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Chapter 303: Autumn Woods, Secrets, and Consequences

Qin Heng was a smart man, and that's why he, as a young man in his 30's, could be chosen as an adviser to take part in the official business discussions led by the Grand Chancellor. His achievement definitely had nothing to do with his father who held a prominent position in military. As such, he stood up calmly and cupped his hands in salute of the great prince and Fan Xian, saying, "I really need to use the washroom; please continue the conversation without me." He didn't wait for them to say anything, and quickly walked away at a very steady pace. He did not show any obvious signs of anxiety, but left the hall as fast as the wind, rushing to the washroom guided by the servant in Chen Garden.

Fan could not help but laugh, the situation reminding him of the same thing that happened before to the Commandant of Justice, who came to make trouble for him on behalf of military but eventually ran away, having fled while scared witless after seeing the conflict– well, it looked like that Qin Family had mastered this to a tee

As the atmosphere in the meeting hall became depressing, it was finally the great prince who broke the silence, saying, "Qin Heng and I used to lead troops into battles, and as military commanders, we tended to be straightforward and say things out loud. I don't want to see soldiers sacrificing their precious lives just to see the prominent noble people in the capital attacking each other verbally and causing disturbances in this country. No matter which side wins in this internal conflict, it's always the talented people in the imperial government will suffer for sure."

Fan Xian sat up and put his clothes in order. He remained sitting for a short while, as if thinking about something, then slowly began speaking in slightly serious tones, "I understand your sentiments, Your Majesty, though you must know full well what the source of this is; the military is fighting enemies on the battlefield, and so shouldn't the officials at the Overwatch Council follow suit? I believe that those secret agents in foreign countries are also facing danger, just like the Western Expedition Army. I work for the Overwatch Council. I wouldn't call myself a very upright person, though I definitely don't like to play tricks. If I was sent to work in the Northern region, I would love to go there… however if anyone dared make trouble for me, even the imperial government, I wouldn't be so merciful."

The great prince remained silent, though he suddenly he looked up, as if wanting to say something.



Fan Xian threw his hands up and said: "However, the fight for these interests has nothing to do with the peace of the country. I am a commissioner on the Overwatch Council, and if I can't protect my own interest, how would you expect me to even be able to protect the interest of the imperial government, let alone protect His Highness's interest?" He then said with a sneer, "Your Majesty, it's not true for you to say that it doesn't matter who wins or loses, as what if the enemy were upon me and I was beaten into submission; would you still agree to lobby for me?"

The great prince frowned with displeasure, making his already dark face look even more serious. He said, "Fan Xian, you should know who you are and what you should do. You are just a courtier; you shouldn't go beyond your role."

These words seemed pretty reasonable. In the eyes of the princes, Fan Xian had indeed gone beyond his role as a courtier, something he did with far too great an audacity in this matter. The great prince simply wanted to bring this to Fan's attention as a friendly reminder, though little did he know that Fan had been easily offended by these words due to his life experiences. 

"I am a courtier." Fan Xian stared the First Prince in the eyes, "but for me, the so-called difference between a ruler and his courtiers is ... that the rule is the emperor, and of course, the prince will be the future emperor ... Other than that, it is my understanding that everyone else is a courtier and there is no essential difference amongst any of us, including you."

The great prince looked at Fan Xian in surprise. It seemed that he hadn't expected Fan to say things like this. His eyes were narrowed, becoming rigid, cold, and hard. "For the sake of Chen'er, I must remind you again. If you get involved in the Emperor's family's business, it will most certainly hurt the Fan family."

Fan Xian smiled and said: "An emperor is not entitled to have private business. Don't you realize this by now, Great Prince?" The Great Prince was at a loss for words after hearing Fan Xian give his opinion, and he slapped the armrest of the chair in frustration.

Fan Xian squinted his eyes and said softly: "All the furniture in here is antique, so please be careful."

The great prince was stunned, remaining silent for a moment before he shook his head and said, "Fan Xian, maybe I have really underestimated you."

Fan Xian gazed blankly at him and asked: "Why do you say that?"

