Joy of Life - Chapter 280

[Updated at: 2021-01-12 01:48:03]
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Chapter 280: Bao Yue House


Translator: Nyoi-Bo Studio Editor: Nyoi-Bo Studio


The ladies in the Bao Yue House were not adept in the ways of stitchwork, but they did deal with the needle business. People say that if a person were to work hard enough, they could grind an iron rod into a needle. If this was true, then those girls at the Bao Yue House were pretty good.


Today, Fan Xian wore a disguise in his bid to relax. The party that had accompanied him had decided to travel in an ordinary carriage, doing so in the department and promptly going to the quieter western side of the city. The carriage was brought to a halt outside of a three-floor building, and almost immediately, workers came out to lead the horses towards a finer place to park. They were quite experienced with such a task. There were also well-dressed receptionists who kindly welcomed them in.


Fan Xian used make-up on his eyebrows and drew a few pimples on his left cheek just like Fan Sizhe. It was a clever way to look dull and wholly unremarkable. In this very unadvanced society, it would have been difficult for people to recognise him as the oft-spoken of Fan Xian.


Bao Yue House was a wooden building. Any wooden structure had to be built at least three-stories tall so the added weight from above would apply pressure to the floors below and ensure stability. But in the Bao Yue House, the space separating the floors and ceilings was rather large, and the windows were just as tall. If you were to stand before the building, you could quite clearly see the sun shining behind it.


Fan Xian knew that this building’s wood must have been of the premium sort, wood that was usually imported from the north. He walked forward and entered Bao Yue House, and as he did, his hands dragged across the sturdy wooden pillars before the door almost subconsciously, confirming his theory on the wood’s origin.


It was still early, but the lobby was already full of visitors. There was a small circular stage in front of Fan Xian, on it a woman dressed in plain clothing. She played her guzheng with her hand, the sounds coming from it able to soothe any soul.


Fan Xian squinted his eyes, realizing how complex this brothel was. The three of them followed a receptionist and were led to the second floor. They chose a table at the back of the house and sat down. Fan Xian sat near a rail and gestured with his eyes as a signal to Deng Ziyue and Shi Chanli to sit down. He looked down a little and found that the rail had gold paint on it, not unlike that found in a palace. It was luxurious and sublime to behold, and the untarnished decor indicated that the establishment had not been around that long. It also told him that the owner must have been a very wealthy man. It already seemed as if Mu Tie’s judgement was correct, and that this place did indeed bear some connection to the princes.


This Bao Yue House truly was a little strange, and the elegance of the establishment was almost overbearing. It didn’t seem that appropriate, and it gave the place an almost sickly aura.


The decor was inappropriate for a brothel.


There was no security to be seen here, nor was there a pimp adorned in makeup. Perhaps even more strangely, there weren’t any prostitutes walking around with their bust exposed. The fresh taste didn’t make it seem like a brothel at all. Fan Xian entered the capital a year and a half ago and had been privileged to enter a few places that looked like this, but this was the first time he had seen it all laid out in such a way. He leaned on the rail to look outside, and his heart jumped.


The building was not on the main street, and despite the crowd downstairs, the place was quiet. The was a large pond behind the building that was long and slim, affectionately dubbed the “Skinny Lake” by the populace.


The three of them now sat against the rail, and they could feel a gentle breeze coming from across the pond caressing their backs. It was an indescribable feeling. Fan Xian could not help but pat the rail and squint his eyes. There were several small houses behind this primary building and situated near the pond, and they were rather hidden between the trees. Through that green veil, it was almost difficult to make out the gleaming white walls. Due to his supreme eyesight, Fan Xian was able to pick out a trench behind one of the houses used to release contaminated water. He noticed the color red in the trench, which told him there were many girls living in those houses. It looked as if the primary Bao Yue House was a restaurant used to welcome customers and that the place for fun would have been in those places.


Just like visiting Ming Shan, there had to be mist cloaking the mountain; a veil that would only excite aspiring adventurers.


This wooden three-floor building known as Bao Yue House was like the mist enshrouding Ming Shan. To put those mini rooms behind the house was a way to incite excitement in the customers.


The person who ran the brothel had to be a very smart man. If he was a person he could buy out, and did not have a few homicides hanging over his head, Fan Xian would have considered the prospect of hiring him to take over the palace treasury.


But in regards to the livelihood of working in a brothel, Fan Xian had a rather simple outlook on the subject: A customer was a customer and a prostitute was a prostitute. One of them paid a certain amount of money, and the other person uses their body to earn it; a zebra can’t change its stripes, and a pig in a blanket is still a pig.


He looked out at the yard near the pond and could not help but shake his head, imagining that this dreamy villa was making more money than it ought to. It was a charming, luxurious establishment, yes, but from his own viewpoint, a disturbing thought plagued Fan Xian’s mind. Repeatedly, he wondered how many bones and bodies of innocent women had been buried beneath the soil of that garden.


