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Don Shen was unlearned and talentless, yet he luckily had a good father.
Shen Kunxiu hoped that his son could become a mighty dragon, not only bringing Shen Si wherever he went, but also having him enter famed academies to study whenever he him was busy with work. It was all in the hopes that his son could be influenced by it, and repent his mistaken ways.
Prior to going to Egret Isle Academy, Shen Si had gone to the slightly more famous academy in Nanchang Prefecture. No one had really been able to bear a student like him, and Consul Shen didn’t have the cheek to make his son remain there, so he brought him to Egret Isle, expecting that after being removed from that bunch of hooligans, Shen Si would be able to calm his mind and study hard.
However, he had been destined for disappointment.
While at Egret Isle, rather than repent his ways, Shen Si had instead became acquainted with a foppish rich boy like Xu Sui. They shared the same stench, immediately hitting it off like blood brothers that been separated in their past lives.
All who went to school knew that, regardless of whether it was ancient or modern times, where there was people, there were vagrants. When together in the same place, there would forever be groups that divided up for various reasons, all completely different sorts that found each other objectionable all the day long.
The wealthy younger-gens headed by Xu Sui found Lin Zhen unsightly, feeling that despite him clearly being from an official’s family, he had drawn a clear boundary with them, as if he was so high-and-mighty. Of course, Lin Zhen had found Xu Sui unsightly as well, making them all typically hate to see each other and not get mutually involved.
Had Xu Sui been an average merchant’s son, he would have only thought so inside, never daring to get on Lin Zhen’s case whatsoever. After all, Lin Zhen’s father had been Ji’an’s Balancing Magistrate — that post might not be much to look at in Nanchang Prefecture, but in Ji’an Prefecture, he was a snake at home.
However, Xu Sui was not an average merchant’s son. His father, Xu Bin’s former supported had fallen, yet he had quickly climbed onto the big tree that was the present Court’s Head Vizier. The Wan party’s name could scare people to death when spoken, so, of course, Xu Sui would not fear Lin Zhen, the son of a sixth-rank, and had thought all day of ways to make life harder for him.
After Shen Si’s arrival, Xu Sui had regarded that as finding a friend on the same path. By pure coincidence, Shen Si had learned of the grudge between the Lin and Shen families from his father, growing even more unhappy with Lin Zhen. The second Xu Sui spoke, the two had hit it off immediately, always thinking of how to trip up Lin Zhen. The latter was not to be outdone, making the two sides quickly become like water and fire.
On the eve of the institutional exams, Lin Zhen and Xu Sui had gotten into a verbal argument, when had ended up developing into a group scuffle. Since Lin Zhen had typically behaved well in front of the academy’s teachers, he had been the first to complain to them, which meant that while Xu Sui and Shen Si had received some punishment, Lin Zhen had gotten off scot-free.
Ever since that incident, the two had held a grudge that wouldn’t settle, hatred in their hearts, and had been waiting a long time for a chance to retaliate.
By happenstance, the institutional exams had been coming up. Xu Sui and Shen Si were nothing — unless possessed by some god of literature, they were destined to not pass them — but Lin Zhen was different. His schoolwork was decent ordinarily, so acquiring aspirant honors ought to be no concern; the difference would only lie in what ranking he got.
In light of this, Xu Sui had thought up a cruel idea, planning to have Lin Zhen take a massive tumble in the institutional exams.
He had first made Shen Si go ask for the exam answers ahead of time from Shen Kunxiu, but he naturally failed; Shen Kunxiu had refused to tell his son anything, spitting dog blood invectives upon his head. This failed plan had birthed another; Xu Sui and Shen Si had specially found a public area that Lin Zhen might pass by daily, then sent two people there to pretend to have an ‘incidental’ private conversation where they casually mentioned that Clearwind had a Taiping Daoist, who had specially been giving people good tips of efficient results.
