# 161. Buying a House 8:45 AM, Xu Qi’an climbed astride his beloved mare, that never got into traffic jams, and headed towards the Sitianjian. Under the enthusiastic welcome by the white-cloaked arcanists, he found Chu Caiwei listening to Song Qing’s lecture. “Miss Caiwei, I want to buy a city in the inner city. I know the Sitianjian knows how to inspect feng-shui, so I’d like to ask you for help.” Xu Qi’an stated his intentions. Chu Caiwei moved her gaze from the various vials and beakers on the table, raising her face. A girl of just eighteen, her face was still round and tender. A face both beautiful and delicate, with round eyes flashing brightly, the whites clear and pure, like that of an infant. As everyone knows, the eyes of an infant are the clearest, purest, brightest, this is because the whites are most pure. Unlike an adult, as as one ages, the whites of one’s eyes will become cloudy, filling with blood vessels. Chu Caiwei’s eyes were like that of an infants, big and large and extremely beautiful.[^1] “I need to learn alchemy, I’m not going.” Chu Caiwei puffed her cheeks, and turned her face aside. *Is it that time of the month for her? She seems to be grumpy…* Xu Qi’an thought, before hearing Song Qing say, “I’ll call a junior brother to go with you.” *What do I want a junior brother for? Hell no! Only if the junior sister accompanies me will things be fun, who wants to go window shopping with an old man.* Xu Qi’an shook his head, gracefully declining Song Qing’s offer, saying: “Miss Caiwei, may I ask why you’re so… shitting up a wall today?”[^2] Chu Caiwei replied earnestly: “I’ve been stuck at seventh rank Master of Feng-Shui for over a year. I should have been a Master of Alchemy by now, but alchemy is just too hard, it’s both exhausting and boring…” *Yup, I get you, STEM is a woman’s nightmare.* Chu Caiwei continued, “Furthermore, to become a sixth rank Master of Alchemy, I need to independently complete a completely new method of alchemy, and then spread it far and wide. Only when I get the common people’s positive feedback can I then advance.” The last sentence, Xu Qi’an did not understand: “The common people’s positive feedback?” “Do you know who discovered gunpowder?” “How would I know?” “Gunpowder was discovered three hundred years ago by a Master of Feng-Shui of the Sitianjian. He spread gunpowder widely, and received the common people’s approval, thus advancing to Master of Alchemy. Of course, you needn’t necessarily invent something so mind-boggling; senior brother Song Qing invented ceramic glaze and advanced that way.” Chu Caiwei said, “the crucial part is the reaction of the common people.” *So the son of a bitch who had ruined my chance at fortune was you Song Qing…* Xu Qi’an secretly seethed, then asking in confusion: “Why do you need to get the approval of the common people?” Chu Caiwei immediately looked towards Song Qing, as the latter hesitated, saying “This is the Sitianjian’s secret. There’s no harm in telling you, but don’t go around telling anyone else.” Seeing Xu Qi’an nod, Song Qing said, “Have you ever felt that the Sitianjian was different from other cultivation pathways?” “Serving the country and people, making selfless contributions, extremely noble.” Xu Qi’an said seriously. *Xu Qi’an is worthy of being a friend of the Sitianjian…* Song Qing nodded in approval, his voice becoming excited, “Yes, you have a very original and accurate gaze, I admire you. “In all the great systems, rank nine is the foundation. In reality the differences in the ninth rank represents the core of each system. The martial artists’ Refining Vitality, the Confucianists’ Awakened, the Buddhists’ Sramanera.” *The martial artists have Refining Vitality, its core is the body, the body is the foundation of martial arts… the Confucianists have Awakened, as in becoming literate, uh, does this imply, that if you don’t have a brain don’t read books? The Buddhists have Sramanera, acolyte. The young acolytes must hold their vows, to keep vows is the foundation upon which the monks learn Buddhist scripture… then what about the ninth rank of the arcanists, Physician? There doesn’t seem to be much a Physician has to do with Arcanists?* Xu Qi’an fell into silence. Song Qing, seeing that he had not yet had the realisation, prodded him: “The essence of a ninth rank Physician is not in the pharmacy, but in the people. The path of the Arcanist is the path of man, thus the sixth rank Masters of Alchemy must receive the approval of the common people, thus the Sitianjian must be attached to the royal court.” *The path of the Arcanist is the path of man? That shouldn’t be the “humanitarianism”[^3] that I know about… no wonder these white-cloaks are so proud and uppity yet they work “to serve the people”[^4]; no wonder the Jianzheng is the protector of the capital, they have to support the crown… It reminds me of the Confucianists who also have to support the crown. The Confucianists until today have not had a second rank, going off Xinnian’s words, they may have had their path broken. Is this not quite similar to the seventh rank Masters of Feng Shui — if they don’t receive the approval of the common people, they will never gain rank?* *If there is the way of man, then there are bound to be other ways, “Dao”s existing. Apart from the surface level system differences, there are different Daos hidden behind them?