"My ambition is to fight on the battlefield, and if the military wants to be invincible, our rear needs to remain peaceful and supportive," The great prince said, narrowing his eyes, "As such, many people, including me, believe that peace is important for the imperial government. Although I've been busy working in the Western region throughout the years, I know for a fact that even though a lot of things happen from time to time, the imperial government was pretty much under control, at least to a certain extent, until you came to the capital."

Fan Xian shook his head and smiled. He didn't know what to say.

"You showed up out of nowhere and rose to fame too quickly." The great prince said, staring at him. "It all happened way too fast, so fast that most people in the imperial government weren't prepared; nonetheless, you've already got the ability to disturb the equilibrium."

At last, the great prince expressed his main concern: "A lot of people were hoping that you would do everything to bring the capital together instead of turning everything on its head."

Fan Xian fell silent. He knew very well that the great prince wasn't just speaking for himself but from the standpoint of the majority of the military.

Since coming all the way to the capital from Danzhou, he had successfully taken control of the Overwatch Council and achieved fame in the space of two years. Although it was questionable whether he would be in charge of the palace treasury next year, he had already played a pivotal role in the imperial government, with both civil and military affairs under his control. He stood a greater chance of winning the recent battle with the second prince, showcasing his ability to defeat the prince. As a young courtier, this was enough to make other prominent courtiers feel threatened.

Someone representing the military had previously passed him a message asking that he show mercy to the second prince. He knew that this was definitely not a threat, nor was it meant to protect the dignity of the royal family. It was actually a test, the goal being to find out if Fan Xian was able to bring the Qing Kingdom together in a rational and sincere manner; because after all, he would be the one to take over the Overwatch Council. The military and the Overwatch Council had always been on very good terms. In a sense, when Qing Kingdom's soldiers are fighting in the war, the wisdom and strength of the leaders in the Overwatch Council could directly determine the battlefield survival rate.

"Have you ever thought about why I decided to fight this battle?" Fan Xian said with a smile; he stopped calling the opponent Prince, nor did he keep the Prince's advice in mind.

The great prince frowned slightly. He had actually never really thought about it, though as Fan Xian raised the question, he suddenly comprehended. The Overwatch Council had never been involved in the internal conflicts of the princes, but why is this happening now? What was the reason? He suddenly looked up,

staring at Fan Xian in surprise.

Fan Xian was a bit puzzled. He didn't think that the great prince knew nothing about these schemes. However, he continued smiling and said, "I just wanted to take revenge on those guys, to let them know who I am."

After a long period of silence, the great prince quickly raised his eyebrows and realized something, bursting into laughter, though he quickly calmed down and said, "Well, my little brother, what I could say about him. He is really smart. Now that he has suffered a great deal due to his stupidity, I am sure he will be more careful in the future. Who knows? It might lead to an unexpected positive outcome."

Neither was stupid, and Fan Xian immediately understood his idea. He thought for a moment and said, "Perhaps…coincidentally, Your Majesty and I have got the same intention. However, whether or not the second prince can benefit from it depends on how you want to convince him."

The great prince showed great interest. He stared at Fan as if agreeing with him, but in slight disbelief, and said, "I just don't understand, why you cared about this…so much?"

Fan Xian thought to himself, that even though insincere feelings had formed between the brothers, did he we really want to see another Xuanwu Gate Incident (Fratricide) happening? However he couldn't say that out loud, so he made a joke and changed the topic. In addition, he still remained vigilant against the great prince. Although he was known for being open-minded, and the throne was not something he coveted, his only true love being military affairs. But he is the son of the emperor after all, so who knows what's in his mind.

"There is no peace without forgiveness." The great prince gave Fan Xian a meaningful look. He intercedes with Fan for his own brother. For him, someone in a prominent position, it wasn't easy saying those words

Fan Xian nodded with a smile. He knew that he couldn't be absolutely ruthless to the second prince, so he might as well just go along with it. Well, the great prince and the military personnel might start to be on good terms, but that's not the end goal. He did this simply for the sake of the Emperor… he's the one who looks down on his people.

The prominent King was looking down on him.

