Joy of Life - Chapter 709 - Who Is Killing In Jingdou[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:50:51]
Chapter 709: Who Is Killing In Jingdou
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
A pair of long chopsticks pierced the top of the jietang bun and tore it in half, revealing the delicious and tempting soup inside. Fan Xian took a spoon and scooped out the soup, placing it in the porcelain bowl in front of Da Bao. He then picked out the meat and placed it on top of Da Bao’s black bean noodles.
“Xiao Xianxian, eat.” Da Bao lowered his head and began his attack on the food. He spoke unclearly but with unusual firmness. His tone seemed to indicate that he was truly concerned that since Fan Xian had given the food to him, he would not be able to eat his fill.
Fan Xian looked at his uncle and smiled. He used his hands to tear open the jietang bun’s delicate and white skin. He soaked it in his seaweed soup and then casually took a few bites. Ever since he accepted a position in the First Bureau of the Overwatch Council, he liked to come to Xinfeng Restaurant to eat buns. Each time he came, he almost always brought Da Bao. He knew Da Bao only liked to eat the meat filling and was not interested in the skin of the buns. When the two of them split the load, it worked out quite well.
Glancing at the happily eating Da Bao with sweat rolling down his face, Fan Xian’s heart suddenly twisted with pain for some reason. He didn’t know if he would have the opportunity in the future to pass the days like this with his uncle. He liked being with Da Bao. Only in front of Da Bao could he truly relax. He could tell him all his secrets and opinions of this world and not worry about him betraying him,
After today, he would probably never have another chance to eat buns again with Da Bao. He would never lie with him again on a boat facing a sky full of stars, discussing how the stars of this world seemed to similar to the stars of that world.
Fan Xian continued to look at Da Bao with a warm and encouraging smile, but he sighed in his heart. Finding the food tasteless, he pulled over the hand towel on the table and wiped away the oil on his hands. Turning his head slightly, he looked at the two yamens across the street through the second-floor rails of the Xinfeng Restaurant.
The Qing Kingdom’s Supreme Court and the first branch of the Overwatch Council were both across from Xinfeng Restaurant.
This was first day the officials were back on duty after the end of the year. Other than the officials of various departments visiting each other, wishing each other well, and exchanging red pockets, there were no urgent state affairs that needed to be handled. Each yamen was essentially having a tea party. From the highest official to the lowest scribe, each held a pot of tea and munched on melon seeds, chatting casually and leisurely. This was the habit of all officialdoms under heaven. Even the one in the Palace knew this. After all, it was the atmosphere of the New Year.
As they there was little to do on duty, their workday ended early. It was still very early. The sun in the sky hiding behind the cold clouds had not even moved toward the northern side of the sky, yet many officials were already walking out of the Supreme Court across the street. These officials met up with the officials of other departments, who had already been waiting outside on the street. They scattered through the street like birds and beasts, heading somewhere to enjoy Jingdou’s delicious food. It was not a crime to have some wine on the first day back on the job. Perhaps they would return straight home to rest after they got drunk.
Unlike the Supreme Court, with a much colder façade, the front doors of the long sinister first branch of the Overwatch Council’s yamen remained tightly closed. There were few officials who entered. There were no people of leisure walking around and laughing. An oppressive atmosphere that made one hang one’s head and sigh sorrowfully emanated from the Council. Fan Xian looked quietly at that familiar Council, the one in which he had been all-powerful, and knew exactly why this was.
The Overwatch Council greeted the miserable wind and rain. Its position in court had dropped a thousand leagues. Particularly in the previous month, many Overwatch Council officials had been seized by the Ministry of Justice and placed into the Supreme Court on some baseless accusations. Everyone knew that this was a purge spearheaded by the Imperial Censorate, but the Overwatch Council seemed to have lost its old magic. It could not pull together any real strength to give a powerful counterattack.
In this wax and wane, the Imperial Censors, with He Zongwei at the head, vaguely moved past Scholar Hu and began to lead the entire system of civil officials in an attack toward the Overwatch Council. No one knew how many Overwatch Council officials were met with cruel torture in prison.
The Qing Kingdom presently was no longer the old cripple’s Qing Kingdom.
