# 142. Question and Answer “That little bastard, he’s getting more and more cocky.” Jiang Lyuzhong let out a deep breath, and exclaimed “discontentedly”. “If he wasn’t so cocky how could he dare to attack his superior?” The sword-wielding Gold Gong laughed. “It’s a shame that he’s under Yang Yan, you might not know, but his aptitude is…” Wei Yuan gave Jiang Lyuzhong a look, interrupting him, “You’re one for talking.” Jiang Lyuzhong immediately shut his mouth. The sword-wielding Gold Gong raised an eyebrow, asking “What’s his aptitude, what’s the rank, Jia?” Jiang Lyuzhong deliberately smiled and did not respond, “you’re too naive” written all over his face. *Not Jia? It couldn’t be Upper Jia could it?* The sword-wielding Gold Gong turned to stare intently at Wei Yuan, “Duke Wei?” Wei Yuan leisurely drank tea, not responding. This attitude made this Gold Gong more and more curious, and made his mind start to work over. *An aptitude of Jia, wouldn’t be enough to not tell me about it… could it really be Upper Jia?[^1] But that’s impossible, an aptitude of Upper Jia hasn’t appeared for several decades… but doesn’t their attitude not perfectly prove this thing… if this is the case then I have no reason not to fight for Xu Qi’an.* *From Duke Wei’s attitude and concealment, perhaps this is to prevent conflict between Gold Gongs because of wanting a person… mmn, I can secretly plan to get this person over. What’s a young man most attracted to if not Silver and Women?* The stiff-faced Yang Yan broke the silence, and moved the topic, “Father, what’s His Majesty’s attitude?” Wei Yuan rubbed his forehead, sighing, “Find Henghui’s whereabouts as quick as possible. During the official evaluation, even I cannot defend against a sea of impeachment calls.” The four Gold Gongs’ expressions became serious; the fact that Wei Yuan had actually said something like that, meant that the situation was very serious indeed. But this was not anything out of the ordinary; even ignoring the fact that Wei Yuan as a eunuch controlled the Nightwatchers, and have little in the way of good relations with the court’s many officials, to let a criminal commit massacre in the city walls and casually retreat away would be enough to rouse all the officials’ fears. “We will do our utmost.” Wei Yuan nodded, “Don’t make those empty words. Recently rumours from the court have been saying that the constabulary’s Gold Gongs are one useless thing after another, relying on a Bronze Gong to do their cases.” *Father’s valuing Xu Qi’an more and more…* Yang Yan and Nangong Qianrou exchanged looks, seeing each other’s emotions. *This matter must be done well, Henghui must be found sooner rather than later. At least in these kind of matters, Xu Qi’an isn’t able to do much, and won’t be able to butt in to take all the glory.* … Xu Qi’an came to the Minister of War’s manor with his group of people investigating the Sangpo Case. After showing the golden token, and after the servants had passed on the message, he lead Chu Caiwei, Li Yuchun, the other silver gongs, and the city constabulary’s Lyu Qing into the manor. The ministerial manor’s front door, as well as the surrounding walls had all been destroyed, as if it was in the middle of being demolished; a startling sight. “The minister’s manor is really stylish huh.” Entering the manor, Lyu Qing exclaimed in a low voice. “This manor, must be at least over ten thousand taels of silver…” Li Yuchun estimated. Upon hearing this, the servant who was leading them let out a snicker. *Ten thousand tales? You naive bumpkins, ten thousand tales is hardly enough to buy out our Minister’s manor.* *Base martial artists.* Xu Qi’an kicked him on the buttocks, scolding “Lead the way properly, running dog!” The servant lowered his head, and hurriedly increased his pace. Talking about “running dog”, Xu Qi’an thought of the queen of the dance floor Princess Biaobiao. He wondered if she tried to provoke Princess Huaiqing today, only to be strung up and beaten by the latter. In the guest room he met the Minister of War Zhang Feng, a steady and serious man, with salt-and-pepper grey hair, and a thin goatee. He sat there silently, giving of an aura of stateliness, of one who has been in such a high position for such a long time. “Greetings, Minister Sir.” Xu Qi’an clasped his hands. Zhang Feng nodded, “From what the palace eunuchs have said, Master Xu’s case-solving speed is extraordinary, ability outstanding. Not only has the progress of the Sangpo case raced along, but the culprit behind the Massacre of Earl Pingyuan’s family has also been found.” “The Minister praises me too highly.” Xu Qi’an felt that there was something hidden behind those words. “You wish to ask if this official has some relation to the culprit, thus suffering his revenge in the night?” Minister Zhang asked. “Indeed.” Xu Qi’an didn’t think that he would be so cooperative. Minister Zhang looked at Xu Qi’an without expression, before suddenly his expression darkened, his voice became intense, as he smacked the table and shouted “This official also wants to know! This official also wants to know why so long after the Earl Pingyuan case, have the Nightwatchers still not caught the culprit? “This official also wants to know why the Nightwatchers have time after time let the criminal go?” *I’ve just sat down and you want to put on a show of might…* Xu Qi’an could only clasp his fists together, replying, “Please may the Minister sir be calm.” Minister Zhang gathered his emotions, and sighed, “Though today I did not attend court, but I still know of the events last night. I would not have thought that five high-ranked martial artists working together could still not capture the criminal, rather it was the four Gold Gongs who were hurt. “This official can naturally see that the Nightwatchers are loyal and devoted to the crown. It’s a shame that the Jianzheng is ill, and unable to act, making us all like scared birds, so scared until we’re scared to death.” His expression had the seriousness of a superior, his voice was gentle, emphasising with his subordinates, making one involuntarily be impressed by him. Xu Qi’an also felt his impression of the Minister of War improve, but he quickly came to his senses. *You first put on a show of might, yet at the next you do a 180 and show sympathy and understanding, inadvertently making one feel a sense of camaraderie with you.