Ning Cheng could still stand his ground. If he aggravated Gu Qishao and messed up his game, it’d only bring him losses. It wasn’t as if he couldn’t afford those tens of millions of chips.
“Yes,” the retainer nodded. “Master, Tang Li’s been winning all day. Half was from Uncle Cheng’s machinations, but the other was based on luck.”
“Heheh, then his luck’s not bad today,” Ning Cheng smiled.
“Uncle Cheng intends to have him win another day before making his move the day after tomorrow. The usury loan brothers have already been instructed ahead of time,” the retainer murmured.
In the casino, the scariest members were those who offered usury loans. The gambling house would never lend gamblers money, so they could only find loans from such merchants. But provoking them meant that a gambler would never recover again. They were the darkest forces of the black markets and didn’t belong to any one faction. The gambling houses had no jurisdiction over them either, although a portion of their interest went to the casinos. In a sense, they had a mutually beneficial relationship. If the gambler couldn’t afford to pay back the interest on the loans, then these people would make sure to have them pay with their lives once they left the gambling houses!
Ning Cheng’s plot was ingenious. If Tang Li owed the gambling house a debt, then the Myriad Merchant Hall couldn’t touch him since he was their son-in-law. However, if Tang Li owed the usury loan merchants, then Myriad Merchant Hall could act as a middleman to talk things over. With a combination of intimidation and bribery, they could then facilitate the Tang Clan and Cloud Realm Trade Consortium agreement to get those hidden weapons.
Ning Cheng had full faith in Uncle Cheng’s abilities, so he didn’t leave any further instructions. He was about to leave after glancing at Ning Jing when his gaze passed over Han Yunxi sitting in her wheelchair. How could Ning Cheng recognize her in men’s garb with a mustache stuck to her face? He only felt that her figure felt familiar, but eventually left without a second thought. He needed to send forces into Blacktower by now.
Meanwhile, the hubbub at the gambling table continued. Long Feiye and Han Yunxi hadn’t recognized the black-robed man as Gu Qishao, but they remained indifferent to his provocations. Uncle Cheng didn’t want new problems to crop up and smiled as he coaxed their newest guest. “This master, everyone’s waiting for your bet.”
Tang Li urged him on with an unhappy air. “What’s with all the nonsense? If you’re going to bet, then hurry up! What’s the point of pretending to be a bigshot if you have no money?”
Gu Qishao immediately changed his tune and slapped the table as he shouted out loud. “Large! This young gentleman bets large! 120,000,000 chips!”
At his exclamation, everyone quieted down. They stared at Gu Qishao with wide eyes and gaping mouths.
100 million chips in one shot? Just who is he?
As everyone watched, Gu Qishao gave a snicker before pushing out all of his and Mu Linger’s chips. The two massive piles clattered against the table, making everyone think of the same idiom: spending money like flowing water.
Mu Linger was the first to react. She wanted to stop him, but it was already too late. Her heart ached at the sight. She wasn’t interested in gambling at all and only wanted to lose Ning Cheng some money at most. She wanted to change her own 60,000,000 chips into silver drafts and buy some excellent medicinal ingredients from the auction house!
Tang Li was scared stiff. Although 100 million chips wasn’t much, even with 20,000,000 extra, this was only the man’s first move! His bet broke all previous records at the black markets! No one had ever played so big on their first shot! If this was only the beginning, then what was to follow?
How was he supposed to make up for 120 million chips’ worth of losses? Add another 120 million? And yet, if he won, betting a smaller sum for his second try would only make people laugh at him. Tang Li was beginning to suspect whether the black-robed man was actually his brother Long Feiye. Who else in the world would stake so much on his first throw?
This...this man’s so generous, it’s like he’s not even spending his own money! But there was no way his big brother could be here! Nor would he ever wear such a gaudy gold mask. A complicated look flickered past his eyes as he wondered if the the black-robed man was some sort of accomplice.
“Where did such a moneybags show up from?” Han Yunxi was shocked as well. “He couldn’t be an accomplice, right? Here to draw the wool over Tang Li’s head?”
Long Feiye was probably the calmest member of the crowd. He remained unruffled as he said, “Wait and see.”
Uncle Cheng was long burning with impatience as he kept shooting looks off to the side. It took the servant standing by awhile to recover before he finally went backstage to find Ning Cheng.
“Master! Master, it’s bad! Gu Qishao, he--he…”
Ning Cheng was currently knitting his brows over a problem and annoyed at being disturbed. “What’s the big deal?” he said coldly. “It better be--”
“Gu Qishao bet 120 million chips on his first play!” his retainer said urgently.
Ning Cheng gave a start before he slapped the table and stood up to rush out of the room. From a hidden balcony on the second floor, he looked down to that the massive crowds had all stopped their gambling to stare at Gu Qishao and Tang Li. The doors to Thousand Gold Pavilion had long been jammed packed with people waiting for Uncle Cheng to announce his hand!
“Master, what do we do?” the retainer asked.
Ning Cheng knitted his brows, but didn’t panic. “Wait and see.”
First they had to roll the dice, then place the bets, then announce the results. Uncle Cheng would change the outcome by cheating at various intervals to control the results. Dealers who often manned tables were shrewd of eye and heart. They had the power to understand the hearts of their gamblers utterly. If they knew for certain whether a gambler would bet “large” or “small,” they could cheat while rolling the dice. If they couldn’t guess, then they’d manipulate the results after the gambler had placed his or her bets.
