When they heard what Chen Xuan said, the rest of the crowd began to parrot him.
“Exactly! Instead of talking so much, why don’t you give it a try yourself?”
“You spout so much nonsense. If you have the skills, why don’t you do it!”
It was obvious that everyone was unhappy at having their goddess belittled like this. At the same time, they were worried that Qiu Honglei might really be persuaded by him, and so they naturally went all out against him.
Qiu Honglei was genuinely curious. “I wonder, what is the correct method that young master speaks of? Could you show it to us?”
It wasn’t a big deal if Zu An couldn’t answer her. She already had her own plans. This guy was too arrogant and out of control, and there was no guarantee that she could control him if they worked together in the future.
This would be a good chance to knock him down a notch.
Zu An said, “The method indeed exists. But, before that—what’s in it for me?”
“What is in it for you?” Qiu Honglei was immediately stupefied.
“Yup. I came to the Immortal Abode as a guest to watch the ladies entertain me, yet now, you all want me to perform for you? I’d be losing out if I got nothing out of it,” Zu An said with a smile. Those characters from Finest Servant really were worth learning from. There was no way he was going to let an opportunity like this pass him by.
“What sort of reward does the young master want?” Qiu Honglei’s smile seemed just a little too cheerful. This fellow really refuses to be normal.
Normally, she didn’t even have to speak. With just a single look from her, countless men would fall one after the other. When she did speak, no one had ever refused her.
Now, however, this fellow wanted to squeeze some benefits out of her?
“Lady Qiu, don’t agree to him!”
“Exactly! He only craves your body!”
The other men instantly grew nervous.
Zu An turned around. “Who was that? Get over here. Stop looking around. Yes you, the one who said something about craving the body.”
The crowd slowly inched away, exposing the young master who had spoken.
That young master began to squirm uncertainly. “What do you want? Are you trying to use your background as a member of the Chu clan to pressure me?”
He didn’t fear this Zu An, but he did fear the Chu clan somewhat. After all, Brightmoon City was Chu Zhongtian’s fiefdom.
However, as he considered the situation further, he realized that not only was Zu An a drafted son-in-law, he was even one who went out whoring. It would be lucky if he even managed to escape punishment from the Chu clan. Why would they help him out in such a situation?
This train of thought helped to calm him down.
“What was your name again?” Zu An asked.
Just as the young master was about to reply, Zu An waved a dismissive hand in his direction. “Forget it, there’s no point in remembering the name of a background character.”
That young master was left speechless.
You have successfully trolled Jiang Fan for 233 Rage points!
“You said that I craved her body just now. Does that mean that you don’t?” Zu An stared at him curiously.
“I…” Jiang Fan subconsciously gave Qiu Honglei a look. He had never been in such close contact with her before. When he saw her devastatingly beautiful face up close, he almost fainted. “Of course I don’t!”
Even though his heart craved her endlessly, he still clung desperately to the appearance of a modest man to leave her with a good impression.
“So you don’t think Lady Qiu is pretty?” Zu An looked at him strangely.
Jiang Fan said, “Lady Qiu’s beauty is like that of a celestial being. Of course she is pretty.”
“Then why don’t you crave her? Is her beauty not to your taste?” Zu An frowned. “Lady Qiu is already ridiculously pretty, but that’s not even enough for you… don’t tell me... you’re not a man?” Zu An said with exaggerated horror on his face.
Jiang Fan immediately went red as a beet. “Of course I am a man! I adore Lady Qiu! It’s just… it’s just that…”
He couldn’t think through what to say even after racking his brain. Screw this guy!
You have successfully trolled Jiang Fan for 444 Rage points!
After the ocean of Rage points from earlier, Zu An didn’t care that much about this small trickle.
However, when he thought about how even the smallest insect contained some nutrition, he knew he couldn’t let it go to waste.
“If you are a man, that can only mean one thing.” Zu An sighed. “You are way too fake. You don’t even dare to admit your desire for women.”
