Chu Zhongtian wasnt willing to just give up.
He immediately asked, “Brother Wang, is there any way to get some more salt permits”
Wang Fu shook his head with a forced smile.
“I wouldnt have even mattered if this was in the past, but brother Chu knows that weve already suffered serious losses from the foreign tribes plundering.
This batch of salt permits was barely scraped together with the little grains we still had stored up.
It is completely impossible to gather another batch of them.”
“Then what do we do about this years salt business” Chu Zhongtian felt as if his body suddenly aged many years when he sat back into his chair.
Deep down, he already knew that there was nothing that could be done.
He only asked this just to ask just in case.
Wang Fu clenched his teeth and said, “Brother Chu, I actually have a method.”
“What is it” Chu Zhongtian hastily asked.
Wang Fu said, “Ive already locked down on all news pertaining to the salt permits being stolen.
I wont admit it no matter who asks me either in the future, so Ill just pretend no salt permits were stolen.
Lets use next years salt permits first to ride out this storm.
Therell be hope afterwards.”
The salt business scale was too big.
Sometimes, a single years salt permits werent enough.
That was why the officials kept three years of salt permits in reserve just in case.
But using these salt permits didnt come without a price.
Just the costs alone were extremely high.
Normal salt permits cost 1.5 silver taels each, while salt permits for future years cost 2.1 silver taels extra each in advance.
This was equivalent to the interest on a loan, and the court also used this for macro-control effects, preventing the salt merchants from dumping too much salt into the market at once.
“But the cost for those salt permits will be much more expensive,” said Chu Zhongtian with a frown.
The costs for the salt would then be three or four times greater.
That was way too expensive.
Wang Fu shook his head.
“Brother Chu has misunderstood my intentions.
I am saying to pretend that those salt permits are the ones that were stolen.
This way, once things settle next year, everything will return back to normal.
This way, everything will be kept a secret, and it can even deal with our current desperate situation.”
Chu Zhongtians expression changed.
“We absolutely must not! This is digging up a corner of the royal court! Once things blow up, this will become a huge crime!”
Wang Fu said, “Together with brother Chus network in Brightmoon City and my Wang clans many years of experience, there is no way itll be that easy for things to go out of control.
Moreover, things like using future salt permits is something all the clans are doing.
How many of them have even paid their full due in taxes”
Chu Zhongtians voice became grave.
“But the past year was just a small amount.
Everyone turned a blind eye and just let it pass.
This time, its for a whole year! Its way too dangerous, I absolutely cannot agree to this.”
Wang Fu sighed.
“Brother Chu, please forgive me for being too direct, but what else can we do”
“As far as I know, the illicit salt trade has gotten more and more out of hand.
Your Chu clan hasnt been able to sell a lot of your salt, right”
“Your clan couldnt even sell the salt before at 1.5 taels of silver per salt permit.
Now that the costs are close to 4 taels of silver, it will only be even harder for you to sell your salt.
Moreover, even if you can sell it, how much will your Chu clan make The Chu clan is so large, every aspect requires a sea of expenditures.
Without the salt business revenue, you might quickly dip into the red, right”
Chu Zhongtians face changed.
He suddenly got up.
“Our Chu clan has continued for hundreds of years.
This amount of loss is still something I can shoulder.”
Even though theyll suffer greatly, theyll just sell off some of their ancestral property at worst.
When he was just about to get angry, who would have expected that Wang Fu would prostrate at his feet and hold onto his leg while saying, “Brother Chu! Your Chu clan can bear this burden, but our Wang clan cannot! After having our trade station plundered, our Wang clan was already tottering on the verge of collapse! If news of our salt permits being stolen gets out, then our Wang clan is finished! Brother Chu, Ive never begged you in all our years of friendship.
Im really begging you here!”
“Brother Wang, please hurry and get up! What are you doing!” Chu Zhongtian supported him to his feet in a hurry.
These two great clans were the closest out of the great clans.
After decades of dealings, he already treated this person as a friend.
“Wang clan is even about to collapse, what is the use in keeping this old ones dignity” Wang Fu decided to just sit on the ground, refusing to get up.
Chu Zhongtians face was grave.
“Let me think things over.
This matter concerns too much.”
When he heard the difference in tone, Wang Fu immediately became overjoyed.
“Thank you so much brother Chu! I cannot thank brother Chu enough! Whether or not we succeed will depend on the will of heaven!”
