Joy of Life - Chapter 551 - Vicious (2)[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:49:50]
Chapter 551: Vicious (2)
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Commander Zhang Deqing of the 13 city gate guards, third rank. His personnel file was in the Bureau of Military Affairs, his manor was in the south of the city, his servants were chosen by the Overwatch Council, and his salary was drawn from the internal court. He had never been to the Bureau of Military Affairs for a meeting or even taken a step into the old military yamen. Nominally, he was a soldier. His connection to the Qing military was distant.
His family, colleagues, and social peers were all people the Emperor allowed him to interact. The Emperor had always tied the key to the city gates to his belt, so he kept the people close as well.
If Zhang Deqing rebelled, the Emperor had many ways to ensure that he came to a tragic end. No one thought Zhang Deqing would rebel. Not just because of his family’s loyalty or because his wife was a descendant of generations of loyal officials, it was because, after all these years, everyone had become used to his style of doing things.
He ate the Emperor’s food. He listened to the Emperor’s orders.
Sir Zhang would not praise the Emperor’s wisdom while eating or enter the Palace occasionally to the find an excuse to fawn on the Emperor. He would carry out each of the Emperor’s edicts with unusual determination, including on the night many years ago when the streets of Jingdou ran red with blood.
When one counted, Zhang Deqing was like Ye Zhong in Dingzhou. They were both veterans who had managed Jingdou for 20 years.
When it came to such a person who was clean as tofu and managed such a sensitive position, no faction dared come into contact with him. Even when the Crown Prince and Second Prince fought for power, they didn’t dare to do so. To come into contact with Zhang Deqing was to touch the crotch of their father’s trousers.
Thus, in officialdom, Zhang Deqing was like an invisible man. Until such a critical moment as the present, no one thought of him.
After the Qing Emperor was heroically sacrificed on Dong Mountain, the focus of Sir Zhang Deqing’s loyalty shifted with unusual precision and speed to the empress dowager. His figure was immediately revealed and particularly eye-catching.
He was loyal to the empress dowager because the Emperor had announced to the world before he went to worship heaven that Qing Kingdom was presently to be governed by the empress dowager from behind the curtain.
After reading many years of the Overwatch Council’s surveillance reports, Fan Xian believed that Sir Zhang was truly a rarely seen blindly loyal official. Yan Bingyun also came to exactly the same conclusion. Of course, these two young officials of the Overwatch Council could guess that the Emperor must have had other ways of controlling Zhang Deqing. However, the Emperor was gone. They had nowhere to start. They could only use his loyalty as an opening.
Yan Bingyun was here to pick up Zhang Deqing’s hand and begin a heaven-moving dance of loyalty.
Zhang Deqing was already old. The bags beneath his eyes were somewhat thick. Perhaps this was because he had been worried constantly these few days and had not rested well. At this time, sorrow, anger, and other emotions flashed through his pupils above the eye bags.
Yan Bingyun came alone to the 13 city gate guards yamen and handed the copied posthumous edict over. He waited calmly for Zhang Deqing’s decision.
To recreate the Qing Emperor’s posthumous edict in such a short time proved that the Overwatch Council’s artistic level had successfully made leaps and bounds after forging the previous Emperor’s will. It proved Fan Xian’s devil may care revolutionary spirit. It also proved that although Sir Yan was loyal to the monarch and patriotic to his country, he did not believe in holding onto mechanical bureaucracy when it came to the details.
The so-called posthumous edict was a letter the Emperor had written, in a very tranquil tone that seemed to see through the affairs of this world, to the empress dowager the night Dong Mountain had been surrounded. In the letter, he brought up the matter of deposing the Crown Prince as well as his and the Eldest Princess’s wicked role in the ambush at Dong Mountain. At the same time, he clearly stated that after Fan Xian returned to Jingdou, the power of regent was to be given to him. Furthermore, he ordered everyone to entrust, without question, Fan Xian with the authority to choose the next ruler of Qing Kingdom.
The lines of tears flowed out from Zhang Deqing’s eyes. Although he had long known that the Emperor had died on Dong Mountain, seeing the Emperor’s own handwriting, he still could not stop the surging of emotions in his heart.
“This posthumous edict… Has the empress dowager seen it?” Zhang Deqing suddenly raised his head and stared into Yan Bingyun’s eyes.
Sir Yan junior felt even more confident that the plan he and Fan Xian had made would be successful. Regardless of how one looked at it, the Commander, who was famous for his loyalty, would stand on his side.
