Joy of Life - Chapter 693 - The Members Of The Qinian Unit Embark On Their Own Paths[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:50:45]
Chapter 693: The Members Of The Qinian Unit Embark On Their Own Paths
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
There was not too much exchanging of pleasantries, greetings, or sorrow and anger. The members of the Qinian Unit left in this isolated courtyard calmly saluted Fan Xian. In the shortest amount of time, they reported what they knew about the Overwatch Council situation. During these seven days, much of the armies of the Bureau of Military Affairs stationed outside the Overwatch Council had been moved away. With powerful pressure from the Palace and cooperation of Yan Bingyun, the purging and changing of personnel within the Overwatch Council went quickly and effectively.
These reports were full of sensitive and important information. These members of the Qinian Unit had been capable Overwatch Council officials. During these seven days, they had purposely investigated on behalf of Fan Xian and had found a lot of information.
Fan Xian listened silently and nodded slightly. After Chen Pingping died and his position had been removed, the Emperor’s purging and switching of personnel was expected. With Yan Bingyun helping, along with the might of the ruler, the Overwatch Council was a group of dragons without a head. No one was powerful enough to change the situation.
“Although Yan Bingyun doesn’t know about this courtyard, he has, after all, been by your side a great deal these years, so we are a bit worried,” a member of the Qinian Unit said as he looked at Fan Xian. “We need to choose a new spot to meet in Jingdou.”
This official directly called Yan Bingyun by his name. It was clear he no longer had any respect for him. Although Yan Bingyun had never joined the Qinian Unit, as Fan Xian’s right arm and a high-ranking Overwatch Council official, he had always had the Qinian Unit’s respect. However, Yan Bingyun’s actions had made all the officials develop a hatred toward him.
Yan Bingyun was Fan Xian’s confidant, but he was never someone Fan Xian trusted completely because Sir Yan junior, who specialized in scheming, was an independent person. Fan Xian was silent for a moment. He then shook his head. He neither objected to this idea nor did he say that they should choose another meeting place. He still had some faith in Yan Bingyun. He even felt a faint worry as to whether Yan Bingyun would die to the anger within the Overwatch Council. Additionally, after the meeting now, the people of Qinian Unit would have to leave Jingdou. This little courtyard, which Wang Qinian had spent 120 liang to buy, would be left to ruin. Why bother troubling themselves?
Seeing Fan Xian did not respond, the official shook his head and continued his report. “Once the city gates opened, the people heading to Xiliang and North Min had already left. Presumably, Sir Deng and Sir Su will receive the news at the first instant. Please, don’t worry.”
This was what Fan Xian had been most worried about while under house arrest. After Wang Qinian, Deng Zi Yue and Su Wenman were his most trusted subordinates. They had also been given the most important positions. One was in Northern Qi and then Xiliang. The other was in Jiangnan keeping an eye on the palace treasury. If these two people were killed by the Emperor, Fan Xian would probably regret it his entire life. He didn’t know if the Emperor had the spare thought to lay down killers ahead of time. Since the message had gotten out, Fan Xian could relax a little.
He looked around at the members of the Qinian Unit next to him. A warm smile rose to the corners of his lips. He had been under house arrest in his manor for seven days, and these subordinates had been busy for seven days. Other than investigating news, they had exhausted all their means to enter Fan manor. It had to be said, these subordinates were the truly effective people of the Overwatch Council.
The name of the Qinian Unit came from Wang Qinian. Starting from the fourth year of the Qing calendar until the autumn of the seventh year of the Qing calendar, when Wang Qinian disappeared, for three entire years, all the members chosen to enter the Unit had been single-handedly decided by Wang Qinian. These members had originally been unremarkable civil officials on the fringes of the Overwatch Council or lower-level officials not placed in important positions. However, they just happened to meet Fan Xian’s criteria and Wang Qinian’s temperament. Once these officials were brought under Fan Xian’s banner, they suddenly recovered their previously powerful ability to carry out tasks and glory to become the most secret, as well as the most famous, Overwatch Council unit. They were a group that had always belonged to Fan Xian.
