I Rely on the Collapse of the Character Setting to Survive in the Hands of the Male Lead Chapter 43

Chapter 43

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The madam widened her eyes, staring intensely at Liu Wen’er. She vaguely remembered the gruesome scene of Liu Wen’er’s close friend lying dead on a bed. It had been discovered that the courtesans were hiding a secret behind their backs. Posing as a client for one night, the guest had disappeared by the next day, leaving behind the lifeless body of a woman who had been skinned.

At that time, Liu Wen’er had personally dealt with the body of her sister. From the desperate look in her eyes, it was evident that she would never dare to reveal their secret again.

So, the madam couldn’t believe that Liu Wen’er’s mentioned evidence was genuine. It was only when Liu Wen’er started taking off her own clothes that the madam’s entire scalp tingled with shock.

In the bewildered and uncertain gazes of the crowd, Liu Wen’er wore only a bralette, revealing her entire back, displaying a blooming and enchanting flower.

Most of the people present were men. Faced with the bold and provocative act of the top courtesan in the capital, some avoided looking, some blushed, and some couldn’t help but be captivated.

“What… what is she doing?” Lin Qingyang was shocked. Even among courtesans, it was uncommon for someone to undress so boldly in front of everyone, especially a courtesan with a somewhat arrogant demeanor. It would take great courage to do such a thing.

“She’s showing the evidence to everyone,” Chu Lishu said with lowered eyes, seemingly having lost interest in all the events of tonight.

Lin Qingyang still hadn’t fully grasped the situation when Liu Wen’er spoke up, “The pattern on my back is the script of the lost Tianwu Clan, recording the formula for the addictive substance. As long as any of you recognize the script of the Tianwu Clan, you will know I am not lying. This is what the madam at the Chunxiang Building tattooed on me; this is the evidence.”

The expressions of everyone present changed. At least their initial reaction was that Liu Wen’er wasn’t crazy and shouldn’t be lying, so it must be true?

Several government officials turned their gaze to Yue Chen, wanting to see what this genius who hadn’t revealed himself had to say, as they hadn’t noticed anything.

It was at this moment that everyone realized Yue Chen was standing closest to Liu Wen’er. If it weren’t for Ho Luo holding him back, he probably would have been able to lean onto Liu Wen’er’s back.

“Indeed, it’s the script of the Tianwu Clan.”

The madam immediately became anxious, “This is just a flower pattern, what script? Are the officials deliberately trying to slander us, specifically bribing this wretched woman?”

“The ‘Seven Days to Move the Spirit’ incense, am I right?” Yue Chen sneered at the madam, who involuntarily contracted her pupils. Obviously, she hadn’t expected that someone here would actually recognize the script of the Tianwu Clan.

“I… I don’t know,” the madam insisted stubbornly, “If only one person, the government official, is saying this, it can be said in any way.”

The hall instantly plunged into fierce chaos.

Lin Qingyang was momentarily stunned, turning to look at Chu Lishu. “You… You knew? You saw it before? When I was unconscious, she showed it to you alone?”

Chu Lishu was about to nod, but then he saw Lin Qingyang staring at him with eyes full of astonishment and unease. Chu Lishu thought about what this guy might be worried about, and his displeasure grew. He responded somewhat petulantly, “Yes, I saw it.”

Exactly! I did see it. So what? Are you afraid I’ll be seduced by other women? I’m a man, I like women. What’s wrong with me looking at the courtesan’s bare back when you didn’t know? What right do you have to question me, and what right do you have to ask me to…

Suddenly, Chu Lishu noticed Lin Qingyang’s stunned expression, as if he had been severely struck. Chu Lishu opened his mouth, feeling somewhat powerless, and said, “You’ve seen it now too, haven’t you?”

“How can it be the same?” Lin Qingyang was anxious, grabbing Chu Lishu’s arm as if there were a cliff ahead, afraid he would take another step forward.

