Joy of Life - Chapter 548 - Counting Arrows[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:49:48]
Chapter 548: Counting Arrows
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
One signal arrow brings for thousands of comrades in arms.
When that brilliant firework exploded over Jingdou’s quiet night sky, no one knew how many people were startled in an instant.
The purging of the Imperial Army was a task that started at the beginning. In very little time, the Great Prince successfully controlled all of its power. The 3,000 or so imperial soldiers left in Jingdou had become the most powerful military power surrounding the Royal Palace.
At the same time, the Overwatch Council subordinates hidden in the darkness also saw this firework. They revealed themselves and began to head toward each of their own locations.
The street outside the Ministry of Justice was always dark and sinister, particularly in such a night as this. In the silence, urgent footsteps suddenly rang out outside of it. The officials responsible for the night watch watched the movements on the street with astonishment. They suddenly realized that a large group of people in official black robes was coming toward the Ministry.
The officials’ faces were pale white. They immediately sounded the alarm, attempting to wake the old men in the Ministry of Justice and prison guards behind the Ministry. As for themselves, they immediately retreated into the Ministry of Justice’s hall. They knew that people wearing black official robes were men from the Overwatch Council. They were certainly not a match for them.
When the alarm rang out, the subordinates of the Ministry of Justice hurried to the rear of the Ministry. Everyone knew that the prison in the Ministry was of the utmost importance. The Crown Prince had locked up the officials who opposed his ascension here. Although these people were only criminals in the Ministry of Justice, once they were released into court, they would become powerful officials that even the empress dowager had to be careful of.
There were not many horrifying sounds of killing. After a few wretched cries and a moment of chaos, the 300 or so people from the Overwatch Council entered the depths of the Ministry of Justice and charged on to the large square.
The bailiffs of the Ministry of Justice and prison guards were surrounded by Overwatch Council members in the center. The disheveled head officer of the Ministry looked at this scene and felt his heart chill.
The two sides had about the same number of people. It seemed there was a fighting chance. However, the Minister, who, like the generals in the Imperial Army, did not return home and could only closely watch the people in prison, could not summon any will to resist.
The black-clothed men held crossbows in their hands. They were Overwatch Council member who Qing officials were terrified of. This Minister knew that if the Overwatch Council acted so savagely, then Sir Fan junior must have started raising up a blood-soaked storm.
The Overwatch Council’s excessive might was still present. Fan Xian’s infamy further intimidated everyone’s heart. In a situation without the Eldest Princess’s power and aid, not many people could openly resist this group.
Furthermore, he had heard that a signal firework had rang out in the Royal Palace. After being startled awake, he had clearly heard the sky-shaking roar that shot into the sky around the Royal Palace.
He didn’t know that was the actions of the Imperial Army, but he knew that change was happening in the Royal Palace.
Dead bodies lay scattered on the ground. The leading official of the Overwatch Council looked with cold eyes at the surrounded Minister of Justice. Enunciating each word, he said, “I am here on the empress dowager’s orders and Prince Heqing’s military orders to release you all from prison. I’ll have to trouble you, Minister, to hand them over.”
Hand them over? No, this was a jailbreak. The Minister of Justice was trembling so much he didn’t curse at them. The previous night one of his vice ministers had died mysteriously in this hall. No one knew how he had died. The Minister did not want to become the second wronged spirit.
If he surrendered, could he still live? The torch lit up the Minister of Justice’s face strangely.
As if guessing his thoughts, the leading Overwatch Council official stared into his eyes and said, “The empress dowager has said that as long as they recant and are truly regretful, bygones will be bygones.”
The Minister of Justice laughed awkwardly. They even had the empress dowager’s edict. It looked like the Duke of Danbo already controlled the Royal Palace. There was still no news from the Eldest Princess side, so something probably went wrong. In the present situation, why was he still bitterly holding out?
In a flash, he suddenly thought, What if the battle in the Royal Palace had not been resolved and Fan Xian had not taken the high ground? If he surrendered so easily like this, after the matter… How would he explain it to the Crown Prince and the Eldest Princess?
The Minister of Justice gritted his teeth. His gaze flickered uncertainty.
