Soon after, Hua Xiangrong’s dance was finished as the music came to an end. The girl stood at the center of the stage motionlessly. The moonlight shone on her, giving her a dreamy and ethereal air.
The surroundings remained quiet.
Then, someone broke the silence with a whoop, and overwhelming cheers, cries, howls, and exclamations instantly broke out like mad and drowned out all the other sounds on the entire Liufang Street of the Musical House.
Some faces of those in the audience were a little distorted due to their extreme exhilaration and amazement. Some were yelling and screaming without realizing what they were doing or what they were shouting about. They simply felt only loud cries could express their feelings after enjoying such an otherworldly dance on this fervent occasion.
The entire Liufang Street was boiling with excitement.
The distinguished guests sitting at the front row before the main stage were as well. And in the best private rooms of the restaurants in the vicinity, almost all the officials, rich merchants, and experts in martial arts were bending over the windows facing the stage. Their breathing was fast, their eyes were shimmering with surprise, desire for possession, zeal for the dance, and all kinds of other mixed emotions.
No man was not touched by that girl in the white dress on stage.
No woman was not envious of that girl in the white dress on stage.
All the practitioners, no matter how hard they worked to free themselves from mundane desires and emotions, found it hard to control their feelings right now. Their breath had been taken away by that fairy-like girl on stage, whose beauty they believed should not belong to the mortal world.
Such a girl was supposed to stay in heaven; how many times could she be seen on Earth?
Scores of men had already fallen in love with the girl. They were dying to hold her in their arms, to watch her laugh and cry in front of them, and to possess every single part of her.
However, at the thought of that man with unparalleled gifts in poetry and martial arts who was behind the girl, most of them got cold feet.
“He is not someone we can mess with.”
“That guy named Li Mu is basically a defiant Killing God.”
“He dares to kill anyone who stands in his way!”
But of course, some of them refused to give up so soon. They were wondering if they could have this famous prostitute through other means. After all, power, wealth, alcohol, and sex were things that could drive people mad since ancient times.
Hua Xiangrong’s performance had struck many men’s heartstrings, including the empire’s second prince, who was watching the event from the best private room on the second floor of the Moon-hugging House.
He suddenly rose to his feet the moment Hua Xiangrong completed the dance. His eyes, which were fixed upon Hua Xiangrong, were exuding a rare hint of possessiveness. In an instant, he was even gripped by an impulse of discarding the chance of being a monarch to pursue that girl. He was willing to give up everything he had in exchange for the love of that pretty girl standing on the center of the stage below.
As a prince, he believed that he had viewed and relished all kinds of beautiful women.
In front of him, even those women who had a much more distinguished status than Hua Xiangrong always answered to his every single command. After toying with women of all types, he had been fully convinced that all women in the world were nothing more than appealing skeletons. Only power, status, and strength were things that were real, lasting, and perfect.
However, at this moment, he fell head over heels for that woman.
Truly head over heels.
Liu Chenglong, who was standing beside the second prince, captured all of his subtle expressions.
“Your Highness, shall I bring Hua Xiangrong to Qin City?” he asked tentatively.
The second prince slowly settled himself back in the chair, heaved with a long sigh, and said, “Do it in a covert fashion. Don’t let anyone notice this.” Yes, he was truly tempted by her. But his long-established rationality still managed to restrain his impulse to some extent. These days, the fight for the position of the crown prince was picking up like fire. If he did marry a famous prostitute, a lot of reproaches would be incurred. So… he just had to hide the girl in his secret suite.
Liu Chenglong said, “Yes, sir. But… as for Li Mu… I’m afraid I can’t handle him on my own.”
The second prince smiled at him and said, “Li Mu will be hardly able to protect himself. You don’t need to worry about him. There are others who will take on him… Hmph, does he really believe he won’t have to pay any price for rejecting my invitation three times?”
On the main stage, six leaders of the Musical House were counting the number of flower baskets at the top of their voices.
“The Dafeng Chamber of Commerce has awarded Miss Hua with 10,000 flower baskets…”
“Fengming Academy has awarded Miss Hua with 10,000 flower baskets…”
“The Qishan Chamber of Commerce has awarded Miss Hua with 5,000 flower baskets…”
“Young Master Zhao Wuji from the Zhao’s mansion has awarded 3,000 flower baskets…”
“His Honor Cai from the government in the eastern region has awarded 5,000 flower baskets…”
The six leaders were all carefully selected eloquent hosts. But now, they found it difficult to deal with so many messages, though they had nearly talked themselves hoarse. Slips of paper were delivered to them endlessly, which stacked high in front of them.
“The younger president of the World Chamber of Commerce has awarded 100,000 flower baskets!”
As they announced another staggering number, sounds of amazement were heard throughout all of Liufang Street of the Musical House again.
“Another award of 100,000 baskets? Whoa, this is getting crazy!”
Adding up the awards that the other parties had offered, it did not require any specific calculation to know that the number of flower baskets Hua Xiangrong had earned through her performance was more than 200,000. Now, it was obvious that Hua Xiangrong had secured more awards than Lu Hongxiu from the Yi Cui House even without meticulous counting.
Furthermore, more awards were still pouring onto the stage in succession.
Wearing a sweet smile, Hua Xiangrong bowed to the audience from the stage to express her gratitude.
As if sensing Li Mu’s gaze, Hua Xiangrong raised her head and looked up in the direction of the Fairy House. She caught Li Mu’s eyes despite the over 20-meter distance between them. Then, the two beamed warmly at each other.
