Chapter 480: The aftermath of bribing the Duke of Qin Original and most updated translations are from volare. If read elsewhere, this chapter has been stolen. Please stop supporting theft.
Zhangsun Zelin had already waited an entire day before finally meeting His Highness Duke of Qin. He felt equal times anxious, nervous, and fearful, but he maintained enough reason to consider the vital interests at stake. He had no idea that His Highness Duke of Qin was behind the gunpowder explosion, but he could guess that the man was making things difficult for him on purpose by not coming to meet him directly.
If that was the case, there had to be a plot afoot. Thus, he was trying to figure out how to deal with it. After entering the tea room, he solemnly bowed with his hands clasped in front of his chest. “This humble one is Zhangsun Zelin and greets Your Highness Duke of Qin and esteemed wangfei.”
Long Feiye cast him a scornful glance. “Master of half the Sky Domain Black Markets. What prestige you have! Your lordship is merely a peasant before your eyes and dares not accept your greeting!”
The disdainful curve to Long Feiye’s lips made Zhangsun Zelin tremble with fear. Though he’d mentally prepared himself, he was still afraid of this icy duke. “Your Highness Duke of Qin, you’re taking years off this one’s life!” Zhangsun Zelin replied nervously.
Long Feiye laughed coldly. “We are certainly honored by your presence today. What business do you have?”
Zhangsun Zelin took out a stack of silver drafts from his sleeve. “Your Highness, this one has come to invite you to affix your seal. This money has been stored in the private bank for years now, but this one has a good project to use them on all at the moment, so I’d like to withdraw all my assets.”
Zhangsun Zelin spoke as if the exploding gunpowder incident had never happened, or that the rumors flying around were all a sham. Han Yunxi couldn’t help but to silently admire his thick skin.
“It’s a pity, but His Majesty has sent orders to freeze all your assets. What do you think your lordship can do?” Long Feiye asked.
Zhangsun Zelin grew anxious at those words. “Your Highness Duke of Qin, this one can accept others disbelieving me, but Your Highness must trust this one! This one begs you to uphold justice in my name!” So speaking, he actually took out half the stack of silver drafts and placed them on the table. Han Yunxi walked over on purpose and began to count them one by one.
Thrilled by the sight, Zhangsun Zelin added quickly, “Esteemed wangfei, this private bank belongs to His Highness. Everything His Highness says goes. Even His Majesty can’t question such things, right?”
“Right!” Han Yunxi gave a beautiful smile.
Even more delighted, Zhangsun Zelin handed over a few more silver drafts. “Esteemed wangfei, kindly accept this small gift of mine!”
Han Yunxi accepted them with a grin. “There’s a total of 15 drafts totaling 60,000,000 taels.”
Zhangsun Zelin nodded his head. That made up half of his total assets, so it was quite the sum. He had once made inquiries and knew that Qin Wangfei was the only person who could deal with His Highness Duke of Qin. But now she simply turned to Long Feiye and said, “Your Highness, could a paltry 60,000,000 taels be enough to bribe you?”
Zhangsun Zelin’s face turned green at the words. “Esteemed wangfei, that wasn’t this one’s intentions. This one simply wanted…”
“If not bribery, then you wanted to buy us to your side? Your Highness, when did you become so easy to win over?” Han Yunxi asked in amazement.
Zhangsun Zelin’s legs turned weak. “Esteemed wangfei has misunderstood, misunderstood! This one had no other intentions. I only came in a rush without giving His Highness time to prepare, so that’s why…. May Your Highness kindly accept this small gift of mine! A small gift!”
“Since there aren’t any other intentions, your lordship shall accept this,” Long Feiye really did take the silver drafts.
Zhangsun Zelin silently exhaled in relief, then offered up the other half stack of silver drafts in his hands. “Your Highness, please stamp these drafts.”
But Long Feiye ignored them to remark, “Your lordship heard that you and Medicine City have a private trading deal?”
