Sensing Zhuo Fan’s unnatural disposition, Luo Yunchang smiled widely as she cajoled, “Zhuo Fan, Yunhai is still just a child. He can’t be…”
A light flick of his hand cut her off. Zhuo Fan had his eyes fixed on Luo Yunhai, cold as ice, “Kid, is this your final decision?”
Even a Profound Heaven expert would feel his knees soften and scalp going numb when Zhuo Fan stared at him like a viper. Luo Yunhai was still wet behind his ears and the effect was even worse.
Despite hesitating, Luo Yunhai’s nod was firm, “Big bro Zhuo can kill them if he wants. But I do not believe they should die by our hands!”
Li Jingtian and Yan Song chuckled.
Zhuo Fan squinted and turned to the traitors. His gaze sent shivers down their spines and made their hearts feel as if it would explode in their chests.
In the end, Zhuo Fan had the final say. The only good thing about the wimp Luo Yunhai was his title as future Clan Head – emphasis on the ‘future’.
But out of everyone’s expectations, Zhuo Fan nodded a sigh, “No choice then. I really wanted to waste them, but since Clan Head spoke, we shall do it as he decided. Elder Yan, release them!”
“En-, come again?”
Yan Song was dumbfounded, “Steward Zhuo, are you sure?”
Getting a nod, Yan Song removed their restrictions and the traitor found themselves free to move.
They cautiously watched Zhuo Fan while gazing at Luo Yunhai baffled. They were in denial, never believing the ruthless Zhuo Fan would defer to a wimpy kid.
Their hearts were in chaos, not knowing what to do. So they began kowtowing in thanks for having their lives spared, but no clue as to who to thank!
They were still baffled. Should they be thanking Zhuo Fan or the kid?
“Now that Clan Head spared you, take a hike! But Elder Cai, I still feel the need to stress something…” Zhuo Fan’s eyes flashed as his tone dropped, “You will never get the chance to use the Luo clan to rise!”
Shuddering, Cai Rong understood his hidden meaning. He sighed, taking his son and the other two through the door.
Zhuo Fan’s meaning was simple. The Luo clan was strong enough to fend off the seven houses. The Cai clan also had a stake in this powerful clan but, unfortunately, he was blinded by the seven houses’ exaggerated renown and jumped aboard the wrong boat.
The Luo clan’s future was going to be one of constant development and the seven houses could no longer look down on them. But this no longer concerned this father and son pair. They brought this on themselves!
Once the four were gone, all eyes were on Zhuo Fan, finding him unlike his usual self today. This was the very first time he relented the decision in favor of another.
To a kid no less!
Luo Yunhai was baffled as well. He recalled how every time he ever talked back when they were fleeing for their lives, Zhuo Fan would hit him good.
Zhuo Fan, a servant, took advantage of his master’s plight and vented. But this time…
“Big brother Zhuo, you aren’t yelling at me for going against your decision?” Luo Yunhai blinked.
Zhuo Fan smiled, “Kid, you are Luo Clan Head and I the steward. Any advice is just that, advice. It is up to you to follow it. There’s no disobedience here at all. Moreover, I said you have to deal with them, not kill them outright. Letting go of a few ants would hardly matter!”
The others exclaimed in realization, while also admiring Zhuo Fan.
Zhuo Fan may be cunning and deceitful, but he always held the benefit of the Luo clan above all else. He could have easily taken control of everything, but he instead worked tirelessly to raise Luo Yunhai into handling the clan’s affairs. This was a clear cut sign he was willing to relinquish his power.
What man in a powerful position would ever think of giving it all away?
What the others didn’t know was that Zhuo Fan prepped everything ever since the clan’s misfortune. He didn’t want a puppet but a truly strong clan.
Otherwise, he would’ve been better off if he had made his own faction instead!
“Sigh, I am both assured and sad by your decision!” Zhuo Fan shook his head and sighed.
Luo Yunhai asked curiously, “Big brother Zhuo, how can you be both?”
“You may not realize, but I am assured since you gathered up the nerve to stand up to me. As for sadness, that is because you are walking a completely opposite path from mine. All my time teaching you had gone down the drain!”
Luo Yunhai looked to her sister for an answer, but everyone was a s clueless as he was.
Smiling wryly, Zhuo Fan elaborated, “Every single ruler, be it a king, sect leader, or a mere Clan Head, rises to their position through their own way. There are of course thousands, tens of thousands of ways, but they all can be narrowed down to two. One is ruling the people with a velvet glove, and the other with an iron hand! When I do things, I don’t need a reason. While you, kid, started preaching about righteousness and loyalty. Sigh, our paths are indeed opposite! “
They all started smiling wryly, with Luo Yunchang teasing, “With the Luo clan always having Steward Zhuo around, everyone started shaking in fear every day. Fearing they’d slip up and get a tongue lashing from you. If Yunhai ends up like you, the clan would be done for!”
They all burst out laughing.
Li Jingtian and Yan Song nodded instead. One Zhuo Fan had these two experts bending a knee. Despite their elder positions, it mattered not when this guy was around.
If there were two Zhuo Fan, that would be a disaster! They’d end up as slaves!
They were immensely gratified that the future Clan Head, Luo Yunhai, would have a different path than the demon Zhuo Fan.
