The Nine Cauldrons

Book 2 Chapter 20: The 26th day of the Twelfth Lunar Month 

“Qingshan, you’re back!” The gates of the Teng Clan’s territory opened and the gatekeepers greeted the hunting squadron warmly.

Carrying two wild chickens, Teng Qingshan smiled and responded. “Yes, Uncle Fang. We have returned. We were able to get some prey, so you will have some delicious dishes to go with your wine tonight.” While they were returning with the water tanks from the mountain, the hunters had decided to hunt some prey so that each family in the Teng Jia Village could get one Jin of meat.

“Hm?” Teng Qingshan’s eyebrows creased upon entering the training field.

On the ground, he could vaguely make out the sunken imprints of a cart’s wheels. The ground of the training field had been treaded on by practitioners for years, and it was extremely durable. Objects that were capable of rolling such deep tracks must without any doubt, be incredibly heavy. Teng Qingshan turned to the youth beside him.

“Sanzi, who came today?”

The youth replied, “Brother Qingshan, just now a troop of one hundred people escorted a huge cart pulled by two horses. They are currently outside the weapons shop.”

Qingshan pondered a bit, and then he came to a conclusion that this cart must be here to deliver the minerals and resources required for refining the 182 Frost Jade Sabers.

“Brother, Brother!” A crisp voice rang through the air.

Qingshan turned around and saw Teng Qingyu next to their mother. The current Teng Qingyu was able to run quite quickly; she ran over and gave Qingshan a hug. Subsequently, she stared wide-eyed at the wild chickens in Qingshan’s hands, “Brother, we have meat today! Two chickens!”

“Mother, please take the wild chickens back home; I am going to see Father.” Qingshan gave his mother, Yuan Lan, the birds.

“Your father will be working hard for a while, so he needs to eat more in order to replenish his energy.” Saying this, Yuan Lan took the two wild chickens.

In the Teng Jia Village, food was distributed based on each family’s contribution. Thus, families that contributed very little would get the least food. On the other hand, families like Qingshan’s, where Teng Yongfan was the number one blacksmith in the village and Teng Qingshan was the current strongest in the clan, as well as the hunting squadron leader, would receive a fairly substantial amount of food.

After the distribution, the two wild chickens were given to Teng Qingshan, for him to bring home directly.

“Brother, I am going with you.” Teng Qingyu held onto Teng Qingshan’s hand.

The adjacent Yuan Lan smiled upon seeing this. “Qingshan, just take your sister with you to see your father. You can play with her, but both of you have to be back for lunch.” Teng Qingshan replied affirmatively and held his sister’s hand. Then, they went to the weapons shop with the nearby Teng Qinghu and Teng Qinghao.

“Brother Qinghu,Brother Qinghao.” En route, from far away, Qingshan saw a cart in front of the weapons shop along with a large number of people who were mumbling to one another. He then said, “Here, take these water tanks. Make a detour and go through the back door to deliver them.”

“Yes.” Although it was fine for outsiders to see the water tanks, Teng Qinghu and Teng Qinghao knew that it was best to keep village’s matters a secret.

There was a veritable flood of people currently in the weapons shop. Most of the apprentices were carrying materials, while four people were sitting around a wooden desk in one corner of the courtyard. This group included Teng Yongfan, Teng Yunlong and two strangers, one of whom was tall and strong. This man seemed quite powerful, whereas the other was corpulent and he had a large stomach. The latter was wearing a yellow fox-fur coat and had a sparkling golden ring on his thumb.

“Qingshan, you came.” Teng Yunlong greeted Teng Qingshan smilingly from a seated position in the courtyard of the weapons shop.

“Father, Grandfather.” After greeting them happily, Teng Qingyu ran towards them.

“Yongfan, is this your daughter? She’s very cute.” The corpulent man said laughingly.

Teng Yongfan smiled and placed Teng Qingyu on his laps. The corpulent man continued: “Village Chief, Yongfan, we have cooperated for many years, so you should know that my price is not high. Of the 13,3200 taels of silver, I have already deducted a zero off the price.”
(TL: he’s not calling Yongfan the village chief, he’s just addressing them one by one)

“Li Er,” Teng Yunlong smiled and said: “We are old friends. I, Teng Yunlong have never lied; this you must certainly know. How could the person who gave us such a large business deal be ordinary? These men most likely came personally to our Teng Jia Village to forcibly lower the price. Our Teng Jia Village had no alternative but to take on the work. Only when you give me a slightly lower price can our clan can earn a little profit.”

The corpulent man thought for a while.

“Okay.” The corpulent man pounded the desk with his right hand that contained the yellow ring on the table as he straightforwardly announced: “It seems that we have been friends long enough for me to understand your struggles. I won’t beat around the bush: 12, 500 taels of silver and not a tael less!”

Teng Yunlong and Teng Yongfan looked at each other.

“We accept.” Teng Yunlong nodded.

“I will ask my man to bring you the silver!” Teng Yunlong said with a smile. Subsequently, he nodded to Teng Yongfan, who then left to personally bring the silver.

Teng Qinshan shot an inconspicuous glance at the strong man beside the corpulent man. “This man’s eyes contain spirit, and his muscle and bones are extremely strong. He is a decent expert, but he is much weaker than the leader of the group from yesterday.” At this time, Teng Yongfan returned while carrying a trunk with him.

