Joy of Life - Chapter 571[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:49:58]
Chapter 571: When Paper Enters A Lake, Fish Move. When A Sleeve Opens, People Die
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
In one night, the people who came down from Dong Mountain had managed to deal with all of the matters. The first daylight rebellion in Qing history had come to a dismal end. At least, the matter of killing the monarch had come to a dismal end. It would never be able to create any more waves. Everyone, including the Emperor, was waiting cold-bloodedly and somewhat nervously for the change in Jingdou in a dozen days.
The Emperor was tired. Getting rid of Great Grandmasters Ku He and Sigu Jian was indeed the most beautiful page in his life. It also burned through too much of his strength and energy. After realizing such a long plan, the impact it had on his energy made him far less powerful than people currently saw.
In his entire life, right now was when he was the weakest and easiest to defeat. No one realized this or dared to use this. Other than encircling Dong Mountain and sealing off the news, the tens of thousands of provincial soldiers were desperately pursuing the powers that had infiltrated the country from Dongyi City and Northern Qi.
The tiger was taking a nap but forced itself to keep its eyes open a crack and glowed with a cold light. This scared the people who had come close to becoming sorry excuses for prey. Shan Shanghu, a lone rider, wanted to take Ku He up north, but he couldn’t do anything. Although Yun Zhilan, who was temporarily in charge of affairs in Dongyi, was a brilliant sword master, he was not a master of military strategy. He would not think to launch a courageous surprise attack to obtain astonishing results. This had nothing to do with bravery.
The Overwatch Council was already in action. The previously prepared three groups of people from the Inspection Division were spread out on every road between Dongshan Road to Jingdou. Although Chen Pingping was in Jingdou, subordinates under him managed to execute the Overwatch Council’s powerful and glorious tradition and demonstrate their terrifying ability to lock away information.
Regardless of whether it is Shang Shanhu or Dongyi, even if they were able to release the message during their journey to inform the Eldest Princess far away in Jingdou, it would not make it within a few days. In addition, they had to detour and take the long way while avoiding detection. For the truth of Dong Mountain to reach Jingdou, it would be slower than usual by about a dozen days.
The inconvenience of sending messages actually brought the Emperor and Chen Pingping great convenience.
Fan Xian was carrying out a last desperate fight to the death with Yan Xiaoyi in the depths of the mountains. He didn’t know what had happened on Dong Mountain. After he had successfully killed Yan Xiaoyi, entered Song Kingdom, and headed south from Yanjing, the people escaping from Dong Mountain had only just broke out of the mountains and were heading into territory controlled by Dongyi.
Fan Xian’s luck was not good. He had left the Song Kingdom a few days too early, so he did not hear of the news. Not long after he entered the territory of Qing Kingdom, the commander of the Yanjing camp received a secret edict to quietly take over the headless Northern Expedition Camp, and, at the same time, forcefully sever the boundaries between the three countries.
Regardless of whether the people returning were from Northern Qi or Dongyi, it seemed that they all unconsciously kept their mouths closed tight. By the time the little Northern Qi Emperor received the news, it was already late. Even if he sent a message to the Eldest Princess in the South, it wouldn’t be in time to change anything. However, Dongyi’s Sigu Jian, who was heavily injured and about to die, for some reason, did not try to inform Li Yunrui in Jingdou.
The reason was actually simple. Once the news that the Emperor had not died reached Jingdou, the internal conflict in Qing Kingdom would probably end before it even began. Thus, Qing Kingdom’s national power would not be damaged. This was something Sigu Jian did not want to see.
Sigu Jian had to consider Dongyi’s future after his death. In order to delay the Qing Emperor uniting the world, having the Eldest Princess finding out about the Emperor’s survival a few days later perhaps better aligned with Dongyi’s interests. If the Eldest Princess created a huge mess in Jingdou, Qing Kingdom’s power would be negatively affected. Once the battle began, Qing Kingdom would not be able to recover its vital energy in less than two or three years and send troops outward.
Yanjing to Cangzhou was already strictly closed off. Not long after Fan Xian entered the capital, Jingdou sealed the city. Even if Sigu Jian wanted to inform Li Yunrui, it would not be simple. Most terrifyingly, the Qing Emperor seemed to have accounted for Sigu Jian’s present thinking. The thoughts between the Great Grandmasters were indeed connected.
