Chapter 210: Business Idea
With the beauties closely behind him, Zhang made his way through the fortress and toward where Shan Li was waiting.
Upon arriving at the fortress's main hall and entering through its massive gateway, dozens of tables and hundreds of people could be seen.
“Brother Zhang, you've finally arrived.” Shan Li’s voice could be heard as he could be seen standing up from the table on the far end of the hall where he was sitting and making his way toward Zhang and the beauties.
“Please have a seat with me, we have many things to discuss.” Shan Li said with a laugh as he arrived in front of Zhang.
“Also how was your visit to the mines? I'm not entirely sure if this one is similar to the few I've visited back home, but I'm sure it was a sight to behold for someone who's never been down one like yourselves.” Shan Li added with a smile as he led Zhang and the beauties back to the table where he had been sitting.
“Indeed it was a marvel to behold.” Zhang replied with a smile plastered on his face as he and the beauties seated themselves.
“It was beautiful down there.” Yuying said as she pulled her chair closer to Zhang's and caressed his arm.
“Yea, it was so much fun down there, I had a great time fighting the sto…” Ai was saying but could not finish her sentences before Lingqi covered her mouth in a playful manner.
“Sis, you shouldn't tell other people we do in our private time.” Ling said with blushed cheeks as she glanced at Shan Li, hoping to cover up Ai’s blunder.
“Brother Shan Li, my subordinate mentioned that you wanted to discuss where we should head next for the invasion?” Zhang asked, distracting Shan Li away from the beauties.
“Ah yes, in regards to that, I was hoping to get you opinion on our next course of action. Due to our current position, there are two available paths for us to take. We can either head toward another outpost not too far from this one or we can attempt to conquer one of the Golden Pearl Sect’s city’s which houses one of its branch headquarters.” Shan Li said as he seated himself and did not question what Ai was talking about.
“If we choose to head toward the outpost, with our current forces we can easy conqueror it and move to the next outpost without requiring much time at all. While on the other hand, if we attempt to conquer the city, it could end up consuming much more time than we can afford to spend in one place. Even with nearly half of their ground forces gone if they are given enough time, then the Golden Pearl Sect will once again be a force to be reckoned with.” Shan Li added.
“If we take one of their major cities and branch headquarters then we can successfully secure an entire region of their territory, rather than doing so one outpost at a time.” Zhang said as he began pouring everyone a cup of tea.
“What city are we talking about?” Ling asked as she laid out a map onto the table.
“We are currently here, the outpost I was talking about is here and Gold Shell City is here, the city I was talking about.” Shan Li said as he pointed to where Razor Clam Island was on Ling’s map and traced his finger to another small island not too far away before pointing toward a much larger island in the opposite direction.
“The outpost is roughly two days of travel from here while the city is roughly three days.” Shan Li added.
“Which of the two would do you think we should attack, Brother Shan Li.” Zhang asked, hoping to make Shan Li believe that his opinion was valued and thus help strengthen their relationship.
As much as he wanted to suggest they split their forces and invade the territory of the Golden Pearl Sect separately, so he could spend his time catching whatever was lurking down in the mines, Zhang had to prioritize his safety and the safety of his wives first.
This was mainly due to the fact that the Starry Sea Sect has awoken their Ancestral Sect Master, who happened to be a High Saint, to rid the world of the Golden Pearl Sect once and for all. This meant that currently of the three forces involved in the conflict, the Blood Coral Cove was the only force to lack a high saint expert.
So as is, if their mutual enemy was successfully taken out of the picture, the fate of Zhang and the beauties would be left in the air, depending on whether or not their relationship with the Starry Sea Sect was good or not.
“Brother Zhang, I was going to suggest that we rally our current forces and take Golden Shell City. With a sizable stronghold to turn into our command center, we can take root and make the Golden Pearl Sect give up any idea of expelling us from their land.” Shan Li said in a somewhat excited tone.
“Then how about we do that? I agree that if we manage to root ourselves in, even if they regain their former strength, we can easily fend them off.” Zhang said as he sipped a cup of tea.
“That it's settled, after another night here we will head toward Golden Shell City.” Shan Li said in a merry tone.
“Brother Shan Li I’d also like to speak to you in regards to the ownership of this island and the ones surrounding.” Zhang said.
“What is there to discuss? Wasn't it already agreed upon that these islands would fall under your governance?” Shan Li said as he sipped a cup of tea while eyeing Zhang, ready to listen.
“I was going to say that despite gaining ownership of these islands, I would like to share the riches that they produce, mainly the essence stones from the mines. I would like to offer up forty percent of the essence stones mined from this island's annual to the Starry Sea Sect as a show of good faith.” Zhang said with a wide grin.
“If that’s what you would like to do, then I am not one to object and I’m sure my father and the elders of the sect will be very pleased to have gained such a generous ally.” Shan Li replied within a happy tone.
Although the Starry Sea Sect already possessed a few essence stone mines of its own, the essence stones received from Zhang would definitely be put to good use so there was no need for Shan Li to object at all. Normally it would be polite to decline at least once, however, after interacting with Zhang for a few times, Shan Li believed that he understood Zhang’s nature and thus accepted right away.
But of course, the image of Zhang that was being built inside Shan Li’s mind was made up of bits and pieces consisting of both facts and lies.
“With this, I’m sure the chances of their swords turning upon us after dealing with the Golden Pearl Sect should have reduced slightly. Sadly, I’ll have to share the essence stones that we mine, however, it can’t be helped...” Zhang thought as he continued to smile despite not being very pleased with having to share the essence stones from his mine.
