March’s breeze was warm and the sun comforting. Even the night was warm. Han Xiu swallowed the final sip of his soup at the food stall and felt his entire body comforted by the food and blinked with satisfaction.
After enjoying his meal, he used his elbow to nudge a tired Han Yue awake. “I must go home and tell your sister-in-law that the Duck Blood noodles are the best here.”
Han Yue groaned, “Then are you done eating yet? You have always eaten from every stall here. Even if you are not stuffed to death, I am tired just by watching you.”
“I am done.” Han Xiu replied with a nod. “I can go and give her a good report now. Xiao Di likes to eat at the night stall wherever she goes. She was unable to make it tonight so naturally I must try them for her. And when I have done so I can tell her about it in detail.”
Han Yue groaned again, “Please Eldest brother, can you not be so saccharine in your expression of love towards sister-in-law. I may be able to handle it but others may not.”
Zhang Zhong who was sitting beside him laughed brightly, “who doesn’t know that Master Han loves his wife dearly? But as Eldest Master Han has finished his meal, why don’t we go for a drink now? I noticed that 2nd Master Han has not eaten or drunken anything tonight.”
Han Yue was about to shout his agreement but his words were killed in his throat as his brother swept a dagger like glare at him. He hurriedly adjusted his expression and politely replied, “Thank you for your offer Hero Zhang.”
Before they arrived, Han Xue had already warned him that they were at Ling Feng city only to return a gift to the leader of the pugilist world. When they arrived at the hero filled city, they must take caution of their actions so that not one would look down at them.
Once they gave them the gift, the leader felt a little uneasy as the sword never arrived to the Han family and hence asked them to remain for a few more days and asked Zhang Zhong to take them around.
Today was their last day here and Zhang Zhong led them to the busiest area and before long they reached the Fragrant Powder tower by the River Ling.
Light shone brightly within the Fragrant Powder Tower. Even the breeze that drifted out from it was enough to weaken a man around their knees, entwining itself by your feet, making it difficult for a man to move a step away.
Zhang Zhong remained where he was for a while swallowed and swallowed again but could not help but utter the words, “Why don’t we drink some flower wine here?”
“Do not forget that Master Han loves his wife, Hero Zhang….”Han Yue immediately coughed up.
Not allowing him to finish, a guard who was silently following them suddenly remembered that someone had paid him 500 taels to say a phrase when they walked past the brothel.
“But their Daughters red  is the best here. Fermented for 20 years. You will not be able to buy it anywhere else even if you have the money,” he hurriedly spat out and then calculated in his head that each word he spoke was worth about 20 taels.
He did not even get to finish as Han Yue had already stepped past the doorway. Now even if there were 9 oxes, they would not be able to drag him back.
So the four of them finally sat down in a private room on the first floor. Zhang Zhong drank a plain wine and ordered the attendant to send in the owner to arrange for a girl sing a song for them.
Soon a young woman entered carrying a Pipa. She sat to one side, cleared her throat and announced, “Then masters I will now play the song eighteen touches.”,
Zhang Zhong glanced at her snowy peaks on her chest, swallowed visibly and said, “Err…. Mu Dan, I think you should change the song.”
Mu Dan scolded him lightly, “You bad man, how did you know I just learned a new song? Fine. I will sing 108 touches then. I promise you will feel so good afterwards.”
Han Xiu’s smile immediately froze at her words.
“Mama Xu, I think you should change the girl. Find someone more refined. Not someone who only talks about touching here and there.”
Mama Xu nodded and returned with a tall girl covered in green who was holding a zither.
When she moved closer, Zhang Zhong could see that her face was covered with a light green veil, her walk was elegant and gracious, like a genteel lady. He felt extreme disappointment but waved for her to begin.
The girl remained where she was, curtseyed and started playing the zither/Guqin. As soon as the first notes were plucked, Zhang Zhong immediately knew something was different, it was as if the instrument was filled with lamenting thoughts and the girl’s glance that swept past him seemed as if she was trying to express to him about her misfortune.
Unwittingly he put down his chopsticks, picked up his wine cup and leaned forward. His mind floating away with the sound of the music, his body warming up as if he was aroused by such an exquisite melody.
