Joy of Life - Chapter 722 - On A Journey[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:50:56]
Chapter 722: On A Journey
The wind came from the north, but the people in the wind headed toward the north. The carriage went around Xiao Mountain and quietly passed through the empty space between Yanjing and Cangzhou. Just before they reached the North Sea, snow fell again at the end of February.
It was very cold. Every direction was impassable. A thin layer of snow covered the carriage like a sugar-dusted black bread as it moved slowly through the wilderness.
Driving the carriage, Wang Qinian wore a raincoat that barely managed to block the snow. His eyelashes and the mustache on his upper lip had both been frozen by the snow. He appeared somewhat wretched. However, his usually spiritless eyes seemed unusually clear and sharp in the wind and snow. They swept slowly across the two sides of the road, not passing up any possibly suspicious movements.
Wang Qinian’s age was already advanced, but such powerful wind and snow still did not make him reveal any trace of tiredness. This old man was as skinny as a monkey, but there was a strength and spirit in his flesh and tendons. Such a long and difficult trek did not make him feel uncomfortable. It was fortunate that it was this incredible person, one of the wings of the Overwatch Council, taking the lead. Only he would be able to keep up his disguise the entire way, make way through junctures, forge documents, break through the Qing court’s countless lines of inspection, and successfully have the carriage arrive not far from the border.
In the past, he had been an infamous pirate to the north of the land. Using him to do this could not be more appropriate. Once the carriage passed a hollow in the mountain and crossed a small bridge over a snowy creek, Wang Qinian finally let out a breath. He knew that the carriage had already passed the border and arrived in Northern Qi’s territory. There was no longer anything that could threaten the safety and life of the man in the carriage.
Immediately after, a bitter smile grew at the corners of Wang Qinian’s lips. Who knew when the situation developed to the point it was at now? There were subjects of the Qing Kingdom, yet they had to enter a foreign territory to feel truly safe.
Feeling the carriage beneath him tremble, Fan Xian slowly woke up. His professional life these years allowed him to clearly sense that the road the beneath the carriage was not the same as the one they had been fleeing on these few days. Although his body was completely empty of zhenqi, the 36,000 pores and subtle senses of his skin still had not disappeared.
He pulled the thick sheepskin tighter around him and coughed gently. Lifting up a corner of the window, he gazed outward and saw that the carriage was driving across a familiar wooden bridge. Across it was a territory that looked similar in view but was completely different in aura.
It was currently winter, so even the most familiar scenery appeared different. Fan Xian still accurately deduced that the carriage was passing over Wudu River from the direction of the creek and curve of the little mounds of either bank.
In the past, he had come on a diplomatic mission to Northern Qi as a young immortal poet. Along the way, he had met Xiao En here. It was also here that he saw Haitang Duoduo for the first time. How could he forget it?
Fan Xian’s face was deathly pale, without a hint of color. Even his thin lips appeared somewhat dim. There was still no improvement on the injuries in his body. His meridians were still in tatters after being shattered by the Emperor. Without zhenqi to protect his body, these days of continuous travel, tiredness, and the cold outside the carriage had made him fall sick again. ( B oxnovel.c om )
He had a thick sheepskin blanket wrapped tightly around his body with just his head poking out and a small heat stove in the carriage. Yet, it was as if there was not warmth at all. Fan Xian narrowed his eyes and stared in a daze at Northern Qi’s territory on the other side of the bridge. He huffed out a breath of warm air and sank deep into thought.
In his face-to-face fight with the Emperor, Fan Xian had exhibited all the strength he could muster in this life. Yet, he had still been crushed by one finger. The meridians in his body were too broken. Even Tianyi Dao’s natural zhenqi in his small circulation had been dispersed among his organs and was impossible to pull together. The only thing he could use seemed to be the mysterious notebook Ku He left to him. However, there was too little yuanqi between heaven and earth. If he cultivated like this, who knew how many years it would take?
After they passed Wudu River, the North Sea was not far away. With all the meridians in his body shattered, Fan Xian thought of Haitang Duoduo. Back then, when his meridians had been completely destroyed, he had relied on Haitang’s careful nursing and treatment in Jiangnan to recover. The injury was even worse this time. He also didn’t know if Haitang had managed to escape from Jingdou.
