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Nightfall - Chapter 99

Published at 9th of April 2018 09:21:20 AM


Chapter 99

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"Is the City of Wei very far away?"




"It's close to Kaiping."

"Where's Kaiping?"

"It's very close to the City of Wei."

"I know it's around the frontier fortress. But where were you before you went to the frontier fortress?"

"On the mountain."

"Which mountain?"

"Min Mountain."

"Is it a tall mountain?"

"Of course."

"Where were you before you went to Min Mountain?"

"..."

"Where were you?"

"Well, I was too young to remember. I only know that I'm an orphan."

Their conversation had to end here for Ning Que's speech was increasingly inarticulate and his mindset was stubbornly persisting in the chaotic ages. Situ Yilan picked up a wet towel to wipe her forehead with force. She glared at the drunk young man sprawled across the table, wondering what this all meant.

Dewdrop returned just then, having left in the middle of their conversation to attend to something else. Her presence ended the awkward air. She frowned at Ning Que and couldn't help shaking her head. She helped him up and placed a wet towel on his forehead. She smiled at Situ Yilan and said in a somewhat hoarse voice, "Miss Situ, he can't hold his liquor well."

Ning Que woke up muddle-headed before Situ Yilan could laugh at him. He could vaguely feel his face pressed against something cool, soft, and round. Following his instinct, he tightened his arms around the person's waist and pressed his face even closer, even nudging his head into it.

His evil nudging squeezed Dewdrop's plump breasts somewhat out of shape. Shyness suddenly came over her, and a rare hint of redness colored translucent jade-like face.

Situ Yilan watched as the closed-eyed Ning Que stretched his indecent hand into Dewdrop's sleeves and inching toward a certain place. She couldn't help her annoyance and looked away, covering her forehead and eyes with her hand. She was nevertheless an unmarried noble lady of the Yunhui General's Residence in Chang'an. She treated fun-seeking in brothels as an elegant activity. Who dared to do something indecent in front of her?

Of course, she knew she was the one who got Ning Que this drunk, so drunk that he was close to losing his consciousness. Perhaps he didn't even know if what he was hugging was a waist or a willow. Or that he was rubbing was a chest or a big piece of bread. But for an unmarried girl, even if she was known for her boldness in Chang'an, the scene unfolding before her was somewhat unbearable. In a fit of shame and anger, she stood up, dragged Ning Que to his feet, and continued to get him to drink.

Ning Que could vaguely feel someone trying to get him even drunker and resisted. He hung onto Dewdrop's waist and refused to let go. His hands continued to slither into her sleeves, rubbing her soft and plump belly, and he kept muttering illegible nonsense like how this was better than wine or how he wanted to stop drinking.

Dewdrop giggled, tickled by his touch. She hastily lifted her sleeves to cover her lips and chuckled. "If you continue to touch, I'll have to charge you."

Enveloped in her embrace, Ning Que replied in confusion, "I'm now a person with the fortune of 2,000 silver taels. Do you think I'll worry about that bit of money? If a monk can touch you, why can't I? So what if we even sleep together?"





This annoyed Dewdrop but she became confused when she heard him mention a monk. She looked up at Situ Yilan who spread her hands and said irritably, "How would I know what is he talking about?"

Situ Yilan grabbed the lapels of Ning Que's robes and dragged him to her face. She yelled, "Go home quickly, you drunkard! Isn't someone waiting for you at home?"

Who knew if it was the night wind by the handrail, Situ Yilan's ruthless shaking, or something in her words that seemed to alert Ning Que. His body stiffened and he gradually opened his listless eyes. He stared at the scenery outside the handrail at night and murmured, "Yeah. There's someone waiting at home."

The women exchanged a glance and heaved a sigh of relief at the same time. They didn't care where Ning Que's so-called fortune came from at all. They were feeling relief at finally being spared from the company of a poor young master who had suddenly become rich.

