Embers Ad Infinitum

Chapter 353: Planning
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Chapter 353: Planning

Bai Chen, Long Yuehong, and Genava—who had split up again—arrived at Wolf’s Den near West Por.

“These are the introductory Red River language textbooks for all of you. Spend a few days to familiarize yourselves with the content; someone will teach you in the future.” Bai Chen found a place to print out Genava’s scans as drafts and handed them to Su Na, Li Qiong, and the others.

Su Na was surprised. “That’s fast. Aren’t there no ready-made ones?”

“How do you know?” Long Yuehong blurted out a question.

Su Na revealed her shallow dimples and raised the translation device in her hand. “I used it to ask from th-those servants’ mouths.”

“This is from the teaching materials we used when learning the Red River language. We only made some revisions. Besides, we have a robot assistant. It saved us a lot of time.” Bai Chen was mostly telling the truth.

Su Na and company didn’t quite understand why having a robot assistant saved time, but since these magical, capable, and nice people said so, they believed them.

After distributing the textbooks, Su Na and the others eagerly flipped through them and chatted. “How do I read this?”

“Aren’t there characters to indicate the tone?”

“I-I can’t read...”

“Sigh, I’ll teach you.”

Upon seeing this, Bai Chen and Long Yuehong realized that they had made a mistake yesterday because they had been in a rush when writing the textbooks.

Unlike the students who had begun learning the Red River language in Pangu Biology, a large number of the women in Wolf’s Den hadn’t even grasped Ashlandic. A small number of them were even illiterate.

Fortunately, Su Na, Qin Zhen, and Du Yumei—who were barely literate—could teach the others.

“It seems like we still have to make an introductory Ashlandic textbook...” Long Yuehong muttered softly and subconsciously cast his gaze at Genava.

Smart bots were really better than carbon-based humans in certain aspects.

Genava nodded, indicating that it wasn’t a problem.

After Su Na and the others quietened down, Bai Chen asked, “Is there enough food?”

“Yes.” Li Qiong nodded first. “Boss, uh—Ogre got a lot of food in the building. It’s enough for about half a month. Also, the marijuana business is very good, and it’s especially profitable...”

At this point, Su Na interrupted her. “However, we won’t continue that business once we gain a foothold. Those people are no different from lunatics, especially those who inhaled the new product from Paradise Island. Once they run out of money and fail to get a hit on time, even I feel terrible for them. If it weren’t for the fact that we have guns and could scare some of them, they might have used their guns on us!”

She spoke haphazardly, having lingering fears from what happened yesterday evening.

“That’s right.”

“Yes.”

“...”

Many women present echoed.

Bai Chen nodded. “That’s good.”

Su Na hesitated and asked, “If we don’t sell them in the future, will those people go crazy from their withdrawal symptoms? Will they rob us? Will we die because of this?”

“It’s times like these that you require good marksmanship,” Bai Chen replied calmly. “Those who can quit will naturally quit. As for those who can’t, it’s also a good thing for them and their families that they die early.”

Bai Chen didn’t continue the topic and said, “What do you plan on doing in the future? What are your thoughts?”

Su Na revealed a reminiscing expression and quickly said, “We plan on renovating the first floor, but we won’t be running a hotpot restaurant. Instead, we’ll be opening a fast-food restaurant. The hotpot you mentioned requires too many spices and ingredients. The price definitely won’t be low. The target audience will only be directed at sailors and businessmen. The people in the nearby few blocks have a high demand for very cheap fast food. Most of them work at the port or in the factories. Couples can be very busy from work, so they return home late and tired. They also have to use coal, wood, or electricity to cook their own meals. As long as the price is appropriate and the supply of food is stable, I think it should sell quite well...

“We will also consider a hotpot restaurant in the future. It will be on the second floor, but its scale won’t be too large...

“We also plan on using one floor as a bathhouse—the simplest public bathhouse. There are many low-income citizens living in the surrounding few blocks. They are all eager to shower, and there’s no independent bathhouse where they live. They can only shower in public places; it’s very inconvenient...

“The nearby bathhouses often have water stoppages, and they are about to go bust. This building has never suffered a water stoppage...” As she spoke, a faint smile appeared on Su Na’s face.