Fan Xian was not very worried about the Shadow’s safety. He knew the way in which the Shadow and him were most alike was that they could dive into a sea of people and, regardless of their identity, be fine. They would be able to live and live well. Haitang and Thirteenth Wang were not the same. Although both of them were among the best of the young warriors, they had never studied these skills of survival.
Fan Xian did not know much about the news in Jingdou. While he had been hiding in the faux mountain in Yan manor, Sir Yan Ruohai would come each day to tell him about recent developments in Jingdou. He knew that the Emperor had already woken up.
After they left the capital, he and Wang Qinian moved forward silently and voluntarily severed all connection to the veterans of the Overwatch Council and various factions under Fan Xian’s control. It was for reasons for safety and also part of Fan Xian’s agreement with the Emperor. Fan Xian knew that as long as he was alive, the Emperor would not move against those people. If he voluntarily made contact with them, it would not be appropriate.
Cold wind poured in from the window. Fan Xian narrowed his eyes further. He had not thought that the weather at the end of February would be so cold. Involuntarily, he grew worried about the trip to the Temple in a few days. Given his weak body, how could he resist such bone-piercing cold?
Fan Xian completely pulled his hands and feet under the thick sheepskin blanket and leaned tiredly against the window, allowing the snowflakes to hit his face as they wished. He calmly looked at the winter forest at the other end of the bridge, thinking of the girl who had stood there silently with a basket of flowers. If she was by his side right now, perhaps the journey to the Temple would much easier.
The words “heaven acts on one’s desires” seemed to be talking about the situation in front of Fan Xian’s eyes. He watched the figure that had suddenly appeared in the winter forest and floral colors that appeared in the whiteness and could not help but feel that his eyes were playing tricks on him.
“It’s time for your medicine.” The carriage drove over the wooden bridge and came to a steady stop. Wang Qinian rubbed his hands together and burrowed into the carriage. He poured out a bowl of medicine from the pot of medicinal soup that had been kept warm on the heating stove and brought it to Fan Xian. Earlier, he had heard Fan Xian’s coughs and was feeling a bit worried.
Fan Xian stretched out a hand from under the sheepskin and pointed toward the forest outside the window with a smile. “The medicine is there.”
What surprised Fan Xian was that waiting with Haitang at Wudu River was also Thirteenth Wang. Opposite to the assassination of the Emperor in front of Taiji Palace, Thirteenth Wang’s silent and resolute figure flashed out from behind Haitang’s body and calmly watched as the carriage drew closer and closer.
The curtain to the carriage lifted as snowflakes flew in. Fan Xian looked at his two life-and-death companions and tried to pull up the corners of his lips. It was as if he wanted to smile but could not manage it. In the end, he just sighed and said, “Who would have thought you two would run faster than me?”
“We left the capital after you.” Haitang dusted off the icy shards on her thick coat and sat down beside Fan Xian. Perhaps she was thinking about the events last month in Jingdou, but the smile of reunion gradually faded from her face. Calmly, she said, “I heard later that because you had escaped Jingdou, the Qing court’s search attempts weakened. So, we had the opportunity.”
Fan Xian nodded and coughed before saying, “As long as you’re alive, it’s all fine. There is no need for words of thanks between us. The matter in Jingdou was always connected to your two strange teachers. If thanks are needed, in the end, it should be you two thanking me.”
Haitang sighed and looked at his deathly pale face in a daze. Shaking her head with a smile, she said, “I had thought that after this incident, you would become more mature. Who would have thought that you would still like to joke so much?”
“Mature? I’ve matured thoroughly in the first 20 years of my life. Now, I’ve finally rediscovered a sense of youth. How could I give it up?” Fan Xian replied with a laugh. Turning toward Thirteenth Wang, he was silent for a moment then asked, “How’s your injury?”
From the moment Thirteenth Wang entered Fan Xian’s field of vision, Fan Xian acutely sensed that there was something wrong with Thirteenth Wang’s body. It seemed that his right arm that was attacked by the Emperor would never heal completely.
For an earnest and sincere swordsman who was true to his sword to have their sword hand become half useless was, without question, a fatal strike. However, Thirteenth Wang’s expression did not change at all. He replied in a quiet voice, “Your old man’s zhenqi is too powerful. The meridians, tendons, and flesh of my right arm have been completely mauled. It’s impossible to heal.”
