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Zeng Pei looked overcast. “Think over this more, Sir Tang! Don’t regret it when it’s already too late!”
“Are you threatening me?” Tang Fan calmly countered.
Standing beside him, Qian San’r stared at the two like he was facing major enemies.
Zeng Pei glared for a long time, then laughed icily, turned, and left with Wu Zong.
“They’re way too impudent!” Qian San’r raged.
“When have the Eastern Depot’s people ever not been impudent?” Tang Fan sounded collected. “It’s inseparable from them, no matter which Emperor reigns. Their capital lies in pure impudence.”
They had at least maintained a display of harmony before, yet they had now completely turned face. “What do we do, Sir?” Qian San’r asked.
Tang Fan was not really bothered. “This would have happened sooner or later. It isn’t like we would have to eat live pigs without the incompetent Butcher Zhang around, is it? That they could bear with it and only speak now is already quite honorable.”
The Eastern Depot was used to being domineering, which was why Zeng Pei and Wu Zong, two minor wardens, had dared to mock him. He had long been mentally prepared, however, and wasn’t enraged at all about it.
While they spoke, the sky had since turned completely dark.
Many people got off their boats, talking and laughing while they headed for Yangzhou City, ready to experience a place that was famed all over the world. Even Emperor Yang of Sui hadn’t been able to resist setting up a special trip down south to see its beautiful scenery and people.
Anyone that had been to Yangzhou before would now happen to bring up Yangzhou’s parable with bravado; something about skin engulfing water in the morning, water engulfing skin in the afternoon, and skin meeting skin in the evening. Hearing it would make the listener’s drool overflow and hang three zhang down, getting them all the more filled with yearning for Yangzhou.
Qian San’r heard as much from the shore while on it, and returned full of envy, asking Tang Fan, “Sir, what is ‘skin engulfing water’, and ‘water engulfing skin’? Why does that sound so… rapturous?”
Tang Fan smiled. “It means that Yangzhou folks wake up in the morning to have tea and light refreshments, then spend the afternoon in bathhouses. Yangzhou has such livelihoods, but that sort of life is generally only for wealthy families to enjoy. Average commoners don’t have enough time to work to get three square meals a day, so how could they have the thought to mess around?”
Qian San’r blinked. “Sir, I heard that your hometown is in Jiangnan. Are you actually from Yangzhou?”
Tang Fan shook his head. “No, but my hometown is close by, so I’m pretty familiar with civilian customs of the region.”
The other gave a look around, grinning evilly. “Then, is there also skin pressing against skin at night?”
Tang Fan side-eyed him. This guy was already well aware of the answer, harboring bad ideas. “You want to get off the boat and walk around the city?”
Qian San’r climbed onto the pole given to him. “That requires your approval. Those Eastern Depot bastards are unreliable, and I can’t just leave you alone…” With that, he started drooling. “Are you going, Sir?”
Tang Fan shook his head. In truth, it was not just Qian San’r that wanted to; he wanted to go stroll Yangzhou City, too. However, for the sake of not having people’s gossip get going, it would be best for him to not go anywhere before reaching Suzhou. “Zeng Pei and Wu Zong are here to surveil me. Don’t pay attention to them not doing anything; if I step into the city right now, after I return, an accusation of ‘ignored a Court task to have fun in private’ will be placed on my head.”
Qian San’r’s chest filled with indignation, but he didn’t dare to say anything that would cause catastrophe for Tang Fan, only showing his rage on his face.
“Well, I can’t go into the city, but there’s no issue for you. Even though it’s getting late, inns and restaurants are still open, and won’t shut until the time of the Boar,(9-11p) unlike the North. Go take a walk, and pack up a few things for me to eat while you’re at it.”
Qian San’r’s eyes shone. “What do you want, Sir?”
At one mention of this, Tang Fan had to keep down his desire to salivate, doing all he could to look deadpan. “I want a portion each of three-diced buns, shredded tofu boiled in chicken broth, pipa prawns, and jade-colored shumai. Anything else, sight it out.”
“Got it!” Having received permission, Qian San’r itched to sprout wings and fly off into the city immediately.
“The day of Guanyin’s ascension draws near. There are lantern festivals going on from day to night in the city, giving it a lot of liveliness, but you need to remember not to loiter about brothels. If you do, you don’t need to come back,” Tang Fan reminded him.