Fan Xian had helped the military save face, and as such, the great prince couldn't say anything else to him. He knew his own brother very well, who just so happened to be a very tough guy. After all, the Fan family had invested a lot in this, and they would certainly not give up until they could benefit from it. Well, right now, they had realized that the discussion was over, but they couldn't think of any other topics to talk about; apparently, they didn't know each other very well. It was a little awkward.

Qin Heng was still in the washroom, and he'd been there a while. The two gentlemen were having tea and feeling bored. Suddenly Fan Xian started asking, "How has the great princess been doing lately? I have been buried in work and haven't gone to visit her for a while. Please give her my regards, Your Majesty."

In the world of bureaucracy, choosing the topics during a conversation was a mystery involving subtleties. There was a reason why Fan Xian has brought this up. Just as he expected, the great prince said seriously, "On her trip to the Southern regions, you've been by her side as a guard. I thank you for your hard work."

This was the special talent of Fan Xian. He would choose an appropriate topic that could not only effectively bring people closer, but also let others realize that he was doing them a favor. He then smiled and replied with humble words, afterwards talking about the scenery in the Northern regions with the great prince.

The wedding of the great prince and the princess of the Northern Qi Kingdom had been scheduled for next spring. The princess was normally in the palace these days, and she has met the great prince on several occasions. According to rumors in the capital, they both loved each other, even though it was a political marriage. Being the ambassador during their last trip visiting the Princess' family, Fan Xian was recognized as their matchmaker. 

After some superficial conversation, Fan Xiao's impression of the great prince had changed. He was a straightforward person, which was rare for a prince. Perhaps the reason lied with his mother, a woman of humble birth. Long ago, his mother was just a captive from Dongyi City. As such, the great prince was very straightforward, lacking the arrogance in his heart and soul that existed in the second prince, the third prince and the youngest prince. On the contrary, the great prince was upright, and his voice resonated with power. He wouldn't conceal anything either.

It was no wonder his wife had such a good impression of this prince - Fan Xian thought to himself. He smiled and continued chatting with the prince. He noticed that the prince became very excited when he talked about military affairs. He sighed a little as he thought to himself, I don't have much military skill, and I know myself very well, so I'd better remain silence in front of this prominent man who had been leading the military for years.

"Sir Fan, have you ever met Shang Shanhu?" the great prince asked, his face full of admiration and respect

Fan Xian was a bit surprised at that moment, saying, "I've only seen him once at the Shangjing Palace, but it was from a distance, so I didn't have any impression."

The great prince slapped his own leg, staring at him in disbelief as he said, "Sir, you really have no idea how prominent this man is! It was the perfect opportunity! How could you have missed it?" asked the great prince, an expression of pity on his face.

"Oh?" Fan Xian quickly frowned and asked curiously, "Great Prince, why do you think so highly of Shang Shanhu?"

"He is a hero of our time." The great prince delivered the high praises. Then he narrowed his eyes and said in a cold tone, "Over the past ten years, he independently led the military patrolling along three thousand miles of defensive lines to protect the nation against the Wilderpeople, and he once launched a surprise attack. After marching hundreds of miles through the snowland, the troops had killed over a thousand Wilderpeople…something you may not have known. Even though both the Northern barbarians and Wilderpeople are fierce and tough, when compared to the Northern barbarians, the Wilderpeople from the Western region are much weaker. Since I've been dealing with the Western Wilderpeople for years, I know how hard it is for Shang Shanhu to defend his nation against enemies for years, especially when Northern Qi Kingdom is in such an unstable condition, and his power is nothing short of frightening.

"Unfortunately, Shang Shanhu has been called back and came back to Shangjing…But this might be a good opportunity, as Your Majesty might have the chance to meet him one day on the battlefield." Fan Xian said with a smile.

The great prince had a confident expression on his face, and said slowly, "If we could make use of this man in our government, there would be obvious benefits. However, if there ever comes a day when he and I actually meet on the battlefield, no matter how much I might admire his skills, I would use all that I have learned in this life to bring him down.

Fan Xian looked at the great prince and could totally sense his energy. Perhaps this is what people called pride, Fan Xian thought to himself, feeling frustrated. He realized that he should have been trained with these skills at his young age. However, it was ideas from his past life interfering with ability to have such pride. something developed on battlefields.