“I tried on the way, but the effects were very average.” Haitang glanced worriedly at Thirteenth Wang. Along the way, the two favored disciples of the two Great Grandmasters broke through the blockade together and were now very familiar with each other. ( B oxnovel.c om )
Fan Xian coughed and calmly said, “Let me have a look.” After saying this, two of his fingers landed on Thirteenth Wang’s pulse. Immediately after, a hand like a dragon claw squeezed carefully up and down Thirteenth Wang’s weak right arm. The expression on his face grew heavier and heavier.
Thirteenth Wang was silent for a moment. He then said, “I’ve been injured many times in my life. It’s nothing.”
Fan Xian shook his head and said, “Buy some high-quality gold needles in Shangjing, let me try…” Afterward, he turned and used his fist to block his mouth as he coughed violently for a few moments. He then said, panting, “At this point, what is there to be hidden between us? Impart the Way of Tianyi Daoto him.”
After a moment of silence, Haitang nodded. Tianyi Dao’s zhenqi had a miraculous effect on repairing meridians. Although it was a secret of Qing Mountain and not to be shared, Haitang had imparted its secret to Fan Xian in the past. It was possible to use it right now to save Thirteenth Wang’s sword skill.
Thirteenth Wang abruptly raised his head as he heard the good news. Even though he was a strong man who did not cling to material things, he couldn’t help but furrow his brows at this moment and ask, “This injury can be healed?”
“Maybe not, but we can try.” Fan Xian closed his eyes tiredly and said, “At least eating shouldn’t be a problem. But, if you want to return to your previous realm, you’ll probably not be able to. I urge you to start practicing now with your left hand. If your left is good… You know, there was a person called Jing Wuming who gained fame through his left hand. Of course, his right hand was even better. If you can succeed with both hands, that would be incredible.”
It was silent in the carriage. Thirteenth Wang suddenly smiled calmly and said, “Then, I’ll practice my left hand first and practice my right when I have time in the future.”
Haitang Duoduo quietly watched the closed-eyed and pale-faced Fan Xian. Countless strange feelings grew her heart. During these years, she and Fan Xian had more often been apart than together. They had never needed many words between them to know what the other was thinking. However, now, Haitang Duoduo suddenly realized she couldn’t quite see through Fan Xian anymore.
During the fight in the Royal Palace in Jingdou, Haitang Duoduo clearly and shockingly discovered that Fan Xian had already surpassed the superior ninth-level known to mankind and was firmly a step above herself and Thirteenth Wang. Just looking at how he could fight with the Qing Emperor face-to-face a number of times and even injured him, one could tell that Fan Xian’s present strength had reached a terrifying level.
“Have you… already come to understand something?” Haitang asked out of the blue.
Fan Xian immediately understood. He opened his eyes and shook his head. He then said with a slight smile, “If I truly understood, I wouldn’t have lost so tragically in the Royal Palace.”
With these words, the three young people in the carriage fell silent at the same time. Their thoughts seemed to have returned to the wind and snow in the Royal Palace. They were the three most powerful, and filled with the most potential, young martial artists in the world. Additionally, they had the top assassin in the world. Faced with that bright yellow figure, they were still insignificant.
Thinking of the Qing Emperor’s expression that day, although they had successfully injured him, he still emitted a sense of being difficult to oppose.
“There are no true gods in the world. The Emperor’s injury is worse than yours or mine,” Fan Xian’s light words broke through the suffocating atmosphere in the carriage. “If, at this moment, I was not useless, Thirteen was not crippled, and you hadn’t thrown up three buckets of blood, the best choice right now would be to return to Jingdou to finish things off.”
Haitang smiled slightly and thought to herself that only Fan Xian could think of such daring plans. Her heart moved slightly. She looked at his pale face calmly as she asked, “How’s your injury?”
“Worse than Thirteen’s. Essentially no chance of recovery,” Fan Xian calmly explained his injury. “But, I don’t care about this. Since I can’t defeat the Emperor in a fight, just like how children cannot beat adults in a fight, finding a large-bodied relative is a solution that never changes.”
