Joy of Life - Chapter 543 - Drawing The Dagger In His Shoe For The First Time[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:49:46]
Chapter 543: Drawing The Dagger In His Shoe For The First Time
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
In one night, many people died. The news was like the first frost at the beginning of autumn. It immediately dampened the spirits of the conspirators who had been so excited.
The civil officials struggled to the death in Taiji Palace. The deaths that followed in the night finally made these people understand that battles that implicated the country would never be ended in a gentle manor. Sir Fan junior held the posthumous edict in his hand and had the Overwatch Council below his feet. As long as such a person was not captured, no one would be able to enjoy their wealthy and luxurious lives.
The empress dowager and Crown Prince knew that Fan Xian was showing them his attitude from the darkness. Toward this kind of attitude, they felt uncommonly angry. This kind of attitude was the equivalent of Fan Xian standing in front of them and saying openly, “I have the power to kill anyone I want to kill. I am threatening you.”
This was an immoral action of terrorism. It was forcing the empress dowager and Crown Prince into temporary inaction. They could not act against the Fan family or the dozens of officials in prison. If they did so, who would actually kill who?
From some angles, Fan Xian’s attempt to exacerbate the dilemma was possibly a stupid choice. How could the people in the Palace be threatened by an official? If the empress dowager truly decided to accept the loss and heavy injuries on both sides by bringing the army into the capital, what could Fan Xian do? The Overwatch Council could only execute their magic in the darkness. Once they were faced with a truly powerful army, their only option was to retreat.
For whatever reason, the empress dowager and Crown Prince temporarily chose to stay silent and didn’t proceed with the most ferocious counter-attack.
In the following two days, the Eldest Princess’s side gathered their power and continued to do their best to find a trace of Fan Xian in Jingdou’s streets and alleys. They only managed to break a few of the Overwatch Council’s secret hideouts and kill seven swordsmen of the Sixth Bureau. They still did not capture Fan Xian.
At the first instance, the Jingdou government and members of the Garrison, who were usually stationed in the city, surrounded the Yan manor. After charging into the manor, they only caught a few of the servants of the manor and were not able to catch Yan Ruohai. They didn’t even see a glimpse of Lady Shen’s shadow, much less Sir Yan junior, who was helping Fan Xian in Jingdou secretly contact old members of the Overwatch Council.
The army had not yet entered Jingdou. The other side could only distantly surround and watch the square building beside Tianhe Avenue. They didn’t have the power to charge the Overwatch Council. They were only ensuring that Fan Xian and Yan Bingyun were not able to enter the Council.
The surveillance and encirclement of Prince Heqing’s manor also tightened. No one dared lead soldiers into the manor because everyone was afraid of Fan Xian’s eyes hidden in the darkness.
In just one night, most of the secret agents of the Overwatch Council received a secret order from up high to not return to the yamen to work. They disappeared into the sea of people in Jingdou, hiding their strength and protecting their safety. They returned to the darkness they were most used to.
Around 600 people disappeared like this. The disappearance of these Overwatch Council officials was a direct threat to the nobility in the Royal Palace.
Suddenly, there was no follow-up information about the Crown Prince’s rumored ascension ceremony. Although the Palace had watched the information tightly, the shocking news of over 40 officials being captured and thrown into prison could not be hidden forever.
Gradually, the Jingdou people began to realize the truth of the matter and knew that big trouble had occurred in the Royal Palace. They did not have the power to change history or, at least at this moment, the courage. They could only face all this calmly, close their shops, stock up enough energy and food, return to their humble homes, worm into the blankets, and put their hands together to pray to the heavens to resolve this matter quickly.
It didn’t matter who was Emperor, but there had to be an Emperor.
A never before seen solemnity and desolation appeared on Jingdou’s streets. Even though there was curfew, not many people left their homes in the daylight either.
According to the Eldest Princess’s original plan, the Crown Prince should already have been the new Emperor of Qing Kingdom and felt the people’s unease. Presently, the cause of chaos was still contained within Jingdou. Once it traveled outward and reached the provinces, Qing Kingdom would truly be in chaos.