While Fan Xian was lost in thought, Shi Chan Li had already placed an order for a few dishes. Bao Yue’s service was excellent, and in a short amount of time later, two young servants appeared. They looked to be about thirteen to fourteen years of age, and they were carrying with them meals. They placed the refined plates gently upon the table without so much as a squeak; it was obvious how highly trained they were.


The food on the plates looked absolutely delicious. The dish with camellia shrimp exuded a mouth-watering fragrance. In a bowl that contained chicken soup and noodles, there were yellow drops of oil sitting neatly on the brew. Another dish contained succulent slabs of beef soaking in oil, providing a pedestal to an array of finely diced onions. Alongside those were presented a variety of smaller side dishes that looked and smelled divine, also.


After a pretty young servant poured each of them their drinks, Shi Chan Li signalled for them to leave. Fan Xian gave him a smile, admiring the young student for his relaxed demeanor and daring ability to make decisions confidently before him.


The wooden spoon in the chicken soup looked troublesome to use, but once it was moved, the waft of a tantalising fragrance permeated the air. Even Fan Xian could not help but be pleasantly surprised, and so he accepted the bowl that was passed to him by Shi Chan Li and complemented it kindly.




To go with his disguise, Fan Xian had taken upon the alias “Mister Chen”; a name that was chosen by his master, Chen Pingping.


The three of them at the table were eating and admiring the view as any three friends would. They drank together and engaged in idle chit-chat, discussing the various events and affairs around the capital and whatnot. Deng Ziyue was manager of the Qinian Group, and his primary concern was always the safety of the commissioner. In this place, one could not tell friend from foe, and as such, he was unable to completely relax. Deng Ziyue found himself bound to a perpetual state of unease and caution. Amidst the drinks he was offered, and the stern looks given to him by Fan Xian, he eased his tension just a touch.


After they drank, Shi Chan Li could no longer hold his tongue. With a frown and a deepened voice, he asked, “Mister Chen, what are we doing here today?”


Fan Xian gave a slight laugh and replied, “Of course, we are going to dip our toes in and enjoy the most luxurious of activities this capital can provide.” He quickly scanned the area, and after he confirmed no one was watching them, he lowered his voice and said, “Mu Tie gave me the intel that he did for a purpose, even if that purpose is not made immediately clear. Him being unable to say anything tells me that there must be something hidden here, and I am going to suss out what it is.”


Shi Chan Li shook his head, and with a wry smile, said, “Although I pity the women that live here in this brothel, living a life like this is regretfully common and is something that the law freely allows. Why must they put their lives in such danger like this?”


Fan Xian used his chopstick to bring a silk-like slice of tender beef to his mouth and slowly chewed on it. He then laughed and responded, “In a single month, Bao Yue House has taken the lives of four women. The manner of their deaths was senseless and cruel, and of a horrid nature even I could not fathom to perform, and that’s saying something, and I have come a long way in that regard.”


Shi Chanli frowned once more and said, “The case files are for the Jingdou government to handle. The Overwatch Council is only in charge of observing the officers of the court – we don’t have the authority to involve ourselves in this. Master, do you have something else on your mind?”


Deng Ziyue took another swig of his drink for a touch more dutch courage and said, “We are going to investigate the malfeasance of certain officers in the government in the capital to deal with. Besides…” he looked at Fan Xian, and after receiving permission to say it, lowered his voice and told them, “the identity of the real owner of Bao Yue House is something the Overwatch Council has yet to learn of. Strange, isn’t it?”


Shi Chanli was shocked, thinking that despite this, the spies of the Overwatch Council were everywhere in the capital. Even the sovereigns in their manors were perpetually concerned about the presence of a spy peeping on them at any given moment. In a month’s time, they had already uncovered the knotted ties connecting the second prince to Xinyang. But Bao Yue House was merely a brothel and bar; how could they not uncover the identity of its owner?


His heart was pounding at the possibility that, behind Bao Yue House, the owner was connected with…


Fan Xian acknowledged the thoughts that were running through Shi Chanli’s mind, and realized that they echoed his own, saying to him, “If the owner was able to evade the surveillance of the Eight Bureaus of the Overwatch Council, there had to be a person on the inside, covering his tracks.”


The most amazing thing about the Overwatch Council was how professional it was and how flawless their members were in executing their appointed tasks. It was quite surprising, considering how many complicated systems were combined and fused into a single organization. To find a chink in the Overwatch Council’s chain was nigh impossible, so when the events surrounding Zhu Ge were made public, it sent out shockwaves across the capital. No one would have expected that two days following the death of Zhu Ge, someone within the Overwatch Council was already working for the princes. This is what plagued Fan Xian’s mind the most.


