The wine tavern wasn’t big, but it was in a good location; it was at the eastern side of the village near the eastern gate.
The flow of people was the largest at the eastern and northern gates. Thus, the wine tavern’s business ran pretty good whether it was day or night.
"Young lord, please take a seat." An old man lowered his head to Fang Yuan.
Few waiters wiped the benches and tables with a fawning and flattering smile towards Fang Yuan.
Fang Yuan shook his head. He didn’t sit, but walked around the tavern, sizing everything. He thought inwardly, "This is my wine tavern."
This wine tavern only had one floor, but it had an underground wine cellar.
Huge and square black tiles covered the floor. There were eight square tables; two tables were set against the wall and other six tables were surrounded by four benches.
A dark brown, long sales counter could be seen immediately upon entering the wine tavern. There were papers, brush, ink stones and also an abacus on the counter. Behind the counter was the liquor cabinet where all sizes of wine jars were displayed. Some of these were large wine jars of black pottery, and some were small and bright porcelain wine bottles.
Fang Yuan was walking around as he wished; the old man and waiters didn’t dare to sit, they could only follow close behind.
They were restless, the news of the landlord changing was too abrupt. The previous landlord Gu Yue Dong Tu was cunning as a ghost, he was strict and acrimonious; they were on a lot of pressure. This boy in front of them was actually able to take the wine tavern from Gu Yue Dong Tu’s hands. Such a method of snatching was shocking. So these people’s gazes towards Fang Yuan carried unease and fear.
Fang Yuan suddenly stopped, "It is good. But this store is a bit small."
The old man immediately walked forward and bowed to answer, "Young lord, we put sheds outside every summer and lay tables and benches. But it is winter now and the wind is biting cold, no one would sit outside even if we put up sheds. So we took them down."
Fang Yuan slightly turned. He glanced at this old man, "You are the shopkeeper?"
The old bent his waist even lower and said even more respectfully, "I dare not, I dare not. Young lord, this wine tavern is yours, whoever you choose as a shopkeeper is the shopkeeper."
Fang Yuan nodded then glanced at the waiters; they all seemed to be competent.
If it was on earth, he would be anxious that this shopkeeper and the waiters would team up and scheme against him, the owner. But in this world, Gu Masters were high and mighty, killing mortals would only require a thought. Even if Uncle and Aunt egged them, these mortals wouldn’t dare to go against Fang Yuan.
"Alright, bring the accounting books and bring me a pot of tea." Fang Yuan sat down.
"Yes, young lord." The shopkeeper and waiters moved hurriedly.
There were as much as sixteen account books, and every book used bamboo papers which had a light green hue. The bamboo papers were more brittle than Xuan paper and were suitable for the damp atmosphere of the Southern Border.
Fang Yuan casually picked up a few books and skimmed over them, asking some questions occasionally.
The shopkeeper gave prompt replies; soon, his forehead was covered with sweat.
Fang Yuan had created the Bloodwing Demon Sect and taught countless people in his previous life. He was rich in experience and his eyes were shrewd. Others might be confused and dazzled when they see the account books; but in his eyes, all the doubtful points were as clear as crystal.
This wine tavern was the second biggest asset after the Nine Leaf Vitality Grass; Fang Yuan naturally wanted to firmly grasp it.
There were only some small problems in the account books which could be attributed to mistakes and negligence. These mortals didn’t dare to be presumptuous.
However, when Fang Yuan turned to the last page, he saw that this month’s income had already been taken by Gu Yue Dong Tu.
"Young lord, the previous landlord personally took it. We didn’t dare to resist." The shopkeeper replied while wiping his sweat. His aged body was already trembling and his face had become very pale.
Fang Yuan was silent, he put down the account books on the table and glanced at the shopkeeper.
The shopkeeper immediately felt a huge pressure as if a mountain was pressing down on him. He was scared witless, kneeling on the ground.
Seeing the shopkeeper kneeling down, the waiters also astutely knelt down one by one.
Fang Yuan calmly sat and turned his gaze towards them.
The waiters immediately felt like they were in a world of ice, they couldn’t resist Fang Yuan’s aura. They were all silent.
To these mortals, the wine tavern’s work was both stable and safe, the ideal job. They didn’t want to lose this job.
Fang Yuan stopped upon seeing that his authority had been established, going too far could end up being detrimental. He slowly spoke, "I won’t bother about the past matters. I saw that your wages are somewhat low; waiter’s wages will be raised by twenty percent and the shopkeeper’s by forty percent from now on. Work properly and you will get more benefits."
Fang Yuan stood up and walked to the entrance.
The group of people kneeling on the ground were stunned for a good while before coming back to their senses. All of their eyes brimmed with tears that flowed down their faces.
"Thank you young lord for your great kindness!"
"Young lord is compassionate, we will definitely work with all our strength!"
"Young lord, you are our benefactor, please take care."
Tearful sounds came from behind, there were also crisp sounds of forehead smashing on the black tiles from continuous kowtowing.
Use might alongside mercy, this was the only way the top controlled its subordinates no matter in which world. Might was the foundation and under this might, any small kindness would be magnified by countless times.
