# 4. It's Time to Show Your True Skill As soon as he stepped into the hall, he felt three sharp looks directed towards him. *The red-robed one should be the Governor, wild goose stitch, mm, fourth rank…. the uncle with the silver gong on his chest, hss, the Nightwatchers… fuck me, that girl is a looker, far too attractive… is she married?* Glancing again at her chest, Xu Qi’an calmed down a lot. Governor Chen sat on his tall chair, expressionless, and with a stern voice as if interrogating a criminal, said “Xu Qi’an. Three days ago when you were put into jail, you didn’t say that you had any important leads. You know what consequences there are for hiding the truth.” Being an experienced official such as himself, even if his heart was bursting with anxiety, he would still keep calm and not ask too hastily about the case. *The fact that I’m in this situation, means that I’ve at least half-succeeded.* Xu Qi’an remained calm, replying “Sir, just a moment ago, my younger brother came to find me, I asked him for the dossier.” First, one must be truthful. All three present knew about Xu Xinnian, not because he was at all famous, but rather being Xu Pingzhi’s oldest direct son, they naturally conducted a thorough investigation of him. “What does this have to do with your lead?” Chen asked. “I deduced the truth from the details of the case dossier, Sir.” “Wait,” Chen interrupted him, leaning forwards slightly, “From the case dossier?” This was certainly not what he expected. “I’ve solved the case.” Xu Qi’an nodded, indicating that it was just as he said. Forcefully suppressing the urge to call somebody to throw this lowlife back in his cell, Governor Chen replied sternly, “I will hear you out. However, I must remind you, if you dare talk nonsense, two hundred strikes with the cane would be sufficient to see your flesh separated from bone.” “The tax silver case was not caused by monstes, rather it was caused by men.” With one sentence, he stunned the room. Governor Chen struck the table in anger, shouting “Bullshit! Jailors, take him away, give him two hundred strikes!” It was monsters that stole the silver, this was a done-and-dusted matter, was the three investigators’ common point of agreement. If initially they hoped that Xu Qi’an could enlighten them, well now they were utterly disappointed; nothing but the crazed words of a small dog trying to jump the fence. The middle aged man’s eyes brightened slightly, as he waved away the runners that had just entered, “Sir Chen, please, don’t be so hasty.” He turned his gaze on Xu Qi’an, staring at him with burning intensity, “Continue.” *This Governor Chen’s temper is really something…* Xu Qi’an knew that now, he had to perform. “From the statements of the gatekeepers, my uncle entered the city at 6:30 AM. At 8:15, the silver shipment reached Guangnan street. At this time, a strange wind picked up, the horses took fright and fell into the river.” He tried his best to make his tone of voice neither domineering nor humble, making himself seem more self-assured. This way, his persuasiveness would increase. Governor Chen nodded, “This is why we deduced that it was Monsters hiding in ambush in the river.” “Not quite!” Xu Qi’an reubtted loudly, “The demon wind was just a distraction, the river explosion was also an explosion. In reality, there’s one small detail that you overlooked, one small detail that lays the entire case bare.” Chen urgently asked “What detail?” Li Yuchun made to listen intently. The yellow-skirted girl bit on her honey sweet, but did not chew, as she looked with some curiosity at Xu Qi’an with her bright lively eyes. They had looked at the case over and over, so much so that they knew its events like the back of their own hand, yet did not find any flaw in what happened. “My uncle was escorting 150,000 taels of silver, may I ask, good sirs, how many *jin*[^1] is 150,000 taels?” Li Yuchun’s face suddenly stiffened, and the yellow-skirted girl tilted her head, not responding for a long time. Governor Chen unhappily said: “If you have something to say, say it, don’t leave things hanging.” Xu Qi’an originally wanted to just give some hints, to allow these important people to figure it out for themselves, however this attempt seemed to have flopped over. *Their mental maths skills are really low huh, you ancient people…* Xu Qi’an thus replied “Nine thousand, three hundred, and seventy-five jin.” According to this world’s system of weights, one jin was sixteen tales, thus 150,000 taels would be 9,375 jin. Li Yuchun furrowed his brow, as he seemed to realise something. Caiwei similarly knitted her brows, asking, “What does this mean?” Her voice was crisp and clear like a bell. *This means that you’re a dumb mute!* Xu Qi’an replied, “How long is the distance between the city gate and Guangnan Street?” Li Yuchun responded “Thirty li.” “Through how many market streets?” “Four.” “How quick do pack horses go?” “Pack horses…” Li Yuchun’s eyes went wide, as he stood up suddenly. He stared with widened eyes, showing an expression that clearly displayed “So that’s how it is!” Three days of investigation, of searching for traces of monsters with no luck, this seasoned Nightwatched had thought that he had taken the wrong approach. However, there was not another clear trail of thought in his mind, and so he didn’t really put it to heart. Governor Chen felt goosebumps; he still did not realise anything wrong. Clearly thinking was not this governor’s strong suit. He looked over at the yellow-skirted girl, and suddenly felt much better. The latter, miffed, asked “What’s the issue here?” With some amount of excitement, Li Yuchun responded “The timing, the timing’s off. “Guangnan street is thirty li from the city walls, at the pace of a pack horse, going through four market streets, if they entered the gate at 6:30, they could not have made it to Guangnan street at 8:15.” For he had suffered the folly of believing in first impressions, thinking that it was yaoguai who had stolen the silver, but after some prompting by Xu Qi’an, immediately realised this was not the case, and grasped onto the flaw in it all. “However the silver *did* reach Guangnan Street at 8:15, there were many common people who witnessed the horses rushing into the river; it couldn’t be fake.” Caiwei piped up with a crisp voice. Nodding, Governor Chen added “And how can this be explained?” This… Li Yuchun froze for a moment, before unconsciously looking towards Xu Qi’an. “Because what was being escorted wasn’t even silver.” the latter responded assertively. “Codswallop!” Chen shouted, “Skipping over whether or not your uncle or the other escorts had eyes, the case dossier clearly says, there were many commoners who witnessed the situation: the horses rushed into the river, the silver falling in with them.” He shook the dossier, “Is this not true?” “What one sees may be deceiving… Sir, may I personally answer your doubts?” Xu Qi’an looked at the table, “Lend me a brush.” Chen waved his hand, giving permission. Xu Qi’an pulled himself and his chains towards the table, prepared the ink, spread out the calligraphy paper, and awkwardly started writing. “Sir, could you please fulfil this lowly commonor’s request, and have these things brought.” he said, handing over the sheet of paper. Governor Chen took it and read over its contents, not making head nor tail of the intent. “Let me see,” Caiwei came over, wanting to take part, reaching out her pale, supple hand to take the paper. She, too, could not make head nor tail. “…” The middle-aged man Li Yuchun read the sheet, making an expressionless face, before meticulously pressing flat one corner of the paper, and handing it back to Governor Chen. ___ [^1]: The Chinese lb-weight, in modern times 0.5kg, but varied throughout history