Joy of Life - Chapter 475 - Unexpected But Attained[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:49:20]
Chapter 475: Unexpected But Attained
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
It was impossible for Fan Xian to be disguised as an unhygienic commoner and stand guard outside the imperial relative’s manor 18 days. He was only there with Wang Qinian to confirm that the chain had progressed as they had calculated. He did not intend to continue investigating down this chain.
It was the seventh, and he would confirm things with Hong Zhu on the 20th. At the beginning of February, he would leave Jingdou and head out once more to Jiangnan. He knew that there was very little time and impossible to truly find patterns. All he could depend on was Wang Qinian’s extraordinary tracking ability.
After confirming the target, the two of them left the door of the imperial relative and returned to the back door of the courtyard in the old city. Although Fan Xian was interested in seeing Wang Qinian’s daily life, he was truly too short on time these days. He didn’t have much time to enjoy life, so he waved his hand and climbed into the carriage.
All of his equipment was left on this black carriage. He took off his outer layer, inspected the crossbow in his sleeve and medicinal pouch, and then took out a makeup box and carefully applied it to his face. He used the Overwatch Council’s special glue to glue down the corner of his brows.
Immediately, the distance between his eyes and brows changed. He then added a few unremarkable moles on his jaw. The elegant and beautiful young master immediately became an unremarkable passerby.
The carriage stopped outside the Lotus Pond Square in the west of the city. However, Fan Xian had already disembarked from the carriage and merged into the chaotic group of people in the west of the city.
The area of the west part of Jingdou was not very big compared to other parts of the city. It wasn’t wealthy enough, peaceful enough, or noble enough. Particularly around the lotus pond here, it was a poor area. For the people who lived here, their main concern each day was how to survive. Only when there was food in their homes would people consider things like etiquette and virtues. The people living around here were not more likely to stand out from the chaos because of the name “Lotus Pond Square.” On the contrary, all kinds of people mingled together and all kinds of shady deals happened there.
Passerby Fan Xian used the rain hood on the back of his clothes to block the little snowflakes falling from the sky. He stepped into the mud in the alley with a dark look on his face and headed into the depths of the Lotus Pond Square. His expression did not attract anyone’s attention in the lotus pond. The commoners and shopkeepers in the stalls didn’t bother to give him a second glance.
There were too many sinister faces in the square because there were many people involved in organized crime. They couldn’t always collect the debt they were owed, and not everyone always escaped when the Jingdou government came to seize them. The brothers in organized crime were loyal and vicious. Their tempers were also explosive, so it was common for them to be gloomy.
Passing through a narrow alley with broken eaves extending outward, Fan Xian once again stood surrounded by prostitutes standing on the street. Fortunately, it was still early. Although the dedicated prostitutes were standing outside already, the shoddy makeup on their faces and endless yawns clearly demonstrated their low stamina. Fan Xian once again extricated himself and burrowed into a little wooden building on a back street, looking for his target location.
The little wooden room was filled with a disgusting smell. The moment Fan Xian entered through the door, he couldn’t help but rub his nose. He still didn’t remove the hat from his head. He directly sat down beside the bed and removed a token of trust from his clothes and handed it to the wary cripple on the bed.
The cripple could still move his hands. He gazed at this unexpected guest with a face full of anxiousness and accepted the token. After looking at it closely for a while, he said in a low voice, “Since you are one of us, why would you come so impudently?”
Fan Xian didn’t have time to talk about such things and straightforwardly said, “What good things have come out from there recently?”
The color of the cripple’s face changed. He didn’t know just who this hateful person was in the gang to ask so directly. Since the other party knew about this matter that could lose them their heads, he must be a trusted aide or something of the gang boss.
He felt around for a long time in the smelly blanket and took out countless boxes. Fan Xian opened each and looked at them closely. His face still wore the spiritless expression. It was clear that he was not very pleased.
The cripple looked at his expression and shook his head. He dug around for a while in the porcelain pillow under his neck and finally found half a jade pendant that he handed over.
