Book 14 Chapter 29 - Auspicious Virtue’s Final Road

A young green clothed lady who was tall and slender, not much shorter than Lin Xi, held Lin Xi’s hand, standing on a mound full of wildflowers, gazing towards an ordinary small town under the twilight glow in the distance.

The small town had smoke rising in spirals.

The exceptionally pretty, tall and slender young lady was naturally Gao Yanan. She looked at the distant faint smoke rising upwards in the distance, asking quietly with a bit of worry, “The contents of Chen Feirong’s letter had already clearly stated that if you continue this plan without changing anything, Auspicious Virtue might not be able to hold on anymore by the middle of next month. Just what kind of thoughts do you have exactly?”

Lin Xi reluctantly let go of Gao Yanan’s hands, his other hand instead scratching his head.

After East Scenery City, he already rarely made this type of childish move. However, when he was with Gao Yanan, he instead felt extremely relaxed, seemingly returning to when he was a child.

“Actually, regardless of whether it is Auspicious Virtue being able to reach its step today, or my confidence in allowing Green Luan Academy to continue existing in Yunqin, it is because the amount of knowledge regarding all types of battles and all types of power struggles is far greater than anyone in this world. My confidence mostly lies in my insight that exceeds this world.” After shaking his head, Lin Xi said this quietly.

Gao Yanan’s brows furrowed slightly, quietly thinking to herself.

Lin Xi looked at her pretty side profile, quietly explaining, “Actually, I have never believed that what could decide this world is  the amount of silver, wealth, or an army. In the end, winning or losing will always depend on the heart of the people.”

“Yunqin’s people are extremely simple and honest. This type of simpleness and honesty has even been able to change me… Before East Scenery City, I would have never thought that I would live or die with a city. However, after seeing those Yunqin soldiers who faced death head on, seeing the ordinary people who remained in the city despite knowing they were going to die, I instead also changed my way of thinking. Yunqin’s people love this empire, this type of love will become the most decisive courage. I believe that most Yunqin people, when it is truly time for them to make a decision, they will make the choice they are most loyal to deep down within. That is why what I am gambling on is precisely Yunqin people’s down to earth nature, what I am gambling on is precisely that after Auspicious Virtue makes this choice, regardless of everything, they wouldn’t fall.”

“What if you lose this gamble?”

“Even if there really is no way, then we’ll just flee to a place where even the emperor can’t find us.” Lin Xi looked at the smoke rising in the distant town, laughing proudly and saying, “Even if I lose, at the very least, many people will be able to fill their stomachs for many days.”

There were plenty of powerful cultivators in Yunqin Empire. However, most people were ordinary, just like Lin Xi’s father.

Zhang Qi was precisely an ordinary person just like Lin Xi’s father.

He was also a slightly chubby bodied, somewhat balding middle-aged man. Normally, he was cowardly and timid, treating people amiably, running a dry goods store in South Face Province’s Green Fruit Town.

He also had a wife who had studied before, they had a twelve to thirteen year old son who was quite naughty but also extremely intelligent.

When South Tomb Province’s war situation became unfavorable, when there were news of some Great Mang troops invading, both him and some other people in this town closed their shops, leaving their homes to flee towards Yunqin’s northern provinces.

The goods that were left in his shop didn’t experience much damage. However, after the people in the town experienced this fleeing and return, they all became exceptionally hard-pressed for money, his store’s business also turning exceptionally poor, difficult for it to even continue.

The most unfortunate thing was that his wife was even bedridden from illness. Even though it was an ordinary cold, after remaining hungry day after day, this small illness didn’t improve, instead growing increasingly worse.

The friends he could ask for help had already been asked, the only place where he could still receive some help was his older cousin’s family. However, his cousin normally treated them rather poorly, looking down on him a bit. Forget about the many cold looks and words, even whether he would even be able to borrow any money was unknown.

Normally, if it was because of Zhang Qi’s own situation, no matter how bitter it was, he definitely wouldn’t ask this cousin. However, for the sake of his wife, Zhang Qi instead clenched his teeth and set his resolution. Even if he had to kneel and beg in front of his cousin’s household, he still had to beg for this life saving money.

