Chapter 272: Window and ladder
Wu Kun’s nightclub was called Starry Splendour. It was amongst Yanzhou’s top nightclubs.
Xu Tingsheng sat by a corner of the best private room in Starry Splendour. Although he knew that what was coming up next was incredibly important, he just could not get his mind to stop drifting regardless as he was just unable to focus.
With the state he was in right now, it would be best not to say anything first.
Of the forty odd people who had been at the meal earlier, around another eighteen people had successively arrived apart from Xu Tingsheng and the three who accompanied him. This figure had actually already surpassed Xu Tingsheng’s initial estimate.
Ye Qing sat by another corner of the room. There were at least three seats beside her which were empty. This woman was like a lion king as she occupied one corner entirely on her own.
As her gaze met Xu Tingsheng’s, she raised her wineglass, toasting him. Xu Tingsheng smiled and nodded, downing the wine in his glass.
Seeing that Ye Qing was in the mood for alcohol, there were instantly quite a number of people who went up to toast her. Sending inquiring gazes and receiving affirmation from Xu Tingsheng, Huang Yaming and Tan Yao raised their wineglasses and headed over as well.
Of course, the two of them were both very polite. Ye Qing did not find fault with their statuses as well as she gracefully reciprocated, raising her wineglass and downing its contents without any hesitation whatsoever.
Fang Yuqing sat down beside Xu Tingsheng, telling him in a hushed whisper, “Adding on Bro Kun, we have nineteen people now. Is that too many or too few?”
“It’s not that many. Of those who’re sitting here, at least three of them are sent from local real estate companies to hear about what we’re planning, and five of them are ready to apologise and leave at any time,” Xu Tingsheng said mildly.
“That few?” Fang Yuqing sounded astonished.
“It’s already quite a lot,” Xu Tingsheng smiled, “Moreover, it’s not like those who are ready to leave definitely can’t be persuaded to stay.”
“What about those spies? Will they…”
“Relax, I’ve got it covered.”
As they were speaking, Wu Kun entered the room. After giving a round of greetings, he directly came to sit down beside Xu Tingsheng.
“Basically everyone should have arrived by now,” Wu Kun said.
“Right,” Xu Tingsheng responded.
Looking at Xu Tingsheng, Wu Kun gave him a knowing smile before patting him on the shoulder, saying into his ear, “You can rest assured, it isn’t someone just going in once in a while to take a look over there. Every single movement there is being monitored.”
With that, he pointed at the earpiece he was wearing.
With this, Xu Tingsheng knew that the private room Ding Sen was in was under full surveillance. So long as even the slightest situation occurred, someone would inform Wu Kun about it. With this, Xu Tingsheng was able to set his mind at ease somewhat, exhaling as he calmed down.
The two of them conversed in hushed tones for a while. After that, Wu Kun waved a hand, dismissing the waiters.
Xu Tingsheng decided to say a few words to start things off.
Yet, he was beaten to it by a guy opposite him who looked twenty-five to twenty-six and was dressed hip-hop style, “Has it begun? I say, Brother Xu…you’re serious, right? Such a major thing, it really moved me like crazy. Dontcha play with our feelings! I dumped a chick for this.”
Everyone laughed upon hearing his words, including the four women present and naturally Ye Qing as well.
Xu Tingsheng laughed as well. He already grasped some basic information regarding all these nineteen people currently present. The one who had just spoken was Hu Shengming. While he seemed like a coarse guy, his familial background was rather solid. Fang Yuqing had especially emphasised the point that he was generally on friendly terms with everyone else.
Someone who was able to achieve an amicable relationship with most of his peers in this social circle wouldn’t really be foolish.
He was only able to go on chattering like this because it was his established style. This was not something that, say, Xu Tingsheng could do.
Smiling mildly, Xu Tingsheng said calmly, “I will be securing one of those pieces of land.”
This was a declaration of intent which really could not be any plainer.
“Even if everyone else leaves later and only I remain, I will still secure one of them,” This time, Xu Tingsheng spoke in a bit of a joking tone.
“What’s your target? Which plot of land are you aiming for? I’d like to know more about that,” This was asked by Chen Yan whose familial background in officialdom Fang Yuqing had specifically pointed out earlier. He seemed a cautious man and spoke that way as well.
“Conservatively make do with two, competing for one,” Xu Tingsheng replied. He was referring to the two best plots of land, both of which occupied central positions. This especially held true for the second plot of land. If not for the school there having moved away, it would virtually have been impossible for such a large area of land to be made available in such a location. It was a rare, hard to come by circumstance indeed.
