Joy of Life Chapter 633: Poisoned
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This was a world in which the fittest survived. In order to stretch out one's head amid the layers of reeds on the shores of the North Sea, to have the right to eat among the wolf packs on the grasslands, one needed to abandon the so-called "feelings of weakness." Saints were heartless, and sages were unintentional. Any less than this was insufficient to transcend worldliness.
The courtyard in the Master of the City's manor was silent. The bodies and pools of blood on the ground had been pushed to the two walls by the shockwaves. It was as if it had been swept aside by god's hand. The blood became red paint brushed evenly across the walls with a few newly fallen green leaves below.
With these green leaves as boundary lines, Sigu Jian and the Shadow, this pair of brothers, each sat by their own set of stone steps. Heavily injured and speechless, they watched each other coldly.
A number of whistling sounds suddenly rang out from outside the manor. It was like a dozen trebuchets began an assault on the manor at the same time and millstone-sized rocks were tearing through the air.
Sigu Jian's expression did not change. The Shadow's expression did not change. Fan Xian was walking toward the Shadow. His expression also did not change. These three people knew that it was not rocks flying through the air but people. It looked like the murder case in the manor had finally alerted the aces stupidly standing guard outside the Sword Hut.
When the Northern Qi Emperor came to Dongyi, she had brought Lang Tiao and Friar He, two ninth-level aces. As for whether there were other Tianyi Dao aces hidden in the shadows protecting her, it was unknown. Since the day before, all of the Sword Hut disciples had each returned from their cultivations to stand guard outside the Sword Hut, silently waiting for their teacher's order.
Adding the two sides together, there were at least a dozen ninth-level aces. Comparatively, Jingdou of the Qing Kingdom only had two ninth-level aces. Thus, one could not help but feel a glimmer of astonishment and envy toward Dongyi's special occasion. With this many aces flying through the air, the aura was stunning.
With a gust of wind, Yun Zhilan and Lang Tiao led everyone onto the ground splattered with blood. The two people furrowed their brows and glanced involuntarily at their feet. They then understood the situation and found the people they cared about most at the same time.
Lang Tiao saw his Emperor seemed unharmed, only his face was slightly pale. Lang Tiao couldn't help but be overjoyed. Leading his subordinates, they surrounded the little Emperor to ensure his absolute safety. He turned a wary gaze toward Fan Xian.
On the other side, Yun Zhilan saw the heavily injured Sigu Jian sitting below the stone steps. His expression changed drastically as he rushed over. Without saying a word, his knees hit the ground as he knelt down.
This first disciple of the Sword Hut was completely unable to hide the strange expression on his face. He did not care how his teacher would punish him after the fact. Since he opposed his teacher's intention and secretly made a deal with Northern Qi, he had long been prepared. Seeing the wretched scene in the manor and the dead bodies of the Master of the City and the aces, he knew who had taken action.
Since his teacher had personally taken action, it expressed his attitude. What shocked Yun Zhilan was that he had been injured so heavily.
All of the disciples of the Sword Hut knelt by Sigu Jian's body, looking at their teacher's injuries with shock and anger. In their hearts, the only people on par with their teacher were the other Great Grandmasters. Even though their teacher had been injured for three years, the only people who could hurt him were the Qing Emperor and Ye Liuyun, who had disappeared without a trace.
A disciple of the Sword Hut began to help Sigu Jian dress his wounds with shaking hands. In his heart, his teacher was a god-like figure, particularly when it came to the sword. He was the foremost person in the world. Now, he had been consecutively stabbed twice in the chest by someone. Who had done this?
The door leading to the back garden of the manor moved slightly. The second disciple of the Sword Hut walked in supporting Thirteenth Wang. They looked at the scene in front of them and couldn't help being shocked, particularly Thirteenth Wang. The poison had not yet fully left his system, yet he had forcefully raised his realm to hold back everyone and helped Fan Xian enter the Sword Hut. He was extremely exhausted. If it weren't for his second brother supporting him, he probably wouldn't have made it to the manor in time.
