Jiang Chen did nothing much over the next few days. He was aware that the gang was keeping an eye on him, but didn't expose its watchers. Instead, he strolled the streets of Pillfire City everyday and even visited the slave market on several occasions. It was an act to make his observers feel like he was thirsty for talent. As a result, his watchers felt like they weren't able to grasp his true objective. Because the Star Harvesters was surveilling him, Jiang Chen and Lin Yanyu now communicated through consciousness messages instead of meeting directly with each other. So far, there had been no trouble.
Lin Yanyu had managed to gather a bit of intelligence through all sorts of channels. It was all related to the Star Harvesters, but the amount of information that was actually useful was pitifully small. Jiang Chen had considered using the Goldbiter Rats to gather information from underground, but a place like the gang headquarters would certainly be protected by all kinds of restrictions. Although the Goldbiter Rats could travel through earth, they couldn't break open layers of restrictions. A gang as powerful as the Star Harvesters must be protected from head to toe. He was sure that their restrictions stretched all the way down into the ground. And so, Jiang Chen ultimately gave up on the idea.
He'd met with the boss of the Star Harvesters last time. That was a good start. However, his request to meet Mu Gaoqi still hadn't been realized. This depressed Jiang Chen a lot. It also made him realize how cautious the Star Harvesters was acting for this matter.
"I guess it will be extremely difficult to take Mu Gaoqi away from the Star Harvesters. But first, I must see him. I need to know how he's doing right now." His current biggest problem was the inability to see Mu Gaoqi. The Star Harvesters just wouldn't let him meet Mu Gaoqi no matter what he tried. Right now, he felt was stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Jiang Chen was able to rob Myriad Puppets Pavilion of their slaves back then was because they weren't on their guard. Moreover, those slaves weren't too valuable and Myriad Puppets Pavilion didn't think that someone would dare commit a robbery at the Fish and Dragon District. But the Star Harvesters was different. Mu Gaoqi was a treasure to them from the beginning, so they were very much on guard against any unpleasant scenarios.
"Master, I still think we should begin by targeting someone inside the Star Harvesters." Lin Yanyu gave his personal opinion.
"What suggestions do you have?" Lin Yanyu's intelligence was one of the qualities Jiang Chen valued in him, especially since he was a local in Pillfire City.
"I think we should focus on investigating those people who can get close to the Star Harvesters' boss, especially those who can walk in and out freely of their headquarters." Lin Yanyu suggested.
"Yanyu, do you know if the Star Harvesters' boss is particularly fond of anyone, like his children or his direct disciple?" Jiang Chen asked.
"Master. Gai Zonglin doesn't have any direct disciples because he's currently in his prime. As for his children, the Star Harvesters has done well to keep it a tight secret. I tried investigating into this matter, but wasn't able to gather anything concrete."
It was understandable that the Star Harvesters worked hard to maintain a high level of secrecy. The Star Harvesters was a gang, and a gang was different from a sect or a family. The way of living and conflicts between gangs were often crueler and more primal. Therefore, a sect member wouldn't easily reveal their privacy to others. The moment any private relationships were revealed, the people involved might become targets.
Therefore, no one but those who were extremely close to Gai Zonglin would know if he had a family or children. This was especially true since he was a gang boss. The fact that the Star Harvesters was tightly knit despite its gargantuan size impressed Jiang Chen even more. If the Star Harvesters had existed in Veluriyam Capital instead, it was definitely a match for some powerful great clans. There was no way an aristocratic family could compete against the Star Harvesters at all.
While Jiang Chen was musing, he suddenly heard a series of small, quick footsteps from the corridor in front of him. They were very familiar. Why has she come? He didn't even need to look to know that his visitor was the assistant with a bit of a personality, Miss Keke.
Knock knock knock. Someone knocked on Jiang Chen's door.
"Come in," Jiang Chen responded indifferently. As expected, the door opened to reveal the beautiful Miss Keke. Her eyes looked a little shifty, and her cheeks were a little reddened. She looked like a girl who was secretly meeting her lover that she was privately engaged to.
"Miss Keke?" Jiang Chen frowned. "Why have you come?"
He knew that the Star Harvesters was watching him, but he couldn't fathom why Miss Keke had chosen to show up. That being said, this meeting was not unwelcome. He knew that Miss Keke must have been ordered by Star Harvesters to meet him, and he welcomed their approach, whatever their intentions might be. Maybe they were trying to sound him out through her, but he could also do the exact same thing. Furthermore, the watchers and now this visit proved that the Star Harvesters was still interested in him. It was gratifying news.
Of course, they might just be interested in the three sky rank spirit herbs he showed them.
