# 157. The Water Recedes, Revealing the Stones
The bandit suppression began in a flash, and ended in a flash, as merely two hours had passed until the stronghold had been breached.
The lead boss knelt on the ground, his body covered in blood, as he looked at the battalion. They were wearing bright armour, but they didn't show any sigils of the provincial government or the army.
The contingent was small, consisting of around four hundred people. But the leader was shocked to find that the none of the members of the batallion were weak. At the lowest, they were Refining Vitality.
Counting, he saw that the number of Refining Qi martial artists reached the fifties, and also found more than ten Refining Spirit martial artists. There were also four Bronze Skin and Iron Bone realm martial artists.
And that War Goddess at their head, her cultivation was certainly even more terrifying.
Such an army was more than enough to deal with a small bandit's warren. It was strong enough even to butt heads with Baidi City, the largest city in Yunzhou.
*Not gathered under a flag, Very strong, Led by a woman...* The chieftain's heart sank, as a urban legend of Yunzhou came to his mind.
"You, You are... the Flying Swallow Heroine?"
"What flying swallow heroine, sounds awful."
The War Goddess, who was wielding a silver spear, frowned. She was extremely beautiful. Her face was marked with graceful features, small red cherry lips, and she had a high nose that highlighted her features. It's just that... Her spirit was so vigorous, that it led to others ignoring her obvious beauty.
A transparent ghost was obediently standing beside her. Although the ghost was an extremely charming one, It's charm was eclipsed by her personality.
"Did I do the job well, master?", The ghost said in lovable voice.
"You passed on the message in time." The War Goddess nodded and praised her work.
"Can you give me a man?" The ghost said, acting cute, "I've been hungry for many days."
*I'll deliver Emperor Yuanjing to you. Go and suck up his vitality...* The War Goddess mentally cursed, while she nodded in reality, "You can choose a few bandits."
The chieftain became sure that the War Goddess in front of him was the legendary Flying Swallow Heroine.
A few years ago, a chivalrous and brave female knight suddenly emerged in the Jianghu. Wherever she went, she supported and upheld justice.
In those few years, She had managed to rise to fame in the Jianghu and her name was spread to thousands of households. Due to her zeal for justice, She was titled the Flying Swallow Heroine.
At the beginning of the year, the heroine had came to Yunzhou. Seeing the rampant banditry and the civilians living in dire straits, She immeditaly went ahead and recruited soldires, established a small troop and started to zealously supress bandits.
Her actions were well supported by the Governor of Yunzhou.
"I ask, you answer, and I’ll make your death a quick one." The War Goddess pointed the tip of her silver spear at him, and said coldly, "Otherwise, You shall become a ghost, never to be reborn again."
The bandit leader was put in a tough spot, as he tried to bargain, "No way!"
Swish.. The silver spear pierced his temple, causing some red and white things to flow out.
After putting away her spear, the War Goddess murmured, "Just making things difficult."
"!!!" Zhou Chixiong was so frightened by the scene in front of him that his legs became weak. He thought, *Why did she do that? Couldn't she have seen him trying to bargain? She should have given him at least one chance."
*How is she this reckless!*
The martial artists of the troop seemed to have long since got used to the idiosyncrasies of the War Goddess, and they continued watching the fun, smiles occupying their faces.
At the time, Zhou Chixiong felt as if the War Goddess would kill him without remorse in the same moment. So, he immeditaly prostrated himself, "Heroine, please spare me. I'll say anything you want me to say. I'll say anything."
"I won't kill you." The War Goddess stood proud. Her close-fitting armor highlighted her graceful and exquisite curves, Her beauty was accentuated her aura, both imposing and murderous.
"I'm going to send you to meet a person."
Xu Qi’an finished his qi circulation exercises, a dark cloud in his heart preventing him from sleeping. His ears picked up the gentle drip of the water clock, before a familiar lurch came from his heart.
He quickly sat up, and hurriedly pulled out the small jade mirror from under his pillow. As expected, he saw what he wanted to see:
((TWO: THREE, Zhou Chixiong has been caught. Tomorrow I’ll send someone to take him to the capital.))
*Zhou Chixiong’s been caught? This efficiency is a little too scary… Number Two might as well be my white moon[^1], I love it, love it!* Xu Qi’an’s emotions could hardly be described as just “pleased beyond relief”, being almost joyful to the point of tears.
Becoming Wei Yuan’s undercover agent was the worst option. Xu Qi’an in reality never wanted to take this path. Currently he was just Refining Qi, he still didn’t have much experience under his belt yet. No matter the resources or environment, staying in the capital, with the Nightwatchers, would be far better than whatever ends of the earth he would go.
If one’s life was calm and peaceful, who would want to wander around miserably?
He never felt much belonging to this world anyway, and if he parted ways with Uncle and Auntie, with his brothers and sisters, lonely might not be enough to describe his emotions.
((THREE: Can you get there within six days?))
