# 160. Xu Qi’an’s Diary The day after, rest day. Xu Qi’an and the others woke up late, stretched comfortably, and all had breakfast in their rooms, before gathering in the outside hall in twos and threes. Last night Jiang Lyuzhong had slept with a well-rounded oiran, and this morning he treated Xu Qi’an as if he was his own son. It was important to know that during drinking games, the oirans would usually look down upon martial artists, and Jiang Lyuzhong was a gold gong of the Nightwatchers, he could hardly have drank with merchants and foot-soldiers. Furthermore, the Jiaofangsi was the territory of the Ministry of Rites, a department that the Nightwatchers never got along with, thus they could not really forcefully sleep with any of the oirans. Therefore, the higher up one was in the Nightwatchers, the less they liked going to the Jiaofangsi, preferring to lounge around in brothels elsewhere. “No wonder outside they all say you are a player of oirans,” Jiang Lyuzhong patted Xu Qi’an on the shoulder, a wide smile on his face. *Player of Oirans? Since when did I get such a strange nickname?* Xu Qi’an replied blankly, “Huh?” “The story of nine women fighting over one man has spread far in the Capital.” Jiang Lyuzhong said. *My image has been slandered… though… player of oirans it is, better than being called a freeloader.* Xu Qi’an remembered that night when he was hunting Yao, being the guest of nine oirans. At this time, Li Yuchun came out, his spirit and vigour full. “Boss, how was your sleep?” Song Tingfeng came over. Li Yuchun nodded slightly, “Not bad, it was a little bit noisy.” Xu Qi’an lampooned: *And I expected you to say: the rhythm of beds creaking wasn’t in sync.* When Fuxiang awoke, that damned man without a single shred of care had already left. She rose, clutching her duvet around her, and yawned lazily, before bathing under the help of her maids. “Miss Mingyan sent a message earlier, inviting Madam to lunch.” *There’s never a free lunch without a scheme…* Fuxiang thought, replying lightly “Alright.” After drying her pale, slender body, she put on a light white dress, threw on her fox fur coat, and sat in the warm bedroom reading books, waiting until lunchtime. … Azure Pond Courtyard, Oiran Mingyan sat in the main hall, orchestrating a feast. She had invited six or seven other oirans, Fuxiang among them. Of various shapes and sizes, each with their own allure. For it wasn’t always the prettiest who became oirans, but if one were pretty and extremely talented, then the path to oiran status was all but inevitable. “I heard that Master Xu had written a poem in the imperial city, criticising the Minister of Law Minister Sun, would my sisters like to have a listen?” Fuxiang sipped wine, and threw out the gossip she had heard last night. “Master Xu has written another poem?” Several oirans immediately became interested. Oiran Xiaoya, who happened to also be at the table last night, took over this train of conversation, and exclaimed with a face full of smiles and adoration: “Not only is Xu Qi’an’s talent unparalleled, he also has a fearless attitude, attacking Minster Sun’s pride to his face in the middle of the imperial city.” “Not just his pride, when this poem gets out, Minister Sun’s name will likely be…” That conversation ended there. Talking wildly about important civil servants under the roof of a state business, could be met with consequences big or small, and after all their sister-sister relationship was plastic anyway, there was no way they could absolutely trust one another. Thus the topic of conversation moved onto Xu Qi’an himself. Most of the oirans there craved Xu Qi’an’s poetic talent, as for his body, no one but Fuxiang knew. “Sister Fuxiang, then how is Master Xu’s … performance at night?” The oirans all started tittering. Fuxiang frowned, if she would say “That damned man might as well be a beast of burden” that wouldn’t be appropriate. If she really said that, then these group of contemptible wretches would have it spread to the whole capital by dusk, and then her reputation will be ruined. After thinking for a moment, Fuxiang had a sudden flash of inspiration. With her chopsticks she picked up a leafy green from the plate, and then picked out seven fish bones from the smoked fish, placing them on top of the leaf. After doing this, she smiled sweetly. … *29 December. I’ve not written in this diary for a long time. My previous diary I’ve already burned, I can’t help that I’m not an upstanding individual. Mn, today ~~Yuanjing~~ I’m already calling him His Majesty, can’t leave evidence of obvious disrespect, even if I’ll burn this in a few days.