A wave of steady footsteps and self-sustaining laughter came up from the stairs. About seven or eight officials walked up from downstairs. Looking at their clothes, they were all ranking officials. However, these officials did not go to the elegant rooms on the third floor. Instead, under the owner’s lead, they came to the side of the railing. They were going to have screens put up and sit by the railing.
In the past, Xinfeng Restaurant was not famous. Although it was right across from the Supreme Court and the First Bureau of the Overwatch Council, the officials always considered its standards too low. Even the elegant rooms did not have girls serving, so they would rather go further. It was not until Fan Xian often came there, leaning against the railing and munching on meat buns, did he forcibly raise the fame of Xinfeng Restaurant. From then on, this became an addition to matters of grace.
Most of the officials who came to Xinfeng Restaurant were from the Supreme Court, but the guest of honor was the man who had just been transferred back to the capital from Jiaozhou, Hou Jichang. The Supreme Court officials knew that this man, once one of Fan Xian’s four disciples, had now lowered himself and threw himself into the camp of Scholar He, who had been as equally famous as him back in the day. Only then was there the wonderful event of being transferred directly into the Supreme Court. The changes in the affairs of life truly made one sigh.
Secretly, the officials could not help but feel some disdain for Hou Jichang’s betrayal of Fan Xian. However, no one was willing to show it on their face. This was Hou Jichang’s first day in the Supreme Court. He had been coaxed into inviting everyone out to Xinfeng Restaurant. In order to give Scholar He face, even the deputy of the Supreme Court had come.
Coming to the side of the railing, the officials prepared to sit down. The screens had not yet been raised. They saw the table at the other end of the railing. There were only three people at that table. A guard-like person had clearly finished eating and was watching alertly all around. The fat man facing the officials had his head down and was munching away at something. The figure across from the officials wearing common clothing had his head raised and was looking at the other end of the street. It was just the back view of the figure, yet it made everyone’s heart pound.
Hou Jichang’s body froze instantly. The hands showing outside his official robes shook involuntarily. It was as if the cold wind outside had suddenly corroded away every inch of his skin.
At first, the other officials of the Supreme Court had merely been startled by the plain figure and did not recognize his identity. Thus, they could not help but be shocked at Hou Jichang’s pale face. They followed Hou Jichang’s gaze and looked over again. Finally, they understood the reason for Hou Jichang’s fear.
After a wave of awkward heaviness, the deputy of the Supreme Court furrowed his brows and gently patted Hou Jichang’s shoulder. In a quiet voice, he comfortingly said, “Sit.”
Hou Jichang sat down uneasily. After a long time, he sighed somewhat shamefully. If this had been at any other time in the past, this entire table of officials would certainly have gone to that table to respectfully bow to Fan Xian and pay their respects. Now, not only did Fan Xian have no official positions, even his first-rank dukedom had been stripped by the Emperor. He had become properly without official affiliation. He was nothing more than a commoner.
This table of Supreme Court officials were all He Zongwei’s direct subordinates. They knew Sir Fan junior was on that side of the railing and they were on this side, so they could not leave. How could an official give way to a commoner? How could the He faction, who was presently in the limelight, give way to a drowning dog?
Looking at Fan Xian’s present fallen appearance, these officials would not be so stupid as to ridicule him. Presumably, they secretly felt a sense of delight. Recently, the Supreme Court had been investigating the Overwatch Council’s old cases and was right at the height of its grandness. This was also the most bustling area of Jingdou. The Emperor had a death grip on Sir Fan junior’s fatal weakness. As long as they did not actively bother him, Fan Xian would not be bored enough to see out his own humiliation.
For some reason, the screen had still not arrived by the time the food and wine came. Although the Supreme Court officials were somewhat unhappy, they could not make much of a fuss in this situation. Losing face was a small matter. Having something happen with the three silent people at the other table was not something these officials wanted to see.
“Today, we are welcoming Sir Hou into the Supreme Court. From today onward, Sir Hou will become one of our colleagues…” With a smile, the deputy of the Supreme Court raised the wine cup in his hand.
Hou Jichang managed to force a smile and also raised his wine cup, but he was very panicked in his heart. He understood Fan Xian, this teacher that was even younger than him. He had suddenly appeared across from the Supreme Court, in Xinfeng Restaurant. Was it really just because he liked the buns at this restaurant?
