Cheng Shouping was bewildered. He had marched off to the counter gleefully to collect his money, thinking that the young master would reward him handsomely for his efforts. Yet, he actually messed everything up.
It was a million silver taels they were talking about here!
Cheng Shouping’s eyes immediately reddened in agitation. With a cry of despair, he charged forward to brawl with the manager, only to be swiftly dragged out by the guards of the Four Seas Casino.
“Where did this lunatic come from? Beat him up real good so that even his mother wouldn’t recognize him!” The manager covered his swollen eyes as he pointed his finger at Cheng Shouping angrily.
“Oh? Is this how the Four Seas Casino treats its customers? Not only are you all shrinking payment, you even try to turn things around your customers to frame them, even attempting to beat them to death?” a sharp voice sounded as Zu An strutted into the casino imposingly.
Beside him, Chu Chuyan also saw the pitiful plight Cheng Shouping was in, and her gaze turned cold. Even though she wasn’t too fond of Cheng Shouping, he was still a member of the Chu clan. She wouldn’t allow outsiders to just trample all over him.
Receiving Chu Chuyan’s subtle gesture, the Chu clan’s guards immediately rushed forward to beat down the guards of the Four Seas Casino, saving Cheng Shouping from their clutches.
“Waaa, this woman is really pretty!”
“Are you blind? Don’t you recognize the first miss of the Chu clan?”
“As expected of Brightmoon City’s number one beauty!”
“But what are they doing here? Doesn’t the Chu clan have strict rules against gambling?”
The others in the casino, as well as passers-by, immediately rushed over to watch the commotion.
Cheng Shouping staggered over to Zu An’s side with a swollen face. He hugged the latter’s thigh as he cried out indignantly, “Young master, that bastard over there has torn up the bet paper!”
Zu An’s eyelids twitched. “Stop using my clothes as a tissue paper to wipe off your snot.”
Seeing that Chu Chuyan was here too, the manager from the Four Seas Casino dared not to put on airs. He quickly stepped forward to welcome her with a smile, but his bruised eye made his appearance rather comedic. “Young miss Chu, what brings you here today? I’m the manager of this casino, Ol’ Third Du. Pardon me my lack of an appropriate welcome.”
Chu Chuyan harrumphed coldly and said, “If I hadn’t come here, I wouldn’t have known how little you thought of the people from our Chu clan.”
“I dare not to!” Ol’ Third Du hurriedly replied with a nervous smile. “I didn’t know he had come under your orders, so please forgive me for my earlier act of disrespect.”
Zu An waved his hand impatiently. “Enough. Don’t waste our time with such pleasantries. Hurry up and pay the million silver taels you owe us.”
Ol’ Third Du put on a surprised look as he asked, “Young master Zu, I’m afraid that I don’t quite understand what you’re saying. The bet paper your servant brought to us is fake, so I’m unable to cash it out for you.”
“Whether the bet paper is real or not, you should have had everyone to testify for it. Don’t you think that it was highly inappropriate for you to tear it up just like that? That’s an act of a guilty conscience,” said Zu An coldly.
Those words were met with the fervent agreement of the crowd. The action of Ol’ Third Du was suspicious in their eyes too.
However, Ol’ Third Du had already prepared an answer to that. “I thought that this servant was falsifying the bet paper behind your back. It was out of consideration of the reputation of the Chu clan that I tore the bet paper on the spot. Otherwise, it might lead to unnecessary gossip. I didn’t know that he was doing it under your orders.”
Since the bet paper had been destroyed, there was no way for Zu An to disprove his words anymore. Not to mention, his words made perfect sense too.
As expected, those in the crowd immediately turned doubtful eyes toward Zu An.
“Oh? You’re even trying to turn the tables on me, huh?” Zu An burst into laughter. “It’s fortunate that I made preparations in advance. I knew that you would try to pull something like that, so I kept the real bet paper with me.”
Zu An took out the real bet paper from his robe and displayed it before everyone else. “What a pity that your guilty conscience prevented you from even taking a close look at the bet paper, resulting in such an elementary mistake.”
“…” Ol’ Third Du.
You have successfully trolled Ol’ Third Du for +666 Rage!
You have successfully trolled Zheng Dan for +666 Rage!
