# 111. Locking on to a Suspect Hearing Eunuch Liu's words, the officials from the Ministry of Law thought that the other party was trying to embarrass the little bronze gong Xu. A feeling of schadenfreude welled up within them, and they decided that if Xu Qi’an were to say anything wrong, they would immediately stand and criticise, attacking his face. Scholars were very good in battles, just not battles involving force. The government officials and policemen took on a wait-and-see attitude and didn't believe that the reckless bronze gong could find any important clues. Surprisingly, they discovered the Prefecture Governor calming down and sitting erect as he tried to listen carefully. Lyu Qing whispered, "Don't you remember him? Xu Qi'an, The Xu Qi'an from the Silver Tax Case." After she reminded them, everyone in the constabulary remembered Xu Qi'an's identity. *No wonder his name seemed familiar to me. So he was the bailiff who turned the tide in the Silver Tax case and solved the mystery of counterfeit silver.* *Mn, He is a Bronze Gong in the Nightwatchers now.* *No wonder His Majesty appointed him as the Lead Investigator for the case...* The officials from the constabulary finally came to their senses. "I have indeed found some clues." Xu Qi'an nodded. He didn't want to reveal his findings, since both the Ministry of Law and the Capital Constabulary were his competitors, and he didn't want to share his findings with this group of sons of bitches. But, he had just noticed the little eunuch taking notes and the active discussion between the people from the Ministry of Law and the Prefecture Constabulary officials. Xu Qi'an realized then that this was an opportunity for him to show off. It was a chance for him to perform in front of His Majesty. *If I'm correct, this record is going to be handed over to the Emperor. What if Emperor Yuanjing was reading the records and found that the Ministry of Law and the Provincial Government were actively discussing the case and sharing their findings to solve the case while the Nightwatchers remained silent?* *How would he react?* *Although it was a loss to share his findings, the credit for it will be recorded on paper, anyway.* "I would like to ask a few questions about Constable Lyu's speculation." Xu Qi'an looked over and said methodically. "I went to Sangpo in the morning to check the scene. The amount of gunpowder required to blow up the entire Temple Suppressing Mountains and Rivers and the high platform is extremely large." "Yes, that is so. What's the problem with that?" Lyu Qing had also gone to Sangpo to check the scene. "That's the problem. As you said before, gunpowder is an important strategic material, one that the Imperial court pays great importance to. The security and anti-theft measures used for gunpowder are strictly enforced and foolproof. It's already an extremely difficult task to smuggle that amount of gunpowder, let alone the task of erasing the corresponding traces of smuggling." Xu Qi'an said "You should know the status of people capable of doing such." Lyu Qing hesitated for a moment before she answered, "Minister of Industry, or, the two Deputy-Ministers." Everyone was taken aback by this, even the little eunuch who was busy recording with his head down paused. Xu Qi'an nodded, "If the Minister of Industry, or the two Deputies were the culprits, everything is reasonable. It isn't impossible for them to bribe the palace servants and the officials from the Court of Judicial Review and the Ministry of Rites. But, will they do this? Were their heads kicked by an ass?" Lyu Qing knit her brows, "You mean..." Xu Qi'an said, "Smuggling such a large amount of gunpowder will not stand through any investigation, no matter how deep they try to erase the traces of their crime. I believe that those who can become Ministers and Deputy Ministers aren't that stupid." Lyu Qing nodded, "Since they couldn't have helped, Where else could the thieves get such a large amount of gunpowder, besides the Ministry of Industry?" Xu Qi'an said, "Is it possible that the gunpowder was brought in from outside the city?" Lyu Qing shook her head, "Even if we don't consider the outer city, Entry to the inner city requires taxation. So, the inner city guards will certainly inspect the goods. And it's even more impossible in the forbidden city. How could something as conspicuous as gunpowder be smuggled? Unless the raw materials were brought, not gunpowder...." Lyu Qing and Xu Qi'an deduced the case as if they were discussing it alone, without anyone nearby. The others also didn't find the need to interfere with their thought process. Eunuch Liu was not in a hurry and listened to them patiently. The little eunuch in charge of taking notes moved his brush across the paper as if it was flying, writing faster and faster. *Gunpowder wasn't brought in, but raw materials were. Among the raw materials for gunpowder, sulphur and charcoal weren't precious, especially in winter, when the amount of coal consumed in the capital could be frightening... But, saltpetre is strictly controlled by Great Feng...