Thinking of this, his hand trembled again. From the corner of his eyes, he unconsciously swept a glance at the three silent people by the railing. He knew who the fat one across from him was. It was Lin Ruofu’s elder brother, the born simple Da Bao. He secretly prayed that since Sir Fan junior had brought him, he wasn’t there to make trouble.
The deputy of the Supreme Court sensed his strange behavior and furrowed his brows unhappily. Ever since the previous deputy had been implicated in the Qin family’s Jingdou rebellion, everything had gone smoothly for him in this position. Even the Overwatch Council had to be careful around him. He truly did not feel that there was anything he needed to be afraid of. Yes, everyone knew how powerful Sir Fan junior was, but would he be as unreasonably as to start cursing at them?
It was clear that the deputy was not pleased with Hou Jichang’s behavior. Slanting a gaze at the fat man sitting by the railing across from Fan Xian, he guessed his identity. The corners of his mouth rose. He gave a despicable smile as his eyes filled with ridicule. Fan Xian liked to hang out with his simple-minded uncle. This was something all Jingdou people knew and the officials looked down on. Although this deputy did not, and did not dare to, speaking mockingly to them, the expression on his face revealed everything.
“Secondly, we are welcoming Sir Guo finally returning from Jiangnan and re-taking his position as the Imperial Censor of the Left.”
With these words, the group immediately erupted with noise. The Imperial Censor of the Left was an important position. Guo Zheng smiled boastfully and picked up his wine cup to offer toasts all around. However, when his gaze landed on the other side of the railing, his expression became very unnatural, just like Hou Jichang.
Imperial Censor Guo was the person in the Jingdou Government who wanted to bring Fan Xian under control. Many years had passed, so people of Jingdou had probably long forgotten this matter, but Guo Zheng trusted that Fan Xian would not forget. He would not forget because during the Jiangnan palace treasury incident, Guo Zheng had stood opposite Fan Xian.
Before they had had three round of drinks, the three silent people at the other end of the railing had finished eating. Fan Xian held Da Bao’s hand and headed toward the steps while Teng Zijing followed silently behind them. The three of them wanted to go downstairs, so they had to pass by the table where the officials were gathered. Unexpectedly, all the officials at the table fell silent at the same time. With a trace of nervousness, they waited for him to quickly leave.
However, Fan Xian did not go. Very naturally, he came to the side of the table and looked at the officials with a smile. The deputy of the Supreme Court could see that the situation was not right and stood with an awkward smile. Raising his hand in greeting, he said, “So, it is Sir Fan junior, I…”
Only with the “I” did he realize something was not right. Fan Xian was a commoner, and he was the proper deputy of the Supreme Court. Yet, he was about to refer to himself as an inferior? The deputy stopped his previous words, steadied his heart, and said with a forced smile, “Would you like to sit for a while?”
Fan Xian shook his head with a smile. Hou Jichang had already stood up in fear and bowed to Fan Xian with his head down. Cold sweat soaked through the back of his clothes. Fan Xian did not even glance at him. It was as if he didn’t exist. It was this kind of disregard that made everyone at the table feel a chill.
Fan Xian did not look at Hou Jichang. Instead, he looked at the new Imperial Censor of the Left by his side, Guo Zheng, and said in a quiet voice, “Three years ago, I was very curious. I had exiled you to Jiangnan and made it so you could not rest easy during the day or night. Later, during the Jingdou rebellion, you clearly belonged to Xinyang, so why did the Emperor not issue an edict punishing you?”
“It was only later that I understood. You saw that the situation was not good, so you abandoned my poor mother-in-law. Using what remained of your influence in the Imperial Censorate, you held tight to He Zongwei’s leg.” Fan Xian smiled and shook his head with a sigh. “He Zongwei, that bastard, is a servant of three families. Naturally, you opportunist learned a lot from him.”
He Zongwei’s position in the court was not one to scoff at. With Fan Xian’s devastating words, none of the officials at the table could stay seated. They all rose abruptly to berate him.
“I was wrong. He Zongwei is not the servant of three families. The masters he served were all surnamed Li,” Fan Xian said, shaking his head. “I should say that he is a loyal dog of the Li family.”
