River Province’s provincial capital Zheng City was named so because the surname Zheng was the most common surname in this city, three or four households out of ten would have this surname.
Zheng City’s layout was extremely rectangular, also known as a four-sided city. Its population was also close to a million, an extremely prosperous city. The city lord owned the Yellow Sparrow Restaurant that was extremely well-known in all of River Province.
Yellow Sparrow Restaurant had two dishes that were the most famous, one was oil fried yellow sparrow, the carefully chosen yellow sparrows stuffed with ham, mushrooms and other things. After applying a spread and steaming it until it was seventy or eighty percent cooked, it would then be quickly fried in a deep fryer. This way, the outside skin was nice and crispy, while the meat inside was still tender and juicy. It could be eaten with a single bite, even the fine bones inside soft and delicious, easily chewed and swallowed.
Their other famous dish was pickled sheep’s head meat. The sheep’s head would first be marinated in fine yellow wine and condiments, and then the meat would be sliced up and pressed for an entire night. Afterwards, it would be steam cooked in a steamer basket. This way, there was a perfect blend of lean and fat meat, while the texture was firm, the unique flavor hard to describe.
Whenever rich merchants or great families entertained guests, Yellow Sparrow Restaurant would always be their first choice. Now, it was the twelfth lunar month, also precisely when sheep meat was even more delicious and nourishing, so there were naturally even more people who wished to enjoy themselves in Yellow Sparrow Restaurant. However, this day, Yellow Sparrow Restaurant was completely reserved by someone. Ever since morning, the restaurant’s gates and rear courtyard were already parked full of luxurious carriages.
Yellow Sparrow Restaurant’s second floor was bright and clean, the ground covered in thick red carpet. The small tables here were all removed, replaced with a massive round table.
There were already more than ten rich merchants sitting around the round table, the atmosphere extraordinary. Servants stood while leaning against the wall, the atmosphere here extremely grave.
Suddenly, a gray-robed wizened elder walked up the restaurant with thud thud steps. While raising the bottom of his clothes, he urgently and excitedly said, “Great Shopkeeper Zhang has arrived!”
The dozen or so rich merchants immediately all got up. They only heard groaning noises in the wooden staircase below, as if there was an elephant trampling on the stairs. A bit later, they saw an extremely obese individual dressed in a white leather gown with the character for ‘long life’ embroidered on it, his figure that was the size of three normal people supported by two attendants, gasping for breath as he climbed the stairs, his forehead covered in sweat.
“Great Shopkeeper Zhang.”
These dozen or so rich merchants also began to sweat. Only when they saw this fat individual’s body finally reach this floor with a thud noise, did these dozen or so rich merchants release a breath of relief, all of them giving their greetings.
“This really isn’t easy, truly troubling.”
This fat merchant who was the size of three normal people continuously chuckled bitterly. He produced a handkerchief, repeatedly wiping at his sweat while saying, “My body is already so fat, it truly is shameful to meet others. It has already been two years since I left my home. I never expected to actually be forced to this extent by a latecomer like Auspicious Virtue.”
“Great Shopkeeper Zhang’s words are too harsh.”
Even though this fat shopkeeper’s appearance wasn’t that great, he was actually the most important individual out of everyone present. Moreover, everyone knew that even though this person was gluttonous and obese, he was a business genius. As such, no one showed him the slightest bit of disdain, all of them remaining extremely respectful.
“The news have been confirmed.” This fat merchant sat down on a special seat, still gasping for breath, but didn’t waste any time, directly saying, “Auspicious Virtue was able to make such a great purchase not because they have that much accumulated wealth themselves, but rather because they obtained a large amount of silver from Flourishing Heights.”
Several individuals immediately released cries of alarm. “It was Flourishing Heights after all!”
“Everyone, please calm down first, let’s listen to Great Shopkeeper Zhang, let him speak in detail first.” A leather capped elder dressed in a thick black coat swept a look over the other merchants, saying with a deep voice, “Even though Auspicious Virtue’s investment this time is huge, Flourishing Heights’ support definitely even larger, if Auspicious Virtue fails in their business, Flourishing Heights cannot endlessly throw away money. The two haven’t experienced any deeper bonds after all. I heard before that the other influential figures of Mountain Yin Province don’t seem to approve of Flourishing Heights’ gambit, so Flourishing Heights shouldn’t be able to move the rest of the silver in Mountain Yin Province. If it is just Flourishing Heights alone, then it isn’t that frightening.”
The fat shopkeeper loosened his collar a bit, giving that old shopkeeper a look of praise and said, “What esteemed shopkeeper has said is the same as what I was about to say. Where Mountain Yin Province’s bigwigs are most terrifying is that when one family has troubles, they will band together and mutually support each other, but this time, it is only a matter between Flourishing Heights and Auspicious Virtue. This time, Flourishing Heights has given out a huge amount of silver. When next year comes, Flourishing Heights definitely won’t have more silver to do this again. That is why it is enough as long as we can endure through Auspicious Virtue’s first wave.”
When they heard the fat merchant say this, the others in this room all became quiet, only waiting for him to continue speaking.