He quietly said, “She has already seen it.”
“Then, what was the firework signal from the Palace earlier all about?” Zhang Deqing stared at Yan Bingyun.
“The edict ordered Sir Fan junior to help the empress dowager get rid of the rebels.” Yan Bingyun did not panic. As long as Fan Xian’s entry into the Palace was successful and he captured the Crown Prince and the Eldest Princess, there was no reason anything should go wrong with the city gate guard. “The firework was the order that it has already begun.”
“I can’t trust you based it on just a posthumous edict” Zhang Deqing said. “I need to see the empress dowager.”
“Understandably,” Yan Bingyun answered cleanly with a frosty face. In reality, he had no idea of the situation in the Palace, including whether the empress dowager was dead or alive. Presently, he had to answer boldly and confidently.
“You come from generations of loyal officials. When Qing Kingdom faces great danger, you should follow the previous Emperor’s posthumous edict.”
Each of Yan Bingyun’s words hung onto the Emperor’s posthumous edict. When he had traveled through Northern Qi, his long sleeves had danced. He was a powerful figure who could lie and get away with it. However, for these few years, he had been doing paperwork in the Council and had grown distant from this kind of dangerous work. Having convinced the Jingdou government alone and now, like walking through a forest of guns, he had to convince the Commander of the 13 city gate guards, it could not be considered a return to his original work.
“There is trouble in the Palace,” Zhang Deqing said after a moment of silence. “I must immediately enter the Palace right now.”
Yan Bingyun’s brows furrowed slightly. Zhang Deqing’s gaze hardened slightly as if he had sensed something. Yan Bingyun coldly scolded, “Sir Zhang, don’t forget that the Emperor entrusted these nine city gates to you. Securely guarding Jingdou’s gates is your responsibility!”
After these words were uttered, Zhang Deqing fell silent again like he was considering something. A moment later, he said, “Please, give me some time.”
Stalling? Yan Bingyun faintly felt that something was amiss. Was Zhang Deqing not convinced by this posthumous edict and waiting to see the situation in Jingdou? He didn’t know that the Eldest Princess and Crown Prince had already escaped from the Palace. In order to protect Fan Xian’s entry into the Palace, if the 13 city gate guards remained neutral, it was not an unacceptable result. In fact, it was even better than the result he had expected.
Since he wanted to stall, then he could stall. Yan Bingyun sat down calmly and coolly in the city gate yamen. Despite the group of spears pointed at him, he sat peacefully with a calm expression.
Seeing his expression, Zhang Deqing was involuntarily startled, It was as if he had not expected for him to be so confident.
No one expected that the stall would go on for so long. Yan Bingyun was trapped in the city gate yamen by the shifting circumstances. Without hot tea to drink and a tune to listen to, it was difficult to wait. What was most uncomfortable was the pressure all around him.
He was cold and hungry. He listened to the occasional sound of killing in Jingdou. Sometimes, he could even smell a faint burning that probably came from a fire someone lit somewhere.
Zhang Deqing did not have the time to sit with him. As the Commander of the city gate department, there were too many important things he had to handle. He was holding the sword at his waist and walking along the top of the city walls in the darkness. The eye bags beneath his eyes had miraculously disappeared without a trace. The eagle-like light flashing in his eyes was focused on each and every move in Jingdou. At the same time, he occasionally gave out orders to suppress his own subordinates, strictly prohibiting them from becoming involved in the coup d’état in Jingdou. The 3,000 soldiers guarded Jingdou’s nine city gates tightly.
In his eyes, the so-called power of righteousness that Fan Xian led was just a coup d’état. Although, he had to admit after seeing the edict, Fan Xian had the nominal right. However, he unconsciously believed that everyone who attacked the Royal Palace was a bad person.
Compared to Shangjing in Northern Qi, Jingdou did not have a rich history. It was more covered with the traces of military matters. Thus, this city gate was not motely but thick. Although it was not as tall as that of the Royal Palace, if it was actually used for defense, its various allocations were much stronger.
Zhang Deqing stood on the city wall like he was absorbing some boundless power from the thick wall made from a mixture of stone bricks to give him the courage to make a choice.
He stood still in front of one lookout and gazed in the direction of the distant Royal Palace. The chaos in Jingdou was gradually calming down. Perhaps Fan Xian had already subdued the Jingdou government. Some bailiffs were on the streets, ringing their gongs and comforting the people.
