“Don't worry. I know how to handle tits.”
--Victor Shakapopulis, ‘Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask’ (1972)
Chapter 267 – Accosted
Huang Ming honestly did not know any of such place in the capital, but his father refused to believe him.
“You’re the biggest wastrel in the world, how would you not know?” his father demanded, insisting that his son not to take Madam Li’s side by feigning ignorance. Therefore Huang Ming resignedly took his father to the red light district of the capital, hoping to find a reputable place that sells wine and get his father drunk as soon as possible before they get into more trouble.
But the moment they entered the district, Huang Ming was stunned to see a familiar signage displayed on the biggest establishment.
“The Lichun Brothel…” he muttered in disbelief.
“And you dared to say you don’t know any places here,” his father said accusingly.
“I honestly didn’t expect to see a branch here,” Huang Ming said defensively.
He was genuinely surprised. From the looks of things it was a bustling place, with people coming and going with great frequency. It was obviously the most popular and most high end of such establishments in the district. Just like in Tianxin City, the upper floor had a balcony where scantily clad ladies with generous assets beckoned at the street traffic below with their dainty handkerchiefs and throwing flower petals.
Huang Zheng snorted. “Seems Qiong Ying still has her secrets.”
“It might be just a coincidence,” Huang Ming replied as they walked into the establishment.
Almost immediately they were accosted by a bevy of well endowed young women, their shoulders exposed and the top of their bosoms glistened from the lights of the many lamps and candles. The smell of fragrances mixed with incense and sweet wine made the atmosphere intoxicating.
Huang Zheng was completely out of his element when he was surrounded by the fawning women. The veteran of a hundred battlefields had been besieged by thousands of enemy soldiers many times, but this was a completely different sort of danger.
“My, what a distinguished elder gentleman,” one of them cooed into Huang Zheng’s ear as her bosom rested on his arm.
“Do something,” Huang Zheng whispered urgently to his son as he began to sweat heavily, his face reddened even before a single drop of wine.
But before Huang Ming could extricate his father out of the encirclement, a gay laughter interrupted the situation.
The Huang father and son turned to see who had mocked their predicament, but their jaws fell open as they recognized the handsome young man who slowly making his way down the staircase. The distinguished man dressed in white robes looked every inch the young noble, with his hair done up in a scholarly way and one hand waving a folding fan to cool himself. Behind him and further up the stairs were a stream of beautiful women: the best waitresses and hostesses the establishment to offer, their beguiling faces, seductive sway of their hips and their great, alluring… personalities…. caused those to see them to gulp with desire.
Except for Huang Ming and Huang Zheng, for their attention was fixed on the young man leading the train.
They recognized the devilishly handsome visage, for it was of course Qiong Ying but in her male disguise as Quan Lu.
“Fancy meeting you gentlemen here,” Quan Lu greeted brightly in his faked voice. But Huang Ming knew her emerald green eyes were flashing dangerously, demanding the unasked question: ‘What are you doing here, hmm?’
Therefore Huang Ming had no qualms at all when he immediately saluted ‘Quan Lu’ and said: “The old man insisted on sampling the capital’s delights and ordered me to accompany him as his final wish.”
No doubt it would truly be the final wish once mother finds out.
Huang Zheng was aghast, and he could only sputter and pointed a shaking finger accusingly at his son in a mixture of disbelief and embarrassment.
“What grand old man, heehee,” one of the women giggled coquettishly at him.
“Oh my, how powerful,” another gasped as she grabbed hold of the general’s outstretched arm and lowered it enough so that she could rest her impressive features on it.
Another couldn’t resist tickling his white wintry beard, while others pinched and tugged at him with frank interest.
The general gawked at the bold women, unable to process what was happening as he was being smothered by their adoration.
Huang Ming could see the irony of seeing his father being so flustered. So did Qiong Ying, as she couldn’t resist ribbing her father-in-law. “A lifetime spent in slaughter, yet afraid of a few maidens!” she smirked.
The general reddened and was about to burst, either into a volcanic rage or into tears of shame… but nobody would know because Qiong Ying/Quan Lu took pity on him. She snapped her folding fan shut and the sharp noise caused the women to pause in their felicitations.
“Enough fooling around, these are my guests,” ‘Quan Lu’ said sternly, but the glinting green eyes took the sting out the warning.
Qiong Ying then brought the two men to a private room, whereupon she then dismissed the adoring ladies.
“Aww, so they swing that way,” one of them sighed regrettably as the doors were closed behind them, causing Huang Zheng to stumble in his step.
Qiong Ying laughed once more, this time in her real voice. She served the two men some tea before joining to sit with them at the table.
“Care to explain yourselves?” she asked, arching an eyebrow inquisitorially.
“He wanted to go to the place with the biggest sluts,” Huang Ming deadpanned.
Huang Zheng slammed the table with a palm, outraged that his son had sold him out.
“I am outraged!” he thundered, using his anger to mask his shame.
Huang Ming ignored his bluster. “And what are you doing here, hmm?” he asked Qiong Ying instead.
“I own this place, of course,” Qiong Ying replied as-a-matter-of-factly, “The name alone should have clued you in.”
“Is this the only other branch you have, or are there other Li Chun Brothels?” Huang Ming asked.
“I have others,” Qiong Ying admitted. “Some are places to slake the intellectual lust, while others like this are for more ‘earthly’ pursuits. I had assumed you had already expected this when I told you about my information sources in the past.”
Huang Ming nodded with admiration. Qiong Ying had once told the Huang family about her extensive spying and news-gathering network across the kingdom, but he had not expected multiple, legitimate businesses such as this. And from first glance, business that seemed to be very profitable to boot. Qiong Ying must be far more wealthier and well-to-do than he had initially thought.
“Don’t change the subject,” Qiong Ying interrupted his train of thought. “What are you two doing here? It is unseemly for the Great General and the Grand Tutor of the kingdom appear in such an establishment.”
Huang Zheng by this point had been sulking and pointedly ignored the question. The general had folded his arms and turned his face away with indignation when he was being ignored by them earlier.
“Mom threw a flower pot at him,” Huang Ming supplied.
“And you ran here to spite her?” Qiong Ying was appalled. “What happened? Why was she so angry? What did you do this time?”
Huang Ming sighed. “It is not me! Dad wanted to bring her back to Tianxin City, but she refused to leave. I have never seen her like this before.”
“What about you then, general?” Qiong Ying asked. She had addressed him by his title, because she was unsure how he would react if she called him ‘father-in-law’… or worse, ‘father’. After all, the triangle situation with her, Sunli and Huang Ming remained ambiguous with all three parties overly occupied to actually have a thorough discussion.
“Her yin must be imbalanced from whatever you had been feeding her,” Huang Zheng snorted, still pricked by the way his wife had treated him. “The last time she used violence on me was when she…”
He trailed off as realization began to dawn on him.
“When she what?” Huang Ming urged.
“You. It was you!” his father gasped. The aged general shot to his feet and rushed out.
“What?” Huang Ming asked bewilderedly.
Only Qiong Ying seemed to have grasped something. She stroked her chin and grinned.
“As I suspected, this is your fault,” she gloated.
In the wonderland,
The general understands.