He had to stabilize everything in the shortest possible time. To do so, he had to find Fan Xian and kill him.
The Crown Prince looked at the mountainous pile of memorials next to him and laughed bitterly, unable to speak for a moment. In just three days, the number of memorials from the various provinces in Qing Kingdom had already reached more than 1,700. Usually, these memorials were spread evenly among the scholars in the Hall of Government Affairs to decide, with the most important matters being given to the Emperor to decide. Other small matters were sent to various departments to handle.
Presently, the scholars were all in the Celestial Prison and the officials in the departments had all sank into chaos. Everyone in Jingdou was in a state of fear. Court politics was gradually becoming stalled. State affairs were in disarray.
Taking down a few memorials from the top of the little mountain, the Crown Prince glanced over it. His pupils gradually became perplexed. These memorials had come the latest. They were from the governors of the other Six Roads after they learned of the Emperor’s assassination.
Although these governors spoke respectfully, the edge hidden within their words was clear.
The Crown Prince sighed and wondered helplessly when the civil officials in Qing Kingdom had become so courageous. He abruptly thought of the dozens of officials in prison with the scholars Hu and Shu as their leaders. They had been in the Celestial Prison for two days and three nights, yet not one mouth had been loosened.
The Palace could not keep waiting. Thus, they had begun to use torture. However, it still did not wear down these officials’ characters. He had even heard that Shu the Scholar had taken the lead in starting a hunger strike.
The Crown Prince rubbed his temples, feeling a powerful headache. Was he going to have to follow his aunt’s intentions and have all these officials killed? What would happen after he killed all of them? Who would handle state affairs? Was he truly going to be an isolated person?
Eunuch Hou suddenly entered the royal study without being announced. He had panic on his face. The Crown Prince raised his head and glanced at him with his eyes slightly narrowed. He knew that Eunuch Hou was his aunt’s trusted aide and someone he could trust.
Eunuch Hou moved close to his ear and said a few words with a pale face.
The Crown Prince was shocked and slammed his palm onto the desk, rocking the memorials to the floor. Gritting his teeth, he said with sinister coldness, “There’s been an assassination attempt on the Third Prince! Who gave you such daring?”
Eunuch Hou’s body shook. He quickly lowered his body. In a sorrowful voice, he said, “It has nothing to do with me, nothing to do with me.”
“Nothing to do with you?” The Crown Prince looked icily into his eyes. “Presently, the entire Palace is managed by you. Without your stretched out hand, how could an assassin have gotten to that part of the Palace?”
“It truly has nothing to do with me,” Eunuch Hong said in a low voice and quickly begged for mercy.
It took the Crown Prince a moment to calm his anger. Waving his sleeve, he headed into the Palace. He wanted to be the Emperor. He wanted to kill Fan Xian. He knew that the Third Prince was Fan Xian’s student and biggest enemy for the throne. He still had not thought to kill the Third Prince because, in his eyes, the Third Prince was still a child.
If something had truly happened to the Third Prince, who knew how crazy the Palace and Jingdou, both of which already could not bear any turmoil, would become. All along the way to the rear of the Palace, the Crown Prince wondered with an ashen expression, Who wanted to kill the Third Prince? Was his aunt using the Third Prince’s death to make him more ruthless? Was the Second Prince using the Third Prince’s death to exacerbate his conflict with the world?
He knew, regardless of which perspective, the Third Prince could not die.
The Crown Prince silent prayed in his heart.
Li Chengping was the Third Prince. His life and death had great impacts, so he had to be prudent. However, the officials in Jingdou did not have such good treatment. Putting aside the officials who had reached the highest positions, who were currently shut up in prison and being tortured, the officials who still managed to continue working in the Six Ministries were also living wretched lives.
There were no leading officials in the Hall of Governmental Affairs managing matters. The officials of the Six Departments still did their best to maintain the running of the country. In the Palace, although the memorials the Crown Prince temporarily annotated did not pass through the royal seal, most of the officials implicitly accepted the Crown Prince’s authority.
