By saying he wasn’t playing anymore, Tang Li left everyone speechless. It was as if someone had poured cold water over the crowd, leaving them mute. The foolish spendthrift, Tang Li, had ended up being the biggest winner of the night by easily gaining 500 million, while Gu Qishao had lost 420 million in four rounds. Although 120 million chips had been given to him by Ning Cheng, he was still the biggest loser. In the space of time it took to brew a cup of tea, he’d gambled away 360 million for nothing, while his own Golden Wing Hall had lost 100 million in the bargain.
In other words, most of Tang Li’s winnings was Gu Qishao’s money.
Gu Qishao had looked to the second floor as soon as the attendant spoke to him, but Ning Cheng had long backed out of sight. No one could spot him from downstairs. In truth, Gu Qishao had been having a perfectly good time right next door until the Thousand Gold Pavilion had drawn him in with its hubbub. He had wanted to join in the fun and play a little happier. Although he’d taken Ning Cheng’s 120 million chips for nothing, he was willing to accept his losses. If Uncle Cheng hadn’t tried any tricks, he would have been perfectly content to lose it all.
Yet Uncle Cheng had cheated him in every round so far. How could he not be angry? He didn’t care that Tang Li had won all his silver, he saw Thousand Gold Pavilion and its owner Ning Cheng as his enemy! Ning Cheng had sent someone to tell him to come back so he could pay back his silver? Dream on! His freedom to gamble had been wrecked, so he wouldn’t be Gu Qishao if he couldn’t get payback in folds!
Uncle Cheng sensed that the situation was getting bad. He didn’t dare to continue the game. A man like Gu Qishao had no fixed principles or personality and always acted against the norms. If he was really angry, then who knows how long he’d delay plans for Blacktower? Although Gu Qishao had suffered massive losses with his 300 million chips or more, Thousand Gold Pavilion could still afford to compensate him.
For the sake of the big picture, they’d have to spend money to avoid disaster. As for Tang Li--it was a shame that such a good chance this time had gone to waste. They’d have to settle debts another day. Uncle Cheng had no idea what Ning Cheng was thinking, so he could only take the lead to keep the peace. Although it didn’t match the gambling house’s rules, who told them to run into Gu Qishao in the first place?
“Hehe, since Master Tang isn’t playing anymore, then I ask that everyone take a break. We can start a new round after the time it takes to brew a cup of tea,” Uncle Cheng said. He had to buy time to talk with Gu Qishao one on one.
Gu Qishao looked over with a disdainful smile. “What, are you afraid that this young gentleman can’t afford to lose?”
“Nonono, it’s just that Master Tang is withdrawing now, so we should--”
Gu Qishao tossed his final gold card at Uncle Cheng to interrupt him. “This young gentleman wants to change the gambling method. Use real gold and silver to bet instead! This card of mine has no limits, so if you win, it’ll belong to you. If you lose, go ask your master for a card of your own to pay for the losses!”
The crowd’s eyes lit up at the mention of a limitless card. Cloud Realm Continent’s gold cards could be used anywhere, but they had different levels and hierarchies. The highest level would be gold cards with no spending limits. They were equal to credit cards with no spending limits, where the owner could spend as much money as he wanted. Whatever he used was the debt of the cardholder, who was responsible for all payments. There were only ten total limitless gold cards in all of Cloud Realm Continent. It wasn’t easy to get your hands on one unless you had enough assets and wealth. The big banks wouldn’t pass one otherwise.
Tang Li had just set a new record in the Three-Way Black Market’s gambling houses when Gu Qishao broke it with his own. He was not only the first to bet so much money on his first takes, but the first to lose so much money in one day. Now he was even breaking the casino’s rules to bet his limitless gold card.
At first, no one wondered about the face beneath the gold mask or who he could be, but now they were extremely curious.
It doesn’t look like he’s an accomplice...so what are his origins? Han Yunxi was full of doubts. She had seen her share of gold cards over the years, but only two of them had no spending limits: the one used by Long Feiye and the one he’d given to her on her first shopping spree in Medicine City.
