Joy of Life - Chapter 721 - One’s Heart Faces The North

[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:50:56]
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Chapter 721: One’s Heart Faces The North

Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio

Yan Bingyun looked across the faux mountain at Fan Xian behind the moss- and snow-covered door. There was no expression on his face. No one knew what he was thinking. After a moment of silence, he coldly said, “You know too much. Don’t forget, I’ve been by your side for many years. I know at least a little about the matters of the palace treasury. During these years, you’ve been turning your focus toward Northern Qi. Fan Sizhe is still in Shangjing. If you say that you’ve never thought about betraying the court and moving to Northern Qi, how can I believe you?”

Fan Xian coughed gently and forced a smile. “I am also a subject of the Qing Kingdom. Furthermore, I have an agreement with the Emperor. If the Emperor survives and does not purge my people, I will not turn against the court and stand with Northern Qi. Please be assured of this.”

“This matter involves the nation and lives of millions of people. How can I be assured?” Yan Bingyun’s voice was pitched very low. He scolded angrily, “I don’t care what strange agreement there is between you and the Emperor. What if things change? If you leave the Qing Kingdom and go do Shangjing, who knows if you’ll be driven mad by anger and do all those disgusting things?”

“Disgusting? Are you talking about selling the secrets of the palace treasury to Northern Qi or leading the Qi people in attacking the Qing Kingdom?” Fan Xian asked mockingly. “One has to keep some promises during one’s life. As long as the Emperor keeps his promise, these things will not happen. You should know that the assassination attempt in the Palace was just a small-scale battle. I have not used all of my weapons.”

“As long as I am alive, the Emperor has no choice but to accept the deal we made last night,” Fan Xian said as his eyes grew cold. “He doesn’t want the world to fall into chaos, so he cannot move against my people. No matter how angry he is, for the sake of his great ambition, he must endure it. Don’t forget, those people are people you are familiar with. They were once your buddies, friends, and colleagues! If you kill me right now, the power in my hands will be without a leader. To speak honestly, when a dragon is without its head, the Emperor will be able to carve at it slowly with underhanded tactics.”

“Do you want those people you were once so close with to fall one by one beneath the Emperor’s butcher knife?” Fan Xian stared into Yan Bingyun’s eyes and spoke each word clearly.

Yan Bingyun was silent for a moment. He then replied, “It seems that you have thought about this for a long time. But, you have to know that there can only be one sun in the sky and one ruler under heaven. If you’re alive, even if you remain silent, the Qing court would still have been forcefully broken in two by you regardless of the balance on the surface. For the Qing Kingdom, this is not a good thing.”

“I just want the people I want to protect to live on. For the sake of this goal, I have to be alive. In the future, I will stand far away on a tall mound and looked coldly at you and the Emperor in the temple. Presumably, this will make you all stay on your guard.”

“Don’t forget, if you die, the officials of the Council will eventually have to accept this reality one day. The Emperor is mighty and powerful. He will certainly think of a way to take back the Overwatch Council and your subordinates in Jiangnan,” Yan Bingyun said as he stared into his eyes. “On the surface, you want to protect their lives. But, in reality? In reality, you are just using these people’s strength to threaten the Emperor and the court. You refuse to die, but you’re only using the Overwatch Council as a private weapon to further your desires.”

“Why can I not do that?” Fan Xian coughed gently and looked at Yan Bingyun with narrowed eyes.

“Both you and the Director once said,” Yan Bingyun said calmly, “the Overwatch Council is a public tool and not a private weapon. How can you use the public tools of a nation for your private gain? This is not what I admire about you.”

“Is that so?” A coldness appeared in Fan Xian’s eyes. He said coldly and mockingly, “The Overwatch Council is a public tool that I cannot use privately… Then, why don’t you stand up bravely and reprimand the Emperor when he uses the Overwatch Council for his own desires?”

These words struck directly against Yan Bingyun’s heart. He stared at Fan Xian in a daze, unable to digest them. In this world, in every official’s heart, the Emperor was the court, the Qing Kingdom, and the public. The Overwatch Council was a public tool. It was a knife in the hands of the Emperor.

“Don’t forget what you said yourself. The Overwatch Council is a public tool, not the Emperor’s private weapon. The person on the throne is, in the end, a single person. Don’t use him to represent the will of the world,” Fan Xian said, looking at Yan Bingyun coldly. “Since it is a public tool, naturally, it belongs to the virtuous. Yes, I am not a virtuous person, but can you say that the Emperor is a virtuous person?”

