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Chapter 806: A Favorable Turn of Events
Translator: Henyee Translations Editor: Henyee Translations
Lü Qiying returned to Jade City once again and found that everything had changed. All of a sudden, he had become a big shot, ‘bigger’ than he had ever been as a tavernkeeper. It was like a dream came true. He was so excited that he could even feel his lost finger trembling.
The Dragon King had asked him to stockpile grain and gra.s.s at all costs. Lü Qiying had cut off all paths of retreat when he accepted this task because no matter how he looked at it, the Dragon King didn’t have enough financial resources to support the plan. However, the task took a favorable turn because of a rumor.
Meng Yuzun had died of illness, and there were many speculations about the true cause of death. But after a few days, a piece of even more sensational news started spreading in Jade City at an incredible speed. It said that the Meng family had been robbed and the savings they acc.u.mulated through several generations were all gone.
Yet, the Meng family did not fall into extreme poverty because of this. Meng Mingshu still owned the largest number of real estate and shops in Jade City. But all of a sudden, the richest man in the whole Western Regions became a common rich man.
The whole Jade City fell into a frenzy. The citizens who had no clue about the matter clung to every street talk, searched for that so-called inside information, and a.n.a.lyzed everything they saw from morning to evening, and even their dreams, to find an answer. How did the money disappear? Who had taken it?
Mentions of the Dragon King gradually increased among the bubble of rumors. If everyone was only suspicious during the first few days, the subsequent facts that appeared were almost like irrefutable evidence. The Meng family’s shops and money houses throughout the Western Regions were ransacked one after another, and the robbers were always unnaturally proficient in their movements. The key aspect was that they knew the their target intimately, always choosing to act on the day of reconciliation. They didn’t kill or damage goods, only stealing money.
The Meng family’s business network was on the verge of breaking down by now. Those who held the banknotes of the Meng family were all madly demanding to cash it out as silver, but they only received a helpless answer. “Wait a bit longer.”
The news of robberies poured in one after another, and everyone was convinced that the Meng family’s money had been robbed by the Dragon King.
To do such a thing would require the cooperation of a mole, and Duan Zihua naturally took on that role. The evidence, therefore, had become even more solid; he had been driven into a corner by Meng Yuzun due to his losing of the goods before. Besides that, he had worked for the Meng family for many years and knew every aspect of their business network like the back of his hand. And finally, his wife and children were all missing and no one in the neighborhood knew when they had moved out.
Lü Qiying, therefore, finally got the chance to experience the people of Jade City’s ability to shift with the wind.
Those businessmen, who had plenty of goods and who used to consider themselves superior to him, had treated him more like a businessman than a friend. They had not only raised the price for the Dragon Army, but had also refused to deliver any goods before receiving payment. They had all bluntly said, “Where’s the Dragon King’s money? Did he find a gold ore mine or some treasure?”
But now, they were lining up to visit Lü Qiying, fully exercising their relations of old friends, and taking the Dragon King’s tavernkeeper out for a night of wine and pleasure in the Retention Alley as if they were kidnapping him.
Sometimes, Lü Qiying would even be ‘taken away’ by another businessman while he was relieving himself.
“Does the Dragon Army still want to buy grain and fodder? No problem, I have it all here. And the price is quite fair too, as long as it’s a bit higher than the market price. Someone offered a cheaper price? Well, we are old friends, so I’ll give you a 10% discount. Heh heh, I’ve prepared a little gift for Tavernkeeper Lü; please kindly accept it.”
These were the words that Lü Qiying heard the most often. It even felt a bit strange that these people were all saying the same words, almost as if they had discussed and agreed on it beforehand.
Lü Qiying showed off his skill as a merchant now. Although the Dragon King had said that he did not care about the cost, Lü Qiying still demanded a lower price from everyone and had almost brought the price down to its original level. But there was still one last serious problem in front of him. Everyone was saying that the Meng family’s money had been taken away by the Dragon King, but he hadn’t seen a penny of it so far.
Xiao Fengchai, who was at Heaven’s Pa.s.s, was taking care of the Dragon King’s financial matters now. She had secretly hinted that the Dragon King was not fit to reveal his wealth at the moment, and that he had to wait until everyone had calmed down.
