# 118. Silenced
Wei Yuan waved his hand, dismissing his two adoptive sons.
A first time is anger, a second time is familiarity, Nangong Qianrou this time couldn’t be bothered to complain or mock, leaving silently.
Yang Yan stood at the bottom of the tower, waiting for his adoptive father’s conversation with Xu Qi’an to finish.
In the tea room remained only two people. Azure-cloak Wei turned over an upturned teacup, and poured Xu Qi’an a cup of tea, “About the Heaven and Earth Society?”
“Your subordinate has received some information from the Heaven and Earth Society, from the Southern March Shaman Clans.” Xu Qi’an felt rather doted on as he took the tea, and took a sip. The tea was mildly bitter, with a sweet and fragrant aftertaste.
“Number Five of the Heaven and Earth Society is a Shaman clansman, with some status. Yesterday through the Earth Book she wrote that the Gu God in the abyss has shown signs of reawakening.”
Wei Yuan’s expression froze for a moment, “Before the sixty-year monster extermination, the Gu God was suppressed by both the Shaman clans and the Wanyao kingdom, it would be no matter then. But now the Wanyao Kingdom is destroyed, its lands covered with Buddhist monasteries, with few top rank masters. If the Gu God were really to reawaken, then just the Shaman clans alone most likely could not resist it.”
As he spoke, worry flashed across his eyes. The Earth Sect leader has fallen to the demonic, the Gu God is beginning to re-awaken, the Cloud Deer Academy saw clear qi rushing to the sky… all of these things one after another, all foretold calamities ahead.
Movement all across the land, always foreshadowed chaotic years.
“These years, the Buddhist sect’s ambition for expansion is growing ever wilder,” Wei Yuan sighed.
Xu Qi’an had a thought, “When the Buddhists destroyed the Yao kingdom, was it to expand their religion?”
Wei Yuan sneered, “Could it be that it was for the common people under heaven?”
Pausing, he asked, “What do you have to report to me?”
Xu Qi’an recollected himself, saying “Your subordinate has already discovered what is sealed under Sangpo Lake. This matter involves a secret from 500 years ago, and a great calamity may be brewing because of it. Your subordinate is weak, and so doesn’t dare to hide anything…”
Hearing this, a strange expression flashed across Wei Yuan’s eyes, but he hid his own surprise very well, asking “What is sealed?”
“It’s the Jianzheng, the first generation Jianzheng.” Xu Qi’an, with an attitude like he was sharing a large secret, lowered his voice and spoke very quietly, lest it get out, “Under Sangpo Lake is sealed the first generation Jianzheng. That year when Wuzong us… used non-traditional methods to gain the throne, the first generation Jianzheng didn’t support him. After Wuzong ascended to the throne, the history books then didn’t have any more mention of the first generation Jianzheng.”
Wei Yuan listened patiently, and nodded slightly, “Your analysis is well reasoned.”
Xu Qi’an took advantage of the opportunity, “Emperor Yuanjing hasn’t announced the situation even today, and so everyone has been deceived. But, if the first generation Jianzheng and the current Jianzheng were to fight, the capital…”
He didn’t continue, knowing that with Wei Yuan’s mind, he would understand what he meant.
Wei Yuan swirled his teacup, looking at the blue decorations on it, and mysteriously changed the topic: “Have you felt aches from your dantian recently?”
Xu Qi’an did a double take, *how did Wei Yuan know?*
Recently when he had been reverse-breathing and refining qi, his dantian had felt swollen and achy. It was like there was a fire in his stomach, that wanted to burn out something, but that something would not budge. He had been thinking of finding a day to ask Miss Fuxiang to help him, but his duties were too heavy, and so he couldn’t find time to go to the Jiaofangsi.
“Not bad,” Wei Yuan nodded, “This represents that you are already near the peak of refining qi. Afterwards, this swelling, aching feeling will move to your central dantian, then your upper dantian. When that happens, you will be able to reach Refining Spirit.
“I can read books, but martial arts not so much. However, I’ve collected some experience, and can give you a few tips.
“When the ache has reached your central dantian, I will arrange for a visualisation[^1] art to be sent to you, this can increase the speed that you’ll reach Refining Spirit.
“When you reach Refining Spirit, then you need to again start to refine your body and soul, trying to gain perfect control over your body… but this can all be worried about later.”
*Though Wei Yuan is prodigiously clever, but what talent does he have in martial arts? Hehe, this is more fair…* Xu Qi’an made a touched expression, “Thank you Duke Wei for your nurture. Your subordinate will jump through fire and flames, through hardship and turmoil, and will be loyal even to the death.”
“Tsk,” Wei Yuan laughed, “You’re not a idle-brained young man, but sometimes you’re even more idle-brained than one.”
