Yang Chen and Rose were clueless as to what had just made Old Li pale in that instant. Curious, they turned around to face the direction that Old Li was gazing at.
"Oh. There I was thinking who it could be that set up shop in this area? It turned out to be you. No wonder I couldn’t find you in the west district. I guess you must have relocated your stall recently."
A tall fair man with a slightly high pitched voice strode up to them. He was wearing a waist-length leather jacket accompanied with a bright red shirt. It was especially eye-catching to many of the passersby.
Surrounding him were a group of men who came in all shapes and sizes. They were marching toward Old Li's stall while subconsciously instilling fear for those who were in the vicinity.
Yang Chen frowned when he saw them approaching the stall. He realized that the reason why Old Li changed the location of his stall was not due to a saturated market, but most likely because of these young men.
A year ago when the conflict between Red Thorns Society and West Union Society was happening in Zhonghai, Old Li was caught up in a bad situation with both the father and the son of the Chen family. And even after Zhonghai was finally conquered by the Red Thorns Society, his situation still did not improve.
Yang Chen gave it some thought and found the situation slightly puzzling. The Red Thorns Society who was under Rose’s control would not be allowed to generate their income by using such despicable means. Rose was still actively trying to legalize the money-making aspects of her business. Besides, Red Thorns Society was not lacking in money; why would they make their lackeys collect ‘protection fees’?
Noticing Yang Chen's grim aura, Rose immediately explained, "Hubby, don't misunderstand. I have forbidden my subordinates to oppress commoners with their power. I'll be sure to look into it later."
Yang Chen nodded in acceptance. He trusted that she would handle the situation as soon as possible.
The tall and thin man had soon made his way to Old Li’s stall. The punks around him shoved Yang Chen and Rose aside with a snobby and arrogant demeanor.
"Old Li, do you know that this street belongs to me, Xi Pi? Do you really think anything will change if you relocate your store?"
Old Li cried and stammered, "Boss Xi Pi, it’s not that I’m unwilling to pay, but business has really gone downhill recently. Only after moving my stall all the way up here did business start to pick up again. When I do make money, I will make up for all the protection fees that I still owe. Please give me a few days to collect it.”
Xi Pi sneered. "You said you'd make it up to me last week. But not only did you fail to pay me, you fled to another part of town as well. I, Xi Pi, am a good-tempered and lenient man. I’ve always done my best to keep the peace in my territory while you do business. But I expect everyone else to play their parts accordingly. So just know that whatever happens to you from now on, happened because of your decisions today. Do not blame me for not being merciful to you.”
And with that, a few of the punks gathered around the stall. Two of them even had the audacity to take Old Li's meat skewers and gnaw on them.
Old Li's forehead went cold and sweaty. His eyes darted to Yang Chen in an effort to plead for help. He had no choice. He would not have asked Yang Chen for help if it wasn’t his final attempt at resolving this matter.
Because of his daughter's affairs, Old Li wanted nothing to do with Yang Chen. Who knew that the next time they met would be when he needed his help most.
Yang Chen sighed. He knew that Old Li would not explicitly plead for his help. It was apparent that Old Li’s prejudices towards him still ran quite deep. Old Li must be afraid that Li Jingjing would associate herself with Yang Chen again. He would rather die than forsake his daughter's future.
Yang Chen had planned to deal with the problem from the beginning, but Rose grabbed his hand and pulled him back. She shook her head and said, "Let me deal with it."
Rose then walked to the young lad—Xi Pi—and asked calmly, "Who gave you permission to charge protection fees?"
Xi Pi had actually took notice of Yang Chen and Rose a while ago. But he brushed them off as he thought they were just a couple who wanted to buy meat skewers. Now that Rose had taken the initiative to walk up to him, Xi Pi’s eyes glowed sinisterly.
Xi Pi laughed before swallowing his saliva audibly. He said, "What do you want beautiful lady? Did you come here for retribution? Have you watched too many movies or are you taking this opportunity to get to know me better?”