It is virtually the same for all cities that have some at least history to them. For buildings to be torn down and moved away from a city’s central district…the difficulty of such surpasses even moving away the City Hall. Therefore, before a city has attained a large scale central business district, we generally see that the closer one is to the city centre, the greater the number of old buildings there will be. Also, behind these old buildings are hidden old houses and deep alleys.
“Very difficult,” Chen Yan said bluntly, going straight to the point.
He should be one of the few people currently present who best understood the ties between the government and the local real estate companies. Therefore, if he said that it was very difficult, it must truly be very difficult.
“I am aware of that. However, if not for the fact that I desire the best slice of that pie, I wouldn’t have needed to invite you guys to join me,” Xu Tingsheng replied calmly.
“Do you understand the power and background of our local real estate companies? Even all of us combined might still end up being the weakest side. Also, we would be latest to arrive at the scene. Perhaps the pie has even been split by others already.”
Xu Tingsheng trusted that Chen Yan was not a pessimistic person. He was just being objective.
Raising his wineglass towards Chen Yan, Xu Tingsheng drank a mouthful of wine before saying, “I like listening to stories. The type I like the most basically goes like this. A magnificent banquet, and it is the person who is the last to arrive and the least well-dressed who comes away with the best slice of the cake in the end.”
Xu Tingsheng was already pulling out all the stops to exude that sense of mystery as he paused for a moment before continuing, “People always seem to feel relish at such stories. Why is that? Following a careful analysis of this, I ultimately found a common theme to all these stories. I call it ‘contra-attack’.”
The term ‘contra-attack’ was still not prevalent in the current era. As Xu Tingsheng threw it out now and the non-inheritors and ne’er-do-well second gens present thought about it, they all felt unanimously that this story truly did fill one with a great sense of relish.
These were the people who most desired launching a counterattack contrary to the usual flow of things. This included Ye Qing as well. However competent she was, because she was a woman, was the younger sister, she was also one of those who was not thought of as likely to succeed.
As for Wu Kun…his entire life had basically consisted of him ‘contra-attacking’ all the way.
“I like this story too,” A voice resounded, “Still, a few little brothers here maybe had best take their leave first for the upcoming discussion. We’re all friends usually, and you all still call me bro, right? Go to another room, or come over to have fun next time. I’ll personally act as host.”
It was Wu Kun who had said this. While he spoke in a calm, unruffled tone and with a smile on his face, there was a hostile look in his eyes.
Xu Tingsheng had already informed Wu Kun prior to this about the matter of some people having come here to sound them out on behalf of those local real estate companies, leaving it to him to deal with. Wu Kun was deeply experienced and had an acute, penetrating gaze. Having also been around in their social circle for so long, over the years, he had already long since come to be incomparably clear on the backgrounds and characters of all these little youngsters.
There weren’t many who were there, and even fewer whom they might have to worry about and doubt. This had too direct a relation with their backgrounds and connections such that making a judgment would not be very hard at all.
Also, Wu Kun had not participated at all in the earlier discussion, not even having paid detailed attention to the contents. He had continually been carefully focused on observing those people.
Therefore, he already basically knew which of these people the spies were at this point. It was only having grasped this information that he had spoken up.
Actually, he had already long since felt pretty confident that he had basically found them all out. Yet, Xu Tingsheng had secretly stopped him from speaking up just when he had been about to do so. Those words Xu Tingsheng had said earlier were ones which he was willing or perhaps even wanted to let them hear.
Four of those present now toasted him and left the room.
Their attitudes were all very pleasant as they politely drank their wine and said their goodbyes before saying to meet again next time. This sort of thing was actually very common at this level of society. After all, they were all of the same social circle. This was far from something which would have to see them abandon all civility and go for broke. The next time they met, they would still be friends.
Seeing these four people leave, Wu Kun shot Xu Tingsheng a glance, indicating that he could speak freely as he wanted.
The remaining ten plus people eased somewhat.
“Has anyone ever told you that you are very suited to being a public speaker?” The stern Chen Yan joked before continuing, “I have to admit that your words hit right home. But you’ve still got to tell us-just based on what will we be able to contra-attack?”
“Just me, Yuqing and you guys will be enough,” Xu Tingsheng’s answer was actually very vague as he did not speak of what he would be depending on, what kind of background he really had, because he actually had no backer in the first place…he still left this problem for everyone to speculate about as he spoke in a very confident manner.
Chen Yan did not press him about it as he just said, “You may be overestimating us, Yuqing included. Those providing funds might still be able to take out a bit of it. As for those of us with backgrounds in bureaucracy, to tell you the truth, we don’t actually possess much influence. It would virtually be impossible for our families to make use of too many connections and power in order to support us, Yuqing included.”