The speaker had a motive, and the listener had the will. Had Lin Zhen genuinely thought his own skills to be enough, he would have probably paid it no attention and not been enticed, yet it had stayed on his mind — unable to resist the temptation, he had gone to Clearwind to get to the bottom of things.
Shen Si, putting on a front as the Taiping Daoist, had said a slew of nonsense to him, and ended up selling him the ‘Great Achievement’ words.
After that, Lin Zhen had felt that him alone buying it wouldn’t do, because if there was an issue, he alone would be caught for it. Therefore, he had passed this on to a few other students that he was closer with, thinking to himself that even if this came to light, a group could not be persecuted, and he would definitely be alright.
In Shen Si’s view, that had actually been two good things in one: it both had tripped up Lin Zhen to completely ruin him, and also made him a fortune. One hundred taels per person, with sixteen total people having come to hear the information, had netted him a total of sixteen-hundred taels. His father’s yearly salary wasn’t even that much; how could he not grin wide out of happiness? Since he had wanted to mess with Lin Zhen, he couldn’t have just left things unfinished, and accepting money was just ancillary. After that, Xu Sui had made Shen Si use his father’s name to intimidate and lure those evaluators into agreeing to cooperate with them.
That was only the first step, however. After the institutional exam roll was released, Xu Sui and Shen Si had immediately released information saying that everyone on the top twenty list had cheated, and after that, the situation turned massive.
Their original intent had only been to reduce Lin Zhen to a laughingstock, making it so that he would never be able to participate in imperial exams again. Shen Si had never imagined that this catastrophe would be so great, that even his father would end up swept into it.
As was known, Xu Sui was not well-read, but he was really great at having malicious ideas. With Shen Si’s brainlessness, he must have led him by the nose the whole time.
As soon as Lin Zhen’s tragic death had happened, Shen Si had some afterthoughts, then realized that this situation had gone beyond his control. Following a lot of hesitation, he’d had to steal himself to tell his father all of what had happened.
At that time, Shen Kunxiu had already sent a memorial requesting that the Court strip these scholars of their honors when Lin Zhen’s incident occurred immediately after, which had been an unexpected twist that made him not too uneasy. Then, his son had unexpectedly run off to confess everything to him, making him so mad, he started blacking out and nearly spat up blood on the spot.
Sons were supposed to be superior to the father, yet his had specially come into being to bring harm to him. How could he endure this?
And, what could a possible solution be?
He had lived most of his life, and only have one son like this. If something happened to Shen Si, the Shen family line would be cut off.
Had he been able to toughen his heart and beat his son to death, this would have all been done with — when the time was right, he could hand the body over, give the Court an explanation, he could win himself a beautiful reputation for placing justice before family, ending the matter there.
But how could he have stood that? All he could do was clean up the mess for his son.
Facing his father, Shen Si had wept bitterly, not daring to conceal anything. He only said that Lin Zhen’s death had had nothing to do with him, then every single thing he had done with Xu Sui.
Most parents in this world, no matter how much they resented how disappointing their children were, would always foist off their shortcomings onto others. In spite of being a Consul of Education, Shen Kunxiu was no exception.
After hearing Shen Si’s testimony, it wouldn’t have been possible for him to be any more furious, yet he had also felt that this matter could not have been done without Xu Sui masterminding and instigating it — there was no way the slow Shen Si could have done it. Now that something had happened, there was no sense in their father-son pair being snared, while the Xu family would be exempt.
Remembering the Xu’s connection to the Wan party, Shen Kunxiu had felt a stroke of luck, believing that they should be able to undertake this. So, he had personally visited them to discuss with Xu Bin.
Xu Bin hadn’t expected that his son would have the gall to enact such a calamity, either. Still, with the Wan party’s backing, he had indeed been unworried, thereafter having Shen Kunxiu send the five evaluators free, then telling him to obstruct the imperial ambassador as much as he could, after which he should insist that out of worry that his honors would be stripped, Lin Zhen had overly worried, and hung himself.
At that point, Shen Kunxiu had had no other option but to act according to Xu Bin’s words.
