Book 10 Chapter 34 - Raised Brows

Within the area where many carriages were parked, the eyes of some of the important figures of the seventeen allied companies began to develop a hint of fear as they looked at Chen Feirong.

The most powerful dispute were precisely facts. What Chen Feirong spoke were all facts.

As long as these officials couldn’t properly respond to any one of these statements, then even though there was definitely no way of compensating for Shi San’s punishment, Auspicious Virtue’s damage would be decreased to the absolute limit. Moreover, because of Chen Feirong’s public appearance, her beauty will spread, within a short amount of time, it would definitely suppress the news of issues with Auspicious Virtue’s rice, it would become a topic that the people would discuss even more enthusiastically.

This Auspicious Virtue Great Shopkeeper Chen not only came prepared, she even used her first public appearance as a powerful weapon.

When they heard Chen Feirong’s continuous reverse questioning, heard the silence in the surroundings and then saw the crowd erupt into discussions again, Zhang Lingyun instead only revealed a faint smile, carefully sizing up Chen Feirong as he said, “Chen Feirong’s meaning is that Auspicious Virtue was framed?”

Chen Feirong also replied with a faint smile, “This is naturally the conclusion most people will reach.”

The brows of the officials next to Zhang Lingyun immediately furrowed. Her words were sharp, not all that polite. However, Zhang Lingyun’s smile remained unchanged, gently saying, “When the water mill is mentioned, perhaps we were negligent. We indeed should investigate a bit.”

Chen Feirong’s brows furrowed slightly. She originally didn’t feel any ill will from Zhang Lingyun, this seemingly radiant and righteous young official. However, when these words sounded, she keenly sensed a hint of unkind aura from the other party.

Moreover, the arrogant feeling between the other party’s brows made her feel a vague sense of danger.

She didn’t respond immediately.

“What needs to be cleared up needs to be cleared up. Since Great Shopkeeper Chen has objections, while our Civil Sector and Judicial Sector people are all here, why don’t we just use this chance to invite Great Shopkeeper Chen to bring us along in examining the water mill?” Zhang Lingyun gave the surrounding officials a look, saying this with a smile.

Chen Feirong’s expression turned grave. However, at this time, the nape of her neck felt a chill, as if there was a fine breeze blowing.

She immediately knew that this was Lin Xi who stood not far behind her that released a light exhale.

As such, she immediately relaxed, revealing an alluring smile. “Of course. Everyone, if you would please.”

Rice crops were easier to store and transport than flour, so merchants whose businesses were a bit larger would naturally all purchase rice crops and wheat and then grind them up in their own local mills or in mill factories to turn it into the finished product.

When Auspicious Virtue obtained Flourishing Heights’ infusion of silver, starting to sell rice all over Yunqin, for the sake of lowering production costs, they also purchased or built their own mills in places of large sales.

Clear Distant City’s Auspicious Virtue water mill was by the south of the city’s Great Peace River, a more vacant and secluded area. There weren’t many homes in the surroundings, only some merchants’ workshops, rather desolate.

Some partridges that were foraging by the riverside reeds and weeds suddenly saw a huge black swarm of humans arrive from the streets, immediately taking to the air in alarm, directly moving towards the river’s shore.

This was also the first time Lin Xi saw Yunqin’s large scale water mill workshops.

While watching the giant water wheels reach into the river, as well as seeing the giant wooden workshops that were like giant boats, Lin Xi became momentarily absentminded: these huge workshops were my property?

However, he quickly shifted his eyes away from the giant ship-like workshops, landing on the carriage those officials were riding in.

Because the distance wasn’t that close to the food market, all those who had carriages used them, forming four rows. The officials’ carriages moved at the first array, while next were Auspicious Virtue’s carriages. The third row were the carriages of those seventeen allied merchants and some wealthy individuals who wanted to join in on the liveliness, while the last were many locals who moved on foot. Most of these were the weak, old, women or children who didn’t have much to do normally.

Chen Feirong already spoke many facts that had to be responded to, yet instead of carefully thinking them over, they directly suggested to search the mill. Even though he didn’t know the exact backgrounds and statuses of Zhang Lingyun and the other officials, this case was already set, Auspicious Virtue’s shopkeeper was publicly beaten, yet they are still in high spirits, having everyone come to the water mill… In Lin Xi’s opinion, this was extremely abnormal.

It was because if the information obtained was extremely beneficial to Auspicious Virtue, the more people there were, the more it would seem like these officials dealt with this case improperly.

Even though this Civil Sector official Zhang Lingyun was young, since he already rose to minor eighth rank, there was no way he would do things in such an inexperienced manner. He ought to be someone who did things carefully, carrying out this type of thing in a situation where only officials and Auspicious Virtue’s people were present.

This was, unless they were taking the initiative to help Auspicious Virtue reverse the verdict.

However, he didn’t sense this type of good intentions from Zhang Lingyun’s expression.

These fine details made Lin Xi vigilant, they already made him inwardly feel that victory and defeat lied precisely in the water mill workshop before him.

The sounds of the waterwheel’s wood and moving water echoed through the vacant workshop.

The workshop already temporarily stopped, all of the workers inside in a bit of fear as they gathered at the back of the grindstone.

Several bailiffs blocked the gateway into the workshop, some civilians who came to join in on the liveliness temporarily stopped outside. However, it seemed like they still wanted those merchant company’s people and wealthy individuals to serve as witnesses, not restricting them much. There were some merchant company important figures that remained in their carriages outside to hide their identities, but there were at least twenty something merchant company individuals who entered Auspicious Virtue’s workshop.