Only, now, he already didn’t have to beg this cousin who normally treated him poorly. In his hands was a heavy bag of white rice… Auspicious Virtue’s white rice.

In normal times without any wars or natural disasters, this bag of white rice wasn’t much at all. However, right now, for Zhang Qi, this type of ordinary Yunqin person, it was instead heavy life saving goods, this was his very face.

This bag of rice Auspicious Virtue gave him on credit could allow him to not do something he wasn’t willing to do, able to save him from doing something that made him feel like he had no face.

For many Yunqin people, face was even more important than their very lives.

That was why right now, this ordinary Yunqin middle-aged man, this ordinary husband and father inwardly thought that in the future, if Auspicious Virtue needed help that he could offer, he would even be willing to give them his life.

“This store’s rice, from today forth, can be bought on credit!”

In many Yunqin’s towns and cities, these types of sounds continuously sounded.

Many Auspicious Virtue stores’ shopkeepers who released these types of sounds understood clearly what this type of voice signified for Auspicious Virtue. However, they all stuck out their chests just like that old shopkeeper from before, using a slightly trembling, yet proud and respectful voice to shout this out, their voices traveling extremely far.

Many Yunqin people also knew what these types of voices represented for Auspicious Virtue, which was why they only took credit that would barely allow their families to survive. When they left Auspicious Virtue’s stores with their rice, they all showed Auspicious Virtue’s shopkeepers and employees deep bows.

There were some Yunqin people who didn’t think about what this represented for Auspicious Virtue, but they also knew that a shop’s rice was definitely not endless, yet there were many families in this town that were like them. That was why they also only borrowed enough rice for their families to continue living.

The farmers used the last bit of grain seeds they obtained, sowing them in the abandoned fields… Some people without any businesses left went to follow some fishermen and hunters, similarly going out to pick wild herbs, learning how to catch fish. Some goods that could be exchanged with money were sold at a low price… These things began to flow out like water, day after day under these bitter days.

South Tomb Province’s Yunqin troops still continued to seize back piece after piece of lost land with irresistible force, good news continuously transmitted back.

Late autumn passed, Yunqin welcomed winter.

That old shopkeeper who preciously declared with an opera singer voice, loudly announcing ‘This store’s rice can be purchased through credit from today forth’ was dressed in a leather coat, standing in front of his store in the early morning. All of his store’s Auspicious Virtue employees, including the cashier and warehouse workers, just like the very first day they opened again on the new year, gathered behind him.

There were also many other people standing in front of this shopkeeper.

Moreover, there weren’t this many people the first day he declared that the rice could be purchased on credit.

Not all of these people came to obtain rice on credit, most of them instead specially coming here this early morning because of certain news they heard.

Under the winter’s morning light, it was already time to open the store.

The old shopkeeper who was wearing a new leather coat slowly exhaled. Then, he bowed deeply towards all of these neighbors gathered here, slowly saying in apology, “Yesterday, we received news that Great Shopkeeper cannot gather enough silver in time, temporarily unable to send over rice. Auspicious Virtue’s shop will be closed, today is this store’s final day it is open for business, so I must trouble everyone to pass news onto your neighbors, in order to not make a trip for nothing tomorrow… I truly apologize.”

All of the employees of this Auspicious Virtue store behind the old shopkeeper bowed deeply in apology as well.

All of the people who gathered in front of the store became quiet, this place turning completely silent.

“Shopkeeper, when will you all open up again?” Suddenly, a voice sounded.

Then, many similar urgent voices sounded again. “When can the store open again?”

Under these types of voices, the old shopkeeper bowed deeply again, shaking his head with difficulty and saying, “I apologize to everyone… this is something I do not truly know either.”

The street entered silence again.

As day by day passed, many people who didn’t immediately realize what this type of lending of rice meant for Auspicious Virtue also began to realize something… Meanwhile now, this old shopkeeper’s expression also allowed these people to clearly understand that this Auspicious Virtue shop won’t be opened again. Perhaps even in many other places, Auspicious Virtue’s shops might never open up again.