During these few days, the actions of the Qinian Unit members were very much in Fan Xian’s style. Once they knew things were not going well, they immediately returned to the darkness. Under the condition of protecting their own lives, they did not rush to do anything. Instead, they carefully investigated each faction’s reactions and intelligence reports. They then found an appropriate method to hand Jingdou for him to decide.
To have such loyal but not prideful, capable but ignorant subordinates was one of Fan Xian’s good fortunes. His eyes flitted across each person’s face in the courtyard as his heart jumped. Suddenly, he thought that if not for Wang Qinian’s wise gaze, how could the Overwatch Council have so many heroes buried and hidden away only to be discovered after Fan Xian had come to Jingdou from Danzhou?
Was Wang Qinian’s gaze that ruthless? Or, had these loyal subordinates always been suppressed by the old lord of the Overwatch Council and left for him to use?
Fan Xian furrowed his brows. His heart grew confused. Thinking of how well Chen Pingping had treated him, he didn’t speak for a long time. He let out a sigh but didn’t have time to ask these subordinates anything. He waved his hand and walked into a quiet room in the back by the well.
Inside the room was a massive writing desk. On it was placed the Overwatch Council’s special paper and seal, as well as an entire set of wax and ciphers. The inkstone was placed on the ride side of the table. The early autumn weather was not very cold, so it would be easy to melt the ink. Fan Xian did not go to grind the ink. Instead, he took out a pencil specially made by the palace treasury from beneath the desk and spun it between two of his fingers.
The sharp head of the pencil never landed on the snowy white paper. After exhausting all ideas to finally escape the watch of the court and come to this little courtyard, Fan Xian had already, without a doubt, thought clearly about the orders he should give. In the end, he still placed the pencil down. Once anything landed on paper, it became a potential leverage and flaw.
In the winter of the sixth year of the Qing calendar, he often came to this little courtyard. At that time, Si Lili’s young brother was still being held hostage by him, and Haitang was still in that little courtyard in the North urging Sizhe to pull the millstone. Fan Xian had often written letters to Haitang. Thinking about it closely, although things were awful with the Eldest Princess and Second Prince in the capital at that time, his state of mind had been calm and happy. Now, Haitang Duoduo was in the grasslands and had become an enemy of the Qing Kingdom. Sizhe had been forced to keep quiet and go into hiding in Shangjing. Fan Xian’s state of mind had long changed.
All of the members of the Qinian Unit were standing in the room, waiting silently for Fan Xian to give the orders.
“In a moment, leave Jingdou immediately. No one is allowed to return before receiving written orders from me.” Fan Xian didn’t spend much time tidying his emotions. Staring at everyone, he said in an even more serious tone, “This is the first order, you must survive.”
“Yes,” everyone replied and then left. As indicated by Fan Xian’s gaze, two people stayed behind.
The first three years of the Qinian Unit had been under Wang Qinian’s control. It was then handed to Deng Zi Yue. After Deng Zi Yue went to Northern Qi, Fan Xian managed it personally. Mu Feng’er was only responsible for personal affairs. There were not many people in the unit. Many had died in the upheaval of the recent years. Presently, one portion of the Unit was with Deng Zi Yue in Xiliang. Another portion had followed Su Wenmao to Jiangnan, North Min. Another portion had been left by Fan Xian in Dongyi. The people still left in Jingdou were the only subordinates he could use. Because of this, Fan Xian did not want to lose any more people.
Fan Xian stared at one of the two people left in the room and took out a jade hook from his clothes. Handing it over, he said, “Go to Qingzhou. Don’t alert the people of the Fourth Bureau. Follow Xia Mingji’s merchant group into the grasslands and find Hu Ge. Tell him that I need him to begin feigning attacks at the end of autumn so that the armies of Qingzhou and Dingzhou are trapped in Xiliang Road.”
