# 86. A Mature Double-Agent
*Dismiss your attendants…* Upon hearing this, Nangong Qianrou’s eyebrows shot up his forehead, and that gaze he had upon Xu Qi’an was instantly filled with enmity.
He was a gold gong, how dare a mere bronze gong order him to be dismissed?
Wei Yuan’s expression froze for a short while, before nodding gently, “You two leave for now. Yang Yan, you two supervise each other, make sure no one eavesdrops.”
Nangong Qianrou’s gazed deeply at Xu Qi’an.
This small insignificant bronze gong had only been a Nightwatcher for a few days, and yet he commonly get’s Father’s reception, and for the purpose of talking with him, Father would even now send away himself and Yang Yan.
This made Nangong Qianrou very unhappy.
*Clearly I came first.*
The two gold gongs left the Tower of Noble Spirit. Nangong Qianrou, with a face on par with Xu Xinnian laughed coldly, “A great gold gong, to be surpassed by a mere bronze gong under your command. Clearly he has no consideration for you.”
Yang Yan remained silent.
Nangong Qianrou said unhappily, “I’m trying to provoke you, you gotta give me some face here.”
Yang Yan’s statue like face maintained its stoic expression, saying lightly, “You know clearly what his aptitude is like. Duke Wei wants to raise him, you also know that.”
“But the fact that he doesn’t look up to you is true.”
“Do you think I care?” Yang Yan asked back.
Nangong Qianrou rolled his eyes, in a feminine and graceful manner, saying in annoyance, “Yes yes, after all he’s your soldier, there’s still a relationship there.”
Yang Yan nodded.
Nangong Qianrou immediately turned and left, laughing maliciously, “You’re boring. I’m going to find my toys to play with.”
He was headed towards the prison.
The tea room, the seventh floor of the Tower of Noble Spirit.
Xu Qi’an said, “Your subordinate has information about the Pingyuan Earl’s case to report.”
Wei Yuan replied solemnly, “The Heaven and Earth Society?”
This was very easy to deduce; if Xu Qi’an merely had a lead on the Earl Pingyuan’s case, then he would report to his silver gong, or even gold gong, but not directly to him.
Pertaining to the Heaven and Earth Society however, the two of them had an unspoken agreement.
Xu Qi’an said, “The one who killed the Earl Pingyuan was Number Six.”
Wei Yuan was silent for a moment, asking “For what motive?”
“Six’s sect brother was kidnapped by a trafficker, his status unknown. Six followed the vine, and managed to lock onto the Earl Pingyuan…” Xu Qi’an told Wei Yuan everything, including how he helped Six escape, and hide under the gazes of the Sitianjian.
The only thing he hid was about the Confucianist book, changing it to a gift from his brother.
Wei Yuan swept his sleeve across the tea table, as porcelain crashed to the ground. His expression was no longer kindly, his gaze was sharp as a knife.
“Xu Qi’an, to aid a perpetrator, is to bear the same crime.” Wei Yuan barked.
A strong pressure came down on him, as Xu Qi’an for a moment felt as if he was facing a hurricane.
“Your subordinate knows his crime!” Xu Qi’an immediately admitted guilt, saying loudly, “Your subordinate knows his crime is heavy, and worried for a night and day, but finally unable to overcome the condemnation of his good heart, your subordinate decided to come to Duke Wei to admit everything. Whether to kill or exile me, is your choice to make. However, your subordinate’s good heart, was not there for that damned Earl Pingyuan, but rather for my own shame in betraying your trust…”
Wei Yuan was expressionless, his face frozen in frost.
“Your subordinate was talking to his colleagues today, and knew that His Majesty is putting blame upon Duke Wei, the many officials at court are trying to use this to push you form your position…” Xu Qi’an’s expression was sincere, “Your subordinate thought again of how Duke Wei’s kindness to me was like a mountain…”
Wei Yuan’s expression melted slightly, as he lightly interrupted, “‘Kindness like a mountain’ is going a bit far… just say your reason directly.”
*… No, c’mon Boss, why aren’t you following on with the routine, are you still mingling in Court?* Xu Qi’an’s face stiffened.
