ong, had of course heard this joke before, but he had gleaned another meaning from the joke. Was Mr. Wu mocking his father for being henpecked? His mother had died prematurely... could it be that he was saying that the Prime Minister was afraid of the Eldest Princess?
Lin Gong felt angry.
At that moment, and out of the corner of his eye, he saw a shadow appear in the garden.
It was a blind man, his eyes covered with a length of black cloth, holding a rock drill with a point that dripped with blood.
Lin and Wu both stood up, startled. They knew that this man had slipped in silently, and that the highly skilled guards outside had already been murdered with his stone drill. When he realized that the guards had died without even making so much as a sound, Lin Gong's blood ran cold. "Who are you?" he shouted, filled with fear. "Tell me!"
Wu Zhu said nothing. Like a ghost, he rushed in from the garden.
Lin Gong screamed. He pulled the blade from his belt and threw it straight at him.
Wu Zhu moved to one side, dodging the blade. Wu Zhu was already standing right in front of his face. The two men were extremely close together. It was a strange-looking situation.
There was a thwack.
Blood dripped from the rock drill, which had sliced through into Lin Gong's back. He looked at the length of black cloth in front of him. His eyes were filled with fear and shock. He was the son of the Prime Minister. And this man had killed him without saying a word. The rock drill had pierced through his chest. With a final quiver, Wu Zhu drew it up across Lin Gong's body. It was a terrible sight.
With a tearing sound, Wu Zhu quietly withdrew the rock drill from Lin Gong's body. It seemed extremely unhurried, but he had already quickly moved three steps to the side, to avoid the spray of blood gushing out from his chest.
The rock drill had gone straight through Lin Gong's heart, and blood spurted from the hole in a beautiful arc.
Watching this bloody scene, Wu Bo'an turned pale, but his mouth remained rigidly shut, not making a single sound. He saw the cloth over the man's eyes and realized that he was blind, and decided to try to slip away.
Wu Zhu turned his head and "looked" at him.
Wu Bo'an was overcome with a sense of hopelessness, but he still maintained a bitter smile. He tried his utmost to steady his voice. "I'm not working for the Prime Minister! A warrior like you, giving your life for people...It doesn't seem like you have much of a future. My name is Wu Bo'an, I'm old, I have many friends in the capital, and if you've got the ambition, a fighter like you could..."His voice suddenly stopped, and with great difficulty, he lowered his head to look at the rock drill that had already pierced through his throat.
He didn't understand why this assassin didn't even want to hear what he had to say... he was a feeble scholar, and there was nothing threatening about him. And he had considered himself such an expert tactician, planning for everything, eloquent beyond compare. If this blind killer had just listened to what he had to say, he would not have murdered him - there were so many things he still wanted to do with his life; why did he have to die like this?
The death of Wu Bo'an, master manipulator, was a simple one.
In Wu Zhu's thirty years of life in this world, there was something he had never understood. No matter where they were from - whether it was Dongyi, Northern Wei, the capital, or here - every time he killed someone, they would talk incessantly right up until the end. The Lady had once said that "the point of the sword is always more powerful than words". Wu Zhu always thought he had understood that saying, but he never understood why no one else in the world did.
Wu Zhu withdrew the rock drill, and walked alone out of the garden.
After he had left, the grapevine trellis could no longer bear the force of Wu Zhu's murderous onslaught. With a crash, they collapsed, covering the two men's corpses in a mess of vines and bamboo.
Over the next few days, the Overwatch Council received no information. Mu Tie visited Fan Manor in attempt to butter up to them, but could say nothing of Wu Bo'an. The formidable master strategist had disappeared without a trace. Fan Xian seemed uneasy, so Mu Tie's hand on his thigh did not leave a good impression.
Count Sinan also secretly aided the search party, and yet they came up with nothing. After Wang Qinian reported, ashen-faced, that the operation had been a failure, Fan Xian had no choice but to rid his mind of the matter, forcibly turning his thoughts to the more-positive matters of his little sister, the bookshop, and chicken legs, waiting for the man with the black cloth on his face to do his work.
One afternoon, he brought Ruoruo and Sizhe along to pay a visit to Prince Jing's manor.
To his surprise, Prince Jing was not in the house. Crown Prince Li Hongcheng had no choice but to tell them. "Father has gone to the temple and said that the Empress Dowager wanted him to come."
Fan Xian laughed. He hadn't thought about the matter much. He went with Li Hongcheng under the awnings in the rear garden, eating melon seeds and chatting, avoiding the early summer heat. They were not strangers, so the young princess Roujia, the one who had once interested Fan Xian, was also there, and they did not refrain from saying anything. Fan Xian looked at the young girl, and could not help but feel a lingering fear. He had heard Ruoruo talking about the situation with Story of the Stone, and had once fantasized that once the princess knew that he was its author, she might fall in love with him at once.
But looking at Roujia, Fan Xian put a stop to that kind of thinking.
The princess was very pretty, with rosy red cheeks and a gentle and polite demeanor; she was perhaps the gentlest girl that Fan Xian had ever met in this world. But Fan Xian continued to turn his nose up at her, refusing to show her the slightest appreciation.
Because this princess was just turning twelve this year, she was an under-ripened fruit; she was a girl, not a young woman. Underneath the surface, Fan Xian felt some affection, but he was not fickle in love. As soon as he began to think about this twelve-year-old girl, he began to panic and tried to think of something else.
Who would have thought when that Princes Roujia’s gaze met Fan Xian's as she sat obediently by Ruoruo's side, her eyes would sparkle with shyness, her thoughts would be muddled, and her heart would fill with panic?
The servants of the prince's manor took Fan Sizhe off to shoot arrows. Fan Xian and the Crown Prince chatted idly as the two girls quietly held their own conversation. Fan Xian felt awkward. Suddenly, he saw an official of the prince's palace hurriedly making his way toward them and whisper something into Li Hongcheng's ear. Li Hongcheng's face changed, and they turned their gazes to Fan Xian, looking doubtful.
"What is it?" Fan Xian looked at the awnings and smiled. " The grapevine trellises in your manor are so well-built. It reminds me of a joke."
The Crown Prince did not give him the chance to show off in front of the girls. With a serious look, he pulled him to one side and spoke in a quiet voice. " Something has happened."