Chapter 476: Wait until we find it first Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
They had arrived at the black market!
The three of them entered the market and paused to talk at Wu Shu’s grain shop. All of the workers crowded around them once they saw Han Yunxi come in. After their mistress had bought the imperial uncle’s grain here last time, all of them held her in reverence and admiration. They dearly hoped that she could help them out in the black markets again one day and do big business. Here was a woman who could really make others pay! If she was around, they were sure to turn into a big power in the black markets within a year and a half. Of course, all of the workers held back once the trio reached the entrance to the back courtyard. That was a place where none dared to follow besides Wu Shu himself.
Long Feiye had just sat down when Wu Shu handed him a thick stack of materials with detailed records of Zhangsun Zelin’s assets in the black market, such as his various shops, warehouses, and properties. Han Yunxi was startled. She never thought that Long Feiye’s men could find out so much just from a single tipoff via Ouyang Ningnuo. It was likely Long Feiye knew more about the black markets than either of them.
Long Feiye carefully perused the materials while Gu Qi Sha grew restless. “Long Feiye, do you have any plans or not? Share them with this old fellow!”
Long Feiye ignored him. Han Yunxi wanted to ask the same question, since she’d hardly found out anything during their carriage ride, much less what Long Feiye was planning to do against Zhangsun Zelin. Although Ouyang Ningnuo had gave them a clue, it was still a difficult case to untangle. If news of the collaboration between Medicine City and Zhangsun Zelin leaked out, it would ruin Medicine City’s reputation as well as Zhangsun Zelin’s prestige. His business would be over once the information became public! Any dealer that exposed the identity of his clients and allies would never find a willing customer again! Thus, the only way to make Zhangsun Zelin obediently hand over his list of contacts was to threaten him with knowledge of the secret, smuggled stash of gunpowder.
This was the crucial point. The gunpowder was a far more serious affair than some medicinal ingredient trade. It concerned Tianning’s royal family and its enemies! Zhangsun Zelin wasn’t likely to leave any hints lying around, so he might even deny everything after they found the gunpowder themselves. Since this was the black market, they couldn’t very well send in a bunch of imperial guards to search the premises. Moreover, if Long Feiye wanted to use this as an excuse to eliminate Chu Qingge, a potential candidate for empress, then he couldn’t startle the snake in the grass. He had to get his hands on conclusive evidence before forwarding it to Emperor Tianhui. Han Yunxi carefully considered all points and began to wonder whether they should have come to the black market so soon. Perhaps it might have been easier to start with Chu Qingge’s side instead.
Long Feiye finished reading the documents and tossed them over to Gu Qi Sha. “Take a look at these places, see which ones are likely to hide gunpowder.”
“What are you planning?” Gu Qi Sha asked, rather perplexed.
“To find the gunpowder” Long Feiye replied coldly.
Han Yunxi and Gu Qi Sha were both caught by surprise, and blurted out simultaneously, “And then?”
“Wait until we find it first!” Long Feiye intoned.
“That’s the stupidest method of them all. Even if you find it, Zhangsun Zelin won’t admit that it has anything to do with him!” Gu Qi Sha said, before reminding helpfully, “Furthermore, you’ll lose a perfect chance to move against the Chu Clan!”
“Shall we make a bet?” Long Feiye asked with amusement.
“What kind of bet?” Gu Qi Sha grew interested.
“A bet on Zhangsun Zelin,” Long Feiye replied.
“And the terms?” Gu Qi Sha asked.
“If your lordship wins, all of the plants in your courtyard will belong to Han Yunxi as well. If your lordship loses, choose as you like.”
Han Yunxi couldn’t help but to grin at his words, but Gu Qi Sha simply laughed out loud. “I’m not betting!” He wasn’t as easy to trick as Mu Linger, nor was he half as dull. He didn’t understand a bit about these black markets, so he wouldn’t take the risk and bet with Long Feiye. Who would ever bother to bet with that man unless he or she were absolutely certain of the odds?
Han Yunxi chuckled, while Long Feiye’s lips rose in scorn. But Gu Qi Sha simply reverted to his eccentric ways and hummed a random tune as he read through the materials. He looked absent-minded and casual, but still was astute enough to pick out a few likely locations for gunpowder storage. He asked in a doubtful tone, “Long Feiye, are you planning to investigate the places one by one?”
“Do you have any better ideas?” Long Feiye countered.
Gu Qi Sha didn’t have to think twice, because he had none. He rose to his feet with a lazy stretch. “Then you take your time searching. This old fellow’s off to catch up on some sleep. Where’s your best room?”
“Half of Pill Fiend Pharmacy belongs to you. If you don’t want to get involved, go out and turn right. I won’t see you off!” Long Feiye said coldly.
Making a right turn at the door would lead one straight to the exit of the black market. Gu Qi Sha resentfully shrugged his shoulders. “Then I’ll search. You and I will scour through them both one by one, how’s that?”
Han Yunxi couldn’t figure it out. Long Feiye had always been quick and decisive in his actions and liked to work alone, but he had insisted on bringing along Pill Fiend this time. Does he have other goals in mind? But we’ve already settled things with Pill Fiend Pharmacy, so what other motives does he have? Because she didn’t know, she kept quiet and prepared to follow them when Long Feiye commanded her to stay behind.
“Your Highness!” Han Yunxi called out anxiously.
“You can’t help out with these kind of covert investigations,” Long Feiye replied.
“Lass, he’s saying you’ll only be a liability if you come along. You don’t even know how to flip over a wall, right?” Gu Qi Sha said with a grin.
