Chapter 88: Covenantor (XI)
Previously, Yue Cheng had simply assumed that Yue Ze was Lu Xiufan’s lover. He’d scoffed when he’d heard the rumor that he’d gifted his covenantor son to Lu Xiufan—he never believed in using his children in exchange for the family’s benefit. If Yue Ze wanted to be with Lu Xiufan, that was his own decision. However, he never thought that Yue Ze was actually Lu Xiufan’s servant, hired from the Covenantor Distribution Center.
After all, he would truly be an idiot if he didn’t know what kind of a place the Covenantor distribution center was and how the covenantors there were treated. The great Yue Family head’s son, once the family heir, had been treated as an object and publically put up for sale.
If Shang Ke hadn’t been hired by Lu Xiufan, it was unthinkable what type of treatment his own son would have had to endure. And after he’d been humiliated and abused, the family would have had to disown him in order to maintain their reputation, leaving him to fend for himself.
Yue Cheng’s face burned and his whole body shook.
Shang Ke gazed cooly at the disturbed Yue Cheng. This person’s mistake did not stop at his indifference towards Yue Ze. Even until Yue Ze’s death, Yue Cheng never found out that the only reason the eldest son he’d been most proud of became a covenantor, and was later killed, was because of his wife and other son.
However, Shang Ke didn’t plan to reveal this fact for the time being; he wanted to wait and let the whole Yue Family know just how much injustice Yue Ze had endured.
Shang Ke felt someone hold his hand; turning his head, he saw Lu Xiufan’s grave expression. Lu Xiufan glared at Yue Cheng, coldly saying, “Yue Cheng, understand this; from today onwards, Little Ze will have nothing more to do with Yue Family.”
Yue Cheng promptly replied, “No. Yue Ze is a member of Yue Family. This will never change.”
Lu Xiufan replied frostily, “Once he took on the name ‘Shang Ze’ and became mine, Yue Family lost all claims to him. The reason why I brought him here today was, in fact, to break off your kinship.”
He had originally wanted to give Yue Cheng a chance to make amends, he was Little Ze’s father after all. If possible, he hoped Little Ze would be able to receive a sliver of care and comfort from his family. However, this man merely hurt Little Ze again. A covenantor might not have the full emotional capacity of a regular person, but he still has memories of what he sees and hears. Today’s meeting, other than establishing Yue Cheng’s indifference towards Little Ze and partiality for the other son, had accomplished little else.
Lu Xiufan pulled up Yue Ze, turned, and walked out the door.
“Wait, Your Excellency, please give me some time; I promise that I will seek justice for Little Ze.” Yue Cheng shouted after them agitatedly.
“Let’s talk again when you really follow through on that.” Lu Xiufan left without looking back.
Once they returned to the car, Lu Xiufan asked Shang Ke, “I’m off today; is there anything you’d like to do?”
Shang Ke was silent for a moment, before uttering just one word, “Swimming.”
Thus, the two went to the pool and spent the whole afternoon in synchronized swimming.
Once Yue Cheng returned home, he called for Madam Chang and Yue Xuan and grilled them on the distribution center issue.
Madam Chang impatiently replied, “Since you were busy dealing with other family business, you let me take charge of finding a place for Yue Ze. Only after I asked his opinion and received his consent, did I send him to the distribution center.”
“You’re still making excuses? Don’t you know what type of place the distribution center is? If it became known that we sent our child to the distribution center, Yue Family would become the laughing-stock throughout the empire.”
“That’s why I helped Yue Ze change his name.” Madam Chang persuasively replied, “I even specially recommended him to His Excellency, to prevent him from being employed by someone of ill-repute.”
Yue Cheng suspiciously looked at her, “It was you who recommended Little Ze to His Excellency?”
“Of course.” Madam Chang cast a glance at him, “Why else do you think I would so readily sent Yue Family’s eldest son to that kind of place?”
Yue Cheng tensely frowned, expression wavering between belief and disbelief; hearing Madam Chang explain it this way, she’d actually been trying to look out for Yue Ze?
Madam Chang continued, “You’ve probably never asked Yue Ze to confirm if it was in fact me willfully sending him there, or if it was with his own approval.”
Yue Cheng’s anger lessened a bit as he said with a strained voice, “Even if he agreed, you shouldn’t have done this.”
“You’re right, I really shouldn’t have done this. I’ve long realized that after he was sent to assist Lu Xiufan, he turned his back on his own family, using this as an opportunity to bully Little Xuan. At that time, I should have behaved like you, just completely ignoring him.” Madam Chang pulled Yue Xuan over, coldly saying, “Now that he has the insurmountable support of Lu Xiufan, I’m afraid he no longer thinks of himself as a member of Yue Family.”
