Joy of Life - Chapter 667 - Rising Wind[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:50:34]
Chapter 667: Rising Wind
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
When the Overwatch Council went over the major matter at the beginning of autumn in the10th year of the Qing calendar many years later, there were still many problems they were unable to explain clearly. When Director Fan Xian returned from Dongyi to the capital, he was met with sudden attacks by Dongyi volunteer armies all along the way. Had someone in court purposely released the information or had it been a coincidence? After all, only the high-level officials in the Overwatch Council knew his whereabouts.
When the old Director passed through Dazhou on his way to his hometown, it just happened to become brilliantly lit and swarming with murderous intent. Was this a coincidence or was it the will of heaven? Perhaps it was the latter. At that time, the sky had already changed color. The intelligence officials in the Second Bureau of the Overwatch Council did not investigate it meticulously.
The Ministry of Justice officials handling state affairs in Dazhou did not know there had been a long line of black Overwatch Council carriages outside the city that night. Even fewer people knew that old Director Chen, who court officials saw as a demon and were terrified of, had been among the carriages.
They had only received a secret order from their superiors and spent a full year searching for a criminal. As for the criminal’s name, no one knew. The only clues they had were the criminal’s martial habits and disguises he had used. As for what the criminal looked like, no one knew about that either.
Perhaps it was the will of heaven that made Chen Pingping witness the siege in Dazhou. It was precisely because Chen Pingping understood the will of heaven that he stopped his return home in Dazhou and headed back to Jingdou, where he should have stayed his entire life.
Concerning everything that happened in Dazhou, one had to start from what happened the prior month, which did not just concern Dazhou.
At that time, Fan Xian had still been meditating by the seaside about the willpower Sigu Jian had imparted to him, as well as the small volume Master Ku He had left behind. He had savored the nature of the Tyrannical zhenqi in front of him and wondered if the Emperor had created burden on his body by cultivating the Tyrannical Way to its peak. He had been watching the waves of life and death and felt that everything in the world had already happened. The spring flowers had already bloomed, and the autumn moon hung in the sky. He was the second most powerful person in the world and was feeling pleased, He had felt there was nothing difficult in the world. Everything could be resolved.
Yet, at that moment, a slight change happened to the affairs of this world.
It had been early in July. The entire land had been enveloped by the hottest heat. Jingdou had not been an exception. The Third Prince, Li Chengze, held a book in his hands and was reading intently. Sweat beaded on his delicate face and dripped down. Once the youngest brothel owner in the world, after experiencing the endless blood flow during the conflict in the palace, his sinister ruthlessness had become a steadiness and determined will unusual for his age.
Li Chengze had become a young man, a respectful, filial, and well-prepared young man. A young man no one could pick fault with. Two people were responsible for him changing so much in five years. One was his father. The other was his teacher and elder brother, Fan Xian.
When faced with his father, the Third Prince was careful. He did not dare to step wrong and was as true as blood. The deaths of the Crown Prince and Second Prince made Li Chengze aware of how terrifying his father was. Although both brothers had tried to kill him at the end, and their deaths were a great thing for Li Chengze, when faced with his father, he still couldn’t stop a chill emanating from his heart.
Since he was scared, he was respectful and did not dare to make a mistake. During the past three years, Li Chengze saw less of Fan Xian. He kept himself shut up in the Royal Palace and would only occasionally learn something about him from his mother.
Li Chengze was also afraid of Fan Xian, the elder brother he could not proclaim to the world. During his most important adolescence years, he had followed Fan Xian and watched how he, in his position as an official, instigated fighting between the nobles in Jiangnan and Jingdou and, in the end, won the final victory. The teacher’s pointer in Fan Xian’s hands and his icy glare also made him afraid to make a mistake.
Fan Xian’s true influence on the Third Prince was in letting the Third Prince know what he was going to do in the future and what he would become, thus, truly twisting his nature.
Li Chengze was certain to become the Emperor of the Qing Kingdom. The entire world would be his, so he had to be better to the world. He no longer acted as he did before when he would devote a great deal of sinister planning to obtain a little silver or some real but short-term benefit.
The world will be mine. Why should I torment it? This was the message Fan Xian taught to the Third Prince, which he deeply believed.
The serving girl, Xing’er, was gradually growing up. The once young and inexperienced little girl gradually grew into her looks and developed a touching beauty. At this time, Xing’er was fanning the prince from the side and watched with furrowed brows as hot sweat dripped down the prince’s face as he continued to read. She couldn’t help but feel some tenderness in her heart.
Yi Guipin was in Lady Shu’s palace chatting. There were very few people in Shufang Palace. Xing’er watched the prince’s young and handsome appearance. Her eyes gradually grew distant.
