Joy Of Life Chapter 697
All of the Fan manor servants heard the edict clearly. They felt a heartless thunderbolt had struck down cruelly and set the entire Fan manor shaking and trembling. The faces of everyone kneeling outside the central hall were pale. Their hearts trembled in shock. They felt unease and fear for the young master.
It was not just them. The officials and commoners knew clearly what the root of Sir Fan junior's power was. This position-removing edict of the Emperor's had severed Sir Fan junior's roots. However, Fan Xian's expression remained calm after he heard the edict. As he knelt on the ground, there were no feelings of shock or sorrow. All of this had been within his expectations. Just as he thought as he tossed around on the bed these two days, the Emperor would try to remove the layers of power and defense wrapped around Fan Xian's body.
Fan Xian had done countless treasonous things a mere 10 days on the road back to the capital from Dongyi. The Black Knights charging between the provinces had already broken a major taboo. Furthermore, the 500 Black Knights had charged through more than 10 gateways, which had landed them an even greater crime in the court. Additionally, Fan Xian had killed the Commander of Zhengyang Gate when he charged into Jingdou. In front of tens of thousands of eyes, he had killed those martial artists on the execution field.
Each of these was a crime, and they were all unforgivable crimes by Qing laws. Even though he was Fan Xian, he still had to pay the price for these actions. The Emperor not throwing him in prison was already generous enough. However, such generosity could not calm the discussion and pressure among the people and the officialdom. The Emperor removing Fan Xian's position as Director could be considered a first step to giving the world an explanation. It also gave the Emperor a channel to vent his anger.
As for what other edicts may come out of the Palace, and what kind of attacks and damage Fan Xian would suffer, it depended on Fan Xian's reaction and the way the wind blew in officialdom and among the people.
Fan Xian rose somewhat woodenly and accepted the edict from Eunuch Dai's hands. He then casually handed it to someone behind him to take care of and did not bother to read it through intently. The accusations on the edict were true. He was not going to make a case against the Palace concerning these matters.
"Have a cup of tea before you leave." Fan Xian looked at Eunuch Dai warmly. An awkwardness and unease rose to Eunuch Dai's face. His rise and fall in the Palace all these years was because of this young and powerful noble in front of him. Yet, it was he who had come to the Fan manor to announce this edict. Eunuch Dai truly felt uncomfortable in his heart.
"I still have to return to the Palace." Eunuch Dai glanced at Fan Xan with unease. In a trembling voice, he said, "The Emperor is just angry at the moment. It will be better in a few days."
Fan Xian knew why such an expression would appear on this servant's face. He smiled and patted him on his shoulder as he said, "Don't think too much. Since the Emperor has allowed you to take on the important task of announcing edicts again, presumably, he trusts you."
Eunuch Dai bowed respectfully. As he prepared to take his leave, he heard Fan Xian's low voice ring out beside his ear, "Is Ruoruo alright in the Palace?"
It was a great taboo for there to be private messages between eunuchs and officials. However, after Eunuch Dai thought for a moment, he did not hesitate at all and said in a low voice, "Young lady Fan is doing very well. She is often in the royal study listening to the debates. The Emperor treats her very well. There is no need to worry."
The entire Fan manor could be counted as proper members of the Li royal family. With Fan Xian's kindness and power toward Eunuch Dai, this old eunuch did not care much about the taboo. In a low voice, he related Fan Ruoruo's situation in the Palace these few days.
Fan Xian's brows twitched. He was slightly surprised. He could not guess the Emperor's intentions. He did not understand why his sister appeared so lofty in the palace, completely unlike a hostage.
After the matter of welcoming the edict, Fan Xian went around to the rear of the central hall and saw his wife, who had been listening quietly at the back. Quietly, he said, "Today could be considered the first wave. I hold too many positions at the same time. If the Emperor wants to peel them off layer by layer, it will take some time."
Lin Wan'er glanced at him and gently bit her lip. "It is without valid reason and justification that the Director post is empty for now. Presumably, the Emperor will grant it back to you a few days after you enter the Palace to confess your crimes. Without the position of Director, I'm afraid there will be some obstacles to you gathering the strength of the Overwatch Council."
