Li Yundong naturally didn't know what had been happening the backstage. Seeing Zi Yuan coming down from the platform, he smiled and greeted her. He cupped his hands and said with a grin, "Congratulations on earning success with a single move!"
Su Chan also joined in the conversation. She cupped one hand in the other before her chest and said, "Congratulations!" Her eyes, however, were roaming over the huge check in the hands of Zi Yuan.
Seeing her like this, Li Yundong couldn't help laughing and said, "Look at you gawking. It's fake. We can't get the money until we exchange it."
Su Chan didn't seem to care. She said to Li Yundong excitedly, "Do we have money now?"
Li Yundong smiled and said, "Even if we have money, we will need to spend it immediately. We can't hold onto it."
Su Chan's eyes were glued to the check, as if she was afraid that it would run away at any moment. She said in a daze, "How much is two million? How long will I need to count to reach that number?"
Li Yundong laughed and reached out to pinch Su Chan's cheek. "You're a little money-grubber, aren't you?"
Ruan Hongling couldn't help saying, "Hey, isn't this the money won by Shijie? How did it become yours?"
Although Su Chan and Ruan Hongling had fought with each other before, Su Chan wasn't showing any weakness at this time. She snorted and said, "If it weren't for my Yundong, would she have been able to conjure up the Eight Immortals crossing the sea?"
Seeing that the two were about to start quarrelling again, Zi Yuan immediately said, "Don't bicker. This is a prize we earned by working together. We couldn't have done it without any of us."
Hearing this, Zi Yuan, Ruan Hongling and Su Chan looked at each other and turned their heads away with a snort.
Zhou Qin was quick-witted. She thought of a new topic and said to Li Yundong, "By the way, why did Lin Xueqing say that she didn't accept it? Why did she say that she hadn't lost to Zhenren Zi Yuan, but to you?"
Ruan Hongling opened her mouth and was about to speak some words of anger. Zi Yuan was afraid that she would say something rude, so she rushed to say, "In fact, the reason is very simple. She controlled the Fireless Hellfire to boil the water in the teapot, and then controlled the steam with Zhenqi to change it into the shape of a phoenix. Although there was only a rough outline and it was not very precise, it showed that in terms of Zhenqi control, she has already reached the realm of Yang Spirit of the Yuanying phase. She is not inferior to me.
"When I was watching Li Yundong fight the master of Pine Valley Cottage and his disciples, there was a steady flow of steam coming out of Li Yundong's head. This steam was Zhenqi that could only have come out of people whose Zhenqi is very powerful. Because this Zhenqi was not as loose as ordinary steam, which dissipates easily, I snuffed out the Eight Immortals. Moreover, the Eight Immortals didn't dissipate after they stopped on the teacup. Compared with these two, I naturally had a great advantage. The cultivators knew this very well, but the audience and the referees on the stage were unaware, so it was natural for Lin Xueqing to be unconvinced."
Zhou Qin had just been asking casually, but after hearing this explanation from Zi Yuan, she realized that Lin Xueqing was not unreasonable and that it was true. For a moment, she opened her mouth in surprise and looked at Li Yundong.
When Li Yundong saw her looking over, he said with a smile, "Actually, if Zhenren Zi Yuan's control of Zhenqi wasn't exquisite and precise, my Zhenqi wouldn't be effective no matter how dense and boundless it is."
Zhou Qin looked at Zi Yuan and then at Li Yundong. Her heart was filled with admiration for them.
Seeing Li Yundong and Zi Yuan flattering each other, Ruan Hongling couldn't help saying, "Well, don't just stand there praising each other. It's sickening!"
Zi Yuan glared at Ruan Hongling and said angrily, "Hongling! You're getting more and more ridiculous!"
Li Yundong coughed drily, then changed the topic and said, "I don't know when I can get the money."
Su Chan laughed and said coquettishly, "And you call me the money-grubber? You're the big money-grubber here!"
