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Chapter Forty-Eight: Must Die
The yellow-robed man who did not have a pleasant talk with Zheng Xiu walked out of the imperial palace. His steps were very slow. The things that were going to happen today in Changling were fated to happen, and he thought he had no need to intervene.
Regardless of Zheng Xiu’s opinion, today was the day that Jiaodong Commandery formally stepped on the stage of Changling. Yuanwu and the two ministers would not refuse. From a sense, Jiaodong Commandery, Yuanwu and the two ministers had the same interests.
In his view, some people were fated to die. Some people’s death depended on the choices they made.
In the sunlight, a young energetic cultivator walked into a courtyard of the Fang Marquessate Establishment. This remote and cold courtyard used to be where Fang Xiumu secluded himself to cultivate. Now, it was where Fang Xiang was recovering. Strangely, this young cultivator had a face similar to Fang Xiang, but the latter had never seen this young cultivator before.
Sitting on the rattan chair, and covered in a thick blanket, Fang Xiang’s gaze moved away from the fish in the pond that had moved deeper due to the cold, and slowly looked up. Without his permission, no one could enter his courtyard.
While his cultivation had been destroyed during the Deer Mountain Conference, and the injuries were hard to heal from, he was a general that had killed many to be titled, and had many loyal subordinates. Being able to walk in here so easily was not much different from breaking into the Great Floating Water Prison.
He narrowed his eyes slightly in the morning light. The sunlight caused half of his face to look golden. He did not speak, and just looked at this young cultivator who looked slightly similar to him.
This young cultivator who he had never seen before walked in front of him, and then knelt, saying, “Father.”
This young cultivator had been very respectful from when he walked into the courtyard. From all aspects, he looked like a son returning from his travels to see his father. But Fang Xiang naturally knew that he could not have a son like this.
“Changling is a magical city, anything can happen, anything can be seen.” Fang Xiang grimaced emotionally and looked at the young cultivator kneeling on the ground. He asked, “Who had you come?”
“I am Li Xin.” The young cultivator did not lift his head as he said, “Starting today, I am Fang Xin.”
“One of Prime Minister Li’s.”
Fang Xiang frowned and did not conceal his disdain. “The Fang Family still has people. He does not fear my brother coming back to kill him?”
The young cultivator called Li Xin seemed to know that Fang Xiang would say something like this. He said with respect, “This is the current situation, in return for not interfering with Jiaodong Commandery.”
Fang Xiang fell silent.
“If I do not agree, and do not want a son like you?” he looked at the kneeling Li Xin and asked after a long time.
“Then I will kill you. And tell the outside that you died from your wounds. I will be your bastard from outside, and become the heir to the Fang Marquessate Establishment, and the person in charge. The matter’s result will not change,” Li Xin said without hesitation.
“Of course I do not want to see something like this happen. This is of no benefit to us.” After a pause, he looked up sincerely at Fang Xiang. Then he said, “If you do not agree, many people who do not agree will die, and the many people of the Fang Marquessate Establishment who will not recognize my identity will die. The result will not change, and this is meaningless. Also, I am your son. You will live well, and the Fang Marquessate Establishment will be passed down.”
Fang Xiang laughed. “There is no need to consider the thoughts of the other marquessate establishments?”
Li Xin answered seriously, “You are recovering from your wounds, and no longer leading an army. So your news does not come fast enough. In the spring, fighting Chu, there will be enough battles that new marquises will take form. The weak of the thirteen marquises will die, and the strong will survive. For most marquessate establishments, making sure that these marquises have enough people, and having some more of them is more important than the replacement of one family.”
Fang Xiang looked away from him, and the fish that had been unmoving at the bottom of the pond like they were frozen. He slowly said, “Since you have considered all this already, then what opinions could I have?”
Li Xin kowtowed, and just said, “Father.”
In history, there were only those that recognized bandits as fathers for power, but today, there was him being forced to recognize a son. But Fang Xiang did not think more about this ironic thing. When Li Xin stood up, he asked, “What does Jiaodong want to do?”
Li Xin did not hesitate, and said, “Shen Xuan will die today.”
Fang Xiang sighed softly. The master of the Great Floating Water Prison was dispensable to Changling. But the Secretariat Director who controlled the laws, and could convict the officials was a new power.
In all aspects, when Zheng Xiu’s people died out, and she had to use Shen Xuan when she had no one else, Shen Xuan became one of Zheng Xiu’s closest, and one of the most important pieces. Jiaodong Commandery was not willing for Zheng Xiu to grow her wings. The two ministers were not willing to see a new power. And the imperial house was not willing to have laws that could implicitly constrain imperial power. Even the Li Family back then could not endure so much dislike and unwillingness, much less Shen Xuan of the present.
Shen Xuan was a realm seven grandmaster, and powerful in cultivation. But this had nothing to do with cultivation when all of Changling wanted him to die.
