Joy of Life - Chapter 675 - The Beginning Of A Battle Between Two People[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:50:37]
Chapter 675: The Beginning Of A Battle Between Two People
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
Shi Fei stared fixedly at the old man in the wheelchair. After a moment of silence, he slowly raised the visor on his face and revealed a firm and cold face. After all, he was an important official in the Qing army. After he took the position of Commander of the Jingdou Garrison, he knew his life was now more than just holding up bitterly under Shan Shanhu’s pressure in the North. He had, actively or passively, chosen something. In front of the Emperor’s imperial edict, he had no choices. He could only come to Dazhou and surround Chen Pingping’s group of carriages.
Since they were surrounded and he had already taken action, there was no possibility of stopping. In the fields, the warhorses stepped uneasily on the autumn vegetation, prepared to charge at any moment. Shi Fei slowly raised his right hand. The 3,000 armored riders in the fields slowly changed their formations and came closer to the carriages on the road. This startled the women in the carriages and drew a light clamor.
“Ho!” A clear and sharp voice called out from among the black carriages. Under the pressure of the Qing cavalry, one of the Overwatch Council officials responsible for Chen Pingping was the first to give a command.
Twelve cries of “Ho” rang out. Countless powerful crossbows extended out from the carriages. No one knew how many powerful bows were hidden under the shafts, behind the horses, and by the carriages. Additionally, no one knew how many Overwatch Council assassins were in the dark woods beginning to completely cover up their tracks.
The first cry came from behind the two sides of the road. Among the 30 black carriages, there came countless clear and cold whistles. Immediately after, there came a dense series of the sound of springs, the clash of metal on metal, the severe twang of bowstrings, the deep sounds of crossbows tightening, and the scrape of metal rods being drawn.
Countless sounds that made one’s heart trembled spread like a wave through the long line of carriages following a well-practiced and understood order. Even the heads of the crossbow bolts glowed with a terrifying faint blue light. The poison expertise of the Overwatch Council’s Third Bureau was, without question, the best in the world.
Shi Fei, who had just slowly put down his right arm, looked at the scene. His pupils shrank. He knew the Overwatch Council was terrifying. But, he had not thought there would be so many crossbowmen hidden in a mere 30 carriages or people moving in the night.
The cries of “Ho” were sharp. Shi Fei knew this was the Overwatch Council’s signal. Once the cries came to an end and someone gave the signal, those poison tipped bolts would fly ruthlessly toward his riders.
Even if the majority of the riders could charge through the defensive circle the Overwatch Council had formed with the carriages, how many people would die? Once the poisoned metals pierced into his men’s bodies, how many could survive?
Shi Fei’s eyes narrowed. It was as if he wanted to hide the chill in his heart and shrinking of his pupils. His resolve seemed to have been shaken by the cold and emotionless shouts.
He sat on his horse and stood close to the road. He could clearly see that a few hemp-clothed swordsmen were already standing in front of Director Chen. The Director still had his head slightly down. It was like he was completely unafraid of the thousands of riders about to arrive.
The ringing of the hooves was like thunder. Now that the two sides were very close, the thunder rang right by one’s ears. The Dazhou bailiffs and soldiers on the road had already cowered to the back in fright. He Qigan, the other internal court eunuchs, and the aces of the Ministry of Justice’s 13 yamens were also pale faced. They had not imagined that the work of capturing a court criminal would become one of the court’s most secretive missions.
The only person’s whose expression did not change was Chen Pingping in the wheelchair. By his side, there were a few hemp-wearing warriors. Behind him was his old servant. There were crossbow-wielding Overwatch Council officials in the carriages, bow-wielding officials, and officials holding metal rods.
The officials of the Overwatch Council had nerves of steel that common people did not. Faced with a horde of charging armored cavalry, their eyelashes didn’t even tremble in the slightest. Even their fingers hooked around their crossbow triggers did not shake. They were not afraid or nervous. They just silently waited for the final signal to counter-attack after the 12 cries of “Ho.”
