Fanfiction: Ink in Water - Chapter 6 (Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms 三生三世十里桃花)

Chapter 6. A hunger that cannot be quelled

written by Bunny
consulting by LigayaCroft and Le
editing by Le and kakashi

Bai Qian couldn’t figure out what was happening. After being kissed by that caveman, her brain seemed to have congealed into a block of silken tofu.

She had been decidedly dragged out of that courtyard, out of Fenyi Palace and out onto the bustling streets of town by a certain master whose grip was like an iron shackle on her wrist, pulling her along at a determined pace. But why?

Did Shifu suddenly decide to take me out on a midnight stroll? Is he feeling sorry for me? Shouldn’t he be letting me mourn my girlhood innocence on my own?

If this were any other time, she would have had no qualms about it, except that right now, this was really bad timing. The situation was terribly inconvenient.

She really needed to pee.


The noisy street completely drowned out her voice.

She tried to give her wrist a few shakes to get his attention, but he did not react.

“SHIFU!” She shouted and screeched to a halt.

He finally turned around and looked at her with that familiar chilly expression for a moment before asking, “What is it?”

“I-I… I need to…” Bai Qian stuttered, her face turning all shades of hot.

She really felt like dying. How the heck am I supposed to say it out loud?!?!

Her teeth gnashed together as she darted her eyes back and forth until they landed on a row of red lanterns, strung across an awning off to the side. It seemed they had stopped right in front of what looked like a restaurant. Many people were coming and going, and the sign on the front door spelled ‘Hóng Fēn Lóu’ (紅粉楼)[1] in big gold letters. The name was a little strange for a restaurant, but what else could it be?

Throwing away all sense of pride, she clamped her eyes shut and swung her wrist down forcefully, breaking free from Moyuan’s clasp.


After alerting the entire street of her current dilemma, Bai Qian dashed away like her heels had been lit on fire, heading straight for the doors. On her way, she thought she had heard a few words shouted out after her but couldn’t be sure… Did he say something about a broth? Silly Shifu, I didn’t drink any broth… I drank tea!

“I’ll be right back!” she yelled, tossing her head over her shoulders for a quick glance at the unbudging figure she had left behind. His face had darkened like the bottom of a burnt pot, but Bai Qian couldn’t be bothered with it at this time.

As soon as she stepped foot inside, a strong scent of powder and rouge slammed against her nose, making her face scrunch up in dissatisfaction. This tri-level restaurant was filled to the brim with people. The melodic sound of the qin filled the air, mixing in with loud drunken laughter. It was a lively scene.

Bai Qian had no time to dilly-dally and quickly squeezed her way through, eventually spotting a path to the outhouse.

She went in, did her business, and came back out.

Feeling ten pounds lighter, she weaved her way through the restaurant a second time at a more leisurely pace, letting her eyes wander.

The entire space was decorated top to bottom in vibrant shades of pink and red. There were many beautiful women walking around dressed in colorful gowns. Several groups of them sat at the tables with some men, where they took turns feeding them food and wine. Bai Qian figured that these must be the waitresses of this restaurant, but for some reason, they were all very affectionate with their guests and were not shy at all about touching and feeling them… The sight of it made Bai Qian’s skin crawl.

Not wanting to see any more of this scene, she picked up her pace and made a beeline for the door. Because she was walking with one eye open and the other closed, so as to avoid looking at the spectacle around her, Bai Qian’s foot soon tripped over a wine bottle that had been rolling around on the ground.

Her ankle twisted. She stumbled forward. Her arms swung in the air trying to grasp onto something, anything, to break her fall and they soon landed on a pair of…

Meat buns? Where did these come from?!

“KYAHH~” a voice yelled out.

Bai Qian’s eyes flew open. Her body was pressed up against a woman dressed in pink, who was currently staring up at her with cheeks the same color as her dress.

“Mister~ You’re so shameless!” The woman squirmed and squealed but looked at Bai Qian with a coy expression. She then flickered her gaze down toward her heaving chest and back up again, as though gesturing for Bai Qian to look as well. So she did.