The merchants that Lü Qiying dealt with, however, had no signs of calming down. So Lü Qiying had no choice but to reveal the truth to some of his best friends. “The situation is quite peculiar at the moment and I can’t get any money out for a while. I can only put it on the Dragon King’s tab. Of course, I’ll close them eventually. It may take a few days or even a year or two.”
The merchants’ answers were surprisingly consistent. “No hurry, I understand. The situation is peculiar, and the Dragon Army should not spend extravagantly. You can take the goods away first and pay for it later. Even if I don’t believe the Dragon King, don’t I believe in you, my old friend?”
Lü Qiying knew that what the merchants believed in was actually money. Since the Dragon King had all the silver in his hands and had the ability to pay for the credit, then what was the hurry?
The more easy-going those merchant were, the more nervous Lü Qiying became. He had asked several people the same question. “Don’t you worry about…. losing all the money?”
Those who heard this always revealed a serious look and took Tavernkeeper Lü’s remark as a test. “Are you asking me if I believe that the Dragon King can win the war? I believe it, a hundred percent.”
And behind the rhetoric lay evidence of the change in public opinions. The Dragon King had an army, a vast land in the form of Xiaoyao Lake, and the Land of Fragrance. All this time, he had only been lacking one thing — money. Now that his final weakness was fixed, the Dragon King was already a true king, a king who was capable of paying all debts. At least, this was the image in the merchants’ mind.
A long-time friend told Lü Qiying the truth. “The army, the land, and the money. The Dragon King has it all. How bad can it be? Even if he loses the battle and retreats to the Land of Fragrance, he has to admit to his debt, doesn’t he? Otherwise, he’d be eating bark and herbs for the rest of his life.”
Lü Qiying finally accepted the fact that he was absolutely right to accept the Dragon King’s wooing on the spur of the moment several years ago.
Throughout the whole process, the only thing that Lü Qiying hadn’t worried about was Golden Roc Castle. The fact that the Dragon King had refused to take out the silver at once had become his shield: it was pointless to kill a tavernkeeper who bought grain and gra.s.s if they couldn’t get any actual money from him.
He also inquired about Golden Roc Castle’s movements through various sources and pa.s.sed all information, through a steady exchange of caravans, to Xu Xiaoyi. Xu Xiaoyi would then cla.s.sify the information and wait for the Dragon King’s inspection.
After a dozen or so days, Lü Qiying heard that the Dragon King was planning on going to Heaven’s Pa.s.s in person, so he galloped there hurriedly to meet him.
The Restoration Army of the Shule Kingdom had changed its name and become a part of the Dragon Army. All of the soldiers then followed the Dragon King to Heaven’s Pa.s.s and were stationed outside of the city, facing the 70,000 hors.e.m.e.n of the Norland Army.
Lü Qiying still remembered that young and cold face, but the image and status of the Dragon King in his mind had completely changed. From the moment he entered the camp, he had treated the other side with reverence and quickly walked into the tent. And as soon as he entered the tent, he knelt, not even daring to raise his head on his own accord.
Gu Shenwei accepted the other side’s respectful greeting and then ordered him to stand up. After exchanging a few words about the grain and fodder, the conversation turned to Golden Roc Castle. “What’s the reaction of the Unique King been?” asked Gu Shenwei.
“The Unique King… did not react at all.” Perhaps even Lü Qiying felt that this conclusion was unusual, so he hastened to explain. “I tried to gather information from various sources and even talked to one of the stewards of Golden Roc Castle. The Unique King doesn’t seem to care much about the business of the Meng family. He was busy burying Meng Yuzun. Moreover, that steward said that Golden Roc Castle was decreasing the number of killers they retained. They haven’t taken on any new killer disciples since last year and many killer Masters have lost their jobs. Furthermore, many killers in their prime have also been driven out of the castle and forced to make a living by themselves.”
“Heavenly Mountain Sect.” Gu Shenwei suddenly thought of the strange discovery of Tie Linglong. A large number of killers had left Golden Roc Castle and joined an organization that had not been as popular before.
