# 127. Huaiqing: Me or Lin'an, You can only choose one of us
"Xu Qi'an." Wei Yuan enunciated clearly, his expression serious.
Emperor Yuanjing obviously didn't bother to remember the name of a small bronze gong. He looked at Wei Yuan, surprised that the powerful eunuch said the name of a bronze gong with such solemnity.
"He's a talent. He was the one who found about the connection between the Lieutenant and Zhou Chixiong, and was also the one who pointed out the source of the gunpowder." Emperor Yuanjing took a sip of tea, looking down at the go board, simultaneously making a move and continuing:
“So many days later, what’s his progress like? I heard from Eunuch Liu that the kid has been leaving early and returning late. The recording eunuchs couldn't find him at all.”
"He has indeed found something." Wei Yuan continued along the topic, "The magistrate Zhao of Taikang County died in the Constubalory dungeon in the early hours of yesterday."
Emperor Yuanjing nodded along, "Governor Chen had already reported this matter."
Wei Yuan continued, "His death was natural. He hadn't been injured, poisoned, or suffocated, nor had any other external means been used on him. This is either the work of a Yin Soul of the Dao Sect or a Warlock from the Northeast."
Thud... The white piece in Yuanjing's hands fell to the chessboard.
The emperor with thick black hair and wrinkles at the corners of his eyes remained silent for a moment. Then, he picked up the fallen piece with a smile, threw it in the chess case, and said
"Playing for so many years, We haven't won even once. How boring."
Wei Yuan got up and bowed.
Emperor Yuanjing then turned his head to look at the crown prince, and asked, "We had heard that the Spirit Dragon went berserk the day before yesterday and threw off Lin'an into the lake."
The crown prince bowed and replied, "At the time, Lin'an was riding the Spirit Dragon to play on the water, when Huaiqing whistled to distract it, only then did it throw Lin'an into the water."
The crown prince and Princess Lin’an were born of the same mother, and as her full brother, him about Huaiqing bullying her like this was perfectly normal.
A grounded statement, but inside he leant towards Lin’an. In his father’s eyes, this was a type of “simplicity”.
The crown prince continued, "But I have been thinking of one thing, that I still haven't been able to figure out."
Emperor Yuanjing nodded, and said, "The Spirit Dragon's reaction was too extreme."
Except for the Emperor, the Spirit Dragon treated the Princes and Princesses Royal equally, even the Crown Prince.
Crown Prince or not, they were fundamentally the same before they truly ascended to the Honor of Nine and Five.[^1]
"There's even more, Father." the crown prince said, "Not only did the Spirit Dragon throw away Lin'an, but it also swam quite excitedly towards Huaiqing. It even bumped its head against the shore while urging Huaiqing to ride."
Emperor Yuanjing's pupils suddenly became sharp, as he stared at the crown prince, "Did Huaiqing ride?"
The crown prince shook his head, "What’s strange, was that the Spirit Dragon resisted Huaiqing and forced her back when she was about to ride. it"
Hearing this, Emperor Yuanjing frowned, thought for a moment, and said, "Come with us. We will be taking a look at Spirit Dragon."
Emperor Yuanjing left in his dragon chariot.
The crown prince and Wei Yuan followed him. Before getting on the palanquin, Wei Yuan asked casually, "Your Highness, who else was there at the time besides Princess Huaiqing?"
The eunuch beside him lifted the curtain of the palanquin, but the crown prince didn't get in, instead answering Wei Yuan, "Coincidentally, The Bronze Gong under Duke Wei was also there."
*Xu Qi'an...* Wei Yuan stilled.
For the crown prince, a bronze gong was not someone he would be concerned about. He had remembered him purely because of the excellent half-poem.
If not, Huaiqing did have numerous subordinates, the crown prince didn't bother with irrelevant details.
As he thought, the crown prince opened the curtain, only to find that Wei Yuan was still standing.
"Won't Duke Wei be coming?"
Wei Yuan finally came to, and also entered the palanquin.
The crown prince still didn't put down the curtain, and said smilingly, "However, the bronze gong is pretty interesting. I would have never thought that a bronze gong would have such poetic talent. That day, when we held a banquet by the lake, he wrote a poem on the spot to relieve Huaiqing's trouble."
*The crown prince means to tell me that the bronze gong under me is under Princess Huaiqing's command...* Wei Yuan smiled indifferently. But, the last statement aroused his interest. raising the curtain, he asked, "What poem did he write?"
