Joy of Life - Chapter 565 - Taiping Courtyard[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:49:55]
Chapter 565: Taiping Courtyard
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Looking at the empress’s body on the ground and puddle of flesh and blood, everyone was shocked and unable to speak. Ye Zhong gave a few orders in a low voice. He then turned his horse away and headed toward the city gates in pursuit. The Qin family’s chances of survival were still good, so he had to quickly contact all the soldiers around to finish everything in one go. Additionally, the empress had died in front of him. For the sake of his own safety, it was best for him to get as far away as possible. Matters relating to the imperial family were best to leave to the Great Prince and Duke of Danbo to handle.
The empress’s swan dive off the palace walls surprised many people. Although the Crown Prince’s army had been defeated and the empress’s future would not be particularly good, no one would have thought that the outwardly gentle and inwardly weak empress would, in the last moments of her life, have such courage.
At this time, the killing on the walls had not ended. The Qin family’s rebel soldiers were still fighting back and resisting. Fan Xian and the Great Prince’s trusted aides were concerned with the empress dowager and officials’ safety. They did not neglect the empress’s existence, but they didn’t have the extra energy to guard against the distress of her actions.
The Second Prince stared like a fool at her body. He suddenly began to tremble from the top of his head to the tips of his toes. His entire body was enveloped by a chill. He shivered endlessly, not sure what future he would meet. Unconsciously, he raised his head to confirm his birth mother, Lady Shu’s, safety before collapsing to the ground.
There had long been Dingzhou soldiers at his side to help him up and respectfully and cautiously encircle him in the middle. They were worried that something else would go wrong. The Second Prince’s expression was blank, but his gaze was scattered and bright. He thought to himself that having already reached this point, if someone wanted to kill themselves, who would be able to stop them?
The Qin family army had already retreated. The Dingzhou army was in full pursuit. Sounds of killing rang out everywhere in Jingdou. The rebel army group with the dragon banner, in particular, moved with remarkable speed through the long streets and Zhengyang Gate, which was personally watched by Zhang Deqing, and headed away from Jingdou.
Zhang Deqing watched the scene in front of him with an ashen expression. No one knew what he was feeling. With something like loyalty, it needed a lifetime of conviction. Even if you swayed at the very end, your loyalty from the previous half of your life would become the foundation of treachery.
He knew that he had no chance to turn things around for himself. He didn’t have the courage to use the 3,000 city gate guards and nine city gates to help the Qin family stall the Dingzhou army’s speed.
The city gate would only defend against those outside the city. How could it defend against a betrayal inside? Zhang Deqing sighed long and sad. He took one last glance at Zhengyang Gate, which seemed to flash with golden light under the bright sunlight, and led his own troops behind the dragon banner, fleeing with the main portion of the rebel army.
There wasn’t even time for Zhengyang Gate to close before the Dingzhou troops, led by Gong Dian, arrived. Becoming a yellow dragon, they pursued them out of the city.
The Crown Prince, who was cutting and running, used the dragon banner as a smokescreen. He had been escorted by the few remaining Qin family generals to Donghua Gate. The old Qin master and Qin Heng had died. The rebel army was a dragon without a head. Fortunately, the generals the old Qin Master had sent to protect the Crown Prince were still alive. At such a critical juncture, they had thought of this escape plan in an attempt to leave the capital and go North to meet up with the Northern Expedition camp in Cangzhou.
However, the Crown Prince’s heart had long become dim. Since there was foreshadowing in the capital, Governor Yan had perhaps already died. Where would he escape to? He didn’t know of the news that his mother had fallen from the Palace walls and died. He took a deep breath. A moment later, he forced himself to raise his spirits. He thought to himself, If father was truly dead, with aunt’s help, there may still be a chance to rise again.
After all, he was the Crown Prince. This world belonged to the Li family, not to the Fan family. Even if Fan Xian controlled Jingdou, it didn’t mean he would be able to control the world.
The glimmer of fighting spirit he had raised with difficulty was abruptly shattered into dust by the two tightly closed city gates in front of them. With an ashen face, the Crown Prince looked at the two city gate guards, who had their bows nocked and ready on the stone steps on either side of Donghua Gate, and at the white-clothed official beside the general. His heart tightened.
The Crown Prince recognized the white-clothed official. He was the third-ranking figure in the Overwatch Council and someone his father had a great appreciation for, Yan Bingyun. However, he had received news that Yan Bingyun had been captured by people under his aunt’s command when he had gone to persuade Zhang Deqing and then had been rescued under difficult and dangerous circumstances. How did he get here?