Contrary to their expectations, Ning Que swayed as he got to his feet and tore away from Situ Yilan's hands and gently avoided Dewdrop who wanted to support him by the arm.

He staggered back inside the building. He entered the accounting office, grabbed a writing brush, and tore off a sheet of paper off the account book. He was partially leaning on the side of the table and wrote some illegible cursive figures on the paper. Drunk-eyed, he said, "Send this back to the Lin 47th Street for me."

Dewdrop approached him to take a closer look, only to see some scrawled words on the paper. The words were written at a skewed angle and scattered everywhere. If she didn't carefully distinguish each character, she wouldn't know what he had written…

The note read: "Sangsang, your master is drunk today and won't be home to sleep. Remember to drink the chicken soup left in the pot."

Ning Que was a young man who appeared to be gentle but was a calm and collected person inside. Conscious of his low tolerance for alcohol, he typically only drank with Sangsang. He would rarely allow situations where he would drink excessively and result in situations out of his control. However, today was different. He was so happy that he would've felt lost if he didn't have wine to celebrate.

The joy that came from the deepest corner of his heart had nothing to do with the merrymaking in the brothel or the party with his classmates from the Academy. It was purely because of the messages he had seen on that sheet of thin paper in the old library. In the warm afternoon sunshine, he vaguely found the direction of the door that opened to that wonderful world. He finally saw a glimmer of hope after desperately seeking for it for more than 10 years. Was there any other moment in this world that deserved a drunken celebration more than this one?

Dewdrop couldn't help chuckling at the Ning Que's adorable drunken antics. She helped him up by his arm and shook her head. "Don't drink anymore. I'll have our driver send you home by carriage later."

Ning Que gently held her hand, only to find his palm was damp with sweat. It wasn't until this moment that he realized the logic behind the saying that drunk people have the clearest minds. He squinted to cover up his nervousness and feigned calmness. "I won't be going home tonight."

"You're having a drinking party with your classmates. This isn't proper." Dewdrop laughed. "Where's your dignity?"

The drunk Ning Que replied, "I'm but a little soldier from the frontier fortress. What do I know about dignity? My dear sister, why don't you let me have a go at it once tonight?"

"Don't take advantage of your drunkenness to act up, only to regret when you sober up." Dewdrop chuckled. "When you're sober, never mind once, I'll even let you go at it thrice."

Ning Que squinted and waved repeatedly, laughing. "That won't do. Then I'll lose my dignity thrice."

"I can't continue listening to this nonsense." Situ Yilan scowled. She held her forehead, trying to suppress the waves in her stomach that the wine she had consumed was causing. "Ning Que, can't you pick another day to act up?"

Ning Que barely succeeded finding his footing. He bowed deeply and said, "Miss Situ, it's you who chose this place. I really don't have the courage to accompany a girl to a brothel."

Situ Yilan was speechless for the moment. She glared at him, thinking that if he knew that he was accompanying her to the brothel, he should've just listened to songs, watched the Hu dance, and talked about life and art instead of behaving this way.

Fortunately, she didn't say these words. Otherwise, she might provoke Ning Que's complaint that the difference between a scholarly girl and an ordinary girl was only in the order of the things that they wanted.

Dewdrop smiled and looked at Ning Que sympathetically. "Ning Que, you seemed to have forgotten something. Mistress Jian had ordered everyone not to entertain you that day. Where can you go and have fun?"

Just then, a proud-looking little maidservant appeared with a bowl of zinnia sobering soup. She was Xiaocao, Mistress Jian's maidservant. She stared at Ning Que coldly and said, "Mistress Jian said no one is allowed to let him drink anymore. As for you, Ning Que, drink this bowl of sobering soup and take a bath before going upstairs with me. Mistress Jian has something to ask you."


In novels, a kind of sentence was often used to describe the working style of a master: 'Quick as a wink, they saw…' Xiaocao the maidservant was one such example. She spoke like a master and her word was enough to make the other courtesans encourage the Academy students to drink more instead. Ning Que put down his liquor jar dejectedly and fell into silence.

