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Chapter 252 – Night Fragrance, the Nemesis of Evil!
At this moment, under the respectful greetings of the crowd, an elderly eunuch arrived in front of Night Fragrance.
Night Fragrance was a bit puzzled, “What do you want?”
Lin Beifan whispered, “Don’t talk! This is a good thing, quickly receive the imperial edict!”
“Silence! Everyone, be quiet!” Lin Beifan shouted.
The old eunuch opened the imperial edict and read aloud, “By the grace of the Emperor’s decree: The great thief Night Fragrance has turned over a new leaf and submitted to the court! In these days, you have led by example, fought against local crimes, and maintained local tranquility, greatly pleasing Us! We hereby appoint Night Fragrance as a Fourth-Rank Sword-Bearing Guard and bestow upon you the title of ‘Imperial Cat’, praised be this!”
Night Fragrance was dumbfounded, “Huh? Appoint me as a Fourth-Rank Sword-Bearing Guard and give me the title of ‘Imperial Cat’?”
Lin Beifan nudged him with his elbow, “Don’t just stand there, accept the edict!”
“Oh… okay…” Night Fragrance dumbly accepted the imperial edict, pondered for a moment, and said, “Thank you, Your Majesty.”
The old eunuch smiled and bowed, “Congratulations, esteemed Night Fragrance! Since the founding of our dynasty, there have been many Fourth-Rank Sword-Bearing Guards, but those who have received an imperial-bestowed title are few and far between!”
“Is that so? Is this title so precious?” Night Fragrance blinked.
For some reason, he felt a hint of happiness inside.
“Naturally! Could our humble abode deceive you?” The old eunuch chuckled, “Every person who receives such an honor is registered. How could we make a mistake?”
“I see!” Night Fragrance pretended to be reserved.
But a smile had already crept onto the corners of his mouth; he couldn’t hide his inner joy.
“This achievement was also fought for by Lord Prefect on your behalf!” the old eunuch smiled, “At that time, Lord Prefect faced the court officials alone in the court, arguing based on reason, and it was he who fought to secure this honor for you!”
“Ah?” Night Fragrance turned to look at Lin Beifan, his gaze complex, “Why… did you help me?”
Lin Beifan smiled, “Why would there need to be a ‘why’? You are my comrade. You have done so much for our Dedian Prefecture and the court. It’s only right that I secure the rightful treatment for you, isn’t it?”
Night Fragrance opened his mouth but couldn’t find any words to say.
He looked up at the sky, his eyes slightly sour, his heart a bit sour.
At this moment, Lin Beifan had an additional red envelope of commendation in his hand, with a big red flower on top of it, and he draped it over Night Fragrance.
Night Fragrance was puzzled, “Lord Prefect, what are you doing?”
“Don’t move, I’m giving you an award!”
In the midst of Night Fragrance’s dumbfounded state, Lin Beifan draped the commendation red envelope over him.
The large red flower hanging on his chest appeared festive and eye-catching. Lin Beifan called out, “Bring the plaque!”
Two officials approached, holding the largest plaque in their hands. The plaque was elaborately inscribed with the characters “Imperial Cat,” accompanied by the imperial seal, signifying that it was an imperial-bestowed plaque.
Lin Beifan held the plaque with both hands and placed it solemnly into Night Fragrance’s hands. He said with a serious tone, “Night Fragrance, from this point on, you are the Imperial Cat of our Great Wu. I hope you won’t disappoint His Majesty’s trust, the court’s trust, and the people’s trust.”
“Yes, Lord Prefect!” Night Fragrance exclaimed with excitement.
Lin Beifan clapped his hands and called out, “Good!”
Inspired by Lin Beifan, the crowd also began applauding and cheering, “Good!”
“Clap, clap, clap…”
The applause thundered, filling the air. Flowers rained down from above, and the atmosphere reached its peak!
In this moment, Night Fragrance looked at the flowers strewn all around, listened to the applause echoing through the streets, saw the envious and admiring gazes of the officials, and held the plaque in his hands, along with the large red flower on his chest…
Suddenly, an urge to throw himself into the fray, to devote himself passionately, surged within him!
This feeling was so fulfilling!
So overwhelming that he couldn’t control his emotions!
He used to be a thief, a thief who was beaten and chased by others. When would he ever receive such an honor?
He felt like finding a secluded place and crying his heart out!
“Lord Prefect, can I leave now?” Night Fragrance asked shyly.
“Wait! You can’t leave just yet,” Lin Beifan said.
“Why can’t I leave?” Night Fragrance was puzzled.
“Look over there!” Lin Beifan pointed to a spot, where a scholar was meticulously painting on a white piece of paper.
“What is he doing?” Night Fragrance asked.
“He’s painting!” Lin Beifan laughed. “He wants to capture this scene of you receiving the award and announce it to the world.”
Night Fragrance grew nervous and a bit flustered. “I think… this isn’t necessary, right?”
“No! This is what you deserve!” Lin Beifan pressed Night Fragrance, who was trying to escape, and said with a smile, “Don’t move, stand straight, keep smiling! Otherwise, if the painting turns out crooked, it will be a laughingstock!”
“Alright!” Night Fragrance nodded earnestly, lifted his head, straightened his posture, and smiled, revealing eight teeth.
This was going to spread far and wide; he had to maintain a good posture!
Otherwise, it would tarnish my image as a renegade leader…
No, that’s not right, it would tarnish my image as an Imperial Cat!
So, Night Fragrance stood with the big flower on his shoulder, the plaque in his hands, looking like a fool, smiling for half an incense stick’s worth of time.
However, his heart was content, burning with warmth!
His heart was passionate, his whole body was restless!
During this half-incense stick’s worth of time, he thought about many things!
He thought about the past, how every time he played around the world, succeeded in theft, he felt happy too!
