Joy of Life - Volume 2 - Chapter 265

Published at 9th of April 2018 01:20:17 AM

Chapter 265: Xinfeng Restaurant

The sky had grown dark, and a gloomy atmosphere now veiled the capital . The aridity of autumn was replaced by a cold rain that both battered and cleaned the tile roofs of residential houses and firmly washed the dust-caked streets . With its coming, this rain marked the first chill of the year; the fifth year of the Qing calendar .

Fan Xian was rubbing his hands as he sat in the second floor of the Xinfeng Restaurant . A wind tarp had been installed outside the window, and Fan Xian watched it mesmerized . He averted his gaze towards the First Bureau yamen across the street, and then to the Supreme Court’s yamen . Comparing both yamen, the one that belonged to the First Bureau was considerably quieter . The officers from the Overwatch Council looked to be at ease, not at all like how they used to be .

The rectification had been going on for a few days now . Of course, Fan Xian did not believe that the yelling of a slogan would rewrite the regulations in any immediate capacity, if ever . In secret, he had been continuing his investigation into the affairs, sour relations and corruption that had become ingrained within the Overwatch Council . He had ruthlessly fired numerous individuals and even sent many officers to trial at the Seventh Bureau . The atmosphere in the First Bureau had now at last received its turnaround for the better, and like a timekeeper’s clockwork, the yamen began to work as efficiently as they should .

Fan Xian had not yet become accustomed to being on-duty at the First Bureau, but he rejected the idea Mu Tie had proposed to him, which involved the erection of an office room for Fan Xian to quietly work and wait within . What Fan Xian elected to do instead was to book every table of the upper-floor of the restaurant across the street . Upon doing so, he was able to relax and recline in the quiet that came with the lack of customers, and snack out all day, all the while being in close proximity to the First Bureau .

This is now where he sat . On the table Fan Xian was sitting at, there was a bamboo steamer with a single bun inside . It was no ordinary-sized bun, for it occupied the entire space inside of the bamboo steamer! Its outside was gleaming white and possessed 18 folds, and from the inside came a steady flow of steam which made one’s mouth water . He gently blew the bun and then stuck his chopsticks inside it, which created an eruption of juices .

Fan Xian picked up a wheat straw and asked, "Do you want the juice?"

"Hot . "

Fan Xian smiled and laughed, using the chopsticks to split the bun further . He collected the meat that resided deep within its fluffy interior and put it upon a plate, which he passed to the person at his side . He comfortingly told him, "Dabao, the sauce is hot, but the meat is not . You should still blow on it before eating . "

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Dabao heeded Fan Xian’s words well and blew the plate with all the might of his lungs .

Ever since Fan Xian’s father-in-law retired, the Fan manor had become quiet . When Fan Xian was in the northern Qi Kingdom, Dabao had spent much of his time visiting the manor in his absence . When Fan Xian returned, he did not see Dabao for a number of days and he wondered why . After asking Wan’er the reason why, she told Fan Xian that because he had just returned to the capital, she sent Dabao to the Lin manor . After Fan Xian heard this, he wasn’t very happy . Even though they only sought to preserve his reputation, they did not dare to put the Lin manor is an awkward position . But in that manor, the people there were quite picky and difficult to please, and now the Lin manor only had Wan’er and a distant relative to take care of it .

Ever since he took the job at the First Bureau, he had been brushed off his feet every single day . Fan Xian could hardly believe that he did not have the time to take care of this matter, so he decided to take advantage of this lazy, rainy, windswept day and talk to Deng Ziyue about bringing Dabao out to the Xinfeng Restaurant to try out its most revered dish, the jietang bun . He could return him to the manor later .

"Stop blowing, you can eat it already!" Fan Xian was laughing at his brother-in-law .

He had no idea why Dabao’s mental capacity was that of a child, something which undoubtedly led to him adhering to every word Fan Xian would say . With immediacy in response to Fan Xian’s words, he turned his head down and gobbled up the meat in one mouthful . As Fan Xian watched him do so with haste, he pondered if he had even tasted the food .

When Fan Xian saw this, he thought about Zhu Bajie from Journey to the West eating pepino melons and he could not help but laugh .

Deng Ziyue was present, but he sat at a different table . He watched the scene and thought it to be slightly creepy . There were 30 people from the Qinian Unit, and they were divided into four smaller subunits to provide Fan Xian protection from each and every angle . Deng Ziyue had taken over Wang Qinian’s position, and dared not leave Fan Xian’s side for a moment . And as such, Deng Ziyue was the only person who knew precisely what Fan Xian had been up to in the past few days . In his heart, however, he knew that he was merely following a Commissioner, a person whose full intentions were often masked and kept secret - even to his closest allies . After Fan Xian cleaned up the First Bureau, he had yet to receive a specific order from him, and so he just sat in the Xinfeng Restaurant eating food and singing songs to the delight of his master . He thought to himself, "As a Commissioner, the fact that he is so keen to look after his mentally handicapped brother-in-law is surprising, and I greatly admire him for it .

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From downstairs came the sound of heavy footsteps, and hearing them he snapped out of his deep thoughts . His hand clenched the hilt of his sheathed sword and he quickly turned to peer at the stairs that led to the second floor of the restaurant . This person was revealed to be Mu Tie, and he had been spearheading the investigations into determining whether certain suspected officers were indeed guilty of committing unlawful acts . He was also responsible for maintaining the morale of the entire department and making preparations for the secret mission Fan Xian had tasked him with . He was an incredibly busy man who had been put under a large amount of pressure . His eyes were visibly sunken and dark, and from the way he held himself, he looked worn out, tired and unhealthy .