Shi Fei’s hand was clenched tightly around the sword sheath by his waist. He stared with narrowed eyes at Chen Pingping, who was not far away. He felt that the environment around them had become strange because of the Overwatch Council’s silence and coldness. The Jingdou Garrison cavalry scattered around the road was not far away, how come they still had not arrived?
Such a feeling was too strange. Shi Fei blinked. He found that his eyes were dry. Nervousness had given him a sense of misconception. His right arm had just fallen. The riders accelerated.
Shi Fei sat on his horse alone at the front. He didn’t know when the people of the Overwatch Council had begun to move against him. Even if the cavalry of the Jingdou Garrison could break through the defenses formed by the cold Overwatch Council officials, he still would not feel any joy.
He did not want to see this happen. He was completely unable to control what happened after this attack. For example, the knife that could plunge into his back at any moment.
Chen Pingping suddenly beckoned to Shi Fei from his wheelchair. He was not like an old man being pursued and hunted. He was like an elder with instructions to impart.
A struggle appeared on Shi Fei’s face. He suddenly squeezed his horse’s abdomen and cried out in a loud voice, “Draw in!”
The cry rang out like thunder along the two sides of the road. As a powerful military official, Commander Shi Fei’s personal cultivation was indeed powerful. His voice flew to the hordes of riders that were already very close.
A military order was like a mountain. Following Shi Fei’s roar, all of the leading generals and vanguards grunted and forcefully pulled their racing steeds to a standstill. Countless hands pulled ruthlessly against the tough reins. Even calloused hands began to bleed. Finally, the wildly racing riders came to a stop less than 9 feet from the road.
There were still a dozen riders who did not manage to stop. The horses grunted. Their legs went weak as they smashed against the stone embankment on either side of the road. Limbs broke as blood flowed.
There was a sound of anxious breathing and a nervous meeting of gazes.
Commander Shi Fei’s roar had brought 3,000 armored riders to a fierce standstill. His skill at managing troops was indeed first-rate. However, with this, the armored riders lost their speed advantage. Since the two sides were so close, the Jingdou Garrison cavalry was completely exposed to the Overwatch Council’s crossbows. It was like undressing a virginal girl and having her stand naked in front of countless leering perverts.
After the cries of “Ho,” all of the Overwatch Council subordinates stood steady. Even though the attacking riders had suddenly made a major mistake and given them a good opportunity, they still did not act on their own initiative. They only looked at the densely packed riders coldly.
Shi Fei breathed heavily a few times. The armor plate on his chest rose and fell slightly. He did not break out into a cold sweat. Since he had chosen to take a risk, he would not regret his choice. After a moment, he coldly urged his horse forward. Under the cautious gazes of the Overwatch Council officials, as well as the careful aim of the crossbows in the darkness, he opened up a path. Clip-clopping, he moved toward Chen Pingping.
The horse came near the wheelchair and stopped. Shi Fei maintained his respect and dismounted to come forward. The weight of the armor on his body made his steps appear particularly heavy. In the silent night, it made a muffled buzzing sound. Chen Pingping looked at the brave commander and smiled slightly. Revealing an expression of appreciation, he said, “With such outstanding young people, the future of the Qing Kingdom should be fine. Since it is so, I don’t want to kill you.”
Shi Fei was silent for a long time. He then went down on one knee in front of Chen Pingping’s wheelchair. Holding his helmet in his arms, he said, “I ask that you will follow the edict.”
“Follow which edict?” Chen Pingping looked at him calmly. He felt an appreciation from his heart toward Shi Fei’s decisiveness. He had smiled slightly and said, “I am taking Gao Da with me. As for following the edict, as you know, the Emperor never expected for me to follow the edict. If the Emperor finds out that you urged me to follow the edict at this time, I’m afraid he won’t like it.”
Shi Fei did not reply. Standing up, he said, “The Garrison is the Qing Kingdom’s Garrison, and the Overwatch Council is the Qing Kingdom’s Overwatch Council. I don’t want either side to suffer any damage.”