In the time that Ning Que drank the bowl of sobering soup and took a bath, the other students started talking about what had happened. Those who knew Mistress Jian's identity, in particular, couldn't help discussing a certain secret of the imperial court as well as a certain legend of the Tang Empire. This made everyone even more curious about what they had witnessed today.

It was still quiet beside the handrail. Situ Yilan and Jin Wucai shared a short conversation before returning to the place again. They stood next to Dewdrop and stared at the popular courtesan of the capital. "Even if Ning Que is lucky enough to impress Mistress Jian, you and Lu Xue don't have to deliberately gain his favor with your current status. We're curious why you would so anyway."

"Ning Que being tricked into entering our brothel is an interesting incident in its own right. That night, Mistress Jian had made it clear that no one was supposed to entertain him. Never mind the ladies from other brothels, none of us would dare to violate her orders here. But he still comes here often. What does this prove?"

Something gleamed in Dewdrop's eyes as she smiled softly. "This proves that this lad is only here to have an idle chat with us. People like us actually really like having a simple and innocent chat with others."

Situ Yilan propped her chin up with her palm and leaned against the handrail as if she was deep in thought.

Dewdrop smiled and continued, "We like chatting with him because we can't be ourselves in our usual conversations. We constantly have to think about trying to make our esteemed customers happy. Ning Que likes chatting with us because he has stress buried in him that can only be eased through these chats. It seems he can only relax in this kind of person and while chatting with our kind of people."

Situ Yilan frowned, eyes full of curiosity. "What kind of stress can he have?"

"I don't know what problems Ning Que is facing in his life, but I know there's something wrong." Dewdrop's smile gradually faded and she said sadly, "In your eyes, he's no more than a quiet and calm lad. It's only worldly and miserable people like us who can see the melancholy that he hides inside."

The popular courtesan in Chang'an gently said, "In addition, I'm also an orphan like him."

Chapter 98 People Left Behind by the World

"Is the City of Wei very far away?"

"It's close to Kaiping."

"Where's Kaiping?"

"It's very close to the City of Wei."

"I know it's around the frontier fortress. But where were you before you went to the frontier fortress?"

"On the mountain."

"Which mountain?"

"Min Mountain."

"Is it a tall mountain?"

"Of course."

"Where were you before you went to Min Mountain?"

"..."

"Where were you?"


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"Well, I was too young to remember. I only know that I'm an orphan."

Their conversation had to end here for Ning Que's speech was increasingly inarticulate and his mindset was stubbornly persisting in the chaotic ages. Situ Yilan picked up a wet towel to wipe her forehead with force. She glared at the drunk young man sprawled across the table, wondering what this all meant.

Dewdrop returned just then, having left in the middle of their conversation to attend to something else. Her presence ended the awkward air. She frowned at Ning Que and couldn't help shaking her head. She helped him up and placed a wet towel on his forehead. She smiled at Situ Yilan and said in a somewhat hoarse voice, "Miss Situ, he can't hold his liquor well."

Ning Que woke up muddle-headed before Situ Yilan could laugh at him. He could vaguely feel his face pressed against something cool, soft, and round. Following his instinct, he tightened his arms around the person's waist and pressed his face even closer, even nudging his head into it.

His evil nudging squeezed Dewdrop's plump breasts somewhat out of shape. Shyness suddenly came over her, and a rare hint of redness colored translucent jade-like face.

Situ Yilan watched as the closed-eyed Ning Que stretched his indecent hand into Dewdrop's sleeves and inching toward a certain place. She couldn't help her annoyance and looked away, covering her forehead and eyes with her hand. She was nevertheless an unmarried noble lady of the Yunhui General's Residence in Chang'an. She treated fun-seeking in brothels as an elegant activity. Who dared to do something indecent in front of her?

