Joy of Life - Chapter 586 - Court Case In Passing Time

[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:50:04]
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Chapter 586: Court Case In Passing Time

Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio

Wealth and luxury were like a dream, one’s name in history was nothing but wasted paper. The mortal world was a dangerous place. The hooves of horses left prints on the frosted roads. Each day I listened to the singing of birds. I valued fame as dirt and have long wished to hide in the jianghu. To break through the royal family’s phoenix nest, Bo Yi and Shu Qi were enviable for their hidden abodes. What makes one sigh is Han Xin and Peng Yue dying in Weiyang. It is better to pretend madness and hand in the paper for resignation.

(First by Wang Yuanheng, Toward the Emperor, as an epigraph)

The clouds in the sky were like wet cotton wadding, ready to squeeze out water at any moment. They were also like a big block of lead, weighed down heavily. It was not something that could be supported by the empty air. It seemed that it would fall toward the world in the next instant. Threads of rain had already fallen from the leady cloud. The threads dotted the ground, but no one knew when it would become a rainstorm.

Song Shiren, once the foremost litigation master in Jingdou with the nickname Rich Mouth, now had white hair at his temples. His eyes were no longer as frivolous and easy as before. He had become far steadier. He gazed calmly toward the sky, thinking about something.

A moment later, he pulled back his gaze and sat in the chair, feeling a little tired. At his side was hot tea that someone had brought long ago. He took a sip and rinsed out his mouth. He then accepted a boiling hot towel and pressed it around his eyes. Only then did he feel more spirited.

Someone else helped massage his back and leg. Someone else fanned him. However, the autumn in the ninth year of the Qing calendar was a bit cold to start with. In addition to the autumn that was about to arrive, Jingdou was filled with a desolate cold. How could he endure a fanning? Song Shiren couldn’t help but shiver. The man wearing black official robes at his side glared at the subordinate holding the fan.

This Overwatch Council official was the head of the First Bureau, Mu Tie. He looked carefully at Song Shiren and said, “Sir Song, are you confident?”

Although Song Shiren had listened to his title for a year and a half, he was still not used to it. His brows furrowed. He answered steadily, “Rest assured, sir.”

The first time this litigation master had formally debuted was in the fourth year of the Qing calendar when he helped Minister Guo fight a court case. At that time, he was prosecuting the son of the vice minister, Fan Xian, for participating in illegal fighting at night. That court case was also one of Song Shiren’s rare complete defeats. However, the true reason he had caused a sensation in the Qing court was because of the property lawsuit he fought during the sixth year of the Qing calendar concerning Jiangnan’s Ming family.

During that case, with the great support of the Commissioner of the Overwatch Council Fan Xian, Song Shiren stayed in the Suzhou government for a full half year. He demonstrated, in great detail, all that he had learned in his life. He held firmly onto the loopholes in Qing law and articles of the Ministry of Justice. He utterly defeated the idea of the eldest heir’s natural right to inheritance that was branded so deeply into people’s hearts.

This Ming family property lawsuit was in Jiangnan, but the arrowhead was pointed at the Royal Palace. It had to be said, the Emperor’s later worship of heaven to depose the Crown Prince, as well as the Crown Prince forced rebellion, in the end, had inexplicable connections to this court case.

In Jiangnan, Song Shiren’s brilliance knew no bounds. Once he returned to Jingdou, the Crown Prince had yet to be deposed, and the empress dowager was in a thunderous rage. The old woman only gave a quiet instruction and the Palace squashed this foremost litigation master into an ant. His property was seized. He saw all the scorn of the world. He had a stall next to Lotus Pond Square and lived a very difficult life, almost about die.

Fortunately, Fan Xian returned to Jingdou and secretly sent him out of Jingdou. He also gifted him a large amount of money as a form of repayment. In the eighth year of the Qing calendar, after the incident in Jingdou settled, Fan Xian brought Song Shiren and his family back. He set up a manor for him in the west side of the city and, at the same time, gave him an official’s status.

Although the foremost litigation master in the world could earn a lot of money, his status was never as good as that of an official’s. Song Shiren felt endlessly grateful in his heart. He knew he had to serve Sir Fan junior well. Additionally, having been baptized through bitter experiences these years, Song Shiren was no longer as arrogant as before. He appeared steady and plain but still possessed a powerful ability to practice law.

