Book 2 Chapter 18 Yangzhou Salt Merchant
“I wonder what you would be willing to pay, my lord.” Teng Yunlong looked with a smile at the leader with the black fox fur coat.
The leader chuckled, “You are in charge of acquiring the materials. As for the price, let’s set a whole number: 102 taels of silver per Frost Jade Saber! I believe you’ll be satisfied with this offer.”
“102 taels of silver?” Teng Yunlong frowned. Indeed, the sum was large; however, the Frost Jade Saber’s craftsmanship was unique to the Teng clan. In addition, the materials needed to create a Frost Jade Saber were exceedingly expensive, and the refining process was very delicate. When sold, every Frost Jade Saber yielded at least 102 taels of silver. Thus, the leader’s reduced priced of 102 taels of silver would allow for a minimal profit margin.
“My lord, maybe the price you mentioned is a bit too low,” Teng Yongfan said respectfully.
The leader responded with a sneer. “Don’t take me for a fool! If I was willing to pay a high price, I would not have come here! 102 taels of silver per Frost Jade Saber—do you accept this price?”
Putting on a slight smile, Teng Yunlong said, “My lord, the sheer magnitude of the 182 Frost Jade Sabers you ordered is unprecedented. We only have enough materials in storage for two Frost Jade Sabers. Therefore, we are going to need a substantial amount of taels of silver to buy the materials. Could my lord please lend the taels of silver to us in advance?”
“We haven’t even received the merchandise, yet we’re already supposed to give you money?” The leader with the black fox fur coat sneered.
The adjacent Teng Qingshan was somewhat surprised, “This leader doesn’t want to give us the money? 102 taels of silver per saber—collectively, this is a substantial amount of money adding up to about 20,000 taels of silver. If we were to squeeze out all the money our village has, it would barely be enough. Does the leader intend to use force?” Teng Qingshan was ready for the worst situation.
“You must be jesting, my lord. We are a common village, so how could we have a lot of money? We can hardly get the money for buying materials. Thus, how are we supposed to refine the weapons for you?” Teng Yunlong implored with a smile. “I hope my lord understands our difficulty.”
The leader’s face fell.
The neighboring Teng Yongfan smiled and said, “My lord, you are a great man of a majestic status. Don’t tell me that you are worried that we will steal your money? We, the members of the Teng Clan, have been living here for generations. There is no way that we can leave our homeland. As long as my lord pays us in advance, I guarantee that you will receive the sabers by the deadline.”
The leader hesitated and then coldly laughed, “Perhaps your clan really is too poor to raise the required money.”
Then, he took out a pile of silver notes and slapped them on the desk.
“Here are 8200 silver notes stamped by the Yangzhou Bank. You can carefully check them yourself,” the leader said.
Teng Qingshan checked them carefully, as it was his first time seeing silver notes.
The silver notes had “Yang’s Salt” printed on top, along with banking numbers like “one, two, three, [and] four.” On the bottom of each note was a line stating, “The Nine Prefecture’s Eight Supreme Sects stipulate that he who forges silver notes will be killed without pardon.”
(TLN: Banking numbers in Mandarin are written differently than regular numbers. ie. ? (one) is the equivalent of ? and ? is the equivalent of ?)
Teng Qingshan felt surprise in his heart, “The Nine Prefecture’s Eight Supreme Sects? Are these the eight strongest sects underneath the heavens?”
“Silver notes? This…” Teng Yunlong frowned, “My lord, we need to pay a fee to exchange money in the bank. In addition, the sum of money in the business transaction was 20,000 silver taels. The amount you gave us is far too little. Since we are a small clan, I am afraid…” Teng Yunlong hesitated.
The leader stood up suddenly and his face was dark.
“Hmph, 8200 silver notes; we don’t have an extra copper to spare. We will set up a written contract entailing that when you deliver the goods to Yi City, we will pay the remaining balance.” The leader coldly spoke. The two subordinates behind the leader also grabbed the hilts of the long sabers on their waists. The plethora of cavalry outside the courtyard menacingly glared into the courtyard.
Teng Qingshan took a deep breath; it might be time for him to act.
Teng Yunlong and Teng Yongfang looked at each other.
“Since the lord says so, let’s immediately set up a contract.” Teng Yunlong said while laughing.
“Right,” The leader said, a gloating smile on his face.
Thus, the two parties signed a contract and specified the shipping location, time, payment, and other arrangements.
“Hm? My lord, you want us to send the goods to the Yangzhou’s Chamber of Commerce representative at Yi City?” Teng Yunlong was surprised. “It seems that my lord is from Yangzhou’s Chamber of Commerce.”
“It’s good that you know about it. You better not try and play any tricks on me. Also, when the time comes, we will carefully inspect each Jade Frost Sabre. If there is anything wrong with them…humph!” When the leader finished speaking, he snatched the contract and, without saying anything else, strode out of the courtyard.
“Brothers, let’s go!”
His order rang through the air, and the cavalry majestically departed with him.
“Father, what is the Yangzhou Bank?” Teng Qingshan looked at the notes wonderingly.
