Chapter 907: Guts, the lion's maw

Tang Li wanted to see her?

Ning Jing replied, “Tell him I won’t! And you might as well pass on the message: he can forget about running away. He’ll never make it!”

Han Yunxi laughed wordlessly. She rather missed Tang Li herself. “If you’re not going, then I’ll go?”

“What do you want to do?” Ning Jing grew nervous.

“Just chat a bit with him. I’ve hit it off with him in the past, so there’s plenty to say,” Han Yunxi grinned.

“Do you think you can still hit things off with him now? Don’t forget your status,” Ning Jing reminded coldly.

“Shall we make a bet?” Han Yunxi asked. Although she hadn’t seen Tang Li since publicizing her identity and had no idea about his stance on things, she was certain of one thing: Tang Li had worshipped Long Feiye as his big brother since he was a child and wouldn’t dare to defy him.

If Long Feiye had already acknowledged her, why wouldn’t Tang Li recognize his sister-in-law as well?

Ning Jing showed zero interest and only said icily, “Don’t tell him about our matters. If you want to go looking for trouble, then I won’t stop you. I’ll check out things at the auction halls in the meantime. The mastermind behind the scenes isn’t so simple.”

As she prepared to leave, Han Yunxi hastily stopped her. “Let me ask you something.”

“Ask!” Ning Jing said simply.

“Where’s Gu Qishao and Mu Linger?” Han Yunxi asked. Bai Yuqiao had fallen from Gu Qishao’s hands into Ning Cheng’s, so what happened in between? He had clearly wrote her a letter saying all was well, but had it been faked?

“Gu Qishao left ages ago. Mu Linger’s with Manager Jin, you can find her yourself,” Ning Jing said before leaving.

Han Yunxi was a bit surprised. In other words, Gu Qishao and Mu Linger had been in the Three-Way Black Market with Ning Cheng? Then if Gu Qishao was gone, why had Mu Linger fallen into Manager Jin’s hands? Gu Qishao, that fellow. He left Mu Linger behind again? Han Yunxi chased after Ning JIng to ask for details, but the woman was already gone.

She decided to leave Tang Li aside and find Manager Jin instead, but she had no idea how to do that. She immediately had someone send for Fifth Elder. Besides Ning Jing, he was the only person she didn’t have to worry about in this Myriad Merchant Hall. Fifth Elder arrived and told her in detail about Gu Qishao and Mu Linger’s dealings in the gambling house. Although he had no idea that Ning Cheng had fabricated any letters, Han Yunxi could guess as much by now.

“Your Royal Highness, Master Ning must have put Mu Linger under house arrest because of a misunderstanding. Now that that’s cleared up, this subordinate will send someone to bring Miss Linger here right away,” Fifth Elder said reverently.

Han Yunxi nodded, but soon enough a retainer rushed over to say that Manager Jin refused to release the girl. 

“How dare he! This subordinate will find him personally,” Fifth Elder huffed, but Han Yunxi stopped him. 

She asked, “Why did Ning Cheng have Mu Linger put under house arrest with Manager Jin?”

Although Manager Jin’s indenture agreement was with Myriad Merchant Hall, he was still the leader of Thousand Gold Pavilion. However, his East Valley private bank was under his own control and independent of Myriad Merchant Hall! By putting Mu Linger under house arrest, Ning Cheng should have chosen a place within Myriad Merchant Hall rather than let Manager Jin take her to his property.

Fifth Elder replied, “Your Royal Highness, Manager Jin and Master Ning might be servant and master, but they also count as friends. This subordinate doesn’t understand the details of this matter, so I’ll call Uncle Cheng here. He should know.”

Han Yunxi’s eyes flashed with a complex emotion before she said, “Where is Manager Jin’s indenture agreement?”

