Three minutes later, Fan Xian removed the steaming plate of fish with his hands. After pouring some expensive soy sauce from the South, the juices glowed amber. It was really beautiful. The aroma of the mix of steamed fish with a little sauce permeated the kitchen. He found the leftover rice from last night and, with the ginger and vinegar steamed fish, ate happily.
The next morning, as he was greeting his grandmother, the servants reported that a thief ransacked the kitchen last night. Fan Xian immediately understood what happened and laughed involuntarily. As he massaged the Old Madam’s shoulders, he told the housekeeper, “Last night, I heated some rice to eat. There’s no need to be alarmed.”
The person stared at him slack-jawed; he wondered why the young master did not call for the servants to help him when he was already so old and instead insists on playing with these things. If he was not careful, someone could have been burned.
Fan Xian knew what the other party was thinking. He said cutely to the Old Madam, “Your grandson (cutesy way to refer to himself ~MCM) has recently been reading on a method to steam fish. That’s why I wanted to try it for myself. If the taste was fine, I wanted to prepare it for Grandma. Because it was to be a surprise, I didn’t dare let the servants know. I did not intend to scare so many people, your grandson knows better now.”
The words were phrased logically and calmly. No one could find any fault in it.
After hearing them, the Old Madam did not have any change in expression. “Anything is fine. However, no matter what you do, you have to remember to clean up after everything,” she said gently.
The Old Madam of the Manor has always been draconian towards Fan Xian; it was rare that she spoke in such a mild tone. Fan Xian was rather uneasy when he heard those words. He seemed to have *** (Sorry, no idea why the author starred the words here ~MCM) detected a trace of sympathy directed at him. Now why is that?
The Old madam continued softly, “I already knew what happened yesterday. Housekeeper Zhou is not a very useful person. Last night, you even manage to enter the kitchen to do such a dangerous thing without anyone realizing. That’s outrageous. I have already kicked him back to the Capital to be dealt with by that useless person.” (The mistress, I presume ~MCM)
Fan Xian was slightly shocked and only just realized that, after he had returned from killing, he utterly forgot to follow up with the incident with Housekeeper Zhou. It was obvious that the reason the assassin could enter the manor and poison the food this time was closely related to Housekeeper Zhou. To think that he was so careless this time! It was truly disappointing.
In the morning, he absentmindedly read the letters sent over from the Capital for a while before leaving the Manor with the intention of passing the market. It was only then that he finally understood the true meaning of his grandmother’s words that “no matter what he does, he has to remember to clean up after everything”.
A corner of the market was already a burnt wreck. Mysteriously, it did not spread to the surrounding buildings. The building that was burned cleanly and thoroughly was the only one; there was nothing left. The passersby surrounding the scene were all debating fervently about it. As Fan Xian was small, he could only stand at a side and listen to them. Apparently, the fire had killed two people, both were rendered unidentifiable.
The place that was burnt completely was exactly where the building in which Fan Xian had killed stood.
Was this done to destroy the corpse and erase all evidence?
Fan Xian remembered his grandmother’s words that she had already sent Housekeeper Zhou back to the capital. Making the connection between that and the miserable pile of ashes in front of him, his sweat involuntarily turned cold as he finally understood what happened. He could never fathom that the strict but loving grandmother was capable of such a careful scheme and was even willing to do such a thing in order to ensure her own grandson’s safety. (It’s not surprising, really. My own Grandma’s equally conniving and deadly. Runs in the Chinese blood methinks ~MCM)
He recalled the image of the Old Madam resting her eyes on a normal day looking like a Buddha and could not bring himself to believe that the pile of smoking wreckage in front of his eyes and the image were connected.
Fan Xian mingled in the crowd and detected a faint smell of glue amidst the wreckage. He had learnt something new.
A few of the residents around him noticed him and greeted him as though they wanted to say something. Fan Xian ignored them and left the market. Before he knew it, he had walked to the familiar grocery store.
“The Housekeeper has already been chased back to the Capital,” Fan Xian said.
Five-Bamboo stood within the shop with his body facing the silent streets and did not react. All the residents had already rushed to the market to see what happened; the streets were empty.
“The small building we went to yesterday was burnt down,” Fan Xian continued.
Five-Bamboo remained unresponsive.
Fan Xian tugged on his sleeves and whispered viciously, “Are you thinking that it was foolish of me to forget to handle the matter of Housekeeper Zhou and even need grandma to help me clean up after?!”
Five-Bamboo turned around and said, “Are you asking for my pity? Is it because you think you are still young and do not yet know how to handle such things and, now that your ego has been bruised, you are seeking my condolences?”
The tone of the blind one carried a trace of curiosity, which was refreshingly different from the usual emotionless one.
Fan Xian laughed, “I don’t have that much self-esteem. It’s just that it isn’t a nice feeling to have killed someone. Also……”
He kept quiet. Deep within him, he felt that after crossing into this world, if it was not for Fei Jie’s and Five-Bamboo’s teachings, he would not have much more power than the average noble youths. It may very well be that he would have… died much earlier. In an environment such as this wrought with power struggles and secrets, having just a little more knowledge than others did not seem like it would have done much. There were none riding the waves of power who were not proficient in using such dirty and convoluted means.
Compared to them, he was still…… just a naïve brat.
“The feeling of killing or the feeling of being killed: which do you like better?” Five-Bamboo asked.
Fan Xian did not know how to answer. It was natural for everyone to not want to be killed.
“Since you already know the answer to that, do not bother asking about it anymore.” Five-Bamboo handed him a badge. “Also, I think it is best to tell you this: the Old Madam merely chased Housekeeper Zhou out of Danzhou and did not kill him. She did not want the people in the Capital to cause a large furor because of this incident.”
Fan Xian eyed the familiar badge and recognized that it was the official badge used by the Count’s family to do clerical work. This badge belonged to Housekeeper Zhou. He raised his head and looked suspiciously at Five-Bamboo. “You killed him?”
Fan Xian suddenly remembered the assassin’s identity and turned his head, asking, “Why was the poison and the follow-up procedures used by the assassin so similar to those in the Empire’s Bureau of Investigation?”
“Ask Fei Jie.”
In the year of Qin, on a beautiful spring day, there was an angular building with ashen walls in the eastern part of the Capital. Peeking into the dark and eerie building, within the chamber of secrets (Hidden in the toilet, probably. Heh heh heh ~MCM), a thin and clean shaven old man was sitting in a wheelchair. A soft and smooth fleece blanket was covering his legs.
The glass window in the chamber of secrets was densely hidden by a black cloth; no trace of sunlight could penetrate it. This old man had fallen ill a long time ago somewhere in the north. After that incident, he was really sensitive to light.
“Old Fei, regarding the incident in Danzhou, how goes the investigation?” The old man asked while gazing at his white-haired and odd-looking peer, staring straight into his eyes and smiling gently.
Fei Jie, who was sitting on a chair and drinking his tea, looked at the enigmatic smile on the corner of the Director’s lips and wondered to himself whether it was him or this old man that was the true old pervert.