Lü Qiying knew nothing about the Heavenly Mountain Sect, and he didn’t say anything until the Dragon King motioned for him to continue. “The Unique King seems to have given up on fighting for half of the Western Regions. Everyone says that he’s recruiting men to enlarge his army at Thousand Hors.e.m.e.n Pa.s.s and building up the defenses of northern Jade City before shifting focus to defend all of Jade City.”
Gu Shenwei believed that this was not the real intention of the Unique King. Shangguan Fa had once unexpectedly waged a war that almost wiped out the Dragon Army. The longer he waited and the weaker he seemed, the stronger he would rebound. But Gu Shenwei was not sure of the a.s.sa.s.sin King’s plan at the moment.
Slowly, Lü Qiying began to talk about the things that concerned him the most. “Dragon King, I’ve collected a great deal of grain and gra.s.s now. Most of it is on credit. The debt is well over several millions of taels now. When… should we pay for some for it?”
Xu Xiaoyi was accompanying the Dragon King during this meeting. Now he smilingly said, “I heard that those grain merchants are not anxious at asking for money at all. Why is Tavernkeeper Lü worrying about it?”
Lü Qiying didn’t like Xu Xiaoyi’s tone so he still looked at the Dragon King when answering. “It’s true that everyone is not as anxious anymore, but they will still feel uneasy if they don’t see any money at all. I know them very well; these people have absolutely no consideration for other people’s feelings when they change their faces.”
“If you want money, go to Xiao Fengchai. She’s in charge of the gold and silver now,” Gu Shenwei replied.
Lü Qiying took this as consent and looked very happy when he left.
Xu Xiaoyi said in an admiring tone, “Dragon King, that’s a great move. Right now, you haven’t even fought with Golden Roc Castle yet, but everybody already believes that you’ve won.”
“Don’t be too complacent. The Unique King isn’t the kind of person who would defend to the death. He must have other plans.”
Xu Xiaoyi thought the same and felt that it was his responsibility to discover those plans, so he said, “Dragon King, please rest a.s.sured. I’ll find it out for sure. If the Unique King is an old fox, then I’m… a little mouse. The mouse can’t beat the fox, but it can definitely spy on the fox.”
“You have a plan?” Gu Shenwei was a bit curious.
“Well, even Lü Qiying could get a steward of Golden Roc Castle to open his mouth. If I can’t buy over a higher-ranking guy, I won’t be qualified to be an intelligence officer.”
“Hehe, I granted myself a t.i.tle. Little Chu is a Commandant of Ten Guards now, so I also need a t.i.tle. If the Dragon King doesn’t like it, I won’t use it anymore.”
“Keep it.” Gu Shenwei was always more tolerant towards Xu Xiaoyi’s slickness.
Xu Xiaoyi immediately bowed to show his grat.i.tude and then said, “The Dragon King must be careful with Duodun. He was really p.i.s.sed off since he wasn’t able to get a single tael of the Meng family’s silver. I heard that he has been in a very bad temper these days and has punished many people. To tell you the truth, I was surprised and a bit suspicious that he actually agreed to the Dragon King’s plan of leading soldiers to Heaven’s Pa.s.s.”
“The battlefield between me and Duodun isn’t here,” said Gu Shenwei. Duodun had tried a.s.sa.s.sinating him earlier and would not make the same mistake again. “And I will be careful.”
“I’m not very worried about that. Actually…”
Xu Xiaoyi wanted to say something but hesitated. Gu Shenwei encouraged him, saying, “Just say it if you have something to say.”
“I was wondering. Since the Dragon King only came to Heaven’s Pa.s.s a few days ago, from where did you receive news that Duodun had set a trap in his camp? Anyways, I was remiss to not discover it beforehand. And, the Meng family’s money… Where on earth did you hide it?”
The two questions had occupied Xu Xiaoyi’s mind for a long time, especially the first one as it made Xu Xiaoyi feel that his contributions had been stolen. While the Dragon King was still in a good mood, he had poured out all of his questions.
Gu Shenwei pondered for a moment and then simply replied, “It’s a secret.”
Based on his understanding of the Dragon King, Xu Xiaoyi knew that he would not get a definite answer so he smilingly said, “I don’t know where the money is, but is it… Tenth Gongzi who reminded the Dragon King at that time?”
Gu Shenwei didn’t even answer this time.