That made Le Zheng sneer. He laughed and laughed until his eyes grew wet. In the end, that child wasn't his own! He treated Lele like his own daughter, wanting to give her not only the Liubei Trade Consortium but a good son-in-law in Ah-Cheng. He never expected her to want his life!
After a while, Le Zheng turned towards Ning Cheng and asked, "Ah-Cheng, when are you preparing to betray me?"
Over the past few days, he had been setting up Lele and Ning Cheng, always telling the latter, "Call me godfather like my daughter-in-law, not Boss Le. That's too formal. In the future when you and Lele have a child, I'll hand over Liubei to you both and take care of the children!"
Ah-Cheng didn't agree to the marriage, but had long switched to calling him godfather like Lele. He couldn't see through his feelings about the matter. After all, compared to Ah-Cheng, he trusted Lele more! He wanted to give her Liubei Trade Consortium, not him. He was only using the marriage as a pretext to help Lele keep Ning Cheng and hold him in check. Ah-Cheng's business skills were far superior to Lele's.
But everything that happened tonight, the scene he saw upon startling awake from bed, left him in utter despair!
Faced with Le Zheng's question, Ning Cheng remained unaffected. He said, "Godfather, if I had the heart to betray you, you would be already dead." Although this was the truth, Le Zheng didn't believe it. Ning Cheng added, "And Liubei would have long been mine."
This part Le Zheng did believe. Over the past few years, Liubei's big business deals were all done by Ning Cheng himself. Although Ah-Cheng couldn't get his hands on Le Zheng's hidden stash of wealth, it'd be easy for him to take over Liubei Trade Consortium.
Ning Cheng told Le Zheng about everything that happened, including how he'd tricked Lele. Soon enough, the guards pursuing Lele returned.
"Boss Le, the person with young Miss has extraordinary martial arts. They…escaped!"
Le Zheng turned and punched the door. "Lele!" he cried, "You were unrighteous to treat father cruelly!"
Ning Cheng said, "Godfather, cut off her finances immediately. She can't go far."
"Fine!" Le Zheng went inside to take out a key and said, "That treasure stash is still hidden in Immeasurable Peak, but the lock's already been changed. I'll give you this key first. Capture Lele and her key will be yours."
Ning Cheng didn't take the key but said, "No rush. Godfather should keep the key first and give it to me after I capture her."
"Very good! Godfather hopes I didn't misjudge you," Le Zheng said before going inside to slam the door shut.
Although Ning Cheng saw the tears in his eyes, his lips still curved into a mocking lilt once the man was inside. He had no sympathy for him at all. Le Zheng was a slave trader and human trafficker. So what if he was betrayed by Lele?
That very night, Ning Cheng did three things.
First, he spread news that Lele had betrayed Liubei Trade Consortium and that there would be a sky-high reward for capturing her.
Secondly, he locked up all of Lele's henchmen in Liubei Trade Consortium, showing no mercy to even those in the highest positions of the organization. Over ten people were arrested. Ning Cheng didn't interrogate them, but simply used this as a pretext to imprison them. He needed to clear out Lele's cohorts and replace them with his own trusted men.
Third, he went put a woman named Shaqiu on trial.
The first New Year's Eve at Liubei Trade Consortium, Le Zheng had gifted him a female slave Shaqiu. Although the present was under Le Zheng's name, the girl herself was one of Lele's people. Ning Cheng still kept Shaqiu by his side to put on an act and send Lele false news from time to time.
When he entered Shaqiu's room, the sleeping woman was startled awake, but quickly recovered her senses. "Master Cheng, why did you come so late?"
She threw a wink at him before coming barefoot down the bed, her delicate lingerie hiding her tempting figure. Ning Cheng had received his share of charms from Shaqiu over the years and had to admit that Lele was very good at picking women. He was very grateful to Lele for sending him such a beauty, so much that he could use Shaqiu to enlist the Steward Ma who was serving Le Zheng closely. Shaqiu had excellent alcohol capacity, but was still far inferior to Ning Cheng. Thus, every time she drank herself drunk, it was Steward Ma doing her, not Ning Cheng. To this day, she was still clueless to it all.
Naturally, Lele had even less of an idea.
Shaqiu clung to him. "Master Cheng, did you miss this slave?" She groped his chest and tried to burrow her hands into his robes, but Ning Cheng suddenly grabbed her neck and pushed her away. Stunned, Shaoqiu's first reaction was that she was having a nightmare. Ning Cheng shoved her against the wall before releasing her, voice cold.
"Answer my questions. If you lie, I'll leave you…to a fate worse than death!"
Shaqiu finally realized she'd been exposed. She wanted to escape, but Ning Cheng's sturdy body blocked the way. Ning Cheng took out a dagger and rested it against Shaqiu's face. Before he started asking, he carved a piece of her skin first, causing her to shriek in pain. When Ning Cheng rested the blade against her cheek again, she suddenly stopped and cried, "I…I'll talk! I'll tell you anything."
Ning Cheng interrogated Shaqiu for less than an hour before emerging from her rooms to instruct the guards, "Collect the corpse. Right, and tell Steward Ma that I'll give him a better one after capturing Eldest Miss Le."
When daylight came, Ning Cheng had already set out.
