In the third month, the Celestial Court observed celestial phenomena and discovered that there would be a severe drought next year, an event not seen in a century. Although there were some drought-resistant crops currently available, they were far from sufficient to withstand such a natural disaster. The court also lacked skilled breeders who could develop truly resilient crops in a short period of time.
In no time, the people’s hearts became uneasy, and rumors spread like wildfire. The common folk began hoarding grains, causing chaos in grain prices. Many rice shops were even looted, and immature crops in the fields were secretly harvested.
With no other choice, the court had to send out troops to stabilize order and control grain prices. However, they needed new, resilient crops to combat the drought.
Di Yiqiu had to visit the Xi family and pay a visit to Elder Xi. Currently, the most powerful family in the field of breeding is undoubtedly the Xi family. If Elder Xi could lend a helping hand, perhaps the issue of Liang Mi could be resolved.
The Xi family’s land was unlike any other. The soil was as fine and smooth as golden sand, feeling as soft as water when held in one’s hand. Passing through exquisitely carved screen walls, one would enter the courtyard.
Beyond the long corridors, there were artificial mountains, flowing water, and picturesque pavilions and terraces. Led by a servant, Di Yiqiu walked through several courtyards and finally arrived at the reception hall.
Elder Xi was dressed in a black cotton robe and pants, with only a pair of cloth shoes on his feet. Only the collar and cuffs revealed a hint of white lining. He sat in the main seat, playing with a string of prayer beads in his hand repeatedly.
Upon seeing Di Yiqiu, he merely nodded slightly and said, “Chief, please have a seat.”
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Pk Zkikw tyhl bkx y rszkvl dse yde vssj y plyv yp y twlpv.
G plahydv ralpldvle qaytaydv vly, yde Ozela Dk nypwyzzu lmvldele bkp byde, pyukdt, “Ubklq, rzlypl ldfsu vbl vly.”
Pk Zkikw vbydjle bkx yde vssj y pxyzz pkr sq vly clqsal pyukdt, “Ozela Dk, usw xktbv byhl blyae vbyv vbl Rxrlakyz Uswav byp scplahle nlzlpvkyz rbldsxldy yde raleknvp y easwtbv qsa vbl nsxkdt ulya. R byhl nsxl blal vs ekpnwpp vbkp okvb usw yde aliwlpv uswa rlapsdyz kdhszhlxldv vs pyhl vbl rlsrzl qasx vbkp kxrldekdt ekpypvla.”
“Txx,” Ozela Dk alprsdele okvb y dse, cwv kv oyp nzlya bl bye xsal vs pyu.
Tl yeele, “R’hl blyae ycswv vbkp xyvvla yp olzz.”
Fllkdt vbyv Ozela Dk eked’v pllx hlau ldvbwpkypvkn, Pk Zkikw jdlo vblal oyp xsal vs vbl nsdhlapyvksd. Tl nsdvkdwle, “Rq ol nyd byhl uswa yppkpvydnl, R clzklhl vbkp kppwl nyd cl alpszhle pxssvbzu.”
Jwv kv pllxle vbyv Ozela Dk oypd’v lypkzu qzyvvlale. Tl pxkzle yde pyke, “Ubklq, usw’al tkhkdt xl vss xwnb nalekv. Tsolhla, sd xu lde, R’x qynkdt y ekqqknwzv rasczlx, yde R nyd’v ekhlav xu yvvldvksd vs calle alpkzkldv nasrp yv vbl xsxldv.”
“Xb?” Pk Zkikw aykple yd lulcaso yde kdiwkale, “Ozela Dk, rzlypl lmrzykd.”
Elder Xi continued to play with his prayer beads, and after a while, he said, “In recent years, it has been extremely challenging to sell high-quality seeds, and I’ve heard many breeders complaining. Some unethical practices only serve certain individuals seeking fame and fortune in the shadows. But in reality, this is highly detrimental to the future of resilient crops. The Imperial Court should intervene.”
