# 93. Number Three is Worthy of Being a Scholar
*I get such a thing…* Xu Qi’an was stunned, and thought *Master Jianzheng, you won’t also take out a mirror, and then say to me “We’re brothers now, so I’ve joined the Heaven and Earth Society!”*
While he was in a daze, he suddenly heard a whoosh sound in the air, drawing his sight to the direction of the stairs.
Two iron lumps, one black, and one gold shot quickly, passing the two gold gongs and Xu Qi'an before flying toward the Jianzheng.
The two iron lumps melted during the flight, turning to bright iron slurries, which splashed towards the Jianzheng like water.
Then, the two streams joined together to form an outline of a long knife.
Misty vapour appeared in the air, quenching the blade's body. When it had fallen into the Jianzheng's hands, It was already the unfinished body of a long sabre sword.
Jianzheng grasped the unfinished blade with a hand, and used the other to wipe it, as a long dark-gold sabre formed, just like that. The blade's lustre was subtle, its edge sharp.
Jianzheng flicked his fingers, and this sword swirled and landed in front of Xu Qi'an, cutting into the bluestone as if it was cutting tofu.
The two gold gongs, who didn't use sabres, stared at the dark gold sabre fervently.
*Is this freaking Alchemy?!*
*This is magic. Shouldn't alchemy be extracting and separating substances in bottles and jars?*
Xu Qi'an felt his three views were severely impacted by this scene.
Shocked, Xu Qi'an realized the Jianzheng's motive *Was this a gift? No, He was hitting me in the face.*
*He's telling me: Boy, You don't know anything about Alchemy.*
The blade looked like a mixture of a Tang Dao and a Tachi from his previous life.[^1]
The blade was slender, and about 4 feet long. It looked subtle, its grandeur hidden, but also shined with immense brilliance.
"Why haven't you thanked the Jianzheng yet?" Azure Robe Wei said.
"Thank you, Master Jianzheng."
Suppressing the joy in his heart, Xi Qi'an took off his robe and wrapped it around the blade before holding it in his hand.
*This sabre is quite sharp, and it is easy to hurt others or wound myself with it.*
Wei Yuan bowed to the Jianzheng and led his three subordinates away from the Sitianjian.
When he was moving downstairs, Xu Qi'an met Chu Caiwei and the eldest princess, who were ascending the stairs, seemingly moving to the Bagua Platform.
Under the watchful eyes of Wei Yuan and the eldest princess, he took Chu Caiwei's hand and walked to the side with her.
"Are you free tonight? I invite you to Guiyuelou for dinner." Xu Qi'an proposed an invitation for a date.
Who would expect that the foodie Chu Caiwei refused him straight away, "I'll enter the inner city later today, and will be resting at the eldest princess's mansion tonight."
There were endless pastries and delicacies in the Princess's mansion. Although the food in the Guiyuelou was quite delicious, it couldn't compare to the food made by the cooks in the princess's mansion.
*That's so... I'll be on night duty for the next two days. and the day after tomorrow is the emperor's ancestor worship day, where the nightwatchers are responsible for security…* "Then, after His Majesty worships his ancestors, come to my house for dinner."
*Why don't I make a crude version of chicken bouillon by myself? The prices in Guiyuelou are quite high as well.*
“Are you going to make noodles for me?” Chu Caiwei recalled his words.
"Yes." She also nodded.
Xu Qi'an smiled, "I'll await your presence."
Soon after they separated, Chu Caiwei led the eldest princess upstairs while Xu Qi'an followed Wei Yuan downstairs. While moving down the stairs, Xu Qi'an looked up and happened to see the eldest princess looking down at him.
The two's eyes met. Xu Qi'an grinned. But, the eldest princess was expressionless. When Xu Qi'an's figure was not visible anymore, she curled her lips slightly.
Along the way, after meeting a white-cloaked man, Xu Qi'an handed over the black gold sabre to him, asking him to give it to Senior Brother Song for casting a handle, and said that he'd come to pick it up tomorrow.
After leaving the Star Observatory, Wei Yuan entered his carriage. Yang Yan glanced at Xu Qi'an, and beckoned,
"Can you steer a carriage?"
Xu Qi'an shook his head. Which well-to-do gentleman steers a carriage by himself?
Yang Yan nodded and handed over the reins to him before getting on the carriage by himself.
"???" Xu Qi'an was stunned for a while before realizing the matter.
His stoic-faced leader wanted to cultivate him.
Chu Caiwei sat on the edge of the Bagua Platform, her feet in small leather boots dangling in the air.
She held a pack of candied fruit in her arms, which she ate with relish.
The eldest princess stood beside her, her skirt fluttering in the wind, making her look like a female immortal.
"Jianzheng, I have always had a question." The eldest princess's voice was cold but sweet.
"Princess, pray tell." The old Jianzheng held his wine glass while his eyes looked into the distance.
"The Human sect moved into the Imperial City, bewitched my imperial father to practice Dao, and ignore the government for nineteen years. The banditry at Yunzhou has become serious, and disasters have occurred frequently in various places. The court's control over the south has also started to slip." The eldest princess sighed, "What else are you waiting for?"
No answer came, even after a long time. The eldest princess looked back to see that the Jianzheng had fallen asleep with closed eyes.
Chu Caiwei unhappily said, "Princess doesn't need to bother about this nasty old man. He is already so old, and I don't think he can live for more than a few years."