Chen Pingping glanced at him with some mockery and said, “Three thousand, six hundred and forty Jingdou Garrison elite cavalry came thousands of li. Do you think it is as simple as whether or not the edict is followed?”
Of course, this matter was not as simple as whether the edict was followed. Shi Fei was just making his stance clear in front of the Overwatch Council and Dazhou officials. After hearing the number, he couldn’t stop his heart growing cold. He knew the fear he had always hidden deep in his heart was true. If he hadn’t taken the risk and stopped the charge of the cavalry earlier, perhaps the first person to fall right now would have been him.
There were people belonging to Director Chen in the Jingdou Garrison. This was Shi Fei’s greatest fear.
“The Emperor has issued a stern edict. The criminal Gao Da must be brought back to the capital.” Shi Fei took a deep breath. Swallowing down all of his unease, he gazed at Chen Pingping. “Even if you are going to resist the edict, I must take him back.”
“I will go with you back to the capital,” Chen Pingping said slowly as he closed his eyes.
Shi Fei was shocked. Standing in front of Chen Pingping, he didn’t know what to say. The helmet in his arms felt very heavy. The Overwatch Council official who had been by Chen Pingping’s side the entire time was also shocked. Even the powerful hemp-clothed Sixth Bureau swordsmen showed some expression of surprise on their faces.
“Director, you can’t return to the capital,” the Overwatch Council official who referred to himself as the deputy head of the Second Bureau suddenly said with great anger.
Chen Pingping slowly opened his eyes. He knew that only his old servant behind him was not surprised by his decision. He looked at Shi Fei with a slight smile. “Why didn’t you charge forward earlier? Presumably, you knew that you couldn’t control everything with just 3,000 cavalry. The only person who could realistically control all of this is me. If I want to go, you can only take me with you.”
The expression of the Overwatch Council official beside him suddenly became rigid. It was like a strange powder had been dusted over his face. The rigidness carried a hint of terror and unease.
Chen Pingping did not pay any attention to the shock demonstrated by his loyal subordinates. He only looked at Shi Fei coldly and said, “Since I am in control of the situation, what is to be done should be decided by me.”
Shi Fei looked him at in a daze. His fingers unconsciously tightened around the breathing hole in the helmet. In a raspy voice, he said, “If you are returning to the capital with me, please give your orders.”
Asking the Director to follow the edict was a lie. Shi Fei knew that the Emperor wanted to bring the old Director back alive to the capital. Initially, this was an impossible mission. Presently, it seemed about to become real.
“I brought 30 carriages of luggage and women,” Chen Pingping said with a smile toward Shi Fei. “I know what the Emperor’s order is so you don’t have to hide it from me. What I want you to do right now is to pretend you never saw this luggage and these women.”
Shi Fei’s breathing grew heavy. His eyes began to grow bloodshot. “You know the Emperor’s order?”
Chen Pingping smiled gently. “I know what kind of person the Emperor is better than anyone. If he doesn’t completely destroy everything I care about, how could he be happy?”
The old man in the wheelchair’s gaze was far and deep. Slowly, he said, “My life should have ended long ago, but the luggage is not bad. And, those women are still beautiful…” He sighed and said, “If it were not for the fact I had to send them out of Jingdou, why would I have left and taken such a loop with the Emperor?”
Shi Fei’s throat was dry. He gazed at Chen Pingping in a daze and only now realized that although everything that had happened in Dazhou was not completely within the old Director’s control, it had been within his calculations. He had long known the Emperor would send people after him. He knew how cold and heartless the Emperor’s edict would be. Other than Chen Pingping, no one else here would survive.
Chen Pingping had used this to gather everyone he wanted to protect in Dazhou. He then easily took control of the situation and forced Shi Fei to implicitly accept the reality. Chen Pingping was using his own return to the capital in exchange for the safety of all his people.
But, could Chen Pingping easily control the situation? There would be a limit to the number of crossbows in 30 carriages and number of swordsmen hiding in the darkness. If the Jingdou Garrison soldiers charged in, how could the Overwatch Council actually resist?
