FYC 120: Tang ‘The King’ Fan

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Ever since he had helped Chen Luan with giving Tang Fan money, Yang Ji had been a little regretful. To be blunt, Chen Luan had dashed into misfortune all on his own, and was now about to fight against an imperial ambassador — why in the hell was he helping to clean up the mess? If Tang Fan’s group was unable to topple Chen Luan and redirected their fury onto him, Chen Luan likely wouldn’t stick his neck out for him.

Yet, there was nothing he could do. Chen Luan had already tied him onto his boat. Their individual fortunes might not be mutually reliant, but their misfortunes were bound to be shared. Were Chen Luan to fall off of his horse, those unclean affairs under his own rear were going to be brought up soon after, so he was obliged to stand on Chen Luan’s side.

After Tang Fan’s arrival, the other hadn’t made any major moves, neither turning hostile with Chen Luan nor refusing Yang Ji’s bribe, instead hiding away in the posthouse without going out much. That had put Yang Ji at some ease, thinking that although Tang Fan’s reputation spread far, he was ultimately still too young. Not everyone could resist such a large sum of money. Furthermore, Chen Luan had later sent him a beauty, whose loveliness Yang Ji had witnessed; she could practically be stated to put the moon itself to shame.

Had Tang Fan not taken the bait of such a huge amount of assets, that would really be unnatural.

Yang Ji was merely a Patrolling Censor, not the local ‘Emperor’, so his information wasn’t as up-to-date as Chen Luan’s. Hence was why today, while sitting here and listening to Chen Luan say that Tang Fan had not only gotten Hu Wenzao to switch sides, but had even wiped out the two batches of assassins he had sent out, Yang Ji was a bit dazed.

Chen Zhi, the Nanjing Minister of Revenue, had been denounced and stepped down?

Chen Luan had actually sent people to assassinate Tang Fan?

The important bit there wasn’t the act itself, but rather that all who Chen Luan had sent for it had never come back. Tang Fan had only brought four people with him, two of which were from the Eastern Depot; what kind of backer did he have in order to be so safe and sound?

That question had its answer at last.

Yang Ji followed behind everyone else out of the Wujiang bureau, then saw that there was a circle of Brocade Guards outside, each one holding a sabre and looking like a god of murder. His legs immediately went soft, leaving him almost unable to stand. One of Chen Luan’s aides quickly helped him up.

Chen Luan glanced at him in disdain, then looked at the one that was coming from not too far away behind the Brocade Guards.

As Tang Fan gradually approached like he was taking a casual stroll, the Guards parted down the middle to make a path for him. “I trust you’ve been well, Magistrate Chen?” he greeted him, his tone similar to how he might ask, ‘Have you eaten breakfast yet?’

“What is the meaning of this, Censor Tang? With such decorated troops in such a large formation, this humble official fears that the bureau doesn’t have enough bowls and chopsticks to treat them all with.”

Chen Luan was smiling lightly, not panicked in the least, an unknown amount of times more collected than Yang Ji. It made Tang Fan regard him a bit higher, but also made him realize that the other being so calm meant that he must have backup.

Tang Fan smiled. “You’re too kind, Magistrate. There’s no need to worry about food. This official came today to invite Censor Yang and you to come back and speak of past times. Will you all come with me on your own, or will you have these Guard brothers bring you over? If it’s the latter case, it won’t be a very pretty sight.”

While he spoke, Millarch Jiang strode over, stopped beside Tang Fan, and lowered his voice to warn, “Sir, this is likely not Chen Luan’s full nest.”

Tang Fan nodded slightly, whispering back just as quietly, “We’ll arrest first, talk later. What happened with what I asked you to do?”

Millarch Jiang smiled. “I haven’t let you down. Suzhou’s merchant society has already come under control, and none of its people will escape.”

Tang Fan smiled back. “Good.”

Di Han — also known as Sui Zhou — had other official business to do, and making a special trip to Suzhou had been his absolute limit, which meant that he couldn’t stay long. He had since left Suzhou to head for Jiangxi, making Millarch Jiang fully responsible for cooperating with Tang Fan had aiding him in the final toss of the net.