For a time, Haitang did not understand what Fan Xian meant by these words. The tiredness in her eyes as bright as a lake gradually retreated. She calmly asked, “The thunder on the square in front of the Palace… Do you know what they were?”
“It’s the chest.” The corner of Fan Xian’s lips twitched slightly. “It’s my chest. Ku He and Sigu Jian had probably brought up this chest to you before. Don’t look at me like that. I also don’t who has the chest right now. Furthermore, don’t overestimate the terror of the chest. If it was truly a godly weapon, the Emperor wouldn’t just be heavily injured right now, he would be dead.”
After a long silence, Haitang asked, “There is something I don’t understand. Since there are mutual restrictions between you and the Qing Emperor and neither of you want the Qing Kingdom to have internal unrest, why did you not chose to escape Jingdou and live in seclusion and instead choose to attack?”
Fan Xian was also silent for a long time. The calmness in his eyes grew stronger and stronger. In an even voice, he said, “I need to prove to the Emperor that I have the right to negotiate on equal footing with him. The first thing I needed to do was to have the courage to sit in front of him and negotiate. Escaping from Jingdou and living in seclusion was indeed one way, but the Emperor would not want me to leave his control. Most importantly, I was not satisfied.”
He closed his eyes and slowly said, “I could have chosen to be like Ye Liuyun and Sir Fei and gone out to sea, never again giving any mind to the affairs of the world and how many people will die in the battles on this land. But, I am not satisfied. If no one can stop him, then in history, he is certain to be correct.”
This was the way of the victors being right and losers being wrong. If no one could stop the Qing Emperor, there would be no record in history of Ye Qingmei. Chen Pingping would be destined to become a eunuch guilty of monstrous and unforgivable crimes who was finally sentenced to death by a thousand cuts.
Fan Xian was not satisfied with the hard work of the spirit from his homeland being dissolved cleanly into this land, so he had to bravely do his best.
“I had to try.” Fan Xian’s eyes narrowed. “Although I failed, at least I won’t have any regrets. When I die, I can tell myself that I was brave at least once in my life.”
The medicinal soup on the heating stove bubbled and a medical fragrance enveloped the carriage. Haitang stared at Fan Xian in a daze and quietly asked, “What are you going to do now?”
Fan Xian had summoned a lightning strike, yet it had still failed at the last minute. The Qing Emperor was bed-bound and heavily injured. In the end, he did not die and the Qing Kingdom’s powerful national strength still existed. No one could openly oppose this lion. For Fan Xian, if he wanted the Emperor to maintain his sincerity in carrying out his promise, he could not do anything that would anger the Qing court. It looked like the only path in front of Fan Xian was to live out the rest of his life in seclusion in a small mountain village.
“I am going to the Temple. I don’t know if you two are interested.” Fan Xian extended the invitation sincerely.
Thirteenth Wang’s eyes brightened. Haitang Duoduo smiled after a slight shock and said, “Sir Wang has worked hard this entire way, I’ll go drive the carriage.”
“You know the way?” Fan Xian smiled and couldn’t hold back another round of coughing.
Haitang did not turn her head and replied with a laugh, “You brought it up a little in Jiangnan. It should be to the north.”
Traveling along the road above Wudu River, the broad-leaved woods on the side gradually became thin needles. Accompanied by the beautiful and icy trees on the side of the road, the path covered with remnants of snow lead straight to the capital of Northern Qi, Shangjing.
Shangjing’s old and worn city walls were also covered by a layer of snow. Although the Jiangnan region in the Qing Kingdom was presumably filled with spring shoots, growing grass, chirping insects, and warm days, snow continued to fall within Northern Qi’s territory. The temperature had still not risen. White was still the main color. ( B oxnovel.c om )
The bright yellow umbrella was like a strange flower in the snow, blooming atop Shangjing’s ancient city wall. Small snowflakes scattered across the top of the umbrella and did not make a single sound. The Northern Qi Emperor and his favorite Imperial Consort Li wore very sumptuous fur coats and stood beneath the umbrella. They stood before countless Northern Qi eunuchs, serving girls, and officials and calmly watched the road in front of Shangjing.
They did not wait long. An outward normal carriage slowly approached from the southwest road. Shangjing’s city gates opened wide. A row of merchant-like groups went forward in welcome.
