Joy of Life - Chapter 720 - Rock Garden[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:50:55]
Chapter 720: Rock Garden
Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio
It was still clearly the first few days of the New Year. If this had been in the past, the red fragments of firecrackers would still be flying through the air and the slightly pungent scent would still be floating through the streets and homes. Everything would give off a celebratory and lively atmosphere. However, for the officials and people of Jingdou, the spring festival in the 12th year of the Qing calendar was not celebrated satisfactorily. Not only was it not satisfactory, it was even a bit gloomy.
The previous day was the seventh day of the New Year. It was the first day of work for many departments. In this one day, the Jingdou officials in the He faction were killed. Fresh blood woke up countless people’s still drunk spirits. Now, the area around the Royal Palace was beginning to be sealed off. It was said that the court had finally found out the scoundrels who dared to kill officials in Jingdou, that virtuous place. Furthermore, a mission to capture them had started near the Royal Palace.
It was said that many people died. It seemed that Sir Fan junior, who had been stripped of all posts by the Emperor, was involved. Other rumors said that there were many Northern Qi and Dongyi figures among the sinister assassins.
Countless soldiers patrolled the streets and alleys of Jingdou. The Overwatch Council, 13 yamen of the Ministry of Justice, internal court, Supreme Court, 13 city gate guards, and Jingdou Garrison all moved into action. The Qing Kingdom’s massive national machinery was operating at full strength. Silent and heavy footsteps echoed through the snow in Jingdou as they searched in all directions for the assassins that had luckily escaped their net. Jingdou’s city gates leading out had also been tightly sealed.
No matter how terrifying the assassins, it was probably difficult for them to easily escape Jingdou under the present circumstances.
A group formed by an alliance between the Overwatch Council and internal court had long since surrounded Fan manor. Outside the manor, there were even more soldiers carrying out a blockade. Fan manor had been searched three times, yet they still had not found any trace of Fan Xian.
After the chaos in the square in front of the Royal Palace, another group, personally led by Yan Bingyun, went to the west of the city in the first instant to the Qinian Unit’s most secretive meeting spot. The little courtyard Wang Qinian had bought for 120 liang of silver. This place had been a secret of Qinian Unit. Looking at the heavy casualties suffered by the veteran subordinates of the Overwatch Council in Xiliang Road, one could see that the Emperor had certainly planted spies at Fan Xian’s side and discovered the meeting place of the Qinian Unit.
However, the little courtyard was quiet and empty as usual. There was paper and brush on the table. The ink in the inkstone had long congealed. The bucket by the well outside trembled weakly. It had been a long time since someone had been there. Naturally, Fan Xian was not there.
Yan Bingyun stood by the door to the courtyard with his brows pulled together. He wondered, Where is the Director hiding right now? Although Yan Bingyun was presently the court recognized Director of the Overwatch Council, he and most of the officials in the Council always unconsciously placed Fan Xian as the master of the Overwatch Council.
Martial law had long been imposed on Jingdou. The Jingdou government had already called on the various Lizhengs and some commoners skilled in organization and turned them into a massive net that was cast onto the streets and alleys of Jingdou. Everyone knew the Overwatch Council had countless hidden spots in Jingdou. Additionally, there was Fan Xian’s godlike ability to disappear and reappear. No one dared to hope that this kind of pursuit would actually be able to catch him. However, the situation now was a bit different. The Overwatch Council’s secret spots were no longer secrets to the court. Most importantly, Yan Bingyun already knew that Fan Xian had suffered heavy injuries and would not be at his usual level. If there was no one to meet up, his injuries would probably not recover. He would not be able to escape very far.
But, where was Fan Xian? They had already searched for half a day. With powerful mobilization, Jingdou had been thoroughly searched. The 13 city gate guards watched each gate intently. All of the officials of the Qing court was certain that Fan Xian could not have left the city.
Yan Bingyun’s brows grew tighter and tighter. He huffed out a breath of warm air and slapped his tired face, doing his best to calm his unstable emotions so that it would not so easily be seen by others. Gently, he waved his hand for the officials of the Overwatch Council to continue spreading out.