Chen Luan couldn’t hear what they were saying, of course, but that didn’t stop him from seeing the fully satisfied smiles on their faces. Gaze passing over them, it stopped on a woman in back who was disguised as a man, though that couldn’t cover up her beautiful features — and he instantly became overcast.

He huffed out a laugh. “I can see that you’re displaying your official power all of a sudden for some unknown reason, Censor Tang. I blame myself for not knowing a certain someone like I thought I did, as I didn’t expect that she would go turncoat at the last second! Women will be women — they’re long-haired, short-sighted, and cannot be trusted!”

After many years of being cowed, Xiao Wu was still a little fearful of Chen Luan, too afraid to make eye contact with him and even hiding a bit behind Tang Fan. As soon as she heard this, however, anger arose in her heart as revulsion brewed in her gut. “As I see it, you’re the one that’s short-sighted!” she retorted. “Don’t talk as if you have any deep affection for me! Was you taking care of me all those years not precisely so that you could send me on assignments like this? All those shameful things you exploited me into doing before, everything I did for you, was more than plenty to pay back what you spent on me! Hua Cui was with me for years, yet you killed her and tossed her in a well! I couldn’t wrangle with you then, so I was too afraid to speak, but I remembered every single stroke of those debts! Also, your father’s concubine, your sister-in-law — how many women have you sullied? Do you want to have a bit of honor, or do you want me to list each and every one of them?! I’m willing to talk, so ask them if they’re willing to listen!”

The area was silent. Everyone looked at Chen Luan in shock, each gaze different and expression strange.

Most men were loose, and having multiple concubines was commonplace, but if that involved their father’s concubine or older brother’s wife or similar woman, that would be disregarding natural human relations, making them inferior to animals.

Chen Luan was enraged. “What nonsense are you spouting, you whore?!”

Even though she was in disguise, Xiao Wu twirled her hair out of habit, smiling. “I’m spouting nonsense? You getting so unscrupulous didn’t happen in just a day or two. Is you deceiving the Emperor and looking down upon the Court really anything strange?”

Deeply hating her yet thoroughly aware that now was not the time to have a battle of words with her, he forcefully suppressed his anger to speak to Tang Fan. “I am a Court-appointed official. You want to search my bureau and take me away, but do you have a decree from the Court for that, Censor Tang?”

“I’m an imperial ambassador. I may act as I see fit.”

Chen Luan sneered. “But the Court’s order was only to investigate the conflict between me, Yang Ji, and Hu Wenzao, as well as conduct a mediation, not for you to come arrest me! Your actions feign imperial decree — I will not go with you!”

Tang Fan raised a brow. “You want to rebel?”

You’re the one rebelling!” Chen Luan shouted. “Moving the Brocade Guard in on your own is enough of a crime alone for you to suffer!”

Right as he finished, as if to echo him, a familiar voice came from nearby. “Correct! Tang Fan, you have no authority to bring Chen Luan away!”

Tang Fan’s group looked towards the sound, then saw Zeng Pei and Wu Zong scrambling over with a small squadron.

The Brocade Guard had posts set up in various areas, ,but the Eastern Depot had none. The troops the two wardens now led had been transferred over by Defending Supervisor Ma Xingfu.

When Defending Supervisors had first been established, their authority had been limited to military affairs and they could not meddle with the local government, but they had later gradually upgraded, beginning to meddle. Despite not being affiliated with the Eastern Depot, as fellow eunuchs, how could they not have any contact with each other? Ma Xingfu was also a member of the Wan party, which was closely bound to the Eastern Depot, and had Shang Ming’s written command, hence why he had loaned the wardens manpower.

Watching them approach, Tang Fan didn’t rush to give an order, his expression quite serene. In contrast, his opponents had needed to rush a bunch of people over from a long distance, spending no lack of energy, and currently looked a little exhausted and haggard as the previous words were repeated. “Y-you have no power to arrest Chen Luan!”