“Since he and I, father and son, are just two bastards, old and young, then it is very simple who the Overwatch Council, this public tool, belongs to.” Fan Xian no longer looked at Yan Bingyun’s expression. Picking up a pot of water, he took a drink with difficulty. Coldly, he said, “This Council was established by Ye Qingmei and left to me by Chen Pingping. What right does the Emperor have to take it? What right do you have to say these pointless things to me?”

“The Overwatch Council is an organization used to supervise the Emperor. If it becomes the Emperor’s Special Forces, you might as well not be the Director of the Overwatch Council.” He put down the pot, scolding with a disdainful and bored tone.

There was death-like silence. Waves of shock rose in Yan Bingyun’s heart. He had always thought Fan Xian was hurt over Chen Pingping’s death so bravely took a stand against the Emperor. He had not thought that, in Fan Xian’s heart, there was simply no innate dignity in imperial authority. It was truly difficult for Sir Yan junior to digest such a treasonous and traitorous argument. He was silent for a very long time but still could not think through this point. Director Chen had never taught him this, and Fan Xian had never talked about this before either. The Overwatch Council was for the purpose of supervising the Emperor? What kind of joke was this?

Glancing at Yan Bingyun’s expression from the corner of his eyes, a glimmer of powerful disappointment flashed through Fan Xian’s heart. He knew that in this world, no one other than Chen Pingping, who had been deeply influenced by his mother, and himself, could accept this. Even his father, far away in Danzhou, probably could not accept this. His father had only gradually grown distant from the Qing court because of him.

Yan Bingyun raised his head and looked quietly at Fan Xian. He was about to make up his mind. For the sake of the Qing Kingdom’s interest and for the goal he had fought for his entire life, he could not allow Fan Xian to take so many secrets and power into the arms of a foreign enemy nation. If he actually took action and delivered him into the Palace, Yan Bingyun knew that Fan Xian would certainly die today.

Fan Xian did not seem anxious. He just waited for Yan Bingyun’s decision. Suddenly, a somewhat tired, old, and faint voice rang out from the shadows of the faux mountain, “It’s so late, what is there to talk about? It won’t be good if those women overhear your talking.”

Yan Bingyun’s body froze. He recognized that the person talking was his father. With unusual difficulty, he turned around. His fists in his sleeves were clenched very tightly. He was silent for a moment. He knew that his father was reminding him of some things. If a bystander were to find out that Fan Xian was hiding in his manor, he would have no choice but to kill him. However, his father had spoken right as he was about to make a decision. Naturally, it was to give him a most powerful warning.

If Yan Ruohai had not given his help, how could Fan Xian, with his meridians in tatters after his heavy injuries, have hidden into the secret room in the faux mountain. How could the wounds be dressed? How could there be food and water by his side?

Yan Bingyun knew that his father’s seemingly warm and usual tone was using their affection as father and son to threaten him. If he really decided to act against Fan Xian’s interests, then this entire family might fall because of this.

Fan Xian looked calmly at Yan Ruohai in the darkness, at the old leader of the Fourth Bureau, and pulled his lips up with difficulty into a smile. In a low voice, he said, “Let’s not speak now. Go back first.”

Following that, he said to Yan Bingyun coldly, “Naturally, you will not listen to anything I say. In the compartment in the Council, there are a few files that I took from King Jing’s manor. When you have time these few days, go have a look.”

These words were spoken lightly. Fan Xian seemed to be certain that Yan Bingyun would not act against him. Yan Bingyun stood in silence for a long time with his eyes tightly closed. In the end, he left the faux mountain and turned toward his own rooms. His decision to silently leave probably destroyed some belief in his heart, making his retreating figure appear somewhat desolate.

“No one will come by the faux mountain, rest assured,” Yan Ruohai approached the faux mountain and said with a warm smile. “What you said about the Council earlier was very true. Hopefully, he can understand some of it.”

Fan Xian smiled slightly and replied, “I can’t compare to you teaching by example, using your own head to protect mine. Everything for the Qing Kingdom, in the end, Yan Bingyun could not bear to use your life and death to prove his faith. Since everything has a price, presumably he will slowly come to understand.”

