Chapter 842 – A Shout Throws the Snowstorm into Chaos
Translated by: Hypersheep325
Edited by: Michyrr
The old Guardian expressionlessly nodded to the people outside the ancestral hall.
The mahjong game in the ancestral hall continued. As Tang Thirty-Six drew tiles and played hands, calling out 'chi's and 'peng's, he also constantly talked1.
For every two or three sentences of idle chatter, one sentence was an order, an order for the entire Tang clan.
His orders were incredibly clear and exact, so clear that the stupidest subordinates would know what their mission was, so exact that they even specified which drawer in which desk of which room their objective was.
As his voice echoed through the ancestral hall, the other three people at the table grew more and more solemn, and even the old Guardian narrowed his eyes. Neither the old Guardian, nor the trio at the mahjong table, nor the stewards outside the hall awaiting orders had expected that, after being imprisoned for half a year and cut off by the Old Master from the family business for three years, Tang Thirty-Six still had such a clear understanding of the Tang clan's internal affairs.
Most surprising to the old Guardian was Tang Thirty-Six's deep understanding of the methods with which the Tang Old Master used to manage the Tang clan, even the most secretive of them.
The Cloud Organization, River Hall, and Maple Hall, these organizations that were used to control the Tang clan, could be put aside, but how did he know that the Pine Thirteen Drug Association was one of the old estate's legal courts?
The Guardian glanced towards the three people at the table and suddenly felt that today's matter was somewhat troublesome.
It appeared that Tang Thirty-Six had randomly chosen three elders from the branch families, but the old Guardian knew the deeper meaning behind these choices.
These three people were not the ones the Tang Second Master used to administer the Tang clan, but they secretly played an even more important role: they were used to restrict the methods that the administrators could use.
The Tang Old Master had sent the old Guardian to the ancestral hall to ensure that if the second branch was unable to endure the pressure of these two hours and started to strike back, they could not resort to force to deal with Tang Thirty-Six, but other methods.
Only this way could Tang Thirty-Six do as he pleased.
The Guardian suddenly realized that both he and the Tang Old Master had seemingly underestimated Tang Thirty-Six.
If Tang Thirty-Six was truly allowed to act without bounds, given the understanding of the Tang clan that he currently exhibited, he truly did not need two hours to sweep away all the strength of the second branch.
Even if he was unable to find evidence that the Tang Second Master had poisoned his brother or was colluding with the demons, so what?
"Killing is forbidden. This is the Old Master's order," the old Guardian reminded Tang Thirty-Six.
Tang Thirty-Six took up a tile and accurately threw it out, reluctantly shaking his head. "Truly ominous, a coffin."
With a clack, the mahjong tile fell on the glossy black table. It was an eight-circle tile2.
Seventh Uncle squeezed out a smile as he said, "I win."
Tang Thirty-Six was not dejected in the slightest, looking to the Guardian and asking, "I can't kill, but I can still use torture, right?"
The word 'torture' instantly made the faces of the other people at the table pale.
Seventh Uncle's hand was still in the air, reaching out to take the eight-circle tile. It went stiff at those words, putting him in a very awkward-looking position.
In the snowstorm, Wenshui City was still very quiet. All the merchants and ordinary people had complied with the orders from the clan and stayed in their homes.
At some point, many men dressed in the ministerial uniform of the Tang clan had emerged from the old estate, the drug association, and many other places, making their way through the snowstorm to their respective destinations.
The Bamboo Garden to the Quiet Residence to Hesi, and even the estate of the second branch on the shore of the Wenshui were surrounded. Countless record books were taken out of their chests and drawers while several dozen stewards and managers were driven out into the snow, their hands tied by a thin straw rope while they waited to be either interrogated or released.
The places being investigated were all core properties of the Tang clan and had been under the Tang Second Master's personal management in recent years. As a result, the personnel there had long since been replaced by stewards and managers that were loyal to him. These people all had very high statuses in Wenshui City and had never been treated this way before, so they naturally began to complain.
The fiercest conflict took place in the second branch's estate along the Wenshui.
Even though they were separated by an intense snowstorm, the stewards and managers could still see those figures looking over on the opposite shore.
They were probably people from the chief branch.
When they thought about how they were being made into a spectacle, the stewards and managers felt even more angry and ashamed, and began to endlessly berate the investigators.
