Zu An was greatly alarmed by Chu Chuyan’s serious expression. “What’s wrong?”
“Follow me to the meeting hall. I’ll tell you everything along the way.” Chu Chuyan grabbed his hand and walked into the estate.
“My father has been detained in the Glorious Sun City by Sang Hong.” Chu Chuyan said.
Zu An was shocked. “What?! Father-in-law is a formidable duke, and his cultivation is so high. How could Sang Hong dare to detain him? Even if he dared to, there’s no legitimate reason for it!”
“He has a reason,” Chu Chuyan explained. “It was all about the salt permits.”
Zu An finally learned the whole story after Chu Chuyan filled him in.
Under Chen Xuan’s torture, Wang Yuanlong had exposed the route along which the Wang clan’s salt permits were being transported, and the timing of the caravan.
The salt permits just happened to be two days away from Brightmoon City.
Chen Xuan had immediately sent out men to seize the salt permits.
The Wang clan was already reeling from the looting of their trade station, and they had barely managed to scrape together the funds for this last batch of salt permits.
There was no way for them to acquire more salt permits for quite some time.
The Chu clan, however, needed the Wang clan’s help to bring their stockpiles of salt to market.
The Wang clan had no choice but to beg Chu Zhongtian for help. Out of compassion for his friend, and in consideration of the Chu clan’s own circumstances, Chu Zhongtian decided to pass off the advance salt permits as the stolen permits.
When the Wang clan finally made it through this trying period, the advance salt permits could be replaced. Everything was to be kept top secret.
However, things took an unexpected turn. A sudden, unannounced investigation had been carried out on the Chu clan’s most recent batch of salt permits. When the salt commissioners discovered that these salt permits weren’t the right ones, Sang Hong used it to kick up a huge fuss, and detained Chu Zhongtian.
Zu An sighed. “It seems like Sang Hong was well prepared. This might even have been a trap that he’d set up himself.”
Chu Chuyan shared his sentiments. “We were careless.”
There was one thing that Zu An couldn’t understand. “Wait, didn’t you say that all of the salt commissioners were on our side? How did Sang Hong suddenly find out about this?”
Chu Chuyan shook her head. “This is the strangest part of it all. Sang Hong probably managed to turn some of those salt commissioners to his side.”
Zu An held her hand, which was slightly cold. “Honey, I will always be by your side. I’ll help the Chu clan get through this.”
“Thank you…” Chu Chuyan forced a smile. She didn’t think that there was anything he could do, especially with the situation already so dire. However, his words still brought her a hint of warmth.
“Screw that Chen Xuan! Even in death he still haunts us.” Zu An muttered to himself. This whole matter had begun with Chen Xuan stealing those salt permits. Things wouldn’t have gotten so out of hand otherwise.
By this time, the two of them had already arrived at the discussion hall.
“I demand an explanation for this, sister-in-law!” Chu Yuepo’s furious roar reached them as soon as they walked through the door.
Zu An was surprised. Chu Yuepo had always given him the impression of a chubby, friendly uncle. He had never seen him so angry before.
“Indeed, I was kept completely in the dark regarding this as well, and yet it is I who has to clean up this mess! All of you have really gone too far this time!” Chu Tiesheng’s voice was icy-cold.
Qin Wanru was being chewed out by Chu Tiesheng and Chu Yuepo. Her face was ashen, but there was nothing she could say to defend herself. She knew that she was in the wrong.
Chu Chuyan quickly stepped forward. “Second and third uncles, we shouldn’t be focused on who should be blamed for this. What we need to do right now is find a way to deal with this issue.”
“Your words sure sound nice! However, you can’t deny that you hid everything from us. Only now, when things have gone south, do you finally remember the rest of us.” Chu Tiesheng scoffed.
Chu Chuyan frowned. “We hid this from everyone else because this was an extremely important and delicate matter. We had to maintain absolute secrecy.”
“And look at just how well you all managed to keep this secret! Didn’t it still leak out in the end?” Chu Yuepo said. “If only the few of you knew about this, then who was the one who leaked this information?”