He was the Overwatch Council’s commissioner; who would allow someone to commit evil upon their own doorstep? Therefore, he had to come and check out Bao Yue House himself today and find out…


Who’s sticking their chopsticks into my own bowl. I’d do well to spruce up the boring lives my subordinates lead.




“What can a student like me do?” Shi Chanli personality was one of those calm people, and favored a simple life. This was because he was a scholar. This was the first time he had done something even remotely exciting, and his nervousness and the trepidation on the face regarding the matter were as plain as a day.


Fan Xian replied saying, “You don’t have the strength to fight back, I know. I brought you here so you could take a look. That’s all.” Fan Xian patted Shi Chanli’s shoulder and told him, “I’ll just use the fun of the public to treat you.”


Shi Chanli froze, immediately understanding that which he had meant. The scholar was not yet married, and the thought of this made him blush. With surprise, Fan Xian laughed with great humor and said, “You and Hou Ji Chang are amongst the smartest young men in the capital. Have you never visited a brothel to mingle with women?”


Shi Chanli was visibly in a state of awkwardness, and he worriedly cried out, “I’m useless! I’m useless!”


Fan Xian laughed once again and affirmatively told the scholar, “In a place such as this, it is impossible for you to be useless.”




Not long after, the sun began to sink with the onset of darkness. The pond glowed in the twilight like a shimmering gold, which was somewhat dulled by the bad weather. Like the instantaneous casting of a spell, the lights of Bao Yue House now lit up. With an innumerous amount of lamps now burning, the entire building was lit like a beacon of the night. The reflection of the scattered lamps were cast upon the pond and from afar, they looked like bright stars twinkling in the night sky. This was sight more beautiful than the sunset itself.


With the settling of night, more and more people came to Bao Yue House, for the most popular hour of the day had arrived. Many litters were now parked in front of the building and exited their cabins dressed in casual garb. While their attire might suggest otherwise, their method of arrival and the way in which they walked spoke of their true nature – they were officers of the capital. They were visibly comfortable as they entered, which suggested that they came here often and had grown fond of the establishment. Many of the officers arrived in the company of wealthy merchants.


Fan Xian thought of using the funds of the Overwatch Council to cover the costs that would include getting Shi Chanli to lose his virginity. While the officers downstairs were keen on sticking to a wealthy merchant to cover their expenses, Fan Xian thought this course of action would be best for them. Not only was it safer, but it looked better as well.


The area in which they were sat near the rail was getting darker, and the shadows began to encompass the trio. Fan Xian squinted his eyes and looked over to the brighter sections of the establishment. He recognized the faces of a few officers at the feast, a number of them entering a dining room with their wealthy company, though Fan Xian was unable to make out their identity. A little while later, all the rooms were full, and the second floor was completely packed. The sound of music, the sound of rabble and the sounds made by the clinking of glasses were elevated in volume, and the place was looking to be very lively. Voluptuously dressed women began to come out, apparently appearing to be quite popular.


Fan Xian looked at the leftover dishes and diminishing reserves of drink upon his table, pondering whether or not the owner was aware of his true identity beneath the disguise he had adopted for the day. He also wondered whether or not the owner’s knowledge of this would be cause for another big scene.


“You guys should have fun.” Fan Xian heartily told his party.


Shi Chanli looked nervous, and anxiously asked, “Master, where are you going?”


Fan Xian answered, “I came to this establishment of delightful relaxation and rehabilitation to do just that. If I don’t put myself in danger, what could I possibly hope to achieve?”


The way he said this was incredibly soft and sincere. Deng Ziyue and Shi Chanli had to believe what he told them, but they were still unnerved about the prospect of coming to a brothel and sleeping with a prostitute.


Fan Xian smiled and said, “Later, when you are to spend time with the women, do your best to obtain as much information as you can. There is no need to ask of who the owner is, just ask the girls what things are like for them on a day-to-day basis. The more casual your approach things, the better your results will be. Don’t make it an interrogation. If you believe a possible question may be inappropriate to ask, don’t ask it. Don’t have them start thinking we are here for something else; that is the most important thing.”


Deng Ziyue looked at Fan Xian, and it was at this moment he believed his master was indeed here for the investigation and this entire day wasn’t to be an excuse for a visit to a brothel. That being said, the gathering of intel was a minor task and something not ideally suited for officers of their level. There was most certainly no need for the commissioner himself to be there.


At this time, the small yards were lit up with torches, and they bloomed like golden flowers.


Deng Ziyue stood up and waved for the attention of a servant. He said, “Come set things up for us.”


