# 78. Testing Each Other
【NINE: Earlier, when the Sect Master was asleep, I took the opportunity to sneak back into the Earth Sect to do something. However, I stumbled into an ambush. I fled all the way to the Capital of Feng, only then could I keep my life. To avoid being hunted down, I gave the sealed mirror to … this young Brother Chen Jinnan.】
*Not only did you tell them my gender, but also gave a bound on my age…* Xu Qi’an was somewhat miffed; he originally could have pretended to be a cute girl, or a skilled master, and catfished them.
【NINE: afterwards, after getting young brother Chen Jinnan’s help, I killed Zilian, and avoided this disaster.】
【TWO: THREE, what constabulary are you in?】
*This might as well be asking people online for their address, if I told you then there would be a problem…* Xu Qi’an had a sudden flash of thought, and mimicking Xu Xinnian’s tone:
【THREE: Constabulary? The capital’s constabularies might as well be a bunch of vegetarians.】
*THREE seems to look down upon the constabularies, his tone of voice seems to be rather arrogant. The capital only has so many government-related powers, and the Human Sect is out — Jinlian Daozhang wouldn’t work with the Human Sect.*
*The Nightwatchers wouldn’t use this tone of voice to describe the constabularies, is he of the Sitianjian or the Cloud Deer Academy?
*With this time, it’s very much like the Confucianist’s self-proclaimed “All things are lowly, only studying is good.”*
Two and Six guessed at the same time.
【TWO: ONE is also in the capital. Perhaps you two know each other? ONE, I know you’re in front of the mirror, did you hear about what happened today?】
【ONE: In the Guiyuelou in the inner city, a Jianghu Wanderer has died. Sixty li outside the city, a hillock was pierced through by an unknown force.】
After a pause, One continued writing.
【ONE, have the banditry problems in Yunzhou settled?】
Xu Qi’an’s eyebrows raised.
He smelled a whiff of a royal court concubine drama.
*TWO pulled ONE under the water, and at the same time revealed to him some information: ONE and I were both in the capital.*
*This is clearly aimed at ONE. The reason is very simple, from the earlier conversation, everyone knew THREE lived in the capital.*
*But as THREE myself, I don’t know much about the other people. TWO could’ve not revealed this point.*
*And ONE immediately returned an eye for an eye, very generously throwing out information, showing that she was a reliable source and giving Xu Qi’an a boost, whilst also hitting back at TWO.*
*TWO is in Yunzhou… bandits… she’s a government person?*
Yunzhou has had problems with bandits year after year, thus gaining the nickname from people all across the country: Bandit Province.
As Xu Qi’an’s thoughts twisted and turned, both Six and Two were chewing on the information that One gave out.
*East of the city sixty li, a hillock was pierced through… it’s too little information, can’t tell which cultivation path that is, but they were a high rank no matter what.*
【TWO: How could it have settled? The emperor of Feng is a brainless baboon, thinking about wanting to become immortal all day, not knowing the toil of the common people.】
*This sounds like… TWO is probably not eating the crown’s salary…* Xu Qi’an guessed.
【TWO: Previous years aside, just this year alone, I investigated through the census records of the many counties of Yunzhou, going all over the place, and from a rough estimate, there have been at least sixty thousand people who have fled, become wanderers, or bandits themselves.】
Wanderers were people without lands, people who could not pay tax and thus gave up their lands and fled.
Without lands, a person still had to live, so some begged, some did temporary labour, and some directly became bandits, raiding and pillaging good people, forming a feedback loop.
Two continued: 【I’ve exterminated over a dozen waves of bandits, and found that at their back was a more hidden power.】
【ONE: Do you have any idea who?】
【TWO: No… right, how is the situation in the capital?】
Xu Qi’an didn’t wait for One to respond, racing to be the first to write: 【THREE: Deputy Minister Zhou has fallen, and the political battle has started. However Deputy Minister Zhou’s fall was somewhat absurd; the reason was that his only son had deep perversions, and attempted to molest the second daughter of the Marquis Weiwu.】
This whole string of text was both a message to Two, and also a display of his own skils and abilities, and at the same time testing One.
Anyone who had the status to participate in the battle in court knew, that the real reason for Deputy Minister Zhou’s fall was the tax silver case.
What made him disappointed was that One did not correct him.