"Can I come in, sir?" Keke sounded a little timid and hesitant.
"Hmm. Do as you please." Jiang Chen didn't show too much enthusiasm. Miss Keke walked in before closing the door carefully behind her. She took a few small and quick footsteps to a chair and perched carefully on it.
"I thought you couldn't stand my presence, Miss Keke, so I never thought you would visit me one day. Should I say that it is an honor to have you here?" Jiang Chen said smilingly. He had purposely spoken in a joking tone to liven the atmosphere and ease the girl's tension.
Miss Keke squeezed her fingers together so tightly that the joints looked a little pale. She pondered for what seemed to be a very long time before she finally mustered the courage to say, "Sir, I asked around and learned that you live here, so I've purposely come over to apologize."
Apologize? Jiang Chen broke into involuntary laughter. "Miss Keke, you have been responsible and diligent, haven't you? If I remember correctly, you don't owe me an apology at all."
"That's not right." Keke's face turned even redder as she said somewhat agitatedly, "I want to apologize for my attitude towards you that day, sir. I… I actually thought that much of what you say is true, sir. I am very much impressed by your words that day. But… I'm an assistant in the Star Mill. They can fire me at any moment if I don't toe the line."
Jiang Chen stared at the girl but didn't take her apology too seriously. It was possible that she was as upright and honest as she appeared. But her apology was obviously not entirely genuine. For example, her claim that she asked around and learned where he lived was a complete lie. The only reason she could've known this was because the Star Harvesters was watching him.
He didn't expose her lies though. Instead, he flashed a calm smile. "We are here now, so that's a pointless subject to dwell upon. I admit that I am somewhat interested in that pill master with an innate wood constitution of high order, but there is no way I can possibly fulfill your gang's demands. So if you are here to peddle him, Miss Keke, then I can only say that you've wasted your time."
Whatever her intentions might be, Jiang Chen decided to back down for the moment and see how she would respond.
"Sir, it is as you said earlier. The reason the Star Harvesters worked so hard to package Master Mu is because we intend to sell him." Miss Keke sounded rather forthright at least. "But that doesn't mean that we plan to sell him carelessly for a quick spirit stone. On the contrary, our standards are very high. If our customers don't meet our standards, we can't possibly sell Master Mu to them, can we?"
"But Miss Keke, don't you think that such words are wasted on me right now? I've already given up on buying Master Mu." Jiang Chen smiled.
"Are you giving up already, sir?" A trace of disappointment immediately colored Miss Keke's face. "Manager Xiao had sent me over today to learn exactly how passionate you are about buying Master Mu. If you can confirm this, then I am certain that the price can be renegotiated."
"Any further negotiation is pointless. There is no way I can pay what the Star Harvesters demands even if you were to cut that price in half." And it was true that Jiang Chen had no wish to buy Mu Gaoqi any longer. He didn't want to fall into his opponent's rhythm and be baited like a fool at every turn.
"Sir…" Keke bit her lips softly and said with reddened cheeks, "I would like to ask one more question. Do you really come from Myriad Abyss Island? I heard that Myriad Abyss Island is a legendary holy land. It is said that the greatest experts of Divine Abyss Continent take pride in being able to enter Myriad Abyss Island. Also, I heard that even the most average person in Myriad Abyss Island is stronger than our sage realm experts. Is that true?"
Jiang Chen smiled. "Now that is what you call the spread of falsehoods. It is true that Myriad Abyss Island is very impressive, but average fighters also exist everywhere in the world. All fighters must start from the beginning and build the foundation of their martial dao step by step."
"If that is so, then may I know what level you are in Myriad Abyss Island? Manager Xiao says that your background must be extraordinary to be able to offer what you offered. He believes that you are of a high status. That is why Manager Xiao is certain that you can afford our price, if you truly wish to buy Master Mu that is."
She was trying to fish for information.
"Even if Myriad Abyss Island is a holy land of wealth, I am not a fool. I will not pay what the Star Harvesters demands even if I can afford the price." Jiang Chen's tone was calm. "This is a matter of principle and bottom line. I have no choice but to give up on this trade."
"If you are here to persuade me to pay the price you've quoted for Master Mu, then you may return and report back to your superiors already." Jiang Chen opened his hand and gestured to the door.
"Sir, the price can be renegotiated. Our ultimate objective is just to maximize our profits. I'm sure that you can understand this. I have been requested by Manager Xiao to communicate with you as best I can. If you truly intend to buy Master Mu, I am sure that we can still talk this over."
It was obvious that the Star Harvesters didn't want to miss out on any potential clients.