Chapter 10: A Trap
Zu An replied calmly, “I know that I deserve a thousand deaths for having carried out such a despicable, beastly deed. Thats why, when the Second Miss came to speak to me last night, I decided to atone for my sins. I didnt resist as she struck me again and again with her Wailing Whip. I took a total of eight strikes before she forgave me.”
Those in the hall scoffed at his obviously empty boast. Didnt resist at all Pagh! If the Second Miss really wanted to beat you up, how could you possibly resist or dodge even if you wanted to!
Only then did Chu Zhongtian and his wife register the bloodstains on his clothes, as well as the fact that he was on a stretcher. Yue Shan spoke up, “My lord, the young master said that his wounds from the Wailing Whip were so grievous that he lacked the strength to move, so we had to carry him here.”
“Huanzhao” Qin Wanru was startled, but she did not dismiss the story as she knew her daughters temperament. Flustered by this turn of events, she snapped, “This is ridiculous behavior!”
Chu Zhongtian wore an odd look. “Wanru, we summoned everyone today for the sake of what happened to Huanzhao. If she has already personally punished Zu An, perhaps we can let this matter rest”
He recalled the conversation hed had with his daughter from the previous day. It had fueled his own suspicions that not all was as it seemed, and that Zu An could be innocent. However, he had called this meeting for the sake of his wife, and to satisfy the side branches of the Chu clan who were doing their own investigations.
Upon hearing these words, Zu An felt his heart go out to the man. Its almost impossible to find such a wonderful father-in-law!
Before Qin Wanru had a chance to respond, a high-pitched voice screeched, “Big brother, I must disagree. Our Chu clan has always taken pride in the strictness of our clan rules. Weve never had something so unsightly happen! If we simply waved it away, the Chu clan would be disgraced! Do you know how many rumors are flying about these days Everyone is saying that this brat has latched onto both sisters at once! If we do not punish him, itll further fuel the spread of these evil rumors!”
The speaker was a grim-faced, middle-aged man seated directly below Chu Zhongtian. His eyes were weighed down by heavy, dark bags, and he gently fanned himself as he spoke. According to Zu Ans new memories, this was Chu Tiesheng. He was a member of the second branch of the Chu clan, and Chu Chuyan addressed him asSecond Uncle.
“Second Uncle, what are you talking about! Its not like he did anything to me that night!” A beautiful young woman had barged in from an adjoining hall. She was dressed in fiery, skin-tight leathers, which contrasted sharply with the general coldness of the grand hall.
Chu Zhongtian snapped, “Huanzhao, why are you out here Go back inside immediately!”
“Stop yelling at her! You shouldnt yell at children like that!” Qin Wanru glared at her husband, then turned to beam at her daughter. “Its alright, Huanzhao. Dont listen to your father. Come and sit next to me. Tell Mother what this is all about.”
Chu Zhongtian chuckled in embarrassment. No one batted an eyelid; clearly, this was an everyday occurrence.
Chu Huanzhao used the whip in her hand to point at Zu An. “Mother! Last night, I really did use the Wailing Whip to beat him up. In the end, I also agreed to forgive what he did. I dont want to go back on my word!”
Zu An gave her a huge mental thumbs up. Although the little girl had a sadistic streak, at least she was an honest gambler.
A rotund man seated opposite Chu Tiesheng spoke up. “Niece, you are still too young to understand the wicked ways of this world. Any of us couldve punished Zu An; you were the only one who shouldnt have! If word of this spreads, everyone will assume that the scandal is true. You arent even married yet. Think about what this would do to your reputation!”
He was deadly serious as he spoke, but the huge amount fat on his face had creased into what looked like a smile. In fact, many people mistakenly thought that he smiled all the time, which made him hard to dislike. He was toying with a glittering golden compass.
Zu An recognized thissmiling tiger as the Third Uncle of the Chu clan, Chu Yuepo. His head started to ache. Why do all these members of the side branches want me dead On the surface, Im nothing more than a useless son-in-law. How did I piss off so many people
In the silence that followed, the young miss of the Pei clan, Pei Mianman, whispered a question to Chu Chuyan. “Doesnt the Wailing Whip magnify all pain tenfold Is he perhaps an expert who has been hiding his true abilities”
Despite her quiet voice, her question carried through the hall. Zu An cursed under his breath. This woman has a sweet smile, but a devious heart. What a total bitch!
Chu Chuyan frowned slightly. Snow, seated behind them, seized the chance to answer. “He doesnt even know martial arts. How can he be an expert”
Chu Tianshengs eyes lit up. He hurriedly said towards the Master and Madam, “Big brother, sister-in-law! Everyone here knows just how powerful the Wailing Whip is. I imagine even the two of you would find it hard to endure eight blows. How could an ordinary person like him do so”
Chu Zhongtian exchanged glances with his wife. There was some truth to his words. Chu Huanzhao was indignant. “I really did hit him eight times! Or are you all accusing me of lying!”
“My lord, Im sure that Second Miss would never lie, but shes always been a kind and gentle person. She must have shown mercy and held back as she struck him. When we went to summon him earlier, he hit me forcefully and broke my nose! Its impossible for him to be as injured as he claims to be.” Diao Yang was quick to throw his support behind Chu Tiansheng.