“I also understand what everyone is thinking. Judging from how Auspicious Virtue acted in Sunrise Roost Province, they are like a vicious beast. Other merchants either have to go bankrupt and change their professions or be devoured by it, becoming a branch. The businesses of this world, at its very core, it is just to grant others tangible benefits and maintaining integrity.” The fat merchant’s gasping breath stabilized, formlessly developing a bit of a great general air. He said with extreme confidence, “The things Auspicious Virtue did before, I believe everyone is doing now as well. Suppressing Auspicious Virtue now is also extremely simple, which is to give out even more tangible benefits, the rice a bit better, the price a bit lower, and it is enough. Only, if our merchant companies cannot reach an agreement, if one of us shows some infidelity, wishing to carry out big fish eating small fish things, to strengthen themselves before the others, showing conflict between yourselves, not only might the price of rice be suppressed further, under the chaos, we might be completely defeated by Auspicious Virtue. At that time, it would be too late for regrets.”
“What Great Shopkeeper Zhang is thinking is also what all of us are thinking.” The dozen or so merchants all became overjoyed when they heard this, all of them speaking out one after the next, “Before Great Shopkeeper Zhang arrived, we already discussed among ourselves, feeling that for the sake of defeating Auspicious Virtue, the most effective method is for us to join hands. Only, Great Shopkeeper Zhang’s Heavenly Phoenix Jade Pearl Merchant Company is much larger than all of ours, so we were previously worried that Great Shopkeeper Zhang wouldn’t wish to cooperate with us on this matter.”
“Auspicious Virtue’s great shopkeeper really is too exceptional. After surveying all of Auspicious Virtue’s previous actions, in terms of talent and decision-making, I definitely don’t have any confidence.” The fat merchant released a bitter laugh. “Even if I don’t have confidence, if our seventeen families’ rice businesses work together, it is the best way in defeating Auspicious Virtue’s devouring.”
When they heard even Zhang Suanpan who was publicly acknowledged as a genius of business more than a decade ago say this, the other merchants here were all inwardly shaken, but also happy.
Since all of their opinions were the same, after just talking about some more details, they immediately began to draft up detailed rules and regulations, establishing a temporary contract between these seventeen merchant companies.
The year end was approaching, Thousand Sunset Border Region experiencing a temporary peace after Wenren Cangyue’s provocation. The infuriated Yunqin and cold Wenren Cangyue were both storing up power, both preparing. Meanwhile, there was a hidden war taking place in some places,even including Yunqin Empire, a war that didn’t include blade shadows and sword figures. The seventeen companies already respectively occupied some territories, managing their area’s rice business like rulers. They were actually already forced to carry out this type of collusion because of some of Auspicious Virtue’s movements.
It was just a merchant company who established a rice business within a single province, but it also established many branches that already forced these merchant companies to act like this. This was already not something caused by financial ability, but rather by their great shopkeeper’s ability, this meant that these merchant companies’ managers all sensed a fatal threat.
When these seventeen companies formally signed the agreement of cooperation, within Sunrise Roost Great Ascent Town’s peaceful little courtyard, the true great shopkeeper Lin Xi silently faced an extremely important moment in his cultivation.
After he was seriously injured in jadefall City, under the help of the medications Tang Yuren and the others used on him, under his bitter cultivation day after day which was something even someone like Nangong Weiyang couldn’t achieve, when this year end approached, he finally broke through into the State Knight level cultivation.
State Knight level, for ordinary cultivators, it was only a breakthrough in strength and soul force power. However, for Lin Xi, it possessed even greater significance.
It was because on the stele left behind by Principal Zhang, it clearly told him that his ‘green roulette’ could be pushed bit by bit. Moreover, once he reached the State Knight level, there would be something else different about it.
Inside a quiet and secluded wide room with icicles hanging down from the outside, Lin Xi’s eyes were closed, calmly sensing that ‘green roulette’ in his brain.
After breaking through into the State Knight level, this ‘green roulette’ seemed to have become even clearer. However, when he tried to examine it, it didn’t seem to show much changes.
This strange power that was deduced by Principal Zhang to possibly be formed through the integration of energy when crossing time-space was still that flat green disk.
In this situation where there didn’t seem to be any differences from the outside, when purely relying on perception, there was no way of deducing what kind of changes his unique ability experienced. He had to test it out.
“Push it bit by pit?”
He began to think about the words Principal Zhang, the only one who was truly from the same world as him, said. He reached out his fingers, moving them across the table in front of him.
Soul force began to gently move. His finger began to flicker with faint radiance, becoming as tough as metal, drawing out a deep groove on the table.
He didn’t feel too much hesitation, inwardly quietly saying this, pushing that ‘green roulette’ in his brain.
Under the familiar change in scenery, he returned to a halt ago. There weren’t any traces left on the table.
The ‘green roulette’ in his brain was still flickering with light. What was different from before was that he mysteriously felt that this ‘green roulette’ seemed like he could still push it, not like before where it would become completely lifeless after being used once.
Forcefully enduring the shock and pleasant surprise, Lin Xi reached out another finger, drawing out a deep groove.
After drawing out this deep groove, he released a light shout again, forcefully pushing that ‘green roulette’ in his brain again.
His heart suddenly stopped.
In front of his eyes, that extremely familiar rapid change in scenery appeared again, as if his entire life passed in a split second.
This time, he returned to a minute ago again.
Moreover, on the table in front of him, the second deep groove also completely vanished.
This meant that he successfully used his unique ability again!
Lin Xi stared blankly for a moment.
The feeling within his brain was different, that ‘green roulette’ was still lively, not becoming deathly still.
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