There was still the most important problem, which was Fan Xian’s safety. As long as Fan Xian could successfully pass through Yan Xiaoyi and return to Jingdou, for the sake of the future of Dongyi, Sigu Jian could not allow Fan Xian to die so early.
In the last days of his life, the Great Grandmaster had to think about more things further and deeper. They had lost the most important battle to the Qing Emperor, but they had put their hope into the future and onto Fan Xian. A man who it did not seem like he could be Dongyi’s hope.
These were all things that would happen in a dozen days. The Qing Emperor was not a precise calculator. He could only deduce a probability. Fortunately, the situation developed not too differently from his analysis.
After handling the matters at Dong Mountain, he didn’t pause at the foot of the mountain. Instead, he traveled northwest through the night and headed straight for Luozhou, entering the city in the early hours of the morning. He entered the Governor’s manor of the Dongshan Road Governor, He Zhiji [JW1] .
That day, Luozhou was strictly closed off. The Jiangbei Road provincial soldiers who had followed the Emperor north took over the heavy responsibility of defense from the local provincial soldiers by imperial edict. A dozen officials and eunuch aces of the internal court took control of the Governor’s manor.
The people of Luozhou watched all of this with wide eyes and shock. They didn’t know where all these unfamiliar soldiers had suddenly come from. Furthermore, the eyes of these soldiers were unkind. They looked like savage beasts and carried a faint stench of blood on their bodies. It was clear they had just come from the battlefield.
Soldiers patrolled the streets of Luozhou and watched everything with wariness on their faces. It brought a sense of severity to the largest city in Dongshan Road. With such pressure, the common people no longer gossiped on the streets. Other than necessary matters, most of the time they hid within their homes in fear.
Inside the manor of the Dongshan Road Governor, Governor He Zhiji knelt in front of the Emperor. He was not particularly fearful, but his face was ashen. After kowtowing twice, he didn’t say another word. He knew he was going to die. He just didn’t know if it would be death by a thousand cuts or pulled apart by horses. Ever since he joined in the Eldest Princess’s plan, he knew what the consequence of failure would be.
He had not thought that the Emperor would so easily resolve the situation on Dong Mountain. Before anyone could react, he flew like a sharp arrow straight into the Governor’s manor and abruptly descended in front of him.
The Emperor didn’t look at him. There was no disappointment on his face. He knew the official kneeling at his feet would become the first Governor to be killed in his post since Qing Kingdom came into being 30 years ago. He was only coldly calculating the days, seeing if he could leave enough time for his younger sister.
Luozhou had become a dead city. No one could leave. Even if the Eldest Princess had put spies in Dongshan Road, it would be impossible for her to know what had happened in the Governor’s manor. Some people outside the city noticed its strangeness and began to send messages back to Jingdou. Before any messenger had gone 10 li, they were killed by the Overwatch Council’s secret agents disguised as commoners.
Chen Pingping had invested 40 percent of the Overwatch Council’s manpower into these three directions. It was no wonder he was forced to draw the Jingdou Garrison into guerrilla warfare around Jingdou. For the Emperor’s edict, the old Director had truly not spared any effort.
They waited for a few days silently in Luozhou as they estimated the time. When the news of the Emperor’s death on Dong Mountain should have reached Jingdou and Fan Xian should have arrived with the posthumous edict, only then did the Emperor, waiting in Luozhou’s Governor’s manor, become slightly more at ease.
After a few more days, the court sent out urgent secret messages from Jingdou to the Governors of a number of Roads. The secret message to Dongshan Road’s Luozhou manor, in particular, arrived at the quickest speed and began to ask about the truth of Dong Mountain, as well as begging for a confirmation.
The Emperor confirmed the news of his death through the formalities in the Governor’s manor. He then waited for the court’s funeral procession to arrive.
On the second day, the court’s bulletin arrived speaking of the matter of the Crown Prince and Fan Xian assassinating the Emperor. Various Governor’s all wrote in and began to set themselves up against the court. Other than the Governors of Jiangbei and Jiangnan, who had inside information, the other Governors were all speaking purely from the position as a border region major functionary and a loyal subject of the Emperor.
Although the Emperor did not receive the memorials of the other Governors, he roughly knew what they would say. At this time, he ordered people to bring out Dongshan Road’s Governor, He Zhiji. He slowly opened his mouth and said, “I chose the seven of you to help me guard the kingdom. The six of them did not disappoint me. Only you…”
He Zhiji had been locked up for many days without food or water. He was already beyond exhausted. Hearing the Emperor’s words, he didn’t beg for mercy. He knew the day the Emperor left Luozhou would be the day of his death. He only kowtowed furiously, hoping the Emperor would show mercy to his wife and mother.