Chen Yan had said ‘Yuqing included’ twice because Fang Yuqing was a classic example of the aforementioned sort of person. He clearly possessed a sufficiently solid background, yet could not exert any power in actuality. If he truly went back and mentioned this matter, the most likely attitude of his family towards this would be…ignoring him completely.
“Oh, Bro Chen, just go on damaging me however you like.”
Fang Yuqing scooted over and drank a glass of wine with Chen Yan before admitting helplessly, “Still, the truth really is as Bro Chen says. It may be fine for something minor, but for major stuff, there actually really isn’t much power that we can draw on at all.”
Everyone directed their gazes at Xu Tingsheng. This problem which these non-inheritors felt the most pained and helpless about yet had to be frank regarding had already been thrown towards Xu Tingsheng now.
“I have a friend from another province. His uncle is a member of the Provincial Standing Committee…” Xu Tingsheng said mildly.
Everyone present was rather taken aback by his words. Huang Yaming and Fang Yuqing were puzzled because they had never heard Xu Tingsheng mention this before. As for the rest, they had thought that Xu Tingsheng was finally going to reveal his background, yet…another province? Would that be useful? …Also, how was this related to their problem?
Xu Tingsheng pretended to be wholly unaware of this as he smiled and continued, “This uncle really hates that friend of mine. He really can’t be bothered about him usually, to the point that there isn’t even tea to drink when he comes to give New Year’s greetings. He never ever helps him at all. It isn’t that tragic for you guys, right?”
Everyone shook their heads. Their situations were basically not as serious as that.
“Once, this friend of mine got into a conflict with someone at a bar. After receiving a few blows, he was overcome by rashness and bashed the son of a District Chief on the head with a wine bottle. He dared not tell anyone at home about this afterwards, fearing mentioning it to his uncle even more. He hid at the house of another friend. Worried about the other party getting revenge, he even thought about running away for a while.”
“Then, the guy whose head got bashed went back home to complain. His District Chief father learnt who my friend’s uncle is. He next hesitated for a long while before sending someone to sound him out. The Provincial Standing Committee uncle did not give a hoot about this matter as he casually replied rather impatiently: Let him do whatever he wants, deal with him however. Get him into jail or beat him to death, whatever’s fine.”
Swear words resounded all around as righteous indignation arose.
Xu Tingsheng continued, “Then, after the words of the Provincial Standing Committee uncle were relayed, this District Chief employed endless means to find that friend of mine…”
“Sad life,” Hu Shengming remarked.
“That was what my friend thought as well. Yet, the District Chief was there bearing presents to express his apologies. He personally brought his son over to apologise and even recompensed my friend a whole thirty thousand yuan in the end,” Leaning back against his seat, Xu Tingsheng concluded, “Alright, my story’s over.”
To some people here, this topic was already over. Some of those present, Chen Yan included, were smiling as they nodded understandingly towards Xu Tingsheng.
“This, what in the world does this mean? Stop acting all cryptic, guys!” Hu Shengming who had a familial background in business pressed.
“You don’t actually have to understand that in detail. You can just wait and discuss the issue of funding later on,” Jiang Jin whose family was in the bureaucracy just like Chen Yan put an arm around Hu Shengming’s shoulder, smiling.
Hu Shengming leapt up, “You see that, Yupo? Those who’re officials look down on us who run stores down on the ground.”
Gao Yupo whose family similarly ran a business scratched his head helplessly. Everyone broke into laughter at that.
Xu Tingsheng could only explain, “As I am aware of, at least seven of us currently present have backgrounds in officialdom. There are also those who have ties to both corporate entities and the bureaucracy. Considering everyone here, there are at least five of us with backgrounds in the province, just that you have been forsaken and left behind here in Yanzhou, am I right?”
As no one refuted him, Xu Tingsheng continued, “Then, you can just let out word and go pay visits amongst a select group of people. Go intrude on them, have a meal together. You won’t have to ask your families to do anything much in actuality…things aren’t to the extent that they will come out to clarify things, right? If they aren’t especially close, no one will dare go ask for confirmation on what you’re saying, right?”
“Perhaps one person alone may not be very intimidating, but if it is a whole bunch of people, it can actually make for a very frightening sight. Moreover, it is also not that you really cannot do anything at all.”
“With this, your connections in Yanzhou are likely to be drawn into it as well. Even if they aren’t, they will still not block you at the very least, right? Following that, those few from the city would be able to mightily display your prowess.”
“Our opponents would more or less stop and hesitate for a while at this time, appraising our strength before considering whether or not they should ease up a bit and let us have one of those plots of land.”
