Chapter 79

Since this was a young generation under the old lord duke, he was also his junior.

Commander Xie, Xie Mao, had Luo Huai Yuan’s group brought back to his own estate and showed them great hospitality.

Luo Huai Yuan didn’t know what Xie Mao was thinking, but since he was able to become the commander of Fujian’s capital, he naturally knew a lot of things others weren’t aware of.

Although he didn’t seem to have pledged his allegiance to anyone, he was actually part of the Zhenguo Duke’s faction. The court was currently deadlocked regarding the matter of lifting the embargo. The lord duke sending over a member of the younger generation at this time stirred his thoughts.

One was an old fox and one was a young fox. On the surface they were harmonious but they crossed swords several times.

They each wanted get information from the other but both sides were unsuccessful in the end.

Luo Huai Yuan stayed in Xie Mao’s official residence for three days. During these three days, he had cleared out the time to arrange a welcoming banquet. Those on the inside knew the old and young foxes were having an exchange of blows but it wasn’t that simple for those on the outside.

Everyone had some thoughts about this pirate-fighting little hero who came out of the blue and made such large waves. Could he have been arranged by Commander Xie? Was he trying to raise up the younger generation?

This won’t be mentioned for now.

Having interacted with Luo Huai Yuan for a few days, Commander Xie had also understood that this junior was tight-lipped. Although he looked very young, his thoughts were very meticulous.

In the end, he revealed some classified information. He told Luo Huai Yuan that Shen Xuan was about to come to Fujian and take up the role of the navy’s commanding officer.

If this were his previous life, Luo Huai Yuan naturally wouldn’t keep this Shen Xuan in mind. But in this life he knew everything that had to do with the little consort. Hearing Xie Mao mention Shen Xuan, he knew it could only be that person.

The Zhenguo Duke’s eldest grandson, Shen Dong’s eldest son, the only person in the Shen household who didn’t follow their ancestor’s footsteps. Instead, he ran off to the navy. The Grand Xi’s main forces were ground troops. Although there was a navy, their previous splendor had waned during the almost a hundred years of embargo. The land and sea troops were different groups. Even if the Zhenguo Duke was the left commander-in-chief of the five armies, Shen Xuan wasn’t able to use much of that influence.

Luo Huai Yuan had heard a lot about Shen Xuan in his past life. This was because in the end, when the Zhenguo Duke Estate was being suppressed and on the decline, the Jin Emperor never dared touch the Shen household. This was because they still had Shen Xuan.

At that time he had already become Fujian’s naval commander. After the embargo was lifted, half of the Grand Xi’s commerce came from trade overseas. Shen Xuan had operated Fujian’s navy for a long while and protected the Grand Xi’s entire territorial waters. How could the Jin Emperor dare break off this arm?

Putting things together, Luo Huai Yuan couldn’t help but but praise the Zhenguo Duke’s foresight and planning.

It looks like the Zhenguo Duke had long since found an escape route for the Shen household. Otherwise, Shen Xuan wouldn’t have left the household and joined the navy. He had used the lifting of the embargo to awe the Grand Xi’s entire waters. If the east isn’t bright, the west would be. There had to be a place where the court, and even the emperor, had to rely on the Shen household.

Since Xie Mao knew about this matter, there was no need to doubt him. He was definitely the Zhenguo Duke’s trusted aide. Then why was he probing him? Did he think his trip this time was to carry out some important mission?

Luo Huai Yuan had used the pseudonym of Chen Yun this entire time. Therefore, Xie Mao didn’t know his real identity.

All sorts of thoughts stirred in his mind as Luo Huai Yuan smiled: “Uncle Xie shouldn’t overthink things. Actually this little nephew isn’t here for anything else. There’s only one thing.”

Xie Mao asked expressionlessly: “What is it?”

Luo Huai Yuan revealed a slightly embarrassed expression and mumbled: “Err, that, this little nephew reckons the embargo will be successfully lifted, and came to test the waters first. I wanna see if I can earn enough to get married.”

Xie Mao almost spat the tea in his mouth out. Earning capital for marriage?

He looked Luo Huai Yuan up and down. Since this was someone under the Zhenguo Duke, he shouldn’t be lacking in money. Why would he risk the dangers and come to such a place to, err, earn money for marriage?