* While thinking, Xu Qi'an felt as if a bolt of lightning strike his head. "The saltpetre mine!?" He stared at Lyu Qing with wide eyes. The female constable's delicate face froze for a moment before she also understood what he meant, and she exclaimed, "The saltpetre mine!!" The two's faces were filled with shock. On the other side, Song Tingfeng and Zhu Guangxiao looked at each other, and their expressions also changed slightly. The four of them had personally surveyed the Great Yellow Mountain Range and found the saltpetre mine there. Lyu Qing calmed down her shock, and started thinking, taking this as a basis, when some doubts arose, "If the thieves were the ones who used the mine, What about the nine missing people?" Xu Qi'an said, slowly, "It's quite simple. They wanted to frame someone." Then, he shook his head, "No, they wanted to divert our attention and buy time for them to escape from the capital." Lyu Qing also nodded slightly, "Yeah, they wanted to make us think that the gunpowder came from the Ministry of Industry, that spies had been planted in the Imperial Court so that the focus of our investigation shifted to the Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Rites and the Court of Judicial Review." Eunuch Liu frowned, as he found that he couldn't understand the conversation between the two. Except for the high-ranking officials from the Ministry of Law and Prefecture Governor Chen, who remained as before, the others looked at each other with blank dismay, as they were all unable to understand what Xu Qi'an and Lyu Qing were talking about. They felt as if they had missed an episode of the show. Xu Qi'an shook his head again, "If that is the case, There still is an unsolved doubt. How did they transport the gunpowder to Sangpo?" Lyu Qing said, "It's quite simple. The nine missing officials should have been bribed or coerced. I believe in the former." *That made sense. If the Yao Race wanted to smuggle gunpowder into Sangpo, they must have had accomplices, as they couldn't have done the entire thing without the support of some people in the Imperial Court.* *Whether the Imperial Court has traitors or not, Why did the Yao blow up Sangpo?* *To be more precise, Why did they conspire to get the sealed item under Sangpo? What use does the sealed item have for them?* While he thought about this issue, he heard Lyu Qing say again, "We seemed to have missed something, because I noticed another detail just now..." The heroic-looking female Constable stared at Xu Qi'an, "There are Nine missing people: Three palace servants, three officials from the Ministry of Rites, and three from the Court of Judicial Review... How did they smuggle the gunpowder in without the knowledge of their colleagues?" Xu Qi'an didn't have much knowledge about the process of the Ancestor Worship ceremony, and he hadn't yet found time to interrogate the officials and palace servants in charge of finishing the ceremony. But, after hearing Lyu Qing, he thought of something, "You mean that three people can't smuggle gunpowder in without their colleagues knowing about it? Yeah, why were the nine people arranged separately? Smuggling could have been possible if the nine were all from the Ministry of Rites, the Court of Judicial Review, or were all palace servants." Lyu Qing sincerely smiled, her face looking bright. She admired Xu Qi'an a lot. He was smart and could get her thoughts easily. It wasn't tiring to discuss with him, but instead fun. Xu Qi'an said, "Therefore, among their helpers must include another person, and that person should have the ability to freely enter and leave the imperial city, and can send gunpowder into the imperial city." After speaking this, Xu Qi'an looked at Lyu Qing again, as they thought about a case. The case of the lieutenant from the Jinwu Guard. That case had happened the day before the ancestor worship ceremony, and they were the ones who had investigated the case. *The lieutenant from the Jinwu guard was silenced... Before being silenced, he had told his wife that he would move his family away from the capital... Before he died, he happened to be on duty...* Xu Qi'an realized something, connecting the saltpetre mine case and the Liu Han case, it wasn't difficult for him to discover something. The purpose of the Yao race in driving away the Huihu was to mine the saltpetre mines in the Great Yellow Mountains, make gunpowder to blow up the Yongzhen Shanhe Temple and release the item sealed below Sangpo Lake. They used gunpowder since the Imperial city was heavily guarded and couldn't be easily entered, but gunpowder could be transported in without anyone noticing. No matter the Sitianjian’s Jianzheng, the Human Sect’s female National Teacher, or the royal guards’ high-ranked martial artists, they could all detect any high-ranks infiltrating into the city, but not non-living things like gunpowder. Liu Han was just a small lieutenant without many capabilities. How could he bring gunpowder inside the imperial city without his superior not knowing? He was the actor, while the instigator should be his superior, who should also be the person who silenced him. *Motherfucker, the Yao clans’ schemes are like an old sow wearing bras, layer after layer.* *Like a booked out whorehouse — everything in perfect order.*[^1] As long as Liu Han's superiors, the Baihu from the Jinwu guards were arrested and tortured, everything will be revealed. Xu Qi'an immediately locked on to a suspect: Baihu Zhou! Xu Qi'an got up and cleared his throat, "Eunuch Liu, Sirs, I still have some tasks left over at the Ministry of Industry, So, I'll take leave." His expression was normal, and his expression also relaxed, "Nightwatchers, Follow me!" Everyone evacuated the room quickly. The officials present weren't fools. Although Xu Qi'an behaved as normal, His expression changed several times when he was talking with Lyu Qing. Although they only knew a little of the content of their conversation, it didn't prevent them from guessing that Xu Qi'an had found some important clue. Everyone immediately turned their heads toward Lyu Qing. Lyu Qing acted dumb. Eunuch Liu knocked on the table with his fingers, and urged her, "Did Xu Qi'an discover anything? Has the case progressed? Tell it to me!" Lyu Qing silently said, *I have done my best. After all, even if I admire Xu Qi'an a lot, we didn't have any other relationships, and it's not like we are fiancées or anything.* *Helping him delay for some time has already proved my loyalty.* --- [^1]: There’s some kind of online joke here with the first clause being “the whorehouse is booked out” and the second being some *chengyu* idiom.