* “Do you have any ideas for a new alchemical invention?” Xu Qi’an asked. Song Qing glanced at his junior sister, and said helplessly, “Notwithstanding that she’s not the sharpest sword, she also doesn’t like studying. I’m afraid it’s difficult.” The few other white-cloaked arcanists all shook their heads, displaying pessimistic outlooks towards Chu Caiwei’s advancement. “With sister Caiwei… we’ll just have to wait for an opportunity.” “Aye, Master Jianzheng doesn’t even care much, maybe he thinks a girl like junior sister doesn’t need to be too high a rank.” “We can’t do anything either.” The white-cloaked arcanists all said pitifully, sighs going all around. Chu Caiwei pursed her lip, like a hopeless student with all Fs facing the frustrated and disappointed sighs of her superiors. *This world still doesn’t have chicken bouillon, I wonder if making chicken bouillon would count as a new form of alchemy.* Xu Qi’an thought for a moment, “I might have an idea for this.” Whoosh! In the laboratory, every single white cloak looked over, all of their eyes flashing gold. “Really, you really have a way?” Song Qing’s eyes became wide, both with the surging pleasure of learning new alchemy, and the gratification of a father sorting out a load on their heart. “I still need to think about it, I’ll come back with an answer in a few days.” After Xu Qi’an had finished, he looked at Chu Caiwei, “Miss Caiwei, do you have time today?” “Yes yes…” All of the white cloaks in the room spoke in unison. Song Qing pushed Chu Caiwei upright, saying with heartfelt emotion, “Xu Qi’an is a prized person of our Sitianjian, hundreds of times more important than just some alchemy, you go and accompany him round the inner city today.” Just like that, Chu Caiwei was pushed by her brothers into the wolf’s den. Xu Qi’an led Chu Caiwei to the estate agents, and an old manager came up eagerly to greet them, “Are the sir and madam buying or renting?” *An old man… in my past life there’d be a round bottomed round breasted female attendant that would come to greet me…* Xu Qi’an lampooned, his face holding a light smile, “Buying.” The old man’s smile became even wider; the commission from renting and buying were leagues apart. “What sort of model?” “A three-layered courtyard.” The smile on the old man’s face could no longer merely be described by “enthusiastic”, rather it was like he had just seen his own father after being decades apart, happy nearly to the point of tears. It was not unreasonable for him to be so excited; in the inner city, based on what district one was going for, a three-layer courtyard house was worth anywhere from 5000 to 10,000 taels of silver. A three or more tiered courtyard house was not a residence any ordinary person could buy. The estate agents hadn’t even sold a house of that calibre that year, but if they did then they could eat for a year on that one commission alone. “Are there any houses that take your fancy Sir?” The old manager asked humbly. “Give me a list of all the houses between five and seven thousand taels.” Xu Qi’an sat down boldly, picking up the tea, and drank a sip of what was probably the best green tea the agents had to offer. The flavour was average, no where near what Wei Yuan had. Very quickly, the documents were assembled. Xu Qi’an looked them over, and thought carefully for a moment, before pushing away three from the file, leaving only one left. “Why do you only want this one house?” Chu Caiwei grabbed out a honey sweet from her deerskin bag, like a magician conjuring a coin. “Because the house is closest to the Jiaofangsi.” Xu Qi’an raised his eyebrow, and laughed. On the paper was written the location and the size, more detailed information must be retrieved separately. Xu Qi’an glanced over at it, and discovered that this one had a decent location, was very large, but also much cheaper than any of the other houses. The agents’ code for it was: Yi-23. “Why is this house much cheaper than the others?” Xu Qi’an asked calmly. Yi-23’s price was 5500 taels of silver. Other houses of a similar size usually had an asking price of close to 7000 or more. “Naturally there’s a reason for its price…” the old manager looked left and right, before saying in a low voice: “That house is cursed, no one can live there, Sir would be better off picking another one.” Xu Qi’an and Chu Caiwei exchanged glances, *cursed? Then as a Nightwatcher I ought to go look, and see why it is cursed.* But Xu Qi’an was not rash, as he asked cautiously: “Why so. Tell me in detail.” Although the capital was the territory of the Nightwatchers, it indeed hid an unknown number of high rank experts, and there did indeed exist some cults and evil places around. Since he was little Xu Qi’an had heard of strange tales around the capital city. --- Translator’s note: only 159 chapters in did the author realise that he started off calling the “Cloud Deer Academy” the “White Deer Academy”, and slowly started using the two terms inconsistently. We shall immortalise his mistake but it will be the “Cloud Deer Academy” starting 140 chapters ago and continuing forth. [^1]: Okay I don’t really like to “translator’s comment” much but Xiaolangjun you really went off topic there, are you padding characters? [^2]: There’s almost definitely a meme behind this. I shall leave it up to interpretation. [^3]: Humanitarianism: The way (dao) of Humankind. [^4]: Also a famous Chinese Communist slogan.