Although they had no wings to fly side by side, their hearts were at one.
It took the leaders half an hour to count all the flower baskets Hua Xiangrong had received. The figure they got was enormous—370,000. Dramatic as it was, it nearly equaled the total awards that all the Top Beauty candidates had clinched in the last Top Beauty Competition. When the result first came out, the leaders in charge of the counting thought they must have made a mistake in the calculations. It was not until they recounted the awards multiple times were that they convinced the figure was correct.
“How insane this is!”
When the final figure was announced, another round of whoops reverberated through Liufang Street.
Even when Hua Xiangrong had withdrawn from the stage and prostitute No. 11 appeared to introduce herself and get ready for her performance, numerous people were still absorbed in Hua Xiangrong’s previous dance. Discussions among the audience were still centered on Hua Xiangrong. Beyond doubt, prostitute No. 11 became a dispensable candidate. Almost no one paid any attention to her show because people on the entire Liufang Street were still gripped by the lingering charm of Hua Xiangrong’s singing and dancing.
Only when the 12th and 13th candidates went onto the stage did the audience slowly come to their senses from the shock that Hua Xiangrong had given them.
Nevertheless, after watching the fantastic show that Hua Xiangrong had presented, most people found the rest of the performances as tasteless as chewing wax, no matter how great they were. They were all wishing that Miss Hua could do another performance on the stage. If she did, that would be the biggest surprise of the whole evening.
Unmistakably, the majority of the audience already knew who would be tonight’s Top Beauty.
“Well, who else is possibly qualified other than Hua Xiangrong?”
The place outside the tent of the Holy House was packed with crowds.
Meanwhile, Lu Hongxiu from the Yi Cui House, though having many admirers around her, was just a girl of 17 whose face now turned livid out of unconcealed disappointment and disgruntlement.
What was the feeling of falling from clouds and crashing to earth?
Well, she now knew that feeling very well.
She had earned herself 130,000 flower baskets, which could assure her a top ranking in any of the previous Top Beauty Competitions. Thus, before Hua Xiangrong went onto the stage, nearly everyone reckoned she had had 50 percent chance to win the Top Beauty title.
However, when Hua Xiangrong finished her dance, her ambitious vision was reduced to a joke.
That’s because Hua Xiangrong had received over 300,000 flower baskets. It was practically a miracle!
Based on the rules of the competition, all the awards that the prostitutes earned by doing performances would be divided evenly among the Musical House, the brothels, and the prostitutes themselves. This way, Hua Xiangrong could have over a hundred flower baskets, which equaled about a hundred silver ingots. She had become rich overnight and also obtained huge fame. It was easy to tell that either at the present or in the future, what could stay in people’s mind about tonight was only that alluring dance performed by Hua Xiangrong instead of a girl named Lu Hongxiu, who also broke the record of the offered flower baskets but was soon eclipsed by Hua Xiangrong.
Therefore, how could Lu Hongxiu not feel aggravated?
But she was not alone. Lu Xue, the madam of the Yi Cui House, was as downhearted as she was.
Even though she might not believe it could be conceivable for her girl become the Top Beauty at first, when some mysterious man threw in 100,000 flower baskets, that aspiration simply swelled up in her chest just like flames that flare up after being sprayed with burning oil. But now, her expectations had been thrown down from the clouds. It was almost devastating for her to fall to the bottom after experiencing such a high.
“Yes, it’s me who sent men to beat her. So what?” At Hua Xiangrong’s query, Lu Xue held her chin up in agitation and barked through tightly clenched teeth, “Your maid showed no respect for the elders and behaved rather wildly. I merely ordered my men to slap some sense into her. How can you hold me at fault?”
At the moment, many people were standing around the two to watch them making a scene, including all the madams and girls from the brothels.
A minute ago, Hua Xiangrong returned backstage after finishing her show and learned that her maid, Xin’er, had been wronged. But before she could go to settle the problem with the bully, those from the Yi Cui House stalked to the tent of the Holy House and spoke some wicked remarks.
Hua Xiangrong gently rubbed Xin’er’s reddened cheek with sorrow and then cast a small healing Taoist magic art to treat her injury.
After that, she turned to Lu Xue and demanded in an icy tone, “My maid certainly shall be disciplined by our Holy House. Madam Lu, perhaps you have overreached yourself. What’s more, your people have uttered some mean words just out of my tent. So why can’t my man throw them a retort?”
“Hmph, you are obviously not doing a good job in discipline, so I decided to give some help.” Lu Xue sneered and continued, “What’s the problem?” “You have just obtained more than 300,000 flower baskets. And now, only a second after you left the stage, you already can’t wait to swagger around and flaunt your prowess? Well, go and ask anyone on Liufang Street. As they will tell you, my people in Yi Cui House are not those you can pick on.”
“Everybody here is clear about who is really picking on who.” With an intimidatingly calm expression, Hua Xiangrong replied, “I don’t want to waste my breath arguing with you. Well, which woman slapped Xin’er? Show your face now! Xin’er will slap you in return. Then, this matter will be settled. Otherwise, though I tend to be a nice person, I will never bear such insult and allow others to tread on me. So, when I come to fetch you myself, don’t blame me for being merciless!”
Indeed, practicing Cultivation Methods could imperceptibly change the practitioner’s character. In addition to that, she had spent quite a long time with Li Mu, so Hua Xiangrong was unconsciously influenced by Li Mu’s usual dominating disposition. Thus, she made such a speech, displaying her aggressive side to the utmost.