Other than the Yan father and son, no one else in Jingdou knew Fan Xian’s whereabouts. The search in Jingdou continued unstoppably, with no sign of letting up at all. Countless streets, alleys, and homes had been searched. What the Qing court found unusually strange was that the heavily injured and unable to move Fan Xian had become like a wandering spirit and disappeared from the face of the earth. ( Boxno vel. co m )

The Overwatch Council was also cooperating with the edict and carrying out all kinds of intelligence sorting work but with no results. The pursuit was primarily headed by the military and internal court with the Overwatch Council just cooperating. Thus, it was comparatively less busy. The present Director of the Overwatch Council, Yan Bingyun, was not like Ye Zhong or Eunuch Yao, so busy and tense that they were unable to sleep. On the contrary, there was an increase of his presence in the square and sinister building on Tianhe Avenue where he could be seen reading intently.

Yan Bingyun heeded Fan Xian’s words that night and began to read the letters and files hidden in the compartment intently. He read intently for three days and nights before he finished. Only then did he know that these were memorials and letters Ye Qingmei had written to the Emperor. In them, she had systematically detailed her plans for the future of the Qing Kingdom. However, these plans were truly too daring. No, it should be said that they were treasonous.

These poison-like words made Yan Bingyun’s fingers holding the papers feel burning hot. In his shock, he did not examine everything closely. He just picked a few of the texts regarding the establishment of the Overwatch Council to read through closely. He knew that the Overwatch Council was a yamen Fan Xian’s mother, the young lady of the Ye family, had single-handedly created.

Why did there need to be an Overwatch Council in the world? Perhaps the answer could be found amongst these letters and files. Was the Overwatch Council’s mandate not everything for the Qing Kingdom, everything for the Emperor? But, why were there very few places in the papers that mentioned the one who sat in the throne and the one who may sit in the throne in the future?

Regardless of whether Yan Bingyun wanted to see or dared to see, the not-particularly beautiful words still wormed into his heart like a demon. He began to think deeply and become lost in thought. He started to feel that the night he was threatened by his father and forced to accept Fan Xian into the manor may not have been a completely incorrect decision that was wholly bad for the Qing court.

He walked to the window in the secret room and looked through the window at a corner of the Royal Palace under the setting sun. Narrowing his eyes slightly, he felt that the red reflected lightly was somewhat eye-piercing. After a brief pause, he found a piece of black cloth from some corner of the desk and opened it up again. Carefully, he hung it over the glass window, blocking out the image of the Royal Palace. It was as if this could make him feel slightly more at peace.

The Emperor had been heavily injured by the assassins but had fortunately not died. He just suffered from periods of unconsciousness and wakefulness. Who knew what his condition was like now? It was during this powerful Emperor’s moments of wakefulness that he coolly, even coldly, issued a number of pursuit orders, doing everything he could to ensure Fan Xian remained within Qing territory. On the contrary, the court did not seem to care at all about the assassins from Northern Qi and Dongyi who had been lucky enough to survive.

Yan Bingyun lifted a corner of the black cloth and narrowed his eyes at the brilliant Royal Palace. He had remembered another matter. It seemed that other than the mission to kill Fan Xian or find his body, the internal court was quietly seeking some object. In the Emperor’s heart, it seemed that this object was even more important than Fan Xian. What could it be?

The light snow fell sporadically. There were no longer any traces left behind on the square in front of the Royal Palace. The blood had mixed with the snow and been washed away, revealing the clean and tidy stones underneath. The sky full of arrows also didn’t leave any proof of themselves. There were only a few startling and deep holes on the bricks of the palace walls and the tiles to the west that showed any evidence of the tragedy of that day, as well as proved to those passing by that the terrifying heavenly attacks had indeed existed and were not just a figment of people’s imagination.

Fan Ruoruo wore a snow-white cloak and stood quietly in front of the Royal Palace’s deep palace gates, waiting for the imperial soldiers and palace guards to inspect her palace entry token together. After Scholar He and the Hall of Governmental Affairs was attacked, the defense in every yamen in Jingdou had been raised to wartime levels. She knew very well that what had truly scared the court was the assassination attempt on the Emperor. But, that matter was still being kept hidden within certain limits and had not spread to the common people.