He looked at Chu Chuyan and then at Qin Wanru, his meaning obvious. Clearly, one of the two had leaked the secret out.
Qin Wanru and Chu Chuyan were both so angry that their faces turned a deathly white. However, neither of them could think of a suitable rebuttal.
Zu An stepped in front of the both of them. “The two of you really are something! How dare you use this chance to bully a widow and an orphan!”
Qin Wanru and Chu Chuyan stared at his back with a mixture of bewilderment and indignant anger.
You have successfully trolled Qin Wanru for 666 Rage points!
You have successfully trolled Chu Chuyan for 233 Rage points!
Zu An was shocked. I’m speaking up for you two right now! Why are you getting angry at me?
However, he soon realized the issue. He said with an awkward laugh, “My bad, my bad. You aren’t a widow, and you’re not an orphan either.”
If Chu Zhongtian had heard him, he would have surely flipped out no matter how good his temper was.
Only with this admission did the two women’s complexions improve.
“What makes you think you have the right to speak up in such a place?!” Chu Tiesheng said coldly.
Zu An maintained his composure. “I just wanted to speak up for my wife since I couldn’t stand your bullying anymore. Besides, for better or for worse, I am considered part of the main branch of the clan. Aren’t you all just members of the side branches? How is it that you guys are allowed to speak, but I’m not?”
“Utterly preposterous!” Chu Tiesheng immediately erupted in anger. Even Chu Yuepo glowered at Zu An. Their status as side branch members had always been something that gnawed at their minds.
You have successfully trolled Chu Tiesheng for 886 Rage points!
You have successfully trolled Chu Yuepo for 668 Rage points!
“Enough, enough!” Qin Wanru finally spoke up. “How much more time are we going to waste arguing?”
Chu Tiesheng snorted. “It’s not that we want to argue, but your main branch always keeps a firm grasp on every single affair. Although it’s said that Third Brother and I control the iron and salt businesses respectively, everyone knows that this is in name only.”
Chu Yuepo parroted, “That’s correct! There would have never been such a huge slip-up if you had just consulted with the rest of us first!”
Zu An said, “It’s easy to talk a big game after the fact. However, didn’t father-in-law take the risk because he was thinking about the welfare of the Chu clan as a whole? The Chu clan has been struggling to even make ends meet, so we obviously need to save as much as possible.”
Even though Chu Chuyan hadn’t told him these things, he could fill in these blanks himself.
Qin Wanru’s expression eased a little. She had never been fond of Zu An’s slick mouth, but now that he was speaking up on their behalf, she suddenly found him much more pleasing to the eye.
Having a man standing in front of you always helped to settle one’s unease.
Qin Wanru’s thoughts drifted instinctively to Chu Zhongtian. She didn’t know when he could return safely.
“Save, save, save—in the end, you all didn’t save anything, but threw the entire Chu clan away! Sixteen million taels of silver! Where in the world will the Chu clan be able to gather that much money?!” Chu Tiesheng said furiously.
You have successfully trolled Chu Tiesheng for 358 Rage points!
“Sixteen million?” Zu An gave a start. Why was the number so high?
He had just been thinking about his own wealth, and how he could use it to help his wife through this crisis. In the end, there was still a missing zero behind his total net worth.
“The royal court sets restrictions on the sale of salt in order to prevent salt merchants from dumping their goods into the market at will. If one wishes to obtain salt permits ahead of time beyond the stipulated quota, then besides the 1.5 taels of silver needed per permit, an additional 2.1 taels of silver needs to be paid in advance.” Chu Chuyan paused for a moment, her expression becoming downcast. “In addition, to prevent salt merchants from engaging in covert activities, it is expressly stipulated in writing that those who do not make this advance payment will be fined several times the required amount.”
“More than half of the sixteen million taels of silver demanded of us are in fines.” Chu Tiesheng continued where she left off. “The only way such a sum can possibly be paid off is if we sold off the entire Chu clan!”Previous Chapter Next Chapter