Millarch Jiang was on Sui Zhou’s side, not Wan Tong’s, so he wasn’t going to be nice to these two. “Bystanders have no power to question the Brocade Guard’s handling of matters!” he said, face cold. “Having the gall to obstruct us is akin to rebellion!”

“Oh, very majestic, Millarch Jiang. Why, am even I not allowed to question you?”

The one who had been half-hidden behind them showed his face. Zeng Pei and Wu Zong quickly made way. They were not unwilling, instead being filled with smug energy, as if they had foreseen their counterpart’s poor luck.

Millarch Jiang’s expression changed slightly. He cupped his hands reluctantly. “You’ve graced us with your presence, Eunuch Ma. Pardon me for not going to welcome you.”

Was the new arrival not Suzhou’s Defending Supervisor, Ma Xingfu?

Tang Fan and Millarch Jiang had previously calculated that Chen Luan might move out rescue forces. Now that his uncle had since stepped down, only the Eastern Depot could help him. They hadn’t expected Ma Xingfu to make a personal appearance, however.

Chen Luan and Yang Ji represented Wujiang, while Tang Fan had come to arrest them, Millarch Jiang was backing him with the Brocade Guard, and now even the Eastern Depot had arrived. It was like the Eight Immortals crossing the sea, each path of immortality ending up at the same place.

Ma Xingfu’s appearance made today’s situation even more complex and bizarre. It was good that Hu Wenzao had a prior premonition and hid away in his bureau, refusing to show his face, else he would have been scared to death seeing this.

Xiao Wu became nervous. She was not a peasant woman that had never seen the world before — she had believed that the Brocade Guard’s abilities were great enough to completely crush Chen Luan, yet another tall mountain had come in the Eastern Depot. If Tang Fan and the Brocade Guard gave in, allowing Chen Luan to escape this calamity, then the first person he would turn to to take revenge upon would definitely be her.

Could Tang Fan withstand the pressure?

She glanced at the man before her. He was standing the same, hands behind his back, with even his verve unchanged. It was impossible for one to judge from his bearing whether he was afraid or not.

Ma Xingfu was fat, but his voice was slightly feminine. “Such a fuss. What are you trying to do?” His gaze landed upon Tang Fan. “So this is Censor Tang. After you came to Suzhou, I never got to see your face. Fate has let us meet today!”

He was greeting him on the surface, but his implication was that Tang Fan had been in Suzhou for a long time, yet had never paid him a visit.

Defending Supervisors had very heavy power. They could send memorials straight to the Emperor, which made them similar to his eyes and ears. Even though the average official wouldn’t want to befriend them, they still wouldn’t want to make enemies with them, and would at least pay them a visit out of courtesy. Both sides would put on a show, face given.

However, throughout his entire time at Suzhou, Tang Fan seemed to have overlooked Ma Xingfu. He hadn’t even sent a gift, let alone paid a personal visit!

How could that not make Ma Xingfu inwardly seethe, Since you don’t place importance on me, don’t blame me for not giving you any face!

Tang Fan had his own plans, of course. Upon hearing Ma Xingfu’s words that were silk hiding steel, he only sneered. “You’re too kind, you’re too kind. This Tang failed to be courteous, but I am on official business. It’s unsuitable for me to pay visits all over the place, lest His Majesty hear of that and believe me to not be taking my assignment seriously. When this is done, I will prepare a generous gift of apology and bring it to your Estate myself.”

“No need!” Ma Xingfu raised his voice to the point that it sounded a little shrill. “I’m unworthy of it!”

The other nodded. “Okay, then. Today’s meeting will be regarded as the end of it, and this Tang will no longer visit you at a later date.”

Having never met someone that looked down upon him so much before, Ma Xingfu’s nose went crooked in anger. “Good… good, good!” he said in quick succession. “You really are out of the ordinary, Censor Tang!”

