# 70. Xu Qi'an: I Want to Go to the Jiaofangsi to Cleanse my Earlier Embarrassment *He could even determine where the monster was after it went into the water… and accurately shoot it in the brain… this level of prediction and precision is scary…* Lyu Qing was a woman in a constable’s role, and having beaten out all the competition, was a proud person. But at this time, in the face of Xu Qi’an’s divine action, she happily admitted defeat. *Mm, not only is he strong and powerful, but he’s also very humble and subtle, much better than those men who never considered women at the same level.* *Whew, if the monster hadn’t been hurt and poisoned, with a river current between me and it I probably wouldn’t have been able to hit it…* as Xu Qi’an put back his crossbow, his heart panged slightly; this crossbow could only be fired three times, it’s long term usability was far too bad. After three shots, it was then no more than an ordinary military crossbow. It was meant for protecting his life, using it against a yaoguai was far too much of a waste. Lyu Qing followed his gaze, and also noticed this initially ordinary looking crossbow. Looking closer, she had a shock. On the crossbow were carved complicated and abstruse glyphs, and thinking back to the qi energy released when that bolt fired, it was not hard for her to guess that this was a magical weapon. *The only magic items the Nightwatchers had were their gongs… this is his own private weapon? He said he could ask over the Sitianjian’s arcanists, it seems he wasn’t showing off after all…* Lyu Qing’s impression of this man changed again, her good feelings toward him increased. Xu Qi’an turned his body, not letting her looking at his treasure any longer, and laughed, “If we don’t haul it up, it’ll wash away. What good would that do.” Lyu Qing laughed in a delicate and reserved manner, nodding. The two of them went into the river together, and pulled this monster’s body onto the banks. At this time, Song Tingfeng, supporting Zhu Guangxiao, walked shakily out of the woods. “You killed it?” he could barely contain his laughter, feeling a great sense of relief. The silent Zhu Guangxiao also let out a turbid breath. “How are you?” Xu Qi’an asked about Zhu Guangxiao’s injuries. The silent gourd shook his head, “Nothing major, only broke two ribs.” The four of them took a brief rest at the riverside, as the two bailiffs escorted the village elder down the mountain. As the elder saw the corpse of the monster, he was both angry and scared. Very carefully inching forward, he kicked it, then rushed back with the agility only an old man could hide. After a few seconds, seeing that it did not respond, he finally relaxed, and rushed over to kick it again and again in boundless anger. After letting off some steam, the elder knelt down with a thump, kowtowing to Xu Qi’an and the others. Xu Qi’an waved his hand, “I ask you, when was the cave on the southern mountain dug?” The elder thought for a moment, “That was a kiln left over from before. The south side doesn’t have too much limestone, and the paths are difficult, so it had been abandoned for many years. This old man doesn’t know when it became like this.” Xu Qi’an continued, “Do people often pass by there?” He replied, “There aren’t no signs of humanity.” *You could’ve just said that there were occasionally some people, what is this beating around the bush…* Xu Qi’an lambasted, “Go back for now, wait for a summons from the government office.” The old man had been kicked by Zhu Guangxiao earlier, and Xu Qi’an could see that he was still clutching his waist. Lyu Qing did not have any objections to how Xu Qi’an dealt with this, and immediately ordered one of her colleagues to escort him back to the village. The rest of them sat where they were and meditated, recovering some of their energy, and then filled up on food and water. After fifteen minutes, three horses walked slowly along the public road, dragging the body of the beast. On the road, Lyu Qing recounted how Xu Qi’an dealt with events, her tone overflowing with admiration. Song Tingfeng steered his horse next to Xu Qi’an’s, and said as quiet as a fly, “She seems to like you.” Xu Qi’an whispered back, “What do you want to say?” Song Tingfeng said, “Constable Lyu has some fame in the government constabulary circles, and hasn’t married even ‘til today. Doesn’t every man want to become the sole traveller of some path?” *In this era, she’d be a ‘leftover woman’…* Xu Qi’an laughed, “Then you try hard eh.” Song Tingfeng narrowed his eyes, and sighed, shaking his head, “The type of person I am is only suited to the Jiaofangsi.” Xu Qi’an laughed, “Even the tree-shaded path that you yearn for, would be covered in frost every dawn and dusk?” Zhu Guangxiao frowned, not understanding what his two colleagues were bantering about. “Right, what was that move you pulled just then?” Xu Qi’an asked. “The howling wind sword technique.” Song Tingfeng replied. *Sword technique… then earlier when Constable Lyu cut at that monster like a cutting machine was also some sort of dao technique… wait, sword!?