Wan'er sucked in a breath of cold air as she discovered that this was how things were, and listened to Fan Xian, who continued to talk, smiling. "So, His Majesty can endure for a while, but not for an age. He can restrain the bureaucracy, but he cannot restrain his own son. If His Majesty has never thought about it, then fine. But when he begins to think about the first problem, then he will be unable to control his suspicions regarding many things. So rectifying the examinations scandal naturally becomes an issue."
Lin Wan'er leaned her head against his chest. "In truth, it's easy to talk of such things," she said quietly. "If I thought about it, I could understand it. Why does my brother the Crown Prince not wish to understand it?"
"It is not that the Crown Prince does not wish to understand, but that he has begun to feel unsafe." Fan Xian recalled the gifts that the Emperor had bestowed upon the three princes at the start of the year, which were all deep with hidden meaning that even Fan Xian could not understand. It appeared that whether it was the Crown Prince or the Great Prince, they were all nervous and uneasy, and so they had all tried to meddle in the exams.
Lin Wan'er sighed. "I don't want my husband to divide the land and rule over a part of it. I only want you to be a free and good nobleman. Such matters are always troubling."
"Riches and honor and an easy life; that has always been my desire," replied Fan Xian with a laugh, thinking of Jia Baoyu's nickname in Dream of the Red Chamber. "But there are some things I cannot bear to see. There will always be some enmity. Who said the name my father gave me was no good?" 
Seeing him make fun of her father-in-law, Lin Wan'er couldn't help but giggle. "Your father shouldn't have any problems, right?" she asked a little while later.
"Relax. My father went to visit the Prime Minister that evening." As Fan Xian began to speak, he shook his head and sighed in admiration. "So, as I said, the Overwatch Council handled things wonderfully. Look at the officials who have been caught recently. Other than Director Guo, they've been sacked from the Eastern Palace and the Bureau of Military Affairs. My father-in-law has lost his right-hand man, but there has been no serious harm. If the proper behavior had not been carried out by someone with many years of experience within the bureaucracy, they wouldn't have been able to understand it so perfectly."
"Is it very difficult?" asked Lin Wan'er with a smile.
Fan Xian softly ran his fingers through his wife's dark hair. "Very diffcult," he replied gently. "You want to cause those with power some pain, but not so much that it kills them, so as to avoid making it difficult for His Majesty to deal with things."
Having said this, faint worry lines appeared on his brow.
"What is it?" Wan'er grasped her husband's arm gently as she asked.
Fan Xian shook his head and tried to disperse his inner worries. "I thought this was exposing a scandal that couldn't be hidden from people, so I prepared carefully. I didn't expect the Overwatch Council to shield me so well. But you're right; there is no such thing as guaranteed safety in this world. The Eastern Palace can always find out about my connections with the Overwatch Council, and... there are too many madmen in the Kingdom of Qing. At the moment, I'm worried about that crippled madman."
"Chen Pingping?" Lin Wan'er immediately knew who he was talking about. But she wasn't sure why – other than he having exposed the scandal – it had anything to do with the terrifying spy organization of the Overwatch Council. So she was somewhat puzzled, and her doubts were so strong that they covered up her confusion as to what "safety" really was.
Fan Xian smiled. He didn't try to explain everything clearly, and instead simply spoke gently. "I am worried that Chen Pingping has never thought of hiding such things."
"How dare he!
Every young woman wants her husband to be a righteous hero, so although Fan Xian's secret exposure of this scandal worried Lin Wan'er somewhat, it had also made her feel deeply proud of him. Hearing that Chen Pingping wanted to expose her husband to the people, the thought of the danger made her body shake. With the mien of a princess, she harrumphed. "Tomorrow I shall go to the palace and find the Empress Dowager!"
Fan Xian laughed and comforted her. "Even if Chen Pingping wants to entrust this to me, perhaps it is not a bad idea."
Lin Wan'er did not understand. But Fan Xian understood that this was a good opportunity. If the poetry recitation at the evening banquet had established his firm reputation among the common people of the Kingdom of Qing, the exposure of this scandal was undoubtedly the best opportunity. As Master Fei Jie had once said: as his mother's close ally, Chen Pingping had never been happy with him becoming rich off the palace treasury. He was determined to give him the power of the Overwatch Council. So considering what had been said of Chen Pingping's disposition, using the exam scandal to suddenly come to the forefront was not impossible.
The problem was the ratio of gains to losses. Of this, Fan Xian was somewhat unsure.
He climbed out of bed. He looked at the gentle rain that fell outside the window, and realized that it was already nearly noon; he had spent half the day in bed with his wife. He couldn't help but smile sweetly, though his smile was a somewhat exhausted one. His exposure of this scandal was firstly because he really had felt sorry for the truly talented scholars, and secondly because of how those indignant princes had pulled him between them like a rope. The most important reason, however, was that he wanted to finally test Chen Pingping.
Fan Xian was going to Northern Qi, so he wanted to be sure what approach that old man - with the terrifying power of the Overwatch Council - would have toward him. At the same time, he wanted to see more clearly what approach the Emperor behind the old man would have toward him.