Shi Fei narrowed his eyes. He had clearly memorized the Emperor’s secret edict: Other than Chen Pingping, leave none alive!
“The Emperor wants you to leave none alive.” Chen Pingping looked at him with light mockery. “I am pitying the people of the Qing Kingdom, pitying these soldiers of the Jingdou Garrison. That is why I am giving you a chance. Otherwise, I can also leave none of you alive.”
Shi Fei did not believe these words. He looked calmly at Chen Pingping. He had to make a choice between this terrifying figure and the Emperor’s strict edict. He had to take Gao Da back, and everyone here had to die. Perhaps even he didn’t understand that from his initial fear. When he gave the secret edict to that personal attendant, he never had the guts to imagine that he could actually kill every one of the Overwatch Council.
What helped Shi Fei make his decision was a black line that suddenly rose on the small mountain under the silvery moonlight. It was like someone was using a dark charcoal pencil to thicken the outlines of these unremarkable mountains.
The black line was made person by person. More accurately speaking, it was made by one black rider with another black rider. Countless black riders stood in a row at the summit of the mountain and formed the black line.
The Black Knights.
A slight smile rose to the lips of the Overwatch Councils in the carriage that had been cautiously watching the riders in the fields and tightly holding crossbows in their hands. They did not know Director Chen had made a shocking decision. They only looked at their seemingly countless Black Knight brothers on the mountain and once again confirmed that within the mountain wilds of the Qing Kingdom, the Overwatch Council was always invincible.
Contrary to the mood of the Overwatch Council, when the Jingdou Garrison cavalry that had come to kill the Overwatch Council saw the black line appear on the mountain and the black color of their armor gradually became clear under the silvery moonlight, they all sank into fear and hopelessness.
It was not them who had surrounded the Overwatch Council. It was the Overwatch Council who had surrounded them. They had been surrounded by the Overwatch Council’s most powerful martial force, the most powerful cavalry in the world: the Black Knights.
A death-like silence descended. Shi Fei slowly drew his gaze back from the Black Knights. The Black Knights were still some distance away, but he knew their power. If they charged down, probably no one of his Jingdou Garrison cavalry would survive.
What made Shi Fei most angry and shocked was that the Overwatch Council’s powerful Black Knights had always been strictly limited by the court to less than a thousand, yet there were clearly more than 4,000 black armored riders on the mountain.
He abruptly turned his head and stared at Chen Pingping, “You knew the Emperor would order me to lie in ambush in Dazhou?”
“No, I never need to calculate those things. I just knew the Emperor could not bear to have me leave.” Chen Pingping looked at him coldly. “Now, you can give some thought to my condition.”
Shi Fei’s body trembled with anger. “The court has strictly forbidden the Black Knights not to surpass a thousand! This is treason!”
Chen Pingping looked at him calmly and said, “And what of it?”
All of Shi Fei’s confidence was shot through by these words. At a loss, he stood rigidly in front of the wheelchair. A moment later, he said in a raspy voice, “No one can stop you if the Emperor doesn’t come out personally. Why didn’t you leave? Why did you wait for me to appear?”
“Because I never wanted to leave.” Chen Pingping looked at him calmly and slowly said, “I am only here to send people off.”
Shi Fei returned to his own troops. The cavalry of the Jingdou Garrison did not set up a camp. They only set up their own tents tiredly and helplessly. A sense of defeat and helplessness enveloped the thousands of riders. As the pride of the Qing Kingdom, the elite cavalry of the Jingdou Garrison had already followed the Overwatch Council carriages outside Jingdou for a few days. However, it was not until this moment they realized that, in the eyes of the old man in the wheelchair, their seemingly powerful thousands of riders was nothing but a joke.
Shi Fei closed his eyes to rest. He had already agreed to all of Chen Pingping’s conditions. Under these circumstances, he had no choice but to agree. But, he still did not understand. Since Director Chen, such a meticulous person, had clearly already arranged for the Black Knights to come meet him, why was he willing to return with the Jingdou Garrison back to the capital?