Presently, his identity was that of the lawyer of the eight bureaus of the Overwatch Council, responsible for fighting court cases for the Overwatch Council.

The Overwatch Council also needed to fight lawsuits. If this matter were to be told from the beginning, it would be a long story. There were actually only two important points. First, a few years ago, the Emperor had completely taken back the Overwatch Council’s authority to investigate a case and had given it to the Ministry of Justice and Supreme Court. Thus, presently, the Overwatch Council more played the role of a public prosecutor.

During those two years, the little duke in the Overwatch Council seemed to have received some kind of provocation. After asking for the Emperor’s edict, he had begun to purge the government. The Overwatch Council had caught countless corrupt officials in all Roads, provinces, and departments. Once the offending officials were caught, they had to be questioned. However, if they were handed to the Ministry of Justice and Supreme Court to question, the Overwatch Council would be dissatisfied and Sir Fan junior would not agree. Everyone knew the words “cover-up” Since the Overwatch Council was seizing officials, they could not give these civil officials the chance to come together.

Thus, Song Shiren, a newly promoted Overwatch Council official who fought court cases, became very useful. As long as he came out, the crimes that the Overwatch Council pinned almost always became confirmed. No matter how the internal departments of the civil official’s system tried to hide them, it was impossible for those offending officials to escape.

What really made the Overwatch Council feel a chill were the edicts the Emperor decreed after the Jingdou incident. Although these edicts were only an extension of the policies put into place when the seven gentlemen entered the Palace and allowed the Imperial Censorate to carry out inspections into internal Council processes, this time, the Imperial Censor of the Left He Zongwei used his royal favor, as well as the very clearly written edict, and began to truly use his power. On one hand, he weakened the Overwatch Council’s power. On the other, he began to carry out attacks on some of the unlawful affairs happening within the Overwatch Council.

The sky was big, and the earth was big. Nothing was as overarching as the Emperor’s edict. Almost two years had gone by and the power of the Imperial Censorate had gradually grown. It was like a chain lying across the Overwatch Council’s neck, making it difficult for the officials of the Council to breathe.

He Zongwei was like a hunting dog standing guard outside the Overwatch Council. As long as officials who clearly belonged to the Overwatch Council did anything prohibited, he would list the offenses heartlessly and unapologetically. He would then send it straight to the Supreme Court, requesting the court to punish according to the crime.

There was not much the Overwatch Council could do. From the inception of the Council, there was this rule. The Qing law prohibited them from acting against the Imperial Censorate. Because of Chen Pingping’s and Fan Xian’s powerful existences, this rule had long been, intentionally or not, forgotten by everyone., The Emperor had newly remembered this matter, so the Imperial Censorate became grand.

Fortunately, Sir Fan junior was still the Commissioner of the Overwatch Council, so the actions of the Imperial Censorate were still comparatively gentle. He Zongwei was careful to not touch Fan Xian’s bottom line and was only making a fuss within the Qing law. He didn’t dare humiliate the Overwatch Council even one iota.

During the Overwatch Council’s secret actions, they would often brush up against the Qing law. With the edict, the Imperial Censorate requested that the Supreme Court carry out an investigation. Even Fan Xian didn’t have any good ways to deal with this. In the end, this was the Emperor’s edict. Furthermore, he knew that the Overwatch Council being a lone power was not a good thing for the court.

Knowing did not represent acceptance. On a day during the eighth year of the Qing calendar, Fan Xian had kicked open the front door of the Imperial Censorate, pointed at the 20 or so Imperial Censors under He Zongwei and scolded them angrily. He then invited Song Shiren back.

Were they not just lawsuits? Was the Overwatch Council a coward?

Song Shiren had fought two cases in a row in the Supreme Court. In one case, the Overwatch Council had found that the vice director of the Ministry of Works was colluding with the river transport yamen in embezzling money. Furthermore, this cache of money was not paid for by the public. It was money Fan Xian had saved with difficulty from his little golden treasury in the Jiangnan palace treasury. It was then shipped to the river transport yamen through the charitable Hangzhou Conference that the wife of the Fan family managed.

