Joy of Life - Chapter 575 - An Angry Grape[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:49:59]
Chapter 575: An Angry Grape
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Faced with his son’s shocked inquiry, Minister Fan did not continue this topic. He smiled and changed the subject, saying, “Is the situation alright in the Palace?”
Fan Xian replied, “The Great Prince is keeping watch with injuries, the empress dowager is very ill, and Li Chengqian has already been shut in the Eastern Palace. There shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Good.” Fan Jian nodded. His eyes gradually revealed a glimmer of gentleness as he sighed in admiration”. You’ve only been back in the capital seven or eight days. I have to say, to be able to hold down Jingdou for the Emperor in such circumstances, you have improved beyond my expectations. You’ve done very well.”
Although he had received praise from his father, Fan Xian did not feel any joy in his heart. Smiling bitterly, he said, “The Great Prince and I fought desperately in Jingdou, but who would have thought that the Emperor had already calculated for everything. If the Dingzhou army had not defected in the end, it would have been impossible to hold the Royal Palace…”
Without waiting for him to finish, Fan Jian waved his hand and stopped him “The Emperor thinks far into the future, and his holy heart ranges far. It is not something that we, as officials, can arrogantly guess at.” The tone of these words revealed a trace of unnaturalness. He continued to speak and sighed, “As for the Ye family, it was truly out of everyone’s expectations. Who would have thought that after years of pressure, they were the Emperor’s hidden pawns?”
He looked at Fan Xian and revealed a slight cultured smile. “From this, it seems that your judgment concerning the attack in the valley a year and a half ago was right, and I was wrong.”
Fan Xian was silent. After the attack in the valley last year, he and his father had once analyzed the problem of the city guarding crossbows. After the matter, they knew it was the old Qin family’s action, but they had once wondered if the Emperor would take out his anger on Ye Zhong. From this, they began to talk about the distribution of various military powers in the Qing Kingdom. Abruptly, they realized that during these 20 years, other than Ye Zhong, who had always been the Commander of the Jingdou Garrison, the responsibility of being both the Commander of the Imperial Army and Commander of the Internal Guards ha only ever fallen to Gong Dian.
At that time, Fan Xian suspected that point. Since the Emperor had shown such trust in the Ye family, why would he force the Ye family to join hands with the Second Prince and lean toward the Eldest Princess? However, Fan Jian had given him the reason he believed. Fan Xian had thought it reasonable, so he had let go of this suspicion.
Unexpectedly, the truth of this suspicion, the truth behind the Emperor’s silent tolerance of many suspicious and weak points, was finally revealed in the chaos in Jingdou.
The Emperor had woven a huge maze. Not only had it confused the Eldest Princess and everyone in the world, it had even thoroughly fooled Fan Jian, a trusted confidant with whom he had grown up.
Speaking of the attack in the valley, the sight of the white snow that day, red blood, heads in front of the Bureau of Military Affairs, as well as his arrogance, all rose involuntarily before his eyes. He couldn’t help but laugh bitterly. He thought about how childish and laughable his arrogance that day was in front of the Emperor and Eldest Princess.
His heart moved. He opened his mouth to ask, “Father, I’ve always had a question. Why did Qin Ye betray the Emperor?”
This was not just his question. This was many people’s question. However, the battle for imperial power, for control of the world, made everyone assume that the Qin family’s betrayal was like every internal conflict in the history books. It was inevitable and right.
Fan Xian had heard the Eldest Princess’s words before her death. A poisonous flower bloomed in his heart. He began to pay particular attention to this question. Although the Qin family had a 10 percent share in the Ming family and secretly commanded the Jiaozhou Navy to massacre the island, for an elder of the military, just for the sake of his face, it would be enough for the Emperor to pass over these matters lightly. But, only as long as he remained absolutely loyal to the Emperor.
What kind of creature was the Emperor? If he had ever suspected Qin Ye’s loyalty, how could he allow him to stay in the position as Minister of the Bureau of Military Affairs for so many years? These years, the old Qin master had constantly said he was sick and didn’t come into court, yet the position of Minister had never been made empty.
He spoke about this confusion out loud. Fan Jian didn’t think before saying coldly and directly, “Also on the day of the attack in the valley, I had once said the empress’s father’s head had been chopped off by me. Who knows if those heads that should have been taken off were completely done so.”
Fan Xian’s heart trembled. He understood what his father meant. The Qin family stood on the Eldest Princess’s side in the rebellion. Perhaps they were also involved in his mother’s strange death 20 years ago.
