Joy of Life - Chapter 635 - The Waves Retreating[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:50:23]
Chapter 635: The Waves Retreating
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
In an instant, the waves on the shoreline expressed their rage to the reefs and yearning for the sand. The waves sounded like thunder and looked like snow, quickly retreating and leaving silence behind. It looked like half an eye of sapphire sea and half of the blue sky.
Fan Xian heard her words clearly and couldn’t help smiling roughly. “If I was a woman, I would be living much more happily than right now.”
He knew the little Emperor had too much dissatisfaction and unwillingness in her heart. As a Qing person, Fan Xian did not have much opportunity to experience the little Emperor’s schemes and power plays. Their private interaction these years made him realize that although the Northern Qi Emperor was even younger than him, her resolutions were particularly mature. She acted with unusual coolness and heartlessness.
Perhaps the throne was an incubator that could turn one into a strange creature?
This female Emperor next to him had been raised as a boy from birth. Her growing process was a completely strange one. Until now, she had not become mutated. She had become a cold Emperor with great ambitions and an insubordination to the designs of fate. It should be said that Northern Qi’s Empress Dowager was truly a remarkable figure.
He had thought there was a big problem between the empress dowager and Emperor and had wanted to use it to put a wedge in Northern Qi politics. In the end, he had helped this mother and son throw up a smoke screen, got rid of Shen Zhong, and subdued Shan Shanhu. Fan Xian found this rather distasteful, but his admiration for the mother and son grew stronger.
“Woman?” The Northern Qi Emperor held her hands behind her back and faced the boundless sea. A glimmer of mockery rose to the corners of her lips. “In this world, all women are subordinate to men and forever in a position to be controlled. If you were really a woman, you would probably spend each night crying uncontrollably.”
Fan Xian was silent for a long time then suddenly said, “You detest your female identity, don’t you?”
“Yes,” the Northern Qi Emperor replied coldly. “If my body was not that of a woman, how could I be threatened by you?”
Fan Xian smiled and didn’t say anything. He thought that this female Emperor’s heart was truly like that of a heartless man. She considered everything in terms of power and country, and lacked a great deal of the gentleness he had imagined.
The two of them sank into silence at the same time. They stood side by side watching the sea with their hands behind their backs. Not far from them, Si Lili, in a light yellow robe, held an elegant paper umbrella in one hand and crouched down slightly to pick at the shells on the seaside. No one knew if her attention was on the two of them.
Fan Xian’s brows twitched slightly. He remembered standing with his Emperor on wooden boards by the Danzhou seaside three years ago and looking at the ocean. At that time, the white waves had risen from beneath their feet. Now, he was standing with the Northern Qi Emperor and looking at the sea. Besides the changing of situations and movement of time, these two viewings of the ocean expressed many things. After struggling and fighting for a long time in this second life, he finally had influence that was impossible for others to have in both the Qing Kingdom and Northern Qi.
The Northern Qi Emperor’s expression was cold. Her straight brows appeared particularly dull. Her bright eyes seemed to be telling others to stay away. Her long lashes laid calmly on her eyes.
“The diplomatic group has reached Dongyi. It is time for me to leave,” she said suddenly as she kept her eyes forward. “I must admit, it disappoints me greatly to have taken such a risk to come South and not have obtained any benefits.”
“There is nothing to be disappointed about. At least you didn’t kill me and cast the world into chaos.”
Fan Xian looked at her expression. For some reason, he felt a faint sense of pity like during that crazy night when he had seen her crying frantically. He knew this female-bodied and male-hearted Emperor had not lived happily in this life. Quietly, he said, “Although you are the ruler of Northern Qi, you cannot change the truth that has already been decided.”
The Northern Qi Emperor’s voice was slightly sharp as she said, with a harsh and cold tone, “For example, the fact that I am a woman?”
Fan Xian smiled bitterly and wondered how they got back to that again. Shaking his head, he said, “It is difficult for a single person to change the entire world. It has nothing to do with being a man or a woman.”
Coldly, the Northern Qi Emperor said, “From what I have seen of the past 30 years, the most large-scale failure and the most astonishing failure both happened to be two women who were not satisfied with the designs of fate and stood out bravely. How do you explain that?”
How to explain it? Fan Xian was completely unable to explain it. One of the women was his mother, and the other was his mother-in-law. As a junior, one could reminisce, feel melancholy, and hold a grudge but could not explain.
