Joy of Life - Chapter 576 - The Watcher In The Maize[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:49:59]
Chapter 576: The Watcher In The Maize
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
The black blood sprayed onto the purple grapes and dripped down, wetting the ground lit by the lanterns. The Second Prince had his head lowered, and mouth half opened. The bottom half of his jaw was covered in blood. Both his eyes were lowered. Without looking at Fan Xian, he raised his hand to stop his thought of walking over.
“The moment you walked in the manor, I took the medicine.” The Second Prince crouched on the chair, his head hung low. Faintly, he said, “I know you are Fei Jie’s student, but the poison has already entered my heart. You won’t be able to save me. I also don’t want you to save me. You have to know that although you are powerful, you can’t stop my dying.”
As long as someone had the desire to die, nothing would save their lives. Fan Xian understood this and calmly watched. His mind was a complete blank. He didn’t have a single thought. He was not just going to stand by and watch. Not because he had a glimmer of brotherly affection or the Second Prince, rather, he couldn’t let him die in front of him.
“There is no need to worry. I have already written a suicide note. The Palace will not blame you. No one will think you killed me.” With his head down, the Second Prince rummaged in his clothes with his bloodstained hand and pulled out a letter. He gently placed it on the table.
Before his death, who would have thought that he had even considered Fan Xian’s worries? Fan Xian’s heart felt slightly icy. He knew that the Second Prince was as Ling’er said. He was ruthless to himself to some level and had severed any hope at life.
The Second Prince glanced at Fan Xian with an envious gaze and spat out another mouthful of black blood. He used his sleeve to wipe carelessly at his lips and two slender fingers to carefully break off the grapes that had been stained by poisonous blood. He left behind a small portion before bringing it to his mouth again.
The sweet and juicy grapes were chewed to pieces in his mouth. With a pfft sound, the Second Prince spat out a grapeseed on to the ground, still carrying black blood.
Finishing the grapes, he wiped his hands clean on his clothes and sighed. Looking at the silent and barely moving Fan Xian, he faintly said, “I don’t want to continue living as a joke.”
Fan Xian nodded, showing he understood his thinking.
“Actually, you are also a joke.” Gradually, an ashen color rose to the Second Prince’s face. His gaze was somewhat muddled and scattered. Remembering something, he said, “There are many people who want to kill you in Jingdou. Yes, the first to take action was me, but do you think that Chengqian has much kindness for you? The Qin family didn’t kill you in the valley, so he bounced around in anger all night in the Eastern Palace. But, why?”
He stared into Fan Xian’s eyes. “Why is your attitude toward Chengqian completely different to yours toward me?”
Fan Xian also didn’t understand this. The Second Prince was about to die, so his words were direct, piercing directly into his heart. Why had he always shown the Crown Prince tolerance and gentleness while he always harassed the Second Prince at all cost?
The Second Prince’s eyes drooped without strength. His voice was very low, “You don’t like me. From the very beginning, you didn’t like me. Of course, I also don’t like you. We are too similar. However, I never had luck as good as yours. No one would allow another one of them to exist in this world. They would all unconsciously try to get rid of the other.”
His gaze was cold and helpless. “If you were Sir Jai from the Songguo Manor, then I would be Zhen Baoyue from Jinling, never having many opportunities to appear in the books. But, I am the real one. I am the real one!”
As the Second Prince spoke, he coughed up more blood. The blood smeared all over the front of his robes.
Fan Xian looked at this scene in front of him. His body was frozen, unable to make any reaction. The Second Prince raised his head for the last time and stared at Fan Xian’s face. With some difficulty, he said, “I have always thought that Chengqian was the most cowardly of us brothers. It was not until I am about to die that I realized it is me who is the most cowardly. I would rather die and pettily leave behind Ling’er and my mother than have the courage to face…”
“After I die, help me look after Ling’er… As for my mother, the best for her is probably to be banished to the Cold Palace. I must trouble you to take care of her.”
The Second Prince’s chest rose powerfully as if something was going to burst out. Staring into Fan Xian’s eyes, he barely managed to finish speaking. Without giving Fan Xian any chance to speak, he opened his mouth, and a huge puddle of black blood gushed out. He breathed no more afterward.
After he died, the Second Prince remained crouching on the chair with his left hand on his knee and an ashen color on his face. A moment later, his body fell off the chair with a crash. However, his eyes refused to close, staring widely.
Fan Xian looked at the Second Prince’s body with a wooden face. He suddenly wondered why an evening at the beginning of autumn was so cold?
He shivered with cold. His emotions were complicated. He had no idea what he should feel faced with this body. Perhaps the silence right now was the best? The Second Prince, this true prince, had died. How could the fake soul in his flesh to continue on?