Nonetheless, he still maintained his confidence. With a smile his face, he continued talking: "Although I've never learned the military tactics and strategies like Shang Shanhu has, I do know that he orchestrated the killing of Shenzhong. He is well-known for making surprise attacks and catching the enemy off guard, like the sound of thunder in a silent place. He's

He's such a tough person who is strong and determined. What a talented and superior human being."

Staring at Fan Xian with a weird look, the great prince put on a fake smile, and said, "Shen was a provost of the Northern Qi Kingdom Discipline's Commission that had died…something that seems irrevocably linked to you, Commissioner Fan."

Shenzhong's death was the first step in the scheme planned by Fan Xian and Haitang. In actuality, there were some people who had already suspected the role that Qing Kingdom had played in this. But when the great prince pointed it out to him, Fan Xian was a bit shocked. He smiled with a superficial look in his eyes. "Your Majesty knows better than anyone else, although sometimes our devious ways of doing things… is incomparable to the strong sense of integrity that you or General Shang Shanhu possess. But sometimes, we do try our best to contribute to the imperial government."

The great prince looked into his eyes, and suddenly said, "This is exactly what I said earlier to you, that I've underestimated you. You know, Shang Shanhu is powerful, yet because of the perfectly planned scheme, he has become your puppet. Sir Fan, you are indeed brilliant."

It was raining the day when Shang Shanhu killed Shenzhong in the street. It was a well-orchestrated plan by the Emperor of the Northern Qi Kingdom and Haitang. Fan Xian thought to himself that since people mistakenly thought it had something to do with him, he might as well take the credit, because it would make him look powerful and people would be more scared of him. This was such a perfect opportunity, one Fan Xian certainly didn't want to miss. And so with a reserved smile on his face, Fan Xian admitted to it shamelessly.

"I've heard that …Sir Fan is the powerhouse among the 9th ranked officials, right?" The great prince gave Fan Xian a meaningful look.

Fan Xian tilted his head slightly, showing a soft smile: "Your Highness, I have no interest in fighting with you ... it'll be a loss to our imperial government regardless of the outcome."

The great prince didn't expect Fan Xian to be so sharp, as he was not only immediately figured out what the prince was trying to say, but also used his own words to strike back at him, and so felt frustrated; he was a good fighter, and so naturally he wanted to spar with Fan Xian, who seldom practiced. After all, the great prince was simply a warrior.

"A lot of people really want to beat me up." Fan Xian thought about the weirdo that he was to meet momentarily, one who went by the name "Shadow". "Your Highness wouldn't want to do it yourself. So please, let me go," he said with a wry smile on his face.

These words surprised the great prince again. He thought to himself that, being a straightforward man, he liked making friends, but he was also a very tough guy, partly due to his long service in the military, and also because he was prince. No other courtier dared to talk to him like this except for Fan Xian, who was disrespectful to him outside the capital city gates. And the same thing happened today while they were talked in Chen Garden. He didn't pay attention how things were worded, joking and cursing angrily, as if the man wasn't a prince to him

He took a deep breath and felt that the world was not the same anymore. At the very least, it felt like the world was different when spending time with this young man, Fan Xian.

"Sir Fan, it's so much fun talking to you. I like chatting with you." The great prince noticed that Qin Heng had finally come back, so he stood up and smiled, saying, "If you can help me save face, we will put an end to the conflict over the use of road outside of the capital, but in the future, if I ever want to talk to you, you can't ... play the trick of being sick or escape by going to washroom. "

Fan Xian smiled and bowed before the great prince. "I wouldn't dare disobey, and a talk with great prince is far more interesting than it is with others." He was referring to other Princes of the Emperor.

The great prince did not say goodbye to Chen Pingping, as he knew that this weird Director didn't care about old-fashioned manners and etiquette. Before leaving Chen Garden, Qin Heng whispered to Fan Xian to schedule a time for Fan Xian to visit Qin's home.