His words were somewhat cryptic, and Di Yiqiu began to have an ominous suspicion.
“Elder Xi, are you suggesting…” He spoke softly, trying to probe.
Elder Xi slowly put down his teacup, displaying a benevolent elder’s demeanor, and said, “I’m just talking casually. Chief, don’t take it to heart. I’m getting old and can’t stand people or matters that don’t follow the rules. I tend to be a bit long-winded. Feng, why don’t you keep Chief here for a while? Later, invite Chief to stay at our house and have a few more drinks. You young folks can spend some time together. I won’t interfere.”
With his words, Elder Xi stopped short of explicitly stating his intentions, but his purpose was unmistakable.
Although Di Yiqiu was still young, he had a royal background, and there was no way he couldn’t understand the implications. Elder Xi must have learned about Mr.Third Dream and was asking the Imperial Court to take action.
Di Yiqiu accompanied Xi Feng for a meal, and Xi Feng was hospitable and considerate, avoiding any mention of Elder Xi’s previous words. Of course, they also didn’t discuss the breeding of drought-resistant crops.
The intentions of the Xi family were now very clear.
After finishing the meal, Di Yiqiu came out, and Li Lu and Bao Wu, waiting in the side hall, quickly greeted him.
“Chief, how did it go?” Li Lu followed behind him and asked in a low voice.
Di Yiqiu had a heavy heart, and after a moment, he finally said, “He intends to deal with Third Dream.”
“What… what?” Bao Wu was taken aback and scratched his head. “Elder Xi? Why? Although Mr. Third Dream is quite popular, he only sells quality seeds to ordinary people. Why would the Xi family, with their status and position, want to confront him?”
He couldn’t understand it.
Li Lu explained, “Because the Xi family also has a large quantity of quality seeds every year, which flow into the black market. These quality seeds often sell for much higher prices than the official rates. And when Mr. Third Dream sells at fair prices, the common people no longer engage in black market transactions. Naturally, the Xi family loses a source of income.”
Bao Wu was shocked. “The Xi family? The main branch of the Xi clan! Do they really need to make money this way?”
Di Yiqiu said, “It’s not just the Xi family; almost all the prominent breeding families make money this way.”
Bao Wu, seeming both confused and skeptical, asked after a moment, “Isn’t this profiting off the blood of the common people?”
Di Yiqiu didn’t say anything further.
Bao Wu was a martial arts enthusiast and a straightforward person who couldn’t fathom the intricacies of this situation.
Li Lu patiently explained, “It’s not only about income; it’s also a way for breeders to dispose of substandard seeds. Otherwise, who would buy those inferior-quality seeds?”
Bao Wu, looking incredulous, asked, “Do they still sell substandard seeds? How can the people ensure their harvests next year?”
“That’s why it’s called the black market,” Li Lu sighed. “It’s still better than ordinary grain seeds. Plus, the social hierarchy of breeders is deeply entrenched. If a breeder who specializes in selling to lowly commoners can develop better quality seeds than most other breeders and gain popularity and support, what does that make the other breeders?”
Bao Wu felt a chill down his spine. Li Lu asked, “I can’t believe that breeders are so wary of Mr. Third Dream. Chief, what are your thoughts on this?”
Di Yiqiu’s face had turned extremely grim. He replied, “No one is allowed to harm Mr. Third Dream.”
Li Lu nodded and said, “It’s a pity that Mr. Third Dream’s whereabouts are unknown. Otherwise, we could have sought his assistance. If he were willing to cultivate quality seeds, this issue could have been easily resolved.”
Di Yiqiu sighed deeply and replied, “You’re right. But since Mr. Third Dream’s whereabouts are still a mystery, how can we ask for his help?”
