Joy of Life - Chapter 463

[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:49:15]
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Chapter 463: There Are Enemies Under Heaven

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

Fan Xian’s previous title was a first-ranked baron, second-class, while a dukedom was a super rank. In between there were still the two ranks of High Official and Count. It was a rare honor to be directly granted the title of duke at his age, so he couldn’t react at once.

By the time everyone present had realized, they understood why. One reason was that the court had to reward his work in Jiangnan. However, everyone knew that the most important reason was that the Emperor wanted to compensate his illegitimate child.

The Great Prince and the Second Prince had long been given the title of Prince, while Fan Xian was only a Duke of Danbo. How could this compare? In the space of a thought, the officials who were going to stand out to strongly protest this grant all became quiet. This was the royal family’s domestic matter, not the court’s national matter. There was no place for them as officials to chime in.

After Fan Xian’s initial flash of joy, he immediately calmed down. For most of the people in the Palace, a dukedom was indeed a shining title. For him, the power in his hands had long surpassed this boundary. Furthermore, the Emperor had not notified him before having the Imperial Censorate squeeze into the Overwatch Council’s jurisdiction. It was this problem that Fan Xian was truly concerned and worried about.

Thus, he was willing to throw away his usual appearance and even pester endlessly if he didn’t want the Emperor to so easily stuff sand in him.

Furthermore, he was faintly aware that the position of Duke was the final one he could reach in Qing Kingdom. The Duke of Danbo was a third-ranked dukedom, so there were two more levels he could climb. After, it looked like he would have to retire at a young age.

For a moment, he couldn’t help being dazed and felt it was rather absurd. He couldn’t help but stand in this Palace and laugh involuntarily.

Everyone’s gaze looked at the youngest duke since the beginning of Qing Kingdom. They looked at his loathsome smile with complicated emotions in their hearts and felt that this laugh was incomparably piercing.

The great court conference didn’t end until after lunch because the proper business of the three roads governors had been placed at the end. The Emperor took some decisive actions and decided on much of the issues on his own then let the officials leave.

The officials had long been starving. They all passed through the Palace gates back to their own manors. However, there were still many people who couldn’t leave. The officials in the Hall of Governmental Affairs, the governors from the three roads that hadn’t returned to the capital in a long time, and the ministers of various departments all carefully followed the Emperor to the royal study. Fan Xian followed behind them with a helpless expression.

Just like a year ago, when he had come back to the South Kingdom from Northern Qi, there was still a seat left for Fan Xian in the royal study. Last time, it was because of Zhuang Mohan’s carriage of books. This time, it was because of the silver that the palace treasury sent.

Fan Xian sat on the round embroidered chair with a slightly unsteady state of mind. The talk in the royal study about national matters didn’t interest him much at all. In any case, politics had never been his strong suit, and he also couldn’t give any ideas. He could still only play the role of pointing out omissions and correcting errors.

It was very clear that, on one hand, the Emperor understood his capabilities. On the other, he did not wish for Fan Xian to express too many opinions toward the topic of national matters. So, he didn’t call his name.

However, the new duke still had a place to sit, and it was beside the Emperor’s soft couch. The Crown Prince and the other princes still had to stand and listen closely like students. Fan Xian felt pretty good. He thought to himself that he was practically the royal brothers’ teacher.

The Emperor and many officials talked about the overly heavy snowfalls in the South, the situation in the North, and the auspicious signs in the garden. They then began to hand out food.

Fan Xian had been busy all last night, so the lamb pieces and tofu curds he had eaten had been digested long ago. Hearing, at this moment, about giving out food, he couldn’t help his interest perking up. A joy rose in his heart, like a bit actor finally about to receive lunch. He accepted the lunchbox the eunuch handed over. Without speaking, he swept through the food like a hurricane.

The important matters had already been decided during the great court conference, and there was no new content being discussed in the royal study. When Xue Qing brought up the first-rate actions of the Hangzhou Conference in providing disaster relief in Jiangnan, many of the officials in Jingdou expressed a glimmer of surprise. They had heard of the Hangzhou Conference, but they didn’t know that the Hangzhou Conference had such wealth and power to be able to do so many things outside of the government’s disaster relief.

