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|The Shocking Turn of Events|
October 12, 2012
A mysterious occurrence...
Eleven years later...
"Let go!" The voice shrieked throughout the Red Light District. Honing in on its source, a young woman was struggling violently against one man holding her arm and two others slowly backing her into a dark alleyway.
"Aw, don't be like that baby..." It was the one holding her who spoke, his words sounding terrifyingly sober for how outlandish he was acting. "We just want to have a little fun, you know?"
Out of some inert instinct, the woman reached down and bit his hand as hard as she could. Now he screamed. "Bitch..." With his uninjured hand, he grabbed and handful of her short, but thick, hair and held fast. She continued to struggle, but the more she writhed the more it hurt. The others came in closer, until they surrounded her on all three sides with her back against a brick wall.
"You're going to die now, bitch," the one holding her hair threatened. As he spoke, the others began to grab her clothes and tear them off. She screamed again, which seemed to further amuse the horrible individuals.
There seemed to be no way to escape, and thus the young woman could do nothing more than close her eyes and make peace with the spirits... "Oi." A voice came from the other end of the alley. It was a deep voice, obviously masculine, but with an unidentifiable accent. This took the attention of the rapists away, though the young woman still had no clear way to get away from them. "The girls in this part of town cost money. Don't think you can get a free-ride like you can in the slums here."
The one who had been holding the young woman's hair stepped away, glaring at the man. "What do you care?"
"Want to keep up the district's reputation." As he spoke, the man entered the alleyway and they could all see his appearance. He appeared in his mid-twenties, with a curly head of short, dark brown hair. His brown eyes and light, but not pale, skin might have identified him as some variety of mixed race individual, as most were these days. "We can't have people go around rapin' everyone. There's no real point in paying for a prostitute if you can just rape one."
"You bastard..." The same one with whom the shadowy man was talking rushed forward, his fist pulled back for a punch.
His fist was just in front of the other's face. The latter quickly sidestepped, throwing the first off balance. A sharp knee hit the attacker in the gut, followed by a right—straight to the face. These two attacks together were enough to knock out the idiotic rapist, who fell limp to the ground. With that one down, the man looked up to the others, who simply clicked their teeth and walked off.
Once they were gone, the young woman hesitantly approached her rescuer. "I-um-thank you..."
"What the hell are you doing?" He snapped, interrupting her without hesitation. "You act like you've never been in a city before. If you're a woman and you're hanging around here, you'd better be with a brothel or something, otherwise guys like that won't hesitate to take advantage of you."
At the man's second sentence, the young woman's eyes shot down to her feet. "I haven't been in a city before..." she said quietly, like a sigh.
"You think I'm stupid? You're what, 20? The whole world is a damn city these—"
"Look," this time, it was she who interrupted, "I haven't been in a city before, but is it really too high of an expectation to want to walk down a Spirit-damned street without getting raped?!"
"As a matter of fact, it is. You're a pathetic-looking woman walking through the Red Light District—"
It was obvious that the young woman stopped listening at "pathetic-looking woman". She approached the man and roughly kicked him in the crotch. He doubled over in pain, giving her a chance to speak. "Look, if you're just going to be a jerk, why the hell did you rescue me in the first place?"
"For exactly the reason I told them." Each word struggled to come out, but he was able to reach inside his coat and pull out a badge. "I'm a cop. The brothels pay me a chunk of money to protect their business, and that means I don't get much of a paycheck if I let rapists go free."
This explanation left the young woman dumbstruck. Once the police officer could stand, he pulled out a pad of paper and a pen and began writing viciously. He tore off the page cleanly, and handed it to the young woman. "Here, this is the address where Madam Lao runs her business. It looks like it's a barbershop, but well... everyone around here knows it's not."
"I am not a prostitute! I don't know how many different ways I can say that before it gets through your thick skull."
The cop sighed. "Look, if you want to last more than ten seconds here, go see Madam Lao. If nothing else, she'll provide you a place to stay until you grow some common sense." His last comment received a deadly glare. "I'm Officer Ruan Miao, by the way. Don't trust every police officer—ask for me if you get into any trouble."
