# 67. Analysing the Case There were two counties in the capital, Taikang, and Changle. Song Tingfeng opened the dossier to read it. Xu Qi'an and Zhu Guangxiao stood alongside him to look at the file together. The contents of the dossier were as follows: *The Dahuang Mountain range is situated in the northern region of Taikang county, stretching dozens of li. The range boasts a majestic peak, rising over 1000 meters in height, and contains a large amount of lime containing rock.* *It provides for the livelihoods of hundreds of Huihu in the surrounding area.* Huihu referred to the artisans who quarried and processed lime. *Since the middle of the year, a monster came out of the river in the region around Dahuang Mountain. It often went ashore to get food, and many huihu had been killed by the monster.* "Details are lacking..." Xu Qi'an, a veteran criminal investigator, judged after reading the dossier. *This case should have just been reported, so we need to investigate and improve the dossier.* Li Yuchun glanced at the three, and said seriously," Xu Ningyan, move your blade 2 inches up, and your gong isn't straight enough, tilt it one inch to the left." *...Psycho, You have late-stage OCD, don't you?* Xu Qi'an said, "Yes!" Upon walking out of Spring Breeze Hall, Xu Qi'an suddenly felt a lump under his feet just after passing the door. So, he naturally lowered his head to pick it up, but he suddenly stiffened. Silver… heavier too. "Let's go." Song Tingfeng turned his head and urged. "Ah, Ok." Xu Qi'an put the broken silver into his robe and followed him. ... Inside the hall, Li Yuchun took out his purse from a box, hung it on his waist, and was about to go out when he frowned suddenly. He opened the purse and poured out a pile of broken silver and counted them carefully, his frown getting deeper, "I lost three cash..." As a person who was ridiculed to be very stingy, losing three cash of silver was enough to hurt him till dark. The three of them met the bailiffs from the capital prefecture outside the Nightwatchers constabulary. They were also three people. The leader was actually a woman, and the other two were rather young looking. The three bailiffs‘ uniforms weren't much different than Xu Qi'an's when he was a fast bailiff, with a black base and red lining around the cuffs. However, their chests were not adorned with the word "Bu" but instead had a mythical Bi'an[^1] embroidered upon them. *One in Refining Qi, and two in Refining Body...* Xu Qi'an observed the three of them calmly. The leading woman clasped her fists and said, "Three sirs, this lowly official is Lyu Qing[^2]. I've assigned people to lead horses to the gate of the city. Let's get in the carriage and talk." Horses were for hurrying along, and the carriage was to give everyone space to talk about things along the way. The Nightwatchers held a prestigious position, and other law enforcement officials held a lower rank in comparison. Despite the woman in Refining Qi addressing them as "sir," she carried herself with an attitude that was neither humble nor overbearing. A spacious carriage that could comfortably fit six people was parked on the side of the street. The three Nightwatchers sat on one side while the three from the prefecture office sat on the other side, clearly distinguishing from each other. Song Tingfeng introduced himself with a smile, and also introduced Zhu Guangxiao and Xu Qi'an. "You should be familiar with this guy. He was imprisoned in the Prefecture Office during the Silver Tax Case." The three from the Capital Prefecture carefully examined Xu Qi'an. The female officer named Lyu Qing cupped her fists and said, "I've heard a lot about you." The Silver Tax case was handled by the Capital Prefecture Constabulary. As the Constable, She remembered Xu Qi'an. At that time, she felt that this person was quite capable, and she repeatedly persuaded the Prefecture Governor to recruit him into the capital office... Lyu Qing sighed with regret upon finding out that Xu Qi'an had become a Nightwatcher. Xu Qi'an said a few humble words while silently observing the constable. It's quite rare for a woman to become a Constable. Not all women in the Great Feng were raised in the boudoir; the government office would cultivate some talented females in their jurisdiction. The constable looked good, she was probably in her early thirties. Her eyebrows looked thinner than normal girls, which made her look quite heroic. Her graceful figure revealed the vigor of a female leopard. Her chest was plump and swollen. She would’ve been wearing chest bindings. Speaking of the matter, Xu Qi'an didn't know until now why the Silver Tax case wasn't handed over to the Ministry of Justice and was instead handled by the Government office and the Nightwatchers together. He was quite perplexed by it at first. It should be because Deputy Zhou had party members in the Ministry of Justice, and they could conspire together. He hadn't realized these details until now. “The contents of the dossier are simple, and many details aren't clear. This case was handled by your office first. Let's discuss your findings.” Song Tingfeng said. "When exactly did the monster appear?" "June and July." The woman's voice was misty and very magnetic. "Does anyone know the monster's appearance?" Song Tingfeng asked again. “In the beginning, the huihu in the surroundings often disappeared. When their family searched, they found the monster's paw prints alongside bloodstains by the riverbank. After that, huihu disappeared concurrently, and there were more and more paw prints in the river bank... "The village chief gathered huihu to cast nets along the river to hunt down the monster, but it didn't work and the nets were easily bitten through..." *It should be an amphibian.