The embezzlement had reached the head of the Overwatch Council, so the Overwatch Council would show no mercy. They ignored this vice director’s connections in the court and the letter begging for mercy that the river transport Governor had privately sent. In a dark night, the directly captured over 20 related people and kept them locked in the Seventh Bureau’s prison for several days before sending them to the Supreme Court.

The second case was a bit of a headache. The Imperial Censorate had found that an official the Fourth Bureau had stationed in Nanzhao had secretly taken out a cache of silver Honglu Temple had sent. A problem had been found when this official had returned to the capital to debrief. In the words of this Fourth Bureau official, at the time, the funds were insufficient. In order to expand the network of spies in Nanzhao, he had no choice but to use public funds.

Even he had not kept a record of exactly how much he had used and no one knew. Internally, the Overwatch Council knew this colleague must have benefitted. Even though Commissioner Fan had raised the Overwatch Council monthly salary three times consecutively, it was still tight to be a spy in a foreign country. No one was a saint.

“Is the case ready?” Song Shiren glanced at his assistant, Chen Bochang, beside him. He was the one who had argued the case in Jiangnan against Song Shiren. Who would have thought that, in the end, he would also be half invited and half dragged back to Jingdou? The new law department in the Eighth Bureau was filled with famous litigation masters from all places. Every time he thought of this, Song Shiren, who was at peace with himself, couldn’t help but laugh bitterly. Sir Fan junior was still arrogant in the way he did things. The Emperor had clearly instructed the Imperial Censorate to balance out the Overwatch Council, yet he was openly and publicly acting against the other and doing it with delight.

Chen Bochang made a sound of affirmation and rose.

As the head of the First Bureau, Mu Tie was listening to the side in the Supreme Court. He wanted to see how the vice director of the Ministry of Works would end up and had to ensure that the official of the Fourth Bureau was not taken too much advantage of. All of the officials in the Overwatch Council liked the Eighth Bureau law department. They knew these litigation masters were the biggest protectors of their interests.

He patted Song Shiren’s shoulder and said sincerely, “You can do it, sir.”

Outside the door of the Supreme Court, a light rain gradually fell. Song Shiren drank a mouthful of tea. His face was filled with confidence. With both hands behind his back, he walked toward the Supreme Court yamen. He walked steadily, not caring at all about the Ministry of Justice or the Imperial Censorate inside.

He walked with a careless easiness. The Jingdou people watching from across the street cheered in unison. They all hoped that the Overwatch Council would bring down all the corrupt officials.

It had to be said that although the power of the Overwatch Council had been weakened these two years, its reputation had become much better. Using a few years of time, Fan Xian had succeeded in pulling the Overwatch Council out of the darkness a little. Using a series of thunderous purges, he managed to erect an honorable image of the Council among the public.

Presently, the direction of the talk among the public leaned toward the Overwatch Council, while there was no shame toward the Imperial Censorate.

Song Shiren walked toward the Supreme Court. His face was calm, but his heart was not. Working for Sir Fan junior was indeed delightful. Not only was it delightful to win, but it also brought him the support of many people. This alone was a difficult matter to achieve.

Song Shiren had fought cases for the Overwatch Council for more than a year. He had not lost yet. This time it would certainly be the same. However, he had already offended the entire system of the Qing civil officials. He knew he would never be able to get off the Overwatch Council’s ship. Once he got off, he would be swallowed by a giant wave.

He was not afraid because the Overwatch Council ship was captained by Sir Fan junior. As long as Sir Fan junior was around, no one in the world would do him harm.

“There are some problems in Nanzhao. The Imperial Censorate and the Ministry of Justice found a substantial amount of silver in that official’s home.” Chen Bochang looked at Song Shiren’s expression and carefully reminded him.

“Return the goods. Remove from post. No crime.” Song Shiren didn’t turn around and said in a low voice. “The Commissioner’s bottom line is this. If the Imperial Censorate wants to take another step forward, then the gloves are off. We’ll start with the Ministry of Justice. Very few people there are clean.”

Chen Bochang’s heart went cold. He thought to himself that Sir Fan junior was indeed just like Director Chen, a ruthless character who was extreme in covering shortcomings. It looked like the Imperial Censorate did not accept the three Fan rules, so Sir Fan junior was going to make some trouble.

