Zheng Dan sighed. “I did it for my clan, of course. The Chu clan has their ancestors’ achievements to help them maintain most of Brightmoon City’s market. The rest of us have been smothered until we can’t even breathe, so we can only look for other methods to survive.
“I was young and ambitious back then. When I saw how troubled my parents were day after day, I wanted to help them take on a share of their burden. I also felt a little uneasy about our clan’s future myself, so I wanted to try a different type of lifestyle. I never expected things to escalate so much that I would end up creating something like the Whale Gang.
“The Whale Gang has earned quite a bit of money for the Zheng Clan these past few years, and to some degree, it has weakened the Chu clan. Father has been smiling more, but I cannot say the same for myself.”
It seemed to Zu An that there really were different perspectives to every situation.
From the Chu clan’s perspective, the illicit salt smugglers were despicable, and so was the Zheng Clan for using all sorts of contemptible methods.
But in the eyes of the Zheng clan, they were dissatisfied that the Chu clan has enjoyed their privileges generation after generation. They didn’t feel inferior to the Chu clan in any way.
Zu An couldn’t say which side was right and which side was wrong. In the end, all that mattered was which side you belonged to.
“Why couldn’t you feel happiness?” Pity welled up within Zu An when he saw the worry etched between her brows. He reached out a hand to comfort her.
“The Whale Gang was engaged in illegal activities after all, so we were definitely targets for the River Patrol Army. This was the main reason for our marriage alliance with the Sang clan. Only with the Sang clan’s protection did we have a chance of continuing the illicit salt trade. Otherwise, the Whale Gang would’ve been wiped out a long time ago,” explained Zheng Dan.
When they found the Zheng clan’s butler involved in the smuggling, the Chu clan had already suspected that the Sang clan was most likely involved.
Now, they finally received confirmation.
This Sang Hong really was vicious! He hadn’t even hesitated to risk colluding with the illicit salt smugglers in order to bring down the Chu clan.
Once exposed, not even the emperor would be able to protect his status as the governor!
Unfortunately, there was no proof for anything. There was no way he could just drag Zheng Dan over to testify against the Sang clan, right?
He couldn’t bring himself to do something so merciless.
Zu An pondered a moment, and then he asked, “Do you like Sang Qian?”
Zheng Dan smiled. “Are you jealous?”
Zu An snorted. “Why would I be jealous of him? If anything, he should be jealous of me.”
Zheng Dan obviously knew what he was talking about. She rolled her eyes and said, “Regardless of appearance, background, or ability, Sang Qian is an excellent husband for our Zheng clan. Unfortunately, I just don’t feel much of anything when I’m with him. The only reason I agreed to the marriage was because of the benefits it would bring the clan. Actually, I didn’t even have a choice in this matter. The clan had already made the decision for me a long time ago.”
Sensing the dejection and loneliness in her tone, Zu An said, “Why don’t you just throw away this engagement then? You can follow me instead.”
“Follow you?” Zheng Dan said with an ambiguous expression. “Would I follow you into the Chu clan?”
Zu An’s breathing stopped. When he thought of the grudges between the two clans, he really didn’t know what to say.
Zheng Dan sighed. “Even though I’ve always appeared to others as a gentle and quiet person, I’m actually incredibly proud and arrogant. I never wanted to become the wife of another, not even to someone with such an outstanding background like Sang Qian.”
When she saw Zu An’s expression grow rather awful, she said, “But Ah Zu, you’re different. Being your wife… is not impossible.”
When he saw the gentle feelings in her eyes, Zu An reached out to hold her soft hands. He didn’t know what to say.
“What a pity…” Zheng Dan moved the conversation on. “I cannot make decisions for myself alone. I have to think about the good of my clan as well. I cannot be that selfish and harm my clan.
“The Sang clan came in response to the emperor’s will, so the Chu clan is merely fighting valiantly to hold back their inevitable defeat. Our Zheng clan has remained the Chu clan’s enemy for so many years already. I cannot make such a decision for the Zheng clan.”
“But your purity is already… How are you going to marry the Sang clan like that?” Zu An couldn’t help but mention this.
“I’ll find a way to solve this in the future. Either way, it’s still a while before our marriage is formalized. I should be able to use some tricks to get by for now.” A hint of worry creased Zheng Dan’s brow. The Sang clan weren’t idiots. Sang Hong was even sharper than his son, so deceiving them was definitely going to be hard.