Of course, she knew she was the one who got Ning Que this drunk, so drunk that he was close to losing his consciousness. Perhaps he didn't even know if what he was hugging was a waist or a willow. Or that he was rubbing was a chest or a big piece of bread. But for an unmarried girl, even if she was known for her boldness in Chang'an, the scene unfolding before her was somewhat unbearable. In a fit of shame and anger, she stood up, dragged Ning Que to his feet, and continued to get him to drink.

Ning Que could vaguely feel someone trying to get him even drunker and resisted. He hung onto Dewdrop's waist and refused to let go. His hands continued to slither into her sleeves, rubbing her soft and plump belly, and he kept muttering illegible nonsense like how this was better than wine or how he wanted to stop drinking.

Dewdrop giggled, tickled by his touch. She hastily lifted her sleeves to cover her lips and chuckled. "If you continue to touch, I'll have to charge you."

Enveloped in her embrace, Ning Que replied in confusion, "I'm now a person with the fortune of 2,000 silver taels. Do you think I'll worry about that bit of money? If a monk can touch you, why can't I? So what if we even sleep together?"

This annoyed Dewdrop but she became confused when she heard him mention a monk. She looked up at Situ Yilan who spread her hands and said irritably, "How would I know what is he talking about?"

Situ Yilan grabbed the lapels of Ning Que's robes and dragged him to her face. She yelled, "Go home quickly, you drunkard! Isn't someone waiting for you at home?"

Who knew if it was the night wind by the handrail, Situ Yilan's ruthless shaking, or something in her words that seemed to alert Ning Que. His body stiffened and he gradually opened his listless eyes. He stared at the scenery outside the handrail at night and murmured, "Yeah. There's someone waiting at home."

The women exchanged a glance and heaved a sigh of relief at the same time. They didn't care where Ning Que's so-called fortune came from at all. They were feeling relief at finally being spared from the company of a poor young master who had suddenly become rich.

Contrary to their expectations, Ning Que swayed as he got to his feet and tore away from Situ Yilan's hands and gently avoided Dewdrop who wanted to support him by the arm.

He staggered back inside the building. He entered the accounting office, grabbed a writing brush, and tore off a sheet of paper off the account book. He was partially leaning on the side of the table and wrote some illegible cursive figures on the paper. Drunk-eyed, he said, "Send this back to the Lin 47th Street for me."

Dewdrop approached him to take a closer look, only to see some scrawled words on the paper. The words were written at a skewed angle and scattered everywhere. If she didn't carefully distinguish each character, she wouldn't know what he had written…

The note read: "Sangsang, your master is drunk today and won't be home to sleep. Remember to drink the chicken soup left in the pot."

Ning Que was a young man who appeared to be gentle but was a calm and collected person inside. Conscious of his low tolerance for alcohol, he typically only drank with Sangsang. He would rarely allow situations where he would drink excessively and result in situations out of his control. However, today was different. He was so happy that he would've felt lost if he didn't have wine to celebrate.

The joy that came from the deepest corner of his heart had nothing to do with the merrymaking in the brothel or the party with his classmates from the Academy. It was purely because of the messages he had seen on that sheet of thin paper in the old library. In the warm afternoon sunshine, he vaguely found the direction of the door that opened to that wonderful world. He finally saw a glimmer of hope after desperately seeking for it for more than 10 years. Was there any other moment in this world that deserved a drunken celebration more than this one?


Dewdrop couldn't help chuckling at the Ning Que's adorable drunken antics. She helped him up by his arm and shook her head. "Don't drink anymore. I'll have our driver send you home by carriage later."

Ning Que gently held her hand, only to find his palm was damp with sweat. It wasn't until this moment that he realized the logic behind the saying that drunk people have the clearest minds. He squinted to cover up his nervousness and feigned calmness. "I won't be going home tonight."

"You're having a drinking party with your classmates. This isn't proper." Dewdrop laughed. "Where's your dignity?"

