under the circumstances, there was no evidence. If Fan Xian did not admit it, it would probably also never be solved. Things had always been like this. Since neither natural enemy could find sufficient excuses, then why bother looking for an excuse? Power was like a wild mountain, the wolf chases and the rabbit runs while the tiger watches from the side. It was the law of nature.
Although the feast had not fallen apart, the people had long lost their desire to continue. Jingdou’s officialdom had never been peaceful, and tonight it was even more of a mess. As the Overwatch Council had borrowed the cover of night to act, presumably they had not startled many of Jingdou’s commoners. However, these major figures still hurried back to their manors and offices to handle the aftermath. At the same time, they made mental and official preparations to face the new situation.
Fan Xian saw Xue Qing to the door. As Xue Qing was about to leave, he turned his head back and smiled warmly. “Wolves are pack animals. Don’t make yourself into a lone wolf. That is always dangerous.”
Fan Xian felt a slight warmth in his heart and bowed his thanks.
Xue Qing was silent for a moment and then said, “Although the Emperor has nodded, you still have to be careful of limits. Particularly with the court’s face, you have to leave some.”
Fan Xian once again agreed.
After waiting for a few of the people’s carriages to slowly leave Baoyue Brothel, the Crown Prince also stretched and walked down holding the beauty. A servant beside him had already placed the expensive and magnificent fur coat over his shoulders. The Crown Prince glanced at Fan Xian and smiled. “Tonight’s drama was very fun to watch.”
The Crown Prince had the woman beside him and all people loitering around step back. He looked at Fan Xian and calmly said, “Speaking of that, that autumn a year ago, when I watched you and the Second Prince play out the first half of that drama, I also thought it was fun to watch. After thinking about it closely, it is actually you and I who haven’t done much.”
Fan Xian was slightly startled. He didn’t understood the meaning of these words from the Crown Prince, who was acting very different from usual.
“You and I have never had any problems,” the Crown Prince closed his eyes and slowly said. “If there are problems, those were in the past. They shouldn’t become problems between you and me. I hope you will remember this point.”
Fan Xian understood. He and the Crown Prince had actually long maintained some kind of peace. However, the matter that the empress had been involved in lay between them and made them natural enemies. He didn’t know what the Crown Prince was preparing to do by saying this, but Fan Xian believed that the Crown Prince would not watch him kill his old mother in order to gain his support.
So, he was just talking.
Behind the screen, it was not empty. Very strangely, the Second Prince had stayed. He looked at Fan Xian coming up from downstairs and smiled slightly. Placing his left hand slowly on the table, he tried his best to suppress the feeling of absurdness deep in his heart. Using two fingers, he picked up some fruit offered as tribute from the South and slowly chewed it.
Fan Xian sat across from him. Lifting the wine pot, he began to pour and drink, quickly drinking 10 cups.
The Great Prince hugged the wine container and drank his fill as if he was trying to get drunk.
Fan Xian put down his wine cup and clapped his hands. The Third Prince walked out with great propriety from behind the curtain. He glanced at this eldest and second brother with some awkwardness and then sat beside his teacher.
The Great Prince glanced at Fan Xian with disapproval. His gaze seemed to say, Why bring the little one into adult matters?
In the Flower Hall on the third floor of Baoyue Brothel, there were three princes and Fan Xian. If the Crown Prince, who had left earlier, was not counted, all the bloodline that the Qing Emperor had left in this world were all gathered together.
The earlier Hongmen Feast and suddenly become a family feast with a strange atmosphere.
“You’re afraid.” The Second Prince put down the fruit he had eaten half off. Staring into Fan Xian’s eyes, he spoke in a soft voice.
The hand Fan Xian had used to pick up the wine cup froze slightly. He slowly replied, “What am I afraid of?”
“If you’re not afraid, then why make such grand moves tonight?” The Second Prince smiled slightly and gently said. “Only someone with fear in their hearts could act as carelessly as you did tonight. You killed my generals and captured my trusted aides, but does this have any effect on the big picture?”