Although Li Qiong, Qin Zhen, and the others already knew of this plan, they still listened with great anticipation as if they would be very happy just by listening to it.

Long Yuehong was stunned. He couldn’t believe that this was a plan that a group of former slaves—who didn’t understand the Red River language or First City—could come up with. Isn’t this analysis too detailed?

Upon sensing the change in his gaze, Su Na said in embarrassment, “For the past two days, we’ve been using the translation device to speak to the servants and ask them questions. They actually know a lot.”

Bai Chen nodded slightly and said, “Well done.”

She then gave some of her suggestions, such as opening a grain shop or attempting to cooperate with some merchants at the port after they accumulated some resources.

Finally, she emphasized, “Remember to train your body and practice your marksmanship.”

“Yes!” Su Na and the others nodded heavily.

After leaving Wolf’s Den and going down to the first floor, Long Yuehong looked back at the seventh and eighth floors—where Su Na and the others lived—and said with emotion, “They sure are motivated. Furthermore, they know what’s good and bad, and they know what to do and what not to do.”

Bai Chen looked at the jeep not far away and said, “They always have beautiful hopes for the future in the beginning. When they experience more difficulties and setbacks, I hope they can still remember their feelings and thoughts today.”

In the Ashlands, very few people could persevere with their original intentions.

Long Yuehong fell silent, not knowing what to say.

Genava said, “In Tarnan, there are actually many people who can at least do so without harming others.”

“That’s because the robot guards are watching.” Bai Chen smiled and glanced at Long Yuehong.

Long Yuehong had been extorted by the locals previously.

As they spoke, they returned to the jeep.

At this moment, several sheriffs in grayish-blue uniforms ran over from the corner of the street with pistols.

Upon seeing Long Yuehong and the others, the short, fat man in the lead slowed down and asked, “Did you see anyone go over? Wearing a thin black coat and has brown hair and green eyes. He wore a scarf like you, but it covered his mouth.”

He pointed at Bai Chen.

Bai Chen tugged at the elegant thin scarf around her neck and frankly replied, “No, we just came out of the building.”

The short, fat man didn’t ask any further. He led his subordinates and ran again.

Long Yuehong looked at the sheriffs’ backs and muttered, “Did that fellow commit a crime?”

“Maybe.” Bai Chen opened the door and sat in the driver’s seat.

...

Golden Apple Zone, 18 Citizen Street, General Phocas’s residence.

On the way here in the gray SUV, Jiang Baimian and Shang Jianyao underwent at least three spot checks. Fortunately, they didn’t bring any military exoskeletons or heavy weapons. They acted like Ruin Hunters that knew their place.

“Who are you looking for?” The guards at the door stopped them.

Phocas was First City’s most senior and most famous general. Back when Oray died and First City fractured, he firmly stood on the Senate’s side and commanded the army to suppress the rebellion. After that, he repeatedly purged the Heartless, mutated creatures, and other factions, opening up many settlements for First City.

He was in his fifties now, and he was already past his prime. His age in the Ashlands categorized him as having one foot in the coffin. He gradually faded from the list of commanders and was only in charge of a portion of the city defense forces. Of course, he was a Senator as well.

Faced with the guards’ questions, Jiang Baimian smiled. “We have an appointment with the general to discuss a partnership regarding a batch of books.”

After asking for instructions, the guards made way. Shang Jianyao and Jiang Baimian entered Phocas’s study under the butler’s guidance.

Phocas’s house was paved with marble, and different statues lined the stairwell railing. The walls were decorated with exquisite murals, making them look very luxurious.

His study was the same—rows of books were bathed in golden sunlight.

The moment she saw Phocas, a word surfaced in Jiang Baimian’s mind: Lion!

Be it his appearance or aura, this general was like a lion that was staring at its prey. But perhaps because of his age, his earthen-yellow hair was relatively sparse. This inexplicably made him look a little comical.

Phocas—who was wearing a well-ironed military uniform—stood by the window. His yellow eyes flickered as he glanced at Jiang Baimian and Shang Jianyao and asked in a deep voice, “Are you the Ruin Hunter team that discovered the Anti-intellectualism Church’s tracks?”

Shang Jianyao nodded first. “Yes, they also sponsored us with 50 Oray.”

Phocas frowned, a little confused.

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