“At that time, I went with the Emperor to Xi Hu for war, Chen Pingping had been moved to the Yanjing area of deal with the emergency situation in the North, and Ye Zhong had gone with the backup troops to be stationed in Dingzhou to hold the fort for the Emperor…” Fan Jian’s eyelids drooped slightly. “However, at the time, Qin Ye, following old court precedent and in his position as Minister of the Bureau of Military Affairs, controlled the headquarters of military power in Jingdou. If it was said that he participated in the rebellion in Jingdou, no one would think it was strange.”
If the old Qin Master had been one of the original culprits responsible for killing Ye Qingmei, then the night that ran red with blood four years later, when the empress’s entire clan was slaughtered and the nobles of Jingdou purged, why was the Qin family not involved in that? If the Emperor, Chen Pingping, and his father joined hands to avenge his mother, how could they let the old Qin master go?
Meeting Fan Xian’s questioning gaze, Fan Jian slowly said, “The problem was that there was never any evidence that clearly said the Qin family had participated. Just like the empress dowager, at most, it was a crime of tolerance.”
Fan Xian furrowed his brows slightly. Chen Pingping had once said this him too. Concerning his mother’s death, the empress dowager was probably not a main culprit and was only guilty of tolerance. Examining this matter critically with his father, Fan Xian suddenly realized that Director Chen probably thought differently and had endless suspicions about the role the Qin family had once played.
The person who could best prove Chen Pingping’s thoughts about the Qin family was the Deputy Commander of the Black Knights, Jing Ge. Such a dangerous figure who wished to wipe out the entire Qin family, yet Chen Pingping still quietly brought him in under his own wing. Why did he do that? Was it for when he fell out with the Qin family in the future?
A chill grew from the bottom of Fan Xian’s heart. If the Qin family had, as Chen Pingping though, participated in the killing of Ye Qingmei, how could he live until now? Thinking of this, a streak of coldness began to surge out of the depths of his body, seeping out of countless pores in his body, making the entire study as cold as winter.
He had once guessed countless times and come close to the truth, but he didn’t dare ask. He didn’t even dare ask Chen Pingping. Furthermore, Chen Pingping had distanced himself with endless coldness and did not give him any chance to open his mouth.
There had always been a knot in Fan Xian’s heart. He had always quietly turned his attention toward Northern Qi, feeling a natural fear toward the Qing Kingdom. However, it seemed that this knot was going to untangle and reveal the inky truth inside. Thus, he fell silent. Smiling slightly at his father, he said, “If the Qin family actually participated in the matter, it could be said that they had received their retribution today.”
He worried that this father would follow this line of thought and think of the things he secretly feared earlier. He rushed to open his mouth and say, “The Emperor is returning to the capital in the next few days. Earlier, the court had been preparing his funeral matters. I don’t know how they are going to turn around so quickly.”
Fan Xian smiled. “The Ministry of Rites will take of such things. What needs is there for you to be concerned?”
Fan Xian shrugged and didn’t say anything more. Minister Fan also fell into silence, revealing a glimmer of confusion on his face. The atmosphere in the study became strange.
Presumably, all the nobles and officials in Jingdou who had survived were silent in their residences. No one had thought the Emperor would be able to come down from Dong Mountain alive. In their shock, they also thought of the Ye family’s defeated move, as well as a number of waterproof plans in the rebellion. All of the officials’ respect and fear of the Emperor had been raised to a level that had never been reached before.
Fan Xian looked at his silent father and rose to say a few more words. He then turned and left.
Leaving the study, he walked toward the back garden bordering the street to see Wan’er. Along the way, the evening breeze was as cold as water as it washed over his face. Unexpectedly, a wave of joy came over him. He took a deep breath, preserving the injury in his body, and thought blankly about Chen Pingping’s letting go of the attack in the valley. Because of this severance, it was no wonder that the old cripple was the most incredible man in the world. He had long seen everything clearly, yet he carefully hid the truth from him and did those things alone. He even used this severance to maintain his own peace after the event.
Fan Xian had been learning from Chen Pingping. Now, he could only be silent. His father was going to quit his post and return home. What point was there in having his guesses sink him once again into the dangers in Jingdou and be unable to extricate himself? For the sake of each other’s safety, both had to sever. Only this was truly love, like how Chen Pingping loved him.
Fan Xian very much wanted to see Chen Pingping.
At this moment, Chen Pingping was traveling around Jingdou happily. Occasionally, he gave an order to have the Overwatch Council cooperate with the Emperor’s actions. Even if he had to return to Jingdou before the Emperor arrived, it would not happen tonight.
