It was very quiet in the teahouse as Ning Jing bowed her head while Tang Li tattled about every single detail. Han Yunxi and Long Feiye looked on carefully, remaining silent without disturbing him. Litle Tang Tang had ran off to make snowmen, while little Rui’er only gave her a glance before fixiating on Tang Li with an identical expression to Long Feiye.
As for how much he actually understood, only he himself knew.
After Tang Li finished talking, Han Yunxi slapped the table and cried, “Hilarious! Absolutely hilarious!”
Long Feiye added coldly, “Tang Li, does this count as your father deceiving the sovereign?”
Long Feiye had never gotten any report from Cloud Realm Trade Consortium, but Tang Zijin had the gall to use him name and claim there was a problem. If Ning Jing didn’t know any better, the news might have spread to the Ning Clan and caused all sorts of trouble.
“Yes! It’s the same as faking an imperial edict and a heavy crime!” Tang Li huffed.
Long Feiye gave a cold snort. “You should stay. Zhen will deal with his crimes clearly when he comes looking for you!”
Tang Li was waiting for these very words! He would definitely send men to pass on Long Feiye’s message to the Tang Clan and make sure Tang Zijin heard. Now it was more than just a son threatening his father, but an emperor threatening Tang Zijin. Tang Zijin could only chose between giving up the idea of forcing Tang Li to take concubines so he could return willingly or coming to Yunning himself to admit his wrongs and talk shop afterwards.
Thrilled, Tang Li chuckled and addd, “Big boy, as long as you dare to keep me around, I’ll be willing to be your horse or ox!”
Long Feiye only rolled his eyes. “I don’t lack for those.”
Ning Jing was filled with gratitude. She quickly explained, “Esteemed Empress, I took things into my own hands and used secondhand weapons. It wasn’t very appropriate, so I hope that--”
“The Tang Clan had full rights to this matter from the start. I only want to save money as well as obtain good weapons!” Han Yunxi declared. “It’s an excellent idea to take in secondhand wares. I shall have to award the Tang Clan handsomely at the meeting of four generals after spring!”
Ning Jing knew Han Yunxi had given plenty of thought to the matter and silently vowed to take good care of Yunning’s weaponry no matter what. She wouldn’t allow a single instance of someone lining their own pockets with profits.
As the quartet chatted, it soon grew dark. Xu Donglin had already cleared out all of the teahouse’s original attendants and servants to replace them with the ones they brought from Yunning. As a court lady came to light the lamps, she whispered in Han Yunxi’s ear, “Esteemed Empress, Zhao mama’s almost done with the preparations. The meal can began in a bit.”
Han Yunxi had originally instructed Zhao mama to prepare a family meal for New Year’s Eve so the family of three could enjoy it quietly while watching the fireworks. But with Tang Li’s family here, they could be a little more lively. She had already updated her instructions on the way back to the tea hall. Even little Tang Tang’s portion was to be prepared.
“You must all be getting hungry, right? Let’s go back to Celestial Fragrance Pavilion and try some of Zhao mama’s cooking,” Han Yunxi teased.
But Xu Donglin suddenly reappeared again.
“Master, we’ve made clear inquiries. That surnamed Wu doesn’t know about master or mistress’s identity, but because the price offered was many times higher han that of the Tang Clan Head, he went against his word to chase them away. Moreover, this teahouse isn’t usually open to outsiders. It was the surnamed Wu who decided to spend the New Year’s here and wanted to pocket these profits for himself.”
That Manager Wu was both greedy and a coward. All it took was for Xu Donglin’s underlings to wave a few swords in his face before he spilled the beans.
“It really was VIP guests,” Tang LI muttered to himself. He had already paid an astronomical price, but who expected him to run into a true moneybags?
Long Feiye had no interest in Manager Wu and asked coldly, “What kind of deity is his master?”
“I asked, but he isn’t sure of their origins either. He said he was a beautiful man who knows the art of tea very well. Many of the tea trees here were planted personally by the owner.”
If this was a few years back, Long Feiye would know most of the tea enthusiasts in Cloud Realm Continent, but he had been too busy to keep track of all the newcomers recently.
“Name and address?” Long Feiye asked.
Xu Donglin shrugged. “Even that surnamed Wu doesn’t know. He said the owner invited him to stay here a few months. When spring arrived, the owner would return.”
“Do teahouses one through ten all reject outsider guests?” Han Yunxi added.
“No, only Teahouse No. 7. Supposedly this is the quietest one with the rarest tea trees,” Xu Donglin explained.
Long Feiye hadn’t finished touring the tea plantation, but he had recognized many priceless tea plants on the path here.
“Could it be for his own residence?” Han Yunxi wondered as she suddenly suspected something.
“Investigate clearly. Find the owner and say that Zhen is interested in purchasing this tea plantation. Have him give a price,” Long Feiye instructed.
Tang Li immediately expressed his views. “Big bro, I can just stay here and help you look after the plantation. I won’t follow you back to Yunning.”
“No outsiders accepted,” Long Feiye replied.
He had used a large sum of money to reserve the tea plantation simply because he didn’t want to be disturbed. If it wasn’t his younger brother than charged in, he would have chased him out ages ago. He wanted to buy this plantation and gift it to Han Yunxi to make up for missing the New Year’s at Plum Blossom Sea. Like there, this tea plantation would be closed to all guests in the future.
Tang Li was incomparably bitter. He silently vowed to calculate all the accounts of the Tang Clan one day and find a reason to buy a tea plantation of his own. With a family and its privacy to consider, it wasn’t convenient to keep wandering about without settling down.
Tang Zijin was currently spending the New Year’s on Reclining Dragon Peak all by his lonesome. If he knew what Tang Li was thinking now, what would he feel?
