# 26 The Virtuous
Li Mubai suddenly waved his hand, as the driver on the cart was picked up by a gust of wind, to land safely at the side of the road.
Scholar Li pulled on the horse’s reins, and took control himself, calmly saying, “This horse is a Thousand-li riding horse, in one day he can run a thousand li.”
A shocking scene happened, the ordinary brown horse pulling the cart, at this moment, suddenly gave an energetic neigh.
Underneath its skin, muscles started bulging, its body started growing, and in the blink of an eye, it grew to almost twice the size of a regular pack horse.
Li Mubai’s cart was left in the dust.
Zhang Shen hmphed, “You get down too.”
He left the cart driver also at the side of the road, and took his place for himself, pulling at the reigns, stating solemnly, “This horse is big and strong, not only is it a Thousand-Li Steed, but it also has six legs.”
A similar change happened, as this black horse underwent the same transformation as before, its body growing, muscles bulging. What was different though, was that its sides split open, and new bones grew, and then ligaments, and then flesh… and out of thin air, two more legs had formed.
The black horse galloped like flight with its six legs, kicking up a cloud of dust, quickly catching up to Li Mubai.
“Old Scoundrel, you have no shame! Where is there a six-legged horse?” Li Mubai was furious.
“I say, therefore there is.”
“Hah, good, then my horse has eight legs!”
“Hmph, you shameless old bastard want to fight with me for a disciple, huh? This horse cart of mine is as light as paper, and can fly with the wind!”
A gust of wind rushed by, and Zhang Shen’s carriage lightly floated up, just like paper, and floated away on the gales.
Li Mubai did not want to be outdone, shouting “My horse cart can ride on clouds!”
A cloud appeared from the ground, surrounding the cart wheels, pushing the horse and carriage up into the sky.
Xu Pingzhi looked at this scene, utterly speechless. Only after the carts had disappeared over the horizon, did he swallow uncomfortably, “The confucianists are really cool eh.”
Xu Xinnian looked to the sky, desire in his heart, muttering “This isn’t showing off, this is the Confucianist fifth rank: Virtuous!”
They also had another name, given as such by the Jianzheng after he had had much to drink: Confucianists using words to mess with laws!
Jail, in the Ministry of Law.
Xu Qi’an, shackled, sat cross-legged on a tattered straw mat, back against the icy cold cell wall.
Smelling the cold, damp air, which carried a slight smell of rot, it was almost as if he was back in that cell in the constabulary, in the tax silver case.
According to the cases that he had read previously, cases of abuse and rape within the constabularies of the capital were too numerous to count. These shitty things, pretty much never make it into the old Emperor’s ears, being suppressed by the officials within.
After all, the words *to report to the son of heaven* carried a weight as heavy as Mount Tai, and wasn’t it not from here that they originated?
*But this was the period of official evaluation, do you not fear your political enemies using this as an avenue to attack…* Xu Qi’an laughed, “Finish me off at greatest haste, then use the lives of my whole family to force Uncle to keep quiet about this shame, does this not solve the issue?
“I was wrong. Even though the middle class lived a comfortable life, but if they ever raised the ire once of someone higher up, then not after a thousand calamities will they be satisfied.
“If I wanted to live a proper life, then I’d need power and influence.”
Crash… the iron door at the end of the corridor opened, and footsteps approached. Not much time later, a jailor accompanied by two sword-wearing armoured soldiers came to his cell.
“Time for your last meal.” the jailor sneered.
After opening the door, he did not go in, rather standing back, shouting “Bring him out.”
The two armoured soldiers lay their hands on sword-hilts, expressions cautious.
Even if he was wearing shackles on hands and feet, Xu Qi'an was nonetheless a martial artist at the peak of Refining Body, and if he were to fight like a cornered animal, then they all would be in danger.
“You better behave yourself, and co-operate with us here. I don’t think you want us to cut the tendons in your hands and feet before carrying you out, no?”
Xu Qi’an was silent for a moment, before rising.
Minister Sun of the Ministry of Law was sitting in front of the case table, sorting out an assignment. Memos and dossiers were piled up in mountains.
Suddenly, he seemed to feel something, and looked over at the window.
Soon after, two black shadows appeared, coming closer and closer, their shapes slowly getting more distinct. It was two horse-drawn carts, one riding the wind, the other supported by clouds.