The Overwatch Council official watched him coldly and didn’t continue communicating with him. Slowly, he raised his right hand. The hundreds of Overwatch Council officials around him raised their crossbows. Some pulled out their metal drills. They were preparing to attack the thick and heavy doors of the Ministry’s prison.
“On the count of three.” The Overwatch Council official counted without any expression, “Three, two…”
“Wait!” The Minister of Justice’s daring was crushed by this monotonous counting. He cried out in a raspy voice, “Wait! I want Duke of Danbo’s promise!”
A mocking smile rose to the corner of the Overwatch Council official’s lips. At this critical moment, although the Minister of Justice was scared out of his wits, he was not stupid. He knew that the empress dowager’s edict was nothing more than a waste of paper. What could truly protect his life was the Commissioner’s will.
He took out a document prepared a long time ago from his clothes and threw it over.
The Minister of Justice picked it up and read through it by the faint light of the torch. He confirmed that it was indeed written in Sir Fan junior’s own hand.
No one knew when this document was written and prepared, but it clearly stated that the Eldest Princess and Crown Prince had secretly colluded with Dongyi and Northern Qi assassins to kill the Emperor on Dong Mountain. Each crime was clearly listed. On the back, it said that Yan Xiaoyi, the Governor of the Northern Expedition Camp, had been implicated in this rebellion and had already been killed by Fan Xian personally.
The crime was not important. What the Minister of Justice cared about were the last words. Reading to the end, his expression finally warmed a little. There were about 400 words in this so-called rebellion punishing document. In the last 100 words, it was clearly written that those who had been deceived by Li Chengqian would be fully forgiven as long as they were regretful and would work for the new ruler.
The Minister of Justice’s hands that held the document shook. There was not the empress dowager’s seal on this document, but there was the Emperor’s royal seal.
Most importantly, there was Fan Xian’s personal signature.
The Minister of Justice knew that, at this moment, no royal seal was as effective as Fan Xian’s signature. Furthermore, he trusted that Fan Xian was not a dishonest person.
His face became paler and paler. He looked around him to gather his courage, but there were only the Ministry of Justice bailiffs with ashen faces standing guard. He dropped his head and knelt in front of the Overwatch Council official. In a miserable voice, he said, “I… admit my crimes.”
Disarmed, bound, and leashed, all of the Ministry of Justice’s martial power was controlled in a short amount of time. However, this group left the Minister some face and only removed his official’s robe, which he hadn’t been wearing properly anyway.
All kinds of knives, spears, and sticks were piled in a corner. All of the officials in the Ministry of Justice had their arms bound behind their backs with the Overwatch Council’s special metal finger cuffs. The cuffs were then strung together with sturdy hemp rope. They were like a row of grasshoppers waiting to be fried in the famine years.
These actions all appeared particularly familiar and were done quickly. The Overwatch Council, from the very first day of its inception, had used these methods to deal with various yamen’s in the country’s vast machinery.
It could not be said that the Minister of Justice was timid and cowardly or that the departments of Qing Kingdom were useless. It had been many years since the terror of the Overwatch Council had rooted deeply into the hearts of every Qing Kingdom official. Like when were faced with a predator, when the officials were faced with this group of black-clothed people, they couldn’t muster up any courage to resist.
The Overwatch Council, a terrifying secret service of the royal family, had become the sharpest knife in Fan Xian’s hands since the Emperor’s death and Chen Pingping’s poisoning.
While dealing with some remaining affairs in the Ministry of Justice, the two heavy doors to the Ministry of Justice prison had long been opened. The officials of the Overwatch Council entered. Many hands helped out 40 to 50 officials, who appeared absolutely wretched.
The official robes on their bodies had not been stripped, but they were covered with injuries. One could see how rushed and chaotic the Crown Prince was that day in Taiji Palace when he seized them.
Many of the officials were unable to walk after being tortured. It was only with the help and support of Overwatch Council officials that they barely managed to step out of the prison doors with a breath of life.
The leading Overwatch Council official’s gaze became serious. He walked forward quickly to kneel with one knee in front of these officials, performing a formal bow. In a heavy voice, he said, “I am the head of the Second Bureau of the Overwatch Council, Murong Yan. Following the empress dowager’s orders, I have come to meet you all. You have all worked hard.”