"The Emperor also knows this, which is why his first strike was to take away my position in the Overwatch Council," Fan Xian said in a low voice as he sat down. "At least for now, he doesn't want to cause chaos in court. He is slowly whittling at my power. He is also waiting for me to lower my head and admit my crimes. However, all these years, the Overwatch Council has been under the old cripple's control. There are still some things the Emperor does not understand. Even if there are many people in the Overwatch Council who are fearful of imperial power, in the end, there are more people who do not recognize edicts and only acknowledge the traditions of the Council.
"Being put under house arrest is the same as committing suicide. They are both problems that are difficult to resolve," Fan Xian said. "The Emperor wants the entire world, including myself, to slowly become used to me losing power. Then, it will be much easier to deal with me. I have to act quickly."
Lin Wan'er's brows furrowed. She still did not understand. Even if Fan Xian could tear open that net outside the manor and make contact with a member of the Qinian Unit, in just one meeting, what problems could it resolve?
"My subordinates are all incredible people." Fan Xian saw the confusion in her mind. "They can help me make contact with an even more incredible group of people."
If Fan Xian wanted to forcefully break through the net of surveillance outside the manor, it would not be a difficult matter given his present cultivation. Unless the Emperor came personally, it would actually be difficult to find people who could keep up with him.
However, he had to think about the lives of his subordinates, as well as those not in Jingdou who cooperated with him. Thus, he could not give the Palace any opportunity to follow him and wipe out the true foundations of his power.
Although his position as the Director of the Overwatch Council had been taken, it could not stop him retaking the power of the Overwatch Council through the officials loyal to him and to Chen Pingping. If the court, through Fan Xian, caught all of the men Fan Xian had kept hidden behind the scenes, it would be much more difficult if Fan Xian wanted to make contact with the factions of power further away from him.
Thus, Fan Xian had to act carefully. In the eyes of the people, his carefulness was an unreasonable and particularly bloody decision to kill. Not long after the news of the Emperor taking Fan Xian's position as Director of the Overwatch Council spread through Jingdou, there came the news of Sir Fan junior once again clearing out the spies outside the Fan manor.
More than 20 people died outside Fan manor. The next day, the Palace gave the order to remove Fan Xian's post in the palace treasury's transport company, officially taking away the palace treasury, the foundation of the power of the Qing Kingdom, from Fan Xian's control.
That night, Fan Xian acted again. He cleared out everyone in a crisscross around Fan manor.
On the third day, the Palace issued an edict. Fan Xian was strictly scolded. His rank of first-level Duke was also stripped.
After seven days, all of the positions of the Qing Kingdom's most glorious and dazzling young official had been stripped bare by heartless edicts. Thinking back to Jiangnan on the Dragon Stage, of the long line of prefixes before the young imperial envoy as he stepped off the boat, not a single one was left.
Fan Xian returned to being a commoner. He couldn't even compare to the scholars coming into the capital for the examinations. He did not have any position, any power in name, and no salary. The Board of Rites position that he had undertaken during a spring examination in the past had been remembered by the Palace, so his noble position in the Taichang Temple had also been stripped.
All that Fan Xian had left was his teaching position in the Imperial College. Even that had been lowered three ranks. For some reason, the Emperor did not strip away that position.
During these seven days, it was as if there was a conveyor belt between the Royal Palace and Fan manor delivering the Emperor's calm and cold edicts, one heart-chilling edict after another. After each edict, the brightness around Fan Xian's body dimmed a little.
The eyes of the Jingdou officials and commoners were all focused on the road in front of Fan manor. After the day at the rainy execution field, they all knew that this path would become busy. They had not thought that it would become busy to such an extent.
No one thought the Emperor's punishment of the little Duke would be so absolute and severe. No one thought Fan Xian would be so stubborn. He resisted for seven days and still did not enter the Palace to ask for forgiveness.
Everyone was watching Fan manor, waiting to see how this cold war between the Emperor and his illegitimate child would play out. Would the Emperor, in a fit of rage, decide to throw Fan Xian into prison, or would Fan Xian be unable to shoulder each of these edicts and finally surrender?
