# 164. A Startling Discovery *Fuck me… the old broker wasn’t lying, this ghost really bloody looks like this…* Xu Qi’an’s heart lurched in fright. However he wasn’t really scared, the frightened start was merely an instinctive reaction of someone who was once an ordinary person, seeing a ghost in real life. After all, he was the type who after watching a horror movie would be too scared to go to the toilet, and not being able to hold it in any longer, had to relieve himself into an empty coke bottle. The white-clothed female ghost looked at them blankly for a moment, and as if detecting a threat, her mouth split open to her ears in a voiceless scream, as black blood spewed out, and she lunged towards the two of them. In the dark depths of the well, dark aura was abundant, causing goosebumps to appear all over Xu Qi’an’s body. *I don’t know how to deal with resentful spirits… maybe I can just stab her…* Xu Qi’an grasped his sabre hilt, planning to rush ahead of Chu Caiwei, yet the yellow-skirted girl held out her hand, stopping him from moving. Her hands moved in complex formations, as the yin-yang koi on her feng shui plate started spinning. Xu Qi’an saw that the heavenly step “Gui” suddenly lit up.[^1] A flash of dark light flew out of the feng-shui plate, grasping the ghost, and drawing her into the plate. Chu Caiwei took back the feng-shui plate, and gave Xu Qi’an a dazzling smile. Then, she pointed towards the well floor, and began to swim in that direction. The two of them looked around a while longer, but did not discover anything more. *Splash…* Xu Qi’an finally surfaced. There were no footholds in the well, and so he braced his hands against the slick well wall, saying to Chu Caiwei behind him: “Grab onto my leg” Chu Caiwei let out an “oh”, and grabbed on, letting him carry her out. Xu Qi’an felt her weight latch on, and quietly mumbled: “A little lotus just showing its buds… every day you eat eat eat, why do you still not grow.” “What are you saying?” Chu Caiwei didn’t hear clearly. “Nothing. Climb up a little more, you’re pulling my trousers off. I’ve got another handle up here, enough for you to hold on to.” Chu Caiwei looked around for a long time, and was unable to find this “handle” that Xu Qi’an was talking about. They came out from the well, and Xu Qi’an worked his qi to dry his clothes of the cold well-water. Chu Caiwei instead formed another spell, pulling a ball of orange flame out of her feng-shui plate, and spun it around her. Steam came off in clouds, yet her clothes were left untouched. After drying herself, Chu Caiwei said: “This is just a regular resentful spirit.” *A regular resentful spirit? Then how did she manage to exist for so long…* Xu Qi’an frowned; the old estate agent had said that this ghost issue had gone on for two years or more. But what Chu Caiwei said next explained his doubts: “The well bottom connects to an underground stream, the resentful energy came along with it. I’m guessing that there’s a *yin* ley line underground.” Xu Qi’an gathered that “*yin* ley line” was just technical terminology of Feng-Shui Masters, and nodded in realisation: “So that’s why your purification didn’t work, and the rituals the previous monks had done also didn’t work, because they weren’t Arcanists.” Chu Caiwei nodded vigorously, expressing that she was an Arcanist and proud of it too, “You probably shouldn’t buy this house. The feng-shui of a yin ley line is terrible. Mn, it’s probably not a particularly big line, but living here for a long time will make you very unlucky.” “At this price point why not?” Xu Qi’an looked at her strangely, “Did you think me asking you out was just for you to have a look? You’ve gotta help me make the feng-shui better.” “But that’s so much effort…” Chu Caiwei pouted; learning alchemy every day was tiring enough, “Then you need to…” “Buy you more food, I know.” Xu Qi’an said. *That’s more like it…* She pursed her lips, before again leaping onto the rooftop, shouting downwards: “Help me higher.” *Do you want to stand abreast with the moon… oh, it’s a new moon today, then that’s alright!* Xu Qi’an lampooned, whilst also jumping onto the rooftop, forming his hands into a small step. Chu Caiwei jumped on, her toe tip landing on his hands, and under the frightening strength of a martial artist, her delicate body shot up into the night sky like an arrow. Throughout all this, she used the power of her feng-shui plate to summon whisps of wind and rain, which swirled around her, slowing her fall. Clear light shone in her eyes, as Chu Caiwei surveyed the whole house, before turning to look at the local area, observing the whole estate’s feng-shui. She landed like a floating leaf, frowning: “That’s strange, the feng-shui in this area is pretty good, there shouldn’t be a yin-line here…” *Maybe your professional ability is just not good enough…* Xu Qi’an did not dare to mouth off, asking “Could you look again? Or ask some other brothers