Chapter 375: Haggling, who's the most ruthless one?
Deciding who to send to the black market was a headache in itself. Both Master Lin and his subordinates in the black market had no idea how much grain he really had. Those men could also guess that he was their superior, but they didn't have a single shred of proof. They only knew the people who delivered the secret missives and the silver, but didn't recognize anyone from his household. The person he sent would have to be someone who understood the imperial uncle's grain stores thoroughly, yet be able to decide on the final selling price in his place. Any more missives might not reach him in time.
Tonight was already the final deadline! He'd need his silver by today at the latest. Yesterday, the Ministry of Revenue had sent their men over to urge him again. Meanwhile, the compound interest from his usury loans had piled up quite a bit. The imperial uncle wracked his brains before finally deciding on a fine choice...
At the Sky Domain Black Market, Chu Xifeng had already successfully nabbed the silk ball from the second scramble sale last night. In the morning, Wu Shu's grain shop busied itself with carrying out another 10,000 dan of grain to prepare for the third scramble sale. Since it was the last chance, nobody wanted to miss it. The crowds around the store outnumbered the ones from the past two days and even included merchants who'd never shown their faces before. While everyone in the black market was caught up in the scramble sale, no one had any idea that the Lin Clan grain shop was preparing for the biggest sale of grain in black market history.
With Long Feiye's night watch, Han Yunxi slept until the sun was high in the sky in the midst of thieves' den. There were still at least four more hours before the poison effects were supposed to wear off, so she lazily laid on the bed with nothing to do but wander in her detox system. Recently, she'd been too busy bustling from one thing to the next to rest, much less check on the status of the poison pond. This time, she went in and saw that the water was covered in poison plants. Some had completely finished developing their poisons, while others were still growing. When she saw the new poisons, she couldn't help but think of Jun Yixie. He must have had his fill of suffering from his shoulder poison by now. Perhaps he'd be unable to bear it and eventually find her for the antidote.
But if he did that, she'd be sure to poison his other shoulder, too.
Her only misgiving now was the fact that Jun Yixie had seen Lil Thing as well. Most likely, he'd be able to guess the animal's origins. If he spread news of this across the continent, she'd be in a lot of trouble. She'd been keeping a quiet eye on these things in recent days, but fortunately, Jun Yixie hadn't seem to make a move at all. It was probable that the fellow was stuck between struggles of the Northern Li imperial court and the troubles that came from being exposed as leader of the Hundred Poison Sect. He might not have enough time to bother with her and Lil Thing yet.
The detox system dimension was quite vast, but only a small portion of it was useable. Han Yunxi couldn't travel to the areas shrouded in darkness at all. When she tried to force it, she only got a headache, so she was forced to withdraw in the end. She had no idea how to open up those spaces, but since she didn't need it yet, she'd just go with the flow. After resting a bit longer, noon arrived. Han Yunxi got out of bed for real and freshened her face and makeup before heading out. But upon opening the door, all she saw was empty space devoid of that familiar form.
Where is he?
Han Yunxi was feeling puzzled until Long Feiye dropped down from the roof. He had started out standing guard at the door until he sensed a high-level expert trying to approach the room. Despite searching around the premises for a while, he didn't find the person in question. In the end, he ended up sitting on the roof to keep watch and didn't sleep for an entire night.
Han Yunxi was relieved upon seeing Long Feiye, but asked sympathetically, "Tired?"
"Not tired," he said simply, but he'd spent the whole night on constant vigilance, watching and guarding her. Because of his serious injury, he had to be on high alert against any skilled enemies. A single moment of carelessness might have put her in danger.
A servant quickly arrived to serve them both. After they ate their fill, Master Lin came over to invite them with a smile. "Miss Helian, someone's come from the grain depot. Why don't we discuss matters of price and quantity now?"
The so-called someone from the grain depot would naturally be one of the imperial uncle's men. Han Yunxi and Long Feiye had a good grasp of things as they exchanged glances and followed after Master Lin. The instant they disappeared, a man wearing a white face veil suddenly appeared out of thin air on Han Yunxi's roof. He was a modest looking gentleman, as gentle and kind as jade. Long Feiye had been right. He had sensed a high-level expert nearby, but he didn't know that the expert had tailed them precisely because he was injured, so that he could help protect Han Yunxi.
Master Lin took Han Yunxi and Long Feiye into a hidden room, where a middle-aged man was waiting for them. He was dressed in an unlined blue upper garment and wore a bamboo hat lined with fine gauze that completely obscured his face and head. Only the hazy outlines of his features were visible behind the white cloth. He rose to his feet at their arrival, and the group exchanged introductions before taking to their seats. Long Feiye remained standing behind Han Yunxi, playing the part of her guard.
The middle-aged man shot Long Feiye a careless glance, his action not escaping Long Feiye's notice despite being hidden behind the veil. He himself had silently surveyed the middle-aged man when he entered, examining him from head to toe. His final gaze had rested on his hands. Naturally, Long Feiye had averted his gaze once the middle-aged man looked his way, keeping taciturn and reserved as ever.