He didn’t know that, at this moment, the two main conspirators of the revolt in the Palace, the Great Prince, and Fan Xian, were also standing on the Palace wall looking to the distant city gates. A faint worry flashed through his eyes. If things continued like this, he would have to accept that edict.
Perhaps this was not a bad idea. However, Zhang Deqing heard the sound of carriage wheels rolling over the stone path. This voice rang out very clear in his ears.
“It’s the Sanjiao Stone Path approaching the city gate.”
Zhang Deqing was unusually familiar with the area near the city gate he had managed for almost 20 years. He was so familiar with them that he could tell whether a carriage was driving over the green stone paths or Sanjiao Stone Path. He was silent for a moment and then walked down from the lofty city gates toward the yamen of the city gate guards.
When the sound of the carriage rang out outside the city gate, Yan Bingyun had already stood up with a heavy expression. The soldiers around him responsible for guarding him also became nervous, pulling out weapons and surrounding him in the center.
Yan Bingyun’s heart sank. It was not because of being surrounded by soldiers but because of the sound of the carriage. In the depths of the night in Jingdou, who would ride in a carriage close to the city gate? The Jingdou people were long used to turmoil in the court. The noises from tonight were not enough to scare them into escaping as a family. Furthermore, the people would not be so stupid as to take a carriage and wait for the envious soldiers to heckle them.
There was only one kind of person who would try to take a carriage out of Jingdou.
Zhang Deqing walked in. He looked at Yan Bingyun’s heavy expression and said, “I’m sorry, Sir Yan.”
He continued, “Capture this court criminal!”
Yan Bingyun’s pupils constricted slightly. He didn’t know why Zhang Deqing’s attitude would have changed so drastically. Had Fan Xian’s entry into the Palace failed?
The soldiers swarmed forward. Yan Bingyun did not resist. Everyone knew that the biggest difference between Sir Yan junior and Sir Fan junior was that his martial prowess was slightly lower and he lacked the power to kill when attacking.
Yan Bingyun didn’t want to put his life on the line. Zhang Deqing only wanted to capture him. If he resisted, these 10 spears would sink into his body, which probably wouldn’t feel very good.
The city gate guards did not have the Overwatch Council’s metal finger cuffs, but they had a small hand cangue. After it clamped shut behind a person’s wrist, it would be impossible for them to break free. After Yan Bingyun was tightly bound, Zhang Deqing let out a small breath and glanced with some doubt into the dark night.
“Unbelievably, you actually came alone.” Zhang Deqing’s brows were furrowed tightly. “I don’t whether to say that Sir Fan junior is stupid or you’re too daring.”
Yan Bingyun had been kicked to the ground and made a rare joke, “Actually, this is just a matter of staff.” He paused and then said, “I am unable to imagine that I would misjudge a person.”
Zhang Deqing was silent for a moment., “The reason is very simple. If you win, naturally, I will follow the edict. But, if you lose, what benefit is there for me to follow the edict?”
Yan Bingyun furrowed his brows. A moment later, he sighed, and said, “A loyal official… How loyal you are?”
“I am loyal to the Emperor but not loyal to this posthumous edict that I don’t know the validity of.” Zhang Deqing’s expression was not pretty. It was like he felt a glimmer of fear in disobeying the Emperor’s posthumous edict.
The Commander of the city gate department thought to himself, If the Emperor was still here, naturally, he would be a loyal official for the rest of his life. Since the Emperor was no longer here, who wanted to guard the nine stupid city gates for the rest of their lives?
Yan Bingyun was silent. It had always been risky for him to come to the city gate department. He had done so on the basis of his judgment of Zhang Deqing. He was still unable to convince himself why such a Commander as him would so quickly and cleanly choose to stand against the posthumous edict.
Had Fan Xian failed? Yan Bingyun’s brows remained furrowed.
Zhang Deqing was only three steps away from him.
Yan Bingyun’s brows suddenly relaxed. A drop of cold sweat fell down from the corner of his brows.
Zhang Deqing clearly heard a tearing sound like that of a table leg being snapped.
Yan Bingyun abruptly raised his head and spoke, enunciating each word clearly, “The Commander of the 13 city gate department, Zhang Deqing has disobeyed the edict and assisted the chaos. All citizens of the Qing Kingdom must follow the Emperor’s posthumous edict. Put him to death.”