“All of Myriad Merchant Hall’s servants are looked after as a whole, so their agreements are in the warehouse. But Manager Jin’s an exception, so his agreement is under Master Ning’s care. This subordinate has no idea where it could be,” Fifth Elder said, before adding, “However, Master Ning wouldn’t take it with him wherever he goes, so Uncle Cheng might know. I’ll find him immediately.”

“No need,” Han Yunxi stopped him. “Take me to the East Valley private bank instead.”

Fifth Elder was completely obedient to Han Yunxi and did as he was told without another question. He led her past the small paths to the bank, just as a dark shadow flittered past the ceiling to tail after them. Who else could it be but Xu Donglin? His Highness had instructed him to look after the princess, so he was to report her movements as soon as she left Myriad Merchant Hall.

While Han Yunxi was heading for East Valley private bank, Uncle Cheng was drinking tea with Manager Jin in its very back yard. 

“You don’t need to think about further business at the gambling houses. I’m willing to guarantee that Myriad Merchant Hall has no way to revive them. Heheh, even Golden Wing and East Origin Hall doesn’t have the skills,” Uncle Cheng said sternly.

Manager Jin had gotten a handle of things at the gambling house by now. In his judgment, the gambling business at Three-Way Black Market wouldn’t be viable for at least two years. Golden Wing Hall had explained all of the cheating techniques used by swindlers there, so who would dare gamble again? He drank his high quality tea leaves and didn’t reply.

Uncle Cheng continued to speak. “Now that the princess is back, your agreement with Ning Cheng is null and void. Hehe, don’t blame me for reminding you that you can’t get back the limitless gold card you lost to Gu Qishao. Manager Jin, you’ve definitely lost this time!”

Even without his reminder, Manager Jin already realized this as soon as he learned of Han Yunxi’s identity. He allowed Uncle Cheng to analyze the situation without a word.

“Aye, a loss is a loss. It’s only a trifling gold card without limits, so East Valley Private Bank can afford the loss. However…” Uncle Cheng trailed off. 

Manager Jin lifted the edges of his fringe to reveal the scar on his forehead. “However what? When has Uncle Cheng started viewing me as an outsider?”

Uncle Cheng only sighed. “However, you’ve placed Han Yunxi’s little sister under house arrest. Before that, you insulted her in front of Myriad Merchant Hall’s gates...I’m afraid that she won’t let things go as easily as that.”

Manager Jin was only bewildered. Uncle Cheng had paid a special trip here just to sow discord between him and Han Yunxi. What were his motives? Ning Cheng was utmost loyal to West Qin, so what was Uncle Cheng planning after his master had gotten in trouble?

He weighed his options before saying, “Uncle Cheng, since you’re being so formal with me, you might as well go back.”

Uncle Cheng didn’t get angry, but smiled. “Jinzi,[1] Uncle Cheng likes your personality. So direct!”

Manager Jin didn’t reply. He was usually a taciturn man. Uncle Cheng bent over and murmured three statements to him that explained his deal. He wanted Manager Jin to use Mu Linger as a bargaining chip to get a huge sum of money from Myriad Merchant Hall. Once the deal was done, Uncle Cheng would return his indenture agreement to him. Manager Jin was a smart enough man to see that Uncle Cheng wanted to cause Han Yunxi difficulties in the absence of Ning Cheng.

Han Yunxi’s clash with Ning Jing at the gates, combined with Uncle Cheng’s attitude, made it clear to Manager Jin that this princess didn’t hold much sway within the Di Clan at all. Just because Ning Cheng was missing didn’t mean everyone submitted to Han Yunxi. He was rather curious about the whole thing, but his primary interest was his own indenture agreement.

“What now, is my indenture agreement already in Uncle Cheng’s hands?” Manager Jin asked.

Uncle Cheng immediately produced a copy of the document. “Take a look. Are there any discrepancies?”