Fan Xian took a deep breath. His expression became calm. “Right now, there are no outsiders, so there is no harm in speaking directly. Tonight, your subordinates have completely been cleaned out by me but…you don’t have evidence. Just like what you said earlier, in the attack in the valley, I also have no evidence, but you still did it.”
“I did not know of the attack in the valley, and I did not participate in it,” the Second Prince stared at Fan Xian’s eyes and said seriously.
Fan Xian shook his head. “Then what about the Niulan Street incident? The little white rabbit has been slapped too many times…I admit, up to now, I still don’t know who did the valley attack, but this does not stop me from acting.”
He lowered his head and said, “There are enemies in all directions. Since I don’t know which enemy did it, of course, I will strike out randomly. If I happen to hit the main culprit, then it’s a gain for me. If I hit bystanders, I also don’t lose you and I still gain.”
“Niulan Street…” A glimmer of bitterness flashed through the Second Prince’s thinned lipped smile. “An incident from many years ago. Come to think of it, there is only this one incident, yet you still remember until today.”
Fan Xian raised his head and calmly said, “I am a person who remembers a grudge. You also know, this matter has little to do with having a grudge. For each day you don’t desist, I will not rest.”
Without officials and the Crown Prince present, Fan Xian and the Second Prince, this pair of powerful nobility, whose aura were extremely similar, their words appeared to be very direct and blunt. They were both people who thought very meticulously and knew that, between them, there was no need to hide behind so many words.
The Second Prince glanced deeply at the Third Prince beside Fan Xian and suddenly opened his mouth to say, “Sometimes, I believe that life isn’t fair…not to speak of matters such as the Cui and Ming families, just speaking of within the Palace. My favorite sister has become your wife, and my two brothers, who have been friendly with me since youth, both now stand on your side.”
The Second Prince raised his head. HIs handsome face carried a trace of hidden anger. “If it was because I am not as capable as you that would be fine, but…this is only because of some absurd reasons, of some things that happened in the past that has created the situation today. If father was willing to hand the Overwatch Council to me, would I do any worse than you? If father was willing to hand the palace treasury over to me, would I not be able to make the national treasury became abundant? As for repairing the river banks, neither you or I know how to fix it. We can both only put in money…An Zhi, ah, An Zhi, do you not think this is unfair? After all, I am the true prince.”
Fan Xian was silent for a long time. He knew that this strange and colorful life and the strange power he was able to obtain was completely because of the beneficence that woman had left behind. Of course, that woman had also brought him countless troubles and dangers. What the Second Prince said was not completely unreasonable. If they had switched places, he couldn’t be certain he could do better. It was not because the Second Prince was incapable. Rather, it was that he never had a stage to demonstrate his capabilities.
He slowly said, “There is no ‘if’ in life.”
“Correct. So, now, you have the Overwatch Council in your left hand and the palace treasury in your right…” the Second Prince ridiculed slightly and said. “Such power, presumably only your mother had it in the past…so now you are beginning to feel afraid.”
Fan Xian’s expression again became rigid.
The Second Prince calmly said, “Have you thought about the future? Who exactly are you working for and being busy for right now?” His gaze moved slightly and he glanced at the Third Prince. He smiled and said, “Of the royal brothers, not one is easy to get along with. You are one of us, of course, you understand the reasoning behind it.”
The Third Prince lowered his head and didn’t dare interrupt. Fan Xian knew that the Second Prince was not just using words to scare people. He had his own thoughts and plans.
Faintly, the Second Prince said, “You are truly scared…think about it, as an isolated official, you’re about to step on to the road of being an absolute official. In the future, regardless of who takes the throne, how could Qing Kingdom tolerate you? How could it tolerate the Overwatch Council?”
Fan Xian listened calmly. The Second Prince continued, “You are afraid because you are a clever man. You know that although your power reaches the heavens at the moment, it is only like a floating cloud and not even as substantial as a thin piece of paper.”