The Emperor had Fan Xian rise and make an explanation. Hearing Fan Xian’s explanation, only now did Shu Wu and the others understand that behind the Hangzhou Conference were the concubines in the Palace, with the leader, in name, being the empress. No wonder the Hangzhou Conference could have so much power. However, everyone knew that the Palace was just taking the credit for being tender toward the people. The person truly doing things and spending money was probably still Fan Xian.

The Emperor smiled and said, “The person who is truly working hard isn’t Fan Xian, it’s that Chen girl of mine.”

The officials laughed and said some flattering words. Immediately after, they praised the nobles in the Palace loudly and, naturally, praise of the Emperor could not be avoided. The Emperor looked at Fan Xian’s slightly unfocused expression and furrowed his brows slightly.

The Great Prince watched this scene from the side and opened his mouth to say, “The princess returns to the capital today.”

The Emperor “oh-ed,” and his gaze on Fan Xian became gentle. He smiled and didn’t say anything, but he also didn’t let Fan Xian leave the Palace early. He only immediately ended the discussion in the royal study and, on the contrary, held back Fan Xian who wanted to return home the most.

The calming incense in the royal study floated through the air. The white smoke was not quite the color of milk, and the fragrance was very light.

There was only the Emperor and Fan Xian left in the royal study. Fan Xian was slightly uneasy because he didn’t know what the Emperor was about to say.

The Emperor drank a mouthful of swallows nest and raised his head to glance at Fan Xian, asking whether he wanted some again. Fan Xian quickly shook his head.

“One cannot have high ideals without simple living, and one cannot have lofty aspirations without transcendence,” the Emperor put down his bowl and slowly said. “Without irritations and worries, without losing the simple life…this was your explanation to the people when you opened that bookstore in Jingdou two years ago.”

Fan Xian nodded. The name for the Danbo Bookstore had come from here. However, only his sister Ruoruo knew the true meaning. Unlike others, it had the meaning of “floating in Danzhou.” Thinking of this, he suddenly missed that kid and wondered whether or not she was happy living in the North.

“I like these two lines very much. You should know what I mean by having you be the Danbo Duke.” The Emperor quietly looked at his most accomplished illegitimate child.

Fan Xian lowered his head to think for a moment then said, seriously, “I should be sincere and worry less.”

“Correct,” the Emperor calmly said. “You need to be clear about what you should do and worry less about what you can do.

A pure official? An isolated official? The meaning was actually very simple. As the official of the Emperor, don’t worry, just live life simply.

Who knew what Fan Xian was thinking his heart. The smile on his face appeared very sincere and relaxed. He opened his mouth and said, “I know.”

In a conversation between a ruler and an official, the person saying “I know” should be the Emperor, yet Fan Xian just said it like so very clearly that it did not seem very strange. The Emperor did not appear to be unhappy. Eunuch Yao, waiting to the side, had a very calm expression. In these two years, he had long become used to the Emperor treating Fan Xian differently from others.

The Emperor waved his hand, and Eunuch Yao bowed before retreating from the royal study.

After a moment of silence, the Emperor coldly said, “As for the matter today of the Imperial Censorate entering the Overwatch Council, you will understand in the future. I know your heart is good, but in court politics, it cannot revolve around one’s heart.”

Fan Xian knew there were very few people here at the moment, so he couldn’t make an unreasonable scene, act like a spoiled child, or be stubbornly unyielding. He could only be silent.

The Emperor spoke again, slowly, “It’s as I said before, I know your heart, thus, I very much like what happened last night…however, I had not expected you to work so hard. I was a little surprised.”

Fan Xian’s throat was a bit dry. After some consideration, he said, seriously, “Before the riverbanks burst, I had already directed the water away so that the people did not suffer.”

The Emperor looked at Fan Xian’s face and didn’t speak. After a long time, he nodded with approval. “However, have you thought about the fact that although you have drained all the water, if there is flowing water again in the future, who knows whether or not the water will once more spill over the riverbanks? Thus, I believe that we’ll have to keep watching until the day that the mountains fall, the ground caves, and the banks break. Only then will we know whether the water will obediently flow downstream or…shamelessly break through me, this large riverbank. You, child, act fierce, but your heart is always soft.”

The Emperor’s face became cold and he continued, “In my life, I only want two things. The world and something to pass on. If I don’t see their hearts clearly, how will I be able to let go to conquer the world? Stop moving and watching with me.”