Even though Fan Xian was now just a common person, the commoners of Jingdou were still used referring to him as Sir Fan junior in their leisurely gossip after tea and food. The officials hiding in their manors and nervously watching these developments still habitually referred to him as the little Duke. They knew that even though Fan Xian had been demoted to a commoner by the Emperor, as long as he did not die and was not thrown in prison, he could still become a powerful figure just below the Emperor at any moment.
No one underestimated Fan Xian's existence. Contrary to the expectations of many officials, Fan Xian had clearly broken the laws of the Qing Kingdom, disregarded the court, and killed all those people. Yet, among the discussions of the people, very little of what was said was unfavorable to Fan Xian. In this battle between the Emperor and Fan Xian, the Qing Kingdom saw for the first time the strange phenomenon of public opinion not wholly being with the Royal Palace. Perhaps it was because although Fan Xian had killed people outside the manor, he had not done it ostentatiously. Other than the first and second days, his murderous aura had been restrained a great deal. Furthermore, the people he had killed were spies sent by the Palace. What did it have to do with the rest of the people? Perhaps it was because the people of Jingdou had once seen Fan Xian's sallow face as he held Chen Pingping's body and sobbed painfully in the autumn rain, so they unconsciously developed some feelings of sympathy.
Human emotions were strange. In the previous moment, it may be cheering loudly. In the next, it was thinking of the past silently. Such developments have happened before on countless executions fields over the millennia and in front of countless deaths.
What truly allowed Fan Xian, a commoner, to have the support of a large number of common people was his actions these past years. Those glorious things did not have to be brought up one by one to be calculated. There was no need to mind the things Chen Pingping had done for Fan Xian using the eight bureaus of the Overwatch Council. The reality was that ever since the Emperor, who had led the Qing Iron Riders across old boundaries and forcefully conquered countless acres of territory decades ago, the only person who could be considered an idol was probably just Fan Xian.
If it was Jiangnan, perhaps Fan Xian would be able to obtain even more public support. He had, after all, been in Jiangnan the longest. Furthermore, the Hangzhou Conference that Lin Wan'er managed had put everything they had in providing relief payments to the people and had long taken over from the Ming family and become the most glorious name among the scholars and poor and suffering people in Jiangnan.
But, after all, he was in Jingdou. Even if the people at the foot of the Royal Palace leaned toward Fan Xian, they could not do anything. When all was said and done, this battle was one between Fan Xian and the Emperor, just like the battle in the royal study.
After seven days, nothing was set. The world was not at peace. The autumn wind continued to blow outside Fan manor, intercepted with fine rain. Under Fan Xian's dog-like clearing, the spies the internal court sent out had no choice but to pull back their net.
Imperial authority was, without a doubt, paramount, but the fear of death was also paramount. Caught between a rock and a hard place, it was inevitable that there would be flaws with the internal court's surveillance. Fan Xian stood coldly outside the doors of the manor and looked calmly all around him. He suddenly thought of what Wan'er had said that day. A strange emotion flashed through his eyes.
If the Emperor wanted to deal with Fan Xian's open resistance, they were many other ways. Why didn't he use them? Were these spies' outward movement because of his ruthless actions or because the Emperor had given secret orders? He could not kill all the spies.
Fan Xian did not understand and did not want to understand. Perhaps that man in the Palace still had some lingering affection or hope, but he did not want this affection and hope to newly shake his heart, which had become thoroughly chilled in the autumn rain.
He turned and entered Fan manor. Not long after, a carriage delivering vegetables turned into the side alley beside the Fan manor and entered a corner door. Outside the corner door, the carriage underwent a strict search. Even the inside of each bok choy and the roots of each daikon were checked.
The people responsible for the search were all officials who had made explicit their identities,. They were different from the internal court spies scattered around Fan manor. Fan Xian did not cause any trouble for these people. If he wanted to waylay the limitations of house arrest, he only had to be careful of the spies and not these officials.
There was nothing strange about a vegetable carriage, so the official waved his hand and allowed the carriage to enter Fan manor. Not far from the corner door was the main kitchen. There would be servants there who would move the vegetables and fruits from the carriage.
The orders from the Palace were clear. The people inside Fan manor were not to go out. It was also difficult for outsiders to come in. Even this carriage had been sent by the Produce Inspectorate at the opening of the market. From the very start, it was under the surveillance of the court. So, they were not worried about Fan Xian or some restless member of the Overwatch Council doing something.
