After the Festival, the Ministry of Rites and Prince of Jiangxia- Li Daozong escorted Wencheng to the Tibetan Empire.
Li Yuanying rode on a horse to send Princess Wencheng off all the way till the city gates and gave her a small purse.
Before Wencheng could ask, the boy explained: “This purse contains sunflower seeds. Find a sunny place to plant them.”
Yuanying especially like sunflowers and even renamed his land Sunflower garden for he liked the meaning behind it very much. He took Wencheng’s hand: “Sunflower always faces the direction of the sun, and as long as there is sunshine, it will raise its head.”
Wencheng listened, nodded and said with a smile: “I’ll remember this.”
She got into her carriage and after sitting down, lifted the curtains to look at Yuanying who was standing beside her watching her.
When she was much younger, Wencheng had already heard about the notorious Little demon king who no one dares offend. Hearing so much rumors about him, most children from the same clan naturally stayed away.
After knowing him in person, she realized that the rumors were not true.
No matter how reluctant, the wedding entourage must leave on time.
Li Yuanying waved goodbye to Wencheng.
Wencheng kept looking out of the curtains until her friends could no longer be seen. She then withdrew her hands and tears fell like beads from a broken thread. This trip passes through high mountains and long roads and then she will no longer be able to see Chang’an or the people in Chang’an again.
Lu Dongzan should be leading the entourage but seeing Li Yuanying still standing at the same spot, , he turned back to say goodbye.
“Wencheng, is going to alone, please take care of her.”
“Of course. I will not let a Tang Princess be ill treated, she will be well taken care off.” His seemingly peaceful eyes contained a smile: “When your Royal Highness grows up a little more, do visit us. Come and play, we will definitely entertain your Royal Highness well.”
Li Yuanying didn’t think much and agreed. He then officially said goodbye to the Prime minister. He stayed still until the wedding party was no longer in sight and then Li Yuanying followed Li Er back to the city.
Li Yuanying was quiet all the way back. So quiet that Li Er felt that it rather strange. After returning to the palace, he kept him around for a private conversation.
Yuanying have had many thoughts but mainly about the customs of marriage for royal daughters.
Although the Royal clans is huge with many daughters, but every child is precious. Wouldn’t it be distressing for the parents to have to marry them off to foreign lands? If anyone asks him to marry his future daughter far away he will never agree! Even if he loses his position as Prince Teng he will never agree to it!
Li Yuanying expressed his sincere doubts: “Since we want to build relationships, why aren’t we marrying foreign princesses into Tang but giving away our princesses? Wencheng is only 16 and although Songtsen Gampo is not old but the Tibetan Empire is so far away. What if she gets bullied? Daughters from ordinary families have her birth parents as support system but ours have no relatives outside!”
“Are daughters from the Li family weak?”
Li Yuanying remained silent.
Seeing that his younger brother was rather gloomy, Li Er explained the situation to him. Although Tang won the war with Tibet, it was not without sacrifices. If the Tibetan Empire was determined to retaliate, Tang will have a hard time defending. If both countries’ relationship were not eased, Tang will face attacks from both Tibet and the Turks, causing a catastrophe!
When Li Er first succeeded to the throne, the Turkic khans led 200,000 soldiers towards Tang approaching Chang’an City! The situation at that time was extremely difficult and dangerous. With that, Li Er is sure that he needed to win over the support of as many foreign clans as possible to keep peace in Tang.
Although the Eastern Turks were defeated, there’s still the Western Turks threatening them. Li Er is determined that all threats needed to be diffused so that Tang could continue living in peace. As for the Tibetans, let’s deal with them later.
Li Yuanying listened quietly without interrupting, and painted the territory of Tang in his heart.
The Anxi Protectorate established last year crossed in between the lands of the Turks and the Tibetans and had abruptly opened a new passage between Tang and the Western regions. This passage connects Tang to the outside world; establishing trade routes. However, Anxi Protectorate is located very far away from Chang’an and it is hard to send large troops to fortified it. This makes Tang’s control over it extremely fragile. Neighbouring countries can attack at anytime and can do it easily and will destroy this route with ease.
Therefore, it is crucial to keep Gaochang as Tang’s territory and to maintain this trade route without interruption.
What they have to do now is to fight hard, raise up strong troops and firmly control the territory of Tang while steadily solving the threats around them.
Li Yuanying clenched his fist, which was not big and said unwillingly: “Is there no other way? Must we make a girl leave her hometown and marry a foreigner?”
“Songtsen Gampo is only 24. Brave and good at fighting and is outstanding. I’ve personally checked him out with my own eyes. To marry such a man is not a loss for Wencheng. As long as Tang is strong, no matter which country it is, no one will dare mistreat our Princesses. Isn’t it better to marry the Lord of a country than to marry ordinary sons of officials? Weren’t you the one who is always criticizing the fiance I’ve chosen for my daughters saying that they are all no good and you disliked them?” (Li Er)
“But this place is too far away!” Even he has not been to such a faraway place.
