Joy of Life - Chapter 484 - Attitude Determines Everything[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:49:23]
Chapter 484: Attitude Determines Everything
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The talent of an actor was directly proportional to the size of the lie, which was directly proportional to the magnitude of the benefit. This was something Fan Xian deeply believed in. In court, each of them probed for the ownership of that chair. This was the greatest interest in the world. Even if the Crown Prince told him a huge lie, it wouldn’t be strange.
The problem was that Fan Xian had no way of knowing how much truth or lie was in the Crown Prince’s words. If he was in the Crown Prince’s position, would he make such a promise? What about what happened in the past?
Given the Crown Prince’s innate position and the empress dowager’s favoritism, as well as his secret connection to the Eldest Princess, if he also obtained the support of Fan Xian with the Overwatch Council and palace treasury, no one would be able to obstruct his future ascension to the throne. If he could find a way to gain Fan Xian’s support, the Crown Prince might be able to make a sufficient sacrifice.
Given Fan Xian’s life experience and knowledge, he didn’t think such an exchange could happen. Unless the Crown Prince truly became someone without a father or mother, or if he really did become such a person, how could Fan Xian sit equally with him?
He and the Crown Prince chatted warmly. Occasionally, he would think of when he first arrived in Jingdou and the kind attitude with which this Crown Prince of the Eastern Palace had treated him. This made the cloud of complicated emotions in his heart even thicker.
“Is Sister Wan’er well?”
After walking in the Royal Palace for this long, it just happened that it was the Crown Prince who was the first to directly ask about Wan’er.
Fan Xian smiled. His mind was a bit distracted. He answered the Crown Prince haltingly, but his eyes were on the other person’s face, looking at him intently. Gradually, he noticed details he didn’t usually see.
The Crown Prince was very lonely and pitiful.
The sun was already setting as he walked out of the Eastern Palace. The light dusky red light shone on the red palace walls and gradually spread out, making the cold-resistant short trees around him and the buildings of the Palace covered with a red color, an unlucky red color.
Fan Xian’s hands were behind his back. His expression was calm. He was lost in thought, and his thoughts were focused on the Crown Prince. Just like his feeling in that instant earlier, thinking about it carefully now, Fan Xian realized that, including him, of the five princes, the one who was the most pitiful was actually the Crown Prince. He was only a little older than him. Before he was born, the Ye family had collapsed, but what about the Crown Prince? Four years after the Ye family was destroyed, in the night that Jingdou ran red with blood, the Crown Prince’s maternal family were completely wiped out. His grandfather had died at his own father’s hand. He had lost more family than even himself. From then onward, the Crown Prince had lived alone in the Palace and in a state of constant tension and unease. His only supporters were the empress dowager and empress who loved him.
No, the empress didn’t count. Just as his father said, the reason the Emperor didn’t depose of the empress and didn’t change the heir was because the empress was very stupid and her relatives had already been wiped out. This was a situation the Emperor needed.
The only person the Crown Prince could rely on was the empress dowager. However, because of the environment in the palace and empress’ strong recollections of the past, it caused the Crown Prince’s mediocre and timid personality. He didn’t have friends. It was impossible for him to have friends, so he could only stay silent.
The Emperor did not wish for his heir to stay silent like this forever, so he had picked out the Second Prince in an attempt to sharpen the knife that was the Crown Prince. In the end, he also picked out Fan Xian to bring down the Second Prince and continue testing the Crown Prince.
This was a an abnormal life, and it produced a number of psychological problems.
Silence, ah, silence. If one didn’t explode in silence, one would be perverted by it. It seemed like the Crown Prince had chosen the latter. However, there was no part of him that was originally overly terrifying.
Fan Xian approached the foot of the palace walls and turned his head to look at the fire-like brilliance the majestic Taiji Palace emitted in the light of dusk. He narrowed his eyes slightly and sighed. When did he ever want to stand in opposition to you?
Between the Crown Prince and Second Prince, Fan Xian actually leaned more toward the Crown Prince because he knew the mercilessness beneath the Second Prince’s warm appearance.