He turned to leave. "Ruan!" The young woman called after him. "Er, Officer Miao," she quickly corrected herself as he turned around. "I've been in this city for maybe an hour, max. Where's Madam Lao's barbershop?"
From the outside of the alleyway, Ruan pointed down the street to the left of the entrance of the alley. "It's just a little ways that way. It takes up about the majority of a block, so I don't think you'll miss it."
Truthfully, she did not miss it. Not twenty minutes later, the young woman found herself standing outside the address written on the piece of paper. "Lao's Barbershop": a remarkably blunt name, obviously trying to ensure that there were absolutely no hidden meanings. This wasn't at all what the young woman had in mind when she came to the city, but with a sigh she pushed open the door and entered the building.
Upon entering, the young woman received instant acknowledgment, probably due to the still-torn state of her clothes. "Madam Lao!" A girl from the main room called into a backroom, hidden by hanging beads rather than an actual door.
The call received no response for around a minute. Then, the beads were pushed a side and a grand figure stepped through. She was a tall woman, even without her large, pompous black hairstyle, standing at close to two meters including the hair. Her eyes were narrow, dark, and she wore an incredibly promiscuous robe. Not too young, but not too old either—probably in her forties. Even with all these intimidating feats, her eyes seemed to soften at the sight of the young woman. "My dear girl." She gestured towards a woman nearby. "Draw a bath for her and fetch her some better clothes." The command was short and to the point, and returned with a nod from the other as she left.
"You must be Madam Lao," the girl deduced from this woman's stature and status.
"Indeed I am, dear girl." After saying this, the Madam paused. "I know most of the jienu of the area, yet I do not recognize you."
After hearing this from the Madam, the young woman's face turned bright red. "I'm not a hooker, Madam." She retorted in a sharp, defensive tone.
The Madam nodded looking, "I see. You were wise to come straight to my business."
"What is your name?" Though the Madam was obviously pushing, her tone was so kind, strangely so, that the young woman couldn't help but respond.
"Chryseis. My name is Chryseis."
"You are Ming Yu, now."
"Get some rest, in the morning you can start in on your clientèle."
"Madam Lao!" Her shouting was enough to briefly silence the overeager Madam. "Madam Lao, Ruan Miao told me that you could give me someplace to stay while I become acquainted with the city."
The police officer's name evoked a sigh from the Madam. "Ruan, the dear boy never seems to know when to shut up."
"Will you?" Chryseis posed the question nervously, afraid for the answer.
"I could never turn down a girl in your position, dear." When the Madam responded in this way, Chryseis breathed a sigh of relief. "However, I must ask what you are doing in the city."
"I—" From the first syllable, it was obvious that her answer was not formed clearly, in words or in idea. "I—am looking for work." She concluded stupidly.
"Then I would urge you to reconsider your stance. Believe it or not, our line of work is one of the safest in the area with all the police I have in my back pocket." The girl Madam Lao had sent off early to draw a bath returned, giving a nod that the preparations were made. "Take a bath and get some rest, my dear."
Despite her hesitancies regarding the idea of this place, Chryseis couldn't turn down a warm bath after all she had been through, both in the city and before arriving here. She left alongside the girl from earlier, who led her through winding paths through the beaded off back area. They entered into a large, open room. In the center was a circular bath, about fifteen feet in diameter with steam rolling off the top. A neatly folded pile of clothes was nearby, with a towel just next to it. With a nod, the woman who had led Chryseis left, closing the door behind her as well.
Before entering the bath, Chryseis stripped off her torn clothes and examined her bruised body. She was in poor shape, that much was obvious, and the bruises had already begun to show. With a slight sigh, she dipped her toe into the water to test the heat, before submerging her entire body. The bath was about seven feet deep, with a bench for her to sit on so that her head and shoulders rested just above the water. Her skin was warmed by the heat, and slowly her troubles began to leave her and her eyes began to close.
