Power Up, Artist Yang!
259 First Interactions of the Detective
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Power Up, Artist Yang!
Author :yaoyueyi
© Wuxiaworld

259 First Interactions of the Detective

The servant-selling place that Madam Zhang described was a worn-down, rustic building nestled amongst rows of similarly deteriorating structures. There was a sign with peeling paint, designating that it was the right place, but Yujia almost missed it when she passed by due to how faint the lettering had become. With the gray skies above her— it seemed like it would finally rain, something quite rare in the near-summer weather— the entire environment around this building appeared gloomy.

She stepped through the front doors carefully. Finding the person who seemed to be the owner that Madam Zhang described, Yujia quickly told her what she had arrived for. 

The owner was an aged woman, with graying hair and a dead expression. She didn't seem all that enthusiastic about her business, but at the same time, she spoke without any hesitations, her voice firm and her words fast. This was definitely the composure of a professional who had been buying and selling servants for decades.

She didn't waste too many words with Yujia, merely leading her to a secluded room in the back. Before entering, Yujia peered inside through a crack in the door, seeing two girls huddled in separate corners of the small room. In a quiet voice, the owner explained to her, "Just wait here with them. You'll be fetched when it's time."

Then, Yujia stepped into the room, the door shutting behind her with a squeak. 

At first, Yujia wasn't sure of what to say. She just helped herself to a corner by herself and sat down, taking a good look at her surroundings. The room was perhaps more dreary than anywhere else she had been at in the shop, with grime covering the walls and floors. Up high on the walls, there was a small block which was cut open to allow light in, but the lighting barely did anything to illuminate the dim room. It reminded her of a prison cell, just without bars. 

The two girls sitting across from her barely spared her a glance before looking down again. The one on the left was dressed in brown fabric, and the one on the right had on a pale maroon set of dirt-stained robes. Yujia looked at her own robes, which were made of a washed-out green cloth. 

Seeing that these were the two servants that she would be sent into the villa with, Yujia decided to strike up a conversation. 

"Do you think that all three of us are going to be sent to the same place?" she started with a conversation.

The girl dressed in brown looked up, her eyebrows raised. "You're new to this, aren't you?"

Yujia nodded. She already had a backstory thought up. "My father… he sold me. I only found out today." After saying these words, a slight tremble in her voice, she forced her eyes to water a little, just to sell the emotions behind the backstory. 

"Oh, what a pity, what a tragedy… All our stories are like that. It's nothing new." The girl who spoke before rolled her eyes, telling Yujia this. Her face, which was not ugly nor pretty with its too narrow, too sharp features, was filled with exasperation. "But yes. This is how it works. Since we're all in the same room like this, they're likely going to sell us to the same buyer. You're lucky to be sold right away."

All Yujia could say was, "Oh." She then decided to push on, saying, "My name is Shen Yuling. You all are?" 

She figured it would be good to at least know the names of these other servants.

"Xie Yufeng," the narrow-faced girl in brown said briskly.

The girl in maroon looked up again. She was the opposite of Xie Yufeng, with wide-set features and large eyes. In a way, her eyes reminded Yujia of Hui'er. 

"Lin Xin, but you can just… call me Xin'er." Her voice was quiet and timid.

Yujia took to memorizing their names. From her predictions, she would be spending a decent amount of time with these two girls for the rest of her infiltration, so knowing their names would be good.

Turning her eyes back to Xie Yufeng, Yujia found that the girl had been staring at her. She tilted her head and waited for the girl to say something, since she seemed to have some words resting on her tongue.

Yufeng ended up telling her, "If I were you, I'd find some sharp rock and slice up that face real bloodily." As she spoke, she jerked her head in Yujia's direction, clearly referring to Yujia's face.

The moment she heard these words, Yujia tensed. Her eyebrows knitted. "What do you mean?" 

When it came to physical appearance, Yujia obviously tensed. Did she look too much like a young miss, even in clothes for servants? 

