Chapter 57.1: Virtuous Heart

Zhang He and Yan Zifang were against each other now. 

Nothing big happened. Zhang He ate a lamb leg in the West City and did not pay for it. The shopkeeper as well as other onlookers refused to let him go and naturally, they got into a fight. Zhang He has experienced many such cases. Moreover, his subordinates were all skilled in martial arts and the citizens usually could not stand more than a few kicks and punches from them. Unexpectedly, the onlookers this time were quite skilled as well. They also formed the majority, and in the end, his men were the ones that were beaten up. 

At this moment, Yan Zifang arrived with his men.

Zhang He’s face was swollen from getting beaten up. Yet, not only did Yan Zifang not punish the onlookers, he even listened to them explain their nonsense. All because of the unpaid lamb leg, Yan Zifang actually captured Zhang He.

Zhang He knew that he and Yan Zifang did not get along and did not bother arguing with him. He instructed his subordinates to inform his father as well as Consort Du He, who he had been planning to meet, that he would not be able to make it. As long as those two stepped out to help him, Yan Zifang would not be able to do anything. 

As Yan Zifang saw Zhang He’s subordinates leave to deliver messages, he did not stop them. He brought Zhang He to the West City’s government office. 

What Zhang He did not know was that Yan Zifang had already taken note of how Zhang He bullied and took advantage of people in the city. Those exceptionally skilled onlookers were all people that he had planted to wait around the lamb shop for several days. They had been waiting for Zhang He. 

Meanwhile, as Du He received news that Zhang He had been captured by Yan Zifang, he was loyal and intended to rescue Zhang He. However, Princess Xincheng saw him and asked him where he was going. 

Du He laughed, “I am going out to meet a friend.”

“What great things can you be up to with your useless friends?” Princess Xincheng inserted a jewel hairpin into her hair. “Consort, is this nice?”

Du He flattered her. “Beautiful! Princess, you are as beautiful as a goddess. You look pretty no matter what you wear!”

He walked around the screen to Princess Xincheng. However, he saw two other people in the room. One of them was Lian Yan’er. The other was a lady that he did not recognise. She had the aura of a tiger and looked courageous. 

After Lian Yan’er decided to join the General Zhenhai Residence, she taught Ma Hainiu the three golden rules for chasing men. The third rule was to be independent and strive for self-improvement. Ma Hainiu had spent her life as a pirate. Other than her strength, she had numerous jewels obtained from ships over the years. Not only her, her brother, Haicao, as well as her other brothers in General Zhenhai’s residence had an endless collection of them.

Lian Yan’er was smart and thought that this was a good business idea. She collaborated with Ma Hainiu to open a beauty shop. They specialised in selling unique and special jewellery. Along with Lian Yan’er’s makeup skills, which she had perfected over the years, and Consort Han’s help in promotion, they quickly became famous in Chang’an. Even Princess Xincheng was their frequent customer.

“Princess, they are…” However, Du He felt uncomfortable seeing Lian Yan’er.

“You are always running about yet you don’t know about the beauty shop that opened in Chang’an? Even Prince Han often visits them to buy jewellery for Consort Han. These two ladies are the owners of Belle Shop.”

Du He thought about how he wanted to avoid Lian Yan’er, as well as Zhang He, who was waiting to be rescued. “Princess, I...I am meeting someone…”

“Are you that busy? You are always going out.” Princess Xincheng was unhappy. “I still want you to help me stick on a flora inlay.”

Ma Hainiu and Lian Yan’er exchanged glances. Lian Yan’er stepped forward and lightly pasted the flora inlay on Princess Xincheng’s cheek.

Princess Xincheng was dubious. “Isn’t the flora inlay supposed to be stuck on the forehead? Why did you stick it on my cheek? Won’t I get laughed at?”

