# 132. Night Meeting *Five hundred bolts…* Auntie’s fragrant heart leapt. These silks were varied in style: damask, satin, chiffon, brocade, and many numerous others, woven meticulously, embroidered beautifully. Auntie wasn’t lacking in experience at the fabric market, and her eyes were sharp. She recognised that any one bolt of fabric here was worth far more than any of the luxury products she could buy. *Five hundred bolts of such beautiful fabric…* Auntie felt that she had been knocked into a daze by fortune coming out of the blue. Xu Lingyue was not any better than her mother; from ancient times, women had a special place in their heart for clothing. Xu Lingyin, taking advantage of mum and dad not paying attention to scarf up as much as she could naturally was not in this category. She was still a child. “I’ll help!” Uncle Xu couldn’t sit steady any longer, suddenly rising and walking briskly outside. Xu Qi’an stood by the horse cart, and was just talking to Song Tingfeng about going to the Jiaofangsi after the Sangpo case was done. “About that, of the 24 oirans of the Jiaofangsi I’ve only slept with Fuxiang. Some day I need to visit every one in turn.” Xu Qi’an said with an expectant tone. “You…” Song Tingfeng stared at him with a strange expression, “Aren’t you lovers with Fuxiang? What you should be doing is buying her freedom.” “You…” Xu Qi’an stared at him with a strange expression, not being able to figure out why ancient people always wanted to privately use public vehicles. *Mn, the status of concubines are only a bit higher than maidservants. Perhaps in their eyes, redeeming the freedom of a brothel girl is like buying their sons a girlfriend that doesn’t speak nor eat.* *And an oiran stays youthful for long.* *A wife and a concubine cannot be compared… but in my eyes, redeeming the freedom of a brothel girl, compared to meeting a rich beauty on a blind date, and saying I’m just out buying clothes is the same… I guess our viewpoints are still different.*[^1] Xu Qi’an shook his head, not wanting to continue this topic. “Uncle, don’t carry these.” Seeing Second Uncle Xu coming out to help, Xu Qi’an called towards him. When Uncle Xu looked over, Xu Qi’an picked up the 60 jin heavy wooden chest, and chucked it over: “Help carry this.” Uncle Xu reached over to catch it, and felt it’s rather dense weight. As he opened to look… *What flashing has blinded my damn eyes!* Auntie was in the front hall, going into a daze looking at the pretty silks, stroking here, stroking there, her beautiful face uncontrollably showing a wide smile. Xu Lingyue placed a small hand on a bolt of silk, feeing its smooth texture, her young girl’s heart beating vigorously. *Smack!* As the mother, Auntie smacked her hand, saying unhappily, “Don’t get them dirty.” Xu Lingyue said deeply, “Is mum happy? These things were given to big brother by His Majesty, they’re not yours.” A fatal blow! Auntie’s smile slowly faded, as after a while, her beautiful and dignified face stiffly stretched into an awkward smile, “That… I’ve been quite good to Dalang, right…” For these words, even she did not have any confidence. Xu Lingyue nodded, “Mn, you’ve been very good. Big brother is your loss-leader.” “Damned brat!” Auntie poked Xu Lingyue with one finger, sending the latter staggering. At this time, mother and daughter saw Uncle Xu walk in carrying a chest, his senses in a daze. Auntie picked up her skirt hems, and came over, “Husband dear, what’s this?” Clack… clack… Uncle Xu opened the case, and then closed it again, then looking at his wife, “You blind?” “I’m blind…” Auntie, from when she was an unmarried girl in the boudoir to now having given birth to three children, in her thirty-six years of life she had never seen so much silver — no — gold. Uncle had never owned so much gold. … “My throat’s so dry, I’ve been tired all day, I haven’t even had a chance to drink some good tea.” “Ningyan, sit. Auntie will make you some.” … “I want steamed eggs.” “Auntie will tell the chefs to make you some.” … “Have we got any milk?” “Of course of course, Auntie here has the freshest milk.” At the dinner table, Xu Qi’an sat at the pride of place, as the normally arrogant and proud Auntie earnestly cared for him. If Xu Qi’an wanted steamed eggs, Auntie would arrange the kitchen to make it. If Xu Qi’an wanted to drink tea, Auntie would make it for him. If Xu Qi’an wanted to drink milk, Auntie would give him some… trying her best to mend the