The Northern Qi Emperor narrowed his eyes and put his hands behind his back. There was an unhealthy red flush across his slightly pale face. He watched the carriage and could not hold back a gentle sigh. This sigh was very suppressed. Other than Si Lili by his side, no one could hear it.
Si Lili held a tightly wrapped infant and was tidying the scarf by the infant’s head. Suddenly hearing this sigh beside him, her eyes darkened. She raised her head and quietly said, “It’s so cold, should we have the nannies first take Dong Doufan down first?”
Between the 11th and 12th years of the Qing calendar, the Northern Qi court had maintained a rare suppression and endurance toward the unpredictable situation in the south. They had only helped Fan Xian stabilize the situation in Dongyi through Shang Shanhu moving the military. The most important reason the Northern Qi court did not use the great opportunity of the Qing Emperor and Fan Xian turning on each other to obtain greater interest was because the Northern Qi Emperor had fallen extremely ill from the autumn of last year. Even Sir Mu Peng, who had been released back to Shangjing by the Qing Kingdom could not heal him immediately. The Emperor was bed-ridden for months and rarely saw his officials, much less had the strength to labor over state affairs.
Court affairs were essentially handled by the empress dowager. The Northern Qi Emperor fell sick for many months. Fortunately, the matter of the royal bloodline, which had worried the Northern Qi subjects for a long time, finally received good news this year. Imperial Consort Li, the Emperor’s favorite consort, had become pregnant and successfully gave birth to a princess.
Perhaps because of this good news, the Northern Qi Emperor’s illness also gradually improved. The Northern Qi court and people were filled with great joy. Although Imperial Consort Li had not given birth to a crown prince, the people comforted themselves with the thought that the Emperor was still young. As long as there was a start, there would naturally be more children.
This little Northern Qi princess had not been given a formal name. In private, the Northern Qi Emperor and Imperial Consort Li gave this beautiful and delicate child a nickname, calling her Hong Doufan. Although this nickname was not elegant, lost the imperial family a great deal of dignity, and was much discussed by the eunuchs and serving girls in the Palace, in the end, it stuck.
Hearing Si Lili’s words, the Northern Qi Emperor furrowed his brows in annoyance and turned to glance at the daughter in her arms. With slight anger, he said, “These little people are quite troublesome.”
Si Lili’s expression did not change, but she smiled broadly in her heart. She thought that Hong Doufan, in her arms, had truly caused great problems for the Emperor. Fortunately, everything had gone by smoothly. Suddenly, she looked with resentment at her abdomen. Her figure seemed slightly swollen. She seemed like a pregnant woman but there was no seed in her womb.
She knew very well why the Emperor had brought the princess onto the city walls to see this carriage despite the cold. After the carriage entered Northern Qi territory, it had made contact with the Northern Qi court. The Northern Qi Emperor and her both knew where this carriage was going next. No one was sure they would come back again. The Emperor probably only wanted that man from the South to personally see this child before he left.
It was a different scene on the road not far from Shangjing’s city walls. The solitary carriage met up with the group of merchants that had come out of Shangjing. Wrapped in a thick woolen coat, Fan Xian made a rare excursion out of the carriage and stared in a daze at the young man in front of him. Thousands of feelings surging through his heart. For a time, his eyes grew slightly wet, but he couldn’t find anything to say.
From the spring of the fourth year of the Qing calendar until now, eight years had passed in the blink of an eye. The Fan Sizhe in front of him had changed from the spotty and annoying child into a mature and steady young man with the air of a great merchant about him. Fan Xian suddenly had the misperception that he was old. Walking forward, he pulled his brother into a tight hug and did not say much.
The two of them had not spent much time together, but Fan Xian had not been slack with his advice and lectures. He had also never stopped writing letters. He knew how hard it was for his brother to make his own way in Northern Qi. But, as they say, jade that is never cut will never be of use. He had to tolerate and endure it.
“Brother.” Fan Sizhe looked at the brother he had not seen in a long time and thought of everything that had happened in Jingdou. He then thought of the path of no return that he was about to embark on and couldn’t help crying out with sorrow, “Father and mother are both in Danzhou. Grandmother isn’t that well anymore. If you just go like this, what are we to do?”