Furthermore, he could try to bring the Second Prince down and save the other person’s life, but he could not use the same trick on the Crown Prince because the Crown Prince’s position was too special. He would either ascend through the clouds or bleed out and die.
The Second Prince had to do something to inherit the imperial seat, so he gave Fan Xian too many opportunities. It was the exact opposite for the Crown Prince. He didn’t need to do anything and could not do anything. Only then would he naturally inherit the throne. Once the Crown Prince understood this, he would behave as he had this year with unusual cleverness and calmness, watching everything with cold eyes.
However, calm did not symbolize generosity. If Fan Xian was truly fooled by this illusion and allowed his heart to soften, once the other person ascended to the throne, what would welcome Fan Xian? It would certainly be the empress’ manic quest for revenge and the Eldest Princess’ merciless purge.
At that time, would the Crown Prince still treasure his life?
However, the Second Prince had not retreated from Fan Xian’s attacks, and the Crown Prince had also charged in. He gently squeezed his fists to make his heart cold and unhesitating. He thought to himself, It is not easy for anyone to survive in this world, so don’t blame me.
He glanced back one last time at the seemingly on fire Royal Palace in the dusk and tilted his head slightly. The origin of all of this was actually the middle-aged man sitting on the dragon chair.
Fan Xian suddenly felt a glimmer of elation. He wanted to see what the middle-aged man looked like when he flew into a rage of humiliation. He wanted to break the Emperor’s calm disguise and hurt his heart.
When it was all said and done, everyone was cruel.
The sky was bright with few clouds. Although spring had not yet arrived, the sky had already cleared. On the two sides of the official road outside the Jingdou city gates, winter trees reached into the air with scraggly branches and scared those far away from home.
A group of black carriages filed out from inside the city gates and lined up on the side of the road. At the same time, they waited for the large group of people ahead to disperse.
A young man lifted the curtain and came out. Standing under the shade erected in front of the carriage, he looked in that direction. He furrowed his brows slightly and muttered to himself, “What is it now?”
The young man was Fan Xian, and the time of year was already entering February. He could no longer find any more reasons to stay in Jingdou. In these circumstances, he knew that it was better for him to be as far away from Jingdou as possible. Only then would he not be dragged under in the aftermath of the event. However, Sisi’s pregnancy was something that gave him a headache. The manor discussed this thoroughly and decided to have Wan’er stay in Jingdou to look after her and have him return to Jiangnan alone.
This was the day he left Jingdou. Having learned from his previous experience, he didn’t tell many people. Even the young scholars in the Imperial College didn’t hear about it. The leaving this time appeared to be relatively quiet and a bit lonelier.
Fan Xian looked at the Qing soldiers ahead who were gathering into groups and furrowed his brows slightly.
In a short while, a few riders detached from the more emotional military send off. These riders headed directly back and rode toward Fan Xian’s group of carriages with the clip-clop of horse hooves. Fan Xian smiled slightly and dismounted the carriage to wait.
The lead rider was a military official wearing a cotton coat and light armor. He looked very heroic. Behind him were a few of his deputies.
The military official rode to a stop in front of Fan Xian, slapped his whip, and dismounted. His movements were smooth and agile. It was only after he took off his helmet and revealed the handsome and gentle face did one realize that this was actually King Jing’s heir, Li Hongcheng.
“Who would have thought that we would be leaving the capital at the same time?” Li Hongcheng patted Fan Xian heavily on the shoulder and smiled.
Fan Xian shook his head and sighed. “You were fine staying in Jingdou. Why enter the military? For men in this world, of course, we have to work for merit, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be on the battlefield. If the master hadn’t told me, I wouldn’t even know you had such plans.”
Qing Kingdom had conquered their lands on horseback, and the people’s customs were simple and valiant. Even members of the royal family learned horse riding and martial arts from a young age. From the previous generation, they were used to joining the army and going on expeditions. In this generation, the Great Prince was a model figure. Starting from the position of a minor military officer, he had climbed his way up the position of an important general.
