Little Rui’er stuck to Long Feiye as he held him in one hand and poured tea with the other for Han Chen.
“This is the first batch of biluchun tribute from Jiangnan this spring. They only picked the freshest bud from each tea tree and one large tea plantation can only produce one small canister,” Long Feiye introduced as he brewed tea.
Gu Qishao silently tossed his tea leaves into a pit after hearing these words. He rubbed his nose, having nothing to say. Sitting across from him was Gu Beiyue, who clearly witnessed the action but smiled without revealing a thing.
Han Chen drank the first cup and immediately gave praise. He and Long Feiye started discussing the origins of biluchun until they got to talking about the Mysterious Continent’s tea types.
Gu Qishao and Han Yunxi both started paying attention and silently taking notes.
After he was done, Han Chen reached out a hand and said, “Child, have grandpa hold you, alright?”
Han Chen had yet to formally recognize Han Yunxi as his daughter, but he was already acknowledging his grandson. Rather than liking his own biological daughter, Han Chen preferred his son-in-law and grandson. What kind of weird temperament was this? Han Yunxi was at a loss for words.
Rui’er was at a loss as he stared at Han Chen without moving. In the end, he sent a questioning look at his mother.
“What now, you’re afraid unless your mother agrees?” Han Chen was cold even when it came to little children.
But Rui’er actually nodded his head.
Feeling awkward, Han Chen was about to withdraw his offer when Han Yunxi said hastily, “Rui’er, let grandpa hold you! Hurry! Grandpa is super strong and can teach you martial arts in the future!”
How could Rui’er’s natural talents be left to waste? If Long Feiye had the ambition to send a campaign to the Mysterious Continent someday, then Rui’er would be an excellent choice for a vanguard! Even if they didn’t, they still needed a strong martial arts group to guard the Ice Sea in case the Mysterious Continent tried to infringe on their homeland.
Although Long Feiye and Han Chen’s agreement had the Wolf Sect protecting Cloud Realm’s northern borders for twenty years, they couldn’t rely on them indefinitely! After all, reliance was a form of constraint! The best defense was to grow stronger themselves.
Han Yunxi’s words were probing Han Chen’s reactions. He didn’t answer, but he did take Rui’er into his arms and set the boy on one leg. “Call me grandpa, will you?”
Once again, Rui’er cast a glance at his mother. Long Feiye and Gu Beiyue didn’t say a word, but they were smiling secretly up their sleeves. As expected, Rui’er really was Han Yunxi’s biological son. At crucial times, he knew exactly what to do!
Han Yunxi smiled and said, “Rui’er, grandpa’s agreed to teach you martial arts. Why don’t you call him master?”
Han Chen looked over at Han Yunxi a little unhappily. Han Yunxi was undaunted, having long taken him as a strange man. She said, “Before the Ten-Year Agreement is up, I still haven’t acknowledged my master or returned to the sect. Rui’er has no reason to recognize you either. Either you take him as your disciple or we’ll talk again in ten years’ time.”
“Will you agree if this honored one takes him to the Mysterious Continent?” Han Chen shot back.
Before Han Yunxi could answer, Long Feiye was already getting antsy. He quickly plucked Rui’er back into his arms and said, “Rui’er’s still young, there’s no rush.”
But Han Chen grew anxious in turn. “He can start learning martial arts as soon as he turns three so as not to waste his natural talent. Since you husband and wife have good talent, he can’t be any worse. Talented wielders of the celestial eye will start revealing their skills after the age of three.”
Han Yunxi and Long Feiye could tell that Han Chen was getting restless, which was a testament to Rui’er’s rare and precious talent! If Rui’er cultivated well, he could potentially exceed his own master.
A sly look flashed past Han Yunxi’s eyes before she said purposely, “Long Feiye, why not send Rui’er to Celestial Mountain once he turns three? He can learn the Nirvana Heart Arts first.”
“That’s a solution,” Long Feiye replied immediately.
Han Chen drank a cup of tea without much comment. But before he left, he tossed back, “After this child turns three, come find me in the Poison Sect’s palace after winter. There’s no need to recognize me as a master nor does it whether he...acknowledges me or not.”
In the end, Han Chen had relented. Long Feiye and Han Yunxi rose to give thanks, but the man had quickly strode off into the distance.
“Senior, will you come pick South Peak Red come lixia?” Long Feiye shouted after him.
Han Chen didn’t answer the question beyond replying, “As the season comes!”
Han Yunxi was delighted. She picked up Rui’er and said with a chuckle, “Rui’er, remember to call that uncle ‘grandpa’ in the future when you see him, all right?”
Rui’er’s grandparents on his father’s side had long passed away along with his grandmother on his mother’s side. Naturally, they had to acknowledge the sole remaining grandparent. Rui’er was fortunate to have such an elder even if he was strange and cold. Han Yunxi had to use special means to grab a piece of fortune for her son.
“I’ll remember,” Rui’er nodded instantly. He always agreed to his mother’s requests.
“Good boy!” Han Yunxi was about to hug him tight when he broke free and reached for Long Feiye.
“Daddy...daddy, carry, carry…”
Long Feiye smiled broadly and picked Rui’er up, leaving Han Yunxi empty-handed and lost. When she saw father and son getting intimate, she suddenly felt like she’d lost favor. That became truth that very night.
If Rui’er wasn’t sleeping with them, Long Feiye liked to spoon her from the back and entangle his long legs with hers until she was wrapped in his embrace. She would often say, “Long Feiye, let’s switch to a smaller bed so we don’t waste all this space.”
But Long Feiye would always reply, “It would be a waste if we roll around the sheets.”
