"Don't tell me you're going to rob a bank again ba."
Editor(s): juurensha, namio
"Isn't this your rival? What about your family's bank? Where is it?" Chen Xing asked.
Feng Qianjun pointed to the west of the market. There was a huge bank there as well with ebony pillars - it was Xifeng United.
"Never mine," Feng Qianjun said. "Come to my house for dinner ba, let's drink in the evening, and I'll introduce your sis-in-law to you guys."
Yet Xiang Shu looked up to scrutinise Dongzhe Bank's plaque, seeming like he was deep in thought.
"Don't tell me you're going to rob a bank again ba," Chen Xing said.
"You owe Xie An 3,000 taels," Xie An said. "If you ask, I'll return it for you, but you must promise me one thing."
Chen Xing originally wanted to say, "This isn't like Mai City. If you were to really rob a bank, you'd definitely get arrested!" Yet he suddenly recalled that on the day Xiang Shu asked him to save Che Luofeng, that was what they had agreed upon as well, so he said, "Sure, I don't mind. But aside from helping me repay Xie An, you have to help Feng-dage tide over his troubles too."
"Ai." Feng Qianjun smiled when he heard this. He had wanted the two to not bicker anymore, but suddenly changed his mind and switched to egging tactics. "Brother Chen, I appreciate the thought, but you don't need to force him to do what he can't."
As expected, Xiang Shu said with impatience, "Okay, fine."
"Nuo, then go ahead, but you can't rob the bank." Chen Xing said a bit reluctantly while having his mind set on watching Xiang Shu make a fool of himself. I'd like to see how you're gonna get the money, it's absolutely impossible. Otherwise why would you have to rob a bank in Mai City? Also, do you think Feng Qianjun lacks 3,000 taels? He needs 700,000! Even if you're going to rob it, you won't be able to rob that much you know.
However, Xiang Shu had already stepped into the bank.
At that time, Dongzhe's main business, like Xifeng, was in saving money and usury. In the past half a year, the Yangtze River had been affected by a plague, and every family had someone sick. The result of a labour force at the prime of their life falling sick was the inability to till the lands, yet they still had to fork out money to see a doctor. As such, they had to put aside whatever work they had and borrow money to tide over that difficult period.
Xifeng Bank had the best reputation, so in less than half a year, all their money was loaned out. On the other hand, Dongzhe was rather patient. They waited for the Feng family to run out of resources before they started lending money, raising interest by 1% per year. Cries of the common people filled the streets, but in order to survive, they had to borrow from them.
Chen Xing saw the long queue outside the door, and only then did he realise that the plague was much worse than what Feng Qianjun had described and couldn't help but worry. Xiang Shu glanced at the snaking queue and stood in the hall.
"Those who are in need of a loan, line up there," the supervisor behind the counter said.
Xiang Shu leaned sideways against the counter, knocking on it with his finger. "Making a withdrawal, ask your manager to come out."
"Take out your loan contract," the supervisor said. "The manager's busy..."
Before he finished speaking, Xiang Shu had already grabbed the supervisor's collar and lifted him out from behind the counter. The supervisor panicked in an instant, his face flushing red. After seeing this beautiful man turn violent all of a sudden, the other people got a shock and started clamouring as they retreated quickly.
Chen Xing saw that the situation didn't seem good and quickly went forward to stop him, but Xiang Shu placed the supervisor down gently and dusted his sleeves for him. He then repeated slowly, "Making a withdrawal, ask your manager to come out."
The supervisor was both furious and embarrassed, but he knew someone he couldn't offend had come so he sped to the second floor.
Chen Xing took a deep breath and stared at Xiang Shu, yet Xiang Shu just seemed as if he was merely a bystander. Not long after, an escort walked down into the hall quickly from upstairs. He glanced at Feng Qianjun, who was behind Chen Xing and Xiang Shu, and instantly looked as if he understood something. "Young Master Feng from Xifeng Bank, which wind blew you here today?"
Feng Qianjun sneered. "Here to take a look with my friends, it has nothing to do with me."
The escort snickered. "The manager invites you in."
On the third floor of Dongzhe Bank, a group of martial artists surrounded the manager, ready to stand their ground against the Feng family who had supposedly come to storm them down. Chen Xing nudged Xiang Shu, saying, "Ai, Protector, it's enough, don't cause a fuss anymore. I was just kidding. Let's leave ba."
Xiang Shu glanced at Chen Xing, then his gaze shifted to the manager, only to see three people sitting before a table in the hall. The manager thought that Feng Qianjun was just seeking a gap under some pretext, yet he saw the young master of the Feng family and this young man sitting leisurely on opposite sides, with a young scholar in the middle. Hence, he regarded him as the one in charge and asked, "Little brother, may I ask… how much money have you saved in our bank?"
"Uh." Chen Xing glanced at Xiang Shu, thinking, in which universe do I have money?