Long Feiye only looked at the gold-masked man with infinite amusement as admiration played through his eyes. Actually, he had already been losing interest in the successive bets from before until the man bet his own gold card. It had to be said that Uncle Cheng’s heart stirred at the sight of it too. After all, only ten total existed in all of Cloud Realm Continent. Even Cloud Realm Trade Consortium only had three of them to its name.
Tang Li was on the verge of telling Ning Jing to exchange their chips for silver drafts when he turned back at the declaration. He was beginning to sympathize with the black-robed man. It was certain that the higher-ups of the casino had set their sights on him. If he kept on, he’d be shouldering a crippling debt. Despite that, he didn’t turn back to give the man any helpful reminders. He didn’t have a speck of guilty conscience. Everyone bet their stakes willingly at the gambling tables, so there was no use getting mad at anyone else. If someone had complaints, they shouldn’t bet in the first place. Even now, he was tightly gripping Ning Jing’s hand while his heart inwardly rejoiced. Multiple times tonight, she’d tugged at his hand to remind him to watch out. For a while, he had the mistaken impression that she was actually on his side--sharing the same boat as him as his wife.
In a low voice, he murmured, “Jing Jing, did that warehouse of yours have 500 million?”
“No,” Ning Jing replied calmly. She had forgotten that the warehouse theft was a lie she made up in the first place to escape in the black markets tonight.
Was it fortune or misfortune for a liar to be tricked by her own lies?
Tang Li and Ning Jing gradually left the gambling table behind them while everyone was distracted by Gu Qishao’s stakes. But Ning Cheng’s chilly gaze from the second floor never left the couple’s backs. He could afford to lose 500 million, but he was stunned that Gu Qishao would interfere. His face was ashen because he’d lost a grand chance to deal with Tang Li. After some hesitation, his gaze turned ruthless as he instructed an attendant, “Have the head elder show himself and bring Miss Jing and our son-in-law into the Peaceful Hall for tea. Without my orders, they’re not allowed to leave Myriad Merchant Hall.”
Political tension was growing on the Northern Li front, while they already had a way to lure Bai Yanqing to Blacktower. If everything went smoothly, then East and West Qin would resume hostilities in a month and the Tang Clan weapons would fall into their hands. Since Tang Li had encroached on his turf, how could he let him go? If the head elder kept them here, Ning Jing would understand his intentions.
“Yes!” the attendant hastily departed. Ning Cheng glanced over at the gambling table, where Uncle Cheng had yet to answer Gu Qishao. By now, Gu Qishao was starting to raise a hoot.
“What, are you afraid that this young gentleman can’t afford to lose? Or that your Thousand Gold Pavilion can’t afford the losses?”
“Hehe, your Myriad Merchant Hall’s Thousand Gold Pavilion self purports to be Cloud Realm Continent’s number one gambling house. Are you afraid to accept a single gold card? Give me an answer, are you betting or not? If not, then I’ll go to Golden Wing Hall instead!”
Day or night, casinos and their wealth dreaded types like Gu Qishao who raised this kind of ruckus. Gambling houses were supposed to be rich and imposing, welcoming gamblers to stake whatever they wanted with enthusiasm. How could they ever be afraid? That would only make others suspect the wealth of the casino, which was a fatal blow. Gu Qishao’s offhand comments were enough to earn the agreement of all the surrounding gamblers.
“What’s Thousand Gold Pavilion playing at? Can’t they afford to bet against one limitless gold card? Don’t open a casino if you can’t afford it!”
“Pah! I never expected Thousand Gold Pavilion to be a bunch of cowards. Boring, boring! This old fellow’s not playing anymore!”
“Hehe, if I won a few hundred million one day, will Thousand Gold Pavilion run out of silver drafts to give me? Weak, weak! Everyone, let’s go, this play is no good for gambling!”