Seeing his serious expression, Qian San’r quickly took back some of his floatier ideas, agreed to everything, then left the ship for the bank.
After he left, Tang Fan felt a bit listless, so he set down his book and walked out of his cabin to get some air on the open deck.
Beneath the night’s contamination, the mist-like willows on either shore had lost color, no longer the bright green they had been during the day, but that accordingly sparked off bits of candle flames that swayed lightly, reflected upon the water’s surface. It looked like another world made of glass, causing one to not know what night it was.
Such was the the enticing power of Jiangnan’s watery home. There was no Northern wind and sand blowing about, and it had this beautiful scenery day after day, all through the seasons. It wasn’t strange that many Northerners came to be unwilling to leave this place. Yangzhou City was even more phenomenal alone.
Tang Fan stood on the ship, gazing into the distance, able to see the city filled with brilliant lanterns that shined like the day itself. It abruptly reminded him of his childhood, when his father had brought him and his sister to Yangzhou for fun. So many years had passed in a wink; the landscape was the same as ever, while the faces of the people had all changed. Were it not for the two Depot wardens watching him on this expedition, he would definitely want to visit some of the places he had gone to before, and go into the city to take a look.
“Help! Come quick! Someone fell into the water!”
A scream cut through the peaceful quiet, interrupting his slightly painful memories.
Looking up, he saw that a few boats had come together on the river at some unknown point in time. Two amongst them were viewing ships, and there was a faint disturbance on the water’s surface, as if someone actually had fallen in.
However, what was weird was that someone from this side had called for help, while the boats’ side had the sound of giggles coming from it, with several figures appearing at the boat’s edge. Tang Fan looked closer; it seemed like the dandies were having a laugh. Some rolled up their sleeves in preparation to get into the water, but dawdled, which was really weird.
“Sir, Sirs! Someone fell into the water. Do we rescue them?”
The speaker was one of the boatworkers. Having seen Tang Fan, Zeng Pei, and the rest come out to see the commotion, he had hurriedly asked for instructions.
“What happened?” asked Tang Fan.
“This lowly one isn’t too sure. It appears that the one that fell was a woman. Just now, those two viewing-boat dandies spoke rudely, but were already on the boat, which resulted in a shoving match that pushed the woman into the water.”
Zeng Pei was displeased. “Why would we rescue her? There’s so many people over there, they can do it! We have imperial orders to handle our task, not be river-patrolling bailiffs! Don’t make such a fuss!”
“Saving someone’s life is more worthwhile than building a seven-story pagoda,” Tang Fan said. “If we didn’t see it, fine, but since we’ve seen it, we need to go and help!”
However, while they were talking, someone on a small boat had since jumped vigorously into the water, swimming to the drowning person. The other was quite good at swimming, and quickly nabbed her, dragging her towards the government vessel here. Seeing this, the boatworkers quickly scrambled to help get them both up.
There were several boats nearby that weren’t too far from the woman that fell, and their distances were similar visually, but the woman’s boat still had those two dandies standing on it, so sending her back there would be like a lamb entering the tiger’s den. The other nearby ships weren’t really big enough. By comparison, the government vessel was undoubtedly more impressive and reliable.
When the rescued woman was hauled onto the deck, Tang Fan’s group then discovered that she was a beauty worthy of a nation.
By means of the illumination from an exuberant amount of lanterns, the maiden was seen lying on her back on the floor, eyes shut in unconsciousness. Her thin spring garments couldn’t conceal her exquisite figure, and her bound braids had loosened in the water, her long, drenched hair sticking to her cheeks, making her complexion all the more snow-white.
Brows like the umbral black of distant mountains, lips like the bright red of cherries.
In that instant, such a phrase floated up into Tang Fan’s mind.
If even he couldn’t resist having the shock of seeing a beauty flit past his face, no one else could, either.
The group was staring at the woman, not knowing what to do. Men and women were not to be close; if she was a girl from a decent family, saving her was the absolute limit. If something happened in the process of saving her, then even if she woke up, her reputation would likely be gone.
Judging particularly from what had happened before, if she had jumped into the river to clear her own innocence, she was likely fierce in personality.
Zeng Pei and Wu Zong were eager to try their luck, but with Tang Fan nearby, they dared not be rash, else it would be very easy for him to get a handle on them.