Although he couldn’t decipher the pattern, following the routine, the male lead must be able to figure it out. So, has the male lead gained control over the addictive substance? Is the male lead about to succeed?

Seeing Lin Qingyang so anxious, it seemed like his eyes were about to turn red, Chu Lishu felt a sudden emptiness in his heart.

So worried, as if he’s someone easily tempted by such matters. He is not a man who is easily swayed by such things, prioritizing significant matters and having no interest in romantic affairs.

However, when he thought of ‘prioritizing significant matters,’ Chu Lishu’s face turned instantly pale, and the feeling of constriction in his chest intensified. He directly shook off Lin Qingyang’s hand. “I don’t understand what Cousin is saying!”

Lin Qingyang looked at Chu Lishu’s hostile expression, which seemed like that of a big boss who controlled dark skills.

Lin Qingyang’s heart turned bleak, he was already contemplating the impending celebration message from the system. He knew that the future male lead would walk even darker paths, hands stained with blood. Yet, no matter how vengeful and ruthless the male lead became, there were some things Lin Qingyang hoped he wouldn’t get involved in, reluctant to see him lose his conscience for the sake of revenge.

In the original plot, the male lead’s actions replace those of the behind-the-scenes bosses, making him the new boss of “Addiction.” As long as his path of revenge goes smoothly, even if it involves harming innocent people along the way, he turns a blind eye to it.

The former crown prince, Yuan Ran, who was willing to sacrifice himself for the country and the people, is already dead. This is a statement he made himself. So, is it really so difficult for Chu Lishu’s heart to change?

Perhaps Lin Qingyang can try to make some effort, to encourage the male lead to change his mindset slightly, but… that would require gaining the trust of the suspicious male lead. At this point, he is still a cannon fodder character, lacking even the qualification to suggest changes. Unintentionally, he could also be in danger.

The overwhelming feeling of powerlessness invaded Lin Qingyang’s entire body. He lowered his eyes, and they felt a bit sore. His already exhausted body lost even more vitality in this moment. All he wanted was to find a place to lie down, not caring about anything else.

Chu Lishu, who had just scolded Lin Qingyang, naturally noticed the seemingly devastated look on Lin Qingyang’s face. He turned away, unwilling to look anymore.

The Tianwu Clan was a minority ethnic group in remote areas, and they were already extinct. There were very few people who knew about their culture. Now, telling everyone that the floral pattern was a form of writing, even though Chu Lishu had said it, no one would easily believe it.

Someone expressed doubt, saying, “This is just a regular tattoo; how could it be words? Don’t make jokes.”

“Ignorance is your own problem; don’t assume others are as ignorant as you. There’s more than just me in the capital who can understand the Tianwu Clan’s writing,” Yue Chen said, finishing his statement as he helped pull up the clothes for Liu Wen’er.

“Isn’t it funny? Does this mean that all those courtesans with these patterns on them have the formula for the addictive substance?” Yue Chen also realized this and chuckled. “We’ll only know once we see them.” Saying this, he was about to send someone to bring those courtesans back.

In an instant, Liu Wen’er couldn’t help but feel nervous, her eyes glancing towards Chu Lishu in the distance, only to find Chu Lishu looking absent-minded and unsettled.

Meanwhile, Lin Qingyang, standing nearby, had already guessed that those courtesans probably had something. However, he was a bit puzzled. Now that everything had been exposed, how would the male lead still control the situation?

Soon, a tumultuous noise emerged from the backyard. Glancing at Huo Luo, Yue Chen swiftly turned and rushed toward the backyard. However, shortly after, he hurriedly returned, accompanied by an official responsible for reporting.

“Report to the lord, those courtesans, for some unknown reason, suddenly collectively jumped into the pool.”

“What! Hurry, go rescue them!”

“No… there’s no need for rescue. It’s just an ordinary decorative pool, very shallow. We tried to pull them out, but they are lying inside and refusing to come out. Our subordinates…” The reporting official blushed, as they were all courtesans from the building. Wearing light clothing, they were likely in a disheveled state after being soaked in water.