“AHHH!” Bai Qian’s hands which were residing on the woman’s meat buns flew off so fast, she almost fell backwards, but the woman immediately clung to her arm and pulled her forward.

“Aiya~ Little Peony here is willing to let you touch, but we have to get a room first…” She cooed, pressing her body closer. “You don’t have to be so bold~”

“Ho ho…” Bai Qian didn’t like the sound of that in the slightest. “N-No, thank you!”

She tried to wrestle her arm away, but this Little Peony flower would not budge. Soon, a few more women came and gathered around. They were all making the same curious face, scanning Bai Qian up and down.

“Who is this? Aiya~ He’s so handsome…” said a woman in yellow who had latched onto Bai Qian’s other arm. “You should come with Little Chrysanthemum instead, I’ll show you a better time…”

“No way! This one already belongs to Little Peony!” Little Peony squeezed Bai Qian’s arm tighter and glared at the other woman.

Who belongs to whom? Can one of you say something that actually makes sense?!

Bai Qian suddenly felt dizzy. Her arms were about to be torn off. She had had enough. With a bit of sheer force, she shook herself free, knocking the two women to the ground. Her feet made a dash toward the door, but just as she was about to exit, a hand grabbed onto her shoulder, forcefully yanking her back.

“Aiyo~ This mister, you think Hóng Fēn Lóu is a place where you can just come and go as you please? Fu Mama [2] here still has to run a business you know…” said a shrill voice.

Bai Qian was pulled around until she came face to face with an aunty whose scowling face was caked with a layer of rouge.

“Look at what you did to my two precious flowers, they won’t be able to service any guests tonight if they look like that! Are you trying to make me lose money?!” Fu Mama held a fan in her hand and aimed it at the two women across the room. Little Peony and Little Chrysanthemum were still sitting disheveled on the ground wearing wronged looks on their faces. “You can’t just come in here and harass people. How are you going to compensate me for this?”

Her stream of words hit Bai Qian like a bolt of lightning. This scenario was too similar to what she had read about in her mortal plays...

Is this what they call... a ‘brothel’?

They were described as establishments where women were bought and sold into so that they could ‘service guests’. Although Bai Qian wasn’t quite sure what that term meant, she never liked the way it sounded. And of course in every brothel, there was one of these… a Mama who was not only greedy, but vicious!

Bai Qian’s eyes turned fiery as she glared back at Fu Mama.

“Listen, you little rascal… Are you going to pay up or no?” Fu Mama tightened her grip, nearly breaking off a piece of Bai Qian’s shoulder.

“No! Not paying!” she hollered. You’re a bad person!

It seemed that her only way out was to fight. Bai Qian summoned the Jade Purity Fan in her hand and sent Fu Mama rolling to the ground with one wave. Wasting no time, she sprinted toward the door.

Fu Mama’s ear-piercing cries rang out from behind, “DON’T LET THAT BRAT ESCAPE!”

Suddenly, two large men stepped out in front of Bai Qian and slammed the doors shut. Their mammoth arms lunged forth to grab onto her but before they could make contact, their target had transformed into a fox. Both men dove head first to the ground, attempting to snatch her by her tails, but Bai Qian’s little furry body slipped easily from their grasps.

With nimble movements, Bai Qian jumped onto one of their backs and catapulted herself onto a nearby table. Her claws caught onto the table cloth, sending platters of steaming hot food and bottles of cheap wine to the ground as she scurried away. Fu Mama’s henchmen continued their pursuit as Bai Qian fiercely leapt from one table surface to the next.

In the midst of their chase, many more tables and chairs were knocked over. The scene in the main hall soon turned topsy-turvy as linens flew in the air and the shattering of broken ceramic plates were drowned out by the hordes of squealing women and angry, shouting men. All the guests had jumped out of their seats; some were running for the door, while others had broken out in fights that were causing food and objects to fly in all directions.

Within the chaos, a little white fox running loose in the crowd had become undetectable. Bai Qian scampered up a flight of stairs without anyone noticing.

