Chapter 96 : Xuan Li’s Scheme (Part I)
Trigger Warning: Please note this chapter is a continuation of the previous one and describes the event inside the male brothel, so we would like to warn our readers if you are not comfortable with the content (mature theme, non consent, mentions of rape) you may want to skip this chapter.
The dim room was lit by a few lanterns placed around it. These bright pink lanterns were made out of shoddy material, while the incense within the room gave off a nauseating fragrance. The more one inhaled those swirling wisps of smoke into their lungs, the more it caused the person’s heart to develop an oppressive sense of arousal. It was as if something had arrested it and was making demands.
The door was kicked open with a bang as three burly and tall middle-aged men entered the room. The three men were deeply tanned and their attire filthy. With one glance, one could see that these were manual labourers. Upon their entry, the three men’s gazes were affixed on the three people in the room.
Two of the men were young and fair-skinned, and looked handsome in the dim light. And while they had slim figures, they looked tender and delicate. The leader’s eyes lit up as he praised, “Madam Liu San said that some good stuff arrived today. Indeed, she told the truth.”
Taking a big stride, he first touched Li Yang’s face, and then looked down towards the other man. He frowned. “What’s wrong with this man? Is Madam Liu San playing tricks on us?”
Li Dong turned pale. He was both angry and frightened. Since he had been intimate with a countless number of young men all his life, he naturally understood what kind of place this was. But, who would have thought that one day he would be humiliated and trampled in such a place? It was unbelievable!
Although furious in his heart, his body was limp and unable to budge. He was too powerless to speak.
Another middle-aged man laughed with a wicked look on his face. “Whatever. Won’t it be the same once we turn off the light? Although he’s a bit older, it’s a good thing that he’s tender. The three of us will enjoy ourselves tonight. Madam Liu San charged us a tael or two. We splurged a lot today, so we must have fun.”
Li Yang looked at the three men in horror. The leader squinted at him and reached into his clothes with one hand. Since the aphrodisiac incense was lit in the room, the man was already raging with desire. Furthermore, seeing that Li Yang had some fear on his handsome face, his urge arose even more. Without saying another word, he pulled up Li Yang’s clothes.
Li Dong closed his eyes in pain. Although Li Yang often visited prostitutes, this was his biological son, and now he was to be insulted by these lowly untouchables before his own eyes.
The other two men were already restless as they walked up to Li An. Unable to move, Li An looked at the two men fiercely. His gaze was so vicious that they were stunned. When they finally reacted, they could not help but fly into a rage. One man slapped Li An in the face so hard that he staggered and fell. The other man tore open his pants with impatience. He was stupefied, and then burst into laughter. “You were actually born a eunuch!” He caressed Li An and said, “Since you have been castrated by heaven, you are a bottom. You might as well let us brothers teach you so that you’ll understand what this is all about.”
There was a slap mark on Li An’s fair face and his fierce glare aroused the man’s desire even more. Then, Li An’s face started to redden gradually. Madam Liu San had dosed the three of them with the most powerful drug because they must fornicate without stopping. Otherwise, their bodies wouldn’t be able to bear it. For instance, though he glared at those men now, Li An’s body began to feel out of his control. The two men looked at each other, and, without further words, swarmed and pounced on him. Soon muffled groans and forceful exclamations could be heard in that dimly lit room..
It was hard to tell how much time had passed before Li An and Li Yang were transformed beyond recognition. The three labourers were violent and strong. They tortured those two until they almost didn’t resemble humans- they lay flat on the ground, covered with stains. The three men looked at each other and then saw Li Dong trembling. With a wave, the lanterns were put out and they swarmed again.
Outside the room, Jiang Ruan stood quietly in front of the door, listening to those painful cries with indifference.
What floated through her memory was from the end of her past life- a young boy’s terrified eyes and Li Dong’s hideous guffaw. She personally witnessed Pei’er, whom she regarded as her own son, being abused to death. She was unable to move nor speak and could only watch helplessly. Her bloody tears became her oath: in this life, she would give Li Dong a taste of his own medicine!
She thought that after so long, at this moment, there would only be joy in her heart. She thought that though her love and hatred were well concealed, those feelings wouldn’t burst out easily from the depths of her heart. Except that, right now, only after listening to Li Dong and his sons screaming miserably, did she understand the enormous hatred that had been lurking in the bottom of her heart, and it was far from enough!
It’s nowhere near enough. The Grand Councillor fu had fallen. Who’s next?
Not far behind, Xiao Shao looked at her back. When he heard that she was going to send Li Dong and his sons to the male brothel, surprise flashed in his mind. She looked frosty, her eyes were dark as ink, and her thoughts were a mystery. It was as if a storm was brewing in her soul. Although she tried her utmost to conceal it, it was apparent from her clenched fists that she was enraged.
Only hatred could make people feel this way.
After a long time, Jian Ruan turned around slowly but was taken aback when she saw Xiao Shao silently observing her. However, she swiftly returned to normal and came over to him to say, “Thank you, Xiao Wangye.”
Xiao Shao looked at her thoughtfully. “No, I owe you my life. I will always help you.”