All of the Emperor’s plans had fallen within Director Chen’s deductions. Shi Fei closed his eyes. His respect and fear toward the old Director rose to another level. He knew that only Director Chen could control everything and it would never be him.
A large empty space had emptied out in front of the black carriages. Dozens of Overwatch Council officials were kneeling in front of the black wheelchair and kowtowing furiously. They begged for the old man on the wheelchair to not follow the Jingdou Garrison back to the capital.
By this time, all of the Overwatch Council officials knew what the Emperor was thinking. If the old Director actually went back to Jingdou, he would die. When Overwatch Council officials first entered the Council, they would be taught loyalty to the Qing Kingdom and loyalty to the Emperor. However, the Overwatch Council officials escorting Chen Pingping back to the capital [JW1] were those who had followed him the longest. Although in the depths of their heart they were still loyal to the Qing Kingdom and Emperor, when Chen Pingping’s life was seriously threatened, they stood with Chen Pingping instinctively and acted as a substitute for his not very healthy spine.
They belonged to the Overwatch Council, and the Overwatch Council belonged to Chen Pingping. This dark and sinister Council had long become branded by the sinister coldness that emanated from Chen Pingping’s body. No matter how brilliant Fan Xian had been these few years, he was still unable to wholly remove the sinister coldness. If there really was such a thing as personal charisma in the world and a charming sinister personality, then, without doubt, Chen Pingping was the most charismatic person in the world to have all of his confidants and subordinates be so unswervingly loyal to him.
Chen Pingping gently stroked the arm of his wheelchair and knocked on it gently, making a buzzing sound. He looked with appreciation at all the subordinates kneeling in front of him. There was not a trace of the pain of separation on his face. There was only satisfaction toward his life’s work.
He was going to return to Jingdou. He had never wanted to leave Jingdou. This had nothing to do with his work, the future of the Qing Kingdom, or the Overwatch Council. It only concerned his life.
“I am just returning to the capital to talk with the Emperor about some past affairs. What is there to cry about?” He furrowed his brows and swept a disapproving glance across his subordinates. All of the Overwatch Council officials stopped their talking. A few officials who were sobbing lowered their heads with shame.
Even if the Emperor wanted to defeat the old Director, he controlled the entire situation. The elite Jingdou Garrison cavalry Commander Shi Fei led had become post-autumn grasshoppers and could not muster a single sliver of courage. Given the situation, the subordinates of the Overwatch Council could not understand why the Director still had to go back to the Jingdou to die.
As for why the Emperor wanted to get rid of the Director, these subordinates did not know. They just unconsciously believed that it was probably a necessity of history. Perhaps the old Director knew too many of the Emperor’s secrets.
Tiredly, Chen Pingping dismissed all of the subordinates, leaving behind only the deputy head of the Second Bureau, who had been by his side the entire time. He calmly looked at him and said, “I’ve counted the days. An Zhi still needs a few more days to return to the capital. Logically speaking, no one could tell him the news ahead of time.”
The official lowered his head and said with a sigh, “None of us can change the decision you made. Perhaps only Sir Fan junior can change all of this.”
“No, even he cannot change this.” Chen Pingping looked at him coldly. “Don’t think that you are the fastest runner in the world and can tell Fan Xian anything. I’m keeping you here to tell you that this is my order. In a while, you follow the Black Knights and escort these 30 carriages straight to Jiangbei. You must get them into Dongyi as quickly as possible and then find the person I told you about earlier. Find Ten Family Village through him.”
The official had not thought that a few words from the old Director would be able to destroy the plans in the depths of his heart. A trace of sorrow rose on his rigid face.
“Don’t cry one moment and then smile the next. Otherwise, this mask won’t last many more days.” Chen Pingping looked at him coldly. “Wang Qinian, in the beginning, you escaped Dong Mountain of your own accord. You thought you were being considerate to Fan Xian but have you thought about how much trouble you’ve brought Fan Xian and myself?”