“And that’ll be enough?” Someone asked.
“We’d still stand a chance for the No.2 plot of land,” Another person answered.
“It still wouldn’t be quite enough, actually,” Xu Tingsheng said, “As for the follow-up of this, I can only promise you now that it definitely would not be any more difficult. Also, isn’t there still me? I can’t just not do anything at all. Anyway, you only need to go around spreading the word now. Since they have already split the pie, what we’ve first got to do is mess up their organisation, churning the waters turbid.”
This topic ended here, with everyone naturally coming to make their own judgments on it.
Actually, Wu Kun aside, there were also others who had been silent throughout the course of the discussion thus far, with the four women, including Ye Qing, having been especially silent.
Women with ambition were generally rarer. Those rare women of ambition usually had great ambition. Women of great ambition were generally unordinary. It was impossible for women without ambition to be sitting here now.
“Xu Tingsheng? Twenty years old. You’re very interesting,” Ye Qing said, “Still, you aren’t personally involved in the industry, right? It’d actually be pretty troublesome too if you don’t understand the specifics.”
When someone begins asking about the specific details of your plan, checking its feasibility to make sure of its workability, this generally entails that they have already accepted your general framework, being truly inclined and interested in its prospects.
“I understand construction materials, especially imported ones, a lot. Therefore, we will build the most high-end district in Yanzhou, leading everywhere else by at least…approximately five to ten years,” Xu Tingsheng expressed himself in a manner completely lacking of humility.
“What about the costs?”
“They will be a little higher. Still, we actually shouldn’t overestimate the price of the imported materials. Those are used to convince buyers of the value that the flats are worth. Ordinary citizens wouldn’t be able to understand this. They only believe what their eyes show them.”
“For example, the facade. We can use imported stone and add a layer of granite to the exterior. This actually wouldn’t cost much more as compared to painting the outer walls, but the building would be several tens of times more visually stunning on the outside.”
Regarding a building’s facade, Xu Tingsheng had witnessed a real estate company, Greentown, which had done a very good job with it. The buildings of Greentown were tall and awe-inspiring, their facades grand and imposing.
Following this, Xu Tingsheng continually surprised everyone with his knowledge on the relevant countries and the names of those companies, his familiarity with construction from facades to Diatom mud and his understanding of transportation means with the comparison of prices.
At the current stage, his understanding of imported construction materials definitely surpassed that of most real estate companies.
It was this industry which Xu Tingsheng had entered when he had started a business in the year 2011 of his previous life. The country currently still lacked understanding of and did not sufficiently value imported construction materials. Most real estate companies had not reached the extent of caring about such things. Even being a little eco-friendly could already be considered pretty good.
“Very good, but just understanding construction materials alone isn’t enough, unless you are suggesting that we open a construction materials importing company,” Another woman, Shang Fangfei said.
“This can be considered after we’ve established the proper connections.”
“What about the other aspects? Such as the construction process itself.”
“Xihu City’s Dingcheng Real Estate’s Zheng Xiangshan is a good bro of my father’s. I call him uncle usually. Dingcheng will be our business partner this time. Of course, they will mainly be providing support on their end, not receiving too much of the shares.”
These were the words with the most substance that Xu Tingsheng had said thus far.
“The heck, really a ferocious dragon crossing the seas! No, Brother Xu’s killed his way over with a dragon following his bidding,” Hu Shengming yelled loudly what it was that most people were thinking at this moment, next leaping up before he continued, “Also, they’re not going to steal our limelight, not going to snatch our share of the pie…right, our company will be independent, right? Brother Xu.”
“Right,” Xu Tingsheng answered.
“What’s the problem then? There’s no problem, let’s do it! At least I’m in,” Hu Shengming said.
Most of those present appeared moved, yet were still wavering indecisively.
“Mind if I make a few calls? Sorry, but it may be a little impolite,” Shang Fangfei suddenly asked.
“Go ahead. It’s only natural, really,” Xu Tingsheng smiled.
Shang Fangfei made three calls in front of everyone before keeping her phone and nodding in affirmation to everyone, “Dingcheng and Happy Shoppers are business partners, their bosses addressing each other as brothers.”
Happy Shoppers’ boss was Xu Tingsheng’s father, that many of those present were aware of.
Actually, Happy Shoppers and Dingcheng were still in the stage of communication in their partnership, the gap in their influence still being immense as well. Still, Mr Xu and Zheng Xiangshan had truly hit it off very well. The two had many shared experiences, and their relationship was very good indeed.
These three phone calls were like stabilising injections to the heart as they also raised their conception of the Xu Family’s power greatly.