Of course these thoughts were just for an instant. Since he knew about the lifting of the embargo and since he had such connections, perhaps things weren’t as simple as it seemed? Having been an official outside for many years, no one understood the thoughts of other officials better than Xie Mao.

Reputation, status and wealth were all needed.

But there were very few who could actually achieve this. Officials would have wealth, but this wealth depended on what methods they used to get it. A slight misstep would result in loss of reputation, which would naturally mean a loss of position.

To advance, it was necessary to send gifts to the higher ups. Apart from that, they also had to send gifts for holidays, birthdays and so on. This all required silver.

Those who could remain stably in their positions, such as the Zhenguo Duke, all didn’t lack money. This was because there would be people sending it up by themselves. But this sort of wealth cannot be casually accepted. Often times accepting it was easy but digesting it was hard.

Therefore, people in their position would be more cautious than normal people. Even if they take the wealth, they would do so openly.

This time Xie Mao knew an opportunity had arrived. The court wanted to set up a navy in Fujian led by Shen Xuan. Xie Mao would be the vice-commander. From the surface, going from the commander of Fujian to a minor commander of a navy seemed to be a demotion. However, when this was announced, there were quite a few envious people.

Why was the topic of lifting the embargo so hotly contested? Everything else was just side issues. The point was that the benefits within weren’t divided evenly enough.

There were many officials in the court arguing every day. The Zhenguo Duke sat on the side watching the tigers fight without saying anything. However, he had already secretly planted a flag here himself.

No matter how much benefits they got, would they have military authority here? Anyone wanting to import or export needed the navy’s protection. Everything entering and leaving would be under the navy’s nose. At that time, with the navy overseeing the entire ocean territory, would they be lacking in benefits? After a hundred years of embargo, how many troops of the navy were still presentable? Shen Xuan’s Chaohu Prefecture’s navy happened to be the only one remaining.

Of course this was all kept hidden. Even if someone knew about it, there would be a tacit understanding.

The only problem that remained was how to do things in an acceptable way without leaving any traces behind. In such a position, there would be many people waiting to seize evidence of any wrongdoing. There were many things he couldn’t personally do.

Could this junior be here to fulfill this role? Otherwise, how would they dare hang around in Fujian with so few people? He clearly had a letter but waited until everything was already in place before taking it out.

The old and young foxes both had the same thoughts, but unfortunately there had been some detours in the middle.

Luo Huai Yuan took a sip of tea, his attitude leisurely. “Where does Uncle Xie think one can earn money the fastest after the embargo is lifted?”

Xie Mao muttered to himself and said slowly: “Our Grand Xi has an excess of tea leaves, satin, silk, porcelain, sugar and medicinal ingredients. These are all quite popular in other places.”

Others might not know this but Xie Mao who had done business in Fujian for decades understood very well. Otherwise, why would there be sea merchant groups who worked with Fusang people to attack the land after their benefits were blocked?

To put it plainly, it was because their trade routes were cut off and they wanted to force the court to lift the embargo. Could smuggling make the same profit as openly doing business?

It naturally couldn’t.

Of course, the refugees from Fusang’s internal strife also had something to do with it. This cause the previously minor pirate activity to gradually get out of hand. But ultimately, it was still for the sake of profits.

Luo Huai Yuan nodded slightly. “This little nephew saw that Fujian is very desolate. It’s said that this place used to be a famous source of silk. How is Suhang and Songjiang doing at the moment?”

Xie Mao’s eyes flashed. “Suhang and Songjiang are doing much better than this place. Although pirates are causing chaos there as well, it’s not as serious.”

“That makes sense. These places have some of the best economies within the Grand Xi.”

Xie Mao sighed. “Actually, places like Suhang have also been heavily affected. Otherwise….”

He left the rest of his words unsaid, but Luo Huai Yuan understood his meaning.

Fujian was filled with mountains which made agriculture unfeasible. It was also along the coast. Because of the embargo, they couldn’t have relations with other small countries. The fishermen also lost their means of revenue from the ocean. They naturally couldn’t be compared to a major hub like Jiangnan. If it weren’t for the invasions showing signs of moving towardsplaces like Jiangzhe1, the court wouldn’t have brought up lifting the embargo.