Her entry into the Palace had been personally ordered by the Emperor after he woke up. The Head of the Imperial Academy of Medicine had personally gone to the Fan manor to invite her. This was not just because the medical arts she had inherited from Qing Mountain and Fei Jei had already reached a certain realm. More importantly, the heavy injuries sustained by the Emperor were not internal wounds and sword marks the assassins left behind. Most fatal were the metal shards that had shot into the flesh at his chest. As everyone knew, it seemed that only the young lady of the Fan manor knew of the strange treatment method called surgery.

On her way, Fan Ruoruo already learned from the head doctor the present condition of the Emperor’s body and knew that he had not died to her shot. Who knew what kind of feelings were in Fan Ruoruo’s heart? Strangely, she did not feel too much disappointment, only a sense of confusion.

She had lived in the Royal Palace for a full five months and stayed in the royal study for five months. It could even be said that she was the woman who had stayed by the Emperor’s side the longest these few years. She knew very well what kind of person the gradually aging Emperor was. More importantly, this Emperor did indeed treat her differently.

“Be careful after you enter the Palace. If the Emperor cannot be seen at once and you have to stay in the Palace to treat him, you need to send a message home,” Li Hongcheng, King Jing’s heir, quietly reminded her as he stood by her side with worry between his brows that could not be suppressed. Treating the Emperor was already a terrifying matter. Even more terrifyingly, Fan Xian could not escape his connection to the Emperor’s injuries. Fan Ruoruo just happened to be Fan Xian’s favorite sister.

Remembering that Fan Ruoruo had been under house arrest in the Palace a few months ago, a powerful worry rose in Hongcheng’s heart.

“Hm.” Fan Ruoruo smiled slightly. The frostiness on her face gradually melted away. She lowered her head in a bow toward Hongcheng and then followed the head doctor and guard into the Royal Palace.

She had always known of Li Hongcheng’s feelings and was deeply touched by it, particularly recently as the Fan manor was searched over and over again. Regardless of whether it was Lin Wan’er’s status as a princess or Fan Ruoruo’s position in the Emperor’s heart, in front of the great crime Fan Xian committed, it all became things that were unnecessary to bring up. It was at this time that Li Hongcheng, who had become the Deputy of the Bureau of Military Affairs after returning from Xiliang Road, threw caution to the wind and bravely held the fort at the Fan manor, forcefully suppressing the ruthless soldiers.

Without Li Hongcheng, life in the Fan manor would probably be very difficult.

Walking forward through the quiet and cold palace gates, their footsteps rang out quietly. Fan Ruoruo’s head was slightly lowered. She felt that her brother had spoken correctly when he said that life was a play. Often, it was a very absurd play. The Emperor had almost died under her shot, yet now she was going to treat him.

Until the moment Fan Ruoruo stepped into the Palace, she had still not made up her mind as to how she was going to deal with the situation. She knew that the Emperor had woken up. It was fortunate that he had and sent down an edict. It was only because of this that the Fan manor had not faced disaster. Given the crime Fan Xian had committed, the entire Fan manor would probably be taken into prison. At most, Lin Wan’er, Fan Ruoruo, and the children would be taken into the Palace.

The Emperor did not issue such an edict. This made Fan Ruoruo feel the utmost admiration for her sister-in-law’s decision that day to not leave the capital. Although no one knew what Fan Xian and the Emperor spoke of that night of the incident and what agreement they came to, Lin Wan’er should have at least guessed a little. Presently, Jingdou was only desperately hunting for Fan Xian but had not used lightning-like strength to suppress those who Fan Xian protected.

The Fan family not leaving the capital to return to Danzhou demonstrated, without question, a certain kind of attitude. It was one in which they tested the Emperor’s sincerity in carrying out his promises.

Thinking of this, Fan Ruoruo truly felt great admiration for her sister-in-law’s coolness in the face of disaster. In her heart, she further developed a sense of worship toward her brother that had long taken root in her heart. In this world, who, other than her brother, could force a powerful ruler to continue suppressing his rage after being almost assassinated?

The Palace was right in front of her. Fan Ruoruo gradually calmed her emotions. That day on Zhaixing Tower, she was only helping her brother escape Jingdou. After all, she could not feel much resentment and hatred toward the Emperor. After all, the death of the poor infant she had never met 20 years ago was too distant from her.

The first month of the year reached its last day and the 12th year of the Qing calendar finally planted itself firmly onto this land. However, the court was still not standing firm. Although the Emperor could half sit up and inspect memorials, he could not be tired out too much. The death of He Zongwei, of the Hall of Governmental Affairs, as well as the purge of key officials in various departments by Fan Xian’s ruthless hands left the court in a state of chaos for a time. Fortunately, Scholar Hu put in everything he had and didn’t go home for seven days in a row so that state affairs would not be delayed too much.