When Chu Zhongtian returned to talk over this matter with Qin Wanru, her face immediately changed.
“Of course not! Master, how can you be so confused and agree to this type of thing”
Chu Zhongtian sighed.
“How could I not know the dangers behind such a thing But Wang Fus words arent entirely without reason.
If we really do pay the advance payment for every salt permit, the costs would be too high.
No common people would buy it.”
Qin Wanru interjected at once.
“So what if no one buys it Our Chu clan can still shoulder the burden of a single year of lost revenue.
The royal court sent Sang Hong to keep an eye on us.
If we really do start something and he notices, then things will definitely become troublesome!”
“The Chu clans situation isnt as great as you make it sound,” Chu Zhongtian said, “We have suffered losses year after year, things have only begun to take a slight turn for the better recently.
Even so, we cannot afford to take on this type of burden!”
Qin Wanru couldnt help but say, “Ive actually always wanted to ask you about this.
Even though we have our faults in operating the business, the Chu clan still operates in the massive salt and iron businesses.
Just where did all that money go Why do we keep suffering losses year after year”
“I didnt plan to hide this from you either, but youve never asked because you already had many misgivings,” Chu Zhongtian explained, “You should know about the Salt Inspection Department, right”
“Of course,” Qin Wanru replied.
Chu Zhongtian thus told her about the entire affair.
Because of the explosive profits of the salt industry, this department was created by the court.
This department was specially in charge of inspecting the production, transport, and smuggling affairs.
The one in charge of managing Brightmoon City was Linchuan Commandarys Salt Inspection Department.
This departments salt commissioners were the most lucrative positions that countless officials longed for.
But because the Chu clan has been in charge of the salt trade in Brightmoon City for so many years, that was why all those who wanted to sit in this position had to go through the Chu clans approval.
To a certain degree, these salt commissioners were all the Chu clans own people, or they were people close to the Chu clan.
But the royal court was full of fawning and exchanges of interest.
There were very few officials who werent greedy.
Every single salt commissioner, their assistant, their lower level officials, most of them would want to get a slice of the pie.
The Chu clans masters could only turn a blind eye to all of this.
The first reason was that these were officials who were close to the Chu clan to begin with, the second reason was that there were many unwritten rules in the royal courts officialdom.
This was the case for the Salt Inspection Department, the same was true for other departments.
These salt commissioners would then be promoted to the central authorities or transferred out to serve as great local officials, thus forming a huge web throughout the royal court.
Touching a single area would affect everything.
If the Chu clan dared to speak out, then they might just offend some extremely terrifying power.
When this type of thing continued for a long time, the amount of losses that accumulated from the Salt Inspection Division already reached an astronomical number.
In the past, they could still conceal it through their accounts, but when it reached Chu Zhongtians generation, this number was already big to the point where it could no longer be hidden.
“So that is why all of the money the Chu clan has made over these years have been used to fill in the gap made by hundreds of years of greedy salt commissioners” Qin Wanrus face immediately paled.
Chu Zhongtian had a bitter smile on his face.
“Why!” Qin Wanru was furious.
“Why does our Chu clan have to compensate for the greed of salt commissioners”
Chu Zhongtian said with a grave voice, “Why do you think our Chu clan has always been able to occupy Brightmoon Citys lucrative salt and iron businesses for so long Is such a thing possible purely through the fruits of our ancestors efforts Isnt it because we relied on all of those officials protection that our Chu clan could still sit here”
“We didnt need to worry before either, but we couldnt help but become more careful now that the emperor seems to wish to act against our Chu clan, so we tried to fill in some of the debt the salt commissioners made.
We have to at least be able to cover it in the accounts, only then can we survive through the royal courts inspections.”
Chu Zhongtian paused for a moment before continuing, “This is also the reason why I had the confidence to maintain neutral between the emperor and King Qis dual sided suppression.
It is because we have countless backers behind us in the royal court! They do not wish for something to happen to the Chu clan, or else not a single one of them will be able to get away!”
Qin Wanru was suddenly shaken.
“You handed Chuyan an account book in an extremely serious manner before.
Back then, you said that it was the account book recording our business partners and dealings.
Now, it seems like this is probably the proof of those generations of salt commissioners crimes.”
Chu Zhongtian nodded.
As long as this account book isnt lost, regardless of whether it is the emperor or King Qi, our Chu clan will still be fine!”