The Second Prince sighed. “All the power in your hands has been given to you by father. With only one edict, you will be banished to the mundane world, never to rise again…although father loves you, he still guards against you. Over these years, he has allowed you to charge down any path but refuses to let you touch the military. I trust you don’t need me to remind you of the meaning behind that.”
In the end, the Second Prince summarized, “You are afraid, so you have to…weaken your own power!”
The Great Prince took a drink of wine and coldly watched his two brothers talk like two fighting chickens.
Fan Xian was silent for a long time. He didn’t comment on what the Second Prince said. He only quietly said, “All power is fleeting. When has there ever been a general who has never lost or a powerful family that has never fallen? Your Highness is a prince. Your heart is with the world, but I am only an official, I have to protect the safety of myself and my family clan.”
The Second Prince interrupted and coldly said, “I know that you are an immortal poet and never use your royal bloodline for glory. On the contrary, you purposely avoid this point. But, ask yourself, if it was not because of your loathed royal bloodline, could you live to today and do so with such glory?”
Four brothers. Two were silent. Two were confronting.
“Let go,” the Second Prince said sincerely. “Your power is truly an illusion. You don’t dare to kill me and can only watch as each day goes by. Yet, each day you are in danger. Since you have already noticed this, why not just let go and make a clean break of it? Given your reputation under heaven, you are Wan’er’s husband and father’s son. You are an honored guest of Northern Qi. Who would make things difficult for you? Who would dare to brave unnecessary danger to make things difficult for you? Ling’er has said that your favorite thing to do is to travel the world, so why be limited to the dangerous Jingdou, unable to free yourself?”
Fan Xian’s brows gradually furrowed. His fingers gently played with the wine cup. He opened his mouth and said, “Your Highness, as I said earlier…my thoughts are the same as yours.”
He raised his head. His expression was clear. He gazed at the Second Prince calmly and said, “A year ago, in the tea shop outside this building, I once told you, if you don’t let go, I will beat you until you do. Furthermore, reality has proven it. I now have this power…the Eight Generals in the tea shop, you will never see them again. This is sufficient evidence.”
Hearing the words “tea shop,” the Second Prince’s expression immediately tightened. He thought of the autumn over a year ago and the conversation he had with Fan Xian in the tea shop outside Baoyue Brothel. The conversation at that time had happened between a prince and an official. Now, a year had passed and Fan Xian’s power had blown up like a balloon. Most importantly, the true identities of the two people had gradually evened out.
“Why should I let go?” the Second Prince said self-mockingly, with a slightly unstable mental state.
“Your Highness has succumbed to the Eldest Princess’ poison, so let me cure it for you,” Fan Xian did not back down at all and said coldly. “What I said back then still holds. Whenever Your Highness maintains your distance from the Eldest Princess and truly let go, I will allow you…to live your life in peace.”
“What gives you the power to say that?” The Second Prince looked seriously into Fan Xian’s eyes. “Just because of the Overwatch Council and silver?”
Fan Xian shook his head and said, “Not because of anything. Only, I owe the princess a favor and Wan’er a promise. Tonight’s events, as Your Highness should know, I was cleaning out Your Highness’ personal power to scoop you out of this mess.”
The Second Prince thought of the giant loss he had suffered tonight. Finally, he could no longer suppress the cold and desolation in his heart. Darkly angry, he said, “Why me? Father has more than one son, and you are also one!”
“I have not a trace of wild ambition. I am just an official,” Fan Xian said. “In a few days, Your Highness will understand my sincerity. As for the rest of the princes, one is my student. I will make sure he is well-behaved. The Great Prince prefers to drink alcohol, and I will not pay attention to the Crown Prince, so I can only target you. What you said is right, this bloodline is always worth respecting a little, so I will do all I can to prevent that terrifying thing from happening?”
The Second Prince felt a chill in his heart. There was a gap in the screen that had not been blocked properly. The chilly wind of a winter’s day began to slowly wind through the interior of Baoyue Brothel. Finally, Fan Xian said, “Please, remember one thing, Your Highness. The Emperor is in his prime. He doesn’t wish to see this kind of thing happen.”