When the piece ended, the girl stood again to curtsey as if she was about to leave. Zhang Zhong stared at her, as if someone had forcibly cut his strings that attached him to her. He felt an undefinable amount of regret. He opened his mouth, scrambling for words to keep her here when he realized that beside him, Han Xiu had already knocked away his tea bowl, his response even more intense than what he himself felt.
“Did you just play “The Spring of Jade Tower”?” Even the half drunken Han Yue could tell it was shaky.
“Yes,” the girl replied quietly. “It is a rare song. I did not expect that Master would have heard about it.”
“Then what is your name?” Han Xiu asked again his voice so quiet that even he could barely hear it.
The girl lowered her eyes and did not say anything for a while. Han Xiu felt as if his heart was about to leap from his chest.
“E Mei.” The girl finally answered. “I am called E Mei.”
It seemed like the smoke in front of his eyes cleared. Han Xiu’s heart fell into a rest again and quickly returned to it’s normal state.
She was called E Mei (Mei 梅 means plum blossom in chinese). Plum blossom flowers with green leaves. Not his white Shao Yao (Chinese Peony).
Shao Yao had died long ago. That girl also liked to wear a face veil like the girl in front of him, she carried the same clean aura around her and would also play “The Spring of Jade Tower”. But this was definitely not she.
“Then if there is nothing else, E Mei will take her leave.” The girl said as she lowered her head and retreated out carrying the zither with her.
But when she reached the entrance, her dress got ensnared by the engraving of a flower on the screen. After a few attempts to free herself, the thin fabric was unable to withstand the force and suddenly, with a jerk, it ripped and revealed a long pale leg that was a smooth and pale as white jade.
That arousing sight only lasted for a short time. She quickly lowered her head and darted swiftly out but Zhang Zhong’s soul had already been ensnarled by her and he sat there with trepidation.
Mama Xu quickly detected this, hastened over and whispered in his ear, “Miss E Mei only recently arrived. If you wish to have her first night you must hurry. With our friendship I can give her to you as a favor.”
Feeling his earlobes burn, Zhang Zhong pursed his lips together and told her that he was in no rush.
On his other side, Han Xiu understood and lifted his wine cup. “If Hero Zhang has business then you may leave first. My 2nd brother enjoys his liquor so he may not be able to finish quickly. It is enough for me to keep him company.”
As soon as Wan Mei set foot in her room she pulled off her clothes and drew a small chinese peony on her right breast with her red lip brush.
It did not take long before Zhang Zhong followed her in as she expected, like a youth who had just met his first love.
She turned around, topless, quirked her lip up. “You’re here,” she said softly.
His jaw dropped, not understanding where that elegant, refined air had disappeared to. In front of him was clearly the same person, but she was no longer the graceful plum blossom but a seducing night lotus, it’s petals spread open and inviting.
“It is too tiring to draw this chinese peony myself.” Wan Mei waved him over, “Why don’t you help me draw it?”
Zhang Zhong’s ears had returned to their normal color, and he became like any frequenter of a brothel. He quirked an eyebrow up and asked, “Where do you want that chinese peony drawn? Surely it’s not here?”
As he spoke, his hand had moved in, it’s tip rubbing against her nipple.
“Where else do you think it should be?” Wan Mei slanted a glance at him, “I’ve already drawn the outline. You just need to fill in the color for me. The white powder on my table has some powdered pearl in. You must fill it in well.”
So Zhang Zhong picked up the brush and patiently covered it with powder and on her right nipple drew a life-like white chinese peony.
Afterwards, Wan Mei told him to blow it dry which he obediently did so. Each breath was warm and gushing, causing the pink tip to straighten and swell like the bud of a plum blossom.
The manhood between his legs was now completely aroused and was beginning to stand up, and pushing against his robes from beneath his underclothes.
Wan Mei laughed lightly and reached over to grab his length. She leaned close to his ear and whispered, “My good man, can you help me do something first and I will give you as much pleasure as you want.”
Zhang Zhong looked confused and after he woke from his daze he realized that a whip had suddenly appeared in his hand. A black long leather whip.
“Hit me.” Wan Mei told him as she pulled off all her clothes and knelt on the ground. “let me tremble with pleasure. I’m begging you….”
“This…This will hurt you.” Zhang Zhong stammered hesitating.
