XieRong saw as the old man dragged himself onto the stage with heavy footsteps, not being able to keep himself straight.
She was starting to have second thoughts on her bet.
XieRong called one of the waiters over.
"Mister, who else has bet on the old man?"
"Two others, a young miss and a young master on the third floor."
She sighed in relief.
She wasn't the only one who had bet. Perhaps, she wasn't wrong in her judgement after all.
After thanking the waiter, she once again turned to look out the window.
-Jie, have more faith in your decisions.-
-I'm not sure, FeiHong, I may be observant, well read and taught by mother, but I've never seen actual fights like these before. If we lose, we will have to pay five silvers to each person who has bet against us, and while we can afford it, it will be a huge loss to us.-
-Jie, I'm sure aunt and uncle won't mind giving us money if we need it in the future. Besides, I would like to think about how much we would gain if we won, rather than how much we would lose if we lost.-
XieRong smiled gratefully at her sister before turning back to watch the match that had already begun.
The drunk old man just stood gulping down the contents of his gourd while the man leaped at him with his sword.
"You're allowed to use weapons?" XieRong asked, watching a ribbon of fire start to coil around the man's sword.
"You're allowed to use anything except your spirit beasts in the ring."
XieRong let out a small sigh of relief as the old man staggered away just as the sword was about to slice into him.
The youth looked annoyed as he threw a barrage of fireballs at the old man and charged at him again with his sword.
The old man stumbled over his legs and rolled away.
The crowds cheers for the man had now turned into voracious laughter and mocking remarks. The man let out a murderous intent as he leaped with his sword, going for the kill.
The old man had again rolled away. He lay on the stage, lifting his gourd to his mouth and shaking it to see if there was any more wine remaining.
The man, on the other hand, had used so much force that his sword was now stuck in the concrete floor of the stage and refused to budge.
XieRong watched with her eyes twinkling in mirth as the old man rolled and kicked the young man in his face, ordering him to go bring more wine. The man, who was now sporting a bloody nose, had been utterly humiliated, his face completely lost and reputation one with the mud. He had nothing to lose anymore.
He used his soul nourishing pills to increase the flow of energy in his body, strengthening it. In a last final attempt, he dashed like a bull towards the old man.
XieRong saw a sharp gleam enter the old man's eyes as he jumped over the man, letting the man's own momentum work against him as he couldn't control himself and fell over the ring.
RuiLing gasped in shock.
"He won! That drunken old man actually won! How did you know, XieRong?"
XieRong mouthed 'later' as a waiter came up to them to inform them of their won bet. A lot more people had bet on the man after them so the money they received was much more than what they had originally calculated. XieRong distributed the money amongst them before they left.
"Elder sister, FeiHong why don't you both go ahead, I'll be back before dinner."
"What if you get lost?"
"Don't worry, I can always ask for directions."
-Jie, is it something I can't come with you for?-
-Not really. I just want to do this myself.-
FeiHong smiled understandingly.
"Okay, then...if you say so," RuiLing said, as she took FeiHong and Li Jia away.
XieRong ran to the duelists' ring, looking around for the drunk old man.
Another fight had already begun as she went to the registration desk.
"Mister, where did that old man from the previous fight go?"
"I'm not at liberty to disclose that information, young miss."
"Please, mister," she pleaded.
The man sighed. He was too weak against cute children.
"Okay, tell you what, if you tell me why a young girl like you, who looks like she belongs to a good house, is looking for an old man like him, I'll tell you."
XieRong looked around.
"That man is a relative of my maid. She went to run some errands so she asked me to look after him for her."
"Why would a common maid ask a young miss from a household to do that?"
"Mister, I'm the unfavoured second young miss of the Guo Residence who just recently arrived. I'm not allowed to associate with the other noble young ladies so I just made friends with the maids in the household. If you don't tell me where the old man is I'll lose my friend's trust."
XieRong gave him a sad and pitiful look.
The man at the registration counter patted XieRong's head.
"Young miss, the old man goes often to drink at the MeiYing brothel in the east district after his matches. It's no place for a young girl such as yourself. Why don't you go home for today? You can see him tomorrow if he stops by."
"It's okay mister. I can handle myself."
XieRong had on her black cloak that fell to her knees and kept to herself. She also wore a veil that she had brought along in case she felt the first young lord Bai and the eighth Prince's presences nearby.
It was still day time so there weren't all that many people around, but she still didn't want her face to be seen.