Tang Fan’s attention remained on the girl for only a moment, immediately after which it landed upon the one that had rescued her.
The other looked to be in his early twenties. His features were sleek and handsome in the lanternlight, and his white clothes were soaked through, pressing tightly against his body. Even so, he didn’t cut a sorry figure, instead manifesting a stylish heroism.
Right as Tang Fan thought to speak, he saw the young man turn around and jump back into the water, swimming towards the boat the woman had been in.
Everyone was confused by his abrupt action, watching him quickly swim to the boat’s edge. The instant his arms were gripping its railing, his figure swiftly leapt up, then landed stably upon the deck, beautiful and efficient to the extreme.
Following this, the youth punched the two dandies aboard into the water, then had the boatworker drive the ship close to Tang Fan’s vessel. The two maidservants of the girl that fell were brought over, and he told them to press against her chest to get her air. After a good bit of struggle, her life was saved.
The two dandies cursed and called for help. The viewing boat they had been in scrambled to come up and save them, causing a momentarily chaotic scene.
Wu Zong had no complaint about the pretty girl being around, but had a very big complaint about the young man that had brought people aboard their ship without their permission. “Who are you?! How dare you trespass upon a government vessel! Do you know who’s on this ship?!” he rebuked.
“No matter who’s on it, you’re not the one in charge,” the youth lazily answered. “Since you’re not in charge here, then you can stay cool on the sidelines. The boss hasn’t said anything, so why are you sticking your head out?”
“You’ve really got a dog’s guts! Do you know who we are?!” Wu Zong fumed.
“Wu Zong, if I’m not remembering wrongly, the one in charge of this ship seems to be me, correct?” Tang Fan suddenly asked.
Despite their overbearingness, they didn’t actually dare to take care of Tang Fan for real. At the very most, they could only intimidate him with empty words, then set up some minor stumbling blocks behind his back; apart from that, their duty was to ensure his health and safety. That much was unchanged. If something happened to him, they would definitely be the first ones out of luck.
Hence was why Wu Zong’s face fluctuated upon hearing this, yet he ultimately said nothing, tasting bitterness in his mouth.
Because of his act of saving someone, Tang Fan smiled pleasantly at the young man. The other was caught off guard; antithesis to his recent haughtiness, a slight blush of shame was on his face, and he smiled like he had returned to innocence, showing off his canines.
Tang Fan didn’t mind him, though, his line of sight since turning to the groggy maiden. “As you’re awake, Miss, you should head back to your boat.”
Her face was pale, and she looked a bit dazed, coming to stand up with the support of a maid. Surrounded by men with clothes soaked through, she had no idea how much they had seen just before, and upon hearing Tang Fan’s words, she immediately reacted, looking humiliated and embarrassed.
Thankfully, the maid helping her had a cloak on her, and she had already bundled the girl up tight.
“Thank you for your rescue, Mister Official. Please allow me to go wash and change before I come back to thank you.”
“There’s no need. Go on back.”
The present situation was way too terrible. The girl bit her lower lip, bowed, and returned to her boat with the maid’s help.
After being saved, the viewing-boat dandies were unhappy and wanted to come around to make trouble. Tang Fan lifted his chin, saying to the boatworker, “Go tell them that the Eastern Depot is here on business, so they should only come onboard if they don’t fear a headache.”
The boatworker went up to relay that. Just as had been expected, once the name Eastern Depot was heard, it was practically like the men had seen a ghost. How could they have nerve to demand any justice? They immediately turned their bow away and sped off.
Had Tang Fan staked his Censor status just then, that likely wouldn’t have been so effective, which was both hilarious and annoying.
Having resolved that bunch of belligerent fops, Tang Fan turning to the young man. “Your good self saw an injustice in your travels and upheld righteousness via rescue. There was much chivalric flair to your act. May I ask your exalted name?”
The man cupped his hands and grinned. “This humble one is Lu Lingxi, courtesy Yiqing. I hail from Jiaxing Prefecture, Pinghu County. This was no more than a random rescue I did because I was passing by; what sort of chivalric flair could I have? Your own good self is taking a government vessel, so you must be on a Court assignment. I pay my respects.”
He didn’t self appellate as ‘this commoner’, so he ought to be of scholarly rank. Tang Fan nodded lightly. “You’re drenched, so you can change your clothes before we talk more.”