But that happiness was fleeting, followed by endless emptiness!
So he could only keep stealing, keep attracting attention, as if he was addicted!
It seemed like that was where his value lay!
But now, he felt like he didn’t need that anymore!
Because he had found a new value, a value of being cared for and needed by others!
With so many people in the world, so many suffering from injustice, so many suffering and struggling, they needed him, needed him to administer justice and uphold righteousness!
He was the Imperial Cat, irreplaceable!
Only by being continually needed by others could he maintain his value.
At this moment, the painting finally came to an end. Night Fragrance stole a glance and saw that the artist had captured his heroic demeanor, nodding in satisfaction. He once again shyly asked, “Lord Prefect, can I leave now?”
He wanted to escape again!
Lin Beifan nodded with a smile, “Of course you can, but remember to take these things with you! After all, this is the heartfelt gift from the common people. They’ve put in their effort; don’t let them down!”
Night Fragrance looked at the piles of goods all around and made a bitter expression. There was just too much stuff to carry!
Nevertheless, he selected a few items. When both hands were full and he couldn’t carry any more, he said to the crowd, “There’s just too much stuff, I can’t possibly finish it all by myself. It would be a waste not to eat it. I’ll share it with my colleagues here to nourish ourselves! I have something to attend to, so I’ll take my leave!”
After saying this, he displayed exceptional lightness skills and left in a graceful escape.
Lin Beifan laughed, “Everyone heard that, right? Distribute these goods and don’t let the goodwill of the Imperial Cat go to waste!”
“Ha-ha!” Everyone burst into laughter.
From that day on, Night Fragrance became even more active in fighting crime. In the capital city, his agile figure could be seen soaring and descending everywhere.
When the common people saw him, they didn’t panic; instead, they joyfully exclaimed, “The Imperial Cat! The Imperial Cat is here!”
Many children excitedly chased after him.
“The Imperial Cat is here!”
“We’re following the Imperial Cat to catch the bad guys!”
Watching this scene, Night Fragrance was not only excited but also extremely proud. The feeling of being needed was truly comfortable, greatly satisfying his vanity!
Just then, he noticed two people on the street fighting while sitting in chairs.
With a quick movement, he appeared between the two, separating them, and said, “Stop! This is a bustling commercial street with people coming and going. Why are you resorting to violence?”
“The Imperial Cat is here! It’s the Imperial Cat!” Everyone seemed to have found a savior.
One of the brawlers said, “Imperial Cat, your timing is perfect. Please mediate for us! I’ve set up my stall here, but his vehicle crossed the boundary and invaded my space. According to the rules, isn’t it his fault?”
The other person retorted loudly, “It was just an accident!”
“An accident? I’ve warned you three times, and you didn’t budge. What do you mean by that?”
“While I admit I was somewhat at fault, you were the one who started the fight!”
“And you dare claim you’re in the right?”
Night Fragrance quickly understood the ins and outs of the situation. The matter was quite simple: one person had occupied the stall space of another, which the latter found unacceptable. After advising the offender several times without success, a physical altercation ensued.
If it were in the past, he would have simply taken both of them to the government office, causing trouble for Lin Beifan.
However, now he was the beloved Imperial Cat, entrusted with safeguarding the people. He couldn’t enforce the law so brusquely.
So, for the person who had encroached on another’s stall, he administered verbal criticism and imposed a fine according to the stall regulations.
As for the one who initiated the fight, he subjected them to severe criticism and ensured they compensated the other party for medical expenses.
In this way, the matter was resolved, and no one was dissatisfied.
Then, amidst the admiring and grateful gazes of the crowd, he left gracefully.
“I’m leaving too!”
Under Night Fragrance’s protection, the capital city became even more peaceful. Lin Beifan felt more relaxed as well.
The young princess, observing Night Fragrance’s agile movements through the air, curiously asked Lin Beifan, “I can’t understand. Night Fragrance used to be a thief. Why did he change so much in less than a month and become so proactive in fighting crime?”
Lin Beifan smiled, “Because he found his own life’s value and naturally started putting in effort.”
The young princess tilted her head, puzzled, “His life’s value is serving the people?”
Lin Beifan retorted, “No! His life’s value is showing off!”
The young princess exclaimed, “Huh?”
She looked at Lin Beifan with a face full of question marks.
“From the moment I laid eyes on him, I knew he was a show-off criminal!”
Lin Beifan smiled faintly and explained, “He likes to wear white clothes. Why? Aside from being clean, it’s because white stands out, making it easy for people to notice him! In cold weather, he even carries a folding fan, because holding a fan is a convenient way to show off. He enjoys stealing, but while others steal discreetly, he does it ostentatiously. He specifically targets influential figures, adding to the spectacle. It’s all about showing off!”
“And since he has such a strong psychological need for this, I satisfy it by giving him the title of Imperial Cat and announcing it to the world! This is a unique honor, after all. Can you imagine how pleased he is? And when he continues to feel the genuine love of the people, always being needed by them, he can keep showing off whenever he wants. Do you think he won’t give his all to actively fight crime?”
The young princess wrinkled her nose, “You’re so wicked, exploiting him like this!”
Lin Beifan shook his head, “I’m not exploiting him, I’m guiding him in the right direction. I’m encouraging him to do something meaningful and become a genuinely good person. In doing so, he gets what he wants, and the security of our capital city improves. It’s a win-win situation. Is that not a good thing?”
“Master’s words are absolutely right!”
The old monk opened his eyes, joined his hands together, and bowed to Lin Beifan, “Master once said that only by diving into the sea of suffering can one lead others to do good and reach the other shore early. Master’s actions are truly virtuous, Amitabha Buddha!”
Lin Beifan responded, “Amitabha Buddha!”