The civil officials that had been helped out of the door looked at this black-clothed official from the Overwatch Council and could not speak through the feelings rising in their hearts.
Murong Yan did not rise. He turned to the leading two officials and bowed formally. In a low voice, he said, “The Commissioner has asked me to bow to you in thanks.”
These were the first-rank officials who had bravely rising in revolt in Taiji Palace and forcefully prevented the Crown Prince from taking the throne, the head scholars of the Hall of Governmental Affairs, Hu the Scholar and Sir Shu Wu.
There was still an injury on Shu Wu’s face. He looked at this official and sighed. He did not feel much overwhelming happiness. He only felt a deep worry for the situation in Jingdou. He knew Fan Xian’s personality. Since he had braved the danger of breaking into the prison, then the Royal Palace must be in great turmoil. The Emperor… the Emperor… Who knew how many relatives of the Emperor would die in this storm.
Hu the Scholar only smiled and said, “The Duke of Danbo is wrong. I have not helped him, why is he thanking me?”
Murong Yan stared.
He didn’t have time to speak in detail about the situation in the Palace. Ten carriages had long arrived outside the Ministry of Justice to pick up these injured officials and then head toward the Royal Palace. Presently, the situation in Jingdou was still dangerous, so these officials released from prison could not return home for now.
Watching the carriages protected by the Overwatch Council follow Chang Street toward the direction of the Royal Palace, Murong Yan, standing at the door of the Ministry of Justice, finally let out a long breath. Although there were still many things he needed to deal with in the Ministry behind him, his heart had already settled down.
He was the head of the Second Bureau. Originally, he was responsible for the gathering intelligence reports and such work. This Overwatch Council revolt, he had been entrusted with the task of forcefully breaking into the Ministry of Justice by Sir Yan junior. Perhaps what he had seen was his calmness.
Attacking the Ministry of Revenue was not difficult. What was difficult was rescuing the officials in the prison wholly and unharmed. Murong Yan was aware of this. Otherwise, the Commissioner would not have given him hundreds of people when there were so few subordinates in Jingdou.
The specific task had been delegated by Yan Bingyun, but the demands had been personally set by Fan Xian. For the Ministry of Justice prison, Fan Xian had sent down a death command that the safety of the scholars Hu and Shu, as well as all the other civil officials, had to be ensured.
He knew that if it hadn’t been for these civil officials, who did not fear death, causing trouble in Taiji Palace, forcefully delaying the Crown Prince’s day of ascension, and throwing court politics into chaos with Jingdou in a volatile situation, it would be difficult for him to find a chance to successfully break into the Palace.
The civil officials who seemed to have no power other than opening their mouths and admonishing were the greatest contributors to him successfully breaking into the Palace. Fan Xian had borrowed these officials’ moral characters. Thus, he had to ensure they were fine because of gratitude and a faint remorse.
With the fireworks, thousands of people moved out. When the Ministry of Justice’s prison was opened, the seemingly impossible-to-attack Jingdou government had its main doors wide open and lamps brightly lit. It looked very strange.
The Jingdou government generally kept the peace in Jingdou and had a large number of bailiffs and officials under its watch. When the fireworks outside the Royal City rang out, the magistrate, Sun Jingwei, a second-rank official in the Jingdou government, walked into the main hall with a serious and heavy expression.
The subordinates who didn’t know had happened looked at the magistrate in surprise, thinking, It’s so late. Why is Sir Sun still wearing the full court robes?
A moment later, the footsteps stopped like thunder. Sun Jingwei glanced at his subordinates with a complicated expression and sighed with great regret as he ordered them to open the main door of the Jingdou government.
Once the door opened, the Overwatch Council officials filed in. As the Jingdou government officials looked at each other, they took over all the advantageous positions in the main hall and surrounded Sun Jingwei in the center.
The black-robed Overwatch Council officials stepped aside. A person walked out from the middle. It was the head of the First Bureau, Mu Tie. With a face the color of metal, he looked coldly at Sun Jingwei and asked, “Sir has ordered me to come. Have you made up your mind?”
Sun Jingwei sighed again. His expression struggled for a moment. Suddenly, it seemed that his legs suddenly lost their strength. He knelt on the ground with a thud. In a low voice, he said, “I know my crime. I dare not ask the Duke’s forgiveness.”