“Crown Prince, please stop.”
There were still blood stains on Yan Bingyun’s white clothes left by the morning attack. He coughed a few times. His expression was serious.
After the black-clothed man rescued him and left him somewhere safe, he had disappeared without a trace. Yan Bingyun was unable to personally participate in the events that happened in Jingdou. Through one remaining channel, he had tensely watched everything. When something strange had happened in the square, he had come ahead of time to Donghua Gate.
No yamen was all of the same heart. Even though Zhang Deqing had been Commander of the city gate guards for 20 years, it was impossible to order all his subordinates to be of the same mind as him, even though the rebel army had lost.
Yan Bingyun knew he was taking a risk, but he liked the feeling of being risky. Furthermore, he felt that after he had made a mistake, he should make up for it and help Sir Fan junior do something.
Fortunately, he succeeded this time. The city gate guards had successfully blocked the Crown Prince at Donghua Gate. The Emperor’s super strict control of the city gate guards made them determined to stand on Fan Xian’s side after the Donghua Gate Commander learned of the specific situation—to stand on the side of his wealth and status. If the Crown Prince led his troops out of Jingdou and connected with the soldiers outside, no one knew what other changes would happen in the world
The rebel soldiers were solely focused on breaking out of the city and did not give Yan Bingyun much time to negotiate. The Qin family general did not ask the Crown Prince before beginning to make preparations for battle. With a military order, the rebel soldiers charged courageously toward Donghua Gate. Arrows flew from both sides. Many were killed and wounded.
The battle had not raged on for long when the Crown Prince’s face turned white. He heard a thunderous roar coming from behind him. It was the Dingzhou army’s cavalry.
A banner flapped in the wind through Jingdou’s streets. It moved with remarkable speed toward Donghua gate. There was a large “Ye” character written on the banner.
Ye Zhong personally led the troops here. He unexpectedly found that Donghua Gate was closed and the rebel army, which included the Crown Prince, had been blocked in front of this narrow city gate. Packed in densely, they took up half a street.
He took a deep breath. He knew Donghua Gate would not be able to hold out for long. Raising his right arm, he prepared to carry out the bloodiest part of the events in Jingdou. Unexpectedly, the rebel army’s fierce attack on Donghua Gate gradually subsided.
After Ye Zhong caught up, the Crown Prince’s head had rested on his chest, thinking about something. He slowly raised it and said, with his eyes full sadness and relief, “Surrender.”
Everyone fell silent and gazed at the Crown Prince with disbelief, anger, sorrow, hopelessness, and confusion. They didn’t understand why he would suddenly lose all of his will to fight.
The Crown Prince’s gaze slowly passed over the faces of these soldiers, who had followed him loyally. He knew if they fought desperately now, there was a chance they could still get out of the city. However, having gotten to here, the Crown Prince was tired and hopeless. Even if they could get out of the city, then what? Jingdou was thousands of li away from Cangzhou.
Was he going to allow these thousands of soldiers to die one by one while being pursued? Was he going to allow the army to fight, kill, and burn the Qing people’s fertile land?
The Crown Prince turned his horse and looked at Ye Zhong in the distance across the street full of soldiers and a forest of spears. “General Ye, I don’t want to go anymore.”
Ye Zhong furrowed his brows slightly. He didn’t understand the reason for this scene in front of him. No matter what, he would not be able to guess the changes in the Crown Prince’s heart. He thought that the Crown Prince had other ideas. Since the Crown Prince had said this, it seemed there was a chance. Ye Zhong also didn’t want the Dingzhou army to pay an even heftier price.
“Your Highness is wise.”
At this time, Li Chengqian’s Crown Prince status had already been removed by Fan Xian according to the edict. Ye Zhong still habitually used it.
Li Chengqian laughed bitterly and said, “I have a condition.”
“I want to see Fan Xian. He has to promise me one thing.”
Li Chengqian’s face immediately became cold. It was not because he understood something. Rather, as a son of the Li family, as the Crown Prince that had been raised as the next Emperor for many years, he faintly knew what kind of fate the hand in heaven wanted to create in Jingdou. However, he didn’t want to surrender to this fate. He wanted a small stone to press painfully into the hand as it formed its mud people.
Ye Zhong was silent for a moment and said, “I don’t know where Duke Fan is right now.”
A strange light flashed through Li Chengqian’s eyes. He immediately guessed something. His expression became ugly. He began to worry about the safety of a certain person. He thought to himself that his condition hadn’t even landed in Fan Xian’s ear yet, so would it be in time?
Ye Zhong was lying. He could guess where Fan Xian was.
