Chapter 21

Chapter 21: Fledgling in the Brothel


“Oh, gentlemen, I have not had the pleasure to see you in a while. Girls, come out and greet the guests.”

“Haha, yes. It has been a long time. Would we be fortunate enough to see Painting Fairy today?”

“It would be your luck, Miss Painting Fairy is preparing a poetry opening today. If your poem is particularly valued, you may be invited to a private drink with her.”

“Hm? So our luck is quite good after all, haha.”

“Come, this way.”

Not sure how to say it, but although the Warring States had classier brothels and courtesans, it didn’t deviate too much from Gu Nan’s mental image of them.

Right through the gate, she was hit with the rich smell of powdered perfume. The guests sat around drinking while a female attendant neatly refilled their wine. Occasionally, Gu Nan saw a few repulsive men groping around, not that the girls resisted or anything, just merely chuckling.

She looked around and noted the nicely-decorated interior, the high-class guests, and fine furniture.

This was to be expected. The earliest brothels were not the run-down places of the modern era. Rather, they were bright pavilions for the entertainment of the privileged.

Still, it’s hard to describe such an environment. The place wasn’t too noisy, even perhaps quiet. There will be some private whispers and some giggling from time to time.

Briefly glancing at the provocative attire and attendants, Gu Nan’s face turned a bit red.

The old madam saw an unfamiliar guest walk in. In just a glance, her gaze started to shine. Her experience was screaming VIP.

The guest wore a black robe with contrasting stitching and embroidering. Black in this era represented a special status and honor. It was a robe color unique to the nobility and high class and unavailable to average civilians.

His figure was not very strong though, and it made the robes fall a bit loose on his shoulders. But, his face was very handsome and a sword-like gaze poured out unintentionally. The long black hair was tied in a simple bun, but even that furthered his complexity. All this incites people into taking another look.

His figure stopped not too far from the entrance. He took a long moment to scan the surroundings but became flustered at the sight of the loose dresses and pervasive perfume.

It seems this is an inexperienced young child.

The old madam smiled quickly walked up with a brisk speed.

“Distinguished young master, I saw you standing here for a while. Do you need any assistance?” The old madam smiled and patted Gu Nan’s shoulder in reassurance.

“To be honest, our girls much rather prefer a young master such as yourself.”

Unsure what to say, Gu Nan’s face turned stiff and stammered a response.

“I, I’ll take a jar of wine.”

“Alright, then would young master find a seat over there.” She didn’t really care how much Gu Nan spent, but she just found this person to be interesting, and a person worth building familiarity with.

After that, the old madam walked away.

Gu Nan touched her nose and sat down at an empty table.

She started to regret that Bai Qi didn’t give her enough allowance that she could come to drink here regularly. But then again, if that old man knew she was coming to the brothel, she feared the heavenly punishment that awaited her.

Ah, never mind.

Gu Nan looked around at the other pairs conversing around, yet she was sitting alone and doing nothing.

Hmm?

She then heard a voice from beside her that interrupted her thoughts. “Little brother, is anyone sitting here? If not, could I sit here?”

The voice seemed gentle, and she looked to see a young man in his twenties.

He was dressed in robes of the same black color as her. However, the difference was that his materials and craftsmanship were obviously much better. Along the edges were some faint patterns of gold.

“Ah, there’s no one. Brothers feel free to sit.” She didn’t mind the company of others, especially since it would relieve the embarrassment of sitting alone.

“Thank you.” The man smiled and sat down next to Gu Nan. She smelled a subtle fragrance, but since she already in the perfumed brothel, it made little difference.

“I am Zhao Yiren.”

Zhao Yiren? What a strange name.

Gu Nan didn’t put too much thought to it and replied, “Gu Nan.”

The table was quiet, and because the two were strangers, there was nothing to converse about.

The old madam quickly walked back, bringing a jar of wine.

Gu Nan took the wine and filled his cup but didn’t yet drink.

Sensing her embarrassment, Zhao Yiren laughed slightly. “Would this be Brother’s first time to Dongzhan Pavillion?”

“Uhm” Gu Nan placed down the cup, as her mouth frowning slightly. “How did Brother know?”

Zhao Yiren called for his own jar of wine and smiled. “Well, you didn’t select for any of the female attendants, neither did you go talk to any acquaintances. Furthermore, you seemed quite uncomfortable even drinking wine. What else could it be?”

Though chuckling, he at least provided some reassurance. “Little Brother doesn’t need to be so concerned. After your first time, this will become a familiar place, haha.”

I’m currently stuck in a dilemma. What do you know! I can’t really call for a girl. Who knows what’ll happen.

Feeling depressed, she sighed. “Thank you, Brother, for your advice.”

Seeing that Gu Nan was rather sullen, Zhao Yiren coughed and took another sip of his wine. “Do you know why today’s so busy?”

This piqued her interest as she scanned the large hall. It was indeed abnormal for such a full place, especially the shuffling crowds and lack of empty seats.

Because everyone kept a tacit level of quietness, she had failed to notice. But looking up, it was certainly strange. Frowning, she asked, “I really don’t know.”

“Ha, it means that Little Brother has good luck. Today is Miss Painting Fairy’s poetry opening. If you spend 50 gold, you can present a poem in front of everyone. If she likes it, you can have a private meeting.”

“50 gold, just to present a poem?” The corner of her mouth was twitching. She didn’t have fifty gold on her whole body.

I bought a horse for twenty, thirty gold, yet to present a poem. Daylight robbery!

“Yes.” Zhao Yiren took a nod of full seriousness. “It’s rumored that the Painting Fairy is skilled in both arts and the brush. She’s a talented woman with beauty surpassing countless others. Many men have tried getting close to her, but all have failed. Fifty gold, I would pay five hundred just to see such a gifted maiden!”

In his passionate speech, he failed to notice Gu Nan biting down on her cup in jealousy.

This kind of living is too extravagant!

3 thoughts on “Chapter 21

  1. I would say that there’s about two periods which come to mind. The resurgence of Confucianism in the Tang Dynasty (~900AD) looked down upon prostitution in general, and I would think it would’ve affected the higher-end government brothels the most. The second time is during the Qing Dynasty (~1700-1900s) when prostitution was deregulated. This caused a large increase in private-brothels.

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