al. Fan Xian, however, scanned the prince’s face and picked up some unrest in his weak gaze.
Ling Wan’er only smiled, and didn't say anything.
"The prince is setting off." With a shout, the prince’s fleet of carriages began moving slowly towards the summer estate in the mountains. Fan Xian dared not to move until all the carriages disappeared from view. Sighing gently, he stretched his slightly stiff waist and smiled bitterly. "Being a civil servant is hard."
"You dare to be disloyal?" Ye Ling’er asked mockingly, seizing on the opportunity.
"Ling’er, don’t say such nonsense!" Such was how the food chain operated. Sizhe was afraid of Ruoruo, Ye Ling’er was afraid of the tiger cub. Lin Wan’er got angry, and Ye Ling’er hopped back on to the carriage.
Lin Wan’er walked toward Fan Xian. Seeing him still staring at the direction the prince had gone, she couldn’t help but sigh. "I know your worries. None of my three brothers are easy to get along with. I say it’s best if you don’t rely on anyone in particular."
Fan Xian had always acknowledged Lin Wan’er’s political wisdom, which she forged from her days spent deep in the palace. He nodded very seriously. Suddenly, he remembered something. "What about the youngest prince? Is he a difficult one too?"
"Wenyun is only eight. What does he know?" Lin Wan’er consoled Fan Xian. "You’re the emperor’s son-in-law. Adding in all the formalities, there had been such precedent. I don’t think the eastern palace is really trying to pull you in, so relax."
Fan Xian laughed; he thought he was relaxed enough. Faking a sigh, he asked, "How can I not be nervous seeing Qing’s future ruler?" In his previous life, the highest-ranking person Fan Xian had ever met was merely his school principle. But strangely, since being reborn—perhaps due to being reborn into a high-ranking family—Fan Xian no longer felt nervous around these big shots. He could stay composed, even in front of the emperor.
Lin Wan’er couldn’t hold back her laughter. She pulled on the corner of Fan Xian’s shirt. "Didn’t you hear what the prince said? Before our marriage, you can enter the palace to greet all the Ladies. If that ‘Ancient One’ is in a good mood, it won't be impossible that he'll want to see you. After going through ten sections of the palace or so, you'll turn numb, even if you are anxious."
"Ancient One?" Fan Xian realized Wan’er was talking about the empress dowager who resided in the depths of the palace. For some reason, he shuddered.
"Time to go. What are you still standing around for? The prince is long gone." Fan Sizhe finally lost his patience and complained. Dabao in the middle carriage heard voices outside, so he raised his voice too.
Fan Xian laughed and, with a whip of his sleeves, put everything behind him.
Since Fan Xian was fortunate enough to be given another life, then he had to live it to the fullest. Beautiful women, money, power; he mustn’t run low on those. But he had been in murky waters since coming to the capital. He couldn’t help but be vexed.
Currently, his bookstore was doing very well, and the later chapters of Story of the Stone were in preparation to be printed. Fan Xian could see the money pouring in. Once he took command of the palace treasury, he was ready to leave the bookstore to Qingyu Hall and Fan Sizhe. As for the matters in the Imperial Court, there were his father, Chen Pingping, and the rest of his mother’s comrades. As for hidden dangers, there was Wu Zhu. Even if Wu Zhu decides to not show up, as he did during the incident on Niulan Street, Fan Xian believed he had the ability to protect himself.
Suddenly, Fan Xian felt he had the potential to become a millionaire.
All that was still a figment of his imagination. Those around him and himself all knew that. Calmly looking at the dirt road outside his carriage, Fan Xian snapped his fingers. "That’s too much to be a coincidence. There are thirteen royal estates in the capital, two temporary palaces, and a hunting ground. All of them can be accessed by the prince. Why did he choose today to go to the summer estate? The summer palace is far from the capital and quiet, so we picked it beforehand."
Once they were back on the road, Fan Xian and Wang Qinian shared a carriage and therefore their conversation was rather direct. Wang Qinian also frowned. "If someone deliberately made the prince go in order to place us in conflict with him, such an arrangement would be too complicated, and it wouldn't guarantee good results."
Fan Xian shook his head and said with a faintly cold gaze, "As long as someone is beside the prince, then it wouldn’t be difficult to manipulate the prince’s travel destinations. Besides, my reputation in the capital is inseparable from ‘arrogant’, so I’m guessing whoever set us up was not expecting the prince to not get angry at me for trying to take his silver."
"It’s just that I don’t know the way the palace does things. Take the prince’s trip outside the capital for example, how long does it take for preparations? We came to the estate yesterday. Had the prince set his eyes here a few days ago, then this really is a coincidence, not a deliberate ploy."
Fan Xian shook his head again. "We asked earlier. For the prince to go out, as long as he stays within 14 kilometers of the capital, all he needs to do is to report to the palace. To get ready, it should take about a day. Seeing when we met, I estimate the prince left this morning."
Wang Qinian looked at Fan Xian with worry. He asked in a low voice, "What good can whoever planned this gain?"
Fan Xian smiled. "Plenty. If the prince really shamed me here, then I suppose my family could only hold up red flags and expose ourselves."
"Could it be the second prince?" Wang Qinian tried to confirm his suspicion.
Fan Xian gave it some thought. Despite all the coincidences, and the second prince calling repeatedly, he and the second prince never met. Fan Xian really didn’t know what kind of character this second prince was, but he thought he probably wasn't the kind of person who decides everything through force. Fan Xian said lightly, "Who knows? Everyone is sharp in the palace. Who am I to give a damn?"
Fan Xian wasn’t lying when he said he wouldn’t give a damn. But he still made Wang Qinian get out of the carriage to check if they were being followed. He believed in Wang Qinian's abilities. If someone was spying on them, then whoever it was must be captured. If no one was spying on them, it was enough for the encounter to be a coincidence and prove that he was simply too cautious.
With a bitter smile, Fan Xian leaned back against the soft cushion, hoping he really was being paranoid.