# 167. Taking Sister and Auntie to See the House Minister Sun arrived at the imperial study, as within the wide and resplendent room were only three people. They were Emperor Yuanjing sat on his high chair, the cunning and wry Prime Minister Wang, and the great Azure Cloak, with his whitening temples. He unconsciously glanced towards old brother Prime Minister, discovering that his expression was grave, and his gaze dim. This made Minister Sun, who originally had thought that this was just a regular small court, suddenly start in surprise. *What black magic is Wei Yuan up to…* he immediately turned to inspect the great Azure Cloak, but the inscrutable great eunuch maintained a warm expression, deep and reserved, leaving one unable to see a hint of what he was feeling inside. Suddenly, a sense of unease arose within Minister Sun. After carrying out his regular formalities, he silently stood at his usual spot. Time slowly ticked by, as civil servants slowly trickled in, bowing and assuming their positions. Throughout this process Emperor Yuanjing had his eyes closed, meditating, until he heard the voice of the Minister of Industry. Emperor Yuanjing opened his eyes, and surveyed his servants. Anyone who was able to be invited to attend the small court, were all the most senior of the senior in government, less important civil servants simply didn’t have the qualifications. “Dear Lord Wei, you may tell all the lords present.” Wei Yuan stepped out, speaking: “Last night, in the inner city the Nightwatchers discovered a house housing catamites and unregistered prostitutes, the women there came from good backgrounds, and the young boys were also from normal families. They were kidnapped and trafficked there, and were forced to serve the guests who stayed over there… “Last night, the Nightwatchers launched a secret raid on the residence, and rounded up this nest of criminals. We arrested thirteen patrons of the brothel, ten amongst them with official ranks, and three are influential merchants in the capital. Furthermore, the Nightwatchers also retrieved the skeletons of forty corpses from the well in the back courtyard, they were all slaughtered innocents.” Wei Yuan’s words worked up a torrent in the Imperial Study, as the great civil servants all started discussing the matter, not caring about the regulation of keeping silence. Human trafficking, illegal prostitutes, political favours for sex… any of these would bring down a myriad calamities upon any official, especially during the time of the Official Evaluation. However much one tried, this could not be covered up. Yet Wei Yuan hadn’t finished talking, as he revealed another huge bombshell: “From our investigations, the owner of the house had relations with the Church of the Warlock God, evidence given by the magical runes carved on the well entrance. The owner of the residence confessed that he was working under the orders of the Minister of Industry. That residence was not only used as a place for building cliques, but also secretly a relay point for communication with the Church of the Warlock God.” The uproar was immense. If one could say that before they maintained some of their demeanour, now it was like the vegetable market, with some cursing Wei Yuan’s slanderous accusations, and some shouting for Wei Yuan’s damn head to go rolling. The head eunuch, standing beside Emperor Yuanjing, shouted three times for order, yet he could not suppress the chaotic scene. Forming cliques and selling prostitutes, kidnapping and trafficking people, forcing innocent women into sex work, these were all crimes with tolerable consequences, but colluding with the Church of the Warlock God? That was a different matter; that was treason. According to the laws of the Great Feng, all guilty of treason, were sentenced to nine familial exterminations. Crack! Emperor Yuanjing smacked his hand on the table, and the Imperial Study immediately returned to silence. His icy gaze scanned over his officials, and fell on Prime Minister Wang Zhenwen. “What does dear Lord Wang think?” The Prime Minister stood out, and said solemnly: “This matter must be investigated to its fullest, and not dallied upon.” Although his words sounded like he was trying to smooth things over, but the Ministry of Law’s Minister Sun could clearly tell that big brother Wang was leaning more towards Wei Yuan. He immediately understood big brother’s intention. If one stood by the side of the Minister of Industry, then at most they would be owed an incredible favour, as well as smacking down some of Wei Yuan’s pride. But if one stood by Wei Yuan, if this matter was found true, then the Minister of Industry would be doomed, and the Qi clique would have lost one of it’s leaders. In the Sangpo Case, the Wang clique had wanted to shift the blame onto the Ministry of Industry, and land a heavy blow on the Qi clique. Even though they had failed, but there was indeed another opportunity. Emperor Yuanjing looked towards Wei Yuan: “Where is the perpetrator?” Wei Yuan shook his head, sighing, “Last night, the perpetrator was murdered by the Warlock’s curse of death, and died without giving evidence.” Emperor Yuanjing frowned. The Imperial Study immediately fell into deathly silence, as everyone looked with strange expressions towards Wei Yuan, as if saying: *What was all that about then?