Chapter 287: The Masked Man Outside Duke of Liu’s Residence
"Impossible!" Arloja and Ablonodan exclaimed at the same time. Perhaps they thought that their reactions were too excessive, so Arloja quickly explained. "Gongzi, it's not that we aren't willing to sell it to you, but we wouldn't be able to mine so much Hyderabad ore even over the course of an entire year!"
Hyderabad ore was exceptionally tough, and it was also located in treacherous terrain, thus making mining operations extremely difficult. Not to mention, the Hyderabad ore was only found in a specific location as well.
Even if they were to gather all of the Hyderabad ores they mined in a single year together, it wouldn't add up to 5000 jun.
"What is the current production limit of the Hyderabad ores then?" Wang Chong asked with a smile as he placed his hands behind his back. Naturally, he also knew that it was impossible for so much Hyderabad ore to be produced within a year.
He was only making use of this to uncover the true production capacity of the Hyderabad ore so that he could gauge the proportion he had to take down.
"3000 jun! This is the current highest projected estimation of our annual production. If we want to produce 5000 jun every year, we would have to expand our manpower and expand our scale of production." Arloja replied earnestly.
"Then why don't you expand the scale of production? Given how lucrative the Hyderabad ores are, surely your High Priest would have thought of expanding the mining operations?" Wang Chong asked.
"We do have such plans, but the results will only surface next year. We won't be able to supply you so much this year," Arloja replied seriously.
A thousand gold taels for one jun was truly an enticing deal. Without a doubt, it would be highly beneficial to Sindhu if they could take this deal. However, the problem lay in Wang Chong's excessively high demand. Sindhu couldn't possibly take out 5000 jun currently.
"Then a thousand jun should be fine, right?" Wang Chong asked with a smile. This was his true goal.
If Wang Chong was just negotiating with these two monks, there would be no need for him to go through such a huge number just to conclude at this.
However, these two monks were currently serving as the High Priest's eyes and ears—in truth, Wang Chong was indirectly negotiating with the Sindhi High Priest. Since that was the case, he would have to resort to some trickery.
"This... it'll be difficult, but it should be possible." Arloja fell silent for a long moment before eventually nodding in agreement.
"However, it'll take at least two months for the deal to be completed. That should be sufficient time for you to gather sufficient money to purchase 1000 jun."
Having just came from Sindhi, the two of them were extremely familiar with the situation regarding the Wootz steel. In truth, the 1000 jun that Wang Chong demanded was the limit as to what Sindhu could provide this year. After selling this sum, they wouldn't have any inventory left, and this was including the production from the few remaining months of the year.
"... But I'll still have to emphasize that I don't have the right to make the decision for this matter. It has to be approved by our High Priest himself," Arloja repeated himself.
"Of course! Masters, please tell your High Priest that as long as Sindhu agrees to my terms, I can pay the one million gold taels immediately!" Wang Chong threw out his last bomb.
Under a great reward surely stands a brave soul!
A while later, Arloja and Ablonodan walked out of the gates of the Wang Clan with slightly dazed expressions. Seeing the lingering astonishment on their faces, Wang Chong smiled in contentment.
A million gold taels!
That was a sum more than tenfold greater than the previous deal. 90,000 gold taels was already sufficient to alleviate the situation in Sindhi significantly, they could hardly imagine what one million gold taels would spell for the starving Sindhis.
Grasping their mentalities tightly in his grip, Wang Chong knew that his bait would surely be irresistible to Sindhu.
Even if not for the welfare of Sindhu, Arloja and Ablonodan would surely try their best to convince the Sindhi High Priest to accept the deal.
"Gongzi, is it really worth doing so? A million gold taels isn't a small sum!" Old Eagle uttered as he looked at the departing backs of the two monks.
Since he had decided to follow Wang Chong and the Wang Clan, he required a certain degree of understanding of the Wang Clan to operate. Thus, he was also informed about the matter regarding the Hyderabad ore.
However, one million gold taels was truly too much.
"Gold is nothing more than another form of metal. Soon, you'll understand this." Wang Chong smiled mysteriously.
The fortress at the Lion Rock Hill was being supervised by Zhang Shouzhi; the problem regarding the food supply was settled by Zhang Munian in Jiaozhi, and Li Zhuxin was currently protecting him; Zhang Wentuo would be under the watch of Solitary Wolf; last, but not least, regarding the Sindhi High Priest... even though Wang Chong had never met the latter, he didn't think that the latter could resist the temptation of the huge fortune of one million gold taels.
Currently, the Abbasid Caliphate and Charax Spasinu had yet to master the art of forging Wootz steel, so they wouldn't see much value in procuring Hyderabad ore.
Everything was on track.
Wang Chong had finally achieved what he had thought to be impossible and failed to accomplish in his previous life. When everything was settled, he would return to Kunwu Training Camp and devote his time back to his martial arts.
Now, only one last matter remains! …, Wang Chong thought as a figure flashed across his head.