*This isn’t being idle-brained, this is principle, this is trust, learn some Marxist-Leninist philosophy…* Xu Qi’an lampooned. At the same time, he thought with some sadness, *This is the divide between me and this era.*
“There’s something else, that I think you need to know. Today His Majesty decreed to remove the curfew on the entering and exiting the city.” Wei Yuan looked at Xu Qi’an, the smile on his face strange, as if mocking him, as if making fun, as if deriding him.
Xu Qi’an’s face stiffened.
*That’s impossible, that’s not reasonable!*
*Emperor Yuanjing’s attitude has a problem. The first generation Jianzheng has just escaped, and his first target would be the current Jianzheng and the royal family. In this situation, wouldn’t a normal course of action be to surround from all sides, and remove this hidden problem once and for all?*
*What meaning is there to opening the city gates? To indicate friendliness to the first generation Jianzheng, and for everyone to live peacefully?*
*Impossible. Even if Emperor Yuanjing is hardly worthy of his job, he is still not an idiot. Furthermore, the current Jianzheng wouldn’t agree to Emperor Yuanjing’s betrayal and revolution.*
*Yes, that damned old man Jianzheng’s attitude is very strange. Your teacher has already jumped out of the coffin, would you not lead the Arcanists under you, and with one foot on the coffin lid shout: Little ones, help your teacher press flat this old thing’s coffin lid!*
*Rather he pretends to be ill!*
*Does this have some sort of deeper meaning. Such as, the first generation Jianzheng has been sealed for 500 years, and is not at his peak of power, currently hiding somewhere nursing his wounds?*
*To deliberately open the gates, is to lure the snake out of its nest, and using this opportunity to change the battlefield away from the capital?*
*“Little friend, do you have many question marks?”* Leaving the Tower of Noble Spirit, Xu Qi’an laughed bitterly, “Yes.”
Xu Qi’an gathered the men under his command, and gave three orders. First, Chu Caiwei of the Sitianjian was responsible for investigating traces of any qi-obscuring magic items.
Second, Min Shan and Yang Feng were to continue to investigate the production of gunpowder at the Ministry of Industry, and looking through records.
Third, go to the council office, and investigate the Taikang County Magistrate.
The first two weren’t anything special, but the third one no one understood why.
Xu Qi’an explained: “Do you not think it’s strange, how did the Yao know that on Great Yellow Mountain there was a saltpetre mine?”
Hearing this, everyone hesitated.
“Right? Or did the Yao hid amongst the huihu to mine the mine?” Xu Qi’an laughed coldly, “Naturally there was conspiracy between humans and Yao. Great Yellow Mountain is within Taikang County, and so the Magistrate definitely has issues.”
The three silver gongs, the over a dozen bronze gongs were filled with a sense of awe.
Bronze Gong Xu’s thoughts were meticulous, his experience plentiful; the golden token wasn’t given to him without reason.
The three groups parted ways at the constabulary gate, each off to do their own task.
Xu Qi’an looked at Chu Caiwei’s figure, riding away on her horse, and suddenly thought that one day, being on bottom would also be something very enjoyable.
“Boss, say, why didn’t His Majesty summon the Sitianjian’s arcanists, and interrogate the many nobles of court one by one?”
“You just asked Miss Caiwei to investigate qi-obscuring magic items.” Li Yuchun looked at what was originally his subordinate. He had now become his subordinate’s subordinate.
After a pause, he added implicitly, “Arcanists are still people.”
*Because they are people, they can be bribed. For normal small cases it’d be whatever, but if it involved the many dukes in court, an Arcanist’s word would not be enough. Emperor Yuanjing is both very suspicious, and also has a boundless lust for power…* Xu Qi’an nodded slightly.
Beside him, Song Tingfeng found a moment to get a word in, “Ningyan, aren’t you very familiar with the Sitianjian’s Miss Caiwei?”
Xu Qi’an nodded.
Song Tingfeng searched around for some words, before asking “I have a friend, who’s recently been somewhat… deficient… I’d like you to help me find some medicine to recover some… vigour.”
*A friend, sure…* Xu Qi’an did not poke holes, saying with a smile, “Tell your friend, play less Russian Roulette.”
Li Yuchun frowned, a confused look on his face, “What roulette?”
Xu Qi’an, Zhu Guangxiao, and Song Tingfeng exchanged looks, smiling.
Cloud Deer Academy. The Dean Zhao Shou had just finished his class that had lasted just over two hours, and after reminding all his students to work hard, lightly waved his sleeve, “Whence I came, is where I return.”
He disappeared into thin air.
All the students were already used to this sight, and did not find it at all interesting. They started talking about what important matters recently happened in the capital.