The footsteps in the darkness continued in the chaos. Jingdou appeared to have recovered its peace. In reality, it was still under a tight regime of control, particularly the pursuit of the assassins had never been let up. The Qing court must have felt very proud of this matter. The powerful figures, after being heavily injured by the Emperor and shot at by thousands of arrows, should still be trapped within Jingdou and passing each day in fear. For such a large city to be able to tightly seal off any possibility of their escape, one reason was because they were too heavily injured. Another was that it had to be admitted that the terrifying nature of the Qing Kingdom’s national machinery.

At present, five of the assassins’ deaths had been confirmed. Their bodies had already been moved into the Royal Palace, but there were at least three assassins of known identity that could not be found. They were the foremost ace of Northern Qi’s Royal Palace, Sir Lang Tiao; Dongyi’s Sword Hut’s youngest disciple, Thirteenth Wang; and Northern Qi’s saint girl, Haitang Duoduo. These three had almost been caught a number of times in Jingdou. Each time they paid the price of blood before escaping miserably.

As for Fan Xian, not even a shadow could be found. Fan Xian was gone, as was the Shadow. It was only now that the Qing officials responsible for capturing them realized that those trained by the Overwatch Council were indeed too talented in some areas.

The officials continued to have confidence because Sir Fan junior had been heavily injured. The Emperor judged that his meridians were destroyed. He would not be able to recover within a year.

There was another scene that the officials who entered the Palace each night to give their progress reports and hand in their memorials could not help but see and grew used to seeing but was particularly strange. It was the Emperor lying weakly under a pile of blankets while a woman dressed in common clothing coldly but carefully served him, bringing him medicine and feeding him food.

The woman was the young lady of the Fan family. The court officials had grown used to her face five months ago but could not have expected that she would be back again after having just left a day ago. Had Sir Fan junior not become a criminal accused of trying to kill the Emperor? How could his sister be serving at the Emperor’s side? What was Eunuch Yao thinking? Was he not worried that young lady Fan would do something bad?

Not only was the young lady of the Fan family in the palace every day serving the Emperor, the Fan manor everyone considered a dead ground did not seem to have become a hell. The people inside lived their lives as normal. Princess Lin Wan’er entered the Palace regularly to bring the Emperor some fresh food and joke with him.

What was going on? The Emperor was almost crazy with wanting to kill Sir Fan junior, yet he did not want to make things difficult for his wife and sister? This was truly too absurd and ridiculous and no one could understand it.

The heavy and stuffy atmosphere in Jingdou was finally broken at the beginning of February. Eunuch Yao received a message of utmost secrecy. After a long discussion with the injured Emperor that night in the royal study, countless internal court and military personnel quietly gathered at the doors of a first-class duke’s manor the next day.

The moment the morning light peaked over the horizon and while the new growth remained asleep under the bark, the doors of the Yan manor were knocked open fiercely. Soldiers pouring in from all directions stood guard in all positions while 20 or so aces flew over the high walls. They seemed to know where their target was, heading straight for the faux mountain in the back garden.

Eunuch Yao stood calmly outside the manor with his hands inside his sleeves without any intention of entering the manor to speak. This manor was not a simple place. Putting aside the long history of Sir Yan Ruohai in the Overwatch Council, the present young master of the Yan manor was, after all, the Director of the Overwatch Council.

Not a whisper of this mission was revealed to the Overwatch Council. Once they caught that person in Yan manor, Yan Bingyun would not be able to explain away anything.

Yan Bingyun, in his sleep clothes, watched the arrogantly searching soldiers with a heavy expression. The anger in his eyes grew stronger and stronger, but his expression remained calm. The strength of will of the Qing Kingdom’s most successful spy was not something common people could compare to.

He did not rush toward the back garden where his father lived. He just stood inside the door of his bedroom and coldly watched as all this happened. Behind him on the bed, his wife, the young lady of the Shen family, slowly sat up and asked in a trembling voice, “What’s happening?”

“Do you not know what has happened?” Yan Bingyun did not turn his head. His voice had been compressed into a cold line.

Sitting on the bed, Shen Wan’er’s expression changed dramatically. After a moment, she replied in a trembling voice, “What are you saying?”