“DAMN FOX! I will skin you alive!!!” Fu Mama’s roar resounded through the open space.

Bai Qian, who now stood at the second-level balcony, looked down and shook her head at the villainous bunch below. Hmph! Try and catch me first! She tossed her nine tails in the air and turned to walk down the wrap-around corridor.

This second level was made up entirely of private rooms. Passing by each one, Bai Qian couldn’t resist observing the shadows illuminated on the paper panels. In one room, she saw the shapes of a few women swaying back and forth in a dance, accompanied by the sound of the pipa. In another, there were shadows of people huddled together, giggling and laughing loudly. This must be what ‘servicing guests’ means… It doesn’t seem so bad…

The most peculiar room, had a strange figure that didn’t quite look like anything she recognized. There were two heads sticking out of a large body… Could it be a demon? It kept moving up and down in a vicious, rhythmic fashion, all the while producing grunting noises that made Bai Qian shudder.

She was deep in confusion about this particular demon, when a rush of footsteps came from the stairs behind her. Fu Mama’s people were catching up. Realizing it would be more of a challenge to escape them on this second floor, Bai Qian and figured her best option was to sneak into one of these rooms. But which one? Definitely not the one with the demon in it!

Two screens over to the right was the room with the least noise. She pushed on the door and carefully slipped in.

The room, which appeared to be a bed chamber, was empty. She ran toward a nook on the far side of the room and hid behind a curtain. As expected, one of Fu Mama’s henchmen poked his head in right after. But, on finding nothing, he closed the door and left. Bai Qian breathed a sigh of relief. Good thing they’re more brawn than brains.

She crept out from the curtains and looked around. Seeing that there were several racks of women’s clothing and accessories strewn about in the room, Bai Qian surmised that this chamber belonged to one of the women who worked here.

This sparked an idea.

Bai Qian reverted back to her human form in an instant and began stripping off her clothes. I’ll dress up like one of them and walk on out of here! It was a foolproof plan.

With her ears on alert for the sound of intruders, her hands moved feverishly to sort through the gowns on display. They were all made out of thin and transparent materials. Don’t these women get cold?

Frustrated with her choices, she hastily decided on one that was a glaring shade of red, perfectly matching the brothel’s interior. This way, I’ll blend into the background! Bai Qian really felt that she was becoming quite ingenious with her plans and had to give herself a mental pat on the back. It must be because I have such a capable teacher...

Suddenly, the thoughts of a certain teacher who had been left standing outside this whole time, flew into her mind. Oh… I wonder where Shifu is? Is he still waiting for me? Thinking about her actions earlier, she was flushed with embarrassment and had to quickly dismiss the thought of him altogether. Don’t worry Shifu, I’m coming!

After slipping on the gown, Bai Qian let down her hair and threw half of it up into a twist. She dug through the drawers on the nearby table for some hair accessories before stumbling on an ornate box that contained a gold hairpin with a single large pearl at one end. It was beautiful, but wasn’t flashy enough. Being resourceful, she reached over for a large peony in the flower vase nearby and stuck it on top of her head, pinning it in place with the hairpin. Perfect!

After applying some rouge to her cheeks and lips, Bai Qian took a peek at herself through the copper mirror on the table. She was a little startled by her own reflection. Her current appearance was simply too different from the male disguise she had been donning for the past century.

This isn’t the time to gawk at yourself! Bai Qian shot up from her seat.

Not paying attention, she almost knocked over a tray on the table containing a bowl of chilled soup. It had been sitting there this whole time. Picking it up, she could smell the sweet aroma ascending from it. Her stomach started to grumble. It had been several hours since dinner and all that running around had made her hungry again.

Not one to let food go to waste, Bai Qian lifted the bowl and chugged it in one go, all the while cursing Fu Mama in her head. Hmph! Wanna chase me around huh? Don’t blame me for stealing your food!

After setting it down, Bai Qian wiped her lips clean and grinned with satisfaction. Just as she was about to turn on her heels and leave, several shadows came rushing by the door.

