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Translator: EndlessFantasy Translation Editor: EndlessFantasy Translation
The Huanglong Weaponsmiths Quarter was still the same as it was a year ago. The people, place, weaponsmiths, workshops, and the White Ash Forest — they were still the same. The only difference was that the people here seemed to be a lot friendlier to Yan Liqiang during his visit this time.
By the time Yan Liqiang and the rest rode to the weaponsmiths quarter’s entrance, crowds had already formed on both sides of the entrance. If there were a few elementary students shaking big red flowers like pom-poms while shouting ‘welcome’ enthusiastically, then the scene before him would be no different than the prime minister’s visits in his previous life.
Seeing the familiar faces eagerly looking in his direction, Yan Liqiang gave Qian Su a wry smile. “Uncle Qian, this welcome is too grand!”
“It’s necessary!” Qian Su smiled back at Yan Liqiang. “After all, the livelihood of these hundreds of people in our Huanglong Weaponsmiths Quarter will depend on you from now on! This welcoming ceremony is only natural. If it wasn’t for the short notice, we would have had more time to prepare for a grander one!”
Yan Liqiang smiled. There was still quite a distance between him and the welcoming crowd, but Yan Liqiang dismounted his steed, handed its reins to Hu Haihe, and walked over to them.
Qian Su and the rest also dismounted and followed Yan Liqiang.
“Greetings to the Qiyun Protectorate General from the Huanglong Weaponsmiths Quarter!” Several hundred people in the crowd yelled in unison and bowed to Yan Liqiang. It was shocking, yet at the same time, it was also oddly satisfying to Yan Liqiang.
This was definitely rehearsed to achieve such unity!
Yan Liqiang cast a glance at Qian Su, only to find the latter smiling silently. Hence, he also smiled and cupped his fist to everyone. “Let’s not stand around out here, everyone! We shall talk inside!”
After saying that, Yan Liqiang went inside the weaponsmiths quarter with Qian Su and the rest. The welcoming crowd also followed suit.
Naturally, Yan Liqiang was extremely familiar with his way inside the weaponsmiths quarter. After going through the entrance, he headed directly to the dining hall. Upon seeing that everyone had gathered in the dining hall and was staring at him, Yan Liqiang stood on the stone steps in the hall. He cleared his throat before giving his first formal speech to everyone in the weaponsmiths quarter.
“Since everyone in the weaponsmiths quarter already knows who I am, I shall skip the introductions. Although I’m sure everyone already knows about this, perhaps you may still be wondering why the Huanglong Weaponsmiths Quarter has suddenly been placed under the command of a nearly non-existent Qiyun Protectorate. I am here to tell you that this is a request of mine to His Majesty. Before my return to Gan Province, His Majesty gave me two choices: to become the superintendent of the Gan Province’s weaponsmiths quarter or to become the Qiyun Protectorate General. I picked the latter and requested the Emperor to bestow me the Huanglong Weaponsmiths Quarter. His Majesty agreed and this place was awarded to me.
“Everyone may be wondering why I wanted the Huanglong Weaponsmiths Quarter of all the weaponsmiths quarters in Gan Province. Truth be told, there is only one reason — to keep the good things to ourselves!”
The moment Yan Liqiang spoke, everyone in the weaponsmiths quarter went silent. They were all listening to Yan Liqiang attentively, afraid of missing out on even one word. Every word that came out of Yan Liqiang’s mouth hit the nail right on the head. Throughout the entire weaponsmiths quarter, many had questions in their hearts.
They were rendered speechless when they heard that Yan Liqiang refused the offer to become the superintendent of Gan Province’s weaponsmiths quarters. This job would mean being the chief of not just one, but all the weaponsmiths quarters in Gan Province! If the Emperor was willing to hand over several dozens of weaponsmiths quarters to Yan Liqiang, then this weaponsmiths quarter alone would be nothing to him. Although Yan Liqiang spoke humbly, the respect everyone had for him instantly soared. They were even more curious when Yan Liqiang mentioned ‘keeping the good things to ourselves’. The several hundred people gathered in the dining hall were in absolute silence.