“Alright enough talk regarding the invasion, how about some dinner?” Shan Li said as he clapped his hands and dozens of delicious looking dishes of food were brought in and placed on the tables within the halls for Zhang, the beauties, and the rest of the people present to dine on.
Delicacies of the sea, such as sea urchins, shark fin, abalone, and much more were presented in front of Zhang and the beauties.
“Please forgive me for not being able to find anything better for you do dine on, Brother Zhang. These tiny islands only have so much to offer.” Shan Li said in a slightly apologetic tone.
That was when a thought suddenly struck Zhang like a lightning bolt. If he started a seafood supplying company and imported seafood from the Blood Coral Cove back to Aurora while exporting delicacies such as bear meat, pork, beef, and chicken, he would end up making a fortune.
“Once I connect the Blood Coral Cove with the Aurora through teleportation platforms, I'll make boatloads of money importing and exporting good.” Zhang thought as a crooked grin appeared on his face.
“How could I not have figured that out sooner…” Zhang thought as he came to realize that things of value on land and at sea were totally different.
“It's okay Brother Shan Li, I've never been a picky eater.” Zhang said with a laugh as he picked up a pair of chopsticks and began to dig in.
After eating a few bites and conversing a bit more, Zhang had bid Shan Li a goodnight and departed. But instead of returning to their lodgings they headed in the direction where the Essence Stone mines were.
Rather than waiting to be alerted by their subordinates, Zhang felt it would be better for him to actively help search for the thing lurking in the mines. Since he and the majority of his forces would have to move out and head toward Golden Shell City soon.
“Brother, do you think we can find it before we have to leave?” Ai asked with a curious look on her face while one of her fingers was pressed against her rosy cheek.
“If we don't then we can always come back here at a later date. However, the sooner we manage to stop all of the strange happenings down there, the sooner the essence stone mining can resume. With a steady supply of essence stones, we can greatly strengthen our forces both our forces back in Aurora and in the Blood Coral Cove.” Zhang said to Ai as he poked her cheek with his finger playfully.
“I was also thinking we should leave Silky, Little White and all of the Wraith Spiders down there so they can further their cultivation. Since the density of essence down there is so much greater than it is normally outside.” Zhang added.
“I would much rather have them or the Elite Guard break through and become saints rather than anyone else.” Zhang stated.
“I agree; with them, we won't have to worry about being betrayed.” Ling said while the other beauties nodded in agreement.
If Silky, the Wraith Spiders, Little White and anyone from the Elite Guard were to ascend and become saints, they would still have absolute loyalty toward Zhang and the beauties. While it would be questionable if it was anyone else.
This was mainly because Silky, Little White, and the Wraith Spiders have all had their minds imprinted by Yuying, meaning they wouldn't ever possibly think of betraying Zhang or the beauties. Also, they’ve been very well cared for and like most pets, they obviously would remain loyal to their masters.
The same went for the Elite Guard who really possess no prior knowledge of their lives and had been trained to hold their masters in the utmost regard. If they were commanded to take their own lives, then surely without a doubt they would do so without ever so uttering a complaint or hesitating.
Although there were many people loyal to Zhang and the beauties, it is easy to say that their loyalty cannot be considered absolute because unlike the Elite Guard and Zhang’s demonic beasts, everyone else has wants, needs, and dreams that would be valued greater than anything else.
For some love and family are their unshakeable pillars, for others it is wealth and power. In the end, there are but a handful of people out of the sea of people who are willing to offer their absolute obedience and loyalty to someone else without any ulterior motives.
“Now that we’re talking about them, let's see what those rascals are up to.” Yuying said as they arrived in front of the mine entrance where Xiao Gong was still sitting guard.
“Continue to do what you were doing, no need to salute.” Zhang said with a laugh before Xiao Gong could get up from his meditative position and greet him.
Thus Zhang and the beauties began to descend back down into the mines once again. Unlike their first descent, there were no longer any soldiers positioned along the walls of the various tunnels, rather once in a while, they'll spot a campfire with a group of soldiers sitting around.
Guard stations had been set up as Zhang’s soldiers had gathered and began cooking their meals.
At first, Zhang and the beauties would tell the soldiers to continue their meals and that there was no need to salute, however eventually it became very tedious and tiresome due to the number of soldiers they came across.
“Boy, that was getting too repetitive…” Ai complained with a yawn after repeating the same words to a dozen or so groups of soldiers before stepping foot onto the lift that would take her and the rest of the group down to the lower section of the mine.
“Yea, next time let's not do that again then.” Zhang said with a laugh while the beauties nodded in agreement.
As the lift made its way downward and the creaking gears rotated while dozens of ropes tugged and pulled, Zhang and the beauties soon caught sight of the bulk of their forces who had been stationed in the mines.
A small sized fortress had been erected and many campfires were lit while many more soldiers could be seen doing a wide variety of tasks.
Once the lift reached the cavern floor, Ling and Yuying each pulled out a small whistle from their robes and blew on it.
As the sounds produced by the whistles echoed through the cavern and tunnels, Little White, Silky and the Wraith spiders who had been left to freely roam the mines could be seen running at full speed toward where Ling and Yuying were.
Over the course of a few days, Ling and Yuying had trained Little White, Silky and the Wraith Spider to respond whenever they used their whistles.
So shortly after Ling and Yuying blew the whistles, Little White, Silky and the Wraith Spiders appeared front and center in front of its masters. Oddly yet, Zhang’s pets had a guest with them.