Chapter 228: Receipt of Loan & Provocation
“550,000 first time… any higher bid?” The auctioneer wielded his hammer vigorously, his face almost distorted in a hideous way on account of an adrenaline surge.
A record-breaking high price was about to emerge.
Wang Chen gazed anxiously at the princess, Qin Zhen.
Anyone who lost his or her position and influence was likely to be subjected to indignity. In the past, the force under the command of the princess weighed much in the Western Qin Empire. However, as Tang Chong was framed to death, all the other parties united and tramped on her, causing her power to fall apart. Now, she even could not scrape together a few hundred thousand gold ingots.
Qin Zhen turned her back to the door, her brows tightly furrowed.
The prices for the two sisters surnamed Tang had been driven to such a whopping price. That was way beyond her estimation.
She had done her utmost to raise as much fund as possible and even pawned several valuable personal objects. But given the inconstancy of human relationships, after the princess lost her power, those chambers of commerce and consortium she knew, which had once contended to provide her with funds, now all shut their doors in her face once they learned that she hoped to borrow money from them.
What could she do?
Although Qin Zhen was highly resourceful, she could not cook a meal without ingredients.
She stroked the sword in her hand and a hint of desperation surfaced on her features. She then spread her voice towards the outside. “Can I leave an object as a pledge?”
At her look, Wang Chen instantly understood what she was going to do. He cried in alarm, “Your Highness, this sword is the one that…”
Qin Zhen waved him down, indicating that he should keep his mouth shut.
However, the voice of that leader of the Musical House on the other side the door fluttered in. “If our distinguished guest has some treasures, you surely could leave them as a pledge. But we need some professionals to examine and assess the value of the objects first before giving you its definite price. So, I’m afraid you can’t make it for this round of auction.”
“Room No. 15’s 550,000, second time! No other mark-up?”
The auctioneer’s voice was trembling.
“The last chance! This is your last chance… The daughter of the awe-inspiring founding general, gifted in martial arts, and she is still a virgin. She is the most prestigious female that the Musical House had ever auctioned. If you miss this opportunity, you won’t have a second one…” He looked fixedly in the direction of Room No. 10, hoping that party would raise the price again to set a higher record.
But to his disappointment, the party in Room No. 10, who had been quite unyielding in the auction, fell silent this time and did not place a higher bid. It seemed that the party was weighing this investment or had already given up.
In Room No. 15, Bai Yuan clenched his teeth in exasperation and snapped, “Fu*king him! Still not announce who the winning bidder is! He is deliberately luring others to place more bids to compete with us!”
Han Feiran, whose lips curled into a leer, snorted, “Humph, Room No. 10 is probably in want of money… Send our men to keep an eye on them and find out who they are on earth. Now that they dare compete with us, I’ll make them compensate us with multiple times the money we lost.”
On the main stage, Tang Tang, who had been chained to the herringbone steel rack, already had no more tears to spare.
Her face gradually turned numb as the auctioneer shouted the prices at the top of his lungs and the audience broke into fits of cheers and laughter. The fright and timidness in her eyes slowly transformed into hatred and wrath. She was now immersed in all the evil the world had. A seed of resentment started growing and sprouting frenetically in her heart.
Only when she caught sight of the back of the man wearing the silver smiley-ghost mask next to her, her eyes exuded a trace of serenity, because in the darkest time of her life it was this stranger who defended her dignity.
“Last time, I’ll ask the last time. Is there anyone else offering a higher bid? If not, then, this older daughter of the founding general will belong to the honorable guest in Room No. 15…” The grey-haired auctioneer held his auction hammer up in the air.
The masked Li Mu, who was standing by Tang Tang, cast his eyes at Room No. 10.
“This is weird. Wang Chen and his company are really giving up on her?”
With a stir of his mind, he activated the formation he set up in secret to observe what was going on in Room No. 10. He saw Wang Chen’s desperate expression and another lean figure in a white robe, who was also masked. The latter seemed to be a young man around 20, and he was holding a sword…
“Turns out that… they are out of money.”
Through the furtive observation, Li Mu learned the ins and outs of the situation.
“It seems that ‘Her Highness’ Wang Chen works for has past her greatest years. How come she is so poor?”
Nevertheless, Li Mu was quite impressed to see that she was willing to pledge her cherished sword for the purpose of rescuing the Tang family. Judging by this act, he felt that so-called ‘Her Highness’ was a person with a good heart.
“Good. Now that no one else is bidding, I announce, the older daughter of the founding general, Tang Tang, is sold to…” Called the auctioneer as his hammer was about to land on the desk.
“Hold a second!” Li Mu blurted.
The auction hammer froze in midair.
The grey-haired auctioneer looked fearfully at the man with the silver smiley-ghost mask and asked, “What do you mean by calling a halt!”
He was seized in the horror that this Natural Expert might abruptly run amuck and kill them all.
Li Mu answered, “I place a bid of… 580,000.”
Everyone let loose a gasp of astonishment.
“This man wearing the silver smiley-ghost mask is bidding as well?”
The auctioneer was thrown into a trance. But soon, he recovered his train of thought and shook his head at Li Mu as he said, “Only those distinguished guests who have obtained a bidding plate after giving us the financial certificate are entitled to place bids. You are a respectable Natural Expert, but…” What he was really saying was that who knew whether Li Mu was wagging his tongue freely. What if he could not afford 580,000 gold ingots?
Li Mu, still, replied mildly, “I’m aware of that.”
He threw a look at Room No. 18 and said, “Raise!”
Then, the voice of a man raising the bid surely came out from Room No. 18. “580,000!”
There were exclamations of shock and incredulity among the audience.