“Peng!” The trunk fell onto the ground.

“Li Er, there are 4500 taels of silver in here! I also have 8000 silver notes!” Teng Yunlong pronounced while producing the banknotes.

“Silver notes?” Lee Er’s face changed; he had formed a small frown. Upon seeing the two word stamp, ‘Yang’s Salt’, his face brightened a bit. “Village Chief Teng, when I exchange the 8000 silver notes at the Yangzhou bank, I will have to pay a fee of 80 taels of silver.”

The Yangzhou Bank took one out of every 100 parts that was exchanged as interest.

With a bitter smile, Teng Yunlong said: “Li Er, how could we have silver notes? These are from the buyers; I am worried that they won’t pay the rest of the fee when the time comes. Alas, we are nothing but a small clan – just a pushover. Li Er, please excuse us from the transaction fee.”

The corpulent man stood up and sighed. “It’s fine. I don’t care much. Since I am a businessman, I need to deposit money in the bank, anyways. Okay, have you finished counting yet?”

“4500 taels of silver.” The strong man, who had opened the box and counted the silver, nodded.

“Okay then!” Li Er looked at Teng Yunlong, “Village Chief, Brother Yongfan, we have finished the transaction, so I will take my leave first.”

Teng Yunlong immediately stood up and led them out.

After they left, the weapons shop immediately became much quieter than before. Teng Qingshan looked at his father, Teng Yongfan. “Father, did we suffer losses from this deal?”

“If we can get the rest of the money from the buyers, it won’t be considered a loss.” Teng Yongfan explained, “182 Frost Jade Sabres are worth about 18,200 taels of silver. Our cost for the materials is 12,500 taels silver, while the other special items already within the clan will cost about 2,200 taels of silver. There’s also the water from the Jade Frost lake and the cost of labor.”

Teng Qingshan nodded understandingly.

In total, material cost was about 14,500 taels silver. The water from Jade Frost lake was free for the Teng Clan, but it could definitely be counted as an invaluable asset to others. Furthermore, it would take Teng Yongfan and Teng Yunlong a month of continuous labour to forge the Frost Jade Sabers.

Even if they received the remainder of the money, this business deal could only be considered to have made a miniscule profit.

“Those salt merchants with such deep pockets are so stingy when doing business. Otherwise. why else would they come to place an order with us personally?” Teng Yongfan said with a sneer.

“Are we actually going to obtain the the rest of the money?” Teng Qingshan frowned.

Teng Yongfan pondered for a while and shook his head. “Although I am worried about it, logically speaking, those Yangzhou salt merchants, who have a mighty status compared to us, will not likely lower themselves to steal our money. From another perspective, these merchants have powerful forces, so they could have forced us to refine the weapons or be killed. Wouldn’t this have been the more straightforward way to proceed, then?”

Teng Qingshan nodded.

There was logic behind his father’s words, but the buyers still had dominant superiority, so the Teng Jia Village could not help but worry about the opposing party cheating them.

“Qingshan, from today onwards, I will be staying in the weapons shop every night until the required amount of Frost Jade Sabers have been forged. You should assist your mother with the housework, as Qingyu still doesn’t understand much. Your mother is busy, yet she also has to take care of Qingyu. Thus, she is very tired every day.” Teng Yongfan instructed his son.

Teng Qingshan nodded.

His sister, Teng Qingyu, was just a six-year-old girl and, unlike him, she did not have memories from a previous life. Therefore, she was very mischievous and didn’t understand much like a normal kid.

During the ensuing days, Teng Yongfan and Teng Yunlong practically lived in the weapons shop. Sometimes, they were too busy to even have dinner at home, so their families would bring food to them.

In the blink of an eye, only five days remained until the yearly sacrifice.

“Qingshan, the clan leader has called for you to go to the weapons shop.” Qingshan had just led his hunting squadron back to the village when a clansman informed him of this news.

“I understand.” Teng Qingshan responded while giving his prey to Teng Qinghu. “Qinghu, why don’t you go divide the prey.” After speaking, he ran with his steel spear towards the weapons shop. Midway, he could hear the distant sounds of forging from the weapons shop.

Qingshan entered the weapons shop.

“Qingshan has arrived!” Most of apprentices smiled and greeted him.

Teng Qingshan noticed his father wielding an iron hammer barechested.

“Qingshan, come over here.” Yunlong was taking a rest in the courtyard. Wearing only wearing a robe, he was sweating all over and panting. As soon as he saw Teng Qingshan walk over, he ridiculed himself: “I really am getting old. After only working for an hour, I get so tired that I can’t continue. As a result, I have to rely on your father.”

Teng Qingshan smiled and sat down. “Grandfather, most of the young clansmen do not possess the arm strength to forge Frost Jade Sabers. You are quite strong!”

Teng Yunlong smiled. “You manners are excellent! One other thing, Qingshan: I sought you out today to tell you that the 182 Frost Jade Sabers will most likely be finished late tonight. Tomorrow is the 26th day of the 12th lunar month; it is a good day for going out. Your hunting squadron members will disguise themselves as dealers selling wild beast fur in city. This way, you can take the 182 Frost Jade Sabers into the city. When you leave, your father will go along with you.”

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