The Emperor looked at him coldly and didn’t say anything.
The next day, the Emperor led the provincial guards, various officials, and eunuchs out of Luozhou. Before leaving, He Zhiji was granted death. His three children were beheaded. Everyone in the Governor’s manor, as well as all the officials at various levels who were controlled up and down Dongshan Road, were all killed. A total of 34 people were killed.
The Emperor was someone easily moved to anger. He couldn’t be bothered to use those harsh punishments to torture He Zhiji, who had betrayed the court. In his opinion, having someone lose their life was means used by a ruler to hold power. It had nothing to do with punishment.
The sixth day after receiving the bulletin of the Crown Prince’s ascension and Fan Xian’s crime, the Emperor who was slowly going from Luozhou to Jingdou, finally saw the group who had come to meet him. The original purpose of this group had been to welcome his body and soul.
After making contact with the court’s funeral procession, the Emperor coldly gave an order for the group to move slightly faster. They continued to press closer to Jingdou.
A few more days passed. Jingdou was still in the distance. The Emperor wasn’t sure what the present situation in Jingdou was like. He and Chen Pingping were like two lonely spirits floating endlessly across Qing Kingdom’s wild fields. They hadn’t put their energy toward the business of gathering intelligence reports.
However, these two lonely spirits cooperated too perfectly and appeared too powerful.
One day, the Emperor passed outside Xinyang. Looking at the unfamiliar city in the distance, he was silent. A moment later, he turned his head back to glance at the hearse being dragged behind them and the large coffin of unknown weight and layers within it. A slight self-mocking smile appeared in the corner of his lips.
“Tell Yunrui,” the Emperor opened his mouth and said.
Eunuch Yao rode his horse alongside and quickly took out a paper and pen, listening intently.
“I am back.”
The Emperor spoke coldly. He then squeezed his horse’s abdomen and rode past Xinyan at the head of the group toward Jingdou in the distance.
The strings on the guqin had snapped. The flowers on the trees had withered. The Eldest Princess, in rainbow-colored clothes, was standing in a daze by the lake in Taiping Courtyard. She looked at the intelligence report she had just received in a daze. She completely ignored Fan Xian, who was sitting not far from her feet.
From when she began this plan, she had already gradually moved her power from Xinyan to Jingdou. This process took two years. Including the already dead Huang Yi and the barely alive Hong Yuandao, they all moved from the palace in Xinyan to Jingdou. After the stormy night earlier in the year, the Emperor and Chen Pingping only used an hour to sweep aside all of the Eldest Princess’ influence.
The Eldest Princess was essentially hidden behind the scenes in this rebellion controlling the larger picture and convincing the strong to take action. She was skilled in this role and had no choice but to choose this role. She controlled the Crown Prince and Second Prince. It was as if she controlled the Ye family and Qin family. With a clever twist of her hands, she was particularly free.
Her personal intelligence network had suffered a fatal blow. It was impossible for it to recover within two or three years. When she received an urgent secret message from Xinyan, she couldn’t help furrowing her brows and feeling slightly surprised.
This intelligence report was fake. As the mistress of Xinyan, Li Yunrui recognized this at once. However, this report was real. Or, perhaps it was better to say that Xinyan was completely under someone else’s control. Only then could they use her own channels to send her an urgent secret message. Who was this person?
Li Yunrui was slightly surprised, curious, and excited. Ripping open the seal, her eyes swept lightly over it. Her gaze focused on the letter.
There were only three words on the paper, but she looked at them a very long time. The emotions contained within her eyes were complicated. These three words seemed to be reflected in her dark and bright eyes. Each word jumped out. Her pupils grew and shrunk. Her gaze brightened and dimmed.
There was a powerful shock in her pupils that soon became a faint disappointment. It turned into an unreasonable anger that quickly transformed into a faint self-mocking smile. In the end, it was like a rock falling into a lake, gradually becoming peaceful.
In a moment, all these emotional changes happened in the eyes of the most beautiful and ruthless woman in Qing Kingdom.
Fan Xian watched her quietly from the side, noticing the changes in her eyes. He didn’t see the craziness that scared him and made his heart ease slightly. Immediately after, he guessed the contents of that letter with a thud.
