The next day, Treasurer Cao delivered his banquet invitation to Long Feiye and Han Yunxi via Xie Yujun. When Long Feiye saw the words "Treasurer Cao," he asked Xie Yujun some questions to get to the truth of the matter. This man was recommended by the three big families in Jiangnan and was the general manager of the private salt trade at Changning's salt mines. The three young masters even found him for smaller sales.
Although Treasurer Cao didn't involve himself in small sales, he did oversee big business. Long Feiye was investigating the very thing, such as the recent shipments to Wintercrow Country. One big deal was enough for him to find all evidence and convict the entire gang! Even if the three families chose to pin the blame all on Treasurer Cao, he could still implicit them for negligence and take back the salt mines for himself.
Long Feiye had used the identity of East Origin Hall's young master because 1) it was easy to use and would lower Treasurer Cao's suspicions and 2) the path between the salt mines and Wintercrow Country were identical to the path between the salt mines and Three-Way Black Market. He could dig out lots of information about Wintercrow Country on the way.
That very afternoon, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi arranged to meet at Tianming Lake where Treasurer Cao had reserved a waterboat restaurant. These ships cruised on the lake all year round and never docked. However, this time Treasurer Cao had emptied out the entire lake in addition to chartering the whole boat.
While Han Yunxi was waiting for the barge to take them to the ship, she sighed and said, "Long Feiye, that place isn't just suitable for talking business, but love!"
There were no ears on the water. One could speak of business deals or sweet nothings without revealing a thing. She suddenly felt the urge to do sales again—maybe organize a boat team to take over all the lakes of Great Qin and open a hotel franchise or whatnot. Long Feiye was so anxious for her to birth a daughter, but she always wanted to try different business ideas. At the very least, she wanted to wait a year or two before her second child. If not for Xu Donglin and the other shadow guards taking Rui'er around to play, she would probably be stuck in an inn with her son instead of traveling around with Long Feiye.
It was unclear whether Long Feiye knew of Han Yunxi's thoughts, but he looked back and said seriously, "Empress, if you help me take back Changning's salt mines, Zhen will reward you with a lake and a ship."
Han Yunxi was about to happily agree when she suddenly understood what he meant. Recalling the details of last night, she shot him a glare. "No!"
Soon the barge docked to pick them up. On board, the duo realized it was Treasurer Cao himself who awaited them. Thanks to Long Feiye's prank last night, Han Yunxi had to cling to Long Feiye as his lover while dressed as a man. The group exchanged pleasantries before sailing for the waterboat. The whole way Long Feiye had his arm around Han Yunxi's waist. Treasurer Cao glanced at Han Yunxi a few times and was very glad. After he decided to invite Sir Ye last night, he'd immediately rode a fast horse back to the prefecture to find two male pets. One of them was soft and pretty, arousing feelings of pity; he was also proficient in music, especially the flute. The other wasn't very attractive, but had an excellent physique, being tall, powerful and full of masculinity.
To make friends with Sir Ye, he not only found him a man, but Sir Han one as well.
After embarking on the waterboat, Han Yunxi and Long Feiye saw two men come to gret them. Judging by their appearances, style of dress, gaze, and gait, they instantly recognized the other as male pets.
Han Yunxi almost laughed out loud. Long Feiye played with fire this time! Treasurer Cao must have heard Xie Yujun describe them last night and found this pair for them. Sure, he might have given Long Feiye a weak little princeling-type, but even she had her own to pair! Han Yunxi released Long Feiye's hand and watched with amusement as he was bombarded by another man. But Long Feiye only stared at the taller, stronger male pet with a face that was frighteningly frigid. He was about to lose his temper when Treasurer Cao stepped up and took both males' hands in a very intimate, ambiguous gesture.
Han Yunxi was taken aback, to say nothing of Long Feiye. They thought the male pets were for them, but who knew Treasurer Cao liked men too? And his tastes ran the gamut between both types! Long Feiye's original idea was to toss both males into the lake, but since they were Treasurer Cao's men, he restrained himself and looked much better for not caring. Treasurer Cao made no explanation as he cheerfully led them upstairs to sit.
In truth, Treasurer Cao hadn't noticed Long Feiye's displeasure at all. He did not offer the male pets directly, but pretended he was like Sir Ye and preferred men to leave him a good impression. In this way, they would grow closer. His methods were a tad above those of Xie Yujun's.
Upstairs, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi sat on one side while Treasurer Cao sat on the other. The two male pets flanked him on both sides, while Xie Yujun's trio remained on the sidelines. Long Feiye and Treasurer Cao discussed matters of pricing quite seriously. Naturally, Treasurer Cao wasn't easy to fool, being the manager of the private salt trade. Every word Long Feiye used was chosen with caution as he probed for details.