The official accepted the jade hook and said, “The Left Virtuous Prince has been dead almost a year. Although Hu He has amassed a great deal of power with your secret support, I’m afraid he still doesn’t have the strength to convince the Hu people to brave the dangerous weather of late autumn and early winter to attack the cities of the Qing Kingdom.”
Everyone knew that it was not easy for Fan Xian to get out, so these subordinates did not hide their objections. Instead, they did their best to quickly and completely present their thoughts.
“It’s just a feigned attack. Besides, he wants revenge. If he can waste the strengths of the grasslands court and Right Virtuous Prince, he will be willing,” Fan Xian said. “As for the problem of insufficient strength, tell him that I will make arrangements so the grasslands court stands on his side.”
“But, the news from Jingdou will presumably travel to the grasslands. Once Hu Ge knows that you have lost power, will he go back on the deal you made in Dingzhou?” The official who accepted the jade hook continued to fully express his thoughts.
Fan Xian did not appear impatient at all and said, “Hu Ge is a clever man. He has to place his bet on me.”
He glanced at the jade hook in the official’s hands. Shaking his head he said, “If he wants the owner of the jade hook to live.”
The jade hook was the childhood jewelry of Princess Ma Suosuo, the last generation of a tribe on the grasslands. When Fan Xian had met with Hu Ge in Dingzhou, he had given one to him. This time, the item of trust was the second one. Although Ma Suosuo was installed in one of the Great Prince’s manors, she still belonged to Baoyue Brothel. No matter how much power Fan Xian lost, it would not be too difficult to defeat a weak woman.
The official thought for a moment and felt that there weren’t any problems with the Director’s order. He placed the jade hook inside his clothes, exited the study, and left by himself from the little courtyard. As for how this member of the Qinian Unit was to escape out of Jingdou, go through Qingzhou, enter the grasslands, and contact Hu Ge, that was his problem. Fan Xian’s trusted in the abilities of his subordinates.
“Go to Dingzhou. Enter the General’s manor and find the heir Hongcheng.” Fan Xian’s clothing was like a treasure chest as he took out a piece of paper from it. The writing on the paper seemed like the words of a poem. “This is the item of trust. Presently, there is instability in Jingdou. He will receive the news of me being kicked out of the Overwatch Council quite early. I’m afraid he won’t trust the tokens of the Overwatch Council or Qinian Unit. Take this piece of paper and show it to him. He will know you belong to me.”
This paper was torn from a book. The book was a collection of poetry from the previous dynasty. It had been a gift the Second Prince had given to Fan Xian through Hongcheng’s hands many years ago when Fan Xian was passing the winter in Cang Mountain. Many had properly already forgotten, but Fan Xian knew Hongcheng would not have forgotten.
“Relate everything I said earlier about Hu Ge and the Hu people attacking in early winter to Hongcheng. Tell him to get ready. Make it seem as difficult a fight as possible…” Fan Xian frowned slightly. “Yes, he should know what I mean. I just want to find a reason for him to not be summoned back to Jingdou. He should know what to do. Just remind him that the two sides need to cooperate. It seems that I am giving him a hard bone. In reality, it is a piece of fatty meat. Make sure the Hu people don’t actually take advantage of it.”
“Yes, sir.” The official accepted his orders and left.
People came in and out. Fan Xian methodically imparted his willpower through the members of the Qinian Unit to the powers under heaven that he cared about and could influence.
“Go to Dongyi and find Mu Feng’er. Tell him what I intend to do. The rebellion in the Liang Kingdom can be used a bit. Maintain the fire at a good size. Don’t let it burn too powerfully but also don’t extinguish it too quickly.”