The previous night, romance had been thick in the air in the Sword Hut while swords were drawn and bows were pulled outside. Everyone knew the thirteenth disciple of the Sword Hut was Fan Xian's good friend. But, Fan Xian had seized the Northern Qi Emperor and charged into the Sword Hut that even saints could not infringe on. Thus, everyone had purposely targeted Thirteenth Wang.
If not for the fact that the second disciple of the Sword Hut had coldly protected him, and Yun Zhilan, for the sake of his teacher's dignity, would also not have allowed Lang Tiao and others to attack, Thirteenth Wang could only lie in bed.
The most important reason Thirteenth Wang was able to remain unharmed despite being surrounded by so many aces was that leaf and stick. The sword saint in the Hut had expressed his opinion. The disciples that had originally leaned toward Yun Zhilan could only maintain a middle ground.
Thirteenth Wang knelt by Sigu Jian's body. His lips trembled. He was unable to speak. Ever since he entered the manor, he had not glanced at Fan Xian because his emotions were complicated. His teacher had ordered everything, which was why he had helped Fan Xian enter the Sword Hut. He had thought his teacher and Sir Fan junior would have a very harmonious conversation. He had not thought his teacher would be severely injured.
All of the Sword Hut disciples knew the strength of the manor. They also knew the terrifying nature of the sword in their teacher's hand. Thus, they naturally thought the person who had injured their teacher was not someone of the manor. Instead, it was a Qing person, someone belonging to Fan Xian.
Yun Zhilan was the first to stand up. Icily, he looked at Fan Xian and the black-clothed man by the stone steps. Gradually, his pupils grew cold. His gaze went passed Fan Xian to the black-clothed man. His gaze changed from icy to heated.
He recognized the black-clothed man. It could even be said that he was very familiar with him. Four years ago, by the lake in the Qing Kingdom's Jiangnan's Hangzhou, this black-clothed man had risen from the lake and stabbed him with a sword while he was in a boat. Then, the two of them had carried out a game of cat and mouse for many months in the Jiangnan region.
Yun Zhilan knew what this black-clothed man was capable of. He had even thought that other than his teacher, it was this black-clothed man whose sword technique was the severest and most sinister, even more so than his own.
Yun Zhilan was already a warrior above the ninth-level. He knew just how powerful this black-clothed man was. He didn't have to think much to know that only the black-clothed man could use a sword to injure his teacher.
He slowly drew the sword by his waist and walked step by step closer to the other set of stone steps. The distance between each step was fixed. No more and no less, exactly 25 inches.
The sword in his hand was 3 feet long. The distance between him and the Shadow was 32 feet.
"The legendary true leader of the Sixth Bureau of the Overwatch Council, Sir Shadow," Yun Zhilan said coldly as he walked. "This is my first time seeing your true appearance."
Yun Zhilan took five steps toward him. As he got closer to the stone steps, the sword intent around his body grew thicker. The murderous intent grew fuller. Regardless of what this first disciple of the Sword Hut felt about the future of Dongyi or his teacher, when an outsider attacked, when a Qing person dared to injure his teacher, Yun Zhilan's chest was filled with murder. He had to have them beneath his sword.
If he had been completely well, Yun Zhilan would not have much confidence. He knew that even if the black-clothed man had secretly attacked his teacher while he was distracted and managed to stab him twice, he must have paid a great price to do so.
The disciples of the Sword Hut had long been exposed to Sigu Jian's influence. He had no qualms about using their strength to bully the weak.
Under the tree, the Northern Qi Emperor watched the scene with a pale expression. She didn't know if the Sword Hut and the Qing Kingdom's side would clash. Or, how Fan Xian would handle this matter. In her opinion, even if Sigu Jian wanted to negotiate a deal with the Qing Kingdom, given the Great Grandmaster's bloodthirsty nature, he still would not allow the black-clothed man, who Yun Zhilan referred to as the Head of the Overwatch Council's Sixth Bureau the Shadow, leave alive.
Suddenly, the little Emperor seemed to remember two words that Sigu Jian had brought up earlier. Her eyes brightened. A flush of red appeared on her deathly pale cheeks.