“Only father and I know, but it was you who reminded me at the very beginning.” A bitter smile rose to the corners of Yan Bingyun’s lips. “Back then, it was indeed I who turned my back on you, but it’s already been so many years. I thought you had already forgotten. After all, we are husband and wife now. I had not thought that you would not be satisfied until the Yan family was broken and destroyed.”

Shen Wan’er’s body trembled. She knew her husband had seen through her actions. Facing Yan Bingyun’s back, she said in a harsh voice, “I had no such thoughts. It’s just that he is, in the end, a criminal. If this was known by the court, how can our family escape complicity? Besides, he is a powerful person in his own right. If it’s said that he snuck in himself and the family did not know, the court would believe it.”

“Yes, our family has the credit of turning him in but also the crime of sheltering him.” Yan Bingyun’s smile appeared very cold and bitter. “I still cannot understand why you would do this. You are a Northern Qi person. When did you become so loyal to the Qing court?”

A clamor rose from the courtyard in the Yan manor, but this master’s bedroom remained quiet. Behind him, Shen Wan’er lowered her head and was silent for a long time. Finally, she bravely raised her head. Her eyes were filled with unmistakable hatred. “Why? What did you say? Don’t forget, I am your wife. Yes, that matter had nothing to do with you, but can you say that it had nothing to do with Fan Xian?”

Lady Shen’s voice was not loud and clear, but it appeared particularly sorrowful and hateful. She looked at Yan Bingyun’s back and sobbed, “My father was killed by the Northern Qi Emperor through Shang Shanhu. Immediately after, my entire family was killed and everything was destroyed. You have no idea what it means for your family to be killed and destroyed! My entire family for more than 200 members all died! Even my 3-year-old brother was killed! Who did this?”

“The Northern Qi Emperor did this. Do you think that I don’t know this was all the Fan Xian and that woman called Haitang’s idea?” Lady Shen’s eyes were completely filled with the light of hatred. “But, what can I do? Fan Xian is your superior, friend, the person you admire the most, even if you never say it. Could I count on you to avenge my family of 200 people?”

“Since he dares to escape to my side and be discovered by me, I cannot pass up this opportunity.” Lady Shen finished speaking. She knew that no matter how things progressed, she would not be able to win back this man’s heart. Her entire body went soft as she sat on the bed. She couldn’t help but feel a little scared. Why had she, a woman who didn’t know anything, done such a daring thing driven by hatred?

Yan Bingyun’s body froze slightly, but he didn’t make any reaction. He just sighed in his head and felt confused.

The faux mountain in the back garden had been forced open by the soldiers. They looked at the dust-covered secret room, at the space that no one seemed to have stayed in, and was rooted to the spot. Roused by the noise, Yan Ruohai furrowed his brows as if he didn’t know what was happening and looked at these soldiers and internal court aces responsible for apprehending criminals. In a cold voice, he said, “What is happening here?”

“I was never worried that something would happen while I hid in the manor.” In the carriage, Fan Xian leaned comfortably against a soft cushion. Although the meridians in his body were a mess and he was more useless than a cripple right now, none of this could affect his good mood. Finally, he had left Jingdou. Looking at the moving scenery in the outskirts of Jingdou, he could not help but feel happy.

When he left Yan manor, he did not know what had happened and didn’t know that Lady Shen had still not forgotten the tragic case of the Shen manor being wiped out in Shangjing in the fifth year of the Qing calendar. He trusted in old Sir Yan’s abilities. Both father and son of the Yan family were elite members of the Overwatch Council. How could they not have sensed unusual movements in their own home?

It was still the power of the Yan manor that finally saw an opportunity to send Fan Xian out of Jingdou. The carriage was now traveling on a dim road in the morning light between the mountains. The person driving the carriage was a member of the Overwatch Council, but it was not an old subordinate Fan Xian was familiar with. It was not a veteran of the Qinian Unit. Since the Yan manor trusted this official to manage this matter, presumably they had sufficient confidence in his loyalty.

“That is because the Director has good fortune,” the Overwatch Council official driving the carriage said with a smile. “Otherwise, the Director would not have found such an opportunity to send you out of Jingdou.”

Two directors. The former was Fan Xian and the latter was Yan Bingyun. The official was silent for a moment then suddenly said, “The Director wants me to ask you one last thing. You promised him to not go to Northern Qi and betray the court. Can you really do it?”

