# 49. Social Death
Second Uncle Xu's information was as follows:
“Zhou Li has been very quiet these few days, probably because he was warned by Deputy Minister Zhou. So, he didn't participate in any illegal or undisciplined actions. He has been indulging himself all day long with his guards, going in and out of gambling houses, restaurants, and brothels.
“In addition, I found later that Zhou Li frequented a certain house. There wasn't a plaque in that house. It should be a private house he bought. A maid, an old woman, and a guard lived in that house. There was also a young woman there.
“There’s almost a guaranteed chance that this was a mistress that he was raising outside.”
Xu Xinnian and Xu Qi'an listened to him silently, each in a state of contemplation. Xu Qi'an looked down at the ground and tapped his fingers on the table unconsciously.
Xu Xinnian looked up to the sky at a forty-five-degree angle, with an aura of invincibility gathering in his loose sleeves, as if he was contemplating something deeply.
Second Uncle Xu having finished speaking, looked at his son and nephew and asked, "What is your opinion on this?"
The nephew and son ignored him, as they looked at each other. Xu Xinnian said, “The students of our Academy aren't well acquainted with those from Imperial Academy. We both despise and act hostile towards the other.
"However, Juren from the same batch often meet each other. Even if they have differences in philosophy, they could have a friendship."
Juren from the same batch could almost be regarded as classmates. If they establish relationships with each other, they may be useful in the future. As for disputes in philosophy, they were small issues in front of real personal interests.
"Zhou Li is an arrogant and domineering person. He often has conflicts with his classmates in the Imperial Academy. But he's surely not a fool. the people who have conflicts with him are from ordinary backgrounds."
Xu Qi'an wasn't surprised by this detail. From Zhou Li's method of dealing with him, It could be analysed that although he wasn't very clever with handling affairs, he was successful and had a certain ability to scheme and forbear.
His arrogance and domineering only targeted people with lower backgrounds and influence than him.
"This will surely make it more difficult to deal with him." Xu Qi'an sighed.
Xu Xinnian glanced at him, “Don't interrupt, Listen to me.
"Zhou Li had been infatuated with Miss Fuxiang from the Jiaofang Si for a long time. Whenever he goes to the Jiaofang Si, he has to look for Miss Fuxiang. But he has repeatedly failed to be selected for drinking tea.
Miss Fuxiang? The oiran from the Jiaofang Si? The beauty Constable Wang said sleeping with is enough for his life? Xu Qi'an's spirit lifted.
Xu Xinnian raised his teacup, but put it down after glancing that it was empty, then said,
“I originally thought that we could try to drive tigers to swallow wolves by utilizing Zhou Li's conflict with his classmates and making a plan based on the situation. But these classmates aren't enough and Zhou Li's prudence means that it's difficult for him to mess with a higher-level officer. Almost impossible.
"Zhou Li has gone to Jiaofang Si many times. If you want more information about him, Miss Fuxiang is a great source."
Tuk tuk... Xu Qi'an knocked on the table.
When Second Uncle Xu and Xu Erlang looked over at him, He said deeply, “I must remind you of one thing, We have to reduce details no matter what we do. There are more loopholes if a plan is more complicated.
"It's impossible for us to use complicated and sophisticated plans to deal with Zhou Li, since there's a large gap between our statuses. Cijiu, Don't push your thoughts to a dead end."
Scholars are likely to act clever and bump into a dead end due to their cleverness. When plotting against someone, they may make it difficult for themselves to think about the subtlety of the layout and actions to be taken.
Especially someone like Xu Cijiu, who had high self-esteem and was educated in the art of war.
Xu Cijiu frowned. He agreed with a little, but he wasn't convinced of it, "What does big brother think?"
"Simple, The more simple the better." Xu Qi'an thought about it “The crimes that don't really leave any trace are murders done on a whim, and we should act accordingly when making plans.
"How simple? Firstly, only involve a few people. Secondly, Don't make matters too complex. Cijiu, If Zhou Li had a conflict with a certain official's child and the official can contend with Deputy Zhou, What would you do?"
Xu Xinnian fell into deep thought.
"Your silence says it all." Xu Qi'an waved his hand, interrupting his younger brother's train of thought. Many schemes and conspiracies should have flashed in his younger brother's mind.
"My idea would be to disguise ourselves, seize the opportunity to beat up the official's child directly, and walk away."
Xu Pingzhi finally seized the opportunity to interrupt them and slapped his thigh, "Ningyan's idea is my favourite to date."
The two brothers rolled their eyes at the same time.