It was clear places like Jiangzhe weren’t as relaxed as Xie Mao said.

Thinking of this, Luo Huai Yuan spoke: “This little nephew is also here to say farewell to Uncle Xie. This little nephew is planning on making a trip to places like Suhang.”

Xie Mao frowned. “Why the hurry? The road definitely won’t be peaceful. Why not wait until the invasions lessen slightly before heading out?”

Luo Huai Yuan smiled. “By the time the invasions lessen, it would be too late to head out.”

“What do you mean?”

Luo Huai Yuan stopped beating around the bush. “This little nephew is going to see how the silkworms and raw silk is doing in those places. Since they are being affected by pirates and the embargo, the price of raw silk must be very low. However, this won’t be the case in the future.”

Xie Mao laughed in spite of himself: “Even if you buy all the raw silk you’re able to, how much can you earn?” He didn’t place such little profit in his eyes.

“What if this little nephew has a new type of loom that can make a piece of silk cloth in half the time?”

“Is this for real?!” Raw silk wasn’t worth much, but this was no longer the case after it was spun.

Luo Huai Yuan merely smiled without answering. He then said: “If nothing unexpected happens, things will be decided by the end of the year. The edict will be issued in the autumn and after winter, at the start of the year, the foreign merchants will be flocking to this place. With the bad timing, the silkworms cannot spit out silk if they have nothing to eat. If the market is severely lacking in raw silk, where do you think the silk cloth will come from?”

Xie Mao’s eyes repeatedly flashed as he anxiously said: “It’s impossible for the court’s textile department not to have any in storage. Same with the major merchants in Jiangnan.”

Luo Huai Yuan smiled: “This little nephew isn’t too ambitious. It’s enough to earn a little bit. Since this is an opportunity, these ill-gotten gains will be delivered to my hands. It’s plenty enough.”

It was plenty enough, but no one would mind having too much silver.

Luo Huai Yuan alone didn’t have much power. But what if he threw in with him? Although Fujian mostly imported raw silk from Jiangnan, it also had quite a few silk gardens.

Many things couldn’t withstand deeper consideration. Thinking also of this new loom Junior Chen mentioned, wouldn’t they be rolling in the money in the future?

He knew that the old lord duke wouldn’t just simply send this little fellow here without reason. As expected!

“Since junior came to my place and the lord duke also entrusted you to me, I naturally have to help as much as I can. Is junior’s new loom actually a thing? Can you let your uncle broaden his experience?”

Luo Huai Yuan revealed a satisfied smile. “Of course. But it isn’t very portable so I only brought the blueprints. Can Uncle Xie find some trustworthy craftsmen for this junior?”

“That is naturally not a problem.”

**

With such a good start, the rest of the matters naturally wouldn’t be too difficult.

Xie Mao sent some trusted aides along with Luo Huai Yuan on his trip to Jiangzhe. They wantonly purchased the raw silk of various places. They even bought all the low-quality silk on the market.

During this time, Xie Mao sent a letter to the capital. Only then did the Zhenguo Duke know the entire story.

He had long known this little fellow wasn’t simple, but he didn’t expect him to make such big moves. The letter he had given Luo Huai Yuan was clearly just some basic correspondence, but how did Xie Mao end up misunderstanding it? However, the Zhenguo Duke also understood Xie Mao. He had always been insightful, and wouldn’t climb on board without definite reasons.

Looking at the letter once again, the Zhenguo Duke smiled bitterly. Even he himself was moved,

This was guaranteed profit. Even if the timing wasn’t completely accurate, just based on the current prices, it would be possible to at least double the investment further down the line.

As mentioned previously, no one would mind having too much silver.

Even twenty percent profit was enough for investors to get excited. For fifty percent profit, investors were willing to take risks. For a hundred percent profit, investors were willing to take life-threatening risks. For three hundred percent profit, investors dared to break any laws.

Especially since this didn’t require such drastic measures. All that was needed was to put money into it, and then get a several-fold return after some time.

Luo Huai Yuan had placed all the analysis before them. Whether they wanted to jump in would depend on them.

What would the Zhenguo Duke choose to do?