* Xu Qi’an’s gaze fixed tightly on the dao that was bound to Song Tingfeng’s waist. Song Tingfeng shrugged, “Who said a dao could not use a Jian sword technique?” *Yeah yeah, who says you can’t stab someone to death without a spearhead?* Xu Qi’an silently mouthed off. In their conversation, they saw out of the corners of their eyes a group of common people walking down the path between the fields, gathering on the public road. At their head was that village elder, and that Refining Body bailiff that was responsible for escorting him back. The bailiff shook his head helplessly, “They insisted on coming to thank us.” In the elder’s hand he carried a basket of eggs, raising it high in front of Xu Qi’an, “These are all the eggs our village has. Sir, please, take them. “These few months, we really couldn’t live on any longer like this, if it wasn’t for you sirs helping us to exterminate the monsters, if you would allow me to say some unlawful words, we would not longer be able to pay tax, and would have to escape and become vagabonds.” Xu Qi’an looked at his anxious expression, and scanned over the thin yellow faces of the huihu. “Of course!” smiling, he took the basket of eggs, hanging it on his saddle. The surrounding commoners all smiled. Only then did they dare to loudly start talking, pointing to the monster’s corpse and cursing a storm. *If I steadfastly refused, saying loudly: I will not take a cent of money from common people, they’d probably have been scared shitless.* Xu Qi’an silently sighed. … Returning back to the capital, the monster’s corpse was handed over to the constabulary assistants that were waiting by the city gate. They hauled it onto a cart, placing a white cloth over it, and headed into the city. “The saltpetre mine is a serious matter, we must report it.” Song Tingfeng cracked an egg, swallowing it whole. *Parasite warning…* Xu Qi’an nodded. Returning back to the Nightwatchers constabulary, the three of them did not have time to write a report, rather heading directly for Chunfeng Hall, reporting their findings to Li Yuchun. Brother Chun listened with a serious face. “You did well. Xu Qi’an, you made a great contribution.” Li Yuchun walked around his desk, and personally tidied up their uniforms for them, all neat and tidy. He then returned back to his seat, deep in thought for a moment, “What do you think of this?” The three bronze gongs exchanged looks, as Song Tingfeng said: “From what Ningyan has analysed, the monster was deliberately driving away the huihu. And through our investigation, we found a saltpetre mine in the mountain… this cannot be a coincidence.” “Do you have anything more exact, more detailed conclusions?” Li Yuchun asked. Song Tingfeng shrugged, “Boss, I can chop people well enough, but as for solving cases…” Average at best. The three people simultaneously turned to look at Xu Qi’an. Li Yuchun’s eyes carried expectation, as he asked “Ningyan, what do you make of this?” Everyone knew about Xu Qi’an’s abilities in deduction. Even though he was merely a new Refining Qi, but his presence somehow made them feel more sure of themselves. If a person were to encounter a field they were not familiar with, then unconsciously they would rely on the experts. Xu Qi’an thought for a moment, “Then let me make an addition. I can guarantee, that the reason the monster was driving away the nearby huihu was to take the saltpetre mine for itself. “Originally, I thought that it might have picked Dahuang mountain’s river as its lair to lay eggs, but on the way back to the capital, I discovered that it was male. “There’s only one problem that I can’t solve though, which is why did the monster set eyes on the saltpetre mine? “Apart from using saltpetre for medicine, the only other thing that could be made from it is gunpowder.” Of course, potassium nitrate had other uses, but Xu Qi’an thought that the technological divide between him and this world was too deep, and there was no use in saying so. He instinctively looked at Li Yuchun, but was shocked to find that he had been stunned, frozen in place, as if intently thinking something. “It’s the Yao, it’s the Yao…” he muttered. Li Yuchun did not elaborate, as he spread out a piece of paper, writing furiously. … Song