Chapter 26: Is it that Lord Wu’an Can’t Lift the Blade, or is Dongzhan so Proud?
After three rounds of drinking and coupled with the wine from earlier, even with her enormous capacity, Gu Nan was flushed red and teetered on the line of half-drunk and soberness.
The wine rested nearby, and the two drinking partners sat leisurely at the small table. After a few cups, Gu Nan’s initial embarrassment wore off and her true personality revealed.
Her outer layers loosened, and her wine cup dangled lazily in her intoxicated hands.
“Young Master Gu, you are drunk.” Painting Fairy looked at this seemingly ‘drunken maiden’ with complex eyes.
The more she looks at him, the more she felt this young master resembled a beautiful woman. His jade face that contained the breath of spring. In that mild drunkness, his aura felt dimly heroic and chivalrous, making even her eyes feel enchanted.
The two of them chatted very happily. Since entering the Dongzhan Pavillion, Painting Fairy never sat so peacefully and felt so relaxed.
Although Gu Nan was somewhat muddled-headed, her manners maintained a proper level of etiquette. The two were always a distance apart, and nothing of note happened to change that.
Painting Fairy thought back to the poem from the afternoon.
Her brows arched together in thought.
He’s really grace in this turbid world. What blessings did I get for such mercy?
“I’m not drunk. And even if I am, what of it?” Gu Nan’s face turned a bit brighter red. Shaking her head and squinting her eyes, she said, “Today’s wine is today’s drink. Tomorrow’s worries are tomorrow’s troubles.”
Really are wonderful words from a wonderful scholar.
Painting Fairy reached out and gently steadied Gu Nan’s swaying figure.
For such a person, how is her dusty self worthy?
“Young Master Gu.” Painting Fairy’s voice was faint, almost a vague mutter. “Did we meet back in March?”
When she arrived here in Xianyang, it was March of this year. She could clearly remember the bleak and downcast spring, just like how Gu Nan’s poem described it to be.
Therefore, she misunderstood that they must’ve first met that day.
“March?” Gu Nan blankly stared back. She hadn’t yet finished all the wine in the jar so she was still somewhat clear-headed.
In March, she wasn’t even in Qin yet, nor in this troubled era.
Her mouth twitched at the thought of it. Laughing dryly, she sighed, “No, we’ve never met before.”
But that rueful attitude and silent smile only made Painting Fairy feel even more heartbroken.
Don’t want to tell me?
Rather, he doesn’t want me to think about it anymore—
Painting Fairy didn’t speak up again.
Gu Nan saw that the wine was almost finished and slowly stood up.
“Miss Painting Fairy, thank you for your wine. Then, I will be taking my leave.” Her hands clasped together and bowed slightly.
But she scantly walked two steps.
A pair of arms slowly wrapped around her shoulders.
Feeling the warm body pressing behind her, Gu Nan was petrified into a cold sweat. Her wine-induced muddiness was blasted apart by waves of anxiety that overcame her.
She remembered just what kind of place she was in, and sometimes, it’s not so simple as just drinking and chatting.
“…Pa, Painting Fairy.”
“Young Master Gu.” Her soft voice nearing, closer and closer. With a brief, tense pause, she whispered, “Do you want me…”
Gu Nan felt like her heart was going to burst. If she was a man, of course she couldn’t help it. But now what can she do, ah!
The room was brought into a long silence.
After a while, Gu Nan turned around grasped Painting Fairy’s hands.
“I’ll be going to Changping by the end of this year. It’ll be fraught with danger, and I don’t know if I can come back alive.”
Painting Fairy’s hands shook involuntarily.
The confrontation at Changping, the full-collision of two powers, everyone knows what it entails.
The danger isn’t something that can be explained in a mere sentence.
“Miss Painting Fairy, it’s perhaps better to find larger waters than to stay in a dry river.”
Then, Gu Nan thought of something and removed an insignia from her clothes.
Placing it in her hands, Gu Nan said, “Take this. if you want to come, the people here will certainly not make it difficult for you.”
“Then…, I won’t see you off.”
Painting Fairy let her arms fall as they slid off those shoulders.
Gu Nan didn’t linger and walked out.
The curtains swayed and the candles flickered silently in the room.
No wonder he didn’t look at me in the afternoon. No wonder the poem says that the spring is like winter. No wonder he came here but only drank wine.
He, in the end, only came to say goodbye to me.
Standing still, unmoving, these thoughts floated in her mind, and tears started to well in her eyes.
The insignia in her hands displayed a couple words.
Lord Wu’an Manor
The morning sun was fully exposed, and yesterday’s snow laid beautifully on the roofs and trees. From afar, it was a portrait-worthy sight.
