# 181. Group Chats
After answering the attendant, Xu Qi’an sat up, threw off his duvet, and started putting on his clothes.
Sensing movement from beside him, Song Tingfeng opened his eyes, and muttered: “Where are you going.”
Xu Qi’an muttered back: “I’m going out for a moment, I’ll be back soon.”
Song Tingfeng grunted.
After their conversation, the two of them simultaneously froze, and then simultaneously shivered.
“Piss off, shoo,” Song Tingfeng rubbed the goosebumps on his arms, cursing: “ruining my damn sleep.”
When Xu Qi’an had left, Zhu Guangxiao silently turned to face the other way.
The moonlight was like water, and the stars twinkled in the vast emptiness.
The river was quiet, its ripples scattering the moonlight, reflecting patches of light like thousands of silver scales.
There was a light on in Inspector General Zhang’s room. Xu Qi’an knocked on his door, and after receiving permission to enter, opened the inspector general’s door.
In the rather small room, Inspector General Zhang and Jiang Lyuzhong were sat across from each other, drinking tea. The latter pointed to an empty seat beside them: “Sit, pour yourself some tea.”
Inspector General Zhang, with his long goatee beard and naturally stern expression, nodded at Xu Qi’an.
To this mysterious Bronze Gong that had appeared in court twice, and had twice defeated high ministers, the inspector general treated him with great importance and a friendly attitude.
*Drinking tea in the middle of the night, do you think that the quality of your sleep is too good?* Xu Qi’an sat down, tone somewhat casual: “Sirs, what can your subordinate do for you?”
The Censorate and Nightwatchers were different government departments, but they had the same superior: being Wei Yuan. Thus Inspector General Zhang was on his side, and Xu Qi’an didn’t need to bother with too many formalities.
The inspector general laughed, “Master Xu’s deduction skills are extraordinary, and abilities outstanding. The reason why this official called you here is to discuss the mission we have in Yunzhou.”
Xu Qi’an considered his words, before asking: “What does Sir think?”
The inspector general replied: “I have already seen the dossier. There were no flaws in Zhou Min’s death; there were no wounds, no sign of poison, in all regards a normal death like any other.
“But to die without cause nor reason, without any sign of harm, this in itself is suspicious.”
Zhou Min was that spy who had died for no reason.
Jiang Lyuzhong added: “In all the different systems, the only ones who could carry this out are the Daoists and Warlocks. From the case of the Minister of Industry, we can see that the Qi Clique conspired with the warlocks, and so the killer is most likely to be a fourth rank warlock of dreams.”
Xu Qi’an nodded. Firstly, he confirmed the inspector general’s intelligence; he wasn’t an empty headed official, but had a clear and realistic view of the situation, and what he would be facing.
This, this was good.
The worst thing to happen would be to have to work with a useless superior.
He wasn’t afraid of an opponent like a god, but was afraid of a friend like a pig. To tell the truth, from how sickly Inspector General Zhang was before, Xu Qi’an had had such worries.
Secondly, he confirmed Jiang Lyuzhong’s deductions.
Any murderer will leave signs of their act — not necessarily that they would leave any leads, but rather a very objective impression that that person was killed.
Even if one were to use deep arts to destroy one’s soul, the victim would display a blank, dull, and frightened look on his face.
But the only ones who could make a person seem to die in his sleep would be the Church of the Warlock God, this part was easy to see.
“So how does Sir think we should investigate when we get to Yunzhou?” Xu Qi’an asked humbly.
In matters of investigation he may be skilled, but he was a stranger to the interactions and processes on official levels.
“Zhou Min is a very experienced mole, he would not leave any important evidence at his side. What we need to do is discover the evidence that he had hidden. As for this master Xu, we must rely on your experience to solve this matter.”
The inspector general said with a serious tone, displaying a great deal of trust for Xu Qi’an’s abilities.
“I will try my best.” Xu Qi’an suddenly thought of a problem, and frowned: “Yang Chuannan is the commissioner-in-chief of Yunzhou, and he controls a lot of military force. Would this force him into rebellion? And then, being in the way of his charge, we would be very much worse off.”
Military officials and the officials in the capital were two different matters. The Capital’s six city guards and three royal guard divisions were all under the control of the crown, the civil servants had no power over them.
However, as a province’s military commissioner-in-chief, with power at hand, who would allow themselves to be walked over?
“This is a risk we must face. Jiang Lyuzhong and I will be responsible for mediating and enacting. When the time comes, you only need to listen to our command.” Inspector General Zhang answered.
“When we reach Yunzhou, I may be able to get some helping hands.” Xu Qi’an said.
“Helping hands?” The inspector general asked.
“I’ll talk about that more when the time comes.” Xu Qi’an didn’t want to guarantee anything.
The inspector general nodded, not paying the matter much mind.
“Sir Zhang, what do you know about Yunzhou?” Xu Qi’an asked thoughtfully, “about the banditry issues, especially.”
Inspector General Zhang thought about it for a while, before slowly saying: “There is a reason why Yunzhou is called the Bandit Province. This was recorded in the history books. But to talk about that we’d need to start from five hundred years ago, back to the time of the ‘royal purge’…”
Xu Qi’an originally was unaware of the Wuzong emperor’s usurping of the throne, but during the Sangpo case, he learned more and more about it.
“When the Wuzong Emperor lead his army against the capital, and later quickly taking all the other provinces, he met a hard stumbling block in Yunzhou, which resisted him fiercely. The then commisioner-in-chief of Yunzhou was a famed general, with great military might, and an even greater skill in defence. Even with Emperor Wuzong’s strategic strength, he was unable to occupy Yunzhou.