However, someone came to the Fan manor to look for Fan Xian. The night was already dark. Fan Xian still hadn’t had the time to see his wife. Somewhat impatiently, he was invited out of his manor. Seeing Gong Dian at the door, he sucked in a deep breath and pushed down the irritation in his heart. Bowing, he said, “Sir Gong.”
Earlier, he and his father had been discussing this man in the study. They knew that he was one of the people the Emperor trusted the most, so he spoke measuredly.
In Gong Dian’s opinion, Sir Fan junior was the person closest to the Emperor. Not daring to think too highly of himself, he bowed as a person of lower status and said in a heavy voice, “There is a matter I must trouble you with.”
Fan Xian was one of the Dukes and could accept such a bow. Furthermore, in the days before the Emperor returned to the capital, he was still the regent. However, hearing the word “trouble,” he knew that it would be a big trouble. His head couldn’t help but start hurting.
Too many people had died in the Jingdou. Plus, Fan Xian was not in a very good mood. The battles around Jingdou still raged, but peace was gradually returning within the city. He had to rest and think. He wasn’t happy about being disturbed.
Fan Xian forcefully suppressed the irritation in his heart. Looking at him, he said as evenly as possible, “What is the matter?”
Gong Dian looked at him and seemed to hesitate and feel awkward. Even when he had chopped toward the military elder, the old Master Qin, among tens of thousands of rebel soldiers during the day, he had not looked to be in such a difficult situation.
Fan Xian also didn’t say anything and only looked at him calmly. Perhaps the pressure was too great. Gong Dian swallowed and said, “Please, will you come to the manor with me, I can’t reason with the young mistress…”
Hearing these words, Fan Xian immediately understood what had happened. During the day, he had been busy killing and rescuing people and had completely not thought about this. Now, the night was dark, people were quiet, and the smoke was slowly dispersing. He immediately thought of a major problem the Ye family would run into after having followed the Emperor in achieving a meritorious deed of all ages.
“The Commander has left the capital in pursuit and ordered me to take the young mistress back to the manor. Unexpectedly, the young mistress refuses to comply…” Gong Dian had stood guard by Zhengyang Gate for a long time. At night, he immediately ran into a major problem. He knew that in Jingdou, probably only Fan Xian had the right to handle the matters of the royal family. Thus, he had not worried about Dingzhou’s face and had straightforwardly spoken of the problem.
Fan Xian continued to look quietly at Gong Dian and allowed him to talk. There was no derision or mocking in his eyes, but it made Gong Dian feel an involuntary wave of unease and shame.
Fan Xian took a deep breath and didn’t say anything. Of all the people still alive in this matter, it was probably the worse for Wan’er and her best friend Ye Ling’er. His wife hurt over the death of her mother, while Ye Ling’er’s feelings of grievance and anger would probably not reduce.
When Ye Ling’er had married the Second Prince, it could truly be considered willing and voluntary. No one had guessed that this marriage was just one step in the plan between the Emperor and Ye Zhong. Ye Ling’er couldn’t even be considered a pawn. She had only paid out her emotions and marriage and become a bargaining chip in the Ye family gaining the Eldest Princess’s trust. Now that things had come to a head, only now would she abruptly realize that her father had been trying to defeat her husband.
Of course, her husband was using her to control the Dingzhou army.
Thinking of this, Fan Xian involuntarily thought of the Eldest Princess’s last words before she died. All the men in the world were controlled by the ideals of righteousness such as reputation, power, and the so-called unified world. They really weren’t anything. Perhaps this included him. But, he could not do such a thing. He developed countless feelings of disgust toward Ye Zhong, who had sold his daughter.
Gong Dian seemed to have guessed what he was thinking. His expression was very unnatural.
Fan Xian shook his head and said, “The Second Prince is also shut up in the manor?”
Gong Dian made a noise of acknowledgment.
Fan Xian lowered his head and said, “That’s fine. The Emperor had said on Dong Mountain to not kill if it could be avoided, particularly Chengze.”
Gong Dian raised his head in shock. He knew of the news that the Emperor was alive, but it was the first time he had learned that the Emperor had related such a thing to Fan Xian on Dong Mountain. If the Emperor truly wanted to leave the Second Prince his life, that would be a great stroke of fortune.
Everyone in Dingzhou liked Ling’er very much. When the truth came out today and Ye Ling’er mourned as if her heart had died in the manor, all the soldiers in the Dingzhou army felt incomparable shame and unease. Hearing now that the Second Prince didn’t have to die, and Ye Ling’er didn’t have to be a widow, it was easier to break to her.