Rose’s face went cold. "I will ask again. Who allowed you to collect protection fees?"
This time, a half-eaten roasted octopus was thrown to the ground by an enraged lackey under Xi Pi’s command. He walked up and yelled, "Damn you, Bitch. Don’t you dare to talk to Boss Xi Pi like that. You don’t know who you’re messing with. Do you think we’re afraid to strip and rape you, right here right now?!"
"Sigh... You should be chivalrous to beautiful women," said Xi Pi as he pulled the lackey behind him. He started to gaze at Rose in a teasing manner. "Can't you see, my beautiful lady, that we are an organized and disciplined mafia? It's our job and obligation to collect protection fees in our territory. Was that answer good enough for you?”
Rose continued, "The only mafia in the whole of Zhonghai is the Red Thorns Society. And if I recall correctly, I don’t remember their members being allowed by their head to collect protection fees."
Upon hearing this, Xi Pi and his followers were taken aback. Xi Pi then laughed and said, "So you are aware of our Red Thorns Society. That's right. I was the person put in charge of these streets, Xi Pi. As for your claims Miss, that we were not given permission collect protection fees, I think you're mistaken. Most people misunderstand the things we do and the reasons we do them. How about I explain how things are done here with you over a drink?”
Xi Pi with a twisted smile on his face, reached out to Rose’s face in an attempt to caress her as he spoke.
However, before Xi Pi was able to straighten out his hand, Rose's foot had found its way to the back of his knee!
Xi Pi screamed in agony. Losing balance, he fell to the ground on his knees!
The sudden change in events made Xi Pi’s followers take a while to process what had happened. Their leader had been beaten!
"Sneaky bitch. How dare you sneak an attack on our boss! You must be looking to die tonight!"
The punks immediately dropped into a fighting stance, ready to pounce on her. They did not care that Rose was a woman. Fists and kicks were sent flying to her aimed at various parts of her body.
Although they did not know it, these people were no match for Rose. She simply dodged their attacks and didn't even bother using her hands. She kicked them all away with her feet, as if they were stationary targets.
With just a swift move, the originally fired up group of punks cowered on the floor in pain while keeping their heads down in fear. They were afraid being beaten again by that woman with incredible speed and force!
Still Xi Pi—who was knocked down earlier—gritted his teeth and eventually stood up facing her. He stared at the Rose fiercely. "Crazy bitch! I may have underestimated your abilities. So you think you’re a fighter huh? Just wait. With one call to my boss, he will bring more than one hundred of our best fighters. Let’s see if you still fancy yourself a fighter!"
"I shall wait here then. I am quite curious to see who your boss is.”
Xi Pi felt a little off-put by Rose’s identity due to her threatening presence. But he could not take back words that were already spoken. In his mind, there was no one stupid enough to provoke the Red Thorns Society. No matter how strong this woman was, how could she defeat every member from Red Thorns Society?
After reasoning the whole situation with himself, Xi Pi inflated with newfound courage. He pulled out the mobile phone buckled on his belt and dialed his boss’s number.
As soon as the call got through, he cried, "Hello, Brother, where are you? What? Drinking? I was just beaten by someone! Yes, on your turf! At the south entrance of the food street. Send your best men here quickly. This woman was so brutal that she hurt me and my men."
While speaking on the phone, Xi Pi glared at the Rose fiercely. He was staring her down, afraid that she would try to escape.
Old Li, having witnessed Xi Pi make the phone call, was so frightened that he hurried to Yang Chen's side and whispered quietly, "Yang Chen, take this lady and leave. Xi Pi’s brother, Lei Zhen, was placed as one of the heads within Red Thorns Society. He is not a person to be trifled with. Us commoners have no power against people like him!"
Although in the past Yang Chen had helped Old Li deal with the Chen family, Old Li never found out that it was Yang Chen who helped him with it. So all he knew Yang Chen as was a skilled young man who married the young lady of a wealthy clan. In his eyes, it was impossible for Yang Chen to challenge Lei Zhen who had a hundred men backing him up.