Joy of Life - Chapter 556 - Stealing The Banner, Stealing Power, Stealing Heart[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:49:52]
Chapter 556: Stealing The Banner, Stealing Power, Stealing Heart
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The city guarding crossbow bolt was like a short spear. It pierced through the bodies of the person and horse before being deeply embedded in the gaps between the pavements in the square. The metal arrow, which was as thick as a child’s arm, vibrated endlessly and gave off a buzzing sound. Blood flowed out freely from the body of the rider pinned underneath the arrow.
Many people realized what had happened, including the rebel soldiers and imperial soldiers on the palace walls. Tens of thousands of people stared dumbstruck at this sight and didn’t dare to believe their eyes. Such a large crossbow bolt had pierced through the rider’s body. It was like a punishment from heaven or hammer that fell down from beyond the clouds.
Deathly silence and icy fear spread out through the square.
The three officers holding the flags didn’t realize what had happened. They stared stupidly at the rider turning into bloody bubbles in front of them and at the intestinal juices that had been squeezed out, unsure of how to respond.
Horses were different from people. Even though they were carefully selected warhorses, after the three horses saw this sight and felt the terror of the arrow, their instincts made them neigh in unison. They began to run wildly toward the rear.
A moment later, two of the military banners fluttered in the morning wind and returned miserably to the rebel army military camp. The bright yellow dragon flag fell tragically to the ground and rolled into a ball, looking pitiful.
The soldier holding the banner had been shocked by the city guarding crossbow, and the warhorse he was sitting on ran wildly in fright. His grip loosened slightly and dropped the dragon flag to the ground.
The tens of thousands of soldiers standing on and below the palace walls were still in a death-like silence. Their gazes had moved from the puddle of blood to that flag, which represented the dignity of the Qing royal family. The dragon flag represented the Qing army’s invincibility in battle. The flag that seemed like it should forever fly in front of the army and could never fall was lying pathetically on the ground.
The emotion in the tens of thousands of gazes was complicated, angry, and not right.
On the palace walls, Fan Xian watched this scene with narrowed eyes. He smiled at the Great Prince beside him and said, “It is quite effective, right?”
The Great Prince did not reply. He thought to himself that the Crown Prince had raised an army today, but, at this moment, he had lost the dragon flag. It was truly embarrassing.
The imperial soldiers on the palace walls suddenly cheered in unison. This cry was, without a doubt, a powerful whip across the face of the tens of thousands of rebel soldiers standing below the palace walls.
At this moment, the empty-handed rider who had lost the flag had already returned to the rebel army camp. He sat on his horse with his head lowered and body trembling. He knew that he would certainly face strict punishment by military rules. A flag-bearer was an honorable position. He had slipped up and allowed the dragon flag to fall to the ground.
The hundreds of riders in the rebel army camp gradually stepped aside. The Crown Prince, Li Chengqian, slowly walked out in a bright suit of armor under the escort of a few major generals. He only glanced at the rider and didn’t say anything.
The Crown Prince’s gaze was warm, but that rider felt incomparable shame. He gritted his teeth and turned his horse around, preparing to go to the square to steal back that dragon flag. It wouldn’t matter even if he died.
Unexpectedly, a general at the Crown Prince’s side urged his horse forward and came to the rider’s side. “When two armies exchange blows, the one who loses the flag is beheaded!”
When the word “beheaded” was uttered, the rider’s entire body trembled. He unconsciously closed his eyes but did his best to keep his body upright. Then, he felt the chill on his neck.
The general pulled back his knife and didn’t even glance at the body that fell to the ground next to him. He huffed coldly from his nose and squeezed his heels. The horse beneath him leaped forward like lightning. He had ridden out of the rebel army camp in an instant, heading straight for the center of the square below the palace walls.
He directly faced the dragon banner rolled up on the ground.