Yue Cheng thought of what Lu Xiufan said previously about Little Ze and Yue Family no longer being related and could not help but feel a bit uneasy.
He raised his head and glared at Yue Xuan, angrily saying, “You’re the cause of all this calamity!”
Madam Chang pushed Yue Xuan protectively behind her, retorting, “Why are you rushing to accuse Little Xuan? He’s still a child, how much of a calamity could he possibly cause? Seems like it’s actually Yue Ze, who’s got the favor of His Excellency, who took a trivial matter and made a mountain out of a molehill. We’re clearly the victims, yet in the end we’re the ones who have to bow our heads and apologize to him.”
“Be quiet. Finding people to rape your own big brother is a trivial matter?”
Madam Chang coldly snorted, “But was he raped? Where’s the proof? I only saw Little Xuan and his friends getting beaten up by Yue Ze, then jailed on baseless accusations by the royal family. It was only children brawling, yet he immediately pursued criminal justice. Just who is being senseless, and using their position to bully others?”
Yue Chang had nothing else to say. In his heart, he felt that there was something wrong with Madam Chang’s words, but he had no idea how to refute them.
“Today, since you want to punish us, mother and son, in order to justify yourself to Lu Xiufan and Yue Ze, I will let you punish us.” Madam Chang firmly stared at Yue Cheng, “But Yue Cheng, I detest you; you can’t even protect your own wife and son, you’re truly useless!”
Yue Cheng turned ashen, no longer able to bring up the subject of punishment.
Lu Xiufan on the other hand was still waiting to hear the results of Yue Cheng’s punishment. However, after half a month passed and there was no news from Yue Family, other than that their activities had become more low key and they had had fewer interactions with the other nobility. While this reaction was contrary to Lu Xiufan’s expectations, it made sense.
Yue Xuan is Yue Cheng’s only heir; if he were to lose this heir, the family head’s position would also become shaky. During the time of Yue Ze’s crisis, Yue Cheng was almost forced out by another family member. Now, even though he’d offend powerful people within the capital, his foundations were still solid. In the future, he just had to watch his words and actions, and he could still contentedly maintain his small corner of power.
Lu Xiufan sneered, if Yue Cheng truly desired to obtain justice for Yue Ze, he could still let off the rest of Yue Family and only punish Yue Xuan. However, it turns out that retaining this type of family head was just a waste of resources.
From that day forward, Yue Cheng paid a heavy price for his oversight. Lu Xiufan secretly hired people to investigate Yue Family’s businesses, and any that were even slightly questionable were seized. Every single Yue Family member who had committed any wrongdoing was put on a watchlist.
For a while, Yue Family suffered disastrous losses and everyone was in danger. Yue Cheng, as the family head, received heavy criticism. Yet at the same time there was no one willing to take over such a terrible mess.
Shang Ke was just waiting for Lu Xiufan in the public square when he suddenly heard someone call him from behind. Turning around, he saw a person who shouldn’t have been able to show her face in public—Madam Chang.
Madam Chang appeared haggard, but her eyes were as sharp as ever. She said to Shang Ke, “I came today to ask you to save Yue Family.”
Shang Ke looked at her in silence.
“Because of you, His Excellency has oppressed Yue Family continuously, without an ounce of compassion. Yue Family, with a hundred years of history, will be destroyed before your eyes. If you still consider yourself a descendent of Yue Family, then help save it.”
Madam Chang smoothed back her hair and continued, “I know my son previously wronged you, but there’s no reason for all of Yue Family to be forever made to pay for his mistake. If you are willing to help, I will personally bring him to apologize to you.”
If he didn’t already know that Madam Chang was the perpetrator that forced Yue Ze to become a covenantor, he would almost admire the courage it took her to lower her head and beg for leniency. Now that he, the obstacle to her interests, had been quickly removed, she could come with a virtuous expression to plead for her own interests.
I have to say, this woman really is able to adapt and survive in any situation; otherwise, she wouldn’t have Yue Cheng so whipped that he would make such a destructive choice, causing Yue Family to sink to this condition.
“I hope you will consider my request. If you have any conditions, just say them. So long as I can fulfill them, I will.”
She knew that Yue Ze was a covenantor, and wouldn’t be able to add any conditions; this is why she deliberately offered him the option. It can’t be said that her schemes weren’t cunning. Shang Ke internalised a cold laugh. She was counting her chickens before they hatched and had messed with the wrong person. Yue Ze wouldn’t be able to fight for his own rights, but Shang Ke could.
Shang Ke knew that this was the moment he’s been waiting for.
“Did Madam Chang come to find you today?” Lu Xiufan, who had heard the news from the bodyguards, asked Shang Ke the instant he returned to the mansion.
“Yes,” Shang Ke answered while he shaped dough.
