Chapter 34: Scam
“Ah?” Not expecting that the lady would be angered, Shang Bin is astonished. He immediately explains, “Shen laoshi, I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about Zhang Xuan. If he doesn’t have the money, he shouldn’t be going around treating others. Look, he ended up getting stopped by the waiter, how embarrassing is that. He is sullying the prestige of our academy…”
The more he spoke, the darker his goddess’s face turns, to the point that it seems as though she will erupt at any moment now. Shang Bin is bewildered by the twist in the situation. At this moment, the waiter interrupts awkwardly, “Shang shaoye…”
“What?” Shang Bin glances at him with a frown.
“Cough cough, the one that is treating is… Shen laoshi!” The waiter says.
He received the order to cooperate with Shang Bin’s show. Yet, he would have never expected that it would be the lady that foots the tab. Before he could report it to him, Shang Bin had already rushed over, making it even more difficult to explain the situation to him.
“Shen laoshi is the one treating?”
Shang Bin is horrified. His eyes widens in disbelief.
Are you for real?
He had been asking the goddess out to eat everyday and yet she simply dismisses his invitations. What rights does the worst teacher of the academy have to be sharing a meal with her, not to mention… having her to treat him?
“Why? Just because I have no money to foot the tab means I’m feigning generosity and embarrassing myself, is it!” Shen Bi Ru glares at him coldly. She had been embarrassed in front of Zhang Xuan multiple times today and she had been dispirited over it all this while. Yet, this fellow just had to mock her at such a moment. She feels her rage on the verge of flying out of control.
“No, that’s not it…” Shang Bin’s face pales and he looks as though he is about to cry.
Only now does he understands that he had accidentally insulted his goddess in the midst of trying to fawn on her. He immediately waves his hands as though to dispel the misunderstanding, “I didn’t mean that, I mean to… to…”
Stuttering, he is unsure of how he should explain it.
However, as expected of a teacher of the academy and the grandson of an elder. Having experienced and seen many things, he quickly recovers and turns to look at the waiter. Gesturing majestically, he declares, “Alright, Shen laoshi‘s debt is my debt. How much does it cost? I will pay for her!”
“Shang shaoye, you are an esteemed guest of our Hongtian Pavilion, how can we accept your money!” The waiter nods his head in a panic.
These are the lines they had prepared beforehand so as to flaunt his background and ability before his goddess.
“That is great…” Shang Bin wanted to tug on the subject awhile longer to showcase his superiority when Shen Bi Ru’s cold voice sounds out once more, “It’s okay, I will pay for my expenses so that others won’t claim that I am feigning generosity!”
At this moment, she retrieves a hairpin from her head and passes it over, “This jade hairpin is worth at least 5000 gold coins, you can verify it with a specialist. I will be leaving it in your care first. After I retrieve my money, I will be back to redeem it!”
Holding the jade hairpin, the waiter is unsure of what he should do.
This isn’t part of the script they agreed on…
“Shen laoshi, you don’t have to do this. I am acquainted with manager Wu of Hongtian Pavilion, so as long as I speak up, that debt of yours don’t mean anything at all…”
Shang Bin hurriedly steps forward.
“That’s your problem, what does it have to do with me?” Shen Bi Ru interrupts his words. Then, she turns to look at the waiter again and says, “I will be leaving first if you aren’t going to be looking for a specialist to verify it!”
“I…” The waiter looks at Shang Bin in a panic and the plea in his gaze is clear to see.
“What are you looking at me for?” Shang Bin waves his hand quickly. With a furious gaze, he continues, “I don’t know you at all!”
Zhang Xuan didn’t expect that a single meal would end in such a farce. Shaking his head, he steps forward, retrieves the jade hairpin from the waiter and passes it back to Shen Bi Ru. “Why are giving this to him? This meal isn’t even worth 1280 gold coins. Giving him money like this, are you that anxious to be scammed?”
“Scammed? Hongtian Pavilion has nearly ten years behind its establishment. Our prices are fair and we do not discriminate between our customers. There has never been a single person who had such an issue with us before, so what do you mean by those words?”
The moment Zhang Xuan words land, a middle-aged man walks over with large strides.
It is the manager of Hongtian Pavilion, Wu Chou.
He had talked it through with Shang Bin and he wasn’t supposed to appear initially. However, upon hearing Zhang Xuan talking about a scam, he couldn’t hold it in anymore.
The events occurring here has attracted the attention of many customers. If he doesn’t show up and allow the other party to speak as his pleases instead, the reputation of the tavern would be sullied. If that happens, his boss, Elder Hong Hao, would kill him when he returns.
“What do I mean? Do I really have to voice it out?”
Zhang Xuan’s eyelids lift up slightly and a lazy atmosphere emanates from him.