Fan Xian accepted the jade pendant and looked at it closely. The color of this piece of jade was warm and good. It was truly a treasure. Furthermore, the cloud inscriptions on it clearly showed it as something used by the imperial family. He nodded his head, pleased. “Not bad. For this kind of good thing, the more the better.”
The cripple smiled proudly. Fan Xian also smiled internally. He knew that the cripple in front of him was not as pitiful as he appeared on the surface.
Jingdou was a place where the distinguished and wealthy gathered, particularly in the Royal Palace. Tens and thousands of people supported the Emperor and various nobles while the eunuchs and serving girls who served the Emperor and the nobles would often secretly steal things out to repay citizens in the darkness.
The Palace was like this, and each of the major manors were like this as well. Furthermore, there was a great deal of shady silver and treasures that needed to be laundered and changed into the land deeds for each province. This type of work could only be done by those professionals in the lower levels.
The underworld had such professionals, so every gang that had some power under heaven left a small branch in Jingdou. These jianghu people didn’t dare oppose the court, but they had no compunction about being the court’s sewer and earning some loose silver.
Since the jianghu people strangely stayed within their bounds, up until now, Jingdou still did not have any well-known organized crime syndicates. The Helou Gang was an unremarkable gang responsible for collecting things smuggled out of the Royal Palace. Fan Xian had talked a great deal with Xia Qifei while he was in Hangzhou and had some understanding of these powers in the dark. Only then did he learn that the Helou Gang had a secret passageway in the Palace. He couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of respect. It also influenced his trip to Lotus Pond Square.
This cripple was responsible for the first link in Helou Gang’s smuggling in Jingdou. These people were doing something that could result in their entire families being killed, so they were very careful. Each link was not connected, and the people picking up the goods often changed. This was what gave Fan Xian a precious opportunity.
As for that token of trust, it was something the Overwatch Council had prepared many years ago.
The cripple looked at his pleased smile and proudly said, “Apparently this was something the previous Emperor gifted to the empress dowager. However, something happened later and, for some reason, it returned to the Eastern Palace. This took quite some effort to get.”
Fan Xian’s heart jumped and he smiled. “Nobles don’t know about these little things. They just casually leave them in storage and won’t think to use them for decades.”
The cripple sighed with feeling and said, “Exactly. If this piece of jade was sold in Jiangnan and taken to Jiangbei to buy land, it could probably buy almost a square kilometer of land.”
Fan Xian didn’t want to commiserate with him anymore and said, “First time making a deal, I don’t know the rules.”
He said it very directly and, on the contrary, didn’t arouse the cripple’s suspicions. From under his blanket, he took out an account book. He pointed at the empty space that said first-class wine and said, “Here.”
Fan Xian smiled. “You cripples sure can hide things under the blanket.”
The crippled muttered something. He seemed to be remembering past events. He was following the gang boss and fighting all over the place, but then he was struck and crippled. The gang boss took pity on him and allowed him to come to Jingdou to handle matters.
Fan Xian didn’t know many stories about Helou Gang, so he didn’t respond. After he signed, using his already altered handwriting, he took out and handed over a bank note. “The first week is 30 percent, right? Don’t rip me off.”
The cripple looked at the 1,000 liang banknote and nodded. “About that much. Although this piece of jade is certainly worth more than this price. It is, after all, a taboo object, so it can only be sold at a discount.”
Having completed everything, Fan Xian put the piece of jade away carefully and walked out of the dark room without saying anything more.
Walking on the mud-stained streets in the Lotus Pond Square, the sky remained dark and gloomy. Meanwhile, Fan Xian’s dark mood caused by that matter had instead relaxed. He had already thought through how the entire thing should be done. Although this plan was indeed rather complicated, roundabout, and irritating, Fan Xian had no other way. In order to ensure Hong Zhu’s safety and that he would always stay behind the scene, he had to go round and round to get close to the truth and expose it.