The search continued late into the night. The officials Fan Xian had some contact with in the past were also searched. Even King Jing’s manor and Duke Liu’s manor were not exempt. Still, no one could find Fan Xian’s whereabouts. Everyone felt a chill run up their spine. If he actually managed to survive and escape Jingdou alive, if he actually betrayed the Qing Kingdom, who knew what kind of chaos that would bring to the world?
Yan Bingyun dragged his tired body back to his manor. He didn’t go to give his greetings to his father. Instead, he went straight to his rooms, ate a few bites of the hot food the cook brought over, and accepted a hot towel from his wife’s hand. He used it to wipe vigorously at his eyes. He then sat in the chair, lost in thought.
“What’s wrong?” Shen Wan’er asked in a quiet voice, looking at the worry between his brows.
A slightly bitter smile rose to Yan Bingyun’s usually icy face. After a moment of silence, he said, “To speak of it, I really do admire him a great deal. I heard that before he broke out of the blockade, he had already been knocked out by the Emperor. It is impossible for him to have recovered within such a short time. Furthermore, in order to attract the pursuit of the aces, he forcefully left the main group of assassins heavily injured and alone. Why can’t we find him?”
“What about the other assassins?” Shen Wan’er asked with furrowed brows.
“We haven’t caught a single live one. We just killed a few. They’re all the best martial artists in the world…” Yan Bingyun sighed.
He had not been present on the square in front of the Royal Palace at the time. It was clear that although the Emperor trusted him, he did not want the Overwatch Council to interfere when it came to capturing and killing Fan Xian. However, he knew that if not for that assassin with what seemed like the wrath of god, Fan Xian and the others would have died long ago. They would not have been able to break out.
After saying this, Yan Bingyun noticed that his wife’s face was slightly strange. He paused for a moment and asked, “What’s wrong?”
Shen Wan’er was silent for a long time. She then forced a smile and said, “It’s nothing. It’s just that when I went to give my greetings to father at dusk, it seemed that he was not home.”
Yan Bingyun’s body froze. He didn’t move for a long time. Although his father, Yan Ruohai, had long stepped down from the position as head of the Fourth Bureau of the Overwatch Council, he was still a very powerful figure. This was something that Yan Bingyun, as his son, knew very well. He knew even more clearly that his father was the most traditional kind of Overwatch Council official. His loyalty lay more with Chen Pingping and Fan Xian than with the Emperor.
“He probably went out for a walk.” Yan Bingyun pulled up the corners of his mouth and forced a smile with difficulty. He didn’t say anything more. Ever since Director Chen was sentenced to death by a thousand cuts at the beginning of autumn, Yan Bingyun had been very worried that his father might have some kind of intense reaction. Unexpectedly, other than getting roaring drunk that night, his father had returned to his usual self. All he did every day was look after the family’s rock garden.
Yan Bingyun knew the Emperor was not making things difficult for his father in consideration of his loyalty. Now, the Emperor and Fan Xian had officially severed ties and fought from inside the Palace to the outside. Fan Xian wanted to avenge Director Chen. Given his father’s abilities, he was certain to know of this matter. If he knew of it, what would he do?”
“Stay in the room and don’t let anyone in,” Yan Bingyun instructed his wife in a low voice with his brows slightly furrowed. “I’ll go check on father.”
Not far to the west, Yan Bingyun came to his father’s rooms, right by the strangely large faux mountain in front of the corridor. He respectfully called out and entered. The temples of the first class Duke, Yan Ruohai, had long turned white. He did not seem surprised by his son’s arrival. Very straightforwardly, he said, “He hasn’t come to the manor. He isn’t so stupid as to give himself up to your net.”
Yan Bingyun was silent for a long time. He then said, “This is Council business, I cannot act on personal feelings.”
Yan Ruohai glanced at him and said, “You know best whether this manor can hide someone.”