Her eyes flashed open, realizing that she had fallen asleep. Somehow, she was garbed in a nightgown and lying in a magnificent bed. Quickly, she did an inventory of sorts to ensure that someone had not drugged her, making sure that there were no IVs, no signs of anyone else being in the bed recently, that sort of things. When she noticed that she was alone, only then did she relax. There was no way to tell how long she had been asleep, but what she did know was that somewhere along the line, someone had pulled her from the bath, clothed her, and brought her to this bed. None of the falangmei seemed that they would be strong enough to lift her...
"Good morning, sleeping beauty." Chryseis jolted upright to see a man standing on the other end of the room. A man she could easily recognize.
"Ruan Miao, what are you doing here?" Her tone was venomous and seemed clearly threatened.
"I was just passing through for some pleasure, when they needed some help moving you out of the bath so you wouldn't burn up." The dirty cop paused, and continued, "You were red as a lobster koi when we pulled you out. Didn't wake up at all, either."
This seemed reasonable enough, until a thought came to Chryseis, "You didn't... violate me while I was sleeping, did you?"
Ruan laughed. "Of course not. Where's the fun in that?" He winked and left, leaving Chryseis questioning his motives.
Just after he left, one of the falangmei entered. "Chryseis, the Madam wants to speak with you." Chryseis nodded a short response, little more than a head twitch, and prepared to go and converse with Madam Lao once more.
She arrived in the main backroom garbed still in her nightgown, looking rather uncomfortable. The Madam was smoking a long pipe while seated in a great, velvet chair. Chryseis's entrance was met with a quick glance over of judgment. "I had some robes set out for you."
"They didn't fit." Chryseis's response was quick, almost too quick.
"They're not supposed to fit, dear. They're supposed to make you look more desirable." Madam Lao gave Chryseis a look that said 'isn't it obvious?' after finishing her statement. "Regardless, there is something I want to talk with you about." The comment was returned with a look of disdain from Chryseis; the Madam clarified, "It does not relate to my trade, no... not at all."
The Madam closed her eyes for a moment, considering how to phrase her question. "I have been around this society for long enough, and I've seen enough military men seeking pleasure to know what Distortion looks like." With the word "Distortion", Chryseis tensed. "When we pulled you from the tub, you had been sitting in there for hours. But it was like your body filtered the heat so as to let just enough through that you wouldn't die." Madam Lao swallowed hard. "Yet, when we pulled you from the water, I could see no control implants. I've never seen someone so expertly Distort the elements without any control implants, especially in your sleep!"
Finally, Madam Lao reached her point: "What are you, my dear? Who are you really, Chryseis?"
For a few moments, Chryseis said nothing. Her expression was one of pondering, as if calculating the perfect explanation. With a deep breath, she began to speak, "I would rather not say..." She trailed off, casting her gaze away from Madam Lao. "I'm not particularly on the right side of the law, let's say."
"Do you think we are?" The Madam laughed heartily. "Sweetie, this is one of the only places in the UFPR without the government's ears. You are at liberty to speak."
"I'd still rather not, Madam."
"Then you can feel free to leave. I'll tell Ruan to encourage his other officers to turn a blind eye to any trouble you may get into..." Madam Lao lifted a hand, motioning one of the falangmei to fetch Ruan.
"Is that a threat?"
"Indeed it is, dear."
Chryseis sighed, rubbing her forehead tiredly. "Fine." She muttered. Just as she agreed to explain her situation, Ruan entered. Madam Lao held up a hand so as to stop Ruan from speaking. "Both my parents were ben—Distorters." Madam Lao cocked and eyebrow at Chryseis's near slip-up. "I guess the 'activated' part of the brain which controls Distorting can be passed down genetically."
Though Madam Lao did not seem impressed, Ruan seemed awestruck. "True Spirit..." He mumbled in shock.
"I'm afraid that does not explain much, dear," Madam Lao replied, apparently choosing to ignore addressing whatever Chryseis was about to say in place of "Distorters".
"It explains enough," Chyrseis snapped. "All that matters is that I came here to get away from another military legion that would be interested in my existence."
