# 117. The Item Sealed Under Sangpo Lake Nangong Qianrou took the dossier and looked over it. It reported the analysis of the case by the officials of the Prefecture Constabulary and the Ministry of Law. There was not too much value, and he scanned over it, before his eyes fixated on something. His face appeared more serious and attentive. *The gunpowder used to blow up Yongzhen Shanhe Temple had actually come from the saltpetre mine at the Great Yellow Mountains... The Lieutenant that was silenced. A Jinwu Guard conspiring with the Yao...* The context behind the Sangpo case finally cleared up to him. Nangong Qianrou couldn't hide his surprise. He hadn't paid that much attention to the case, but he had been aware of it's happenings. As for the Lead Investigator, Xu Qi'an, he had the mentality of neither harming nor helping. According the the experience of Gold Gong Nangong, it was impossible to have any progress in the case before three, or even five days had passed. He had never expected there to be such a harvest in just a single day. "A talent in solving cases." He squinted his flowery pupils, as he finally found some respect for Xu Qi'an. "A talent in solving cases?" Yang Yan's voice came from outside the carriage. Interested, he asked, "Did you mean Xu Qi'an?" Gold Gong Yang attached great importance to Xu Qi'an, and thought that he was a young man worth his nurture. Nangong Qianrou snorted, "You were just lucky to get such a talent for yourself." Yang Yan let out a content "Heh", and adjusted his focus back on driving the carriage. After the arrived back to the Nightwatchers Constubalory, and to the Tower of Noble Spirit, Wei Yuan said, "Let Xi Qi'an come to see me." ... Xu Qi'an was currently in the Archives, searching for information. As Number One had said, The incident of Emperor Wuzong usurping the throne had occurred 500 years ago. Likewise, the records of the royal family before that time, except for the founding emperor, were very vague. They should have been destroyed, leaving only the names for record. But he could be sure of one thing, The one sealed below Sangpo Lake wasn't the unlucky emperor who was usurped by his cousin. That emperor had an heir at age fourteen. As it is known, before reaching the Refining Qi Realm, Martial Artists are hungry and without abalone... Well, It's not that they don't have abalone, It's just that the time hadn't come to enjoy them. "Look up the details of every expert who was above the third rank five hundred years ago. Don't miss a single person." Xu Qi'an took over the next task, which was checking the experts in the royal family 500 years ago. "Yes!" The nearby seven-eight petty officers took the orders. On the table by the window, a girl wearing a light yellow dress was holding her cheek with one hand, while stuffing her face with fish balls using the other. Her legs were dangling under the table, occasionally revealing her flower embroidered boots. "Miss Caiwei, I suddenly remembered something." Xu Qi'an tried to reach for the fish balls, but his hands were slapped out by the oval-faced beauty. Xu Qi'an sighed, "Are the fish balls so delicious?" "Delicious!" Chu Caiwei nodded. "I also want to eat, but not these." Xu Qi'an said. 3 "What will you you eat then", Chu Caiwei asked. "I want to eat up your beautiful face." Xu Qi'an gave off a sunny smile.[^1] Chu Caiwei’s face reddened, followed by her willow-like brows furrowing together. She wanted to scold him for being a pervert, but also felt that these words sounded warm, and different from the obscene language this pervert usually spat out. She didn’t know whether to be angry or not. If she didn’t, then where was her respect as an unmarried lady? Xu Qi’an astutely changed the subject, “There’s something I’d like to ask Miss Caiwei about.” Chu Caiwei swallowed down the fish ball in her mouth, as her red lips flashed brightly with a layer of grease, looking soft and attractive. She made a stern face, “What?” “What methods are there to block the Sitianjian’s Qi-watching technique?” “High level masters can all suppress their qi, but this is all relative. I’m just a seventh rank Feng-shui Master, so the martial artists who could get by me must at least be fifth rank. Sixth ranks aren’t possible.” Chu Caiwei said proudly. *I’m an eighth rank Refining Qi, then to be able to get past my Qi-watching technique, Baihu Zhou must be Bronze Skin and Iron Bones, but he clearly isn’t…* Xu Qi’an nodded, and continued, “Apart from this?” “Then you use magic items.” Chu Caiwei liked teaching, and so without Xu Qi’an asking further, she started explaining eagerly: “In the world, magic items are split into two kinds: One, tools and weapons which our Sitianjian Masters of Formation refine and carve formations onto. Two, items that through complete luck gain divine abilities. “For the latter category, there are many types. For example, a thousand-year tree being struck by lightening, causing the left over lighting wood to gain incredibly tough and strong properties. “Also as an example, items which high ranked masters carry on their persons, after years and years of influence nurture under