tattered and torn relationship between aunt and nephew. “Auntie, c’mon, that’s not sincere, I want to eat steamed eggs that Auntie made.” Xu Qi’an pouted. … Auntie bit her lip, and forced out a smile, “Auntie will go and make you some.” The steamed eggs came, and Xu Qi’an simultaneously ate and said, “Ai, in the neighbouring yard there’s so many dirty clothes. An unfortunate brat like me with no mother or father, can only wash them myself.” … Auntie clenched her teeth, “Ningyan, that’s a bit much to say, Auntie has always seen you as if you were my son, Auntie will wash them for you.” Proud and elated! Xu Qi’an felt his thoughts finally connect, and that obsession that had been suppressed in his heart, finally dissipated. “Uncle, how about we sell this house, and buy a large courtyard in the inner city.” Xu Qi’an suggested. Auntie’s beautiful eyes lit up, flashing with light. *Sell this house…* Uncle Xu looked across the furniture in the hall, and suddenly felt a pang of sadness, “This is our family home, are we going to sell it just like that? Your father and I both grew up here.” “If you don’t sell it no matter. Eight thousand taels of silver is enough to buy a huge place in the inner city.” Xu Qi’an raised his wine cup, and drank, smiling, “Uncle, am I a bastard son of yours that you had with a woman outside?” “Pfft…” Uncle Xu desperately turned his head downwards, and a mouthful of alcohol sprayed over Xu Lingyin’s face. He originally wanted to spit towards the floor, it was just unfortunate that his young daughter was too small, and he just managed to catch her face. Little Pea was stunned, not knowing what she did wrong. She resolutely tried not to cry, licked some of the alcohol off her face, and finding that it did not taste good, then started crying. Uncle Xu stared at his nephew with no filter, “What are you blathering on about.” *Uncle didn’t show shock or guilt… Auntie’s face is also not shocked or suspicious,…* Xu Qi’an, experienced in the psychology of facial expressions, made his deduction. When a person has their guard lowered, their unconscious actions would most align with their state of mind. Xu Qi’an first dismissed the idea that he was Uncle’s bastard son, though that he would think like this was not without reason. When he was young, and Uncle’s colleagues had come around to visit, they would point at Xu Qi’an saying “This your son?” Or point at Xu Xinnian and say “Your young daughter is really beautiful.” What did this mean? It meant that Xu Qi’an looked like his uncle. From the point of view of genetics, these two were blood relatives. “Just a joke. I’ve never seen my birth mother, and I look so similar to Uncle.” Xu Qi’an shrugged, “Oh right, Auntie’s seen my mother, right?” Auntie replied “Naturally. When your mother was carrying you, I had to look after her for a while. Your mother was very kind, unlike you…” She quickly stopped, nearly snapping at her nephew in habit. “Then your old brother?” Xu Qi’an ate his steamed egg, observing Second Uncle out of the corner of his eye. Uncle Xu paused for a moment, before reacting, grunting “That’s your father.” He recollected his memories for a moment, “Your grandparents died early, and so us brothers relied on each other to live. Your father was more talented than me, a shame that he died in the Campaign of Mountains and Seas.” Xu Qi’an did not ask any further, quickly eating his fill. Leaving the five hundred bolts of silk in the main manor, he carried the chest off to his small courtyard. Putting the gold in the home was not safe. So many of his colleagues at the Nightwatchers Constabulary saw him that afternoon, that on the off chance one had any ideas, and broke in, that would cause Auntie and his younger sisters to be invovled. “Wei Yuan said, that for an extended period of time he would send Nightwatchers to secretly guard our manor, and surveil the Xu Manor’s surroundings, protecting against the Earth Sect Daoists seeking revenge. This also can serve as deterrent for any Nightwatchers plotting anything…” Xu Qi’an vaunted over the high wall, and put the chest in his Earth Book fragment. … After bathing, the fragrant Auntie sat at the bedside, head tilted, drying her black silken hair with a towel. Uncle Xu sat cross legged on a couch some way away, refining his qi. “You practice day after day, and yet you still haven’t gotten anywhere.” Auntie rolled her charming eyes. Whew…. Uncle Xu let out a long breath, and opened his