Chapter 652: Chapter 652 – Divided into Traps
Translator: Exodus Tales Editor: Exodus Tales
Gu Fei did not find it strange to see Five Nights so anxious to draw up the contract. After all, the saying about how many things would change the longer things were dragged held some truth. Thus, he could understand why Five Nights would be so eager to close after finishing negotiations over such a huge deal. Quickly finishing the contract as soon as he could also demonstrated his sincerity and the importance he placed toward this business!
What Gu Fei felt was amiss was the back and forth during their negotiations. Each party had expressed their views on the matter without budging, but the moment he suggested a shared agreement, everything miraculously proceeded without a hitch. From 30% to 20%, an agreement was easily met with just a casual drop in percentage. Gu Fei did not think that his threat before had such an effect. This was just a game, and death meant nothing, so why would any of these men view it to be more important than their profits?
More importantly, when he first suggested the shared agreement, a look of astonishment flashed across the three men’s faces, and this was especially more pronounced in Proud Sovereign and Overgrown Foliage. Even though it was just for a moment, how could Gu Fei’s keen eyes not pick it up?
What was more surprising about this was how the other party emphasized the riskiness of this transaction to the point that a contract in which they shared the risk of the venture had become the ideal solution. Gu Fei could understand why they did not raise such a compromise; after all, the reason for their collaboration was to make this business a reality and not to play around with risk. Their cut of the profits would still be around 20 million, and they would still pay out, which was why the other party was willing to stick to that disgusting 2-million initial offer and not let go.
However, this was not their idea but Gu Fei’s. Was that really something so surprising? Was he really such a fool in the eyes of these workshop employees?
Gu Fei still had his lingering doubts, but Five Nights was moving the conversation too quickly that he could not spare much thought on this. With the negotiation drawing to a close and upon recalling Five Nights’ hesitation before, Gu Fei found it even stranger that the man pushed to move things so quickly once the shared agreement offer was on the table and was no longer dragging things out. Five Nights’ rush to finish the contract and put everything into motion made Gu Fei realize something. There might be an issue with this shared agreement. Eternal Dominion and I have been dabbling in this world for quite some time, but our understanding of MMOs are still rudimentary at best. Could there have been some unforeseen issues here?
Furthermore, this was something Gu Fei had suggested, it was Eternal Dominion who was selling his services, which only made him all the more afraid to be careless about things. Seeing that Five Nights had already made an offline appointment with Eternal Dominion later and with how contracts would often have clauses hidden in their fine print, Gu Fei felt less and less at ease with the matter; thus, he decisively said, “We’ll take a look at the contract together. We can discuss further if everything is in order.”
Martial arts practitioners like them valued their promises. While something like a contract was only a restriction to the other party, a promise from a martial arts practitioner’s lips was essentially a bond on themselves. Of course, the usual innocuous jokes among friends would not be included in this category of promise.
As such, now that Gu Fei had leaped out to say this, none of the others thought this to be odd, but Gu Fei felt it was very important for Eternal Dominion to know this. If he had not explicitly stated that there ‘would not be any signing if the contract had issues,’ Eternal Dominion could very well be exploited for going ahead with it despite them finding it to be problematic – all because he had discussed and shook hands with the other party prior. This was surely something someone who treated business as business like Five Nights would not understand.
Sure enough, Five Nights did not think too much of Gu Fei’s words, smiling. “Of course.” Meanwhile, Eternal Dominion reacted quite strongly when he heard this. For martial arts practitioners like them to say something outright, it meant that there was already the notion of regret being implied, which was why Eternal Dominion glanced over at Gu Fei with confusion.
“Then, I’ll have to trouble Brother Five Nights with the hard work. We’ll also consult our friends regarding the finer details of our collaboration on our end,” Gu Fei said even as he kept a close watch of Five Nights’ expression.
Five Nights flashed a tight-lipped smile for a moment before replying, “Alright. We’ll keep in touch soon.”
“Then, we shall take our leave first,” Gu Fei said.
“I’ll be going offline to draw up our tentative contract, so it just so happens that we can walk you two gentlemen out the door.” Five Nights got up as well.
“You’re too kind!” The two men exchanged words of courtesy as they departed from Remarkable Flair’s barbecue joint together. After bidding one another farewell, Five Nights led Proud Sovereign and Overgrown Foliage along, while Gu Fei and Eternal Dominion walked off together.
The moment Five Nights’ party of three left Fourth Street, he immediately said, “That guy seems to be vaguely aware of it.”
Proud Sovereign immediately followed up. “No way… He’s the one who raised the idea; he couldn’t possibly be suspicious about it, could he?”
