Long Feiye’s views on Great General Ning’s motives caught Han Yunxi completely by surprise. He suspected the man of having ties to the Di Clan!
“How could that be?” Han Yunxi couldn’t believe it. If that was true, then the Di Clan was truly buried too deep. They had control over a third of Tianning’s military, and even had the patience to lay low until now without betraying their country. That wasn’t even the most crucial detail! If his assumption was correct, the Di Clan’s strength couldn’t be contested. Great General Ning originally only controlled Tianning’s cavalry, but after the civil unrest caused Emperor Tianhui to flee to the west, his loyalty had earned the man’s trust. Now he had two more Tiger command tallies in his hand, issued by the emperor himself. His title had also been changed to ‘Tianning Great General,’ which gave him authority over all of its soldiers.
If Great General Ning was truly from the Di Clan, then his forces, in combination with Cloud Realm Trade Consortium’s financial backing, would make them a monstrous foe, even compared to Long Feiye and Northern Li!
“This residence was won in a black market auction bordering the Three-Way Battlefield. If the fourth imperial prince could find us here, the black markets must have divulged its location.” Long Feiye stated simply.
Han Yunxi now understood why Long Feiye suspected Great General Ning had connections to the Di Clan. After all, Cloud Realm Trade Consortium had a substantial presence at the Three-Way Black Markets. She nodded pensively while Long Feiye asked, “Want to make a bet? Your lordship has fifty percent certainty.”
Indeed, a single point like this could only lead to a strong suspicion. There was no way to guarantee that Great General Ning was from the Di Clan. After all, connections were highly complex within the black markets. It was possible another force beside Cloud Realm Trade Consortium had received the intel, just as it was possible for the fourth imperial prince to have found them in some other way entirely.
“Alright. Then I’ll bet that Great General Ning is from the Di Clan?” Han Yunxi asked with a grin. Naturally, she was playing the same old trick and choosing first again. Of all the people who’d bet with her in the past, Long Feiye was probably the only one who’d try a second time.
“So, your lordship has no choice but to bet that he’s not?” Long Feiye asked with amusement evident in his voice.
“You have a fifty-fifty chance anyways, so we have equal odds to win!” Han Yunxi smiled. From a technical standpoint, she hadn’t gained any bonus advantages this time, either. And somewhere down the line, Long Feiye had lost the ability to tell her ‘no.’
Instead he asked her outright, “What are the stakes?”
Han Yunxi secretly laughed into her sleeves as her expression turned wicked. Long Feiye’s gaze grew more interested at the sight, but when Han Yunxi refused to elaborate, he demanded, “Speak!”
“If I win, you’ll give Lil Thing a hug?” Han Yunxi asked as she studied his face for a reaction. As she hoped, Long Feiye’s response was quite rewarding. “If you agree to bet, you must embrace the possibility of losing. Don’t regret things now!” she smiled.
“It’s only a fifty-fifty chance. Are you that sure your lordship will lose?” Long Feiye retorted.
“There’s a chance, isn’t there?” Han Yunxi said as she summoned a sleeping Lil Thing from her space to her sleeve to pet the creature. Now she was capable of moving Lil Thing in and out of her poison storage space with ease. Nevertheless, large things like the poison pond would still tax her mentally. Cultivation took time, after all, especially when one was cultivating the mind.
If Lil Thing knew that Mama Yunxi was doing so much for its sake, would it be too touched to sleep for three days and three nights?
Under Han Yunxi’s meaningful gaze, Long Feiye finally nodded his head. “Fine!”
Delighted, Han Yunxi asked, “Then what are your terms?”
Long Feiye only said coldly, “If your lordship wins, you’ll leave that rat in Pill Fiend Pharmacy from thereafter. Raise it there. Don’t keep it on your person.”
Lil Thing might be a poisonous beast, but it had yet to recover after Han Yunxi took its blood to cure Long Tianmo. Right now, it had no way to protect her at all. From Long Feiye’s perspective, it was better to leave the animal at Pill Fiend Pharmacy and nurture it there.
Han Yunxi’s mouth twitched. “How many times have I said it? Lil Thing isn’t a rat! It’s a squirrel!” How can one be compared to the other? Rats are disgusting, while squirrels are cute!
“Think it over!” Long Feiye said plainly. In other words, if she didn’t agree, they weren’t going to bet.
Han Yunxi was filled with mirth. He’s probably regretting this bet already! Even though she had half a chance at winning, experience taught her that Long Feiye’s judgment was usually accurate. So betting on his beliefs was a solid choice.
“No need to think it over,” she said firmly, “It’s settled!”
Long Feiye regarded her in silence.
“These will be our terms, alright?” Han Yunxi intentionally pressed him.
“Mm,” Long Feiye replied sulkily, causing Han Yunxi to burst into laughter. His heavy face couldn’t help but quirk up into a helpless smile in response. I’m always defenseless when it comes to this woman.
There was a fifty percent chance that Great General Ning was part of the Di Clan. Between Long Feiye and Han Yunxi, who would win? Would Lil Thing stay, or leave? It all remained to be seen!
Long Feiye had told the fourth imperial prince that he’d give him an answer after three days, but plenty of developments happened at the borders before the allotted time was up. Cloud Realm Trade Consortium’s first attempt in aiding the Chu Clan was to help them win the three eastern prefectures of Western Zhou. They had not only supplied armor, but much-needed stores of rations, quilts, and medicines. It was almost the New Year, and the days were getting colder. Snow had begun to fall the previous night, but the Consortium’s deliveries were enough to keep the Chu army warm through winter.
