After the heavy blizzard stopped, the weather gradually turned warm.
Before long, the accumulated snow in Tianqing County had pretty much melted.

Many civilians started clearing away the residual snow in front of their homes.

It was just that many ordinary civilians still could not let down their guard at present.
After surviving the cold winter, there was still another important hurdle, which was the cold spell in early spring.
Many elderly folks were like that; survived the winter but could not make it past the cold spell in spring.

But in the Great Liang Dynasty, such a thing was all too common.



At this time, Magistrate Mi Ke was currently chatting with Registrar Zhang in the county government.

Pinching a black piece, Mi Ke mused for a long time and did not place his piece.

A full 15 minutes passed.

Registrar Zhang could not hold back and said, ”Your Excellency, if you still don ’t place your piece, it ’s time to eat lunch. ”

Mi Ke gave an oh and put the chess piece back, nodding as he said, ”It ’s time for lunch. ”

Seeing as Mi Ke thickened his skin to answer him, the corners of Registrar Zhang ’s mouth twitched and he said with some anger, ”Your Excellency, you can ’t always be so shameless, right? ”

Mi Ke took a look at the situation on the chessboard, his side was virtually powerless to turn the tables anymore.
He reckoned that in another two or three moves, he could basically only throw in the towel and concede defeat.
But, Mi Ke still had the gall to say, ”This official ’s skin is still too thin.
Otherwise, I would have stopped being the county magistrate a long time ago. ”

Registrar Zhang was startled and said with concern, ”Did news come from upstairs that they want to dismiss Your Excellency? ”

Hearing this, Mi Ke rolled his eyes and said rather unhappily, ”This official has been honest and upright.
Having governed this Tianqing County for so many years, when has there ever been a problem that I ’d have to be dismissed from my post? If even I ’m removed from office, then all the county magistrates in this Great Liang Dynasty will be the same as me! ”

This was not false, Mi Ke indeed did not partake in any corruption these few years.
Furthermore, he was considered skilled in managing government affairs too.
He was far from wholeheartedly looking out for the common people, but he was definitely a good official.

”However, my days as county magistrate are really numbered. ”

”Has Your Excellency contracted a serious disease? This lowly official knows a famous doctor, I ’ll go and invite him over on Your Excellency ’s behalf. ”

”Not really. ”

”Then, is Your Excellency tired of officialdom strife and set your mind on retiring? ”

”That ’s not it either. ”

”Could it be that Your Excellency looks down on your low salary that can ’t support a family? ”

Mi Ke took a look at Registrar Zhang in front of him and said with vicissitudes of emotion, ”Old Zhang, you and I have worked together for many years.
You ’re indeed still so stupid. ”

”This lowly official is dumb.
Your Excellency pray tell. ” Registrar Zhang lowered his head.

”This official is getting promoted. ”

Hearing this, a hint of emotion welled up on Registrar Zhang ’s dark face as he looked at Mi Ke ’s expression.
He involuntarily grabbed Mi Ke ’s hand and choked up as he asked, ”Your Excellency has been conscientious and earnest these few years, have you finally gotten your reward?! ”

A hint of cold sweat broke out on Mi Ke ’s forehead and he took his hand back without leaving a trace.
As early as when he caught a cold previously, he felt that something was off about this old punk.
Looking at it now, it seemed like something was really not quite right.

”A few days ago, I received the letter from County Chief, His Excellency.
The imperial court has already decided to transfer me to Wanshan County to be the County Chief.
The letter of authorization has already been sent out by the Ministry of Personnel.
When spring starts, it will be delivered to my hands. ”

When he talked about this, Mi Ke was full of high spirits.
Having struggled in the officialdom for many years, his heart had long already become like dead ashes.
Originally, he thought that he would be a county magistrate for the rest of his life.
But he did not expect that he would actually really become valued by his superiors and finally got promoted.

When he received the letter, he wanted to immediately bring his entire family and rush to Wanshan County.
However, there was a set of cumbersome and necessary procedures for the officials of the Great Liang Dynasty when taking office.
No matter how much of a hurry he was in, he had to wait for the process to be completed step by step.