There were two main goals he had sought to achieve in the capital this time around. One was to meet the Southern Protector-General Zhangchou Jianqiong and his commanders, and the other was to investigate the background of a certain person.
It was inconvenient for him to do so back at Kunwu Training Camp, but by tapping into the influence of the Wang Clan, it shouldn't be too difficult for him to uncover something.
"Old Eagle, how is the investigation going along? Is there any news?" Wang Chong spoke those words in a hushed tone.
"Ah!" Old Eagle subconsciously exclaimed, and as though awakening from a dream, seriousness immediately replaced his slightly dazed expression. The matter which Wang Chong was speaking of was a mission which the latter had entrusted to him right after King Sosurim was killed.
This was the first task that Wang Chong had entrusted to him since he, Solitary Wolf, and Steel Arms had sworn to follow Wang Chong. Thus, Old Eagle paid careful notice to this matter.
"Gongzi, I have asked my friends from the Bureau of Military Personnel and Bureau of Punishments to look into that recruit from Kunwu Training Camp, and I have determined his origin. Gongzi's hunch is right, there is indeed some falsehood in the documents he submitted to the royal court."
"I also investigated that place as gongzi told us to, and even though I am still too sure what is going on, it is certain that it has something to do with the Duke of Liu."
"The Duke of Liu?" Wang Chong was taken aback. He knew that there was something shady behind the scenes, but he didn't think that Duke of Liu would be involved in this matter.
"Are you certain?" Wang Chong asked hesitantly.
"Un. Not only so, I also found something that might interest gongzi. Gongzi might be unaware, but not too long after you left Kunwu Training Camp, that man left as well," Old Eagle said. The more he investigated this matter, the more interested he became in that mysterious man.
After following Wang Chong around for some time, Old Eagle slowly realized that even though the tasks Wang Chong entrusted them might seem ordinary and mundane, they often had something deeper lying beneath the surface.
"Oh?" Wang Chong was astonished by that news. He had been so absorbed in dealing with the Goguryeons and King Sosurim that he neglected this issue. "Do you mean that he has been stalking me? Or is it just a coincidence?"
"I checked on it, and even though he left Kunwu Training Camp right after gongzi, he hasn't approached gongzi in the capital. Most likely, it's just a coincidence," Old Eagle said.
"Also, that young man was really wary. Finding him in the complicated layout of the capital wasn't easy, but my nightingales did notice something interesting while circling the perimeter of the Duke of Liu Residence. Hehe, the Duke of Liu Residence hasn't been peaceful recently. A masked fellow has been loitering around their residence deep in the night, and he seems to be up to no good." Saying these words, Old Eagle couldn't help but chuckle softly.
"Oh?" Seeing Old Eagle's mysterious laugh, Wang Chong couldn't help but fall into deep thoughts.
"So you mean that..."
"Gongzi, you'll know once you see it," Old Eagle smiled.
Great Tang had many dukes. These dukes came from various origins, and there were many different reasons behind their conferment. Some were due to accumulated outstanding contributions over the years, some were due to their prestigious and respected stature, and some were due to their merits in protecting, supporting, or marrying into the royal family...
All in all, over the course of two hundred years, many dukes had emerged in Great Tang. Of them, a portion of them received their titles through their patrilineal inheritance. But while this group of descendants still carried the title of a duke, they didn't possess authority befitting of one.
They didn't possess the right to attend the assemblies of the royal court and interfere in the governance of the country. Nevertheless, in acknowledgement of the merits of their predecessors, the royal court still granted them the stipends and privileges that most dukes were entitled to.
The Duke of Liu was such a duke.
On top of that, dukes were also divided by tiers based on the authority they commanded, and the Duke of Liu was currently receiving the stipends of the lowest tier.
The title of Duke of Liu had been passed down three generations, and its presence in the royal court was extremely weak now.
Typically speaking, unless something special happened, no one would turn their eyes to them.
Along the perimeter of towering walls were several lush Chinese scholar trees, and within it stood an exceptionally luxurious residence.
This was the Duke of Liu’s Residence.
Within the silent forest, only the cawing of birds could be heard from time to time. Amidst the darkness, the large string of red lanterns hanging on both sides of the entrance of the Duke of Liu’s Residence was exceptionally conspicuous.
"Old Eagle, are you sure that he'll be here tonight?" Wang Chong asked as he turned to Old Eagle behind him. They were hidden amidst the crown of a certain tree within the forest. They had been waiting here for a while now, but they hadn't seen anything yet.
"Gongzi, don't worry. Based on my investigations, he comes here at this time every day. I think he was scouting the location the previous few days, and it should be around time for him to make a move," Old Eagle smiled.
At that moment, the chirping of a bird suddenly sounded above them. A small bird around the size of one's palm danced happily above the heads of the duo.
"He's here!" Upon seeing this bird, Old Eagle immediately muttered in delight.
Almost instantaneously, a gust of wind blew, and a masked figure appeared in the darkness. It was the man Old Eagle was speaking about.
With exceptional agility, he flitted around like a swift phanton, and soon, he was standing before the towering wall not too far from the duo.