* *His Majesty has pardoned my death penalty, I heard that the Minister of Rites committed suicide in the Ministry of Law’s prison, heh, this is ideal for everyone. Prime Minister Wang was rather generous however, he managed to get the family’s sentences commuted from execution to exile, they weren’t subject to three familial executions. I asked Wei Yuan why not strike whilst they’re down, and Wei Yuan said to destroy a house was not the gentlemanly way.* *~~You don’t even have a cock what are you talking about gentlemanly~~ Wei Yuan is a decent guy.* *30 December. Today I went to the academy to see Xinnian, he said a lot, but the gist of it goes: these bastard professors, today a policy exam, tomorrow a poetry exam, the day after a classics exam, if you’re not being examined someone else is, is there no fucking end?* *It seems that the pressure of study is really large, even Erlang can barely stand it. It feels as if he’s in the same situation I was in in the latter half of twelfth grade…[^1] let’s not think of that, dark times, dark times. Exams every day, is there no fucking end.* *31 December. I feel that Fuxiang is getting even more considerate and gentle with me, is is the often spoken about familiarity breeds fondness? Nono, I need to leave her out to dry for a few days, I’ll switch oirans tomorrow.* *1 January. Mingyan is amazing, the pliability of a dancer is great, any position you can think of she can do, it’s hard to resist.* *She was also very satisfied with my performance, since she said: “Only after serving Master Xu did your servant realise that her kneecaps can touch her shoulders.”* *2 January. Today I started writing a novel, since I promised Linyue I’d write a really interesting novel for her to read. I name my first novel* Sky of Fate, *I remember the opening went: ~~A small soldier’s middle school results weren’t ideal~~ long ago there were a couple, childhood sweethearts…* *3 January. Today I went sailing with Biaobiao, this princess is prideful, crafty and headstrong, but very easy to talk into things. She isn’t very scheming, and trusts me a lot, I’ve successfully asked over a famous painting worth twenty taels of gold, and gave it immediately to Daddy Wei.* *4 January. Today I chatted with Huaiqing, and talked about the effects of the Sangpo Case and the power balance of Court. She then invited me to spar, she’s somehow at the peak of Refining Vitality… I think I’ve discovered something. Everyone knows that Refining Vitality forbids losing one’s virginity, this is the same for both genders.* *Mm, I’m not talking about the fact that Huaiqing is still a virgin, a princess who hasn’t married is obviously still a virgin. What I want to say is, with her natural skill and talent she shouldn’t be stuck at Refining Vitality. Perhaps it’s deliberate, to be able to not marry. I can see this princess’s ambition, if she was born in my era, then she would definitely become a domineering CEO.* *January 5. After hearing that I sought after the eldest princess, Biaobiao was as angry as if her boyfriend had put a green hat on her[^2], calling me a running dog, forgetting gratitude, forgetting that just earlier she had given me a famous paiting. I said that the eldest princess rewarded me 200 taels of white silver, and as soon as she heard that, she upped that amount! What a far-sighted individual. I didn’t take advantage of her though, I made her a shuttlecock, something you can’t get in the palace, she loved playing with it, and played with me until dusk. What an unproductive day.* *6 January. I took Xu Lingyin and Chu Caiwei to Guiyuelou for food. Two terrifying women, they ate over five taels of silver! I feel scammed. After interacting with her for this time, I think i’ve discovered some worrying news; Chu Caiwei is eighteen this year, yet she doesn’t seem to be developed in the romance department, her emotional reactions are quite sluggish. If I tease her her face will go red, but she’ll forget it the next minute.* *Maybe I’m not handsome enough, or maybe she’s still too innocent to understand. I feel like it’s the latter, since after all I’ve not seen anyone more handsome than me. Nangong Qianrou and Erlang are both pretty, but not handsome.* *Ah, I need to continue trying. Past experience says that if I had gotten Chu Caiwei into bed earlier, we wouldn’t have had this whole issue in the first place. After all in this day and age, someone who can support you once is a friend, and someone who can support you a lot is a girlfriend.