e. This time, he was clearly the target. Even more significantly, this assassination attempt had deployed archers—using archers to kill someone in the heavily-guarded capital far breached the bottom line of Imperial law.
The internal institutions of the great Qing Kingdom began to take action. After a short period of time, they found out the "truth" of this assassination attempt. This was in part thanks to Fan Xian; if he hadn’t retaliated and killed his attackers, there wouldn’t be any evidence left behind, and this case would forever remain a solvable mystery.
It turned out that the brute whom Fan Xian had gutted like a pig was well known, so the investigation didn’t take too much effort. At least, judging from the fact Director Chen and Fei Jie still didn’t hurry back to the capital, this incident was nothing major.
That brute’s name was Cheng Jushu, a notorious man of violence hailing from the Kingdom of Northern Qi. His body was trained to be resistant to both the sword and spear. More importantly, he wielded supreme physical strength and vigorous zhenqi. He was one of the few Level 8 masters in the world. As for the female assassins who got their throats crushed by Fan Xian, they were killers from a small vassal state. However, the Overwatch Council was secretly aware that they had always been controlled by Northern Qi.
The case seemed to be clear-cut. Northern Qi Kingdom had ordered this assassination in secrecy. However, whether it was ordered by that young emperor or the priest Ku He was still unknown.
The capital was filled with people gossiping about, questioning why Northern Qi Kingdom would go after Young Master Fan. After all, despite having declined, the country was still a powerful force to be reckoned with.
True, Fan Xian had established a reputation now in the capital as a poet, a playboy, and also as someone capable of violence. But to the world, he was still a very minor character. Northern Qi deploying a Level 8 master and two female assassins from a vassal state to kill Fan Xian, who just arrived in the capital, was simply inexplicable.
But for Northern Qi to make contact with a secret place against the sovereignty of Qing, they used a brilliant but ruthless tactic.
It wasn’t known how they managed to find out Fan Xian was likely to inherit Imperial business property in the upcoming years and thus a target in the power struggle between the crown and second princes. If Fan Xian had died that day, people would surely suspect the crown prince for not wanting to lose the source of his money. Alternatively, the second prince would be suspected for trying to frame the crown prince. Regardless, no one knew how that would shake up the Imperial court.
Fan Xian was only a minor character, but his life and death were extremely significant. The officials in the Second Bureau of Overwatch Council were impressed by their peers in Northern Qi for coming up with such a brilliant plan. A small move on their part could greatly impede Qing’s secret northern expedition.
This "northern expedition" only existed in the Ministry of War, the Overwatch Council, and the emperor’s own head. Its reality, it was all up to the emperor’s decision. Northern Qi had been had existed in the shadows all this time, so it was wise of them to act now—that was, of course, if they had successfully killed Fan Xian without leaving behind any evidence.
Not even Northern Qi would have guessed that this minor character would prove to have such tremendous power. Fan Xian’s four bodyguards were all "private property" of Count Sinan; each of them had Level 5 abilities, which was why they could exterminate all the archers despite being poisoned—and it went without saying that the handsome illegitimate son was the scariest of them all, being able to take down the poison-using female assassins and the Level 8 master, Cheng Jushu!
As for that sorcerer, no one paid any attention to him; he was truly insignificant.
"The Overwatch Council and the Ministry had made their judgement. The one responsible was indeed Northern Qi. They’ve dug up even more—the second prince chose the Drunken Immortal Tavern to meet you because he thought you liked that Si Lili, but turns out, the Drunken Immortal Tavern was a ‘sleeper spot’ planted by Northern Qi."
Count Sinan sat in the dark bedroom, looking at his son in the bed. He said calmly, "I know you’re extremely angry, but since you’re fine and killed the assassins, you should let this go."
"Let it go?" His father’s indifference brought a slight chill to Fan Xian’s heart. Fan Xian tried to change the subject, "Where is Si Lili now?"
"She was on her way to escape to Northern Qi, but she was captured by the Fourth Bureau of the Overwatch Council. They should be on their way to bring her back to the capital."
"I hope she won’t die." Fan Xian’s voice lacked emotions.
Fan Jian smiled. "People attended by the Overwatch Council wouldn’t die so easily."
"You really believe things are this simple?" Fan Xian suddenly asked with a smile.
"You have a different explanation?"
"Those archers… How did they get in the capital? I heard their bodies were cremated the next day. Was it to destroy some evidence hidden on them?" Fan Xian adjusted his body posture with some difficulty. "I know you don’t want me to know too much, fearing I’d lust for revenge. But I believe I have the right to know who is trying to end my life?"
Fan Jian stared at him coldly. "You should know… that I have some hidden authority on behalf of the emperor. While it’s nothing compared to the Overwatch Council, it’s enough for me to be considered one of the inner circle. However, we still couldn’t find out who Northern Qi was cooperating with. Our current suspects aren’t only limited to the two princes, but also the likes of the prime minister and Eldest Princess."
"Since that could not be determined, the matter of who is your real enemy… should not be openly discussed, lest you make even more enemies." Fan Jian continued, "This is my advice to you, and I hope you accept it."
Fan Xian nodded. He agitated his wound again, making him frown. After exhaling twice, he answered, "I will figure out a way to investigate this."
Fan Jian was satisfied by his son’s response. He offered Fan Xian some words of consolation and left the bedroom.
After his father left, Fan Xian’s eyes calmed down immediately. Staring into a corner of this dark room, he asked with some anger in his voice, "Why didn’t you do anything that day?"
Wu Zhu emerged from the darkness, his eyes still covered by that black cloth which was without any wrinkles, just like its owner’s forever-emotionless face.