“I don’t know, but that’s the feeling I got. Let’s not log off yet. I’ll quickly finish a contract in-game for them to take a look at. It seems that this isn’t the end of the matter!” Five Nights said. “Overgrown Foliage, send someone to secretly keep an eye on the pair. Find out what exactly are they up to.”
“Got it!” Overgrown Foliage nodded. In this MMO environment, the methods workshops employed were different from what legitimate companies would engage in real life. Take for example the larceny line of work; Remarkable Flair appeared to be publicly condemning it, but they were secretly dabbling in this ambiguous job as well. In this game where a society was led through the lenses of lawlessness, morally ambiguous activities were actually more prevalent, especially when those involved or affected profits.
Leaving the Fourth Street with Eternal Dominion in tow, Gu Fei was also questioned by the man. “What’s the matter? Is there something wrong with this deal we are making?”
“I don’t know.” Gu Fei wrinkled his brows. “I’m just worried. Honestly, neither of us has a good idea about this matter, so what can we do if we get cheated by them?”
“Will we? I think Five Nights isn’t too bad! He sounds rather reasonable.”
“That’s childish. If he doesn’t even have that bit of eloquence, will he have the qualification to discuss deals valued well in the millions? He’s a director who was placed in charge of six cities; his position in the workshop shouldn’t be too low,” Gu Fei refuted.
“So what do we do now? We’ve got no idea about matters regarding gaming. If I knew that this would happen, I’d have called for Brother Assist to tag along.” Eternal Dominion still had great admiration for Brother Assist; it was truly quite an amazing feat for that information expert to be so well regarded in the eyes of this martial practitioner..
“Asking him now isn’t too late, either!” Gu Fei said even as he sent a message over.
Gu Fei and Eternal Dominion were of course not such dishonest men. Southern Lone Blade’s team, as well as Young Master’s Elite, had already been informed about the two being approached by a workshop to discuss a collaboration. Those from Young Master’s Elite were not too concerned with it. Having already earned several hundred thousand of gold, they were quite contented with it; after all, they were not intending to depend on this business for their livelihood. Meanwhile, Southern Lone Blade and the others were rather disgruntled. Gu Fei had been the one who had sought them out for help in the first place, and they looked to be out of work after completing one or two deals together… This was despite the fact that their profits from this gig thus far had been many times greater than what they had ever made before.
However, when they learned that it was only Eternal Dominion who would be cooperating with the workshop, while Gu Fei would continue their work in Thousand Miles Drunk’s Workshop, everyone instantly became happy about the arrangement. There were even some who looked upon Gu Fei’s cunning with derision, sending Eternal Dominion off to work and earn a huge payday from the workshop, while he continued to compete against them with his men on this end. This was akin to taking the pot of food after taking a plate of it for himself. It was truly a reprehensible business practice.
Southern Lone Blade and his men had no interest in heading over to Remarkable Flair to take part in this deal, either. They were more than aware that they lacked the level of expertise Gu Fei and Eternal Dominion possessed, so the remuneration they could make from the move would be incomparable to what they could make at the moment. Thus, even though they might end up going up against a formidable workshop as competitors, the small workshop that they were in would have their means of survival. Naturally, the only one who was worried before the problem even became apparent was Brother Assist, and no one on Southern Lone Blade’s team shared his temperament. Besides, everyone in the workshop was veteran gamers. In all honesty, they had always been quite skeptical as to how long this efficient monster grinding routine business could last.
It was around this time when Gu Fei contacted everybody and gave them a quick rundown of how the negotiations went. When they heard the huge profits this collaboration entailed, everybody got quite a shock. Even Southern Lone Blade felt that it was quite disingenuous of himself to mind the two abandoning him and his team to take to the business by themselves when they could earn such a huge sum at their hands. Would he not just be holding up their future? Besides, it was not as if Thousand Miles Drunk had truly left them to their devices in the end either.
Gu Fei proceeded to talk about the shared agreement deal he had suggested, as well as the doubts he had toward such an arrangement, before consulting everyone, “Experts, I really have no clue about this, so any advice is welcome.”
“What’s the matter? Don’t you guys usually have lots to say?” Gu Fei asked.
“Bro, you’re talking about a contract worth in the millions. We’ve never really dealt with workshops before, so we barely know anything about that. We don’t dare to spout nonsense!” Brother Assist explained.
“Just tell me what you know!” Gu Fei said.
“I’ll tell you what I know,” Young Master Han said.