The end of Chryseis's explanation shocked both of the others in the room. "Dear, dear..." Madam Lao mumbled. "If the military, this one or the one that is after you, finds out, it will mean a war, and undoubtedly more will get tied up in this." After saying this, Madam Lao grinned mischievously. "I do love a bit of danger, though. I will let you stay here, but don't think that this means I don't want to know what you're not saying."
Now, Madam Lao stood, and gestured for Chryseis to do the same. "For now, I'm going to assign you a mentor—" She noted the young woman's expression with a slight laugh. "Not like that, dear. She'll just be someone to show you around so that you don't look like easy prey." Once more, she waved her hand and the falangmei from earlier returned. "Lihua, please show her around the area."
With this command, the falangmei's expression turned sour. "This one, Madam?" She cast a judgmental gaze over Chryseis, and continued, "I suppose, Madam. I won't show her around in those clothes, though." When referring to the clothes, Lihua referred to the nightgown which she currently wore.
"You hear her, dear," Madam Lao said, turning back to Chryseis. "Put on those clothes we set out, and then Lihua will show you around."
Within the hour, Lihua and Chryseis were on the streets—now in broad daylight—walking through the Red Light district. In the uncomfortably scandalous clothes left for her, Chryseis was constantly fidgety and very clearly awkward. Lihua rolled her eyes. "I don't know why Madam Lao is putting up with you, you're hopeless in this line of work."
"Like I'd want to be a prostitute," Chryseis guffawed and continued to adjust her outfit uncomfortably.
Lihua's face contorted into a scowl, "What would you know?"
"I know that you sell your bodies because you're horny or something..."
"Being a prostitute is a stable line of work," the falangmei snapped the response, catching Chryseis off-guard. "It's the only line of work that will always be there, and will never put your life at risk. Plus..." Lihua trailed off, realizing that she was launching into a tangent. Despite this, Chryseis seemed interested, so she continued in a mutter, "it's the only real way to keep from ending up raped and dead in a ditch without getting married."
This explanation brought a short musing silence. "I take it the martial government here isn't too keen on enforcing the law?"
"That'd be an understatement."
They both laughed, and continued walking down to street. All the while, Lihua pointed out notable landmarks—such as important businesses or streets—while Chryseis took notice. There were others walking along the street, but most were businessmen or jienu, thus the two walking in broad daylight dressed as licentiously as they were did not come off as a strange sight.
From down the street, three men could be seen in a hurry, apparently chasing someone or something. Most parted ways, and Chryseis and Lihua slowed, but did not stop. They did not appear to be businessmen or cops as they were dressed quite nicely. Within a few moments, they had made their way down the street. One bumped Chryseis. They made eye contact. A flicker of recognition flashed across his face, and he stopped while his comrades continued running. His hand shot out, grabbing Chryseis's wrist and stopping her.
"You..." He trailed off, staring at her through his glasses, searching her eyes. The others were already far away, apparently not noticing that he had stopped. "I... you... I-I watched you die!"
- My editor and I have decided that Madam Lao is the best
- "Ruan Miao"'s name was made by me entering what I'd want his name to be if it were more English-based into a Chinese name generator
An important note regarding terminology
Alright. I did some extensive research into prostitution in China, and have decided to use some of the terminology. Thanks to the interesting information provided by lovelovechina.com, I have come across the seven tiers of prostitution in China, and have decided to use this for the basis of how prostitution will work in my fan fiction. For now, the information will remain parallel, however I may diverge depending on where the writing takes me.
But I'm just going to go over the terminology I used here:
- Jienu are the sixth tier, and are "street hookers". My American brain associates this with what most Americans think of when they think of prostitutes, usually soliciting customers on the streets (hence the name).
- Falangmei are the fifth tier, "barbershop girls". Falangmei are kind of like brothel girls, except the brothels usually have a cover business such as a barbershop (as in this case) or a massage place.
And if you guys didn't already think I was really weird, you probably do now.
For the collective works of the author, go here.