Of the tens of thousands of rebel soldiers, not all of them knew this general. They all knew what he was going to do. Involuntarily, their hearts trembled and hot blood surged to their heads. Tens of thousands of people roared out with rhythm and in unison.
Amidst this iron-blooded cheer from tens of thousands of people, the warhorse beneath the general flew like a dragon. Its four hooves seemed to float above the ground. He moved like an arrow straight toward the Royal Palace.
The lone rider passed through the square under the gaze of tens of thousands of people. He rode toward the city guarding crossbow on the palace wall, appearing heroic.
The horse moved quickly. The equestrian skill of the rider was incredible. It seemed like he was charging in a straight line toward the palace walls. In reality, he was following a strange path. Although it was a bit roundabout, it was powerful. He only needed a moment before he reached the center of the square.
Up until now, the city guarding crossbow on the palace walls had yet to fire an arrow.
The imperial soldiers and Overwatch Council officials beside the giant city guarding crossbow felt cold sweat breaking out on their foreheads. They had no way of mapping the rebel soldier’s forward trajectory. At such a high speed, the enemy seemed to keenly know the speed and defensive boundaries of the crossbow.
Fan Xian watched this scene with narrowed eyes. He felt that he had only blinked and this rebel soldier had already charged to the foot of the palace wall and to the front of the dragon banner.
The powerful city guarding crossbow had just demonstrated its strength, yet this rebel soldier still charged over. Such vigor and courage were truly admirable. For some reason, Fan Xian suddenly thought of Thirteenth Wang. His heart jumped slightly.
His hand was about to raise. With great willpower, he commanded himself to lower it slowly. This small movement was not noticed by the Great Prince because his eyes were filled with astonishment as he watched this one-man show while the two armies fought for power.
When two armies confronted each other, an imposing manner was of the utmost importance. The banner was the power. Thus, stealing the banner was stealing power.
The rebel soldier was about to ride past the dragon flag but didn’t reduce his speed. Instead, he used a remarkable riding technique. He hung off the stirrups with one foot and reached his hand down to easily lift up the dragon banner.
Although Fan Xian had lowered his arm, the unit responsible for operating the city guarding crossbow was not about to let go of such a good opportunity. They triggered the crossbow’s heavy spring lock.
With a metallic clang, the thick palace walls seemed to fire out with that arrow and shake slightly.
A loud neigh rose into the sky. The rebel soldier at the foot of the palace walls seemed to have guessed when the arrow would be fired. Half a moment before, he raised the horse whip and kicked his heels against his horse’s abdomen. He had it rise onto two legs with a crazed roar.
The war horse’s front legs hovered in the air. Its large body was forcefully twisted. It even remained in hovering in place for an astonishing moment.
The rebel soldier held the bright yellow dragon banner in one hand and raised the horse whip in the other. He rode crookedly on the warhorse and was lit up by the rising sun, appearing heroic without compare.
The massive arrow suddenly arrived before him. It brushed passed his warhorse’s abdomen and pierced down viciously.
The metal arrow pierced into the tiles on the square, shattering stone and sending shards awry. It did not damage a hair on the rebel soldier’s head.
The rebel soldier twisted his left elbow and pulled in his reins. Below him, the horse’s head turned to the left. His hooves landed on the ground with a neigh. All the muscles in its body loosened and tightened. It ran like a streak of smoke and headed easily straight back to the camp, back to the Crown Prince’s side.
The rebel soldier did not dismount. Instead, he stuck the bright yellow dragon banner heavily into the ground. The pole of the banner entered the dirt and held firm. The dragon banner once again fluttered in the morning breeze, emanating glory.
Then, he turned his horse’s head and stared without words at the two little black dots on the palace wall.
In just a moment, this rebel soldier had done something that most people would not be able to do. From the moment he leaped out of the camp, tens of thousands of soldiers had cried out. Now that he had stolen back the dragon banner and returned to the camp, the cheers from the tens of thousands of people grew louder and louder.