As mentioned before, the two households were tangled together after Luo Huai Yuan moved out of the palace and into the Zhenguo Duke Estate. Furthermore, Luo Huai Yuan getting together with Xie Mao this time was also mostly due to the letter he wrote.

Having kowtowed ninety-nine times already, there was no need to refrain from the hundredth.

The Zhenguo Duke sent people to Fujian with a box. Inside the box was two hundred thousand taels of silver banknotes.

Luo Huai Yuan was like a fish in water around Jiangzhe. He also had Xie Mao’s people helping him. The guards he took with him were specially chosen as well, and would become his assistants in the future. These people split up and cleared out all the raw silk in Jiangzhe’s markets.

Of course it wasn’t quite so simple. This was because there were many pirates roaming around between Fujian and Jiangzhe. Luo Huai Yuan’s group had also encountered them several times. Luckily, the people by his side were pretty skilled. Luo Huai Yuan himself knew some kungfu, so he was only frightened but there wasn’t any real danger.

However, this couldn’t be compared to Lady Hui. Luo Huai Yuan knew now why the little consort had given her to him.

It turns out this was really an expert….

The first time he saw Lady Hui annihilating everyone, dealing with over twenty pirates by herself, Luo Huai Yuan felt like rushing up, hugging her legs and calling her master.

Afterwards, he had truly started calling her this. Who could withstand his thick skin and silver tongue? Lady Hui helplessly taught him a few moves. When he returned, he ran after Yan Yan calling her senior martial sister, and even had her call him junior martial brother….

……

Enough’s enough! Was there such a large and thick “junior” martial brother?

What should have been a heartfelt reunion was almost ruined by this vulgar fellow. If her little brother wasn’t waiting to hear stories about fighting pirates, Yan Yan really wanted to give him a beating.

These years, Yan Yan’s temper got better as she matured. Unexpectedly, seeing an old friend after a long time, her thoughts were actually this violent.

Feeling her stomach faintly hurting, Yan Yan leaned weakly against the kiln. Luo Huai Yuan was excitedly telling Yan Mo about his experiences and couldn’t help but glance in her direction.

“Senior martial sister, are you feeling unwell?”

Yan Yan couldn’t help but roll her eyes at him. Don’t think she didn’t know what he was up to. He just wanted to make her call him junior martial brother.

Luo Huai Yuan rubbed his nose and laughed awkwardly. He took out a box from the side.

“This is the dividend. I wanted to bring it over long ago but it wasn’t convenient. So I reinvested it once again. If nothing unexpected occurs, there will be a huge profit when the ships return this time.”

Luo Huai Yuan’s predictions weren’t wrong.

After they bought up everything and started the next phase, they received news that many people started getting involved. These were mostly major local merchants. The price of raw silk also rapidly rose higher and higher.

Luo Huai Yuan persevered for a while before no longer struggling for the final portions. He withdrew and vanished, returning to Fujian to make his loom.

This idea had been in his mind long ago, even before the barbecue skewers.

If he wanted to earn a lot, he had to develop a new market. The Grand Xi’s domestic markets were all controlled by merchants with hundreds of years of experience. Trying to steal meat from their mouths was like stealing food from a tiger. Of course, there would be many people entering the ocean trade because everyone knew the profits were huge. His only advantage was getting in early, as well as the blueprint of the loom.

He had to thank his previous, previous self for taking his homework seriously. Luo Huai Yuan had written a historical transmigration novel set in the Ming Dynasty. He had done quite a lot of research. For the sake of giving the male lead a goldfinger that could convince the masses without criticism, he had researched for a long time.

Similar to the highly efficient looms in the modern world, this loom’s concept was that it only required the hands to move in a back and forth motion to weave. By simplifying the steps involved, the efficiency would naturally be over seventy percent higher.

Of course, there were even more efficient looms that were water-powered. Unfortunately, Luo Huai Yuan didn’t major in mechanical engineering, and his level hadn’t reached such heights. But just this was already sufficient. The water-powered loom can be slowly developed in the future.

Then came a lengthy period of preparation.

On the tenth month of the nineteenth year of the Xi calendar, the court sent out an edict lifting the embargo. The coastal regions celebrated.