* The ever cool and collected Prime Minister Wang tilted his head, also frowning at Wei Yuan. The Minister of Industry’s mouth curled, as he stepped out with a cold smile, exclaiming: “Your Majesty! Your servant has been wronged! Wei Yuan is trying to slander your servant, please may Your Majesty take the lead.” Emperor Yuanjing made a dark expression, “Wei Yuan, what do you have to say?” Wei Yuan was incomparably self-assured, as he replied: “Your servant asks Your Majesty to summon Bronze Gong Xu Qi’an.” *Bronze Gong Xu Qi’an…* Hearing this name, many great officials’ expressions became rather distorted. Based on last time on the situation with Zhou Chixiong, in these times asking to summon Xu Qi’an must mean that this matter has not ended, and Wei Yuan has left a hidden ace up his sleeve. Especially, members of the Wang Clique had already developed a slight amount of PTSD from hearing the words “summon Xu Qi’an.” The Minister of Industry’s face turned slightly, but he quickly hid his emotions, and kept his calm. Emperor Yuanjing went silent for a few seconds, before saying: “Summon him.” Several minutes later, Xu Qi’an, in his black robes, bronze gong, and black cloak entered the Imperial Study. The long sabre that usually hung about his waist was temporarily confiscated from him. With him also were Chu Caiwei and two other white cloaks from the Sitianjian. “Your servant greets Your Majesty.” Xu Qi’an bowed and saluted. Emperor Yuanjing gazed expressionlessly at this small Bronze Gong. Wei Yuan turned his head, smiling: “Recount your findings to His Majesty.” Xu Qi’an immediately started recounting, from planning to use the silver His Majesty had given him to buy a house, to finding said house was haunted, then through channelling with the spirit, finding out about this place… everything was said as it was. The more the Minister of Industry listened, the uglier his expression became, as his heart slowly sank into the depths. *The man’s already dead, last night the Nightwatchers were clearly unbelievably angry… they don’t have evidence, they’re bluffing me…* the Minister of Industry calmed his emotions, and scoffed internally. *This official has served half his life, gone through countless winds and rains, do you think this small trick will stop me, heh.* Xu Qi’an finished, and saw that Emperor Yuanjing seemed quite aloof, without any expression on his face. So he added one final sentence: “The female spirit is sealed in the feng-shui plate of the Sitianjian’s Miss Caiwei, if Your Majesty wishes for evidence, Your Majesty can pick a trusted aide to channel with the ghost.” Internally, he thought: *Get a guy to do it!* Emperor Yuanjing thought for a while, before looking to the head eunuch beside him. Of all the people present, the one he trusted most naturally was this peorson that had attended to him all his life. “I will serve Your Majesty with my life.” the head eunuch knelt down. “My lord, there is no need for fear, there will be no significant effects.” Xu Qi’an saw that the eunuch was somewhat frightened, and reckoning that he did not know much about what a channelling is, tried to comfort him. *At most it will be seeing a man riding between your legs in first person, but don’t worry, it’s like watching a movie, you won’t feel anything.* Xu Qi’an felt that for these eunuchs, who had all missed their chances (cocks) to sleep with any women, that this was a blessing. You couldn’t sleep with anyone, so being fucked by a guy would make up for missing out. Chu Caiwei took out her feng-shui plate, and walked towards the head eunuch. Bright light emanated from her plate, as the yin-yang koi started spinning around, expelling a ball of black mist. She lightly shook it, launching the black mist towards the eunuch’s forehead. The latter instinctively leant his head back, attempting to evade, but in the next moment the black mist had entered his soul. Chu Caiwei pointed a finger at his temple, helping him and the ghost’s spirits to merge, otherwise with the fortitude of the eunuch’s soul, he was at risk of being taken over by the ghost entirely, unable to tell who from who. Emperor Yuanjing, and the many officials in the study, all looked intently at the eunuch, seeing his expression suddenly being frightened, suddenly being furious, suddenly hopeless, suddenly bitter. This process continued for about fifteen minutes, before Chu Caiwei pulled back her finger, simultaneously pulling out the black mist, putting it back into the feng-shui plate. The great eunuch whimpered, as he opened his eyes, and fell to the floor crying: “Your Majesty, Your Majesty, please take charge for your concubine…” As he cried and cried, he finally came to his senses. He was a man, at least he used to be. The experiences