You have successfully trolled Sang Qian for +666 Rage!
Zu An subconsciously glanced at the tightly shut doors behind the counter.
Zheng Dan and Sang Qian are indeed hiding inside. It looks like this is one of the Zheng clan’s businesses. It was wondering why Zheng Dan kept trying to get close to me previously, but it turns out that she does have ulterior motives in mind. Most likely, she was aiming for the 7,500,000 silver taels debt note I have on the Silverhook Casino, hoping to use it to devour the Plum Blossom Sect’s businesses.
Still, I must say that Sang Qian really went all out this time around. He even had his fiancée lay a honey trap for me, casually hugging and touching me.
Ey, that fellow can’t have some sort of weird cuckold fantasies, does he? Oh my! If that’s the case, I really should… make a friend out of him!
In any case, it means that they are unaware that the 7,500,000 silver taels is no longer on me anymore. I should tell Jiang Luofu to keep this matter hidden for the moment. It’ll be interesting to see the two of them desperately struggling, only to realize that it was all in vain.
It was also then that Chu Chuyan spoke up, “It’s very easy to discern the authenticity of a bet paper. Casinos would pay careful heed to the material of the paper, the quality of the ink, and the handwriting on it so as to prevent forgery, and a record of it will be kept in the magistrate’s office so as to avoid contention. On top of that, every casino would keep a spare copy of the bet paper for documentation purposes. I shall invite the vice magistrate over to look through your accounting book and judge this matter fairly.”
As one of the decision-makers in the Chu clan, she had to be well-versed with how businesses operated and the laws of the country.
“Young miss Chu, please wait a moment!” It was then that someone suddenly ran out. “I am the owner of the Four Seas Casino, Zheng Guanxi. It’s an honor to have Chu First Miss and young master Zu visiting our premises.”
There was no way the Zheng clan would allow them to go to the vice magistrate for this. They were clearly at fault here, and things would be made clear with just a bit of investigation. On top of that, if the vice magistrate really ran through their accounting books, they could stand to lose far more than just a million silver taels.
“You’re the owner of the Four Seas Casino?” Zu An shot a glance at the inner rooms of the casino as he spoke.
It looks like Zheng Dan and Sang Qian aren’t intending to come out. But again, given their lofty standing, they can’t possibly openly intervene in the matters relating to the casino or else it could lower their standing. It was only normal for them to find someone else to take care of matters.
“Yes, I am!” replied Zheng Guanxi with an amicable smile.
“Zheng? Are you from the Zheng clan?” asked Zu An.
“No no no, of course not. I have nothing to do with the Zheng clan at all. How could someone as humble as me possibly be related to the great Zheng clan?” Zheng Guanxi denied it right away.
Should I have used another name instead? Otherwise, it’s very easy for others to see through my background. But again, it’s much easier for me to settle problems when I bring the Zheng clan into the picture to pressure others. Ah, this is really a dilemma.
“I don’t care which clan you’re from. Just tell me, how are you intending to resolve this matter?” asked Zu An.
“Yes, of course.” Zheng Guanxi took out a handkerchief and dabbed away the small beads of sweat forming on his forehead. “It was all Ol’ Third Du acting on his own accord earlier. Our casino is unaware of the matter. I reckon that he’s coveting this huge wealth.”
“???” Ol’ Third Du.
Zheng Guanxi wasn’t about to give Ol’ Third Du a chance to explain at all. “Men, drag him down and bring him to the vice magistrate!”
Ol’ Third Du immediately panicked. “You can’t do this to me! I’m just following the young miss’…”
However, the guards were already prepared for this. With a single punch, they dislocated Ol’ Third Du’s lower jaw, causing his words to immediately turn into mumble jumble. There was no way to hear him clearly anymore.
“There’s no need for you to put up a pretense before me. Give me a straight answer, are you planning to pay up or not?” Zu An harrumphed.
“It goes without saying that we’ll pay you whatever you have earned!” There was still a smile on Zheng Guanxi’s face, but his hands were trembling. This was a million silver taels they were talking about here! The Four Seas Casino hadn’t even earned that much money ever since its establishment. “It’s just that the sum is too big for us to raise right away. Could we write down a debt note for you first?”