“That damn block of ice…” Fan Xian scolded jokingly without good humor. “Naturally, I will do as I said. I’m not like the old cripple who had no fear.”

“After you return to the capital, help me give this letter to Yan Bingyun and have him think of a way to deliver it to the Emperor’s desk,” Fan Xian instructed after a moment of thought and handed over a slim envelope.

The contents of the letter were simple. It just said that he had already left Jingdou and would carry out the contents of the agreement he made with the Emperor that night. He asked the Emperor to keep his promise that was his bond. He also wished the Emperor good health and to look after himself.

The reason for such an extra action was mostly because of his friends still sealed in Jingdou. Fan Xian knew the Emperor’s main target was him. If he could escape Jingdou alive, then there was little purpose to wasting national resources and causing more debate in keeping Thirteenth Wang and everyone else in Jingdou.

The carriage changed hands in the outskirts of Jingdou a few times and made a few loops using the secret passages in the mountains, as well as a few changing points the Overwatch Council prepared. It took three full days before they reached a city in neighboring provinces.

The carriage would not enter the city. Instead, they chose to carry out an exchange. Looking at the familiar face, Fan Xian could not help but smile. “Now that you’re here, I can relax.”

Wang Qinian, who had rushed from Shangjing to the Qing Kingdom and had been waiting outside Jingdou to meet with Fan Xian, was disguised as an old man with a face full of wrinkles. He climbed into the carriage and checked Fan Xian’s injuries. Involuntarily, his mood grew heavy. He was not in the mood for jokes as he shook his head.

“What am I disguising as?”

Wang Qinian took out makeup and floral patterned clothing and managed to force a smile. “As my daughter-in-law…”

Fan Xian let out a bitter laugh and did not act unreasonably. He accepted the items and said, “It’s much more convenient for you to dress as an old man than me.”

As he changed, Wang Qinian could not resist asking in a low voice, “Sir, did you plan from the beginning that you would be able to leave Jingdou?”

“I’m not an immortal, plans can never keep up with the changes.” Fan Xian smiled tartly and continued. “If I was victorious in the Palace, then I wouldn’t need to leave the capital. Since I was defeated, I had to ensure that I would survive. Fortunately, my luck is as good as always.”

“I hear that it’s not a place for humans and very few people can go. Those who have dared to go have all died,” Wang Qinian said.

“Who said they all died? Ku He survived. Xiao En also survived. Didn’t my uncle and my mother survive just fine?” Fan Xian’s eyes were slightly narrowed. It was like he was searching for the backs of those people. In a quiet voice, he said, “Just surviving is not enough. Since I still lost in Jingdou, what choice do I have but to go to the Temple to look for my uncle? This is something I decided a long time ago. You don’t need to stop me.”

Wang Qinian’s expression was not pretty as he muttered, “It’s not that I want to stop you. Who in the world dares to stop you? Other than the Emperor, those who dare to obstruct you are probably all dead. However, the Temple is not the Royal Palace. It’s a place where immortals live. I’m afraid that we could look for decades and not find the place.”

“Our goal is to not squander time.” Fan Xian coughed. He forcefully used his willpower to control the main in his meridians and managed a smile. “You don’t have to be so afraid.”

This was something Fan Xian had already decided. He knew more than anyone else in this world about the illusory Temple. He even had a faint idea of the Temple’s true history. But, of course, it was all conjecture.

The Emperor was very powerful. He even survived after the sound of the gunshot and had woken up. Fan Xian knew that after this, the Emperor would never personally leave the Palace and put himself in danger. The situation in front of Fan Xian and the Emperor now was the mutual threats they laid as a foundation during their long conversation before their fight. In the end, this was a battle between the two of them. Neither the Emperor nor Fan Xian wanted the battle fires to extend to the rest of the world. Sian had lost so badly, he had to find a power that could defeat the Emperor.

None could be found beneath heaven. He could only search upward. Fan Xian’s heart felt heavy. He knew what kind of worshipful existence the Temple had in the hearts of the people, but he was very worried about Wu Zhu’s safety. For the sake of his meridian injury, and for the sake of many goals, he had no choice but to embark on a dangerous journey to the Temple.

“How do we get there?” Wang Qinian pulled at the reins and asked a very practical question. Everyone respected the Temple, but no one knew where it was.

“Head north, always north, all the way north,” Fan Xian said.