Meanwhile, Han Yunxi had gotten up and looked around. The more she saw, the more she loved this plantation. If Long Feiye could buy it, then she could take breaks here in the future. Long Feiye could busy himself as he liked. In any case, there was nothing to take care of in the inner courts or royal harem, nor were there any concubines to make her fret. Meanwhile, as the leader of all the generals, there were no military matters to deal with either so she was quite free.
She could bring Rui’er here to spend a few days at a time, learning the art of tea and planting tea trees. As she picked up her son, she asked, “Son, do you like it here?”
Rui’er nodded. He rarely spoke, so he never did if he didn’t have to.
“How about imperial father buys it and gifts it to mother?” Han Yunxi asked.
Rui’er shook his head in disagreement.
Han Yunxi was amused while everyone else was lost. She knew best and asked, “Then shall it be gifted to Rui’er instead?”
At last, Rui’er opened his mouth without hesitation. “Alright!”
Everyone was tickled by his answer while Long Feiye couldn’t help but laugh. But he still didn’t agree in the end.
“You’re not allowed to snatch things from your mother,” he said.
Both Tang Li and Ning Jing were astonished to see Long Feiye’s “fatherly” ways. Han Yunxi had long gotten used to it. Rui’er was the same and only stared at his father before turning to ignore him. Perhaps he’d even learn to call him “petty” after he grew a little older, or “I don’t need it” when he was older than that.
But right now, no one knew what he was thinking at this moment.
Little Tang Tang ran over from the snow and hugged her daddy’s thighs with a tender voice. “Daddy, baobao...carry…”
Tang Li immediately picked her up and kissed her on the forehead, then rubbed her hands to warm them up. Long Feiye stared at them deeply before being the first to walk out of the room.
Celestial Fragrance Pavilion was located in the highest tower of the teahouse on the plantation’s eastern end. Next to it was a pond that was currently frozen over with ice. It was solid enough to step on. Their New Year’s Eve meal had been set up in the second floor hall. By the time the group arrived, the large round table was covered in wonderful wine and dishes.
Long Feiye and Han Yunxi took their seats as the hosts while little Rui’er sat next to his mother. Zhao mama was waiting in attendance on the side. Tang Li and Ning Jing sat together on the same side while Tang Tang insisted on remaining in her father’s lap. Ning Jing tried to pull her off, but her daughter only shot pitiful looks at her daddy. His heart instantly softened as he set her on his legs.
Long Feiye gave Tang Li another long look; unfortunately, Tang Li didn’t notice.
Meanwhile, Rui’er witnessed the scene and wanted to be held as well. He stood up and started climbing up his mother’s legs.
“Aiyo, little master, be careful not to fall!” Zhao mama hastened to support him.
Little Rui’er looked at his imperial mother with a pathetic expression. “Imperial mother...hold me.”
Actually, Rui’er wasn’t a clingy child except when he was wronged or feeling sleepy. Otherwise, he was fine playing on his own. By contrast, it was Han Yunxi who liked to stick around her son and carry and kiss him.
“Alright, alright! I’ll hold you!” Han Yunxi set Rui’er on her lap as well.
“Start the meal,” Long Feiye said simply.
Zhao mama quickly ladled out the chicken soup in the very center of the table. It wasn’t a banquet without chicken, and so Cloud Realm Continent’s traditional New Year’s Eve meal always had it on the menu. Zhao mama had cooked chicken everyday since little Rui’er’s birth and was still cooking it on the last day of the year. She first gave a bowl to Long Feiye, whose gut heaved at the very sight of the soup.
Yes, he had been drinking no less chicken soup than Han Yunxi in the past during his year in the military encampment. He quickly pushed the bowl to Tang Li. “Here.”
Now he no longer told Zhao mama to make Han Yunxi chicken soup. Before Tang Li could refuse, Long Feiye added. “There’s no formalities between a family sharing a meal. Let’s all get started.”
Thus, Han Yunxi pushed her bowl to soup to Ning Jing too. The clueless couple found the soup quite tasty, cheering up Zhao mama.
At last! Master Li should be staying here for a while. I’ve finally found someone to finish off those 100 chickens!
If it wasn’t because of the date, she wouldn’t have dare make chicken soup tonight. “Old hen soup” had already been decreed as a taboo by His Majesty in the palace!
The true banquet began after drinking chicken soup. Court ladies came to pour them wine during the only event when Long Feiye drank alcohol.
“Ning Jing, we spent New Year’s Eve the year before last at Three-Way Black MArket. Gu Qishao made me drunk, so my big bro took revenge on me and knocked Gu Qishao out for days with wine!” Tang Li declared.
Although Gu Qishao had fallen drunk, he never blacked out for days! Tang Li was clearly exaggerating.
“Really?” Ning Jing had doubts.
A strange and icy laugh suddenly filled the air. “Lies! Hmph!”
With a start, everyone exchanged looks before suddenly turning towards the source of the voice. Who had just spoken?
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Back again and typing again. Honestly, I don't miss this kind of HYX and LFY. I know they're rich enough to buy the world, but acting like they've already gotten the property and play-fighting over who to give it to (HYX or her son) just makes me feel like they completely disregard the hard work and effort the original owner (cough) put into it.
It's like they're sending a message: "Oh, we're rich and powerful and worked hard enough to deserve this, so let's just buy what we want and make it our mini family vacation home!"
Although I'm sure they're relent if a hypothetical owner said they wanted to keep it for sentimental purposes, it's still a little poor taste to count your chickens before they hatch, hm?
I really miss their humility. Wait, have either of them ever acted humble in this story? Except to each other?