* *A person who could play politics up to the second rank of officialdom is never a simple one.* Xu Qi’an coughed, clearing his throat, testing “The criminal who massacred the Earl Pingyuan’s family is the same one that attacked your manor last night. “He is a monk of Qinglong temple, with the name Henghui.” “Henghui?” The Minister of War frowned, “This official does not know such a person, or why he would attack this official’s manor in the night. Given that he’s a monk of Qinglong Temple, then why doesn’t Sir Xu go and find the Qinglong Temple’s people, rather than coming to see this official?” “Henghui is merely a monk, and naturally would not be known to the Minister Sir. However, a year ago, he eloped with a female pilgrim, and there was no more sign of him. That female pilgrim was Princess Pingyang.” “Princess Pingyang?” Zhang Feng’s expression became shocked, as if not daring to believe, “So Princess Pingyang had eloped.” Xu Qi’an was observing him the whole time, wanting to glean his true thoughts from the minute expressions on his face, yet he was unsuccessful. There were no flaws. After a few more questions, Xu Qi’an planned to change his target, “Is Master Zhang, Zhang Yi here?” Zhang Feng sent a servant to fetch him, and not long after, a sickly looking Zhang Yi with heavy bags around his eyes came into the room. *…Your bags could almost rival Song Qing’s…* Xu Qi’an asked “Master Zhang, do you know a monk called Henghui?” “No.” Zhang Yi shook his head. “Then do you know one called Hengqing?” “No.” “Do you know Hengyuan?” “No.” “Do you know Pingyang?” “No…” As the words left his mouth Zhang Yi quickly realised what name he had said, “You mean Princess Pingyang? Naturally I know her.” *You’re clearly acting perfunctory…* Xu Qi’an nodded, smiling, “I’ve asked all my questions. My thanks for Minister Zhang and Master Zhang for your cooperation.” Leaving the minister’s manor, Xu Qi’an turned and asked “During the questioning earlier, what was true, what was false?” The round-faced Chu Caiwei rolled her eyes, “Not one word was true.” Xu Qi’an was momentarily dazed, “Who are you on about?” Chu Caiwei pursed her lips, “Both father and son… oh, the last sentence was true, Mr kidney weakness does indeed know Princess Pingyang.” *Zhang Feng speaking falsehoods with a straight face I can understand, but why would Zhang Yi also lie? Then there’s only one possibility, that Zhang Yi had some involvement in Henghui and Princess Pingyang’s elopement.* *Hypothetically, if Zhang Yi did not know anything, then Zhang Feng wouldn’t have any reason to reveal such a secret to his son. Sometimes ignorance is the best protection, and with Zhang Yi’s image as a master of timekeeping clearly not very reliable, if I were Minister Zhang I would not reveal anything that could lead to the destruction of my House to someone so unreliable, even if it was my son.* *What’s interesting is, that night when Henghui killed the Earl Pingyuan’s youngest son, what he said was “I came to seek revenge.”* *This case is becoming more and more convoluted, and also more and more interesting. I feel like I’m close to the truth behind it… mn, the truth behind the elopement of Henghui and Princess Pingyang. Once I get to the bottom of this matter, maybe I can continue investigating the Sangpo case.* Xu Qi’an was immediately roused. … At the end of work, after running around all day, Xu Qi’an bade farewell to Chu Caiwei and Lyu Qing. After the two of them had left, Song Tingfeng and Zhu Guangxiao in tacit cooperation came out of the side hall. The three of them tacitly climbed on their horses, and tacitly went to the Jiaofangsi. After so many days of high intensity case solving, Xu Qi’an felt he needed to relax a little bit, alleviate some of that stress on his spirit. After all sleeping was sleeping, whether it was at home or on Fuxiang’s bed. Furthermore, Fuxiang had repeatedly sent people to tell him that she missed him dearly, and wanted to invite him to the Reflecting Plum Pavillion for tea. Given that that’s the case, Xu Qi’an thought, he’d better oblige. At this time the sun hadn’t gone down yet, and the government offices was still in the evening rush hour. Thus there weren’t many guests in the Jiaofangsi, with few figures in the alleys. “I want to sleep with the new maids.” Song Tingfeng said. “The new maids are not good value, their asking prices are … somewhat high.” Xu Qi’an piped up earnestly. “New Maids” in the Great Feng were the women who had not slept with a customer, and were not necessarily those who only sold their skills and not their bodies, but rather more like a form of hype and sensationalisation. The Jiaofangsi didn’t only have adult women, but also many young girls, who were taught skills in song and dance, as well as skills in attending to men. Of these girls raised in the Jiaofangsi, if their skills and appearance were average, then they were relegated to the lowest level of dancers and singers. The prettier, more skilled ones became the “new maids”. When the new maids had gained enough fame, it would bring about a seafood auction that roused men’s spirits. “It’s not worth it.” Xu Qi’an tried to persuade him. “I’ve already said, a guy like me isn’t suited to marrying and making a family, there’s no point in me saving my silver.” Song Tingfeng was very honest. Xu Qi’an wondered if this person had a phobia of marriage. “I want to marry.” Zhu Guangxiao said simply. But the price of drinking games in Fuxiang’s courtyard was expensive, and this orian had a special relationship with Xu Qi’an, so even if they stayed in the Reflecting Plum Pavilion, they would only be able to sleep with the maids. Old Guangxiao had some money now, and he wanted prettier women. The three of them parted ways, and Xu Qi’an entered the Jiaofangsi. --- [^1]: Just as a reminder, from lowest to highest the aptitude ranks go Ding Bing Yi Jia. Upper and lower are just above and below a rank.