Everyone only knew that he was chasing Lele, but not of his methods or where he was going. Lele and that woman named Jin weren't very far, but hiding right next door to the Liubei Trade Consortium compound. The most dangerous place was also the safest place. At the very least, it was secure for now.
Lele's arm was injured by the arrow and she muttered about seeing a doctor, but Jin simply knocked her out with a slap and then roughly pulled out the weapon before sprinkling Jinchuang medicine and wrapping it up. Lele woke up from her stupor to see her bandaged arm and Jin dozing by her side. She spaced out for a while before recalling how she'd lost consciousness.
She drew silently towards Jin's ear and coldly growled, "Yujin! You dare to backstab me? Are you courting death?"
Yujin's ears were about to go deaf, but she remained calm and changed positions to distance herself from Lele. Then she looked back and said icily, "I helped you with your wound, which counts for 100 taels in consultation fees. Remember to pay me back along with the account for killing Le Zheng together."
Her name was Yujin, and she had become a professional assassin after leaving her family. Her first hit came from Lele who had just entered the Mysterious Continent. Lele offered a sky-high price to hire Yujin as her private mercenary, but Yujin refused. Thus, Lele began to owe a debt she couldn't pay. In her words, there was no relationship more secure than that of debtor and collector in the world. As long as she still owed Yujin money, Yujin would forever be involved with her.
For the sake of expressing her "sincere debts," Lele took the initiative to tell Yujin about her background. Yujin, who wasn't good at or interested in interacting with others, got it into her head to share her background with Lele as well. In this way, their friendship and mutual knowledge was established and solidified through Lele's debts again and again.
"One hundred for the consultation fee!" Lele couldn't believe it. "Yujin, you you you…you've learned from bad examples!"
Indeed, Yujin had learned to be tricky. Even the most ignorant person could easily pick up bad habits after following Lele around. When Lele found Yujin to kill her first mark, Yujin had only charged 10 taels, which was a thousand times lower than other assassins of her caliber. Yet just yesterday, Yujin had demanded a condition instead of payment when Lele came to ask her to kill. She wanted Lele to pay her 100,000 taels a year.
Yujin replied seriously, "Cheng'er, I learned it from you."
Lele rolled her eyes and stood up with a sigh. "100 taels it is then. In any case, I'll never be able to clear debts with you. If I knew this would happen, I should've paid back all my debts in advance."
She wanted to assassinate Le Zheng and push the blame on Ah-Cheng, but her plan had failed and she knew very well that Le Zheng would cut off her cash flow in response. Yujin observed Lele's lost look and wanted to comfort her when the latter soon recovered. She said, "That's good, from today on I'm no longer Lele!"
Le Zheng had given Lele her name while her real one was Cheng'er. She had a very respectable surname in the Mysterious Continent. She had secretly found out all this from Le Zheng's study. She had never thought of going home to recognize her relatives; she only wanted to live a carefree life doing the thing she liked: making money.
She had planned it all out: kill Le Zheng and blame Ah-Cheng, both to get Le Zheng's wealth and claim sole control over Liubei Trade Consortium. But now all was water down the drain. She looked back at Yujin and said seriously, "Jin, for the sake of my new life, let's clear our debts, all right?"
The debts that Cheng'er owed over the years had accumulate to over a hundred million. Anyone else who heard this would be furious, but Yujin was calm and said, "Cheng'er, you still have Carefree Joy. If you don't pay back your debts, I'll kill the huakui of Carefree Joy."
Carefree Joy was Lele's privately owned brothel and its huakui was none other than Cheng'er herself. Yujin was clear about that.
Cheng'er's expression stiffened before she finally forced out a smile. "I was just joking then, don't treat it seriously. It's the right thing to do to pay back your debts! Come, let's go to Carefree Joy. I'll sell myself off to give you the money."
That very night, Yujin took Cheng'er to hide safely in Carefree Joy. But reality proved that Cheng'er's words were always three parts true, seven parts false; Yujin's harsh words to her were also false. Cheng'er ignored all of the numerous people who wanted to buy a night with the huakai while Yujin never pressed her to pay her debts again. Cheng'er spent half a month to hook up with a bigshot and said happily to Yujin, "Jin, that idiot Ah-Cheng still hasn't found me yet. I've decided to look for him first. No need for you to make a move this time, just rest on the side later."
Rest on the side later? What ambiguous phrasing!
Yujin's face darkened and Cheng'er quickly changed her tone. "No no, you can watch the fun from the sidelines, watch the fun!"
late release today, it was such a beautiful day (cool and sunny but with high winds) that i slept until noon. zzzz....simple weekend joys.
Ah-Cheng didn't agree to the marriage, but had long switched to calling him godfather like Lele. He couldn't see through his feelings about the matter.
the fact is that ning cheng and every other main dude in this universe not named LFY, Tang Li, or Jin Zi has an unrequited crush on Han Yunxi.
....is, is it just me or does Yujin and Cheng'er/Lele have yuri couple vibes in this chapter? author, what are you doing... although it's really inexplicable that they're suddenly a pair just like that, it's kinda forced in your face they have this weird debt relationship. ah well, it hasn't annoyed me like GBY so i say go for it.