Fan Xian half-knelt by the Shadow's side and helped him dress his wounds. He had been cut countless times by the sword qi. The wounds were still seeping blood. Fortunately, the Overwatch Council's robe did have some effect. The wounds were not very deep and did not need to be specially treated. Given the Shadow's strong body, he should be able to stop the bleeding.
The biggest problem was inside the Shadow's body. Fan Xian's hands rested against his back. He slowly fed a trickle of Tianyi Dao's zhenqi into his body to carefully check the situation inside. As he checked, his expression grew gradually more solemn. A moment later, he took out a healing pill and fed it between the Shadow's lips. Then, he flattened his palms closely against his back and began to tend to his wounds.
Two nights ago, he had tended to Thirteenth Wang's wounds. The day before, he had been pursued and attacked by Lang Tiao and others. That night, he had battled with the little Emperor in bed. Fan Xian was exhausted. He knew that if he didn't act quickly, the Shadow might die from internal bleeding.
After the Hanging Temple incident, the Shadow had followed Fan Xian for four years and never left his side. Although their relationship was that of superior and subordinate, and had little to do with friendship, Fan Xian knew that he could not be separated from him. There was a naturally occurring sense of intimacy that had developed after mutually entrusting each other with their lives.
Fan Xian lowered his eyelids slightly, but he could still hear Yun Zhilan's steady footsteps approaching. A moment later, he slowly put down his hands and rose. Looking at Yun Zhilan, he asked, "Do you still want to kill me?"
Yun Zhilan was silent for a moment. He then said, "Your life and death will be decided by my teacher, but this person must die."
Fan Xian didn't think about anything. Slowly, he took off his robe and revealed a completely black outfit. He then bent at his waist and pulled out his black dagger from inside his boot. He stood in front of the Shadow.
The entire atmosphere in the courtyard changed. From beginning to end, Fan Xian had not truly done anything. The only thing he had burned through was his spirit, which had been greatly eroded by Sigu Jian's powerful willpower. Standing in front of the Shadow, Fan Xian's spirit seemed to recover in an instant. Coldly and silently, he appeared unusually powerful. It was like when he had faced Yan Xiaoyi.
Everyone knew how powerful Fan Xian was. The powerful Qing official of today was no longer the inexperienced figure who had just entered the ninth-level when he went to Northern Qi. Instead, he was a proper warrior above the ninth-level. He had killed Yan Xiaoyi without alerting anyone, killed the old Qin master in Jingdou, forced Haitang to retreat on the grasslands, and had miraculously escaped from a number of ninth-level aces. When he had crossed swords with other ninth-level aces in the past, Fan Xian had won a complete victory without exception.
This was not like a person's name or the shadow of a tree. It was the proper accumulation of confidence. Even though he faced the first disciple of the Sword Hut, Fan Xian did not feel any fear. He looked coldly at Yun Zhilan. His meaning was clear. If you want to kill my subordinate, you'll have to kill me first.
Fan Xian and Yun Zhilan stood facing each other. Behind Yun Zhilan were many other people. The Sword Hut had thirteen disciples, and they were all present. Only six of them stood. The severe sword intent emanating from these six people melded with Yun Zhilan's blade and suddenly shot out, making Fan Xian's face pale slightly.
The other disciples were all kneeling by Sigu Jian, serving him in a flurry of hands and with their hearts trembling in fear. Among them were the third and fourth disciples, who had attacked Fan Xian in the plum garden. The reason these two Sword Hut aces did not stand was complicated. They knew Fan Xian and that black-clothed man both knew Sigu Sword.
They had not told this to Yun Zhilan because the responsibility was too great. They were going to secretly report it to their teacher. Unexpectedly, too many things had happened, so they never found an opportunity.
They were shocked and endlessly speculated about the connection between the black-clothed man and their teacher, especially why he was able to hurt him.
Thirteenth Wang also didn't stand or look at Fan Xian. His heart was in disarray. He didn't understand what had happened. He only faintly guessed at the secret, but he was unable to speak.