just then were the experiences of the female ghost, and not himself. Once he realised this, the head eunuch wiped his tears, as his expression slowly calmed. However, his voice still carried a tinge of grief: “Your Majesty, your servant has seen everything…” Emperor Yuanjing nodded: “Speak.” He immediately glanced at Chu Caiwei, and the other white-cloaks, seeing azure light glowing in their eyes, before turning satisfied back to the eunuch. “Your servant saw that she was kidnapped, and sent to the capital. Every day she was forced to serve the patrons of the brothel… no, none of the patrons paid.” The great officials exchanged glances amongst themselves. Hearing his words, what Wei Yuan said was not slander. This was indeed a place where kidnapped innocents were forced into prostitution. “Later, she served a patron called Tamraha, and gained his appreciation, becoming his mistress.” Tamraha… that was a foreign name. Emperor Yuanjing narrowed his eyes, glancing towards the Minister of Industry, nodding, “And then?” “One night, she accidentally overheard a secret conversation, and heard ‘cannons’, ‘weapons’, amongst other words, and because of this was brutally murdered, and thrown into the well. Your servant saw, that the person talking with Tamraha…” He turned his head, pointing towards the Minister of Industry, exclaiming in his sharp voice: “was Minister Liu!” Emperor Yuanjing’s face immediately turned iron-grey. The imperial study exploded. The wind’s course changed, as all the great officials turned their spear-heads towards the Minister of Industry. Amongst them, the reactions of the High Court Censor was especially extreme, sighing with emotion, and condemning Minister Liu for his abhorrent actions. Under a flurry of conversation, the colour of Minister Liu’s face was like mud, with no sign of life, stiff as a wooden doll. … Leaving the imperial palace, Xu Qi’an rode beside Wei Yuan’s carriage. “Duke Wei, the Minister of Industry is one of the leaders of the Qi clique. With him in your hand, you can pull up the Qi clique by its roots.” From within, came Wei Yuan’s laughter, “It’s not the time to pull up the Qi clique. Without the Qi clique, the greatest benefactor would not be us.” Xu Qi’an with his silver rank in political intrigue did not try to argue the matter, changing the conversation: “So I can use this merit to atone for my crime?” Wei Yuan grunted assent: “the Ministry of Law won’t arrest you. As for the others, we need to see His Majesty’s intent. Later, I will sent a letter to the palace.” *Mn, this matter is best left to Wei Yuan… my promotion to Silver Gong should be all but guaranteed… let’s go home first, and comfort Auntie and Uncle.* Xu Qi’an thus asked for a day off, and bade farewell to Wei Yuan. Slapping his horse on the buttock and urging her on, they rushed back home with fiery vigour. Second Uncle was still on duty, and not at home, leaving Auntie and his two sisters there. Auntie sat in the front hall, drinking tea and eating desserts, occasionally feeding Little Pea, who was otherwise playing with a wooden doll to the side. She was wearing a dark blue gauze dress, her silken hair was held tight in a bun, with a beautiful golden hairpin through it. The makeup on her beautiful face was exquisitely done. Seeing that her unfortunate nephew had come home, Auntie’s expression turned slightly, as she lowered her voice, speaking quickly: “What are you doing here? Your uncle said that there’s spies from the Ministry of Law all around, go, shoo!” “Big bwother, big bwother…” Xu Lingyin happily came to greet him, making an emergency stop right in front of him. Her little body swayed with the inertia, as her round face looked up at her brother: “Did you bwing back something to eat?” “No.” Xu Qi’an’s coldness shattered his tiny sister’s hopes and dreams. “Oh.” Xu Lingyin though was a pragmatic young woman, though, and immediately discarded Xu Qi’an like a worn out shoe. She waddled away, going to play by herself. Xu Qi’an didn’t want to bother with Auntie, going directly to the table to pick up a cake, only to be slapped away. Auntie stared at him forcefully: “I’m talking to you.” Xu Qi’an replied casually: “The situation has been resolved, I’ve just come home to tell everyone.” Hearing that all has been resolved, Auntie let out a small smile, yet she quickly wiped it off her face, and scolded him: “All you do every day is get into trouble, can you let the family live in peace for a while?” From the tax silver case, incidents have come one after another without rest, every couple days something else comes up. At the start Auntie was worried and scared, but now she had gotten somewhat used to it. Which was not necessarily a good thing. Xu Qi’an did not respond to Auntie’s scolding, saying: “I’ve already picked out a house, I want to take Lingyin and Lingyue to look at it, will Auntie go too?” Hearing that he had picked out a house, Auntie’s beautiful eyes lit up, as she replied reservedly: “Well I have nothing better to do, might as well go with you to take a look.”