“Brave…” Fan Xian gently wiped the cold sweat in the palm of his hands. He expressed an attitude that he should not have as one of the commanders. “The Qing Kingdom indeed has countless brave warriors. No wonder it could move across the world unhindered and not have any enemies.”
Fan Xian smiled slightly and said, “It is Gong Dian. He had been the Deputy Commander of the Imperial Army for so many years. He has a much better knowledge of the city guarding crossbow than you or me. He is also an eighth-level ace. He risked death to bravely steal the banner despite his important position as a general. Such courage truly made one admirable.
The Great Prince furrowed his brows slightly and said, “Ah, so it is him. No wonder. General Gong grew up near the edges of Dingzhou and had been tending to horses since he was young. A self-taught Hu rider, he was known as the best in the army.”
This was not the first time Fan Xian had heard of Gong Dian’s background. He calmly watched the rebel army’s camp and found that the Crown Prince was surrounded mostly by generals from the Qin family, while there seemed to only be Gong Dian from the Ye family in Dingzhou, Gong Dian, the previous Deputy Commander of the Imperial Army, once the Qing Emperor’s trusted aide. Because of the Qing Emperor’s suspicions toward the Ye family, he had chosen to use the Hanging Temple matter and imprisoned Gong Dian on a groundless excuse.
Fan Xian had been involved from the beginning to the end in the Hanging Temple matter. He had been heavily injured, yet there were still many secrets within it that he did not understand. He knew that the Emperor had drawn a great deal of terrifying opposition to Jingdou in the present day because of his paranoia.
Fan Xian’s heart jumped again. The Eldest Princess, Chen Pingping, and Lin Ruofu had all said at different times that the Emperor did not have any major weaknesses other than his paranoia and that he would fall to that.
The Great Prince abruptly raised his head and said, “It’s a draw.”
Fan Xian nodded. The rebel army had surrounded the Palace and was powerful. Given the present defensive power in the Palace, it was impossible to hold out for more than a few days. Thus, they had to take the first opportunity and use the most direct method in striking the rebel army’s imposing manner. Although they could not hope that stealing the banner would be like stealing their courage, it would at least stop the other side from charging in on a spurt of energy. This turned it into a relatively slow process.
That was why there was such a brutal massacre in front of Zhengyang Gate and the city gate guarding crossbow was used again for the first time in years. Even if they killed only one person, they had to do it in a way that chilled the hearts of the rebel soldiers.
Gong Dian’s careless retrieval of the banner turned the situation around again. Fortunately, although the rebel soldiers’ spirit rose again, it did not seem that they would attack at once.
The rebel army clearly had the advantage, but Fan Xian could count a few reasons as to why they didn’t attack immediately. The Palace defenses had natural advantages. The walls were tall and thick, the arrows were sharp, and everyone was united in purpose. The strength in the Palace was stuck in a death trap. If the rebel army attacked, this power destined for death and rebirth would not give the Crown Prince time to reconsider.
However, the more important question was, who would attack who?
“The superior forces I anticipated have yet to arrive,” Fan Xian smiled warmly at the Great Prince and said. “I am sure that the rebel army also has a headache. They are not all of the same boat. Nominally, the Ye and Qin families both support the Crown Prince, but what would the Crown Prince think? Ye Zhong is the Second Prince’s father-in-law…”
He raised his hand and pointed at a military horse far in the distance to the right, “The Second Prince and Ye Zhong should be over there. Do you think the Crown Prince would let the Ye family charge into danger and allow the Second Prince to reap the rewards?”
The Great Prince spoke heavily, “Of course, the Second Prince would not allow his father-in-law to ride out. He thinks about a lot of things. If he completely loses the gamble in the end, he knows how Chengqian would deal with him in the future.”
“Exactly.” Fan Xian gently patted the green tiles of the palace walls and looked at the Imperial Army right in front that was slowly coming toward the Royal Palace. In a quiet voice, he said, “These two of our brothers both have an agenda. Before they negotiate properly, nothing will happen.”