Yun Zhilan did not know any of this. During the cold-blooded assassinating between him and the Shadow in Jiangnan, things happened in an instant. At that time, the Shadow had held back. He had not given it his all.
He only looked at Fan Xian and tightened his grip on his sword.
Under the tree, Sir Lang Tiao, who had kept his head down the entire time, suddenly tightened his little finger. The metal chain tied to his wrist suddenly pulled tight. A slightly cold hand landed on Lang Tiao's wrist and stopped him taking action.
Lang Tiao furrowed his brows slightly and looked at his Emperor, who was stopping him with confusion. He thought this was a rare opportunity for the Qi Kingdom. The Qing Kingdom and Sigu Jian were about to arrive at a deal. However, it was the Qing Kingdom who had injured Sigu Jian. If he helped Yun Zhilan bring down or kill Fan Xian, then killed that black-clothed man who injured Sigu Jian, the relationship between Dongyi and the Qing Kingdom would be completely torn down.
As a martial artist, Lang Tiao was indeed curious as to who that black-clothed man was. Was he truly the legendary best assassin in the world, the Shadow of the Overwatch Council? Was this assassin really that powerful to be able to injure Sigu Jian?
The little Emperor smiled slightly as she watched this tense scene on the stone steps. Quietly, she said, "Trust me, they won't start fighting. Since that is so, why should we be the bad guys?"
The atmosphere of the scene did not make those present share in the little Emperor's judgment. Faced with the seven ninth-level aces' increasing sword intent, Fan Xian began to have difficulty breathing. The cold sweat that had dried began to roll down his back again.
He couldn't help but feel slightly apprehensive. The Sword Hut was indeed a strange place with many ninth-level aces. If the Qing Kingdom could not reach an agreement with Dongyi, and they actually sent troops, the leading commanders would probably always face attacks in the dark.
The sword intent continued to thicken. Fan Xian knew that if they actually started fighting, it would be unlikely he would leave alive. Suddenly, the corners of his mouth twitched. He bowed his head with a smile. Moving his gaze passed Yun Zhilan's iron-like shoulders, he gazed at Sigu Jian down by the stairs and said, "Do we really need outsiders to interfere in our own affairs?"
These words had completely different meanings for different people. Yun Zhilan thought Fan Xian was talking about the Northern Qi people and coldly said, "There are enough disciples of the Sword Hut, there is no need for help from our Northern friends."
Under the tree, Lang Tiao smiled slightly and said, "If Sir Fan junior can survive, I will challenge you personally."
Fan Xian did not pay any attention to the words of either of them. He only stared fixedly at Sigu Jian down by the stairs. Only Sigu Jian understood the true meaning in his words. This was a fight between two brothers. Did they really need outsiders to interfere? When the Shadow had sent out his thunderous strike earlier, Fan Xian had been right behind the wheelchair. But, he had only taken the little Emperor away and did not attack with the Shadow.
Fan Xian did not interfere. Are your Sword Hut disciples going to interfere in the feud between you brothers? Fan Xian was gambling on Sigu Jian's pride and wild nature. He was gambling on the fact he had left the Shadow alive earlier, so he must have plans.
Since it was so, how could Sigu Jian watch as his disciples ruined his great plan for the sake of revenge?
Sigu Jian raised his eyes slightly and smiled. He sighed with some regret. It was as if he felt regretful that he would not be able to see Fan Xian's true capabilities now that he had guessed his intentions.
The Great Grandmaster glanced with loathing at the disciples kneeling by his side and scolded in a raspy voice, "I haven't died yet, why are you all so eager to mourn?" Strangely, as he scolded, the disciples at his side brightened and quickly stood up.
Immediately after, Sigu Jian raised his left arm and glanced at Thirteenth Wang. Thirteenth Wang was familiar with this action. When they had come down Dong Mountain, he had carried him like that. After returning to Dongyi, he still carried him like that, so he naturally crouched down.
Sigu Jian leaned against his youngest disciple's wide and strong back. Comfortably twisting his head, he said, "Back to the Hut."