The servant accepted a nugget of gold that was roughly the size of a person’s fingertip. His face was frozen as he was shocked to find out that those three were actually rich customers. In a rush, he ran over to the receptionist to tell him. In equal haste, the receptionist then went over to greet them, apologizing about the supposed incompetence in their earlier service of them. They led them downstairs, graciously holding them as they walked. They began chatting along the way, and it seemed as if they had a desire o uncover the identities of the trio.


Fan Xian merely ignored them, pulled his arm away and walked ahead of them.


Shi Chanli was in the back, chatting with the receptionist. He told the man that he was a scholar of Jiangnan and that he came here for a simple visit. Of course, in a desperate plight to save face, he implored to the receptionist how he had wandered into the establishment without prior knowledge of it being a brothel.


The receptionist was smiling and he said, “Three gentlement? In Bao Yue House, there is nothing we cannot do in service of your comfort and entertainment, for whatever your desire may be, it is a command we will diligently work to serve. And serve it we will.”


During this dialogue, the man glanced at Fan Xian and watched him walk forward. Without a doubt, he thought, he was the most important individual amongst the trio. From a mere glance at Mister Chen’s behavior, you could tell that he was no commoner; he did not even bend an ear to listen to what he had just said. If he had to wager a guess, he would assume that he were a rich officer’s son from Jiangnan.




The Bao Yue House’s design was truly awful. Upon exiting the restaurant downstairs, one would immediately arrive at the shores of the pond. You could hear the chorus of many birds singing in harmony from behind the yard. It was as if two separate worlds existed side by side in complete tranquility.


The three of them were now being led by the receptionist, approaching a yard that contained a multitude of smaller houses. It was impossible to compare this place to the main house, for after you stepped in, a number of pretty women came forward to welcome you. Their smiles beamed as they danced and quickly approached the trio, one woman clutching each of the men’s arms. They welcomed them into the room as a wife would welcome her husband home.


Inside the house was warm, and a radiator in the corner gave off sensual heat. In an autumn such as this, it made the night feel like spring. The fake flowers that decorated the tables were made of soft, southern silk; they were beautiful to behold.


A most pleasing fragrance now greeted their noses. Fan Xian furrowed his eyebrows and then looked back and smiled. He saw Shi Chanli become grossly embarrassed before a beautiful woman, and so he told him, “Relax. It isn’t like you have a grumpy wife at home.”


He took off the cape he was wearing, and the woman who stood beside him graciously took it off his hands. As she did, she said, “You three men have already eaten, so would you like to listen to songs now? Or would you prefer to drink a little longer?


Fan Xian reclined on a sofa, waved his hand and replied, “Bring us a few more seats. I would like to hear a few songs now, but I would appreciate a massage while I listen.”


The woman who served him displayed a happy, complacent face and appreciatively responded with, “Mister, you are such a gentleman.” Then, she quickly put his coat away and a few servants poured tea for the trio from outside. They brought the cups in and gently placed them down beside each of the men, which were accompanied by a plate of rare and costly fruit from the capital. One woman went down on her knees upon the sofa and placed her delicate hands upon Fan Xian’s shoulders to massaged them gently.


Fan Xian knew that the more he was willing to spend here, the greater the service they would receive. Feeling the strength being applied to his shoulders, he was comfortable, and satisfied with the attention they had so far received. He looked at Shi Chanli beside him, who continued to writhe and wriggle in a restless, distressing manner. He then looked at Deng Ziyue, whose face looked like it had been chiseled from stone, unmoving and serious, as if he were still at work. In his heart, Fan Xian thought to himself that they were “good-for-nothings” and that all it took was a mere glance to deduce that they were inexperienced in such a place. The awkwardness of their appearance made Fan Xian feel somewhat embarrassed, not just for himself own behalf, but for the Overwatch Council as well.


The woman that had been massaging Fan Xian’s shoulders slowly led her hands lower and lower and the two plush articles of the woman’s body pushed against Fan Xian’s back. All of a sudden, he noticed that he had not yet asked for the woman’s name or even taken notice of her face. It was surprising to even himself just how cold his behavior had suddenly become. After a while, he politely asked, “what is your name?”


“Yan’er.”


The woman put her sweet-smelling sleeves in front of Fan Xian and her enlarged, voluptuous chest smartly joined in with the massaging of his back. The way she spoke her name was seductive, also, like a gentle wind blowing directly into his ear.


Fan Xian could not help but start laughing at the sensation, he reached his hands to his ears and humorously told her, “That tickles!”


He knew that Yan’er was using an alias, but what was strange was that after he looked upon her face, he could see how truly pretty she was beneath all the heavy make-up she wore. Was this manner of beauty a common sight in Bao Yue House? Did the management truly select random servants to serve a nobody?


Just when the room was beginning to look boring, the woman who was to perform songs for them entered. Fan Xian looked at the woman and thought to himself, Has this woman been hired by Bao Yue House too?