The Minister of Revenue Fan Jian was hiding in King Jing’s manor for his life. Minister of Appointments Yan Hangshu was busy arranging for new officials to fill in positions in various departments, building a foundation for the Crown Prince to take the throne. As for the other four ministries, they were all working in a state of fear.
As for those officials who did not have a stable position or had innate problems, they had already been rejected. For those who had deep connections to Fan Xian’s side, they had been cleanly relieved of their positions and kept at home to await questioning.
There was no space left in prison. It had already been filled by the loyalists Fan Xian’s father-in-law had left behind. However, Minister Fan’s connections in court were rather secretive. For the moment, they had not been dug out by the Eldest Princess. Fan Xian himself did not have much power in court. Logically speaking, there shouldn’t be big problems.
Even if they were Fan Xian’s four disciples that everyone knew about, Hou Jichang still held a dangerous responsibility. He was in Jiaozhou watching the movements of the navy and had secret communications with Xu Maocai, ready to act at any time. Cheng Jialin had been sent by Fan Xian to Suzhou and was holding the palace treasury with Su Wenmao. Yang Wanli had already been repairing the riverbanks on the east side in the South for a year. At this moment, Shi Chanli should be in Song Kingdom, continuing his travels as the biggest pimp in the world.
Even if the Eldest Princess wanted to take action against Fan Xian’s four students, she was unable to extend her hand that far before the situation stabilized in Jingdou, while the Crown Prince was unable to ascend the throne and the attitude of six of the governors was unclear.
Unfortunately, it was the beginning of autumn, right after the summer floods. After the water transport governor’s yamen had finished repairing the river bands, following precedent, someone had to be sent back to the capital to ask for silver. The person sent back for silver this was not just anyone, it was Yang Wanli. He had been placed by Fan Xian into the Clear Water Department and had focused all his energies on repairing the riverbanks. He had earned the admiration of everyone in the water transport yamen. In addition, learning of his connection to the Minister of Revenue, he was chosen to return to the capital.
They thought having Yang Wanli return to the court to ask for money would be a very easy matter. However, they had not expected that the Emperor would be assassinated and Yang Wanli’s teacher, Fan Xian, would be cast as the main culprit of the assassination.
After Yang Wanli entered the Ministry of Works, he turned himself in.
He had already been shut in the narrow black room for two days and had suffered endless amounts of torture. His body was covered in scars, but the people in the Ministry of Justice could not open his mouth to obtain a confession concerning Fan Xian.
Yang Wanli was innocent. He did not believe his teacher would do such a wicked thing that angered men and gods. Furthermore, he had no way of knowing where Fan Xian was.
When it was dusk, the internal palace sent someone to escort him. Although his ranking was not enough to enjoy the Celestial Prison, the empress dowager had given him this honor for the sake of his teacher-mentor connection to Fan Xian.
Yang Wanli narrowed his blurry eyes and supported his waist like an old farmer as he walked out from the black room. He felt that his entire body hurt. The scabs on his fingers healed and then split open again, leaking fresh blood anew.
His heart was filled with helplessness. He knew that once he was escorted to the Celestial Prison, he might never see the sky again.
The two guards from the internal court escorted him, scolding him the entire way out. The officials from the Ministry of Works that saw this tragic sight along their journey did not move their eyes. They only twisted their heads and pretended to not have seen it.
The officials knew exactly what had happened two days ago in Taiji Palace. They were not at all surprised by the bloody punishments in the Palace. The Crown Prince wanted to take the throne, so he needed these officials to lower their heads and give in. Until the last step, the Crown Prince would not be willing to kill all the officials. However, in another two days, the Crown Prince would not be able to wait anymore. Then what?
Yang Wanli walked out of the Ministry of Works yamen and boarded the prisoner’s carriage. It drove to a street corner and suddenly stopped. A guard furrowed his brows and stretched his head to have a look. His head had just extended out of the carriage curtains when it fell with a thud.