"Miss Helian, please feel free to request as much grain as you want. Our storehouse manager is here to give you definite answers," Master Lin began.
"What, even Master Lin yourself don't know how much grain you have?" Han Yunxi teased. It was a normal line of questioning, and it'd be stranger if she didn't ask it.
The middle-aged man broke into laughter. "Master, see what Miss Helian's saying now."
Master Lin gave an awkward smile. "Heheh, Miss Helian might not be aware, but this storehouse manager of mine is very dependable. With him here, we won't even have a single mouse inside the grain depots!"
Naturally, the 'mouse' he referred to were thieves who tried to steal grain. The middle-aged man was quick to turn modest. "Master Lin has bestowed me with his trust, so I'd naturally be loyal to my post!"
"Master manager, what did you say your name was again?" Han Yunxi suddenly asked.
"My surname is Qian,"1 the middle-aged man repeated.
"Ohoh," Han Yunxi nodded. She was just probing him for fun, because he said he was surnamed 'Qian' when they first made their introductions. It looked like he'd made a rough outline of his standardized lies. Actually, it didn't matter whether this man and Master Lin were pretending to flatter each other or just making empty chitchat. She didn't care either way. Now that they were sitting here with the deal half done, the only thing left to set was the price. Meanwhile, Long Feiye would be able to investigate this man's origins as soon as the face veil was removed.
"Manager Qian, then you tell me how much grain you have in those warehouses," Han Yunxi's attitude was arrogant and careless.
"We have plenty of grain in our storehouse. No matter how much Miss Helian needs, we'll be apply to supply the stock!" The Manager was quite lofty with his tone!
"Heheh, and what if you don't?" Han Yunxi asked.
Manager Qian didn't answer, but cast a glance at Master Lin, who quickly spoke up. "May Miss Helian please tell us how much grain you need."
"There's no limit. However much you have, I'll take it all!" Han Yunxi said, before adding, "With cash payment!"
Her direct response left Master Lin and Manager Qian stunned. Han Yunxi seizes the chance to add on, "Of course, if we can't settle on a price, then this lady won't take a single grain with me."
Manager Qian hesitated before he said, "Miss Helian, why don't you offer a price?"
"You guys quote a price instead," Han Yunxi said. She wasn't an idiot-she was here to haggle, not to pay a listed price! When she was a still a student, she depended on holding multiple part-time jobs to live. Studying medicine was both taxing and costly, and she had to spend money to find backers to win her clinic training opportunities. The practical internships offered by the school itself were limited at best, to speak nothing of her specialized study in poisons. As a result, she was extremely picky when it came to buying anything, and an exceptionally skilled haggler.
"I think it's better for Miss Helian to name a price, especially with this much grain at stake. This one will see if the offer is appropriate," Manager Qian smiled.
"You know there's a lot at stake, so you should give an appropriate price," Han Yunxi said casually. She'd already won in terms of manner and bearing. Who told the other side to be so hasty to get rid of their stock?
"I heard Miss Helian disliked 10,000 taels because it was too expensive?" Manager Qian began to sound her out. He didn't mention how much dan was on sale for 10,000 taels.
"Isn't it?" Han Yunxi said ambiguously.
"It certainly is, for 100 dan," Manager Qian said succinctly.
Han Yunxi smiled coldly. Yesterday, she'd complained that 10,000 taels was too much for 10,000 dan, not 100 dan. This guy had said that on purpose! He even pushed the price label from 10,000 dan all the way to 100 dan. How ruthless!
"Aiya, is that what I said yesterday?" Han Yunxi feigned ignorance.
So did Master Lin. "I believe so." High level haggling skills meant shamelessly pretending to be none the wiser!
Han Yunxi ran her hands through her long hair and turned to look at Long Feiye. "I drank too much last night. Did I ever say that?"
"To reply mistress, you said no such thing," Long Feiye's tone was very professional.
"Then what did I say?" Han Yunxi said as she secretly thought to herself, Respected Highness Duke of Qin, please give a price!
"To reply mistress, you said 100,000 dan for 10,000 taels last night," Long Feiye replied calmly. Master Lin and Manager Qian spat out their tea at the words, completely floored. They had to bow before such superiority.
100,000 dan for 10,000 taels, thisthisthis...he actually spoke such words! Even Han Yunxi was startled by the statement. She thought she was already pretty ruthless, but Long Feiye was even worse.
"Oh..." Han Yunxi drew out the syllable. "Master Lin, it looks like you heard the wrong thing."
"Miss Helian must be joking. 100,000 dan for 10,000 taels, this... How could that be possible, hahah..." Master Lin's crying face looked even uglier than his smiling one.
"You think it's too cheap? Then what do you suggest?" Han Yunxi asked innocently.
If someone had to offer a price first, then the other would have to crush that offer ferociously until they had enough room to seize an advantage. With 100,000 dan for 10,000 taels as the starting point, Han Yunxi was looking forward to seeing how Master Lin could raise the price again!
1. Qian () - whether intentionally or not, this surname means "money."