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Chapter 81: Entering the Hall
In the front carriage, Ye Ling'er and Fan Ruoruo were talking. "Sorry to bother you about it," said Ye Ling'er, her face suddenly skeptical, "but is he really a student of Master Fei? He looks rather young."


Fan Ruoruo laughed. "I know, one expects a doctor to be older. But he's only having a look today, and after all, even the imperial physicians respect Master Fei's medical skill. Our family has a relationship with Master Fei. It won't do any harm to let him take a look."
Ye Ling'er thought so too. None of the doctors had found a way to treat Miss Lin's tuberculosis. The palace had contacted Fei Jie, but they found that he had gone to the border, and it seemed he would not be returning for a long time. They were still quite lucky to have found one of Fei Jie's students. She thought for a while, until eventually she couldn't bear it any longer. "Ruoruo," she asked, "I heard that yesterday your brother was accused of a crime?"
Fan Ruoruo wondered why she had decided to ask now. She laughed. "Do you have something else to bring against him?"
Ye Ling'er harrumphed. "I am thankful to you, but when it comes to your brother, I have no good will towards him. He's a brute, but he's as pliable as dough. He'll do what anyone tells him, and he doesn't have any will of his own."
Fan Ruoruo was secretly amused. If his brother had his way, this marriage wouldn't be happening anyway, and who knows who that might upset. But she didn't say anything. Instead, she smiled. "People of our status learn quickly that there are many things outside our control."
"But your brother is one for making trouble, is he not? It's clear that he wants to marry Miss Lin, but he still... frequents houses of ill repute. How does he think that reflects on Miss Lin?" Ye Ling'er recalled the rumors she had recently heard, and welled up with anger. "Not only that, but he beats people in the street. That sort of behavior... Ruoruo, please don't be angry with me. But... if you had to marry someone like that, would you be willing to?"
Fan Ruoruo sighed. Where did free will come into it? "Clever people don't listen to rumors. It's all just gossip, do you understand? My brother is a distinguished fellow. He’s not hiding some sort of terrible behavior."
Ye Ling'er laughed coldly. "Is that so? Do you know what the people of the capital have been calling him since yesterday?"
"What do they call him?" Fan Ruoruo's eyes were wide open as she asked curiously. She truly wanted to know what the people of the capital thought of her remarkable older brother.
"They call him... The Brute of Fan Manor!" said Ye Ling'er, panting with rage. "That’s what people say about your brother."
Fan Ruoruo covered her mouth to hide a smile. "Did you know my brother has another nickname?"
"What?"
"The Empress Dowager said 'ten thousand miles in sorrowful autumn, always the guest, and yet he still beats people?'" She stifled a laugh. "Ten-thousand miles-in-sorrowful-autumn-always-the-guest, isn't that a bit long for a nickname?"
Ye Ling'er knew that she was trying to tell her something. Not only was Fan Xian a prize fighter, he was also a great poet. She harrumphed, but she couldn't refute the Empress Dowager's opinion. It was clear that the Empress Dowager appreciated Fan Xian's poetry.
The two carriages entered a quiet courtyard not far from the palace. Outside the courtyard, one could clearly see a great number of palace guards. They had simple belts tied around their waists, so it was convenient for them to draw their daggers.
Alighting the carriage, Ye Ling'er made her way along the familiar path to the palace, but she unexpectedly found it blocked by a guard. "What's going on?" asked Ye Ling'er.
"I can’t let you in, Miss Ye," said the guard, slightly embarrassed.
Ye Ling'er laughed heartily. She pulled Fan Ruoruo to her side