Li Chengze clearly felt this gaze. The corners of his mouth quirked into a smile but did not make any reaction. He only lightly put out his hand and squeezed Xing’er’s fingertips. His smile was very much like Fan Xian’s.
“Would you like to take a break?” Xing’er asked quietly as her cheeks flushed slightly red. “It’s such a hot day. The Emperor will not come…”
Li Chengze shook his head seriously and said in a quiet voice, “These are all books that my teacher assigned. Most of them are classics that he brought back from Northern Qi. I must finish reading all of them this year and write reports for him to mark.”
He smiled bitterly and said, “If they do not pass, mother will beat me again.”
Xing’er bit her bottom lip and said, “The duke is in Dongyi. He doesn’t have time for all this.”
Although the Emperor had not removed Fan Xian’s post as tutor after the Jingdou rebellion was quelled, Fan Xian rarely saw the Third Prince alone. The Third Prince no longer ran out of the Palace so much. Both brothers knew that the Third Prince was the true heir apparent to the throne. The Emperor would not want this heir apparent to grow up under Fan Xian’s tutelage and would rather teach him himself. In order to avoid this taboo, they could only reduce their meetings.
Although Fan Xian rarely came to Shufang Palace, he never stopped with the Third Prince’s homework, cultivation, and training. During their time in Jiangnan, Fan Xian had already taught the Third Prince many stories and assigned many books, requiring the Third Prince to learn them thoroughly.
Even when he was very busy with state affairs, Fan Xian would still take time to mark the Third Prince’s reading notes. For him, this was the most important matter. If the future of the Qing Kingdom rested on Li Chengze’s shoulders, he hoped that he would become a humane ruler. Even if he didn’t have any great and lofty ambitions, he should at least be able to protect his family legacy.
At the end of each year, the Fan family would enter the Palace. That was the time when he reviewed the Third Prince’s homework. One would often be able to hear the whistling of the teacher’s pointer in Shufang Palace, as well as the Third Prince’s cries of pain.
The bearing of serving girl Xing’er was not normal. It was clear she had become Li Chengze’s first woman since growing up. Of course, Li Chengze was also her first man. Hearing Sir Fan junior’s name, Xing’er’s gaze grew more disturbed. She said angrily, “Sir Fan junior shouldn’t strike out all the time. He has no awareness of boundaries.”
When Fan Xian had entered the Palace for the first time, it had been her who had led him around to all the palaces to give his greetings. After interacting for all these years, Xing’er did not see what was terrifying about the powerful Sir Fan junior. She only felt that he was still the delicate young man from before, so her words were not very respectful.
However, Li Chengze was very afraid of Fan Xian. He said with an uncomfortable expression, “For this matter, he argued with father. Mother also stands on his side. What can I do?”
Although he spoke like this, he didn’t actually hold much resentment. On the contrary, he became lost in thought. He said with a sigh, “It’s been a long time since I’ve left the Palace. I wonder how his matter in Dongyi is going?”
An uncontainable joy shone from Xing’er’s face. She said with a smile, “With Sir Fan junior taking charge, what can’t be done? It’s been going around the Palace. It’s said that the Dongyi matter has been settled. The Great Prince will soon lead an army that way.”
Naturally, the Third Prince knew the biggest news in court. Thinking of the incredible achievement his teacher had performed for the court, he couldn’t help but feel a sense of honor. Nodding his head, he said, “It would be great if I could go with him.”
Suddenly, a sense of yearning appeared on the young man’s face. “The happiest times in my life were the two periods I spent outside of the Palace. One was when I ran Baoyue Brothel with Sizhe. The second was when teacher took me to Jiangnan… Who knows when I will be able to leave the Royal Palace again?”
Every person growing up would unconsciously search for a powerful person of the same gender to be one’s goal and role model. The princes in the Royal Palace were not an exception. However, their growth was much quicker than that of the common youth.
During Li Chengze’s adolescence, there were two large role models for him to look up to. One was his father, and the other was Fan Xian. However, the Qing Emperor’s power carried a sense of coldness that warned away strangers and family alike. It was Fan Xian’s power that carried a true sense of life. It carried a stubborn, simple, and direct intimacy. That was why the Third Prince missed Fan Xian.
A sound came from outside Shufang Palace. Before he could be announced, a head eunuch entered the Palace with a bow. Xing’er furrowed her brows and glanced at him. Behind the Third Prince, she bobbed a greeting, not daring to be disrespectful.
