Chapter 744: Ten Thousand High-Quality Turkic Warhorses!
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
Wang Chong viewed this first transaction with Hulayeg with extreme importance. If there were no hidden schemes in this transaction and everything proceeded smoothly, his own plans could finally be realized.
If Hulayeg could bring him one batch of Turkic warhorses, he could definitely bring a second, a third, and even more. Perhaps with the assistance of this number one horse merchant, the Great Tang could obtain an endless stream of high-quality warhorses from the Turkic steppe, filling in the Great Tang's largest weakness.
"It's really exciting! Hulayeg, I hope that you won't disappoint me…" Wang Chong muttered.
Outside the window, a wind began to blow!
No one knew that a storm was stirring in the distant Wushang that would gradually sweep across all of the Western Regions.
Hulayeg was truly as cautious as Wang Chong had predicted. Not long after the first letter, Wang Chong received a second letter from Hulayeg. He had even sent a servant disguised as a Hu jewel merchant to enter the City of Steel.
Before conducting this first transaction, Hulayeg hoped that he could receive an advance payment of a hundred thousand taels. This aroused quite the quarrel amongst Wang Chong's subordinates, but in the end, Wang Chong overruled them all and gave the hundred thousand taels to the servant.
One needed the proper demeanor to make big deals, and it was impossible to conduct such deals risk-free. In comparison to the benefits the Great Tang stood to gain in the future, one hundred thousand taels was nothing at all.
With this advance payment, the details of the transaction were quickly worked out. The time was set for two days later, at night. Once the Zi Period1 had passed, they would meet at a location one hundred li northwest of the City of Steel to make the exchange.
But Hulayeg had made an additional request. He hoped that Wang Chong would be there in person.
Time flew by, and two days quickly passed. It was time for the business transaction.
It was a moonless and windy night, the dim starlight serving as the only illumination.
Neat rows of soldiers stood beneath the stars, silently waiting.
After waiting for four hours, Cheng Sanyuan could no longer hold back a question. "Lord Marquis, so much time has passed, so why haven't the Turks shown up yet? Perhaps they aren't coming?"
"That's right! The Turks can't be trusted. He knows that our Great Tang is at war with the Western Turks, so it's really suspicious that he's still selling horses to us. Maybe he just did it for the hundred thousand taels of gold. If he really wanted to do the deal, he would have already arrived." Su Shixuan agreed with his fellow officer.
The appointed time for the deal was the end of the Zi Period, but now it was almost daybreak and Hulayeg had yet to appear. This made all of Wang Chong's officers very uneasy.
"Haha, relax. It's just a hundred thousand taels. Compared to the total value of our contract, it's like a single hair from nine bulls. It's not even worth looking at in Hulayeg's eyes."
Wang Chong stood erect, his hands held behind him as his hair was buffeted by the wind. Wang Chong was much more composed than his subordinates. He had been waiting for four hours now, but there was no hint of annoyance in his bearing.
"The Turks are different from we Tang. They don't have a strong sense for time. That the appointed time was the Zi Period but they still haven't shown up is completely in line with their style. You'll get used to it after a few times," Wang Chong indifferently said.
When he was just lazing around in the capital, he had made acquaintances with many Hu. The Hu had rather relaxed personalities and didn't really have a concept of time. They would often just drink themselves silly until daybreak and then continue drinking into the next day. One would often have to wait two or three days past an appointment for them to arrive.
Moreover, the steppe was vast and endless. One could traverse it freely, and the scenery looked the same wherever one looked. Once one began to live a free and unconstrained life there, it would be far stranger to have a concept of time.
On the contrary, if Hulayeg had been right on time, Wang Chong would have begun to suspect that he was planning something.
While they were speaking, the thundering of hooves could be heard in the darkness, immediately attracting everyone's notice.
"Lord Marquis, look over there!" somebody shouted.
The crowd turned in the direction of the noise and saw a small figure rapidly approaching. As it got closer, they could tell that it was a spirited warhorse, its mane flapping in the wind.
Through the posture, movements, and speed of this warhorse, even someone who didn't understand warhorses would be able to tell that this was a high-quality warhorse.
The warhorse quickly galloped in the direction of the Tang soldiers, but this only made them confused.
Wushang was a barren and remote place. No masterless warhorse should have appeared here. And on this quiet night, what did it mean that only one warhorse was galloping toward them?
"Haha, Hulayeg truly is a trustworthy person. I didn't make the wrong choice!"
While everyone else was confused and puzzled, Wang Chong had broken into a smile, his ears seeming to hear something.
"Xu Keyi, get ready. In a few moments, we'll need to carry out the transaction."
