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Chapter 143: Clarity after Autumn Rain
Fan Xian wandered the streets somewhat absent-mindedly. The rain drenched his shirt, chilling his body, yet his heart was burning hot. He was watching the streets of Qing; the carriages that traveled across them, some rich family’s windows, the kaleidoscopes he often saw, the slippery soap… He was able to connect all of that in an instant.
It was as if his mother left her mark on all of it! On this street, in that room, under the heavens; that woman’s presence seemed to be everywhere.
The last part of that letter read, "I am so very lonely."
Before today, Fan Xian felt that way too. But not anymore. He began laughing loudly. His laughter carried far away, waking up the people who had gone to sleep early on this rainy night.
Someone cursed at him.
He was still smiling.
In life, Ye Qingmei would never act like the little girl she was in that letter; of that Fan Xian was certain. His mother had a most adamant heart, which was the only reason she led such a glorious life in a totally strange world underneath a wholly unfamiliar sun.
This both familiar and unfamiliar Qing Kingdom, you owe Ye Qingmei so much.
The raindrops battered down on Fan Xian’s face. Like some monster, he seemingly "merged" with the darkness of the night. Even if that box wouldn’t provide his life with any significant aid, this sense of no longer feeling lonely allowed him to walk more and more freely in this world, in this rainy night.
Fan Xian trekked through the wind and rain alone. Suddenly, he chuckled. Since he wanted to live fully, why not live with style? Like he once told his younger sister: when looking back at everything, don’t feel as though the world "discomfort" was written all over one's face.
Autumn wind and rain worry people. They worry them to death.
Infiltrating the palace at night couldn’t be simply dismissed. As for the Commander of Defense Ye Zhong, who had never officially been on the stage, he received royal orders and began to investigate the matter. Despite being the Commander of Defense, in recent years he stayed in Dingzhou to the west. When he finally made it back to the capital, three days had already passed.
The ones in the palace were well aware why His Majesty would choose him. Firstly, the Ye household had always been favored by the emperor for their peerless loyalty. Only Director Chen received more trust from His Majesty. However, Chen Pingping’s crippled body meant he could not take charge of the investigation. Secondly, the three individuals at the top were all suspects.
Ye Zhong also realized how complex this mess was. The head of the royal guards, Tan Xiaoyi, was uncovered by Eldest Princess years ago. He supposedly was the strongest martial artist in the palace. Vice commander Gong Dian was his disciple. And that reserved Eunuch Hong… Forget it. Not even Ye Zhong wished to deal with it.
Ye Zhong wasn’t suspicious of those three at all. He was only intrigued—what was the goal of the second person who infiltrated the palace? Why would they kill one of Eldest Princess’s palace girls?
The investigation was being carried out in the dark. Due to the Overwatch Council’s spy being discovered in Northern Qi, His Majesty was enraged, and so having the Council’s help now wouldn’t actually be all that helpful. It was difficult to make any meaningful progress.
Some days later, after Ye Zhong had already carefully investigated several palaces, he came to Hanguang Hall. He caught the scent of a strange incense in the air which reminded him of that old venomous bag who was in His Majesty’s tent during the northern campaign. Ye Zhong also remembered that the night the palace was infiltrated, Zhuang Mohan was also in Guangxin Palace. The information made him think too much. He felt the whole situation was stranger than strange.
He decided to immediately seek an audience with His Majesty to confess his incompetency and beg for forgiveness

. With a face of shame, he prostrated himself on the ground.
"Are you unable to do it, or are you afraid to do it?" His Majesty’s face kept a meaningful smile. The officials close to His Majesty occasionally wondered if it was some sort of trick. But Ye Zhong knew how much wisdom this emperor held and answered truthfully, "I am unable to investigate. I am also afraid to investigate. I really don’t think I can handle matters involving the royalty."
"You are a member of the Ye household. Are you not afraid of me sentencing you for disloyalty, for unwillingness to serve public affairs?"
Ye Zhong dared not rise. "I do not dare to guess Your Majesty’s intentions. I am stupid, and do not know where to begin my investigations."
"There is no longer the need to investigate. I’ll deal with this accordingly." His Majesty’s grin held a hint of dark coldness, but Ye Zhong, who was prostrating on the ground, could not see it.

