# 108. Lead Investigator
Xu Lingyue was probably an over-imaginative person, whose personality was rather reserved, her emotions being heavily weighted down. Seeing big brother return completely unharmed however, finally that weight in her heart dissipated, and she burst into tears.
All the way until the maid walked outside, and saw brother and sister hugging each other, exclaiming delightfully “Dalang has come out of jail?”
Only then did Xu Lingyue realise that she was still an unmarried young woman, and pulled herself out of big brother’s embrace, simultaneously sobbing and lowering her head, her face burning red.
Xu Qi’an pulled his sister by the hand into a room, where the maids made them tea, and then retreated to beside the door, listening to the young Master and Miss talk.
“Go tell the others to boil some water, I want a bath.” Xu Qi’an ordered the maid.
The maid went out to pass on the message, but little did she expect that all the other servant’s faces turned, and they all refused.
With great chagrin the maid returned to tell young Master Xu. Young Master Xu was also very angry, thinking *either you people are off your horses, or I Xu Dalang can’t lift my sword any more.*
“Then you can help and boil some water.”
The maid felt even more chagrined, but didn’t dare to refuse, and so left with pursed lips.
Xu Qi’an turned, laughing, saying to Xu Lingyue “His Majesty has allowed me to use merit to atone for my crimes. I’ll be fine for now.”
Xu Lingyue nodded, her graceful melon-seed shaped face showing some anxiety, “Why did you attack your colleague?”
Xu Qi’an thus briefly recounted what had happened. Listening to this, Xu Lingyue was furious, her delicate hand curled into a tight fist, “I always believed that big brother does good.”
Her face split into a glittering smile, her eyes full of pride.
In an instant her beauty could move mountains, and Xu Qi’an could not resist pinching her cheek.
Xu Lingyue lowered her head in embarrassment.
After bathing, Xu Qi’an put back on his Nightwatcher uniform, and sat with Xu Lingyin underneath the eaves, each holding a large bowl of egg and shredded pork noodle soup.
The whole scene was warm and peaceful.
Xu Qi’an said, “Lingyin, can big brother swap your eggs with his pork?”
Xu Lingyin thought for a moment, before shaking her head, “No. Mum said that last time big brother cheated me out of a bun.”
“Then do you think big brother is cheating you?”
She tilted her head, thinking hard, “I forgot.”
Xu Qi’an said, “Sooo, why would big brother cheat you? No way is big brother trying to cheat you out of your egg, big brother is only…”
He didn’t have time to finish, before he saw Xu Lingyin “puh puh” spit too large globs into her noodles.
Xu Qi’an’s face froze.
Xu Lingyin said, “Second brother taught me.”
*… Intellectuals really aren’t any good things!* Xu Qi’an lowered his head, eating his meal, giving up on persuading his young sister out of her egg.
“Ah?” Xu Lingyin opened her eyes wide, looking at the bowl on her leg, and then looked at big brother, startled and confused.
Xu Qi’an patiently explained to her, in a pop-science way: “When you’ve fallen over before, and gotten a scratch, did your dad not use his spit to wipe your injury?”
Xu Lingyin nodded.
Xu Qi’an said, “This is because spit… mn, it can kill dirty things. Thus we can deduce, that once spit leaves the mouth, it is poisonous. We can then deduce, that your egg noodle soup is poisonous, and can’t be eaten.”
After he had finished, Xu Lingyin’s small round face had turned white.
“Will I die?” Xu Lingyin pouted, trying to hold back tears.
“Die? No, but it’ll make your stomach hurt for many days.”
Xu Lingyin nodded, and continued eating her noodles peacefully.
Xu Qi’an: “???”
After he had finished, he came to Xu Xinnian’s room, and found his jade mirror in his brother’s study. As Xu Qi’an put it back into his robe, his gaze suddenly landed on a few sheets of paper on the corner of Erlang’s table, which was held down with a paperweight.
The papers were packed with tiny cursive characters, detailing analysis of Xu Qi’an’s current situation, and thinking whether or not the Sitianjian or the Cloud Deer Academy could help.
*Old Cijiu has some talent…* Xu Qi’an laughed, and left the study.
On a quick horse he rushed back to the constabulary, and went immediately to see Wei Yuan.
Wei Yuan had already waited for a long time, and seeing him pointed to the seat by Yang Yan, saying kindly “Sit.”