their qi, will gain some divine abilities. But these types of items are mostly the extension of that high-ranked master’s abilities.” “Does the capital have any magic items to hide qi?” Xu Qi’an got right to the point. “Our Sitianjian has some, but as for other places…” Chu Caiwei tilted her head, thinking for a while, “I need to get back to ask Brother Song.” “… Alright, then I’ll leave this with you.” As the two were typing, the petty officials had already laid out all the high-level martial artists that had existed in the past 500 years. There were not many, barely over a dozen, all of which were suspected of being high-rank martial artists. Official records would not directly write who was which rank, and so the petty officials had to deduce their rank based on 500 years of records from different generals and military officials. Such as the Zhenbei King, having guarded the north for several decades, he had experienced over a hundred battles in his life, and so without a doubt, he must be a high-level martial artist. Xu Qi’an scanned over the list, and was disappointed to discover that fourth-ranked martial artists were the most common, third rank only had a couple, and there were no second rank, let alone first. “To be sealed under Sangpo Lake, second rank would be a minimum. Otherwise, just the first-rank Arcanist Jianzheng could easily take care of them; there would be no need to seal them up. Could it be that my thoughts were wrong, and that sealed under the lake was not a person, but rather an object?” “Wait… Jianzheng!?” Xu Qi’an’s blood ran cold, and his breaths instinctively became more sharp. He had thought of a thing; the job of the Jianzheng was to guard the capital, was to be the guardian god of the Great Feng. At least this generation of Jianzheng was. Then, at the time when Wuzong wanted to usurp the throne, they must have had to face the Jianzheng. A bold guess materialised in Xu Qi’an’s mind, a guess that made him quake. “Caiwei, is our teacher the first generation Jianzheng?” Xu Qi’an controlled himself, preventing his voice from shaking. “Nope. Master is the second generation Jianzheng.” Chu Caiwei’s answer made Xu Qi’an feel as if his blood was boiling. *I know what’s sealed underneath Sangpo Lake…* Xu Qi’an gulped, “How did the first generation Jianzheng die?” Chu Caiwei shook her head, “Don’t know. Master never told us about how the grand-master passed.” *It’s the first generation Jianzheng! What’s sealed under Sangpo Lake is the first generation Jianzheng!* Xu Qi’an trembled at this guess. *No wonder only Emperor Yuanjing knew of this secret, no wonder the Jianzheng would fall ill, no wonder the northern Yao would scheme out such a display.* *If the first generation Jianzheng were to escape, then the capital would be in big trouble… no, the first generation Jianzheng had already escaped.* At this moment, the desire to escape the capital welled up inside Xu Qi’an. *I must flee, flee at once… take uncle and auntie and flee together… if the first generation Jianzheng has escaped, then there must be a storm of blood. That’s a first rank, the entire capital will turn into a Sura battlefield.*[^2] As he thought, Xu Qi’an’s desire to escape actually lessened. Emperor Yuanjing let him use merit to atone for crime, and so Wei Yuan would be responsible for keeping watch over this death row prisoner. If he fled, then he’ll drag Wei Yuan down. Of course, this wasn’t the most important reason. Xu Qi’an could still run, but the capital’s common people couldn’t run. If a battle between first-rank masters happened in the capital, then how many would die? Everyone in the city. *Emperor Yuanjing this old son of a turtle[^3], he’s safe in the imperial palace protected by many masters, but what about the common people?* *The gratitude and grudges of first ranks, I can’t interfere with at all… if I were to reveal this, reveal this thing, then I’ll naturally have done a lot to help.* He immediately made up his mind! Anything that he wasn’t sure on, he’d go find Wei Yuan! Even though he didn’t want to admit it, but Wei Yuan this famous schemer did give him a feeling of safety. If Wei Yuan was an average official, then Xu Qi’an could only run to the Sitianjian and find the Jianzheng. Luckily at this time, a clerk came over. Seeing Xu Qi’an, he was delighted, “This subordinate has looked for Sir Xu for a long time, Wei Yuan wants you.” *How convenient… I want him too.