The approach decided everything. It decided their relationship. It could show their history. It could make known... his life history. Fan Xian narrowed his eyes, looking through the window that beared his mother's mark. He saw the clouds in the sky, and felt that everything in the Kingdom of Qing seemed to have gone through an interesting change of mind. It seemed that he was walking on an unbounded path approaching the truth.
Perhaps his goal was already close.
The street was slightly wet outside Fan Manor. An unmarked carriage waited quietly. Suddenly, a figure floated from the manor like a falling leaf drifting to the ground. Its right palm hung from the edge of the carriage as it climbed aboard.
"Go." Fan Xian spoke the moment his buttocks hit the seat.
From the driver's seat, Teng Zijing looked back at his young master and laughed bitterly. "Young master, if your father knew that you were going out at this time of night, he would chide me."
Fan Xian laughed even more bitterly. "Then get moving. Not only will my father beat me for being an unfilial son, but my dear wife will tie me down."
At that moment, the people of the capital felt rather anxious. News that Guo You, Director of the Board of Rites, had been imprisoned had taken only an hour to spread through the city, but all of the officials linked to the civil service exams all remained anxiously in their homes. After a moment of fear, spies from the Overwatch Council came to knock on their doors, and politely invited them out for tea.
And Fan Xian was a major character in the scandal. Count Sinan, who knew the inside story, and Princess Chen would not dare let him make a move, so he he had to sneak out. He sighed. "Master Teng, I am lucky to have you as my trusted aide in the city. Otherwise it would be difficult for me to even walk outside."
Wang Qinian had been sitting by his side. His smile had clearly become pained, and he frowned as he spoke. "Master, I have always worked hard to become your trusted aide."
Fan Xian laughed and teased him. "Wang Qinian, you should be a comedian."
With the sound of a horsewhip, the black horse slowly trudged on, the carriage wheels splashing through puddles. The green trees around them were bathed in rainwater. Even more green and delicate, behind the carriage, were spies from the Overwatch Council, wearing raincoats and following the carriage from a distance; these were Wang Qinian's men, specially responsible for Commissioner Fan's safety. "If there are reprisals in the court bureaucracy, then what is to be done? I do not have enough men." Wang Qinian knew that Commissioner Fan had done something within the Overwatch Council, and he was concerned.
Fan Xian smiled. There was coldness in his eyes. "Things are different now. We are not going to Niulan Street. I want to see – other than that old madwoman – who in the capital would still dare to assassinate me under the watch of His Majesty."
"Where are we going?" asked Teng Zijing, his head forward, his voice low.
Fan Xian looked at Wang Qinian. Wang Qinian said the name of the place quietly, then explained. "Fortunately, the students that you took a fancy to are all staying in this tavern."
The carriage stopped outside Dieyi Alley. There was still drizzle in the air; after Fan Xian climbed down from the carriage with Teng Zijing, the two men walked with umbrellas. Wang Qinian had already disappeared into the crowd.
Dieyi Alley was filled with people from other provinces who came to stay here. As the exam scandal had been exposed that day, it was a boiling cauldron of voices. The place was completely packed. Holding his umbrella, Fan Xian carefully walked along the street. His umbrella sloped outward, so as to prevent rainwater from falling into the pots of the hawkers who lined the street under the eaves of the buildings.
"Excuse me, excuse me." A skinny scholar called out impatiently, holding two pots of wine. He brushed past Fan Xian and Teng Zijing, rushing onward, unafraid of the falling rain. As he was walking, he turned his head back and looked at Fan Xian.
Fan Xian held his umbrella aloft and watched the person disappear into the rain. He shook his head, laughing. "Doesn't this look like a group of crazy graduates? The minute they finish their exams, they get wildly drunk." He smacked his lips, feeling somewhat regretful that due to his health problems in his past life he had never been able to take part in his school's graduation feast.
Teng Zijing didn't understand what he was saying, but still explained respectfully: "I reckon it's Guo You's downfall that's made them so excited."
"Is Minister Guo's reputation so poor?" Fan Xian moved casually on, looking like the pampered son from a wealthy family who enjoyed strolls in the rain.
Teng Zijing laughed. "Few city officials have good reputations. In the countryside, there is a saying: If you lined up the officials of the six ministries and beheaded them, five of them would have deserved it."
Fan Xian laughed, thinking of a similar joke from his previous life. "So would my father be the one wrongfully executed minister?" he teased.
Everyone knew that Count Sinan, Fan Jian, who had been an assistant treasury minister, and then become a senior minister, had taken money from the public purse. When it came to corrupt officials, neither Fan Xian's father nor his father-in-law could escape the charge. But Teng Zijing did not dare say such things. Hearing his young master's words, a cold sweat ran down his back. He forced a smile. "Young master, I misspoke. Please do not be offended."
"What does a corrupt official fear? The people do not worry about corrupt officials, but they worry about officials who are both corrupt and incompetent."
"Sir, such talk is inappropriate."
Suddenly someone rudely barged under Fan Xian's umbrella to avoid the rain. In their hand they were carrying a paper bundle of roasted chicken. The smell of the slightly charred chicken was inescapable, even in the heavy rain.
 Fan Xian’s name can also sound like the Chinese word for "enmity".