Tingfeng took Xu Qi’an to the administrative office, and obtained an injury slip. “With this, we can rest for two days, and not take shift tomorrow.” Song Tingfeng said, “You need to learn to obtain appropriate benefit for yourself.” *So this is that mythical workplace injury- no, a paid holiday…* Xu Qi’an praised highly his colleague’s astuteness. Leaving the office, it was already dusk, and Xu Qi’an planned to go home and rest. Song Tingfeng called him before he could leave, “Didn’t we say, Jiaofangsi tonight?” Xu Qi’an did a double take, and immediately looked over at Zhu Guangxiao standing beside him, saying in surprise, “Your injury isn’t urgent?” Zhu Guangxiao said solemnly, “The women of the Jiaofangsi know how to care for a person very well.” *…Are you saying, she’ll get on top of you and move herself?* Xu Qi’an clasped his hands together towards him. *Indeed, how could a small injury like broken ribs get in the way of having fun with friends.* *Doesn’t matter if I don’t go back home anyway; uncle knows that the Nightwatchers have night shift. As for auntie, mm, she clearly doesn’t care when I return home, she only knows to pout at me all day.* Xu Qi’an, deciding not to go home for the night, intended to socialise in the manner appropriate for officials of the Great Feng. Their destination: the Jiaofangsi! Similar social engagements, he had had many times before in his previous life, it was only that the format changed from having dinner together to browsing the brothels. In the Great Feng, or rather to say in this era, brothels were the first port of call for socialising. The Nightwatchers’ tokens meant that they did not have to pay mind to the curfew in the inner city, since they would after all encounter only their Nightwatcher colleagues. After asking the usual questions, they’d just pretend not to see. … The three of them walked in the alleys of the Jiaofangsi. Song Tingfeng, squinting his eyes with every laugh, said “Later when you do your night shift, if you meet any colleagues at the Jiaofangsi, you can keep one eye open, one eye closed. If they’re anywhere else though, it’s best not to be so lax. You don’t know what their goals are in the middle of the night. “I heard once my seniors tell a story, there was once a Nightwatcher that had gotten into a feud with a person. He broke into their home in the middle of the night, and killed their entire family. Afterwards, nothing could be found out. Only after a lot of blood and sweat, did they finally manage to pin it on a Nightwatcher who perpetrated the crime. “As for the details, I’ll tell you when we start drinking.” Xu Qi’an laughed and nodded. What goes on behind the scenes in these circles, was very valuable and precious experience to him. If he were to encounter any colleagues that are easy to jealousy, or easy to conflict, they may not ever tell you. “Oh right, which courtyard do we want to go to?” The man-of-few-words Zhu Guangxiao said. “Reflecting Plum Pavilion.” “Whatever.” The two of them replied at the same time. The first came from Xu Qi’an, the latter from Song Tingfeng. Song Tingfeng and Zhu Guangxiao both looked at Xu Qi’an, their gaze seeming to say: *what are you thinking?* Laughing, Song Tingfeng smacked his colleague on the back, “Miss Fuxiang’s drinking games are ten tales of silver, and she very rarely takes any guests. Normally there could be several days in a row of drinking games, with not one person getting into her bed. She is high skill…” *Marketing through starvation, I get it…* Xu Qi’an remembered that the two of them did not know about him setting a trap for Zhou Li; the inside details were obviously not something that he could wantonly spread about. Thus, they naturally did not know that he and Fuxiang have slept together. Slept together in the purest sense of the word. Zhu Guangxiao reminded him, “Miss Fuxiang looks down on us.” Though his words were few and far between, they were always earnest, or in good faith, or from the bottom of his heart. The two colleagues didn’t want to spend their silver at the Reflecting Plum Pavilion. Xu Qi’an thought for a moment, “Let’s go have a look anyway. I’ll pay the silver for you.” As a new person, inviting colleagues to a seafood dinner was a classic social technique. Song Tingfeng and Zhu Guangxiao both smiled, none of them refusing such a kind offer. Not long later, they came to the door of the Reflecting Plum Pavillion. Xu Qi’an glanced at the courtyard, with the rushing sound like wind through bamboo, his heart saying: *I’ve come to cleanse my earlier embarrassment.* --- Author’s note: This chapter is scarily long. Translator’s note: Yes, yes it fucking is.