He couldn’t resist shivering with the chill. With Sir Fan junior doing this, no wonder the Imperial Censorate could never win a case against them. After all, no matter how much royal favor Sir He Zongwei had or how much time and effort he put in, he couldn’t stand against Sir Fan junior, who was ready, at any moment, to become hostile.

If Sir Fan junior truly did become hostile, it was not something He Zongwei would be able to hold up against. Given his personality, probably even the Emperor’s words wouldn’t be effective. Everyone knew how highly the Emperor valued and favored him.

“How come the Commissioner didn’t come today to watch the show?” Chen Bochang swallowed and asked as he walked.

During this year, Fan Xian’s biggest interest seemed to be acting as his subordinates’ patron, listening to the Supreme Court investigate cases, and watching the Imperial Censors’ ashen expressions. Logically speaking, for things like this it was fine to send an official at Mu Tie’s level to listen at the side. Even Yan Bingyun couldn’t be bothered to come, yet he never missed a session.

This little duke would sit in the hall of the Supreme Court with his legs crossed. All of the investigating officials would begin to feel afraid. No one dared to use torture on the Overwatch Council officials, which was the effect he wanted.

“The Emperor sent him away.” Song Shiren only vaguely knew some inside information and didn’t say anymore. Rubbing his wrist, he looked at the Imperial Censors and officials from the Ministry of Justice in the hall. Composing his face and huffing coldly, he began to fight.

Going all the way west from Jingdou, around the green Cang Mountain, past numerous rivers, and after a dozen more days, one would enter the hundreds of li of wasteland that was being reclaimed by the military. This was Xiliang Road, one of the Qing Kingdom’s seven large Roads. This Road was the poorest in the Qing Kingdom but also the one with the most unusual scenery.

A large part of the land in this Road was what the Central Plain regime and Hu people repeatedly fought over. Until the Wei Kingdom weakened and the Qing Kingdom, as well as the predecessor of the Qing Kingdom, began to silently rise up, the country had not, at the time, progressed toward the heart of the mainland. Yet, it began to demand from the Hu people a thousand years of blood debt and land.

They fought for many years. Many people died until finally the piece of land was firmly controlled by the Qing Kingdom army. At the same time, they built a number of cities on it and moved over many people. However, it was, after all, a new land. Other than fields, the commerce was not developed. It didn’t produce any valuable exports. Only in recent years had the number of escaping commoners gotten slightly better.

There were only level fields with few people managing them and an endless horizon line. There were also dirt mounds by the horizon line. The barrenness of the distance appeared endlessly desolate.

The sunsets came later than in any other place in the land. The blood-red dusk enveloped the vast land, shining on an imposing, grand city built from rocks and dirt. It rose abruptly from the edges of the land, flaunting the Qing Kingdom’s national and military power, intimidating the people on the grasslands further west of the grand city.

This was Dingzhou, a strategic town on the Western frontier.

The official road from Jingdou to Dingzhou was well-maintained and wide enough for eight horses to ride abreast. Back then, endlessly manpower and wealth had been poured into this. It had ensured permanent peace to the West of the Qing Kingdom, so its firm control was very worth it.

A group of carriages traveled swiftly on the road toward Dingzhou, as if they wanted to arrive in Dingzhou before the sunset. However, it was a vain hope. Particularly on this piece of wilderness, Dingzhou appeared close at hand but was as far as the horizon. It looked impossible to enter the city before the gates shut.

About 20 li out from Dingzhou was an inn. It was of the military’s or within the Dingzhou military’s jurisdiction. It was a mail inn managed by the Ministry of Works, so it appeared somewhat rundown. Seven or eight men were sitting below the rays of the setting sun yawning. They had already eaten dinner and were getting ready to gamble.

The sky gradually darkened. Strange smiles abruptly appeared on these men’s faces as they moved closer to the rear courtyard, listening to the sounds coming from within. They covered their faces and smiled, thinking that the guy inside was in too much of a rush.

In a stone room in the rear courtyard, the only formal official in the inn, the deputy of the relay station, was holding a girl’s two snowy white legs with both his hands pressing against her soft chest. Grunting continuously, his entire body was covered in sweat. The entire room smelled of sex.

