And so, Wang Qinian excused himself. He knew that there were things he would never know, and not knowing would ensure his safety.
"This involves the survival of the nation. By the authority of the Overwatch Council, I ask you to serve your country." Fan Xian said calmly through his headcover.
That gave the locksmith quite a shock. Thinking about the foreign envoys in the capital, Suo Jian believed he had guessed something and hurriedly saluted, not knowing what he was about to do.
"You must be quick and precise." Fan Xian took out the key. "I want an exact replica."
The locksmith took the key and examined it closely. "There are no locks in the world that this key would open."
"I don’t care. I only want you to make a copy of it. Can you do it or not?"
"It will be very difficult. This key is extremely complex. Even if I make an exact copy in appearance, I can’t guarantee that it will open the corresponding lock."
"Very good. Begin." Fan Xian was happy at the reply, but his voice was still calm.
The locksmith began to nervously replicate the key. The sound of metal scraping could occasionally be heard in the room. Fan Xian was nervous too as he looked at the door; he didn’t know how long Wu Zhu could keep Eunuch Hong occupied. Eunuch Hong’s living quarters were too close to Hanguang Hall. If Eunuch Hong returned, it would be difficult for Fan Xian to put back the duplicate key.
Finally, sweating, Suo Jiang finished. Comparing the two keys, Fan Xian discovered the two to be completely identical, replicated down to the last bit of rust. Finally relaxed, he smiled. "What do you really do for a living?"
Because his face was covered by black cloth, his smile looked odd.
"I… am a thief." Suo Jiang admitted, sweating profusely. He didn’t know what fate awaited him now that he had finished this top-secret job.
"So, he's a thief," Fan Xian thought. Squinting at the tools and key pattern on the table, he frowned. He then walked over and crushed the pattern to bits with a powerful burst of zhenqi.
Even the tools he had left for Wang Qinian were destroyed. Suo Jiang was sent off to the southern regions in order to keep away from potential trouble. Only then did Fan Xian put his mind to rest and go back to the palace.
Entering Hanguang Hall again, the sleep-inducing fragrance had begun to disperse. The night breeze was still blowing; the palace resonated with a peaceful atmosphere. Fan Xian slipped under the empress’s bed like a ghost. He put back the replicate key, and resealed the floor board with the glue he brought. Finally, he silently slipped out of the palace.
It had been some time since the last drum sounded. Fan Xian knew it was time for him to leave. At that moment, a small courtyard next to the palace caught his attention. That courtyard was Guangxin Palace, where the eldest princess resided.
Fan Xian’s plan and execution of it had been perfect today. If he didn’t want unnecessary complications, he should leave now and wait for things to develop. However, for some reason—probably drunk at his success of having obtained the key—he did the unexpected.
Fan Xian believed that, under the cover of darkness, he could walk freely, even in the solemn palace. He proceeded down the hallway, relying completely on the night traveling skills he learned from Wu Zhu and Fei Jie. With great difficulty, he approached Guangxin Palace, even brushing shoulders with a yawning palace girl.
The palace was still lit, and there were people inside. Guangxin Palace was different from other palaces in the complex. It was surrounded by a wall of its own.
As they say, those who cross rivers aren’t afraid of a dirty moat. But Fan Xian knew many master martial artists had been killed because of such assumptions. So, he carefully took a detour to the back and climbed up a thick pillar.
With his palms adhering to the smooth pillar, Fan Xian felt somewhat irritated, probably from exerting himself too much today. Climbing the pillar proved to be difficult, but he managed. Carefully scaling onto the roof, Fan Xian dared not lift up any roof tiles. Instead, he started looking for transparent glass tiles.
Normally, one would not find glass tiles on the roof of a palace, but it possibly because of Fan Xian’s great luck, Eldest Princess happened to enjoy having sunlight shine from above during the day. Fan Xian managed to find one such tile. He knelt down, making sure his every movement was steady and silent.
The room under the glass tile was dimly lit, but Fan Xian was able to see and hear clearly thanks to his amazing senses. He squinted, and he knew he had guessed right. His luck was indeed great.
Eldest Princess Li Yunrui sat reclining with a lazy look on her face, looking exceptionally charming. She only wore a white night gown. Under the thin fabric, the outline of her body could be seen. There was a hint of youth in its maturity. If any man were to see this, he would probably bow down to worship her feet.
As His Majesty’s younger sister, she had no need to use sex appeal to lure people. Besides, the one sitting in front of her was around seventy years old. He was the greatest scholar in the world. He was not one who would be tempted by such things.
Zhuang Mohan coughed twice, "My business here is finished. I hope you do not mind, Princess.
Eldest Princess played around with her fake scroll, which was made from gold. Suddenly, she beamed a huge smile and said softly, "Master Zhuang, I want you to stomp that Fan Xian into the ground so hard he no longer has the dignity to stay in the capital. Can you do that?"