Fan Xian was silent and cautious, not daring to reply. The Emperor’s words earlier were filled with warning. The Duke of Danbo could only forever be a duke. He also wanted him to stay and watch with him as well as staying calm and no longer attacking the Second Prince and the Crown Prince’s faction. This was essentially giving him a lifetime of wealth and boundless trust.

“Furthermore, leave Xiaoyi alone,” The Emperor stared into his eyes and said. “Xiaoyi has been a credit to the country and a heroic general in the army. I don’t wish to lose him in this matter.”

Fan Xian was slightly startled, thinking, He and Governor Yan had formed an irreconcilable hatred against each other, so how could it be resolved? Besides, even if Yan Xiaoyi had been a credit to the country, his connection to the Eldest Princess goes too deep. Was the Emperor not afraid at all? At this moment, he finally confirmed that it was the Emperor himself, and not the empress dowager, who had sent Eunuch Hong last night to ruin the situation and so felt very confused.

“What if the Governor challenges me on the martial conference?” He glanced at the Emperor and asked worriedly. The Qing Kingdom revered martial ability and this year, the conference was being held again. If Yan Xiaoyi challenged Fan Xian in the Palace, the Emperor couldn’t say such things like Fan Xian was a prince and could not be injured in front of all the officials

“Yan Xiaoyi will leave before the martial conference,” the Emperor said.

Fan Xian furrowed his brows and said, “But the Governor has deemed me accountable for his son’s death…”

The Emperor glanced at him with a not-quite-there smile and said, “Did you kill him?”

Fan Xian replied sincerely, “This matter truly has nothing to do with me. I don’t dare to secretly kill the son of an official.”

The Emperor laughed loudly, “What a joke! Then, were last night’s killings…public?”

Fan Xian flushed red and said, “Last night’s people were all jianghu people, unrelated to the court.”

The Emperor was silent for a moment then said, “The person who struck in the Yuantai Camp was someone from Dongyi, so I am curious if something went wrong over there. I want to see whether or not Xiaoyi is a clever person.”

Fan Xian’s expression was calm, but he was grumbling in his heart. Thirteenth Wang, ah, Thirteenth Wang, you’ve really fooled the Emperor. It was clear that the Emperor had made a wrong deduction because of this incorrect information, but Fan Xian could not, under any circumstances, remind him.

“As for the problem concerning Xiaoyi, I still must remind you, the military…must not have great unrest.” The Emperor’s gaze became serene and distant. “The Hu tribes to the West…have started to make trouble again.”

The Hu people in the West were making trouble?

Fan Xian suddenly raised his head and looked at the Emperor’s worried face. For a moment, he was shocked speechless. Twenty years ago, the Emperor had taken soldiers on an expedition to the West and had almost wiped out the people living in Xi Hu. Additionally, a few years ago, the Great Prince swept through the West with an army and completely shattered the lives that had been built of great difficult by the Xi Hu.

How could the Hu people be making trouble again? Furthermore, even if they were making trouble, given the strength of the Qing army and its numerous generals, the Emperor shouldn’t be worried about the instability of the army because of an external problem.

Fan Xian had grown up from a young age in Qing Kingdom. He knew that at the beginning of its formation, they had been bullied and humiliated for a time by Xi Hu. Even now, the Hu people were still a great plague on Qing Kingdom. However, in these 20 years, it was only because of the great pressure that the Emperor exerted over them that they became unworthy for the Qing people to talk about.

The Emperor saw Fan Xian’s shocked expression and mockingly laughed, “The Qing Kingdom has suffered consecutive years of disasters, floods, and droughts, as well as heavy snow. However, it just happened that there has been favorable weather in Xi Hu these years. The grass grows long, and their horses grow fat…of course, if it was only because of mere Hu savages, it would not be enough to make me so worried. However…did you know, before the heavy snows devastated Qing Kingdom, the savages in the North of Northern Qi also suffered the first freeze in dozens of years?”

Fan Xian furrowed his brows. He suddenly remembered a scene by the lake in Hangzhou half a year ago. Haitang Duoduo had worriedly raised this matter to him once. The Northern savages had indeed suffered from heavy snowfalls. Countless cows, sheep, and horses had been frozen to death. However, the Northern savages were very far away from Xi Hu, so what did this have to do with Qing Kingdom?