He paused, forming his words again, “The Earl Pingyuan secretly ran a broker organisation, that trafficked people in the capital, gaining massive profits. The traffickers deceived and kidnapped boys and girls, to sell them to the brothels, to the black market factories, to raise into thieves, even to cut off their hands and feet, and stick on a black dog’s skin…”
He repeated Six’s explanation. In his words, he did not hide his hatred towards the Earl Pingyuan.
Wei Yuan’s gaze fell slightly, as he listened patiently, thinking deeply.
After Xu Qi’an had finished, with a calm tone he said “Pour some tea.”
This little detail showed that Wei Yuan had “forgiven” him.
Xu Qi’an immediately started pouring tea, just like in his past life when he was sent to serve the captain.
Wei Yuan drank a mouthful, and after a few seconds of silence, said with shaking head, “How much do you know of the Heaven and Earth Society? How much do you understand the Earth Sect’s Jinlian?
“From the investigations by the constabulary, the Earl Pingyuan was indeed behind a human trafficking organisation, but did that Six really just do this for his sect brother, or did he have some other motive?
“Perhaps the Earl Pingyuan had intruded on other matters, perhaps the organisation did something, and because of it brought death upon themselves, did you think of this?
“In the time of the official evaluation, the many demons dance without order. After another four days is the day His Majesty pays respects to his ancestors, so we cannot treat anything lightly.”
*He’s teaching me how to do things, giving me deductions, he really seems to want to develop me…* Xu Qi’an was somewhat moved, and some good feelings rose in his heart towards this great eunuch.
*He’s treating me as his subordinate, whereas I want to call him daddy, I’m far too lowly…*
“Duke Wei is right.” Xu Qi’an lowered his head.
Wei Yuan grunted, and praised him, “No matter what, you did well. You’re dismissed for now, I will send people to investigate this. You continue to lurk in the Heaven and Earth Society; your short-term objective will be to find out who One is.”
“Your subordinate will try his utmost.” Xu Qi’an said loudly.
Leaving the Tower of Noble Spirit, Xu Qi’an let out a breath, knowing that he gambled right this time, and gained Wei Yuan’s trust.
If he wanted his status to be secure, if he wanted to continue climbing upwards, then he must learn how to fall in line, to hug important legs.
No matter what era, including Xu Qi’an’s past life, this never changed.
For a long time afterwards, he had to constantly gain Wei Yuan’s appreciation, and his trust.
Xu Qi’an had prepared and revised for this meeting with Wei Yuan; he would not rashly do such a thing.
Firstly, the Nightwatcher Constabulary had a shameless distaste for Earl Pingyuan. Their investigation was half-hearted, and they did not have any immediate desire for “revenge”.
Furthermore, he had gained some influence in the Heaven and Earth Society; Two and Four both accepted him somewhat.
Wei Yuan was unlikely to give up on watching the Heaven and Earth Society because of this small matter, and also was unlikely to give up on his intelligent little subordinate.
Finally, what Wei Yuan said was exactly what Xu Qi’an had thought.
He did not trust 100% Number Six, or the Heaven and Earth Society as a whole. The only person who could deal with a LYB, was a LYB.
So if he were to ever come across any confusion, asking after Wei Yuan was a good move.
Of course, a mature mole must have other schemes.
Xu Qi’an came to a corner without anyone, pulling out his jade mirror, and writing in:【THREE: SIX, I’ve received a message that the Nightwatchers have gotten grasp of a lead from unknown origins, which may be problematic for you. You should make preparations to leave before they catch up to you.】
There was no delay in the message sending of the Earth Book. It and its owners had a mysterious connection, such that as soon as a message was entered, all the holders would notice.
The Earth Book was a whole, and being unable to private message was one of its biggest downsides. Xu Qi’an had sighed over this more than once.
In the back courtyard of the welfare home, Six had finished helping treat the “black dog”s wounds, and was sitting cross-legged and meditating, when his heart suddenly fluttered, and he took out the Earth Book.
Three’s message was displayed on the mirror surface, making Six’s square 国-shaped face change colour slightly.[^1]
*The Nightwatchers moved that quick?*
*It had only been a day, and they had already gotten a lead, and could threaten myself, forcing THREE to remind me?*
*Wait, how did THREE know about this?*
The question had just started sprouting in his mind, when he saw the lurking One suddenly break all rules and sent a message without being prompted.