The color on his face became uglier and uglier. It was not because the Second Prince had committed suicide in front of him or the heart-piercing things he had said his death. Instead, it was his last request for him to look after Ling’er and Lady Shu.
He didn’t even give me a chance to refuse, Fan Xian thought to himself. His expression was desolate like when the Eldest Princess had died. The Crown Prince knew that he had to die and had entrusted the rebel soldiers and those officials to him. Why? Do you not know that I am your irreconcilable enemy? Were your deaths not caused by me? Why are you all throwing so many burdens to me before you die? Do you want to crush me? Are you all betting that I will help you? All of you dead people! You can die, but you want me, a living person, to live unhappily?
He lowered his head, absolutely stupefied, as his body trembled slightly. Then, he walked to the Second Prince’s body, glanced at it, and picked up the thin suicide note on the table. Putting into his clothes, he walked out of the sinister room.
Walking to the bedroom in the back garden of the manor, Ye Ling’er sat stupefied, like him, under the cold light, knowing absolutely nothing about what had happened in the garden. Fan Xian sighed in his heart and walked up behind her, chopping down with his palm, he knocked her out without giving her any chance to react.
If he didn’t knock her out, once she learned about the Second Prince’s suicide through poison, she would probably follow him. Fan Xian could only use a rather direct method to stall the matter.
Gong Dian came forward. Fan Xian bent his head down to think for a while. He handed the suicide note to him and, at the same time, handed him Ye Ling’er, who was on his shoulder. He then said something in a low voice. Gong Dian was shocked as he accepted the fainted Ye Ling’er. Once he heard about the Second Prince’s death, he furrowed his brows even deeper.
“The Second Prince wrote a suicide note so the Emperor will not blame us.” Fan Xian sighed immediately. “Before wangfei wakes up, bind her hands and feet and then tell her this news. If she won’t eat, force feed her rice porridge. No matter what, make her drink it!”
These last two sentences were said coldly between gritted teeth. Gong Dian thought that it could only be done this way. He didn’t notice Duke of Danbo’s loss of self-control. After thinking for a moment, he said helplessly, “But the young mistress’s temper is like fire. We can’t bind her for her entire life.”
Fire is not scary. It comes quickly and leaves quickly. At least it wasn’t as piercing as the chunks of ice he and the Second Prince were, Fan Xian thought to himself. Lowering his voice, he said, “After a few days, when things have calmed slightly, I will come again to console her.”
After dealing with the matters at the prince’s manor, the night in Jingdou had gradually receded, and it was already early in the morning. In the distance in the east, there was a faint smudge of white showing above the horizon. Fan Xian could not go rest. He had too many things he needed to do. After detouring back to the Fan manor, he went directly to the Royal Palace.
Although Minister Fan had said the matter should be handled by the Ministry of Rites and Taichang Temple, Fan Xian could not forget his position as regent and pretend it had never happened. Furthermore, he was still the vice minister of Taichang Temple. Minister Ren Shao’an had gone with the Emperor to Dong Mountain for the worship. No one knew if he would come back alive.
He stood shoulder to shoulder with the Great Prince and looked at the three coffins in front of them. The two brothers remained silent.
One day ago, the two of them had stood on the Palace walls worried about the safety of the Palace and territory of the Qing Kingdom. No one would have thought that by now victory and defeat would have been determined. The people writing the history of the world had already changed their names. No one also would have thought that the black coffins beneath Fan Xian’s foot during the crisis of the Royal Palace would already hold the bodies of the defeated.
The Eldest Princess and Second Prince were lying peacefully in their coffins. There was still one empty coffin. No one knew who would lie in it.
“This doesn’t follow the rites.” The Great Prince’s expression was heavy. The space between his brows was refusing to show sorrow. The Eldest Princess’s death was understandable and acceptable, but the brotherly affection between the Second Prince and him was not fake. Although the brothers had been drifting apart these two years, seeing the scene in front of him and thinking of the person in the coffin, the Great Prince still felt a great pain in his heart.
Fan Xian nodded tiredly and said, “The officials of the Ministry of Rites had all been scared away. As long as the Emperor doesn’t return to the capital, the Six Ministries cannot pull themselves together. There are also very few people in Taichang Temple. This is just a temporary arrangement. After all, the face of the royal family has to be looked after. We can’t just let them sit in the manors.”
The Great Prince sighed and didn’t say anything more. Turning around, he walked toward the interior of the Royal Palace. Compared with the group of imperial soldiers escorting the coffins at his side, his retreating figure appeared particularly bleak.
Fan Xian watched him quietly and shook his head. He knew that the Great Prince was almost at his breaking point with the repeated pressure, as well as the news of death gradually trickling in. Thinking of this, only now did Fan Xian feel the waves of exhaustion coming from the depths of his body. He could barely keep his eyelids up. Furrowing his brows, he slapped his face and said to the subordinate at his side, “Back to the manor.”