They got in the carriage, after which they passed the most vigorously guarded mountain road outside Chen Garden, as well as the area where the guards of Fan Manor and members of Overwatch Council Qinian Unit were squatting in the grass like mountain bandits. The great prince finally pull down the green roller shutters, saying in a cold tone: "Fan Xian is really an extraordinary man."

Qin Heng said with a smile: "According to my father, the more powerful Fan Xian is, the better ... or else if some worthless wretch would be in charge of the Overwatch Council one day, the elderly men from the Bureau of Military Affairs would be annoyed to no end... nor would the brothers in our army lead a pleasant life."

The great prince nodded. Suddenly he sighed and said: "After leaving the capital for several years, I felt uneasy moving back. It's especially true since it's hard for me to find anyone to chat with." Most of his bodyguards were dismissed, and the structure of the Western Expeditionary Army had been disbanded. The Ministry of Public Security had dispatched Officials and soldiers from different Units to the Western border for defense. He was now residing in the capital, and his situation was somewhat similar to that of the powerful man in the Northern region, except that he himself was a prince, ultimately. And naturally his status afforded him better treatment.

"How was your talk with Commissioner Fan?"

"Not bad," said the prince, "Your father should feel relieved. Even if Director Chen wanted to retire, I believe that Fan Xian would be more than capable seeing to it that the Overwatch Council remained effective and provided effective support for the military."

Qin Heng shook his head: "I agree. However, I believe young Sir Fan could go above and beyond just that... "

"Sir Fan is well-known for his meticulous thinking style, and he has a large circle of friends. His superior martial arts skills have reached the 9th rank, which makes him second to none. The Overwatch Council was functioning pretty smoothly under his control… and let's not forget about his reputation as a poetic genius. He was the one who deserved the books given by the literacy leaders, and yet he would become the president of the Overwatch Council…what an amazing individual," He said in disbelief, "There is no one like him, and in my opinion, he achieves greater success than even Director Chen."

The great prince sighed: "Do not forget that next year he will take over the palace treasury as well... This is like putting him in between a storm and the wind, or in the spotlight where everyone is watching. I really don't know what's in my father's mind."

Qin Heng definitely wanted to avoid the topics about His Majesty. The great prince looked at him with a smile and continued: "After all, Fan Xian is still young. Compared to Director Chen, he has a fatal weakness, which I am sure he is well aware of, and that's why he wanted to seize the opportunity to demonstrate his courage and power, to deter others and hide his own weakness."

"What kind of weakness?" Qin Heng asked curiously.

"His heart knows bonding." The Great Prince narrowed his eyes and replied gravely: "His uncle is different from him, as his uncle doesn't have any children and his parents died early. He's got no relatives, nor does he have any real friends. It's true that there are many beauties in his Garden, but he doesn't really love anyone. He is a lone wolf…So if the enemies can't find his uncle's weakness, how could they ever defeat him? On the other hand, Fan Xian is not the same, as he's got his wife, sister, family and friends…all of these are his weaknesses."

Qin Heng thought to himself how

himself how true that was, and in the Qing Kingdom no one knew who Chen Pingping cared about the most…except for His Majesty.

"No friends, no relatives, no true love…What kind of life is it? It must be very hard." Even though Qin Heng was not an elderly man, it made him a little bit sad when thinking about this.

"Director Chen's life is not easy." The great prince said in a very respectful tone, "Fan Xian's got a long way to go to act like Director Chen."

Right now, inside the Chen Garden, people were singing and playing stringed instruments, the pleasant and soft music floating in the air just like cotton clouds. Dozens of gorgeously dressed beauties were singing merrily and dancing gracefully on the Qintai Stage in the lake. Chen Pingping was sitting in his wheelchair and accompanied by Wan'er and Ruoruo, enjoying the performance. Sangwen was holding a harp, about to play music to the dancers.

Chen Pingping was living such a comfortable and relaxing life of a noble, something the two young men from Qing Kingdom who had left Chen Garden riding the carriage hadn't known, which is why they felt such pity for him.

Fan Xian appeared from the other side of the garden. Chen Pingping gently clapped his hands, and all the singers and dancers left immediately. A beautiful lady politely guided the female guests to the back for a rest. Wan'er knew that Fan Xian wanted to exchange words with Director Chen now, so she followed that beautiful lady to go to the back, but before she left, she gave Fan Xian a glance. She wanted to know how the conversation between him and the great prince went.

