Joy of Life - Chapter 596 - Three Days[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:50:08]
Chapter 596 Three Days
Fan Xian looked at her and couldn’t say a word. He had gradually come to understand something of the world. Perhaps everything was destiny and fated. Duoduo’s background seemed unbelievable. Thinking about it closely, Master Ku He had the idea decades ago. This idea had floated to the future and landed in front of him, on this patch of the grasslands.
There was no need to consider why Haitang was able to make the people of the Northern tribes believe her princess identity. There was also no need to consider how she had done it all two years ago. Since Master Ku He had tossed this variable out, he had already done all the preparations. Ku He fooled his brothers and left a bloodline of the Ka’erna royal court. How could he have not left an item of trust?
“Your parents?” Fan Xian watched Haitang’s rarely dazed appearance and asked in a quiet voice.
Haitang hugged her knees and didn’t move. She still felt the man’s affection. He didn’t ask about matters on the grasslands or forcibly question her. Instead, he thought of the matter she was most concerned about.
“They died when I was very young.” The girl’s face under the hat appeared somewhat lonely.
Fan Xian didn’t continue with this question about her parents or how she was the last nobility of the Ka’erna tribe left in the world. Whether Ku He had killed them in secret was no longer important. Presumably, Haitang also did not want to connect her teacher to such a role, but she must have her own guesses.
“Before he died, teacher said some things to me and allowed me to choose how it should be done.” Haitang looked at the ducks on the surface of the lake. Her brows gradually knitted together. For some reason, the ducks were no longer playing in the dusk. They were hiding with fear in the scarce grass by the lakeside.
“Your decision was to listen to his suggestion, return to the tribe, and then come to the grasslands.” Fan Xian lowered with his head bowed. Songzhi was the royal surname of the Ka’erna, the tribe that had been wiped out by General Zhang Qingfeng decades ago. No one in the world would think that the name Songzhi Xianling would have anything to do with the Hu people. A trace of pity flashed through his eyes. While looking at Haitang he said, “If you want revenge for your parents, you should be carrying it out against Northern Qi. Why are you targeting the Qing Kingdom?”
“Revenge? I rarely think of things that are decades in the past.” Haitang pressed her lips around the tendrils of hair that ventured out and look at Fan Xian. Quietly, she said, “Like you, we all know that such a thing as revenge often cannot be washed clean. I only went to see how people who had the same roots as me were living… An Zhi, the Hu people are still people. They also have the right to continue living. Along this journey of tens of thousands of li, who knows how many people died along the way? The women and children of the tribe, do they not deserve to live too?”
“As for the Qi Kingdom…” She lowered her head with a self-mocking smile. “Although teacher has made clear by birth, he gave Tianyi Dao to me. Presently, I am still the saint girl of Northern Qi. If I wanted the Qi Kingdom, why would I bother running to the grasslands?”
“I just want these people in the tribe to be able to have a stable country to live in.” Haitang stared into Fan Xian’s eyes. “That is why I want to help Su Bida unite the grasslands and end the endless conflict. To bring peace to this grasslands.”
“Peace?” Fan Xian’s voice immediately became icy. “The unification of the grasslands and peace would cause a full-scale battle with the Qing Kingdom. This is the future you are anticipating?”
“I will keep Su Bida in check.” Haitang lowered her head.
“Childish,” Fan Xian said quietly. His tone was very much like the mocking tone Li Hongcheng had harshly scolded him with in Dingzhou. “The ambitions of a ruler are never something you and I can keep in check.”
“Then, tell me what I should do. Should I just watch as the Qing army invades west day by day, until it finally takes over the entire grasslands and kills all of the Hu people?” Haitang’s brows furrowed. “Everyone has the right to life, unless you still think that there is a difference between the lives of the Hu people and the lives of Central Plain people?”
“Naturally there is a difference. The lives of people close to me are precious.” Fan Xian did not back down. “You are only thinking about how the Hu people are going to survive. Did you think about soldiers and people of the Qing Kingdom in Xiliang Road? All along the way west, I saw countless burned houses and women and children being killed.”