"Yes, Lord Marquis!"
Xu Keyi glanced at the many wooden chests of gold next to him and nodded. Although he didn't understand what had happened, it was a soldier's duty to follow orders.
No matter what Wang Chong requested, he would absolutely carry it out.
As they were talking, the grass beneath them began to tremble and a low rumbling could be heard. While barely audible at first, it quickly transformed into an earth-shaking shudder.
"Over there! Look! So many warhorses!" Someone began to shout, and everyone quickly realized that a massive herd of warhorses was approaching from the northwest.
The rumbling that they heard was the sound of all these warhorses galloping together.
"Hahaha, Young Master Wang, we finally meet…"
A crude laughter rang out from behind the warhorses. Phweeet!A shrill whistle came from the distance, and the massive wave of galloping warhorses began to slow and even split to the left and right.
In the middle of this dividing herd, several figures on warhorses rode toward Wang Chong. The one leading them was a slightly plump man with two fist-sized objects jostling on his shoulders. As the wind blew through them, they made a sharp sound that sounded much like the crying of ghosts.
Wang Chong immediately recognized this man as the number one Turkic horse merchant, Hulayeg.
"Hahaha, I truly made the right choice!"
His eyes brightening and his mind rejoicing, Wang Chong grabbed the reins of a warhorse and mounted it, galloping to greet Hulayeg.
"Lord Marquis, be careful!" His subordinates anxiously pursued.
In the distance, two warhorses met as Wang Chong and Hulayeg dismounted.
"Hahaha, Young Master Wang, thank you! I truly can't thank you enough!"
Unexpectedly, the first thing Hulayeg did upon dismounting was to give Wang Chong a warm embrace.
Before Wang Chong could say anything, his subordinates panicked at the Turk's sudden action. Chen Bin, Guan Yu, and the other officers subconsciously reached for their weapons.
"Don't panic. He doesn't have bad intentions."
Wang Chong extended a hand to stop them, then turned to the overly enthusiastic Hulayeg and chuckled.
"Sir Hulayeg, just what has happened that has made you thank me so suddenly?"
"It was necessary, necessary. Young Master Wang is truly a god. If not for your reminder, I would truly have been deceived by a lowly person. That bastard. I trusted him so much, let him manage all my property, and this was how he treated me."
Hulayeg was in a state of agitation.
Although confused at the start, Wang Chong quickly realized what was going on. Hulayeg was probably talking about his steward, Yalug. On his visit to the Western Regions, before leaving, Wang Chong had cautioned Hulayeg to keep an eye on this particular steward. It appeared that this move had been effective.
"Young Master, can you tell me? Just how did you know?"
Hulayeg raised his head in agitation to Wang Chong.
After Hulayeg signed the contract with Wang Chong, he had run all over the steppe gathering ten thousand of the best quality warhorses to complete his transaction with Wang Chong. He had even set up a time to make the transaction.
But unexpectedly, right when he was preparing to leave to conduct the deal yesterday, his extremely trusted steward Yalug had tried to avail himself of the opportunity to run off with Hulayeg's concubine and much of his wealth.
It had to be said that Yalug was by now managing eighty percent of Hulayeg's fortune. This was a fortune that had been built on decades of work and all sorts of risks.
If he had not heeded Wang Chong's warning and dispatched people to keep a constant eye on Yalug, thus discovering his plan beforehand, the consequences would have been simply unthinkable.
This matter was also partially responsible for Hulayeg's tardiness of more than four hours.
Right now, Hulayeg felt that he was truly fortunate to have treated Wang Chong's warning seriously. But when the incident occurred, Hulayeg suddenly had a question that he found impossible to suppress.
Not even he had been able to predict that his own steward was about to betray him, so how did Wang Chong, a Han, know?
"Heheh, I naturally have my own methods. In addition, Sir Hulayeg doesn't think that only the Western Regions and the steppe have Hu, right? And how did Sir Hulayeg think I managed to find you?"
Wang Chong glanced at Hulayeg, a profound smile on his lips.
He naturally couldn't tell Hulayeg the truth about Yalug, but the effects of his words were evident. Wang Chong could sense that Hulayeg's attitude in comparison to their first meeting was like night and day. Not even a deal of tens of thousands of taels of gold could have achieved such an effect.
As long as Hulayeg had a good impression of him, Wang Chong had a chance of using him to obtain an endless stream of high-quality warhorses from the Turkic steppe.
1. The Zi Period was one of the twelve two-hour periods the ancient Chinese used to divide time in a day. It spanned from 11 pm to 1 am, so the meeting for the transaction is being held after 1 am.↩