Once again, Bai Qian made a dash for the curtain.

Peeking through a small tear in the fabric, Bai Qian waited and watched as two women entered the room. They were both giggling wildly, one dressed in pink and the other in yellow. Isn’t that Little Peony and Little Chrysanthemum?

“Mei-mei [3], did you see Fu Mama’s face? She looked like a demon just now! I’ve never seen her so mad!”

“That old hag, this is what she gets for bullying us all these years! I have to thank that fox next time I see him!”

The two of them went over to the vanity table and sat down on the bench together.

“Oh, Jie-jie [4], I want to show you something.” Little Peony reached for the drawer that contained her accessories. She took out the ornate box that Bai Qian had found earlier. After opening it up and seeing that it was empty, she let out a loud gasp.

“The pearl hairpin! I found it just yesterday and hid it in here, where did it go?! Somebody must have taken it!”

“Mei-Mei, what are you talking about? What hairpin?” Little Chrysanthemum asked. “Is it that big of a deal? You have so many of them already…”

“No! You don’t understand! Last night I snuck into… the locked chamber…” Little Peony looked away with a guilty expression on her face.

Little Chrysanthemum became as pale as a handkerchief. “You did what?! But how…? Nobody’s allowed in there…”

“I was curious… When I went in, I found so many beautiful things! It must be where Fu Mama keeps all her treasures! Besides, I only took one hairpin… It’s probably not worth anything, anyway. Do you think Fu Mama found out and took it back? Oh no! Am I in trouble now?!”

“Mei-mei, you haven’t heard the story behind that room, have you? It belongs to Lady Chen Rong, who disappeared over 100,000 years ago. Fu Mama had her chamber sealed after that. She specifically told all of us never to enter.”

“Who is Lady Chen Rong?”

“Someone who used to work here… A famed beauty… back when Hóng Fēn Lóu first opened and Fenyi Kingdom was just being established. Her reputation was such that men from all six realms had traveled far and wide just to come for a look at her!”

“A person like that existed?”

“Yes, and when you look that good, apparently you don’t have to do much… Unlike the rest of us, she only had to sell her musical talent at the time. Men were falling at her feet left and right. Marriage offers piled up, but she never accepted a single one!”

“A woman of Hóng Fēn Lóu was courted for marriage? That’s unheard of!”

“Exactly… Any of us would jump at the opportunity, but Lady Chen Rong turned them all away. Except for one. She fell in love with one man… He came here as a guest, a general in the Kingdom’s army back then, who had a wife and multiple concubines… But despite all this, he became infatuated with her and abandoned everything to be with her. Their affair was so passionate that there were few people in the Kingdom who didn’t know about it.”

“So did he take her as his concubine?”

“No, she refused that offer too. So, he just kept coming here to stay with her for long periods of time, then he would leave. From what Fu Mama has told me, Lady Chen Rong would go mad with jealous rage each time that he left, but each time he returned, they were inseparable. Until one day, the general disappeared.”

“He disappeared?!”

“Yes… and Lady Chen Rong, she too disappeared.”

“What happened to her?”

“Nobody knows… they eventually found the general’s dead body months later in a cave at the base of Mount Qinyao, but Lady Chen Rong was never seen again…”

Little Peony squirmed in her seat. “Aiya jie-jie! That story is giving me the chills… Maybe it’s a good thing I lost that hairpin after all! That Lady Chen Rong is probably dead, I certainly don’t want her coming back to haunt me for it!”

Bai Qian, who had been engrossed in listening to the story, was hiding in the corner, her hair also standing on end. What am I doing wearing the dead lady’s hairpin?!

Bang! Bang! There was knocking on the door.

“Girls! Little Chrysanthemum, Little Peony! Get out here!” Fu Mama’s voice came bellowing through. The two flowers in the room both rose from their seats and went to the door. After exchanging a few words with Fu Mama, they left the room.

Bai Qian waited to see if they would return, and sensing no sound after a while, she emerged from her hiding spot. Having wasted enough time, she made up her mind to leave.