Lin Xi who followed behind Chen Feirong still didn’t size up the situation of the workshop’s interior too much, only looking at Zhang Lingyun and the others’ expressions and movements without batting an eyelid.

As a past Judicial Sector official, Lin Xi quickly noticed that Zhang Lingyun didn’t seem to care too much about the search, not as detailed as when he was handling a case, his expression always calm. The customary search was also more and more favorable for Auspicious Virtue.

The rice that was removed from the storerooms was all fine, and the granaries that stored rice crops even more so let those who were familiar with the rice business easily deduce that what Auspicious Virtue used weren’t locally collected goods, but rather higher quality Qiantang and Xiangshui Province rice crops!

This type of search managed by those officials even incurred the dissatisfaction and annoyance of those seventeen allied companies… This type of search of a large scale mill that could supply the entire city’s need of rice, without having dozens of people investigate carefully, how could they possibly notice any issues?

In that instant, even these merchant companies’ people seemed to have become Judicial Sector’s people, all of them carefully investigating every area, seeing if there were any clues that would be unfavorable for Auspicious Virtue.

Zhang Lingyun walked about in this spacious workshop in an extremely leisurely manner. While looking at the nervous merchants around him, he laughed inwardly with mockery, thinking, “No matter how much money you make, in the end, you are still people of the lowest professions… For people of the royal court, you will still be fattened geese, things that could easily be toyed with and controlled. What are you all feigning as noble swans for?”

That major ninth rank Civil Sector official, that good friend of his, quickly walked out from several rooms that stored replacement parts for the water wheel, arriving at his side.

When he saw this good friend walk over quickly, Zhang Lingyun’s expression was still extremely calm as he gave the nearby Chen Feirong a look, inwardly unable to help but think with mockery, “Since this is all a play anyway, then let’s see who performs a bit more realistic, whose performance is a bit more useful.”

The young Civil Sector Taxman quickly arrived at his side, quietly speaking a few sentences by his ears.

His brows quickly furrowed, slowly walking up to Chen Feirong’s side, suppressing his voice to the lowest as he said, “Great Shopkeeper Chen, are you sure this water mill of yours doesn’t have any White Guanyin Talcum Powder?”

Before Chen Feirong arrived, she also vaguely sensed that victory or defeat lied in this water mill. When she heard Zhang Lingyun say this, a chill immediately ran through her mind. She gave Zhang Lingyun whose brows were furrowed a look. Her face suddenly produced a fierce expression. “Sir Zhang, what is the meaning behind your words?”

“Taxman Feng already found several bags of White Guanyin Talcum Powder in the watermill replacement storage, one bag half used.” Zhang Lingyun’s eyes were a bit cold as he looked at her, his lips pursed slightly, not looking like he was speaking, but he was speaking these words with an extremely quiet voice.

Chen Feirong’s expression turned slightly white. At this moment, she also understood a bit, purposely slowing her steps a bit to pull open some distance from the people up ahead. At the same time, she quietly said, “Sir Zhang, you should also understand that someone is trying to frame us.”

Zhang Lingyun gave her a deep look, saying, “Whether or not someone is trying to frame you, I do not know. However, I believe you also understand clearly what kind of consequences there will be to Auspicious Virtue if those bags of White Guanyin Talcum Powder are revealed to the public. I am now suspecting that much of the rice produced here is secretly sent out to remote and desolate places. If we quickly find out that much of your Auspicious Virtue’s rice has issues in those areas after an investigation, it will also easily confirm my suspicions.”

“Auspicious Virtue uses small amounts of fine rice, selling them to larger cities where the supervision is more strict, using this as cover on the surface, but instead uses some rotten and moldy crops in those small towns with less supervision… Auspicious Virtue, this move truly is great, not wonder you can invest everything into the rice business.” After a slight pause, Zhang Lingyun looked at Chen Feirong with a deep look, then quietly said, “I wonder if this was also a decision of Great Shopkeeper Chen?”

When she heard these chilly words, Chen Feirong instead didn’t feel coldness inside, because she sensed that gentle air by her neck again. Suddenly, she felt inwardly relieved, instead pursing her lips and saying with a provocative smile. “Then what does sir wish for me to do?”

While looking at Chen Feirong’s alluring smile, Zhang Lingyun answered her with a smile of satisfaction. “I admire great shopkeeper quite greatly too. If great shopkeeper accompanies me a few nights, I believe I can try to help Auspicious Virtue through this crisis.”

“Merely a few nights?” Chen Feirong smiled, raising her head slightly, gently biting her vermilion lips as she said, “Then if I accompany you, if something else like this happens, what should I do then?”

Zhang Lingyun saw a bit of snow-white skin exposed by her neck, also saying with a smile, “If this type of thing happens again… I will also use our method… to help you settle them.”

Chen Feirong looked at him, saying with a light smile, “You are merely a minor eighth rank Civil Sector official, yet you dare act against me like this?”

Zhang Lingyun’s brows furrowed slightly, his smile decreasing a bit, coldly saying, “The reason I dare do this is naturally not because of my status as a trifling minor eighth rank Civil Sector official.”

Behind Chen Feirong, the brows of Lin Xi whose head was always hung gradually lifted, moving upwards.

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