After that, he’d toss her all over...producing clouds and rain…
If Rui’er was sleeping with them, then the situation was completely different. He liked to sleep on the inside between her and the wall. Eventually he’d burrow into her chest, forcing her to back up into Long Feiye. Han Yunxi had rarely seen Long Feiye’s sleeping posture when he was alone and what he looked like asleep. She knew for sure that Rui’er had terrible sleeping habits. If he wasn’t kicking the covers, then he was pushing against her fiercely. Many times she’d wake up early and find him missing, only to uncover him curled up into a ball at the foot of the bed.
When Rui’er really set about squeezing her, she sometimes ended up pushing Long Feiye to the edge of the bed. Of course, she’d never tell anyone when Long Feiye was pushed off the bed entirely.
When that happened, Long Feiye would always ask, “Empress, why don’t we switch to a wider bed?”
And Han Yunxi would always reply, “Emperor, why don’t you keep vigil over the bed tonight?”
The civil and military officials would be drowning Han Yunxi in theirspittle if they heard such words, but Long Feiye would never air their private family affairs.
Tonight was completely different. Rui’er chose to sleep on the outside while nestled against Long Feiye’s chest. He didn’t lose any sleep because of the new position but quickly fell unconscious. Long Feiye lay on his side facing little Rui’er, leaving Han Yunxi alone on the inside with plenty of room. She splayed out her limbs and stared at the ceiling with a sense of foreboding.
As expected, Rui’er was docile at first, but soon started burrowing into Long Feiye’s chest. His little butt wouldn’t stop pushing against Long Feiye, forcing him to retreat. Naturally, Long Feiye was awake. He had hoped for ages to embrace his son and would probably have a sleepless night.
As Long Feiye backed up, so did Han Yunxi. Only then did he realize she was awake too and looked back. “You can’t fall asleep?” he asked in a low voice.
“I’m almost asleep…” Han Yunxi quickly withdrew to the very inside of the bed until her back was resting against the wall, leaving plenty of room for father and son.
Seeing this, Long Feiye said coldly, “Come here.”
Han Yunxi shook her head until Long Feiye’s expression turned threatening. “Do you want me to make a move?”
Han Yunxi docilely went over to hug him from the back before he was satisfied.
“Sleep,” he said.
Sleep? Could they sleep like this?
Soon enough, Long Feiye started backing up again, forcing Han Yunxi to move with him. Otherwise, he’d crush her and make it impossible to move at all. Little by little, they edged to the back of the bed. Before Long Feiye could back up again, Han Yunxi finally spoke up.
“I’ll be crushed to death! Enough, you two!”
Long Feiye couldn’t help laughing as he murmured, “Shh, go sleep in the front.”
Han Yunxi couldn’t help but move in front of Rui’er to sleep. She laid facing her son and saw that he was still sporting a wide grin in his dreams. Just how happy could he be?
Han Yunxi was unused to her back feeling so empty. Truly, she had lost favor. Still, her son’s peaceful rest was enough to let her sleep without worries. Late at night, Han Yunxi drifted off into unconsciousness.
However, Long Feiye remained awake. It wasn’t until Rui’er pushed him to the maximum that he carefully moved to lie behind Han Yunxi and gently take her into his arms. Just like before, the family of three resumed their original positions with Rui’er on the inside, Han Yunxi in the middle, and Long Feiye behind them both.
Han Chen didn’t stay long at Celestial Fragrance Teahouse. Long Feiye’s group left the next day as well, with Gu Beiyue heading back to Yunning first while Gu Qishao declared he was going to go off and play somewhere.
Long Feiye brought Han Yunxi and Rui’er to the imperial capital. During the entire trip, Rui’er stuck to his father and wouldn’t let anyone else carry him. Han Yunxi didn’t know whether to laugh or cry and only comforted herself that she had less work to do without holding him.
At the future capital, Han Yunxi saw Tang Zijin who had recently resumed work. Tang Li, Ning Jing, and Lady Tang had all returned to the Tang Clan while the first shipment of arms had been delivered on schedule. Tang Zijin was thus in quite a good mood.
Long Feiye and Han Yunxi inspected the design of the palace. The latter didn’t cause any difficulties but did suggest adding an extra qin room since Long Feiye had barely used his Monarch’s Word. Once Cloud Realm Continent was stabilized, she still wanted to play him a proper tune.
During their time away, letters came nonstop from Yunning. Long Feiye only stayed in the future capital for a day before heading back. There he referred a Jiangnan vice-commander named Ouyang Kangfeng’s (欧阳康丰) as the next Great General to control the Jiangnan military. This Ouyang Kangfeng was from the Ouyang Clan and Old Madam Zhou’s nephew.
Long Feiye showed imperial grace towards the Ouyang Clan while Han Yunxi showed force to Old Madam Zhou. The emperor and empress’s display of might and favor left the Ouyang family feeling both respect and fear.
With support from two big clans in Jiangnan, Long Feiye thus met less resistance implementing his tax reforms. By summer of that year, Long Feiye had the Minstry of Household Affairs officially implement reforms to adjust the taxation of salt, tobacco, wine, tea, and some mining industries. In this way, the industry remained in control of the major Jiangnan clans but the court shared their profits through taxes. This not only cut Jiangnan’s financial resources but also gave a source of revenue to the imperial coffers. As long as they held control over Jiangnan’s wealth and increased the silver in the treasure, reconstruction efforts across Cloud Realm Continent would speed up.
Meanwhile, Northern Li recovered quickly after its disasters, becoming a dark horse of its own...
economic reforms and stuff make me sleepy but looks like everything is proceeding smoothly between our doses of cute and fluff, nice.
HYX still annoys me more than she used to, but at least she has her son's best interests at heart. hah.