The young man was strong in body, feeling nothing after standing on the boat for such a long time. At Tang Fan’s reminder, he laughed. “Quite unfortunately, I rented a small boat for night travel, and didn’t prepare a change of clothes. If it isn’t too much trouble, could I borrow a set, Sir? I’ll return it later.”
This Lu Lingxi was thick-skinned, to know that Tang Fan was Court-appointed official, yet still dare to speak to him in the same tone of voice as he would a same-generation peer. It somehow didn’t cause any negative reactions, either.
Tang Fan was easygoing by nature and had no intent to bicker with him by showing off his official power, so he found some clean clothes for him to change into, then told him to find him at a tea hall.
The other had a tall and lanky figure. Tang Fan’s clothes were not really big enough, making them a little tight on him, but he had fair skin and graceful poise. Even with any bit of irregularity, one could overlook it.
“You came from Pinghu, so you presumably know Assistant Minster Lu Ding?” Tang Fan asked.
“You’re speaking of my uncle.” The youth blinked, showing some joy. “You know him?”
Tang Fan shook his head. “We’ve known each other from a distance for a long time, but haven’t had much contact. The Lu family is a big clan of Pinghu; I assumed you all would know of each other.”
The man crooked his brows. “I’m afraid that I still don’t know your own revered name?”
“Left Metropolitan Censor, Tang Fan.”
Lu Lingxi suffered a shock, looking at him with wide eyes. It wasn’t until the other slightly raised his brows that he smiled awkwardly. “I’ve long heard of your reputation of solving cases like a god would, Sir Tang. Now that I’ve met you, it’s difficult to remain unmoved. Please forgive this Yiqing’s rudeness!”
“Do you have your own honors?”
“Yes. The year before, I was lucky enough to become a County Honorate. After reporting to my parents, I bid farewell to my family to travel abroad. It’s been over two years thus far.”
“I saw that your agility was unlike an average scholar’s. You’ve learned martial arts?”
“You really do notice the finer details, Sir,” the youth smiled. “This humble one did indeed study under Grandmaster Mulian of Shaolin Monastery for years, and I’m considered a laydisciple.”
“Oh? Then you’re of both civil and martial capabilities. Are you intending to return home for a visit to your parents?”
“Yes, but I’ve now changed my mind. I’ll go home later.”
Tang Fan was surprised. “Why is that?”
The youth kept cupping his hands to the last. “Because I met you. I’ve admired you for a long time, and I hope that we can interact some more so that I can receive your guidance. Can you fulfill this humble one’s little wish?”
Tang Fan’s popularity wasn’t bad, but he had never seen a fan like this before, who was filled with admiration at first meet. Were he an influential academic like his teacher, this wouldn’t be so strange. Even with the minor fame he had gained on account of his judgements, he had never thought that his reputation would be at this degree.
However, the one before him looked sincere, and had a good face on him. Even Mister Tang inevitably became guilty of the crimes of judging someone by looks and cherishing talent.
Of course, there was a more important reason, too — Lu Lingxi came from the Lu clan of Pinghu. It was a generational family of officials, and nearly every generation produced Palace Honorates, so being friends with him would do no harm. Looking at the young man’s character and aptitude, he might slowly become a rising star in the next few decades.
Tang Fan smiled, pointing at the chair beside him. “Sit. You’re a County Honorate, but why did you not go to test into being a Provincial, and travel around instead? Do you wish to abandon scholardom for the military, imitating Ban Chao in laying down your brush for the spear?”
Lu Lingxi sat down with poise. “I want to lay down my brush for the spear, but this Dynasty is inferior to the Han Dynasty. If a general has no scholarly merits to his name, then he will always be a grade below the rest, and have to look at civil officials’ faces all the time.”
He glanced at Tang Fan. Seeing that the other didn’t appear to be displeased, he continued on. “I’m not complaining or anything, let alone saying that civil officials are bad, it’s just that military men are of lower position for no reason. Civils that actually understand military affairs and can strategize are few, after all. This humble one thinks that reading ten thousand pieces is inferior to traveling ten thousand li, and that is exactly why it’s imperative to have broader knowledge. Otherwise, even if I do come to be a Provincial Honorate later, I would just be a mediocre man of ineffective military strategies.”
Tang Fan nodded and smiled. “Very good! Being able to both have such aspirations and implement them is extraordinary. I believe that you’ll achieve it someday!”
