Ben gritted his teeth, squeezing out a "uhuh" and then didn't say anything else.
"What exactly is your plan?" Although Camille had guessed the gist of it, he still asked.
"First, we must leave a deep impression on everybody in the capital. Since even the prince will be coming along with that so-called beauty, naturally, many noblemen will be going." Before Claire finished, Camille already understood fully.
"At the convention, the Li clan will present an incredible treasure, then announce that the Li clan has numerous amounts of it. A stunning beauty, treasure, these will attract all gazes towards the Li clan. At that time, naturally, many people will come knocking on the door, some for treasure, some for the beauty," Camille said in a low voice. "But there's a limited amount of treasure. Even if we sold them all, it wouldn't be sustainable economically."
"Yes. The next step would be to open up to the market. The Feng clan has basically everything underfoot: clothes, food, appliances, decorations. The Li clan is known best for its forging weapons, right? But then that position was taken by the Feng clan, so your smithy was closed down," Claire said with low voice. "Then let's first focus on forging weaponry. There are many adventurers so the demand is high. Also, if we're able to obtain the right to be the supplier of the royal army, then as one can imagine, the profits would be huge."
Li Yuewen and Li Mingyu sucked in a deep breath. How ambitious!
Right to be the supplier for the royal army? This was originally the right of the country's own weapon forgers, but later, the Feng clan had obtained the right through unknown means. Would it be so easy to take away from the Feng clan?
"That.. seems too difficult, a bit improbable." Li Yuewen bit her lip.
"The Li clan's forging is worse than the Feng clan's?" Claire sneered.
"That's impossible! Even if our Li clan sunk any lower, we would still be the country's number one!" Li Yuewen stood up emotionally, banging the table with a fist.
"So how do you know without trying?" Claire smiled coldly, a profound gleam in her eyes. "Since I've made my decision, I'll carry it out properly." Claire curled her lip. Who else could do it besides her?
"Give me information about the prince too," Claire added with slitted eyes. If she wanted to have the right of being the weapon supplier, then it would be fastest to first attract the emperor and crown prince's attention. Naturally, before this could happen, she needed to have a better understanding of the prince, such as his weak points, not just how much power or property he owned, or some kind of secret, strange hobby. Even though she didn't want to become intentionally seductive for everybody to see, but the more she thought about it, it was just for a short while. Afterwards, nobody would know. Once the effects of the potion were gone, nobody would be able to find her, disappearing mysteriously. People were strange beings; the more mysterious something was, the more they would chase after it. It was time for the Li clan to become the focus of attention.
Since they had finished making their decision, then they would start!
And the target was the biggest catch, the crown prince!
Once Claire obtained the information about the crown prince, she had a bit of a headache. He was practically perfect! Whether it was appearance, strength, morales, prestige, he was completely impeccable. He didn't have any unhealthy habits or hobbies and nothing he particularly liked.
Claire threw the data onto the table and leaned back in her chair. Just because the data indicated so didn't mean that the crown prince didn't have any weaknesses. All humans have weaknesses. As for what it was, she would have to find it herself.
Ben's treasures were truly magnificent, worth whole cities. Just thinking of it made Claire's eyes light up with satisfaction. He actually had some pretty ancient stuff, pretty surprising.
"F*ck! Damn that b*tch Hua Xiuning!" Li Yuewen suddenly slammed over the study's door, her face dark as she sat down.
"What is it?" Claire raised a brow. "Did you cross paths?"
"Humph, I met Hua Xiuning, that nasty woman, flirting around," Li Yuewen said hatefully. "Saying that she hoped to see us at the convention."
Hearing this, Claire couldn't help laughing. So her proud elder cousin Yuewen had been taunted by her enemy.
"Cousin Yuewen, don't be so angry. Tomorrow, I will regain your dignity." Claire had a strange smile.
"Mm. I've already prepared the clothes you wanted to wear tomorrow. I asked a Li clan member to personally sew it based off of your designs. They're definitely trustworthy, not someone under those old fools. And your design was destroyed just as you instructed." Li Yuewen had come specifically to talk about this.
"Mm. Is everything else ready?" Claire rapped the table and asked.
"Everything has been prepared as you instructed. It cost quite a bit of money," Li Yuewen said a bit painfully.
"That's nothing, Cousin Yuewen. You must sacrifice for the greater good. When the time comes, your gains will make up for it by the thousands," Claire said, a little annoyed.
"Sacrifice for the greater good?*" Li Yuewen digested the words carefully, nodding.