Zhang Deqing’s gaze trembled slightly. He didn’t know who those words were aimed at. Everyone in the hall was his trusted aide. No one would be stupid enough to take action. However, he felt a strange feeling in his heart and unconsciously retreated back, wanting to put more distance between him and the tightly bound Yan Bingyun.
Someone moved. The person who moved was not Yan Bingyun. It was one of Zhang Deqing’s trusted soldiers. After hearing Yan Bingyun’s words, the person’s expression became heavy. He gritted his teeth, raised the knife in his hand, and brought it down on the back of Zhang Deqing’ head.
Just as it was said earlier, no matter how much the Qing Emperor trusted in Zhang Deqing’s loyalty, he would have scattered spies among the city gate department. Naturally, a large number of these spies would have been sent out by the Overwatch Council. Fan Xian and Yan Bingyun could not make contact with these agents but, at this moment, Yan Bingyun used the posthumous edict and gambled on these spies’ hot blood. Even if only one out of 10 acted, it would be effective.
The knife came down.
Zhang Deqing’s expression was heavy. He didn’t turn his head before raising his sword. With a crisp crash, he was pushed forward a step while the knife of the Overwatch Council secret agent behind him was blocked.
The long spears shot out together. Immediately, the secret agent’s body was stained with fresh blood. He died on the spot.
Yan Bingyun also moved at this moment.
When the bead of sweat had dropped off his forehead, he was already moving. He gritted his teeth and forcefully snapped his left wrist. He was not a normal official or general, he was the future Commissioner of the Overwatch Council. Since he dared to come to the city gate department personally, then he had confidence.
The Overwatch Council had carried out a thorough investigation into the tools that the city gate department used to secure people. In the end, they finally found the problem with this cangue. As long as someone was able to dislocate all the joints in their wrists in a short amount of time and endure the agonizing pain, they would be able to pull their wrist out.
Yan Bingyun could endure the pain and do such a ruthless thing to himself. Thus, when Zhang Deqing took that one step closer to him, he had already charged forward like a cheetah and smashed toward his head viciously with one hand holding the cangue.
A glimmer of terror flashed through Zhang Deqing’s eyes. Perhaps betraying the Emperor had already destabilized his state of mind. He didn’t dare meet the cangue head on and retreated back in a panic.
At this time, his trusted soldiers behind him had just stabbed the Overwatch Council agent to death and just happened to block off his escape path. He could only flee wretchedly toward the door of the hall, attempting to avoid the attack.
Yan Bingyun floated up and followed after him like a cloud. Along the way, the wrist wearing the cangue flipped and stole the sword in Zhang Deqing’s hand. A light flashed. It came down on the arm of an officer coming to help.
Like maggots on the bone, like greedy clouds in the sky, Yan Bingyun did not land and followed Zhang Deqing’s body closely to the door of the hall.
Feeling the sinister sword aura behind him, Zhang Deqing was scared out of his mind. He had completely not expected for Yan Bingyun to have such delicate and vicious sword skills.
Yan Bingyun was not skilled in martial arts, but that was compared to the strange creature that was Fan Xian. Once he exploded out, the most famous spy in the history of the Overwatch Council was not someone Zhang Deqing, who had guarded the city gates for 20 years, could stand against.
Following him like lightning, he didn’t give the soldiers of the city gate any chance to react before the two of them had already passed through the door to the hall. Bloody wounds appeared. If Yan Bingyun hadn’t planned on using him to control the city gate department, he would probably have lost his life long ago.
Suddenly, two streaks of energy charged toward Yan Bingyun’s body. It was very powerful.
Yan Bingyun gave a muffled huff and drew back his sword to protect his chest. He met the attack head-on. Strands of blood seeped out from his nose. The vicious attack finally abated. Zhang Deqing wretchedly rolled to a stop at someone’s foot. One could see light-blue Palace robes hidden beneath normal clothing.
The Eldest Princess Li Yunrui, with a calm expression, smiled and gazed at Yan Bingyun under the protection of two aces from the Junshang Conference. “Let me tell Sir Yan junior that the reason Deqing would turn to the other side is because he has always been on my side.”
A glimmer of disbelieving shock flashed through Yan Bingyun’s eyes. He immediately became dejected. His left hand was ruined. He stood in the hall of the city gate department and in the blood of the courageous secret agent. He appeared very lonely.
The Eldest Princess nodded toward this young Overwatch Council official and smiled slightly as she said, “Go well.”