“If this is the peace you want, then I will destroy all of it.” Fan Xian’s eyes were narrowed, fixed on Haitang’s face. “This is hatred formed over a thousand years. It is impossible for our generation to remove it. Standing on the side of the court of the grasslands, you wish that the Qing Kingdom would back down. But, I stand on the side of the Qing Kingdom, so I wish that the grasslands would continue to be chaotic.”
Haitang rose and raised her head slightly to look at Fan Xian. “You have already been on the grasslands for a dozen days. Presumably, you have already investigated some matters. Why are you not going back and instead are waiting here for me?”
“I wanted to confirm your role in this.” Fan Xian’s face was deathly pale. “Perhaps even you had not realized that you have always seen yourself as a citizen of Northern Qi and had never thought of yourself as a princess of Ka’erna. You glorify it as helping the grasslands find a space to exist, but, actually, it is for the future safety of Northern Qi. It is delaying the steps of my Emperor for the sake of Northern Qi.”
Without waiting for Haitang to speak, Fan Xian raised his eyebrow and stopped her words. “These are all unconscious actions… Speaking of this, I have to admire Master Ku He.”
He looked at Haitang pitifully. “You are a saint girl and, after Hu Ku, the most extraordinary Tianyi Dao practitioner. But, all your life you’ve been like me, always controlled by a lofty figure. Any choice you make falls within his calculations. Regardless of whether it is actively or passively, Ku He is using you to ensure Northern Qi’s court.”
Ku He had raised Haitang for almost 20 years. He understood his female disciple too well. He had long precisely calculated Haitang’s decisions after learning about her past. He knew that no matter what Haitang chose, it would follow his plan to strike the Qing Kingdom painfully.
Haitang’s expression became lonelier and lonelier. Helping Chief Su Bida on the grasslands had drained too much of her energy. Now, on the lakeside, her hidden thoughts had been directly exposed by Fan Xian—the thoughts she had been avoiding. Only now did she realize…
“None of us are saints. It is impossible for us to view all the people under heaven equally. If I am sinister, then you are selfish,” Fan Xian smiled slightly mockingly and said. “You are using the lives of the Western Hu people to stall the progress of the Qing Kingdom’s Iron Riders. It is indeed beneficial for Northern Qi, but have you considered… Do these people on the grasslands really need a powerful court, and do they need to advance troops toward the east?”
“Ku He was truly very remarkable,” Fan Xian closed his eyes and slowly said. “Although, in the end, he lost to the Emperor, even dead, he has still brought much trouble to the Qing Kingdom. It has to be said, the Zhan family siblings are truly the finest figures in the world.”
The Qing Emperor had fought from North to South all his life and rarely suffered defeats. His one and only complete defeat had been at the hands of the Wei Kingdom Commander, Zhan Qingfeng.
No one would have thought that decades after Zhan Qingfeng’s death, Ku He would plant a mine to the west of the Qing Kingdom right before he died.
“You know I’m not that kind of person.” Haitang did not get angry. She stood quietly by Fan Xian’s side. “Among the many options, I chose the one that was the best for the grasslands and Northern Qi.”
Fan Xian knew that Haitang wasn’t like that. He was purposely trying to anger her. His eyes gradually became icy as he asked, “What about me?”
Haitang turned her head to glance at him. “As you said earlier, we are not saints. It is impossible for us to consider all of the people under heaven equally. Presently, the Qing Kingdom has its sword aimed at the world, and Northern Qi and Dongyi are both swinging in the storm. If you’re hoping that I am thinking about the interests of the Qing Kingdom, is that not absurd?”
“Absurd?” Fan Xian stared into Haitang’s eyes like he wanted to see the depths of her heart. Faintly, he said, “The agreement I made with you a few years ago in that restaurant in Shangjing as the Commissioner of the Overwatch Council, is that also absurd?”
He smiled self-mockingly. “That’s right. I was a powerful noble from the Qing Kingdom, yet I raised my face for you to slap. The Iron Riders of the Qing Kingdom were clearly going to ride through the world, yet I made a deal with the saint girl of a foreign country. Peace? Damned peace. It is absurd indeed. My existence in this world has always been an absurd matter.”
Farming, drinking, and talking set the course of the world for 20 years later. In Shangjing, a place no one knew, under the plant scaffolding in the garden, the two most brilliant young people of Northern Qi and the Qing Kingdom agreed on a goal that others thought childish but was particularly beautiful in their eyes. No war under heaven.
