As Tang Li prepared to take Ning Jing away, Lady Tang suddenly exclaimed, “A’Li, get back here! We need to talk about this carefully, you can’t do something preposterous! After the New Year’s, we can let Fourth Young Miss Ren take a look in Medical City. Maybe there’s still hope?”
“Fourth Young Miss Ren already examined me,” Ning Jing intoned. Gu Beiyue and Fourth Young Miss Ren had both taken turns and determined that she couldn’t be cured.
Lady Tang didn’t have any good ideas besides using a medical diagnosis to stall for time. She couldn’t promise Tang Li that he wouldn’t need to take a concubine in the future or have any more children, but she didn’t dare push him too hard, either. Neither did she know what kind of racket Tang Zijin would raise once he found out the truth.
“A’Li, how about--”
“Mother, we’ve been tossed about for an entire day. You should go back and rest. Let me think this over and I’ll tell father myself tomorrow. Neither you or Ning Jing are allowed to come!”
Lady Tang still wanted to talk, but Tang Li only put on an impulsive front. “Alright?” he asked.
Lady Tang didn’t want to force him, so she timidly agreed.
“Where’s my daughter?” Tang Li asked. He couldn’t remember playing with little Tang Tang for the past few months. In his memory, she was still a tiny baby who would cry in the crook of his arms when she was hungry.
“Right, right! Hurry and go see your daughter,” Lady Tang said hastily. She wouldn’t ever forget the multiple times Tang Tang looked at her witless father with a lost expression.
The three of them left the rear mountains and walked forwards. Very soon, Tang Li noticed the large patches of daisies growing around them. Their white petals and yellow centers revealed them as Ning Jing’s favorites! He ran to the cliff atop the mountain and looked around, only to see Reclining Dragon Peak covered in the blossoms. The icy cold mountain had turned into a sea of flowers.
He looked at Ning Jing and asked, “Who planted these?”
“A man helped me plant them to cheer me up,” Ning Jing teased.
“Who?!” Tang Li grew serious. “Who was it?”
Lady Tang laughed. “Stinking brat, who else but you dares to touch the soil on Reclining Dragon Peak?”
Tang Li scratched his head and thought hard, but he couldn’t recall a thing. He looked at Ning Jing with a dopey grin. “Find a day to let him help you plant all of Reclining Dragon Peak in little daisies. We can just call this Daisy Mountain instead!”
Lady Tang and Ning Jing didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, but Tang Li silently remembered this incident. Although he had lost months of memories, the mountain full of daisies proved that he was still willing to work for Ning Jing’s sake even after losing his mind. How much time and effort would it have taken to fill the mountain with daisies?
Tang Li mused that it’d probably take him about two more years to cut down all the trees and replace them with daisies instead.
The three of them were silent on the way to Lady Tang’s courtyard as if Ning Jing’s matter had all been forgotten. Lady Tang was about to call someone to bring little Tang Tang out when she suddenly darted into the open from a patch of flowers on the side. She threw herself at Tang Li’s legs and looked up at him. “Daddy, bunbun..bunbun…”
Little Tang Tang’s big bright eyes were full of stubborness and desire. Her childish voice wasn’t good at pronouncing things, so she’d said “bun” (包) instead of “carry” (抱). She seemed to love Tang Li carrying her, so he swept her up. Only then did Tang Tang look at Ning Jing with a face full of joy as she sweetly called out, “Mother.”
She was less than two years old, so she didn’t know much about anything. The impulsiveness she’d displayed a few day ago had all been forgotten by now. To her present her, the happiest thing was being carried by her daddy and seeing her mother.
Tang Li went to sit down with little Tang Tang in his arms and set her on his thigh.
“Daughter, don’t move. Let daddy have a good look at you,” he said.
Although little kids didn’t know any better, they were highly perceptive creatures. Little Tang Tang sensed at once that something was different about her father. But she couldn’t tell what. Daddy was looking at her intently, so she stared back. Father and daughter ended up scrutinizing each other.
The more Tang Li looked at his daughter, the more he adored her! She resembled him, but also Ning Jing. Still, in the end Ning Jing’s similarities were stronger, although she was twice as pretty as her mother. Her exquisite features were small and delicate as if carved from jade. It was incomparably clean and flawless. Tang Li couldn’t pull his eyes away from the sight. This is my biological daughter. How can I bear to marry her off in the future? I’ll never be able to take it!
Little Tang Tang was staring at her daddy too. She discovered that his eyes were exceptionally bright today and very attractive. Although he was the same person as always, she much preferred this daddy to the one who never talked or smiled. She split her lips into a grin, earning more brownie points with Tang Li. He was ready to spoil her in the palm of his hand for a lifetime!
“Tang Tang, do you like daddy more or mother more?” Tang Li asked seriously.
Ning Jing and Lady Tang sat on the side, exchanging silent looks. So this is the first thing he says to his daughter after waking up. Ning Jing couldn’t do anything else except ovelook it. She had to admit that little Tang Tang did prefer her father more.
“Daddy!” Little Tang Tang’s childish voice replied. Her hands grew restless and began reaching for Tang Li’s lips, saying, “Mouth, mouth…”
Tang Li was lost. What was his daughter doing? He looked to Ning Jing with a pleading gaze, but she ignored him. He turned to Lady Tang next and asked, “What does she want to do? Should I kiss her?”
Lady Tang smiled and said, “Yes, that’s a mouth. Tang Tang, tell your father where the nose is?”
Tang Li understood. As soon as he lowered his head, Tang Tang pinched his nose between her fingers and grinned. “No….nose.”
Tang Li was in pain, but he willingly bore it with a chuckle. “Yes, nose. This is the nose.”
Little Tang Tang was right at the age where toddlers learned to talk and recognize objects.