He had planned it out long ago. If Shen Si bore the charge colluding with the evaluators to peddle information to the exam-takers, what awaited him was not a beheading, but an exile of three-thousand li away. However, if Shen Kunxiu was an annoying bugger preventing the case from being handled, making it so that Tang Fan couldn’t find anything, he would be dismissed from his post, at worst. He felt that using his future career in exchange for his son’s life was a very profitable exchange.
Also, in order to prevent anything from happening to Xu Sui, the Xu’s would definitely do all they could to hinder Tang Fan.
Hence was why, like what Shen Kunxiu had said before, he really wasn’t helping his son avoid responsibility. With Shen Si’s brains, there was no way he could have thought up such a sinister plot, nor stir up such a huge disaster; he had been an accessory, at most. If they really wanted to speak of the mastermind, they should be talking about Xu Sui, son of Xu Bin.
After hearing all of this, Tang Fan was calm, not having any sort of special reaction. “What you’re saying is that the deaths of the evaluators had nothing to do with you and your son?”
“I had undergone an assassination attempt the night I came to Ji’an, nearly losing my life. The group that wanted to kill me used the same weaponry that caused identical wounds on the evaluators. According to you, this all must have been done by the Xu’s?”
Shen Kunxiu went quiet for a moment. “Because you asked me for the evaluators then, yet I had already had them go, I worried that you might get my son to speak of them. I went to find Xu Bin to discuss countermeasures. He told me not to worry. I didn’t expect that with a turn of my head, I would hear that they were all dead… but whether this was ultimately related to him, I’m not too clear.”
Everyone in the hall looked at each other. Magistrate Fan felt that it was too late for regrets, thinking to himself that he had managed to not come here tonight with some excuse, he wouldn’t be having to listen to the inside information of this case now.
When he had welcoming Tang Fan from his troubles, the reason he had called for Fang Huixue and Xu Bin was that the two had very strong back-stage supporters. Fang Huixue was unimportant — a few years before, he had not shown himself prominently, only transforming into nouveau riche after his daughter had become the second wife to the this province’s widowed Envoy of Education — but Xu Bin was different. The big ship he relied on was the Wan party, and every day that Consort Wan went unfallen was a day the party wouldn’t fall. Nobody was willing to offend such a force.
If Tang Fan refused to pursue this to the end due to fear of the Wan party, all present tonight would basically witness Mister Ambassador’s incompetence. If he wanted to go against the Wan party, they, as bystanders, would inevitably be implicated. How could someone like Magistrate Fan, who only wanted to be an peaceful official, keeping away from the slightest bit of trouble out of fear on typical days, follow Tang Fan into these troubles?
Luckily, Tang Fan was extraordinarily good at understanding others, and had no intention to make them remain. After listening to Shen Kunxiu to the end, he told everyone else, “It’s gotten late, you should all head back. I can take care of what comes next. Remember to have Lin Fengyuan’s body checked over well, without the slightest bit of oversight.”
As if receiving amnesty, Magistrate Fan quickly asked for forgiveness, then quickly pulled Ji Min — who appeared to have something he wanted to say — into leaving.
However, Tang Fan said from behind him, “Wait.”
Fan Yuezheng jumped out of his skin. When he turned his head, his smile was uglier than a sob. “What other commands do you have, Sir?”
“Leave Shuntian Prefecture’s men with you, then go to Millarch Tan to borrow a hundred troops to come over and surround the Xu residence.”
The other was agape, tongue-tied. “…Sir, I’m afraid that’s not appropriate?”
“What’s not appropriate?”
Magistrate Fan was too embarrassed to admit in public that he was afraid of Xu Bin, only able to tactfully say, “Should we not investigate this matter further? You must not draw such a hasty conclusion, just in case surrounding them is a mistake…”
“If it’s a mistake, that’s my business. I’m not making you go with.”
The Magistrate wept, thinking to himself, When Xu Bin sees people from Shuntian Prefecture, how will he not know that it’s me?!
