# 126. The Eldest Princess's Summon
Courtyard Master Hengqing asked falteringly, “How does Sir know?”
It was Xu Xinnian who told this dharma name to him. That day when Xu Xinnian went to the welfare home to find Number Six, he found that the latter had already left. When Xu Erlang told Xu Qi’an this, he said: “The official told me that Master Hengyuan has left, supposedly to investigate leads about his sect-brother.”
“How I know isn’t important, I’m the one asking you.” Xu Qi’an’s expression was serious. To this monk who wouldn’t co-operate without violence, he didn’t deign to give any manners.
In one-to-one combat, this courtyard master of the Qinglong Temple could most likely wipe the floor with him.
But Xu Qi’an had his brothers too, as well as the royal court behind his back.
Master Hengyuan hesitated for a moment, before saying “Hengyuan is a warrior monk of the temple. His personality is rash, and he is quick to anger. Because of his actions, he often would accidentally harm other brothers, and be punished by the abbot. Last year, he was expelled from Qinglong Temple.”
*So SIX is a Qinglong Temple monk… a Warrior Monk? No wonder his body is as solidly built as a Lu Zhishen… SIX said his sect-brother had been captured by traffickers… is the brother that SIX is trying to find Henghui?*
*But Henghui eloped with Princess Pingyang… but, Henghui stole Qinglong Temple’s magic item, yet that magic item was found on the Jinwu Guard Baihu Zhou Chixiong’s body. Does this imply, that Master Henghui has already suffered some unforeseen accident?*
*Or, he is also involved in the Sangpo Case. If the latter is true, what was his aim? Also, where did Princess Pingyang go?*
This trip to the Qinglong Temple had been more fruitful than he first expected.
Even though he deliberately tried to rush along the way, urging his horse onwards, he only returned back to the Nightwatchers Constabulary over two hours later.
Xu Qi’an let his group rest, before shutting his door, and starting to analyse and summarise the new information gained today.
Then, he took out the Earth Book, and wrote: 【THREE: Is there still no news of SIX?】
No one responded.
After a long time, Jinlian Daozhang jumped out to claw back some respect for everyone: 【NINE: Not yet.】
Xu Qi’an astutely noticed, that Six may have found out something, or have fallen into a dangerous situation, otherwise he couldn’t have gone so long without responding.
【THREE: Jinlian Daozhang, have you still not located that Earth Book fragment?】
【NINE: Perhaps it has been hidden by some sort of magic.】
【TWO: Why does the big baldie always get into trouble?】
Two butted in.
【NINE: All this time he was investigating how his brother had disappeared. Perhaps, he has suffered retribution from the powers behind the Earl Pingyuan.】
*No, he had found a lead… but the result is the same. No matter what, SIX has gotten into big trouble.*
【FOUR: If the Earth Book fragment has fallen into an outsider’s hands, then we can only be like before, and not send any messages.】
【TWO: If it’s fallen into the Earth Sect’s hands, then all of us could face danger.】
Everyone in the Heaven and Earth Society felt anxious, as well as mounting stress.
Not only were they worried about Six’s safety, but if they were to stop sending messages the hard-fought information exchange forum the Heaven and Earth Society had built up would be dead in all but name.
In the worst case, if in the eventuality the fragment falls to the Earth Sect, then even if they were not scared of an average Earth Sect daoist, facing the sect leader would be a different matter.
Numbers One and Three would be alright; the Earth Sect would not dare fight into the capital, but everyone else would be in danger.
【TWO: Oh yeah, THREE can help.】
【FOUR: Right, if THREE can use his connections at the Cloud Deer Academy and secretly help Jinlian Daozhang, then the difficulty in finding SIX would be much lowered.】
Unconsciously, the Heaven and Earth Society began to rely more on Three, than the always lurking One.
For anything to do with the Great Feng capital, the first person they thought of was Number Three.
