# 30. Chemistry Class
*The one surnamed Zhou was just an addle-brained child born with a silver spoon, how could he pretend this well?*
*Perhaps he wasn’t pretending, being born with a silver spoon doesn’t mean that they can’t think, he used his privilege expertly, to raise an altercation… and removing me from the picture.*
*Furthermore, the side effects of doing this are very small. Even if the official evaluation is coming, how could the death of a low-level civil servant and a bailiff shake the position of a third-rank deputy minister of revenues?*
*But clearly Zhou would have never thought, that not only had I formed a relationship with the disciples of the Sitianjian, but had also managed to get two great scholars of the Yunlu academy to personally come out.* Thinking about this, Xu Qi'an had a feeling like he was walking a tightrope.
*From the day I solved that case, I had already raised the ire of the Deputy Minster of Revenues, and was pulled into this case against my will.*
*A good lot that does for my wishes to avoid politics and power, and live a rich businessman’s life with a group of mistresses, for my wishes to live a simple, unflattering, and bland existence.*
*If it weren’t for the case that Erlang just happened to need a poem to send off his elder, if it weren’t for the fact that a few days ago I suddenly decided to write down some of my chemistry knowledge… my body could already be cold.*
*I wouldn’t even know the true reason for my death, and would only have thought that I’d just angered a silver-spoon guanerdai.*
*Coincidence after coincidence, carrying me safely through this crisis… it’s luck!* Xu Qi'an sucked in a cold breath, and suddenly had a thought, “Miss Caiwei, you know how to see Qi?”
“Mm.” Chu Caiwei swallowed down her mouthful of food, “The eighth rank of the Arcanists is called Qi-watcher. Qi watching is one of us Arcanists’ most basic of skills. All the many different magicks that come later, all build on the foundation of watching qi.”
As she started talking about her own cultivation path, she seemed to get into it, get exited, as she jabbered on, “However, do you know why ninth rank Arcanists aren’t Qi-watchers, rather Physicians?”
Xu Qi'an shook his head, making an earnest expression, asking “It can’t be that you Arcanists have a heart for saving lives and curing wounds?”
Chu Caiwei straightened her waist, making a very sincere and serious posture, as if she very much enjoyed being in the role of teacher, replying: “All things under heaven have qi. Humanity has the greatest; all the eight distresses, the seven emotions and six desires[^1], all have qi. When Physicians save lives and cure illnesses, they cannot avoid being involved with birth, age, illness, death, and through enough time, a pair of clear pupils will emerge, that can see through all qi.”
*I just love the type of girl who says what she knows and says all she knows…* Xu Qi’an asked, “Then can you see my qi?”
Chu Caiwei delicately wiped her small mouth with a handkerchief, and inspected Xu Qi'an with great intensity, a clear energy dancing around within her dark eyes, slowly accumulating at her pupils.
In that gaze, swirling with dancing light, Xu Qi'an felt his consciousness had been touched, like a thorn in his back, a deeply uncomfortable experience.
Soon after, the bright aura in Chu Caiwei’s eyes faded, and she said with a calm face, “Your qi is light red, with some black interspersed.”
“What does that mean?”
“Red, represents the fact that you eat off an officials’ salary, but the colour is light, meaning that you are a low-level civil servant. Black is a sign of misfortune, I suppose that you can very much relate to this.”
Xu Qi’an frowned, testing, “There are no other colours? Like, for example, any colour that symbolises that I am a son of heaven’s destiny?”
“Saying those words to me is all well and good, but if this were heard by someone with intention, then that would be a crime of utmost disrespect. Apart from the emperor, no one dares call themselves a son of heaven’s destiny.” Chu Caiwei was shocked; the great disrespect was all well and good, but where did this person have the backing to think that they are the son of heaven’s fate?
*Dragon, dragon, wipe your eyes properly, look closer again![^2]*
*She couldn’t see anything… maybe her rank is not high enough, maybe my luck of a European Emperor has nothing to do with qi…* Xu Qi’an’s expression was calm and unfazed, but within his mind was turbulent.
Chu Caiwei again smacked the food out of Xu Qi'an’s hand, puffing out her cheeks, expressing her displeasure: “Can’t you wait until I’m full? After I’m full you can eat.”
Xu Qi’an eyed the half empty plate of extravagant food, that was full just a moment ago, and silently guessed that her stomach must be like a several-months pregnant woman.
“Oh, right, what’s the situation like with the Deputy Minister of Revenues?” Xu Qi'an adjusted his posture, not looking at the food.
“The Ministry of Revenue a few days ago sought to impeach Deputy Minster Zhou, but the motion was vetoed by His Majesty.” Chu Caiwei replied, and after a pause, added on “Those two, afraid of consequences, killed themselves.”
*So there’s no proof? In this day and age, if the emperor really wanted to kill someone, they wouldn’t need proof, everyone would find proof themselves… maybe it involves party politics… or the emperor has some other plan… mm, I don’t understand the goings-on at court, since of course I’ve never interacted with it, I should find an old veteran of officialdom to ask as a start…*
Thus Xu Qi'an began to ponder and scheme, but Chu Caiwei had no interest for happenings at court, so she furrowed her brow, and made an obviously displeased expression.