“Afterward, go see Thirteenth Wang and tell him that I am waiting for him in Jingdou.” Fan Xian sat behind the desk and furrowed his brows slightly. Inciting rebellion within Dongyi could keep the Great Prince there for longer, but it would not be fair to Thirteenth Wang. He could only hide it from him for now. “Furthermore, have him use the command of the Sword Hut on my behalf and pick out two trustworthy people to send to Jiangnan and Su Wenmao’s side.”
“Personally deliver this letter to the Great Prince. Tell him that everything is fine in Jingdou and to not rush back.” Fan Xian’s brows furrowed in worry. He could tell Li Hongcheng his thoughts, but he did not have the confidence he could control the Great Prince.
Once the news of Chen Pingping’s wretched death reached Dongyi, the Great Prince’s anger may not be below that of his. Ever since his youth, the Great Prince had referred to Chen Pingping as “uncle.” Putting aside Lady Ning and Chen Pingping’s close relationship back in the day, Chen Pingping saving the Great Prince still in Lady Ning’s womb, and the Great Prince’s friendship with Chen Garden these years, given the Great Prince’s personality, he might take a few hundred personal soldiers and charge back to Jingdou.
This was what Fan Xian was most worried about. Before he embarked on his 1,000-li charge back to the capital, the only order he had given was for Mu Feng’er and everyone to return to Dongyi and tell the Great Prince not to return to the capital. How could Mu Feng’er alone hold back the explosion of the Great Prince’s anger? Left with no choice, Fan Xian still personally wrote a letter. He sincerely requested his hot-tempered big brother, who had deeply inherited his mother’s legacy to barely control his impulsive desire to question the Emperor and would want to avenge Chen Pingping, to stay properly in Dongyi.
Regardless of whether it was Li Hongcheng leading troops in Dingzhou or the Great Prince, who controlled 10,000 elite troops in Dongyi, they were both Fan Xian’s only hope of military power. However, these elite troops belonged to the Qing Kingdom and the Emperor. If these two young members of the royal family were actively or passively summoned back to Jingdou, Fan Xian would not have a shred of hope left.
Fan Xian was certain that if Li Hongcheng and the Great Prince returned to the capital, the man on the throne would not give them any chance to lead troops in the next few years. This was because of their relationship to Fan Xian and Chen Pingping.
Someone was already heading to Jiangnan with orders for Su Wenmao. Other than his position as a member of the Qinian Unit, Su Wenmao was an official of the court’s palace treasury’s transport company, which was of the utmost importance to Fan Xian, the Qing Kingdom, and Emperor. No one would be willing to let go. Thus, Su Wenmao could not hide or leave Jiangnan, North Min. His situation was the most dangerous. Fan Xian could only hope that during these years, Su Wenmao had nurtured enough direct subordinates among the three large workshops. He hoped that Ren Bo’an’s clan brother would remember their old friendship. From his side, he couldn’t do much other than send aces from Dongyi’s Sword Hut to protect Su Wenmao’s life.
The member of the Qinian Unit heading to Jiangnan also had a secondary mission. He took a verbal message to Xia Qifei on behalf of Fan Xian, asking him to find a time to come to Jingdou in the next two months. Having the present master of the Ming family come to Jingdou did not mean that Fan Xian had an important mission to give to him. Rather, it was Fan Xian’s test for him. After all, when Xia Qifei had surrendered to him, he had surrendered to the Qing Kingdom he represented and the terrifying Overwatch Council. Fan Xian had lost his power and become a commoner. The Overwatch Council had become a pile of dirt. Who knew if some other ideas were rising in Xia Qifei’s heart?
The Ming family was important to Jiangnan and the cold war between Fan Xian and the Emperor. If Xia Qifei thought things through and fell directly to the throne, what would Fan Xian do? Thus, he had to see how loyal Xia Qifei and the Jiangnan water bandits were to him. If Xia Qifei had truly forgotten the difficult days everyone had endured in Jiangnan in the past…
Fan Xian lowered his head slightly. Then, he could only have the Ming family have another change in master and have Zhaoshang money house take the initiative again.
