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Zhuang Mohan smiled, "Today, I fell by his hands. I gambled seventy years of my reputation and I fully accept my loss. It’s just that I don’t understand how this young Sir Fan is like an immortal sage when it comes to poetry. Had you informed me beforehand, naturally I would not make that gamble."
Eldest Princess sighed. "Other than the fact that he can compose poetry, I also didn’t think he could be so maniacal."
Zhuang Mohan closed his eyes. After a long time, he said slowly, "I only regret one thing. I had believed myself to be wise for over half of my life. Now that I’m at the end of it, I was subjected to such disgrace. Had young Sir Fan not composed three hundred poems in one night, perhaps everyone in the world would have believed me and thought Fan Xian was a shameless plagiarizer."
The old man opened his eyes, his expression returned to its former calm. He smiled and said, "It’s better this way."
"Better?" Eldest Princess lightly slid her bare feet along the cushion. She lightly bit her lip and said, "Master Zhuang, Mother has always admired your wisdom, which was why you were invited to live in the palace. I have upheld my end of the deal. What about what you promised me? Don’t tell me you were hoping for Fan Xian to preserve his reputation after the negotiations have been signed and your brother would be welcomed back to Qi?"
Zhuang Mohan said, "A wrong is a wrong. I fell for your schemes because I cared for my relatives. That brother of mine has spent half of his life killing. If you wish to revoke, there is nothing I can do besides pray for him; pray that he won't suffer too much in the Overwatch Council prison."
"I believe that student emperor sold to you by Bing Yun. It’s the only reason you could bring Xiao En back to Northern Qi. This is not a trade between you and I, but a trade between your emperor and I. I have fulfilled my end of the bargain. You did not. If you didn’t pretend to throw up blood and concede, who knows how things would have developed? So… Master Zhuang, tell that student emperor that Northern Qi owes us a favor."
Zhuang Mohan said, "Young sir Fan has great talents. I believe even you would have guessed that he is likely to be a Tianmai being. I am curious. Since there's a Tianmai being in Qing, why try to get rid of him instead of protecting him? Furthermore, even if he was framed for plagiarizing, how would that hurt him?"
Eldest Princess said blandly, "I have never believed in such nonsense as Tianmai beings. Even if he is one, his abilities are limited to composing poetry. How is that any useful to the country? As for why I want to get rid of him, that would be none of your concern."
As it turned out, Zhuang Mohan risked his reputation, which had been built up over decades, to try to ruin Fan Xian in front of so many scholars under Eldest Princess’s wishes. But he didn’t know about the complex relations in Qing’s political circles, nor was he clear about Fan Xian soon becoming Eldest Princess’s son-in-law.
But Fan Xian knew why Eldest Princess was after him.
Half-kneeling on the roof, his fingers and gaze turned slightly cold as he looked at the charming princess, who was barely thirty. Back when Guo Baokun spoke, Fan Xian knew someone from the palace was conspiring with Zhuang Mohan to chase him out of the capital.
Now, plagiarizing seemed so minor. Had he not pretended to be mad and shocked the various officials with his poems, everyone probably would have believed Zhuang Mohan. While being a plagiarizer wouldn’t get him any additional punishment, it would likely involve his marriage with Wan’er, and put him on the empress dowager’s bad side. Eldest Princess must be more familiar with these matters than Fan Xian was.
What was even more chilling to Fan Xian was that the head spy from Northern Wei was Zhuang Mohan’s elder brother! In order to persuade Zhuang Mohan to pressure Fan Xian, Eldest Princess wagered Northern Qi’s spy leader, Yan Bingyun.
She was too reckless! Even if she was the emperor’s sister, could His Majesty tolerate such treachery?
The summer breeze blew by, calming Fan Xian slightly. He knew that even if he heard all these secrets, he couldn’t use them to threaten the princess. She was the emperor’s sister, and the dearest daughter of the empress dowager. On those two points alone, she was able to operate with such lawlessness.
Seeing her beautiful black hair, Fan Xian couldn’t help but feel disgusted.
This woman was not only crazy; she was twisted too.
Now, Fan Xian seemed to have unraveled the entire plot. Eldest Princess had made a deal with the emperor of Northern Qi. By selling out Overwatch Council’s head spy Yan Bingyun, who had been a sleeper in Northern Qi for over four years, she hoped the other party would trade Xiao Si and Si Lili. The price Northern Qi had to pay would be to move Master Zhuang Mohan, who would use his reputation to crush Fan Xian’s own in the capital. At the same time, this would serve as a lesson to the rebellious Overwatch Council.
He still didn’t know what other details were involved in the deal. Eldest Princess should gain more than just this. There had to be a more terrifying reward.
Did the emperor know what his own sister was plotting?
He touched the key around his waist. With a flash in his eyes, he determined a counter-method. He adjusted his breathing in the night breeze and began to leave. It was too risky in the palace; he didn’t know when his luck would run out.
As soon as he descended the pillar. Two people slowly walked over carrying lanterns. Fan Xian’s heart went cold. He carefully hid himself in the pillar’s shadow. As the shadow changed direction under the approaching light, Fan Xian meticulously shifted his footing in order to stay in the darkness.
He prayed that this palace girl would be like the one before and not discover him.
The two palace girls already pa.s.sed the pillar, and Fan Xian was on the other side. Suddenly, they stopped. It appeared that one of them ranked higher than the other, as she was telling the other something. The lower-ranked girl replied sweetly and left, leaving only the older palace girl.
There was only the pillar between her and Fan Xian.
Suddenly, a cold gleam flashed in Fan Xian’s eyes. He forcibly twisted his body to the side a few inches. It was this intuition in response to danger that saved him this time!
Where he originally stood, there was the tip of a sword protruding out of the wooden pillar!
Because the pillar was too big, the sword didn’t protrude out too much. At a glance, its tip even looked a bit cute, as if warning Fan Xian it would bury itself in his vertebrae had he not moved.
Fan Xian coldly moved around the pillar like a pond loach. With extreme precision, he locked down on to the palace girl’s left forearm. Unlike normal martial artists, he didn’t care for her drawing her sword.
It was effective. With her surprise attack having failed, she was afraid this "a.s.sa.s.sin" would stop her from pulling out her sword, so she gathered all her zhenqi into her right arm, and her left arm’s defenses weakened significantly.
With a noise like the ripping of paper, the palace girl pulled out her sword, ready to shout out!
Twisting his brows into a knot, Fan Xian poured his overpowering zhenqi into the palace girl’s left arm! This palace girl would rank seventh in ability, but she had never encountered anyone with such strange zhenqi. She felt the pain of countless small knives slicing through her meridian and was forced to swallow her scream. Her throat could only utter out a weak cry.
Fan Xian recognized her at a glance. This palace girl was the one who greeted him into Guangxin Palace. She had long eyebrows; quite unforgettable.
The palace girl’s brows quivered as she worked up her zhenqi for an all-out clash. But Fan Xian suddenly let go, causing her zhenqi to be released into the empty air. Due to being let go so suddenly, the girl lost her balance. The right side of her body was spent.
In that instant, she felt the right side of her neck turn numb. Then immediately, she felt her whole body stiffen slightly.
Fan Xian frowned, withdrawing his two fingers from the girl’s neck. He knew the poison needle wasn’t enough to silence her. He followed up with a palm strike just below the palace girl's ribcage.
There was a m.u.f.fled noise as the palace girl’s chest caved in. She fell over dead, bleeding from her eyes, mouth, ears, and nose.