“What is going on here?” The deputy of the Imperial Court of Justice Review was full of question marks and decided to dispatch more personnel to forcibly pull the people out of the water.

Yue Chen was also puzzled until he saw the relieved expression on Liu Wen’er’s face. Suddenly, a speculation came to his mind.

At the same time, Lin Qingyang, who had been anxiously observing the situation, suddenly heard a ding in his mind.

Lin Qingyang’s heart skipped a beat. He heard the mechanical voice reporting, 【Side quest: Assist the male lead in obtaining the ‘addictive substance’ to combat enemies. Mission failed. Deducting 15 points. Account balance: 3 points. Please note, Host. Plot progress: 5%.】

Lin Qingyang stiffened all over, looking at the interface in his mind in disbelief.

Mission failed?

Only 3 points left in the account.

What on earth happened?

Did the male lead fail?

Lin Qingyang turned his head to sneak a glance at Chu Lishu. Could it be that the intense frustration just now was because the planned action had failed?

Just as he was pondering, several disheveled women were brought to the hall. Someone stepped forward to report, and as Yue Chen heard it, his face subtly changed. He stepped forward, apologized, and then pulled open the corner of one woman’s clothes.

In the originally tattooed area, there were now only remnants of marks. Those marks couldn’t form any recognizable characters, as if the pages of a damaged book.

The tattoos… had been washed away. The water in that pool was problematic!

Other officials also realized what had happened and immediately questioned who had instructed them to do this. However, these women insisted that they were frightened by the officials, causing them to accidentally fall one by one into the pool. As for why their tattoos were affected like this, they claimed ignorance.

The words sounded much like someone carrying evidence of guilt but destroying it to protect the old madam.

Even though they arranged for the courtesans to undergo physical examinations at the Chunxiang Building, the outcome could already be anticipated. All the tattoos were rendered invalid, except for the one on Liu Wen’er’s back.

They also recalled that when Liu Wen’er came out, she only mentioned evidence on her back and never implicated the others. It became even more challenging to grasp any leverage. Everything seemed orchestrated as if guided by an invisible hand pushing them forward, yet the purpose remained unclear.

Even the madam couldn’t figure out whether these courtesans were helping her hide evidence or had their own motives. After all, these courtesans always listened to Liu Wen’er. If Liu Wen’er stood up, how could they possibly betray her? Moreover, Liu Wen’er seemed completely unruffled. What was her intention? By leaving a tattoo on herself, wasn’t she directing all the attention toward her? Wasn’t she afraid?

What puzzled the madam even more was that the special tattoo ink could indeed be quickly washed off under certain solutions. To be prepared, she had hidden the necessary items for the solution. Ordinary people wouldn’t recognize it as a substance specifically for removing tattoos. How did they know?

With the situation as it was, others sought Yue Chen’s opinion. Yue Chen did feel like he had been set up, but the loss was not significant for him. He only lost some witnesses, but the case was already closed.

Yue Chen spoke to the deputy of the Imperial Court of Justice Review behind him, “The evidence is valid. We can look for someone who understands the Tianwu Clan’s writing to testify. Take everyone away, especially Liu Wen’er. She must be kept under close watch, absolutely cannot let anything happen to her. She is the sole evidence now.”

The deputy of the Imperial Court of Justice Review naturally understood the stakes. The other courtesans taken away were just cooperating in the investigation, but Liu Wen’er was both a witness and evidence. Her safety had to be ensured.

With the accuser, evidence, and testimony in place, even if the madam tried to argue, it was futile. She was directly taken into custody.

The absurd drama concluded for the time being. Lin Qingyang, present in the situation, had no idea how the situation on this chessboard had come to this point. However, Lin Qingyang’s thoughts aligned with the majority of those present, thinking that Liu Wen’er had found an opportunity to willingly take the risk of exposing the misdeeds of her employers. Her fellow colleagues, fearing involvement, cleared the evidence from their bodies before being arrested. Everyone seemed to act according to their own purposes.

