A Rare Respite (Part 2)
Because using cities as the primary defence structure wasn’t popular in Nanjiang, and citizens of Nanjiang preferred the peaceful environment that villages offered, Sanggongmo City, which translated to “beautifully flourishing place”, wasn’t built to be a trading hub or army garrison. By the same token, trading in the city was still in a development phase, but it was among the top three cities that stably traded goods from the Central Plain in Nanjiang.
Sanggongmo was designed using inspiration from cities in the Central Plain, hence the style of the previous dynasty and their goods, as the Central Plain’s culture had a profound role in the life of a former King of Wanyu. Further influence of the Central Plain’s dynasty could be seen from the fact that the people in the city wore white clothing more than red.
The city’s development into Wanyu’s centre of economy and finance was an unexpected course. After all, it was designed for no other reason than to recreate scenery from the Central Plain in addition to adopting their culture.
Having said that, Sanggongmo was still a classic city of Wanyu because they didn’t discard their love for bright and flashy designs, be it stores, streets or decorations. As a matter of fact, it was swathed in more extravagance than Baimu or Xiuyu; it wouldn’t be surprising if someone thought they were in a different domain going from Xiuyu to Sanggongmo.
When I decided to pose as Shaman Monarch, I merely intended to take advantage of the situation, get rid of problems outside of Nieyao and snag fengqi shenmu from Gegewu. Only when I started swimming in the waters did I discover there was more to Shaman Monarch Palace and Gegewu’s plans than I assumed. Despite me eradicating a force he supposedly raised, had Iron and Wood Guardians with me, on top of another one thousand five hundred followers, and elevated Shaman Monarch’s reputation to an all-time high, Gegewu didn’t react in any shape or form.
Should Gegewu still have an ace up his sleeve that I was unaware of, then the clash in Nieyao and obtaining fengqi shenmu would be painfully complicated, not to mention requiring far more time than I estimated. Accordingly, remaining ignorant on Shaman Faith and Shaman Monarch Palace was inexcusable.
Pretty much everyone recognised my Shaman Monarch appearance at this point – credit of all the miracles I put on with the one thousand and five hundred followers joining me on the pilgrimage. That was why I had to change my face a little and attire myself in unadorned white garments in order to have a peaceful stroll alongside a random crowd. That was, until an aromatic scent drew me to a small snack shop.
I bought fifteen serves of the traditional Wanyu snack that consisted of glutinous rice and chicken steamed inside a layer of leaves, then whispered to the owner. In turn, he happily responded, “Please come inside.”
Due to the undesirable location, there weren’t many customers inside the small rice shop located at the back alley. The tall and thin proprietor kept continued checking the ledger as he used ventriloquism to communicate, “Please come inside.”
The middle-aged proprietor pulled open a cover to the underground level connected to the completely-sealed room, bringing his deadpan face along down to the place they stored rice. He set the small candle in his hand onto a slot on the wall and gently turned it, opening an adjacent door that led to another section with yet more secret rooms.
The proprietor offered me a seat at the table and then, in a voice as cold as the teapot, stated, “Black and White Reflection’s humble treasure trove is at your service.”
“Cut the crap.” I wet my finger with the tea and wrote “Ming Feizhen” on the table.
The straight-faced proprietor stared at my name for a while before his pupils started to dilate, breathing started to change, face muscles gradually shifted and the corner of his lips rise. “Oh my, VIP guest number zero. It has been a while, Mr. Ming.”
Even though he sounded comparable to a youth and his eyes became slits, the ribbing undertone was always there. I was used to it, so I smiled back. “Long-time no see. Business still going hot?”
Every time I met the man, he had a different face. All I knew was that it was attributed to a really advanced mental cultivation discipline and that he could be beyond five kilometres away, but I neither understood the discipline nor could I work out the precise distance he was away.
“It has been all right. I cannot be at my best without you visiting more often.”
I wagged my hand. “Don’t place me on such a high pedestal. It won’t work on me.”
“Not at all.” Refusing to let me be humble, he wrote down a string of text onto a sheet of paper. “You are our VIP of VIPs. If we calculate your loan and interest, you have an outstanding amount of 538,440 taels and 6 copper coins. I see you are still a generous spender. Who else but you owes over five hundred thousand in one transaction?”
“There’s no way I owe that much!”
“Bright Jade Restaurant in Canhu Town. A hundred and three thousand taels and the remedies for all the sects were a legitimate transaction. As number zero VIP, you can use the other items in our storage, such as blood demon armour and so forth for free. Your three months interest free period is almost up. Are you ready to pay your first interest instalment in three days’ time?”
“I, uh, um, did I ever say I wasn’t going to pay?! I still have three days! One day, one hour, one minute, one second, or even one breath, is not synonymous with ‘lifetime’!”
“Of course. Of course. This one was merely reminding you. Should you not be able to pay when it is due, we will have to take some action for the sake of maintaining our business.”
“Is that a threat?! You going to send assassins?”
“Of course not. This one would not dare send assassins after you.” Beaming, he elaborated, “But we will have to disclose your location to everyone you have enmity with for some compensation.”
Black and White Reflection, my foot! White is for purity! You’re still as shady as ever!
“I didn’t come here to talk about that today.” I passed him a fragmented book of Nanjiang’s royal family. “How long will it take to translate this book?”
He giddily flipped through the book, then answered, “Three days.”
“I have several more similar books. Can you finish in two days?”
“Possibly.” He set the book down and smiled. “It will cost a hefty sum, however.”
I didn’t ask how much it’d cost to save myself the stress of having the number constantly in my head.
“Have you received a reply for the letter I asked you to send to Western Regions two days ago?”
“Let me see…” He opened the small notebook he always kept on him, scanning it whilst humming. He drew out a scroll from a shelf nearby. “This is the reply.”
“Great. I have another letter I want delivered to League of Assassins’ headquarters in Qinghe. It’s addressed to their boss.”
“Sure. Would you like standard or express courier?”
“Send it today, and have it reach the end of the world tomorrow.”
“I’ll have the other books delivered soon.” I gave him a few other tasks prior to leaving with the reply I was waiting for, but I stopped on my way out. “Any news?”
He flipped through his notebook and then smiled: “Whereabouts, still unknown.”
“… Got it.”
Whereabouts, still unknown – the individual in question’s gender isn’t specified.