It was Eunuch Yao, the head eunuch of the Royal Palace. He was a subject close to the Emperor and deeply trusted by him. Li Chengze glanced at him with narrowed eyes and found the situation strange. He didn’t know what matter would require him to come personally. “Eunuch Yao, is there something the matter?”
Eunuch Yao was someone very aware of propriety. Although he was the Emperor’s trusted aide, he knew the Third Prince in front of him was one of the only two men in the Palace and the future Emperor. Thus, he formally greeted him. He then said in an even voice, “The internal court is investigating an old case. There are some matters that involve Your Highness, so I have no choice but to come bother you.”
Li Chengze’s pupils constricted. Without question, he was a clever man and deduced a great deal from these words. An old case? Involving him? He lived in the depths of the Palace, what case could he be involved in? Furthermore, what kind of case was it that it would disturb him?
Baoyue Brothel? Impossible. Back then, Fan Xian had used that matter to beat the Second Prince black and blue. It had gone through the Emperor’s consent. It was impossible for that old matter to be raised again. Furthermore, given his present status, no one would dare bring up that matter.
Li Chengze’s gaze sharpened. He knew what the internal court was investigating. During the Jingdou rebellion three years ago, the Palace was in chaos. The Third Prince, Yi Guipin, and Lady Ning had all been put under house-arrest within Hanguang Palace. Someone in the palace had tried to assassinate Li Chengze. If he hadn’t had the poisonous dagger Fan Xian had personally made, he would probably have died.
After the incident, there was a great deal of confusion in the rear of the palace and in the internal could concerning the matter. At the time, the Crown Prince had already controlled the situation within the Palace. Why would he do something so illogical? People also thought the Second Prince was responsible. In the investigations afterward, no connection was discovered.
Li Chengze’s memory of that matter was particularly deep. He also wanted to know who wanted to kill him. However, the Overwatch Council investigated for a long time and did not find any leads.
Fan Xian had once told him in private to stop investigating the matter. So, the Third Prince endured the anger in his heart and no longer thought about it. He knew that his teacher must have sensed something to refuse to investigate further. However… The internal court was investigating this now?
Concerning his safety, his anger toward those who tried to kill him and his trust of Fan Xian battled for a moment in the Third Prince’s mind. He made up his mind and said with a shake of his head, “I was very frightened that day. I don’t remember anything.”
“Can I trouble Your Highness to come with me to draw a picture?” Eunuch Yao glanced at the Third Prince and asked respectfully. After the two eunuchs had been killed by Li Chengze, their bodies were quickly burned during the chaos. That day, too many eunuchs had died during the conflict in the Palace. Even now, no one knew who the assassins who had tried to kill the Third Prince were.
Li Chengze furrowed his brows. He sensed something strange. “I have books to read. Since I am fine, I will not dwell on such small matters.”
“How can that be allowed? Your Highness is a descendant of heaven. Since someone dared to develop such disloyal intentions… The Emperor is angry and has issued an edict to investigate this matter.”
Li Chengze looked at Eunuch Yao with narrowed eyes. He wondered what his father was trying to do. If he was actually angry, what had he been doing these three years?
On that day early in July, Li Chengze, began to recall the conflict in the Palace and the appearances of the two eunuchs who had wanted to kill him.
That night, the young lady Sun of the Jingdou government looked at the two approaching stars in the night sky, lost in thought. She knew that her father’s life had been better recently. With the help of the Duke, no one in court targeted the Jingdou government. Even the most popular man of the Hall of Governmental affairs, He Zongwei, had not been as ruthless as before during these few months. He was just silent.
Thinking of Sir Fan junior, she couldn’t help but think of the promise that he had made her during the Jingdou rebellion. A slight smile rose to the corners of her lips.
It was a scene of chaos at Chen Garden. Chen Pingping was making preparations to return home. None of the beauties and concubines in the Chen Garden wanted to leave as he expected. Instead, they cried and sobbed that they wanted to go home with him and pay their last respects to him. In the old cripple’s confusion and helplessness, he couldn’t help but think that perhaps, when they had seen Fan Xian, they weren’t looking at a cucumber, as they already had a cucumber [JW1] .
In the Fan manor in the south of Jingdou, Lin Wan’er and Sisi were holding a pair of children and feeding them. A few nannies and serving girls chatted leisurely at the side. The wife of the Teng family stood in front of the steps and reported in detail the harvest from the Fan clan’s country estate. In one of the three studies in the back garden, the account master of the Hangzhou Conference waited to report to the mistress about the silver spent on relief aid in Jiangnan and Jiangbei.