He had returned to the manor four times in one night, but there had not been a moment of peace. Fan Xian calculated closely. From the preparation of breaking into the Royal Palace, it had already been two days and two nights since he had slept. His injuries had reappeared. The medicinal effects of the ephedra pill had died completely. He didn’t eat anymore. The physical and mental energy of his body had reached its limits.
After returning to the manor, he looked at everything in the dark and did not go to visit Wan’er in Lady Liu’s rooms. Lowering his head, he sat silently on his bed for a while. With one foot, he kicked the black chest under the bed. Without even taking off his clothes, he stretched out and laid down.
Although he was clearly exhausted, he couldn’t fall asleep. He stared at the black ceiling of the room with bright eyes.
He woke up shortly after falling asleep. After all, Jingdou was still in a state of chaos. As the regent, he could not leave too much time for rest and pain. After rising from bed, he randomly ate some food and used a hot towel on his face to force himself to recover his energy.
As he walked out of the door, he unconsciously glanced at the bed and fatal chest that sat for many years in the dust. It lay peacefully under the bed like the Eldest Princess and Second Prince in their coffins, never to be disturbed again. Regardless of whether it was a chest or a person, perhaps only by becoming an unremarkable existence, placed in an unremarkable place, can one obtain true peace.
As he left the manor, he unconsciously glanced back at it. After coming back from Taiping Courtyard, he had not seen Wan’er. He didn’t know how his wife was feeling. Thinking of this, a gloominess rose to his face.
As he entered the Palace, he unconsciously glanced at the gates. There were burn and scorch marks everywhere. Some of the cracks caused by weapons revealed the wood shards within. However, the copper nails that had fallen from the gates had long been cleaned up, only leaving behind countless ugly scars.
Fan Xian acknowledged that the Palace, city, and country were, after all, somewhere he had lived for 20 years. He had developed deep feelings for this place, even though the Palace was sinister and cold, the city had disappointed many people, and the country had made some grave mistakes. It was still his country.
He had always considered himself a person of the Qing Kingdom. Before many things were investigated clearly, he did not object to doing his best to protect the peace of the people in this country while he lived his happy life.
So many people had died. He was going to live well, unless there were people who didn’t want him to live.
Scholars Shu and Hu were invited back to their manors to rest temporarily. These two officials had been annotating memorials in the royal study for an entire night. A large portion of the urgent memorials from various Roads in the Qing Kingdom had already been cleaned out. However, the two scholars were not made of steel. Their energy levels were far below that of Fan Xian’s. After suffering repeated scares and not sleeping, they were long exhausted.
Fan Xian sat in the empty royal study and couldn’t resist shaking his head. Usually, when the Emperor was there, although the royal study was still just as peaceful, it was filled with an unusual feeling. Was it dignity or something else? In any case, it felt completely different from the royal study now.
He didn’t know how the Emperor had come down from Dong Mountain alive, but he knew that his behavior would certainly please His Majesty. It looked like he could sit steady in the position of a powerful official. Thinking of the unifying battle that would be revealed in two or three years, Fan Xian’s mouth tasted a little bitter.
A gentleman does not take advantage of an empty room, but Fan Xian was not a gentleman. He sat alone in the royal study looking at the mountainous pile of memorials on the low table and low couch. He thought about how the Emperor ran all the affairs of the Qing Kingdom from here. His heart jumped a little.
He rose and looked quietly in that direction. Tilting his head slightly, he wondered what it would feel like if he sat down on it. Immediately after, he shook his head. The corner of his thin lips twitched up as he revealed a self-mocking smile.
Having been the regent for one day and one night had almost made him exhausted. Looking at the wretched faces of the two scholars as they were supported by the eunuchs, Fan Xian confirmed that the job of Emperor was certainly much more tiring than that of the Yellow Emperor, who defended against countless women each day.
The old saying still stood. In the world, there were three kinds of people: men, women, and Emperor. Those who could become true rulers were not people.
“Have the Third Prince come here.”
Fan Xian smiled slightly and spoke to the eunuch outside the royal study. Immediately after, he remembered that Hong Zhu and some of the people who had taken part in the rebellion were still shut up in the Cold Palace. He didn’t know how the Emperor would deal with them after he returned. From the perspective of outsiders, Hong Zhu had basically not done anything. There shouldn’t be any problems.
Before much time had passed, the Third Prince, who had gradually grown into a young man, arrived outside the royal study accompanied by an old maid and a few eunuchs. Fan Xian glanced at the old maid and waved his hand to dismiss them. Picking up the Third Prince’s hand, he came to the table holding the memorials.
Li Chengping’s hands were a little bit cold. The gaze with which he looked at Fan Xian was not quite the same as it was in Jiangnan. It appeared respectful and fearful.