The drunk Ning Que replied, "I'm but a little soldier from the frontier fortress. What do I know about dignity? My dear sister, why don't you let me have a go at it once tonight?"

"Don't take advantage of your drunkenness to act up, only to regret when you sober up." Dewdrop chuckled. "When you're sober, never mind once, I'll even let you go at it thrice."

Ning Que squinted and waved repeatedly, laughing. "That won't do. Then I'll lose my dignity thrice."

"I can't continue listening to this nonsense." Situ Yilan scowled. She held her forehead, trying to suppress the waves in her stomach that the wine she had consumed was causing. "Ning Que, can't you pick another day to act up?"

Ning Que barely succeeded finding his footing. He bowed deeply and said, "Miss Situ, it's you who chose this place. I really don't have the courage to accompany a girl to a brothel."

Situ Yilan was speechless for the moment. She glared at him, thinking that if he knew that he was accompanying her to the brothel, he should've just listened to songs, watched the Hu dance, and talked about life and art instead of behaving this way.

Fortunately, she didn't say these words. Otherwise, she might provoke Ning Que's complaint that the difference between a scholarly girl and an ordinary girl was only in the order of the things that they wanted.

Dewdrop smiled and looked at Ning Que sympathetically. "Ning Que, you seemed to have forgotten something. Mistress Jian had ordered everyone not to entertain you that day. Where can you go and have fun?"

Just then, a proud-looking little maidservant appeared with a bowl of zinnia sobering soup. She was Xiaocao, Mistress Jian's maidservant. She stared at Ning Que coldly and said, "Mistress Jian said no one is allowed to let him drink anymore. As for you, Ning Que, drink this bowl of sobering soup and take a bath before going upstairs with me. Mistress Jian has something to ask you."

In novels, a kind of sentence was often used to describe the working style of a master: 'Quick as a wink, they saw…' Xiaocao the maidservant was one such example. She spoke like a master and her word was enough to make the other courtesans encourage the Academy students to drink more instead. Ning Que put down his liquor jar dejectedly and fell into silence.

In the time that Ning Que drank the bowl of sobering soup and took a bath, the other students started talking about what had happened. Those who knew Mistress Jian's identity, in particular, couldn't help discussing a certain secret of the imperial court as well as a certain legend of the Tang Empire. This made everyone even more curious about what they had witnessed today.

It was still quiet beside the handrail. Situ Yilan and Jin Wucai shared a short conversation before returning to the place again. They stood next to Dewdrop and stared at the popular courtesan of the capital. "Even if Ning Que is lucky enough to impress Mistress Jian, you and Lu Xue don't have to deliberately gain his favor with your current status. We're curious why you would so anyway."

"Ning Que being tricked into entering our brothel is an interesting incident in its own right. That night, Mistress Jian had made it clear that no one was supposed to entertain him. Never mind the ladies from other brothels, none of us would dare to violate her orders here. But he still comes here often. What does this prove?"

Something gleamed in Dewdrop's eyes as she smiled softly. "This proves that this lad is only here to have an idle chat with us. People like us actually really like having a simple and innocent chat with others."

Situ Yilan propped her chin up with her palm and leaned against the handrail as if she was deep in thought.

Dewdrop smiled and continued, "We like chatting with him because we can't be ourselves in our usual conversations. We constantly have to think about trying to make our esteemed customers happy. Ning Que likes chatting with us because he has stress buried in him that can only be eased through these chats. It seems he can only relax in this kind of person and while chatting with our kind of people."

Situ Yilan frowned, eyes full of curiosity. "What kind of stress can he have?"

"I don't know what problems Ning Que is facing in his life, but I know there's something wrong." Dewdrop's smile gradually faded and she said sadly, "In your eyes, he's no more than a quiet and calm lad. It's only worldly and miserable people like us who can see the melancholy that he hides inside."

The popular courtesan in Chang'an gently said, "In addition, I'm also an orphan like him."

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