*I might have damaged her self respect as a teacher…* Xu Qi'an tactfully did not continue to ask.
“How much silver is this?” Xu Qi’an was eating with great joy.
Chu Caiwei, having had her fill of food and wine, was calculating on her fingers for an age, and then… there was no and then.
“Mm?” Xu Qi'an raised his head.
“I gave the restaurant four taels of silver, and they gave me back one tael, three cash silver and sixty copper coins in change,” Chu Caiwei said frustratedly, “How much did I spend?”
A Chu Caiwei with a furrowed brow was very cute, making Xu Qi'an think back to how her seven year old little sister would do maths problems.
“…” Xu Qi'an hesitated, “I don’t know either.”
One tael of silver was equal to eight cash, and one cash of silver equalled a hundred copper coins. Since this was not a 10:1 ratio, the difficulty in calculations was increased greatly.
Looking at her, she probably only knew how to read, but had never learned arithmetic.
Thus Xu Qi'an was not going to become this hero.
Hearing this, the corners of Chu Caiwei’s eyes lifted, and she felt as if Xu Qi'an was the same as her.
“Then how could you calculate so well when solving the case?”
“I thought for a very long time.”
“Oh.” Chu Caiwei looked at him, “You don’t seem to be very happy eating?”
“No, the flavour is average, is all.”
“What are you saying, this is from Zuixinju, one of the best restaurants in the city south.”
“I’ve eaten better.”
Chu Caiwei’s eyes lit up.
Xu Qi’an continued, “When you have time, you can come to my house, I’ll make delicious food for you.”
A group of white-cloaks surrounded some lab equipment, watching Song Qing doing his work.
A porcelain cup, thin as an eggshell, roasted on top of a fire, steam rising in swirls. The water in the cup fully evaporated, and left glittering crystals.
Song Qing clicked his fingers, as a bright tongue of flame enveloped the crystals, slowly melting them.
“If I had this technique in my previous life, I could click my fingers to light a smoke, that would pull all the chicks.” Xu Qi’an envied the many colourful abilities of the Arcanists.
The sodium chloride crystals melted, and Song Qing’s expression became concentrated. In an untold number of past experiments, he had failed at the next step:
Song Qing unconsciously looked up at Xu Qi'an, beside him.
All of the white cloaks, including Chu Caiwei, turned their gazes in unison onto the eldest child of the Xu family.
Xu Qi'an nodded, expressionless.
*He didn’t even give any directions… that means that my earlier steps were all correct…* Song Qing prepared himself, before clicking his fingers.
Dimly lit bolts of lightning suddenly cut across the air, gathering within the porcelain bowl.
“Hold your breath.”
Suddenly, everyone watching heard Xu Qi'an’s words, and without hesitation, immediately held their breaths.
*In reality, even if they had directly inhaled the toxic gas, this group of people won’t have issue…* purely from a force of habit, Xu Qi'an had ordered them to hold their breaths.
The next moment, a sight that stunned the Sitianjian white-cloaks befell their eyes.
Within the porcelain cup formed several uneven lumps of silvery material, identical to silver. Surrounding the lumps was some remaining unreacted salt.
“I’ve- I’ve done it…”
“Brother Song, how did you do it?”
The white cloaks were shocked. Earlier, no matter what they did, they never had any luck, but this time somehow they managed to do it on the first time.
*As expected, the fact that that day Miss Caiwei managed to refine the fake silver first time, was not that she had walked on dog shit luck… no, it was just because she had dog shit luck, because I was right there beside her, and this related to me…* Xu Qi’an watched silently, having proved the hypothesis in his mind.
Song Qing looked at the fake silver, and up at his excited fellow disciples, his face somewhat blank and confused.
*I didn’t do anything differently… it was just like this earlier…* thinking this, he unconsciously glanced at Xu Qi'an, and found that this small bailiff had no hint of surprise. His eyes were dark, as if he had long predicted that this would happen.
Song Qing had a thought, “Xu Ningyan, you know what’s the reason?”
Chu Caiwei, who had just been deep in thought, immediately looked towards Xu Qi'an.
The latter stood with his hands behind his back, and laughed “This question shouldn’t be directed at me. An experienced Master of Alchemy, should know how to independently ponder this question.
“I think, you should be able to realise the crux of the issue yourself.”
[^1]: An important part of Buddhist and Traditional Chinese philosophy and medicine. The eight *dukkha* (distresses) are birth, age, sickness, death, parting with what we love, meeting with what we hate, unattained aims, and all ills of the five *skandhas*. The seven emotions are joy, anger, sorrow, fear, love, hate, and desire. The six desires are (often sexual) desire arising from the qualities of the six senses.
[^2]: I don’t know either … *unless*, considering the many things this book “borrows” from Lord of the Mysteries…