“Of course, no matter how you look at it, they are the lions, and we are the antelopes. But, they won’t want to lose too many people, so they are certain to encourage a surrender.” Fan Xian lowered his head. “The Crown Prince is a gentle person.”
The Crown Prince was fighting under a banner of righteousness. He was not there to start a rebellion. If he didn’t say some imperial and imposing words before fighting, it would be like trying to welcome guests before the welcoming arch was completed.
Fan Xian was certain that was something no rebellion would do. Thus, he calmly waited for Crown Prince Li Chengqian to speak.
The tens of thousands of rebel soldiers continued to gather and form into arrays as they slowly forced their way toward the Royal Palace. The black and oppressive clouds moved toward the city and made one fearful. The Imperial Army, which was like a black cloud, stopped two arrow flights away from the palace walls. Amongst the sea of people, a number of people slowly rode out. It was the Crown Prince with important generals at this side.
Beside the Crown Prince was a general of the Qin family. Gong Dian, who had carelessly showcased his skills, was two riders away.
Fan Xian watched this scene with narrowed eyes and clearly saw a great deal. Gong Dian, following the Crown Prince, was certainly the Ye family showing their loyalty. However, the Crown Prince did not have much trust in the Ye family.
To the Crown Prince’s right-hand side was old Master Qin. This old man had put on his armor again and rode onto the battlefield. There was a murderous air on his old face that had accumulated from countless years on the battlefield. His usually muddy eyes stared like an eagle at the juniors on the palace wall. Not a single sign of aging could be seen.
Given old Master Qin’s position and power in the Qing Kingdom, he was, without question, the true nucleus and lead of this mission. The Empress dowager trusted him, and the Crown Prince trusted him. He had also reciprocated with sufficient support for the empress dowager and Crown Prince.
A few wisps of his white hair seeped out from under his armor and was blown in Jingdou’s morning wind. They appeared somewhat lonely.
Fan Xian’s eyes sight was good. He silently watched that Qing Kingdom military elder. For some reason, he thought of the 1998 world cup in his previous life. After Brazil and Holland’s final match, Zagallow walked against the wind at the side of the field. His meager white hair was blown with great mournfulness.
He wasn’t letting go or letting his mind wander, he only unconsciously thought of this scene. Fan Xian sucked in a deep breath thinking to himself, Zagallow had accumulated merit over many generations. After winning that game, he still had a gloomy ending. How could the old Qin Master be an exception?
At this time, the old Qin Master, who had been cursed by Fan Xian, glanced at the Crown Prince and slowly opened his mouth to speak to the imperial soldiers on the palace walls. “You are all soldiers of Qing Kingdom. How could you help Fan Xian, the traitor who killed the Emperor? Prince Heqing, listen to the announcement…”
When the old Qin Master opened his mouth, all the air above the palace walls began to buzz.
Fan Xian’s pupils constricted. He met the Great Prince’s eyes, recognizing the shock and fear in each other’s eyes. The old Qin Master’s cultivation was powerful, and his martial skill profound.
Fan Xian quietly wiped the sweat from his palm on the green bricks. He had long wondered who was the strong warrior in the Qin family. No matter what, he would never have guessed that the ninth-level ace hidden deeply in the Qin family would be the old Qin Master himself.
This reality charged into Fan Xian’s mind and turned his face an ugly color. There was indeed no lies beneath that famous reputation. The Qin family had held sway across the world for dozens of years. The old Qin Master had long been in the position as the first ranked person in the Qing army. There was indeed a reason why even the incomparably proud Yan Xiaoyi had been respectful toward him.
Fan Xian’s right index finger trembled slightly from excitement, not fear. When he had killed Yan Xiaoyi, it had been difficult. Now, it would probably be an even more powerful feeling of satisfaction to kill this old man.