Even the Ye family’s betrayal and his control of Jingdou had not made Li Yunrui forget herself. There was only one person in the world that could make her become like this.
Li Yunrui lowered her head again and carefully savored the three words on the letter, “I am back.”
The handwriting on the paper was strong and powerful. It was the Emperor’s handwriting. Li Yunrui could immediately tell that this was written by Eunuch Yao for him. Although the Emperor was a diligent monarch, he had to lead a large country and handle a large number of memorials. Sometimes his energy was not enough. Often he would give the less important memorials to Eunuch Yao to annotate on his behalf. After a long time, Eunuch Yao managed to learn the Emperor’s handwriting almost to perfection. It was sufficient to fool the officials in court and Imperial Censors.
Li Yunrui had put a lot of effort into knowing her brother. How could she not see the difference? But, she did not suspect that it was a lie or that someone had used Eunuch Yao’s handwriting to pretend the Emperor was still alive.
She knew that other than the Emperor, no one would think to say three simple and powerful words.
The meaning of these three words was clear: I am back, I am still alive. Do you as see fit.
Without reason, two lines of tears slid out from Li Yunrui’s eyes. This was an indescribable and unexplainable emotion that provoked her tears. They made this girl who loved to cry in front of the empress dowager cry here in the lonely Taiping Courtyard.
This was probably the last message the Qing Emperor would send to his younger sister. They were his last words to her. Li Yunrui thought sorrowfully to herself, Did he disdain to write even these last words personally?
The Emperor would not have thought that these three words would invoke so many emotions in Li Yunrui. He was only announcing his return as an Emperor, like a lion telling the wilderness of his ultimate authority in his territory.
Fan Xian also didn’t understand why the Eldest Princess was crying. There was not a glimmer of craziness on the maniacal woman’s face. There was only a dim sorrow. No matter what, he would not think that the Eldest Princess crying because she was angry and unhappy that the Emperor had not personally written these three words.
Without a doubt, the Emperor and Fan Xian were both clever people, but they still did not understand women. For men, women were, without question, a completely different kind of creature. They were strangers that came from a distant and unknown place.
Li Yunrui’s fingers opened weakly. The message fell from between her fingers. Caught by the early autumn breeze, it landed in the small lake right in the middle of Taiping Courtyard. Soaked with water, the paper immediately sank beneath the water.
In that graceful instant, Fan Xian saw the three words clearly and felt a jolt in his heart. Although he had considered the possibility that the Emperor was still alive after the Ye family’s defection, he still couldn’t help but be shocked when he saw the proof with his own eyes since he didn’t know what exactly had happened on Dong Mountain.
Since the Emperor was still alive, then the Eldest Princess had completely been defeated. Although she had said what she did earlier, Fan Xian knew that if she could destroy all the powerful men in the world in one go, that would satisfy her the most.
This news was good news that Fan Xian had been waiting for. If the Emperor had died, he was truly worried about whether the Ye family would continue on this path.
Fan Xian suppressed his excitement with difficulty and clenched his fist tightly. He stood up slowly and watched Li Yunrui’s back. He was worried that this woman would give some crazy order provoked by this news.
Li Yunrui gently clapped her hands. Many aces surged out from around the little lake. Fan Xian swept his eyes over them but was not worried. In the eyes of normal people, these people recruited by Xinyan were very scary. He didn’t think much of them at all. He was only worried about Wan’er and Da Bao.
Out of Fan Xian’s expectations and also surprising these subordinates, Li Yunrui slowly opened her mouth and said calmly, “You can all go. There is no need for you here anymore.” She paused for a moment then said, “Hide your names and bury your identities. Quietly and peacefully live out the rest of your lives and don’t have such silly thoughts as revenge.”
The subordinates burst into an uproar. Looking at the Eldest Princess with eyes of disbelief, they cried out in pain, “Your Highness!”
From the moment Fan Xian stepped in Taiping Courtyard, these people knew that something had gone majorly wrong with the Jingdou rebellion. However, they still had confidence in the Eldest Princess.
Li Yunrui only smiled indifferently and waved her hand, not saying anything more.
“Your Highness!” The subordinates up and down on the small mound and around the little lake all knelt to her, unwilling to just leave. A few people were even crying.
Fan Xian looked at this scene in shock. Although he knew Li Yunrui already had thoughts of suicide after everything failed, which was why she was sending everyone away, he had not expected the subordinates would be so loyal to her.