“Thank you for your excessive praise.” Tang Fan smiled warmly at him, then turned serious. “I was dispatched to handle this case, so I request that you keep out of the way, Eunuch Ma, lest you accidentally be injured. Come, arrest Chen Luan and Yang Ji, then raid this place!”

“How dare you!” Ma Xingfu raged. “No one is allowed to move without my order!”

Tang Fan raised a brow. “You are the Defending Supervisor of Suzhou, yet you want to overstep your authority in commanding the Brocade Guard?”

“Tang Fan, you were ordered to come resolve a conflict, yet you made movements in private! How would you, a Left Metropolitan Censor, have the power to dispatch the Brocade Guard?!” Ma Xingfu said darkly. “Millarch Jiang, the Brocade Guard is the Emperor’s defense, responsible for finding information for him and arresting wrongdoers, yet you are colluding with Tang Fan! Is that not a plot to rebel?! Huh?!”

Yang Ji gradually came back to himself. Seeing the smug grin at the corner of Chen Luan’s mouth, then turning his gaze to Tang Fan and Ma Xingfu as they faced off, he came to understand that Chen Luan had long prepared for this. The support he relied upon was the Eastern Depot, and he was able to invite Supervisor Ma to make his own appearance; it was no wonder that he had felt no fear hearing that Tang Fan was coming.

However, would Tang Fan fall back so easily?

Yang Ji hoped so, of course, else Chen Luan would be unlucky, and he wouldn’t be getting off any better.

Everyone’s thoughts differed. The situation was on the verge of a breakout. After Ma Xingfu’s statement, it immediately became more tense.

Millarch Jiang’s expression was grave. His gaze was fixed upon Ma Xingfu, hand quietly gripping the hilt of his sabre, as if waiting for Tang Fan’s word.

Still, if there was any room to come back from this, he certainly didn’t want things to come to that point.

Faced with Ma Xingfu’s questioning of him, Tang Fan responded with a calm smile. “Eunuch Ma, what is right and wrong is a matter of public opinion. A portion of Chen Luan’s bribery has already been presented to His Majesty, and I also have evidence of him secretly selling government provisions. As an imperial ambassador, I naturally have the authority to arrest him and take him back for interrogation. Will it be worth it to risk sacrificing your future in helping him?”

Ma Xingfu laughed loudly. “Tang Fan, don’t go thinking that I’ll fear you just because you brought up your title of imperial ambassador! To tell the truth, I currently hold an order passed on by His Majesty and the Cabinet; before you came to Suzhou, it was already in my hands, instructing me to monitor you in secret, lest you use your power to do something you shouldn’t be doing.”

Saying so, he brought out a written document from a pocket, offering it to Tang Fan. “If you don’t believe me, how about you read it with your own eyes?”

Millarch Jiang had someone take it. After examining it himself, he passed it to Tang Fan, whispering while he was at it, “Sir, it’s real.”

Truthfully, there was no need for Tang Fan to read it to know that it was real. Not everyone had the gall to forge something like an imperial order, and Ma Xingfu wasn’t tired of being alive, so why would he get a fake one to swindle Tang Fan?

Judging from the date on it, it was as he had claimed; at the same moment Tang Fan had arrived at Suzhou, this order had reached Ma Xingfu, turning into a tool now used to control Tang Fan.

Millarch Jiang became a little restless. Ma Xingfu having such an order was tantamount to him being in an invincible position. With the preparations they had, they would likely have to admit defeat. He just feared that Tang Fan, in a moment of impetuousness, would not care, arrest Chen Luan regardless, and have them all turn hostile with Ma Xingfu.

No one spoke at present, all watching for Tang Fan’s reaction. Some were smug, while some were just nervous.

Tang Fan took the order, took a very long time carefully reading it through, then ended it with passing it back to Mllarch Jiang, telling him to return it to Ma Xingfu.

The latter grinned. “Censor Tang, no matter how long you draw this out, it’s useless. Why, have you determined if it’s real or fake yet?”

Tang Fan looked calm. “Of course it’s real. How could you fabricate an imperial order?”