Perhaps that legend-like Yunqin merchant company, all of their shops might never open again, only the name ‘Auspicious Virtue’ remaining.

All of these people felt terrible.

They felt terrible not because they couldn’t obtain rice, but because for their sake, Auspicious Virtue ultimately ended up in this type of state.

In Qiantang Province’s provincial capital, a carriage with Auspicious Virtue’s symbol was currently departing from a secluded lane.

Chen Feirong was seated in this carriage.

There was a courtyard in this lane’s depths that didn’t look all that remarkable from the outside, seemingly no different from the household of an ordinary wealthy family.

However, this place had the ‘Sky Lunar Manor’, a name that shocked all of Yunqin.

Sky Lunar Manor was the bank that had the greatest financial ability in all of Qiantang Province, and currently, it was probably also the Yunqin bank with the greatest financial ability in all of Yunqin.

Even if the southern side hadn’t been calm all this time, the previous refugees even reaching Qiantang Province, Sky Lunar Manor’s master still resided in this old residence.

When Chen Feirong’s carriage left this secluded lane, Sky Lunar Manor’s master Chen Yulou, his younger brother and Sky Lunar Manor’s important shopkeepers invited out Sky Lunar Manor’s esteemed father Chen Zhongshan.

“Could it be that…”

Sky Lunar Manor’s seated esteemed father, in front of all of these people, released a light sigh.

“Chen Feirong is experiencing difficulties… Sky Lunar Manor is also facing difficulties… Even a merchant company like Auspicious Virtue is now facing different financial troubles with each passing day, now stalled to a critical decree, just how much silver will they be in the red? All of you feel troubled as well… because Auspicious Virtue isn’t doing this for the sake of business, but rather to let our southern provinces have some more rice to eat, have another mouthful of hot soup to drink, that is why they fell to this degree. Otherwise, if they did as businessmen ought to, what conflicted emotions would you all even feel? How could you possibly agree to Chen Feirong’s proposal, would you even come to ask me about my decision?”

The esteemed father’s quiet voice echoed through this silent hall, just like scattered snow on a winter day.

“Moreover, Auspicious Virtue isn’t doing this out of fakeness. Just a rough estimate and we know just how much of its wealth Auspicious Virtue has already used up. These are the roots of a great tree, yet it has already been chewed through by so many mouths. I know that all of you have come to consult me because all of you wish to help Auspicious Virtue.”

“The heart of the people is made of flesh. Even if we don’t talk about far off affairs, these merchants in the south, which one of them doesn’t admire Auspicious Virtue’s master, which of them are not in admiration of Great Shopkeeper Chen? Even those old farts whose eyes grow even higher on their heads than me are without a word of criticism towards Auspicious Virtue.” The elder gave the quiet descendants that had gathered before him a look. “I have lived longer than all of you, during the difference in our age, I have seen more, experienced more. I also want to help Auspicious Virtue… But these old bones of mine still have to warn you all that even if we lend all of Sky Lunar Manor’s remaining silver to Auspicious Virtue, would Auspicious Virtue be able to last until next autumn? If they could, then Sky Lunar Manor would definitely risk it all with Auspicious Virtue, for better or for worse, these old bones can still do something that brings honor to my ancestors before returning to the earth. However, all of you should also already understand that this type of thing is impossible! Even if we throw in all of our Sky Lunar Manor’s funds, we still cannot fill in this gap. We will only be accompanying Auspicious Virtue to the grave.”

“We have many industries… many of them are still useful for these old fellow countrymen in the south. Once Auspicious Virtue falls, for better or for worse, we can still stick it through and do these things. If we follow them to their death, this is even more meaningless.” The elder closed his eyes in pain, starting to cough. “Let’s give out a bit of silver, unless…”

The elder’s voice was cut short while coughing.

However, everyone in Sky Lunar Manor understood this important figure’s intentions. Giving out a bit of silver is just as respect towards Auspicious virtue. Only if Auspicious Virtue could fill in some gaps, show signs of rising up from the dead, would Sky Lunar Manor possibly throw in their very lives as well.

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