Chapter 266 – Sobering up with Alcohol
The halls were magnificent, and the entire building was lit with lanterns.
It stood several hundred meters high. Even in the city filled with large structures, it stood out.
A string of great, red lanterns dangled down from the edge of the tall, slender eaves. The walls depicted large, enchanting paintings of dancing and floating women. The most unbelievable part about it all was that the wall paintings actually moved about. They winked and gestured at the passersby as their snow-white hands plucked the pipa, resulting in actual music. It was magnificent, just like a wonderland.
Wu Gen said proudly, “What do you think of this place, Rongzhi?”
Qian Rongzhi said, “It’s very beautiful.” She had already been here once before.
Then, Wu Gen asked, “What about you, Qingshan? You won’t be able to see something like this in a small place like Jiaping even if you spent your entire life there.”
Originally, Hua Chengzan thought that Li Qingshan would be utterly dumbfounded and left speechless. Most people who came here for the first time behaved like that. However, Li Qingshan only demonstrated amazement, but he maintained his composure. It earned some praise in Hua Chengzan’s heart.
Li Qingshan said, “It makes me think of home.”
Wu Gen laughed aloud. “That’s the funniest joke I’ve heard all day.”
Li Qingshan did not refute him. This place was indeed like his former life, the world of blurred lights, the flickering neon lights, and the movies that confounded fiction with reality. There probably were not a lot of sights that could make him dumbfounded.
Wu Gen took out the item that seemed like a tablet again. Li Qingshan knew that this was called a seal, which was specially used to control spiritual beasts. Hua Chengzan sent the Silver Dragon horse away too.
Entering the parlour, a fragrance rushed into his face. A group of young women in thin, spring dresses came up to receive them. Every single one of them were as charming as flowers and gave off the vigorous aura of youth. They touched and prodded Hua Chengzan, gabbling and chirping at him together. They called him young master Hua, young master Hua endlessly.
Hua Chengzan did not push them away either. He embraced them with both hands and named all of them with great familiarity, which excited these young women again.
“How undisciplined. Don’t you all have things to do?” A woman who seemed like a caretaker walked over and dispersed these unwilling women.
Originally, Li Qingshan wanted to say that this place was quite different from regular brothels, but he saw how the young women immediately changed when they dispersed to receive customers. They were all very courteous, clearly having undergone strict training. They were even more dignified than young ladies from noble families.
The caretaker woman bowed towards Hua Chengzan gracefully before quickly glancing around. She said bashfully, “Young master Hua, you’ve returned. Your friends have almost run out of patience waiting for you.”
Only then did they know that Hua Chengzan was receiving special treatment. The two other men, Li Qingshan and Wu Gen, had been reduced to mere foils to enhance Hua Chengzan’s charm. They glanced at each other and felt some pity for one another.
Li Qingshan raised his head. The Parlour of Clouds and Rain had the same structure of a hollow centre, but it was not round. Instead, it seemed like a fish, and the entire building was more than ten times larger than the one in Jiaping city. Countless passageways bridged the centre in the air as people walked around on them. It was like a city within a building.
People flowed in and out of the building, including people of different ages and sexes. A few Qi Practitioner were mixed among them, looking around like regular tourists and admiring the strange sights of the Parlour of Clouds and Rain.
Hua Chengzan teased the caretaker woman a little before asking, “Where’s Haitang?”
“The sect master is cultivating in the back.”
“Get her to come over. I have a few friends I want to introduce to her.”
The woman glanced at Li Qingshan and Qian Rongzhi before speaking in an unwilling manner, “I’ll go right now.”
However, Li Qingshan raised his vigilance even more. Hua Chengzan directly called this sect master by her name, and he could even invite her over so easily. It was more than enough to prove their relationship.
“Let’s go up first!” Hua Chengzan led the way at the front. When they arrived in a corner of the building, Li Qingshan felt a white cloud surge out from beneath his feet, gently lifting everyone up slowly. Only then did he spot the tiny formation carved into the ground. It flickered with light. Clearly, it was a formation that could create a cloud for riding.