The deputy of the Supreme Court finally could not endure it anymore. With a cold face, he said some things. It was as if Fan Xian did not hear any of it. He just looked coldly at the trembling Guo Zheng and said, “For you to be brought back to Jingdou and take the position as Imperial Censor of the Left, presumably, you accomplished something big in Jiangnan. I’m wondering if the deaths of my subordinates in Jiangnan have anything to do with you?”
Guo Zheng pulled himself together and coldly said, “I acted on imperial orders. Perhaps you have some objection?”
“Very good, you finally have a spine. This is what an Imperial Censor should be like,” Fan Xian said slowly. “I knew you were entering the capitol today, which is why I purposely waited for you here.”
The atmosphere in Xinfeng Restaurant immediately became like the calm before the storm. The silence made one’s heart tremble. Purposely waited for Guo Zheng, what did this mean? Although no one believed that Fan Xian would risk universal condemnation and do something to humiliate the court at such an important location in Jingdou, looking at Fan Xian’s increasingly apathetic face, everyone felt a sliver of coldness and fear.
Not many guards followed these officials into Xinfeng Restaurant. After all, no one expected such a major thing to happen right across the street from the Supreme Court. Feeling the change in atmosphere upstairs, a few guards charged up and watched the scene nervously.
Fan Xian laughed. The deputy of the Supreme Court laughed awkwardly along with him. Guo Zheng gave a very ugly smile.
Then, a plate of food directly smashed into his face. Food juices and shattered porcelain flew out. At the same time, it cracked across the Imperial Censor’s face and dissolved into countless radiating lines as it sprayed out. About the same time, blood from Guo Zheng’s face also sprayed outward.
Fan Xian took back his hand and pressed it against the back of Guo Zheng’s head. He pushed it directly into the hard rosewood table. Despite the hardness of the table, a flesh and blood head was forced into it.
With a crack, a few fine cracks appeared on the surface of the hard rosewood table. Guo Zheng’s cervical vertebra completely snapped. Blood seeped out from the gaps between the bones of his face and the hard rosewood table like black water.
He didn’t even have time to grunt. Sir Guo Zheng, who had just accomplished a great task for the court in Jiangnan and had returned to Jingdou to take over the position as the Imperial Censor of the Left, had just been slapped into a table by Fan Xian and become a dead man.
There was a death-like silence. Everyone present stared stupidly at the head sunk deeply into the table and the blood all over the table that had mixed with the food juices. They were unable to speak because no one dared to believe the scene in front of them. Everyone thought it was a hallucination.
Killing someone on the street? And, the person killed was an official of the court? Fan Xian killed the Imperial Censor of the Left in front of a number of officials!
This was something that had never happened in the Qing Kingdom before. It was something no one could imagine. All of the people could not react,. They could only stare at the scene as if watching an absurd drama.
Finally, an official realized what happened. He gave a sharp yell. Then, his eyes rolled back and he fainted away.
The guards charged in and struck toward Fan Xian. With a few muffled slaps, the wooden floorboards on the second floor of Xinfeng Restaurant had the addition of a few fainted bodies. Fan Xian still stood quietly by the table. It was as if he had not moved at all.
The deputy of the Supreme Court extended a finger and pointed it, trembling, at Fan Xian like they had seen a demon from the netherworld. Suddenly, he walked into the sunlight. He was unable to speak at all. His throat only made a pitiful croaking sound.
Fan Xian’s eyes were completely without expression. He looked at him coldly, and said, “I heard that during this month, the Supreme Court has, incited by you, used a great deal of torture on my subordinates and three of my subordinates have been tortured to death in prison.”
The deputy of the Supreme Court suddenly let out a loud cry. He turned tail like a rabbit and ran. Looking at the situation, it seemed that he was about to flip over the railing. Even if he sustained heavy injuries from the fall, he had to run away from Xinfeng Restaurant.
Since Fan Xian had made his move, how could he let him escape? A gust of wind flew through Xinfeng Restaurant. With a crisp slap and a muffled thud, the deputy’s cervical vertebra snapped. His head was also wretchedly slapped into the surface of the hard rosewood table.
Blood began to flow down from the surface of the table. The heads of two court officials were sunk into the surface of the table, difficult to ever remove again. Their bodies half-knelt on the ground. Their feet, wearing thick boots, still twitched. The scene looked terrifying.