“The two sides clashed in a war of attrition that lasted several years, to the point where the people couldn’t get by, and the common folk in dire straits eventually took to the mountains, and became outlaws.
“Yunzhou has many mountains, easy to hold and hard to take. Its land is also fertile, and so it became the breeding ground for bandits and outlaws of all kinds. When Emperor Wuzong finally took over Yunzhou, he discovered that Yunzhou was filled with banidts.
“Several years of protracted war had hurt the Great Feng’s spirit greatly, and we were unable to root the bandits out. Emperor Wuzong could only return back to the capital, planning to recover before acting.
“Later on, the court organised several expeditions to root out the bandits, but every time came back with heavy losses. And even though many bandits fell, many more sprang up in their place with the coming spring, eventually becoming the playground for wanted criminals and outcasts of the Jianghu.”
The inspector general sighed: “A grave disease is hard to cure.”
*So this is a historical problem… if the founding emperor couldn’t solve this situation, then it would be practically impossible for his successors to. Firstly their ability would be an issue, but secondly it is hard to pull oneself away from the pleasures of life.* Xu Qi’an nodded slightly, indicating that he understood.
The three of them talked a little more, before parting.
Returning back to his room, as expected he startled awake Song Tingfeng and Zhu Guangxiao. Refining Qi martial artists’ senses were extremely sharp, and any rustle of wind through grass was enough to alert them.
The two of them didn’t pay much mind, and quickly went back to sleep again.
Xu Qi’an didn’t sleep, rather lighting the lamp, sitting by the table, and taking out his small jade mirror.
【THREE: TWO, I’ve just received a message that the court has sent an inspector general to Yunzhou.】
It was indeed somewhat impolite to send messages in the middle of the night; all the members of the Earth Book Group Chat were startled awake, and all with different emotions picked up their earth books to look.
【FIVE: THREE you’re such an arse, don’t disturb my sleep in the middle of the night.】
The young woman from the Southern Marches voiced her protest.
The others didn’t say anything, silently lurking.
【TWO: This to do with the Qi clique?】
【THREE: Good, the mole the Nightwatchers placed by the commissioner-in-chief discovered that the commissioner Yang Chuannan has been secretly helping the bandits, smuggling them military supplies, and helping the enemy. Oh right, this Yang Chuannan is the Qi clique representative in Yunzhou.】
【TWO: This is impossible. I don’t know if Yang Chuannan is a Qi clique member or not, but I do know for certain that he is not helping the enemy, and smuggling military supplies to the bandits.】
*Two’s reaction is somewhat extreme… they know about Yang Chuannan, and is on good terms?*
Xu Qi’an felt lucky that he didn’t promise anything in front of Inspector General Zhang, otherwise he would be in hot water. At the same time, he secretly raised his guard. When he reached Yunzhou, he would have to pay attention to his identity, and not reveal anything.
First, he needed to figure out who Two was, then observe their relationship with Yang Chuannan, confirming if Two was a sheep or a wolf.
【FOUR: There’s nothing to say that. The minister of industry has fallen, so he should have given over something right. TWO, think about it, the Qi clique conspired with the Church of the Warlock God, secretly supporting the bandits, but the Warlocks are thousands of li away in the capital, if they wanted to do anything they needed someone as messenger.
【If we can prove that Yang Chuannan is a Qi clique member, then he is certainly not innocent.】
【TWO: I’m a very good judge of character, Yang Chuannan is not that type of person.】
*…TWO’s being subjective here? Probably a woman, women are more emotional and opinionated.* Xu Qi’an lampooned, but didn’t say that out loud. After all, if Two is like a female boxing master, then she would be shaking to her core with anger.
【FIVE: THREE, why do you always have so much information? Are you an information broker?】
Five could not resists shooting off her mouth. She was somewhat discouraged; she had tried so hard and finally “sold” the information about the Gu god, and gotten a favour owed from everyone.
Yet this person just casually lobs out important information after important information, as if it was nothing.
As to Five’s not very valuable comments, everyone tacitly ignored her message.
Xu Qi’an wrote somewhat mockingly: 【THREE: Eh, ONE should already know this message, did ONE not tell you all? Aiya, ONE you’ve lost it there.】
*Number One is a schemer; the ones who don’t talk are always the most treacherous and dark*
【ONE: Fuck off.】
Xu Qi’an had originally thought that One would ignore him, but who knew that their reaction was so intense, opening with a mouth full of fragrance.
*Have I offended ONE? I’m merely bantering around, is that really called for?*
Xu Qi’an blankly stared at the mirror, somewhat miffed, and so elected to ignore One: 【THREE: TWO, if you don’t believe me, when the inspector general gets there, you can co-operate with his party to investigate. If Yang Chuannan is innocent, then this would do him a favour too.】
*And now TWO is on the wagon with us!* Xu Qi’an nodded in satisfaction.
【TWO: Right, how is Emperor Yuanjing doing?】
【THREE: Doing fairly well I’d think, why ask this?】
【TWO: Pah. The venerable has no eyes, allowing this damn emperor to live so long.】
*The venerable has no eyes? This is an old grudge, I’m more and more curious of their identity. If I find out you have an official title…* Xu Qi’an snickered quietly.
After successfully “asking after” Number Two, Xu Qi’an remembered the other reason why he started messaging.
【THREE: Oh right, I don’t think I’ve told you what was actually sealed under Sangpo Lake.】
*What was actually sealed under Sangpo lake!?*
Immediately, other members aside, even Number Five in her stupor suddenly became alert.