Yan Bingyun bowed and gave his greeting before taking his leave. When he passed the strangely large faux mountain in front of the corridor, he slowly stopped his steps. Looking at the slightly dry moss and remaining snow on the faux mountain, he suddenly thought of some of the strange rules the family had when he was young. He kept feeling that he seemed to have overlooked something.
Fortunately, it was winter. The secret room wasn’t very wet, although it was still very dark and sinister. The meridians in his body were shot through. The red hot wires continued to travel through his meridians. Boundless pain pierced into his brain like tens of thousands of thin needles making him cry out in pain periodically. This kind of pain and injury made it impossible for him to call on his reservoir of qi behind his waist. He couldn’t even call on his smaller circulation. Wanting to use Tianyi Dao’s natural zhenqi to restore his meridians had become a lavish hope this time.
He could only rely on time’s slow nursing or put his hopes on the magical little notebook and absorb precious yuanqi from this seemingly empty space to slowly fill his empty store of qi. However, the yuanqi in the air was so thin that if he relied on it to recover, he would probably still be a cripple in two or three decades.
Fan Xian half leaned against the wall of the secret room hung with woolen carpets and used his powerful state of mind to control his breathing. His instincts made his breathing too hurried and loud. It was in the dead of night and he was deep within the blockade. He had no choice but to be careful.
His injuries had been bandaged. Expensive and effective medicines had been used without regard to price. Beside him on the ground, there were also many foods and clean water used to recover energy. Although the secret room was small, the things prepared inside left nothing to be desired.
The fracture in his breast bone began to faintly hurt again. He furrowed his brows as he remembered the Emperor’s powerful and unstoppable fist, as well as that gunshot. Through the chaos in front of the Royal Palace earlier to the court’s highly secretive and effective search, he confirmed that the Emperor did not die to the gunshot. This reality did not make him feel overly disappointed. He just began to calculate the path he should take in the future.
When the heavenly shot struck the first deep hole in the palace walls, Fan Xian had woken up. With his eyes narrowed, he looked to the east of the Royal Palace. He was the first of thousands of people up and down the palace walls to react. He was the first to deduce the direction of the sniper. In this world, he was the most familiar with that sound. He understood that chest the best.
Three years ago, Uncle Wu Zhu left Jingdou and went to the distant and icy Temple to search for the true answer of who he was. From that day, the chest was left at Fan Xian’s side. Fan Xian always thought that Uncle Wu Zhu had taken the chest with him, so he didn’t feel a sliver of regret. He knew that the enemies Uncle Wu Zhu would face were far more unfathomable than the Emperor. They were a cold, heartless, and lofty existence.
Unexpectedly, the chest was still in Jingdou, just not by his side. Just as the Emperor confirmed before he fainted, Fan Xian also knew that the person using the chest was definitely not Uncle Wu Zhu. If Uncle Wu Zhu had truly come back, regardless of whether he would use the chest, he would certainly see the tens of thousands of Qing elite soldiers as straw men and charge straight into the Royal Palace with his hands gripped coldly around the metal rod in his hand.
Who was the person who fired the shots? Fan Xian guessed for a long time but still did not figure it out. Even though he thought of a few people, he dared not believe it. He could only be certain that the person firing had a very close connection to him. Otherwise, Uncle Wu Zhu would not hand his life over to his hands.
This heavenly attack was not within Fan Xian’s plan. His original exit was still in the Royal Palace. Unexpectedly, people came from both Northern Qi and Dongyi, which closed the last sliver of an opening of using the Emperor’s affection. More terrifyingly, he had not thought that the very powerful fingertip sword qi he had learned not long ago would be broken by the Emperor with one finger, thus messing up his meridians and leaving him like a cripple, completely unable to get near that exit.
But, this was also good. At least, Hong Zhu would not have to take such a big risk.