“What an impossible child!” Fan Xian’s heart warmed, but he coughed and scolded with a smile, “You speak as if I’m on my way to die. Father will look after everything in Danzhou. When you have time, you can go visit and show filial piety on my behalf…” Speaking to here, he sighed and didn’t say anything more. Fan Sizhe knew that under the present situation, it was impossible for his brother to return to Danzhou because the Emperor would not allow him to live.
“The things I’ve asked you to prepare these few years, are they ready?” Fan Xian didn’t want their meeting to sink into such sorrowful emotions. He forcefully changed the subject and said seriously, “The journey this time is dangerous. I don’t know what I am going to face. The things I asked you to prepare are going to be used to save my life. Don’t be an unscrupulous businessman.”
This joke was not funny. Fan Sizhe did not laugh. He just acknowledged it with a hum. The items were in the merchant group that was accompanying Fan Xian out of the Northern border. So, there was no need to take them out now.
The two brothers left the group of carriages and spoke in detail for a while. It was nothing but matters concerning Danzhou, Jingdou, their parents, grandmother, Ruoruo, Fan Sizhe’s sister-in-law, and nephew.
When it was time to leave, the brothers returned to the side of the carriages. Fan Sizhe suddenly remembered something. Furrowing his brows, he personally climbed into a carriage and came out holding a heavy urn. Bringing it to Fan Xian, he asked with confusion, “This was sent by the Great Prince from Dongyi. He said that it was something you reminded him not to forget again and again. What exactly is it? It’s so heavy. I didn’t dare to open it and see.”
Fan Xian’s expression suddenly grew serious. Soon after, he smiled. He knew that given his condition, he probably couldn’t hold such a heavy urn. Waving toward the carriage, he said to Thirteenth Wang, who was coming down, “Come, since your right arm has some strength now, pick up your teacher. Your teacher is too heavy. I can’t bear his weight.”
With these words, everyone around the carriages froze. As for Fan Sizhe carrying the urn, even his expression couldn’t help but change. How could he have thought that he was carrying Sigu Jian’s ashes? These were the remains of a Great Grandmaster.
Thirteenth Wang’s expression also changed. He held the urn of ashes carefully like it was treasure and returned to the carriage without another word. Fan Xian watched this and couldn’t help but cry out bitterly in his heart, wondering to himself if he was going to have to spend every day with a dead man on this journey.
“Why?” Thirteenth Wang suddenly poked out his face from the carriage and asked with a slight frown.
“Your teacher told me to do this. If I ever went to the Temple, I was to bring him along.” Fan Xian shrugged his shoulders helplessly.
Watching the slowly leaving group of carriages and Fan Sizhe kneeling in the snow to see off his elder brother, a disappointment and sorrow suddenly appeared in Si Lili’s eyes as she stood on the city walls. She turned her head to look at the Northern Qi Emperor and quietly said, “Why won’t he come in?”
The Northern Qi Emperor’s face was calm. He held both his hands behind his back. After a moment of silence, he said, “Since he has a bet with the Qing Emperor, he must be willing to pay if he loses. Unwilling to be used by me, how could he enter the city? For his trip to the Temple, he had his brother prepare for a long time. Presumably, he has plans. You shouldn’t be too worried.”
“But, why didn’t Duoduo come and say something to us?” Si Lili asked.
“Her identity now is Fan Xian’s friend. This point must be made known to the entire world.” After the Emperor said this, a complicated expression flashed through his eyes as he turned, preparing to leave the city walls. His eyes suddenly lit up and became faintly satisfied.
On a carriage that was leaving, they saw Fan Xian wave in their direction with a broad smile on his face. The Northern Qi Emperor smiled slightly. He was just about to wave his hand in reply when he suddenly realized something was wrong and forced his arm down, sighing in his heart.
Fan Xian put down his hand and sat back in the carriage. Looking at Thirteenth Wang, who was refusing to let go of Sigu Jian’s ashes for even a moment and Haitang sitting by the window and looking at the scenery of her country, he spoke silently to himself in his heart, Women, brother, see you.
“See you often” did not mean to see each other again. But, Fan Xian did not think like this. Everyone in the world who knew of his plan thought he was a madman and wouldn’t be able to come back alive from the Temple. He didn’t believe this. Ye Qingmei could, and so could he.