Book 12 Chapter 39 - Food is Most Important, Baiting With Food

There were some people who were formidable, and there were some people who were called legendary, destined to leave behind their trace in some ancient books of history.

For Yunqin’s various merchant companies, Auspicious Virtue’s female great shopkeeper Chen Feirong was precisely a legend.

Everyone in Auspicious Virtue naturally felt pride over this type of legend. When they thought about how their own names might continue to strengthen because of Auspicious Virtue, that they might continue on in some of the world’s stories, they naturally carried incomparable respect for Chen Feirong.

However, Chen Feirong understood extremely clearly that all of this, the recognition that she received was actually because of that youngster who was currently waiting within a tavern behind this shop.

Chen Feirong made her way through this Auspicious Virtue soap shop, walking into the connected tavern.

This tavern was extremely ordinary, the employees here all some elders from Sunrise Roost Province[1], looking like a nursing home. However, Sunrise Roost Province’s merchants and travelers liked to take care of their own people, which was why this tavern instead seemed to have become a Sunrise Roost community center. Sunrise Roost Province merchants and travelers who passed by this town would all choose this tavern, so the business wasn’t bad.

What this type of tavern signified For Chen Feirong was absolute secrecy and safety.

A business on Auspicious Virtue’s scale would often have people from the royal court or competitor great companies who would try to put in some of their own people. However, the employees of this tavern were all elders who had spent sixty to seventy years in Sunrise Roost Province, so they naturally wouldn’t have many members that were secretly planted here. Moreover, the royal court and competitors wouldn’t have much interest in this type of Auspicious Virtue industry.

Adding this to the fact that after they came to Jadewater Province, these Sunrise Roost elders would often be invited to the farms for some feasts and gatherings  by Xu Sheng , after Chen Feirong arrived in Jadewater Province, the amount of times these elders met Chen Feirong was much greater than ordinary Auspicious Virtue employees, so they weren’t especially surprised or shocked when she appeared.

Just like when Chen Feirong arrived last time, an elder carefully helped her steep some tea, while an elderly lady went to the kitchen to prepare some exquisite light refreshments only those in Sunrise Roost Province could eat.

Only after a bit of small talk with these elders, carefully asking about these elders’ conditions and other customary questions, did Chen Feirong walk up to the second floor of the tavern’s rear court, knocking and entering a secluded side room.

After slowly closing the door, Chen Feirong looked at that smiling young man, bowing deeply towards him and saying with a smile, “It’s been a while.”

“As long as the ruler is safe and sound, it is a clear sky.” Lin Xi said with a smile, “When I first saw this sentence, I just felt like this line was extremely sour and rotten. However, I instead feel like these words are quite suited to the emotions of a reunion.”

When he said these words, he looked at Chen Feirong who seemed even more dignified and gorgeous, feeling like women really were beings that didn’t belong to the same celestial body as men. Temperament, this type of thing, on a woman, seemed to be clearer than on men.

“Sir always loves to say some things outsiders do not understand.”

Chen Feirong chuckled. She looked at the tall and slender young lady who returned her greeting, pursing her lips and saying, “I believe this must be Yanan, Grand Secretary Zhou’s beloved daughter, that girl whose name you would shout many times even when unconscious while returning from Jadefall City.”

Gao Yanan’s face immediately turned crimson.

“Nangong Weiyang was actually this gossipy?” Lin Xi cried out in great alarm.

With just Chen Feirong’s words of teasing, this entire secluded room immediately seemed to have come alive, full of liveliness.

“What kind of new word is this ‘gossipy’? Does it mean to gossip and meddle?” Chen Feirong sat down, saying with a light laugh, “Nangong Weiyang is rather someone of few words, just that when I asked a bit more about sir’s physical and mental condition, she would always reply extremely seriously, which was how I learned of this.”[2]

“Being too honest will also often leave one a bit helpless. If she becomes a monk, then she would be a guileless and naive one.” Lin Xi shook his head helplessly, speaking another line of ‘nonsense’. Then, he asked, “How is the business  on her and Zhantai Qiantang's side?”

“Far greater than what we predicted.”

Chen Feirong became a bit more serious. She looked at Lin Xi and Gao Yanan, quietly saying, “Right now, because of the great war in South Tomb Province, even some workshops in the royal court are hard-pressed for ores, some great workshops among the people all starting to experience shortages. That is why the yields from Dragon Snake’s side sell for higher prices, just that if too much appears in the black market, it will draw the attention of some influential figures in the royal court, that is why the quantity that is released is being suppressed. Recently, they’ve already built up their own workshops, just that craftsmen are a bit harder to find.”

“When talents that could rule a country are used to do these things, it truly is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. No matter how well they do, it wouldn’t leave me that surprised.” Lin Xi smiled. “Since they are building up troops, excellent equipment is essential. With their ability, having some outstanding workshops use up a bit of accumulated goods was merely a matter of time.”