Fan Xian sighed in his heart. Thinking now of the Emperor’s instructions on Dong Mountain, only now did he understand that the Emperor had already calculated confidently that he would return to the capital and the Eldest Princess, leading the Crown Prince and the Second Prince, would be sure to fall. That was why he had purposely reminded him to leave the Second Prince his life.
Leaving the Second Prince a life was actually leaving Ye Ling’er a man, leaving the Ye family, this family of great meritorious service, a sliver of face. If the Second Prince abruptly died, what was Ye Ling’er to do? This would be heavily talked about. How would the Ye family live?
Although the Emperor had calculated this long ago, Fan Xian still went to the manor. Even though there was no love lost between him and the Second Prince, Ye Ling’er had, after all, called him teacher countless times. Furthermore, as the regent, he had to carefully handle the captive princes. If something went wrong at the manor, it would be difficult for him to explain it.
Without raising his head to see the banner up top, he directly entered the Palace accompanied by Gong Dian. There were soldiers keeping watch all around. Even if the Second Prince still had people in his hands, he couldn’t turn into a mosquito and fly out of his cage.
This was Fan Xian’s first time entering the Second Prince’s manor, so it was inevitable that he felt a little strange. He wondered what the brother—whose personality, appearance, and aura were so similar to his own—was thinking about right now.
Gong Dian stayed outside the back courtyard as Fan Xian entered alone. The garden was quiet and secluded, completely unlike the scenery a prince’s manor should have. The light in the room was still on. Although the night was deep, the young Prince and his wangfei were still unable to sleep.
Entering the room, he saw only Ye Ling’er sitting silently by the table with a distressed look on her face. There were still tear tracks at the corner of her eyes. Her usually bright jade eyes had unexplainable and indescribable tiredness and grievance. Most of it was hidden but unexpressed anger.
This wangfei was like an old tiger who could leap forward at any moment and bite someone to death. Putting aside being used by her husband, she had been lied to by her father and thrown out by her clan. How was she to endure this?
A faint sense of pity rose in Fan Xian’s heart. Walking to her side, he said in an even voice, “Gong Dian means well to have you return to the manor. After things have cooled down a bit in a few days, you and Chengze will still be in the same place.”
Ye Ling’er only now realized that it was him who had come in. The mockery in her eyes flared. She wanted to say something mockingly, but her heart was full of grief. She lowered her head and began to cry soundlessly.
Fan Xian had never seen Ye Ling’er subdued and sorrowful. For a time, he didn’t know how to console her.
A moment later, Ye Ling’er raised her head and looked at him spiritlessly. “Why are you not being a regent in the Palace? Why have you come here?”
“To console you,” Fan Xian replied.
Ye Ling’er slowly shook her head.
“Don’t be so stubborn. Even your father can’t do anything about this. When it comes down to it, if the Second Prince had listened to you from the beginning and joined in on this matter, there wouldn’t be this situation today.”
Seeing Ye Ling’er’s bleak appearance, Fan Xian began to feel angry without reason. These few years, his attacks against the Second Prince had hidden an unconscious thought of his, which was to use the Overwatch Council and the Emperor’s favor to cripple the Second Prince’s strength, cutting off his thoughts for the crown. Unexpectedly, the Second Prince’s desire for power was powerful. In addition to the Eldest Princess’s clever manipulation, this plan was completely ineffective.
Ye Ling’er laughed sorrowfully at herself and said quietly, “Teacher, naturally, I don’t blame you for this matter. To end up in such a situation, it is all down to him. During these years, even you couldn’t beat back his desire. How could I, a mere woman, convince him?”
“You don’t need to persuade me to leave the manor. He was involved in a rebellion, who would give him a lifeline?” Ye Ling’er’s expression gradually calmed. “Regardless of what kind of person he is, in the end, we are husband and wife. Since father and the people in my clan have never viewed me as a person, then I may as well go with him and be a couple under the Yellow Springs. Presumably, he would not be able to continue his dreams of being an Emperor in that desolate place.”
Fan Xian’s heart jumped. He could clearly see a desire for death in Ye Ling’er’s calm expression. In a slightly trembling voice, he said, “I will tell you clearly that on Dong Mountain, the Emperor personally instructed me that Chengze will not die.”
Hearing these words, Ye Ling’er abruptly raised her head. A glimmer of hope and unexpected joy appeared in her eyes. It immediately dimmed, confusing Fan Xian.