Tang Fan was not please. “An imperial ambassador was assigned to handle a case, twisted logic has caused an injustice, and we are acting first, sending a memorial later. What are you still hemming and hawing about? Are you afraid of offending a paltry merchant?”
But behind that merchant is the Wan party! You’re not afraid, but I am!
Magistrate Fan was unable to speak of all of his grievances when Ji Min added oil to the fire. “Sir, if it isn’t easy for Mister Magistrate to act, there are dozens of bailiffs in Luling’s bureau that can be transferred over immediately. This humble official is willing to put in all of my meager efforts!”
Comparing the two, superiority was immediately apparent.
With no other option, Fan Yuezheng was forced to say, face pained, “Forgive me, Sir. This humble official will go.”
He thought of how Chen Luan’s backer had been no worse than Xu Bin’s, yet he had still fallen to Tang Fan in Suzhou. Evidently, Tang Fan’s support wasn’t bad, either. Neither side could be offended; the only sufferer was a small fry like him.”
He left quickly, and Tang Fan said to Shen Kunxiu, “Attempting to assassinate an imperial ambassador, even silencing the evaluators, over a personal grudge, is horrifying behavior that Heaven would find hard to tolerate! Are you willing to go with me to arrest Xu Bin and his son, Consul Shen?”
Aware that this was to make him testify against those two in their presence, Shen Kunxiu said, “I’m willing to cooperate with you. I only ask that you can help get leniency for my unfilial son afterwards, Sir, so that he can keep his life.”
Where was the Shen Kunxiu of now’s previous naggingly forceful, barbaric-beyond-reason mannerisms?
It was clear that everything he had done before had only been to muddle Tang Fan’s line of sight and divert his attention. What a shame it was that it had all ended up being for nothing.
Tang Fan sighed. “You knew of all this long ago. From the start, why bother?”
Shen Kunxiu smiled bitterly. “It’s always been said that a failure to raise properly is the father’s fault. When have I not wanted him to make something of himself? And is there not another saying that a parent’s heart is all-encompassing? When you have children, Sir Tang, you will know.”
“Shen Si is indeed guilty of a crime, but not to the point of a death penalty. When I send the memorial later, I will make the truth clear.”
The other cupped his hands. “Thank you.”
However highly he had regarded himself before, he now lowered himself for the sake of his son. This could be said to be a type of sorrow.
Tang Fan shook his head, declining to comment.
Magistrate Fan worked quick enough. In no more than a shichen’s time, Millarch Tan was located.
Millarch Tan was garrisoned in Ji’an, and knew a thing or two about the Xu’s backers. Once he heard that they were going to circle and raid them, his reaction was similar to Magistrate Fan’s; a little hesitant. “Sir, this is a matter of great importance. Why not report to the Court, then act on their judgement?”
“Do the Xu’s have three-Courts worth of elders, or four-generations worth of meritorious officials?” Tang Fan asked, displeased. “Even an Emperor breaking the law will be punished like a commoner — I only showed up here for exactly this by the Court’s appointment!”
Millarch Tan looked awkward. “Sir, I won’t hide it from you; it’s said that the Xu’s being so deeply rooted in this area stems from not only their slight reliance in Court, but because they’re keeping one thing hidden.”
“An iron guarantee.”
Every single person was startled, with even Tang Fan as no exception.
Iron guarantees were the ‘death-exempting gold tokens’ spoken of in written drama, originating from the Han Dynasty. In this Dynasty, when the realm had settled, the Great Ancestor had bestowed iron guarantees upon meritorious subjects that had helped him obtain the land, which had totaled forty-two families. During Yongle’s time, due to the battle at Jingnan, he had also bestowed many guarantees to subjects. Truthfully, only one half of had gone to the hands of subjects, while the other halves had been hidden inside internal departments; whenever one needed to be used, the two would be combined into one for proof.
Did the iron guarantees exempt one from death? Maybe not. Those that had had any at the start of the Dynasty had late been pared down a lot by the Great Ancestor.