Ma Xingfu smiled in satisfaction, beckoning with a chubby hand. “Then you’re withdrawing, yes? If anything’s amiss, you may as well come to the Supervisor Estate to speak of it.”

Tang Fan shook his head. “Millarch Jiang.”


Tang Fan lifted his chin, gesturing at where Chen Luan’s group was. “Arrest them.”


Not only was Millarch Jiang taken aback, but even Ma Xingfu flew into a violent rage. “Tang Fan, you dare to ignore the order?! Whoever dares to move is who I will arrest!”

In an instant, his troops armed with blades came forward in succession, protecting Chen Luan’s group in front to form a showdown with the Brocade Guard.

The two sides glared at each other, swords drawn, about to explode.

Ma Xingfu had brought no fewer people than Millarch Jiang, but the two sides had both been defenders of Suzhou, and were now enemies over whether to arrest a County Magistrate or not. It was quite a bit comical, when one thought about it.

Chen Luan sneered on the inside, only thinking that Tang Fan was completely courting disaster. This fuss he was kicking up being reported to the Emperor would inevitably be a crime of ignoring imperial will and neglecting the monarch. To be quite serious, dismissal from his post and exile were both possibilities.

Ma Xingfu, and the order he held, were Chen Luan’s secret weapons. He had not revealed them before now because this move was extreme, and if possible, he hadn’t wanted to fall out with Tang Fan. Unexpectedly, the other could not be persuaded, insistent upon digging him up, forcing him back step by step. Using a game of the upper echelons, he had taken the drastic measure of taking down Chen Luan’s uncle, which was why Chen Luan had been out of ideas, and needed to request help from the Eastern Depot and Ma Xingfu.

The imperial order was the equivalent of an imperial decree. Even the Brocade Guard couldn’t violate it, yet Tang Fan still wanted to arrest them by force. How could that not be courting death?

“Ma Xingfu, Chen Luan and Yang Ji have deceived the Emperor. The evidence is conclusive, and justice is upon them, yet you still aid them. What is your intent?” Tang Fan asked.

He called out his name directly, not as ‘Eunuch Ma’, as if he was overlooking the imperial order and wanting to face off against him.

Chen Luan, Yang Ji, and even Millarch Jiang couldn’t help but look at him like he was insane.

Millarch Jiang was even more nervous. His future was basically tied to Tang Fan; if the latter courted death, he wouldn’t be able to escape, either. “Sir!” He couldn’t resist tugging Tang Fan’s sleeve. “How about we take a step back and talk more on it later? He has an imperial order, after all!”

“My standpoint is mine alone. You just follow my orders, and I will bear all of the responsibility.”

The other smiled bitterly on the inside. Prior to his departure, Sui Zhou had told him to listen to Tang Fan’s every instruction, with no dissent whatsoever. Now, that was being put to the test.

Screw it. If I die, I die! This guy’s throwing caution to the wind!

He grit his teeth, then shouted, “Brothers, arrest them!”

Ma Xingfu was shocked and enraged, also shouting out, “Stop them! If you encounter resistance, do not hesitate to kill!”

Right as the word ‘kill’ left his mouth, the quickest-reacting warden had already raised his sabre to hack at the Brocade Guard in front of him.

In that moment of imminent peril, a clang was heard. The sabre he held did not slash his opponent, but instead went flying into the sky.

At the same exact time, a squadron madly galloped over from far away. Their leader was in python robes and a black cloak, holding his reins in one hand and his sabre in another.

What had just happened appeared to have been his doing.

After the object that had hit the sabre landed on the ground, everyone saw that it was a jade thumbring.

The two sides were separated by a huge distance, and he was riding a horse — still being able to hit it meant that he had extraordinary vision and skills.

Everyone was so startled by that move, they temporarily forgot about the impending fight, only able to watch the group draw near as it kicked up dust.

Ma Xingfu was squinting, very unhappily trying to see what divinity was incoming, but after getting a good look at him, his complexion abruptly changed.