As each order was sent down, the members of the Qinian Unit took their orders and left without any hesitation or agitation. Before long, the isolated and silent little courtyard was empty of people. Only Fan Xian was left in the study behind the desk with the official beside him. Everything appeared particularly quiet. The slightly damp autumn blew through the slightly dry air. It knocked over a water bucket by the well that rolled away with some noise.
No one would have thought that in this unremarkable courtyard, a young man, who already had all his official positions taken away and was stripped of all his strength, would be giving out order after order, attempting to carry out the last resistance against the powerful machinery of the Qing Kingdom.
“Why did you change your name to Hong Yiqing?” Fan Xian asked quietly as he looked at the last remaining members of the Qinian Unit. He used his finger to gently stroke the small knife he had just taken out from his clothes.
This subordinate was the one who discovered in Qingzhou that the Northern Qi Emperor was using North Sea knives to provoke the relationship between Fan Xian and the Emperor. He had done a great thing in Qingzhou and was also from the first group of people Wang Qinian had installed in the Fourth Bureau of the Overwatch Council. When Fan Xian saw him, he was reminded of Lao Wang. He had transferred him to his side. He had been with him all the way to Dongyi. When Fan Xian had come back to the capital last time to debrief, he had left him in Jingdou as a contact point. It was because of this that he had the opportunity to face Fan Xian one last time instead of just being anxious in Dongyi.
“I heard that there was a man named Hong Changqing who was brave and righteous and deeply appreciated by you. In the end, he died in Danzhou port while quelling a rebellion. You still think of him often. I am not talented, yet I have received great favor from you. My only wish is to die to repay your kindness.”
“Don’t die.” Fan Xian sighed and thought of Qing Wa, who had died under Yan Xiaoyi’s arrow. Qing Wa had survived the hell of the navy’s massacre of the island and the man-eating water birds. In the end, he had not been able to live more than two years after following him.
He handed the small knife in his hand to Hong Yiqing and stared into his eyes. “I kept you behind because I have an important matter for you. You have to listen carefully and not forget a single word.”
“Yes, sir.” Hong Yiqing felt a sliver of nervousness.
“I’ve already sent two people two Xiliang Road, but Deng Zi Yue is in the open. The court will certainly deal with him. Even if he can escape, the people I sent there still need to be managed. You’ve been in Qingzhou for a long time and are familiar with Xiliang Road. I will give you this matter to do.”
Hong Yiqing was startled. His throat felt dry, and his face was slightly hot. He had not thought the Director would give such an important task as the manager of Xiliang Road to him.
“But, most importantly, you also have to enter the grasslands, find the King’s Tent, and find a woman named Songzhi Xianling.” Fan Xian’s eyes narrowed. “Tell her, not to mind Ku He or Duoduo, first mind me! Have her cooperate with Hu Ge and convince the Chief.”
Hong Yiqing did not know that Fan Xian had already arranged for certain things on the grasslands and was slightly confused, but he accepted steadily.
“I chose you because Songzhi Xianling has seen you before,” Fan Xian said calmly with his head down. “Give this little knife to her. Then, have her leave the grasslands and come to Jingdou to see me.”
“If she won’t go?” Hong Yiqing asked without thinking.
Fan Xian raised his head. He was silent for a moment and then said, “Just say I am about to die. She can come if she wants.”
These words were said hopelessly and shamelessly. Hong Yiqing looked at Fan Xian in a daze and could not understand how the omnipotent Director could say such things. He further did not understand what kind of person Songzhi Xianling was for him to regard her so highly.
At the moment he accepted the knife, Fan Xian’s fingers suddenly froze a little. He rose from behind the desk. Hong Yiqing only sensed something wrong a moment later. With a pale face, he pulled out a poisoned dagger from his boot and quietly moved behind the door of the room.
There were unusual movements outside. Suddenly, someone had come to this isolated little courtyard that absolutely no outsiders knew about.