Fan Xian smiled and nodded his head to make his wife feel at ease. Then he walked towards Chen Pingping and stood behind him. He consciously put his hands on the back of the wheelchair and asked: "Where do you want to go today?"

Chen Pingping pointed towards the woods at the east end of the garden.

Fan Xian remained silent while pushing the wheelchair for a tour in the woods. The young man and the old man didn't exchange words. It was still early. The cold autumn sun shone obliquely upon them through the trees, leaving long shadows on the ground. The squeaky wheelchair rolled over the shadows on the ground.

"He called you uncle." Fan Xian walked among the trees pushing the wheelchair. Sparse leaves could be spotted on top of the trees. He smiled and said, "Aren't you scared that the Overwatch Council might report you? This is a terrible offense."

"Are you afraid of being reported by the guys in the Overwatch Council? I've managed to make it through all of those situations basically unscathed. If all of the reports about me were saved to this date, they could fill the entire imperial study room," said Chen Pingping with a straight face. "He's calling me uncle, which is permitted by the Emperor, so no one can say anything."

"Your Majesty has approved it?" Fan Xian was a bit surprised.

Chen Pingping turned his head and glanced at him, saying lightly, "Back then, Lady Ning was a captive of Dongyi during the Northern Expedition, and His Majesty almost lost his life in a scenic rural land in the north region. It was Lady Ning's attentive care that helped him to recover, after which time they had a son, the Great Prince. "

Fan Xian had heard this story before, and he knew that it was this slim, elderly man who led a dashing cavalry to the northern region and rescued the in that desperate situation. With many thoughts flashing through his mind, he suddenly realized something, saying, "You must have maintained a really good relationship with Lady Ning, have you?"

"At that time the situation was so miserable, and we had to run for our lives. We had left deep impressions on each other, and later become very close. You know, in that situation, we couldn't afford to let a captive be with us when we tried to escape. When they were trying to kill Lady Ning, I said something to rescue her, which is why she's always respectful towards me."

Fan Xian laughed. "It turns out that you are her savior."

Chen Pingping closed his eyes and said with pensive slowness, "His Majesty was injured at the time. His body was hard like a piece of wood. He could not move at all. Someone had to clean his body and take care of his bodily functions, and apparently, no one is better suited than a gentle and careful woman."

"I heard people saying, that later, Lady Ning was about to move into the imperial palace, and it had caused a disturbance...because His Highness had never married back then, and yet all of sudden, this female captive of Dongyi was going to move into the palace. The Empress is very unhappy." Fan Xian asked, "So you helped her again, right?"

Chen Pingping laughed, and more and more wrinkles appeared on his face. "I wasn't that powerful back then. Actually, your mother's words saved Lady Ning, who was finally permitted to move into the imperial palace."

Fan sighed and said: "No wonder ... my mother loved meddling in other people's business."

"She enjoyed doing that," said Chen Pingping. Suddenly he paused: "But ... it wasn't really intruding on other people's affairs, because someone had to say something positive before His Highness finally made up his mind and get married."

Fan Xian grimaced behind him, and said, "I am not really that interested in the romance stories of older generations."

"You should listen to these stories. It will be good for you." Chen Pingping said with a cunning smile on his face, "At least you know now that in imperial palace, there is someone you can trust."

"Lady Ning?" Fan Xian shook his head: "Just a small favor done for so her many years ago; does such gratitude truly last that long?"

Chen Pingping said: "Dongyi women are iron-willed and tough. They love loved ones and hate wicked people…And besides, about thirteen years ago, she did a lot to allow your mother achieve her revenge…and because of that, she offended the queen mother, who demoted her to the role of 'The Talented,' from which she has never come back. "

"Are you sure that the great prince doesn't want to fight for the throne?"

There was indifference in Chen Pingping's voice. "He is a wise man. At a very young age, he chose to escape, and it's probably because of his mother, who is good at educating kids. As such, the great prince is much more straightforward than the second prince and the youngest prince."