As he glanced silently again at Gong Dian in the rebel army’s camp, his right index finger recovered its calm. Toward the bottom of the palace walls, he yelled, “Qing Ye!”
The old man had not finished speaking his first sentence when Fan Xian yelled down these two words. These two words contained his Tyrannical zhenqi. Although it was not as rich and grand as the old Qin Master’s tone, it was especially explosive. Instantly, it suppressed the old Qin Master’s voice.
The tens of thousands of people on and below the palace walls all turned their gazes toward Fan Xian on the wall.
The old Qin Master furrowed his brows slightly. It seemed he had not expected the Tyrannical zhenqi in Fan Xian’s body to be so powerful. He had further not expected to hear the name he had not heard in a very long time at the foot of the palace walls.
Qin Ye? In this world, who else dared to call him by this name other than the empress dowager?
Fan Xian dared. Angry expressions appeared on the faces of the Qin family generals next to the Crown Prince.
Fan Xian cried out explosively once again. The sound spiraled throughout the Royal Palace. It intimated everyone’s minds and drew the attention of the old Qin Master.
Separated by a vast distance and under the gaze of tens of thousands of eyes, Fan Xian looked at where the old Qin Master was and faintly said, “You have only one son. Where is he?”
Qin Heng entered through the Zhengyang Gate and was the closest. At this time, the rebel army had already surrounded the Palace, yet he had still not arrived. The generals of the rebel army had long been worried about this matter. Hearing Fan Xian speak of this, they couldn’t stop a leap of fear in their hearts.
The old Qin Master narrowed his eyes but did not have an overly shocked expression.
After pausing a moment, Fan Xian said coldly, “You should have guessed some of it yourself. Correct, your eldest was stabbed to death by my subordinate Jing Ge in the camp. Today, Qin Heng was killed by the Overwatch Council at Zhengyang Gate!”
“Since you dare to betray the Emperor, I will make the Qin family lose their heirs and bloodline!”
Such poisonous words and such piercing thorns plunged the battlefield once again into a suffocating silence. The Great Prince glanced at him and said in a lowered voice, “It does not seem like a good idea to drive the old man into a crazed rage right now.”
Fan Xian’s gaze was calm as he stared at Crown Prince Li Chengqian’s position. Faintly, he said, “I just want to see if there will be problems between the old man and Crown Prince if only the former is driven to a crazed rage and the latter is not.”
The situation did not develop in the way Fan Xian imagined. The old Qin Master heard Fan Xian’s poisonous words and only slowly lowered his head. He then slowly raised it again. His face, enveloped by the armor, was indifferent. There was not a single change in his expression.
“Fan Xian, first, I need to thank you for resolving a question I’ve had for many years,” the old Qin Master said slowly as his voice spread in all directions. “My eldest son was killed in the camp. That murderer should have died in prison. When I checked the files later, it was so, but I never found that murderer’s body. Now I know that he had been taken in by that old black dog.”
This military elder spoke slowly, “I will leave your corpse whole. As for Chen Pingping, I will have him suffer death by a thousand cuts.”
“As for Qin Heng, I have confidence in this child. Even if you can stop him for a moment at Zhengyang Gate, you cannot hold him,” the old Qin Master said coldly. “Even if he died, so what? It is not uncommon for generals to die in battle. If he died to your tricks, then he has died gloriously.”
“End my heirs and bloodline? I’ve never been afraid of your evil birth mother. Do you think you can anger me with these words?” The old Qin Master gazed at the junior on the palace walls with mocking eyes.
“The old man has already gone crazy. Let’s see how long he can keep up the pretense. When a person grows old and is about to die, there appears to be far more nonsensical things.”
Just like the old Qin Master, Fan Xian finally learned a secret that he had guessed at for a long time. He sighed in his heart and transferred his gaze, looking sincerely at the Crown Prince beside the old Qin Master. Speaking before the Crown Prince could open his mouth, he spoke with true feeling and sincerity.