By then, even a fool had come to realize that this man wearing the silver smiley-ghost mask was the mysterious guest from Room No. 18.
The auctioneer was also amazed. But shortly, he turned rather jaunty. “That would do it! No matter who places the bid, as long as the price goes up, it is a good thing for the Musical House.” With that in mind, he hollered with all his might, “Great! The distinguished guest from Room No. 18 offers 580,000… 580,000 first time…”
“It’s Li Mu!”
Inside Room No. 1, Liu Chenglong almost jumped at this discovery.
The guest in Room No. 18 was Li Mu. He had that investigated at the very beginning. But seeing the man wearing the silver smiley-ghost mask manipulate the bid of Room No. 18, he knew there was only one explanation—this man was Li Mu.
The second prince also narrowed his eyes.
He did make a misjudgment.
“This Li Mu truly doesn’t know who is not to be messed with. How can he jump out at this time to spoil my plan!”
His mind began racing as he tried to figure out what would happen if Li Mu did get Tang Tang.
At the table, Lu Lizi also stood up and set his eyes upon the main stage. “He is Li Mu?” The scene that he was mutilated by Li Mu by dint of Yuan Wu’s death immediately crossed Lu Lizi’s mind. A chill forcibly rose from his heart. “This Li Mu should be pompous like this!”
“Uh? What just happened?”
Inside Room No. 10, Wang Chen and Qin Zhen were both overwhelmed by the sudden change.
They had ascertained that those in Room No. 15 were some antagonists of General Tang Chong, who had come here to buy out his family members and disgrace them in order to pour out their spleen. However, why did the Room No. 18 butt in? What was the background of the guest in that room?
“The situation is getting more and more bewildering.”
“But anyway, the man with the silver smiley-ghost mask has stepped up to protect Tang Mi’s dignity. So he appears to be a decent man, doesn’t he?”
An array of thoughts flashed through Qin Zhen’s mind.
One thing she was sure of was that it would certainly be much better if Tang Mi fell into the hands of the man with the silver smiley-ghost mask instead of those scumbags in Room No. 15. So, perhaps there was still some leeway in this case?
Right at this point, a tap on the door was heard. The voice of a maid at the outside sounded, “Your honor, the distinguished guest in Room No. 18 sent me to deliver you a case. Would you allow me to come in?”
Qin Zhen’s face hardened and she answered, “Yes, please.”
A moment later, a fine case made of white jade was handed to Qin Zhen.
When she opened it, she found it was divided into two parts. The left part held a check of the World Chamber of Commerce that valued a million gold ingots, which was definitely an authentic one. In the right part, however, lay a slip of paper, which bore ‘Don’t worry. Tang Mi will be sent to you in a moment. If you need to borrow some money, just write a signed receipt for a loan and send it back to me. The one million check here is what I can lend to you. Well, no need to thank me’.
Qin Zhen and Wang Chen both went dumbfounded after reading the slip.
Although the content on the slip revealed a rich scent of narcissism, this kind act was truly as heartwarming as the fuel provided under snowy weather.
Adding the one million gold ingots with the rest of the fund they had, they would by no means be short of money when bidding for Mrs. Tang in the next round.
Plus, the man had made it clear in the slip that he would send Tang Mi to them. That was saying the man with the silver smiley-ghost mask joining in the bidding was not for his own desire but their benefits… “Who on earth is this man? Why does he offer me this kind of help?”
“Is he truly just a chivalrous man who likes confronting injustice?”
“It can’t be that simple!”
“If he happens to be a chivalrous expert, why in the world did he choose to help us?”
“How can the man with the silver smiley-ghost mask be so sure that we’re good guys who are here to rescue Mrs. Tang and her daughters?”
“He must have some inside information.”
“Even so, this is not the time to be so meticulous.”
After a short moment of hesitation, Qin Zhen picked up the pen and wrote a receipt of the loan of 1,700,000 gold ingots. She also dipped a drop of her blood on the paper as proof. Then, she folded the paper in a small pack, sent a servant to deliver it to Room No. 18, and kept the jade case as well as the one million check of the World Chamber of Commerce.
Wang Chen remained silent the whole time.
He knew that the 1,700,000 the princess wrote down consisted of the value of the one million check and the 700,000 cost Li Mu paid for outbidding the others to rescue Tang Mi.
Even though the auction was not finalized yet and the fierce competition between Room No. 18 and Room No. 15 was still on, the princess still chose to believe in the man with the silver smiley-ghost mask who she had never met before, believe in his kindness. The princess simply had a boldness of vision and a broad mind.
Similarly, the man with the silver smiley-ghost mask directly sent his man to give them one million gold ingots even before he had the receipt of the loan. In the course of this business, the two showed each other rare and commendable trust.
Wang Chen could not help but exclaim, “This man with the silver smiley-ghost mask is really wondrous. Judging by his voice and his movements, he shouldn’t be over 30. A Natural Expert at the age of 30 can absolutely be said to be an eminent talent in this world. He is the real warmhearted knight. By contrast, that Li Mu I thought highly of before is far otherwise. He is too disappointing…”
Qin Zhen did not say a word.
“640,000!” In Room No. 15, Bai Yuan and his lot raised the bid again as they ground their teeth in rage.
They thought they had the victory in hand. But surprisingly, a man with the silver smiley-ghost mask suddenly appeared and ruined their scheme. This price had far exceeded what they estimated at the start. Well-off as they were, they began to grudge to continue the painful bidding.
“700,000,” said the calm voice of the man wearing the silver smiley-ghost mask.
He had just increased the bid by 60,000 gold ingots at a time.
That was a demonstration of power, of a dominate influence, of a defiant provocation.