Still, if it had been successfully passed onto future generations, it was a safeguard. Even if those descendants were degenerate and the family declined, in light of the iron guarantee, local officials would be too afraid to pressure them too much.
“They’re a merchant family. Why do they have an iron guarantee?” Tang Fan asked.
“I heard that their ancestor was a slave of Duke Ding’guo’s. Because of the bravery he displayed in the battle of Jingnan, and because he took a hit for the Emperor, he was bestowed an iron guarantee. He was later set free, so he left the Duke Estate and migrated here.”
Duke Ding’guo had been the youngest son of Xu Da, this Dynasty’s founding Great General. That part of the origin story was quite long and best unmentioned. Millarch Tan didn’t elaborate on it, and everyone present knew it well.
Hearing this, Magistrate Fan was even more hesitant. “Sir, if that’s the case, it would be better to consider this at length.”
Shen Kunxiu, hands in his sleeves, watched them all be indecisive. The corners of his mouth were slightly drawn, and he didn’t speak, falsely smiling. He seemed to be saying: See? Aren’t you all even afraid of the Xu’s, too?
“Sir, since the Xu’s won’t sprout wings and fly away, it would be best for the other imperial ambassador to arrive,” Ji Min urged as well. “In that way, you won’t bear responsibility alone, or have the gains not be worth the losses!”
His remarks held goodwill, but Tang Fan shook his head. “Matters of today must be finished today, lest more ideas will be had during the long night. None of you need to be afraid. If anything goes awry at the time, I alone will bear it, not implicating you in the least.”
Truth be told, that ‘other imperial ambassador’ was standing by his side, but that was not suitable to speak of right now.
Everyone took him as being too stubborn to listen to persuasion and surpassing another to act by himself. They felt that he might wish to take sole credit, so as to avoid the other ambassador sharing in the risk after he came, thus spreading out the contribution.
Still, as an ambassador, if he insisted upon the arrest, all anyone could do was obey.
Even so, Millarch Tan really didn’t want to be the bird that poked his head out. “Sir, Double Seventh is tonight, and each household has gone to lantern-view. More staff is needed to patrol and defend the city. Manpower is lacking on this humble one’s side, and I fear that it will be difficult to fulfill your request. Perhaps Magistrates Fan and Ji could allocate people from their bureaus? The Xu’s are mere merchants, they would probably be too afraid to resist.”
Magistrate Fan automatically cursed him out on the inside, thinking, You’re too afraid to go, so you pulled me out to be your shield?! What kind of logic is that?!
“You’ve spoken erroneously, Millarch Tan,” he answered. “Since they dared to send someone to assassinate Sir Tang, they must have a good backer — those assassins’ martial arts were so strong, even his bodyguards were unable to beat them. Furthermore, those in the bureaus are weaklings. As I see it, it would be better for you to bring more men with you, else we won’t be able to catch them when the time comes, instead having losses and turning into a joke!”
“Those assassins failed in their ambush and suffered heavy injuries. It was only because those evaluators were powerless that they had any easy successes,” the other argued. “Moreover, he’s going to arrest people, not fight a decisive war. If those assassins dared to openly attack, wouldn’t the Xu’s be close to a revolt?”
They shirked responsibility off to each other. Were these ordinary times, this would be a good plat worthy of a marvel, but Tang Fan had no patience right now. “In that case, neither of you need to go.”
Both Millarch Tan and Magistrate Fan were caught off guard.
“Magistrate Ji, will it be an issue if you go with me?” Tang Fan asked.
“This humble official is duty-bound! Please give the command, Sir!” Ji Min quickly answered.
Clothes were better new, friends were better old. When things had come to a head, the old pal was still reliable. “You are indeed both loyal and courageous,” Tang Fan said with a satisfied nod. “After this, this official will send a memorial to get you credit. Let’s go! Consul Shen, if you please!”
He didn’t look again at the other two, leaving the Lin home with Shen Kunxiu. Lu Lingxi, Lady Qiao, and the rest naturally followed after.
