Chapter 617 All grown up
Ren Xiaosu took another look at Wang Yuchi and the others. They did seem a lot more mature than they were a few months ago. Their faces alone revealed this, as they looked a little more tanned and slightly more rugged than before. When they smiled, they appeared much more confident, unlike the frail demeanor they portrayed from the time they were students.
After all, these children used to be students who only knew how to study, and they were all single-mindedly focused on getting into university back then.
Even Wang Dalong, who was not sensible previously, had also become much more mature.
Ren Xiaosu smiled and said, “It looks like y’all’ve changed a lot.”
At the side, Old Wang said with a smile, “Yeah. We encountered bandits early in our travels, but it was all thanks to Ms. Jiang, Wang Yuchi, the other male students, as well as the nanomachines you gave them that we managed to send those bandits running away in fear. That was also the reason why I dared to start the mercantile business to haul goods to the Northwest.”
“That’s great!” Ren Xiaosu patted Wang Yuchi on the shoulder and said with a smile, “You can even fight bandits now! What’s the delay like when you’re using the nanomachines now?”
Wang Yuchi smiled and said, “I don’t really feel a delay anymore, and the response time is still within acceptable range for me. Two of our classmates can still feel a delay when operating them, but we think they can raise their sync rates very soon to achieve a negligible level of delay.”
Ren Xiaosu nodded. It seemed like it was really as he had guessed. The reason why the Li Consortium dared to send those refugees with a high synchronization rate to their deaths was that the synchronization rate could be improved through training afterwards.
This also explained something. It proved the Li Consortium had indeed treated those refugee nanosoldiers as cannon fodder back then. They were nothing but test subjects for the nanomachines.
Ren Xiaosu smiled and asked, “Were y’all scared when you were fighting the bandits?”
“Yes, I was rather scared at the time.” A male student smiled and said, “But when I thought about it, I realized it was what you had done for us in the past. Since you were not afraid, we shouldn’t be afraid either. Besides, we still have a duty to protect everyone here.”
Ren Xiaosu glanced at him, then looked at a female student who constantly had her eyes on him. He chuckled and said, “Protect everyone? Or do you mean protect someone?”
The group burst into laughter. It seemed that this couple’s relationship was no longer a secret. This was quite normal. As the saying went, true love was found in adversity. After this group of teenagers had been through so much difficulty and desperate situations, they would naturally develop feelings for each other over time.
Ren Xiaosu asked again, “Are y’all still keeping up with your studies?”
“Yes,” Wang Yuchi replied. “When we were still living in the mountains, it wasn’t like we couldn’t bear the hardship of being isolated from the world but that Uncle Fugui felt it would be a pity if we didn’t have a chance to study anymore. That was why he took us away from the mountains to see if we could make more money. He also wanted to see if there were any universities in the Northwest that we could further our studies at.”
Realization dawned upon Ren Xiaosu. So it turned out Old Wang was still just as thoughtful. He felt that Old Wang had done the right thing regarding this.
While Ren Xiaosu was chatting with the students, the Great Hoodwinker took the opportunity to do some palm reading for Old Wang. He asked Old Wang, “How old are you this year?”
Wang Fugui answered with a smile, “I’m 46.”
“Then you’re a little younger than me. I’m 52. Why don’t I address you as bro? That sounds closer!” the Great Hoodwinker said with a smile while holding Wang Fugui’s hand.
Wang Fugui did not reject him. The Great Hoodwinker continued, “Based on your palm, I think you had a son when you were still in your early thirties. You were only 32 years old when your son was born, am I right?”
Wang Fugui was shocked. “How’d you know?”
“Haha.” The Great Hoodwinker pointed at his white banner that had the words “Divine Foresight” written on it. “I’m a fortune teller, so of course I know things like that. Everything’s written on your palm.”
“Oh, so you’re a master! Sorry for the disrespect.” Wang Fugui was a little confused, so he asked, “But aren’t you an intelligence agent?”
“Ahem, intelligence gathering is just my side job,” the Great Hoodwinker explained. “Fortune telling is my main job.”
“Then, big bro, can you read my fortune and tell me how the latter part of my life will go?” Wang Fugui asked. When the Great Hoodwinker was able to state his son’s age accurately, Wang Fugui was a little convinced.
The Great Hoodwinker stroked his beard and said with a smile, “Your future isn’t too good. The Central Plains is a dangerous place for you. If you want to be successful, you have to head north. But north is still not the best choice you have. You have to head northwest because that’s where the Prosperous Northwest is!”
Wang Fugui pondered this. Of course it had to be the Prosperous Northwest! How could he not get rich when Ren Xiaosu was already the commander designated to take over the Northwest?
The Great Hoodwinker continued, “The character ‘Wang’ is also quite peculiar in geomancy. Although ‘Wang’ was originally meant to portray a king’s demeanor, there are too many people who have it as their surnames. This in turn weakens its disposition. But if you add a stroke to it and change the character to ‘Yu,' it will complement your given name of Fugui. Otherwise, your surname doesn’t match your given name at all! Do you know where there’s an abundance of jade? The Northwest…”
The Great Hoodwinker was already starting to talk nonsense. Anyway, the core of his idea was just to get Wang Fugui to head northwest.
If Wang Fugui and his family decided to head northwest, would Ren Xiaosu still want to stay in the Central Plains by himself? That was impossible!
Since he could not convince Ren Xiaosu, he would just have to persuade Wang Fugui first.
Once Wang Fugui made another trip to the Northwest, a large quantity of goods would already be prepared for him to tie him down to this trade. He would not have to pay for the goods in advance and could just reckon with the cost after selling it all.
Honestly, Fortress 178 was absolutely stinking rich with minerals and ores. This was not something that they lacked in the slightest.
Eventually, they started sharing anecdotes of fortune telling as they talked. The Great Hoodwinker bragged, “When I was younger, I was adored by countless young ladies due to this fortune telling skill of mine. I’m really good at it!”
Wang Fugui said with a smile, “Then you must have a lot of luck with women. You must’ve been a playboy when you were younger, right?”
“No,” The Great Hoodwinker shook his head and said, “people in our line of work aren’t allowed to get into relationships with our clients.”
Nearby, Ren Xiaosu, who had been listening for a long time, sneered, “Why not? Are you in the funeral business?”
The Great Hoodwinker was speechless.
Ren Xiaosu said to Wang Fugui, “Don’t listen to his BS. His side job is intelligence gathering? That’s his main job! That’s how he knew Wang Dalong’s age. Wait, no, he could’ve just found that out from Zhang Jinglin. When he asked your age, it was so he could determine when you had Wang Dalong after subtracting his age from your age.”
Wang Fugui was enlightened. Meanwhile, the Great Hoodwinker said exasperatedly from nearby, “Even though you’re the future commander, you can’t just leak my trade secrets as you wish!”
“That’s enough.” Ren Xiaosu said with a smile, “I know why you’re trying to dupe him. You just want me to return to the Northwest, don’t you? But I’ll still say the same thing as before. Actually, I’m very grateful that y’all think so highly of me. If you really feel that I’m suitable, I might go back there someday when I feel ready. But it definitely won’t be now.”
The Great Hoodwinker broke into a smile. “That’s all I needed to hear!”
 王(Wáng) -u003e 玉 (Yù) is the Chinese character for jade. | 富贵(Fùguì) means Wealth