Chapter 297 A Nasty Character
Dong Qu sniffled and continued with reddened eyes, “The spiritual plants that you see on the shelves have all been gnawed by the Plant-Eating Worms. The herbs reached maturity after barely two years, but they’re not half as tall as they should have been, and each one is only as thick as a pinky. They’re pitiful to look at, but they’re already the best spiritual plants we can put out. The people who originally supplied us with spiritual herbs also kept their distance from us and couldn’t be relied on at all.”
Qing Zhu understood the situation now. He also went to several other small shops before this. Although they didn’t sell spiritual plants, the situations were also similar. It was nothing more than some stores being tampered with by people while others had traitors, and some even changed the shopkeeper altogether. This gave Qing Zhu a headache.
However, besides the restaurant, which had been tampered with by the Jian family, they couldn’t figure out the identities of the perpetrators responsible for sabotaging the other stores at all, which was the main reason everyone felt so vexed.
Qing Zhu composed himself and asked, “Does Shopkeeper Dong know who exactly did this kind of wicked thing?”
Dong Qu shook his head and sighed, “I can’t think of anyone who would do such a wicked thing except the Zhang family, who is our competitor.”
Qing Zhu frowned slightly. When Lin Zhan expanded his business to Purple City back then, he had already taken into account the Zhang family’s situation, for that family was the local tyrant in the region. The Zhang family also had some spiritual herb shops and did fairly well, but they weren’t very attentive to this line of business. Moreover, compared with other cities, the number and proportion of alchemists in Purple City were slightly higher. Lin Zhan really didn’t want to give up this juicy piece of meat. Therefore, when he opened the shop, he paid a personal visit to the local boss, the Zhang family.
Moreover, Lin Zhan even reached an agreement with the Zhang family where 20% of the Lin family’s profits went to the Zhang family in exchange for the Zhang family providing convenience to the Serene Herb Manor and protecting it so that it could operate normally.
Back then, Lin Zhan gave the Zhang family enough face, and he was also the Young Master of the Lin family. Therefore, the Zhang family was happy to open the door of convenience to Serene Herb Manor on the basis of benefits. The two families were quite happy after several years of cooperation. Although they competed with each other, the rivalry was relatively benign.
As a result, Qing Zhu could not help feeling a little surprised and felt that the Zhang family’s family had done a great job and shouldn’t do this kind of thing like throwing stones at someone who’s down.
So Qing Zhu asked, “Serene Herb Manor has eleven branch stores in the East Continent. This is one of those branch stores. Do you know the general situation right now?”
Dong Qu’s face was even more bitter. “Back then, the spiritual plants I had here encountered problems. For a while, I couldn’t find a way to put out the fire, so I asked for help from the Serene Herb Manor shops elsewhere. Unexpectedly, eight of the eleven shops actually had similar problems. They couldn’t even take care of their own problems and had no time to help me. Later, two more failed intermittently. There are even three stores that have already closed down.”
Qing Zhu’s heart sank as he thought to himself, This situation is really bad.
Dong Qu was an honest and dutiful person. Although he was the shopkeeper, he wasn’t actually smart enough to manage well but was loyal enough. At this time, Dong Qu actually put the blame of destroying the spiritual plant fields on the Zhang family’s heads. Any discerning person could see that someone deliberately targeted Lin Zhan’s Serene Herb Manor behind his back.
If someone didn’t deliberately frame the Zhang family, then it would have been impossible for them to secretly sabotage the Serene Herb Manor stores simultaneously in different cities with just the Zhang family’s power alone.
Qing Zhu asked, “Which branch is the Serene Herb Manor that has no problem?”
Dong Qu’s face turned frosty as he answered coldly, “It was the shop originally located in Red Cloud City. Now, that Serene Herb Manor has already moved to Profound City!”
Qing Zhu was startled. “Is that the shop that Shi Yongtai is in charge of?”
Dong Qu nodded and replied with a dark expression, “Exactly that shameless old man.”
Qing Zhu narrowed his eyes, “How come I didn’t see a Serene Herb Manor when I was in Profound City?”
“How can it still be called Serene Herb Manor? Shi Yongtai, this ruffian, had already changed the name from ‘Serene Herb Manor’ to ‘Yongtai Manor’.”