Zhangsun Zelin’s eyes flashed with surprise before he immediately denied the claims. “Your Highness, medicinal ingredients are used to save lives. We couldn’t possibly sell them via private deals!” He had still wanted to do the same kind of black market medicine trading business once he left Tianning. Medicine made the most money and would be the fastest way for him to regain his assets. No matter what, he couldn’t sell out the names of the young masters who traded with him from Medicine City!
“Mhm. Your lordship found the news improbable when I first heard it too,” Long Feiye replied.
Zhangsun Zelin didn’t know why the Duke of Qin would ask after such matters, but he didn’t think into it much. Once again, he offered up his silver drafts. “Your Highness, please affix your seal.”
“Your lordship said the His Majesty has frozen your assets. Do you want your lordship to violate His Majesty’s orders?”
This… Zhangsun Zelin glanced at the stack of silver drafts that Han Yunxi had stored away, then back at his own half-pile. He was almost too angry to speak. The only reason he’d stored his money at the Duke of Qin’s private bank was became he wanted to create ties with the man. Now he had created ties with nothing but regret! Despite that, he kept his cool and murmured, after some hesitation, “Your Highness Duke of Qin, this one knows that rumors and slanders are flying amok outside. His Majesty considers me to be one of the suspects as well, but this one really has no relations to the gunpowder case. This one wouldn’t dare! On the other hand, the other master of the black market…”
Zhangsun Zelin paused, assuming that Long Feiye would be curious, but the man made no sound. He had no choice but to keep talking. “Your Highness, the other master of the Sky Domain Black Market is none other than the famous head of Cloud Realm Continent’s Trade Consortium, Ouyang Ningnuo!”
Long Feiye harbored a cold smile in his heart. He had guessed as much himself, but he didn’t express any of it. Zhangsun Zelin couldn’t read Long Feiye at all, but only saw him sitting there steadily without a peep. Without a choice, he could only brace himself and declare, “Your Highness, the gunpowder must have been shipped in from foreign soil. Ouyang Ningnuo has the strongest connections outside of Tianning!”
Ouyang Ningnuo had exposed Zhangsun Zelin so he could use Long Feiye against him to claim the other half of Sky Domain Black Market. Now Zhangsun Zelin was exposing Ouyang Ningnuo so he could drag the man down with him. Han Yunxi listened to it all and only sighed internally. In this world, who could be more crafty than these merchants?
The Duke of Qin, maybe?
When she thought of that, she hid her laughter behind her sleeves.
“Your Highness, Ouyang Ningnuo has stakes in half of Sky Domain Black Market and plenty of properties in the Three-Way Black Market.1 With Ouyang Ningnuo’s power, it would be nothing to transport a shipment of gunpowder.
“Your Highness, His Majesty might be confused, but you aren’t, are you? This is a great chance to implicate Cloud Realm Continent’s Trade Consortium! If Your Highness is willing to investigate Ouyang Ninguo, this one shall help you wholeheartedly!”
Long Feiye simply looked coldly at Zhangsun Zelin without saying a word. Zhangsun Zelin had started out full of confidence, but Long Feiye’s silent, icy stare gradually sapped away his resolve until his guilty conscience kicked in. There were people who couldn’t move others even after saying a mouthful of rubbish, while there were others who could awe those with a single look. Long Feiye belonged to the latter category. When Zhangsun Zelin finally shut up, Long Feiye spoke at last.
“Zhangsun Zelin, don’t you worry. As long as the gunpowder wasn’t yours, the emperor will definitely return your innocence! As for Ouyang Ningnuo—even if the emperor spares him, the true owner of the gunpowder never will!”
Long Feiye didn’t put everything in plain terms, but Zhangsun Zelin was suddenly enlightened. Without any proof, Emperor Tianhui could do nothing but seal his properties and limit his business in Tianning. But Chu Tianyin would silence any witnesses with death! So much for being shrewd. He was so busy worrying about running away that he’d forgotten that important fact! Finally, Zhangsun Zelin realized his life was in danger and panicked!
“Your Highness!” he cried in fear.
“Someone come, escort the guest out!” Long Feiye ordered icily.
