Chapter 1236: [TangNing] Vie

Rui’er actually stole money!

When Han Yunxi told everyone the full story, even Gu Qishao and the Tang Ning couple burst into laughter. On the first day of the New Year, Rui’er had actually been identified as a thief. 

Tang Li coughed a few times before assuming a dignified stance. “Big bro, you can’t let such a big thing go. You have to teach him a lesson!”

Long Feiye, Han Yunxi, Gu Qishao and even Ning Jing all shot him a glare for that remark. How could a baby who wasn’t even one understand things like stealing? Little Tang Tang did however, and simply stared at the red envelope. Rui’er was clueless. This was his first ever red envelope and his first interaction with silver drafts. At most, he’d only seen Han Yunxi and Long Feiye give stray pieces of silver to servants in the palace.

Before Long Feiye could speak, Gu Qishao gave spark to the fire and snapped at Tang Li, “Say that again!”

Tang Li had such a short memory. He was smug enough to have a daughter and annoyed people once already. If this kept on, would Long Feiye send him packing back to the Tang Clan instantly?

“I...I was just joking, you guys...don’t be so serious,” Tang Li pursed his lips fearfully at the crowd.

“I wouldn’t go so far as to say he stole money, but he certainly stole something,” Long Feiye said objectively.

Tang Li and Ning Jing both agreed with that sentiment. Han Yunxi didn’t want to acknowledge her son as a thief, but eventually nodded. If this was a daughter, she could spoil her a bit, but a son needed strict discipline when the time called for it. 

However, Gu Qishao felt it was unfair towards Rui’er. He wasn’t even one yet, so how could he tell right from wrong? Rui’er didn’t take any outsider’s things--actually, it was unlikely he even found them worthy of notice. He only took something of his mother’s, but how would he know what it was for? Could he even tell whether something belonged to him or his mother? 

Gu Qishao took Rui’er into his arms and sat the child on his legs, too angry to speak. Tang Li was joking, sure, but what was up with Long Feiye’s attitude? Rui’er was left looking lost. He knew what “stealing” was, but had trouble grasping the concept. Whenever he didn’t know something, he would ask the Grand Tutor, but he wasn’t here today. Thus, he looked to his parents.

Long Feiye stood up and walked over to stoop before his son. “Rui’er,” he said seriously, “Do you know what ‘stealing’ is?”

Rui’er nodded.

“Then do you know what it means to ‘vie’ for something?”

Rui’er shook his head.

“Rui’er, if something doesn’t belong to you, you can’t take it no matter how much you like it. Will you remember?” Long Feiye asked.

Perhaps Rui’er had a better understanding of “take.” As expected, the child nodded his head.

Smiling, Long Feiye added, “But you can ‘vie’ for it. Once you ‘vie’ for it successfully, it’s yours.”

Gu Qishao shut his mouth on the cusp of calling Long Feiye out. He rather agreed with that sentence. If you liked something, you should vie for it! That was a broader school of thought. Who did you vie with? How did you vie against them? Was it even possible to vie? And why vie in the first place? What was your bottom line? Once you got it, did you discard it or cherish it...none of these were things Rui’er could understand now. But Long Feiye knew he would need to be taught them in the future. Perhaps he would do most of the teaching; perhaps Han Yunxi would instead. Perhaps even Gu Beiyue would take on the bulk. He could teaching vying from the shadows, while Han Yunxi taught snatching in broad daylight and Gu Beiyue an even higher level--to win without vying for anything at all. 

It was difficult to snatch a kingdom, but how many more struggles veiled and obvious laid in protecting these lands? Rui’er was the crown prince and the first person in line to safeguard the nation. There was still plenty for him to learn and his path had just begun. 

Why would Long Feiye care that Rui’er took a red envelope? He was simply using this chance to teach his son the word “vie.” Even if Rui’er didn’t get it, he could still recognize and remember this word in the future. 

“Vie,” Rui’er imitated Long Feiye.

“Yes, vie.” Long Feiye immediately sent for brush and paper to write the vie character (争) zheng in large strokes. Rui’er had started learning words from a young age and saw that this was a new one. He scooted closer and asked carefully, “Imperial father, vie?”

Long Feiye just nodded without a word. Rui’er perched on the side of the table as he earnestly studied the word and committed it to memory. Despite being so young, he could still recognize different words and had good study habits. Naturally, this was all the efforts of his Grand Tutor Gu Beiyue. Perhaps the most precious thing Long Feiye had given his son was not a kingdom, but Gu Beiyue as a teacher.

Little Tang Tang could understand many words by listening, but she hadn’t even started learning language yet! In fact, she hadn’t had much upbringing at all. Her first year had passed with her grandmother and Auntie Linger, where all she did was play. After that, she followed her mother for a few months running through the mountains and planting flowers. Her time was split between her parents, sometimes watching her father fiddle with weapons, sometimes watching her mother working on the abacus. 

She looked at the giant word on her imperial uncle’s paper and quietly read it to herself. “Vie…”

Ning Jing had witnessed Rui’er’s precocious wisdom before and didn’t find it strange. After all, it was only to be expected with parents like Long Feiye and Han Yunxi. But seeing this little boy know words before his first birthday and Long Feiye personally instructing him really surprised her! 

A three year old might be old, but it was easy to overlook the subtle influences on a child before that age. Tang Li had spoiled his daughter to the high heavens, pampering and doting on her. This was Ning Jing’s first time being a mother, but she’d been too preoccupied with her own matters to truly consider Tang Tang’s upbringing. She didn’t have high hopes for Tang Li to come up with anything, but no matter whether they were at the Tang Clan or wandering in the outskirts, no matter how awkward their relationship grew with the Clan, her daughter’s education was first and foremost!

