When he saw Chu Chuyans group arrive, Xie Yis frown instantly turned into a smile.
“Distinguished niece, I have only just returned, and heard that you were looking for me! I was worried that you might have already left.”
Zu An shook his head.
These fellas were all incredibly crafty.
He had clearly been home all this time.
He had refused to meet with them earlier, yet he was now pretending as though nothing had happened.
Chu Chuyan was clearly used to such things.
Her smile betrayed no hint of discontent.
“Chu Chuyan greets Uncle Xie.”
“Its not great being your uncle right now,” Xie Yi sighed.
This girl hadnt addressed him in his official capacity as City Lord, but had addressed him as uncle.
She clearly wished to speak with him as a friend of the Chu clan.
“I have a rough idea of why you are here.
Your Chu clan has really gotten into big trouble this time!
“Youve always been a level-headed girl.
Chu Zhongtian clearly wasnt thinking straight.
Why did you agree to this as well”
Chu Chuyan said gloomily, “Many things are easier said than done.
The illicit salt business was running rampant.
With the state of our expenses, the Chu clan was unable to make ends meet.
When the salt permits were stolen, we were left with no choice.
Other clans have always done this over the years, and it has become an unwritten custom.
We never expected Governor Sang would… enforce things so earnestly.”
Many who operated salt businesses had run out of salt permits before.
If they had adhered strictly to the rules, the costs of selling salt would have risen much higher, and nobody would have been able to purchase any for consumption.
That was why the clans involved in the trade had tacitly agreed to overlook the use of some advance salt permits.
The salt commissioners were all on good terms with the Chu clan, and all parties had coexisted harmoniously while Chu Zhongtian was head of the clan.
Who could have expected Sang Hong to make such a move
Xie Yi sighed.
“Even though it is an unwritten custom, once you oppose the court, you make yourself a potential target.”
Chu Chuyans voice was sullen.
“We know that this is a troublesome matter.
That is why we need to ask Uncle Xie for your assistance.”
Xie Yi smiled bitterly.
“You know that I am but an insignificant City Lord.
Governor Sang is my immediate superior, and he is acting on the emperors orders.
I cant do much to help, even if I wanted to…”
Chu Chuyans face darkened, and she became quiet.
Xie Yi continued, “Even though I cannot do anything, there is someone who can.”
Chu Chuyan maintained her silence.
Xie Yi had a smile on his face.
A strange atmosphere began to permeate the room.
Zu An was confused.
What kind of game were these two playing at “Who”
Xie Yi didnt explain himself.
“I believe my niece knows.”
Chu Chuyan finally spoke up.
“Uncle, you are surely aware of the principles that our Chu clan has always held onto.”
Xie Yi gave her a meaningful look.
“Sometimes, it really isnt easy to remain neutral.
It often comes at a huge price.”
Chu Chuyan got up.
“Im sorry for disturbing you today.
I hope uncle does not take offense.”
Xie Yi rose to his feet immediately and urged her to stay.
“Child, why are you in such a hurry to leave
“How about this Since we share such a close relationship, Ill be more direct.” Xie Yi paused for a moment to find the right words.
“I wont advise you all to pick a side.
However, if your clan is willing to hand over a certain item, someone will naturally step forward to help you resolve this matter.”
Chu Chuyans face became overcast.
The silence stretched out, before she finally said, “I will carefully consider this later.”
Xie Yis eyes brightened.
It was good that she hadnt refused him on the spot.
“Thats to be expected.
Its not a small matter.
You can discuss this with the rest of our clan members as well.”
When the two of them left the Xie Estate, Zu An couldnt hold back his curiosity any longer.
“What the heck was City Lord Xie talking about”
He had deduced from their conversation that Xie Yi was advising them to side with King Qi.
After Chu Chuyan had refused, he proposed something else.
Zu An couldnt figure out what this second thing was at all.
Chu Chuyan hesitated for a while, but decided to reveal the truth to him.
“Ah Zu, you arent an outsider anymore.
There are some things that you should know about.
What the City Lord was talking about is an account book…”
She explained the whole story behind the account book.
Zu An was furious.
“Isnt this Xie Yi profiting from our misfortune”
He suddenly remembered that Pei Mianman had asked him to help her search for an account book as well.
Back then, she had told him that it contained the transactions of the Chu clans weapons and salt businesses.
Now, he knew that she hadnt been telling the truth.
Sigh, this world really is a scary place.
On the surface, she looks like Chu Chuyans confidante, but that thing shes after could bring down the entire clan!
He felt uncomfortable when he thought of this.
Even though Pei Mianman acted hypocritically towards the Chu clan, she had always treated him well.
He didnt know what to think anymore.
Chu Chuyan sighed.
“We are already strung out like meat on a chopping block.
Even if he wants to take advantage of us, what can we do”
Zu An snapped out of his daze.
“Do you really plan to give him the account book”
“Of course not.
I just didnt want to show any overt hostility.” Chu Chuyan replied.
Zu An couldnt help but say, “Im actually quite confused.
Why arent you making use of such a powerful weapon”
“Make use of it” Chu Chuyan was stunned.
“How could we make use of it”
Zu An said, “This is basically a nuclear weapon! … Ahem, dont ask me what a nuclear weapon is.
What Im saying is that the livelihood of so many important officials are within your grasp.
You can use this to threaten them!”
Chu Chuyan frowned.
“Wouldnt that turn all of them completely against us”
“The Chu clan is already practically finished! Why do you care so much about that” Zu An said.
“Weve always maintained good relationships with them.
Perhaps they would still be willing to help us out, given our history.
If we provoke them like this, whats to stop them from standing idly by when we are in need” Chu Chuyans voice was filled with worry.
“You really worry about all the wrong things!” Zu An said.
“Let me ask you this, then.
The Chu clan has been in trouble for so long now, yet how many of these people have come to our aid”
Chu Chuyan opened her mouth, but no sound came out in the end.
Zu An sighed.
“If I were them, I would be praying that the Chu clan would meet its end sooner rather than later.
That way, no one would have any leverage over them anymore.
Why would any of these people be willing to help you”
“No wonder…” Chu Chuyan wasnt stupid.
She had just been overwhelmed by the overall situation before.
Now that Zu An had pointed it out to her, it seemed clear as day.
“Then what should we do”
“Find those people and threaten them!” Zu An said.
“If they dont help us, then well take them down with us! Based on what you said, those fellas are already scattered across the imperial court.
They are surely a huge force to be reckoned with!
“The Chu clan has been continuously suffering setbacks because Sang Qian has been secretly acting against you.
“Even if we deal with this current problem regarding the advance salt permits, Sang Hong will find another way to deal with the Chu clan.
Well lose eventually.
“That is why we need to tear out this issue from its roots.
Not only do we have to free the Chu clan from its current crisis, we need to dispose of Sang Hong.
If what you told me about that account book is true, these people definitely have the ability to help us eliminate this headache which is Sang Hong.
However, this only works if you force them to!”
Chu Chuyan remained quiet for a long time.
Her gaze slowly became firm.
“Okay, I will pay the capital city a visit.
These greedy people have taken so much from us over the years, yet the Chu clan has always been cleaning up after them.
It is now time for them to do something for the Chu clan!”