# 35. Discussing Business in the Study *The person behind the Tax Fraud case was Minister Zhou...* Xu Pingzhi smashed the coffee table with a slam and stood up angrily with widened eyes. He tried to curse, but his words stuck in his throat. Xu Xinnian glanced at his powerless and furious father with a serious expression on his handsome face, "Is the news reliable?" Xu Qi'an nodded "One of the chief officials in charge of the case, Chu Caiwei from the Sitianjian told this to me." He repeated Chu Caiwei's words. Xu Xinnian raised his teacup and put it down again, and said after thinking deeply, "It seems that the incident today wasn't accidental, but the one surnamed Zhou looking for revenge." *Yes, he’s worthy of being a scholar who passed the exam. His brain is working well.* Xu Qi'an became happy that the discussion wasn't wasted. If the second uncle had been the only one there, he would not have brought up the topic as it would have been meaningless. The second uncle would become so desperate that he could only say, "Brothers, Let's go to kill someone with me." Nothing can be done about his temperament, since he was a vulgar martial artist. He was proficient in cutting people but blind in matters like scheming, since it was different than his profession. Xu Qi'an examined, "What does Erlang think about it?" Xu Xinnian glanced at his cousin, annoyed by his examining tone, and said with a bad mood "What else should we do? The one who acts first has the advantage and the latter meets calamity." *Nice...* Xu Qi'an was taken aback. It was hard to imagine that Xu Xinnian would say such decisive words. Upon hearing his words, Second Uncle Xu, who considered himself the head of the household, felt that he couldn't remain silent, and reprimanded his son, "Put away your ignorant and arrogant thoughts. Not to mention you, a mere Juren, Even if you were the *Zhuangyuan*[^1], you still couldn't afford to confront the Deputy Minister of Households." As soon as he finished speaking, He was ruthlessly rejected by his nephew, "I think that Erlang has the correct idea." Xu Qi'an continued, "We didn't offend Zhou Li, but Zhou Xianping, Deputy Minister of Households. Zhou Li may not dare to retaliate but would the Deputy Minister of Households dare not to?" "We not only spoiled his affairs but also injured his son. It's unreasonable for him to bear this as long as he has some fire in his heart. Besides, our Xu family is nothing more than an ant in the eyes of Deputy Minister Zhou. He doesn't have any reason to let us go." Xu Pingzhi refused to accept, “That's not right. We can't compete with Deputy Minister Zhou. Ningyan, You have met the White-cloaks in Sitianjian, and Xinnian is a student at Cloud Deer Academy. With these two relationships, As long as we know our place, no one would dare to provoke us.” Is it? Xu Qi'an reminded, "Second Uncle, You may not know that Sitianjian's white cloaks don't interfere with court affairs." Xu Cijiu went on to say, "Wasn't I a member of Cloud Deer Academy during the Tax Silver Case? Today, the elder brother came back because Zhou Li was unreasonable and his methods were too low-level. But if Deputy Minister Zhou takes action, it'll be another Tax Silver case that can legally and reasonably have our entire Xu family executed. Could it be that Cloud Deer Academy and Sitianjian would break us out of prison? Will they fight against the law for us?" Feeling that his authority as the head of the household was impacted, Xu Pingzhi frowned, "However, What should we do to deal with the dignified Deputy Minister of Households, a fourth rank official? *I don't know, I'm just a simple transmigrator...* Xu Qi'an cast his eyes on his handsome little brother. "What does Erlang think?" Xu Xinnian was silent. After a long time, when Xu Pingzhi was getting impatient, He slowly said, “I've been thinking about one thing just now. "The tax money was robbed, and the emperor was furious. He attached great importance to the tax money. The culprits should have been severely punished." “Didn't the two bastards commit suicide in fear of punishment?” Xu Pingzhi said. Glancing at his father, Xu Xinnian continued while ignoring him, “I can think of two possibilities, One: The Deputy of Households has a backer behind him. Two: The emperor has his concerns, such as maintaining a balance in the court. “Brother said that the officials at the Ministry of Households impeached Deputy Minister Zhou for embezzling money from the treasury. Why didn't he impeach another deputy, but the Deputy Minister of households?” Xu Qi'an deduced, "Are Deputy Minister Zhou's political opponents dealing with him?" Xu Xinnian nodded, "Teacher said that since ancient times, the core of the imperial technique has always been balancing. The emperor didn't touch Deputy Minister Zhou, which shows that this matter is likely to have involved party disputes." "What should we do?" Second Uncle Xu asked subconsciously. Xu Qi'an rubbed his chin, thought about it, and said, "The emperor's thoughts may be useful in normal times, but since the Official Evaluation is approaching, As long Deputy Minister Zhou's tail is caught, it's very probable that he will be killed. Even the emperor can't just go according to his way. The core of the Confucian dragon slaying technique is the word "Ritual". So, Deputy Minister Zhou's political enemies won't stop here. Xu Xinnian was taken aback. He didn't expect the words "Dragon Slaying Technique" to pop out of his cousin's mouth. Is he the same Bailiff cousin? *...I've just watched too many ancient costume dramas!