*…Why do I feel like I’m being used by everybody?*
*SIX’s identity and status was first found out by me. If I were to spread this out now, then the risk of being exposed would be great. I need to create a time difference… mn, unless the Heaven and Earth Society all know of SIX’s background.*
【THREE: Do you know SIX’s background? Apart from being a Buddhist disciple that is.】
【TWO: Nope, SIX called himself a wandering Buddhist, and planned to stay in the Capital for a long time.】
*SIX is pretending to be an outsider… mm, this monk’s intelligence has to be stronger than Lu Zhishen!*
Xu Qi’an made a plan, writing: 【You guys don’t need to worry about this matter, I’ll consult with Jinlian Daozhang. I’m clearer on SIX’s status than anyone else here. Daozhang, tonight could you come over to mine? I have a few things to discuss with you.】
Seeing Three’s words, the Heaven and Earth Society members felt their blood mysteriously run cold, a feeling like a sword was hanging over them.
*Number Three has figured out SIX’s identity. From his words, he seems to have some knowledge over SIX’s situation? They’ve clearly only had brief interactions… indeed, all the scholars of the Cloud Deer Academy are very capable…* Two thought with some trepidation.
*THREE’s not bad. He joined the latest, yet his display of skill, cunning, and ingenuity makes one speechless. I look forward to the day I return to the capital and can meet him. I can learn much from this person…* Number Four felt genuine appreciation.
【FIVE: Woah, then whatever you do don’t investigate my identity, otherwise I’ll be very angry.】
Five immediately threw out what was in her heart.
【ONE: THREE, as for the Sangpo Case, have you any more exact information?】
【THREE: I’ve not been watching the Sangpo Case these few days.】
Seeing this, One retreated back below the water.
Arranging a time with the Daoist Jinlian, Xu Qi’an left the side hall, and immediately went to the Tower of Noble Spirit, asking after Wei Yuan.
In the well-lit tea room, Wei Yuan sat alone in front of the table, playing Go, his left hand against his right, as if performing a lonely one-man play.
Wei Yuan didn’t even raise his head, laughing “Playing half a life of Go, again and again I fought and lost, and lost and fought, until eventually I climbed in skill, and beat national master after national master. Unknowingly, I could not find any more opponents to play against.”
*Last time when you played against the Jianzheng, didn’t you draw?* Xu Qi’an lampooned.
“But outside of the go board, the number of Opponents I have is enough to make one’s head ache.” Wei Yuan put down a counter, and rubbed his temples,
“What is it?”
“Your subordinate wishes to report the progress in the case to Duke Wei.” Pausing, Xu Qi’an continued, “Yesterday at dawn, the Taikang County Magistrate Magistrate Zhao was silenced whilst in his cell. At this time the Prefecture Constabulary has not yet announced this.
“The way Magistrate Zhao died was strange; there was no poison, no wounds, and it looked completely natural.”
Wei Yuan’s expression suddenly froze. After a few seconds, with flashing eyes, he asked “What do you think of this?”
“Your subordinate has looked through the records, and discovered that the only ones able to do something like this, save the Daoist Yin Spirit, would be the Church of the Warlock God.”
Xu Qi’an drew in a deep breath: “The Sangpo Case involves the Yao and the Church of the Warlock God. Your subordinate has racked his brains, thinking who in court, apart from that person, could conspire with these two powers simultaneously?”
Thud! Wei Yuan’s palm fell on the go board, as all the stones trembled. With sharp eyes he stared at Xu Qi’an, “Leaving here, you may not say this to anyone.”
Xu Qi’an quickly lowered his head, explaining “But, but your subordinate can’t really investigate further…”
“You are dismissed.” Wei Yuan said coldly.
“Yes sir!” Xu Qi’an left the tea room.
Hearing Xu Qi’an’s footsteps slowly disappear, Wei Yuan methodically tidied up his go pieces, and washed the teapot. Changing to a robe of azure, he came to the head of the stairs, and ordered the clerk on duty:
“Prepare a carriage, this official wishes to enter the palace.”
Xu Qi’an could only curse that he had no cigarettes; he could only sit there and think. He listened to Lyu Qing and the three Silver Gongs talk about the case, his own mind wandering elsewhere.