Everybody was sweating. When Young Master Han spoke, the man would always end up leaving the praises for himself. Regarding anyone else, he would either have nothing to say or let loose a string of insults. Now that he was speaking up, it was evident that this Remarkable Flair workshop is about to be denigrated to trash.
That was when Sword Demon interjected, “How much do you know about workshops, anyway? We’re talking about a million-dollar deal here; don’t you throw out your deductions and inferences…”
“The deductions and inferences that yours truly make are facts,” Young Master Han stated.
Sword Demon ignored that as he continued to address Gu Fei. “Miles, There’s actually someone else you can ask about this, and he has a better understanding of such things.”
“Who is that?”
“Deep Waters,” Sword Demon said.
“Oh!” Brother Assist was the first to react upon hearing the name, and if he did not drop what information he had about the matter, then there was no sense in his existence. Thus, everybody tacitly kept quiet, letting Brother Assist do what he did best. “I don’t know much about what Deep Waters is up to these days, but I heard he used to be a professional gamer back then, and he’s the sort to work with workshops.”
Sword Demon was obviously more acquainted with Deep Waters, smiling. “He often did work with workshops back in those days, and it was with a lot of workshops. He would frequently change every few days or so, completely lacking in professional ethics.”
“Oh, why is that the case?” The gossip in Brother Assist was roused when he heard this tidbit.
“Back then, many of those working in workshops were just part-timers, and they only kept in contact with one another online, never meeting in person. Deep Waters used this particular point to make several aliases to get into the various workshops. I have no idea how he did it, but he got himself into very high positions in many of these workshops. When guilds fought with each other, he became the double agent since he had so much information on everyone, and that naturally allowed him to become all the more valued as a member the longer he did this! Workshops would of course have their QQ groups for the core members, and that man registered multiple accounts so that he could keep mixing in with the whole lot. In the end, he slipped up. One day, he had too many conversation windows open, and he accidentally sent a message to the wrong chat group. Just imagine it; mistaking the police for the drug traffickers and telling them, ‘There’s going to be a raid tomorrow. Everyone should prepare to hide their goods.’ How could his identity not be exposed as a result?” Sword Demon exposited.
Everybody marveled as they listened to Sword Demon. To this sort of players, they severely despised workshops that blatantly sought profits and completely misplaced the joy of gaming. Southern Lone Blade was also straddled between the two thoughts, and the reason they used gaming to be a tool to earn money was precisely their love of gaming, which was why they made the conscious choice to demonstrate their value in the game. This was completely different from workshops that targeted a game solely for its commercial value, which was why even Southern Lone Blade’s gang looked down on players from these workshops. Deep Waters being a double agent was nothing worth lauding over, but because the target was the workshops that everyone despised, they discussed the matter with great relish, feeling rather happy doing so.
This was the first time Gu Fei had come into contact with a proper workshop, and the impression he had gotten was similarly unpleasant, leaving just the simple-minded Eternal Dominion still thinking Five Nights was a good person. After hearing about Deep Waters’ exploits through Sword Demon, he enjoyed it very much and decisively said, “Alright. I’ll go and ask him!”
“Have you added him as a friend? I’ll help you reach out to him,” Sword Demon said.
“I don’t think so…” Gu Fei scrolled through his friends list once. He had spoken to Deep Waters before, shared a drink, and even personally killed the man, yet he happened to have neglected adding him as a friend.
“Wait a minute,” Sword Demon said to Gu Fei. They were still busy in Youye Valley, so the entire conversation thus far had been done via messages.
After a while, Sword Demon said to Gu Fei, “Miles, turn on your friends’ list for a bit!”
“Oh, I forgot!” Gu Fei quickly toggled it and very soon received the system message that Deep Waters had added him as a friend. Before Gu Fei could even send a message to greet him, a message already came in from Deep Waters. “Ahem. I heard from Sword Demon that you’ve some questions for me.”
“Yeah. It’s regarding workshops,” Gu Fei said.
“Ah, then you’ve asked the right person. That’s something I’m very familiar with,” Deep Waters proudly declared.
As such, Gu Fei told him everything that had happened, and Deep Waters immediately replied once he finished listening to his story. “D*mn. That’s really close. You almost got tricked!!!”
“What?” Did Gu Fei truly sniff out something amiss?
“Shared contract? Hmph. Something like that, huh; isn’t the generally expected turnover still something their workshop has a say over? As a private individual, there’s no way you can have a grasp of how much a workshop’s financial revenue,” Deep Waters said.
“This… Are you saying that they might falsify the records?” Gu Fei was skeptical. This was a proper, law-binding contract. A real account statement would of course be required to detail out since the law would be involved.