Looking at the headless body that fell in front of him and the fresh blood surging out of the wound, Yang Wanli’s face abruptly became pale white. His empty stomach felt uncomfortable. Digestive juices welled up. He wanted to throw up.
The other guard at his side gave a cry for help. In his shock, his voice was sealed by a metal drill piercing through the carriage from the outside.
The curtain was lifted aside and revealed Fan Xian’s always calm and handsome face. Fan Xian looked at the shell-shocked Yang Wanli and smiled, “Do you want to come out?”
Turbid tears streamed down his face. He nodded repeatedly as he looked at his teacher. In a trembling voice, he said, “Teacher, it is too risky. I am not worth it for you to do this.”
Fan Xian didn’t have the patience to listen more and pulled him down to board the Overwatch Council’s specially made common carriage. In just a moment, they had disappeared into Jingdou’s quiet streets and alleys before arriving at a secret communication point.
“Tend to your injuries, I didn’t come specially to save you. I was just passing by.” Fan Xian looked at the heavily injured Yang Wanli and sighed. “Of course, if you actually died, I would probably feel bad for a while.”
Fan Xian was not being pretentious. He had actually been passing the Ministry of Works yamen. His goal was further away. That was why he had come to this secret communication point and was looking at Yan Bingyun in front of him as he asked, “Everything is confirmed?”
“The Eldest Princess, the empress dowager, the Crown Prince, and Lady Shu are all in the Palace.” Yan Bingyun looked at him. “Everything is confirmed. As long as the Royal Palace is under control, the major matter is set.”
“The empress dowager really trusts the Great Prince this much?” Fan Xian furrowed his brows. “If I was her, I would have long switched the Great Prince with someone from the old Qin family.”
“Perhaps the empress dowager believes that with the combined surveillance of the internal court, the eunuchs, and guards, no one would be able to rescue Lady Ning.”
“I can.” Fan Xian smiled slightly. “Tonight, I am going to rescue some relatives and lock some relatives away.”
Yan Bingyun smiled, but it was a bit tight.
Fan Xian could see that his expression was unnatural and asked with a frown, “Has something happened in the Palace or something on Sir Yan’s side?”
“There is nothing to worry about on father’s side. He’s probably at the Qin home right now.” Yan Bingyun lowered his head. “There is something that I should probably tell you before you enter the Palace.”
Fan Xian looked at him.
“An assassination attempt was carried out against the Third Prince.” Yan Bingyun raised his head to look at him. “You didn’t give me your contact in the Palace, so I have no way of finding out the results of the assassination. However, I urge you to think of the worst possible situation. After all, he is only a child. Yi Guipin has no way to protect him.”
“You’re saying that there’s been an assassination against Chengping?” Fan Xian’s eyes narrowed. He didn’t speak for a while. He gradually tightened his fist. The knuckles that turned white exposed the true feelings in his heart.
A moment later, he said in a low voice, “This isn’t the work of the Crown Prince.”
Yan Bingyun glanced at him and was slightly confused. He didn’t understand why he was so certain that the culprit behind the attack in the Palace this time was not the Crown Prince.
“Blood has already been spilled.” Fan Xian raised his head to look at him. “There is no need to bring forward the entry into the Palace tonight. Follow the original plan.”
“With the help of the Jingdou government and Black Knights scattered throughout the capital, there is 400 people.” Yan Bingyun knew how Fan Xian felt at this moment, so he didn’t take offense to his particularly cold behavior. Rather, he calmly said, “Since you have already decided to give up the attempts on the city gate guards, then in the operation tonight in the Royal Palace, we have to capture everyone and not miss a single person.”
“Of the nine city gates, which one can I control?” Fan Xian smiled bitterly. “There aren’t enough soldiers at hand, so we can’t meet them in open battle. We can only take the dangerous route.”
“Of course, I believe that the empress dowager and Eldest Princess would think that I would dare enter the Palace by force…” He stood and smiled slightly. “Those who are used to scheming like an Emperor often forget about such things as courage. A drunk man may not have a clear mind, but he is still very mighty with a cleaver.”