Qing Zhu actually had some impression of Yongtai Manor. This spiritual plant shop was quite famous in Profound City and was in the top five in the city. He had passed by Yongtai Manor before but only glanced at it from the outside and felt that it looked a little familiar. However, he never would have thought that this was actually Lin Zhan’s Serene Herb Manor.
“Too shameless!” Qing Zhu cursed.
Dong Qu angrily pounded the table with a fist, “Back then, Shi Yongtai, this old fellow, first refused our request for help, then made a big announcement saying that Boss was no longer there and that he’d also found a stronger and better backing. He even said something about how a wise man submits to circumstances and how only fools will stubbornly resist for real. He laughed at me and the other shopkeepers. I was so angry that I started to fight him. Unexpectedly, he had two more powerful people under him who directly injured me instead. I had no choice but to return and recuperate. In the blink of an eye, I recuperated for two years. Many of my subordinates who followed me in the past saw that the Serene Herb Manor couldn’t keep afloat anymore, so they all left one by one. Many of them went to the Zhang family’s spiritual plant shop across the street. Now, the young people Young Master Zhu met are all new recruits I just hired; almost all of them are the children of impoverished families who couldn’t afford food.”
The reason why Lin Zhan let Shi Yongtai take charge of an entire spiritual plant shop back then was to give this old servant from the Lin family, who had no wife, no children, and no cultivation potential, a place where he could enjoy a life in retirement. Unexpectedly, this Shi Yongtai turned out to be an ungrateful bastard who started to lay his hands on Lin Zhan’s private property as soon as Lin Zhan met with an accident.
Qing Zhu narrowed his eyes, thinking to himself, He must find out the identity of this so-called “backer” that Shi Yongtai mentioned.
“I’ll go back to Profound City now and find Shi Yongtai, this old fellow, and thoroughly ask him what happened,” Qing Zhu said coldly.
Dong Qu hurriedly pulled on Qing Zhu’s sleeve, “You need to be careful and must not act on impulse. I personally fought the two cultivators by Shi Yongtai’s side. They truly were powerful. At the very least, I was still a Hardened Body Stage Second Layer cultivator back then. Only one of the two cultivators moved one of his fingers. I didn’t even get to clearly see how he moved or what weapon he used before I was severely wounded, and even my cultivation level fell.”
Qing Zhu looked at Dong Qu in surprise, “Could it be that those cultivators are at the Profound Realm?”
Otherwise, how could Dong Qu not even know how he was injured?
Dong Qu shook his head, “I’m not sure about this, but the person who moved was at least a Primary Realm peak Condensed Pulse Stage cultivator!”
After he calmed down, Qing Zhu sneered, “It doesn’t matter. Even if both of them are Profound Realm cultivators, I’m still not afraid. I’d like to see with my own eyes exactly what they’re truly capable of.”
Hearing this, Dong Qu frowned, “Young Master Zhu, I know you are very powerful, but you are very young and not even thirty yet. Those two people are both over 100 years old and have extremely rich battle experience.”
Qing Zhu patted Dong Qu on the shoulder and said with profound meaning, “Sometimes, people who look young are not necessarily young. You can’t judge a book by its cover.”
Could it be that Qing Zhu was already over 100 years old this year?
That can’t be right, when Qing Zhu first appeared in the Lin family, he was just a tiny thing who only knew how to hold a bottle and follow behind Lin Zhan; he was clearly younger than Lin Zhan!
Dong Qu was full of doubts, but Qing Zhu had gone off with great speed, as swift as wind and thunder.
The next morning, Qing Zhu arrived at Profound City.
He didn’t do anything else. Without further ado, he ran directly towards Yongtai Manor.
Yongtai Manor was situated in Profound City’s prosperous region, which was managed by the other large family in Profound City, the Wu family. There were many soldiers wearing the armor of the Wu family guards patrolling the streets with weapons.
Although it was not long after dawn, Yongtai Manor had already opened its doors to welcome guests and many cultivators came to Yongtai Manor to buy spiritual plants and seeds.
Although Qing Zhu was in a hurry while on the road, he calmed down when he arrived at Yongtai Manor’s outer door.