Han Yunxi gave him a hateful glare, amusing Gu Qi Sha immensely. “What else could he mean if not that?”
Han Yunxi fumed, but had no way to counter his words. Long Feiye and Gu Qi Sha were going to sneak around and search, so bringing her along really would be troublesome. She knew well enough to back down. “Your Highness, I’ll be waiting for your good news.”
Long Feiye gently brushed her hair and said softly, “Be good. There’s no need for you to go and do things like flip over walls, so go and rest.”
Han Yunxi’s gloomy eyes brightened at his touch. There was only a hair’s difference between leaving someone behind because they were a liability, or because they didn’t want to trouble the person in the first place. So what if I don’t know martial arts! As long as someone’s there to cover me, it’s all good!
When she noticed Gu Qi Sha was staring at her, she smugly stretched her back. For someone who hadn’t slept during the trip, her actions were nothing short of harassment! But the sleep-deprived Gu Qi Sha still doted on this woman in the end. He’d rather she get a good night’s sleep and grow nice and white and fat. How could he ever find her troublesome like his previous speech implied?
Just like that, Long Feiye and Gu Qi Sha left the building, leaving Han Yunxi by herself. Her lazy stretch was a feint at most, because she started looking through the papers herself as soon as the men were gone, trying to figure out where she could help them, too. At this moment, a succession of soft movements suddenly came from her large and wide sleeves.
What was that?
Han Yunxi quickly grabbed her sleeve.
“Chee…” Lil Thing gave a shrill squeak. Mama Yunxi shouldn’t do this, she’ll squeeze all my organs out!
Han Yunxi dragged Lil Thing out of her sleeves and dangled it in the air. “When did you follow us here? I thought you weren’t coming!”
This little fellow was always running off to Gu Beiyue’s every two to three days. Sometimes it wouldn’t show up for days, so much that she’d forgotten she had such a poison beast in her possession. Lil Thing had no idea what Han Yunxi was saying, but scrabbled with its paws as it acted cute. It only hoped that its charms would make Mama Yunxi put itself down. Instead, Han Yunxi kept it hanging as she looked at it in amusement. Gradually, the smile on her face widened.
She just thought of a good idea!
“Lil Thing, I’ll give you a chance to get on His Highness Duke of Qin’s good side! Want it?” Han Yunxi asked seriously.
“Chee, chee…” Lil Thing replied back just as seriously. Actually, it had no idea what Mama Yunxi was talking about.
Han Yunxi quickly brought out an ingredient from her medical pouch—sulfur!
That’s right, sulfur was a chemical component that could be used in various prescriptions and poisons! More important, it was also an important ingredient in gunpowder! As soon as Lil Thing smelled the item, it covered its nose. How smelly!
Han Yunxi grew amused and purposely held the sulfur in front of Lil Thing. “Have a good sniff. Gunpowder should smell like this too.”
Lil Thing wasn’t merely an animal. It might not understand human speech, but it was quite sharp-witted. Seeing Han Yunxi’s movements made it realized Mama Yunxi wanted it to smell this thing. Its nose was many times stronger than a typical dog, so it could pick out the faintest traces of poisons in its surrounding environment. Something as stinky as this had no chance of escaping its notice!
Lil Thing grabbed the piece of sulfur and carefully sniffed it. After a while, the stinkiness receded from its nostrils and it even grew a little addicted to the smell. The next thing Han Yunxi knew, it nearly ate the sulfur! Fortunately, she managed to snatch it back in time.
“Are you trying to kill yourself?!” she exclaimed. Sulfur was neither medicine nor poison, but could have curative or toxic effects when mixed with the appropriate ingredients. Heaven only knows what would happen if Lil Thing just ate it plain!
Lil Thing gave an aggrieved squeak. It wasn’t a glutton—it just hadn’t eaten any nice things for a long, long time. All the medicine it’d found recently had been offered up to Imperial Physician Gu. As for poisons—Mama Yunxi’s current offerings wasn’t to its tastes! Its little body was still recovering its health, so right now it didn’t even have detox properties in its blood. Lil Thing gave up on the sulfur and scampered to the windowsill, where it sat staring at Han Yunxi. She saw through it right away and helplessly took out some very rare poisons from its pouch.
“Here, you can pick and choose this time!”
As soon as Lil Thing smelled the delicious scents, it ran over ravenously and gulped them all down. It just knew Mama Yunxi had hidden away plenty of tasty eats! How could it miss the chance to loot this burning house? Han Yunxi couldn’t decide whether to laugh or rage at the sight. Once again, she relented and brought out even more rare poisons.
“Here, fill yourself up a bit! The black market is huge, so you’ll have lots of ground to cover!”
Lil Thing turned around and widened its jaws to swallow another poison. If Han Yunxi wasn’t imagining things, then its mouth had just expanded to surpass the size of its body! Intimidated by the sight, she glanced at her hand to make sure the fingers were still there before feeling relieved. Lil Thing gave her a grin after stuffing itself, before quickly leaping out the window to track down the scent of sulfur! Of course, Han Yunxi wouldn’t follow it out. Even if she wanted to, she didn’t have the skills. She’d long witnessed Lil Thing’s astonishing speed first hand in the past.
She would simply sit content to wait!
Han Yunxi had no idea whether Long Feiye or Gu Qi Sha would find the gunpowder first, or if Lil Thing would come back with the earliest report as a surprise. If anyone tried to bet with her now, she wouldn’t be confident in guessing the winner.
What would be the ultimate conclusion?