from the Sitianjian to have a look.” “No need,” Chu Caiwei waved him off, “We can just communicate with the spirit, use some empath techniques to see how she died. If there’s no leads that way, then I’ll ask some brothers to help.” “Quickly then, I have stuff to do tomorrow.” Xu Qi’an replied. Tomorrow he needed to go to the constabulary to find Wei Yuan. If daddy was willing to help him brace the fallout, then all would be well in the world. If daddy didn’t bother with him, then he could only go into hiding, and try to find an opportunity to mitigate any lingering effects from this turncoat’s betrayal. And this house was exactly the base of operations that Xu Qi’an had chosen. Because this house was haunted, few ever came close to this place, and this area wasn’t a place where important civil servants gathered. It was quite far from the main roads, and so apart from the royal guard and the Nightwatchers, no one would ever pay any attention to this place. Chu Caiwei said: “The spectre’s yin energy is too strong, to channel her would require one to bear the burden of her dark qi. This is not too healthy for a woman’s body, so you’ll have to do it. With a martial artist’s vigorous spirit, you won’t have any lasting effects.” “Alright!” Chu Caiwei pulled out her feng-shui plate, and began murmuring an incantation. The yin-yang koi started slowly swimming around, as a faint ball of black mist rose out, floating three inches above the plate. The black mist moved and struggled, yet was unable to escape the pull of the plate, as every time it tried, a wall of bright light bounced it back. Chu Caiwei flicked her finger: “Go!” The black mist shot like an arrow, and hit Xu Qi’an right between his eyes. His whole body went cold, as a sliver of ice spread out from his spine, as immediately after he felt a presence full of resentfulness, insanity, and fear. This presence rushed into his soul, trying to control his body. Suddenly, the spirit felt something, and suddenly became quiet … no, became timid. This made Xu Qi’an decide against using his own consciousness to forcefully suppress the spirit, and he began to carefully feel for her consciousness. *Has she discovered the presence of Shenshu… the monk is indeed fast asleep, else it would’ve killed her in an instant.* His consciousness enveloped that of the spirit’s, and the two of them began to come together. The next moment, flashes of memories began to surface within him, as if a film was playing in his head. This woman was originally the daughter of a wealthy family in Taikang County. Due to her beauty, those looking for her hand in marriage crowded the door. According to an average person’s future, she would be married to a good family, and live out the rest of her life in peace. But an outing one day changed everything. In a lonely alley somewhere, human traffickers kidnapped her, and she was sent to a large house in the capital. In this house lived many women just like her, many other pretty and graceful young girls, even some boys. They all had one thing to do, which was to provide themselves for the guests that came through the house to play with. They would call them “master”, clearly there were many that had official titles. Yet when their officials’ robes went off, they were more bestial than beasts, playing and abusing the women in the house with abandon. This woman’s spirit had once served many of these important men, and was even once forced to serve together with an effeminate young man. Resentment and hate filled her heart, yet she was afraid of death, and so suffered in silence. Like this, many years passed, and one guest took a liking to her. She became this guest’s exclusive mistress, and her situation improved. That man was called Tamraha. He was of middling height, burly of build, with a large flat face. The cause of her death was because one day, she had accidentally overheard Tamraha and someone else’s conversation. The conversation included words such as “Yunzhou”, “cannons”, and “weaponry”. At the back of the house was a well, where many women, men, and children who committed suicide, or were abused to death by the guests were buried. After this woman was killed, she was also thrown into the well. After she died, she became a resentful ghost, yet was trapped in the well. It was only because of a coincidental opportunity did she end up following the underground stream to here. She fed off the resentful energy that was heavy in that stream, and managed to live until the present day. In this stream of memories, Xu Qi’an saw many familiar faces. Especially the night before she died, at that conversation, Xu Qi’an through the woman’s senses saw who was talking to Tamraha: The Qi Clique’s Minister of Industry! “Whew…” Xu Qi’an opened his eyes, exhaling a stomach full of depressive energy. This spirit channelling wasn’t humane, he had in first person perspective had a men on top of him numerous times, and deeply