Hair, black as ink, fell all the way to her waist. The woman clearly sat facing her squarely, yet the black hair still covered her face entirely.
"Im the one who got him to come" with a smile, the woman cleared Juners confusion.
"No you cant do that" Juner felt all strength leaving her body. A gush of excruciating despair welled up from the depths of her heart, overwhelming her entire being. Tears, as thick as pearls, flooded uncontrollably from the corners of her eyes.
The woman got up leisurely and walked towards her.
"The man surnamed Song is prey prepared way in advance, yet you want to let him go? Thats against the rules.
So, I impersonated you and wrote to him oh? He didn't just come alone, but also brought along two other pieces of fresh meat not bad"
They had been laying a trap for people like Song Zhenguo who were born in the Yin hour for a very long time now. Naturally, they were definitely not going to let even a single fish slip through the net. After all, such people were a rarity.
Tears streaming down her face, Juners body stiffened and was completely immobile. She allowed that woman to lightly caress her face at will. Then, that hand slowly extended to reach into her brains, almost like poking into it. After it entered from the temples, it began to stir gently.
As the woman began to stir, Juners intelligent eyes slowly turned into a pair of entrancing, bewitching eyes. A thin layer of alluring gloss shone on her skin. Even the air around her emanated a slight, mild fragrance that was exceptionally attractive.
However, the long-haired woman noticed a trace of heart-rending despair that remained in Juners eyes.
"Stay here by yourself for a moment to clear your head. As for that man surnamed Song, Ill let someone else do it," realizing that something was amiss, the woman instantly withdrew her hand.
With a cold harrumph, she disappeared from the chamber.
Juner sat alone in the room, her face drenched in tears.
Song Zhenguo led Chen Jiaorong and Lu Sheng up the pleasure boat.
"Young Master Song, Young Master Chen, Young Master Lu, its a big day today! The programs all been arranged for you, we're just waiting for your arrival," once they boarded, the boat mistress was all smiles as she came forward to welcome them.
"Where's Juner?" Song Zhenguo asked cheerfully.
"Still dolling up. Young Master Song, you've to cherish her well today," the boat mistress said lightly, still smiling.
"With pleasure, with pleasure!" Song Zhenguo could not contain his joy as a wide smile broke out on his face. Bringing Lu Sheng and Chen Jiaorong along, they entered a chamber that had been prepared for them in advance.
The three of them sat down. The night was misty outside the window; pale moonlight shone in like faint gauze, spilling onto the window ledge.
The boat mistress didn't leave either. After bringing the three of the into the room, she clapped once with her hands. Almost immediately, a line of veiled ladies filed into the room, one after another.
All these ladies were wearing real bodice undergarments: a white sash for the top, and just a strip of thin gauze at the bottom that covered the space between their legs. That piece of thin gauze was even a translucent pale green.
Each of these ladies had lithe, elegant bodies that were aesthetically pleasing. Even with their veil on, one could clearly see their pretty and delicate features.
One of the ladies hugged a pipa, which she began to strum lightly as she strolled into the room.
The music was sweet and pleasing to the ears, instantly causing the three of them to shudder in excitement. Their bodies were already excited by the ladies dressing; now, the blood in their veins boiled.
The pipa tune was extremely gentle and soft, like the lovey-dovey whispers of a lover into ones ear. Music pleasing to the ears slowly drifted about. The eyes of all three of them glazed over as they reveled in the moment, listening.
Very soon, dishes and wine were brought in, plate after plate. All the foodstuffs were aphrodisiacs.
Song Zhenguos face was rosy. Smilingly, he kept urging Lu Sheng and Chen Jiaorong to tuck in.
Lu Sheng stopped eating after grabbing two mouthfuls of food. Instead, he just sat in his seat and enjoyed the music.
That meal lasted a whole two hours and more, with three batches of female entertainers who came and went. All three of them drunk to their hearts content.