Once this scene played out, clamoring broke out. Everyone felt absolutely shocked. They didn’t understand why the magistrate who had always followed the empress dowager’s orders and had been working so hard to capture Fan Xian would just surrender like this without a thought of resistance when the Overwatch Council came to the door.
Mu Tie’s complexion remained like metal. He didn’t move at all. However, he was absolutely stunned in his heart. He had accepted orders to come and stabilize the Jingdou government. He thought he was going to face the most desperate battle of his life. Unexpectedly, Yan Bingyung only gave him a quiet order and had him go.
When he entered the Jingdou government, all he saw was a manor filled with light. Mu Tie initially thought that he had fallen into a trap. Surprisingly, the situation was as Sir Yan junior had said and went smoothly.
Sun Jingwei knelt on the ground with an unusually wretched expression. His left hand held his official’s hat under his arm. He thought about how he had no choice. Putting aside whether or not the Jingdou government had the power to resist the Overwatch Council, most important was the conversation he had with the white-clothed man earlier in the back garden. It gave him no way out. He could only surrender.
It was not until tonight that he learned that Fan Xian had hidden in his manor for a number of days. The headquarters of the revolt in Jingdou was in his own back garden, in his own daughter’s study.
Four hundred of the assassins breaking into the Palace had entered Jingdou with documents from the Jingdou government.
If this matter got out, regardless of what he did tonight, the Crown Prince and Eldest Princess would not tolerate. They would certainly think that he was a spy for Fan Xian’s side.
Thus, he had no choice and could only make the very difficult decision of throwing his lot in completely with Fan Xian. In any case, others would think he was Sir Fan junior’s man, so he may as well become Sir Fan junior’s man. At least he would survive.
For his future prospects and safety, Pin’er should speak on his behalf, right?
Thinking of this, Sun Jingwei couldn’t help blood rushing to his head. He almost fainted. The official seals on the documents the assassins breaking into the Palace had all came from his study. Other than Pin’er, who would be able to imitate his handwriting and steal his official’s seal without his subordinates becoming suspicious?
In the next life, he wasn’t going to have daughters. A daughter’s arm was always reaching outside of the home. Sun Jingwei, who had been forced to go back on his word, thought sorrowfully in his heart.
Not long after the battle in the Royal Palace ended, the Imperial Army suddenly entered through the front door and came to the rear Palace. In front of over a thousand Tiger Guards, the internal guards and eunuchs, who were already stunned out of their wits, wisely chose to surrender. Even if they were stubborn folks, they became nothing more than bodies that the Imperial Army wiped out.
The rear palace temporarily recovered its peace. Faintly, one could hear tidy footsteps and the repeated clacking of armor hitting each other.
With a melancholy face, Fan Xian pushed open the Eastern Palace’s main door. He left the swordsmen stationed at this Palace outside. Looking at the dead bodies on the path, he walked into the recently rebuilt hall of the Palace.
Inside Hanguang Palace, Fan Xian’s expression was calm. Only he knew how disappointed he was in the depths of his heart.
Having not caught the Crown Prince and Eldest Princess was ripping a huge hole in his plan. A hole that may never be repaired.
He looked at the eunuch and serving girls timidly standing in one area. A moment later, he silently lowered his head as if he could already hear the sound of hooves far away outside the Palace walls.
He knew this was an auditory hallucination, but he believed in the Great Prince’s marching speed. Since the Palace was mostly under control, he must have already sent out the majority of the forces and was pushing deeper into Jingdou, doing his best to control a larger area. However, he would be careful to not create sparks with the 13 city gate guards. The Great Prince was like him. Once he had taken action, he would not hold back. Both the Imperial Army and Overwatch Council were, at this moment, desperately searching for traces of the Crown Prince and the Eldest Princess.
Most importantly, Wan’er and Da Bao had been taken by the Eldest Princess. Not having rescued his family made him angry and melancholy.
He walked into a quiet room next to the hall and looked at the eunuch sitting on the ground. He looked at the acne on the eunuch’s face. A great rage grew in his heart. An instant later, his heart softened as he sighed helplessly.