Chapter 371: Performance

After Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan walked into the pleasure den, two swordsmen following far behind them stopped in front of the establishment and peered inside.

“They entered this place?” One of the swordsmen rubbed his nose as he turned to the man beside him. “Even if we combined our spirit crystals, we wouldn’t even be able to pay the entrance fee. What should we do?”

“Stay here and keep guard over the entrance. I’ll report back to the young master and see if I can get him to scrounge up some spirit crystals for us. If we’re lucky, we’ll be able to stay the night here…”

“Eh? Alright, but you’d better come back quick!”

Swordflight was forbidden in Peak Darkness, so the swordsman began running back to the inn where the Pi delegation was staying. The two swordsmen had been sent by Pi Batian to keep watch over Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan. Although Pi Yan didn’t find Yun Ruoyan’s disguise suspicious, Pi Batian kept feeling as though something was amiss, so he had secretly dispatched the two men to keep an eye out for them.

“Young Master.” The swordsman found Pi Batian and reported back to him, “Li Mo and Madam Shade entered a pleasure den together.”

“Was there anything suspicious about their behavior?” Pi Batian asked.

“They seemed to be walking through the streets normally, but they entered a pleasure den. We didn’t have enough money to enter, so we could only wait outside and guard the entrance.”

Pi Batian peered at the swordsman. Li Mo doesn’t look like the type of person who would engage in such carnal pleasures, but… He was suddenly struck by interest. Standing up, he announced to the man, “Lead the way. It’s been too long since I’ve let loose.”

“Sir, this must be your first time coming here! I don’t recognize your face.” The moment Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan entered the pleasure den, an old madam draped in a decadent robe stepped up to greet them. She smelled of an odd fragrance and was a little younger and more attractive than those in similar positions on the Chenyuan continent, but was otherwise the same.

Without speaking, Li Mo retrieved a pouch from his hands and held it in front of the old madam, whose eyes gleamed as she took it over. “Sir, please enter, ah, and this woman…”

“She’s my friend,” Li Mo replied.

“Oh!” The old madam’s lips stretched in a smile. “Anyone with spirit crystals will find something for them here at our pleasure den. May I ask what sorts of pleasures you’re interested in?”

“What choices are there?”

“If you’re interested in carnal pleasures, we have a selection of beautiful women and handsome lads that you may both choose from, honored guests. If you’re interested in gambling, please head to the right.” The old madam’s eyes shifted from Li Mo to Yun Ruoyan. 

“Gambling,” Li Mo gritted out. 

Yun Ruoyan had to stifle a laugh when she saw Li Mo trying to hide his awkwardness. They were directed toward a side hall: only a wall separated women in rouge from loud bellows as men gambled their fortunes away.

One of the loudest voices was from Feng Yicheng. Yun Ruoyan noticed him immediately amidst a crowd of people; though he was still dressed as richly as ever, his warm and affable temperament had undergone a dramatic transformation.

His upper half body was almost leading entirely on the gambling table, his sleeves rolled up high. One hand clutched a handful of dice, and the other supported his body against the table. His face was red as he hollered his bets.

Yun Ruoyan’s eyes opened wide.

“Well? I’m sure that’s what Pi Yan and Pi Batian are hoping to see.” It was Li Mo’s turn to hide a smile.

He walked around the various tables, Yun Ruoyan following a respectable distance behind him. Although the gambling den was crowded and full of drunken, rambunctious men, she noticed a number of Feng swordsmen keeping guard, their auras fully released. With these men keeping the peace, no one dared stray too far out of line.

Feng Yicheng had noticed Yun Ruoyan and Li Mo the moment they entered the gambling den. His gaze swept past the two of them, slightly narrowed as he took in Li Mo’s presence, then turned back to his dice.

“That man’s won so much after just two hours? Isn’t the manager of the gambling den going to come out and “greet” him a little?” someone murmured from Yun Ruoyan’s side.

Although Yun Ruoyan had never been in a gambling den, she had been Pei Ziao’s wife in her previous life. The Pei family operated both an armory and a gambling den, so Yun Ruoyan had had to become at least superficially familiar with the logistics. Anyone who won too large a fortune would be summarily dealt with by experts, until all those winnings were swept back into the house.