The two carts were side by side, as if fighting to be first to arrive, and landed simultaneously in the courtyard of the Ministry constabulary.
The second that those strong mighty horses landed, they collapsed to the ground, energy expended, as if their life force had been sucked dry. After twitching slightly, the last vestiges of life left them.
The assistants and guards in the constabulary quickly surrounded them.
The crimson-robed Minister Sun approached, brow furrowed. He had a square, straight face, and his expression brought him an aura of strictness.
“Brother Chunjing, Brother Jinyan, for what have you two come to my Ministry of Law?”
Minister Sun was still courteous. Even though the Imperial Academy and the Cloud Deer Academy had been fighting for a long time now, but the coming of the two great scholars was still sufficient to make him mind his actions.
Zhang Shen clasped his fists in greeting, saying solemnly, “Today, the Ministry of Law apprehended one of my students, called Xu Qi’an. May Minister Sun please release him.”
*We’ve apprehended a student of the Cloud Deer Academy?*
*These old things in the academy are most protective of their own…* Minister Sun replied “The Ministry of Law oversees the rights of sanction and incarceration, we would not arrest anyone without good reason. Please may my good sirs elaborate.”
He did not agree straight away; the Imperial Academy had beaten down the Cloud Deer academy for many years now, as the former was ordained by the crown and its officials. Thus, naturally the Cloud Deer Academy could not fight against the Imperial Academy, as if the crown doesn’t employ your people, what are you going to do about it?
However this was not to say that the Cloud Deer Academy were powerless people who could be pushed around; the Cloud Deer academy controlled the Confucian cultivation path, and was the holy site of all students under heaven.
The teachers of the academy protecting their own students was natural, and with their name and recognition, if the person in question had not committed any serious crime, the Ministry of Law would rarely go against their request.
Before the two great scholars could reply, a few runners rushed into the courtyard in a panic, shouting “Minister Sir, there’s a group of Sitianjian white-cloaks outside, coming into the ministry, we couldn’t stop them…”
Minister Sun and all the officials there looked to the clamour, and saw a group of Sitianjian disciples, with their white cloaks a-flowing, forcing their way through the main door of the Ministry.
At their head was a man, a picture of a crucible embroidered on his chest, with thick eyebrows, a tall nose, and bags under his eyes that seemed as if they never went away.
The fourth disciple of the Sitianjian’s grandmaster, Song Qing.
Their fierce arrival caused Minister Sun’s brow to furrow tightly, as he shouted, “You lot dare to force your way into the Ministry of Law? You have already broken the law, why are you not leaving this instant?”
Song Qing stopped, making a greeting, saying lightly “Minister Sir, we have come to the Minstry of Law to ask for a person.”
Hearing this, Minister Sun’s heart skipped a beat, and a thought vaguely formed in his head. He replied solemnly “Who?”
“Xu Qi’an. He was arrested just today by the Ministry for no reason.”
Xu Qi’an again, which holy person is he, that he could bring both the Cloud Deer Academy’s great scholars, and the Sitianjian’s white-cloaks at the same time?
In the Great Feng, nobody wanted to disrespect the Jianzheng. Even the self-proclaimed orthodox Confucianist Cloud Deer Academy, when mocked by the alcohol-loving Jiangzheng as using words to mess with laws, could only turn the other cheek, and not attempt to use their command of words to overcome him.
“What’s going on? Who’s Xu Qi'an? How have I never heard of this person?”
“You must be very ignorant, have you not heard of the tax silver case? The person who solved the case was exactly this Xu Qi'an.”
“But he’s just a martial artist, how could he form relationships with the Confucianists and the Sitianjian?”
“Strange, what did our Ministry arrest him for?”
The onlooking officials muttered amongst themsevles.
Minister Sun waved his hand, summoning one of the officials, asking “Did the Ministry of Law arrest a person called Xu Qi'an today?”
That official replied in a low voice, before hurriedly running off. Very soon, he came back holding a stack of documents.
“Minister Sir, there was no Xu Qi'an in the arrest warrant record.”
No record? Minister Sun’s face darkened.
“Who carried out the arrest?”
“That, this official does know…” the official turned around, looking at the crowd, and saw a blue-robed person, “It was Huang Langzhong.”
Several gazes moved onto him.
That azure-wearing young man, having just returned to the Ministry, having only had time to drink a cup of tea, and having not had time to report to the high minister, felt his blood run cold.