Two people had been killed on the streets. Xinfeng Restaurant was filled with ghostly cries, but Fan Xian’s face did not change as he turned away. At some point, a server of Xinfeng Restaurant made his way, unnoticed, behind the group of people and handed over a hot towel.
Fan Xian accepted the towel and carefully wiped his hands clean. He then threw the towel to the ground with some irritation. Picking up Da Bao’s hand and heading down the stairs, he said to the server, “You can start.”
From Fan Xian coming to this table to him using the cruelest method to kill two officials of the court to him going downstairs and leaving, he did not glance at Hou Jichang at all.
With a pale face and trembling lips, Hou Jichang drew his gaze back from the staircase. It fell on the two bodies. Looking at what could be brains or tofu floating in the blood, a boundless horror took over his entire body. He finally could not resist it any longer. He bent over his body and vomited uncontrollably.
“Send uncle back to the manor,” Fan Xian said to Teng Zijing outside Xinfeng Restaurant as he helped Da Bao into the carriage. He watched as the carriage drove toward the south of the city. By himself, Fan Xian began to move in the direction of the Royal Palace.
Fan Xian was not worried about the safety of the carriage going home because along the way, there were swordsmen of the Sixth Bureau responsible for protecting it. Just as he said in Xinfeng Restaurant, the killing was revenge for the officials of the Overwatch Council. Although he was no longer the Director of the Overwatch Council, the truth was that as long as he wanted to be, he would forever be the Director of the Overwatch Council.
The Shadow returned to Jingdou and newly formed the Sixth Bureau assassins who had been hiding in the darkness the entire time. The return of Haitang and Thirteenth Wang made it so that the Palace had no way of stopping him from reconnecting with the people in the eight bureaus of the Overwatch Council still loyal to him. The Overwatch Council was still falling and withering in the storm. Now could be considered this sinister Council’s last moment of glory.
In the morning, Fan Xian had issued one last order in the name of the Director of the Overwatch Council to the spies and assassins the Overwatch Council placed in various places. He didn’t know how many secret agents and officials would follow him, but Fan Xian trusted that the men under his command would not disappoint him.
The cold wind of winter blew through the streets of Jingdou. It was not long before it was time for him to enter the Palace. Fan Xian walked alone through the streets, heading in the direction of the Royal Palace. Along the way, he looked at Jingdou’s street scene and greedily breathed Jingdou’s air. It was as if he wanted to etch all of this into his memories so that even if he died, he would not forget.
Not long after Fan Xian left Xinfeng Restaurant, people suddenly ran out of the First Bureau of the Overwatch Council, whose doors had been tightly closed the entire time. Over a hundred Overwatch Council officials in black uniforms and filled with a killing aura surged into their old neighbor, presently their most hated new enemy—the Supreme Court.
It had to be said that Fan Xian chose the perfect time. At this time, it was not quite noon, yet the officials of the Supreme Court had already met with the officials of other departments to go have fun. In front of these wolves and tiger-like Overwatch Council officials, the Supreme Court’s yamen did not have any power to resist. This perfectly aligned with Fan Xian’s hope to not have too many Qing officials bleed because of this unrest.
Naturally, there were reasons as for why the officials who had to die, had to die. They were all targets Fan Xian had carefully chosen. The First Bureau’s takeover of the Supreme Court was just to rescue their colleagues locked up in prison.
Fan Xian walked passed Chang Street and turned passed Shahe Street. He bought a skewer of candied hawthorns on a stick from a peddler and ate it with relish. Casually, he tossed a golden coin at the peddler and was too lazy to wait for change. He was grateful to Jingdou’s skewered candied hawthorns. Back then, he had depended on the candied hawthorn in that child’s hand to not lose his way in the Qing Temple.
At noon, the Minister of Revenue was hosting guests at Yishi Tavern. He had invited the vice minister of the Ministry of Justice, as well as a few other good friends. As expected, they were all people in the He camp. The Minister of Revenue stroked his short beard. In this warm room in the midst of winter, he felt very pleased. After experiencing three years of hard work and torment, he had finally cleaned out the shadow the previous Minister of Revenue, Fan Jian, had left in the Ministry. The independent kingdom belonging to the Fan manor no longer existed. He had finally become the true Minister of Revenue.