“I’m begging you.” Wan Mei repeated. Her legs were rubbing against each other, one of her hands was pressing her nipples, her eyes filled with the glaze of pleasure.
He stopped hesitating and lashed the whip at her. Immediately a red thin mark appeared on her waist.
Wan Mei gritted her teeth from the pain, lifted her upper body up and pretended to enjoy the anticipated pain.
So Zhang Zhong lashed out again, one after another and when he saw her squirm like a snake on the floor her pale skin patched with red lashes he started to feel excited too. His breath came out in pants, his heart burning.
In the end Wan Mei stopped moving, her pants came out in gushes, that white Shao Yao on her right nipple trembled.
He rushed over to pull her into his arms. “Are you alright? I have already held back a bit of my strength, only used a third of it on you.”
“It’s alright,” Wan Mei wheezed, she rolled over and sat between his legs. She undid his undergarment and mounted his length with a thrust. “My good man, now is the time for you to show me your strength.”
By then Zhang Zhong had already reached the limit to his patience. He no longer cared about anything else and pumped into her body savagely, in and out of that little hole.
He was after all a man bordering forty so it did not take long before he finished inside her with a growl.
The hairpin she had pulled from her hair was in her hands long ago. She had practised this countless times before, so her aim was perfect as she raised her arm. Zhang Zhong was still immersed in his pleasure, when she delivered the sharp hairpin straight into his temple.
Zhang Zhong quietly fell to the ground. With shaky legs, Wan Mei sat up and plunged the sword she had prepared into his chest.
Afterwards, she opened the window, hid the hairpin and long sword. Then she rubbed some of the blood from Zhang Zhong’s chest under her eyes before pouring the red colored paint she had laid ready all over herself.
When everything was set up, she stumbled towards the doorway, poked her head out and cried, “Murder!”
With her shout, the entire Fragrant Powder Tower fell into a frenzy. Han Xiu startled for a moment before dragging Han Yue with him to the 2nd floor.
That door on the 2nd floor was half open. Wan Mei lay on the ground, with the blood under her eyes, it seemed as if the murderer had stabbed her blind. Her body was covered with lashes and as she crawled on the ground, blood dripped from her lower body.
Only the white peony on her chest was white, a bright reflection of the candlelight as if it will never be tainted by dirt.
Han Xiu felt his knees weaken and when he fell back a step, he felt as if he had just lost his soul. That was his Shao Yao. The Shao Yao he lost 10 years ago. Her body covered with injuries, both her eyes blinded.
When she died, not a single part of her body was intact, only the white chinese peony on her chest remained as pale and white as before.
On the first floor, someone was yelling as they had seen a black clothed man carrying a sword, shattering the roof and running in the direction of the moon.
Han Yue suddenly jolted awake from his drunken stupor and reached out to push Han Xiu but seeing him stand there like a statue he could only chase after the suspect himself.
The people who were looking at the commotion suddenly changed attention. They all gathered at the bottom of the brothel and watched as Han Yue lept through the gaping hole and onto the roof.
The wind picked up by the doorway, closing the door with a creak.
Wan Mei who was lying on her side looked up then, closed her eyes and breathed out. The two trails of blood on her pale face for some reason was especially glaring to him.
Han Xiu, still in a daze bent down to ask her, “Who are you?”
Wan Mei sighed, “Of course you know who I am. Even if you do not, you should recognize this peony. You drew it on me yourself.”
He stumbled away, right until he found himself leaning against the wall, only then did he remember to breathe.
“You are not Shao Yao.” His fingers dug into his hands as he forced himself awake. “Shao Yao is dead. And there are no ghosts in this world.”
Notes:Daughter’s red: This is a type of glutinous rice wine fermented with red sugar. It was developed during the Jin dynasty and legend has it that in 304BC, that in the Shangyu district, this was a wine prepared when the daughter was born for to be given to the daughter’s husband as part of her wedding dowry. And the first three ladles of the wine would be traditionally given to the girl’s mother-in-law and father-in-law, her husband and her father as it would bring good luck, longevity and unity within the family. Cannot be pulled back even by 9 oxes: chinese saying that describes a person who is so determined that nothing will be able to dissuade him/her from a target.
Translated english lyrics of the Opening song with Pinyin in the description: