# 129. Fear
The moment the Spirit Dragon threw off Emperor Yuanjing, Several High-rank martial artists by the lake quickly reacted and leaped out like sharp arrows, their feet trampling on the water's surface forming groups of exploding whirlpools.
Emperor Yuanjing stabilised his body in mid-air, the tip of his foot tapping lightly on the water’s surface, floating towards shore like a feather.
Although he had given up on martial arts, and had children at a young age due to his status as a royal, he had been practicing Daoism under the guidance of the National Teacher over the years, and had made significant achievements. If he hadn't, his hair wouldn't have turned black again.
Emperor Yuanjing was both angry and surprised. He hadn't expected the Spirit Dragon to treat him this way.
The Spirit Dragon's anger remained undiminished even after it shook off Emperor Yuanjing. It knocked off an approaching high-rank martial artist and sent him flying. Qi burst out in mid-air, swaying the water of the entire lake.
The Imperial Guards moved to subdue the Spirit Dragon, who went mad for no reason.
"Don't hurt it." Emperor Yuanjing shouted.
Boom boom boom... More than a dozen jets of water rushed up from the surface, accurately hitting the guards who were floating or stepping in the lake. They had already stepped into the Bronze Skin Realm and were resistant to physical damage, but they were smashed to a sorry state by the water jets, unable to encircle the Spirit Dragon.
The Spirit Dragon was good at controlling water, and extremely fierce in the lake.
However, no one expected the Spirit Dragon to raise its head high, roar, and leave the lake to rush towards the shore.
*What happened? The Spirit Dragon seems to be stimulated by something...* Emperor Yuanjing realized something was up, and said deeply, "Block it!"
ka ka ka ka...
The huge body of the Spirit Dragon rose ashore, smashing slender cedar after cedar. It ran wildly, its sharp claws to easily crushing the stone tiles on the ground.
*Where is it going?*
The crown prince and Wei Yuan rushed over.
Emperor Yuanjing waved his hand, indicating that he was fine.
"Father, what happened to the Spirit Dragon?" The crown prince was panicking, as he had never seen the Spirit Dragon go out of control like this, even in his childhood.
It had a docile personality and treated his several imperial brothers and sisters kindly, and never showed any violent tendencies.
"It's fleeing." His face sullen, Emperor Yuanjing answered in a confident tone.
*Spirit Dragon is fleeing? Why did Father describe it as fleeing? What is it fleeing from? Is it even afraid of something?*
*However, what place could be safer than the Imperial City?*
The Crown Prince was puzzled by this. But, Emperor Yuanjing didn't give him a chance to inquire, as he ordered the guards to prepare their horses and chase after Spirit Dragon in the direction it was fleeing.
As a symbol of the orthodoxy of the royal family, the Spirit Dragon, a spirit beast that thrives on purple qi, was not allowed to get lost.
Emperor Yuanjing pursued the paw prints, and the Imperial guards also followed him closely on both sides, fearing that he might fall in an accident.
Not long after, Emperor Yuanjing saw Spirit Dragon on an Archery Tower. Its sharp and hard claws clung to the tower, deeply embedded in the stones.
Its neck swelled, as it let out a forlorn and bitter roar, trying to knock back the experts from the palace who hindered it, while it readied its tail to attack.
The two sides had reached a stalemate. The Spirit Dragon's scale armour was hard and it was hard for swords to leave any marks on it. Its strength in anger couldn't be underestimated as well. The imperial guards were worried about hurting it, and it was difficult to subdue it with bare hands, as well. So, they could only fight while waiting for their colleagues to fetch a magic weapon that could restrain the Spirit Dragon.
Bang bang bang... The Archer Tower continued to crack under the whipping from Spirit Dragon's tail and finally collapsed.
Tens of Imperial Guards rushed forward.
Emperor Yuanjing breathed a sigh of relief after seeing the scene and was about to remind them to not hurt the royal spiritual beast.
Before he could speak, however, Spirit Dragon rose to resist, overturned the imperial guards, and rushed towards a particular direction with a clear goal in sight.
Looking in that direction, Emperor Yuanjing's pupils shrank violently.
He saw a red dress, and his beautiful lovable daughter, Princess Lin'an, who he loved the most.
At that moment, Princess Lin'an was with two court ladies, and a Bronze Gong, who was wearing a Nightwatcher uniform.
"Protect Lin'an!" Emperor Yuanjing shouted.
*Motherfucker, this is docile?*
Xu Qi'an hadn't expected to encounter such an incident at all. He had been conversing with the second princess on the way, using the conversation skills he had accumulated over his previous life. He amused the princess with his humorous style and interesting word choices, enhancing their friendship.
He was thinking of sending her to the small lake where Spirit Dragon stayed and playing with her for a while. After that, He would go back to handling the case by himself.
But he came across this matter...
Just as he was about to say, "Princess, This place is dangerous. Your subordinate will now escort you back." when Spirit Dragon came over.
The spiritual beast was quite powerful, its strength not lower than a sixth-rank martial artist. Xu Qi'an wanted to escape, but he found the second princess freezing up in fright upon laying his eyes on her.
Her charming round face had gone pale, her eyes frozen, and she was unable to think out of fear.
Xu Qi'an looked from the corner of his eye, seeing the experts from the court flying towards him. He also saw Emperor Yuanjing galloping towards him on horseback, and also the dazzling glossy black button-like eyes of Spirit Dragon.
It was like a frightened child throwing itself into its father's arms upon finding him.
*Did this guy sense my arrival and come out to find me?*
Then, Xu Qi'an understood the Spirit Dragon as a beast with wisdom.
Aside from joy, Spirit Dragon's eyes also showed fear from within. But, the time didn't allow him to think deeper about the matter.
The ground trembled, as Spirit Dragon tried to pounce.
Xu Qi'an immediately decided. Without hesitation, He stood in front of Princess Lin'an, placing his tall and straight back in front of her.
Xu Qi'an held down the handle of his sabre with a hand, slightly bent his knees, calmed down all his emotions, and flicked his thumbs after accumulating force for some time.
"Clang..." Alongside the crisp sound of unsheathing, A thin dark golden line flashed across to cut a deep knife mark, three feet long and two fingers wide.
A shocking scene happened. The frenzied Spirit Dragon slammed back. Its four claws were bent, its toenails ploughed furrows on the ground, as it finally stopped in front of the knife marks.
*It doesn’t dare step over the line?*
The scene was deeply imprinted in Princess Lin'an's heart and was also seen by Emperor Yuanjing, Wei Yuan, and the crown prince.
Lying on the ground, Spirit Dragon let out a little anxious cry.
Xu Qi'an easily understood its emotions. The Spirit Dragon wanted him to run away. Precisely, run away together with it.
*It's very anxious, very scared. It seems to have been threatened by something... But it calms down in front of me... Still, Its fear hasn't weakened a single bit... It wants me to run away with me, or It wants to run away with me...* Xu Qi'an gradually formed a guess.
"Don't be afraid. I'm here." Xu Qi'an said.
Thinking Xu Qi'an's words were directed at her, the second princess felt secure.
Hearing Xu Qi'an, the Spirit Dragon lost its anxiousness. Downcast, It let out a listless cry.
At the time, a group of Imperial Guards finally arrived, dragging a large golden net together.
The big net was thrown, covering the three-metre-long beast.
"Tuk tuk tuk..." Emperor Yuanjing rode over to check on Princess Lin'an carefully. Seeing that she was indeed alright, he breathed a sigh of relief.
"Father..." Princess Lin'an closed her mouth, trotted to the side of the horse, and took hold of Emperor Yuanjing's sleeve.
Emperor Yuanjing fell easiest to this kind of behaviour and comforted her gently.
Then, the over fifty black-haired Emperor thoroughly observed Xu Qi'an.
"Your subordinate greets Your Majesty." Xu Qi'an bowed and clasped his fists.
The Feng Dynasty had one convenient rule, that except on some special occasions, You only needed to salute when meeting the emperor, without kneeling and kowtowing.
Emperor Yuanjing nodded slightly, "Good job. What's your name?"
"Your Majesty, this subordinate is Xu Qi'an."
Emperor Yuanjing was stunned and looked at him again, still surprised, "You are Xu Qi'an?"
"Yes!" Facing Emperor Yuanjing's puzzled expression, he explained, "I had encountered some difficulties in the investigation of the case, So, I went to the palace to ask the Eldest Princess for some advice."
Emperor Yuanjing didn't continue asking. He nodded, his eyes falling on the sabre in Xu Qi'an's hand, "Show me the sabre."
Xu Qi'an offered the black gold long sabre with both hands.
An imperial guard stepped forward to take it and handed it over to Emperor Yuanjing. The latter looked at it carefully, exclaiming, "A good sword!"
Wei Yuan came over and answered, "It was given by Sir Jianzheng."
*Jianzheng?* Emperor Yuanjing frowned, probably as he couldn't understand why Jianzheng would give a precious sabre to a small bronze gong.
"Your Majesty, Xu Qi'an is proficient in alchemy and is friends with the Arcanists of Sitianjian. I have once seen him giving a lecture on alchemy." Wei Yuan said.