“Hmph, we use the finest ingredients for every single dish of our Hongtian Pavilion so that they are served fresh and delicious. Our prices have also undergone the stringent checks of the academy. If you aren’t able to explain yourself, regardless of the fact of whether you are a teacher of the academy or not, you don’t have to dream about leaving here today!”
Manager Wu’s face darkens.
To a tavern, scamming one’s customers is a very heavy sin to bear. If he doesn’t settle it now, Hongtian Pavilion could possibly go out of operation when such a reputation spreads.
“He is truly courting death!”
Initially, he thought that Zhang Xuan would get away scot-free once again. However, seeing Zhang Xuan accuse Hongtian Pavilion of scamming its customer and offending manager Wu, a glint flashes across Shang Bin’s eyes as he watches the situation gleefully.
Manager Wu may seem like an amiable person with a good temper, but when the reputation of Hongtian Pavilion is on the line, he would be like a raging bull who doesn’t know the meaning of retreat!
Looks like the fellow who is the first from the last in the academy is in for a ride of misfortune!
“What is this fellow rambling about…”
Panic can be seen on Shen Bi Ru’s face.
For Hongtian Pavilion to be opened in Hongtian Academy at such a tremendous scale, its backing is clear to see at a single glance. Yet, you dare to accuse them of scamming their customers in public, aren’t you asking for trouble?
A large tavern like this values its reputation a lot.
“Since you requested for me to say it, then I will spare with the formalities!”
Despite the Wu Chou’s threat, Zhang Xuan is unfazed. He walks up to the table and says.
“This 【Violet Savage Bear Meat】, going by your claims, is prepared by slaughtering a Savage Bear before soaking it in Violet Flowers for three days. This way, the exterior will be crispy while the interiors will be tender and the meat will be filled with fragrance. However, you all took it out for frying right after soaking it for just a day. Although the texture is still the same, the medical properties of the Violet Flower has yet to soak in, making it would be useless no matter how many of it one eats!”
“As for this 【Honghu Mandarin Fish】, you all advertised it as wild mandarin fishes caught in Lake Hong. However, they are actually mandarin fishes that you all have been rearing in Yeluo Bay. It is easy to differentiate between the two. As wild mandarin fishes have to battle against their natural predators, 【Qinghe Turtle】, the fin of the tail of Honghu mandarin fishes tend to be tougher than those that are reared, and its tail would be significantly thicker as well. One only has to slightly look into the matter to know whether what I’m saying is true!”
Honghu -> Lake Hong|Qinghe -> Clear Stream
“As for this 【Clear Sautéed Nestled Heart Herb】, the ingredients used isn’t even Nestled Heart Herb but Bitter Heart Herb! These two plants are actually one of a kind, just that they are cultivated under different conditions, thus the difference in their names. Nestled Heart Grass grows beside the nests of savage beasts and is taken care by them. Their stems would tend to be thicker and their nutrition value is significantly higher as well!”
“Bitter Heart Herb grows in the wilderness and is extremely cheap. Its stem is thin and its nutrition value is lower by a huge chunk! For the same plate of vegetable, the difference in their value is almost tenfold! Completely different in comparison! Listing it as Nestled Heart Herb but cooking the dish using Bitter Heart Herb, if this isn’t a scam, what else could it be?”
Casually pointing to any dish, he is able to clearly point out the origin and flaws in it. Upon hearing those words, manager Wu’s earlier aggression fades as his face pales.
As the manager of Hongtian Pavilion, he isn’t just involved in attending to the customers, he is also in charge of the affairs in the kitchen. Naturally, he is aware of the authenticity of the Zhang Xuan’s words.
Not only is he not speaking nonsense, his words are… completely true!
The boss isn’t aware of these things. For his own profit, Wu Chou discreetly got someone to switch them. Not even professional gourmets could tell the differences between Honghu Mandarin Fish, Nestled Heart Herb and their imitations, thus proving that the substitutes for these two are identical.
How could this young man tell? Furthermore, for him to be completely spot-on.
“We specially came here from afar to try the authentic Nestled Heart Herb, to think that it would be an imitation!”
“Me too. I’ve heard that the Honghu Mandarin Fish is delicious, authentic and fragrant, thus I specially made the journey here. How dare you all try to fool us!”
“Refund, refund! To think that the number one tavern of Hongtian Academy would resort to using imitations, not to mention that I am a regular customer! I would have never imagined that it was all a scam!”
Zhang Xuan’s words are unhurried and rational with sufficient evidence to back up his claims. The crowd who was watching the show immediately bursts into an uproar.
Hongtian Pavilion could be considered a reputable tavern, even in the entire Tianxuan Kingdom. Many of its specialties has attracted innumerable experts to make the journey. They would have never imagined that these were all fake.