# 72. The Daoist Earth Sect 【NINE: Where are you?】 Xu Qi’an stared at the mirror’s surface, dazed for ages. *The mirror can talk now? It has its own consciousness?* *What does “NINE” mean anyway? Is this mirror called Nine?* *No, if this mirror had its own consciousness, then it wouldn’t ask “Where are you”. After all, you and I sleep in the same bed every day, how could you not know where I am?* Still staring at the mirror, Xu Qi’an fell into deep thought. He was thinking about four questions: One: What kind of treasure is this mirror? Apart from being able to store items, it could also receive messages? Two: Is this a message? If so, who sent it? Three: Who was that old Daoist, why would he give me this mirror? Four: Do I respond? Putting caution first, Xu Qi’an held onto the idea of “If I pretend nothing happened, then it doesn’t exist”, silently stowing away the mirror, and not intending to respond. Moreover, he didn’t know how to respond anyway. Going into the courtyard, he plunged his head into the water barrel, washing his face, then wiping it dry with a cloth. Then, Xu Qi’an made to leave. He had already joined the Nightwatchers, but his first proper day on the job was the day after tomorrow; the constabulary still needed to arrange for his uniform and gong. It was still early, just past 12:30. Xu Qi’an first paid a visit to the Changle County Constabulary, and gave notice to his old colleagues, and Magistrate Zhu, that he had joined the Nightwatchers. County Magistrate Zhu had already received notice, as the Nightwatchers had already taken his background check from the county office. Xu Qi’an, Magistrate Zhu, and his other colleagues arranged to have dinner that night, as both a leaving meal, and a celebration of Xu Qi’an’s promotion in official ranks. The location would of course be the Xiaoyue hall, not far from the county offices. For official social events, qinglou brothels were the first port of call. Before them, Xu Qi’an planned to go to the Goulan, both to listen to music, and also to have lunch. … The leaving feast started at 16:00, and lasted all the way until 18:45. In the banquet, Magistrate Zhu sighed, “Ningyan, you’re a person from my Changle County constabulary. That you could become a Nightwatcher, is our Changle County’s good fortune. This official had always looked favourably upon you…” He paused, raising a glass and drinking it in one. *If I can continue climbing upwards… then County Magistrate Zhu would be a person in official circles that I can trust to some extent…* Xu Qi’an followed his lead, and drank his own wine. Finishing the feast, none of the constabulary bailiffs left, as the boss of the brothel called over a group of young and beautiful ladies, bringing them to the room, for these great officials to take their pick. *Pretty good looking, if this was in my previous life, then it would be the club, with all the young models lined up in a row…* Xu Qi’an shook his head; having experienced the ecstasy of being with Fuxiang, he started to look down upon normal women. Xu Qi’an arranged appropriately Magistrate Zhu and the other bailiffs, and left Xiaoyue Hall himself, going back home. Coming to the front door, he found that the lock was undone, and that inside the room there was candlelight. *Has uncle come to find me?* Xu Qi’an pushed open the door, and entered the room. In the dim candlelight, a white-skirted young woman sat at the tableside, a hand supporting her head, that delicate head lulling slightly. Xu Qi’an immediately scanned over his cupboard, and was relieved to find that there was no sign of it being open. *Mm, perhaps I could consider using English to write my diary.* He walked over, and lightly pushed away Xu Lingyue. “Big brother, where did you go…” Xu Lingyue opened her eyes, her charming pupils showing confusion for a moment, and then delight. Her thin melon-seed face was lit by the flickering candlelight, like a piece of warm fiery jade, with no blemish. Her eyes shone. “Little Sis is really pretty.” Xu Qi’an sighed. Xu Lingyue looked down shyly, as a startlingly red flush erupted on her face. She said in a soft voice, “Why did big brother not come home to eat. Dad said big brother must have gone to the brothels.” *Uncle so fucking… knows me!* Xu Qi’an said, “No no, just a normal social occasion. I’ve joined the Nightwatchers now, so invited my old colleagues to dinner.” But the fact that Uncle would think that way was very normal, very normal for a martial artist; putting in so much blood and sweat to reach Refining Qi, having held it in for around twenty years, it was almost definite that one would need to get it all out of them before stopping. “Big brother has drank… since you’ve already eaten, then I’ll go back. They’re still keeping food warm in the kitchen.” Xu Lingyue believed her big brother’s excuse, and laughed happily. Xu Qi’an was moved; in this house, apart from Second Uncle, only this little sister treated him the best. “Mm, it’s dark outside, it’s not safe to walk outside in the dark. Big brother will take you.” Xu Lingyue did not refuse. From this small courtyard to the front door of the Xu manor proper, was roughly two