“You might not know,” someone else replied, “but this young master’s a rising star in the Feng family. Apparently, he’ll be the representative of the Feng family in the seven cities’ tournament. Peak Darkness is under the Feng family’s jurisdiction, so he’s just winning money from his own employer!”

“Ah, is that so? But to think that their representative would be so… invested in gambling…”

Li Mo then headed back to the other side of the pleasure den with Yun Ruoyan, both of them following behind Feng Yicheng. At the same time, many of the original gamblers also followed Feng Yicheng over, and the brothel side of the pleasure den suddenly became far more crowded.

Li Mo found the old madam, handed over another bag of spirit crystals, and was quickly escorted to a suite on the second floor, where Feng Yicheng was already present. A smiling woman was cradled in his arms, and even Yun Ruoyan was unable to reconcile his current image with that of the kind and courteous young master she recalled seeing.

“No wonder the Feng family sent him to train and manage the courtesan troupe,” she murmured. “He’s definitely up to the task.”

“He’s certainly someone worth keeping an eye on,” Li Mo commented.

“The slave auction shall now commence!” With a shout, the crowd’s murmurs and conversations instantly died down.

“Yan’er,” Li Mo whispered, “you’ll see the darkness in Peak Darkness now.” 

The crowd’s gaze was quickly drawn to the stage, where wagon after wagon was being paraded out.

“There are male and female slaves available for auction today,” a pale, sticklike man with a reedy voice introduced. “Customers, honored guests, please observe them well. These slaves can be used either for sexual pleasure or menial labor, and I’m sure you’ll find something to satisfy your every need.”

His voice was infused with spiritual energy, and the reedy voice sent shivers down Yun Ruoyan’s spine. He held a long pole in his hand, one which he used to unfurl the black fabric that had been thrown over the first cage to obscure it. Within the cage were three women clad in beast pelts. They seemed to have been kept in darkness for quite some time, because when the black fabric was removed, they instinctively shielded their eyes from the bright light.

“Women from the beast tribes of the lower realms! A hundred spirit crystals for each one. Their bodies are to die for, and they’ll surely give you boundless pleasure in bed.

All sorts of lechers were gathered right by the stage, leering at the scantily clad women in the cage. They were undoubtedly from the same group of cultivators as Xue Ji, but had clearly been separated during the tussle that had ensued shortly after the lower-realm cultivators had arrived on the Mingyuan continent. Xue Ji’s group of twenty had all died at the Pi spirit crystal vein, and the sage-grade spirit crystal that they had given their lives to obtain was now in Yun Ruoyan’s silver bracelet.

She couldn’t help wanting to save the three women.

“Li Mo, those cultivators in beast pelts have done me a significant favor. Is it possible for us to save the three women?”

Li Mo frowned. “We can’t buy them outright, but after the auction’s over, I’ll try to work something out with the head of the Feng family. This is his territory, after all, so they should have some options for dealing with it.”

The three women looked quite young. Who knew what would happen to them by the time Li Mo talked with the Feng family head? Yun Ruoyan could only sigh.

In the end, they were all bought by a corpulent middle-aged man for five hundred spirit crystals.

The second cage contained three men whom Yun Ruoyan didn’t recognize, and they were purchased by a rough-looking cultivator whose gender she couldn’t determine.

Feng Yicheng, who sat opposite them, had been flirting with the two prostitutes by his side for the entire duration of the auction. Li Mo sat with his spine straight, glancing on stage as seriously as if he were in court. Yun Ruoyan stood silently behind Li Mo, unable to pay attention to what was going on on stage.

“Yan’er, look at the suite on the left,” Li Mo suddenly whispered.

Yun Ruoyan turned to the left, where she saw a familiar silhouette quickly hidden behind a folding screen. “It’s Pi Batian!”

“Right,” Li Mo said. “He’ll be able to see Feng Yicheng’s act for himself.”

“Next up, female slaves from the Chenyuan continent, a lower realm! The women of the Chenyuan continent are known for being petite and gentle in temperament. They’re excellent choices for warming your bed, and each one will start off with a price of one hundred and fifty spirit crystals!” the pale man yelled, unfurling the black fabric covering the cage with his long pole.

Li Mo’s body turned rigid, and Yun Ruoyan couldn’t help taking a step forward. The slaves that were revealed were people that Li Mo and Yun Ruoyan were intimately familiar with...

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