* Xu Qi'an thought. After listening, Song Tingfeng frowned and asked, "I'm puzzled. Why did they report the incident in June and July now?" "The monster only devoured the huihu that entered the mountain and didn't attack the villages. So, the magistrate of Taikang didn't care about it at first. When more and more people died, he sent some bailiffs to join the huihu in hunting down the monster, but nothing was found." While talking, Lyu Qing frequently looked at Xu Qi'an in anticipation. To her disappointment, this talent who solved the Silver Tax case maintained his silence, frowning. "After a few attempts, the magistrate of Taikang County became unwilling to take care of it anymore. In other words, since the Official Evaluation was approaching, he planned to suppress the matter instead of handling it." Zhu Guangxiao said in a deep voice, "Why was the case reported again, then?" Lu Qing became silent for a while, and said, "The huihu didn't dare to go up the mountain for lime, but they still had to pay the tax. They didn't have any other alternative, so they took a long way into the mountain that avoided the river. Then, an accident happened..." "The more than 20 people who went up into the mountain to mine lime didn't come back. The huihu nearby didn't have any other choice, so they filed it against the Capital Government. Song Tingfeng and Zhu Guangxiao looked at each other in silence. tuk tuk... Right then, Xu Qi'an knocked on the long stool, looked at the three from the capital office, and asked, "Do you have a map of Dahuang Mountain and the nearby villages?" "We have brought it. Upon considering that the rank of the monster is unknown, we planned to investigate on our own at first. We also didn't take any of the local huihu with us to avoid accidents." Lu Qing stared at her colleague who was sitting at the side, and he took out a rolled map from the bag he was carrying. Xu Qi'an took out the map and slowly unfolded it. It was a map of the Dahuang Mountain Range. After looking at it carefully for a while, Xu Qi'an said, "I have a guess I think I should tell you all." Everyone in the carriage looked over at him, and Song Tingfeng squinted his eyes with a smile. The eyes of the female constable brightened slightly, and she became upright, "Please tell me." Xu Qi'an said, "It attacks people regularly. In other words, it has a strong purpose. This may not be a simple disturbance by monsters." Lu Qing squeezed her exquisite eyebrows, "Why would you say that?" “At the beginning, It only devoured the huihu near the river, and then it began to expand its range, radiating outwards from both sides of the river until it went to the mountains and devoured the huihu there. This isn't purely for hunting. “Firstly, the river below the Dahuang Mountain Range stretches for hundreds of miles, and there's no shortage of fish and shrimp in the river. The choice of food for a beast is determined by its environment, not its own taste. If there isn't any shortage of food around the area, it'll never go far away. Why would it go to the mountains to hunt people if it could get food in the river. “Secondly, if it is a monster with intelligence, and likes eating people, unlike wild animals, then there's no chance that it will not discover the nearby villages. However, it hasn't done that. It only devours those huihu that enter Dahuang Mountain's vicinity. "According to the analysis of its behavioural psychology, It has some type of conscious drive." *Behavioral Psychology?* Lyu Qing pondered, "Territorial expansion?" Without waiting for Xu Qi'an to give an answer, Song Tingfeng shook his head, "No, If it had intelligence, it'd never set up territory in this manner. Setting up territory in the suburbs of the capital is no different than courting death. If it was a ferocious beast, it wouldn't drive away the huihu." Lyu Qing thought about it for a while, her pupils shrinking slightly, "Is there something in Great Yellow Mountain it's concerned about?" A brief silence loomed in the carriage. --- *Author Note:* Later, I'll write a "Great Feng's Famous Oiran Appraisal Guide" in the official account. Well, I won't write it, but I invite enthusiastic readers to write it. [^1]: Bi’an: A dragon-tiger beast, representing the might of rule of law. [^2]: 吕青