The first port opened by the court was the Fu Province’s Fu Province Port in Fujian. They set up a shipping department there. The ports in other areas had yet to be opened, but everyone knew it was just a matter of time.

The pirates in Fujian were wiped out, and the various scattered remnants were also put to death one by one by the local troops. The worn out Fujian slowly started to recover.

In the spring of the following year, the southeastern sea merchants flocked to the place. They lined up on the ocean and arrived at the Fu Province Port escorted by the Fujian navy.

The moment they disembarked, they were like beggars placed before mountains of delicacies.

No one bothered to haggle at this time. The Grand Xi had finally lifted the embargo, but who knew if the opinionated emperor would suddenly change his mind? They naturally had to get everything they can. Selling it elsewhere would bring huge profits no matter what.

This heated exchange lasted an entire month. Merchant ships from other places continuously sailed towards Fu Province Port, but there were no more goods left on the market. The captains of the merchant ships didn’t leave, waiting in place for new goods to arrive.

This situation stunned the officials at the shipping department. Even Emperor Xi was stunned back at the capital.

The foreign merchants were very satisfied, the Grand Xi merchants who came to do business were very satisfied, and Luo Huai Yuan who struck it rich was also very satisfied.

…..

With this amount of capital, it was easy to develop further.

Luo Huai Yuan had gotten connected with Shen Xuan early on. He was a solemn and stern person, and didn’t converse much with Luo Huai Yuan. However, he understood the general relationship and had given Luo Huai Yuan quite a few benefits.

Luo Huai Yuan thus started his act of reselling, and after he accumulated a vast amount of capital, he started building merchant ships. Before he returned, two merchant ships had just departed speedily towards Liu Qiu and Xian Luo.2 Along with them were dozens of merchant ships escorted by the Fujian Navy’s warships. If nothing unexpected occurred, everyone would earn a lot of profit when the ships returned.

Of course the Fujian navy wasn’t without any benefits. They would receive a set portion of the merchant ships’ profits. It was said this stipulation was written in by Luo Huai Yuan.

Everyone was very satisfied.

The merchants were satisfied at being able to travel safely. After all, sailing the ocean was quite different and there would be pirates. The Fujian navy was satisfied that there were benefits for them. After all, there were many people, and as per convention, when those above ate meat, those below would get the soup.

Everyone needed each other.

……

Yan Yan received the box and opened it.

She had reckoned it wouldn’t be little, but she didn’t expect that her less than six thousand taels would turn into almost thirty thousand taels. This was also only this time’s dividend. Luo Huai Yuan had helped her reinvest the previous dividend, the interest of which would further get compounded. Five percent of the goods on the two ships were owned by her and her brother.

Don’t underestimate this five percent. The Zhenguo Duke himself only owned thirty percent. Xie Mao and Luo Huai Yuan each owned thirty. The final ten percent was split between Shen Xuan and the Yan siblings.

Yan Yan looked at the majorly changed little fatty Luo. In the past he was round, weird and cute. Now his volume increased further. Luo Huai Yuan was tall. He was only fifteen but was about the same height as a grown man. Along with the meat on his body, he seemed to take up a lot of room.

His eyes and brows had grown out. He had a large chubby face and round eyes. When he smiled, his left cheek still had a little dimple. After staying at the coast for so long, he didn’t get tanned and was still very fair.

She was a little emotional inside. Anyone would be emotional. What twelve year old teenager could create such a foundation after running around outside? He was probably the only one of his kind.

“Then I’ll accept it.” Yan Yan didn’t act polite.

Yan’er reported that the madam was calling them to go eat. Yan Yan didn’t move however, and waved her hand. “You guys go, I won’t be going. I’ll go lie down for a bit.”

Luo Huai Yuan opened his mouth to ask, but seeing Yan Yan’s sickly expression, he shut it again.

Yan Yan returned to the Guiyan Chambers while Luo Huai Yuan and Yan Mo went to the Jinhua Hall.

On the way, Luo Huai Yuan secretly asked Yan Mo, “What’s wrong with your sis?”

Yan Mo pondered before saying: “Sis has grown up.”

This was what his mom said.

  1. Contraction of Jiangsu and Zhejiang
  2. Islands of Taiwan and Thailand.

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