eyes. Even if after reverse breathing his spirit was roused, deep in his eyes still lingered some darkness. He had long reached the peak of Refining Qi, and no matter how much further he practiced, his qi would not increase. Yet the door towards Refining Spirit was still locked tight. “Dear, say if you break through to… the next rank, will you get promoted?” Auntie pushed up her full breasts, and stretched her back. Xu Pingzhi grunted “Mhm, naturally.” Auntie finished drying her hair, took off her silk shoes, and lay sideways on the bed, her two long legs folded across each other. She hugged the pillow in her bosom, and scolded into the air, “Xu Ningyan that little brat, he must be so proud of himself. If not for the silk, and the house in the inner city, I wouldn’t tolerate him, he makes me want to spit blood.” As she spoke, she let out a long sigh, “Without any of us knowing he’s made a future for himself.” When she first received him from her husband, he was only as big as a kitten. Thud thud thud… The sound of knocking on the door came through, and from outside came Xu Qi’an’s voice, “Uncle, there’s something I forgot to tell you.” Auntie took a shock, and quickly let down the bed drapes, curling under her duvet. Xu Pingzhi rose, saying “Let’s go to the study.” “There’s no need. Uncle you can come out here, I only have a couple things to say.” Xu Qi’an replied. Auntie hugged the covers, and eavesdropped from behind the bedcurtains. Uncle and nephew spoke for a minute or two, before her husband returned, and closed the door. “What did you say, did he secretly give you private spending money?” Auntie poked her head through the bedcurtains, staring at Xu Pingzhi. Suddenly, she was stunned. She saw her husband’s eyes were red and watery. “Husband?” Auntie felt at a loss, saying in confusion. “I’ve finally gotten hope…” Xu Pingzhi closed his eyes, saying softly, “Hope for Refining Spirit.” Auntie pursed her lips tight. *… is it Ningyan?* … Xu Qi’an returned to his small courtyard, as he suddenly felt something with his spirit. Pausing in front of the door, he lightly pushed it open. He walked to the table as usual, and lit a candle, its thin flame giving off a dim murky light, pushing away the darkness, painting a layer of orange in the room. On the bed was sat an old Daoist with salt and pepper white hair. Even though it was held up by a hairpin, messy strands still hung down. His features were deep cut, his expression peaceful. “You’ve come.” Xu Qi’an greeted him with a light smile. “I’ve come.” Jinlian Daozhang nodded, and returned his smile. “You shouldn’t have come.” Xu Qi’an said solemnly, Jinlian Daozhang asked in surprise “What does that mean? Did we not arrange a meeting tonight.” *… no, I’m just memeing, you need to understand Gu Long’s novels better!* Xu Qi’an shrugged, “I’m just joking with Daozhang.” “How is the Sangpo case going?” Jinlian didn’t mind, after all everyone had their little problems, and the Heaven and Earth Society’s members all had strong personalities. Xu Qi’an hesitated for a moment, before saying “This case is very complicated, and involves too many powers. At this current point, I have many leads, and they are all messy. On this matter, I’ve been a pol… a bailiff for so many years, and have never encountered such a difficult case.” *Usually we rely on surveillance!* His mind added. Immediately, he told Jinlian Daozhang of all of his findings, his deductions, and his reasonings. Having been in the Heaven and Earth Society until now, he had come to trust Jinlian Daozhang to some capacity, feeling that the latter was a good ally to have. Furthermore, there was no conflict of interest for him in the Sangpo case. *Mn, if escaping to the capital to hide from danger was just a surface excuse, and really he was making foundations for the Sangpo Case, then the one who silenced Magistrate Zhao was also him, then he really would be a master of lies!* Xu Qi’an joked sarcastically to himself, *currently anyone I look at is bad, anyone I look at is a LYB.* “You suspect that the Zhenbei King is behind this case, that he and. the northern Yao and the northeast Church of the Warlock God are plotting to usurp the throne? “Thus the case of the Sangpo Lake Explosion, releasing the first generation Jianzheng.” Jinlian Daozhang said with a frown. “What does Daozhang think?” Xu Qi’an asked back. --- [^1]: Translator Note: That was rather difficult to translate, hope it came out legible. -Yan