Chapter 369: Black market, Yunxi's brilliant scheme
Han Yunxi was given a fright as soon as the old man raised his head. One of his eyes was completely blind, and his face was covered in wrinkles. His ferocious expression made him look absolutely hideous!
Long Feiye remained silent, but dropped a gold ingot into the man's hands instead of speaking. Despite being half-blind, the old man still was deft enough to catch the gold. He bit into it to make sure it was authentic before changing his attitude 180 degrees. Even his voice grew a few shades warmer.
"Sir, please come in!"
Han Yunxi glanced at the gold, feeling pained for His Highness Duke of Qin's sake! Just how much wealth did he have? He was always so liberal with his money. Despite his collection of properties, he shouldn't be making wild profits left and right. Outsiders couldn't even begin to guess the full extent of his riches, and she herself only knew he had a limitless gold card and a bracelet worth the value of an entire nation.
Did he dig up some treasure somewhere?
The old man led the way inside, where they began a steady descent. Soon enough, a lively underground world revealed itself to Han Yunxi's eyes. This place was a literal subterranean city. Aside from its location, it had no differences with cities found aboveground. There were streets full of shops and magnificent buildings. Everything one expected to find in a town were all present. Lanterns lit the way in its everbright domain. Different from the long-standing Three-Way Black Market, the Sky Domain Black Market only came into existence after the creation of Tianning Country. The powers controlling it were unknown.
However, the so-called Sky Domain Association was in charge of all affairs here. Its members were comprised of powerful figures in all sorts of professions and industries. They held loose rein over matters in the black market, only taking care to collect their protection fees from the various dealers who did business here. There were no limits on who could access the black market, either. Anyone was welcome to come and leave as they pleased. Of course, such loose rein only hinted towards the true strength of the black market owners. They were powerful enough to even ignore government officials who wanted to slip in and inspect the place.
Nonetheless, black markets had always existed in Cloud Realm Continent's history. The imperial courts would only crack down and ban the smaller ones, but never did much against the larger markets. That was because the powers behind such markets had complicated connections. It was extremely possible that the palace would end up smashing its own foot if it investigated them too deeply. In truth, Long Feiye was putting himself in great danger by personally investigating the imperial uncle here. The Sky Domain Association would be sure to protect all transactions done in the market. He was standing opposite of the entire Association, which meant he'd become their enemy as soon as he made a fuss. There was even the possibility that he'd be the enemy of all black markets across the entire continent.
Han Yunxi followed Long Feiye past a few streets, looking at the wealth of items up for sale. She lowered her voice and said, "Your Highness, this is a big risk."
"The imperial uncle's estate is even more detestable than Tianhui. He has to be eliminated!" Long Feiye was determined.
After taking Han Yunxi to stroll around for a bit, they finally came to the grain exchange district. Unlike the lively, bustling scene of the other streets, it was very quiet here. Only a few stores were open for business, but even those had scant customers inside. Though some of these store owners were selling their own grain, the majority of merchants here were middlemen in charge of the money.
All they cared about was the cash, not the details of buying and selling.
If anyone wanted to buy grain, they could contact such middlemen, who would find them an appropriate seller. The same worked in reverse, where sellers could find them to seek out proper buyers. Some middlemen were only in charge of matching up sellers and buyers. Some would perform the transaction on behalf of both parties while keeping their respective identities anonymous. Naturally, middlemen received differing amounts of payment for different types of transactions. Confidential deals like this were commonplace aboveground too, but the middlemen of Sky Domain Black Market were far more professional and dealt with much more money.
Han Yunxi didn't understand much about this, so Long Feiye explained it all to her while holding her hand during their stroll. She was smart enough to understand the rest with just a hint, leaving Long Feiye quite pleased. The two of them pretended to be sellers and scoped out deals from various stores. The situation nearly left Han Yunxi laughing out loud. Everyone mentioned that there were 100,000 dan of grain for sale, but nobody bothered to speak of the imperial uncle's 50,000 dan. The 100,000 dan for sale was obviously Long Feiye's idea, which had already caused a stir in the black market before they'd even arrived. Originally, everyone had been talking about the imperial uncle's 50,000 dan, but now nobody was interested in the sale.
"Shopkeeper, we can't afford to buy 100,000 dan of grain. Do you have 50,000 dan for sale?" Han Yunxi asked modestly.
"Patron, grain isn't very pricey right now. Moreover, 100,000 dan isn't that much more expensive. If you can come here, why would you be lacking in money?" the shopkeeper asked with a smile. The more he could sell, the higher commission fees they'd earn. Of course they'd try to make the better deal.
"Then, which one has the lower starting price, 100,000 dan or 50,000 dan?" Han Yunxi asked next.
"100,000 dan, 100,000 dan! Patron, you might not know, but the seller of 100,000 dan is anxious to get the grain off their hands and change it into real cash! Apparently they're selling it at a low price. If you want to know more details, I can help you scope them out."
See how eagerly he was promoting the 100,000 dan of grain! All Long Feiye did was spread news that 100,000 dan of grain was up for sale. He didn't release any details about the price, but these middlemen would simply make things up out of thin air. That was the nature of the market. If there was a chance for profit, they'd even call dead people, living and rename black as white. One person could spread the lie to ten, then ten to 100, until everyone believed it was the truth. Some items would skyrocket in price as a result, while others would come crashing down.
