670 A Million Times for You 32
There was a far greater number of people there than in the black market of A City.
The place was extremely spacious.
The hub where illegal and unethical transactions took place was yet another example of the dark side of society. Only the wealthy and powerful would be aware of the existence of such a place.
An Xiaoning slowed down in her tracks and walked inside. After having walked a distance, she reached a small door in the middle and opened it, only to be greeted with an appalling sight.
What stood in front of her was complete chaos. A sudden, deafening shriek filled her ears all of a sudden. She walked forward to discover that the wailing was coming from a woman who was rigidly shackled and tied up, stark naked and drenched in blood. A man was standing beside her with a whip in his hand.
An Xiaoning immediately retreated, the shock robbing her of her senses. This is a really dark and twisted place, she thought to herself.
Indeed, such cruel business deals ought to be kept behind closed doors.
She stopped in her tracks when she walked past a tall and handsome-looking man.
She then shifted her gaze onto a signboard next to him, which read: "Trained under a warrior since a young age, absolutely loyal, in the pink of health, grew up in an orphanage…"
An Xiaoning was well aware that most of the slaves on sale at such markets were orphans who have undergone rigorous training to become warriors. They were all abandoned by their masters, usually because of a mistake made or various other reasons.
How was it possible to tell whether one was healthy or not, simply based on appearance?
"Get them to remove all their clothes except their shorts," An Xiaoning instructed.
"No problem." The boss immediately waved at them and ordered, "Do as this lady here instructed."
Although there was a heater in the basement, it was still rather chilly because of how spacious the area was.
They stood in a single file and began removing their clothes.
An Xiaoning took a close look at each of their bodies to discover that they were all covered in wounds and scars, which were traces left behind by the severe physical torture they had been subjected to. An Xiaoning could not help but feel sympathy for the young men standing before her.
It was hard to believe that harsh slavery still exists in the modern society of today.
"You may put on your clothes." An Xiaoning turned to the seller and asked, "For how much are they going at?"
"To be honest with you, each of them is sold at a different price." The seller rubbed his hands together and pointed at the most handsome man amongst the group. "Look at this one, he's tall, handsome, and very fit and agile…"
It sounded as if she was looking to buy a boy toy.
She interrupted, "Tell me how much each of them costs."
"Two million, 1.5 million, 2 million, 1 million, 3 million, 2.8 million, 1.5 million, 2.4 million…"
"Ten million dollars. Sell them all to me for ten million dollars," said An Xiaoning, glancing at the seller.
"Goodness gracious, are you kidding me, lady? We're talking about fourteen people, not fourteen objects!" the seller exclaimed with a look of disbelief.
"Aren't you selling them like they're inanimate objects? Don't think I haven't bought slaves before. Are you trying to fool me? They can't be healthy with so many wounds and scars on them. I might even have to pay for their medical bills if they turn out to be ill-stricken with a long list of diseases. I'm buying all of them for ten million dollars. Take it or leave it," An Xiaoning insisted.
Well aware of the health condition of the young men, the seller sighed and said, "I've really made a huge loss this time. But I shall sell them to you, on account of how gorgeous you are. They're all well trained and proficient in martial arts. They would've long fled if it weren't because I had their indentures."
An Xiaoning remained silent. She knew how important those indentures were in the world of black markets, though they were not legally recognized.
Apart from those who were sent to training camps when they were infants, the rest of them had all willingly begun training from a young age.
An Xiaoning was handed the indentures of the fourteen men she had just bought after making payment with her bank card.
After checking through all the relevant documents, she stowed them away in her bag and said to the men calmly, "Come with me."
They picked up their few pieces of small luggage, which were not worth much, and followed her outside.
Due to the fact that there were too many of them to fit into the elevator, they had to split up into two groups.
No one dared to ask about her purpose for buying them. Neither did they dare to ask where she would be taking them to next. Instead, they all remained quiet and followed closely behind her.
Once they arrived at the hotel, An Xiaoning asked, "Do you guys not have any personal identification documents at all?"
"No," they chorused.
She nodded and motioned for them to follow her. "Come on inside."
The hotel they were at belonged to a franchise under the Gu Corporation. Instead of booking the rooms with her personal identification card, she gave Gu Beicheng a call to inform him of her visit, after which the administration concierge immediately received orders to arrange eight rooms for them. An Xiaoning stayed in one room alone while the seven other rooms were to be shared amongst the fourteen men.
An Xiaoning entered her room with the key card and closed the door after all of them were inside.
Instead of handing them the key cards to their respective rooms right away, she placed the cards onto the table and scrutinized each of the men who were standing uniformly in a row.
"Tell me your names and age."
"We don't have a name of our own. We're all addressed by serial numbers," said one of them.
"Oh… we shall stick to that then. I'll give you guys a new number each, starting from 1 to 14. The oldest one amongst you will be number 1 and the youngest will be number 14. Number yourselves accordingly."
"Yes," they answered in unison.
Recalling the wounds on their bodies that she had seen earlier, An Xiaoning said, "You guys should be well aware of your own health conditions. Since I've already bought all of you, it's time you come clean. Do any of you have terminal illnesses?"
They shook their heads fervently.
"The first rule of thumb when it comes to working for me is to be honest at all times. You can't hide your illnesses at the end of the day. If you're ill, I won't sell you away to someone else. Instead, I'll be paying for your medical treatment. So, don't try and hide anything for me. Apart from those who are only physically injured, the rest of you who are diagnosed with diseases, come forth," she continued.
As soon as she finished speaking, eight of them took a step forward.
An Xiaoning had already expected there to be ill-stricken slaves amongst the fourteen of them. Otherwise, the seller wouldn't have agreed to let them go for ten million dollars. In fact, she already knew that there must have been something wrong with them the moment she saw their wounds and scars, for their masters wouldn't have abandoned them if they were perfectly healthy.
She maintained her composure and continued to probe, "Tell me what illnesses and health problems you're suffering from."
Noticing how calm she looked, everyone looked at each other in surprise and proceeded to come clean, one after another.
"I'm suffering from rheumatism due to the excessive and vigorous training I was put through when I was younger. It gets excruciatingly painful whenever the temperatures turn cold, especially during winter. However, I've never gone to get it treated at a hospital before."
"I… I'm asthmatic."
"I almost died during a mission I underwent in the past. Sometimes, I get weak in my legs."
"I have tuberculosis, but I've never gone to the hospital for treatment…"
"My condition is similar to No. 4. I sustained a severe injury during a mission too. During surgery, one of my legs was stuck beneath a strong pressure after being injected with a local anesthetic. As a result, I can't walk fast with that leg… My master abandoned me after he found out about my condition."
"I have gastritis."
"I was born with a heart disease."
Last but not least, it was No. 8's turn. He was the most handsome one out of the fourteen men.
"I… I'm impotent."