Dingzhou was far away and isolated. There wasn’t much in terms of entertainment and the night came late. Whenever the sun set, he would quickly begin this only entertainment. The girl beneath his body was a prostitute from Dingzhou. Although the prostitutes who were willing to leave the city all had average looks, he liked this girl’s appearance and the soft flesh on her body.

Holding the slippery breasts in his hands, the deputy official was endlessly delighted. He felt that the girl beneath him was made of cotton candy. In particular, her eyes were even sweeter and softer than the well-water in Dingzhou. This three liang of silver a month was truly money well-spent.

Just as he was feeling happy, the door to the room was abruptly pushed open. The deputy official was magnanimous and continued to move his waist as he thrust into her. Without turning his head, he opened his mouth to scold, “Listen, watch if you want, but could you at least be careful and not coming banging open the door. Watch out you don’t give me a heart attack…”

The prostitute he held beneath him giggled, not worried at all that someone would see something.

Suddenly, the deputy official felt something was strange because there wasn’t any noise coming from behind him for a while. He unconsciously turned his head and saw that it was a stranger. Jumping in fright, he bounced up from the bed and tied his pants, forgetting to pull the black blanket to cover up the pale lower half of the prostitute on the bed.

The deputy official wanted to curse him loudly. Seeing that this stranger’s dress was noble, he was scared that this was not someone he could anger or they were an official. His mouth felt slightly dry as he began to feel afraid.

In a trembling voice, he asked, “Who are you?”

Fan Xian sat in the only formal chair in the inn and looked at the pile of people kneeling in front of him. Furrowing his brows, he said, “If I tell you to get up, then do it quickly.”

His journey was following the Emperor’s edict to bring greetings and gifts to the army. Although he was doing it in name, the secret edict he had accepted in the royal study had some other contents. During these two years, it was as if the Hu people had taken some kind of stimulant but also some kind of tranquilizer. They had changed their past romantic battle strategies of advancing in the spring and retreating in the autumn. Instead, they had begun to push toward Dingzhou with great organization. Their battle strategies had become very cunning.

Although the Ye family was still in charge of the Dingzhou military affairs, Ye Zhong was now the Head of the Bureau of Military Affairs and managed all the troops. It was impossible for him to be personally present. Additionally, the Hu people’s attacks had been ferocious and sinister. During the first year, the Dingzhou situation was dangerous. Fortunately, the Emperor had personally transferred soldiers from various Roads to take turns providing aid. Only then did the situation stabilize.

The Emperor and Fan Xian had long noticed there was a problem, but they never had first-hand information. No one knew what was happening within the Hu people, but the situation could not continue like this. If this developed further in Xi Lake, it would likely become a major problem for the Qing Kingdom. Thus, Fan Xia had made this journey. He had to listen to the generals in Dingzhou personally report to understand the situation.

Fan Xian knew the Emperor had personally transferred five Roads of armies toward the West to take turns being on duty because he had the intention of using the Hu people’s swords to hone the Qing Kingdom’s sword. The Hu people’s attacks had coincidentally given the Qing Kingdom an opportunity to train their troops and get ready for the future battle to unify the world.

He would not make it to Dingzhou now, so he could only rest for a night in this broken down inn. Who would have thought that there would be no one to greet him as he walked in? Seven or eight men were eavesdropping like children. In a moment of curiosity, Fan Xian directly pushed open the door and entered. Unexpectedly, he had seen a real-life erotic picture.

The deputy official and the seven or eight officials were kneeling on the ground and repeatedly kowtowing. The officials who had come with Fan Xian knew of his personality and had seen it before. They each went to deal with their sleeping arrangements.

Fan Xian looked at that deputy and jokingly scolded, “Christ, starting before the sun has even done down. If you have the guts for that, then don’t be afraid.”

The deputy’s face was mournful, he knew that he was going to be killed soon. The person before him was the second noblest person in the world, the Commissioner of the Overwatch Council, someone he didn’t have the right to even see.

Fan Xian asked with confusion, “What are you scared of?”

“Sir, you hate evil as your enemy and vehemently hate corrupt officials…” The deputy was on the verge of tears. Collapsed on the ground, he spoke of the people’s impression of Fan Xian.

Fan Xian rubbed the back of his head in confusion. He thought to himself that he was already a father of two children, how come in the hearts of the people, he was increasingly a saint or demon that was not like common mortals?