The Emperor said, “No wonder the Northern Qi royal family dared to keep Shang Shanhu in Shangjing and not worry about the savages coming South. It turns out that god is giving them a hand…the Northern savages were unable to survive the freeze and combined with Shang Shanhu’s might of many years, they didn’t dare brave a journey South. The could only travel around Qilian Mountain and find another way to survive. The Hu people move with the water plans, and those Northern savages, after half a year of massive migration, have not finally reached the Xi Hu territory. Although only 40,000 people survived of the 200,00, those who managed to survive the snowstorm and dangerous journey…were all elite warriors.”

Fan Xian’s eyes were narrowed. He saw before him the sight of countless tribes herding sheep and horses, and carrying tattered and rolled up tents looking for a path in the snow and wind toward the West along the spine of the Qilian Mountain. It disappeared into the clouds with frozen bodies left along the path and the strange cries of vultures.

What a majestic and tragic sight. What a mighty migration.

“How could Xi Hu tolerate the Northern tribes coming over?” Fan Xian asked worriedly.

The Emperor laughed. The laughter held endless confidence and pride. “Xi Hu has long been broken by us. How could they dare to bite at these foreign snow wolves? Although there are many more Xi Hu people, after a number of large battles, the two sides still reached an alliance.”

Fan Xian sighed. If the Hu people really formed an alliance, then Qing Kingdom, which neighbored Xi Hu, would be the most threatened. No wonder the Emperor was so careful about the punishment of the military.

Seeing Fan Xian’s worry, the Emperor calmly asked, “What are you thinking?”

“I am thinking, these reports are probably still considered top secret…however, it seems that a great battle is about to arrive, I…am willing to lead an assault.” Fan Xian was not just saying pretty lies, he truly wanted to satisfy his craving of horses and prairies. However, no one seemed to have explained the problem of the internal department of the court.

The Emperor laughed mockingly. “Don’t think that because you are a martial ace you can lead soldiers into war for military merit. Once the battle starts, millions will be slaughtered. Unless you are Uncle Liuyun, your fate will still be to be sliced into pieces.”

Fan Xian forced a laugh.

The Emperor paused and then calmly said, “The Hu savages are enough to fear. I have never considered them seriously…however, since the Northern savages have migrated, the pressure on Northern Qi from that side has immediately lessened. I have no choice but to keep an eye on the North.”

Fan Xian immediately understood. The Emperor’s gaze had indeed moved much faster than his. In this world, only the Northern Qi truly dared to be an enemy of Qing Kingdom. Particularly now that the Northern savages had gone and Northern Qi no longer had fears of trouble to their rear, who knew whether or not the little Emperor would have some ideas.

In the end, the Emperor slowly said, “Xiaoyi is returning to the North within a day because that little Emperor in the North finally persuaded the empress dower to let Shang Shanhu rise again. The great camp is directly pointing at Yanjing.”

Shock appeared in Fan Xian’s eyes and was immediately restrained.

Inside the black carriage outside the Palace, Fan Xian rubbed the spot between his brows and felt a bit unwell. For one, he was excessively tired. For two, he had heard too much bad news today in the Palace. Just as the Emperor said, without a few years of rest and recovery, it was impossible for Xi Hu to be a true threat to Qing Kingdom. However, in Northern Qi, Shang Shanhu was coming out again.

Shang Shanhu. Fan Xian’s head began to ache when he thought of this name. Although he had not personally witnessed the assassination that rainy night on Chang Street, he had always deeply understood the power of that famous general.

Could Yan Xiaoyi going North hold back Shang Shanhu? Furthermore, brother Xiaoyi was newly in morning, and his heart may gradually grow distant from the court. Was the Emperor not worried that Yan Xiaoyi might be crazy and defect to the enemy?

As to why Fan Xian was so cautious about Shang Shanhu’s re-involvement, the reason was actually very simple. In Shangjing, he had viciously tricked Shang Shanhu once and caused the tragic deaths of countless of his subordinates. The cry of “Fan Xian is my murderer,” in the depths of the night might still be echoing in Northern Qi’s Shangjing. Furthermore, Shang Shanhu’s godfather was Xiao En, who had been captured repeatedly by him, and killed repeatedly.

In this matter, it was Fan Xian who was Shang Shanhu’s greatest enemy. Shen Zhong played only a small role, yet in order to get revenge, Shang Shanhu killed Shen Zhong one rainy night. In the future, if they were really to meet on the battlefield, how would Shang Shanhu deal with him?

In the carriage. Fan Xian sorrowfully thought, under heaven, how could he have so many enemies?