Of course, some people didn’t have the leisure to appreciate such beauty.
Bai Qi was dressed in a thick, plain tunic and held a cup of tea in one of his hands. His face had quite the dull expression.
Wei Lan stood beside him with a gloomy face.
Gu Nan was kneeling on a cushion laid out in the small courtyard. Xiao Lu was standing behind her with a monstrously large paddle in hand, about the height of a person.
Gu Nan never had thoughts of escaping unscathed. Deserved punishment is unavoidable punishment.
Forcing out a smile, she looked at Bai Qi. “Master, how able we take off ten paddles?”
He casually took a sip of warm tea, the steam floating around his mouth.
Opening his eyes, he said, “Alright.”
Gu Nan’s face is a joy.
“Xiao Lu, hit, fifty paddles.”
For a moment, Gu Nan’s face turned bitter. Last time, twenty paddles bedridden her for a long while.
With fifty strikes, her butt is about to be martyred.
“Yes, Master.” Xiao Lu looked at Gu Nan with a distressed expression, but she didn’t dare disobey. Miss’ mistake this time was really too big.
Clenching her teeth, the arms raised then fell.
Screams sounded out in the manor, rising and falling, twisting and turning. In the intermittent silence, tears dripped onto the ground.
Wei Lan pulled the on Bai Qi’s sleeves. Although she promised that she wouldn’t interfere, she started to worry nonetheless. “Old man, why don’t we have Xiao Lu start off lighter. We don’t want to break the child.”
Bai Qi felt it hard to maintain his stoic expression and said, “This probably isn’t enough. How old is she, and she’s visiting brothels? And she almost stayed the entire night there too. Tsk.”
His beard shook angrily. “If we don’t punish her, how can she remember this lesson. Furthermore, she’s a woman and she’s visiting a brothel, do you know what that implies?”
“Ah!” Gu Nan screamed out again.
Wei Lan gave him an unconvinced look. “Youngster’s hearts are lively and adventurous. If there’s something new, they would surely go and look. Were we not the same in the past? So that’s why I think we should be a bit more lenient, although Nan’er still needs her lesson.”
“Madam, don’t worry, I’ll have her remember what she did wrong.”
“I incorporated heavy and light strikes. For martial practitioners, fifty paddles will only need a few days of rest. Madam doesn’t need to worry.”
Wei Lan turned around and sighed at Gu Nan. “This girl, of all the reckless places to go.”
About half an hour later, the chilling yells in Wu’an Manor gradually disappeared.
Bai Qi stood, arms folded behind him, looming over the ‘half-dead’ Gu Nan. “Do know your wrongs?”
Her face was distressed and her body sprawled out on the ground, but she managed muttered out a few sentences. “I know.”
“I shouldn’t visit brothels.”
“I shouldn’t have disappeared for a night, causing Master to worry.”
“I shouldn’t sneak out and drink wine.”
“Leisure time should be spent studying military literature and practicing martial arts.”
After confirming that her apology was sincere, his stern face loosened a bit.
Turned to Xiao Lu, he said, “Take her to her room. Remember to apply some medicine so that it’ll heal faster.”
“Yes.” Xiao Green quickly nodded and helped Gu Nan out of the backyard.
He stood and watched as Gu Nan was helped up, yelling and grimacing all the way. Shaking his head, he thought it was really useless to be worried for her.
Sighing, he beckoned to an old man standing in the corner of the courtyard. The housekeeper, Lao Lian, hurried forward with his head down.
“Master, your orders?”
Bai Qi said sternly, “Make a trip to Dongzhan Pavillion, and bring back that Painting Fairy girl. She’ll be Miss’ maidservant from now on.”
“Master.” Old Lian was even a bit stunned. He hesitated and said, “Dongzhan Pavillion is an official establishment. Wouldn’t this be inappropriate?”
“What’s inappropriate about it? It is that Lord Wu’an lacks prestige in Xianyang, or is Dongzhan Pavillion so unbending! Go.”
“Yes.” Old Lian nodded in confirmation and quickly retreated.
Although Dongzhan Pavilion is inextricably tied to the royal palace, for him, it’s merely a matter of sending someone over.
Besides that old vulture Fan Sui [TL: Qin’s Prime Minister], no one in the court would dare make a fuss. Even if he did, he’d at most say two sentences of complaint.
As for the king, he’ll probably be happy hearing this.
Because if Bai Qi is doing something as inconsequential as seizing women from brothels, it at least means that he’s not thinking of other things or plots. If he really didn’t desire gifts or treasures, the king will suspect that he wants loftier goals.
But the most important thing is that rumor is Nan’er has taken fancy to someone.
If Bai Qi’s disciple eyes someone, then they will become part of the Wu’an Manor!