The left-behind Magistrate Fan and Millarch Tan exchanged a look, feeling a bit regretful. One regretted that he had just offended an imperial ambassador, and the other regretted about how he shouldn’t have come into these muddied waters tonight. Had he known in advance, he would have pretended to be sick and dying.
Seeing that the others had since gone far off, the two had no choice but to steel themselves in following after. Everything else aside, if Tang Fan sent a denouncement upwards, they would not be escaping blame.
In any case, if they said nothing in front of the Xu’s and just watched, that would be fine, right?
One group of people with separate calculations speedily came to the Xu’s entrance.
It was quiet in the vicinity. It was unknown whether everyone had left to lantern-view, or had just gone to bed early.
Tang Fan immediately saw two big, hanging red lanterns, two vermillion doors, and two stone lions, giving off a broad aura of majesty. This was indeed a rich merchant’s household. After two or three generations of business, if one could maintain that and not decay, or if someone in the family could take up an official’s post, they would cultivate a bit of a luxurious aura.
Since Ji Min had set his mind on following what Tang Fan was doing, he couldn’t shrink back in the thick of it. He went up to knock himself.
In not much time, the main door didn’t open, but the smaller side door did. The one inside poked his head out, and upon seeing the scene of a big crowd of troops outside the door, couldn’t help but startle. “All of you are…?”
“This official is the Luling County Magistrate! On orders from the imperial ambassador, we’ve come to arrest Xu Sui and bring him to justice!” Ji Min said darkly.
The doorman was arrogant. Hearing the words ‘imperial ambassador’, he not only wasn’t the least bit scared, but instead frowned. “My Master isn’t here. Please come back tomorrow!”
Ji Min was angered into amusement. Never had he heard before of picking a ‘good time’ to arrest someone. “Talk less drivel! Open the door now!”
Tang Fan glanced at Xi Ming. The latter understood, stepping right up and throwing out a kick. The doorman collapsed backwards with an ouch, and Xi Ming went through the small door, unlatched the gate from the inside, and opened it.
“Somebody! Somebody! Thieves are breaking in! Thieves are killing people!” the doorman started loudly shouting.
The rest of them were both angered and amused. Lu Lingxi thought to go and block up his mouth, only to be stopped by Tang Fan. “Let him holler.”
The doorman’s shouts speedily attracted the Xu family. Lanterns lit up all over the residence, one after the other. Many servants carrying clubs rushed out like a torrent, only to see a large group of government people. Everyone was shocked, unsure of what to do.
“What’s going on?!”
A middle aged man came out of the crowd, his voice quite imposing.
“Steward Xu, th-they said they’re going to arrest the Young Lord!” the doorman shouted.
When he saw Shen Kunxiu beside Tang Fan, Steward Xu’s complexion changed slightly, and he clasped his fist towards Tang Fan. “Sir Tang, I presume?”
Tang Fan didn’t return the courtesy, only saying, “Have your Young Lord come out.”
“What crime has he committed? Please make that clear, Sir.”
Tang Fan looked to Shen Kunxiu, and the latter said, “Colluding with examining officials and beguiling the exam-takers, resulting in fraudulence of the institutional exams.”
Steward Xu just laughed. “Your statement is ludicrous, Consul Shen. My Young Lord was not on the roll last time, nor amongst those scholars suspected of fraud. If he colluded with the examiners, why wouldn’t he get honors for himself, first?”
“Knock it off,” Shen Kunxiu said mildly. “This incident is an adversity for my Shen family. My son will not be able to escape responsibility, but Xu Sui instigated him, plotting from start to finish how to fraud the exams. There is no escaping that crime! I advise you to not bicker about it!”
The other sneered. “An official really does have two mouths, and ‘logic’ spouts from both of yours. If you want to arrest people randomly, just do it! To be honest with everyone, our Master is not at home right now — he’s been invited to the capital by a certain gentleman, and I’m afraid he won’t be able to come back for half a month. If anything is wrong, please wait until his return to speak of it. This lowly one cannot act as the owner here!”
