Book 2 Chapter 21: Delivery
“No problem,” Teng Qingshan replied.
Teng Yunlong cautioned him: “You should prepare some more beast fur to wrap the Frost Jade Sabers with. The bandits’ attention will most likely not be attracted by mere hunters travelling to the city to sell beast furs.” Teng Yunlong took this business transaction very seriously since an exceedingly substantial amount of money was involved.
Perhaps for the salt merchant, it was just a drop in the water, but for Teng Jia Village, it was all they had.
“Don’t worry, Grandfather. I will kill anyone who tries to touch the Frost Jade Sabers.” Teng Qingshan said, full of confidence.
“Good!” Teng Yunlong smiled and gave Teng Qingshan a pat on the shoulder. Then, he rose and said: ”Alright, your father and I have started working. You should go back for now, and later, tell your mother to bring lunch for your father.”
Teng Qingshan glanced at his father, who was completely focused on forging the weapons, and proceeded to soundlessly leave the weapons shop.
Early the next morning, the sky was still completely dark. Most of the villagers from Teng Jia Village still had not woken up yet. The members of the hunting squadron, the Chief of Teng Jia Village, the Spear Master, and the other elders of the village had gathered in front of the weapons shop.
“Put 10 Frost Jade Sabers in one bundle, and make 18 bundles in total. Then, put the last 12 sabers into the last bundle!” Teng Yunlong commanded on the side. “Qingshan, you guys take the beast furs and wrap each bundle carefully before putting them into the cloth bags. Make sure that no one is able to tell that they are weapons from the outside!”
The members of the hunting squadron carefully wrapped the bundles of weapons.
Large amounts of beast skins that were acquired from their previous hunts were taken out, and soon, all 182 Frost Jade Sabers were bundled and wrapped up.
“Yongfan, Qingshan,” Teng Yunlong came closer and looked at them. “You must be careful on your journey to the city! Make sure that there are no mishaps!”
“Yes, Grandfather!” smiled Teng Qingshan.
Likewise, Teng Yongfan replied, “Master, just wait for us to bring the silver back.”
“Qingshan, let’s go!” Teng Yongfan said. At Teng Qingshan’s command, the hunting squadron began its journey. Some members carried their sharp spears, while others carried their bows and arrows. Teng Yunlong, Teng Yongxiang and the other members of the Teng Jia Village could only look at the departing individuals from a distance and pray for their success.
After an hour of travel, the sky brightened completely.
On the wide road, the hunters from Teng Jia Village were advancing forward with large strides; their vigilant glances revealed that they were on full alert.
“Father, take a look.” Teng Qingshan pointed forward. Just ahead, along the road, there were some corpses that could be barely seen. “Everybody be careful.” Teng Yunlong issued in a low voice. Then, the party once more began its careful advance. As they came closer, everybody could clearly see that there were twelve dead men.
The dried blood stains had already turned black; these twelve people had been robbed clean.
“It looks like they ran into some bandits. From the look of the corpses, they should have met their end last night.” Teng Yongfan said after a quick glance “Well, that’s enough. Let’s carry on.”
As they continued moving, Teng Qingshan asked, “Father, will their corpses be taken care of by someone?”
“Of course they will be taken care of! In this world, so many people die every day. If nobody collects and burns the corpses, a plague would occur.” Just a moment ago, Teng Yongfan looked at the corpses indifferently. He then gave a short smile, “This place belongs to a village; the nearby villagers will discover it and take care of the corpses when their clansmen come out to farm.”
Teng Qingshan frowned, “With bandits as rampant as these, won’t we meet some on our way too?”
“Qingshan,” a middle-aged man beside him smiled while saying. “These murderous bandits choose their targets very carefully. If their targets are travelling in a small party and are likely to possess wealth, then of course they would rob them! If there are a lot of people carrying a substantial amount of valuables, then the bandit groups would join hands to rob them. They won’t spare a glance to poor hunters like us. Furthermore, killing hunters usually incurs a loss on the bandit’s side, as well. Thus, they won’t act against others unless they absolutely have to!”
Teng Qingshan silently nodded.
Even bandits would take into account whether it was worth robbing someone or not. Bandits rarely mess with poor hunters because they did not carry a lot of money and were simultaneously hard to deal with.
“Let’s move faster. The earlier we get into the city, the better,” said Teng Yongfan.
Along the way, the farms gradually began getting busier as people were starting to work.
Teng Jia Village was not very close to Yi City, but it was not too far either. On foot, it would take on average about four hours to reach it.
Outside the gates of Yi City, a hunting party wearing beast skins appeared. Indeed, they were Teng Qingshan’s entourage. They had left when the sky was still dark, but the sun was at its zenith right now. Teng Qingshan and his entourage had finally arrived at Yi City! It was very fortunate that they had not encountered any bandits on their journey.
“We have finally arrived!” Teng Qingshan revealed a smile on his face. This was his first time visiting a city in this world.
In this chaotic world, children in villages did not get a lot of chances to enter cities.
“Two copper coins per person,” the guard at the city gate lazily said. Even the entrance fee into the city depends on the person. For hunters who looked savage and poor, the guards wouldn’t even bother raising the fee, so they only charged the lowest entrance fee for entering the city.
After paying 62 copper coins, Teng Qingshan and his entourage finally entered the city.
“Haha, as expected, the city is quite lively.” Teng Qinghu’s eyes were shining. “Qingshan, look, there are so many people on the streets. One cannot even see the end of the merchants lined along the street! Tsk tsk, when will we be able to see so many shops and fun things in our village?”
Teng Qingshan also felt the prosperity as he heard the hawkers calling out to customers. Guests from inns and restaurants were hustling and bustling everywhere.