“The heck, so you’re really also a rich second gen! That means that we’re on the same side. Those who’re officials were looking down on us just now, did you hear? Revenge! Let’s not gallivant around with this lot! The rest of us can just pool our money together and go for it.”
Hu Shengming seemed to have only learnt of and realised this fact now as he ran over to shake Xu Tingsheng’s hand.
He seemed to be the only one present whose any action was never seen as obtrusive at all he nonchalantly ignored the friendly jeers and the disparaging comments directed towards him. Everyone else, however, could not but be concerned. Hu Shengming’s words had actually subtly reminded them of one thing, which was that Xu Tingsheng really seemed like he completely possessed the qualifications to start this venture alone without them participating.
Then, had he placed the pie on the table in order to make friends? In order to establish a web of connections within Yanzhou? Wouldn’t it have been better for him to find those ‘inheritors’ then?
“People with foundations aren’t easy to shift. As for us…we’re easy to gather. If one of us manages a resurgence one day, it would then be possible for a second, and a third…then…”
Xu Tingsheng did not intend to further explain these words. He was not even planning to finish.
Hu Shengming was there to excitedly carry on his words, “Then we kill ‘em all, and all under the heavens would be our domain. This is…since we’re partying, how about a party name? Tycoon Party, Unloved Coalition, Handsome Men Pretty Women, Number One Beneath The Heavens, This Old Man is Freaking Awesome, If You’re Not Happy Than Just Do It?”
“Black Horse Club,” Ye Qing said mildly.
Partying had originally been something that Hu Shengming had just randomly come up with, but because Ye Qing who was the most important here had solemnly given a suggestion…suddenly, it was not a joke but a serious matter.
It had that vibe of sealing the deal.
The non-inheritors were moved. “We’re really partying up? There doesn’t seem to be any disadvantages. At most, we’ll just remain suppressed for our entire lifetimes like we are now. Partying…maybe we’d really be able to achieve a resurgence. Also, Ye Qing, Xu Tingsheng…it really does feel like we have a great chance of success.”
At this point, everyone was already looking at Xu Tingsheng in a different light, including Ye Qing who had just expressed her stance and Huang Yaming who was the most familiar with him. This was because no one could understand this: All of them here had, somehow, been unknowingly guided in this direction by Xu Tingsheng without even knowing how it happened.
“Too fast, too smooth…for me, I just cannot but feel worried whenever things go too quickly and smoothly. Also, Little Xu is just too remarkable. I was led along all the way and can’t acclimatise to the situation now. Can we stop for a while and ease down for a bit?”
The final person which had been silent throughout thus far spoke up. It was the oldest person in the room, a 34-year-old woman named Chu Lianyi.
“Let’s listen to Sis Chu. I too have this feeling. All of a sudden, I’m fearing that I’m being led into a ditch by him,” Ye Qing said.
“Yeah. I always thought that having been sold by someone yet still foolishly counting money for them is a joke. At the very least, I never thought that it was possible with me…now, I feel that if Little Xu so wants to, perhaps he can really abduct me and sell me off in some mountain ditch,” Shang Fangfei smiled.
The innate cautiousness of women was on full display at this moment.
Unable to say anything in reply to that, Xu Tingsheng could only smile.
“It’ll be as Sis Chu says then. Rest for a while, everyone. If there isn’t a problem, we should be discussing the details later on. Don’t force yourself in terms of funds. It definitely isn’t worth our relationship turning sour over that,” Wu Kun said.
They downed a toast and the meeting dispersed.
Actually, there was really only Xu Tingsheng who dispersed. With some awkwardness and Wu Kun’s permission, he hurried over to look at that security room monitoring that pinhole camera.
Everyone else was simply bunched up together.
“The thing that he enticed us here with at the start was money, right?”
“There’s also he himself. He’s pretty remarkable at such a young age, and so mysterious too. At least I came with curiosity and also to see if he’s handsome, whether or not to get him into bed.”
“What now? Still want to?”
“I’ll seduce him in a while.”
“Think about it-what did he say after that?”
“He started waxing lyrical in high spirits.”
“From his words, it’s called contra-attack.”
“Confidence. Our confidence towards him.”
“And our confidence towards ourselves too.”
“Most important were window and ladder. He opened a window for us, letting us see something different, something vaster. At least he made me feel that the me of before who simply knew how to bury my head in the affairs and connections of my family…was really very foolish.”
“I had that exact same feeling.”
“Then he moved a ladder over, asking if we’d like to climb. To stay below, or to climb up.”
“The allure is simply too great.”
“The problem is-might he actually lead us all into a ditch, selling us all away?”