“What are you trying to do? Rebel?” The one in the python robes surveyed his surroundings, then suddenly laughed coldly. Not dismounting, he looked down upon his counterpart. “Ma Xingfu, the older you get, the more you regress. You’re not being a good Supervisor, running off to stick your hands into whatever local politics there are!”

Ma Xingfu’s expression was a bit unsightly. “What winds blew you here?”

Anyone that could make this Defending Supervisor change his pallor out of fright was no minor figure — everyone was aware of that much. However, none of them dared to speak first without knowing whether he was a friend or foe.

Right then, though, Tang Fan said, “You’re finally here. You made me wait a good bit.”

“You’re calling me slow?” Wang Zhi was not happy. “This guy set out the second I got word, traveling both day and night! Thanks to the canals, it only took a few days! I wasn’t slow!”

Hearing the two’s familiar tones, how could Chen Luan not understand what was happening? Tang Fan had reinforcements! “Eunuch Ma!” he quickly said.

His implication was for Ma Xingfu to quickly resolve thia, so that the opponent didn’t strike first.

The reminder was unnecessary, as Ma Xingfu also understood. He glared at Wang Zhi. “Eunuch Wang, I am acting under imperial order. Please don’t obstruct official business.”

Wang Zhi sneered. “Do you think I came from the capital to talk about old times with you? Tang Fan, receive this edict!”

As soon as that was said, every last person was alarmed — aside from Tang Fan, who was the most collected, making a great bow of honor. “This subject will hear it.”

“The Emperor has made a statement: Tang Fan has gained the title of Right Assistant Minister of Justice, and will hold it in tandem with his assignments as a Left Metropolitan Censor. He is also ordered to investigate the Suzhou case. All officials with records of corruption can be denounced according to verified truth, and handled at his discretion.”

The order was exceedingly simple, lacking those common prefixes that would embellish the wording, but that just made them hear the two most important points better.

One was the tandem title of Right Assistant Minister of Justice. That signified that Tang Fan’s current post of Left Metropolitan Censor was still held, not removed, yet he also held the rank of Right Assistant Minister. The Censor post was truefourth-rank, while the Assistant Minister post was truethird-rank.

In other words, Tang Fan was now a major official of truethird-rank, and when other people addressed him, they would generally have to call him Mister Minister to show their respect.

This dual-post situation was not uncommon in this Dynasty, because his Assistant Minister post was not a real post, but an empty title to wear. For example, Wang Yue used to be in the Inspectorate, yet held the title of Minister. Thus, strictly speaking, Tang Fan was now still doing Inspectorate work, but his rank had raised a whole level.

Still, the significance of that level was great, as in this way, it would be much easier for him to turn the false into the real, and become a genuine Assistant Minister of Justice.

Also, he now had the qualifications to enter the Cabinet.

The second thing… was that he could handle things at his discretion.

That sentence had much more injurious strength. Plainly speaking, it allowed him to act first, memorialize later. If his promotion had still not been able to make Chen Luan’s group feel threatened, Wang Zhi’s final statement certainly made the complexions of many present change.

Who could have expected that Tang Fan would have such a backup plan?

No one, that was who.

Millarch Jiang’s gaze that he looked at Tang Fan with completely changed. Xiao Wu, too, understood why Tang Fan had told her to wait before — as it was, he had been waiting for that decree.

The translator says: They didn’t even get to gloat for one chapter ;( So sad ;(

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Character Guide and Glossary

5 thoughts on “FYC 120: Tang ‘The King’ Fan

  1. I’m not surprised that Tang Fan is getting promoted, but the timing certainly threw me off guard!
    Thank you for translating!


  2. Wang Zhi is fabulous! And so much sass!
    Despite having a rather high opinion of himself he might be my favorite character!

    Thank you for the translation!


  3. Nobody expects the Wang Zhi Inquisition!
    Loved the dramatic entrance, so on brand for him XD

    Thank you for the translation!

    Liked by 2 people

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