A curt, high-pitched laugh escaped from Yufeng. She flicked her gaze upward. "Just that pretty, weak faces don't last well amongst maids. I'm surprised your father didn't sell you to a brothel. You probably would do better there."

Yujia had to admit that these words from Yufeng confused her greatly. She wasn't sure whether it was solid advice or some sort of mockery. Overall, it was just jarring to be told by someone that she should carve her face up. She definitely was not used to dealing with people like Yufeng, but Yujia figured that she had to, sooner or later.

She decided to just give Yufeng a smile. If it was advice, her smile could be taken as a sign of appreciation. If it was intended to rile her up, then Yujia wouldn't need to give anyone the satisfaction of seeing her emotions splayed out in the open. 

The conversation died after that, and Yujia didn't make any more attempts to bring things back up. A few moments later, the doors to the room opened. A man with a frown that seemed to be stuck permanently across his face leaned in, calling for them to follow him with a hoarse voice. 

Xie Yufeng was the first to stand up. Yujia followed after the girl, and Xin'er came last. They found themselves taken by the man to the front of the building, where a young man waited. Yujia recognized the robes worn by the young man to be the servant's uniform of the Yang Villa. She quickly took a glance at his face when they were still a decent distance away, taking in his appearance with his strong jaw, defined features, and tan skin. Thankfully, she didn't recognize him, so he seemed to be new enough or someone who had never interacted with the Fourth Miss. 

The man who led them there, with the frown, explained, "These are your servants." Leaving it just like that, he turned and went to work on something else.

The young man had seemingly paid already. He took a good look at all three of them, a friendly smile crossing his expression. "I'm A'Yan. Most of the other servants in the villa call me Brother A'Yan, so you three can do so too. Nice to meet all of y'all." 

Yujia thought back to the list of suspects Madam Zhang had given her. She had already looked over the list, memorizing all the names in her mind earlier on. A'Yan was not on the list.

While she thought, A'Yan began to walk out of the building, signaling for them to follow. Seeing that the other two didn't say anything, Yujia decided to stay quiet too.

A'Yan didn't seem bothered by it, continuing to explain, "I serve the Yang Villa. It's a merchant household, and I assure you, as long as everyone does their job, there are no problems. The Old Master has been having a turn of good luck recently, so we servants are always well-fed and clothed. We even receive a bit of an allowance if we're hard working enough."

He seemed open and ambivalent enough, so Yujia decided to follow his friendly approach, using this as a disguise to find more information. "Brother A'Yan, if I may ask… what do you do in the villa?"

He turned his head around, observing her for a brief second before saying, "Just some miscellaneous stuff around the villa. I help around wherever people need me, so they all know me pretty well, even though I've only been in the villa for a little more than three weeks." All the while he spoke, he kept his bright smile across his face. "If y'all need any help, don't hesitate to come find me. We'll all be working together in the future, so I always like to help out where I can. Also, what are all of your names?" he asked.

"I'm Yuling," Yujia informed.

Yufeng followed, telling him in the same manner she told Yujia with her briefness, and Xin'er was, once more, last.

"Yuling, Yufeng, and Xin'er," A'Yan repeated, nodding. He turned his focus back to Yujia. "Yuling, do you have a nickname?" He paused, glancing at Yufeng. "Yufeng too."

Once she heard that, Yujia's mind immediately slipped to Yu Zixu and the way he called her "Yu'er." She thought about the way he leaned forward in that one memory of the confession test he gave her, the way that the name "Yu'er" rolled off his tongue, and the way that he spoke it so delicately, yet with so much warmth.

So, Yujia immediately replied, "I go by Ling'er." 

It seemed to be a decent answer. A'Yan grinned a little more. "Nice. Ling'er is a pretty nickname. He then faced Yufeng. "What about you?"

Yufeng kept her expression flat, not at all moved by the charming grin A'Yan wore. "I would prefer being called Yufeng," she answered.

"Sure, sure, that's all fine." A'Yan blinked, resuming with his walk forward.

A bit more walking later, they arrived at the Yang Villa.

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    《Power Up, Artist Yang!》