Xu Qi'an saw a look of surprise in Emperor Yuanjing's eyes. But, the old emperor quickly restrained himself, smiled, and said, "We remember. You had shown some skills in Alchemy in the Silver Tax case."
Emperor Yuanjing handed the sabre to the imperial guard, who returned it to Xu Qi'an.
*Wei Yuan is helping to shape an image of a capable minister for me and increase my weight in the emperor's eyes... Wei Yuan, no, he's Daddy Wei from now on!* Xu Qi'an was moved.
Princess Lin'an shook the emperor's sleeve, and said softly, "Father, Xu Qi'an saved me. You have to reward him."
"He should indeed be rewarded." Emperor Yuanjing nodded, stared at Xu Qi'an, and said loudly, "Nightwatcher Xu Qi'an has contributed and saved Princess Lin'an. He shall be rewarded with a thousand taels of gold and five hundred bolts of silk.[^1]
"Father!" Princess Lin'an was still unwilling. She pointed to Xu Qi'an and said, "He saved your child's life just now, and your child wants to pay him back. I ask you to spare him the death penalty."
Emperor Yuanjing immediately raised a sharp gaze toward Xu Qi'an. Seeing his docile appearance, Emperor Yuanjing restrained the sharpness in his eyes, shook his head, and said, "We have already given him the opportunity to make meritorious deeds to atone for his crimes. If he solves the Sangpo case, he will naturally be spared the death penalty. An emperor’s words are like gold and jade, how could they be changed halfway?"
Lin'an still wasn't convinced, and shouted, "If he doesn't solve the case, He will still be dead. What's the use of awarding him a thousand taels of gold, then?"
Emperor Yuanjing said, helplessly, "I will handle it when the time comes."
He didn't want to say these words in front of Xu Qi'an, in case he would become confident and delay the progress of the investigation.
So, he continued, "The time limit is still half a month. If you can solve the case, You will naturally be spared of the death penalty. If not, even if Lin'an has interceded for you, we will exile you to the frontier even if we don't have you executed. Do you understand?"
"Thank you, Your Majesty!" Xu Qi'an said loudly. He observed Princess Lin'an winking at him playfully, her smile like a blooming flower.
*This investment did have a lot of returns. Even if I can't find the mastermind behind the Sangpo case, I don't have to die. I will be exiled at most. I don't have to worry about it, being the servant of three families that I am.*
Emperor Yuanjing glanced at the pacified spirit dragon. Breathless, he said angrily, "Drag this beast back to the lake."
Spirit Dragon glanced at Emperor Yuanjing, propped up its body with its paws, and pointed its nose down at Emperor Yuanjing.
"Okay, piss off back by yourself." Emperor Yuanjing shouted at it.
The guards withdrew the big net, and Spirit Dragon went back leisurely by himself.
After Emperor Yuanjing finished taking care of the second princess, he clamped his horse's belly and followed behind Spirit Dragon.
Xu Qi'an silently looked at the back of Emperor Yuanjing.
*Before, When Princess Lin'an had pleaded for me, He had pointed a sharp gaze at me... Does he think that I induced Lin'an to do so?*
*The rumours were correct. Emperor Yuanjing is indeed a person with a strong desire to control... indeed, the emperor who seeks longevity has a strong desire for power.*
*I'm exhausted... I didn't dare to do anything in front of this type of expert. Even if I put on a look, or changed my expression, they could guess my thoughts... My acting skills were okay then. The expression of sincerity and fear were also pretty good.*
The high platform, by the lake.
Emperor Yuanjing stood on the bank, speaking in a low voice. Spirit Dragon poked its head out of the water and rested on the edge of the high platform.
One man and one dragon talked for a long time, before Emperor Yuanjing left, still angry.
Wei Yuan went up to Emperor Yuanjing. Observing his gloomy face, he comforted him, "Your Majesty, You don't have to be angry at a beast."
"Hummph, it just doesn't take us seriously anymore." Emperor Yuanjing's anger persisted, "When we talked to it, it ignored me."
Naturally, he hadn't asked for the reason why the Spirit Dragon suddenly went mad.
"The Spirit Dragon won't go mad for no reason at all. Wei Yuan, pass on our order. The defence of the imperial city should be strengthened. No one is allowed to enter or leave the imperial city after the curfew."
Wei Yuan nodded.
Emperor Yuanjing walked in silence for some time, when he suddenly asked, "Why did the beast suddenly stop its anger?"
Wei Yuan shook his head, "Maybe it used up its anger at that time."
He did have a guess in mind, but it was too absurd.
[^1]: The length of a bolt is measured according to the type of material measured, and is usually either 40 or 100 yards (37 or 91m). The width of a bolt is usually 45 or 60 inches (110 or 150cm) but can vary quite a lot.