Whether "On the road ahead, surely will be friends dear and true; Throughout the land is there anyone who knows not you?", or "Delicate, tilting branches reflected on clear and shallow water; its subtle fragrance drifts with the rising moon at dusk.". They were all masterpieces in the eyes of Wei Yuan, who had been exposed to a lot of poems and books.
These two hundred years, every scholar of the Great Feng will remember that talented poet.
The crown prince recited, loudly, "*Drunk, he knows not if the sky floats in the water; his dream laden boat sailing atop the Milky way.*"
*Good poem!!* Wei Yuan's eyes lit up, as he was amazed by these two lines.
Silently, the crown prince waited for a while. Sure enough, he heard Wei Yuan questioning from the opposite palanquin, "Where's the second half?"
The crown prince's mouth twitched, as he replied, "There's nothing more."
*Nothing more...* Wei Yuan fell silent.
Seeing the other party go silent, the crown prince immediately felt happy.
Xu Qi'an entered the palace. In the elegant garden belonging to the eldest princess, he saw the eldest daughter of the emperor, who seemed to be lacking a little in the breasts department.[^2] She was wearing a beautiful palace dress, decorated with red plum blossoms on a white background.
She had styled her hair into the popular hair bun, with gorgeous jewellery inserted to complement her charming and beautiful face.
After Princess Huaiqing had her maids prepare tea, she smiled and asked, "How's the case progressing?"
*She should be asking about the results of investigating Qinglong Temple...* Xu Qi'an said, "I have indeed found some clues."
*Just yesterday, we had worked together in the Wenyuan Pavilion to research the rise and fall of the Baota Temple and its current inheritors. The eldest princess should be asking about Qinglong Temple.*
Hearing him, Princess Huaiqing's eyes lit up, as she raised expectant eyes toward Xu Qi'an.
This bronze gong hadn't disappointed her till now, considering his top quality case handling ability and observation skills.
In the beginning, when she had recommended him to the Nightwatchers, the eldest princess had the idea of making him her subordinate. But she expected the process to be: Observation, Hinting, Helping, and Joining.
Unexpectedly, Xu Qi'an was very flexible and cunning and finished the last step way ahead of schedule.
“When the Lieutenant Case happened, I used the Qi Watching technique to observe Zhou Chixiong. At that time, he didn't show any sort of abnormality. Only recently, I realized that the Qi Watching Technique had been blocked by a special magic item.
“I ruled out the few such magical instruments in the Sitianjian and the palace. After some investigations, I found that the Qinglong Temple had a magical instrument that could hide one's aura.
"Still, It isn't certain that the magic item with Zhou Chixiong belongs to the Qinglong Temple."
The eldest princess asked, "Is the magic item still in Qinglong Temple?"
Xu Qi'an shook his head, "It's already been lost. Your subordinate was about to report this matter. About a year ago, a monk named Henghui in the Qinglong Temple awakened a heart for the mortal world, and eloped with a female pilgrim, stealing that magic item in the process."
The eldest princess immediately said, "Eloping is eloping, but why steal the magic item?"
The woman was smart and immediately pointed out the crux of the matter. Xu Qi'an said, "This matter needs to be investigated, and requires the Eldest Princess's help."
"My help?" Delicate eyebrows were raised, as she was also surprised.
"Does Your Highness know Princess Pingyang?" Xu Qi'an's words sounded like lightning in the princess's head, as her jade-like cold face showed emotion for the first time.
"Is this true?" Her voice trembled, and her eyes focused on Xu Qi'an.
"This is what Abbot Panshu of Qinglong Temple had revealed to your subordinate. We could only verify its truthfulness after investigation."
Boldly assume and carefully verify. He would not believe anything without any evidence.
Princess Huaiqing didn't speak for a long time, as the hall fell into silence. Breaking the quietness, She sighed softly,
“Pingyang is the daughter of King Yu's main consort, and also my cousin. You have already met my third brother. He has always regarded himself as a scholar. Unlike my other siblings, he was taught literacy by Uncle King Yu.
"Uncle is an erudite and talented scholar. He had once studied under Great Scholar Zhang Shen and is proficient in the art of war. He has even been an official at the Ministry of War. There have even been rumours of him entering the cabinet and competing for the position of Prime Minister."