Without expression Yang Yan handed over a dossier.
Wei Yuan said, “For this case, I have asked Gold Jade Hall, Spring Breeze Hall, and Suppressing Evil Hall to work together, and you will be the lead investigator!”
Xu Qi’an was shocked.
Wei Yuan laughed, “Hasn’t His Majesty personally given you the order?”
As their gaze crossed, Xu Qi’an suddenly understood; Wei Yuan wanted to use this case to promote him… he was immediately placed in the role of lead investigator, and not an assistant.
Xu Qi’an opened the dossier, and after reading through carefully, immediately asked “Is something sealed under Sangpo Lake?”
Wei Yuan’s eyes flashed with a strange glint.
Yang Yan’s stiff and rarely-emotional face also showed a shocked expression.
The truth of something being sealed under Sangpo Lake, had only been told to him by Wei Yuan this morning. Nangong Qianrou, who was smarter than him, also found out last night of the incident at Sangpo Lake, and only then thought back to that day when he was looking through archives with his adoptive father, before forming a vague guess.
He didn’t dare be sure, until only this morning when his adoptive father very matter-of-factly told him the truth.
But this little bronze gong somehow immediately worked out that something was sealed under Sangpo Lake.
Wei Yuan suppressed his surprised expression, and laughed, “Tell me your reasons.”
Xu Qi’an still had a crime hanging over his head, and couldn’t wait to prove himself to Wei Yuan, saying “Even though Sangpo Lake is our Great Feng’s forbidden place, but to an outsider, the only thing that was worth fearing would be the Nation’s Guardian Sword.”
Looking down at the dossier, he continued, “But on here, it’s written that the Guardian Divine Sword was undamaged. Then the perpetrator’s target would have to be something else.”
“Thus your subordinate thought, that there must be something under Yongzhen Shanhe Temple. But why would this thing have to be put under Sangpo Lake? So your subordinate made a bold guess, that that thing may need the Guardian Sword to keep it sealed.”
In reality, Xu Qi’an had done a reverse-deduction after getting a definite answer.
His clear thoughts and intricate logic after taking on Yang Yan’s dossier, made him ever more appreciative of this small bronze gong under his command.
Not only was his aptitude exceptional, but he was also clever, able, and deserved to be nurtured.
“Duke Wei knew all of this, right…” Xu Qi’an tested.
Wei Yuan honesty shook his head, “His Majesty did not say clearly, but I have a few guesses of my own…”
His face was serious, his tone containing warning: “Your job is to find out who exploded Yongzhen Shanhe Temple. Retrieving that item is none of your concern. If you encounter trouble that you cannot overcome, just tell Gold Gong Yang, he will help you.
“His Majesty has bestowed you a golden token,[^1] you may use it to move around in the Imperial City. Apart from the back palace, and a few other special places, with this plaque you may walk anywhere unhindered.”
After receiving his mission, Xu Qi’an took his leave.
Wei Yuan watched him leave, and after hearing the light footsteps recede down the stairs, turned to Yang Yan, asking “I heard that the Jianzheng has fallen ill?”
Yang Yan nodded.
Wei Yuan’s eyes were deep and calm, as he fell silent for a long while, “Old thing!”
Leaving the Tower of Noble Spirit, Xu Qi’an immediately ran towards Spring Breeze Hall, saying “Boss, immediately gather the two silver gongs from the Gold Jade Hall and the Suppressing Evil Hall at the front of the constabulary, at greatest haste!”
Li Yuchun had a face full of confusion. After a while, he stared hard at Xu Qi’an, “Are you the boss, or am I the boss?”
The young brother was now ordering him by gestures?
Xu Qi’an flashed his gold token, “I’m the lead investigator appointed by His Majesty. Today we’ll call each other by our role. I’ll call you Boss, you call me Sir.
“Boss, could you help me gather the two silver gongs.”
Li Yuchun walked away gloomily. *Call each other by role? Something feels off somewhere.*
The silver gong of Suppressing Evil hall was surnamed Yang, with the given name Feng[^2], and was a dark skinned, tall, thin, middle-aged man, with a large mole on his forehead.
The Gold Jade hall’s silver gong was a man with a full bushy beard, called Min Shan[^3]. There was a diagonal sword-scar on his face, making his look especially fierce.