Lu Lingxi suddenly looked bright. “Thank you for your praise, Sir. I—“
Right when he thought to continue, he saw a boatworker come in from outside to report to Tang Fan. “Sir, the woman that fell wants to come over to thank you and this Don.”
Reasonably, for a woman that beautiful, no earthly man would not want to try to see her again, to say nothing of how she had come to thank them, which could not be more proper. There was absolutely no grounds for rejection, and no one should want to reject her.
And yet, Tang Fan said, “I won’t meet with her. If you want to—”
“Sir, this humble one saving her had been no more effort than the wave of a hand. I have no intent to make her give thanks at all! I don’t wish to see her, either!” Lu Lingxi immediately answered.
As he had responded too quickly, Tang Fan had to tease him. “If you do, that’s just normal human behavior. Go and see her, I won’t chastise you.”
The other was anxious. “Sir, I really don’t want to see her! To be able to meet you and receive your guidance and conversation is three lifetimes’ worth of blessings! Why would I vainly care about irrelevant bystanders?!”
Seeing a layer of panic quickly shroud his handsome appearance, Tang Fan no longer had his prior calmness, a bit amused as he thought about how Lu Lingxi likely hadn’t become enlightened on appreciating the opposite sex.
Towards this big-hearted, honest, and juvenile in nature Lu descendant, he actually had a lot of fondness and admiration.
“Tell her that she doesn’t need to come over, she should just recuperate properly,” Tang Fan said to the boatworker. “No one wants her to repay them, so there is no need for her to be overly polite.”
The boatworker agreed, withdrew, then returned after not long. Their conversation disturbed, neither Tang Fan nor Lu Lingxi were too pleased.
Noticing as much, the boatworker was also awkward. “Sir, she said that her parents both died and she’s going to Suzhou to take shelter with relatives. Because only her maids accompany her, she worries that this same sort of situation will happen again, so she hopes to be able to request your permission in tailing your vessel for the journey. Apart from that, she will absolutely not bother you further.”
That was not an extravagant request. A woman traveling by herself in this world using minor ploys to protect herself was not any sort of big deal.
Since Tang Fan didn’t mind her, he also had no interest in worrying about studying her background to its depths, so he allowed it.
Sure enough, the woman didn’t come to disturb them again.
Lu Lingxi was an odd person. Tang Fan had seen that he was happy to help others without wanting to take the credit for it, and since he was also a younger member of the Lu’s, he chatted some more with him. The other was unexpectedly engaging, his clever remarks like pearls that often made one hold their stomach with laughter. Owing to his many travels over these two years, he was also wise in all he had seen; he happened to speak with him about going some area, and the two were like old friends at first meet, talking for over half the night. When dawn approached, Lu Lingxi reluctantly said farewell, changing his appellation from ‘Sir’ to ‘Brother Tang’.
After day broke, the government vessel did not remain for much longer, proceeding on with its journey. Once it had passed through Changzhou, Wuxi, and other such areas, it finally reached Suzhou Prefecture, where they disembarked, then took a carriage from Changshu to Wu County.
Suzhou had Changshu, Wu County, Wujiang, and other counties associated with it. Among them, Wu was the Prefecture’s seat of governance, and it bordered Wujiang, while both of them were on the edge of Lake Tai. There was only a ‘jiang’ of difference between them, yet they were two separate areas.
The Court had naturally issued official documents to local officials when Tang Fan had left the capital. By the time the group arrived at Wu, Hu Wenzao, Suzhou’s Magistrate, had long been waiting outside the city to welcome him, having brought his subordinating officials with him to stand in the intense sun.
When it came to rank, both Hu Wenzao and Tang Fan were fourth, but the latter was an imperial ambassador. The former didn’t need to call himself ‘this humble official’, yet him personally coming to welcome him expressed his attitude, and when he saw Tang Fan, he was even more cordial and polite.
Suzhou was a rich region, and its Magistrate had a cushy job, unlike officials of poor counties. As the guardian official of the Su-Hang areas, he innately had an abundance of confidence and capital, so him being so courteous was not something Tang Fan was going to be too pretentious about. It didn’t take too long after their initial meeting for them to already refer to each other as brothers.
Hu Wenzao introduced his subordinating officials to Tang Fan. At the end of that, everyone believed that Tang Fan would introduce Zeng Pei and Wu Zong, who were beside him, but he just said, “We’re a little tired after coming all the way here. Is there somewhere to rest our legs at in the city?”