Li Yundong glared at Su Chan, pretending to be angry. "If I weren't a money-grubber, how could I afford to keep you!"
They chatted and laughed. After waiting for a little over ten minutes, someone came to inform them to go to the venue for their reward.
Li Yundong and the others were all overjoyed, their faces lighting up with pleasure. Su Chan was smiling so delightedly that her eyebrows were almost squeezed together. Even Zi Yuan had a smile on her face.
But when Li Yundong and the others got to the meeting hall, Zheng Youming and the others weren't there. Instead, an attractive female secretary showed up and handed a check over to them with a smile.
Li Yundong took a look at the number on it and saw that it was only for 800,000 yuan. He immediately raised his head and asked questioningly, "Why is there only 800,000? Shouldn't it be two million?"
The female secretary smiled and said, "Yes, the two million is before tax, but after tax, it should be 1.6 million. At present, Manager Zheng is not swimming in cash, so he only has 800,000 yuan, and as compensation... Uh, Manager Zheng means to replace it with goods."
"Goods?" Li Yundong was surprised and said with a strange look on his face, "What goods? Why do you make it sound like some shady deal in the underworld? Can you use goods to make up for it?"
The secretary smiled helplessly and said, "There's no other way. This is all of Mr. Zheng's money, and that's what we expected at the beginning. We hadn't expected that it would be an individual winning first place. If the winner had been some large tea company, they could have quickly sold the goods to make cash. The other companies knew this, but you..."
Only then did Li Yundong understand. "God, it turns out that I was going to be thwarted by this hidden rule before even participating in the competition. Even though I got first place, I am still being set back!"
"Holy crap! That makes sense?" Li Yundong was going crazy. He couldn't help being angry as he asked, "Where can we go to sell so many tea leaves?"
The secretary threw up her hands and said, "I have no idea. This is just how it is for now. You can choose to give up the tea leaves, but we'll regard you as having given up the prize."
Ruan Hongling said angrily, "This is all a scam!"
Li Yundong suppressed his anger and said, "Aren't you afraid that we will sue you?"
The secretary put on a pitiful expression. "We weren't expecting this either. The company never imagined something like this to happen! However, everyone knows this in their hearts. Who would have thought that you guys would win the championship?"
Li Yundong said angrily, "And now you're blaming it on us?"
Seeing Li Yundong's anger, the secretary was so scared that she took a step back and quickly waved her hand. "I didn't mean that."
Zhou Qin, who was standing to one side, suddenly asked, "What kind of goods will you use to compensate us?"
Hearing this, the secretary felt relieved and hurriedly said, "Of course, only the finest Tie Guanyin tea."
Zhou Qin thought for a while before saying to Li Yundong in a low voice, "Zheng Youming was able to worm his way out of the building affair, so he must have a certain official background. Businessmen always collude with officials. It's useless for us to sue them. We might as well take what they're offering and find another way."
Li Yundong asked back in a low voice, "Do you have any ideas?"
Zhou Qin whispered, "I do."
Li Yundong nodded and said firmly, "Well, I'll trust you. That's it!"
He said to the secretary, "Okay, I'll agree to this, but you have to write a note. Otherwise, what if you deny it?"
The secretary smiled and said, "Of course. Even if you hadn't said this, we were going to sign a contract with you."
With this, she waved to a staff member not far away, and then handed over two contracts. Li Yundong took the contracts and handed them to Zhou Qin without even glancing at them. Zhou Qin looked through the two contracts carefully, then handed them back to Li Yundong with a nod.
Li Yundong began to sign his name on the contract, but when he filled in the line for the delivery address, he became worried again and couldn't help looking at Zhou Qin. "What should I write for the address?"
Zhou Qin thought for a moment, then turned to the secretary and said, "Can you deliver the goods somewhere else?"
The female secretary looked hesitant. "Where were you thinking?"
"Dongwu City," Zhou Qin said.
When the secretary heard that, she immediately shook her head like a rattle drum. "No, no, that's too far away."
