“Information? What kind of information are you looking for?” The middle-aged man named Zhong Cheng asked as the shimmering gold coins in his eyes grew twice as long.
“Since we’ve just arrived in this city and wish to start a few business ventures, I was hoping you could help me find out if there are any trade companies, medicinal supply stores, warehouses, and storefront property up for sale. The cheaper they are and the more manpower they possess the better.” Zhang said as he presented the bag filled with gold coins in his hand to Zhong Cheng.
“Young master although I can easily help you obtain that information for you, out of the goodness of my heart I must tell you if you are planning on starting a business within this city, you’ll most definitely run into people from the two clans and the Tiger Claw Dojo. If you do just give them what they want, don’t try to stand up to them, the previous owner of this manor tried and sadly whenever I want to see him I have to visit his grave…” Zhong Cheng said as a saddened expression appeared on his face.
“As long as they don’t make any outrageous demands, I can spare a few gold coins to ensure the peace.” Zhang replied with a smile.
“Alright, let's finalize the transaction and I’ll have the list for you within a few hours.” Zhong Cheng said as he gestured for Zhang to sign on the deed.
With few strokes of a brush, Zhang acquired his first property and placed his first foothold within Twin Blade City.
Soon after, Zhong Cheng departed to make inquiries on the businesses that Zhang was looking to acquire, leaving a pair of teens and two fluffy pups behind to explore their new home.
“Although this place may look shabby on the outside, the interior is still sound and with a bit of cleaning it’ll be restored to its full glory.” Zhang said as he and Wenji inspected the grounds. With two large halls, twenty odd rooms divided amongst three courtyards, a servant’s quarters, a vast kitchen and small koi pond, Zhang was fairly happy with the size of his new property.
“Once we acquire adequate help and a sufficient number of herbs from the mountains, I’ll be able to concoct pills for us to use to cultivate. Although we may need to knock down a few of the buildings to put up a pill concocting chamber.” Wenji said in a cheerful tone.
Wishing to exploit the vast abundance of herbs growing in the surrounding mountains to further their cultivation, Zhang and Wenji were going to purchase a large number of warehouses in the hopes of quickly obtaining a large workforce without gathering unnecessary attention.
Although they could simply openly advertise and employ fresh workers, the two of them figured that would attract the gazes of too many people, ignite too many questions and perhaps invite unwanted problems.
One must know, the two of them were perhaps planning to employ hundreds if not thousands of employees and that in itself would stir a storm of questions that could result in some kind of conspiracy theory. For instance, people may think they were trying to establish an army or something and that would inadvertently lead to a confrontation with the leading factions within the city.
However, if they bought many small businesses and redirect an already established workforce, the duo wouldn’t attract very much attention. They could then openly recruit more workers if needed through the different business that would be under their control.
Instead of jumping the gun and spreading their wings in the open, Zhang and Wenji were going to set deep roots within Twin Blade City before revealing themselves.
Although the two of them didn’t know why they were sure that there was a reason as to why no one was harvesting the herbs in the mountains on a large scale. Perhaps it was because of the fear of demonic beasts, or maybe there was some powerful entity in the city who was trying to create a monopoly on pills, but whatever the case, the duo felt it would be safer for them to lay down a foundation for themselves.
“Later, let’s go next door and see if our neighbors are willing to sell. If we can buy all of the properties that surround this one, we can set up a small area of influence where we can act without worrying about prying eyes. Then we could build a pill concocting chamber, a casino or even had a large hole dug in the ground and no one would be around to bother us.” Zhang said upon hearing that Wenji wished to build a pill concocting chamber.
“Also, I’ve been meaning to ask but, are you sure you don’t want me to pitch in some gold? If we are really going to do what we planned, a large sum of money will be required. The cost of employing hundreds of employees alone will be very taxing since we won’t actually be making any income.” Wenji asked.
“It’s okay, with the gold left behind by my clan, we can carve out a fourth of this city for ourselves without a problem. The most important thing is for us to get stronger. Once we are strong enough, money won’t be an issue. Money well spent will only bring in more money. With enough power and prestige money will flow in by the boatloads without either of us having to lift a finger.” Zhang said with a laugh as he recalled how vast the hoard of gold in his black colored interspatial ring was.
“I should probably thank my ancestors for being treasure hoarders. If not for them, even if one of the three factions, that control the city, wish to do what we are doing, they'll have a hard time securing sufficient funds.” Zhang thought with a chuckle.
While Zhang and Wenji continued to grow accustomed to their new home, some time later in the day, Zhong Cheng returned with a large stack of paper in hand.
“Here are listings of businesses for sale, young master.” Zhong Cheng said after he found Zhang and Wenji enjoying a makeshift meal together in the manor’s kitchen.
“You’re pretty detailed I might say.” Wenji said as she picked up one of the papers that Zhong Cheng was carrying.
“I organized then based on price, size and location. That number the bottom right is the number of employees these businesses currently have employed. For five hundred gold coins that's the least I can do.” Zhong Cheng stated in a diligent tone.
“This is some good work. How would you feel if I offered to pay you to stay here and be the head steward?” Zhang said with a grin.