At Tang Li’s suggestion, everyone changed into disguises and brought the children to the surrounding villages to have some fun. The duo had never seen such lively sights and were thrilled with the trip. Naturally, that meant the adults were happy as well. 

As for the matter of the empty red envelopes, Long Feiye told Han Yunxi, “Let it go. We’ll see how those old wives react before talking it over!”

Han Yunxi knew they would face more vexing affairs upon their return to court, but she passed the next few days having fun. On the fourth day of the New Year, Long Feiye started making preparations to go back. With the kingdom newly established and a bunch of government affairs and Northern Li awaiting him, he couldn’t stay away for young. 

“Big bro, Ning Jing and I will stay a few more days before coming to find you?” Tang Li chuckled.

Gu Qishao was currently perched on the roof and rolled his eyes at the comment, but stayed silent. This teahouse belonged to him, so what use was it for Tang Li to ask Long Feiye? 

Long Feiye was in the middle of packing his own things as he replied, “You should ask Rui’er, this teahouse belongs to him.”

Gu Qishao loved the retort. Amused, he hung upside from the roof to peek into the rooms. Tang Li was currently carrying little Tang Tang. He ran to Rui’er and asked in a kindly tone, “Nephew, how about Uncle Li and Auntie Jing live here?”

Little Rui’er was currently stacking up papers. He ignored Tang Li, but did spare Tang Tang a brief glance before returning to his work.

“Darling Rui, you guys go home first, but let Uncle Li stay here, all right?” Tang Li asked.

Rui’er turned around and ignored him. His attention was wholly on Tang Tang. “Tang, are you a mouse?”

Tang? Mouse?

Han Yunxi and Ning Jing exchanged puzzled looks.

You’re the mouse!” Tang Tang shrieked angrily.

Rui’er didn’t vie with this big sister. He was supposed to “yield” to her after all. He just didn’t get why she was so clingy, just like Lil Thing. Lil Thing was always hanging around the Grand Tutor. Meanwhile, he’d rarely seen this little big sister leave her father’s side in the past few days. 

Little Tang Tang had no idea what Rui’er was thinking. She was innocent, after all--it was her father who loved to carry her around all day. She couldn’t do anything about it! 

Too lazy to pay her any attention, Rui’er ignored them. When Tang Li answered him two more times, he simply covered up his ears. Seeing Tang Li look frustrated in response made Ning Jing want to mock him. Meanwhile, Tang Li was desperately hoping Long Feiye would have a daughter soon. He’d like to see how Rui’er treated his own little sister!

At this moment, Long Feiye looked over and said, “Tang Li, come back to Yunning with us. It’ll be Rui’er’s first birthday soon. You can decide whether or not to invite your father.”

The Tang Clan was in charge of creating weapons and constructing the imperial palace and capital. Both of these were monumental tasks. Construction projects would eventually end, but weapons would be needed as long as a country continued to exist! Long Feiye didn’t want any chaos to break out in the Tang Clan, much less for Tang Zijin to be impeached by the court just because he was too busy building to make weapons. There were too many other parties who coveted the job of weaponsmaster, Baili Yuanlong chief among them!

Naturally, Long Feiye was long aware that the general had allied with his southern cohorts. But he still hadn’t exposed Baili Yuanlong or made any moves despite knowing the entire situation. Baili Yuanlong would never know how stifled or uncomfortable he felt in his heart. After all, the Baili Army and its general were different from others! He trusted their clan the most and relied on them above all others. Baili Yuanlong had endured with him for over ten years, accompanying him from Tianning’s internal discord to the establishment of the Great Qin. Yet now he was the number one opponent to guard against!

The history books had a saying: If you shoot all the birds, then the bows become useless. If all the rabbits are shot, then the hunting dogs are useless. You might as well eat them for their meat. It was a saying to show how people who lost their worth became expendable. 

But how many cases were in fact actually sovereigns forced to act against their will, because their retainers harbored intentions to overpower their masters? 

If Baili Yuanlong had allied with anyone else, he could open one eye and close the other. Yet the Jiangnan generals he’d chosen had long entertained thoughts of rebelling because they hadn’t received any positions or benefits! 

Tang Li had yet to grasp the true meaning behind Long Feiye’s words, but he grew alert at his brother’s serious tone. His smile fading, he nodded resolutely. “All right! We’ll definitely go with you.”

Long Feiye glanced towards Gu Qishao, who was still hanging upside down outside the doorway. Gu Qishao suddenly felt nervous and thought he would ask him to go back to Yunning too. But Long Feiye only said, “Don’t block the way. Move aside!”

Gu Qishao’s face fell as he nearly toppled down from fury. Instead, he flew up to sit on the roof and silently mused that it was best Long Feiye didn’t invite him to Yunning. He now had perfect time to visit Jiangnan and find some nice tea. 

Han Chen likes spring tea, is it? Then I’ll definitely find some better than Long Feiye’s!

Gu Qishao was the first to depart from No. 7 Teahouse. Long Feiye’s group followed soon behind. Their New Year’s holidays had ended prematurely, but many more matters were awaiting Long Feiye and Han Yunxi back at Yunning Palace!

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Ruyi's Thoughts

Well, we've finally reached the end of the TangNing chronicles, though it was already branching out to other people in the last few chapters. Next up, the YeXi couple tackles politics! Oof, I can feel a headache coming on already....