【ONE: THREE, how do you know what’s going on inside the Nightwatchers?】
*ONE really cares about this. As expected, anything that intrudes on high levels within the capital, he (or she) would pay exceptional attention.*
Xu Qi’an did not immediately respond, rather gathering his words, thinking for a moment, and then writing with his finger:
【THREE: How do you think?】
He know that the other holders of the Earth Book fragments were also lurking in the chat, silently reading their conversation. Xu Qi’an had to give a reasonable, but also explosive reason, to further fulfil his persona.
To prop up his persona.
【THREE: The fight for Confucian orthodoxy has gone on for over two centuries, our Academy cannot just sit and wait to be executed.】
*What did this mean… the Cloud Deer Academy had put their own spies inside the Nightwatchers? This is what THREE means, this is a more than clear hint.*
In that moment, all the Earth Book fragment holders became excited.
What a large melon.
One did not respond, falling into a strange silence, such that no one could get any inkling into his (or her) thoughts.
Xu Qi’an decided to test them a bit, 【ONE, you can try to find them.】
This was both a provocation, and also a test.
If One replied, or really did as he said covertly, then Xu Qi’an could use this to lock down his (or her) identity.
The Nightwatchers were an office that answered only to the crown, and was also the place Wei Yuan had absolute authority.
Any average power bloc couldn’t stick their noses in here. Even if there existed spies from other powers, they would only be at a low level.
And as for those at the low levels, they had no power nor influence to be able to search for other agents.
One was a clever person, and did not care for Xu Qi’an’s provocation.
Seeing that no one had spoke after a long while, Six finally entered: 【SIX: I will pay extra mind these few days. THREE, I owe you again.】
【THREE: My dear sir does good deeds and upholds justice, and like the bright moon, is an idol that our generation must strive to follow.】
【SIX: My Benefactor is too kind.】
Six replied with the tone of a monk, implying that he his acceptance of Xu Qi’an had grown far more.
Xu Qi’an put back his mirror, satisfied, thinking, *Don’t be glad too early, this debt will be repaid sooner or later.*
*I’ve both gained more trust from Wei Yuan, and also done Six a huge favour, as well as leaving a helpful image within the other members of the Heaven and Earth Society, I’ve made it big today.*
*Mm, ONE is getting more and more interested about me. If they really are one of the higher ups at court, they would definitely start investigating the Cloud Deer Academy… But he (or she) won’t find anything, hehe, if I were to be more generous, even if he was to find out that “Number Three may be Xu Qi’an”, then I could always push Erlang out to carry the pot.*
*Erlang and I are different; I’m a person in the civil service, if ONE found out who I am, I’d be very passive and timid. Erlang is a teacher’s pet at the Cloud Deer academy, he has way more confidence than me. Furthermore, I don’t have any enmity with ONE, so there’s not really an issue.*
*Oh Cijiu, your brother really loves you. Returning some of that is only polite.*
Returning to the front hall of Spring Breeze Hall, the squinty-eyed Song Tingfeng, laughing, poked fun at Xu Qi’an being a freeloading bastard.
Zhu Guangxiao nodded with earnest agreement.
Xu Qi’an thought for a moment, saying seriously, “Today, when I went to the case archives, I found a great secret, that makes me tremble even now.”
Song Tingfeng and Zhu Guangxiao both were surprised, “What secret?”
Xu Qi’an said, “Call me dad, and I’ll tell you.”
Song Tingfeng hesitated, “Dad.”
Xu Qi’an stared at him, a face full of sincerity, “This secret is: Son, you’re adopted.”
“Your nan- beat him up!”
As the three were fighting, a silver gong and two bronze gongs crossed the doorway. They were unfamiliar.
“Xu Qi’an, come out with me for a moment.” That silver gong waved, smiling.
Xu Qi’an and his two colleagues exchanged looks, going outside with confusion.
That unfamiliar silver gong took him into Spring Breeze Hall, and cleared his throat towards Li Yuchun, who was just reading a dossier,
“Mr Li, I’m taking this bronze gong you have. From today, he’ll work under me, I’ll make a transaction with you.”
Hearing this, Li Yuchun exploded.
[^1]: One of the funnest parts of Chinese is straight up using character shape to describe something.