“Hey, in the city, do not fight unless it is absolutely necessary.” Teng Yongfan reminded the group. “Even if you meet some bastards and you are forced to fight, remember to never kill them! It’s alright to kill someone outside the city, but in the city, if you are slow at fleeing after killing someone, you’ll be caught and jailed. That will be the end of your future.”
Everyone understood that the authorities would care only about matters happening inside the city. No matter how rampant the bandits and robbers were outside the city, even if the master of the city was very powerful, he would not bother with it. More importantly, he simply lacked the manpower to do anything about it.
“This time, let’s not separate. After selling off our goods, let’s just go shopping for a while and return back to the village. Understood?” Teng Yongfan asked.
“Understood.” Everyone nodded.
Normally, every time they visited Yi City, they would have some fun since it was not often that they got to visit the city. For example, they would visit the betting house and gamble a bit. But this time, the business deal involved a large sum of money, so nobody dared to be careless.
Teng Qingshan and his entourage reached a wide and quiet street where there was very little people about.
At his side, Teng Qinghu smiled and said, “Qingshan, there might not be a lot going on this street right now, but wait till night comes. This will become the liveliest place in the whole of Yi City. Look at that three story building, do you know what that is? Haha, you’ll never be able to guess! The beauties inside that place are so delicate that their skins are as soft as water.”
“Hahaha…” The clansmen who heard him began to laugh out loud.
“Qinghu, have you really touched those women before?” Teng Yongfan grinned.
Teng Qinghu scratched his nose, “This place is very good, but it’s just too expensive. It takes one tael of silver to just go in for a cup of tea and it gets even more expensive if you want to hire a woman! There is no difference from extortion!”
Teng Yongfan grinned, “Qinghu, can’t you see that these three brothels are the best in the city? They are built right next to every merchant guild. All their customers are those rich merchants. It’s not for people like us.”
“Qinghu, if you want to taste a woman, there’s a tofu shop right ahead. It just costs one string of coins for one time.” the clansmen laughed.
“Get off of me!” Teng Qinghu jokingly admonished. “I don’t even have a wife yet.”
“Alright, stop it now. The Yangzhou Merchant Guild is right ahead.” Teng Yongfan reminded.
Teng Qingshan spent his previous life in modern society, and thus, he had seen many large cities. Those metropolitans took an hour or two to get from one side of the city to the other by car. Yi City couldn’t even compare to them. Of course, the buildings in his previous life were made of concrete and steel. On the other hand, the different buildings here had an older and more antique feeling.
“This area is filled with the different merchant guilds, and the Yangzhou Merchant guild takes up the largest space.” Teng Yongfan pointed ahead and said, “And that is the Yangzhou Merchant Guild.”
Teng Qingshan took a look and could not help but blow out an exhalation of surprise.
The door to the Yangzhou Merchant Guild was about 10 Zhang wide. Twenty to thirty people could comfortably walk in side by side at the same time. Two large, shiny, green-blueish stone lions overshadowed the entrance, increasing the feeling of power and prestige. Teng Yongfan sighed, “Qingshan, both of those stone lions are made of lapis. For stone lions as big as these, each lion definitely weighs more than ten thousand catties. Just these two stone lions alone cost thousands of taels of silver!”
Yangzhou Salt Merchants had overflowing wealth. This statement was definitely not an exaggeration.
“Piss off!” one of the four burly guards guarding the door to the Yangzhou Merchant Guild shouted at Teng Qingshan and his entourage.
“We are here to deliver some goods for Jiangning County’s Master Lee!” said Teng Yongfan.
“Master Lee of Jiangning County?” One of the guards narrowed his eyebrows. “Wait here. I’ll go pass the message.”
Teng Qingshan and his entourage stood silently by the door. Moments later, two black clad men ran over. Once they saw Teng Yongfan, one of the men said in a clear voice, “Teng Jia Village right? Come in.” They turned around and went in, followed by Teng Qingshan and the others.
The exterior of the merchant guild only displayed the tip of the iceberg of the extravagance. The full splendor of the merchants’ lives could only be seen from the interior.
“Calm down,” Teng Qinghu said to himself with his eyes wide open.
Teng Qingshan also exhaled in surprise. The floor was paved with huge azurestone blocks. How much manpower would it take to collect and organize the azurestones so neatly? On the side, there were numerous different varieties of flora and fauna, many of which were not from Yi City. They were definitely imported from many different places. There were also different plants inside the large pool and even a man-made spring towards the side.
“Even the luxurious villas in the modern times couldn’t be compared to this,” Teng Qingshan said to himself. “Moreover, this is just a merchant guild.”
Yanzhou Salt Merchant guild was the number one merchant guild in the world, and only the Yuzhou Merchant guild might be comparable to them.
Inside the merchant guild, there were multiple large houses.
“You people be careful here. If you break anything, you won’t be able to afford to replace it.” One of the men clad in back who was leading the way said. “Also, some of the houses here are inhabited. Every single one of those residents have as much power as our lord. If you run into any one of them, don’t expect to get out of here alive. Be extremely careful!”
“Yes, we understand.” Teng Yongfan smiled.
All of the clansmen became even more cautious. Yangzhou Salt Merchants had connections with the largest organizations in the whole Nine Prefectures and the eight sects. Even if they killed some people, the master of Yi City couldn’t do anything about it.
“Here it is.” One of the men clad in black said. “For these kinds of small business, just talk to the steward. Don’t go through the front door. If you disturb our lord, that will be the end of you. Follow me through the back door.” They went through an alley behind two large houses and arrived at the back door of a large house.
Quite a number of servants and guards lived here.
“Oh, you’ve arrived.” The leader of the horsemen who went to Teng Jia Village was sitting imposingly on a chair. He gave Teng Qingshan’s group a glance and said, ”Come in. Take out the goods and lay them out on the floor.”