With careful, measured movements, Bai Qian exited the room and slid out onto the vacant hallway. As soon as she took her first step, she began to feel a surging warmth arising from her belly. It moved all the way up her chest and into her throat, a scratchy burning sensation, radiating to all her extremities. She was even starting to sweat and had to loosen up the collar of her gown. What is this? Do I have a fever?

“Mei-mei?” said a voice from behind.

Bai Qian froze. She opened up the Jade Purity Fan in her hand and held it up to cover half her face before slowly turning her head around.

Little Chrysanthemum?

A woman in yellow was taking brisk steps toward Bai Qian, holding onto a tray with a bowl of soup in it.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen you before… Are you new here?” she asked.

Bai Qian smiled and eagerly nodded her head. Little Chrysanthemum eyed her with a hint of suspicion before returning a smile.

“Are you alright, mei-mei? Why are you covering your face?”

“Ah… I have a cold!” Bai Qian let out a few coughs. “I don’t want to give it to you…”

Little Chrysanthemum returned a sympathetic look. “What are you doing, wandering around? Shouldn’t you be in bed? Don’t tell me you have to service a guest tonight…”

That sounds reasonable enough. Again, Bai Qian eagerly nodded her head.

“Oh, you poor thing! That Fu Mama is really a slave driver! Do you know which room you’re supposed to be in? Are you lost?”

“No! Um… I’m going this way…” Bai Qian quickly motioned to one of the rooms down the hall and pretended to head in that direction. She was about to walk past Little Chrysanthemum when the latter’s hand reached out to stop her.

“Wait! Just a minute!” Little Chrysanthemum stared straight at her. Bai Qian stiffened. Those probing eyes were moving closer and closer until they were mere inches from Bai Qian’s face. “You’re just a little girl… Could it be, this your first time?”

First time? First time for what? Oh, who cares?! Just play along, Bai Qian!

Bai Qian bobbed her head up and down. Little Chrysanthemum suddenly took on a pained expression and handed her the bowl of soup in the tray, which looked just like the sweet soup that Bai Qian drank not too long ago.

“Here, take this and drink it. This will at least allow you to have some pleasure… In this kind of profession, we have to rely on these methods. Don’t worry, you’ll quickly get used to it, mei-mei.”

Eh? What methods?

“Ok… Thank you jie-jie…. Heh heh… I’ll be on my way now!” Bai Qian took the bowl of soup and quickly scurried along.

Since she was still sweating like a pig, the cool bowl of soup in her hand looked more than refreshing. She decided to take another chug for relief. Turning her head around, she saw that Little Chrysanthemum was still watching her retreating figure, so she held up the empty bowl and threw her a big smile.

Little Chrysanthemum had an even sadder look on her face than before and made a gesture with her hand, motioning for Bai Qian to enter the room she was now standing in front of. Seriously? Do I really have to? Can’t you just go away?!

She really did not have any intention of entering any of these rooms. Since it’s come to this, I’ll just dance around a little and get out of here. Servicing a guest can’t be that hard… Gritting her teeth together, Bai Qian continued to smile and pushed the door in.

As soon as she entered, three words flashed in her mind: I’m done for.

The sound that she had heard earlier, the moaning and grunting kind that the two-headed demon was making, it was in this very room! She held her breath and stood motionless with her back pressed up against the door.

Right in front of her was a silk screen divider that hid the rest of the room from view, but through the silk she could see a shadow. It was clearly one body and two heads!

Bai Qian slid down to a crouching position and tried to rack her brain for her next move, but all her thoughts were scattered and a heavy fog settled in her mind. The scorching heat inside her had grown exponentially, taking over her senses. All she felt like doing was tearing off her clothes and couldn’t stop her hands from moving to untie the sash around her waist.

Just as she was about to pull it loose, a distinct chill swept through the room.

The air rippled and a body appeared beside her.

She stared at him with eyes rounder than the moon.

The number of facial expressions Moyuan had, Bai Qian could count on one hand. But right now, he was looking straight at her with an entirely new one. She couldn’t possibly begin to describe it, not even if she had 10,000 words.

