Chapter 22: Painting Fairy
The wine continued to be drunk over an awkward, intermittent silence.
Gu Nan wasn’t sure why, but Zhao Yiren always took the initiative to talk, whatever the topic may be.
Just as Gu Nan thought about finding an excuse to leave, the nearby crowds broke out into a small commotion.
“Painting Fairy, the Painting Fairy is here!”
“Where? Let me see."
Hearing the various voices, Gu Nan stopped her cup midway and unconsciously turned to look at the source of the disturbance. Some distance away, a figure was walking to an elevated platform above.
The girl wore a silken dress, the edges of which swayed with each step. Her head was mostly unadorned, with only a simple hairpin. The soft black hair rested easily on her white shoulders, a strangely charming sight.
Gu Nan’s gaze turned towards Painting Fairy’s face, but it was mostly covered by a soft veil.
She then saw a pair of eyes that were charming as silk. Just from the girl’s glance over the crowds, it caused all the men to fall into a stupor.
Zhao Yiren, next to Gu Nan, muttered in his daze. “What a beauty.”
Gu Nan shook her head, realizing that even she was staring for a moment. Surveying around, she noticed that everyone else was still in a dumbstruck state, and the hall was completely silent.
She nonchalantly poured for herself another cup of wine, the sound ringing clearly in the soundless hall.
Painting Fairy seated herself on the platform and smiled softly, opening her mouth to speak. Her voice was melodic and flowed to the ears of everyone below.
“It is this girl that doesn’t know her depths. I can only have this poetry meeting in such an environment. Yet to have so many patrons come, I am very thankful to you all.”
“Miss Painting Fairy is polite. The Dongzhan Pavilion’s poetry meeting is already known to all of Xianyang. It was always my intent to come, why bother with courtesies?”
“That’s right, for Miss Painting Fairy to extend her invitations to such an event, how could I not come?”
“Miss Painting Fairy, do not worry. If your reputation is too low, what are we?”
The guests in the hall all started to reply, and it crowded the hall with noise. Only a long time later did they calmed down.
Gu Nan took her wine jar and lazily looked towards the platform.
Her eyesight was very keen, and a dozen meters wasn’t anything. What she saw was indeed a beautiful face and a charming smile but in those eyes, there was no hint of happiness.
Gu Nan was very clear, those eyes were indifferent to everyone in this room.
Her voice, although enrapturing, if listened carefully, a coldness could be detected.
It hard to imagine such polar differences between a person’s outward persona and their true feelings.
“Gentleman, no need to joke. It is this girl that has come from troubled families, yet who of you here is not of a prestigious name?”
After that, she seemed to pause before continuing to speak for a long time.
“Today, chosen by poetry, this girl wishes to find a young master of good heart, to which my body and self can be…”
After her lengthy speech, the Painting Fairy bowed and left.
Once the Painting Fairy left, the atmosphere exploded like a drop of water into hot oil.
“Old Madam, register me for the poetry opening!”
“And me, and me! Today, none of you shall think about snatching this opportunity away!”
“I do have talents with poetry. For talented maiden, Old Madam, count me in too.”
The calls for registration rang out one after another, a constant tide of voices.
The Old Madam smiled smugly and shouted out. “Today is a big one for Miss Painting Fairy. Naturally, the price will not be the same as past events. One hundred gold for a seat. Two hundred to present a poem.”
Those here were already quite wealthy and their pockets deep. To them, this amount of money is nothing.
Gu Nan was still thinking about the sight of Painting Fairy leaving the stage.
Painting Fairy, her looks are like the painting of the immortals. But that’s all it is, a painting. An object without destiny.
This brothel is nothing interesting.
Feeling the emptiness of the wine jar, she sighed and prepared to leave.
But someone unexpectedly latched onto her hand.
“Brother Gu, can you write poetry?” Zhao Yiren appeared from behind her and asked curiously.
Gu Nan tugged her arm away. “I’m live a rough lifestyle, to say nothing of poetry.”
Zhao Yiren, however, only looked at Gu Nan dumbly.
How is this brother’s hand more comfortable than most women’s?
But he returned from his thoughts quickly, looking back at Gu Nan, he said offeringly.
“Brother, since you don’t have any intentions on Miss Painting Fairy, how about I register your name and you can come and watch the fun with me?”
It’s already hard enough for him to get out of the palace, and having someone else can make it much more interesting.
Hearing Zhao Yiren’s insistent invitation, Gu Nan felt somewhat strange.
This guy, he’s not homosexual right?
Thinking carefully, she inspected the young man again. He’s certainly from nobility, judging from his extraordinary clothes.
I heard that the nobility have strange preferences, are those rumors true?
She shivered at the thought but quickly cast away her imaginations.
Even if it’s with strange intentions, it’s still a courteous invitation. She wasn’t so shameless as turn down such a request.
Being bored is being bored anyways.
Gu Nan switched her attitude. “Alright, but drinks are on you.”
“Can do.” Zhao Yiren chuckled slightly and immediately waved his hand. “Old Madam, bring two jars of wine. Also, register me and my brother as well.”
November and December were the times of snow.
The streets outside the Dongzan Pavillion are partly covered by the white snow. The cold wind fluttered through the streets and alleys. Below, there were several peasants in their tattered clothes, braving the frozen streets.
In the Dongpu Pavillion, the Biyu Hall was lit with warm fires. The comfort of spring filled the large room, and no one wore their thick, winter cloaks.
The people were seated at tables of four, drinking wine and chatting about poetry and songs, and of course, that picturesque beauty.
Behind the hall was a small room. It was shielded with a white gauze, and it was impossible to look inside. Sitting inside was the very person everyone was so focused on.
The Painting Fairy was sitting quietly, and her charming smile has already receded into a distant indifference.
She once thought that with her artistic skills, she could live as a simple performer, to avoid the fate of being merely lusted over and possessed.
Thinking back to what the Old Madam said to her today, the corners of Painting Fairy’s mouth turned into a sneer.
Her heart is already steeled and hardened. What of the rest?
In the room, it was eerily quiet. But, the noise of the large hall outside leaked in. It seems the poetry has begun.