# 24. The Blue Cover Book The men of the Ministry of Law quickly left, taking away the now “criminal” Xu Qi'an. Only then did the white-haired old man take back in his qi aura, and not taking one glance at Xu Pingzhi, went and held young master Zhou’s arm, “Young master, this old servant will take you back to the estate to get treatment.” Young Master Zhou, clinging onto the old man, walked out, complaining, “I want to see that lowlife dead!” “Yes yes yes, this old servant will ensure all is arranged appropriately.” the old man smiled, face filled with kindness. “No, I’ll go myself.” “As young master wants.” The two of them left the constabulary with their bodyguards, their figures disappearing into the distance. Xu Pingzhi suddenly started breathing heavily, like a person who had nearly drowned to death. His whole body was covered in sweat. “I want to bring this to the crown!” Xu Pingzhi spat out one word at a time. “You won’t be able to see His Majesty. The palace is a forbidden area, how could a Baihu of the royal guard enter? You also don’t have any right to bring any accusations,” Magistrate Zhu sighed, “Forget it.” “No, no, I won’t let it be…” Xu Pingzhi switched back and forth from ferocity and despair. Magistrate Zhu thought for a moment, “The only thing you can do is to find Cijiu. He is a juren of the Cloud Deer Academy, perhaps he has a way.” Even though the Cloud Deer Academy had been suppressed for a long time by the court, with hardly any room to survive, but the people living there weren’t just some helpless intellectuals. No, they were disciples of the sage. Not only were they adept at using reason to persuade, but they were even more adept at using reason to persuade. Which is why when Xu Xinnian was able to escape exile then, and only have his achievements be cancelled, and his name put on the blacklist. … Stargazing Tower! Constable Wang rode up to the city’s tallest structure. Around it were no signs of foot soldier guards, but upon closer inspection, there was not a hint of any common person around the tower. The Sitianjian was a place of colourful and strange mysteries. The grandmaster, called the *Jianzheng*[^1], studied the arrangements of constellations, and set the calendar. He was a person who could talk with the immortals in heaven. The inventions of the Sitianjian’s alchemists have spread widely through the ranks of common people, making their lives more prosperous. Compared to all other cultivation paths, the Sitianjian’s Arcanists were most like the immortal *xian* in people’s minds. And a place where immortals live, no ordinary people dared to come. Constable Wang had several times thought to pull on the reins, and return to the constabulary, but resisted the urge. He resisted the huge emotional pressure on himself, and stopped in front of Stargazing Tower, tying his horse’s reins onto the railings of its stone steps with shaking hands. Preparing himself, he started climbing. The foundations of Stargazing Tower were a full six metres tall, taller than an average house’s roof. With a nervous mood, Constable Wang entered the first floor of the tower. The inside was lit incredibly well. with sunlight shining in from many holes in the wall, dust particles floating in its rays. He saw the rows upon rows of medicine cupboards, saw a group of young white-cloaked people sitting in a circle, excitedly debating something. He saw that some were intently reading books, others were asleep at their desks, and yet more others making medicine. It was common knowledge amongst the people that the immortals of the Sitianjian were all heavenly doctors, who could save people from death and heal injuries, all without taking a penny… Constable Wang finally believed it now. “Who are you?” A white-cloaked person noticed Wang, and came over, looking him up and down. Even though there were no guards around the Sitianjian, rarely if ever did commoners dare to brazenly come up its steps, and get close to the tower. Only some, who had fallen down with great illness, and knew that their future was dim, would test their luck here. Constable Wang cautiously swallowed, and said haltingly, “I, I… am a constable of the Changle County Constabulary.” *So?* The white-cloaked person looked at him, not replying. His eyes were flickering with radiant vigour, with a piercing gaze that seemed to stare into a person’s soul. Constable Wang felt a great pressure, and very nearly gave up on old Xu Qi'an and escaped from the place. “I- I came to find Miss Caiwei.” Wang replied. “Sister Caiwei?” the white-cloaked man inspected Constable Wang again, seeing his empty hands, muttering in his heart *you didn’t even bring anything to eat, and yet you want to find Sister Caiwei?