Translator’s note: Litters: Chairs enclosed in a small cabin, usually carried by servants. They go by many different names in different cultures, but litter is an umbrella term for them.


Chapter 27 Bao Yue House


The ladies in the Bao Yue House were not adept in the ways of stitchwork, but they did deal with the needle business. People say that if a person were to work hard enough, they could grind an iron rod into a needle. If this was true, then those girls at the Bao Yue House were pretty good.


Today, Fan Xian wore a disguise in his bid to relax. The party that had accompanied him had decided to travel in an ordinary carriage, doing so in the department and promptly going to the quieter western side of the city. The carriage was brought to a halt outside of a three-floor building, and almost immediately, workers came out to lead the horses towards a finer place to park. They were quite experienced with such a task. There were also well-dressed receptionists who kindly welcomed them in.


Fan Xian used make-up on his eyebrows and drew a few pimples on his left cheek just like Fan Sizhe. It was a clever way to look dull and wholly unremarkable. In this very unadvanced society, it would have been difficult for people to recognise him as the oft-spoken of Fan Xian.


Bao Yue House was a wooden building. Any wooden structure had to be built at least three-stories tall so the added weight from above would apply pressure to the floors below and ensure stability. But in the Bao Yue House, the space separating the floors and ceilings was rather large, and the windows were just as tall. If you were to stand before the building, you could quite clearly see the sun shining behind it.


Fan Xian knew that this building’s wood must have been of the premium sort, wood that was usually imported from the north. He walked forward and entered Bao Yue House, and as he did, his hands dragged across the sturdy wooden pillars before the door almost subconsciously, confirming his theory on the wood’s origin.


It was still early, but the lobby was already full of visitors. There was a small circular stage in front of Fan Xian, on it a woman dressed in plain clothing. She played her guzheng with her hand, the sounds coming from it able to soothe any soul.


Fan Xian squinted his eyes, realizing how complex this brothel was. The three of them followed a receptionist and were led to the second floor. They chose a table at the back of the house and sat down. Fan Xian sat near a rail and gestured with his eyes as a signal to Deng Ziyue and Shi Chanli to sit down. He looked down a little and found that the rail had gold paint on it, not unlike that found in a palace. It was luxurious and sublime to behold, and the untarnished decor indicated that the establishment had not been around that long. It also told him that the owner must have been a very wealthy man. It already seemed as if Mu Tie’s judgement was correct, and that this place did indeed bear some connection to the princes.


This Bao Yue House truly was a little strange, and the elegance of the establishment was almost overbearing. It didn’t seem that appropriate, and it gave the place an almost sickly aura.


The decor was inappropriate for a brothel.


There was no security to be seen here, nor was there a pimp adorned in makeup. Perhaps even more strangely, there weren’t any prostitutes walking around with their bust exposed. The fresh taste didn’t make it seem like a brothel at all. Fan Xian entered the capital a year and a half ago and had been privileged to enter a few places that looked like this, but this was the first time he had seen it all laid out in such a way. He leaned on the rail to look outside, and his heart jumped.


The building was not on the main street, and despite the crowd downstairs, the place was quiet. The was a large pond behind the building that was long and slim, affectionately dubbed the “Skinny Lake” by the populace.


The three of them now sat against the rail, and they could feel a gentle breeze coming from across the pond caressing their backs. It was an indescribable feeling. Fan Xian could not help but pat the rail and squint his eyes. There were several small houses behind this primary building and situated near the pond, and they were rather hidden between the trees. Through that green veil, it was almost difficult to make out the gleaming white walls. Due to his supreme eyesight, Fan Xian was able to pick out a trench behind one of the houses used to release contaminated water. He noticed the color red in the trench, which told him there were many girls living in those houses. It looked as if the primary Bao Yue House was a restaurant used to welcome customers and that the place for fun would have been in those places.


Just like visiting Ming Shan, there had to be mist cloaking the mountain; a veil that would only excite aspiring adventurers.


This wooden three-floor building known as Bao Yue House was like the mist enshrouding Ming Shan. To put those mini rooms behind the house was a way to incite excitement in the customers.


The person who ran the brothel had to be a very smart man. If he was a person he could buy out, and did not have a few homicides hanging over his head, Fan Xian would have considered the prospect of hiring him to take over the palace treasury.


But in regards to the livelihood of working in a brothel, Fan Xian had a rather simple outlook on the subject: A customer was a customer and a prostitute was a prostitute. One of them paid a certain amount of money, and the other person uses their body to earn it; a zebra can’t change its stripes, and a pig in a blanket is still a pig.


He looked out at the yard near the pond and could not help but shake his head, imagining that this dreamy villa was making more money than it ought to. It was a charming, luxurious establishment, yes, but from his own viewpoint, a disturbing thought plagued Fan Xian’s mind. Repeatedly, he wondered how many bones and bodies of innocent women had been buried beneath the soil of that garden.