“Oh dear!” Bao Wu, who was nearby, impatiently interjected, “In my opinion, Mr. Third Dream must also be concerned for the welfare of the people. Once he learns that the chief is seeking quality seeds for the common people, he’ll surely help. Why don’t we post notices all over the capital city, urging him to come forward?”
“That’s also a possibility,” Li Lu nodded.
Di Yiqiu had a nagging feeling that something was amiss, but he didn’t stop them. Sometimes, you had to try every available option.
As expected, as soon as they returned to the capital city, the Celestial Court immediately posted notices.
A crowd gathered, realizing that these were official letters written to Mr. Third Dream on behalf of the court, requesting his assistance in preparing for the drought next year.
Over a hundred of these public letters were posted throughout the capital city, and each one was handwritten by Di Yiqiu.
“This is a sign of our respect for Mr. Third Dream,” the chief wrote solemnly, “and he deserves it.”
The public letters ignited a frenzy among the people.
Mr. Third Dream was transitioning from obscurity to fame.
Initially, he was just a breeder who quietly cultivated quality seeds and sold them to ordinary people in the market. While many commoners recognized his skill and whispered about it, he remained a wandering breeder without any known mentor or background.
But now, the Imperial Court was extending an olive branch publicly.
How could the people not be excited?
People talked eagerly, and who wouldn’t want to meet this esteemed gentleman?
However, there were also many concerns.
What risks was Mr. Third Dream taking by doing this? Perhaps these commoners understood more than the court realized.
What were the prices for grain seeds on the black market in previous years? And what are the prices for quality seeds purchased from Mr. Third Dream now?
They were all too aware of the situation.
As a result, some commoners stood guard beneath the public notices day and night, shouting for Mr. Third Dream not to reveal himself. In fact, the next day, all the public notices were either altered or torn down.
People began to question the motives of the court because there were rumors circulating that after the chief visited the Xi family, there was a scheme to lure out Mr. Third Dream.
Initially, Elder Xi was furious when he saw the public letters. However, as he heard the commoners’ discussions, he too grew somewhat skeptical. Could it be that the court was orchestrating this to draw out Mr. Third Dream and secretly deal with him?
These tricks were all too familiar to him.
So, he decided to wait and observe for the time being. If Di Yiqiu could truly resolve this problem, he could then step in and earn a name that would be remembered for generations.
As a result, the Xi family remained passive observers, and other breeders also refrained from taking action.
They all watched for Elder Xi’s cues, and besides, this Mr. Third Dream was indeed a malignant tumor that had to be removed.
As a result, the situation became increasingly muddled, with various versions of events circulating.
The name of Mr. Third Dream gradually became known to everyone, even though he had not appeared in person. However, business at the ancient mansion was booming.
During these days, visitors kept coming.
Some people offered advice, urging Mr. Third Dream to hide his identity and not reveal himself. Others disguised themselves as poor commoners, attempting to buy quality seeds at lower prices.
Of course, the steward of the estate was no ordinary person. His investigations were meticulous, and considering the limited land available to commoners, these impostors found it exceedingly difficult to gain any advantage.
In secret, more and more people were left grinding their teeth in frustration.
After all, the quality of the seeds they had ordered in bulk through the court couldn’t match the ones being sold to commoners. Furthermore, these seeds were even more expensive.
Who wouldn’t be infuriated by this?
In no time, breeders were dissatisfied, and wealthy landowners across the region were voicing their complaints.
Finally, on this day, a group of people gathered, and as soon as they entered the courtyard, they began to create a commotion, smashing and causing trouble.
“Third Dream, come out now! The quality seeds you cultivated, we’ve diligently tended them for half a year, and the result is a complete failure!” Several burly men threw a bundle of straw-like millet stalks on the ground and shouted, “Our entire family relies on this grain for a living! Mr.Third Dream, making money at the expense of our conscience is like drinking our blood and chewing our bones…”
As the man’s voice fell, his “80-year-old mother” immediately sat down on the ground, wailing and sobbing uncontrollably.