Zhou Qin didn't hold back as she said, "Do you expect us to take back so many tea leaves? How unfair is that?! All of us know what's good for us. Since we chose to make a concession, shouldn't you also compromise? Otherwise, we might as well be done with each other. If we leak the truth, everyone will be in trouble."
Seeing that Zhou Qin was a lady from a respectable family and had a sharp tongue, the secretary dared not snub her. She quickly smiled and said, "Let me just check with Mr. Zheng."
She walked a little distance away, made a phone call, and spoke into the receiver in a low voice. Then, she came back over and said with a smile, "Mr. Zheng said it was all okay. It's fine to have a different address, we'll deliver the goods tomorrow. But we're only responsible for delivering the goods, not for unloading them."
Zhou Qin immediately said, "Fine, that'll do!"
Li Yundong saw that the two of them had reached an agreement, so he signed the contract without further hesitation.
After the group of people left the meeting hall, they looked at each other with differing expressions. Su Chan said bitterly, "Two million yuan has suddenly turned into only 800,000. This is beyond annoying!"
Ruan Hongling also let out a long sigh. "Alas, our assets are shrinking too fast, and inflation can't catch up!"
Zi Yuan smiled and said, "Money is but a worldly possession. Cultivators should not care so much about financial gains and losses."
Li Yundong also grinned and said, "At least it is some extra cash. Eight hundred thousand isn't a small amount. Don't be greedy!"
Seeing that Li Yundong seemed unconcerned, Su Chan asked curiously, "Yundong, weren't you very angry just now? What's changed?"
"Zhou Qin said that there was a way out of this, so I believe her." As he said this, he winked at Zhou Qin.
Still smiling, Zhou Qin said, "Well, there is a method."
Li Yundong, Ruan Hongling, and Su Chan couldn't help but ask curiously, "What?"
Zhou Qin said, "Didn't I say that there were a few shops in the commercial street of Dongwu City? We'll rent one and set up a high-quality teahouse. There are a lot of businesses nearby, and most of them are high-quality consumer places. We can make an elegant and comfortable teahouse and it will attract customers. In addition, Zhenren Zi Yuan won first prize in this tea art competition, so if we run some advertisements, there should be no problem."
Li Yundong was a rare genius when it came to cultivation, but when it came to business, he was not as good as Zhou Qin. Seeing that Zhou Qin had figured out the whole thing in detail, he couldn't help but be overjoyed and said, "Well, well, I didn't pick up my disciple for nothing. I'm very happy and think we should host a big banquet. Let's go and have a feast!"
As soon as he said he wanted to eat, Ruan Hongling laughed and said, "Okay, okay, where should we go?"
Li Yundong waved his hand and laughed, "Back to the Taoist temple for vegetarian noodles!"
As soon as he finished his words, everyone else chuckled too, except Su Chan, who was a little unhappy.
The group of people returned to the Taoist temple of Tianlong Mountain. After the meal, they each went back to their rooms. Li Yundong went to Su Chan's room alone. Before entering, he saw that the girl was sitting alone on a stone bench in the courtyard, holding her head in her arms and looking lonely.
Li Yundong smiled and walked over quietly. Then, he suddenly wrapped his arms around the little girl's waist and said threateningly, "Girl, I'm going to kidnap you!"
Su Chan was initially startled, but she relaxed when she heard Li Yundong's voice. She turned around and giggled. "Sir, what are you doing here?"
Li Yundong tweaked her nose with a doting expression on his face. "I'm here to see my little girl!"
The girl giggled and said, "Oh." Then, she didn't say anything else.
Li Yundong saw that there was sadness showing on her face and she was not as carefree as usual. He thought for a moment before asking, "Little girl, what's wrong with you?"
Li Yundong's gentle question touched Su Chan's heart. She raised her head, her charming face full of worry, and asked "Sir, you don't like me anymore, do you?"
Su Chan's words surprised Li Yundong. He tenderly held her in his arms and asked softly, "You silly girl, why would you even say that?"