While Fan Xian was lost in thought, Shi Chan Li had already placed an order for a few dishes. Bao Yue’s service was excellent, and in a short amount of time later, two young servants appeared. They looked to be about thirteen to fourteen years of age, and they were carrying with them meals. They placed the refined plates gently upon the table without so much as a squeak; it was obvious how highly trained they were.


The food on the plates looked absolutely delicious. The dish with camellia shrimp exuded a mouth-watering fragrance. In a bowl that contained chicken soup and noodles, there were yellow drops of oil sitting neatly on the brew. Another dish contained succulent slabs of beef soaking in oil, providing a pedestal to an array of finely diced onions. Alongside those were presented a variety of smaller side dishes that looked and smelled divine, also.


After a pretty young servant poured each of them their drinks, Shi Chan Li signalled for them to leave. Fan Xian gave him a smile, admiring the young student for his relaxed demeanor and daring ability to make decisions confidently before him.


The wooden spoon in the chicken soup looked troublesome to use, but once it was moved, the waft of a tantalising fragrance permeated the air. Even Fan Xian could not help but be pleasantly surprised, and so he accepted the bowl that was passed to him by Shi Chan Li and complemented it kindly.




To go with his disguise, Fan Xian had taken upon the alias “Mister Chen”; a name that was chosen by his master, Chen Pingping.


The three of them at the table were eating and admiring the view as any three friends would. They drank together and engaged in idle chit-chat, discussing the various events and affairs around the capital and whatnot. Deng Ziyue was manager of the Qinian Group, and his primary concern was always the safety of the commissioner. In this place, one could not tell friend from foe, and as such, he was unable to completely relax. Deng Ziyue found himself bound to a perpetual state of unease and caution. Amidst the drinks he was offered, and the stern looks given to him by Fan Xian, he eased his tension just a touch.


After they drank, Shi Chan Li could no longer hold his tongue. With a frown and a deepened voice, he asked, “Mister Chen, what are we doing here today?”


Fan Xian gave a slight laugh and replied, “Of course, we are going to dip our toes in and enjoy the most luxurious of activities this capital can provide.” He quickly scanned the area, and after he confirmed no one was watching them, he lowered his voice and said, “Mu Tie gave me the intel that he did for a purpose, even if that purpose is not made immediately clear. Him being unable to say anything tells me that there must be something hidden here, and I am going to suss out what it is.”


Shi Chan Li shook his head, and with a wry smile, said, “Although I pity the women that live here in this brothel, living a life like this is regretfully common and is something that the law freely allows. Why must they put their lives in such danger like this?”


Fan Xian used his chopstick to bring a silk-like slice of tender beef to his mouth and slowly chewed on it. He then laughed and responded, “In a single month, Bao Yue House has taken the lives of four women. The manner of their deaths was senseless and cruel, and of a horrid nature even I could not fathom to perform, and that’s saying something, and I have come a long way in that regard.”


Shi Chanli frowned once more and said, “The case files are for the Jingdou government to handle. The Overwatch Council is only in charge of observing the officers of the court – we don’t have the authority to involve ourselves in this. Master, do you have something else on your mind?”


Deng Ziyue took another swig of his drink for a touch more dutch courage and said, “We are going to investigate the malfeasance of certain officers in the government in the capital to deal with. Besides…” he looked at Fan Xian, and after receiving permission to say it, lowered his voice and told them, “the identity of the real owner of Bao Yue House is something the Overwatch Council has yet to learn of. Strange, isn’t it?”


Shi Chanli was shocked, thinking that despite this, the spies of the Overwatch Council were everywhere in the capital. Even the sovereigns in their manors were perpetually concerned about the presence of a spy peeping on them at any given moment. In a month’s time, they had already uncovered the knotted ties connecting the second prince to Xinyang. But Bao Yue House was merely a brothel and bar; how could they not uncover the identity of its owner?


His heart was pounding at the possibility that, behind Bao Yue House, the owner was connected with…


Fan Xian acknowledged the thoughts that were running through Shi Chanli’s mind, and realized that they echoed his own, saying to him, “If the owner was able to evade the surveillance of the Eight Bureaus of the Overwatch Council, there had to be a person on the inside, covering his tracks.”


The most amazing thing about the Overwatch Council was how professional it was and how flawless their members were in executing their appointed tasks. It was quite surprising, considering how many complicated systems were combined and fused into a single organization. To find a chink in the Overwatch Council’s chain was nigh impossible, so when the events surrounding Zhu Ge were made public, it sent out shockwaves across the capital. No one would have expected that two days following the death of Zhu Ge, someone within the Overwatch Council was already working for the princes. This is what plagued Fan Xian’s mind the most.