The driver of the carriage found a moment when no one was paying attention and slipped into the back garden through the kitchen. Then, led by an old Fan manor servant, he entered into a silent study.
Once the driver entered the study, he saw that other than Fan Xian, there was a woman. He immediately guessed that it was the Director's wife. After a slight pause, he took off his straw hat and knelt in salute. "Greetings, Director."
After the driver took off his straw hat, Lin Wan'er covered her mouth in shock and said, "So similar."
The driver felt awkward but did not say anything. He rose and straightforwardly said, "The manor has been guarded strictly these days, so no one has dared to make a move."
"This is a capable general of the Qinian Unit. Back in Northern Qi, he helped me a great deal," Fan Xian gently explained to his wife. This Overwatch Council official, who looked very much like him, had been hidden inside the Qinian Unit. Even Fan Xian had not thought that after being sealed in for seven days, the person from the Qinian Unit who would brave the risk and come to the manor to make contact with him would be this person.
"It's best that there's no action. Nothing is more important than one's own life," Fan Xian said seriously to the subordinate. This was something he endlessly imparted to those beside him, even the most loyal of his subordinates. Nothing was more important than one's own life. Wang Qinian had acted on it and so had Gao Da.
"The net outside has relaxed a little. I need to go out today," Fan Xian said quietly as he lowered his head slightly.
"Sir, it's too dangerous," the official said seriously. He thought that since he had taken the risk and entered the manor, anything that needed to be said could be sent through him.
"No." Fan Xian shook his head. What he had to say was too important. He had to personally relay it into a certain person's ears. If there was the slightest mistake, it could cause great problems. He suddenly thought that if Wang Qinian was by his side, everything would be much easier to resolve. Given Lao Wang's abilities, it would not be too difficult to sneak into Fan manor under the noses of the spies.
"The vegetable delivering carriage belongs to the Produce Inspectorate. How did you get in?" Fan Xian suddenly thought of this problem. His gaze was slightly confused and worried.
"Dai Zhen returned to the Produce Inspectorate," the official replied with a smile.
Fan Xian also smiled. Eunuch Dai had gone back to being an edict-announcing head eunuch. Thus, his nephew had returned to his position in the Produce Inspectorate. Given the methods the Overwatch Council had used in the past to raise up the elder and youth of the Dai family, it was easy to leave some leverage to make use of now.
The autumn sky above Jingdou was clear and distant. Rain fell from the lead-like clouds and blurred the surrounding scenery but moved one's emotions. The seven days of resistance between Fan manor and Royal Palace, particularly the scene of Sir Fan junior clearing out the spies outside the manor for seven consecutive days, finally chilled the hearts of most of the internal court spies. They felt that their colleagues had died for no reason. It seemed the Emperor was never going to actually throw his illegitimate child into prison and avenge their colleagues.
Thus, the net outside Fan manor unconsciously loosened and left some gaps that could be used. That seemingly innocuous Produce Inspectorate carriage wormed in through such a gap.
In an isolated area of Jingdou, where the residences were simple and did not have the deep gardens and tall buildings of the wealthy families, a small courtyard lay silently at the end of an alley. The sound of selling vegetables on an outside alley could be clearly heard. It had been many years, but no one knew what this little courtyard represented.
Using the slight rain to wipe away the makeup and disguise on his face, Fan Xian floated into the little courtyard. He saw many familiar faces. Looking at the surprise then sadness that appeared on these faces, Fan Xian felt slightly touched. But, nothing showed on his face.
This was the Qinian Unit's most secret encampment. The Overwatch Council members here were all Fan Xian's earliest loyal subordinates. When something strange began to happen in the Overwatch Council, particularly when some subtle signs appeared within, these Qinian Unit officials silently left their posts. Through different routes, they returned to this little courtyard to wait for Fan Xian's summons.
Many years ago, when the Qinian Unit was just Fan Xian and Wang Qinian, one elder and one youth, Wang Qinian had spent a tiny amount of silver and bought this courtyard. The Qinian Unit officials were essentially Fan Xian's eyes and hands. Now that Fan Xian had to gather the powers closest to him from around the world, he had to go through these absolutely loyal eyes and hands to get his message out.
This was the reason he had worked so hard to come personally.