Jiang Fan’s mouth worked, but no words came out.
He had somehow dug the perfect hole for himself. However, he just couldn’t admit to this no matter what!
You have successfully trolled Jiang Fan for 666 Rage points!
In her second-floor room, Pei Mianman’s expression turned bizarre. This guy… I truly pity his enemies.
Qiu Honglei stepped in to rescue the poor young master. “Please don’t trouble him further. How about we discuss what sort of benefits you want?”
Zu An stared straight into her dazzling eyes, and a hint of a smile appeared on the corners of his lips. “I want you…”
A strange noise came from upstairs.
“This guy really is a pervert.” Xie Daoyun said with a frown.
Pei Mianman’s expression became hard to read. She muttered to herself, “Stinky brat, do you even know who she is? You dare take advantage of her?”
At the same time, she began to scrutinize Qiu Honglei for any reaction.
Only now did the rest of the men wake up, and they all began raining curses down on him.
“Have you gone mad? How dare you treat such a beautiful woman this rudely?!”
“How could someone like Lady Qiu agree to this type of condition?”
“You are simply a disgrace to all men! Utterly shameless!”
You have successfully trolled the onlookers for 99… 99… 99…
Only Wei Suo secretly flashed him a thumbs-up. His boss was truly the boss after all.
However, seeing just how worked up the crowd had become, he didn’t dare voice this thought, lest he invite disaster upon himself.
Qiu Honglei’s eyes flickered dangerously for the barest of moments. She said in a soothing voice, “We’ll just have to see if young master’s method works or not. After all, this is something our predecessors have not been able to solve for hundreds, if not thousands of years. I truly cannot fathom how to make different instruments complement a zither.”
When they heard her words, the entire place grew hushed. Exactly! This is a problem not even the greatest names in the music world could solve. What can a little brat like him accomplish?
This thought, shared among most of the crowd, helped to calm their anxiety.
“In that case, let’s begin with the second issue of your performance,” Zu An said.
“Second issue?” Qiu Honglei was momentarily taken aback, but then remembered that this fellow had brought up two flaws. She was glad that she had at least managed to retain some composure. With a smile, she said, “I must ask for young master’s guidance on this.”
“Your second issue is that the emotions were too intense. To be able to imbue emotions into one’s playing is a wonderful thing, but…” Zu An paused slightly before continuing, “The emotions you expressed were sorrow and anger. Not only are these emotions entirely at odds with the festive ambience of a brothel, they do not match the natural temperament of the zither either.”
“Eeeeey~” Watching from the second floor, Xie Daoyun exclaimed in surprise. “What this fellow says actually makes some sense. I didn’t even think of this just now.”
Qiu Honglei sighed gently. “What young master says is true. This song holds great meaning for me. I was feeling nostalgic at that moment, and I just couldn’t hold myself back from playing it.”
When they heard her words, quiet whispering broke out amongst the crowd. Does she actually have a lover?
Just who was this blessed man?
Seeing the emotion that flickered in the depths of her eyes, Zu An finally knew that a crack had appeared in her armor, exposing her true feelings. “Lady Qiu, you are in the prime of your life. Your heart should be overflowing with joy, like the radiance of the sun, not wounded and sentimental as if covered in scars.”
Qiu Honglei said with a smile, “From the way you describe me, it seems like I’ve suddenly aged a few decades.”
Zu An sighed. “Music comes from the soul. Whether or not the you I describe is true, only the lady herself knows.”
Qiu Honglei’s sweet smile began to fade bit by bit. She had clearly been moved.
“We asked you to show us the method for bringing different instruments together. Why are you rambling about all of this?”
Chen Xuan had grown impatient from listening. A chorus of agreement chimed out from the crowd.
That plastic smile immediately returned to Qiu Honglei’s face. “Exactly, young master. I am still waiting for you to broaden my horizons.”
Zu An asked Leng Shuangyue, who was beside him, to fetch a xiao. “Do you know how to blow the xiao?”