The mask-wearing official was Wang Qinian, who had disappeared for three years. Fan Xian knew Chen Pingping had arranged for him to disappear without a trace and had thought to secretly investigate it. He missed him for a long time but would never have guessed that Chen Pingping had settled Wang Qinian in the Overwatch Council.
Wang Qinian took a deep breath and said, “I still don’t understand. Why do you have to go back? Don’t you think that regardless of whether you live or die, Sir Fan junior will still be caught up in the trouble you don’t want him to be caught up in?”
Chen Pingping didn’t answer the question. He just looked coldly at the group of black carriages. Suddenly, he thought about how pleasing this black color was and how much joy it made one feel.
The Jingdou Garrison stood aside to clear the road. Twenty-nine black carriages, surrounded by the hurt, angry, and many other complicated emotions of the Overwatch Council officials and the cries and sobs of the beautiful women of Chen Garden, continued along the road toward the east of the Qing Kingdom.
The black wheelchair was left behind, all alone. Chen Pingping touched the hair flying at his temples and said to the old servant behind him with a smile, “You’re in much better health than me, why go back to die with me?”
The old servant smiled and did not say anything. A part of the black line on the mountain was broken. A portion of the Black Knights were following the 30 black carriages as they left. They were still many Black Knights left that remained coldly stationed on the mountain, watching the movements of the Jingdou Garrison.
Shi Fei approached the wheelchair with a calm expression. After a moment of silence, he said, “On behalf of the Jingdou Garrison, I thank you for not killing us.”
Chen Pingping smiled and didn’t say anything.
Shi Fei lowered his head and asked, “I still don’t understand why.”
“If I wanted to leave earlier, what would you have done?” Chen Pingping narrowed his eyes slightly and looked at the dots of light on the road.
Shi Fei was silent for a moment and then said, “I am the Emperor’s official. Even if I knew that we were not a match, I would still have persisted to the last person.”
“Yes, that is a compromise. I stay behind and you lose fewer people. And, fewer Overwatch Council men will die. You have to know, I never thought that my life was so worthless before.” Chen Pingping smiled. “I am an old man now. My life is truly not worth much.”
“The Jingdou Garrison is loyal to the Qing Kingdom. The Overwatch Council is loyal to the Qing Kingdom. I am also loyal to the Qing Kingdom,” the old man on the wheelchair said gently. “I have killed many people in my life, but I am only in the habit of killing my enemies and not my own people.”
Shi Fei did not understand, particularly his so-called loyalty to the Qing Kingdom. What were these 4,000 Black Knights that exceeded the limit? What about his refusal to follow the edict?
Chen Pingping did not say anything more. He only sat quietly. In his heart, the Qing Kingdom was the Qing Kingdom, and the Emperor was the Emperor. Since many years ago, these two things were no longer the same in his heart. He wanted to go back to Jingdou to ask that man but did not want the entire Qing Kingdom to sink into instability because of the split between him and that man. He also did not want the court and Overwatch Council to fight and cause countless Qing people to become destitute and homeless.
Thus, he had chosen to return to the capital and had the Overwatch Council leave in front of the Jingdou Garrison. When all was said and done, this was a battle between Chen Pingping and the Qing Emperor. Neither of them wanted this private matter to become an internal battle in the Qing Kingdom.
“Let’s go back,” Chen Pingping said quietly.
“Yes, Director.” A hundred emotions rose in Shi Fei’s heart. He waved his hand and summoned the black carriage the Overwatch Council had left behind. Very respectfully, he bowed to Chen Pingping. He then carefully lifted the black wheelchair into the black carriage.
At that moment, the neatly lined up Black Knights on the mountain suddenly became chaotic. Sitting by the carriage door, Chen Pingping seemed to sense something and abruptly raised his head to look. His gaze was incomparably stern.
In an instant, the Black Knights helplessly and sorrowfully fell calm.
[JW1] This was a typo in the original. It should be the Jingdou Garrison taking him back to the capital since the Overwatch Council was taking him home to retire.