# 61. Ironclad Evidence Observing Xu Qi'an, he noticed that he was tensed up, and smiling with reluctance , comfortingly said, "I was just ordered to take you back for questioning. I'm not too clear on the details. However, I’ve taken your money, so I should help you mitigate disaster. When we get to the constabulary, remember this sentence: Don't hide things that should be said, and don't say what shouldn't have been said." *What the hell... Don't I know this? This isn't worth 30 taels of silver at all. What's the difference between this and saying "I have asked the relevant department to deal with your issue"...* Xu Qi'an wanted to let the squinting young man meet the palm of his hand, but he didn't dare to do it. The carriage drove past busy markets and streets, and arrived at the Nightwatchers Constabulary at around 10 o'clock. Xu Qi'an jumped off the carriage and was escorted to the constabulary by the two Nightwatchers. The constabulary was repurposed from a couple of three-entrance houses. The building stood tall, and Nightwatchers in black clothes with gongs tied to them could be seen entering and exiting the premises. They looked very serious and imposing. *I don't know if I'll be sent to the Nightwatchers’ Grand Prison. It's said to be a place where people are eaten clean without spitting out their bones... Let's wait and see what happens. I'm a good citizen who hasn't broken any laws..*. Xu Qi'an took a deep breath to calm down his uneasy mood. A while later, He was brought into a small courtyard. Two Nightwatchers were standing at the gate of the courtyard, who took over Xu Qi'an. The squinty-eyed man stopped at the gate of the courtyard and smilingly said, "Go inside, pray for good fortune." Xu Qi'an was brought to the door, and the two Nightwatchers pushed it open, indifferently saying, "Get inside." The room was a torture room, with various torture instruments placed in the corners along with an empty desk placed in the centre. It looked like the Chief Interrogator hadn't arrived yet. Xu Qi'an didn't dare to sit on a chair and stood in the room while thinking why the Nightwatchers would be looking for him. But before he had time to think about it, footsteps sounded as someone entered the courtyard. The door opened, and two middle-aged men with silver gongs embroidered on their chests walked in. Xu Qi'an tensely looked over at the two silver gongs and was surprised to find that one of them was an old acquaintance. He had a straight nose, deep facial features, and light pupils, and was half-descended from a Southern Barbarian. He was the silver gong that he had seen in the back hall of the governor's office during the tax silver case. "We meet once again." Li Yuchun nodded, without showing any semblance of warmth. The two silver gongs sat behind the table, holding a serious expressions, and aimed a penetrating gaze at Xu Qi'an. "I'll ask and you'll answer. If you lie, you will be severely punished." The unfamiliar silver gong said in a deep voice. "Yes..." Xu Qi'an's heart sank, the two of them were looking at him as if he were a criminal. Li Yuchun frowned, "Tidy up your clothes before answering the questions. This is basic etiquette." Only then did Xu Qi'an realize that his clothes were too loose and unsymmetrical. It should have been due to fishing out the silver in the carriage. After he tightened his clothes, Li Yuchun looked slightly relaxed, as if he had resolved a concern of his. The unfamiliar Silver Gong asked, "Did you know that the mastermind behind the Silver Tax case was Deputy Minister Zhou?" Xu Qi'an answered truthfully, "I heard about it from Caiwei from Sitianjian." "So, You know that Zhou Li dealt with you to take revenge." "I figured as much." Xu Qi'an kept the warning of the squinty-eyed young man in mind and didn't conceal what should have been said. Sitianjian's white cloaks had rushed into the Ministry of Law to rescue him that day, and he couldn't deny it. It's better to admit the details generously to give off an honest image. "Did you know that Zhou Li wanted to kill you?" "I knew it." "So, To not suffer retaliation from the Zhou family, You kidnapped the Shu daughter of Marquis Wei and pushed the blame on Zhou Li." Sharpness flashed in the unfamiliar Silver Gong's eyes. *As expected, it was this thing...* Xu Qi'an didn't panic in the slightest, and even showed some confusion and panic at being wrong, "This humble person can't understand what the officials are trying to say." "You weren't at duty in the Changle County office the day Marquis Wei's Shu daughter was kidnapped. Where did you go?" "This humble person went to the Goulan to listen to music. This humble person was indeed negligent in his duty. I often sneak into the Goulan to listen to music." Constable Wang and the other bailiffs could testify for him on this matter because everyone was like this. *What's more, I, a Bailiff from Changle County am absent from work to go to the Goulan. What does it have to do with you Nightwatchers?