Zeng Pei and Wu Zong hadn’t expected that they would get straight-up skipped, their faces flashing green and white.
Having as oppressive a signage as the Eastern Depot meant that wherever they went, they were mighty in all aspects, and even local officials dared not offend them lightly. How could they have ever imagined that they would be so completely overlooked by him?
They didn’t need to think, either; had they not previously relied on their status to try and reprimand Tang Fan, why would the two sides have had a falling out?
Respect was one’s own acquirement, not what others gave.
Their mistake had been to equate him with other officials scared of offending the Eastern Depot. He had already offended the Wan party, so what was the Eastern Depot added to that?
Seeing this, Hu Wenzao hesitated. “Dare I ask, good brother, who these two are…?”
Tang Fan then showed a look of surprise, laughing. “Look at me, I forgot introductions! These two are Eastern Depot wardens that came along to help protect me.”
He finished without even saying their names. Their complexions immediately got even darker, and they thought, Who the fuck is only protecting you? We’re also responsible for monitoring you!
Tang Fan didn’t give Hu Wenzao another opportunity to speak, though, looking confused. “Why are we not going into the city? Is there something wrong, Brother Hu?”
“Of course not,” Hu Wenzao quickly answered. “Please come in now, Brother Tang. The posthouse rooms have long been ready.”
Tang Fan and Hu Wenzao walked up in front, talking their way into the city. Tang Fan dared to slight the Eastern Depot, but Suzhou’s subordinating officials did not. Seeing that Mister Prefect was busy speaking with the imperial ambassador, they helped with greeting Zeng Pei and Wu Zong, not being neglectful just because they were unknown pawns.
The posthouse indeed had long made preparations, hot water and food all being available at first call. Suzhou was wealthy, with even the bedding in the rooms being made of silk that was as soft as clouds. The luxury was evident.
Hu Wenzao personally brought Tang Fan to his room. He had thought that he had finished his task and could withdraw from his job well done, but Tang Fan called to him, “If it’s no trouble, how about you sit for a bit, Brother Hu?”
Taken aback, Hu Wenzao’s smile promptly turned not too genuine. “I don’t think I should… I still have some official business to do. How about we talk another day?”
Tang Fan looked at the sky outside. “It’s already nighttime, so the bureau logically should have long closed. Are you so cherishing of the common good that you even work through the night?”
Hu Wenzao laughed. “There is no other way to be. Things have been relatively hectic lately, so I won’t be able to accompany you much. Please rest a little earlier, good brother! I’ll come visit again tomorrow!”
With that, seemingly quite afraid that Tang Fan would tell him to stay, he left the room without waiting for his response.
Watching his back that was practically fleeing, Qian San’r shut the door, then turned back while chewing his tongue. “Anyone that didn’t know better would believe that a ghost was chasing after him. It seems like something really fishy is going on, Sir!”
Tang Fan smiled, turned an upside-down tea cup over, poured tea for both himself and Qian San’r, then purposefully studied him. “Tell me, how is it fishy?”
“Didn’t you say before that both Yang Ji and Chen Luan denounced this Hu Wenzao, and he’s still sending memorials defending himself? According to that, he should be more anxious than anyone else. Why did he retreat so far away when he saw that you wanted to talk proper business?”
Tang Fan nodded. “His attitude was pretty weird, but we’ve only just arrived here and don’t understand the situation. There’s no need to be rushed; we can look first, talk later.”
Qian San’r grinned evilly. “That’s just fine. When we just entered the city, I immediately noticed that Suzhou is different from the North — even the tea has the taste of cosmetics on it. It’s no wonder people say that heavenly halls are above, with Su and Hang just below! Do you want to sample the grace of that Southern makeup, Sir?”
Tang Fan was displeased. “What taste of cosmetics? That’s just you having lewd thoughts on the mind! I didn’t taste any!”
Qian San’r sighed. “Ai, I knew you would refuse to go. But, having said that, this place is so far away from the capital. Even if you go, Envoy Sui wouldn’t know, and this lowly one wouldn’t go spill the secret to him!”
Tang Fan immediately spat out his tea. “What secret?! What would that have to do with him?!”
Qian San’r gave him a wink. Tang Fan’s response was to boot him right on out.