Teng Yonfang smiled and explained, “Qingshan, among the Nine Prefectures under the heavens, the richest are the Yangzhou Salt Merchants and the Yuzhou Trade Conglomerate. After all, Yangzhou and Yuzhou are the two most prosperous prefectures. As a result, there are only two reliable banks in the world: one is the ‘Yangzhou Bank’ and the other is the ‘Yuzhou Bank’. If one has silver notes from these two banks, then they can travel through the land unhindered. Of course, us common folks generally don’t receive silver notes.”
“Why not?” Qingshan questioned, not understanding.
Weren’t silver notes more convenient?
“Actually, silver notes simply serve as ‘exchange evidence’ for when you’re storing taels of gold and silver in either of the banks. There are special serial numbers in the silver notes, and they are manufactured with special technologies to prevent forging. Banks help you keep your wealth; of course, they will charge you for their service. So, even though this is 8200 taels in silver bank notes, I will not be able to take the entire amount from the bank.”
Teng Qingshan understood.
In the modern world, if you were to deposit money in banks, you would earn interest; however, in the ancient world, if you were to deposit money in the bank, you would have to pay for its service.
This was easy to comprehend because in ancient times, it was troublesome for merchants to bring that much gold and taels of silver with them. It was more convenient and safe for them to keep silver notes.
“Do people really not forge silver notes?” Teng Qingshan asked.
The adjacent Grandpa Teng Yunlong laughed, “Haha! Who dares? Don’t you see the words below ‘The Nine Prefecture’s Eight Supreme Sects’? Underneath the heavens, these are the eight strongest sects!”
“What are the Eight Supreme Sects?” Teng Qingshan asked.
Teng Yongfan explained, “Qingshan, I’ve told you that in our Yangzhou, the strongest sect is ‘’Qing Hu Island.” Furthermore, in each of the other eight prefectures, there is a supreme sect as well. Underneath the heavens, there are eight supreme powers which are called the “Eight Supreme Sects”. Together, they make laws, and if someone disobeys them, there will be nowhere to hide from them!”
Nine states, but only eight sects.
It seemed that there was either a state without a supreme sect or a super sect controlling two states.
“The Eight Supreme Sects are basically eight emperors!” Teng Qingshan thought.
Sects were the most powerful forces in the world, even controlling their own powerful armies! Even the Gui Yuan Sect had a 6,000 man army equipped with black armor!
Then what about the Eight Supreme Sects?
“The Yangzhou Salt Merchants are so wealthy, and they have so many experts that they don’t care if we steal their money.” Teng Yunlong said with a sneer. Then he turned to Teng Yongfan and instructed: “Yongfan, go to Wang Lao San’s to silently place an order tonight! Tell their boss to prepare the materials and to deliver them as quickly as possible.”
(TLN: Wang Lao San (???) means The third of the Wang family. A nickname.)
“Rest assured.” Teng Yongfan nodded.
“The most troublesome matter is time!” Teng Yongfan frowned. “Master, it will be really difficult for us to refine 182 Jade Frost Sabers in one month. Besides, since the other brothers don’t have the required skillset, there is no one else in the clan who can help us.”
“It’s alright. When the materials arrive, I will refine them with you.” Teng Yunlong said.
“Master…” Teng Yongfan was surprised.
“What? You think I am too old?” Teng Yunlong began to laugh.
Teng Yunlong was now over 60 years old, and his strength and energy were dwindling. Moreover, the arm strength and skill required to refine Jade Frost Sabers, were extremely high.
“It’s ok. I will just assist you. The majority of the Jade Frost Sabers will need to be refined by you.” Teng Yunlong said.
“Ok.” Teng Yongfan immediately turned to Qingshan, “Qingshan, I would like you to do something for me. Tomorrow, lead your hunting squadron to the mountain again and take water from the Jade Frost Pool.”
“Where is the Jade Frost Pool?” Teng Qingshan asked.
Qingshan was able to infer that there was a connection between the Jade Frost Sabers and the Jade Frost Pool.
“Don’t worry. Old members like Qinghu know the location and will guide you there. Jade Frost Sabers must be refined with water from this Jade Frost Pool. Take two water tanks with you and fill them up completely.” Teng Yongfan sighed with sorrow. Qingshan knew nothing about forging and just nodded, “Alright, Father.”
This business was of great importance to the Teng Clan.
It was worth 20,000 taels of silver and, thus, the Teng Clan could not slack off in the slightest. The next morning, Qingshan brought his hunting squadron into the mountain.
“Qingshan, our Teng Clan relies on the Jade Frost Saber to eat well and buy clothing.” In the Great Yan Mountain, Teng Qinghu explained with a smile, “Moreover, refining a Jade Frost Sabre relies on techniques that are unknown to outsiders as well as the quenching water of the Jade Frost Pool. The water there is unprecedentedly cold.”
Teng Qingshan was surprised.
“The water remains cold even during the summer and is even colder in the winter. Strangely, it never freezes,” a clansman said. “Weapons refined by this water will be much sharper and tougher than other weapons.”
“If one were to put his hand in the water, it would immediately go numb.”
“Last time, we caught a wild chicken and dropped it into the pool. It immediately died from the cold and was not able to climb back out.”
The clansmen around him had so much to say that it was obvious they had already witnessed the Jade Frost Pool’s mystical properties.
“How mysterious!” Teng Qingshan was surprised.