Lin Wan’er handed the porridge bowl to a nanny and planted a kiss on Xiao Hua and Fan Lang’s faces. She walked to the doorway and stretched. Such an action was indeed not like that of a mistress. However, Fan Xian spoiled her, so she was used to indulging in her freedom.
She looked up at the star-dotted sky and thought about Fan Xian far away by the shores of the East Sea. She involuntarily tilted her head. She thought that everything was on the proper path. If, in the future, they wanted to leave Jingdou to live a relaxed life, where should they go? Danzhou or Dongyi? She suddenly remembered that she had never been to Dongyi and couldn’t help wanting to go.
As she thought this, Fan Ruoruo, dressed as a doctor and carrying a medical chest, pushed open the courtyard door and walked in. Behind her came a few servants who hurried to relieve her of the heavy items in a panic. Fan Ruoruo had returned from the countryside. Seeing her sister-in-law standing by the door, she couldn’t help but smile and teased her a little.
Far away in the Northern Qi royal palace, the Northern Qi Emperor sat behind the jade table in the main hall. He looked at the white sand in the pond by the table and pair of fish lying on the sand. His gaze was faintly lost in thought. There were a few memorials by his hand that spoke of Sigu Jian’s death, as well as the contents of the agreement between Dongyi and the Qing Kingdom.
Logically speaking, the secrets of the agreement shouldn’t have been something the Northern Qi Brocade Guards should have been privy to. It was clear that that man was purposely revealing this to him.
The Northern Qi Emperor narrowed his eyes. Confusion appeared in them for the first time in his life. He didn’t know what would happen to his country or himself. Presently, the situation appeared calm. There was no opportunity for conflict to erupt between Fan Xian and the Emperor. What was Northern Qi to do?
In the past, perhaps he would have already made up his mind to force Fan Xian to turn against the Qing Emperor regardless of the cost, even if it cost him half the income of the national treasury and countless sacrifices. However, his thoughts had changed because he knew the power of the words Fan Xian had said.
On that day early in July, everyone in the land experienced some common and uncommon things. The turning point in history, a matter that caused minor changes in history, did not happen in Jingdou or Shangjing. Instead, it happened in an isolated province in the Qing Kingdom.
It should have been a routine peace check. The bailiffs slowly walked, overcome with boredom, under the blazing sun. Periodically, they ducked into the shadow of the merchant stalls along the way to take a rest.
A disguised Gao Da, who had hidden his name for three years, was busy at a stall on the corner of the street. His face glowed with a healthy flush. It no longer looked as firm and determined as it did in the past. Instead, it was filled with ease and satisfaction. The hand that used to tightly grasp a long knife was holding a pair of long chopsticks with ease. With great familiarity and technique, he picked out the noodles and placed them in a bowl. He then sprinkled it with green herbs as the steam fragrantly rose.
After escaping from Dong Mountain, Gao Da drifted about through the various provinces in the Qing Kingdom. The Qing Kingdom’s strict household registry policies and travel document policies made him suffer a great deal. Although no one discovered his identity, it was difficult for him to lead a quiet and steady life.
He was a Tiger Guard of the royal family. He hadn’t experienced many things. He did not have an iota of knowledge when it came to the bottom levels of the jianghu. So, this Tiger Guard was faced with great hardships once he drifted into the shallows.
In a moment of chance and coincidence, he ended up in Dazhou and finally obtained a completely new identity. He opened up a noodle stall on the major street. Each day, he basked in the sun and cooked noodles. The basking even got him a wife and son.
Perhaps this was true happiness, a wife, kid, and warm bed. Each day, Gao Da packed up and went home to hold his wife, who warmed his entire body, he would feel like this. He even felt that there was no regret in not using his sword.
Of course, he remained vigilant. Although he knew the court had probably decided that all of the Tiger Guards had died, he still didn’t dare let the court know about his existence, particularly the internal court. As a Tiger Guard of the internal court, he knew that his escape constituted the great crime of deceiving the Emperor. Once caught, his entire family would be beheaded.
He still paid attention to Fan Xian’s movements. Fortunately, Fan Xian was the most famous person in the Qing Kingdom. The discussions in the marketplace always came back to him. Thus, he knew the Commissioner had done very well these three years. Furthermore, he had achieved great things for the Qing Kingdom. It was even possible that he may bring Dongyi within the Qing Kingdom soon.
Gao Da was happy and drank a lot of alcohol. He felt Sir Fan junior was indeed incredible. However, he still did not think to seek out Fan Xian to try and cleanse himself of his crime because he felt that everything was very good and there was no need to change anything.
That was until bailiffs sat down in his noodle shop and stared lecherously at his wife.
[JW1] This seems to be a euphemism, but it is unconfirmed.