“Sure, but I’ll be expecting an annual interest rate of 40%,” replied Zu An with a nod.
Zheng Guanxi was shocked. “But you only demanded 10% from the Silverhook Casino back then!”
“That’s a different story. They owe me 7,500,000 silver taels and are unable to raise the money within a short period of time. However, the sum you owe me is much lower. Are you trying to tell me that your casino doesn’t have that much money despite having accepted my bet?” Zu An harrumphed.
It was fortunate that he had only betted 10,000 silver taels back then. Otherwise, he might not be able to get his money back.
“That’s right! Why the heck are you operating a casino when you can’t even pay your own customers?”
“I think that Ol’ Third Du’s action was simply a sign of the Four Seas Casino shirking payment!”
“Wow, it looks like the drafted son-in-law of the Chu clan is the nemesis of all casinos.”
“We should follow his lead next time around. He’s our lighthouse toward prosperity!”
The crowd pointed their fingers at Zheng Guanxi and criticized him, leaving him feeling incredibly flustered. All of a sudden, his body jerked a little, as if someone had suddenly whispered in his ears. Then, he turned to Zu An and said, “How about this? We’ll first pay you half of your winnings first, and as for the rest, we’ll write it down as a debt at a 20% interest rate. How does that sound?”
Zu An finally nodded in satisfaction. “You should have done that right from the start! Bring the money out!”
He hadn’t expected to be able to collect the full sum of money right away, so receiving 500,000 silver taels on the sum was already pretty good for him. One must know that he had only managed to squeeze 150,000 silver taels out of the Silverhook Casino the previous time.
In the casino’s secret room, Sang Qian gritted his teeth as he muttered furiously, “I really want to smash my fist into that man’s face.”
Zheng Dan shook her head helplessly and said, “He has Chu First Miss by his side. You won’t be able to touch him.”
Sang Qian eyed Zheng Dan suspiciously as he asked, “Why don’t you seem angry at all?”
“What’s there to get angry about? Our plan is to get close to him to steal the debt note anyway,” replied Zheng Dan as she looked at Zu An intently through the cracks of the door. “We’re just tucking our money with him for the time being. It won’t be long before we reclaim what we have lost and even more.”
Sang Qian nodded in agreement, “We’re counting on you then. You must make sure to protect yourself well. Remember, you mustn’t allow him to take advantage of you.”
“I know,” replied Zheng Dan.
“Also, we should make some adjustments to the rules of the casino. We shouldn’t offer such a high payout rate, and we should also put a cap on high payout bets. Otherwise, we might just be bankrupted by such freak accidents,” said Sang Qian.
He couldn’t let his wife clean up after him every single time. In the last few days, for some reason, he had been feeling jittery inside, as if he was going to get cuckolded.
After collecting their money and debt note, Zu An and the others prepared to return back to the estate. Zu An casually entrusted his banknotes over to Cheng Shouping, and it made the latter so excited that his hands wouldn’t stop trembling.
Zu An distributed some of the notes over to the guards too. The guards were hesitant to accept it at first, but seeing that Chu Chuyan wasn’t saying anything, they finally accepted it joyously. All of them had families to raise too, so additional money was naturally welcomed.
“Young master Zu, you look dashing today!”
“For some reason, he’s looking more and more compatible with our first miss.”
“In consideration of this banknote, I’ll reluctantly agree with that statement just this once.”
Zu An stuffed a stack of banknotes into Chu Chuyan’s hands too. “Here, your share.”
However, Chu Chuyan didn’t accept it. “I don’t need it.”
“What are you getting so courteous for? You played a huge part in collecting the debt too.” Zu An laughed heartily. “Now that I’m rich, it’s my turn to provide for you!”
“…” Chu Chuyan.
If he continues acting so haughtily, I think I really might give this fellow a good beating.
Even after returning back to the Chu Estate, Zu An remained so overjoyed that he didn’t sleep for the entire night. When he woke up the following day, he felt completely refreshed. The blue sky filled with white clouds looked more beautiful than ever, and even the air felt more refreshing than usual.
He was just about to set off to the academy to embark on another fruitful day when a bunch of constables suddenly charged into his residence and bellowed, “Zu An! You’re to follow us back to the yamen to be trialed for your crimes!”