Li Hongcheng was silent for a moment and then said, “As you know, if I stay in Jingdou, father will continue to shut me up in the manor. There is little difference between that and sitting in prison. I would rather go West and fight with the strange Hu people than suffer such treatment.”
Fan Xian was silent for a long time. He then raised his head and slowly said, “You have to be careful, otherwise I’ll feel apologetic.”
“If I can make you feel guilty, this expedition will have been worth it.” Li Hongcheng was slightly startled and laughed. “During a lifetime, one always has to find a few goals. My entry into the Western expedition troops this time is also to fulfill a childhood dream.”
Fan Xian said, “I had no idea you had such dreams. I had always thought that your dreams were on the pleasure boats…”
The two of them laughed. Aware that there were still a number of other people around them, it was not convenient to talk more deeply. Li Hongcheng led his horse by the reins and walked shoulder to shoulder with Fan Xian. They came to a slope below the official roads. Here, the branches of the leafless trees grew denser and split the dim sunlight from the sky into pieces of severe cold.
Silence. No one could hear the conversation between them.
Li Hongcheng was silent for a moment. A relaxed smile gradually rose to his face. He said without restraint, “The events of these two years have made me understand…in Jingdou, I cannot beat you and neither can the Second Prince…this is good. I’ll leave Jingdou for you to play in, and I’ll go West.”
Fan Xian forced a smile and didn’t know what to say. A moment later, he sincerely said, “Your path to Xi Lake is far and dangerous. You have to be careful…although gaining merit in the military is a direct path, it is very dangerous. Although the Great Prince now holds great military power in his hands, you know how hard it was for the first few years in the West.”
Li Hongcheng nodded his head thoughtfully and said, “Since I have joined the military, I have prepared myself. Father is also clear about my thoughts, otherwise, he wouldn’t have given his consent.”
The so-called thought was that he had truly decided he was going to leave the sickening and dangerous competition in Jingdou. However, Fan Xian remembered that the head of the Western expedition this time was still the Ye family, the Second Prince’s father-in-law’s family, and couldn’t help feeling a bit strange. He looked at Li Hongcheng’s face and resisted again and again. In the end, he couldn’t resist. He opened his mouth and said, “Ye Zhong…is the Second Prince’s father-in-law. Since you’ve decided to not participate in the matters in the capital…”
He hadn’t even finished his reminder when Li Hongcheng had already waved his hand to stop his words. He calmly said, “Relax. I will do what I promised you. I am not a stupid person…however…” he smiled. “You seem a bit overly clever. Thus, it is very difficult for people like me to find an opportunity to show our abilities. Particularly in the past two years, you used father to keep me in place. If I don’t lower my head to you, I would probably still be under house arrest.”
Fan Xian laughed bitterly. “It’s not me using King Jing to suppress you, it’s King Jing using me to suppress you. You have to be clear on this point.”
“It’s all the same.” Li Hongcheng sighed. “In any case, father and you both think the same. Since it is so, why should I struggle forcefully? It will be good to go West this time. Presumably the blood and fire on the battlefield will be more direct.”
He suddenly fell silent. Looking into Fan Xian’s eyes he said, sincerely, “I’ve always been close to the Second Prince…there is something I must beg of you.”
“Beg” seemed too heavy of a word. Fan Xian immediately guessed what he wanted to say and got in first by furrowing his brows and saying, “I am just an official. There are things that I cannot be the master of. Furthermore, who can be sure of all the victories and losses? There is no need to speak of such things before they happen.”
Li Hongcheng shook his head calmly. “You won’t let me talk first because you’re worried you won’t be able to promise me anything. What you said about victory and loss being uncertain is true. No matter how you look at it, it’s impossible for you to defeat them within a few short years. For some reason, I just think you will be victorious in the end.”
“You flatter me.” Fan Xian forced a smile.
“Don’t forget, he is your brother after all…your true brother,” Li Hongcheng looked into his eyes and said. “If such a day really came, I hope you will be able to give him a way out.”