* "Then how do you explain the records? In the records of the office, It shows that you've gone to the inner city many times." Li Yuchun said in a deep voice. "This humble person was wronged!" Xu Qi'an widened his eyes and excitedly defended himself, "This humble person has never gone to the inner city, and I've never taken an entry permit from the office." *They're framing me. I have always entered the inner city based on documents given by someone else... And the client for the service is Yang Ling. What does Yang Ling have to do with me, Xu Qi'an?* The two silver gongs interrogated Xu Qi'an for a little time, but they didn't catch any clues from Xu Qi'an's words. They surprisedly looked at each other. *In the matter of interrogation, I'm also an expert...* Xu Qi'an breathed a sigh of relief. But when his eyes came over to the torture instruments, he became nervous again. Li Yuchun sighed, "Not bad, If we hadn't grasped evidence in advance, We might have believed you just based on the conversation before." *He's framing me again... Quite confidently...* Xu Qi'an remained expressionless. As a graduate of the police academy and a professional who had worked in a police station for several years, Xu Qi'an was quite confident in handling all kinds of interrogation techniques. Unless the other party tries to extract information through torture; that's another matter. Deputy Zhou had already fallen, and without much evidence, he believed that the Nightwatchers wouldn't draw out the matter. The unfamiliar Silver Gong took out a small book from his pocket, opened it, glanced at Xu Qi'an, and read from it. “On the first day of October, Ren-Xu[^1], Xu Qi'an returned from Cloud Deer Academy and bought two gold hairpins from Treasure Pavilion. On the way, he was followed by someone suspected to be from the Zhou Residence. “That night, I frightened the assassins from the Zhou family away. “On the second day of October, Gui-hai, The female relatives were moved to Cloud Deer Academy to avoid disaster. “On the fifth day of October, Bing-yin, He entered the inner city and went to the Jiaofangsi. He stayed overnight at Reflecting Plum Pavilion, and "Gifted to Fuxiang" is suspected to be Xu Qi'an's work. “On the seventh day of October, Wu-chen, He rode on a horse carriage to run into the carriage of Marquis Wei's Shu daughter, and kidnapped her by an unknown means.” The unknown Silver Gong closed the silver book and looked at Xu Qi'an mockingly while sneering at him. Every inch of Xu Qi'an's body felt cold, as if he lacked clothes in the winter of December, and he slowly began to tremble. *The Nightwatchers had been following me... They followed me the day I went to the academy... The Nightwatchers saw all my plans over these days... I'm finished.* *Why would the Nightwatchers follow me? I'm just a small bailiff, It's unreasonable... Xu Qi'an angrily roared in his heart.* He felt as if he fell into an abyss of despair. Framed the Deputy Minister of Revenue and kidnapped the Marquis's daughter. These two crimes were enough for anyone to be executed and for their family to be ransacked. Neither the great scholars at Cloud Deer Academy nor the White Cloaks at the Sitianjian could save him. No one could save him from this predicament! I had been very careful and didn't leave any incriminating evidence, but the Nightwatcher that had followed me witnessed the entire plan... Cold sweat dripped from Xu Qi'an's forehead and It slowly slid across his cheeks and dripped to the ground under the playful and cold gaze of the two silver gongs. Wait a minute! He suddenly noticed an unreasonable detail. Since the Nightwatcher had witnessed the whole process, Why didn't he expose him? As long as this notebook was exposed, Zhou Li would be able to get rid of the crime. But this knife swung towards the Xu family a month and a half late. Why did they wait until Deputy Minister Zhou toppled over before inviting me to "drink tea"? Xu Qi'an let out a breath mixed with all kinds of negative emotions, and lowered his eyebrows submissively, "This humble one pleads guilty. Everything was done by this humble one. The two officials can deal with the matter as per your intentions." The stern-faced Silver Gong raised his eyebrows and looked at Li Yuchun. They both smiled. "Very intelligent and perceptive." Li Yuchun smiled and said, "I was testing you before. If you had shown any flaws during interrogation or you had lost your cool in front of ironclad evidence, You would have been granted punishment." After a pause, He restrained his serious face, and his expression became more relaxed, "Now, What will be granted to you in an invitation to the Nightwatchers." --- [^1]: These are day names