”Then, this lowly official will congratulate Exalted Magistrate. ”

Registrar Zhang was somewhat listless.
He was lacking in vigor when he spoke.

”Your Excellency…
I say, is there a possibility… ” Registrar Zhang suddenly thought of something and perked up.

”Impossible! ” Mi Ke waved his hand, looking resolute.

Registrar Zhang said in surprise, ”Your Excellency, I haven ’t said anything yet and you already know? ”

Mi Ke ’s old face turned stiff.
Stroking his beard, he slowly said, ”I ’ve worked with you for so long, can I not know what you ’re thinking? If you, this chief registrar, also follow me and leave, how will the new magistrate manage the local county ’s affairs? For the sake of the people, I ’m afraid that you, Old Zhang, will still have to stay behind. ”

Registrar Zhang opened his mouth and said dejectedly, ”Your Excellency has misunderstood.
This lowly official wanted to say that Your Excellency will have to pay me back the few pieces of skygold currency that you owe me. ”

”That ’s of course, that ’s of course… ” Mi Ke ’s expression looked a little unnatural.

The atmosphere became a little awkward for some time.

”Lord Mi, Warden Chen is here! ”

The sound came from outside, it was a count underling speaking, which also just happened to resolve Mi Ke ’s dilemma.

”Hurry and invite him in. ” Mi Ke took a deep breath and exerted strength with both legs, standing up.

Chen Chao who was dressed in black already walked in with large strides.
He was still that youth with a saber hanging at his waist, but he seemed to have grown a little taller.
When Mi Ke saw Chen Chao, he came up to greet him cheerfully, ”Why? Does Warden Chen also know about this official ’s promotion to County Chief? ”

… ”

What County Chief? How would I know?

Chen Chao looked at Mi Ke, somewhat inert.

”Congratulations, Lord Mi.
Your Excellency has worked diligently and honestly for the common people.
Even if it ’s governing a commandery, it ’s not over the top either. ”

Although he had not figured out the current situation yet, as the saying went: everything will have somebody who dislikes it, but only flattery is loved by all.
No matter what it was, there was no mistake in flattering him first.

Sure enough, Mi Ke quite enjoyed it and nodded his head repeatedly.

Years of hardship, bitterness, forbearance, and diligence, had finally yielded results.
There was nothing better than this.

After flattering, Chen Chao took the initiative to make his intentions known, ”Lord Mi, I came this time to take a look at the files concerning the Xuanming Stone Mine. ”

Although the Xuanming Stone Mine was not under Tianqing County ’s jurisdiction, it recruited civilians in Tianqing County all year round.
Therefore, Tianqing County would have recorded many things about the stone mine over the years.

Mi Ke looked at Chen Chao with some surprise and asked, ”Why did Younger Brother Chen become concerned with this? ”

Mi Ke was still not aware of what happened over at the Xuanming Stone Mine.
At present, it was still just a secret known to only a few people.

”Demons have appeared there recently.
Previously, Warden Li came to have me assist in the investigations and deal with the demons as soon as possible. ” Chen Chao casually made up a lie.
He was betting that Mi Ke had not been informed by someone about what happened over there.

Mi Ke gave an oh, thinking to himself: turns out that Warden Li came to see you for this matter.

”There ’s no rush.
Does Younger Brother Chen know how to play chess? Let us two brothers play a game today! ”

Mi Ke dragged Chen Chao over there, ”Not that I ’m boasting, but back then, my teacher has praised my chess ability before too. ”

Registrar Zhang already got up so that they had a place to sit.

Chen Chao was not willing to waste time here.
He frowned and asked, ”Lord Mi ’s promotion this time, which restaurant will you be hosting the banquet? ”

”What were you asking earlier, Younger Brother Chen? ”

Hearing Chen Chao ’s question, Mi Ke let go of Chen Chao naturally.
Furrowing his brows, it seemed like his old habit had relapsed.

Chen Chao could only repeat what he came here for.

”I nearly delayed Younger Brother ’s important matter! ”

Mi Ke smacked his thigh, his face a little ashamed.