“You overestimate me too much.” Fan Xian turned his body slightly and looked to the side of Jingdou. He calmly said, “He is a prince. No matter how powerful we are as officials, it is impossible for us to determine his life and death. Furthermore, you ask me to give him a way out. If one day, the Second Prince captured me, would he give me a way out?”
His tone gradually became cold. “I have given the Second Prince enough time to consider. You know that in the past year or so why I’ve shaved off his wings, but he won’t do it. His heart is too big, so big that he can’t control it. Since it is so, if I continue to overly restrain myself, then I’m courting death.”
Li Hongcheng slowly lowered his head and said, “When he was 10, he was forced into the competition for the line of succession. After all these years, it has become his immutable life goal. Even if there is just him left, he still won’t give up.”
“That is exactly right.” Fan Xian’s face gradually became cold. He raised his right arm and pointed in the direction he was facing. “If you walk a dozen li this way, there is the Fan family’s country estate. Do you know what is over there?”
Li Hongcheng glanced at him.
“Four people are buried there,” Fan Xian lowered his arm and said. “Four of the Fan family’s guards are buried there. They were the four guards who followed me everywhere after I entered the capital. They were killed on Niulan Street.”
He continued, “The attack on Niulan Street was the Eldest Princess’ idea, and it was arranged by the Second Prince. Although you were being used by someone, you also cannot deny that, no matter how you look at it, you were an accomplice. It was from that day on that I swore that if there was anyone else who wanted to kill me in Jingdou, I would not show any mercy to them.”
“In these three years, too many people have already died. I’ve lost many people on my side and many people have died on his side too. Our hatred has long become the fresh blood in the mud, impossible to wash clean. Since the Second Prince thinks he can continue to wait with the Ye family’s help, then I will wait with him.”
Fan Xian turned his head to look at Li Hongcheng and slowly said, “Since the Second Prince refuses to back out, then this matter has already become one of life and death. You want me to show him mercy, but have you thought that this would be the same as harming my own life? Have you thought that making such a request of me is very unfair?”
Very unfair… Li Hongcheng laughed self-mockingly and then sighed again. “I just hope this matter can be peacefully concluded.”
“It will depend on the Crown Prince and the Second Prince’s intentions!” Fan Xian said a line very similar to what the Emperor said. “I am just a knife in the Emperor’s hand. If you want things to conclude peacefully, we’ll have to see how these two behave in front of the Emperor.”
He paused and suddenly felt that in this moment of separation, speaking so merciless toward Hongcheng was a bit too harsh. He couldn’t but help shake his head and soften his tone. “By going West and not stopping between the Second Prince and myself is a very wise decision. Standing where I am, I have to thank you.”
“What is there to thank?” Li Hongcheng laughed bitterly. “Are you thanking me for running away so that you won’t feel reluctance when you swing your knife in the future?”
Both of them smiled.
Seeing Li Hongcheng’s hand holding the reins, Fan Xian’s heart jumped. He said for the third time, “The going West will be difficult. You have to be careful.”
Li Hongcheng was silent for a long time and then nodded gently. He vaulted onto his horse and turned back to gaze Fan Xian for a moment. He quietly said, “If I die in the West, remember to quickly tell Ruoruo of my death. Once I’m dead, she won’t need to hide in the North anymore. After all, it is a foreign land. It is incomparable to home.”
Fan Xian knew that he had guessed at his sister’s true reason for studying abroad and couldn’t help a feeling of shame welling in his heart. He raised his hands in a salute and forced himself to scold, “Come back alive.”
Li Hongcheng laughed loudly and cracked his whip in the air. His horse charged up the slope. Leading the other three riders, he rode directly West along the official road, sending up plumes of dust.
Fan Xian watched this sight with narrowed eyes and secretly prayed for Hongcheng’s safety.