Manager Jin’s quiet expression shifted slightly at the sight of he paper. He had penned it himself back in the day and signed it as security. All of the words were familiar to him, as well as the location of his own name. But that didn’t prove his indenture agreement was really in Uncle Cheng’s hands. With his status, it was easy to see the real thing one way or another.

Manager Jin only intoned, “Uncle Cheng, I can agree to anything if you give me my indenture agreement. But I need to see the real thing.”

A complicated look flickered across Uncle Cheng’s eyes. “Fine. Tomorrow morning I’ll bring it here for you to see. I’m certain Han Yunxi would have found out Mu Linger’s here soon. You have to prepare yourself.”

“Naturally,” Manager Jin intoned.

Uncle Cheng quickly left by the back door almost at the same time Fifth Elder and Han Yunxi were shown into the guest hall. 

“Master, Myriad Merchant Hall’s Fifth Elder has arrived with a woman in a wheelchair. This subordinate isn’t sure of her identity.”

Manager Jin gave a slight start before he quickly recovered his senses. In a low voice, he instructed, “Keep an eye on Mu Linger and don’t let her run about. Whatever happens, she mustn’t enter the guest hall.”

The retainer left with his orders while Manager Jin headed to greet his visitors. His head was bowed the whole time, his eyes flashing with a sinister light as he lost himself in his thoughts. Although Manager Jin dreaded Han Yunxi’s status, he maintained his cool and was even a little distant.

“What honorable errand has brought the light of Your Royal Highness here?” he began as he gestured for the servants to bring up the tea.

“I heard you refused to release my little sister, so I can only come to ask for her in person,” Han Yunxi said bluntly. “Is it for the sake of the indenture agreement? What kind of agreement did Ning Cheng make with you? Why did he let you bring her here?” 

“Ning Cheng originally agreed to give me the item. Is the princess acknowledging that as well?” Manager Jin asked back.

“No, I’m just asking,” Han Yunxi smiled.

“Then there’s no need for us to talk,” Manager Jin said brusquely. If not for Uncle Cheng’s reminder, he wouldn’t have realized he could use Mu Linger to negotiate with Han Yunxi. It was unclear whether Uncle Cheng could still get the indenture agreement; moreover, even if he got it back, what was the point? If he destroyed it, Myriad Merchant Hall could refuse to recognize it. The people in the know all saw him as Myriad Merchant Hall’s servant. If he wanted to leave, was he supposed he sneak away? He wanted to leave with full rights out in the open.

Although the woman before him had yet to gain a foothold in the Di Clan, he’d rather throw in his stakes with her than a petty type like Uncle Cheng!

“No need to say a thing! Just tell me what you’ll need to let my little sister go,” Han Yunxi said easily, as if this wasn’t a problem for her at all. Her attitude flustered Manager Jin slightly, but he quickly calmed down.

“Your Royal Highness, I have very simple terms. Return the indenture agreement to me, and I’ll trade the person for the paper,” Manager Jin said, before adding, “That’s right, I also want the limitless gold card that Mu Linger tricked out of my hands.”

Han Yunxi knitted her brows. “Manager Jin, I heard you once wanted to offer up the entirety of East Valley Private Bank to Ning Cheng for the sake of this indenture agreement? But Ning Cheng didn’t agree?”

“Hehe, that’s why Mu Linger’s a very valuable girl,” Manager Jin smiled.

Han Yunxi grinned as well. “No, no. No matter how valuable Linger might be, she’s not worth as much as you, Manager Jin! How about this? You release Mu Linger and give me the East Valley Private Bank as well. I’ll issue orders saying your indenture agreement is invalid as well as whatever you agreed to with Ning Cheng. Does it sound good?”

Even Fifth Elder was stunned by her words, to say nothing of Manager Jin. This was simply asking for the lion’s maw! Where did she get the guts?

1. Jinzi (金子) - in Chinese, “zi” is often added to the end of names to make nicknames. This can also be viewed as calling Manager Jin “Little Jin,” or “Jin, my fellow.”

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