On the other hand, Fan Xian, the real culprit, spent his days hiding in the manor. After his poetic show the other day, things like drinking tea at Taichang Temple or observing Honglu Temple became a luxury.
The negotiations were finished. Northern Qi’s envoy already left the capital. Dongyi’s envoy would be staying around for a bit longer.
After everything had truly died down, Dongyi left behind a large amount of silver before reluctantly leaving the capital. They didn’t know that it was purely due to His Majesty’s generosity that they hadn't all been imprisoned after the night infiltration of the palace.
Fan Xian had truly become someone who shook the capital through and through. No longer did people only watch out for the powers standing behind him, but rather he himself became the center of attention. After all, he was the only one who made the great Zhuang Mohan throw up blood, and he had done this at such a young age.
As if planned, both the eldest and second princes multiplied their efforts in trying to win Fan Xian over to their side. Li Hongcheng often came over for tea. Xin Shaoqing also came to visit.
But Fan Xian still had a lot of things to do, so he suspended contact with both of them for the moment. So far, he’d only accomplished two things: he found the key and he framed that Yun Zhilan from Dongyi. The pressure from the imperial court and that ninth-ranked master made him leave the capital without his will to live or a guarantee of his own safety.
Fan Xian had been waiting for a chance after discovering Eldest Princess’s conspiracy with Northern Qi.
Two days after the Dongyi diplomatic mission left the capital, that chance arrived.
Fan Xian had no solid proof of Eldest Princess’s treachery, and therefore he could not tell anyone about it, nor could he use it to take action against the princess. He always had a complex opinion of the emperor. Besides, if he told His Majesty, it wouldn’t be entirely impossible that His Majesty would kill him to preserve the dignity of the royal family.
Had it been a regular citizen of Qing, they would keep a secret like this deep in their heart, carrying it to the grave.
But Fan Xian was no regular citizen. With two lives’ worth of memories and knowledge, he knew the importance and the lethality of propaganda. He also knew that in order to deal with a crazy princess, he should use even crazier methods.
After the evening feast, the paper industry and related businesses of the palace treasury had all been monopolized. While nothing had affected Danbo Bookstore so far, it was only because Eldest Princess couldn’t mobilize the Eighth Bureau. Fan Xian knew this was the calm before the storm.
Therefore, before the storm landed, he had to strike first.
That night, Wu Zhu stood in the corner and listened to Fan Xian. Ever since opening that chest, Wu Zhu had been visiting the Fan manor more often, as if he was concerned for Fan Xian’s safety. Fan Xian spoke as he thought: "If it’s to leave behind no trace, then use the gun for everything."
Wu Zhu tilted his body, showing that he understood.
Fan Xian continued, "For the past few days, the ones trying to press down on Danbo Bookstore were those from Xishan Papermill and Wansong Hall from the palace treasury. With that established, we are going to take the paper, and use Wansong Hall’s ink. Only… Can anybody recognize your handwriting?"
Wu Zhu said coldly, "Don't worry about it."
Fan Xian knew his almost uselessly absurd plan was bound to work. He grinned. "Make pamphlets. There's no need to make them too big." He gestured the size with his hands. "It’s more important to make sure there’s a lot of them. Spread them everywhere, especially in the imperial college and other academies. The students are all hot-blooded young men; they're very easily manipulated. As for the scholars of Wenyuan Institute, they like to flaunt their characters. I think they'll get angry after seeing the pamphlets."
Wu Zhu asked coldly, "And the contents of these pamphlets?"
Fan Xian raised his eyebrows and sighed to himself, "I’m like an undercover Communist Party member."
He started to describe the contents in great detail, paying much attention on how to make the pamphlets persuasive. They had to contain both truths and lies, such as how Eldest Princess spoke to Zhuang Mohan, how much Yan Bingyun suffered undercover in Northern Qi, only to be abandoned by the palace, how Eldest Princess was harming the nation for her own benefits, exactly what benefits she gained, how many fake eunuchs were in the palace, how many old lovers were outside the palace…
Wu Zhu analyzed everything calmly. "No one would believe the princess is sacrificing so much just for some monetary gain."
Fan Xian raised his eyebrows again, "Not many people in this world are as smart as you. As long as the commoners believe it, all is well. As for the emperor, this counts as a reminder."
Wu Zhu said coldly, "The emperor doesn’t need your reminder."

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