* Xu Qi'an thought. *Of course, part of the reason is that I've studied more history.* History books are the quintessence of human culture. If you study history carefully, you'll learn a lot through it. History books are also the most useless things because the only lesson that human beings can learn from history is that human beings can't learn any lessons from history. Xu Qi'an, who liked history, scoffed at this sentence at first but found that it made a lot of sense later. The reason was that when he was studying, his parents and teachers always earnestly said, You must study hard. Otherwise, you will regret it in the future. No one took those words seriously. It wasn't until he experienced setbacks and was severely beaten by society that he came to his senses. Xu Qi'an had a maternal cousin who didn't like to study. Once he studied business, he blurted out: You have to study hard, otherwise you will regret it in the future. After speaking, He suddenly stared blankly. Xu Xinnian raised his chin, and said in an examining tone," What does elder brother think we should do?" *You don't want to admit defeat... A tsundere heroine isn't very pleasing... I prefer 36D Imperial Sisters who are coquettish and cute...* Xu Qi'an while lampooning, said calmly, "Why did Deputy Minister Zhou create a tax fraud case? It couldn't be corruption as corruption could be done at any time. Why would he bother doing corruption just before the Official Evaluation." "Unless he needs a sum of money urgently. He needs this money to plug a hole and the hole is filled for dealing with the Official Evaluation.", Xu Qi'an fully utilized his logical reasoning ability. "So What?", Xu Xinnian's mouth twitched. So we need to find out the real reason why Deputy Minister Zhou embezzled tax money. We have to solve this case so that Deputy Minister Zhou has nowhere to hide and can only plead guilty and be punished by the law... Xu Qi'an was about to say this when he suddenly saw Xu Erlang's eyes that seemed to have something like a smile yet not a smile. He didn't say anything. "I understand!" Second uncle Xu slapped his thigh, spittle flying all over the place with excitement, "So we want to expose this matter, so that the one surnamed Zhou has nothing to hide." He was so excited to find that his brain finally had a flash of inspiration. *I'm not stupid...* Second Uncle Xu thought proudly. Xu Xinnian let out a 'huh' and said "Father, with your identity as a Baihu in the Imperial Guard, Can you openly investigate the Deputy Minister of Households and get access to the files of the Ministry of Households?" Xu Pingzhi's face stiffened instantly. Xu Dalang let out a 'huh' and said, "Of course it's impossible." *Thank you, second uncle, for taking the thunder.* Xu Xinnian, who failed to suppress his cousin intellectually, was a bit dissatisfied and asked, "Then, what does big brother think we should do?" Xu Qi'an tapped the table with his fingertips, "We are not the main force dealing with Deputy Minister Zhou. What we have to do is to become the last straw that breaks the camel's back." As for the specific action to take, He still hadn't figured it out. *It's not bad...* Xu Xinnian nodded approvingly, and said, "Taking a step back, We don't have to deal with Deputy Minister Zhou, a dignified fourth-rank official who can scheme and use tricks. We can't cope with him now, but he has a weakness. Xu Qi'an's eyes lit up, and he clapped excitedly, "Zhou Li!" "That's right, compared to Deputy Minister Zhou, that dude Zhou Li is easier to deal with. If there aren't enough impeachment charges, we will create new charges and pass the knife to Zhou Xianping's political opponents, and let them help me kill Zhou Xianping." A ghostly sinister look flashed in Xu Xinnian's bright eyes. "The Official Assessment is imminent. If Deputy Minister Zhou's child does something outrageous, Zhou Xianping will bear the blame as the father. The emperor was willing to protect him once, but he won't necessarily be willing to protect him a second time." Speaking about this, Xu Xinnian frowned and said, "Although this entry point is good, Zhou Xianping's not a fool, and this method of framing him may not be effective." Second Uncle Xu listened to his son and nephew talking to each other and suddenly realized that he, the head of the household, had been pushed to the edge of the conversation without being able to intervene. But with his son's layered analysis, Uncle Xu's thinking became more clear. The more he thought about the matter, the more he thought it was possible. He couldn't help but slap the table excitedly. "My son has the potential to be the Senior Grand Secretary when he resigns." *Could it be that your nephew, I, don't have the capital to be the Senior Grand Secretary?* Xu Qi'an gave his second uncle a sideways look and took the opportunity to diss Xu Erlang "Erlang, Even you can't escape the cliché of scholars harming the country with empty talk." The corner of Xu Erlang's mouth twitched, and he said sarcastically, "Big brother, please enlighten me." Xu Qi'an didn't panic at all, "I can't give you a ready-made solution, but I can provide you with an idea." Uncle Xu said anxiously, "Say it quickly." --- [^1]: The highest scorer in the civil service exams