* “For what?” Constable Wang retried a blue-cover book from his robes, “A friend of mine wanted me to give this book to Miss Caiwei, and also leave a message: Xu Qi’an is in trouble, send help quickly.” The white cloaked man took the book, and idly flicked through it. The lettering within the book was twisted and sharp like a chicken’s foot, far from any prized calligraphic work. He lost all interest, holding the book, “Sister Caiwei is not here, she went out. You could wait here, or come back later, or you can give the book to me, I’ll give it to her for you.” “Then I thank you greatly for the trouble.” Constable Wang took the opportunity to flee. “Brother, what’s up?” Another white-cloaked person to the side watched Constable Wang hurriedly make his exit, and asked. “A constable, said he was asking for Sister Caiwei, probably for something urgent… take this book to the seventh floor, to Brother Song, ask him for his opinion.” … Song Qing[^2] was a sixth rank Master of Alchemy, and leader of all the alchemists within the Sitianjian. He was the Grandmaster’s fourth disciple, as in the Sitianjian, all its disciples could call themselves the Jianzheng’s disciples. But in reality, the Jianzheng had only ever taught six disciples directly, who were called “the six children of the Sitianjian.” As to the other disciples, they all received their tutelage through another. Mm, Caiwei was the youngest of all the disciples, and hadn’t even taken any disciples of her own, having not yet the privilege to. Song Qing had just recently returned to the capital, and having heard about the goings on of the tax silver case, and under the encouragement and persuasion of his peers, took on the task of refining the fake silver. Happily living the blessing of a 996 life, the white-cloaked Masters of Alchemy were overjoyed that he agreed. “We’ve failed again, Brother Song, are you also unable to do it?” “Rubbish, how could Brother Song fail? It’s nothing but another alchemical invention, and inventions require many rounds of failure and refinement to achieve the desired result.” “If Brother Song can fully comprehend the secrets within this art, then our Sitianjian will have another line of business.” Song Qing, having again and again worked overnight, waved them away, “All of you stop talking, I need some quiet.” Though he had not slept, his eyes still shone with vigour, even with a hint of excitement. As someone who had a craze for alchemy, he took on all the challenges he could in the field. *It’s not the composition of salt that’s the issue… over many experiments and conclusions, I can roughly conclude that the temperature of the fire must be controlled to melt the salt, but not allow it to boil… the crucial component is in the lightning…* Song Qing muttered to himself silently. He had already realised the crux of the issue, but because he had no knowledge of voltage, he could only try again and again, controlling the strength of his lightning magic. “The person who invented the method of turning simple salt into fake silver, must be a prodigy of prodigies!” he exclaimed. If he could interact and make friends with this person, then his plans for biological alchemy could have a breakthrough. At this time, a white-cloak came up the stairs to the seventh floor — where the Masters of Alchemy stayed. White robes were the Sitianjian’s uniform, and though upon first glance they were not much different, the difference was in what was on the chest — the Masters of Alchemy had a crucible embroidered onto their robes. The disciple who had just come up had a picture of medicinal herbs sewn at his chest, representing that he was the ninth rank of the Arcanists: a Doctor. Also called a Physician. “Brother, earlier a constable came round, asking after Sister Caiwei. He also told us to send a message: Xu Qi’an is in trouble, send help quickly.” The Physician continued, “I figured it could be something of great urgency, a friend of Sister Caiwei who is calling for her help, so I decided to come up to tell you.” *Xu Qi’an…* Song Qing thought this name was somewhat familiar, but couldn’t put a face to it. “Did that person say anything else?” The Physician handed over the blue cover bound book, “He only left this book.” “These characters have to be some of the ugliest I’ve ever seen…” Song Qing took it, and started reading, immediately feeling pain from reading those distorted chicken-scratch letters. The first page only had one line, and he read carefully: *To obtain something, something of equal value must be lost. That is Alchemy's first law of equivalent exchange. — Edward Elric* --- [^1]: 监正 [^2]: 宋卿