It was a childish deal. Considering the two people involved, it appeared close at hand and could come true at any moment. These two had great influence in their countries. If the situation remained unchanged and the elders gradually retreated from the playing field, the kingdoms in the future would be in the hands of these two young people.
A number of years had passed in a flash. The situation had long undergone an urgent change because of the incident on Dong Mountain. The world was changing, and people were changing. Twenty years had not arrived, but it seemed that Fan Xian and Haitang would never have the chance to farm, drink, and talk again.
“I am unsatisfied.” Fan Xian’s face was pale, but his eyes were growing brighter and brighter. “I left Danzhou five years ago. During these years, no one knew what I wanted to do, only you knew. You know how many risks I’ve taken, how much disadvantage I had accepted, and how much I’ve helped Northern Qi for the sake of our deal.”
He stared into Haitang’s eyes and said in a raspy voice, “You know about all of this. You know why I took the risk of being accused a thousand years later of being a treasonous thief. Yet, you ran away without a trace, came to the grasslands, and began to stab me in the back.”
“I am unsatisfied.” Fan Xian’s eyes gradually grew colder.
Haitang watched Fan Xian’s face and listened to his faint voice. For some reason, it was like her heart was pierced with a knife. It began to hurt so much so that her face turned white.
“I didn’t think that this matter… would involve you.” Haitang stared dazedly at him. She felt that the pain of the man in front of her had fallen on her. “I also don’t know where those knives are from. After learning of this matter, I made a trip to Qingzhou. However, one was stolen by someone else.”
Although Fan Xian had long guessed that the ninth-level ace that had sneaked into Qingzhou and helped him destroy the evidence was Haitang, hearing her admit it made his mood slightly better. However, his expression was still very ugly. “You are still hiding things from me. The appearance of these knives is a very strange matter.”
He grabbed Haitang’s clothes and said with gritted teeth, “You never stopped communicating with that little Northern Qi Emperor. It is clear that he is tricking me this time. What else do you want to hide for him?”
Haitang put her hand on his without any force. She looked into his eyes with tenderness and remorse. “I truly know nothing of this. I also don’t know what problems are going on in Shangjing and why the Emperor would do such a stupid thing.”
It was indeed stupid. In the Qing Kingdom, the Northern Qi’s greatest help was Fan Xian. Although Fan Xian had gradually severed connections with Northern Qi since Dong Mountain, if the Northern Qi Emperor wanted to have a future, it would be difficult without Fan Xian’s help.
Fan Xian knew very well what the little Northern Qi Emperor was thinking.
He moved closer to Haitang’s slightly flushed cheeks and said quietly into her ear, “It is not stupid at all. He wants to force me to defect? No chance of that… Two years ago in Jingdou, he wanted to use the Eldest Princess’s hand to kill me and help the Great Prince take the throne. I haven’t cleared this matter with him yet. How could I defect?”
His words carried a slightly mocking tone. Haitang’s heart became cold. This was the first time she had heard of Northern Qi’s shadow in the Jingdou rebellion. Thinking of it now, the overall context of the matter became clear. The Northern Qi Emperor knew that Fan Xian was one to hold a grudge, so he didn’t dare to put his hopes on him. Additionally, Haitang had been on the grasslands these two years and was unable to be a bridge between the Northern Qi Emperor and Fan Xian. The two sides gradually grew apart. For the sake of Northern Qi’s safety, the Northern Qi Emperor would certainly choose to prod at the relationship between Fan Xian and the Qing Emperor.
“The Emperor also had no choice.” Haitang’s and Fan Xian’s postures were very intimate, but the two people’s words were shocking. Faintly, she said, “These two years, you’ve helped the Qing Emperor reorganize his style of governance, govern the people, and manage the palace treasury. A great war seemed about to happen at any moment, how could he trust you?”
“I don’t care if he trusts me or not. Right now, I don’t even need your trust.” Fan Xian shook his head. His cheeks rubbed against Haitang’s slightly cold face. He took a deep breath and said, “Take back a message for Northern Qi’s little Emperor, just say that I, Fan Xian, will repay him with a lesson that he will never forget for the two large gifts he has given me.”