Although he had voluntarily and humbly stood on Scholar He’s side in order to resist the pressure from Fan manor, he did not feel humiliated. He Zongwei was a scholar of the Hall of Governmental Affairs, so standing by Scholar He was the same as standing in front of the Emperor. This was a kind of honor.
Originally, the banquet should have been at night to appear rather formal. However, the guest that had gone to make discreet inquiries at the He manor had found out. Scholar He had also explained after the court conference last year that there were things he had to do in the palace on the seventh, so he would not be able to personally attend the banquet. Thus, the time had been moved to noon.
Although slightly disappointed, the Minister of Revenue felt himself let out a breath. With Scholar He not coming, he was the highest ranking official at the table. How good would it feel to hear all the flattering words by his ear, particularly as he thought about the orders he had just received from Scholar He?
The Ministry of Revenue had forcefully interfered and made the Jingdou government yamen wish it were dead, forcing that stubborn Sun Jingxiu to have no choice but to sadly resign his post. In the end, he had also not paid the bond and had been locked into prison. The Minister of Revenue felt like he was in seventh heaven. What are you going to use to fight against me? Aren’t you just relying on the fact you had a good daughter? After your daughter has been sold into the Royal Academy, I will secretly make your daughter wish she was dead.
With the alcohol going to his head, the Minister of Revenue circled around the words “wish they were dead” and didn’t notice a crafty and sinister light flash through the eyes of the serving girl in the warm room.
The Minister of Revenue did not know that the poison in the Wu Liangye he had drunk was enough for him to wish he was dead countless times over.
On Jan. 7, in the eleventh year of the Qing calendar, Yishi Tavern caught fire. The warm room crumbled and its walls were destroyed. The Minister of Revenue, vice director of the Ministry of Justice, and a few officials of the He faction died in the fire. They died in the line of duty because of alcohol.
When the fire started, Fan Xian had already finished eating his candied hawthorns and was holding a newly bought black umbrella. Arriving at the beautiful Tianhe Street, he threw the bamboo stick with shards of sugar still left on it casually into the unusually clean pond by the side of the street where the flowing water chased the falling water. He shrugged his shoulders, not criticizing himself at all for his environmental polluting.
Then, he glanced at the black stone tablet outside the front doors of the Overwatch Council that was being removed and the gradually reducing golden characters. His gaze lingered for a moment. He then shook his head.
Suddenly, a gust of wind blew against him and snowflakes began to fall. The snowflakes landed outside the He manor’s cold and cheerless front doors. Scholar He was upright and honest. He hated others giving gifts, thus he kept two ill-tempered dogs outside his manor. Many people knew that this trick had been first invented by Deng Duke Cheng Haizi, who was Sir Yan Ruohai’s, manor. Inevitably, many people secretly mocked Scholar He for taking others’ ideas as his own. In any case, these two ill-tempered dogs had gone a long way to earn him a reputation for honesty.
The two dogs were irritated by the slowly falling snowflakes. They barked desperately at the sky. What use was there in frozen dogs barking at the snow? The snow continued to fall slowly and determinedly downward.
With two sorrowful cries, the two ill-tempered dogs fell dead to the ground. A dozen assassins wearing the clothing of common people cautiously took control of the area around the quiet He manor. They then quietly slipped into the manor.
Fan Xian narrowed his eyes and looked at the sky. Opening up the black umbrella, he covered his eyes and the sky.
The snowflakes accumulating on the black cloth umbrella melted quickly and could not gather together, making him slightly unhappy. Walking like this, he arrived in front of the Royal Palace. He did not go outside the front doors and wait to be summoned. Instead, he went around the root of the Royal Palace. Under the alert gazes of the imperial soldiers, he came to the row of unremarkable houses of the Hall of Governmental Affairs.
Fan Xian pushed open the door and entered. He brushed off the snow from his body and his hair and carefully placed the black umbrella dripping with snow and water by the entrance. He smiled at the dumbfounded officials inside and said, “Long time no see.”
Scholar He, sitting on the warm bench and intently reviewing all kinds of memorials, slowly raised his head. He glanced at this noble guest by the door who had come without an invitation and furrowed his brows.