In normal times, whether it was the people from the Maple Hall or the stewards from the Pine Thirteen Drug Association, which they only today learned was subordinate to the old estate, no one would have dared to treat them with such discourtesy, with at least an explanation being given. But today, it was like they had all changed faces as they went seemingly unrecognized.
If one traveled in a straight line two li out from those studies being searched, one would find an even more secluded study in the depths of the estate.
The study's windows were fitted with the most transparent colored glass. Even though the winter sun was obscured behind the clouds of snow, the room was still amply lit, without the slightest hint of gloom.
The Tang Second Master stood by the window, gazing at the snowflakes, his mouth slowly opening into that noiseless laugh of his.
The recent chaos had caused all of Wenshui City to feel tension and unease, not just the people of the second branch, but he was very calm. Due to the fact that he had administered the Tang clan for three years, he knew of many matters, including the two conversations in the old estate, and also the specific contents of the agreement that his father had reached with Chen Changsheng.
Poisoning? As long as Chusu could not be caught, there was no evidence, and all that was left of the Longevity Sect's foundational resources accumulated over tens of thousands of years was that monster that had flowed out of the Yellow Springs. How could it be so easy to catch? He knew that his father had just been forced by Chen Changsheng and the Orthodoxy to take a position.
On the contrary, the true vexing issue was the shout that had pierced through the snowstorm.
I am colluding with demons? The Tang Second Master's silent laugh gradually chilled as he thought, this truly is the greatest humiliation, yet also filthy water that is difficult to wash away. Unexpectedly, the Mount Li Sword Sect has also involved themselves. That shout of Qiushan Jun's was truly ruthless.
"You've really raised quite an excellent son," he said as he looked out at the snow.
There had been someone else in the study the entire time.
The Qiushan clan head had silently arrived in Wenshui City several days ago and had been staying in the estate of the Tang clan's second branch the entire time.
"Able to force back someone like Second Master to this extent, my son is naturally excellent."
He looked at the Tang Second Master's back, making no effort to conceal the delighted smile on his face, completely without shame or apology.
The Tang Second Master did not turn around, but his voice became much colder. "Since it's your own clan's matter, it's best for you to take care of it."
The Qiushan clan head stood up and faintly smiled. "My Qiushan clan is different from your Tang clan. Although I'm the clan head, the words of that son of mine carry more force than my own. Alas, I originally wanted to help him, but it seems like I have once more added to his troubles. I should quickly leave."
After saying this, he unexpectedly really did leave.
As he gazed at the clear trail of footsteps in the snow, the Tang Second Master slowly narrowed his eyes.
He was keenly aware that with the Qiushan clan head's departure, the alliance of the Four Great Clans had come to an end.
Truly an old fox.
He wasn't afraid of old foxes. Ever since he was small, he had interacted with all sorts of old foxes.
The problem was that this was the first time he had encountered as shameless an old fox as the Qiushan clan head.
A steward hurriedly entered the study and reported the current situation in front of the estate. After hesitating for a few moments, he asked, "Shouldn't we hide the important things?"
The Tang Second Master said, "It appears that my nephew did not waste these three years. He's already grasped so many things. This being the case, how can we hide it? For the time being, let them continue messing around. In the end, it will be nothing but a farce."
The steward was at first shocked, and then deeply confused.
In the view of him and many other people in the Tang clan, even if this investigation led by Tang Thirty-Six ultimately failed to turn up any evidence, the investigation itself was already an indication of several important problems.
The Tang Old Master's trust in the Second Master was already wavering. And it was also very clear that even though the Second Master had managed the Tang clan for three years, already appearing to be the master of the Tang clan on the surface, in reality, with only a few words from the Old Master and a few people from the old estate, Wenshui City and the entire Tang clan would become the Old Master's once more.
The Tang Second Master knew what this steward was thinking, knew what everyone was thinking.
But he did not explain, nor could he bother to explain.
He only calmly looked out the window at the snowstorm, silently laughing.
His laughing face held an indescribable derision.
1. In the game of mahjong, one attempts to form a winning hand from tiles that one has drawn and from tiles that other players discard. When taking a tile that another player discards, called 'stealing', the player must announce the hand that they are forming by stealing the tile. A 'chi', '吃', which means 'eat', means that the player is completing a set of consecutive numbered tiles in the same suit. A 'peng', '碰', which means 'bump', means that the player is completing a three of a kind.↩
2. The eight-circle tile is eight circles arranged in 2x4, which I suppose looks like a coffin.↩
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