A limitless gold card was already a big deal, but a player like Gu Qishao, who would keep on gambling regardless of how much he lost or won, made it even more impossible for Uncle Cheng to call the shots. He had long sent someone to ask Ning Cheng for instructions. As he placated the crowd, he waited desperately for answers. Yet the person who found him wasn’t an attendant, but a man dressed in gray robes. He caught everyone’s attention as soon as he appeared, a man of middling height with a skinny frame. His silhouette was sharp, his features pronounced, and his nose extremely high. Short and conspicuous golden hair topped his head, identifying him as one of the foreign tribes on the outskirts of Cloud Realm Continent.
His thinness didn’t count as slender or sickly, but only slightly “shou.” However, his eyes weren’t shou at all. He ignored the stares of the crowd and walked towards Uncle Cheng step by step.
There were three types of men in this world who could stand amidst a crowd and attract endless attention. The first were Long Feiye types, whose aggressive, noble air resembled nature itself. Standing loftily above the massives, they were solemn in their own way without having to show anger and made people respect them while keeping a distance. The second were Gu Qishao types, with bombastic speech and showy, flashy ways. Their features were stunning and their harsh words impossible to ignore. The third were types like this man. Although he lacked Long Feiye’s aura and Gu Qishao’s ostentation, no one could look away when he appeared.
Uncle Cheng’s heart finally settled back into his chest at the sight of the man as he grew relieved. In turn, the man nodded at Uncle Cheng, who walked past him and left the scene.
“What’s going on? Leaving because you can’t afford to bet?” Gu Qishao had plenty of objections for the swindling Uncle Cheng.
“Sir, the dealers have no right to change the rules, so I’ll be taking over his table from here. I am Thousand Gold Pavilion’s Manager Jin, called A’Jin.”
Manager Jin was both humble and polite, his slight smile filled with cultivated professionalism. But even so, Han Yunxi spotted a hint of arrogance in his eyes. She knew then that he wasn’t as placid as he seemed on the surface. Mu Linger was staring at Manager Jin too. She never expected the world to have another man just as beautiful as Qi gege. Manager Jin’s beauty differed from Gu Qishao’s in that he was purely handsome and good looking. She suddenly wanted to know what he looked like if he laughed. But she was certain of one thing: no matter what, Qi gege would still be prettier than Manager Jin.
Frequent patrons of Thousand Gold Pavilion had all heard that its manager was a highly skilled gambler, but no one had ever seen him. Manager Jin’s arrival quieted things down as they all marveled at his youth.
“Have you ever seen him before?” Han Yunxi asked in a low voice.
“I’ve heard of him. He’s an orphan from a foreign country, but his origins are unclear,” Long Feiye murmured back.
Gu Qishao could care less who he was. He asked unhappily, “In other words, you have the right to change the rules?”
“Yes,” Manager Jin replied calmly.
Gu Qishao pulled out his chair and sat back down. “Fine, then let’s play the simplest game: Large vs. Small!”
1. Shou (受) in this context means to be the submissive party, the receiving party (cough “uke” cough), and sounds exactly the same as shou (瘦), or “skinny.” My dudes I kid you not, I think the author just made a BL terminology reference. Cough where’s my alternate universe PGC with main character Gu Beiyue cough.
#2 of the 12 owed PGC chapters!
Dundundun! PGC gets its first ever...Western character in an ancient Chinese setting? Oh my goodness, we need reference pictures stat! And is it just me or has Mu Linger finally shown a hint of interest in a man besides GQS at last? Hope spot for the shippers who want her to heal her broken heart!
But seriously, what's your definition of a purely good-looking, handsome man with the air of a shou (cough BL-styled uke)? Tell us in the comments below, or share your finds on the PGC channel on volare Discord! It's good for discussion fun, at any rate.
I'm also sharing the link to my GoogleDocs there, so feel free to drop in and comment on my live translations! ^-^ (Yes, that includes pointing out typos haha.)