Yan Liqiang paused and looked at the crowd. Keeping their thoughts in his heart, he cracked a smile. “Aside from the Huanglong Weaponsmiths Quarter, I was also given other weaponsmiths quarters to choose from. As long as I asked for it, the Emperor would definitely agree to it. However, the reason why I mentioned ‘keeping the good things for the family’ is because I am acquainted with everyone and Uncle Qian is also my senior. Therefore, if anything good comes up, my first thought will naturally be everyone.
“Don’t go thinking you will have to follow me outside the pass to risk your lives and battle against the Shatu people. I am here to tell everyone that none of you will need to risk your lives to fight with me. You don’t have to travel beyond the pass either. Just keep doing what you are best at. Although this weaponsmiths quarter is under the Qiyun Protectorate’s command, Uncle Qian will still remain as the Quarter Master. There will be some changes in the weaponsmiths quarter, but they will be for the good of this place rather than bad. I will not lead everyone to kill, but to make business. Together, we will earn and enjoy a luxurious life! What say you?”
“YES!” Everyone in the dining hall immediately roared in excitement.
“Although I wear the title of Qiyun Protectorate General, I do not wish to use my authority to suppress anyone. Perhaps some of you may still be doubting my words, so let me tell you all this today: whoever wishes to leave the weaponsmiths quarter to pursue your own career or return home, you may come forward! I will grant the approval on the spot here today and also award ten taels of silver as travel expenses. You will be allowed to pack your things and leave at once, I won’t make things difficult for you. However, bear in mind that once you leave, you can never come back. I, Yan Liqiang, may be young, but as the Qiyun Protectorate General, I shall keep my words. Uncle Qian and every one of you here will bear witness to my words today!” Yan Liqiang swept his glance across the crowd.
“Since everyone in the weaponsmiths quarter is here, I shall give everyone half an hour to consider and discuss with each other. I shall return in half an hour. Those who have decided to leave, you can let me know then!”
After Yan Liqiang finished speaking, he looked at Qian Su and made a signal to him. Both of them then left and headed to Qian Su’s small courtyard which was nearby, leaving behind the rest to consider their decision in the dining hall.
As soon as both of them left, everyone in the dining hall broke into discussion. The choices Yan Liqiang had given to them were simply unimaginable.
“Liqiang, how daring of you. Are you not worried that all of them will run off? Ten taels of silver is not exactly a small figure to many people…” Qian Su smiled wryly and shook his head. “I didn’t expect you would say something like as soon as you arrived in the weaponsmiths quarter!”
“There’s no point in keeping people who wish to leave. If we are short-handed, then Uncle Qian can recruit more people again. I believe there will be many weaponsmiths who wish to join our weaponsmiths quarter in the future. Therefore, it’s best we let go of people who don’t want to stay!” Yan Liqiang smiled indifferently.
“Are you certain?”
Yan Liqiang smiled and asked in return, “I believe Uncle Qian should have raked in huge profits from the lotus root briquettes over the past year. With your bulging wallet, I’m sure your female confidantes in the Huanglong county town also received some gifts and jewelry from you too. I have a feeling that your reputation around the pleasure quarters in Huanglong County now must precede you now.”
“Ahem, ahem…!” Qian Su’s aged face was tinged with red. However, his eyes instantly lit up as he quickly changed the topic. “It’s true that I have made some profit from the lotus root briquettes, but that’s only for the short term. The manufacturing process of the briquettes will not remain a secret for long. Those in this line of business will eventually figure out how to do it through trial and error. Don’t tell me you still have something even better, Liqiang?”
“Haha, let it remain a secret for now. Uncle Qian will find out soon enough!”
“I realize that you’ve become harder to read after returning from the Imperial Capital!”
“If you put it that way, it kind of makes me feel like I could be read like an open book before…” Yan Liqiang spread out his arms and said helplessly.
Qian Su was slightly taken aback before bursting into laughter…
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