Mu Tie took off his rain hat and raincoat and tossed them into the corner of the room . He carefully presented a cylinder from his chest pocket . What it was made of wasn’t known, but it was evidently waterproof, for the paper inside was still dry as a bone .

Fan Xian approached Mu Tie and took it from him . He got to reading it immediately and with a focused expression read every line, clearly fixated . Slowly, a frown formed upon his face, and his mood took a sour turn . At the beginning, when he first returned to the capital, he had asked Deng Ziyue to investigate the chancellors that possessed deep ties to the second prince . It had nothing to do with the Cui family . After Fan Xian became chief of the First Bureau, this mission was immediately given to Mu Tie as his first task .

It seemed as if there was no incriminating evidence to be found, but it was as Fan Xian expected . Those sorts covered their tracks well and would go to great lengths to avoid anything dirty showing up, but still, what Mu Tie had uncovered was perhaps almost too clean . The Cui family were nobles and over the years it was impossible for them not to have given any kickback to the Minister of Appointments or Director of the Imperial Observatory . Their record was too clean to be true and so Fan Xian sighed, before asking, "As that all there is?"

Mu Tie nodded .

Fan Xian asked, "Did the Second Bureau ask anything?" Mu Tie looked at him, shaking his head and said, "The Second Bureau is cooperating with us . They believe it to be an order from the palace, not an investigation instigated by you . I can assure you that no one knows . "

"Did the Second Bureau not possess any information?" Fan Xian only noticed now that he was still holding a pair of chopsticks, an indication of how involved with the matters that he was . He laughed at himself, and placed them down upon the steamer . Now, his greatest enemy was the eldest princess in a faraway place called Xinyang . No one knew when the eldest princess was due a return to the capital, so he had to confirm who within the palace was allied with her and find out who was not, all the while she and the Second Prine were away .

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Mu Tie spoke softly and politely, but he found himself to possess more confidence and so he said, "In regards to the investigation in the capital, the Second Bureau is in charge of obtaining the necessary information, but they still cannot match the First Bureau in that regard . Do not worry, my lord . "

Fan Xian nodded and gestured to Mu Tie that he could leave .

He waited until Mu Tie left and then Fan Xian looked at the parchment he was given once more . Reading the jargon, found himself lost in a sea of thoughts . The document recorded the Cui family’s bribing history, and included the dates of such "transactions" and whom they dealt with . Most of the officers in the government were included, but there was no trace of the second prince and his closest allies . This disappointment gave Fan Xian a headache, and his gut feeling suggested there was a problem there . So, amidst the barrage of words that had been written onto the parchment, he was unable to find anything of true value .

Fan Xian knew of his own proficiency in assassination, how to maintain and handle authority, and the production of certain fabrications when the time required it . After all, he would always present himself as someone soft and approachable, but his heart was like one of a killer . He was not a person who could comfort others, nor was he good at analyzing information . He knew of his dexterities and limitations, and working within those, he could excel at what he was best at . It was because he had such a strong grasp of himself that he could get a strong grasp of others and tell what sort of person they were .

He thought about the plan he conceived in Shangjing, in the northern Qi Kingdom . He sighed and thought about the goofy-looking character who helped him a considerable amount during his time there - Wang Qinian . But of course, the person who ensured the effective execution of the plan was Yan Bingyun, and right now, Fan Xian was remorseful at his inability to secure him as a follower upon his return to the capital . "Who knew that the Overwatch Council would take on Yan Bingyun for the Fourth Bureau? And then for me to take up the First Bureau?" He had desired to suppress Yan Bingyun’s intelligence, but that was an even more difficult task now .

Fan Xian looked at Dabao and saw him eating noodles like a madman . He laughed and picked up the now empty bun and put it in his bowl . Fan Xian dipped it into the noodles and then quickly put it in his mouth before chewing it heartily .

Dabao was shocked at the presence of a hand quickly appear and disappear in front of him . With a slow reaction, he raised his head to look at Fan Xian . He then shook his head before resuming his feast upon the noodles .

Outside, it was still pouring . And as the heavy rain lashed the streets, a mist arose, veiling the streets and houses, limiting the visibility of those who braved the outdoors . The chill had descended upon the city by now, and as the breeze picked up its speed and strength, the people outside were remarkably windswept . It was as if the wind itself was seeking the warmth of the people’s necks .

Fan Xian placed a coat upon Dabao and carefully tucked in the clothes around his neck to ensure the wind would not breach his own warmth . He then tapped his shoulder and said, "Xianxian has some business he must take care of . Why don't you return to the manor and go play with Wan'er?"

Dabao was chewing an apple . He mumbled back, "Sister is so mean… me… Fan… play . "

Fian Xian understood what he meant and began laughing . He wondered if any of the officers, chancellors, businessmen, prostitutes and even poets of this world capable of owning a simple heart, such as the one Dabao possessed . Perhaps life would be so much simpler and easier if they did .

Fan Xian then carefully spoke to Teng Zijing, and the carriage that belonged to the Fan manor departed for home . Deng Ziyue looked at Fan Xian and asked, "Sir, where should we go now?"

"To Yan Manor . "