. "This is the daughter of Count Sinan. She's quite well known in the capital." She glanced at Fan Ruoruo. "You mean to tell me that the little sister of ten-thousand-miles-in-sorrowful-autumn-always-the-guest cannot enter?"
"Who's 'ten-thousand-miles-in-sorrowful-autumn-always-the-guest'?" The guard was not a literate man, and he looked at them dumbstruck. Ten-thousand-miles-in-sorrowful-autumn-always-the-guest was hidden behind Ye Ling'er, forcing a smile.
Ye Ling'er giggled. "I've invited a doctor to see Miss Lin today. Are you going to let us through?" she said, explaining kindly to the guard.
The guard turned to look at the doctor. He was rather ugly-looking, and his posture was somewhat stooped. He looked like he was in poor health himself, the guard thought – and he wanted to examine the princess? But the guard said nothing, as he wished to protect Miss Ye's honor. How many of the guards did not have some sort of relationship with the Ye family? He forced a smile. "Miss Ye, if you had told the master you were coming earlier, I would not dare to stop you. Nor would I stop this doctor. But I cannot let you through today. The doctor you have invited has not been approved by the palace. What if something bad were to happen while he was treating her?"
Fan Xian lowered his head. He felt nervous. He had gone to all this trouble, and yet he still couldn't even see Miss Lin's face. Was it best to just give up? He wasn't sure whether this was his own fault or not. Last time, he had inadvertantly barged into the Temple of Qing and matched blows with the temple guard, and the whole palace guard had been subjected to a torrent of abuse by Eunuch Hong and the head commander, so today they were extremely strict.
"What are you talking about? This man is a student of Fei Jie of the Overwatch Council." Ye Ling'er fixed the guard with a glare.
When the guard heard mention of Master Fei, he looked at Fan Xian with a sudden deference, silently stepping backward, but then he thought of something and frowned. "A student of Master Fei’s? I've never heard of such a thing."
Ye Ling'er also thought about it. Any student of Master Fei would no doubt also be well known. How come she had never heard of him? Suspicious, she turned and looked at Fan Xian. But Fan Xian had prepared for this. He shook his head gloomily, and fished out a token from his chest pocket.
It was a token from the Overwatch Council. No one could have counterfeited it – or more precisely, there was not a craftsman in the land who would dare to counterfeit it. It was given to Fan Xian by Fei Jie in Danzhou when he was six years old.
The guard took the token and looked at it. It proved his identity beyond a shadow of a doubt. He looked again at the young man's pallid complexion and yellowing skin, and he realized that this most definitely was a student of Master Fei, someone who had experimented with poisons for many years – that ghostly appearance was unmistakeable.
Having received a sufficient guarantee, the guard let them pass. The three walked into the quiet courtyard, glancing at clusters of flowers as they walked along a stone-tiled path through them, leading to a small building deeper within the courtyard.
A servant girl ushered them into the building and served them tea. Fan Xian observed her movements and noticed that her every move seemed extremely proper. Clearly she had received long years of training at the palace. A while later, an old woman with a slightly arrogant air walked out. "Miss Ye, it's you."
Ye Ling'er clearly did not like this woman, and she made a grunt of acknowledgement in response. "Where is Miss Lin?"
"Miss Lin is sleeping. May I ask why you have come today, Miss Ye?" The old lady seemed to be standing respectfully, but her tone of speech was clearly meant to keep people away. Fan Xian couldn't help but wonder what would get in his way next.
Ye Ling'er was not in the mood for arguing with the old lady today. "I have brought a doctor to see Miss Lin," she said reproachfully. "Go and tell her. When she is ready, this doctor will come and examine her."
The old lady looked at Fan Xian. She knew this was the doctor. "You are aware of the young lady's status," she said coldly. "Other than the palace physicians, who could treat her?"
Ye Ling'er brought up Fan Xian's identity as a student of Fei Jie. Surprisingly, the old lady did not concede. She was much more troublesome than the guard outside. Fan Xian did not know what the palace regulations were, but young unmarried ladies always had plenty of ladies-in-waiting by their side. Although they did not restrict them and they were not like the frightful spinsters of the court of the Qing dynasty in his previous world, these women were always loyal to a fault. She absolutely would not allow her mistress to get in any sort of danger.
Fan Xian felt rather annoyed. He cast a glance at Fan Ruoruo. Fan Ruoruo understood what he meant. She stood up, smiling. "Since it is not in keeping with regulations," she said to Ye Ling'er, "I suppose we had best leave. This is not like any other place in the capital, after all."
Sure enough, Ye Ling'er was enraged. She shot up and unleashed a torrent of abuse at the old woman. Fan Xian watched and frowned. She was a rather angry girl, he thought. Who was going to teach her to control her temper in the future? At that moment, Fan Ruoruo attempted to intercede insincerely, asking the aggrieved old woman to sit at the table, handing her a cup of tea.
After a moment, the old woman's face changed, and she hurried off. Having heard all the commotion, one of Miss Lin's serving girls came out. She saw that the old lady was not there, and ushered the three upstairs.
Although Ye Ling'er had a temper, she was not stupid. She cast a suspicious glance at Fan Xian. Fan Xian lowered his head a little, said nothing, and followed them up.
He always carried things on him that people had no idea about – laxatives, knockout drops, aphrodisiacs, and not just medicine, but a dagger and a hidden crossbow too; all little tools to defend himself. With these things on his person, he could get himself out of any jam.
As they entered Miss Lin's bedchamber, Fan Xian lowered his head. He did not dare show that anything was off. A delicate fragrance reached his nostrils. He could tell that they were burning a specific type of incense that helped sick people convalesce, but it was concentrated too strongly, overpowering the delicate aroma of her boudoir.
Ye Ling'er went behind a curtain and said something, and then was followed by Fan Ruoruo. Fan Xian strained his ears, and heard that his sister was greeting the young woman. The young woman only coughed. It seemed that she was short of breath. In his mind, Fan Xian sketched out the scene. He didn't know how he should act when he saw his bride-to-be.
As he thought about it, Fan Xian realized that he was somewhat unfaithful. He felt deep love for that girl in white who nibbled at the chicken leg. Entering Miss Lin's bedchamber and smelling her rare perfume, he began to wonder what her blushing face might look like.
"Please enter, sir." Ye Ling'er conveyed Miss Lin's request.
Fan Xian straightened his appearance slightly, lifted the curtain, and entered.

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