Chen Feirong also smiled. “With Nangong Weiyang and Zhantai Qiantang’s ability, moreover equivalent to all of Great Desolate Swamp Cave Barbarians’ support, I fear that in the future, once the bandits of Turtle Edge Mountain show themselves, they might be better equipped than Yunqin’s elite troops.”

“Currently, every single investment Auspicious Virtue has made has produced excellent returns, not a single business going in the red. Auspicious Virtue doesn’t lack funds either, while their side’s money temporarily doesn’t have any place to go, just accumulating. Military equipment… we just need to wipe our eyes and wait.” Lin Xi looked at Chen Feirong, saying seriously, “You and Xu Sheng’s side really have done far better than I imagined. Last year, this was still just a border area used to exile prisoners, but now, there are already these towns that have been built, already lively to this degree.”

“Sir, are you praising yourself here?” Chen Feirong said with a laugh through pursed lips.

“From nothing to something, obtaining some achievements here is much easier. Moreover, with the situation changing by the day, even the most shrewd calculations will end up running into the great plans of another.” Lin Xi’s expression became serious. “I was originally worried that you wouldn’t be able to deal with Liu Family, but it seems like Auspicious Virtue might have more serious dangers. A single mistake and all of our previous plans might be entirely for nothing, Auspicious Virtue also collapsing just like that.”

Chen Feirong’s brows furrowed, saying seriously, “What matter is it that is this serious?”

Lin Xi gave Gao Yanan a look. Gao Yanan looked at Chen Feirong and said, “Divine Elephant Army… Tangcang’s most powerful army, Divine Elephant Army has appeared in Sanskrit Passage. According to the military intelligence, it is Jiang Family who has colluded with Divine Elephant Army, their objective was to obtain the large batch of military equipment Wenren Cangyue hid in Jadefall City.”

“It is extremely dangerous.”

Chen Feirong’s brows furrowed deeply. She understood clearly that even though Grand Secretary Zhou already stepped down from office, after serving as the Grand Secretary for so many years, the amount of information he had access to might be greater than what most influential bigwigs in Yunqin had access to. What Auspicious Virtue relied on right now, the footing in Yunqin they needed from the collapse of Revival Friend Company and other businesses came from the war between Yunqin and Great Mang, it also came from their decisive entry into Jadefall City. Yunqin and Great Mang’s battle situation was continuing to intensify, no way of ending before fall and winter. That was why as long as they entered fall and winter of this year, Auspicious Virtue had a chance of soaring once more. In this type of situation, if Jadefall City experienced another great battle, then it was equivalent to Auspicious Virtue’s entire bread basket, their entire foundation being burned up by a single flame. Their tremendous investments would be without any return, Auspicious Virtue might not even be able to reverse its fate.

“Fortunately, most of our money was invested into Jadewater Province. Even if the chaos of war erupts soon, the flames will take some time before they reach us.” Lin Xi looked at Chen Feirong and said, “Grand Secretary Zhou is a bit unconvinced that Jiang Family would collude with the Divine Elephant Army, but all proof currently points at Jiang Family. Moreover, because of the changes that took place in Sanskrit Passage, Jiang Family and the emperor’s relations have been completely torn down. Heavenfall, Jadewater, these two provinces’ direction is still unknown. At the very least, some farms and other clearing plans have to be delayed for now.”

Chen Feirong nodded, muttering, “Since there is this type of intelligence about the Divine Elephant Army, there is one matter that seems especially suspicious.”

Lin Xi quietly asked, “What matter?”

“Apart from the military, in Jadewater and Heavenfall Province, Wuren City and some towns’ foodstuffs and daily use articles are naturally all provided by our Auspicious Virtue. Apart from Revival Friend Company’s fleet being plundered, when Xu Sheng carefully examined the account books, he discovered that as early as a few weeks ago, some grains, cornmeal and other foodstuffs’ warehouse extraction had been much greater. However, in recent days, the grains, cornmeal and other ordinary flour goods returned to the previous standard.”

“This is indeed extremely suspicious.” Lin Xi’s brows furrowed slightly. “If a clear difference can be seen just from the account books, the amount isn’t just a bit greater… Revival Friend Company’s fleet carried large amounts of foodstuffs and seeds, so we can assume that the previous excess grains and cornmeal’s warehouse extraction was because of the Divine Elephant Army’s arrival, because of those divine elephants’ massive food needs. Then, the following decline was because Revival Friend Fleet’s foodstuffs satisfied the Divine Elephant Army’s temporary needs.”

Chen Feirong looked at Lin Xi and Gao Yanan. “Previously, I couldn’t make many connections, but now that I’ve heard the information about the Divine Elephant Army, the conclusion I reached is the same as yours.”

Gao Yanan quietly asked, “Does the military know about this information?”

“I was waiting for sir to arrive before making a decision, so I haven’t informed the military yet. In all of Jadefall Province, regardless of whether it is the military, royal court or the other large companies, there is no way they can find out this type of thing.” Chen Feirong looked at Gao Yanan, replying calmly and surely.

“Indeed.” Lin Xi nodded. “Auspicious Virtue enjoys market dominance in Jadefall City, it is basically Jadefall City’s largest and most powerful information network. Have you and Xu Sheng found out where these foodstuffs have gone these days?”

