OMF V1C46 Where Did This Guy Come From?!

The owner furrowed his brow. Where did this guy come from? How come he hadn’t seen him before or heard the door?
Qiu Ling didn’t care for the ugly expression on the owner’s face, came forward and leaned against the counter. “I came to ask for a room, too, but it seems this isn’t the place for that. I’d suggest you go somewhere else, too”, he proposed to Mister Zhong.
“Ah …” Mister Zhong didn’t know what to say. He had searched everywhere and only found this place. And now it had turned dark. He couldn’t go anywhere else!
The owner grit his teeth. His inn wasn’t situated in a good position and not many people had come by in the last few days. If those two also went somewhere else … “Alright, alright. Looking at how it’s late already, I think 250 copper coins would be enough.”
Qiu Ling ran his finger over the counter, lifted his hand and rubbed his fingers together. Dust trickled down. “250 … seems like quite a lot.”
The owner went from gritting to gnashing his teeth. Where did this guy come from?! He’d earn nothing, if it went on like this! “It seems like it at first, but it actually isn’t that much. You see: He wants one room and place in the stables. That are two things he has to pay for. Only a room would of course be cheaper.”
Mister Zhong pressed his lips together. We really shouldn’t have taken the horses with us! We might be able to get a room without them.
Qiu Ling just glanced at the owner. “Is that so?”, he drawled and dusted his hands off.
The owner gulped. Somehow it seemed, that this guy knew all too well, that he was trying to hornswoggle them. But could anything happen, if he just pretended, that these prices were normal? The other man looked, as if he was nearly convinced. Yes, I should just concentrate on the other one!
He turned toward Mister Zhong and forced a smile. “So, how about it? The room and the place in the stable for 250 copper coins?”
“That …” Mister Zhong had that much, but he really didn’t want to spend all of it. Those were his savings of many years! And what if they couldn’t find his cousin tomorrow? What if they really had to travel back home? Ah! Maybe we can sell one or two of the horses? Shouldn’t we get money from that? Then we wouldn’t have to worry. Mister Zhong took a deep breath, intent on just taking the risk, but Qiu Ling interrupted him.
“Actually, some streets further —”
“Aiya! Look at me!” The owner didn’t let Qiu Ling finish his sentence. Just those couple of words reminded him of the inn three streets further. He and the owner of that inn had always been in a competition. Unfortunately for him, the people liked the other inn more. It was neater and the owner didn’t try to ask for horrendous prices. Going there felt comfortable and yes, they had a stable.
It was just, that the Zhongs hadn’t come upon that inn. Even Qiu Ling didn’t know there was such an establishment. He had just tried to come up with something and there had to be an inn somewhere. In fact, Qiu Ling didn’t even know, that the prices were too high, he had only thought so because of the way the owner looked at Mister Zhong and reduced the price by half as soon as he knew, that this potential guest couldn’t pay that much. If his rooms were really worth that much, would he drop the price like that? And now it seemed, that his gamble had paid off.
The owner slapped a slip of paper on his counter. “I looked at the wrong thing. That would be … the price for a week. It’s only 50 copper coins for a day.”
Mister Zhong’s brows lifted. He wasn’t dumb. The owner had changed prices three times in only a couple of minutes. That certainly wasn’t normal. He examined the man next to him. A slight smile played at the corners of his mouth. That man seemed to have known, that something was up. Thank heavens, that man had entered after him!
“50 copper coins?”, Mister Zhong repeated. That seemed like a more decent price. Unsure, he looked at the man next to him again.
Unfortunately, Qiu Ling also didn’t know, what a normal price would be. It had been ages, since he had been in the human realm. And he had never bothered with things like inns. He looked at the owner and tried to gauge his expression.
Having that serious gaze directed at him, the owner started sweating. He felt like kneeling down to that guest and begging him to stop. He could have made so much money! And now he didn’t only miss out on the money, he was even losing face! He felt like crying …
“Oh … Oh, look at this.” The owner slapped a different piece of paper, his hand covering as much of the writing as possible. “You’re in the capital for the first time, right?”
Qiu Ling didn’t react, but Mister Zhong nodded.
“So, it’s like this: For those, who come to the capital for the first time, we’re giving them something like … a … present. Yes, that’s right, a present. They … have to pay …” He took a peek at Qiu Ling and tried to ascertain how much he’d be willing to pay.
Feeling the mans gaze, Qiu Ling narrowed his eyes to slits. There seemed to be a dangerous glint in them, that sent shivers down the owner’s spine.
“Half!”, he tried for the last time. “They only have to pay half. So it would be 25 copper coins.”
“25 copper coins …” Qiu Ling repeated the number slowly. Mn, I should have taken someone with me who knows about such things. But … it doesn’t seem much?
Really, who expects the dragon king to have any concept of money? Whoever does, certainly didn’t know Qiu Ling. Was something expensive? Was it cheap? He didn’t know. Though he could glean the quality of things, he never knew how much they were actually worth. He would just pay whatever was asked for, if he liked them.
But Qiu Ling knew, that the Zhongs were different. They didn’t have much money. He should try to get a better deal for his future father-in-law.
With that thought in mind, Qiu Ling nodded slowly. “Mn. So, since we’re two people, that’d be twelve copper coins for each of us, no?”
“Tw— twelve?” The owner rubbed his ears. Did he hear wrong?
Qiu Ling nodded. “Of course. You said to pay 25, we are two people, but you can’t want half a coin from us, no? Don’t you think asking for half a coin is ridiculous?”
“Yes, sure, bu—”
“Great. Then I guess, there should be no other problem.” He smiled and turned around to Mister Zhong. “I seem to have seen, that your wife and child are waiting outside. Why don’t you pay first?”
“Sure … Thank you very much, kind Sir.” Mister Zhong nodded and gave the stupefied owner the twelve copper coins. After that, he went out to bring the horses into the stable and get his family. Qiu Ling, too, went into one of the free rooms, though his body vanished as soon as the door closed behind him.
Meanwhile, the owner sat at the counter and pondered over a difficult problem: In the end, why did they each pay half, when they didn’t come together?

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