“Too soon, Executus!”
--Ragnaros the Firelord, ‘World of Warcraft’
Chapter 130 – Interrupted
Despite the light-hearted way Qiong Ying had parted ways with her bodyguards, she did not completely relax herself. After all, she was in a den of sin, and she knew better than to completely trust the foxy woman who was leading her into a private room.
Happy doses of spiked drinks, hallucinogen aromatics or a simple blow to the back of one’s head from an accomplice were all too common in a brothel. Qiong Ying had even employed such tactics herself to get rid of unwanted customers, sending them home with a suitably huge hangover to befuddle their memories.
“How should I address you, young master?” the foxy woman asked Qiong Ying.
Qiong Ying snapped her folding fan open with a smooth flick of the wrist and jutted her chin proudly to affect the mannerisms of a confident gentleman that was her Quan Lu disguise.
“You may call me Mr. Quan,” she said, giving the thickly-dressed escort one of her best smiles. A brilliant smile from a most handsome man of delicate skin, tapered chin and startling green eyes that was almost hypnotic. The effect sent the foxy woman into a daze, and for a moment she stood there drinking in the visage of this perfect ‘man’.
“I am from Tianxin City,” Quan Lu added, and the woman snapped back into reality. She quickly recovered, but Quan Lu saw the short flash in the woman’s eyes.
It was the confirmation that Qiong Ying needed: this woman was the recipient of sudden wealth talked about in the rumours, that her patron was someone from Tianxin City.
“You have come a long way, Mr. Quan,” the courtesan smiled. “What brings you to the capital?”
“To drown my sorrows!” Quan Lu said, shaking his head and patted over his heart in an exaggerated woeful gesture. “Alas, my family had joined the campaign in Wei, and now I’m the sole heir of our estate. I could not bear to stay in Tianxin City any longer, and so I’ve come to the capital to bury my grief.”
He chuckled as he jangled the money pouch tied to his belt, not showing any brokenheartedness at all. It was as if he had unexpectedly come into wealth and was not at all hesitant to use it. He then brazenly grabbed the waist of the foxy woman and leered at her lecherously.
The courtesan’s own eyes shone with avarice when she saw the gesture and heard the sound of clinking gold and silver taels within. Even though she was already wearing expensive clothing and jewellery, she cannot disguise her greed for more. The young man became an enticing prey: young, handsome, rich and dissolute.
It was simple enough for Qiong Ying to act this way, she had come across many such characters in her lifetime. It was easy to draw inspiration from the likes of the Handsome Scholar Nangong Xie back in Tianxin City. Such young men were loud, brash and shameless in spending their often undeserved wealth.
“Bring forth your finest wines and dishes, this young master wants to see and experience the best the capital can offer, so that he might forget all his troubles!” Quan Lu said bombastically.
The courtesan twisted her hips coquettishly and called for a servant to order the food and wine. Quan Lu laughed, and secretly made sure that the bottle of medicine in his sleeves was ready…
An hour or so later, both Quan Lu and the foxy courtesan had flushed faces from drinking the overpriced wine. Yet Quan Lu was still completely sober, while the courtesan was reduced to a giggling, giddy mess.
“You have the most beautiful jewels,” Quan Lu praised.
“Aren’t they lovely?” the woman gushed, holding up a hand to admire the pretty rings on her pretty fingers.
“Not as lovely as you. Where did you buy them?”
The woman laughed. “Silly, why would I need to buy anything myself?” she admonished gaily.
“So you have a secret admirer!” Quan Lu exclaimed sulkily.
“Aww, is the young master jealous?” the courtesan laughed as Quan Lu’s face turned sour.
“Who is it? Who is it that dared to covet my woman?” Quan Lu demanded.
“Your woman?” she repeated, arching an eyebrow charmingly.
“You have the best skeletal structure and most divine of bodies. I must have you, no one else must stand in my way,” Quan Lu insisted, recalling some of Huang Ming’s more ridiculous phrases.
“Young Master Quan, you’re drunk!” the courtesan murmured breathlessly. She was very pleased at the praise, despite the odd mention of skeletal structure. She chalked it up to something from the countryside.
“Drunk? Of course, I’m intoxicated by you,” Quan Lu said shamelessly, his emerald eyes staring deeply into the woman’s watery ones and causing her to tremble.
“Oh, you…” she slurred.
“I’ll buy out your contract, I’ll take you away from here!” Quan Lu asserted, mentioning a courtesan’s greatest desire.
“You can’t, I already belong to another. He’s already promised to take me away soon,” the woman whimpered regretfully.
“Who? Who is it?” Quan Lu whispered into her ear with urgency.
“He’s from Tianxin City as well. He’s quite rich and powerful, you should know of him,” the courtesan revealed at last.
“What is his name?”
But before the courtesan could reply, there was a loud commotion outside. Quan Lu could hear the muffled yells of Tian Zhu and Zhen Tian outside, and then the door crashed open. The two bodyguards were outnumbered and easily overpowered by a group of men.
The new arrivals then parted to make way for their leader.
“Who dares to lay his hands on my woman?” the leader demanded as he glared at Quan Lu furiously.
Quan Lu’s eyes widened.
Sent into a whirl,
It’s a small world.