“We have.” Chen Feirong said, “Most of it went to Sunset Horse Field. There was a Jadefall Border Army horse field that was originally near Heavenfall Province’s Sunset Hills. After it was abandoned following the battles, when the provinces were being divided, it was separated from the military, entering the business of a merchant surnamed Lu, someone from River Province. The scale of the horse field isn’t that great, so it shouldn’t be able to use up this much food. Moreover, they don’t have any signs of expansion.”

“You all have investigated in great detail.” Lin Xi thought for a bit. He turned around to look at Gao Yanan, saying, “While coming, I couldn’t think of a single way of dealing with the Divine Elephant Army or saving Auspicious Virtue from this crisis, feeling like a financial empire that was built up after such hard work, now already taking form, might be forced to suddenly collapse from this mysterious source of hostility, but now, this matter has given me a way of dealing with the Divine Elephant Army… Regardless of whether the Divine Elephant Army is Jiang Family’s or another family’s, the danger it has brought Auspicious Virtue and Yunqin is something that definitely has to be dealt with… Yanan, I might have to trouble you to contact your father and Green Luan Academy, I need a bit of help from them.”

When he saw Gao Yanan nod, after a slight pause, Lin Xi continued, “Since something like Big Black that Principal Zhang left behind has appeared, moreover the previous grudge existing, the academy should also be making some preparations… by passing on this information to the academy and your father, I wonder if they will come to the same conclusion as me, help me prepare some things.”

“What are you thinking, what are you trying to prepare?” Gao Yanan and Chen Feirong exchanged a look, both of them looking at Lin Xi and asking.

“Poison, large amounts of poison.” Lin Xi looked at the two and calmly said, “The Divine Elephant Army has nowhere to go in Tangcang, so there is no way they can just run after seizing some goods. As long as they continue to remain near Jadefall City, they will definitely need huge amounts of provisions. Moreover, most of the provisions supplied by Jadefall City just happen to be provided by our Auspicious Virtue. Furthermore, they’ve already gotten accustomed to using our goods, so when Revival Friend Company’s provisions have been exhausted, they will naturally try to obtain provisions from us. That is, unless they immediately decide to go to war.”

“That is why you want to mix poison in the food.” Gao Yanan thought for a bit and said, “This is indeed quite the good method.”

Lin Xi nodded and said, “The Divine Elephant Army’s power lies in those giant white elephants. Those white giant elephants’ food needs are tremendous, so if we mix a bit of poison with their food, it shouldn’t be easy to detect. That is why the key lies in making sure that the food entering the horse field will definitely go to the Divine Elephant Army, moreover ensuring that the poison won’t be detected. Another crucial part is that we need the academy and your father confirming which foods are used by the white elephants, what kind of drug resistances these white elephants’ massive bodies have. Of course, if the academy has confidence that a certain medicine is something not even the Divine Elephant Army’s soldiers can detect, able to poison them as well, then that is naturally even better. Right now, my sole worry is if we can actually make such a large amount of poison. For example, even though I have the Quicksand poison left behind by Wenren Cangyue’s subordinate Gongsun Quan[3], the amount is too few, no way it can be used in this type of place.”

“These are things the academy and my father will naturally consider.” Gao Yanan looked at Lin Xi and said, “We only need to prepare things on our side, to first fully investigate the horse field’s matters.”

“You’re right.” Lin Xi smiled and then looked at Chen Feirong, “What moves has Liu Family made on their side?”

Chen Feirong said, “They had already clearly given me a deadline. If I cannot give them a share of Auspicious Virtue’s profit by the end of this month, or be directly under their use, Liu Family will take action.”

Lin Xi thought for a bit and then said, “They should already have some proof on their hands. It seems like the events that took place by Dragon Snake Border Army have already left them with quite the pressure, a bit apprehensive towards your strength, fearing that you will drag them down with you, or else they wouldn’t do something like give you a time limit. Tell me the name of the one they sent to preside over matters in Jadefall City, I will give them a few more warnings… Bigwigs are scared of bigger bigwigs. I will make them feel as if they ran into an even greater bigwig, one they cannot provoke at all. From today on, not only will they not dare to interfere with Auspicious Virtue’s matters anymore, they will also provide Auspicious Virtue with another layer of protection.”

Chen Feirong smiled, sighing with praise as she looked at Lin Xi, “Liu Ziyu still always wants to fight against you, viewing you as his opponent. Whenever I discuss Liu Family’s matters with you, I can’t help but wonder, in the future, once he knows you are Auspicious Virtue’s great master, what kind of expression he will have.”

“He has used up quite the energy to deal with me.” Lin Xi revealed a smile and said, “I really am hoping I can personally see his reaction when he finds out too.”

1. Lin Xi stayed in Sunrise Roost Province's Great Rise Town while he was recuperating from his injuries from Jadefall City

2. The word for gossipy used here is Ba Gua, which can also mean the eight divinatory trigrams of the Book of Changes

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