Haitang’s body trembled as she looked at Fan Xian in shock. She was unsure what he would do. In this world, other than the Great Grandmaster, Fan Xian was the only one arrogant enough to say they would teach the ruler of a country a lesson.
“Don’t forget, you are a person of the Qing Kingdom and the son of the Qing Emperor.” Haitang sighed. “Who would believe that you would stand on the side of Northern Qi or Dongyi? It is a normal thing for the Emperor to not trust you.”
“Even if I stand on the side of the Qing Kingdom, I still don’t want the people of the Qing Kingdom to sink into the endless blood and fires of war.”
“You will not tell me the plans you’ve prepared for the grasslands, but I will do my best to stop you.” Haitang’s hands passed naturally under Fan Xian’s armpit.
“Other than my old man the Emperor, no one else can stop me in this world, not even you.” Fan Xian took off her hat and stroked her hair.
Fan Xian held Haitang tightly as his eyes gradually calmed. Holding her in his arms, he looked up at the sky with narrowed his. A hawk was flying through the dusky light. The ducks in the lake had been intimidated by this hawk and were hiding in the grass.
Haitang had also noticed the hawk. She knew why Fan Xian was holding her like this. She sighed in her heart. She knew that she and the Emperor had let down the young man holding her. Complicated emotions rose in her mind, but she didn’t expose Fan Xian’s intentions.
“Stay with me for three days,” Fan Xian said next to her ear.
On the grasslands about a dozen li away from this lake, hundreds of western Hu riders were protecting their King, the master of this grasslands. Chief Su Bida was looking coldly into the distance, tracking the hawk as it flew through the air.
Songzhi Xianling had left. The Chief was worried that she would never come back, so he had taken his riders and followed. For some reason, the Chief had worry in his heart. He felt as if someone was about to take away the most important woman in his life.
This girl was not very beautiful. She could not compare to the beauties the other tribes gave to him, but the Chief valued her above all others. She had brought him the loyalty of tens of thousands of riders, ways of governance he had never thought of, a new atmosphere to the grasslands, and, more importantly, a rarely found peace to the Chief.
Every time he was with the Ka’erna princess, Chief Su Bida felt that he was in the most joyful moment of his life. Even if he was only sitting across from her and watching her, he was endlessly happy.
He knew she was Northern Qi’s saint girl, the last disciple of Great Grandmaster Ku He, and the mysterious walker among the mortal world. He also knew that Songzhi Xianling was a Hu person, someone of the same tribe as him.
If he was able to sweep across the entire world and conquer the grasslands on horseback and she could sit next to him, the world would surely be much more beautiful.
The hawk gradually descended. Chief Su Bida’s eyes narrowed. Like the hawk’s, it flashed with an intimidating light.
The girl had gone after a man. Who was the man?
The hawk was unable to tell the Chief that the man was gently stroking his treasure, so the Chief was able to maintain his present calm. Fan Xian’s purposeful action did not have the effect he had imagined.
The head of a household looked at the Chiefs clouded face and said in a loud voice, “Charge over and kill him. “Kill him!”
Su Bida did not comment. When Songzhi Xianling left, she had said she would come back. So, she would definitely come back. He respected the girl with the strange background. Although he wouldn’t be opposed to using a sword to announce his might, he didn’t want to use such methods to obtain a woman’s heart.
“Follow them but don’t disturb them,” Chief Su Bida closed his eyes and spoke mildly. There was a coldness hidden in his words that made people’s hearts tremble with fear.
The Chief had numerous court aces at his side. If these hundreds of riders charged over, even if the other man was powerful, it would be difficult for him to escape death on the boundless grasslands. But, he was curious who the person that could move Songzhi Xianling so much. Was it the pretty face from the Qing Kingdom who was mentioned in rumors a few years ago?
The hands of the master of the grasslands grew tighter on the reins, but his expression remained calm. He was destined to be the master of the world. He would not lose his cool because of a powerful official of the Qing Kingdom. But, he would not allow the young man to return alive now that he had come to the grasslands.
The hawk carried a message. The western Hu riders by the court began to gather. Once Songzhi Xianling separated from the young man, they would begin their attack.
They followed them for three days.
During the three days, Fan Xian and Haitang walked slowly across the grasslands. They bought two good horses from a tribe and galloped to their hearts’ content. Then, they went to the sea and caught two nets of small silver fish to bake and eat. On the last night, they stopped at a relatively large tribe. Sitting around the fire, they ate beef and lamb with the Hu people and drank burning wine.