*The Zhenbei King is far in the marches, and I can’t exactly run over there to investigate. Further more, I don’t even dare to, unless His Majesty personally issues a decree, a gold token would not be able to work a smidgen on that god.*
*Far in the marches… heh, he has himself a perfect alibi alright.*
*But there are no perfect crimes in the world. As long as they were done, then there must be cases, the crucial thing is if I can catch these cases or not… mn, the Zhenbei King isn’t in the capital, but he needs a messenger, and that messenger must be someone in Court.*
The Zhenbei King lead he could not investigate for now, because Wei Yuan didn’t want to help him. If Wei Yuan could personally get a royal decree, then there would be no problem.
Fortunately. a cunning rabbit never has one hole, and a clever person never has just one path.
The trip to the Qinglong Temple wasn’t done in vain; the temple’s Master Henghui is an avenue of entry. But to continue on from this entry point, he would have to find Six.
This was why Xu Qi’an wanted to meet the Daoist Jinlian in the night.
The sound of knocking interrupted Lyu Qing and the three Silver Gongs’ discussion. They instinctively frowned, and looked outside.
The silent Zhu Guangxiao stood by the door, “Ningyan, the eldest princess is asking after you.”
Lyu Qing and the others looked towards Xu Qi’an.
*What does Huaiqing want with me… does she miss me? Aiya, didn’t we just meet yesterday? It seems to be one of those one day apart is like three autumns long!*
The extremely beautiful, cold, graceful woman appeared inside Xu Qi’an’s mind, alongside those mighty breasts that could be rested on the table.
Clearly her appearance was cold like a celestial, yet her body was that of a seductive demoness.
The imperial gardens.
Curtains hung down on all sides of the pavilion, blocking out the cold winter wind. The fire from the charcoal stove warmed the inside.
A Daoist-robed Emperor Yuanjing and an azure-cloaked Wei Yuan were playing Go.
One of them was an emperor, yet he rarely wore a dragon robe.
One of them was a servant that supervised the many officials, yet always wore an azure cloak.
Compared to these two old folks with their unique mannerisms, His Highness the young crown prince’s clothes had not one lapel out of place, as he stood respectfully behind Emperor Yuanjing.
“Yesterday, the national teacher refined a batch of golden pills, later we will send someone to give you one.”
Emperor Yuanjing twirled the go stone in his hand, looking for a long time, and shamelessly took three black pieces from the board, laughing “One golden pill for three pieces, is not unreasonable?”
Wei Yuan nodded, “Not unreasonable.”
They played another few moves, and Wei Yuan smilingly took six of Emperor Yuanjing’s white pieces, “Your Majesty’s camp is rather disorganised, your servant will help you clear it up.”
Emperor Yuanjing was expressionless, saying lightly “These years, the one we have relied on the most is still you, Wei Yuan. We often think that if you hadn’t entered the palace, and gone the righteous path of the imperial examination, the Empire will have gained a new tailor, and we wouldn’t be worrying over these scattered matters.”
Wei Yuan’s expression suddenly froze, and then immediately returned to normal, smiling “Is your servant not doing Your Majesty’s bidding anyway?”
His Highness the Crown Prince’s brows were furrowed, as he stared intently at the go board.
Not because his father and Wei Yuan’s war on the go board was very exciting or brilliant, but because he was chewing over their words.
He felt as if he was looking at flowers in mist, seeing, but also not seeing.
Of the two people that sat in the pavilion, one had focused on Daoist cultivation for twenty years, yet still firmly grasped the balance of power in court, his Emperor’s heart still pure as ever. The other controlled the Nightwatchers Constabulary as a eunuch, skilled in civil and military stratagems, making countless scholars burst into cold sweat.
Their conversation must have value, very subtle value.
As the crown prince fell into a reverie, he heard Emperor Yuanjing say “How is the Sangpo Case going? The dossiers handed in by the Ministry of Law and the Prefecture Office are all a load of rubbish. We remember, that the lead investigator of the Nightwatchers is that criminal Bronze Gong, surnamed Xu, right?”