*TL: Literal: Give up the child for the wolf.... An ancient proverb... "You know what, it's a proverb, it shouldn't make sense at all" - Eric
"Alright already, cousin Yuewen. You should go rest. The coming days will be busy," Claire said. "Tomorrow, the Li clan will once again take the stage in history. Let us welcome this moment together."
"Mm." Li Yuewen stood up, but was internally perturbed. Would tomorrow go smoothly?
The next day, the autumn day was cool. Many large carriages were heading towards the same place in the early morning, the capital's square. The large convention was to be held there today, hosted by the emperor with the crown prince attending. Who of the nobility wouldn't want to appear to show loyalty to the empire, reverence towards the emperor and benevolence to the commoner? It was a chance for aristocrats to show off.
Everybody appeared, leaving the streets empty. Not only the noblemen, but the commoners could also go to the square to witness the elegant crown prince and number one beauty.
When the crown prince appeared with luxurious, ivory clothes, a clamor started.
"Long live the prince!"
"May the prince be blessed for a thousand years!"
Energetic cheers arose. In the commoners' hearts, the crown prince was benevolent and magnanimous.
The crown prince smiled, waving at the crowd from above on stage, fueling more cheers.
"The crown prince sure is awesome." Summer and Qiao Chuxin were at a corner of the square. Summer was eating some street food Qiao Chuxin had bought. "The commoners love him so much."
Qiao Chuxin took a bit of her food and said seriously, "No, Claire is. Claire's said before, commoners are the foundations of a country's strength. There's a reason why Lagark grows stronger by the day. Claire's also said that relationship between the emperor and the commoners is akin to a boat with water. Water can keep a boat afloat, but can also flip it over."
"Of course. Claire's intelligence is beyond human." Summer chewed. If she wasn't so good, then how would she be able to control them so well, without leaving any room for them to resist.
The two's conversation was very quiet, so normal people wouldn't be able to hear them. But for experts, it was different. An old man dressed in fine, black clothes glanced at them. He had heard the words they had just said clearly. Claire? Who was she? She had such insight, able to create such a fitting analogy for the relationship between the emperor and his people. The people were the foundation of the empire's might. There was someone else who had spoken these words and also deeply influenced their current emperor, which was why Lagark was prospering by the day.
"Lady Hua has arrived!" a voice announced suddenly out of nowhere. Then a luxurious marriage stopped at the entrance.
"The Hua clan has arrived," a chamberlain announced.
Everybody's gaze turned that way. Commoners craned their necks, wanting to see the capital's number one beauty.
The door opened slowly. A jade white hand reached out. The butler who was already waiting outside hastily supported her out. Wearing a snow white, luxurious dress, a glossy black pearl necklace around her neck emphasized her grandeur. A jewel bracelet of different gems adorned her wrist, clearly of considerable value. With jade-like skin, an enchanting smile, eyes like crescent moons, a delicate nose, and ruby red lips, when she smiled, she charmed everybody within sight.
Many noble youths stared fixedly at Hua Xiuning. They hadn't come just to put on a show for the crown prince, but also to see the love of their dreams, Hua Xiuning. Of the three great beauties, one was married, while another was cold and nobody dared to try. Only Hua Xiuning was both charming and friendly.
"Crown Prince, your highness." Hua Xiuning slowly walked up stage on the red carpet, then gave the crown prince a curtsy. Her eyes were filled with unconceivable love. Hua Xiuning was not only eyeing the position of crown princess, she had been completely charmed by the perfect, handsome prince.
"Lady Hua." A faint smile surfaced on the crown prince's face, but his eyes were empty.
Disappointment flashed in her eyes. She had spent so much effort on preparing for today, yet the crown prince's gaze didn't linger on her, not even for a second. Why?
"Donating Convention, commence..."
A voice announced, their voice drawn out. The convention had finally begun. The convention was very simple with no ceremonies. Because it was a donating convention, naturally, there wasn't any wasteful spending for appearance's sake.
The aristocrats started coming upstage one by one to donate. Some donated money, others donated gifts. The butler of the Feng clan straight up donated ten million gold coins, supplying half the cost of what it would take to set up the clinic. Naturally, there were many cheers. This man was the old man who had overheard Summer and Qiao Chuxin talk about Claire!
"Your majesty, the Hua clan will be donating..." Hua Xiuning smiled gently, quietly speaking to the crown prince, just about to order the person behind her to bring up a decorated box when she was interrupted.
"The Li clan has arrived..."
Astonishment flashed in the crown prince's eyes. The Li clan, one of the four main clans, had already been gone from the public eye for so long. Why were they here today?