【ONE: Jinlian Daozhang, I've already investigated for you, the Lesser Sage hall was sealed on the Jia-zi day. At that day, the only outsiders at the academy, apart from the eldest princess, was a civil servant called Xu Qi’an.】
Xu Qi’an’s heart skipped a beat. A sense of panic as if he had just had his personal details published on the internet rose within him.
*Who was this Number One? Why did they want to investigate what happened that day on Jia-zi…* Xu Qi’an thought back. On that day, Erlang took him to tour the academy, and at a moment’s inspiration, he wrote those four phrases on the stone stele.
And made the azure qi rush towards the sky.
At the same time, he was very curious as to why Jinlian Daozhang would be curious in the changes in the Academy.
Logically, this would be something the Imperial Academy’s students would care about, what did it have to do with an Earth Sect Daoist?
【ONE: However, that civil servant had no special qualities. Apart from being rather skilled in poetry, he was merely a Refining Body martial artist, and not a student of the Academy, even less so a Scholar.】
【NINE: Mhm, okay.】
【THREE: Daozhang, why are you interested in the change at the Academy?】 Xu Qi’an tested him.
【NINE: I want to know if the lesser saint’s stele has split or not.】
【THREE: Is this very important?】
【NINE: Rather so.】
*It split…* Xu Qi’an did not tell Jinlian Daozhang. Even if he wanted to say, it would not be now.
【THREE: There’s something I’d like to ask everyone for advice.】
【THREE: Are Arcanists exclusive to the Sitianjian?】
This sentence from him as good as excluded the possibility that he was a disciple of the Sitianjian.
Everyone grew ever more certain that he was a scholar of the Cloud Deer Academy, a student that took the fancy of his teachers. Otherwise, how would he have asked a skilled master to kill the Zilian Daoist?
And this was exactly what Xu Qi’an wanted.
*You think I’m a student of the Cloud Deer Academy, whilst in reality I’m a Nightwatcher. Later on if you find out I may be a Nightwatcher, you’ll find that I am really a student of the Academy. Alternatively, you’ll find out that I’m the tutor for the Sitianjian’s Alchemists.*
【SIX: I’ll answer this. Six hundred years ago, there were no Arcanists. After the Great Feng was founded, then came the Sitianjian and its Arcanists.】
*Their sect’s history was brief, and there was no record of splitting. Which is to say, apart from the Sitianjian, any wild Arcanists might as well be non-existent… There should still be some, but only very few, otherwise when I pulled out that blue-cover book, they would’ve found it strange.*
*No wonder the Arcanists desperately wanted my chemistry knowledge, with how powerful they clearly were.*
*Because their history was short, and so there was not time to form a holistic theoretical basis and curriculum?*
*Furthermore, who was the Arcanist behind the tax silver case?*
This one suspicious detail in the tax silver case, had constantly occupied veteran detective Xu Qi’an’s mind.
*On the fact that traces of an alchemist had appeared in the tax silver case, the Sitianjian has taken a very carefree attitude to the matter, not asking nor hearing.*
*This was not scientific.*
*No matter if it was Chu Caiwei, Song Qing, or the other white-cloaks, they all never mentioned this in front of him.*
【SIX: THREE, according to the rules, you’ll have to answer one of my questions.】
Only then did Xu Qi’an realise, that One and Two’s conversation was always one question each every time. Earlier he had butted in, and answered about the situation of court in One’s stead.
【THREE: Ask away.】
【SIX: What is the second rank of the Confucianists called?】
*This is another test, a test of my identity… is it testing if I was indeed a student of the Cloud Deer Academy, or my social status.*
Normal students did not know what the Confucian second rank was called; in that stele about the life of great scholar Chen Zhong, it did not ever talk in detail about his rank. Only after Xu Xinnian explained, did Xu Qi’an find out.
The reason why Xu Xinnian knew was that he was a student of the great scholar Zhang Shen, and was a Jushi that had passed above average in the autumn examinations.
Amongst the students at the Academy, he was already near the top.
*If I was not a student of the Cloud Deer Academy, then this test might have worked. If a non-Confucian knew what the Confucian second rank was, then their social status would only get higher.*
*If I couldn’t answer, then this group would probably think I’m not good enough.*
Xu Qi’an used his finger like a pen, and responded:
【THREE: The second rank Confucian is called Great Scholar.】