He had very little contact with Xinyan and didn’t know how the Eldest Princess controlled her subordinates. With the Emperor’s indulgence and Chen Pingping’s help, he had won more than lost in his battles with the Eldest Princess these two years. Inevitably, he grew slightly contemptuous of her.
Seeing these crying subordinates, who refused to leave, and feeling the loyalty of these people to the Eldest Princess, only now did Fan Xian faintly understand some things. For example, why the Eldest Princess had so much influence in court, why she could convince Ku He and Sigu Jian to take action, why she could control the Crown Prince and Second Prince, why…
This was only a feeling. He still did not understand where the Eldest Princess’s magic came from. He knew it was not an effect that could be achieved through stunning beauty. It was a shame that Fan Xian didn’t know this in the past. Now, it seemed that there wouldn’t be more opportunities to see the Eldest Princess’s true abilities.
Surrounded by crying sounds, standing by the lakeside, the Eldest Princess furrowed her brows slightly and appeared slightly bored. Once again, she waved her hand.
A leading official saw this and knew that matters were settled. He wiped away the tears, knelt down to kowtow to her, and then firmly turned away and left. Once one person left, many people left. These people were not cowardly or afraid of death. Since Li Yunrui had given the order and Her Highness was clearly unhappy, what else could they do other than leave?
There were only the Eldest Princess and Fan Xian left in Taiping Courtyard. Although it was like so earlier, Fan Xian knew there were many people outside watching him. At this time, he knew those people had left. His heart felt lonely and quiet. Looking at the Eldest Princess’s thin shoulders, he felt slightly perplexed.
Li Yunrui slowly turned around. Her hands were placed with great elegance in front of her abdomen. Her wide sleeves hung low and formed a beautiful and luxurious line.
Although there was still a slight smile on her face, her gaze was unusually clear and deep. She was no longer the sinister figure in front of her enemies. She was no longer the weakling that was often slapped and cried delicately in front of the empress dowager. She was no longer the tough, angry, and sad younger sister under the Emperor’s iron-like hand.
She was just the Eldest Princess. She was just Li Yunrui, the one and only in heaven and earth.
Li Yunrui looked at her son-in-law with a slight smile and said, “Knowing that the Emperor is still alive, you don’t seem to be as happy as I imagined.”
Fan Xian lowered his head slightly and said, “Many people have died recently. I can’t be happy.”
“So that’s the way it is. Looks like you are very similar to your mother…” Li Yunrui paused slightly then laughed. Using a strange emotion to stop the topic, she turned and lightly asked, “Have you thought about why the Qin family would rebel?”
Fan Xian furrowed his brows, not understanding the meaning of this question. He didn’t understand why, at this time, she would suddenly bring up the Qin family, which had already been chased out of Jingdou by the Dingzhou army.
The Eldest Princess glanced at him with slight mockery. Shen then turned and sighed, looking at the square piece of paper that had sunk to the bottom of the lake. The lake in Taiping Courtyard was clear and shallow. The white paper gradually dispersed in the lake water looking very much like bloated buns. It drew countless red carp to it to fight for, churning up the water.
She watched this calmly and said, “Really, we are all fish. It is just that we are fighting for different things. This time, I didn’t get anything from this fight. I had thought I would be angry and disappointed. I am angry and disappointed. Only at the very end did I realize that I am actually happy that he is alive.”
Fan Xian was slightly surprised. He immediately thought pityingly that according to what the Eldest Princess said earlier, she had achieved her life’s purpose. As for whether the Emperor died or not, what did it matter? Since the Emperor had come back, the Eldest Princess had probably reached the end of her path.
Then, he saw a sight that shocked him.
Li Yunrui’s expression was tranquil and content. Slowly, she lowered her arms. The wide sleeves of the light-colored palace robes naturally hung down and opened, like the falling curtains of a show. It was like the actors were walking out from the curtains for one last time to express their gratitude toward the audience.
The last actor was not just herself, it included a black poisoned dagger. The dagger was now buried deep in her abdomen, so deep that only the hilt was showing.
Fan Xian’s heart jumped. He flew out, pushing her to the ground. He stretched his hand toward her abdomen.
[JW1] Since the last chapter, the original text consistently used the wrong character for his name. Using “Hou” instead of “He.” The glossary has it as “He,” but this error persists, making it unclear which the author considers “correct.” The glossary translation will be used.