Chen Chao was silent.
He really wanted to give this Lord Magistrate a big thumbs up to express his praise.

”That person, come and bring Warden Chen to the Official Documents Archives, don ’t delay Warden Chen ’s important matter! ” Mi Ke shouted.
When he turned his head, Chen Chao already arrived at the doorway.

He stood there and waved his hand as he said with a loud laugh, ”Congratulations, Lord Mi, on your promotion to County Chief! When will the celebration banquet be? I ’ll definitely be there! ”

As soon as this sentence came out, there were immediately countless pairs of eyes in the county government that turned to Mi Ke.

Full with desire.

Mi Ke stood transfixed on the spot.
In an extremely short time, he cursed Chen Chao ’s 18 generations of ancestors.



Tianqing County ’s Official Documents Archives was not big.
Rows of bookshelves were arranged here and the case files that Tianqing County had handled over the years were stacked inside.
Apart from Tianqing County saving a copy of the case files for themselves, a copy would also be sent over to Commandery Qingshan.

After the count underling opened the door for Chen Chao, he left on his own.
There were no classified files here, they were not too worried about the theft of files.
Let alone that the youth in front of him was Tianqing County ’s warden.
With him around, who would dare act rashly?

Chen Chao shut the doors and found the files about Xuanming Stone Mine very easily on these bookshelves.

The topmost volume already accumulated a thick layer of dust.
It seemed like no one had come to browse for a long time.

Lifting his robes, Chen Chao slowly sat down and began reading the file.

Ten years ago, the Xuanming Stone Mine was opened up for mining.
At that time, the Ministry of Works officials came in person to scout out the geomantic omens and found this mining site.
Later, the imperial court set up the mine here and the Ministry of Works officials recruited civilians.
The cultivators who were stationed at the mine came from Heavenly Imperial Institution.

That was an institution that the Great Liang Dynasty used to gather cultivators.
It was established all over the country and the main duty was to station some of the important places related to the establishment of the Great Liang Dynasty and related to cultivation.

Compared to wardens, the composition of cultivators in the Heavenly Imperial Institution was complicated.
Apart from martial artists, there were all kinds of cultivators.

Putting the book in his hand down, Chen Chao picked up the volume below.

Ten years ’ time and a stone mine ’s harvesting dried up.
It just so happened to fall within the time frame too.

There was no problem here.

What Chen Chao was looking for, were things that Warden Li did not tell him, which was the truth of this matter.

He continued reading the volume in his hands.
After reading little by little, he finally discovered some problems through minute clues.

”Here it is! ”

Chen Chao narrowed his eyes, looking at a record in front of his eyes.

”TianJian Year 11, early spring.
A mining hole in Xuanming Stone Mine collapsed.
Fortunately, there were no civilian casualties.
This mining hole had been mined for two months and there were no abnormalities… ”

There was originally nothing wrong with this record.
The problem was the time.

Two months.

A mining hole was mined for two months, it meant that this mining hole had only just started to be mined.
The excavating depth definitely did not surpass several dozen feet.
This was a depth that was absolutely impossible to collapse.

Even if it was the Ministry of Works official ’s dereliction of duty that caused this mining hole to collapse…

The biggest problem did not lie here.

But that there were no civilian casualties recorded.

Everyone knew that once a mining hole started to be mined, there would be day and night rotation of civilian miners, ensuring that someone would always be in the mining pit.

With people in the mining pit, there was absolutely no chance of survival once the mining hole collapsed.

But it was recorded here that there were no civilian casualties.

What did this mean?

Did the mine give false information?

Chen Chao narrowed his eyes and furrowed his brows slightly.

There were a fixed number of recruited civilians.
Everyone had to be registered.
Even if they wanted to make a false report, it could not be easy to conceal it either.
Chen Chao felt that they likely would not make a fuss over this.

Since there was no false report, then what was recorded here was true.

Then the problem arose: why did the mining hole collapse without civilian casualties?

Because there were no recruited civilians mining Xuanming Stones in the mining hole at all.

Why would a mining hole collapse if Xuanming Stones were not being mined?

Chen Chao closed the file and was absorbed in thought.

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