If Gu Qishao hadn’t interfered, then Uncle Cheng could spend his time toying with Tang Li and control the flow of the game completely. But now Gu Qishao’s bet had made him wary. A complex look flickered past his eyes. As he saw it, Gu Qishao shouldn’t be hanging around as long as Tang Li here, not when he still had things to do.
“Everyone, take a good look!” Uncle Cheng recovered his dealer’s smile and slowly opened the box. In a flash, the gambling house fell silent, but it was only for a second. Tang Li all but leaped out of his seat as he cried, “Small! Ahahahaha! Small! Small! I’ve won!”
He hugged Ning Jing joyfully while sending the black-robed man a provoking glance as he drew out his words. “Smaaalll!”
Actually, he was faking his happiness. He could tell that Uncle Cheng had been manipulating the odds as soon as he started rolling the dice so the results would be “large.” The man had wanted him to lose. But thanks to the black-robed man stepping in, Uncle Cheng had no choice but to let him win. He spotted how the man had switched “large” for “small” results when opening the box. Over the course of the day, he’d won and lost in turns, seemingly under Uncle Cheng’s control. But everything was within his grasp. It was rare for him to feign slow-wittedness in the face of his own intelligence.
Gu Qishao’s face was completely black beneath his mask! Gambling was one of his strong points. Before he took over as Golden Wing Hall’s owner, he often played around in Three-Way Black Market’s casinos. After gaining ownership of his own, he used to spent large amounts of time practicing his skills in his own gambling houses. Whatever he won or lost there returned to him eventually, so he didn’t need to pay. Just then, he’d clearly saw Uncle Cheng doing something while he opened the box. Fooling me, are ya? You want to get back the 120 million I clearly took from Ning Cheng, is it?
Gu Qishao gradually narrowed his eyes as a dangerous aura emanated from his body.
Ning Cheng, ah, Ning Cheng. You still owe me old debts, but this young gentleman’s going to settle the new ones right now!
He tossed a gold card at a nearby attendant and cried, “Bring over another 120 million chips!”
Very soon, the attendant delivered the chips in a high pile in front of Gu Qishao. Meanwhile, Tang Li had doubled his wins and had 100 million chips of his own. Now they were playing big stakes. Uncle Cheng’s face darkened. He waited briefly, but Ning Cheng didn’t send anyone down. Without a choice, he could only start the next round by rolling the dice.
“May everyone place their bets,” Uncle Cheng said coldly.
Tang Li didn’t hesitate before betting 10,000,000 chips on “small,” while Gu Qishao’s eyes flickered coldly as he bet 100,000,000 on “large.” Long Feiye didn’t bet at all, but simply watched.
Uncle Cheng’s gaze turned ruthless before he opened the box. Once again, Tang Li burst into wild laughter. “Small! It’s small again, hahaha. Small again!”
Without a doubt, Uncle Cheng had chosen to cheat Gu Qishao again. No matter how many chips Tang Li won, he could make the man spit it up later. But there was no way Gu Qishao could win! If Gu Qishao was betting 10 million, 20 million, or 30 million chips, Uncle Cheng could let him win a few times before making him leave, but 100 million was really too much! Gu Qishao would never just win one round and give up, but multiple rounds at least. Each round wound net him hundreds of millions of chips in profit if he succeeded! How could the gambling house ever allow such losses? The price was too great!
Gu Qishao’s eyes turned more furious as he tossed out another gold card. “120 million!”
Very soon, the chips arrived, but Uncle Cheng only had Gu Qishao lose and Tang Li win again. By now, Gu Qishao had lost three times in a row for a total of 360 million chips, while Tang Li had won three times in a row for a total of 250 million chips. Even the richest moneybags had limits to the amount of money stored in their gold cards. After losing 120 million from Ning Cheng’s coffers, Gu Qishao had lost an additional 240 million of his own. He only had two gold cards left.
The fourth time, Gu Qishao lost another 120 million. Even Tang Li had to silently exhale in shock. This dealer’s really ruthless!
Gu Qishao was at his boiling point. He tossed the final gold card at the attendant and cried, “Another 120 million.”
Once again, the chips were brought. But before Uncle Cheng could begin the next round, both Gu Qishao and Tang Li rose to their feet. For a second, the crowd was stunned. Uncle Cheng appeared calm, but his heart was just about to leap out of his chest. In the distance, Ning Cheng had lost his calm as well. After Gu Qishao had lost four times, Tang Li now had 500 million chips in his possession. Either of their choices could yield a horrific result.
“Someone come, bring Gu Qishao back. Tell him I’ll pay back all his losses,” Ning Cheng decided immediately.
Unfortunately, the attendant had hardly whispered in Gu Qishao’s ear when Tang Li laughed and said, “I’ve won so much that I’m not playing anymore! I’m done!”
Tang Li looked calm, but he was beside himself with mirth. He was planning to make his real move tomorrow and win 200 million before he left, but who knew the black-robed man would get mixed up in the mess and save him all that time?
500 million! That was no small number! Even his big brother had to knit his eyebrows before taking out that much on his own. If he kept playing after this, then he was mental!
The casino was silent. Uncle Cheng’s hands were clearly trembling, while Ning Cheng’s face had turned completely ashen. Long Feiye remained calm, while Han Yunxi had to fight not to laugh. Gu Qishao looked up at Ning Cheng on the second floor while everyone else--Ning Jing included--were left completely floored!
The irony I felt translating casino scenes when Fate/Grand Order (JPN) is having its Summer 2019 event based on casinos too...lol.
Las Vegas, here we come!