“Everyone says that my mother-in-law is a lunatic. I want to know if my forced attack without any sense of beauty makes her spitting mad.”
“This isn’t a forced attack,” Yan Bingyun said. “At least the Imperial Army won’t obstruct you. However, we only have 400 people. The rest of the people from the Seventh Bureau had to be outside the Palace to set up a diversion. The Royal Palace is so big, and we have insufficient people. If we want to ensure everyone is captured, then we have to know accurately where our targets are.”
He looked at Fan Xian with worry and said, “Directly attacking a camp is a great taboo in military strategy. The gamble is too heavy. I don’t know where your confidence comes from.”
“I have people in the enemy’s camp,” Fan Xian said with a smile and then rubbed his smooth cheek.
After learning about the assassination attempt on the Third Prince, he had not exchanged a single word on the topic with Yan Bingyun. He only calmly organized the surprise attack. At the end, Fan Xian could not help but slowly lower his head with a pang in his chest and secretly pray that the child was fine.
“You can’t die.” Fan Xian seemed to be talking to himself as well as to the Third Prince, whose life and death was unknown. “You’re going to be the Emperor.”
One hour [JW1] earlier, an event happened that could change the course of history and the deaths of many people in the Palace. The second matter that shocked the Palace after the Qing Emperor was assassinated on Dong Mountain.
The target of this attack was the Third Prince. He was the only successor to the throne who Fan Xian had openly shown support for in this year.
Even after a long time, no one knew who the main culprit was behind this attack. No matter how it was looked at, the Third Prince could not be considered an important target. Although everyone knew that this teenage boy had great influence over the Crown Prince’s ascension, this kind of influence mainly stemmed from Fan Xian’s support.
The Third Prince himself did not have any extraordinary charm or power.
Even if the Crown Prince was worried that his younger brother would cause trouble, he would only want to kill Fan Xian and not take action against his brother. The Third Prince’s death at this time would not be beneficial to the Crown Prince at all. It would only strengthen the objections of the court officials and make Fan Xian’s rebellion even crazier.
What was particularly important was that with Fan Xian as the scapegoat, the Dong Mountain matter could be hidden forever by the truth. If Li Chengping died in the Palace, how could the present master of the Royal Palace, the Crown Prince, convince history?
The Crown Prince was like his father. They were both people who cared about their reputations in history. That was why he swung between killing and did not kill the officials. It was why he would not order his subordinates to kill the Third Prince. It was also the reason why Fan Xian concluded he was not the culprit.
Then, who wanted to kill Li Chengping?
In the Chen corridor, young Li Chengping’s face was filled with shock. As he ran wildly, he also thought about this question.
It was a pity it was not Hanguang Palace. The empress dowager had no way to protect his life. He cried for help, but the Chen corridor was too quiet. No one heard his cries. Li Chengping lost all hope. He thought to himself that if he had stayed in Hanguang Palace, he would not die right now. Earlier, he would not have fallen for the trick and ran to the Chen corridor.
But, the other person had said that teacher had things to tell him and had shown him an item of trust, which was why he had fallen for the trick. Hiding it from his mother and tricking the eunuchs and serving girls in Hanguang Palace, he had quietly made his way to the Chen corridor.
Run wildly, child.
How could a child outrun an adult? Li Chengping panted and fell to the ground. He watched as the two eunuchs came closer step by step. His face was pale. He gritted his teeth tightly.
The two eunuchs were not professionals, but it was clear that they had received some kind of training in killing. It would be too easy to kill a weak child.
It was easy to the point that the two eunuchs had already considered Li Chengping to be a dead person. Stepping on him with one foot, a hand reached into its clothes to remove the knife.
When the eunuch’s knife came down toward Li Chengping, his whole mouth was dry. His right hand felt for the dagger in his shoe. With a sharp cry, he finally pulled it out and stabbed forward.
[JW1] It could also be two hours.