Jiang Ruan flashed him a faint smile. “Then, I request that Xiao Wangye assign someone to take good care of this male brothel. This person must “look after” the Grand Councillor’s family.”
Astonishment flashed through Xiao Shao’s mind again. A boudoir young miss like her actually understood these matters very well. She even knew about this male brothel on Qi Ling Road. Who would teach an influential family’s young lady these things? What’s more, she was even standing in the doorway listening with a nonchalant air. It was truly amazing to see her standing there calmly, without any trace of awkwardness.
He nodded. “Alright.” After thinking it over, he took something from his bosom and handed it to Jiang Ruan.
It was an exquisitely beautiful bracelet that emitted a faint blue light. It was engraved with fine and complicated patterns, though without appearing cumbersome, and had a special meaning. The bracelet looked familiar. After closely looking at it, Jiang Ruan was stunned. “Blood Moon bracelet?”
She had been to the newly opened jewellery store in the capital with Zhao Jin in the past. Amongst the weaponry treasures on the second floor, she had taken a fancy to this bracelet, but didn’t have enough silver to buy it. The bracelet was beautiful, but it was actually an ingenious concealed weapon. When the device was pressed, it would eject a silver poison needle. This needle could be used repeatedly; it was indeed a treasure.
She looked up at Xiao Shao. With cold and calm black onyx eyes, he said, “If there is danger, it will be of use.”
Jiang Ruan hesitated. The Blood Moon bracelet was indeed a rare treasure and it was exactly what she needed. But Xiao Shao just now said that he was on her side. Was he worth trusting?
However, her fondness for the bracelet temporarily overcame her doubts. She took the bracelet and told Xiao Shao with a smile, “Thank you, Wangye.”
Xiao Shao pursed his lips and turned around. He walked with her and then remarked, “Jiang Chao has been released from prison.”
Jiang Ruan pondered briefly. “I know.” She had never assumed that Jiang Chao could be defeated with a single blow because without conclusive evidence, at best, only doubt could be cast on him. Xia Yan would do her utmost to save Jiang Chao from prison, but he wouldn’t necessarily get away scot-free. Needless to say, present circumstances would now make it impossible for Jiang Chao to look up again in this life.
Who would look favourably on a man who had been in prison?
As for Xia Yan, the price she paid might not be for something as simple as she had assumed. In short, these two had suffered a double loss*. She was delighted at this thought.
* 赔了夫人又折兵 (péilefūrényòuzhébīng) – (idiom) having given away a bride, to lose one’s army on top of it / to suffer a double loss after trying to trick the enemy
So be it. One at a time. It’s a matter of course that debt must be paid in full and a life lost must be exchanged with another life.
* * *
In the Jiang fu’s Yan Hua Yuan, Xia Yan’s lips trembled as she looked at Jiang Chao.
Jiang Chao’s face had turned pale and he seemed gripped in extreme fear. His cheeks were sunken, his eyes were dull, his hair was stained with a lot of filth, and his whole body emanated a disgusting smell. After only a few short days in prison, he had completely changed. There was no longer any trace of the dashingly elegant young master of the past.
The physician had already come to examine Jiang Chao. He said that Jiang Chao’s lower body had been ripped apart and he was also traumatized, thus he must be nurtured well in the fu. Although the physician’s words were extremely vague, Xia Ya felt like she was struck by lightning.
Jiang Chao was insulted in prison!
She looked at Jiang Chao in disbelief. He was huddled up in the corner of the room, trembling and murmuring, “Don’t...don’t.”
Xia Yan finally couldn’t bear it. She hugged him in her arms and screamed, “Chao’er!”
Jiang Chao pushed her with all his might. With eyes filled with fear, he bit her frantically. “Go away, go away!”
Xia Yan had been caught unaware and so her hand was bitten. The bite wound was very deep and blood gushed out immediately. Lin Lang froze with fear, then hurried over to help. “Furen, are you alright?”
Xia Yan waved Lin Lang away and hugged Jiang Chao, crying. “My Chao’er, open your eyes and see clearly. I’m your mother, I’m your mother!”
She hugged him so tightly that Jiang Chao could not break free. He gradually calmed down in Xia Yan’s arms and said with a trembling voice, “Mother?”
“It’s me, I’m your mother,” Xia Yan couldn’t help the pain. “Chao’er, who did this to you?”
Jiang Chao trembled all over, grabbed Xia Yan’s sleeve and repeatedly said only one sentence: “Mother help me, help me, Mother help me...”
Unbearable images rolled through his mind. How was that prison any place for people to stay? Those prisoners were the worst of men. And, it was unknown by whose commands the jailer had put him there with them, but those people were the most despicable. They didn’t distinguish between men and women...He had been forcibly humiliated. In a few short days in prison, he was tortured until he didn’t resemble a human.
As he remembered, Jiang Chao suddenly felt a burst of sourness in his stomach. Then, he vomited all over Xia Yan’s face. The servant girls in the room were all shocked and hurried over to help, but Xia Yan only felt dizzy and immediately directed them to take Jiang Chao back first.