Since the shopkeeper was offering to look into the rumors, he'd likely want to be paid for his services. Long Feiye and Han Yunxi naturally refused his services. Stores like these were just made to take their money. When deals were as big as this, the most they'd do was find you another middleman instead of the actual seller himself. Judging from the current situation, the imperial uncle's 50,000 dan was due to be wholly reduced in price. Long Feiye was quite satisfied with the results, and took Han Yunxi over to a small grain shop.
After exchanging a secret code word, the shopkeeper led them to the back courtyard, where Chu Xifeng and a middle-aged merchant were waiting for them. Han Yunxi immediately understood that this was Long Feiye's hideout in the Sky Domain Black Market!
"Master, they'll be meeting at the Lin Clan's grain shop tonight at Zi hour-between 11PM and 1AM. Only three major merchants will be attending: the Lin Clan from Yucheng, the Wang Clan from Yuzhou, and the Ouyang Clan from Luocheng," Chu Xifeng reported honestly. He had been investigating the black market ever since the conclusion of the charity auction. If His Highness's injury hadn't delayed him, they might have uncovered the imperial uncle's spokesperson long ago.
"Only three?" Long Feiye was surprised as well.
"There were originally five to six!" Chu Xifeng laughed as he replied. "But the rest are waiting for master's 100,000 dan instead."
"Who's the seller?" Long Feiye asked. Naturally, the true seller behind the scenes was the imperial uncle's estate, but he wouldn't be stupid enough to show his face here. Long Feiye was asking after the representative that would show up tonight.
At this, the middle-aged merchant beside Chu Xifeng spoke up. "To reply Your Highness, we are uncertain as to who is attending today. This subordinate employed quite a few middlemen but was still refused in the end."
This middle-aged merchant was named Wu Shu1 and the owner of this grain shop. He was Long Feiye's planted agent inside the black market. He had gone twice to the Lin Clan's store and expressed his desire to purchase the 50,000 dan, only to be rejected. The imperial uncle's estate might need money, but they were very prudent about selling off their grain. Anyone who wasn't a frequent visitor or reliable client were refused the rights to trade, much less see them. Unless there was a way to get into their inner circle, it'd be hard to get their hands on any solid evidence of the imperial uncle's wrongdoings.
Of course, Long Feiye had already found out the location of tonight's meeting. He could simply go and arrest the people there, but they would never tell him anything. Doing so was the same as startling the snake in the grass. They'd already pressured the imperial uncle's estate into selling his stores of grain outright, but if they couldn't participate in the sale itself, it'd be a futile effort. Very soon, everyone fell into silence.
Han Yunxi's eyes spun in their sockets before she laughed and exclaimed, "Your Highness, chenqie has a scheme!"
"Speak," Long Feiye was quite looking forward to hearing her idea.
Han Yunxi didn't disappoint him. With a grin, she said, "Your Highness, why don't we hold a flash sale for the masses?"
Online shopper fans of Taobao would definitely recognize the term, but Long Feiye and the rest were completely clueless.
"Esteemed wangfei, what does that mean?" Chu Xifeng asked carefully.
Han Yunxi realized she'd spoken too soon. With a chuckle, she explained, "Let's hold a rally for a sales scramble. We'll put 10,000 dan of grain up for grabs at the price of 10,000 taels for 10,000 dan, how's that?"
Seeing everyone's confused looks, Han Yunxi hastened to add, "We'll hold one rally tonight, then two more in the next two days."
Chu Xifeng and Wu Shu were stunned by the idea. Long Feiye couldn't resist bursting into laughter. For the first time in his life, he praised someone directly. "Han Yunxi, you've thoroughly convinced your lordship!"
The lowest price for 10,000 dan of grain in the black market was still 30,000 taels. Han Yunxi had set her price as one tael per dan of grain, so no wonder she wanted a quick sale. Once they held the rally, it'd surely cause a sensation in the black market. Yucheng's Lin Clan, Yuzhou's Wang Clan and Luocheng's Ouyang Clan would all hear of the news. There'd be no need for them to visit the Lin Clan's grain store tonight. The most devastating point of Han Yunxi's scheme wasn't even the price, but the time limit. Three consecutive days of flash sales meant that the grain would be on the market from night to successive night. Who would be interested in the imperial uncle's grain then? Even though the total up for grabs was less than the imperial uncle's 50,000 dan, everyone would still wait until after the sale was over to buy from him. They would definitely wait to see whether there'd be more sales, and whether the grain prices fell even further.
Anyone and everyone who dealt in the grain business could afford to wait three more days. But the imperial uncle's estate had no such luxury! Their auction payment deadline was due after three more days, so they have to get rid of their grain before then. A hungry eater couldn't afford to be picky. In other words, anyone who wanted to buy their grain within the next three days would only make the imperial uncle praise Buddha. He wouldn't have any leeway to refuse them.
"Esteemed wangfei, this subordinate is in admiration! Admirable!" Wu Shu bowed respectfully with his hands clasped. He'd lived a good chunk of his life and only admired His Highness Duke of Qin. Now he respected Qin Wangfei as well. He had also heard the rumors of the Duke of Qin doting on Qin Wangfei, but never gave them much merit until now. Who wouldn't love such a smart and intelligent woman?
"Wu Shu, do we have 30,000 dan of grain?" Long Feiye asked. Naturally, they'd need supplies to hold the grain rally.
"This subordinate has still held onto such a paltry sum for Your Highness's sake!" Wu Shu said with a smile.
There would be no rest in Sky Domain Black Market tonight...
1. Wu Shu () - Wu is simply a surname, Shu means "uncle." His name can also be read as "Uncle Wu."