Zhangsun Zelin hesitated, then said, “Your Highness, as long as Your Highness can protect this one’s life and send this one safely to Northern Li, this one is willing to give detailed proof of the black market’s dealings with Medicine City!”
“But this wangfei is more interested in the origins of the gunpowder! How much do you know?” Han Yunxi asked with great amusement.
“Since Qin Wangfei is curious, you should offer her more tidbits than just Ouyang Ningnuo, shouldn’t you?” Long Feiye continued.
Zhangsun Zelin suddenly realized that Qin Wangfei was far harder to deal with than the Duke of Qin! She’s definitely someone who asks for a foot after getting an inch! Short of admitting he was the one who bought the gunpowder, he had no choice now but to sell out Chu Tianyin as well.
“To reply esteemed wangfei, from what this one understands, the gunpowder this time came from Western Zhou’s military forces, specifically the Chu Clan. It was their eldest young master Chu Tianyin who snuck in the gunpowder via wine jugs. There was supposed to be another shipment coming in next year, but it looks like it won’t make it now,” Zhangsun Zelin answered.
“Chu Tianyin? Just how many of the Chu Clan’s men are concealed in the capital?” Han Yunxi asked.
“This one understands that there’s a sizable number. But as for specifics, this one doesn’t know, Zhangsun Zelin replied.
Han Yunxi couldn’t help but recall Su Xiaoyu’s seven-hued signal flares again. It looks like the Chu Clan had long planted agents in Tianning’s capital city.
“Your Highness, esteemed wangfei, this one met with Chu Tianyin just last month. This one estimates he should be right in Tianning, perhaps even within the capital city itself!” Zhangsun Zelin hadn’t dared to speak up before, but Chu Tianyin was even now trying to track him down to silence him. Long Feiye and Han Yunxi were only expecting news of the dealings between Medicine City and the black market, so the extra intel about Chu Tianyin caught them unawares. They both grew guarded as a result.
“Hand over your proof of the deals and your lordship will arrange for your departure tonight,” Long Feiye finally deigned to speak.
Thrilled, Zhangsun Zelin hastened to take out his evidence. Something that important was naturally never stored in the black markets themselves. His proof turned out to be a thick volume of accounts detailing all the times, people, and quantity of items delivered to the black markets from Medicine City. There were records of prices paid and payments divided, each page neat and detailed. Some of them even had personal stamps. Han Yunxi flipped through the book happily. With proof like this, we don’t have to worry about Medicine City not cooperating.
After obtaining the evidence, Long Feiye finally stamped Zhangsun Zelin’s silver drafts and arranged for bodyguards to send him away. As for the half of silver he’d gotten from the man, Long Feiye said it could be considered a black market donation to the Han Clan medical clinics instead.
“Your Highness, how about we go to Medicine City tomorrow?” Han Yunxi asked in excitement.
“What are we going to do there?” Long Feiye asked
“Negotiations! We’ll have them supply us goods, specifically low-tier precious medicinal ingredients. And they’ll have to do it forever!” Han Yunxi said earnestly.
Long Feiye brushed aside her bangs and smiled. “If we’re going to do any negotiations, it should be them coming to see us. Carriage rides are tiring, so why would you go visit them?”
This foolish woman, why does she like running about so much? With the counter in your hands, all you need to do is send the three main clans of Medicine City a single letter. Are you worried that they won’t hurry over then?
Just like that, Long Feiye brought Han Yunxi back home. Before that, Long Feiye had someone send news to Long Tianmo that Chu Tianyin might be in the capital. The crown prince could take his time fighting against Chu Tianyin while they waited for the Medicine City representatives to arrive!
Long Feiye, on the other hand, had to deal with a certain other guest currently residing at his estate. Things have been delayed for ages, but it’s about time to rip off his mask…
- Three-Way Black Market – first mentioned in Chapter 368, it’s located between Tianning, Western Zhou, and Northern Li and the largest of its kind in both Tianning Country and the entire Cloud Realm Continent. Many large cases that affect the economic situation of Cloud Realm Continent can be traced back to the Three-Way Black Market. ↩