Hua Chengzan saw Li Qingshan’s expression change. He joked, “What, has it reminded you of home again?”
Li Qingshan, “Yep.” Wasn’t this just an elevator? While the exact methods used were different, humans basically all travelled in roughly the same direction when it came to indulgence.
Wu Gen patted Li Qingshan’s shoulder and smiled. “I couldn’t tell, but you sure like to joke around, Qingshan.”
As they pulled higher and higher, Li Qingshan spotted that the Parlour of Clouds and Rain was divided into several spaces according to their floors. He could see this thanks to his extraordinary eyesight. There were spaces furnished with gambing tables and games, as well as spaces filled with people feasting.
Of course, the traditional “services” took up a very large space too. Every single person there was overflowing with smiles. Even Li Qingshan could not help but be infected by this joyous atmosphere. His mind gradually loosened, temporarily forgetting about his worries and grievances. He smiled too.
Hua Chengzan said, “Here, no matter what your identity is, no matter what your interests are, you can get whatever you want. There is boundless joy here.”
Li Qingshan suddenly sensed that something was amiss. He used the Spirit Turtle’s Method of Sea Suppression to stabilise his mind, and his smile immediately vanished. “Are there formations here that can influence the minds of people?” Afterwards, he saw how Xiao An was unaffected, just as expected, while Qian Rongzhi’s expression remained the same too, likely due to the Method of Clouds and Rain that she practised.
“That’s right!” Hua Chengzan nodded. He appreciated Li Qingshan’s sharp senses.
Li Qingshan said, “Don’t tell me it’s fine to delude people like this?”
Wu Gen said, “What delude people? You’d better stop exaggerating.”
Hua Chengzan said, “Just what part of wine, women, avarice, and pride isn’t deluding people? And, just who dislikes them? Compared to those, don’t you think that using some techniques to bring joy to people in a way that is neither harmful to the body or the mind is much better?”
Li Qingshan shook his head. “I’d rather go without joys like that.”
Hua Chengzan smiled. “Everyone is drunk, so why must you be the only one sober?”
Li Qingshan looked into Hua Chengzan’s clear pupils and asked, “Are you drunk?” He did not feel like Hua Chengzan was one to wallow in these kinds of things.
Hua Chengzan blinked his eyes. “Haven’t you ever heard of sobering up with alcohol?”
The two of them smiled at each other.
Wu Gen said impatiently, “Just what riddles are you throwing at each other?”
The surroundings suddenly quietened. They had already arrived at the very top of the Parlour of Clouds and Rain. The stars twinkled overhead, while the surroundings were now a garden. Tall bamboo grew in verdant clumps, with both fake mountains and ponds present in the surroundings. As a matter of fact, there was even a small, gurgling stream. It was impossible to imagine that this was on the top of a tall building. The sound of traditional instruments rang out from a few pavilions in the distance.
They walked along a small path and ran into a half-drunk, middle-aged man who was supported by a gorgeous woman. Both of them were Qi Practitioners, while the man was actually at the tenth layer. His green robes were wrinkled, and he had his hand on the woman’s perky bottom. Even his beard struggled to make him seem even the slightest bit more dignified.
The middle-aged man saw Hua Chengzan and moved away from the woman in a hurry. He tidied up his clothes and put on a gentleman’s act. “S- so it’s commander Hua.”
Hua Chengzan smiled. “What are you doing here, sir?”
The middle-aged man coughed gently. “Collecting material, collecting material.”
The woman rubbed his chest. “Didn’t you say you’d make me feel good once in bed?”
The middle-aged man refuted awkwardly, “Stop talking nonsense.” The woman only smiled, clearly completely unafraid of him. She even tossed a few flirtatious glances at Hua Chengzan.
Wu Gen sniggered, while Hua Chengzan stepped aside to give way. “You can go first, sir. Let’s not delay your proper business.”
Wu Gen said disdainfully, “Shameless degenerate.”
The middle-aged man left in a disheveled manner. Li Qingshan asked curiously, “Who is he?” He had seen quite a few powerful Qi Practitioners before. Whether they were enemies or friends, they all had quite the bearing about them, unlike how unsightly that man was.