“We’re here to arrest someone, not to have you make decisions,” Tang Fan said. “If you don’t step aside, don’t blame me for using diplomacy before force.”
He raised his hand slightly, and archers lined up behind him, their arrows pointed at every member of the Xu family.
The Xu servants had never encountered such a thing before. Seeing this, they promptly took several steps back, panicked expressions on their faces. No matter how arrogant they were, they weren’t rebellious, and did not have the courage to fight against the government.
Steward Xu hadn’t expected Tang Fan to be this unyielding — he clearly knew that their family had a deep connection to Solon Wan, yet he insisted upon an arrest. An official as stubborn and tough as this was practically unheard of.
However, what he hadn’t thought of was that if Tang Fan was afraid of offending the Wan party, he would not have contradicted Chen Luan in Suzhou.
He grit his teeth. Recalling the explanation his Master had given him prior to leaving, he said loudly, “Come — the iron guarantee!”
A servant carefully walked over with a sandalwood case. Steward Xu opened it; illuminated by a candle that shone like daylight, there was half of an iron guarantee inside, carved with an inscription whose characters were inlaid with gold.
An authentic piece, an iron guarantee bestowed by Yongle himself. After so many years, it was still brand-new, presumably having been carefully maintained by the Xu’s.
Even though they had long made mental preparations, Magistrate Fan and the others faces automatically twisted, and they simultaneously looked towards Tang Fan.
Seeing that everyone was scared, Steward Xu was a bit smug. “I must let you all know that our Xu ancestor established a great merit, and was bestowed this iron guarantee from the Emperor. Ever since then, we have abided by law for generations, never violating taboo. We use it today not to deliberately go against an imperial ambassador, but because our Master isn’t present today. Therefore, I ask that you view the guarantee’s surface, wait a few days, then speak of all this when he returns.”
Why did he want Tang Fan to wait a few days? He didn’t say what everyone was thinking, that Xu Bin had definitely gone to the capital for a rescue team. If Tang Fan went home today, this situation might change by then.
Had Steward Xu not brought out the iron guarantee, Tang Fan could have arrested people fine. Now that it was out and shown clearly to the audience, if Tang Fan persisted in seeking detainment, when word of that reached the capital, others could say that he acknowledged no monarchs, and had fabricated this gargantuan crime.
Why bother? Magistrate Fan thought, inevitably having a bit of schadenfreude. He had said long ago to think harder about this, yet Tang Fan hadn’t listened, insisting upon coming over here. Was that not refuting a sizable reputation? It was hard to get off a tiger one was riding, wasn’t it? Young people were too impulsive!
At this current scenario, everyone felt that Tang Fan was unable to get out of this.
Ji Min, ever magnanimous, said, “Sir, this humble official recalled at the last moment that I have something urgent to report; I request that we head out. How about we let them go for now, and come back tomorrow?”
Hearing this, a mocking smile appeared on Steward Xu’s lips.
However, Tang Fan said, “Iron guarantees are not sacred decrees. Were this an ordinary situation, this official would give them face, but the Xu family is now under suspicion of conspiracy. Does such a matter have to wait for Xu Bin to return and handle them? Wouldn’t that be the biggest joke sliding across the land? Is his status higher than that of the Court’s?!”
Everyone was startled.
Conspiracy? What conspiracy? Why was conspiracy being dragged in here?
The translator says: ya dun goofed
The author’s mini-theatre:
Sui Zhou: Heh… I was going to give PDA this chapter, but the writing wasn’t finished. My appearance was postposed. [t/n: wym it wasn’t finished? it was 7.9k characters???]
Tang Fan: …What do you call ‘PDA’? Is it scaring someone to death?
Sui Zhou: Don’t believe me, try it out.
Tang Fan (baffled): Try how???
Sui Zhou: Let me kiss you in public, and you’ll know.
Tang Fan: …I won’t do that, thanks.