His eyes flickered over her from top to bottom, and instantly darkened.

In a flash, he conjured a robe, kneeled down and threw it over her, wrapping her body up like a dumpling.

She couldn’t stand it. The heat in her core raged like a wildfire, leaving her breath jagged. Then, a foreign sensation erupted in her nether regions, filling her with an intense hunger for something that she could neither describe nor understand. Her eyes stayed glued to his face and somewhere in the back of her mind, Bai Qian thought she could hear the sound of something shattering… a thing called ‘reason’.

Blood streamed out of her nose.

All rational thoughts fizzled away.

She took her arms and threw off the robe he had placed on her. Leaping forward, her hands reached for his chest, clawing their way through his robe and pulling it apart.

Moyuan’s face was marked with intense confusion as he tried to grab for her hands to stop her, but like a ravenous puppy, Bai Qian did not slow down.

All of her latent energy surged forward at once and she successfully forced him to the ground. Her face dug against the nook of his neck, but before her lips could make contact with his skin, her head was jerked back and clamped tight in the palms of his hands.

His eyes which were now locked on her, contained a certain rage that momentarily stilled her, long enough for him to snatch up her wrist and probe for a pulse.

Bai Qian watched as his eyebrows scrunched together, then fell apart, and a heavy frown took over his lips. She had never seen her master get angry before, but had a sneaking suspicion that this expression was exactly that.

“KYAAAAAAHHHHH!” A screeching squeal broke the silence in the room.

Followed by a deep booming voice, “Which damn bastard turtle’s grandson is disrupting my fun?!”

A pair of master and disciple, who were currently lying one on top of the other on the floor, turned toward the voices.

The silk screen which shielded one side of the room from the other had been knocked down in the midst of their tumble just now. Revealing a scene, which shall not be described, involving a naked man and a naked woman, also lying one on top of the other on the bed.

That’s not a demon...

As she stared with eyes stretched, more blood came spurting out of Bai Qian’s nose, dripping profusely down to her chin.

What are they doing?!

Her eyes narrowed into slits.

Why is there a turtle between that man’s legs...?

Her head whipped back down to Moyuan who was currently pressed under her. Isn’t this position a little too similar?
She was brimming with a million questions, but dared not speak them. His expression had become thunderous at this point. Moyuan immediately brought their bodies back to sitting position. With a wave of his hand, the pair of mandarin ducks [5] on the bed fell over unconscious.

Bai Qian could still feel the unbearable aching heat in her body, but with his penetrating gaze on her, she couldn’t move a muscle.

Taking his sleeve, Moyuan gently dabbed off the blood that had run down her nose and chin, before moving his hand over her forehead. Bai Qian could feel a bit of his energy flow into her. It cleared up the fog in her mind, allowing for a healthy stream of shame and guilt to pour back into her consciousness.

She felt dizzy from it. Which bear’s gall did I manage to eat just now?

She lowered her head and avoided Moyuan’s eyes, only to catch sight of the mess she had made of his robe. The lapels of the outer layer was haphazardly hanging loose, while the layer beneath it had been pulled apart enough to reveal a good portion of his chest.

Another trickle of blood came running down Bai Qian’s nose. Moyuan let out a long sigh.

“Seventeenth…” He lifted her chin between his fingers.


“Why did you come in here dressed like that?”

“Oh... I was I going to service a guest.”

She had given him an earnest answer, and couldn’t understand why her master’s eyes had taken on an even more sinister shade of black.

Is Shifu mad at me again?

Chapter 7

End Notes:

[1] Hóng Fēn Lóu (紅粉楼) - Hóng = red, Fēn = fragrant (Hóng Fēn = blush), Lóu = multi-story building

[2] Mama - A form of address for the owner/boss lady of brothels.

[3] Mei-mei - Term of endearment for younger sister figures.

[4] Jie-jie - Term of endearment for older sister figures.

[5] Mandarin ducks - Symbolism for romance, marriage, and couples in Chinese culture.