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102 The Arrival of Lady Lan

    On this day, the sun had not yet risen when it was obscured by a cascade of gray clouds moving slowly in the sky. The chirping of crows could be heard in the distance, the sounds muffled by the sound of the wind. Yet the town was already bustling with a few people dressed in thick cloaks and walking about.

    It was the breaking of dawn on this particularly cold winter day when a carriage with wooden spoked wheels rolled in, stopping right in front of the Hundred Flower Hall. The dust that had been following behind the carriage slowly settled.

    Since there was never such a carriage that dared to stop so long in front of the Hundred Flower Hall, some people got curious and decided to take a look, to see who it was that had just arrived.

    The owner of the carriage was still sitting within as though waiting for someone. The longer the carriage sat at the entrance unmoved, the more people became curious and attempted to see who was inside.

    It wasn't until a pageboy went in to report that there was a carriage sitting at the entrance that madam Lu realized, the person who was supposed to arrive yesterday had finally made her way here.

    "She's putting on airs again." Madam Lu said to servant Zhao who was putting a cloak over her shoulders. The old servant had nothing much to say about the one who was currently waiting outside, only clearing her throat in response.

    Pulling her cloak over her shoulders, madam Lu went alone to greet the carriage that was waiting.

    As she drew near, she felt as though the air surrounding the carriage had gotten significantly colder. The person within was a skillfully adept in martial arts and could draw upon the energy of the environment around her, melding into nature. This bone-chilling air was certainly her doing.

    Madam Lu took a deep breath, walking nearer to the source of this energy. By now, her breath had become much heavier, the cold air was simply too harsh for her lungs. Yet she refused to show her weaknesses before this woman.

    "Lady Lan, you've arrived, why didn't you send someone to inform me?" Madam Lu asked right by the carriage door in a quiet voice. As though unwilling to allow anyone else to hear her subdued tone.

    "I wanted to see if anyone would be there to greet me, but now that I'm here I was apparently wrong." A woman's sigh came from behind the carriage door.

    "We were expecting you yesterday, and had an entire banquet planned, a pity you didn't show up." Madam Lu said with a sigh of regret.

    "Oh, the scenery was nice so I was looking at the scenery while traveling." The woman said, while inwardly thinking [as if you would have an entire banquet planned for me] still she kept up appearances, raising the curtain of the carriage a slight bit to look at madam Lu's face which had become pale from being within the vortex of her aura.

    "Indeed, the scenery of the north is something to look at." Madam Lu said with a smile that did not resemble a smile much.

    The woman looked on with a pretense of concern at madam Lu's pale lips and colorless complexion she looked quite ill, "Since you are cold, shall we head inside?"

    Though madam Lu did not really much like this woman, and would rather contend to the death, even she had her own limits. Hearing that they could head in, was no different than spring arriving after a dreadful snowstorm. She quickly played a docile little lamb and helped the lady down from the carriage, doing her best to quickly head inside, "Lady Lan, this way please."

    Lady Lan seemed to look on with amusement at madam Lu who seemed to be playing a waiter greeting guests into a restaurant. She was amazed by how madam Lu turned to the opposite side of her leaf just as some wind blew by.

    Though one thing was for certain, madam Lu was one who knew to adapt.

    "I trust you have gotten my message?" Lady Lan said as she made her way up to the third floor of the hundred flower hall which was specially reserved for whenever she visited.

    Madam Lu silently nodded, how could she forget that letter that she had nearly burnt into ashes.

    "That's good, I was worried that if you were unable to get it, I would probably have to put in a lot of work to reform our current way of communicating. Never mind, since you have received it."

    Her words were full of thorns, pricking madam Lu right where her flesh was. If there was a reform in the ways of communicating, then a lot of things would be changed. Perhaps her position would suffer as well, or a new leader would be the one to replace her, by the time that came, her years of hard work would be wasted away.

    "There is no need for that." Madam Lu said with a peal of nervous laughter.

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    Though what she said sounded like desperate attempts to protect her own position, lady Lan was still cautious as to not anger her over the top, if she were to suddenly want to quit, there would be no person available on such short notice to take this place.

    Though there were some disagreements between them, lady Lan was certain that for these harsh lands, there would be no one as competent as madam Lu to take charge. She had fit the role so perfectly and precisely as the brothel madam. Such places were the easiest to gather important information on many.

    By the time they had made their way up the third floor, madam Lu's cheeks that were once pale had begun getting a hint of color once again.

    "Should I invite you in?" Lady Lan asked as she opened the door, and a burst of sandalwood aroma that had been pent up within the room burst out, like a compressed bubble that had been pent up for far too long.

    "No need, I will retreat." Madam Lu quietly bowed and turned away, unwilling to look up at lady Lan. Who knew if this woman would have a hint of a smirk in her eyes if she were to look up.

    Lady Lan watched as madam Lu's figure retreat down the stairs, before closing the doors.
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