The corner of Fan Xian’s gaze had noticed this, but he didn’t really care. Respect through fear, but there was no further sense of distance. He knew that his behavior in one day and night had left this prince with a deep impression, one he would probably never forget.
This was a problem in pedagogy. Other than Fan Xian, no one else understood in this world. To train a nine-year-old, who dared to operate a brothel and kill people, into becoming a kind-hearted ruler, simple virtue and preaching would not be enough to complete the job. He had to make the Third Prince understand that with many things in the world, the goal could also be reached through relatively just and honorable ways.
The Third Prince needed a role model. That was why, starting from the trip to Jiangnan, Fan Xian had set himself up as a role model in his heart. He was an immortal poet, a strong warrior, and a powerful official. He was the Third Prince’s savior. In the hearts of most of the common people in the Qing Kingdom, he was a good person.
Fan Xian hoped that the future Emperor of the Qing Kingdom was also a good person, just like the Crown Prince?
“Sir… I heard father…” Li Chengping looked at Fan Xian with some fear.
Fan Xian smiled. “With the Temple above, of course, the Emperor has heavenly protection. Naturally, those tiny things could not hurt him.”
“Oh.” A glimmer of joy appeared on Li Chengping’s face. Although he knew that if his father died, he would, under his teacher and elder brother’s protection, become the next Emperor of the Qing Kingdom, he was, after all, only a youth. His thoughts were not that ruthless.
Fan Xian pretended he didn’t care, but he was carefully watching the change in emotions in Li Chengping’s eyes. He thought to himself that he had not seen wrong.
“In the future, His Majesty will probably often have you come to the royal study to listen.” Fan Xian paused after saying this. Slowly, he said, “Get familiar with the place first, Your Highness.”
The Third Prince had come to the royal study before. He also knew that his brothers the Crown Prince, second brother, eldest brother, and even teacher often came here to listen to his father and the officials discuss business after the court conference had been dismissed. However, in the future, this royal study would probably be much emptier.
“There are probably a lot of things that no one dares say to you.” Fan Xian thought for a moment and then calmly said, “But, I must tell you.”
The Emperor was about to return. Fan Xian had to give the Third Prince his own instructions. He knew that this child’s thoughts were meticulous, which was why he had used “Your Highness” to refer to him earlier but was directly addressing him as “you” now.
“The Great Prince is naturally interested in fighting. In the future, he will eventually be stationed at the border.” Fan Xian’s expression was slightly heavy. Using his own words, he outlined the Emperor’s future plans. “His nature is straightforward. He would not voluntarily do anything that would harm brotherly affections. You must be assured of his and not be overly suspicious.”
The Third Prince’s hand trembled as he looked at his teacher’s face. He didn’t know why he was suddenly talking about this.
“As for me, I will eventually leave. This world is so big. I have to go to the edges of the sea so as to not waste my life.” Fan Xian smiled slightly. “So you shouldn’t doubt me. Even after you grow up, you shouldn’t doubt me.”
The Third Prince opened his mouth but felt a sliver of fear for some reason.
“These are not things I should say as an official,” Fan Xian drew back his smile and calmly said. “But, I want to tell it to you. I’ve been alive 20 years, and I am already tired of the guessing and testing of intentions between people. Regardless of whether you believe this or not, when you are older, please, remember these words.”
Just as he said, these words had already broken a huge taboo in the royal family. Even scarier, this was said by an official. However, Fan Xian said it calmly and naturally. Li Chengping looked dazedly at his teacher’s usually handsome face, which was presently rather sallow, and unconsciously nodded his head.
Three days had passed. Jingdou had already calmed. The three riders once again entered the capital, announcing to the world the news of the Emperor returning from the worship. The still astonished people of Jingdou were overjoyed. Standing on top of the Palace walls, Fan Xian didn’t know what they had to be happy about after suffering so much hardship.
The Emperor came back three days later than the scheduled time. During these three days, the military reports from the Dingzhou army came in endlessly to the capital through the military and Overwatch Council’s channels. Fan Xian thoroughly indulged himself as the regent, stamping wildly with the Emperor’s royal seal in both hands.
This day, the message had finally arrived. Taking the Third Prince, Fan Xian, along with the Great Prince and old royalist officials fortunate enough to survive, passed through the streets still scarred with weaponry out of Zhengyang Gate and stopped 10 li out.
Thousands of people knelt down densely. There was no space to stand on the official road. Many people just kneeled directly in the maize on either side of the road. At this time, the autumn harvest had not arrived. The golden grains pushed through the warhorses’ hooves, carrying a heavy harvest. They swayed in the slight breeze. The emotions of countless people swayed like the grains, gazing intently at the bright yellow royal entourage approaching from the distance.
Fan Xian pulled his gaze back from the maize fields and looked with a smile at the nervous and joyous Third Prince at his side.