Fan Xian remains silent for a moment, though suddenly asked, "Does Lady Ning know about me?"

"No, she doesn't." Chen Pingping spoke. "Let's assume you have all the cards in your hands. You shouldn't use all the cards at once. Always keep a few cards up your sleeves. "

"Does His Highness know that I know?"

"No, he doesn't."

"Is it cheating?"

"It's okay. If His Highness did not ask about it, it isn't our place to tell, as we are just the courtiers."

The young man and the old man both laughed like two foxes.

"What happened to the offending second prince?"

"Have you reached your target?"

"A total of 17 officials were caught altogether, so most of his accomplices in the imperial government are gone. However, I can't touch anyone in the Ministry of Officials." Fan Xian was counting on his fingers. "The Cui family has also suffered many losses. According to the news from the Northern Region, they are going to extend their power, which will make it easy for us to take them down."

"Do not let others know that your next target is Cui family," Chen Pingping said coldly: "Tomorrow morning in the court, His Highness will make a final decision. This will be hard for the second prince to turn around."

"Will my family be in trouble?"

"Do you care if you lose the title of baron?"

"No, I don't."

"Then there is nothing to worry about. Don't worry. Your father is more cunning than anyone else, how could he let you suffer any losses." A thought came to him, after which Chen Pingping said in a ruthless tone, "While I wasn't in the capital, you had been called all the way from Danzhou to the capital... so who knows what he's thinking about."

"Yeah. That sounds like him." Fan like him." Fan Xian said, somewhat frustrated.

Chen Pingping patted his wheel chair's armrest and said cynically, "I will admit that he is a good dad."

Fan Xian did not like to hear such words. He remained silent. Chen Pingping hadn't expected this kid to be all that respectful toward Fan Jian, so he some smiled, feeling a bit happy. "What did you come for today?"

"To bring my wife and sister here to for a free meal." Fan Xian gave a reluctant smile.

"And by the way, let them have an eye-opening experience seeing what it is like for a lonely old man to keep dozens of beauties in his place."

All of sudden, he stops joking with the elderly man. He became melancholy and asked: "I've always wanted to ask you a question."

"Go ahead."

"Are you ... really a loyal courtier?" The question seems childish.

However Chen Pingping took the question very seriously. After a long while, he said carefully, "I remain loyal to His Majesty and loyal to the Qing Kingdom ... and you should know full well by now that no matter what you do, His Majesty is watching over you. You may only achieve the things he allows you to…in a word, remaining loyal to His Majesty is equal to be loyal to yourself. Therefore you must always remember this and be loyal to His Majesty.

Does it mean to remain loyal to His Majesty or to myself? Fan Xian did not want to dig into this issue.

"But you've taken early action this time, earlier than what His Majesty had planned." Chen Pingping closed his eyes and said slowly: "And due to your own way of doing things, your purposes have been revealed completely. His Majesty doesn't know that you've found out the story of your life; he will be suspicious of your purpose."

Fan Xian fell silent, as he already knew that this was the biggest issue caused by the incident.

"Do not worry. Let me take care of it." Chen Pingping said softly.

Fan Xian was no longer worried about it. He pushed the wheelchair, walking out of these beautiful but dreary woods. The young man and old man were heading towards the west, gradually leaving their shadows behind, but the wheels of the wheelchair were constantly rolling over the grounded shadows

The court was going to meet the next day on time. Over the past few days, the father and son of Fan family pretended to be sick and failed to show up in the court meetings. Today, they finally showed up at the meeting, anticipating the raging storm of impeachment and denouncements from the ministers. The memoranda were submitted to the Overwatch Council a while ago. Minister of Revenue Fan Jian admitted his mistake and that Fan Sizhe, the black sheep of his family, behaved the way he did as a result of inappropriate family education. Fan Xian had also submitted his memorandum, admitting his error and a seeking punishment. He also admitted that the homicide case occurred in Bao Yue brothel was due to his lack of supervision.

However, the Fan family wouldn't admit to any of the other charges. At the end of day, no one had the evidence regarding the conspiracy against the capital official or of the killings in the rainy night. Plus, these flawless actions were good enough to shut the tattler's up.