*Impossible...* Xu Qi'an couldn't believe it, *Couldn't only scholars enter the Grand Secretariat? Besides, The Prime Minister has more power than even Wei Yuan. Could Emperor Yuanjing rest easy having a royal become the Prime Minister?*
However, Xu Qi'an knew that he couldn't lay any praise on his historical knowledge, and he didn't know anything about the situation at the court. So, He didn't refute it on the spot.
"Uncle has the support of the Meritorious Aristocrat bloc. There have been Meritorious Aristocrats at the helm of the cabinet, as Prime Minister. The examples aren't singular either." Princess Huaiqing explained.
"Over the years, Since the founding of Great Feng, the aristocrats have gradually been squeezed to the sides, and they have long since lost the ability to compete for the position of Prime Minister."
*So, King Yu is the general pushed on by the Aristocrat Bloc, isn't he? Does this involve the struggle between the Civil Official Bloc and the Meritorious Aristocrat Bloc?*
Some thoughts flickered in Xu Qi'an's head.
Princess Huaiqing continued, “Royal Consort Yu was a talented woman. It's a pity that she only gave birth to a single daughter for Uncle King Yu. Uncle is someone who isn’t easy swayed in love, as hadn't established another Royal Consort till now. He also regards the child left behind as a treasure.
“However, Pingyang disappeared a year ago. At that time, Father had dispatched the royal guard to search all over the city. Even the Arcanists of Sitianjian were dispatched, but they didn't find any traces of Pingyang.
"This incident dealt a great blow to King Yu. He became bedridden not long after, as he suffered from depression. The Arcanists were also helpless, as heart diseases are hard to heal."
Xu Qi'an continued “eating popcorn”, as he tried to digest the shocking news.
*The royal guard had searched all over the city, with the Arcanists cooperating. But still, Princess Pingyang's whereabouts wasn't found... Therefore, that magical item was needed. Otherwise, It would have been difficult to move Princess Pingyang out of the Imperial Capital.*
*No wonder Henghui wanted to steal it. The situation demanded so.*
The two didn't speak for a long time, thinking along with each other. After some time had passed, Princess Huaiqing sighed, "You continue to investigate. If you encounter any troubles and obstacles that you can't bypass, you can come to me."
Xu Qi'an nodded.
"I heard that Lin'an looked for you yesterday."
Xu Qi'an found the princess's pupils suddenly turning dark, all of a sudden.
It sounded like: Did your ex-girlfriend come to look for you yesterday?
Xu Qi'an said helplessly, "Yes, Princess Lin'an insisted that I took refuge in her and work as a bull for her. She even gave me a jade amulet."
Her Highness was still expressionless, "Why didn't you reject her?"
Xu Qi'an said, wryly smiling, "Princess Lin'an said that she would accuse me of molesting her if I didn't agree."
*Is this enough of a reason? You princesses want to do something. I'm just some small fry. Can I even do something?*
Xu Qi'an thought that the eldest princess was a humane, tolerant, and considerate mature woman, and wouldn't say anything because of such a trivial matter.
The eldest princess mercilessly exposed him, "Intelligent as you are, You should be able to see the threat in that kind of bluff."
*The woman looks frosty on the outside, but she's pure domineering at the core...* Xu Qi'an looked at the eldest princess in surprise, and quickly lowered his head, "I understand. I will return the jade token to Princess Lin'an, and cut off contact with her."
"I'll exclusively serve your highness from now on."
*I swear to leave aside Biaobiao's graciousness and serve you as a cow would.*
The eldest princess nodded in satisfaction.
At the time, a noise came from the outside.
"Second Princess, you, you can't go inside..."
Amidst the sounds, a figure in a bright red dress broke into the hall. The oval-faced Princess Lin'an glanced at the hall, only to see her loyal dog going after its previous owner again.
Immediately, she became furious as her brows stood upright. Her eyes widened, and she angrily said, "Running dog, You dare to betray me. Have you forgotten who you are?"
Sighing inwardly, Xu Qi'an subconsciously looked at the eldest princess, hoping that she would come out and settle things for him.
Who knew that the eldest princess was pure darkness on the inside, she looked at him, sporting a half smile, her eyes indicating: Choose One.
[^1]: Honor of Nine and Five is a title used for emperors. Why Nine and Five: Nine is the highest Yang number and five is the mean/center of the Yang numbers. Yang Numbers=Odd Numbers. This indicating the Emperor is the pinnacle and center of all Yang.
[^2]: I am also now confused as to whether Huaiqing has big breasts or small ones.