He said, “My mother’s failure was in being too benevolent. The Eldest Princess’s failure was in being too sentimental.”
The Northern Qi Emperor watched him quietly and smiled. “Actually, the reasons are simpler than what you said. However, you don’t dare to speak it.”
Fan Xian would not continue this topic in front of her. Quietly, he said, “Today, you are leaving. Concern yourself with tidying up state affairs and helping your people. As for other matters, it is best to not act blindly without forethought.”
“Before you become the Emperor of the Qing Kingdom, don’t be expect me to count on you for anything,” the Northern Qi Emperor said. “This has nothing to do with trust. It only has to do with the power of your words. That day Sigu Jian took us around Dongyi … You should understand the purpose of that.”
Fan Xian sighed. “He took me to talk about the past and future, to see Dongyi, and deepen my affection. It was for this purpose.”
“Dongyi is not like my Northern Qi or your Qing Kingdom. This city is special. If Sigu Jian still wants to preserve Dongyi’s special quality after he dies…” the little Emperor turned her head and looked at him. “He can only hope that you will become the Emperor of the Qing Kingdom.”
Fan Xian smiled self-mockingly. “Do you think that is possible?”
“That is precisely what I look down on you for. You hesitate to choose one direction and are stuck in an impossible situation. You have no idea what you need to do.”
The Northern Qi Emperor turned her head. “If you really are a saint-like figure like Master Zhuang and don’t wish for the people of this world to sink into the fires of war, then you can’t be idling away your time like this. You do your best to repair the situation, but you have not made any foundational changes to the big picture. In the end, you won’t have helped anyone. You don’t need me to tell you how tragic an outcome that would be. You should understand that yourself.”
Surprisingly, Fan Xian smiled and said, “Looks like you finally believe I have the potential to be a saint.”
The Northern Qi Emperor was silent for a long time. She then slowly said, “Other than believing you are a saint, I cannot think of another reason for what you are doing.”
Dongyi had been subdued and he held the biggest secret of the Northern Qi royal family. If Fan Xian only saw himself as a subject of the Qing Kingdom and focused solely on helping the Qing Kingdom unite the world, there were too many things he could use and too many powerful cards he could play.
But, he hadn’t done anything. Just like how the little Emperor described him, he had dashed around fixing everything and forcefully subduing all possible disasters under the darkness of the Overwatch Council.
“I don’t want to be a saint, nor do I have the ability to be one.” Fan Xian lowered his head tiredly. “I have just become much braver than before and am willing, in this life, to change things that I don’t wish to see in accordance with my thoughts.”
The Northern Qi Emperor looked at him and smiled. “Even if you have to pay with your life?”
“No,” Fan Xian said straightforwardly. “Having myself survive is the most important, having the people close to me survive is the second most important, and having innocent commoners survive is the third most important. If that day truly comes, I think the only person who could kill me in this world would not kill me.”
“Why? Because he is your father or because he knows that you have the Temple behind you?” A strange light flashed through the little Emperor’s eyes.
Fan Xian smiled and said, “The Emperor has no fear at all toward the Temple.” Then, he stopped and didn’t explain further. There was no need for the Northern Qi people to learn of the Emperor’s fear toward Uncle Wu Zhu.
“I have some questions about what you said earlier.” The sea breeze blew against the Northern Qi Emperor’s firm expression and didn’t move her non-existent fringe. It also didn’t make her appear slightly weak. “You think that living on is the most important thing. Let me ask you, if the person being compared was Princess Chen, do you still think you living on is the most important thing?”
Fan Xian was silent. The Temple’s tablecloth, the painting, the ancient legends, the white-clothed girl hiding under the table gnawing on a chicken thigh, the snow on Cang Mountain, the medicine when they first got married, the crying in the carriage, and the usual silence all rose before his eyes. Suddenly, a powerful sense of remorse and guilt rose in his heart. Raising his head, he said, “Of course, her life is more important than mine.”
“The disciple aunt of the Fan family?”
After a long silence, Fan Xian gently nodded his head. The Northern Qi Emperor looked at him with a smile and said, “You are truly a strange person. You are so protective of even an old cripple, yet you don’t have the courage to give your life for your children.”