He slowly walked slowly to the door of Yongtai Manor. Just as the young man standing at the door was about to say something to welcome the guests, and the man showed an expression he’d seen a ghost.
“You. Didn’t you already get married and leave?” The young man obviously knew Qing Zhu, and Qing Zhu obviously knew him too.
This boy used to work as a page beside Lin Zhan. His name was Ah Qi. This boy was clever and could handle affairs. Therefore, he was highly valued by Lin Zhan. When Shi Yongtai was sent to Red Cloud City to take charge of the Serene Herb Manor, Lin Zhan worried that Shi Yongtai wouldn’t be used to doing these things, so he let Ah Qi follow him.
Qing Zhu narrowed his eyes at Ah Qi as he smiled a smile that didn’t reach his eyes, “You’re doing pretty well, huh? Already a manager?”
The clothes Ah Qi wore were obviously different from those of others. The cloth’s quality was much better, so his status would definitely not be lower.
Ah Qi couldn’t help but smile bitterly and glance into the room. He walked down the steps and stopped in front of Qing Zhu, “Brother Qing, I know you must have heard a lot of rumors. Otherwise, with your temper, you wouldn’t have come here with this expression that looks like you’re about to blast off some violent criticisms.”
“Brat, I’ll settle your account later.” Qing Zhu spoke decisively and ruthlessly, “Call out Shi Yongtai, this old fellow, for me. I’d like to ask him exactly where the master wronged him; he actually did such a treacherous thing like throwing stones when the master was down!”
Ah QI hurriedly placated, “Brother Qing, don’t be angry. Anger is not good for your body. We might as well find a place first. I’ll tell you about the situation, and it’s not too late for you to make a decision after that. Don’t be impulsive. It’s going to take a while. This matter won’t be cleared in a few words.”
Qing Zhu looked at Ah Qi coldly, “I have nothing to say to you. If you don’t call the person out, I’ll call him out myself!”
Ah Qi’s face changed and he said helplessly, “Brother Qing, it’s not that I don’t want to call him out, but that there are two Primary Realm Blood Breakthrough level cultivators in Yongtai Manor. Moreover, Shi Yongtai is no longer the old Shi Yongtai who can be casually pushed around. He has now obtained an opportunity and become a Hardened Body Stage cultivator!”
Qing Zhu wasn’t moved and stood up with his hands behind his back. He spoke nonchalantly, “If I want you to call him out, then you’ll call him out. Why waste so many words?”
Ah Qi was stunned for a moment. An inconceivable expression flashed through his eyes. His eyes turned slightly and he said cautiously, “Brother Qing, it’s not that I didn’t remind you. You should be careful, yourself. Okay, I’ll help you call out the shopkeeper.”
Qing Zhu leisurely brought out a long purple vine with thorns from within his sleeve and held it tightly in his hand. Although his hand was holding the barbs outside the vine, he was not affected at all.
In reality, he already felt vague unease in his heart — Shi Yongtai, this old, ignorant fellow who had remained at Refining Qi Third Layer for so many years, actually broke through to Hardened Body Stage in a short two years? Exactly what terrifying technique was this?
Moments later, Shi Yongtai stepped out of Yongtai Manor.
As soon as he saw Qing Zhu, he put on a fake smile, “Hey, what wind blew Young Master Qing here? Come in and sit down quickly. We can also reminisce about the past.”
Qing Zhu sized up Shi Yongtai. He originally looked like a senile old fellow, but currently, he actually looked only 40 or 50 years old at most. His back was no longer bent, and his eyes were no longer bad. He clearly had gained a lot of benefits.
Qing Zhu stared at him coldly, “Shi Yongtai, it seems that you have been doing well recently. Young Master Zhan’s painstaking efforts back then were not in vain. I’m here today to take back Serene Herb Manor for Young Master Zhan. If you can hand over Serene Herb Manor to me, I won’t investigate past events.”
It could be said that Shi Yongtai had been enjoying a prosperous life in the past two years. He was used to being a shopkeeper and was also richer and younger. His cultivation flew at a pace of a thousand miles a day. His mentality had changed even more, and he could hardly stand anyone talking to him with a commanding tone.