* *Of course, getting in the princesses’ beds is the same idea, but the repercussions of that are too large. Princess Huaiqing’s status is too tall, and is probably too difficult. Biaobiao is probably worth a try, but what would the consequences be? Three familial executions?* *After all with the norms of this era, this wouldn’t be seen as “what’s done is done”, I’d be seen as the princess’s gigolo, I won’t get any human rights.* *7 January. Old baldie Hengyuan came over to find me, asking to borrow some money… I really want to take back the words “if you have any difficulty come find me”. You’ll return it? Bullshit, what money does a lowly monk living in a welfare home have to return me, aiya… whatever, we’ll treat it as charity. Right, during this time, the state of court politics has gotten ever more dangerous, interparty conflict is like a wildfire, ~~perhaps this is exactly what Yuanjing~~ perhaps His Majesty is perfectly satisfied with this situation.* *8 January. Xu Qi’an oh Xu Qi’an, you’re nearly at the peak of Refining Qi. With such a good aptitude, you shouldn’t get yourself lost in sex and women, make more time for cultivation! This statement will be my proof, from today, I shall not go out with the two princesses, I shall not go out with Chu Caiwei, nor Lingyue, I shall not go to the Jiaofangsi to sleep oirans. if I disobey this pact, then death will be my punishment.* *9 January. Goulan, listening to music.*[^3] … One morning, Xu Qi’an was summoned to the Divine Spear Hall by Gold Gong Yang Yan. The stiff-faced statue like Yang Yan immediately got to the point: “Father has intention of promoting you to Silver Gong.” *Duke Wei wants to promote me to silver gong?* Xu Qi’an did a double take, before the happiness of promotions and raises, of moving up in life and enjoying newfound riches filled him from head to toe. Firstly, Silver Gongs’ monthly salary was ten taels of silver, not counting under-the-table revenue. In the future even if they bought a house in the inner city, Xu Qi’an and Second Uncle could still easily maintain the household. Secondly, the influence of a Silver Gong was significant, not only did they have Bronze Gongs who answered directly to them, but their position was far more stable, since even Gold Gongs could not just easily fire a Silver Gong. Finally, Silver Gongs were responsible for patrolling around the imperial city. This meant that in the future Xu Qi’an could enter and exit the imperial city at will, and it would be easier to see Lin’an and Huaiqing in the future. This benefitted his intention to cultivate better relations, and hug bigger legs. “We must wait until the Official Evaluation.” Yang Yan said, “the Nightwatchers also have official evaluation, father will personally audit the Nightwatchers, and promotions and demotions all happen during this period. I’m just informing you in advance.” Xu Qi’an’s first thought was: buy a house! Returning home after work, and finishing dinner, Xu Qi’an put down his chopsticks, and cleared his throat: “I have something to announce.” His family looked over, all save Xu Lingyin, who was in her own world, eagerly attacking a chicken leg. “After the official evaluation, I’ll become a Silver Gong. Of course this is not the important part, what’s important is that I plan to buy a house in the inner city.” The eyes of Auntie and Xu Lingyue flashed brightly, their excitement far past Uncle Xu and the ignorant Xu Lingyin. After all, the inner city was far safer than out here, daylight robbery and assault was far, far less of a sight. Not because the quality of the constabularies were better, rather that most would-be criminals would have second thoughts. Furthermore the stores in the outer city were nothing compared to inside, both food and consumer goods were on a higher tier. In the night, Xu Qi’an lay on his bed, letting his mind wander. *The reason I’m able to get a promotion and raise, is not just because of the merit in the Sangpo case and Princess Pingyang case, but also because my flattery worked. Wei Yuan liked the painting Biaobiao gave me a lot. Seeing me be such a good subordinate, he must have intention to nurture me.* *So, even if my abilities are extraordinary, and with support from the top boss, I still need to carry myself well. Tomorrow I’ll go to the estate agents to get a list of possible houses, and look through them one by one. Currently I still have over 7400 silver, I should be able to buy a three-tier house.* As he thought, he slowly drifted to sleep. --- [^1]: Upper third, or twelfth grade, is also the final year of secondary education in China, where students study for the notorious Gaokao. [^2]: Wearing a green hat: your partner is cheating on you [^3]: Back at the brothel again.