At dusk, the Overwatch Council carriages heading to Jiangnan once again passed through the little valley where the attack happened. As they drove along, they could still see the marks left by the battle on the mountain rocks. Fan Xian licked his slightly dry lips as a powerful murderous intent welled in his heart. His trip to Jiangnan this time was to wrap things up. After he had settled everything, he would think of a way to chop off the head of the cabbage planting old man in the Qin family.
Ever since Qin Heng had been transferred to be a Deputy at the Bureau of Military Affairs and lost his position in the Jingdou garrison, the old Qin master still, as usual, did not attend court. Fan Xian had not gone to the Qin family this year to wish them a happy New Year, he only sent a generous gift. It was likely that the other party didn’t know that Fan Xian had already guessed the true identity of the culprit behind the attack in the valley.
At this moment, Fan Xian was calculating what plans the Emperor had. Using the attack in the valley, a few important positions in court had been replaced by new people. He had successfully carried out his plan to replace the old with the new. However, the Qin and Ye families’ were still very powerful in the military. The Emperor was certainly not pleased with this situation.
What exactly will the Emperor do then? Fan Xian often asked himself this. If he sat on that dragon chair, the transfer and purge in the military would be done more decisively rather than the small scale it was happening on right now, which continued to give the elders in the military sufficient opportunities to move.
Perhaps the sudden advance in Xi Lake had completely wrecked all of the Emperor’s plans, or perhaps the Northern Qi Emperor’s clever use of Shang Shanhu forced the Emperor to unwillingly temporarily pay attention to Yan Xiaoyi.
Of Qing Kingdom’s seven roads of elite soldiers, four had yet to come. The core generals that the Great Prince had nurtured during the Western expedition had not had a battlefield to demonstrate their ability. Did they need to take the Qin, Ye, and Yan three factions so seriously?
Fan Xian shook his head and faintly guessed at some of the possibilities, such as showing weakness or luring them in like a prostitute. However, this kind of plan was too absurd and careless. Even someone as presumptuous as Fan Xian wouldn’t believe that the Emperor did not care about the existence of Qing Kingdom and make such a plan.
The group of carriages drove through the valley and went forward a few more li. They then met up with the 500 Black Knights. Wearing the silver mask, Jing Ge came forward to greet Fan Xian. He then silently retreated back among the Black Knights. With 500 Black Knights scouting around, no faction was able to threaten Fan Xian’s safety within the Qing Kingdom outback.
Fan Xian’s heart suddenly jumped. He furrowed his brows slightly and then gently clapped his hands.
The carriage moved slightly. A normal official of the Overwatch Council lifted the curtain and walked in. Fan Xian glanced at him and said, with admiration, “No wonder you are the best assassin in the world, your skill with disguises is indeed much better than mine.”
The Shadow didn’t smile and said in a dead voice, “What orders do you have?”
“Go back to the capital.” Fan Xian stared into his eyes and used a tone of voice that allowed no questions. “Immediately return to the Director side. From now onward, don’t leave his side at all. You must ensure his safety.”
The Shadow furrowed his forehead. He had personally been sent by Chen Pingping to Fan Xian’s side, unexpectedly. Now, Fan Xian was suddenly asking him to return to Chen Pingping’s side. Fan Xian didn’t explain anything and directly said, “You know my strength. He is a cripple as you know, so go.”
The Shadow thought for a bit and nodded. In a moment, he had left the main group of carriages. He dissolved into a streak of black shadow and quickly flew through the valley toward Jingdou.
After Fan Xian confirmed that the Shadow had returned to Chen Pingping’s side, his tightly strung heart finally relaxed. For some reason, he felt uneasy about leaving the capital. If it were just the matter of the Crown Prince, it would be a threat to the old cripple’s safety. However, Fan Xian felt that something major and beyond his imagination would happen in Jingdou.
Once the major event happened, the people in the Palace would know of the hidden power at his father’s side. Furthermore, his father had always hidden it well so that if there was any movement in Jingdou, he would not be a leading target.
Chen Pingping was not the same. If something major happened, the first thing those people would do would be to gather all their forces and exhaust all their means to kill him, the Emperor’s most reliable old dog.