Han Yunxi had been tossed and turned by Long Feiye all last night and was tired enough to sleep for three days straight. She didn't have much energy to dedicate to Treasurer Cao, so she shut up and listened peacefully from the sidelines. Unexpectedly, she soon found Treasurer Cao's male pets exchanging constant looks between her and Long Feiye. As soon as her eyes met the stronger man's gaze, she broke contact, goosebumps rising on her skin. Still, she privately snickered. I'm almost certain the male pets are for us, not Treasurer Cao! He doesn't seem to like men at all!
She glanced at Long Feiye, but he was focused on Treasurer Cao and didn't notice the male pets at all. With his personality, he wouldn't look at them anyways. He basically treated everyone he found useless or unworthy as air. Han Yunxi's amusement only grew at the sight of his dedication. She was looking forward to the moment he realized the truth too! All throughout his life, he'd been bombarded with lovestruck female gazes, including her own. But she was sure he'd rarely had men look at him with those kinds of eyes!
Currently, Long Feiye was discussing problems of transportation with Treasurer Cao. The latter was still more reserved and didn't suggest any specific routes. Even when Long Feiye asked, he only cut him off or switched to other topics.
"Sir Ye, you don't need to worry about matters of transportation. As long as you give us a suitable deadline, I promise to ship the wares to Three-Way Black Market on time," Treasurer Cao declared.
"The destination isn't Three-Way Black Market," Long Feiye stopped after his words.
Treasurer Cao's gaze grew complicated. "Where is Sir Ye planning to move such a large order?"
A huge shipment like this would be checked throughout its trip. There was a high risk of being suspected of hoarding goods, which would only incite suspicion afterwards. Long Feiye looked at Treasurer Cao without a word. But the man was patient enough and didn't pry. He just couldn't help asking, "Could it be that Sir Ye doesn't want to stockpile, but wants to ship it out directly?"
Most smugglers preferred to hoard their goods in Three-Way Black Market until the price was high enough to sell. Sir Ye had ordered 500 carts of salt. If he wasn't stockpiling, where would he send them? Even Wintercrow Country couldn't use so much salt at once.
Long Feiye's lips rose in a smirk but he remained mute. Treasurer Cao had no choice but to guess what he was thinking.
If it's purely for stockpiling, there's no need to buy salt privately. Most people who do have plans to sell it beyond Great Qin, but that's only Wintercrow Country at present. Treasurer Cao assumed that Sir Ye would keep his stores at Three-Way Black Market before selling to Wintercrow, but now things were more uncertain.
He tried probing. "Sir Ye, you are asking for a large sum. Wintercrow Country wouldn't be able to finish that much salt even in a year and a half!"
Long Feiye arched his brow and remained silent. The less he spoke, the more restless Treasurer Cao felt. Then he thought of his goal to cultivate a long-term friendship and hesitated. Rising up in a show of goodwill, he leaned over and quietly murmured in Long Feiye's ear, "Sir Ye, I won't lie, but recently there's been someone else with intentions to send a large shipment to Wintercrow Country. If Sir Ye has the same idea, then I shall reject that other deal."
"Heheh, who has the gall to vie with my East Origin Hall?" Long Feiye muttered back.
Treasurer Cao didn't say any names, but replied, "Sir Ye, if our deal is successful then I can leave all business with Wintercrow Country to you in the future, how's that?"
Long Feiye only scoffed without answering.
Treasurer Cao knew he was displeased and lowered his voice even further. "Sir Ye, that person is Ning—"
Before he could finish, Long Feiye inadvertently looked up and saw the male pet opposite him staring back with a dazed expression. His gaze could be described as soft, tender, and ambiguous.
Instantly, Long Feiye's face fell. He looked over to the other side and saw the second male pet making eyes at Han Yunxi.
Slapping the table, Long Feiye stood up and lost all interest in the other smuggler's name. The clueless Treasurer Cao was only halfway finished and greatly taken aback. Bewildered, he wondered why Sir Ye had suddenly lost his temper. Han Yunxi was surprised as well. She was quite close to Long Feiye and had started paying more attention to Treasurer Cao's words than the male pets. Knowing a name drop was imminent had made her nervous, but hearing "Ning" after that made it worse.
Who knew that Long Feiye would act rashly right at this juncture?!Previous Chapter Next Chapter
well well well, i wonder which Ning this one could be? :)
in other news i've been accepted as a translator for the danmei-centric site Chrysanthemum Garden! ah well, i'll be translating a BL project Too Bad Master Died Early there. it's similar to scum villain, but with its own characters and challenges. worth a read if you're interested (but mind the tags!).