He was the Overwatch Council’s commissioner; who would allow someone to commit evil upon their own doorstep? Therefore, he had to come and check out Bao Yue House himself today and find out…


Who’s sticking their chopsticks into my own bowl. I’d do well to spruce up the boring lives my subordinates lead.




“What can a student like me do?” Shi Chanli personality was one of those calm people, and favored a simple life. This was because he was a scholar. This was the first time he had done something even remotely exciting, and his nervousness and the trepidation on the face regarding the matter were as plain as a day.


Fan Xian replied saying, “You don’t have the strength to fight back, I know. I brought you here so you could take a look. That’s all.” Fan Xian patted Shi Chanli’s shoulder and told him, “I’ll just use the fun of the public to treat you.”


Shi Chanli froze, immediately understanding that which he had meant. The scholar was not yet married, and the thought of this made him blush. With surprise, Fan Xian laughed with great humor and said, “You and Hou Ji Chang are amongst the smartest young men in the capital. Have you never visited a brothel to mingle with women?”


Shi Chanli was visibly in a state of awkwardness, and he worriedly cried out, “I’m useless! I’m useless!”


Fan Xian laughed once again and affirmatively told the scholar, “In a place such as this, it is impossible for you to be useless.”




Not long after, the sun began to sink with the onset of darkness. The pond glowed in the twilight like a shimmering gold, which was somewhat dulled by the bad weather. Like the instantaneous casting of a spell, the lights of Bao Yue House now lit up. With an innumerous amount of lamps now burning, the entire building was lit like a beacon of the night. The reflection of the scattered lamps were cast upon the pond and from afar, they looked like bright stars twinkling in the night sky. This was sight more beautiful than the sunset itself.


With the settling of night, more and more people came to Bao Yue House, for the most popular hour of the day had arrived. Many litters were now parked in front of the building and exited their cabins dressed in casual garb. While their attire might suggest otherwise, their method of arrival and the way in which they walked spoke of their true nature – they were officers of the capital. They were visibly comfortable as they entered, which suggested that they came here often and had grown fond of the establishment. Many of the officers arrived in the company of wealthy merchants.


Fan Xian thought of using the funds of the Overwatch Council to cover the costs that would include getting Shi Chanli to lose his virginity. While the officers downstairs were keen on sticking to a wealthy merchant to cover their expenses, Fan Xian thought this course of action would be best for them. Not only was it safer, but it looked better as well.


The area in which they were sat near the rail was getting darker, and the shadows began to encompass the trio. Fan Xian squinted his eyes and looked over to the brighter sections of the establishment. He recognized the faces of a few officers at the feast, a number of them entering a dining room with their wealthy company, though Fan Xian was unable to make out their identity. A little while later, all the rooms were full, and the second floor was completely packed. The sound of music, the sound of rabble and the sounds made by the clinking of glasses were elevated in volume, and the place was looking to be very lively. Voluptuously dressed women began to come out, apparently appearing to be quite popular.


Fan Xian looked at the leftover dishes and diminishing reserves of drink upon his table, pondering whether or not the owner was aware of his true identity beneath the disguise he had adopted for the day. He also wondered whether or not the owner’s knowledge of this would be cause for another big scene.


“You guys should have fun.” Fan Xian heartily told his party.


Shi Chanli looked nervous, and anxiously asked, “Master, where are you going?”


Fan Xian answered, “I came to this establishment of delightful relaxation and rehabilitation to do just that. If I don’t put myself in danger, what could I possibly hope to achieve?”


The way he said this was incredibly soft and sincere. Deng Ziyue and Shi Chanli had to believe what he told them, but they were still unnerved about the prospect of coming to a brothel and sleeping with a prostitute.


Fan Xian smiled and said, “Later, when you are to spend time with the women, do your best to obtain as much information as you can. There is no need to ask of who the owner is, just ask the girls what things are like for them on a day-to-day basis. The more casual your approach things, the better your results will be. Don’t make it an interrogation. If you believe a possible question may be inappropriate to ask, don’t ask it. Don’t have them start thinking we are here for something else; that is the most important thing.”


Deng Ziyue looked at Fan Xian, and it was at this moment he believed his master was indeed here for the investigation and this entire day wasn’t to be an excuse for a visit to a brothel. That being said, the gathering of intel was a minor task and something not ideally suited for officers of their level. There was most certainly no need for the commissioner himself to be there.


At this time, the small yards were lit up with torches, and they bloomed like golden flowers.


Deng Ziyue stood up and waved for the attention of a servant. He said, “Come set things up for us.”


The servant accepted a nugget of gold that was roughly the size of a person’s fingertip. His face was frozen as he was shocked to find out that those three were actually rich customers. In a rush, he ran over to the receptionist to tell him. In equal haste, the receptionist then went over to greet them, apologizing about the supposed incompetence in their earlier service of them. They led them downstairs, graciously holding them as they walked. They began chatting along the way, and it seemed as if they had a desire o uncover the identities of the trio.