When Fan Xian and everyone else killed their way out of the square in front of the Royal Palace, they were still met with great obstacles. Although there was the existence of the assassin who could exhibit godlike attacks and the Third Prince stood on top of the palace walls and tried to use his slender shoulders to seek a path of survival for Fan Xian, the Emperor had already given his orders. How could the tens of thousands of soldiers just watch as these foreign assassins escaped?
Fan Xian did not know the specifics of the escape because he had sunk into unconsciousness again. When he awoke again, everyone had become pursued rabbits. They had all been the most powerful martial artists in the world. However, some were injured, and some were dead. Now, there were only five people left running wildly in Jingdou for their lives. No matter how one looked at it, it was impossible for them to escape.
Fan Xian knew that he was a deadweight, so he left with unusual coldness and courage. He agreed to meet with Haitang and everyone else at their old spot. A disciple of the Sword Hut gave their life to deliver him to an area by this manor. Then, Fan Xian had slipped in during the chaos, finally finding an opportunity to rest.
Of the four ninth-level disciples of the Sword Hut, one fell to the rain of arrows, another two died for Fan Xian’s survival during the escape after, and the last one, the seventh disciple brother, killed a dozen Qing Kingdom aces before finally falling to a crossbow. He had died in the moment Fan Xian turned the corner of the alley. Fan Xian was close enough to see his eyes.
Thinking of the light shining from that pair of eyes, Fan Xian’s heart became incomparably heavy. He knew that his debt had increased. If he could survive this time, he could not hide. He had to do a great deal to repay the debt.
Fan Xian adjusted his breathing as he thought deeply. The secret room was deathly silent and pitch black. Presently, all his zhenqi had been used up. His eyesight was not as good as usual. He searched with his hands for the water beside him. When his hand touched the pot of water, he froze.
He raised his head and looked calmly at the dark wall of the secret room. It was as if he could feel a pair of eyes looking calmly at him from behind this wall.
The well-looked after hinges were covered with a great deal of lubrication. When the door of the secret room was opened, there was not a single sound, just like a mime show. Faint light seeped in from outside the secret room and illuminated the pale-faced but calm-eyed Fan Xian.
Fan Xian looked calmly out of the room. The faint light made the familiar figure outside the secret room appear completely dark.
“I thought that you would break it with a hammer if you found it,” Fan Xian said with a smile as he looked at Yan Bingyun.
Standing behind the faux mountain and looking quietly at Fan Xian in the secret room, Yan Bingyun felt all sorts of feelings surging in his heart. He only needed a glance to know that Fan Xian had no power to offer any kind of resistance right now. After a moment of silence, he said, “Don’t forget, I grew up in this garden. Although, ever since my youth, father has strictly forbidden me from climbing the faux mountain. But, as you know, little kids are curious. How could I not climb it?”
“This faux mountain is too big. When I first came to your home back then, I thought it was rather strange and spoke about it with your father a few times. He would not believe me,” Fan Xian coughed and said with a quiet laugh. “As expected, if even I can find the problem here, of course, you can too.”
Fan Xian hid in the faux mountain of a first-class Duke’s manor. No matter how chaotic it grew in Jingdou, he was hidden in Yan Bingyun’s home. Who would think of that? If Yan Bingyun had not been carried away by a whim and tried to open the room he had played hide-and-seek when he was a child, presumably, Fan Xian would be able to calmly pass through this tense period with Yan Ruohai’s help.
“Father does not know that I know the secret of this faux mountain,” Yan Bingyun said with his head slightly lowered. “Otherwise, he would certainly choose a more appropriate place for you to hide in.”
“Alright,” Fan Xian said with a very tired sigh. “I always said that my luck in this life was inhuman and that there would eventually be a time I was unlucky. Who would have thought I would fall to this faux mountain?”
After a long silence, Yan Bingyun said, “As I told my father earlier, this is Council business. I cannot bring my personal feelings into it, particularly as it is you. For the sake of the Qing Kingdom, I cannot let you go to Northern Qi.”
“I’m not going to Northern Qi. I am just going to the Temple to travel. Can we make a deal?” Fan Xian asked quietly as he smiled toothily.