A benefit without might would only give a title of a good samaritan. But as time passed, people would no longer feel grateful for such kindness and it would instead result in greed and disaster.
"But these ways to control people are all unorthodox methods. It would be highly esteemed on Earth, but in this world, raising one’s own strength is the one true way. No, even on Earth, strength is first."
Fang Yuan thought of the Scarlet Red Imperial Ancestor. (1)
In those days, the Scarlet Red Imperial Ancestor had gone through and experienced a trial and he had come to a conclusion: Political power comes from guns!
This was the naked truth — strength was the foundation of any political power. So-called authority is only an accessory to strength.
Actually, not only authority, wealth and beauties were also derivatives of strength.
Fang Yuan headed towards the three bamboo houses after leaving the wine tavern.
These three bamboo houses were rented out by uncle and aunt; they were practically full.
This world paid attention to more birth. To the ever-growing huge population, the space in the village seemed narrow.
The clan had the system of the eldest son inheriting the property. Other sons and daughters would have to rely on their effort. Even if a lot of people relied on clan politics to get a meager split of the family assets and work hard outside, they might not even be able to save enough to buy a bamboo house in their whole life.
On one hand, raising Gu consumed a lot and on the other, the village had limited space, so the house prices were very expensive.
They could naturally build house outsides the village but that was not safe. Wild beasts and snakes would always roam around and could intrude into the houses. Above all, every time a beast tide occurred, all the houses outside the village would be destroyed.
Extending the village was the only way to solve this.
But extending meant the area to defend would increase and the village wouldn’t be able defend against beast tide’s attacks. Moreover, if the area was big then it would be difficult to guard against and search for infiltrating Gu Masters of other villages.
Gu Yue village had extended several times in history but had been devastated by beast tides. After learning from this lesson, the current village size was already the largest.
Fang Yuan skimmed through it and after understanding some situations, he already got the picture.
These three bamboo houses were operated very well by Uncle and Aunt. The rent was also customized to get more profits, so he might as well just let it run like that. He calculated that the earnings from these three bamboo houses were not as much as the wine tavern but the difference was not much.
The overall situation was much better than Fang Yuan’s original expectations.
Just the day before yesterday, he was left with nothing and had become so poor that his primeval stones count didn’t even reach five. But now, all of a sudden, he rose to the list of richest people in the clan.
The female tenants in these rented houses were all Rank two female Gu Masters in difficulty. After knowing Fang Yuan’s identity, their gaze towards him turned amorous.
If they could be near to Fang Yuan and get married to him, then they would no longer have to rush about facing danger; their lives would be smooth and steady.
Such a life was what they were pursuing and using all their strength to fight for.
That is to say that if Fang Yuan wanted, he could retire and live a rich life now like his uncle used to.
With a tap of finger, many female Gu Masters would flock to him.
"But that is not what I want." Fang Yuan stood at the second floor of the bamboo house, letting female Gu Masters’ provocative gazes fall upon his body. He frowned as he held the railings and gazed afar.
Far away, stretched of green mountains went on continuously, looking like a sleeping giant with the gray-blue sky as its quilt.
The endless rivers and boundless earth, when can I move unhindered on them?
Amidst the winds of change, dragons and snakes rise from the lands(2), when can I look down upon all living things?
"Since rebirth, I have been drifting with the waves like a rootless duckweed. I spared no effort to get the family assets; with this base, I can be said to have become independent and gained my footing. Next would be to unearth the Flower Wine Monk’s inheritance and put all my effort in cultivating to Rank three, then I can leave this village and go out to the wide world!" Fire burned in Fang Yuan’s deep black eyes.
Qing Mao mountain was one of the countless mountains in the Southern Border. And the Southern Border was only a corner of this world.
Too small, too small! How could such a place sustain his lofty ambitions?
Compared to his ambitions, these family assets - which others were cracking their brains to obtain, which was a thing of yearning - was as tiny as dust.
"Big brother, come down, I need to talk to you." At some point in time, Gu Yue Fang Zheng had reached the bamboo house. He looked up at Fang Yuan and yelled.
"Hmm?" Fang Yuan’s train of thoughts were broken, he looked down at Fang Zhen with an indifferent look.
The brothers’ eyes met; it was silent...
Younger brother Fang Zheng was downstairs and was shrouded by the shadow of another house. He was facing up; his eyebrows were raised and his two eyes were flickering with light.
Big brother Fang Yuan was upstairs; sunlight shone on him, his slightly drooping eyes had pupils as dark as night.
Similar faces reflected in each other’s eyes.
As to his little brother’s appearance, Fang Yuan wasn’t surprised. Fang Zheng was a weapon of Uncle and Aunt to fight for family assets.
And yet, so what?
Fang Yuan looked down at Fang Zheng, sighing inwardly, "A grade aptitude, but is nothing more than a pawn...truly insignificant."
(1) It’s referring to Chairman Mao. Writing his name directly in chinese texts are taboo, it seems.
(2) 龙蛇起陆 - It’s along the meaning of ‘an earthquake is about to happen, and all kinds of living creatures feel fretful and uneasy, they start to move about lively. It’s a visualisation description.