Emperor Kang Cheng originally banned all trade from Cloud Realm Trade Consortium within Western Zhou borders, but the latest news angered him into sealing all businesses owned by the consortium. Moreover, he then banished all of their merchants from Western Zhou, setting a decree that anyone consorting with them would be executed, along with their entire clan!
But Cloud Realm Trade Consortium had long prepared for this. Much of their most valuable assets and properties had already been withdrawn from the country or transfered to other locations. They’d also stopped major high-stakes deals in earnest, costing Western Zhou’s merchants massive losses in the process. Furthermore, the Consortium hired people to disseminate false rumors to turn public opinion, accusing Emperor Kang Cheng of being incompetent and turning the country’s merchants against him. Han Yunxi learned of this news at the same time she received a letter from Medicine City’s Council of Elders.
“They one-sidedly stopped all agreements and contracts? And now, they’re not only refusing to hand over the profits earned this year, but they also want us to pay them compensation?” Han Yunxi felt her temper flaring at the words. “Ouyang Ning Jing is capable of such things? Doesn’t she know that businesses are built on mutual trust?!”
“Esteemed wangfei, Cloud Realm Trade Consortium said that it was Medicine City who stopped trading with them first, thus violating the terms of their contract. This gives them the right to withhold all profits and claim indemnity for their losses. They even....they even sent word to say that if Medicine City didn’t pay up, they would ask Medical City to come and uphold justice for their side!” Xu Donglin reported.
“Shameless!” Han Yunxi smiled coldly.
Though the world had its share of wily merchants, they still had their bottom line. Cloud Realm Trade Consortium was simply plaguing them with unreasonable demands.
“So what if they find Medical City? Tell them that they can keep dreaming about compensation. And they had best pay Medicine City everything that’s owed, or else!” Han Yunxi said sternly.
“But esteemed wangfei…it really seems like Medicine City violated their contract when they cut off trade with the Consortium,” Xu Donglin reminded her timidly. “The terms of their agreement stated that Cloud Realm Trade Consortium has the right to choose their business partners once the contract expires. Medicine City can only sell their wares to other businesses if Cloud Realm Trade Consortium declines to renew their contracts.”
“Those are the rules of a despot! The Council of Elders might have agreed to the clause, but who knows how many benefits Ouyang Ning Nuo padded in for Xie Deyi? Now the Council’s been reformed, so do they have to follow the same terms?” Han Yunxi shot back.
Xu Donglin finally understood and nodded in agreement.
“We’re already letting them off by not pressing charges of bribery. Ouyang Ning Jing truly wants a yard after getting an inch!” Han Yunxi was furious. There was a sizable profit from all the business conducted between the Consortium and Medicine City. If Medicine City didn’t get their due, it would affect the prices of the medicine for next year. And if weather conditions continued to impact the crops, prices would rise even further. The Consortium's reasons for keeping the money could make one’s blood boil.
Moreover, Cloud Realm Trade Consortium was even using the profits to support the war effort, making Han Yunxi heave with rage. In the face of this anger, Long Feiye didn’t look very happy either, but he managed to keep his cool.
“It’s highly unlikely that Cloud Realm Trade Consortium would have given up the medicine business so easily without reason,” he remarked.
“The snow mountains?” Han Yunxi asked in alarm. Last time, Jun Yixie had used those very same mountains to win over Xie Deyi. It was then that she discovered Northern Li’s snowy peaks had high-yield production crops of precious medicinal plants.
“In other words, Cloud Realm Trade Consortium has teamed up with Northern Li?” Tang Li said faintly.
Gu Qishao, who was sitting on the side, abruptly leapt to his feet and headed towards the door. “This is annoying! Why are things so complicated? This old man is going to Western Liang for a look! I’ll be back in a few days!”
“Old fiend, take care of yourself!” Han Yunxi said as she chased after him, but Gu Qishao was already long gone.
It was truly as he’d said. Why were things so complicated?! Everything was chaotic enough to begin with, but if Northern Li got involved as well, then all of Cloud Realm Continent was likely to break out in war.
A complex look flickered past Long Feiye’s eyes before he ordered, “Xu Donglin, send word to Wang Gong. Have him spread news of the snow mountain’s deal to the medical academy! Say that Medicine City’s Council of Elders suspects it’s related to Jun Yixie!”
Although their theories about the snow mountains were purely conjecture, Long Feiye was all too willing to pin the blame on Jun Yixie. The man had already been reduced to commoner status, so the medical academy wouldn’t let such a rumor drop. They would keep a close eye on its developments. None of the pharmacies with Pill Fiend Pharmacy’s token would dare to cooperate with Cloud Realm Trade Consortium. If the consortium did have medicine in their hands, they would only be able to do business with some famous doctors or independent pharmacists. But if the medical academy was monitoring them, which doctor or pharmacy would have the nerve to buy the consortium’s wares?
Xu Donglin left with his orders before Long Feiye turned back to Han Yunxi. “Esteemed wangfei, please quell your anger,” he said.
Han Yunxi snickered as her temper evaporated. Cloud Realm Trade Consortium might be crafty, but Long Feiye was even more sinister! Tang Li and Chu Xifeng were both stunned at the sight. Finally, they had personally witnessed how the Duke of Qin liked to spoil esteemed wangfei to make her happy. He even told ‘esteemed wangfei’ to ‘quell her anger.’
Your Highness Duke of Qin, war is about to break out all across the continent. Is it really alright to fool around and flirt at a time like this?
Chu Xifeng murmured quietly, “Your Highness, it’s about time to give the fourth imperial prince an answer.”
How would Long Feiye reply to the prince? Would he go to Western Liang, or stay where he was?
Reuploaded with Edits: 12/12/2020