“What about the eyes? Where are the eyes?” Tang Li asked.
Little Tang Tang immediately widened her own eyes for Tang Li to see. Although her eyes were already quite big, she gritted her teeth and tried to widen them even further. That ended up making Tang Li laugh out loud. He wasn’t a patient man, but he played the game of facial features with Tang Tang over and over again. Ning Jing watched them from the sidelines and carefully counted the times. In the end, they’d gone 20 rounds without finding it boring.
This man was forever more patient to his daughter than his wife!
Looking at them smiling and comparing features with each other, Ning Jing couldn’t help but wonder if Tang Li would his son to his daughter if she could bore him another child? She had no idea how he would break the news to Tang Zijin tomorrow, either.
Lady Tang was worrying about the same thing! Both mother and wife were lost in their thoughts, but Tang Li was happilly fooling around with little Tang Tang. When he laughed, he was just like a child, carefree and happy.
In the end, Tang Li looked up and asked, “Ning Jing, does our daughter have a full name?”
“Not yet. We were waiting for you to give her one,” Ning Jing answered.
“Tang…” Tang Li began to think. “Tang...Tang...let’s call her Tang Red Bean!”
Lady Tang’s lips pursed instantly bfore she cursed, “Stinking brat, a girls’ name is very important. Are there any fathers like you? Why don’t you learn from your big brother! He gave your nephew such a good name!”
“My sister-in-law gave birth to a son?” Tang Li exclaimed in surprised.
“When we went to the army camp, you even held him in your arms. You forgot it all?” Ning Jing asked.
“It’s really a boy?” Tang Li asked again.
“As if that could be faked?” Lady Tang rolled her eyes unhappily at him. “A’Li, your little nephew’s name is Rui, short for Xuanyuan Rui. Have a good listen to his name, and now think of your ‘Red Bean.’”
Tang Li didn’t pay any attention to Lady Tang’s words as his lips drew up in a mischievous smirk. “A son, huh? Heheh, that’s not bad. My big brother likes sons.”
“Ning Jing, you say something. How can this name work? Change it!” Lady Tang was still stuck to her sticking point.
“Red Bean, Red Bean…” Ning Jing murmured to herself. She recalled the red bean soup she always drank and didn’t find it in poor taste at all. “He’s the father, so what he says goes.”
“No good, no good, I’ll think up a few for you all later,” Lady Tang insisted. Tang Li didn’t bother paying her any attention since his mind was made up anyways.
The family of three had dinner at Lady Tang’s place before returning to their own courtyard. Lady Tang watched their retreating forms before finally exhaling. She didn’t want Tang Li to take any concubines either, but…
“Where did the old master go?” she turned to ask a servant girl.
“I think he went to Lotus Peak,” the servant girl replied.
Lady Tang didn’t send anyone after him, but simply shut the doors and waited for tomorow to come.
Tang Li held little Tang Tang in one hand and Ning Jing’s hand in the other as he rushed through the little daisies. Although the patch of flowers was small, he felt like he could run through them for all eternity.
Back in their rooms, Tang Li asked, “Ning Jing, you know how the Tang Clan’s women never marry outside of the clan?”
“I’ve heard of that. What about it?” Ning Jing replied.
Historically speaking, none of the Tang Clan’s daughters ever married outsiders, because the Tang Clan would use their dowries to contract the weapon masters within the clan and ensure their loyalty. This way, none of the weapons blueprints would be spread outside.
The fact that Tang Yiru had yet to marry was an exception; the fact that Tang Yiwan married into the East Qin royal family was also an exception. Beyond those two, no daughter of the Tang Clan ever had the luck to escape their wedding arrangements. After explaining all this, Tang Li finished, “Tang Tang can’t escape this fate either.”
“No!” Ning Jing refused instantly. She didn’t fully understand the marriage customs of the Tang Clan females until Tang Li explained them today. Although on the surface, they were avoiding outsiders by marrying weaponmasters, this was simply a way to take son-in-laws into the clan. After the wedding, they would be stuck inside the Tang Clan for life to serve its purposes.
Ning Jing whirled towards Tang Li and said, “Tang Li, since she can’t leave the Tang Clan for the rest of her life, then have our daughter become the next clan head. If she needs to take a son-in-law into the clan, then have her recruit them openly!”
A daughter had every ability to lead the household too. Hadn’t she herself led Cloud Realm Trade Consortium back in the day? She hadn’t wanted to marry anyone then and simply wanted to spend her life serving the consortium.
“Aiya, I don’t call the shots on that,” Tang Li sighed as he held little Tang Tang. “Only my father and mother can decide that. How about this? Let’s go play at my big brother’s for a few years until my father and mother think it through. Then we’ll come back? In any case, they’ll need careful consideration on the issue.”
Ning Jing gave a start, but she quickly smiled. So Tang Li wasn’t planning to tell Tang Zijin a thing. He long made plans to leave the Tang Clan and threaten him that way!
“Fool, hurry up and pack your bags. Don’t let them find out, or else we won’t be able to leave!” Tang Li muttered in a low voice.
1. This mix-up makes more sense in Chinese as both words are pronounced as “bao.” The only difference is that “bun” (包) is pronounced with the first accent while “carry” (抱) is pronounced with the fourth. You can paste both words in GoogleTranslate to hear the difference yourself.
Hi guys! So I told you about moving to my new house right? I spent a chunk of the afternoon just chilling out by the river in my backyard, dipping my feet in the wading pool my hubby built up by the shore and writing in my journal. It was so nice I ended up taking a nap on the rocks...
...and long story shot that's why I didn't release any chapters yesterday, haha! Here's a release today though, and it'll probably be single releases for the next couple days since I'm doing something for work next.