* Xu Qi’an said goodbye to Chu Caiwei, and followed the clerk to the Tower of Noble Spirit. Entering the tallest building in the constabulary, and coming to the seventh floor, Xu Qi’an saw the azure cloaked, white templed Wei Yuan. And his two gold gongs. “Your progress in the case is not bad, it’s a shame that that lead is broken. The court has already sent out a warrant for Zhou Chixiong’s arrest, but they won’t be able to find him within half a month; that’s not realistic.” Wei Yuan sipped tea, his tone kindly, “What do you plan to do now?” Xu Qi’an stood in front of the table, thinking for a moment, and saying truthfully “Your subordinate guesses that Zhou Chixiong still has co-conspirators. But I have no leads.” This case was more complicated than the tax silver case. Of course, he wasn’t the lead investigator in that case, only responsible for poking holes and providing theories. Everything else was done by the Nightwatchers and the Prefecture office. Even though the lead was broken, Xu Qi’an already had a general idea of how to continue the investigation: First, start from magic items that could block qi-watching. Second, start searching through the list of people who had both the authority and ability to smuggle in gunpowder. The second idea was bound to be time-consuming, without a guarantee of any useful information. “Duke Wei…” Xu Qi’an asked tentatively, “If after half a month, your subordinate still hasn’t solved the case fully?” “If it comes to it, I will arrange to fake your death. Then, you can go into the Jianghu, and be a spy for the Nightwatchers.” Wei Yuan took a sip, “The intelligence network of the constabulary stretches to all thirteen provinces, as well as all the major Jianghu powers. If we don’t train spies, then this breadth cannot be had. “Your temperament is not suited to government; Jianghu is your real world. Really if it were not for the Sangpo Case, then I would have already arranged for you to leave the capital.” *To the Jianghu…* Xu Qi’an thought in a trance. “As a blade by my side, a blade that cannot see the light of day, would you feel wronged?” Wei Yuan laughed, like a warm and open teacher, “Your personality is soft on the outside, hard on the inside, as well as rather extreme. I both really appreciate you like this, and also do not like you like this. “My mind is very clear about the various corruption in the Nightwatchers Constabulary, but human nature is fundamentally like so, light and dark mixing. How many people are like Li Yuchun? If the Nightwatchers were all made of Li Yuchuns, then they would not be able to suppress a full court of officials.” Xu Qi’an frowned, “I know this principle. So human nature needs to be regularly beaten, regularly deterred, to clear out corruption and evil. Is Duke Wei not too lax?” “What time is opportune is also important.” Wei Yuan was not angry, explaining with a kindly expression, “The ways of the Great Feng’s officials are rotten, the path of decline is already well underway. If you want to change this way, then you need to temper your brightness, bring yourself in agreement with the obscurity of others,[^4] and then break it with one strike. The day you don’t have any tripping stones in your path, is the day you can reveal your ambition.” Wei Yuan’s meaning was, when in the future he comes to fight against his political enemies, if he has no more stones in his path, only then could he make his move, and sweep away this miasma-like corruption. The more Xu Qi’an thought about this, the more he thought it had a point. “If you are in officialdom, you are held down by rules, and cannot but temper your brightness. Otherwise, you will only get into disaster after disaster, or have all your sharp edges eroded blunt, losing a martial artist’s fire and fury. Either way, it’s not worth it. But if you enter the Jianghu, you’ll have no such worries.” Wei Yuan said gravely, “Anyone who angers you, who stops you, who gets in your way, all you need to do is kill. Move with your heart, and care not for laws and rules. The so-called ‘using might to break restrictions’ speaks of this idea. “Many martial artists lose their morality and their original heart in this journey, becoming cold-blooded killers. This, you must take care about.” Xu Qi’an had held it in for ages, and finally, “Your subordinate doesn’t want to go to the Jianghu. I want to work hard and try my best here.” He didn’t care about political power, rather about his family. He cared about uncle and auntie, about Xinnian and his sisters. This would be like in his previous life, in the rat-race, his boss saying “I’m sending you to out of province to expand our business. You’ll be stationed away long-term.” You say: “I don’t want to go.” The boss says: “No, you do.” At least Wei Yuan was not that type of boss. He didn’t force him, rather laughed without concern, saying “If there’s nothing more, then you can go.” *No, I have something…* Xu Qi’an cupped his fists, saying solemnly, “Please may Duke Wei dismiss his attendants, your subordinate has an important matter to report.” *He wants to dismiss us again!?* Nangong Qianrou and Yang Yan looked at Xu Qi’an expressionlessly. --- [^1]: Look at her face stupidly. Chinese wordplay, between eat 吃, and stupid 痴, both pronounced “chi1”. [^2]: Sura/Asura: (Buddhism) malevolent spirits or demons. Sura battlefield refers to a war in Buddhist mythology between the Sura and the Deva, and the metaphor can be used to refer to a deadly scene. [^3]: Son (technically grandson) of a soft shelled turtle. Baidu: Henanese curse. Soft shelled turtles are considered somewhat a delicacy in Henan, as well as having uses in TCM. If I remember correctly they taste like fish but have a slightly tougher texture, like really tender chicken. Anyway, nothing is said about *what* son of a turtle implies. [^4]: From the *Dao De Jing*