“But of course.” Qiu Honglei revealed a smile.
Enthusiastic catcalls broke out amongst the crowd, and Qiu Honglei immediately realized her mistake. Her face reddened, and she shot him a resentful look. “Is young master making fun of me?”
“That’s not what I mean at all!” Zu An’s expression darkened, and he glared fiercely at the crowd. These idiots aren’t good for anything else, but they’re incredibly sharp when it comes to picking up such things.
“If we examine all the available instruments, the xiao and zither make the best pairing.”
Qiu Honglei nodded her head. “This is indeed the case. However, this is only true if we compare the xiao with other instruments. The tonal color of the zither is too unique. However, if the xiao is used to accompany instead, the zither will be overwhelmed.. In that case, one might as well perform on the zither alone.”
Zu An smiled in reply. “I just happen to have a song in mind that perfectly suits the combination of zither and xiao.”
“Really?” Qiu Honglei’s eyes brightened. Even Xie Daoyun subconsciously scooted a little closer to her window.
In this world, the zither and the xiao weren’t used in combination because either the xiao would overwhelm the zither, or the zither’s sound would stand out too much. When the two performed as a duet, the resulting sound was mediocre at best, and even the best musicians had eventually given up on trying to make the combination work.
This Zu An seems so confident. Does he really have such a formidable song?
“I’ll write it out for you. Then, I’ll play the zither, and Lady Qiu will help me blow the xiao.” Zu An gestured for Leng Shuangyue to bring him some writing materials.
Zu An had already interacted with that beautiful big sister Shang Liuyu before through music. Since it had proven to be a fruitful avenue, he had continued to pursue it as a means to get closer to her.
This led him to specially look into the music of this world. Even though he was no expert, transcribing the tunes of his previous world in a way that could be understood by the people of this world wasn’t too difficult.
“Sure~” Qiu Honglei accepted the xiao from him. Something occurred to her, and she blushed a bright shade of red.
This guy was doing this on purpose!
Zu An didn’t notice, as he was currently preoccupied with transcribing his song onto paper. He’d originally learned how to play this song, ‘Scenery of Home’ in order to beef up his arsenal of weapons used to chase girls with. Because he really liked the drama series The Smiling, Proud Wanderer, he had memorized that song by heart as well.
This song from The Smiling, Proud Wanderer wasn’t James Wong’s ‘Sea’s Laughter’, but rather the tune composed by master composer William Hu Wei-Li for the drama series starring Jackie Lui.
“Oh? This song seems rather new and original…” As an expert in the musical field, Qiu Honglei could notice immediately that this tune was completely different from any she had seen before.
Could this fellow really make the zither and the xiao work together successfully?
She had merely been going along with the flow earlier. However, after seeing the melody laid out before her, her expression became serious.
“Will Lady Qiu be able to play it?” Zu An asked.
“The music seems slightly unfamiliar, but we can give it a try.” Qiu Honglei grew slightly nervous as she noticed the rather difficult syncopation.
“Then let’s begin.” Zu An sat down in front of the zither, his previous frivolousness nowhere to be seen.
His fingers moved lightly across the strings, producing a confident, relaxed sound that carried throughout the entire hall.
Xie Daoyun’s disapproving expression immediately froze.
Pei Mianman’s expression also became a bit strange. This fellow actually had such a wide set of skills up his sleeve? Did Chuyan already know all about all of this? Was that why she decisively chose him as her husband?
Those other spectators had been eagerly waiting for him to make a fool of himself. However, when they saw how he sat in front of the zither, they immediately sensed something amiss. When he struck the first few confident notes of his impassioned melody, every single one of them was blown away.
5. James Wong’s ‘Sea’s Laughter’ (沧海一声笑) is heard in the 1991 movie version of The Smiling, Proud Wanderer, and its sequel. The TV drama series referenced here is from 1996. William Hu Wei-Li (胡伟立) is a composer who worked on many wuxia films.