“They are still young.” The expression in Fan Xian’s eyes was empty. “When it comes to matters of affection, other than a bond of blood, there is still the matter of nurturing it over time.”
The Northern Qi Emperor was silent for a long time. She then said, “So, it seems that even if I have a child with you, I still won’t be able to control you completely.”
Fan Xian thought for a moment and then said, “We are actually very similar people: cold-blooded and heartless. However, you are a woman, and I am a man.”
“Heartless? Your earlier words almost made me think you are a saint with the interests of all people in your heart.”
“Didn’t Sigu Jian say that all saints are heartless?”
“He never said that.”
“I don’t want to argue about this.”
After the little Emperor sudden glanced at him, she said, “You are my first man and also my last. Although I don’t like that feeling, I don’t object to having a child for you.”
“I also don’t object.” Fan Xian’s smile was somewhat mysterious. “One of my three greatest wishes in his life is to have many, many children.”
He suddenly changed the topic. “However, as for that nonsense of being your last man, don’t say such foolish things. You are an Emperor. Having tasted the so-called marrow, you will long for its flavor. I am willing to bet that after you’ve grown and are in firm control of the Northern Qi court. A lot of medicinal dregs will appear in the back palace in Shangjing.”
The Northern Qi Emperor didn’t understand his joke but understood the meaning within. Her face paled and anger appeared but was immediately hidden. Coldly, she said, “Do you think I’m a bastard like you?”
Fan Xian shrugged. “Who knows? No one dislikes the joy between man and woman. As for the matter of a child, you didn’t manage to get with child that summer day in the old temple. Maybe you won’t be able to this time either.”
“I don’t like men.” The little Emperor stared at him.
Si Lili, who had been silently strolling by the water, walked over and stood beside them. Her expression was calm. She didn’t say anything.
The little Emperor grasped Si Lili’s waist and looked at Fan Xian. “I like women. This is my woman.”
“Such a thing does not shock me. You don’t know, but the two men I liked best were Zhang and Cai. They both liked men.”
Fan Xian shrugged and looked at the two people with completely different auras and expressions at his side. Suddenly, his heart leapt. He raised his hand, passing it quickly over their foreheads with soft fingertips. Quietly, he said, “You are both my women, that is enough.”
The little Emperor’s brows furrowed as if not used to this light touch by the sea. With slight anger, she said, “How presumptuous, I…”
“What? Do you think you can say that you don’t like men in front of me and expect me to believe it?” Fan Xian looked at her calmly. “You’ve acted for 20 years. It’s been tiring. You don’t have to act in front of me.”
“I don’t like men.” The little Emperor looked at him calmly. “I chose you because you are beautiful, more beautiful than a woman.”
Once these words were out, Fan Xian lost, tragically so.
The Northern Qi Emperor smiled slightly and said, “Of course, other than being as beautiful as a flower, you have other benefits too. I once said that I had chosen you in the past because, presumably, Duoduo had also thanked you for recording the achievements of a lady’s chamber, but…” She furrowed her brows. “I still do not understand how you found out about my secret.”
Si Lili nestled against the Northern Qi Emperor’s side and opened her eyes wide. Presumably, she was also filled with great curiosity about this matter.
“There was the scent of golden osmanthus flowers in the ancient temple. Later, I learned from the Great wangfei that such gold osmanthuses were only planted on a mountain behind the palace in Shangjing. In the entire world, only the Emperor used such a fragrance.” Fan Xian quietly told his story.
The Northern Qi Emperor’s brows tightened further. She would not have guessed, and found it difficult to believe, that such a light fragrance had exposed her secret.
“Of course, Your Majesty’s interest in the ‘Story of the Stone’ was also a bit over the top.” The corners of his mouth twitched. “Bao Dai’s story is one of the best tools for determining gender.”
“I still don’t believe it,” the Northern Qi Emperor said coldly. “What a well-kept secret, yet you were able to think in this direction because of those two things? I admit you are the cleverest person in the world, but…”
Before she had finished her words, he already understood her meaning. Any investigation into a secret needed a lure. If not one dared to think about it, then no one would suspect it. The little Emperor still did not understand how Fan Xian could think in such a direction.
He stood by the seaside and laughed joyously. The sound of his laughter followed the waves and traveled far, far away.