He had a plan. Although he didn’t know whether or not there would be problems, it was much better than a few days ago when he was faced with a basin of braised pig feet with no good place to bite down into.
He had thought through the entire process. All that was left was for Hong Zhu to operate it. Of course, it required the Emperor to truly be as sensitive and suspicious, and as full of imagination and wisdom that Fan Xian guessed him to be.
Just as the Eldest Princess and Fan Xian always thought, the Qing Emperor was indeed a sensitive and suspicious person. As someone who had stood at the peak of politics for a long time, he would always think the worst of any plot and display his wisdom. Thus, the more Fan Xian thought of it, the more relaxed he became. He felt that the Emperor would be properly played by him this time.
To be able to trap others, yet not have himself involved, made Fan Xian feel a rare thread of pride. Although he was a ninth-level ace with great power in hand, he still maintained a peaceful state of mind. However, he just couldn’t suppress the pride he felt.
Ever since entering the Overwatch Council, he had always been very weak in terms of schemes and plots. In the past, he had Yan Bingyun helping, so nothing seemed wrong. However, after the Jiaozhou incident, Chen Pingping viciously scolded him and showed great disdain for his ability to craft schemes. So, now, Fan Xian truly felt very proud. The more he thought about it, the prouder he felt.
As he was feeling proud, he saw a disappointed person under the exit sign for Lotus Pond Square.
Fan Xian looked at the blue-cloth covered table under the sign and at the businessman shouting loudly with snow on his head and couldn’t help but stare in a daze. He stopped his steps, hid behind a group of people, and took a closer look.
It was a litigation master. He was calling out to solicit business. His face was very pale. It seemed like there was something wrong with his body. Even his voice seemed rather weak.
Fan Xian lowered his head slightly and allowed the rain hood to hide much of his face. He narrowed his face and looked at that person. A strange feeling grew in his heart.
The litigation master’s business was not very good. There wasn’t even anyone asking him to write court suits for them much less coming forward to ask about lawsuits. Furthermore, the commoners who seemed to vaguely know the inside story were all giving the blue-cloth table a wide berth as if afraid of being stained by some bad luck.
Fan Xian furrowed his brows and left Lotus Pond Square.
About half an hour later, he was in an elegant room in a normal restaurant. Fan Xian’s face was full of smiles. He pushed a dish beside him to across the table and said, “Eat slowly, and talk slowly. Why are you like this now?”
The person sitting opposite him was the litigation master from Lotus Pond Square. It was the litigation master who fought Fan Xian in his first lawsuit in Jingdou and who was later kidnapped by Fan Xian to Jiangnan and did well in fighting the lawsuit on Fan Xian’s behalf against the Ming family—Song Shiren.
Song Shiren had a bandit name, Fu Zu’er, and also titled himself as the best litigation master in the world. He had walked counter to the law. Otherwise, why would he have sunk to such level as to lay out a store on the street? At the time, Fan Xian had felt very shocked when he saw him on the street. It was only later he had his subordinate go invite him here. However, he didn’t dare go to Baoyue Brothel.
He narrowed his eyes and looked at the dejected litigation master. Although he had guessed some things, he still couldn’t resist opening his mouth to ask about the other party’s recent situation.
Song Shiren didn’t eat any food. He only slurped up a mouthful of rice wine. He gazed deeply at Fan Xian, sighed, and laughed bitterly, but didn’t say a single word.
“Speak. Is it related to me?” Fan Xian asked.
Song Shiren sighed again and said, a moment later, “Since you have guessed, I don’t have to be worried about showing my shame. After I got back from Jiangnan, Tongren Street and other people all knew of my grandness in Jiangnan. I rose in their esteem slightly. They also knew that I was working for you, so they all nodded to me and bowed. However, the wind changed directions. For some reason, no one asked me to argue a lawsuit for them. Even those friends who were usually close to me gradually distanced themselves.”
“Don’t know for what reason?” Fan Xian sighed. “We both know the reason.”