Every time she would look at a man sidle up to a courtesan in the nearby alleys, she would turn her face away, rubbing her arms, the feeling of being used and dirty invading her senses as she remembered FeiHong's past life.
The East district was filled with many brothel shops and grand restaurants at the front, but the beggars sleeping and loitering about in side alleys did not escape XieRong's notice. There were siren like courtesans trying to lure over customers everywhere on the main road, while there were worn and broken women in rags discarded away in the side alleys. One could see two sides of the world if only they looked to the side, but XieRong noticed that she was the only person who did. Perhaps people were too confident that they wouldn't end up like them? No, that wasn't it. When XieRong observed her surroundings more clearly, she saw people take a tiny glance to the side and march forward with more straightened shoulders and wider strides. Maybe they all did not want to acknowledge that there was a possibility where they could end up like them.
XieRong entered the MeiYing brothel. It was hard to miss as it was the fanciest and biggest brothel in the lane she had seen so far.
She went to the old lanky lady that was showing the customers around.
"Old lady, I'm looking for a drunk old man about a head taller than me that could be here. He would have come just a bit earlier than I have. Can you show me to him?"
"Get lost little girl, this is no place for you. There are many drunk old men that come here everyday, how should I remember all of them that drop by?"
The old lady's polite tone had changed into one full of disdain when she saw XieRong.
XieRong wasn't very surprised. The way she had been coercing customers into paying more and the way there was a small crack in her smiling face when the customer refused had told her enough about the old lady's lust for money.
She took out the pouch of fifty silver taels her aunt had given her before she left and jingled it front of the old lady.
The old lady grabbed for the pouch but XieRong quickly put it back in her ring.
"Not so soon, I'll pay you ten silvers for the information."
"Ten, and no more. I'm sure those rival courtesans outside will be more than willing to give me the information I want for ten silver pieces."
The old lady growled.
XieRong could tell they were rival courtesans from they way they were trying to pull away customers to their respective brothels, besides the fact that they weren't as well dressed as the courtesan's inside.
A handsome man with chiselled features, wearing expensive clothes dragged a lady, a low ranked courtesan from the looks of it, to the old lady.
"Old lady! I paid for a courtesan and you give me this?!"
He threw the courtesan to the ground as he bellowed.
"Sir, I gave you the best courtesan I could provide you with the little money you gave me."
"The best? Is this what you call the best?"
XieRong turned to help up the crying courtesan who was pushed to the ground.
While doing so, her hood had come off and the cloak had shifted, drawing the man's predatory eyes to the small portion of the white tender skin of her neck that was exposed. The man thought that she was a little too young, but the thought of making this little girl a woman made him shiver. The servants in his manor had become boring, so had the courtesans. Even if the servants were young, there skin didn't look nearly as enticing as this young miss' and the courtesans just appeased his needs. They didn't fulfill his desires.
XieRong, couldn't dodge the man as came up behind her and put his sturdy arm around her waist and pulled her to him, rubbing himself against her. XieRong let out a small frightened shriek thrashing around to break free.
"As compensation, why don't I take her?"
XieRong forced herself to still, clearing her scared and muddled mind and sharpening it like a knife.
A scary chill entered her eyes as she remembered the anger and thirst for blood she felt for those guards who had assaulted her, no, assaulted FeiHong in her past life. This time, she wasn't so helpless and she wouldn't be as long as she kept her calm and acted logically and swiftly.
'Disgusting,' she thought, as she sprinkled the Tanhuan berry powder on the scum's hand that was snaked around her.
She put her small bottle back as secretly she had taken it out from her ring and slapped the man's arm away.
"Is mister blind? Can't he see that this miss isn't for sale?"
She turned around and glared at the man.
"Don't be difficult, girl. You should be happy this lord is offering to pay you for your company."
"You're disgusting. Get lost."
XieRong adjusted her cloak so that it once again covered her fully.
"You dare call this lord disgusting?"
XieRong ignored the fuming man.
"Old lady, look at that man's hand. You shouldn't let him stay here any longer. It's good that he only grabbed that courtesan by her sleeve, otherwise she would have been infected too."
The man had already begun to itch at the red sores that had begun to develop.
"Sir, you'll have to leave this establishment," the old lady said, ordering the male servants to show the man out.
"This lord will not forgive this humiliation!" The man yelled as he was thrown into the streets.
Unbeknownst to XieRong, a lady had witnessed everything from the first floor.
'What a clever little girl,' she thought, making her way down to greet her.