Ye Ling’er shook her head and sighed quietly. “Everyone says that he is outwardly warm, but inside he is indifferent and heartless. Actually, these words are not wrong. Even his mother in the Palace is respectful toward him. In his life, when had he felt true warmth? Not only is he heartless toward others, but he is also very cold and severe to himself.”
“I am his wife. I have to know him a bit better than you outsiders. You have no idea how proud a person he is in his heart and how he holds himself responsible. The complete and utter failure this time is a great blow against him. Even if father leaves him a lifeline, what face would he have to keep living?”
She raised her head and looked at Fan Xian with a helpless and broken-hearted expression. “After returning to the manor, he will not say a single word. I know he is already thinking about death. If, at this time, even I left, then everyone in the world will have abandoned him. He will go very simply.”
Fan Xian took a deep breath and said straightforwardly, “Where is he?”
Second Prince Lil Chengze was crouched on a chair, holding a bundle of grapes in his hands and bringing them to his mouth. This was a sight Fan Xian had seen countless times. Now, the Second Prince’s hair was disheveled and untied. There was an indiscernible expression on his handsome face. The corners of his lips were slightly upturned as if he was smiling mockingly at something. His entire person appeared to be dejected.
“If you died, who will look after Lady Shu in her old age? What about wangfei?” Fan Xian sat down across from him and said as calmly as possible. He looked flatly at the other person, as if he was looking at another him.
Fan Xian and the Second Prince’s temperaments were very similar. This was something that had long spread in Jingdou. Although the two clearly looked different, when they sat across from each other, it was like looking at oneself through a mirror.
Fan Xian looked at the other person and thought to himself, If my mother was not Ye Qingmei, if mine and the Second Prince’s identity were switched, all I would be able to do would probably be to sit on a chair and eat grapes.
The Second Prince seemed to just realize that Fan Xian had arrived. Smiling slightly, he said, “Can I still survive?”
Unwillingly, Fan Xian repeated the Emperor’s edict.
The Second Prince smiled self-mockingly and said, “Living like a dog, trapped for the rest of my life in the manor. One day in the future, as father nears his death and before a new Emperor rises, the Ye family will also be put to death like a dog, and I will be granted death. Do you think that if I survive, my future like will be like this?”
Fan Xian was silent.
“Since it is so, why should I be a burden on Ling’er or on that shameless father-in-law of mine?” The Second Prince shrugged. “Furthermore, there is no purpose in living like this.”
Fan Xian said, “Looks like your lofty aspirations have already been extinguished.”
The Second Prince suddenly halted the movement of bringing autumn sweet and juicy grapes to his lips. The smile on his face was just as sweet. He looked at Fan Xian and faintly said, “Thinking of it now, the words you said in the teashop in front of Baoyue Brothel were right. These two years, you’ve always wanted to strike down my lofty ambitions. Thinking back over our relations, I have to thank you.”
“Speaking of which, it is quite strange. I had always thought that aunt and father-in-law would help me. Looking around, it is you, my biggest enemy, who once had a glimmer of sincerity for me.”
The Second Prince sighed in admiration. “You are truly an odd one of the Li family. The Mistress of the Ye family was indeed just as uncommon as in the rumors.”
“And me?” the Second Prince continued and began to laughing with tears streaming down his face. “What am I? I thought that my calculations were beyond that of others, that I had countless people standing in support behind me, and that the throne was only just around the corner. How was I to know that father had arranged everything, and I, this clever person, wasn’t even as good as a pawn, not even as good as that coward Chengqian. I can’t do anything. I don’t have any ideas. I am just like a weak child. I only know how to stupidly watch everything happening.”
As the Second Prince raged, his voice grew higher and higher. It was unclear what he was angry about, but it was clear that it wasn’t targeted at Fan Xian. Perhaps he was angry that ever since his youth, his father had put him in the position of a whetstone, forced, step by step, to where he was today. Perhaps he was angry at Ye Zhong’s heartless defection. Perhaps he was angry at himself for being born within the Royal Palace.
Fan Xian was silent. From Wan’er, he knew that this Second Prince, who had she been close to since childhood, had the nickname “Rock. Any simple rock that had been ground by the Emperor with the sword of imperial power for so many years would involuntarily be imbued with some evil tendencies and negative things.
“What am I?” The Second stared at Fan Xian. Pointing at himself, with tears and snot smeared all over his face, he laughed loudly and said, “I am a joke!”
Fan Xian wanted to say that it seemed that everyone in the world was a joke. However, these words didn’t come out. As he watched in shock after the laughing and crying Second Prince said the word “joke,” he spat out a mouthful of black blood right onto the purple grapes.