Song Shiren laughed bitterly. “Even if I know, am I going to lament my grievance everywhere?”
Fan Xian fell silent and listened to Song Shiren’s cold and sorrowful story. Only then did he know that in these following months, how wretchedly the once greatest litigation master in the world had been living.
It was not only the problem of not being able to earn money. It seemed that in a flash, the entire Qing Kingdom bureaucratic institution began to target Song Shiren. The Jingdou government, Ministry of Justice, and even the Ministry of Rites and Taichang Temple, came to make trouble for him. In any case, they used all kinds of excuses and stripped away his property like a storm. No matter how clever Song Shiren could argue and debate, how could he stand against the unreasonable ways of the court? Furthermore, the noble figures he was familiar with in the past now uttered not a sound. They seemed afraid of the person behind the scenes who was punishing Song Shiren.
Song Shiren could only take his family and rent in a place like Lotus Pond Square. His life could be described as extremely wretched.
Fan Xian met his eyes. They shook their heads at the same time. Both of them were well aware the reason for all of this.
Song Shiren helped Fan Xian fight the Ming family case in Jiangnan. Putting aside how much he helped Fan Xian, most importantly, through Song Shiren’s mouth, he completely broke and destroyed the idea—not written into Qing law but just a holy law ingrained in people’s hearts—of the heir’s natural and immutable right to inheritance, which was drafted by Fan Xian.
This had broken a huge taboo in the Palace. The empress dowager quietly said a few words, so there were countless people thinking of ways to have Song Shiren shut his mouth.
This was a very profound lesson.
“At least I’m fine.” Song Shiren rubbed his neck with lingering fear. “To be able to survive is already the heavens taking pity on me.”
Fan Xian knew that the only reason Song Shiren was not killed was because the nobility in the palace still gave him some face. He couldn’t help smiling self-mockingly and said, “Even if no one dared to help you…why didn’t you come find me? When all is said and done, it was me who hurt you in this matter. If you came to me for help, I would have to try at least.”
Song Shiren laughed bitterly. “I fought a lawsuit for you and almost ended up destitute and homeless. How could I dare to bring you more trouble?”
Fan Xian knew that his words did not match his thoughts. He was worried that if he approached him, he would instead be met with more disasters. He looked at Song Shiren and smiled. “Don’t worry about anything.”
He took out a banknote and handed it over. Song Shiren raised his eyes and looked at the terrifying number on the first topmost note and couldn’t help jumping in fright. Although he was someone who had seen something of the world, to give out so much silver at once made him a little afraid to accept it.
Fan Xian said, “I will immediately arrange for your entire family to leave Jingdou. You don’t have to worry about problems with safety. Take this money to use, for now. Consider it my compensation to you.”
Song Shiren was silent for a long time and didn’t say anything.
Fan Xian glanced at him and said, “Relax, if I wanted to kill you to escape calamity, I would have done it long ago in Jiangnan. You know that I’ve never shied away from killing a few people…you have to understand my personality. As long as someone has helped me, I will protect them and give them sufficient compensation.”
“The resentment in the Palace will fade in a few days,” Fan Xian pointed out and said. “At that time, as long as I am protecting you, who would dare to touch you?”
The 10th day of the first month was also known as the final 10th and considered a relatively important day of the year. Although there wouldn’t be as many people going out as on the seventh, the streets were still very lively. Having planned everything, Fan Xian appeared particularly relaxed. He took Wan’er and wandered through Jingdou in the carriage for half a day. Under the endless urging of his wife and Teng Zijing, he changed the route and drove directly toward Prince Heqing’s manor not far from the Royal Palace.
The doors of Prince Heqing’s manor were wide open, but there were not many visitors. At this moment, the Great Prince was standing on the stone steps waiting for Fan manor’s carriage.
The carriage stopped outside the manor door. The Great Prince gazed at Fan Xian with a cold smile. “You’ve come so late, don’t you dare slip out early later.”