understood the humiliation of being forcefully ridden. At the same time, he was deeply affected by the ghost’s resentment, bitterness, hopelessness, and hate. Luckily every day he practiced visualisation meditation, honing his spirit, and his will was far stronger than the average person. Otherwise, any normal person would have probably developed depression, or split personality disorder. “It seems you’ve gained some unexpected knowledge…” Chu Caiwei looked at him intently. During the channelling, she had seen Xu Qi’an’s face distort and shift numerous times, being sometimes fierce, sometimes bitter, sometimes angry. She pointed a finger at Xu Qi’an’s forehead, pulling out the ghost woman, and put her back in the feng-shui plate. *That Tamraha isn’t from the central plains… the people of the western regions have high noses, deep set eyes, the barbarians of the southern marches are known for their blue eyes, the northerners have dark skin, and some with bloodline from ancient mythical beasts, showing non-human features… Tamraha seems more likely to be from the places governed by the Church of the Warlock God.* *What does the Warlock God have to do with Yunzhou? Yunzhou is in the south of Feng. Even though I only heard bits and pieces, but it seems that the Ministry of Industry has been sending weapons to the Warlock Church or Yunzhou for a long time.* *This situation involves traitors to the country, I need to report to Wei Yuan immediately…* His thoughts reaching this point, he summarised what he had heard to Chu Caiwei. The latter listened intently, but did not understand at all, “When someone is tormented all their life, that resentful aura would not dissipate when they die, but it might not necessarily form a spectre. However if this resentful aura was added to and left to fester, it would be as clear as day. If there was a place like this in the inner city, then the Nightwatchers would have found it long ago.” “We’ll talk about this later… oh right, can you give me back the mirror.” He was about to make a contribution of great merit, so he was no longer afraid of the title of “corruption and abuse of the law”. The mirror thus naturally did not need to be looked after by Chu Caiwei. What a joke, there was more than nine hundred taels of gold in there! … Xu Qi’an took Chu Caiwei to the Nightwatchers Constabulary, and on his way was stopped by four Bronze Gongs on patrol. “It’s me.” Xu Qi’an showed his plaque. “Master Xu?” Even though they were of the same rank, but as Wei Yuan’s favourite child, the Bronze Gongs didn’t dare slight him. “Why are you still out wandering the streets? Today the Ministry of Law, the city government, and the high court all came over, and took away many colleagues,” a Bronze Gong said, “Apparently you were also on the name list, but you weren’t at the constabulary, and avoided this catastrophe. Are you able to return home…” The intention in his words were very clear: are you planning to escape? “Who did they take?” Xu Qi’an asked, and discovered that of the four Gold Gongs included Jiang Lyuzhong, and of the Silver Gongs included Li Yuchun, Min Shan, and Yang Feng, the three who had helped him in the Sangpo Case. *Jiang Lyuzhong’s conduct is mostly righteous, even if there was corruption it was only a little bit, how was he also taken… is it because we’re on good terms, and so Zhu wanted to take revenge… Brother Chun is really unlucky, not taking a single kernel of silver, yet still thrown into the dungeon…* It was obvious that Zhu’s revenge was targeted, especially picking Xu Qi’an’s subordinates and close friends, both weakening the Nightwatchers, and also taking revenge on him. “Duke Wei definitely will save them, these silk-robed animals, do they really think we’re so easy to bully?” “Aye, don’t say that, these years no one’s been that clean…” “Psh, Silver Gong Li is clean as a whistle, and he was arrested too no?” The three Bronze Gongs muttered in helpless anger, complaining to themselves in front of Xu Qi’an. “I heard that His Majesty personally gave the order to investigate, it won’t be easy for Duke Wei to work his way around that one, how is this good? People have been especially frightened and silent today.” Xu Qi’an tried to comfort them, “There’ll be a way.” The three Bronze Gongs shook their heads, sighing in their pessimism, before carrying on with patrol. … Xu Qi’an returned to the constabulary, and immediately made for the Tower of Noble Spirit, being stopped by the guards at the bottom. “Duke Wei is resting, and none are to see him, these are the rules.” The guard knew Xu Qi’an, but it was late in the night, Wei Yuan would not see anyone at this time. “I have important matters, tell him quickly.” Xu Qi’an replied solemnly. “Master Xu can return tomorrow.” The guard was very stubborn. --- [^1]: Gui, part of the ten heavenly stems, both an ordinal system and also has more superstitious meanings in traditional chinese beliefs.