Zu An became a bit gloomy. “Do you really want to marry into the Sang clan that badly?”
Zheng Dan’s soft fingers gently caressed his cheeks. “Is my daddy getting angry?”
Her teasing made both of them recall the words of passion they had shared the night before, stirring their hearts.
“I guess, in the end, we just aren’t strong enough. We cannot make decisions for ourselves alone…” Zheng Dan sighed. However, she quickly added, “But Ah Zu, please, there’s nothing to worry about. Even if I marry into the Sang clan, I will always be yours. As long as you want me, you can find me at any time…”
There really was a type of mysterious charm when she spoke such captivating words with such a dignified tone.
Zu An’s heart skipped a beat. “Do you think that’s all I’m after…”
Zheng Dan pressed her finger gently against his lips. “I know you aren’t that type of person, but this is all I can do for you.”
“I’ve been blessed with a life of luxury from birth, and my parents have treated me extremely well. I was granted resources and an education, so I really can't just abandon them. I hope Ah Zu doesn’t blame me for this choice.”
Zu An shook his head. “The reason you are making this type of choice is because you are a sincere and strong-willed person. You are doing this out of filial piety and out of a sense of responsibility. How could I selfishly blame you for that? Speaking of which, when are you and Sang Qian getting married?”
“In about a year,” Zheng Dan replied after thinking for a bit.
“Then there’s still time,” Zu An muttered to himself. His voice grew serious. “I’ll definitely steal you back when the time comes. You won’t have to worry about your clan’s problems then either,” he declared.
A big smile appeared on Zheng Dan’s face. Her beautiful, misty eyes were swimming with deep emotion. “I’ll be waiting for you.”
“But you definitely cannot let that Sang dude take advantage of you before that!” Zu An said with a serious expression.
Zheng Dan smiled and said, “Don’t worry, I haven’t even let him hold my hand.”
Zu An was astonished. “Then why did you approach me before…”
She had clearly come to him with such an open mind! That was why he thought that she was like this with her fiancé too. If he hadn’t confirmed that she was a virgin, he would have assumed much more.
Zheng Dan gave him a look. “I don’t even know why myself. I always lose my mind when I’m with you. I was supposed to set a honey trap for you, but I ended up suffering a double loss instead!”
Zu An laughed. “Doesn’t this just mean that we are a match made in heaven?”
Zheng Dan smiled sweetly and pressed her cheek against his chest.
“By the way, why did you approach me in the beginning?” Zu An asked, slightly curious.
“Of course I was after your promissory note from the Silverhook casino! Many clans have been eyeing Plum Blossom Sect’s assets.” Zheng Dan smiled in embarrassment as she recalled the incident. She was the one who had intentionally tried to seduce him.
“It’s not just the clans. Even the academy is eyeing them.” Zu An roughly explained his deal with the academy. The two were already so close, and he didn’t want to hide this from her.
Zheng Dan grew flustered. “On my goodness! You didn’t have the seven-and-a-half million taels of silver from the start?” Her cheeks flushed with embarrassment. “You never said anything, even after I wasted so much energy!”
Zu An chuckled. “The two of us were enemies back then. Why would I tell you anything? Besides, which man would be stupid enough to turn away a great beauty who is intent on throwing herself at him?”
“Ahhhh!!! I hate you so much! I’m going to bite you to death!” Zheng Dan bared her teeth and pounced at him. Zu An quickly dodged with a smile.
The two of them tacitly remained in the cave for the next few days. Firstly, they needed to recover from their injuries, and secondly, this was the most intimate place for them. In this place, they didn’t need to think about their responsibilities, their clans, or any of the other things that troubled them.
This pair of lovers stayed here alone, and each time their eyes met, the heavens shook and the earth was rent asunder.
When Zheng Dan recovered from the Eighteen Spring Winds, the two of them shared a period of intense bliss.
From time to time, sounds that would make even passing birds blush could be heard, as well as the intimate words shared between lovers.
“Even if something happens and I can’t steal you back in time, I won’t let him touch you even if you marry into the Sang clan!”
Zheng Dan giggled. “He is going to be my real husband! Aren’t you being too unreasonable~”
“I don’t care! I won’t allow it!”
“Then you have to do your best to steal me back! I don’t think it’ll be that easy, though.”
“Are you trying to get me angry on purpose?”
“Ah, forgive me daddy~”Previous Chapter Next Chapter