Ma Hainiu said, “Princess, please rest assured. Since ancient times, there have been people who stick flora inlays on their faces. During the Three Kingdoms Period, Crown Prince Zhou drank and was dancing under the moonlight. He accidentally hit his favourite concubine’s face. Several red dots appeared on her face. Crown Prince Zhou actually thought that Lady Deng looked even more beautiful this way. Very soon, the people from the palace as well as the commoners started to use rouge to dot their cheeks. Emperor Jianwen of Liang also had a poem. Shallow dimples formed by red, also refers to this.”

Princess Xincheng laughed, “We are not done and I am already happy. The lady owners of Belle Shop are really talented.”

Ma Hainiu was proud. She finally managed to use the things that she had learnt at Consort Han’s place. 

Seeing how Du He was about to sneak away, she said loudly. “Speaking of pasting flora inlays, if Yan’er says she is second place, no one will dare to claim first place. In order to learn this skill, she had spent many years in Swallow House.”

“Swallow House?” Princess Xincheng was aware. “Isn’t that a famous brothel in Chang’an?”

Du He turned and came back. He could not leave. He could not let Lian Yan’er give him away. In Princess Xincheng’s eyes, although he was not dashingly handsome, he was at least loyal to her. If she knows that he frequents brothels, she may even bring it up to the Emperor. 

Lian Yan’er glanced and Du He and smiled. “In order to seduce men, the courtesans at brothels need to make themselves beautiful and alluring. If one wants to learn how to beautify oneself, Swallow House would be the best place to go.”

Princess Xincheng did not know that Lian Yan’er was once the head courtesan at Swallow House. “So that is where you learn how to put on makeup.”

“Not only did I learn how to put on makeup, I also experienced the various ugly sides of men.” Lian Yan’er gaze hardened and Du He became frightened. “At home, they are like great husbands. However, when they get to Swallow House, they become the most despicable pervert on earth. There was even one that brought out his wife's belt. When he was indulging himself, he placed it on the girls at the brothel and treated it like a game.”

Princess Xincheng was startled. “There are such disgusting men on earth?”

“His poor wife is completely oblivious and still thinks that she has a great husband. In actuality, his wife’s belt is still with the brothel girl.”

Du He coughed dryly. Ma Hainiu grinned. “I heard that when men go out to drink, they always like to entertain themselves at brothels. Consort, are you meeting your friend to go to Swallow House?”

Princess Xincheng frowned. “He wouldn’t dare.”

Du He stammered, “I wouldn’t dare...def...definitely wouldn’t dare.”

“Your Highness, I am done sticking.” Lian Yan’er took a step back.

Ma Hainiu seamlessly took over. “Your Highness, this flora inlay looks best under the sun. Let me help you out.”

Only Du He and Lian Yan’er were left in the hall.

Du He looked outside and saw the Princess looking into a copper mirror, admiring her own reflection. He turned back and glared at Lian Yan’er. “You better burn the belt immediately. In the future, you are not allowed to come here anymore. Do you understand?”

“Consort, why would you think I would listen to you?” Lian Yan’er suddenly raised her voice. “Your Highness.”

Du He was frightened. “You…”

Princess Xincheng looked back. “Yes?”

Du He lowered his voice. “Okay, okay, what do you want?”

Lian Yan’er smiled and looked at Princess Xincheng. “I specially chose an emerald flora inlay to match with this kingfisher hairpin. Your Highness, do you like it?”

Princess Xincheng turned from side to side and twirled around. She was extremely pleased. Lian Yan’er smiled at Du He. “This is the right attitude.”

Ma Hainiu saw this from outside and the corners of her mouth turned up. Everything was going according to her leader’s plan.

 

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Coca's Thoughts

In case you guys forgot, these two "He" guys bullied Lian Yan'er before (remember the chapter where Ma Haihu tried to save Lian Yan'er and then both him and Yan Zifang got beat up?) It's the chapter where I was complaining about their names being so similar (the Hehehe one LOLOLOL). Yu He, the eunuch serving Concubine Yan, was the one that saved them that time. 

Yan Zifang wants his revenge...