"..." The eldest princess glanced at her. She was the only female disciple in the Sitianjian, and everyone doted on her a lot. So, she was the only one who dared to say this about the Jianzheng.
"Are you familiar with that Bronze Gong?" The eldest princess shifted the subject.
"Yeah", Chu Caiwei smiled while squinting, her eyes forming crescents, "Xu Ningyan is a talent, and he speaks well. I think he's quite interesting."
The Welfare Home:
Master Hengyuan, who had been waiting on a house near its premises for two days, finally found something unusual.
A ninth-rank official in a green robe embroidered with quails led a group of craftsmen to the Welfare Home. Not long after, sounds of ping-pong-ping appeared outside which lasted until the dusk.
Master Hengyuan waited until the night before he confirmed that there weren't any ambushes and Sitianjian White-Cloaks nearby. Then, he left the private house and went to the Welfare Home to check.
He was quite surprised to find out that the gate of the Welfare Home had been replaced with a new one, the uneven ground paved with bluestone slabs, and the weathered stone tables and benches replaced with new ones.
Doors, windows, eaves, and various utensils that had been damaged had been repaired, or simply replaced.
The burly “Lu Zhishen” stood in the courtyard, silent for a long time.[^2]
The old official in charge of the Welfare Home was a light sleeper. He woke up to the sound and came out with a lantern to check.
"Master Hengyuan, You're back?" Pleasantly surprised, the old official said.
"You don't need to ask for alms again. The court has just allocated our funds to make up for the silver owed in previous years. They also sent craftsmen to repair the yard in the afternoon."
"Allocation?" Master Hengyuan whispered.
"Yes. Two hundred taels of silver." the old official happily shared. "The children and old people in the yard all have expenses for the coming year. I plan to give each of them a set of winter wear tomorrow. It was timely as well. Otherwise, any old friends wouldn't have been able to survive this winter."
Xu Qi'an was awoken in the middle of the night, feeling annoyed. *Who the fuck was crazy enough to spam the chat in the middle of the night.*
He pulled out the mirror under his pillow and went to the table to light up a candle, under which he looked at the message.
【Six: One and Three, have you found my hiding place?】
【Two: Bald donkey, Why are you not sleeping by this hour of the night? Don't disturb others.】
Number Two, who seemed to have a bad temper, was woken up too.
【Nine: What happened?】
Daoist Jinlian answered, reminding the members of the Heaven and Earth Society that something must have happened to Number Six.
Number One still didn't speak. They seemed to be watching the screen again.
Xu Qi'an had also not figured out the situation and continued watching without adding anything.
【Six: Huh, I didn't expect my hiding place to be exposed so quickly. It doesn't matter if I say it here now. I have sent all the rescued children to the Welfare Home in the eastern city.
【The place had barely been managing for quite some time. There are a few old officials with nowhere to go and a group of homeless children and lone old people there.
【But today, The imperial court suddenly remembered this place and sent people over to repair the yard and make up for the silver not sent in the previous years. The old officials had been to the Ministry of Revenue several times for this, but were kicked out.
【So, I know that silver can't be transferred there without any special reason.】
Number Six wouldn't have been surprised if a Nightwatcher came to find him. But Number One and Number Three were able to find him so quickly, which was what astonished "Lu Zhishen".[^3]
【One: It wasn't me.】
Number One immediately denied their involvement.
*Then, It must be Number Three. Number Three is worthily a scholar from Cloud Deer Academy. He found out about Number Six due to Earl Pingyuan's case, but he didn't try to harm Number Six at all. Instead, he sent help from behind the scenes.*
*Number Three is worthy of being a scholar.*
The members of the Heaven and Earth Society felt a little admiration in their hearts, and they recognized Number Three's character more deeply.
【Two: Three, Did you do it?】
*... It wasn't me. I didn't do anything. No need to flatter me so much.* Xu Qi'an remained silent.
*If I don't explain it, It will be explained as me acquiescing to this. Even if everyone knows about the truth later, I can say that I hadn't admitted it either.*
In addition, Xu Qi'an thought of something. He had sold Number Six to Wei Yuan the day before yesterday. With Wei Yuan's methods along with the clues he had provided, It wouldn't be that difficult to discover Number Six's location.
Number Six has saved so many children, What arrangements could be made for them?
If it were Xu Qi'an, his first choice would be to check the various Welfare Homes around the capital.
According to what Number Six said, Who else apart from Wei Yuan could control the court to do that?
Of course, Number One also comes into mind, but they denied it just now.
The murderer of Earl Pingyuan was found, but he wasn't arrested. Instead, the money for the Welfare Home was made up for and people were sent to repair the yard.
"Wei Yuan..." Xu Qi'an whispered in the dim candlelight.
[^1]: Pictures: Tachi: [Link](https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/e/ea/Tachi_Sword_-_Sukezane%28Nikko%29_01.jpg/381px-Tachi_Sword_-_Sukezane%28Nikko%29_01.jpg); Tangdao: [Link](https://swordencyclopedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Tang-Dao-1.jpg).
[^2]: Character from Water Margin (very buff). Hengyuan has a similar build.
[^3]: This is referencing a scene in water margin where Lu Zhishen gains enlightenment upon hearing the tide of the Qiantang River. He's a monk as well so it fits somehow.