“He he! Had this been the workshops before, you would’ve already suffered a significant setback. Workshops aren’t a proper corporation, so why will it be subjected to legitimate accounting? Their accounts would be completely privately conducted, and aren’t they still the final arbiters on how much they make? Now that they are all going legitimate, especially a workshop like Remarkable Flair, they are sure to have a legally recognized revenue breakdown as the basis of implementing this agreement with you, but the details will be full of trickery. Do you know what the basis of these details will be subjected to?” Deep Waters asked.
“Tax, my friend. He’s sure to use his tax payment to prove the profitability of your business, or lack thereof. Do you understand what I mean now?” Deep Waters asked further.
“You mean to say tax evasion?” Gu Fei realized what he meant.
“Correctomundo! And let me tell you; it’s very easy for a workshop to evade paying tax. A large part of their transactions and deals sit nicely in that grey area. The relevant departments have no clue about things, nor are they able to regulate it. Just how will anyone keep track of the circulation of virtual goods in MMOs? Through the game company themselves? The game company might not even be able to differentiate between the deals between players, much less have any oversight over the process, so that means that these workshops have free reign over what they do in such contracts! If you really go ahead with that shared agreement you proposed with Remarkable Flair, forget about the 20 million, I can even make it such that the entire venture ends up losing money, so what share of that do you want? Sure. Pay your cut back to me!” Deep Waters expounded upon this. Even though Gu Fei barely understood half of the things he had said, at the very least, he understood that talking about shared agreements with workshops would only become an open invitation for the other party to clean them out. It was no wonder those men showed a flash of astonishment when he raised the idea. He essentially stepped into a trap he set up for himself!
“D*mm*t! He’s a dishonest profiteer, after all!” Gu Fei could not help but curse.
“Of course, there’s no profit with honesty. Oh, yeah. Who did you speak to in Remarkable Flair?” Deep Waters’ curiosity got the better of him.
“Someone called Five Nights. He said that he’s the director in charge of the six cities here. Do you know that man?” Gu Fei asked nonchalantly.
“Five Nights? He’s now in Remarkable Flair? F*ck! That s*n*fab*tch isn’t also working with others in secret, is he? I’m the originator for that move here!” Deep Waters spat.
Gu Fei wiped his sweat. Something like working in secret with others was hardly anything worth bragging, yet hearing this man talk about it, why did it sound less like something shameful but something worth being proud of, instead?
“So what are you gonna do about this matter? If you wanna keep working with them, I can help you do the negotiation! It’s been so long since I made deals with workshops – even I’m a little eager for action! Ha ha!” Deep Waters said.
Gu Fei wiped his sweat once more. “Aren’t you cooperating with Remarkable Flair to make you those outfits in Linyin City?”
“That’s a transaction, not deal,” Deep Waters corrected.
“Must you consider deals only when people are working for others in secret?” Gu Fei asked.
“I wish, but I just don’t have that chance. I’m now on the blacklist of every workshop. Don’t tell Five Nights that I’m coming when you meet him again. I want to give him a surprise,” Deep Waters said.
“Are you really coming over?” Gu Fei asked.
“Of course, right away. I’ll buy a ticket and get on a plane right over,” Deep Waters replied.
“Teleportation Scroll, bro. You’re such a bumpkin for not even knowing that,” Deep Waters said.
“The problem is, I don’t recall telling you that I intend to continue collaborating with them,” Gu Fei said.
“Not collaborating? Then, you gotta play with them for a bit, at least. Fighting monsters every day is so bland and empty. You should learn to take on workshops in your spare time, otherwise you’re just wasting that skillful dexterity of yours.” Deep Waters seemed to have an unprecedented passion when it came to tormenting workshops.
Even though Gu Fei was the one who had served himself up to be taken advantage of, he strongly despised someone as dastardly as Five Nights as well. This might all just be business, it was still all about profits at the end of the day! But that seemingly did not affect Gu Fei’s hatred for this sort of vile habit. If I can seek to remedy this, then I should just remedy it! That was the thought Gu Fei had on mind when he recalled that it was Eternal Dominion who wanted to make money off this! It seemed that he should ask for his opinion on this at the very least.
Thus, he turned his head to speak to the man, only to see Eternal Dominion answer with prudence, “Aren’t those two guys there staring at us?”
“Which two?” Gu Fei made to turn around.
“Don’t turn over. It’s those two behind you. Don’t let them discover we’re onto them,” Eternal Dominion cautioned.
“What’s there to be afraid of. Let’s head over there and ask. We’ll just kill them if they are dubious!” Gu Fei could already vaguely guess where those two men were from, so they stalked over to them in a very unfriendly fashion.