Due to Liu Wen’er’s actions, the whole incident was completely exposed. Did this mean that the male lead’s plan failed? Or was it that the male lead had no other way to control the addictive substance, destined to fail, so he allowed Liu Wen’er to expose it?

The formula for the addictive substance was on the bodies of the courtesans. In the original plot, the male lead was supposed to have discovered this secret, taking control of Chunxiang Building, and using the formulas on their backs to produce the addictive substance. However, now only Liu Wen’er had it, and the other formulas were destroyed. With only one formula left, Chu Lishu probably couldn’t do much, especially considering Liu Wen’er was now exposed. Chu Lishu could be said to be completely unable to get his hands on the addictive substance.

The outcome was determined, and the system mission had indeed failed. Later on, even if Chu Lishu wanted to make amends, it would be impossible.

Lin Qingyang’s expression changed a few times. He did have deliberate plans to sabotage, but before the battle began, he fell victim to the allure, and in the end, he had no time for anything. When he came to his senses, the male lead’s actions seemed like he had actually done something.

But it still failed.

Lin Qingyang suddenly felt like laughing. Did he really need to intervene, or could the protagonist’s halo also fail? After all, this incident happened much earlier than in the original plot. Even Yue Chen and Huo Luo were not on his side. It was quite normal for the male lead to temporarily lose control.

Although looking at the deducted points, Lin Qingyang couldn’t find it in himself to laugh, but he felt a sense of relief in his heart.

While he was still thinking, Yue Chen had already walked over. Their part in this matter was done, and the rest was not their responsibility. So, he intended to accompany the two of them back to the Secluded Courtyard Pavilion.

“We can actually go back on our own,” Lin Qingyang said politely, despite feeling unwell.

“It’s okay; we still have a lot to talk about,” Yue Chen said, glancing at Chu Lishu.

Lin Qingyang followed them out, and when they were about to board the carriage, they noticed the soldiers nearby escorting Liu Wen’er onto another carriage.

Liu Wen’er also noticed their presence and suddenly smiled in their direction. The smile was sincere, quite different from what they had seen before.

Lin Qingyang naturally knew whom she was looking at and turned to Chu Lishu. As expected, Chu Lishu didn’t look too pleased. It seemed that Liu Wen’er’s move had made him quite unhappy, and now she was smiling at him, probably making him feel even more uncomfortable.

The three of them boarded the carriage, with Huo Luo driving outside.

“Was Liu Wen’er thanking you just now?” Yue Chen dropped the curtain and suddenly asked Chu Lishu.

Chu Lishu looked up, saying, “Thanking me for what?”

Lin Qingyang also looked at Yue Chen strangely, wondering what she could be thanking him for.

Yue Chen squinted at Chu Lishu. “I’m not an official. You don’t need to hide anything from me. I just want to know, in this matter, how much did you actually do? I’m just curious.”

Chu Lishu responded, “I don’t understand what Young Master Yue is talking about.”

“Do you recognize the Tianwu Clan’s script? Liu Wen’er should have shown it to you when she received you. You know it’s the formula for the addictive substance, and you also know that other courtesans have it on their backs,” Yue Chen speculated, absorbed in his thoughts.

Chu Lishu, however, remained indifferent, allowing Yue Chen to make his guesses. Lin Qingyang was curious; he also wanted to know how the seemingly intelligent male lead failed.

“Looking at Liu Wen’er’s performance today, it proves that she has been wanting to break free from the control of the madam for quite some time. But she has been afraid of something, and today’s sudden change indicates that someone has plotted and given her the confidence to take a gamble.”

“When we went there, only Young Master Lin was present, but you were nowhere to be found. Let me guess what you were doing at that time? Searching for the list? Looking for a cleansing solution specifically designed for that particular tattoo?”

As Yue Chen spoke, Lin Qingyang felt a sudden shock, and the previously formed speculations in his mind began to crumble, as if many things were now out of place.

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