"It has nothing to do with them." Xiang Shu didn't drink the tea Dongzhe offered and just said casually, "Manager, you're a Han, what's your surname?"
The manager looked Xiang Shu up and down in doubt, answering, "Wang."
Xiang Shu nodded. "A year ago, I clarified my identity in your esteemed bank in Mai City, wanting to withdraw some money for travel expenses with my fingerprint as proof. Your esteemed bank told me, during times of war, Dongzhe United only allows deposits and no withdrawals and that even the emperor couldn't think about withdrawing money at your bank. Is that true?"
Chen Xing immediately recalled the robbery that occurred in Mai City not long after his first meeting with Xiang Shu. So he had wanted to withdraw money then? He had money saved up in Dongzhe? How much did he have saved?
Feng Qianjun recalled it too. Both of them turned their heads, staring at Xiang Shu with complex expressions.
Manager Wang didn't know how to answer him for a moment. He could neither nod or shake his head, because a bank not allowing their customers to withdraw money was a really serious issue, and using calamities as an excuse was even worse. Moreover, in a turbulent world, there were many who needed money urgently. By ignoring those in need of help, wouldn't that be equivalent to ruining their reputation?
"There's absolutely nothing of the sort." Manager Wang could only lie with his eyes open, denying it vehemently, "Nothing of the sort. Our bank has never had that rule. The Mai City branch must have taken matters into their own hands. If we had offended you in any way, this humble one would like to apologise. Please pardon us."
In this way, those present had even more reason to think that Feng Qianjun was there to cause trouble. But one should always deploy diplomacy before resorting to violence; only after ensuring their dignity was intact would it then be easier for them to deal with other problems.
"Dear customer, as long as you present your loan contract," an escort behind the manager took the initiative to say, "No matter what corner of the world you walk to, as long as you're at a Dongzhe bank and request it, we would definitely let you withdraw your money. While wealth is covetable for a gentleman, he makes it through ethical means. Dongzhe has been open for hundreds of years, and no matter what, 'reason' stands above all."
Feng Qianjun sneered.
The manager treated him as if he didn't see that. He motioned to Chen Xing, evidently regarding Chen Xing as the young master amongst them three, meaning 'how much money would you like to withdraw?'
Yet Xiang Shu said, "Since you've said that, I just have one question to ask. Does your esteemed bank remember the Shulü family? My name is Shulü; Kong."
"Oh," the manager said. "So you're a Tiele na, Shulü family...Shulü Kong...Shulü Kong?!"
All of a sudden, the manager realised something was wrong. Didn't the name "Shulü Kong" belong to the Great Chanyu of the Ancient Chi Le Covenant? But Xiang Shu doesn't look like a Hu in the slightest. In the Han people's hearts, their impression of the so-called Great Chanyus were limited to middle-aged boors like Hu Hanye and Fu Jian over the age of 40, how could such a person have come? It didn't match ah.
"Before my father passed away, I remember he saved a sum of money in Dongzhe Bank," Xiang Shu recounted indifferently. "It should have been about 30 years since then. Does Dongzhe Bank still have the loan contract for that?"
The manager was taken aback, then said, "Where was it saved?"
"Youzhou, Zhuojun." Xiang Shu answered, "At that time, Dongzhe opened up a branch at Zhoujun. In order to do business, they befriended the Hu beyond the Great Wall. They came to find my father, Shulü Wen, and proposed to safekeep a sum of money for the Shulü family and even promised to lend money out to merchants on his behalf. Both sides kept their respective loan contracts. After the Murong clan of Xianbei had Youzhou under control, I recall that Dongzhe seemed to have been doing quite well in Zhoujun?"
The manager's expression turned solemn. "If it was a deposit, all the contracts written by Dongzhe Bank would have been sent to the main headquarters, and all the other branches would have a stone rubbed version for future reference… I'll go get someone to look for it right now."
"How much did your father save?" Chen Xing asked Xiang Shu, thinking that he might actually have 3,000 taels, or more.
"I don't know," Xiang Shu said simply. "We didn't count."
Feng Qianjun thought that this was a little interesting now too. Spectators were never worried about how major a commotion could be. With a gloating look on his face, his gaze was affixed on the manager, waiting to see how he was going to resolve the problem this time.
The manager glanced at the supervisor, who was beside him, then that person quickly went downstairs.
"We seem to have it," the manager said. "When I was a child, I heard the old manager mention it. In fact, I have to express my utmost gratitude to the old Great Chanyu for his support… but I was just wondering why the Great Chanyu would come all the way to Yangtze River to retrieve your money?"
While he spoke, someone had already come forward and cleared their tea, then changed it to roasted tea similar to what was offered in Xie An's residence with some snacks at the side.
Xiang Shu didn't answer his question directly and instead said, "Why are you asking so many questions? Can you find the contract, or not? But it's okay even if you can't find it..."
