Chapter 6 – To Play Gangster (1)
The news of Xue Yao’s demotion spread throughout the brothel like plague—unstoppable. Needless to say, other courtesans must have felt triumphant but Su Xin couldn’t care less. All of them were insignificant to her and most importantly, the mission.
She was gathering her belongings with Shu Juan, following Ta Yan’s ‘order’, when she saw someone leaning against the doorway. That person was smiling in derision.
Must be one of those harlots laughing at her misfortune.
“What did older sister Xue Yao do to anger mama? Do you want Wan Yue to talk to the mama for you?” Wan Yue came in shaking a fan gracefully and making her every step as gentle as possible. Her facial features were soft and lovely; her manner of speaking coy yet charming. She looked at the room all the way around, scrutinizing in both envy and triumph.
She was a promising courtesan—an acceptable replacement for the stubborn Su Xin.
“This screen is terrible. Uh! Disgusting! This rouge…” Wan Yue made a show of picking up Su Xin’s rogue, disgust written all over her face.
Su Xin’s eyes followed Wan Yue’s every move, her eyes amused.
What childish antics.
Yet for a certain Shu Juan, she was incensed at having her master mocked. And in her own room nonetheless!
“Don’t touch Young lady’s things.” Shu Juan said through gritted teeth and blocked Wan Yue from getting close to Su Xin’s dresser.
Wan Yue glanced at Shu Juan and smiled mockingly at Su Xin, “How rare! Older sister Xue Yao has a good dog!”
Su Xin decided she had enough of Wan Yue and she gazed at her indifferently.
Su Xin didn’t spare her a word. Her eyes did the talking, conveying how unaffected she was with her taunts.
Wan Yue was a bit displeased with Su Xin’s apathy. The least she could do now was end the conversation by rubbing salt into her wounds.
“I won’t waste any more breath with older sister Xue Yao. I hope that older sister will immediately leave so that my servant girl can start tidying up the room in peace.”
Unfortunately, this only served to further Shu Juan’s anger and she looked at Wan Yue straight in the eyes with hate. An act of disrespect considering that she was but a mere servant girl.
“Who do you think you are? You’re supposed to lower your gaze, servant.” Wan Yue was furious, but she knew she had the upper hand. After all, she had the higher status between the both of them.
In this brothel, Young ladies are more privileged than the servant girls, but this wasn’t always the case for the residents of the second floor. In that floor, the line blurs between the Young ladies and the servant girls. In some cases, a few of the demoted servant girls with passable looks sometimes receive guests.
There are not many maids in the building responsible for the cleaning and handling of miscellaneous tasks. Young ladies take care of patrons while those girls on the second floor have no special servant girls to serve them, nor could they afford to raise one.
The Young ladies on the third floor all have some spare money in their hands and the slave contracts of their servant girls. Meanwhile, their slave contracts are with the mama, Ta Yan. The Young lady shoulders all expenses of her personal servant girl while all the Young ladies and the maids’ expenses in the building were managed by Ta Yan. The division between the Young ladies and the servant girls was very distinct.
Su Xin has been demoted to the second floor, so her standing had taken a turn for the worse. Not to mention Shu Juan, who was a mere servant girl.
(T/N: So basically, brothel hierchary is as follows:
- Young ladies in the 3rd floor
- Young ladies in the 2nd floor = Personal Servant girls of the 3rd floor (serve their master only)
- Personal Servant girls demoted to the 2nd floor (serve guests)
Su Xin is in the 2nd tier(formerly 1st), Shu Juan in the 3rd tier(formerly 2nd) and Wan Yue in the 1st. Hope this clears up any confusion.)
Despite this, Shu Juan was undeterred. She tilted her chin upward and retorted, “The last time I checked, I am not your servant. Why can’t I dare not look at you so.”
For Shu Juan, she only had one master. Despite this master of hers being demoted, she was still fiercely devoted. Thus it angered her when Wan Yue came only to ridicule Su Xin.
Wan Yue was seething when suddenly, she saw Ta Ya at the door. Wan Yue hurriedly went over and leaned at the woman. Her mind forming a plan to punish Shu Juan.
“Mama, older sister Xue Yao has this insolent servant! She even had the nerve to disrespect me! Hmph!” She looked daggers at Shu Juan while trying to act spoiled with Ta Yan.
Wan Yue knew a direct confrontation with the servant girl was prohibited. The same goes for internal strife between Young Ladies in the building. This was a strict rule established by Ta Yan herself. What they could only do is complain to Ta Yan and let her reprimand those who deserve it. Wan Yue was thinking of using Ta Yan to scold Su Xin so Su Xin could handle Shu Juan.
Two birds with one stone!
Ta Yan looked at the girl who was clutching at her robes endearingly. She felt dipleased—one because she could see through Wan Yue’s pretenses and two, this girl had a bad temper and was too impetuous for her own good.
Ta Yan was not a person to be used. She was the one who uses other people to her advantage.
“You, ah! Go back and pick up your things first.” With a flick of her hand, Ta Yan dismissed Wan Yue who looked shocked then dissatisfied. She knew she couldn’t push the matter further lest she provoked Ta Yan’s ire. Left without a choice, she sashayed her way out of the room, her steps heavy and slow—a blatant display of her vexation.
Ta Yan watched the girl leave. Although the girl had an immature personality, this wasn’t a problem. What matters is she’s good-looking and obedient.
She would be able to control her unlike another strong-willed girl.
Ta Yan looked back at Su Xin, a sliver of regret in her chest.
“Your servant has an uncontrollabe rage.” Ta Yan lightly glanced at Shu Juan on one side and looked at Su Xin, subtly hinting the prior incident.
In the midst of a silent war, both women were caught in a stalemate: with the threat from the pill looming over Ta Yan’s life and Su Xin lacking options, was unable to rush her trip to the capital.
Yet despite being threatened with her life, Ta Yan still firmly demoted her to the second floor. Su Xin couldn’t retaliate knowing she needed more time in order to advance her plans. This was Ta Yan’s way of pressuring her. Ultimately, the endgame depends on the person who succumbs first.
What a ferocious woman.
Meanwhile for Ta Yan, there was no longer the need to pamper Su Xin after being threatened. She had become unruly, unable to be restrained by Ta Yan; It was clear that she’s no longer goods to be taken advantage of since she couldn’t be manipulated anymore.
Why should she still be polite?
However, Ta Yan knew she could only do this much. At the end of the day, she was no hooligan. Proper dignity must still be maintained, that’s all.
She still wasn’t taking Su Xin’s threat seriously. Or more likely—she refused to acknowledge it.
“It was to protect her own master, nothing more. Many thanks.” Su Xin answered Ta Yan and thanked Shu Juan.
Without another word, Ta Yan left them to finish the chore.