56 Business Matters

    After Xue'er left, madam Lu quickly took out a handkerchief and wiped her hands furiously, as if doing so would prevent her from being tainted with the unknown illness the girl had brought into the Hundred Flower Hall.

    After she was done, she tossed the cloth into a nearby brazier in disgust, whereby the cloth was greedily consumed by the growing flames. Her eyes emotionless, as the shadows of the flame, flickered violently in her pupils.

    She took a deep breath and sat back down across from the man who she was conversing with.

    "She was quite beautiful." Madam Lu stated to the man who was laid back in the chair, as one does when a matter has lost his interest.

    "Yes, it's a pity she's ill. That would definitely lower her market price." The man said. His voice was rough, making one feel uncomfortable when listening to him speak.

    "A pity. Shall we get back to where we were?" Madam Lu agreed with him and carried on with the conversation.

    "Sure, what type do you want?" The man said as he sat back up with his back straight as if what madam Lu said had just caught his interest. His cheek, although partially covered was showing a large grin.

    Madam Lu thought of it slightly, "Can I choose?" She asked, almost in a pleading voice.

    "Last time the ones that I bought were a little inexperienced, they didn't even know how to put on makeup or dance, half of them didn't even know how to write. They would probably do better on the fields than in my Hundred Flower Hall." Madam Lu complained as she thought of those girls who didn't know how to dress properly.

    "Do you expect them all to be of prominent families, I mean, once in a while there might be such a girl from a family that has committed a crime, but those are in high demand, and it is certainly more than you are willing to pay for."

    Madam Lu's expression turned into one of dissatisfaction "Can I at least pick a few?"

    The man shook his head, a little unwilling, "If all my customers were like you, and chose all the best, leaving the worst, how can I stay in business?" The man said with a gloomy expression.

    "Fine, what do you have?" Madam Lu rolled her eyes and went with the second best option.

    "There is a new batch from the southern provinces, I guarantee they have never been touched by men and are as pure as snow, this way, you can gain a profit when you open up for business." The man said with a sinister smile.

    "Of course, that would be for the best, I will see them later."

    "What do you do with the old ones?" The man asked. Of course, by old ones, he meant the ones that had arrived at the Hundred Flower Hall a few months prior. Madam Lu strangely kept wanting to buy new girls, yet there was only so much that this Hundred Flower Hall could hold. The question was, whatever happened to those girls that were previously bought?

    They surely couldn't have vanished into thin air.

    Yet, whenever he attempted to inquire, madam Lu would say "I bought and paid for them, and you have no right to ask about my private matters."

    Sure, fair enough, what she stated was ultimately true, but curiosity is like a worm that digs deep in one's mind, staying there as a question unanswered.

    Yet today, madam Lu was surprisingly talkative, and said: "The merchandise does not sell well when it has already been used." Her tone was even more callous than the wind from the most northern peaks. Anyone who heard her would inexplicably feel a cold torrent of ice coursing through their veins.

    Humans were said to be warm-hearted, yet she was not.


    Xue'er had been walking further and further away as if trying to distance herself from the Hundred flower Hall.

    She did not return to the embroidery shop but walked straight out of the gates that stood to protect the border.

    Her steps had become more unsynced with each other, and they became even more unfettered when they stepped onto the wild ground.

    As she got deeper and deeper in the woods, the trees became denser, making it so that the penetrating sunlight would not make it past the leaves and onto the dirt ground. There was not much vegetation able to grow in this forsaken place, and perhaps one of the reasons there were no people living on the outside.

    Xue'er's lone footsteps crunched upon the dead leaves, she did not look back toward the town, instead, every step made sure that she would get further away.

    By now, it was unsure of which direction would lead to the town. The mist of the forest also became thick, making it hard to even take a breath.

    She laid down beneath the canopy of an ancient tree, so old yet filled with vines that so tried to climb it, her obsidian black eyes had changed to their original amber grey color. Her mind had wandered far away from this place.

    Xue'er stared lifelessly into the trees, attempting to make out a few glimmers of sunlight that may happen to fall through. As if she had a sudden wish for warmth that the sun brings.
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