Thirteenth Wang made a sound of acknowledgment. He then stood up with his skinny teacher on his back and headed toward the Sword Hut. However, his body was already at a breaking point. A few elder brother disciples beside him quickly supported him as they left together.
Just like this, Sigu Jian left. He left no words behind, only shock and surprise. Fan Xian looked at Yun Zhilan, who was very close to him and said, "Master Yun, you've already disobeyed the sword saint a few times, are you going to disobey him again?"
Yun Zhilan was silent for a long time. Glancing at the Shadow on the stone steps, he said, "I would like to carry the teacher as well, but there are too many things I must shoulder."
"There are some things that you don't need to shoulder." Fan Xian was not moved. Smiling slightly, he said, "You can't carry it. Not only will it crush you, but it will also shatter the things you want to carry. Is that not a great tragedy?"
Yun Zhilan sank into thought for a long time. Then, he glanced around again at the blood and bodies in the manor, particularly the body of the Master of the City to the side of the stone steps. A moment later, his expression calmed. He knew his ideas had completely fallen through. He didn't know what magic the Qing Kingdom's Sir Fan junior had used to not only provoke his teacher into attacking and massacring the entire manor but to have no desire to kill them at all after getting injured.
In the end, it was because this first disciple of the Sword Hut did not understand Sigu Jian. In this world, there was no one who could convince or tempt Sigu Jian into doing anything. The Great Grandmaster did as he wished. All of this was nothing more than what he wanted.
The Sword Hut faction left the manor, leaving behind only the Northern Qi people, Fan Xian, and the Shadow. Lang Tiao put his hands behind him and walked out from under the tree. Looking at Fan Xian, he smiled slightly and said, "Sir Fan junior does indeed have his methods to be able to stop the Sword Hut from attacking with just one sentence. However, I am not a Dongyi person. This is a rare opportunity. Do you want to go a few rounds to learn from each other?"
"One cannot be shameless to such an extent." Fan Xian had finally left the influence of the sword intent. His whole body relaxed with exhaustion. Sitting beside the Shadow on the stone steps, he didn't even raise his head as he said with a smile, "These are words that your Emperor gifted to me today. Now, I gift it back to you."
"Sir Fan junior, I don't know who is more shameless in the world." The curved knife and golden chain behind Lang Tiao's body moved slightly in the wind. The soft clinks accompanied his steady voice and made it appear more beautiful. "Your sister is a disciple of Tianyi Dao. By the teacher's posthumous order, she also controls the affairs of Qing Mountain. Although junior sister disciple Fan has returned to the Qing Kingdom, the sect's orthodoxy still remains. Even if a gentleman does not remember past affections, they must remember the righteousness of the sect. During last autumn, the disciples of the Qing Mountain were heavily injured and killed in Xiliang Road. Did you think I would just leave it like this?"
"So, you do know they died in Xiliang Road." Fan Xian raised his head. Shooting out two icy glares, he coldly said, "Don't say there is something wrong with Imperial Advisor Ku He's final orders. Even if my sister helps Haitang run your Tianyi Dao Sect in the future, if Tianyi Dao continues to meddle in the Qing Kingdom, I will continue to kill them."
After these words were spoken, clamoring broke out under the trees. Lang Tiao furrowed his brows. He didn't know how Fan Xian could still be so unyielding under such pressing circumstances. Although the disciples of the Sword Hut had left, the Northern Qi aces remained. Even if Sigu Jian had his reasons for not wanting to kill Fan Xian or the black-clothed ace, the Northern Qi people did not have such obstructions once they attacked.
This first disciple of Tianyi Dao did not know what happened the previous night. How could he know that when Fan Xian looked at these Northern Qi aces today, it was as if he was looking at his own subordinates. Your Emperor already belongs to me. Will it be long before you all belong to me too?
Below the tree, the little Emperor smiled and said, "The Northern Qi is a country known for its literature. We will not use our numbers advantage to maltreat those alone. Sir Lang Tiao, let's go."