This was a true logic proved in the decades of unrest in the mainland. If one wanted to kill the Qing Emperor, they had to first kill Chen Pingping.
Although Fan Xian knew how powerful and shrewd the old Director was and how terrifyingly powerful the guards outside Chen Garden were, without the Shadow at his side, Fan Xian was still uneasy.
The carriage went south past the hills beside Wei River, past the mountains in Jiangbei, across the Great River, and through the newly built riverbanks to arrive near Yingzhou. One branch of the river transport yamen was set there.
That night, Fan Xian didn’t summon his student Yang Wanli to visit him. For one, he wanted to personally see how Wanli was doing. Second, he urgently needed to check the council reports that came from Jingdou these few days and the news the Jiangnan water bandits had sent over.
Fan Xian sat by the table and read the files by the faint lantern light. He couldn’t resist laughing self-mockingly. Perhaps he had stayed for too long in dangerous areas as to become slightly over-sensitive. Given the Qing Emperor’s supreme prestige among the people and military, and the steady loyalty in the Qing court system, who in this world would rebel?
In the depths of the night, the sound of night watches came from the streets. Fan Xian had already come out of the inn alone. He wore black night-traveling clothes to hide his appearance.
Since the big picture had yet to move, his little matters had to begin.
In a broken-down temple outside the city, Fan Xian found that green banner and saw Thirteenth Wang below the banner looking in a daze at the statue.
“I am very pleased about the matter with the little arrow brother.”
Fan Xian sat opposite him and smiled slightly, “However, I heard you were injured. You seem to have recovered well.”
Thirteenth Wang forced a smile and said, “My body may be sturdier than others.”
“It’s great that it’s sturdy because I am immediately going to have you do something,” Fan Xian smiled and said. “I will slowly go back to Hangzhou and Suzhou, but you need to go first and meet up with someone. Then, you have to go out on my behalf and help me collect some debt.”
“Yes.” Fan Xian sighed. “A large amount of money.”
Thirteenth Wang glanced at him. “I can’t help you with the Ming family. You know that my brother disciple Yun has been watching there.”
“Nonsense. If Yu Zhilan wasn’t keeping an eye out, why would I have you go?” Fan Xian smiled. “This is a business matter. I don’t want to fight with Dongyi, so it is more appropriate for you to show your face.”
Thirteenth Wang forced a laugh and said, “I am just expressing my master’s attitude. It doesn’t mean that I will represent him to subdue brother disciple Yun.”
“I am also not stupid enough to believe that Dongyi would have internal strife.” Fan Xian shook his head and looked at the green banner beside him. “However, I am the owner of this account…but it’s not convenient for me to show my face, and the same applies to my students and subordinates. I had originally thought to use a random stranger to do this, but I am also afraid that the Ming family might panic and kill the stranger. You are highly skilled, so, naturally, you don’t have to be afraid of these vulgar threats on your life.”
Thirteenth Wang said, with shock, “Why do you trust me so much? Are you not worried I will steal this account? Are you not worried I will tell everything to the Ming family?”
“You won’t be able to steal it. You are just going to imitate a professional manager.” Fan Xian didn’t care that he couldn’t understand these new words. “As for the Ming family, I’ve already throttled them. I just need you to go and tighten the rope.”
Thirteenth Wang sighed sorrowfully and said, “Sir Fan junior, I am not your assassin.”
“Attitude.” Fan Xian smiled consolingly. “Attitude determines everything. Since your master wants to stay neutral, then he needs to demonstrate his attitude more clearly. Otherwise, after the Ming family falls, I cannot promise whether or not the channel for goods heading East is free flowing.”
“If the channel East is not free flowing, those who suffer a loss include your Qing Kingdom.” Thirteenth Wang didn’t like being threatened by others.
Fan Xian said, seriously, “Qing Kingdom belongs to the Emperor not me, so I don’t care about suffering a loss. However, Dongyi is your master’s, so he cares about suffering a loss. This is the biggest difference.”