Chapter 8 - Secret Scion

The news that Dylan Steward had been made an invalid quickly spread in Rollinsford. Anyone with a discerning eye could tell that this was the Leonards exacting revenge. After all, no family would take the matter lying down when it involved the death of their progeny. The Leonards and Stewards had also long been feuding.  

The Leonards were also suppressing the Stewards' means of business besides retaliating against the younger generation. The Stewards may have thrived but they were still weak and defenseless against the behemoth that was the Leonards.  

It only took a few days for the Stewards to lose millions.  

This extent of a crackdown was not one that ordinary households could bear. It was a heavy blow to the Stewards.

Carter Steward exhausted all means to defend himself against the Leonards doling out their vengeance. He had even sought help from the Yaegers, but who would run a fool's errand? Who would be willing to offend such an influential family for the sake of a third-class household?  

A week quickly passed them by. The Stewards suffered massive losses that would soon drive them out of the ranks of the elite.

Carter was worried that what happened with Dylan would repeat itself and had to restrict Erick's freedom alongside his kin. No one could leave the residence without authorization unless as a last resort.  

Radley Leonard made a stop to his grandfather's study that morning, regarding Hallberg Leonard, who was seated on a stool, with respect. "I've done everything as per your orders, Grandpa. Everything has been cleared up. Should I pay a visit to the Stewards for their heads?"  

Hallberg was the current patriarch of the Leonards. Old as he was, he remained spirited with a healthy glow to his visage.  

"Go. I want answers for Jackson's death. Everyone in Rollinsford is watching us. We must show these fools that our position in this city is unshakable. The Stewards' downfall will be made an example of what happens should they offend us," Hallberg answered matter-of-factly.  

Radley nodded. "I understand. I'll pay the Stewards a visit and bring some men with me to punish them as an example."

"Radley, I've heard that you lost the man that got married into the Stewards' household a while ago. What is the meaning of this? Is he not the wastrel everyone says he is?"

There was no trace of blame in Hallberg's tone, but Radley hurried to explain himself. "It was my negligence and carelessness that brought shame to the family, Grandpa. But don't worry. I'll find a way to lure him out and get rid of him once I'm there."  

Hallberg nodded. "I have faith in you. You mustn't keep things low-key when it comes to making a fanfare. Let go and do it. The Leonards will forever stay your staunch ally."

The battle between the Leonards and the Stewards had become a topic of discussion among celebrities in Rollinsford. Virtually everyone believed that the Stewards were done for. Few knew that the final outcome would mean a tragic defeat for the Leonards.

Provided, of course, that the man would come forward. 

Ever since Dove Yaeger learned that Asher was no ordinary man, she began to pay attention to the struggle between the Leonards and the Stewards. Every miniscule move the two households made wouldn't escape the Yaegers with their might.

"Radley is going to the Stewards, Castor. He's bringing his peers from the Sullivans and the Hoffmans with him. It seems that they want to use this incident with the Stewards to deter the Sullivans and Hoffmans and consolidate the Leonards' position."

Dove went to her backyard where Castor was seated in a pavilion to speak with him on the matter.  

"Is the news accurate?" A flash of joy crossed Castor's countenance.  

Dove could not understand what was on her brother's mind but nodded with great certainty. "The reason the Leonards delayed taking action against the Stewards was likely to dredge up their connections. One of the Leonards had died, so there's no feasible way for Erick Steward to get out of the situation. But all this doesn't justify a reason to wipe out the entire household. If the Leonards wanted revenge against them, they would have to mobilize their connections. That isn't a difficult thing to do with the Leonards' might."

Castor immediately changed the subject. "Dove, do you know anything about what the relationship between Asher and Noelle was like?"  

Dove tucked her hair behind her ear. "I'm not too sure about that. But I've heard that Asher really loved Noelle, and she seemed to have saved him."  

Castor guffawed as soon as Dove finished.  

The confused Dove could only ask, "What's wrong, Castor?"  

"My time is here, Dove."  