After these words were spoken, it was Fan Xian who furrowed his brows. He looked at the little Emperor and suddenly said, "Can you come here?"
To speak to an Emperor in such a tone was extremely rude. However, what shocked the Northern Qi people was that their Emperor did not become angry. He only smiled slightly and said, "What other business do you have? We can discuss it after you rest."
Fan Xian saw the coldness and anger between the little Emperor's brows and knew that, after all, she was an Emperor. In front of her officials, she was terrified that she would make a misstep. His words earlier had indeed been inappropriate. Involuntarily smiling self-mockingly, he said, "Your Majesty, I have an urgent matter to report."
The little Emperor was silent for a long time, fighting some unknown struggle in her heart. She had just seen too many profound things that had nothing to do with power. Her state of mind had been greatly shaken. Looking at Fan Xian's expression, she thought of the greater shock her state of mind had received the previous night.
After a long time, the little Emperor coldly said, "You can all go out. I have some things to say to dear official Fan."
After these words were said, clamoring broke out again. In particular, Lang Tiao turned his head in astonishment to look at his Emperor. He had no idea what was happening. A few days ago, the Emperor had made up his mind to join hands with Yun Zhilan's faction to kill Fan Xian in Dongyi. Then, everyone had seen Fan Xian kidnap the Emperor into the Sword Hut. The hatred between them should be irreconcilable. Looking at their expressions as they talked now, it was completely unlike what anyone was thinking.
Friar He, who had been standing by the little Emperor's side the entire time, was also shocked. He glanced at Lang Tiao with doubt and waited for him to speak.
Lang Tiao took two deep breaths. Waving his hand, he led everyone out of the manor. Regardless of whether he was worried if Fan Xian would harm the Emperor, since the Emperor had spoken, as a subject, he could only follow the orders.
The manor once again recovered its quiet. Fan Xian rose and walked to the little Emperor's side. Quietly looking at her, he said, "What you heard at the end, don't tell anyone about it. Otherwise, I will also share what I know."
The little Emperor's expression changed slightly. A cold light flashed in her eyes. She had not thought Fan Xian would be able to guess her thoughts so quickly or that he would use her secret so directly to threaten her.
A lot of use could be made of the information that the Head of the Sixth Bureau of the Overwatch Council was Sigu Jian's younger brother. It could even shake the foundations of the Qing court and create irreconcilable conflict between the Qing Emperor and the Overwatch Council. A long time ago, the little Emperor learned from Wei Hua's mouth that the Qing Emperor had always thought that Sigu Jian's unknown younger brother was behind the assassination in Hanging Temple.
The little Emperor took a deep breath. This secret was so important to Northern Qi. It could cause internal conflict in the Qing Kingdom and would, without question, allow Northern Qi to turn the tables. However, Fan Xian held a secret in his hands that was sufficient to overturn the entire Northern Qi.
Her expression changed before she quietly said, "I understand."
Outside the manor, Lang Tiao and everyone else's expression also changed endlessly. They could not have imagined that they would wait anxiously outside the Sword Hut, worrying constantly about the Emperor's safety. Yet, in the end, the Emperor and Fan Xian seemed to have had a good talk.
Lang Tiao's eyes suddenly narrowed. He said, "Send an order to the Qing Kingdom and have Mu Peng hurry back."
To the side, Friar He's expression changed slightly. He lowered his voice to say, "You suspect that Fan Xian has drugged the Emperor?"
"Fan Xian is presently one of the masters of poison. If he didn't drugged the Emperor, how could he let the Emperor leave so easily. And, why would the Emperor have agreed earlier to stay behind to discuss things in secret with him?" Lang Tiao's eyes were filled with anger. "Fan Xian is as venomous as a snake. He is not to be underestimated."
It could not be said that Lang Tiao's intellectual response was slow. However, he had no idea that Mu Peng had long been shut up by Fan Xian in the Seventh Bureau of the Overwatch Council. He also didn't know that Fan Xian had indeed drugged the little Emperor. However, it was not a drug that would kill. It was one of the heart that had no antidote.
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