“How did Sangpo Lake get blown up? Our Great Feng’s founding emperor’s place of ascension, was blown up by some small criminals? Indeed they are a bunch of useless fools, if it were our Cloud Deer Academy guarding the capital, then this matter would have never happened.”
“If we tolerate this then what do we not tolerate?”
The students’ discussions were filled with anger and emotion, and they habitually smeared heaven and earth, looking with distain of all that were not scholars.
Xu Xinnian had gathered his books, and was about to leave, when another student behind him shouted, “Cijiu, in a bit let’s go wandering around the mountains.”
*To go walking in the middle of winter, are you drinking the north-western wind?* Xu Xinnian shook his head, and replied “*If with dark hair still he does not study now; Regret it will he when his hairs turn grey.*”
He turned to leave, when he heard another voice say with a sarcastic tone, “Xu Cijiu today is in the Self-cultivation Stage; he’s long since different from us. I’m afraid he doesn’t deign to hang out with us any more.”
Xu Xinnian turned to look, the speaker was Zhu Tuizhi. That day when sending off Ziyang Jushi to Qingzhou, originally it was meant to be him who got Ziyang Jushi’s jade amulet.
Only that Xu Xinnian had stuck a bar in his way.
Furthermore, he and this person’s relationship wasn’t great. Before they had spat out perfumed words at each other.
Xu Erlang laughed coldly, “The day is clear, do not wrong others. Since when did I ever hang out with you?”
Zhu Tuizhi was furious, “Xu Xinnian, don’t think that just because you’re eighth rank, everyone is underneath you. You are merely one step ahead.”
To Xu Xinnian’s crossing into Self-Cultivation, the academy’s students were both admiring and jealous.
Xu Erlang said lightly, “Was I proud? that with hardly any effort, I have stepped into Self-Cultivation. Was I proud, when a few days ago I visited the eldest princess, and got her praise? Later I will go ask my teacher, to stabilise my cultivation, and listen to the secrets of the seventh rank, was I proud?”
He examined Zhu Tuizhi’s face, and suddenly snickered.
“What are you laughing at.” Zhu Tuizhi looked back with angry eyes.
Xu Cijiu said derisively, “Some people’s faces, are so ugly that they are an injustice.”
… The other students felt as if they had been offended against.
Zhu Tuizhi exploded on the spot, and flew over to fight with Xu Xinnian, but was held back by his schoolmates.
“Tuizhi, there’s no point in arguing with him.”
“Xu Cijiu’s mouth is as sharp as a martial artist’s sabre, let’s not argue with him.”
“… Don’t be rash, you’re not his match. No matter if using words or fists.”
Xu Xinnian left arrogantly.
These people, if you don’t care about them for a while, they think they can jump about.
On arguing, Xu Cijiu has never been beaten.
The Capital Prefecture Office was responsible for managing the fifteen surrounding counties, and so the Taikang County Magistrate was imprisoned here.
Xu Qi’an lead his group of people into the office, immediately heading for the vice-governor’s office. The vice-governor wasn’t there, and the assistant who was his place asked with a frown, “My sirs, do you need something?”
Song Tingfeng said, “We want to interrogate a criminal official, the Taikang County Magistrate Zhao.”
The assistant asked again: “Do you have a note from the Governor Sir?”
Song Tingfeng shook his head.
The assistant immediately became non-accommodating. “Then please return.”
*To interrogate someone without even having permission, are the Nightwatchers not too domineering? Outside you’d still need to accommodate them a bit, but this is inside the office. Can you just say and get your way?*
The vice-governor, who had just returned, had heard his words, his face turning. He quickly walked over, and shouted right into his face.
He then ordered someone to take Xu Qi’an’s group to the dungeon.
“Vice-Governor Sir…” the assistant felt wronged, “This doesn’t follow regulations.”
“Bullshit, what’s rules over your life?”
“Sir, what do you mean?”
“That person is called Xu Qi’an, the Xu Qi’an that killed someone in front of the Ministry of Law’s front door. You want to go down with this madman?”
“… Thank you sir for saving my life.”
The prefecture office’s dungeon Xu Qi’an had lived in before, and had some relationship with Shuke and Beita inside.
Lead by the jailors, they came to the cell that held Magistrate Zhao.
“Get up, there are important people who want to ask questions.” The jailor used his baton to strike the bars.
Magistrate Zhao, wearing a prisoner’s gown, lay on the straw mat, his back to everyone, unmoving. As if he couldn’t hear them.
[^1]: 观想, Visualisation, a Buddhist meditation technique where you try to visualise an object and every detail, to increase your concentration (hence spirit.) [GCSE Religion explanation](https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/z4gny4j/revision/1)