But not for the Luo clan, it was all in self interest, relishing a better future in the clan.
However, Zhuo Fan mocked with a shake of his head, “Women aren’t as witty as their long hair suggests! All people respect ruling with a velvet glove, but it is used merely as a front while it’s core is rotten! How many people in this world truly rule with a velvet glove? The large majority rule with an iron hand in a velvet glove! If the Luo clan truly wants to grow into a benevolent clan, humph, I won’t give it two years before it suffers calamity again!”
“What? T-then I’d rather walked the path of the iron hand like you!” Luo Yunhai blurted, “Get those four back at once. I won’t be as lenient…”
Luo Yunhai spoke with eyes filled with tears. The slaughter two years ago was still very fresh in his mind and his judgment was clouded by it. He absolutely couldn’t let it happen again.
Zhuo Fan could see the struggle in his heart as well.
Shaking his head, Zhuo Fan rubbed the kid’s head, “The world may change, but your decision is final! The reason for today’s affair was to see if you had it in you to be a Clan Head. Ha-ha-ha, and you passed with flying colors. The second reason was to see your path. It is a bit disappointing, but no worries, you have me!”
“What you don’t want to do, I will do it for you. You don’t want to bloodshed, I will erect a bone tower and throne for you to stand on! You rule with a velvet glove, and I will sweep everything with an iron hand. All until there is no one around to defy your word!”
“Big brother Zhuo!” Luo Yunhai wailed as he threw himself in his embrace.
Luo Yunchang bit her lip, tears glistening, “Thank you!”
The others nodded with even more respect.
The Luo clan may have nothing, but with Zhuo Fan there, it was enough!
“Old Pang, take the brat to Dugu Army!” He patted Luo’s back and smiled, “Had your path been the same as mine, I would’ve guided you in your cultivation. But now I see that that old Dugu is the best suited for the job.”
Captain Pang pulled an unwilling Luo Yunhai away.
Zhuo Fan turned to the rest, “You may all return to your duties! Elder Yan, Elder Li, you two stay!”
The others left, leaving only Li Jingtian and Yan Song behind.
Zhuo Fan sighed, “Just how is this possible? I’ve taught him for half a month already!”
“He-he-he, is Steward Zhuo still not over it? That brat must be like a son to you!” Li Jingtian chuckled, but he couldn’t hide the admiration, “But Steward Zhuo, I bow before you in true admiration. If it were me, I’d have long taken power in this wretched and weak clan for myself. I’ve never seen one as devoted as you! The Luo clan is indeed steadfast and righteous. You have my entire respect!”
“Yeah, Steward Zhuo may be doing everything with an iron hand, but you are treating the Luo clan with a velvet glove! Such deep emotions and ethical behavior! I wonder what great favor has the Luo Clan Head done to Steward Zhuo to earn such devotion into raising his children?” Yan Song cupped his hands in respect.
Zhuo Fan rolled his eyes. His relation with the former Clan Head was nonexistent. It was all that damned heart demon’s fault! Although his course of action was no longer entirely because of it, as he started to care for the Luo clan. But when it was all said and done, everything was in self interest.
So when they said he was using a velvet glove, he had to chuckle.
“You two have roamed the land for many years. Do any notable experts in fire and water attributes come to mind?” Zhuo Fan suddenly asked.
They exchanged a glance and said, “Why do you ask,Steward Zhuo?”
Squinting, Zhuo Fan replied, “Luo clan is currently safe, but trouble will soon come knocking! Of the four arrays, the Poison Dragon Array in the East is handled by Elder Yan, and the Dazzling Gold Array in the West by Elder Li, a body cultivator. I still need two experts to control the Blackflame Array in the South and the Ice Shadows Array in the North! If an attack comes, the four arrays can fend it off and also correlate with each other in not letting anyone out once they enter!”
Frowning, Li Jingtian said, “Two names come to mind now that I know what Steward Zhuo is looking for!”
“Who?” Zhuo Fan asked anxiously.
“Raging Ancestor, Qiu Yanhai, and Ice Moon Witch, Xue Qingjian!”
“What, those two old monsters?” Vicious Pill King yelled and started shaking his head vehemently, “Absolutely not. Those monsters are stubborn as mules. They refused to leave their seclusion even when Regent Estate invited them. The Regent Estate ended up forcing their way to them only to suffer dearly. None disturbed them since.”
“Oh, and how is their strength?” Zhuo Fan raised an eyebrow.
“5th layer of Radiant Stage!” Li Jingtian’s eyes shined, “I once fought with them myself. If the fight was one on one, I would’ve won, but they were working together, water and fire combined. Not even five of me could endure their attacks for long!”
“Oh, they know how to combine fire and water? He-he-he, very good. It’s settled then!” Zhuo Fan grinned, “We’re off at sunup!”
“But Steward Zhuo, how do we invite them?” Yan Song blinked in worry.
Snorting, Zhuo Fan snickered, “What invitation? I have always used an iron hand in everything. Elder Li, do you still have the two Spring Pills?”
“Of course, it’s such an amazing pill and can’t bear to throw it. Ha-ha-ha…”
The three shared a glance and started snickering evilly…