Chen Xing, "……………………"
Chen Xing thought that Xiang Shu wanted to say "But it's okay even if you can't find it, I'll leave then", thinking that he had just said all that to scare him. But unexpectedly, Xiang Shu took out two sheepskin rolls from his robes, saying, "If you can't find it, why don't you look at my loan contract?"
Those were the sheepskin rolls he had seen on the ship that Xiang Shu had kept in a box!
Feng Qianjun was startled dumb as well. The Shulü family actually kept something from 30 years ago? And even carried it around with them?
"This is a loan contract?" Chen Xing uttered in disbelief. He reached out, wanting to take a look, and Xiang Shu didn't stop him. The manager stretched out his neck to glance at the table. Chen Xing had just untied the rope binding it when someone from below hurried upstairs, holding a box identical to the one Xiang Shu was carrying. Someone on the side then opened the box, revealing the same two sheepskin rolls inside.
The manager glanced at Xiang Shu, feeling perplexed, then looked down at his sheepskin rolls.
Xiang Shu, "One loan contract was written 30 years ago, the deposit contract from the agreement between Dongzhe and my father. The other was written 8 years ago. My father was gravely ill then and knew he didn't have much time left, so he called the manager of Youzhou to Chi Le Chuan and transferred this part of the Shulü family assets to me. The fingerprints of both parties can be seen on them..."
Chen Xing had just unfurled the sheepskin rolls when he saw the row of fingerprints at the bottom.
Right after the manager saw the first part of the contract, he rolled the sheepskin back up and ate it.
"Ai! What are you doing! Guards! Your manager has gone crazy!" Feng Qianjun started shouting at once, and everyone at the sides turned pale with fright as they came forward one after another. With a baffled expression, Chen Xing looked up, still not knowing what had happened until he saw the manager's pained expression before he forcefully tried to swallow the sheepskin rolls. Chen Xing quickly said, "That's not paper! You'll choke to death!"
The scene descended into chaos. Xiang Shu stepped forward and grabbed the manager's chin. Feng Qianjun made an all-out effort to dig that sheepskin roll out. The escorts were about to snatch it, but how could they be Xiang Shu's opponent? Instead, they littered the ground in an instant.
The manager took a long while before recovering, and he kept gasping as he stared at the ceiling. Then, he turned around to open the window. Feng Qianjun was the first to react and shouted, "Don't let him jump! Quick!"
An hour later, the discussion was moved to the second floor of Dongzhe Bank.
Dongzhe Bank suspended their operations temporarily, and the one in-charge was finally here. A bunch of guards protected a young madam as they went to the second floor. Before the young madam arrived, a fragrance came first. The sweet-smelling scent concocted with hundreds of flowers instantly plunged the interior of the bank into spring.
The manager was twitching in the corner at the moment. The young madam glanced at him, then said, "Take him down and calm him, he'll be fine after he drinks some medicine. Let me introduce myself, Great Chanyu, my surname is Wen."
"Madam Wen," Feng Qianjun said with a smile. "It's been a really long time na."
The young madam surnamed Wen was the one in-charge of Dongzhe Bank, called Wen Zhe. Dongzhe Bank was founded by her ancestors. With a little make-up on, Wen Zhe was dressed in red brocade robes, looking like a newly wed bride. She was calm, and her scent assaulted the nostrils of those around her. She glanced at Feng Qianjun, saying, "I've heard of the incident in Chang'an regarding the main manager Feng, my condolences. Don't let your body suffer."
Feng Qianjun nodded. Dongzhe and Xifeng Banks had always been sworn enemies who could never live under the same sky. Yet once the respective leaders met face to face, they were surprisingly polite with each other. In this world, people only fight and kill one another over profit for the sake of their livelihoods, after all.
"May I take a look at Young Master Shulü's loan contract?" Wen Zhe asked politely.
Xiang Shu placed the loan contract on the tray, and someone passed it to Wen Zhe. The four copies were placed side by side, their authenticity verified. Wen Zhe said gently, "Dongzhe Bank has never offered interest on deposits, but 30 years ago, in order to obtain a footing in Youzhou, we had an agreement with the old Great Chanyu. Our bank took care of the Shulü family's funds, essentially managing their assets for them. It was both a deposit, and loans to the Murong clan, the Tuoba clan, Zhang Mao, and others...en… whenever Dongzhe loans the royal family money, we have always charged 1% interest while the Shulü family would enjoy 0.5% as profit."
"How much is there?" Chen Xing handed the sheepskin roll over before he could read it in detail.
Juurensha: Oh man, XS is about to bankrupt a bank.
Namio: A lesson in never making promises that could balloon out of control
Zryuu: SORRY I SCREWED UP MY SENSE OF TIMING AND DIDN’T POST THIS IN TIME LOL
This chapter is migrated and/or formatted by our fellow chicken enthusiast(s), Caro and opal.