Haitang knew what these three days meant. After three days, the two of them would walk away from this complicated relationship and become each other’s irreconcilable enemy. Thus, these three days needed to be treasured.
Fan Xian also knew what these three days meant. Haitang’s princess identity was not known throughout the grasslands, but she was able to be wherever she wanted on the grasslands. She was using her vibrant reality to tell him that the Hu people and Central Plain people could get along peacefully. The Hu people were not naturally savage and fond of killing.
Because of her remorse, Haitang accompanied Fan Xian for three days. She didn’t ask him another question, but she had no idea what Fan Xian’s true purpose was.
The firelight shone of their faces. It was bright red like two children in the winter who liked to play. Haitang handed two items to Fan Xian and said, “For your children.”
Fan Xian accepted them and saw that it was one strand of red gemstones and a small knife that Hu children liked to play with. They were very cute.
“The gemstones are for Xiao Hua’er, and the little knife is for Langzi.” He raised his brows and said, “Xiao Hua’er will probably like it. Langzi is still young. I’m afraid he won’t like it, but thank you. It’s very thoughtful.”
“Teacher has said that it would be difficult for Madam Fan’s body to give birth. Now that Fan Lang has been born, one of her wishes has been fulfilled.” Haitang smiled faintly. “Presumably you put a lot of effort in.”
Three months ago, Lin Wan’er, who had carried the child with difficulty for 10 months, finally gave birth to a child. Getting in before the Palace granted some random name, Fan Xian quickly named him Fan Lang and added him into the Fan family tree. This matter caused the Qing Emperor great anger. Fortunately, Fan Xian still left the Emperor a chance to give him a courtesy name. Only then did they manage to smooth everything over.
Hearing Haitang’s words, Fan Xian gave a small bitter smile. During these two years, other than helping the Emperor handle national affairs, most of his energy had been focused on curing Wan’er’s illness. In order to have a child, Wan’er had truly paid a great price. In order to create a medicine, he had also suffered a great deal of hardship. Fortunately, the path his teacher Fei Jie had set earlier was right. Thus, Wan’er successfully became pregnant.”
“Why did you call him Fan Lang?” Haitang asked. She knew that after tonight, she and this young man may never meet again. So, she asked questions without pause. She wanted to know exactly what kind of life he had lived these two years and what the people around him were like.
“A leisurely wife, thus a good mother.” Fan Xian smiled slightly. “Very amusing, is it not?”
The people of the tribe gradually went to sleep until there was only Fan Xian and Haitang by the fire pit. Both of them seemed to have felt something. Neither showed any sign of sleepiness. They quietly waited for the arrival of dawn.
“The day is about to arrive.” Haitang leaned against Fan Xian’s shoulder, speaking faintly. At the time of farewell, she finally showed the emotions a girl should have.
Fan Xian was silent for a moment. He then suddenly said, “After the day arrives, once you leave, the passionate Chief will have me dismembered.”
Given their cultivations, they knew that not far behind them, the master of the grasslands was forcefully suppressing his anger. He was waiting to give Fan Xian the most fatal strike.
Haitang closed her eyes and said lazily, “Don’t worry about those matters. I will handle them.”
“I am a man. I am not used to having a woman handle matters.” Fan Xian smiled. The firelight shone on his smile. It appeared particularly intimate and self-confident. “You are very powerful, and the Chief is also very powerful. I will prove that I am more powerful than both of you.”
Haitang sat up straight, watching him quietly, unsure what he wanted to say.
Fan Xian looked at her calmly and said, “I have never liked those stories of star-crossed lovers from different tribes. Duoduo, you’ve plotted for two years on the grasslands, and I’ve prepared for four months. I will completely and utterly defeat you, severing all of the intentions that Ku He left behind. I like the peace and happiness on the grasslands, but for the peace and happiness of the people of the Qing Kingdom, for my own peace and happiness, and for the Chief’s lack of peace and happiness, I must destroy all of this.”
“I have kept you for three days, but I mean to keep you for a lifetime.”
The young man from the Qing Kingdom stood up and spoke quickly as he looked at the dark grasslands before dawn arrived.