Along the way, he saw that the guards of the Wei Estate had already begun to move, but they were all headed in the direction of the supposed assassin.
He used this chance to sneak into the darkened courtyard.
An eerie feeling enveloped him the second he entered the courtyard.
The lightning here was dim.
Compared to the other places in the Wei Estate, this place seemed much more secluded and concealed.
There werent any servants inside, and no maids or guards either.
Not a single person was in sight.
The interior of the residence felt like a haunted house.
It seemed totally devoid of life.
Zu An kept a firm lid on his thoughts.
He knew that time was pressing, and he needed to find what he was looking for as quickly as possible.
Not only did he have to help Pei Mianman find her tile, he had to find the case that Old Mi was interested in as well.
Even though Old Mi had told him to give up on the search, he still wanted to know what was inside.
Of course, he wouldnt normally have taken such a huge risk and let his curiosity get the better of him.
However, he had been presented with a rare opportunity.
Pei Mianman had even helped him lure that expert away.
It would be a pity if he couldnt find it.
The arrangements of rooms in these large clan residences were all somewhat similar.
Zu An was already familiar with the arrangement of rooms in the Chu clan, so he quickly located the study.
He gave the study a cursory once-over, paying special attention to the containers on the bookshelf.
After all, according to all those TV dramas hed watched, these were the most likely places where hidden mechanisms would be.
However, he didnt find any such mechanisms in the study.
As such, he decided to search the bedroom next.
He quickly went into the bedroom behind the study.
Zu An frowned as soon as he entered.
He subconsciously fanned the air in front of his nose. What is that smell
A strange odor permeated the room.
He could tell that it was some sort of expensive incense.
However, there was no way it should have smelled like this.
The smell of incense was mingled with a lingering smell of urine.
This was what gave the odor its characteristic awfulness.
It wasnt completely fragrant, yet it wasnt completely putrid either.
It was just indescribably nauseating.
What the heck is the Wei clan doing Cant they clean a room properly Zu An cursed, but he didnt stop his search.
He scanned the entire room quickly, then headed straight for the bed.
He undid the bedding and lightly tapped the boards underneath the bed.
Sure enough, there was a hollow sound.
Sigh, these fellas really dont have any creativity when it comes to hiding things… Zu An gave an inward shake of his head.
This was such an overused cliché! Who wouldve guessed that the people of this world would devise hiding places like this as well
He quickly found a hidden mechanism.
He triggered it and opened the hidden compartment, revealing a case inside.
It was clearly the same as the one Old Mi had shown him before, both in terms of the shape and the decorative details.
He hurriedly took out the case Old Mi had given him and put it in place of the stolen box.
This way, whoever opened the compartment again wouldnt immediately realize that the contents had been stolen.
He was curious to see what was inside.
He had a subconscious urge to open it to take a peek, but the design of the case was extremely exquisite.
A layer of light flickered across its surface, which was most likely some type of seal.
He had no time to perform a careful examination.
He stowed it away and began to search for Pei Mianmans tile.
Unfortunately, he didnt find any trace of that tile.
His time was almost up.
The sound of approaching footsteps came from close by.
He had no choice but to end his search and leave.
I wonder if big Manman can escape that fellows clutches. Zu An was more than a little worried.
He decided to make a detour to a smaller room.
Once there, he knocked over an oil lamp, which quickly sent flames and smoke shooting out.
Using the ensuing chaos as cover, he quickly returned to his own room.
“Theres a fire! Theres a fire!”
Soon, shouts of alarm filled the Wei Estate.
Servants rushed over with buckets of water to put out the fire.
Zu An pretended to be a bystander.
He even pulled over a few servants to ask them what was going on.
His expressions were so realistic, it was truly an Oscar-worthy performance.
He let this go on for a while longer before rushing over to Wei clans study with a worried expression.
He just happened to bump into Qin Wanru.
“Madam, are you all right” Zu An asked out of concern.
“Im fine.” Qin Wanru looked around the chaotic Wei Estate in confusion.
Someone rushed over to give a report to Wei Dabao.
His expression grew dark when he heard the report.
He clasped his fist towards Qin Wanru and said, “I really must apologize to Madam Chu.
Something has happened within the clan estate.
Weve made a mockery of ourselves today.”
“Theres no need for such harsh words, Master Wei,” Qin Wanru replied.
“Since something has happened in your home, we shall not trouble you any further.
Wei Dabao nodded.
“Ive already said everything I needed to say to Madam.
Please consider what we discussed carefully.
Our Wei clan makes this offer with the utmost sincerity.”
Qin Wanru smiled at him and nodded once, before leaving with Zu An.
Qin Wanru entered her carriage, while Zu An rode on a horse alongside the carriage.
In the end, his curiosity got the better of him.
He guided his horse over to the carriage and asked, “Madam, how did the talks with the Wei clan go”
Qin Wanru lifted a corner of the curtain.
Her expression was unreadable.
“Lets talk inside the carriage.”
The guards escorting them exchanged a few looks.
It seemed like Madam was becoming more and more fond of the young master! They couldnt afford to casually offend the young master in the future.
The guards who had bet against Cheng Shouping all scowled miserably.
It seemed like they really were going to lose that bet.
Zu An was overwhelmed by her invitation.
Previously, if she wasnt already furious at him, she was always building up to it.
Such an amiable invitation was a rarity.
A refreshing fragrance greeted him as he entered the carriage.
The rich smell was completely different from what Chu Chuyan gave off.
It was clearly Qin Wanrus own smell.
Zu An thought back to the odor that had permeated the bedroom in the residence.
Despite it coming from an expensive incense, hed found it utterly repulsive.
The smell that filled his nose right now was worlds better.
Qin Wanru frowned when she saw him flaring his nostrils.
This fellow really had no sense of etiquette.
However, as a woman, it was hard for her to be mad at a man for appreciating her scent.
She coughed to get his attention.
“Chu Chuyan told me again and again to trust you before she left.
Even though I still dont know why she trusts you so much, I believe Chuyan wouldnt say such a thing casually.
“You are an intermediary in this matter concerning the Wei clan as well, so there is no need to hide our conversation from you.”
Zu An felt relieved.
He didnt expect his wife to care that much about him.
He clasped his fist.
“Thank you, Madam,” he said respectfully.
Qin Wanru continued, “The Wei clan is prepared to offer us a loan at 8.8% interest.”
Zu An focused on the most important part of the deal.
“How much are they loaning us”
“An unlimited amount,” Qin Wanru said.
“Unlimited” Zu An was stunned.
They will provide us with as much as we want.” Qin Wanrus voice also carried a fair amount of shock.
Clearly, she too was taken aback by the Wei clans apparent wealth.
“Do they own a gold mine or something!” Zu An was stupefied.
“They are most likely a front for some other high-ranking officials,” Qin Wanru said.
“If this is true, then this interest rate is a good deal!” Zu An said.
Even by the standards of his previous world, 8.8% interest was considered low.
Banks usually offered a starting rate of around 6%, but it was rare for anyone to get a loan at such a rate.
Only people with connections were typically offered that rate.
Most companies would be counting their blessings if they could borrow at 12%, let alone the Chu clan, especially considering the amount that they had to borrow.
From every angle, the Wei clans conditions were extremely favorable.
Qin Wanru sighed.
“It would be great if it were that simple.
However, they have demanded that we put up our Chu clans salt mines as collateral.
Im worried that this is all a ploy to rob us of our salt beds as well.”