“What did she say to you?” Lu Xiufan’s eyes hardened, did these people want to die faster?
“She wants me to save Yue Family.” Shang Ke’s agile fingers pressed out the shape of a flower.
Lu Xiufan’s expression became severe; they still had the nerve to ask Little Ze for help.
“You don’t need to respond. They already have nothing to do with you.”
Shang Ke didn’t say anything, just continuing to work the dough.
Lu Xiufan was silent for a moment before asking, “Little Ze, what do you want? I want to know your thoughts.”
“I think,” Shang Ke said casually, “I want to go home for a bit.”
This reply took Lu Xiufan by surprise, “Why?”
“If I don’t go back, they’ll keep coming to find me.”
“I have a way to make them disappear forever.” Lu Xiufan’s whole body was infused with murderous rage.
“Even if they disappear, their memories remain,” Shang Ke calmly replied, “This time I’ll go back as ‘Yue Ze’; once I return, I will fully become ‘Shang Ze’, the Shang Ze that belongs to you, Sir.”
Shang Ke slowly raised his head, and gazed seriously at the man in front of him, the man’s figure shining clearly in the reflection of his sincere eyes.
Lu Xiufan’s heart throbbed, and he almost lost himself in the single-minded devotion expressed within those eyes.
“Sir, do you agree?”
Lu Xiufan picked up Shang Ke’s flour-stained hands, and warmly said, “I’ll go with you.”
Three days later, Lu Xiufan brought Shang Ke to Yue Family. The sudden visit gave Yue Family an terrible scare.
Trembling in fear as he welcomed Lu Xiufan in the main room, Yue Cheng asked in a forcefully calmed voice, “For Your Excellency to come visit my humble abode, did you have some request?”
He didn’t come to seize the ancestral house, did he? Was His Excellency really planning to exterminate them?
Cold sweat flowing down his forehead, Yue Cheng shot glances at Shang Ke out of the corner of his eye, hoping to glean some information from his expression. However, other than personifying the word ‘paralyzed’, Shang Ke’s face only held an absent-minded coldness.
“A couple of days ago, wasn’t it you who had someone ‘invite’ Little Ze back here?” Lu Xiufan’s ice cold gaze rested on Madam Chang, who was standing beside Yue Cheng.
Madam Chang immediately came forward and said, “Your Excellency is right, it’s us who asked Little Ze to come back.”
“Very good. He’s arrived now, what do you plan to do?”
Yue Cheng and Madam Chang gave each other a look of dismay, everyone else was also at a complete loss. They’d long learned how Lu Xiufan’s did things, if they weren’t careful and said the wrong thing, who knows, couldn’t he hire someone to immediately raze Yue Family to the ground?
At last, it was Madam Chang who was relatively astute, turning her head to say to Shang Ke, “Little Ze, since you’ve returned, it must mean that you’re willing to give Yue Family a helping hand.”
Once the others heard this, they all looked at Shang Ke with eyes full of anticipation, treating him as if he was their last hope.
“You would like me to lend a helping hand?” Shang Ke asked.
Madam Chang looked at Lu Xiufan a couple times as she said, “As long as you’re willing to accept Yue Family’s apology, I believe Your Excellency will be willing to let us go.”
“Apology?” Lu Xiufan coldly watched everyone, “What apology?”
Yue Cheng clenched his teeth as he said, “We are willing to take 30% of Yue Family’s profit and use that as compensation for Little Ze.”
Thirty percent of the profit? Even before their current state where Yue Family’s assets had decreased by more than half, even if it was from their profit at their peak, Lu Xiufan couldn’t be swayed by 30%. He only cared about what Shang Ke chose.
“I don’t want the profits,” Shang Ke said flatly.
“Then what do you want?” Yue Cheng asked.
“I want to become Yue Family’s heir.” Shang Ke calm voice echoed through the drawing room.
This statement startled not only Yue Cheng, but even Lu Xiufan.
“Your ambition certainly is great! Not even thirty percent of profits can whet your appetite, turns out you want all of Yue Family.” Yue Xuan couldn’t hold back his sarcasm.
“Hold your tongue!” Yue Cheng berated Yue Xuan with a gloomy expression, before turning around and looking at Shang Ke, “Little Ze, you really want all of Yue Family?”
“I want to take over Yue Family.” Shang Ke reiterated expressionlessly.
All the Yue Family members’ expressions became ugly; they all thought that Shang Ke was taking advantage of their misfortune.
Lu Xiufan only quietly looked on and didn’t express his views. So long as it was Shang Ke’s desire, he didn’t mind helping him achieve his goal. But did he really want it? He was a covenantor, what kind of meaning could taking over Yue Family possibly have for him…
Hold on a second, isn’t he a covenantor?