Xu Cijiu frowned "That simple?"
Xu Qi'an nodded, "Simplicity doesn't mean that it would be ineffective. It's good to leave blank details. The Official Child who was beaten would think, Who have I offended recently? After considering, oh, it's that bastard Zhou Li."
"Zhou Li would not admit such matters, but it's not important. Everyone can think about it freely. Anyway, the conflict will intensify. If you hit me, I'll take revenge on you."
Xu Cijiu was a smart person with a high level of comprehension, and after only a small amount of thought, he immediately understood the meaning of his elder brother.
He nodded slightly while showing a proud expression, "Not bad."
He continued, "What information did you collect, elder brother?"
Xu Qi'an didn't show off, and said, "I found out who Deputy Zhou's political opponent was."
Second Uncle Xu and Xu Erlang leaned over at the same time with serious faces while putting on a posture of listening.
Xu Qi'an scoffed, "The Minister of Revenue."
Minister of Revenue! Xu Xinnian was shocked, and many of his doubts were solved in an instant.
It's no wonder that Deputy Zhou from the Ministry of Revenue wanted to take the tax silver. It was because he knew that he was about to be scrutinized by his immediate superior and urgently needed a huge amount of money to make up for the shortfall.
And it's precisely because both of them were from the Ministry of Revenue that the Minister could catch Deputy Zhou's foxtail.
"Ningyan, How did you know about this sort of thing?" Second Uncle Xu didn't believe it.
How could a person of no relevance know about the battle between the big shots on the court?
"Miss Caiwei from the Sitianjian told me about it." Xu Qi'an said.
*And the price of this information was only one candied haw, one roasted goose leg, one serving of fermented rice balls, and a bowl of fish ball soup...* He continued in his mind.
The big-eyed beauty was easily bought, which was an advantage for him. The disadvantage was that she didn't have any interest in state affairs, and she didn't have much knowledge since Sitianjian didn't interfere in state affairs.
*It's too bad. Miss Caiwei, you still lack a copy of* Self-cultivation of Xu Dalang's Virtuous Wife *I'll write it for you later.*
Xu Qi'an clapped his hands to interrupt his cousin, who was in deep thought, and said:
“The information we have collected isn't enough to make a detailed plan. But it's okay, You can't become fat after eating a single bite. What's the next step?"
Xu Xinnian thought for a while, "I suggest going to the Jiaofang Si to get information from the oiran Miss Fuxiang... I definitely can't do this. I never go to these kinds of places."
It was common for officials to meet up with prostitutes, but there was another set of standards for students without official status.
You haven't finished the imperial examination, but you want to interact with women? You look unreliable at the first glance and it’s extravagant for you to hope for a good future.
*It's like how parents didn't allow students to play online games when they were studying. If any student spends a lot of time in internet cafes, they are half a burden to society...* Xu Qi'an leaned back on the chair, looked to the side, and said in a relaxed manner,
"I definitely can't go, since I haven't yet reached the realm of Refining Qi."
So the question was, Who was in charge of going to the Jiaofang Si to inquire about information?
The two brothers tacitly set their sights on Second Uncle Xu.
"Look at me. Do I look like a person who goes to a place like Jiaofang Si? I am not even properly literate, Am I going there to make fun of myself?" Uncle Xu said that he wasn't the kind of person to go to brothels.
Seeing that his father was unwilling, Xu Xinnian put the pot on Xu Qi'an again, "Big brother's poem is very popular in Jiaofang Si."
Second Uncle Xu immediately vetoed his son's proposal and said with a frown, "Your elder brother is an honest person who doesn't even go to the goulan. If he goes to the Jiaofang Si to inquire about information, It's very likely for him to be taken in by a woman before he finishes with the matter."
It's indeed a huge loss for a martial artist to lose their *Yuanyang* before stepping into Refining Qi.
Xu Qi'an, who had never gone to the Goulan to listen to music, nodded to indicate that he wasn't that kind of person.
Second Uncle Xu said, "Maybe you should go, Cijiu." He still felt that a place like Jiaofang Si was more suitable for scholars.
It was an inherent concept.
Xu Cijiu scoffed.
Second Uncle Xu refused to go to the Jiaofang Si, besides it being the territory of the literati and being discriminated against as a vulgar martial artist, He had another reason for his decision.
There is another reason for Xu Cijiu's refusal to go to the Jiaofang Si, besides the fact that students should pay attention to their reputation.
Xu Qi'an had another reason to not go to Jiaofang Si, except for never going to the goulan to listen to music.
The three of them looked at each other and fell silent.