"Actually, this pleasure boat ordinarily doesn't allow any physical intimacy. However, today is an exception. The boat master agreed that as long as I redeem Juner and bring her back tonight, then the three of us can pick and choose any lady to our liking from those entertainers earlier and spend the night with her," Song Zhenguo was somewhat pleased with himself as he happily boasted.
"Are you sure about that?" It was the first time that Chen Jiaorong had heard of such an arrangement. "This pleasure boat has never competed for business with the brothels," he had a look of surprise.
"Thats why Im celebrating! Not any average Joe can lay his hand on the female entertainers here. My brothers, don't stand on ceremony! I already have Little Jun. As for the other ladies, I couldn't care less about them. The two of you, though, can pick one or two!" Song Zhenguo laughed.
"Now thats novel," Lu Sheng cast a look outside. The sky had gradually turned dark; it was a mystery how much time they had spent on the boat. Outside, the number of customers who were walking around had also gradually trickled to a few. The faint conversations that could occasionally be heard from the deck were almost entirely gone now.
"Why not play a game of Pot n Arrows. Its Scented Satin Festival today! If we perform well in Pot n Arrows, we could have some free add-on services," Song Zhenguo had spent a lot of time on the pleasure boats, and was very familiar with these practices.
Lu Sheng didn't protest. Chen Jiaorong also smiled in agreement.
The three of them thus got the pleasure boat ladies to carry over a pot and some arrows. Song Zhenguo was the first to retrieve an arrow to aim it into the pot as Lu Sheng and Chen Jiaorong watched on.
Occasionally, when they hit the target, the ladies at the side would clap and cheer, all the while laughing delicately. Chen Jiaorong was somewhat intoxicated after all the drinking. He reached over and pulled the most petite and dainty lady into his embrace, whispering sweet nothings into her ear and teasing her. The air was laced with sensuality.
Pot n Arrows was a banquet game where the players tried to aim arrows into a pot about as big as a bottle. It was considered a popular, widespread game that was enjoyed by both the scholarly literati as well as the ordinary folk.
After calculating the hour, Lu Sheng asked the lady next to him casually, "Its already so late, don't you guys close for business?"
"No, we don't close for business," the lady replied him with a slight smile.
Lu Sheng looked at her smile, and thought that something about it seemed odd, yet he was unable to tell what exactly felt wrong to him. After thinking for a moment and coming to nothing, he again turned his attention to Song Zhenguo.
The three of them played for a while.
"Its late, we should head back to wash up. Well be back in a moment to accompany you," one of the dancers in charge of the lady entertainers spoke gently.
"Go, go," Song Zhenguo waved his hand.
The ladies again filed out of the chamber one by one, and the last in the line closed the door gently.
At once, the room grew quiet.
The three of them sat on low couches. Before them lay a complete mess of wine and dishes, splayed out across the floor. There were two entire wine jugs that lay by the side.
"Ive drunk too much tonight," Cheng Jiaorong shook his head.
"Don't hold up whats important," Song Zhenguo laughed. "You need to go to the latrine?"
"Ill go wash my face."
Shaking his head, Lu Sheng rose and left the chamber.
It was gray and gloomy outside, which was the central main hall of the boat. The doors of all the chambers lined outside were shut tight, without a single lady entering or leaving in sight. Lu Sheng felt somewhat lightheaded and dizzy himself from all the drinking, and so went in the direction of the latrine.
After going to the latrine and washing his face, he felt fresher and much more awake. He wiped his face and walked out. After only a few steps, he suddenly jolted in place.
Light from the main hall reflected off the floor outside the latrine. Except the color of that light was different from what he remembered previously.
I remember that the light was previously yellow? Narrowing his eyes, Lu Sheng stared at the patch of brilliant scarlet on the ground.
It was deafeningly silent, to the extent that one could even hear a pin drop. Even the waves crashing against the body of the boat outside could not be heard. Lu Sheng lowered his head to look at the red light beneath his feet in detail. Then, he gently lifted his legs to walk out of the latrine and back to the main hall.