Fan Xian merely ignored them, pulled his arm away and walked ahead of them.


Shi Chanli was in the back, chatting with the receptionist. He told the man that he was a scholar of Jiangnan and that he came here for a simple visit. Of course, in a desperate plight to save face, he implored to the receptionist how he had wandered into the establishment without prior knowledge of it being a brothel.


The receptionist was smiling and he said, “Three gentlement? In Bao Yue House, there is nothing we cannot do in service of your comfort and entertainment, for whatever your desire may be, it is a command we will diligently work to serve. And serve it we will.”


During this dialogue, the man glanced at Fan Xian and watched him walk forward. Without a doubt, he thought, he was the most important individual amongst the trio. From a mere glance at Mister Chen’s behavior, you could tell that he was no commoner; he did not even bend an ear to listen to what he had just said. If he had to wager a guess, he would assume that he were a rich officer’s son from Jiangnan.




The Bao Yue House’s design was truly awful. Upon exiting the restaurant downstairs, one would immediately arrive at the shores of the pond. You could hear the chorus of many birds singing in harmony from behind the yard. It was as if two separate worlds existed side by side in complete tranquility.


The three of them were now being led by the receptionist, approaching a yard that contained a multitude of smaller houses. It was impossible to compare this place to the main house, for after you stepped in, a number of pretty women came forward to welcome you. Their smiles beamed as they danced and quickly approached the trio, one woman clutching each of the men’s arms. They welcomed them into the room as a wife would welcome her husband home.


Inside the house was warm, and a radiator in the corner gave off sensual heat. In an autumn such as this, it made the night feel like spring. The fake flowers that decorated the tables were made of soft, southern silk; they were beautiful to behold.


A most pleasing fragrance now greeted their noses. Fan Xian furrowed his eyebrows and then looked back and smiled. He saw Shi Chanli become grossly embarrassed before a beautiful woman, and so he told him, “Relax. It isn’t like you have a grumpy wife at home.”


He took off the cape he was wearing, and the woman who stood beside him graciously took it off his hands. As she did, she said, “You three men have already eaten, so would you like to listen to songs now? Or would you prefer to drink a little longer?


Fan Xian reclined on a sofa, waved his hand and replied, “Bring us a few more seats. I would like to hear a few songs now, but I would appreciate a massage while I listen.”


The woman who served him displayed a happy, complacent face and appreciatively responded with, “Mister, you are such a gentleman.” Then, she quickly put his coat away and a few servants poured tea for the trio from outside. They brought the cups in and gently placed them down beside each of the men, which were accompanied by a plate of rare and costly fruit from the capital. One woman went down on her knees upon the sofa and placed her delicate hands upon Fan Xian’s shoulders to massaged them gently.


Fan Xian knew that the more he was willing to spend here, the greater the service they would receive. Feeling the strength being applied to his shoulders, he was comfortable, and satisfied with the attention they had so far received. He looked at Shi Chanli beside him, who continued to writhe and wriggle in a restless, distressing manner. He then looked at Deng Ziyue, whose face looked like it had been chiseled from stone, unmoving and serious, as if he were still at work. In his heart, Fan Xian thought to himself that they were “good-for-nothings” and that all it took was a mere glance to deduce that they were inexperienced in such a place. The awkwardness of their appearance made Fan Xian feel somewhat embarrassed, not just for himself own behalf, but for the Overwatch Council as well.


The woman that had been massaging Fan Xian’s shoulders slowly led her hands lower and lower and the two plush articles of the woman’s body pushed against Fan Xian’s back. All of a sudden, he noticed that he had not yet asked for the woman’s name or even taken notice of her face. It was surprising to even himself just how cold his behavior had suddenly become. After a while, he politely asked, “what is your name?”


“Yan’er.”


The woman put her sweet-smelling sleeves in front of Fan Xian and her enlarged, voluptuous chest smartly joined in with the massaging of his back. The way she spoke her name was seductive, also, like a gentle wind blowing directly into his ear.


Fan Xian could not help but start laughing at the sensation, he reached his hands to his ears and humorously told her, “That tickles!”


He knew that Yan’er was using an alias, but what was strange was that after he looked upon her face, he could see how truly pretty she was beneath all the heavy make-up she wore. Was this manner of beauty a common sight in Bao Yue House? Did the management truly select random servants to serve a nobody?


Just when the room was beginning to look boring, the woman who was to perform songs for them entered. Fan Xian looked at the woman and thought to himself, Has this woman been hired by Bao Yue House too?


Translator’s note: Litters: Chairs enclosed in a small cabin, usually carried by servants. They go by many different names in different cultures, but litter is an umbrella term for them.


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