to three hundred metres. A young vulnerable girl walking alone was indeed not very safe. But what she did not think of, was that Xu Qi’an took her to the corner of the courtyard, held onto her light thin waist, and leapt into the air. He was going to vault over the wall. As the tips of her feet finally touched firm ground, she pushed away Xu Qi’an in fright, both shy and angry: “How could big brother be so frivolous.” At the age of seven, boys and girls were no longer allowed to share a room. She was already seventeen, how could big brother hug his little sister’s waist like that? Grabbing her hand in the Cloud Deer Academy, was already something that was breaking social norms. The Xu Family though were not a strict intellectual household, and so that was more or less acceptable, but to just grab her waist like that… can a woman’s waist be grabbed willy-nilly? Horse riding was another issue entirely, but even when riding, she had never had that happen to her. Xu Lingyue’s legs felt soft, and seeing Xu Qi’an was in somewhat of a daze, angrily stamped her foot, leaving with small hurried footsteps. *She seems to be angry, that shy young girl pouting attitude has got stronger… she’s not really angry…* Xu Qi’an sighed, reminding himself that he needed to think about these things more carefully. Even though in his past life, there was no such caution about boys and girls coming into contact, even if they did not know each other very well, hell, in some circumstances, they would stick tightly together, feeling with their bodies the other’s warmth and energy. They would be red faced, brows furrowed, panting heavily… referring of course to the metro at rush hour. But here was not that era, and even with his own little sister, he could not act so wantonly. Xu Qi’an had indeed been careless in this regard. Looking at Xu Lingyue’s disappearing figure, Xu Qi’an then leapt up again, and returned back to his own little courtyard. At this time, he felt again that mysterious palpitation, and pulled out the mirror again. On the clean mirror surface, was written another line of small text: 【NINE: Where are you?】 Xu Qi’an furrowed his brow; *What is going on?* The messages had come one after another. If he were not to deal with this, it would feel like there was some unknown danger hidden under the surface. Xu Qi’an leant against the wall, pondering for a long time, finally deciding to reply. He had two reasons for this: One, this mirror, after all, was his, and if he could figure out the mysterious abilities of this mirror once and for all, he would have untold benefits. It would be like clearly holding an AK-47, but waving it around like a walking cane. Two, he suspected that this message might have come from the old Daoist. If this was the case, then he could get the reason as to why this priest would have given the mirror to him. A gift for an unknown reason made one feel anxious. Xu Qi’an tried to reply via voice: “Haha, I’m bathing.” The clear mirror surface showed no sign of change. He then changed his approach, using his finger as a pen, and wrote this sentence on the mirror. A wonderous sight appeared: a small line of text appeared on the mirror’s surface: 【THREE: Hah, I’m bathing.】 *Sending messages via touch?* *Is THREE the number of my mirror? The other one seems to be NINE, does he also have a mirror?* 【NINE: Who are you?】 Xu Qi’an did not respond. The opposing side also fell silent. After a few minutes, they again sent a message: 【NINE: Where is brother Jinlian? Is he alive or dead, how did you get this mirror? You’re a member of the Heaven and Earth Society!?】 *“Brother Jinlian” should be that old Daoist that gave me this mirror. This Nine called him “brother”, so they must be of the same sect…* *Heaven and Earth Society, does this world also have a Ming Restorationist movement?* After roughly guessing at Nine’s identity, Xu Qi’an let out a breath, and with his finger as a pen, wrote back: 【THREE: I’m not a member of the Heaven and Earth Society. This mirror was given to me by an old Daoist Priest.】 【NINE: How will you prove that you’re not a member of the Heaven and Earth Society, tell this poor Daoist your name.】 Xu Qi’an suddenly had the feeling of a reader wanting to know your address, to send you some local specialty, and instinctively resisted, not answering. 【THREE: *Daozhang*[^1], I’m just a nameless grunt.】 After a while, 【NINE: Where is the priest that gave you this mirror?】 【THREE: I don’t know.】 After Xu Qi’an sent his message, he waited patiently to see what would come back as a response. 【NINE: This poor Daoist is Zilian. That priest that gave you the mirror is my sect brother. This mirror is our Earth Sect’s magical artefact. 【Haha, seeing that brother Jinlian has given this to you, then you sir must be no ordinary person. I think, you have heard of our Earth Sect’s name.】 Xu Qi’an replied: 【THREE: apologies, I know nothing.】 The other side fell silent for a good long while, and then replied with no emotion, 【NINE: The Daoist order is split into three sects: Heaven, Earth and Man.】 *So you’re a Daoist…* Xu Qi’an roused his spirits. --- [^1]: 道长, A senior Daoist priest’s title