Then who could make sure he did not die?
In the morning sunlight, Shen Xuan was drinking in the courtyard.
Changling’s people usually drank tea in the morning. Only alcoholics would start drinking wine in the morning. Shen Xuan was not an alcoholic.
He was drinking wine in the morning because he stayed for many years in the depths of the Great Floating Water Prison. There was too much damp and cold energy in his body, and drinking wine was good for his energies. Also, the right amount of wine could make the energies flow faster, and his mind clearer. He never drank too much back in the Great Floating Water Prison, much less after becoming the Secretariat Director.
The Secretariat Director compound was very close to the imperial city, but he resided in a courtyard that was slightly remote. After the empress gave him enough power, his living situation had naturally gotten better, and his compound could rival the ministers.
But ever since he took charge of the Great Floating Water Prison, he was disliked by the nobility of Changling. After he became the Secretariat Director, it was even worse. So while he had a compound and carriages, the factions were making things difficult for him in terms of manpower. Those arranged for his use were all the average people that the other bureaus did not want or disliked. But even so, he still did not have enough people.
Right now, it was quiet outside his compound. There was only one carriage waiting there, a yawning official standing guard. He lacked the fawning of other people. While his compound was large, it was slightly worn down after a winter. There were no fresh flowers, and everything looked yellow and gray.
But Shen Xuan, drinking wine, did not care. For him, the worse scenery outside was better than the dim Great Floating Water Prison. He had a sensitivity towards death that far surpassed others after interacting with death frequently. So this morning was no different from any other, he suddenly smelled the scent of death.
A drop of blood appeared on the forehead of the official who had been yawning by the carriage like he had a red mole. But then the official stopped breathing. He was still in his yawning position, and died like this.
A yellow-robed man appeared in front of him. Then the man pushed open the half-closed gate, and entered Shen Xuan’s courtyard. He had a gentle face. He was plump but not fat and looked very amiable.
But he was here to kill Shen Xuan. He had casually killed an official that had no relationship at all. A cultivator who was really amiable could not do something like this.
Shen Xuan drained all the wine in the pot.
When the unique yellow-robed appeared in his sight, he had already stood up. He took a deep breath. His chest puffed up as though he was going to suck all the air and sunlight in the courtyard into his lungs.
Shen Xuan did not like to waste words, but he was the Secretariat Director right now. So after he took a deep breath, he looked at the yellow-robed man that appeared in his sight, and said, “I am certain that that official, while average, has done no crimes. You do not have any power to kill him. Killing a court official is a crime punished by death.”
Hearing his words, the yellow-robed man laughed in interest. “So you mean that you can convict me, and have a reason to kill me. But I came to kill you. Who kills who depends on who can kill who.”
“This is very important.” Hearing the arrogant words, Shen Xuan said indifferently, “The key is, the law and the reason is on my side. If you cannot kill me, I am still the Secretariat Director.”
The yellow-robed man laughed. The sunlight between him and Shen Xuan seemed to dim.
Shen Xuan gave a low shout. His figure rapidly floated left. A sword energy swept past his neck on the right and created a faint red line.
This was an intangible sword energy that formed with a thought.
“Mind Chamber Sect!”
Shen Xuan’s afterimage was still in the sunlight when the voice sounded. His voice carried undisguised shock.
The yellow-robed man was clearly a powerful cultivator from Jiaodong Commandery, but what he used was the Mind Chamber Sect’s Heart Thought Sword!
The man had an expression like a cat playing with a mouse. Shen Xuan being able to dodge this attack made him feel more interested.
“Good eyes.” He smiled jokingly, and was not in a hurry to attack. He said, “I am Zheng Bainiao, the second uncle of the empress Zheng Xiu. Seventeen years ago, I was a direct disciple of Mind Chamber Sect. In that generation, I was ranked ninth in seniority. But most of Mind Chamber Sect’s records were created by me.”
Shen Xuan’s figure stopped at this moment. His afterimages disappeared but the wind he created was still moving, causing his body to look like it was under a thin layer of mist. His face was much paler.
He had no interest in Zheng Bainiao’s history, but he knew, in these last decades, there were only a few cultivators who had comprehended the Heart Thought Sword, and used it perfectly.
These cultivators were geniuses like Yi Xin who had attended the Min Mountain Sword Trials. The greatest power of the Mind Chamber Sect came from the Heart Thought Sword. This sword was hard to defend because it formed at a thought. The sword would form from the primal energies of the universe around the enemy, and there was no distance to reach the enemy’s body.
Just now, like the sword that flashed past his neck. It was one that formed right next to his neck, and sliced towards his body.
There was no distance, and no time to react.
Translator Ramblings: Poor Fang Xiang … got a son he doesn’t want, and that name’s pretty interesting too…