The Stewards being eradicated by the Leonards had little to do with Castor himself, but there was another important factor to consider. That factor was none other than Asher Crawford.  

The Stewards' survival was at stake. Would Asher step in to help or would he allow it to happen?  

Asher cared a lot for Noelle. The chances of him stepping in to help was high.  

Asher, however, had no desire to reveal his true identity just yet. He would inevitably require a helping hand if he wanted to deal with the Leonards. Those who knew his identity in Rollinsford were few and far between. The only person who had the strength necessary to help him was Castor Jaeger.  

If Castor stepped in to lend his aid to Asher when necessary, would Asher not owe him a favor?  

Wealth was not the most valuable thing for those at their level. It was favors. Asher owing Castor a favor meant that the latter would have an additional trump card.

Castor stood up after thinking it through. "Dove, please tell our grandfather that I'll be stretching my legs for a bit and will be out late."  

"Where are you going, Castor?"  

"The Steward residence." Castor gave a thought-provoking smile. "The Leonards are putting on airs. How could I not be there? Besides, I've been residing in the Capital City for two years. I seldom have the opportunity to meet the gentry of Rollinsford. Now that I'm back, I want to know if they recognize me."

Dove quickly left the pavilion, grinning at Castor. "Most people would probably be there too. I want in on the fun as well."  

The Steward residence.  

Carter had just received news that Radley was heading his way with a group of men. It was obvious from his mobilizing of masses that his visit was not good news.  

He was anxious, so anxious that he was going around in circles.  

Every Steward kinsmen from the old to the young were gathered in the living area.  

Carter had never expressed panic or fear throughout his years as the patriarch of the Stewards. They all knew that trouble was coming right for them.  

Michael Steward was frowning. "Dad, the Leonards are going too far. It isn't as if Erick deliberately killed the kid. If anyone's at fault, it's the boy, for not having been born under a lucky star. They've crippled Dylan and suppressed our business. What more do they want?"

"You're too simple-minded." Carter glared at Michael. "I'm afraid they intend to use this matter to establish their prestige, and we are their stepping stones to it. This hurdle will not be an easy one to pass."  

"Are we just going to sit here and meet our demise? We'll just have to fight back since they won't offer us a way out. They won't get away with it!" Michael gritted his teeth.  

"Fight? How do you want to do that?" Carter shared his son's sentiments in fighting back against the Leonards which was why he was making use of his connections, but the moment they heard what was going down, everyone scampered away with their tails between their legs.  

Erick, who stood in the sidelines, was sweating profusely. His legs were trembling and his eyes reflected fear. He knew well that Radley's target this time was him.  

"I don't want to be a crippled man, Grandpa. Please save me, Gramps!" Erick rushed up to his grandfather. He knew he was done for if Carter was out of ideas.  

"I keep telling you not to let your arrogance get to your head, Erick, or trouble would soon follow. You refused to listen to me. And here you are regretting it when a major incident has occurred. What's the point?"

"Dad, you can't just watch as Radley takes my son away," Michael protested.  

Carter sucked in a breath. "I can only send Erick away for now. Mr. Wilhelm, prepare for Erick's journey out of the city. We'll find him somewhere that he can hole up in while he waits for my word."

"Understood, Sir." Mr. Wilhelm immediately led Erick away.  

Carter sat back down on the sofa, his gaze sweeping through the room as he gave a firm order. "The Stewards cannot fall. All of you are descendants of this family, and if necessary, I hope that you are willing to sacrifice yourselves for Erick's safety. Erick is the sole heir to this household. Hope will prevail with Erick safe and sound."  

Every youngster present began to murmur.  

"This was Erick's fault. Why should we be the one to wipe his ass for him? Grandpa is being biased."

"Well, he is Grandpa's favorite and the heir to this family. We're just pawns on a chessboard that can be sacrificed at any time."  

"And just who decided that only men can lead?"  

Everyone was dissatisfied. There was none who was willing to be Erick's scapegoat.