Those gathered in the hall were incredulous. The Second Miss Kind and gentle How could you say such lies with a straight face Since when did she ever show anyone mercy with that whip of hers
Still, the proceedings thus far had been quite ridiculous. She... didnt fall for her brother-in-law, did she!
Chu Tiansheng used Diao Yangs interruption to advance his case. “The truth is plain to see. Not only did Zu An show no remorse for his detestable actions, he even manipulated our kind, naive Huanzhao in an attempt to escape sanction for it. We should punish him in accordance with clan rules as a warning to others!”
Chu Zhongtian furrowed his brows, eyes hooded in thought. He was clearly weighing the merits of this new argument. Zu An groaned inwardly. He was just about to speak up in his own defence when a servant rushed in.
“Master! Madam! A woman has come and is causing a huge fuss. She insists on seeing your son-in-law. She has already gathered quite a crowd!”
“A woman” Qin Wanru was stunned. “A woman from which clan”
Chu Chuyan, who had remained calm throughout, felt her curiosity pique. Did Zu An know other women!
Zu An stared stupidly. How many lovers did this guy have! But why is it that I have no memories of any
Snow, standing behind Chu Chuyan, wore the faintest of smiles. I didnt expect you to survive your injuries from last night. Thankfully, I made ample preparations.
In response to Qin Wanrus questions, the servant nervously stuttered, “F-from the Red Harmony Courtyard.”
Instantly, the hall was thrown into an uproar. Everyone knew what type of establishment the Red Harmony Courtyard was!
“Its a disgrace to let this nonsense continue outside our estate. Bring her inside!” Qin Wanru ordered coldly, her voice quivering with barely-contained anger.
A woman in a gaudy dress and make-up sashayed into the hall. When she caught sight of Zu An, she threw herself at him, sobbing and wailing. “You heartless man! After you had your fill, you said you were broke and couldnt pay, but promised instead to bring me into your household as a concubine. You even told me that I could become a sister to the young misses of the Chu clan. That was the only reason I agreed. How could you just abandon me!”
Snow idly toyed with her ponytail, her eyes narrowed to crescent slits. Lets see you make it out of this alive.
It was purely a case of her word against his. Even if you deny it, no one will believe you unless you make public the fact that you are impotent... which would be even more embarrassing for the clan. No matter what, youll no longer be the son-in-law after today.
Young master, your dreams will quickly become a reality.
The members of the second and third branches fell silent, and an uneasy silence filled the hall. There was nothing more to be said.
Chu Zhongtian, who had been accommodating Zu An so far, was furious. A common whore openly bragging about becoming a sister to his precious daughter This was an absolute disgrace... and it was all because of Zu An!
“Vile miscreant! What do you have to say for yourself!” Qin Wanru glared at Zu An, her eyes spitting fire.
You have successfully trolled Chu Zhongtian for 78 Rage points!
You have successfully trolled Qin Wanru for 300 Rage points!
Zu An himself wondered how the previous owner of this body had managed to survive this long. He had transmigrated to this world just a day ago, but everyone seemed to want him dead! So, who hired this prostitute to deal with me The second branch The third Maybe Miss Pei Looks like mooching off my wife isnt going to be that easy.
He calmly turned to face the gaudily-dressed woman. “Whats your name again”
“Oh, you heartless man! Dont even pretend you dont know me. You passionately called out my nameSpringflower so many times, but now youve forgotten it” the prostitute said with a cold smile.
Zu An didnt argue with her, but answered with a smile of his own, “Ah. Please forgive me, sweet Springflower, Ive been busy recently and it slipped my mind. How much do I owe you for your services”
“My services! You dont have to put it so bluntly.” Springflower waved her fingers flirtatiously. “We were together for nearly half a month. That would make it a total of twenty... no, thirty silvers.”
At this, those in the hall felt their disdain for Zu An deepen. You were actually interested in such a cheap working girl How thirsty were you
“Thirty silvers” Zu An nodded. “Thats pretty cheap. How about this Ill give you three hundred silvers, and well consider the extra a betrothal gift.”
The assembled clansmen sucked in icy cold breaths in shock. Was this fellow suicidal They looked towards the main dais, and saw that both Chu Zhongtian and his wife were ashen-faced.
Miss Pei studied Zu An curiously. She sensed something odd about him.
“Truly” Joy blossomed on Springflowers face.
“Of course!” Zu An turned to Chu Chuyan. “Sweetheart, I dont have any money right now. Could you loan me three hundred silvers”
Everyone in the hall stared at him as though he were insane. You are actually asking your wife to pay for your whoring! What the hell is wrong with you! Chu Chuyan is going to rip him apart on the spot!
Contrary to everyones expectations, Chu Yuyan nodded. “Very well. Servants, bring me three hundred silvers.”
The hall was thrown into a state of confused chaos. No one understood what was going on. Even Pei Mianman stared at her in astonishment. Was this truly her best friend
Qin Wanru was about to explode, but Chu Zhongtian nudged her arm gently and pursed his lips towards their daughter. Madame Chu frowned deeply, but stayed silent, waiting for events to play out further.
Zu An silently acknowledged Chu Chuyans move. My freebie wife really is as cold as ice and especially clever. She was probably the only one who knew for sure that he was being maligned, as she had personally witnessed his impotence. There was no way she would believe he had been out whoring.
Wait. Why am I on the verge of breaking down in tears