Silence covered the main hall. The yellow lanterns that had hung there previously had somehow, at some unknown time, changed into red lanterns. A faint scarlet hue painted the entire main hall that color.
Lu Sheng walked over to the railing, where he looked down. He was now on the second level. The level below, the first level, was similarly empty without a soul in sight. Earlier, before he entered the latrine, he had still seen some ladies and customers. However, they had now all vanished. Only a gust of cold wind swept across the area.
Lu Shengs brows furrowed. Quickening his footsteps, he headed towards the chamber.
When he reached the chamber, he pushed open the door to find that both Chen Jiaorong and Song Zhenguo were nowhere to be found. Perhaps they both had also gone to the latrine and were not yet back.
He had just rounded a corner when his eyes focused in concentration. Two large lanterns were actually hung in the chamber.
The two red lanterns were hanging silently right above the spot where they had sat to wine and dine. God-knows-who hung those up.
Wind blew on the open door of the chamber, within which not a sound could be heard. Lu Sheng looked at the lanterns, then surveyed his surroundings.
"Brother Song? Brother Chen?"
He tried calling out twice, but received no response.
In that moment, he thought back to that strange red-decked boat he had visited previously. His eyes immediately turned troubled.
Sitting back down, Lu Sheng rested both his hands on his knees, waiting in silence for Song Zhenguo and Chen Jiaorong to return. If they had indeed gone to visit the latrine, then they would definitely come back to this room.
After waiting for a while, the sound of crisp footsteps suddenly drifted from beyond the doorway.
The footsteps drew nearer and nearer, then soon stopped just beyond the room entrance, right at the corner that was Lu Shengs blind spot.
"Brother Song?" Lu Sheng got up and tried calling out.
That person was standing just around the corner, not making a single sound.
Lu Shengs eyes constricted and his hand rested on the hilt of the short saber at the back of his waist. He had specially purchased this saber for self-defense. It was only about the length of a forearm, and when stuck into his robes at the back of his waist, it was virtually hidden.
He walked slowly to the entrance, making sure to keep his footsteps light.
Yet just when he rose, a deathly pale figure gradually floated behind Lu Sheng. An indistinct, white shadow of a person, dressed in long, draping white clothes, was floating behind him. Soundlessly, it extended a claw towards the back of Lu Shengs head.
Without warning, Lu Sheng reached out and grabbed the edge of the wooden wall, pressing into it and leaving a faintly dark palm print on the wall.
Startled by the sound and movement, the white-clothed person immediately withdrew its claw. It looked towards the wooden wall--only to discover that it was but some accidentally produced noise. Then, it turned its head around and extended its claw once again to grab at Lu Shengs back.
Except that, this time, it found itself staring straight into Lu Sheng, who had spun round. A pair of frighteningly brilliant eyes bore straight into its own.
"What are you doing?" Lu Shengs face cracked into a smile, revealing a set white teeth that sent a chill to the bones.
Shocked, the white-clothed person swiftly floated backwards, fusing into the wall behind it in an instant.
In the blink of an eye, a streak of black shadow violently slammed into the wall. A silver saber gleam brazenly chopped at the wall as if it were slashing into a waterfall.
It was Lu Sheng!
Without another word, he had actually struck head on in one stroke. The massive force and explosive power that erupted allowed him to smash the wall into smithereens, as easily as cutting a slab of tofu. He dashed off in hot pursuit of the white-clothed person.
The white-clothed person was astonished. It continued to float into the neighboring chamber, where it once again fused into a second slab of wall.
A violent explosion rang out as the wall was smashed into bits. Within it, a deafening, ear-splitting roar reverberated. Lu Sheng pursued relentlessly. Once again, he destroyed the wall in one swift stroke and lunged towards the white-clothed person.
Veins popped up all over his body, his blood boiling and wildly coursing through them. His whole person seemed to swell up, causing him to expand to a much larger stature than his original physical size. He looked just like a mini giant.
When compared to his massive physique, the saber in his hand was barely a small tree branch squeezed between his fingers. The width of the saber blade wasn't even a third of the size of his forearm.