Yunzhou was far from the capital. Even though the empire had well-developed roads and rest stations, six days was still rather much of an ask.
((TWO: If riding a firefeather beast, then six days would be just enough. But you must pay me three hundred taels of silver. I can’t make my brothers run errands for you for nothing, you also have to pay their travel expenses.))
((THREE: This is only natural.))
Xu Qi’an finished messaging, and fell into thought. Zhou Chixiong could under no circumstances be delivered to the capital, the waters in the capital are too deep. As soon as Zhou Chixiong entered the city, he would be found out, as after all he was wanted by the court, and most wanted at that.
*I have two choices, I could notify Wei Yuan beforehand, or find another way to ferry Zhou Chixiong to the capital…* after thinking, Xu Qi’an chose the latter option.
Because he had a better idea.
((THREE: TWO, could you send Zhou Chixiong to the Cloud Deer Academy, there’ll be people there to pick him up.))
Zhou Chixiong’s matter involved the most senior court officials. He needed to prevent them from fleeing too early. The Nightwatchers Constabulary was full of martials, who were too simple, not flamboyant enough.
The Cloud Deer Academy’s great scholars had the ability to move instantaneously, and so were the best option for escorting a prisoner. They would only need to say: *Three feet of me doth be the capital city.*
And they would be there.
Most likely they wouldn’t be able to enter the Imperial Palace, otherwise it would be far too easy for the great scholars to chop off Emperor Yuanjing’s head.
*Tomorrow I’ll go to the Cloud Deer Academy, and visit my three teachers…* Xu Qi’an made up his mind.
As to Three’s request, no one was suspicious at all. After all, Three was a student of the Cloud Deer Academy, so it would only be natural.
Days passed by. During this time, Xu Qi’an rushed all around the place, and met with Princess Huaiqing and Biaobiao, hoping the two could plead his case.
Biaobiao, only knowing how to make mischief for her sister and never scheming for herself, picked up her Princess title again and immediately agreed.
Princess Huaiqing was more neutral and sensible, saying honestly: “Father seems not to like you. We can help you avoid the death penalty, but a living penalty would be hard to escape.”
A living penalty naturally would be to be exiled.
Xu Qi’an noticed one detail though, Princess Huaiqing gave off an unreasonable indifference to the Sangpo Case, as well as a strange calmness to Xu Qi’an’s fate, as if she didn’t even put it on her mind.
A day before the deadline, Wei Yuan sent someone to summon him, and Xu Qi’an saw the great azure cloak in the Tower of Noble Spirit.
“I’ve just received word from the palace, His Majesty tomorrow will hold morning court, and bringing up the Sangpo case will be inevitable. I will try my best to keep you at the constabulary, and not in the prefecture office or the Ministry of Law.” Wei Yuan said.
He was just about to say something to reassure the small Bronze Gong, when he heard him say calmly,
“Duke Wei, I’ve already caught Zhou Chixiong.”
Wei Yuan’s expression froze, looking back wordlessly.
At 4 AM the next day, Xu Qi’an drove a carriage into the imperial city, stopping outside the palace. Accompanying him were Song Qing and Chu Caiwei of the Sitianjian, the Cloud Deer Academy’s great scholar Zhang Shen, and the Gold Gongs Jiang Lyuzhong and Yang Yan.
In the carriage was the unconscious Jinwu Guard Baihu Zhou Chixiong. He was tied up, and a sack was placed over his head.
When he arrived, Xu Qi’an let out a sigh of relief, clasping his fists and saluting to the others, “Thank you, everyone, the Sangpo Case ends today.”
He wanted to put a full stop on the Sangpo Case, to put a full stop on his altercation with the Silver Gong.
The Throne Room.
After the usual speeches and proclamations, Emperor Yuanjing said “Has the Sangpo Case progressed?”
Beneath him in court, the many great civil servants simultaneously looked towards Wei Yuan, their expressions all different, yet schadenfreude prevailing the most.
The Minister of Rites stepped forth, announcing loudly “Your Majesty, I wish Wei Yuan would return me some justice.”
Wei Yuan looked at the Minister of Rites, and turned his gaze on Emperor Yuanjing, bowing,
“Your Majesty, the water recedes, revealing the stones, the Sangpo Case is complete.”
The sound of discussion suddenly flared up.
Emperor Yuanjing was dazed for a moment, before squinting and leaning forward slightly, “Who is the main perpetrator?”
Emperor Yuanjing said, “There’s no point in your servant speaking, Your Majesty can directly summon for the Jinwu Guard Baihu Zhou Chixiong.”
The Minster of Rites’ eyebrow rose, as he laughed coldly, “Zhou Chixiong has long since fled the capital, how would he be summoned?”
Wei Yuan looked at him with a half smile: “Zhou Chixiong is just outside the palace complex, please may Your Majesty summon him.”
In that instant, the court fell into silence.
[^1]: Idiom: something that can be admired from afar, yet never reached.