“Five hundred gold coins’ annual salary, with sick leave, paid vacation and a yearly bonus and you got yourself a head steward.” Zhong Cheng said while rubbing his hands.
“I'll give you six hundred if you can diligently manage all of the business dealings that we will need to be done.” Zhang said with a glint in his eye.
“Deal!” Zhong Cheng said as he jumped at the offer.
“Here’s half of your wages for the year.” Wenji said as she casually tossed a sack of gold coins at Zhang Cheng.
“Alright as the first order of business I want you to contact all of these business owners and have them arrive here tonight. I would also like you for buy up all of the surrounding properties on this street.” Zhang said in a casual manner.
“Once the surrounding properties are ours, contact the city’s best builders. I'll be needing a few buildings knocked down and reconstructed. We will also need a large number staff to cook and clean. Contact a few of the locally based escort companies and have them come here tonight also. Lastly, I want everything done as discreetly as possible.” Zhang added.
“If you can finish everything in a timely manner, you may get a little bonus for your efforts.” Wenji said with a chuckle.
Upon hearing, what Zhang wanted to be done, Zhong Cheng was utterly flabbergasted. At first, he had thought that Zhang was only going to buy and take over a store or two to set up a small footing within the city.
He had never expected that instead of a store or two, Zhang had actually told him to go and buy up all of the stores listed within the stack of papers that he had brought back.
“Young master, you know there is a total of five warehouses, two trade companies, ten medicinal stores and at least twenty storefront properties within that stack, right? Also unlike this manor, the surrounding ones aren’t cheap either.” Zhong Cheng asked.
“Yes, have all of the owners of these businesses come here tonight. Also be sure to talk to the owners of the surrounding properties. Money isn't exactly an issue I almost forgot if you can look into purchasing some land near the base of Black Devil Mountain also.” Zhang said, leaving Zhang Cheng utterly bewildered.
“How can a man of his age to have the funds necessary to make all of these purchases…” Zhong Cheng thought as he went to carry out Zhang’s orders. Regardless of the outcome, he had already taken Zhang’s money and on top of things already sold the decrypted manor left behind by his previous master, so if anything, Zhong Cheng figured he could just up and leave if things went wrong.
Thus, later in the day when the moon was high up in the sky, many people could be seen making their way to what would soon be known as the Zhou Manor.
“Everyone please form a line and wait your turn to see the young master. Rest assured, the master of my household is looking to expand his business ventures within the city and will be making many purchases for a long time to come.” Zhong Cheng said, after seeing a few people try to storm inside, like an angry mob after hearing that someone was willing to buy their rundown businesses.
Considering most of the businesses that were up for sale were failing and were knee deep in debt, everyone who was present was extremely eager to sell.
As a line began to form, one after another, business owners, owners of construction companies and leaders of various escort groups filed into the manor’s large hall where Zhang and Wenji were waiting.
“So, I'll leave all the talking to you then?” Wenji said to Zhang with a chuckle, prompting him to stick his tongue at her before the two of them broke out into laughter.
One after the other, after entering the various business could be seen leaving with gleeful expressions on their faces.
This was of course because, not only did Zhang purchase their failing businesses, but he also offered to hire them to work for him. This way no one would know which business was his since the original owners would still be around.
Thus, in no time at all, Zhang had purchased a substantial amount of real estate within Twin Blade City and with them, he was able to acquire a large workforce, consisting of roughly three hundred men and women. If the men from the escort companies and construction crews were added to the mix, the number of people currently employed by Zhang would sum up to a staggering one thousand people.
Most importantly was the fact that he had managed to buy a large piece of land at the foot of Black Devil Mountain, a piece of land that he could develop and use as a base of operations once the harvesting began.
Of course, all of this progress had come at a large cost that depleted a small chunk of the treasury within the Zhou Clan’s ancestral tomb.
In a flash, roughly two weeks had passed since Zhang and Wenji had arrived in Twin Blade City, and with the passage of time, the shabby manor they bought turned into a magnificent home that many envied.
With much effort, Zhong Cheng was able to buy up all of the surrounding property for Zhang and in the end, walls were torn down and buildings were constructed at a blinding speed.
Although construction was yet to be completed, the Zhou Manor was now located at the heart of what many would call a maze. Now if anyone wanted to go to the Zhou Manor they would have to enter through one of the eight properties mini fortress-like properties surrounding it.
The once desolate manor was now brimming with life has numerous staff were hired. Atop of things, Zhang even had a few escort companies move into a few of the eight vacant properties.
Besides the changes to their new home, Zhang and Wenji’s herb gathering operations had also begun.
After adding another two hundred people to their workforce and commissioning for the construction of a small fort on the land that had acquired at the base of Black Devil Mountain, Zhang and Wenji were now starting to receive a constant flow of herbs to use for pill concocting.
Things were going so smoothly, Zhang even went ahead and had Zhong Cheng hire roughly fifty men who were fairly knowledgeable about plants and the practice of medicine to help Wenji when she was concocting pills.
One could say that Zhang and Wenji were now similar to fish in water as their cultivation now started to progress at a steady rate. Thanks to the abundance of cultivation aiding pills that could now be obtained, given enough time, Wenji would break through to the core realm while Zhang neared the middle stages of the elementary realm.