Conversely, regarding Fan family's allegations against the second prince, the opponent was having a hard time addressing the issues. After all, Xie Bian was one of the Bajia Warriors who killed people outside of capital court and Xie Bian himself had died suddenly in prison. All of the accusations pointed to the second prince.

To the surprise of the courtiers, the defense by the second prince was not that strong. All the counterattacks merely scratched the surface. After a short while, everyone realized that the two sides must have made secret agreements; put another way, the second prince had admitted defeat.

His Majesty the Emperor had been sitting on the dragon throne quietly and listening, and only showed an impenetrable expression when Fan Xian stepped up requesting punishment.

Not long after, the courtiers had exchanged opinions, and upon His Majesty's confirmation, this matter has finally come to a close.

Fan Jian, the Minister of Revenue, didn't discipline his children properly and let them go unchecked, resulting in one becoming a murderer. However, considering his many years of hard work, and as credit for the Shouju event, he was given a milder punishment, including having no salary for three years and seeing his nobility decreased by two ranks, while additionally, he should shut himself away to think over his mistakes

Commissioner of Overwatch Council and academic of the imperial college Fan Xian had also done wrong by dispatching soldiers without authority. Although he had admitted his error and requested punishment on behalf of his brother, his crime was hard to forgive. His title of nobility was removed and salary stopped. Furthermore, he was ordered to organize books donated by Zhuang Mohan for the next three years

The Ministry of Justice had issued an arrest warrant for Fan Sizhe, the second son of Fan Jian, who had fled to avoid punishment. A description of the wanted man had circulated throughout the country.

The official of the capital had been dismissed from office, put in prison and would go to trial later.

The Duke...

Finally, the rulings for the second prince became known. Due to his wrongdoing, his rank of nobility was lowered, and he would spend the next six months under house arrest.

The rulings had finally come out. The officials and the common people were trying to figure out the meaning behind the above rulings. Nonetheless, for the father and son of Fan family, even though their ranks of nobility were either reduced or removed, which were indeed heavy punishments, they didn't suffer any substantial loss. On the contrary, the second prince had lost many subordinates, and the prince himself would be under house arrest for 6 months. These were such harsh punishments that everyone could clearly see that Fan family won the battle this round.

However, people who looked more closely had noticed an interesting coincidence in the rulings issued by His Majesty. The descriptions of the offenses were vague, as "wrongdoing" was noted for both Fan Xian and the second prince. After all, engaging in wrongdoing was not a big issue for a Commissioner of Overwatch Council, though for a prince, it definitely was.

The situation had changed in the imperial court. It became so obvious to everyone that the second prince no longer had the favor of the Emperor, and at the same time, Fan Xian had never been called into the palace alone. People started wondering: Did this mean that when two tigers fought, both lost? Furthermore, as a courtier, Fan Xian used to hold special favor of emperor. Again, did it mean that everything was over?

However, Fan Xian had no reaction to any of these changes. He seemed very happy staying inside the school every day. He worked alongside other staff organizing books. Occasionally he would go to the Overwatch Council. He even spent 2 days visiting the Bureau of military affairs and the General's mansion, and also went to visit empresses in the palace with Wan'er and his sister. He even bumped into the great prince once in the Shufang Palace where the great princess of Northern Qi was living temporarily. Of course, during his visit to the imperial palace, he didn't see the emperor.

On top of that, he had secretly discussed many issues with Xiaoyan Prince. The dispensation of forces along the northern region smuggling routes targeting the palace treasury was put in place, and when the time was ripe, an attack would be launched against the Cui family, which would immediately cut off the source of income for Xinyang and the second prince. Regarding the Zhenqi in the body, he's taking it seriously. He would see what Master Feijie was going to suggest so as to determine whether or not he should take medicine.

And so the day went. Before anybody realized it, a cold autumn wind started blowing, and the well-delayed chrysanthemum viewing party had finally begun. But Fan Xian had already put on layered clothing. He was staring at the last piece of hopeless leaf with fear, and thought to himself, in this terrible weather, how could a fearless chrysanthemum to bring about their blossoms?


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