Regardless of whether it was the rebel army or people who accepted Fan Xian’s power as regent, they had all lost track of him. After the old Qin Master was stabbed to death, Duke Fan, who had organized the Jingdou incident, could not be found again.
The Crown Prince, who had made up his mind in front of Donghua Gate, guessed, like Ye Zhong, where Fan Xian had gone. Ye Zhong was able to guess it because he had personally given that address to Fan Xian. The Crown Prince could guess it because he was concerned with everything and the people there.
Fan Xian was in Taiping Courtyard.
Dressed in black, he stood on the bank of Liujing River and looked at the scenery on the other side. He melded with the shadows of the trees. If one did not look closely, it was impossible to tell them apart. He was on the outskirts of the city. After he killed Qin Ye, he had taken advantage of the chaos in Jingdou, surpassed the tall city walls, and come here as fast as he could.
In this royal family courtyard was his wife, whom he cared the most about, Lin Wan’er, and Da Bao. There was also the Eldest Princess, who had orchestrated the Dong Mountain incident and rebellion in Jingdou.
Fan Xian was not a stranger to Taiping Courtyard. Twenty years ago, this country estate was the property of his family. It was where his mother, Ye Qingmei, had lived after coming to Qing Kingdom.
After the Ye family fell, this country estate was taken by the royal family. However, the Emperor had always kept Taiping Courtyard sealed with internal guards standing watch. He had strictly prohibited any member of the royal family from entering. Only then was its reputation gradually buried.
In the fourth year of the Qing calendar, between summer and autumn, Fan Xian had once brought his sister to see it from across the river. Now, the river wind stroked across his skin. He couldn’t help but sigh.
Fan Xian didn’t understand why the Eldest Princess would choose Taiping Courtyard as her headquarters for directing the events in Jingdou. But, he didn’t have time to consider this. The most important matter was how to rescue Wan’er and Da Bao.
Although Wan’er was the Eldest Princess’s trueborn daughter, Fan Xian couldn’t promise that the crazy woman would know her family after she personally saw the dismal conclusion to her plan of many years.
Over these dozen days, he knew what kind of situation Wan’er was in, but he was unable to resolve it. He didn’t reveal any of his worries to those beside him. Only he knew how Wan’er and Da Bao’s safety affected his mood.
Standing on the other side of the river, Fan Xian’s heart twisted slightly in pain. It was only now that he realized that Wan’er was more important to him than he could have imagined.
Wu Zhu had once told him about the structure of the rooms in Taiping Courtyard. Furthermore, Wu Zhu had once entered the courtyard to retrieve an object. After Fan Xian came to the bank across from the courtyard, he carefully observed the defensive power of the quiet and secluded courtyard. The defenses were much weaker than he had imagined. It looked like his and the Overwatch Council’s endless attacks on Xinyang’s action did indeed have some effects. The Eldest Princess’s aces had been reduced a great deal.
The sounds of killing within Jingdou shook the heavens, yet Taiping Courtyard was completely quiet. This clear discrepancy made it clear that Fan Xian could not act without thought.
The site where Taiping Courtyard was built was special. It was built on a peninsula in Liujing River. There was only one way into the courtyard. The banks around it were relatively shallow. Fan Xian observed from the top of the branches for a long time. He found that his line of vision was blocked by the courtyard walls, so he couldn’t see the situation inside.
The courtyard wall was cleverly designed. It wasn’t very high, but it just happened to block all lines of sight going in.
Fan Xian’s lips tasted bitter. He knew that even if he brought out the assault rifle, it wouldn’t be of any use. Thinking of this, his heart gave an involuntary thud. He wondered if his mother had once thought about defending against the attack of assault rifles when she designed this courtyard.
However, there was no such thing as an invulnerable courtyard in the world. Otherwise, 20 years ago, the woman surnamed Ye would not have disappeared from Qing Kingdom.
Fan Xian didn’t want to attack forcefully in case he hurt the innocent. He knew that this move of Li Yunrui’s had indeed grasped his weakness.
He didn’t think for long on this riverbank before his expression calmed. Taking a deep breath, Fan Xian turned toward the platform he had passed in the bamboo trees and walked toward Taiping Courtyard’s front gate as if he was taking a stroll.
Many people abruptly appeared on the wall behind the bamboo forest and surrounded him between them. The Eldest Princess’s personal guards and aces looked at him with faces full of shock. They had long recognized him and didn’t understand how he could show himself like this at such a time.
Fan Xian’s gaze was as calm as the slowly flowing water in the Liujing River. He said, “I want to see her.”