“Do you know who Zhu Yingtai is? Shakespeare’s love? Mu Wanqing? Coffee prince? The pregnant female bishop? Hanazakari no Kimitachi e?” Fan Xian said loudly as he looked at the two dazed women beside him. “It’s Horikita Maki, my favorite!”
A massive joke came to an end. Fan Xian immediately felt his body relax as he stood by the seaside.
In martial talent, he was not as talented as Haitang or Thirteenth. In power plays, he would not be able to catch up his Emperor, even if he whipped his horse. He wasn’t as good as his father-in-law in nurturing students and was far inferior to Chen Pingping, and even Yan Bingyun, when it came to schemes and plots. He wasn’t as good as his father in enduring and letting go. He wasn’t as unyielding as Ku He’s, nor did he see what he wanted as clearly as the little Emperor. And, he wasn’t as good as Sigu Jian in seeing all creatures as ants.
There were too many talented people in the world, Fan Xian wasn’t special at all. The only thing he could rely on was his own hard work. However, he was doing so well in his second life and was standing where he was because his mother had come to this world ahead of time. Like her, he had experiences that no one else had. This was the source of his courage and foundation of his confidence.
Lang Tiao was on a large tree by the seaside. The tips of his toes pressed against the branches. He gently swayed with the sea breeze. The curved knives at his side clinked together. He narrowed his eyes and calmly looked at the seashore. He couldn’t hear what the Emperor and Fan Xian talked about, but he clearly heard Fan Xian’s wild and even arrogant laugh at the end.
The three people by the seashore knew not that not only was there Lang Tiao, but other powerful figures from the Sword Hut may were also watching their conversation from the shadows. However, they were not worried. They faced the ocean. There was not a single person on the ocean.
Fan Xian’s hand held the Northern Qi Emperor’s hand. Then, he grabbed Si Lili’s hand. Calmly, he said, “No matter which of your gets with child, don’t forget to tell me, the father.”
After these words were said, the Northern Qi Emperor’s expression darkened as she glanced at Si Lili. Fear rose to Si Lili’s face, but she was probably not very afraid in her heart. If one were looking from behind, Si Lili was leaning against the Northern Qi Emperor’s side while Fan Xian was standing on the other side. The shadows of the three people were set off against the blue sea. They did not appear insignificant. On the contrary, there was the slightest sense of warmth.
As night fell, a group that had been closely guarded but did not have any markings left Dongyi. Other than members of the upper echelon, no one knew that this group contained the Northern Qi Emperor and noble consort Li.
With absolute determination, the Northern Qi Emperor had come bravely to Dongyi and tried to seek out a final chance of victory for her country. In the end, she returned gloomily. Other than obtaining some neutral words from Fan Xian, she had reaped nothing.
Of course, for a woman—even one that said she liked women—to be able to have such a night and such a beautiful beach in this absurd and dangerous life of an Emperor, perhaps it would become a story she would never forget.
Was it not enough to just have this? When the Northern Qi Emperor looked back at Dongyi in the dusk, was she thinking about the future of Northern Qi or that man?
The Northern Qi diplomatic group still remained in Dongyi, but they had already given up for home. Although Dongyi still treated them with respect, everyone could clearly see that they were already negotiating with the Qing people.
Somehow, the details of the negotiation were leaked out. The conditions the Qing Kingdom demanded were not harsh. In fact, they were unexpectedly relaxed for the merchants and people of Dongyi. Other than the vassal countries, who would have to send out hostages into Jingdou, the reactions of the common people were quite normal.
Of course, they would be hurt and disappointed like Yun Zhilan, but there were not any overly intense reactions.
The negotiations were still ongoing. This matter had great implications. Even if it went on for a year, it was completely necessary. Thus, none of the secret documents from the palace in Jingdou were pushy. On the contrary, the Qing Emperor told Fan Xian to not rush. His tone was reassuring.
Fan Xian was not in a rush. In the past, the negotiation for the beautiful city in the South had taken a number of years. He was strolling around Dongyi thinking by the seaside and occasionally drinking tea with Thirteenth Wang to repair their relationship. His entire behavior was not that of a powerful official from the Qing Kingdom. He was like a Dongyi man of leisure with nothing to do.
Time passed swiftly. Fan Xian had been in Dongyi for almost a month. Finally, he once again entered the Sword Hut to visit the Great Grandmaster, who was bedridden because of the injuries the Shadow gave him.