Along with the Spring Breeze Hall’s Li Yuchun, the three silver gongs and twelve gold gongs, very quickly gathered together at the front of the courtyard.
According to the “tradition” of the constabulary, before going out to do an assignment, everyone must first gather in the front courtyard, where the squad leader would give briefing and encouragement.
At the same time, it was done for other Nightwatchers to see.
“Last Night Sangpo Lake experienced an explosion, Yongzhen Shanhe Temple was destroyed. His Majesty’s draconic grace[^4] was stunned and furious, and so ordered the constabulary to find who is behind this case within half a month, and capture the perpetrator.” Xu Qi’an had one hand on his sabre, his back straight, his eyes sharp;
“Under His Majesty’s orders, I will personally investigate this case. You, as this case’s assistants, must attend to this with full energy, and pay back his royal grace.”
In his heart, Xu Qi’an added, *If you do well you’ll sleep with a beauty, if you do badly it’s off with your head at the market.*
“Yes!” Everyone shouted at once.
Because they were all silver, bronze gongs under Yang Yan’s command, they were all rather obedient. They were only a little bit unwilling, as after all Xu Qi’an was a bronze gong, where did he get the experience or ability to do a case as big as this?
They also didn’t know why His Majesty would specifically pick him to be the lead investigator.
Leaving the Nightwatcher constabulary, getting on their horses, the full-bearded Silver Gong Min asked “Sir Xu, where do we go?”
“Naturally to the scene of the crime.” Xu Qi’an responded.
A line of people rushed towards the Imperial City, picking the most direct path: directly through it.
In reality, they could have gone around the Imperial City and still reached the crime scene, but Xu Qi’an had his gold token, and so what saved time, goes.
In any case, the first principle was to fight for every second.
Under the lead of the royal soldiers, the Nightwatchers came to Sangpo Lake. The scene here had changed drastically; the long walkways along the lake shore had all been destroyed in the explosion, and the white marble podium in the centre of the lake had disappeared into thin air.
The water’s surface was clean, with nothing floating around, making it hard to imagine that just a few days ago this place had been the site of a grand ancestor worship ceremony.
By the side of the lake was moored a small boat. Xu Qi’an said, “Let’s go have a look, we’ll need to go on the water.”
Xu Qi’an leapt onto the small boat first, secretly putting a hand into his robe, and tapped the back of the jade mirror, pouring out the “magic book” that the great scholar had given him. He tore a page out, and clutched it in his hand.
The other silver gongs followed him, leaving the twelve bronze gongs and a squad of Royal Guards ashore.
Li Yuchun pulled the oars, paddling the boat to the centre of the lake.
The tall and thin silver gong Yang Feng glanced at Xu Qi’an, and suddenly said, “Sir Xu, I’ll go down.”
Xu Qi’an said, “Then I’ll come down with you.”
As he said so, he set the page alight, and activated his qi-watching technique.
Sching… he drew his sword, clutching it in his mouth, and jumped into the water.
The icy cold water attacked his pores, as a line of small bubbles streamed from the side of his mouth.
He tried his best to open his eyes wide, looking at the situation underneath the surface.
The white marble platform’s foundations stretched all the way to the bottom of the lake. The place where the platform broke was a dozen feet below the surface.
The sound of hidden currents swirling reached his ears, and Xu Qi’an turned back, to see Silver Gong Yang had followed him.
The dark-skinned Silver Gong Yang also examined the remnants of the marble platform, and immediately had a deduction. He held it in his mind, planning to test this small bronze gong when they got back ashore.
At this time, Silver Gong Yang realised that Xu Qi’an had followed the platform foundation all the way to the lakebed.
He rushed to follow. The deeper he got, the more cloudy his vision was, until finally all that was left was darkness.
Silver Gong Yang thus didn’t continue to follow, and floated back up to the surface.
He burst out of the water, and climbed back onto the small bloat, simultaneously using his qi to dry himself of the icy cold lake water, and also looking around at the others:
“Sir Xu has gone to the bottom of the lake. It is pitch black down there, you couldn’t see anything.”
[^1]: Token, plate, plaque, basically a hand sized thing that was carried to show one’s authority
[^2]: 杨峰 (same Yang as Yang Yan)
[^4]: Chinese emperors are associated with dragons, so a lot of things about an emperor will generally have a “dragon” adjective thrown in for respect.