“Nothing is perfect in this world. Her parents consented to it, so why are you worrying about it?”
Sensing hat the Emperor is getting a little impatient, Yuanying stopped his questions and went back to ponder about this on this own. He thought all night long but couldn’t crack anything. The next day, he found Di Renjie, Tang Xuan, Li Zhi, Dai Ting, Mei Niang and Wei Shu and gathered them all in a tea room at Thousand Gold Hall to discuss foreign affairs.
The whole group comprises of teenagers and the oldest was only 16 or 17. Hearing that Li Yuanying was going to discuss foreign affairs with them, everyone sat upright, waiting for him to start.
Li Yuanying spread out a map and told them about what the Emperor explained yesterday.
“Gaochang initially started to revolt by not paying tribute, blocking messengers and businessmen, and attacking nearby states with the Turks because Tang’s capital Chang’an was a far away place. Although Gaochang is gone now, the reality has not changed. All the previous predicament will now become Anxi Protectorate’s headache.”
This was the first time that Di Renjie and Tang Xuan is seeing such a concise map of Tang. They quietly listen and did not voice much opinions.
Mei Niang looked at Anxi Protectorate that was in between foreign lands and thought for a while
“The only way to counter this once and for all is to turn the countries around it into Tang’s territory. Then there will be nothing to worry about.” (Mei Niang)
“It’s a pity that we are still too young, otherwise we can find a way to concur the lands and bring it under Tang’s control”. Di Renjie pointed toward Gaochang on the map. “Just like how we made Gaochang a part of our country”.
Tang Xuan being a more practical person shook his head.
“If it was really that easy, His Majesty wouldn’t have to worry so much.”
This most straightforward method will not work and the tea room fell silent for a while.
Dai Ting did not participate in the discussion but was brewing tea and serving the group.
“Don’t be busy, you also sit and discuss this.” (Li Yuanying)
“Whatever your highness’s command I obey and follow.” (Dai Ting)
Yuanying knew that Dai Ting has always been like this, so he stopped forcing him, took a sip of tea, and looked at Li Zhi and Wei Shu who were silent.
Li Zhi though for a long time but still couldn’t come up with anything. He doesn’t like to boast and hasn’t thought of anything practical and so remained silent.
Seeing Yuanying looking at her, Wei Shu took a sip of the tea and look straight at his eyes.
“Since both countries can’t be brought under Tang’s control now, then for the time being keep things at status quo and plan slowly.” (Wei Shu)
Wei Shu was the one who suggested fire ball formation during the elephant war and so Yuanying felt that her knowledge and ingenuity were different from children of her age. Therefore this time he invited her but not his other nieces.
Hearing Wei Shu finally speak, Li Yuanying immediately sat up straight, and asked with interest. “How plan slowly?”
“It is written in <<Sun Tzi>>, know your friends and your enemy and you will never lose a battle. We are helpless now maybe because we don’t know enough about these countries.” Wei Shu picked up the <<The Tibetan Empire Handbook>> brought back by Li Yuanying and praised it. “This book is great, we got to know all the surface information available but now we should send people out to visit these countries to learn even more.”
Li Yuanying nodded, Mei Niang and the others looked at Wei Shu thinking that this young girl was unusual.
Wei Shu continued: “For example, Doctor Sun mentioned that outsiders often fall ill when they visit Tibet because they are unaccustomed to the soil and water. However those born and bred there do not fall ill. Why is that so? Is there something special in their diet? I heard that all things have balancing equivalent. If there is something harmful in a place, there must be a natural enemy of this thing. Could it be that the Tibetan people have special food or medicine that prevents them from falling ill? If we unlock this then maybe our Tang army will not become ill and can advance deeper into enemy territory!”
Li Yuanying’s eyes lit up.
“Sister Shu, why are you so smart? Let’s do what we can first to prepare so that we won’t suffer if there’s a war in the future!”
Li Yuanying raised his tea bowl, imitating his older brother in giving a toast.
“You have given a very good suggestion that is worth drinking this bowl of tea!”
Wei Shu had no choice but to pick up her bowl and gently knock onto the one he was holding.
Li Yuanying drank all the tea in one gulp and urge the group to continue brainstorming about how to uncover more info about these neighboring countries.
Mei Niang picked up the tea bowl: “Here’s a ready-made method .”
Li Yuanying saw it and instantly understood. Selling tea!
Both the Tibetans and the Turks live on grasslands and has a diet high in protein. We should sell them tea! Not just normal selling but we must sell it well, with many different patterns and in a targeted manner.
Li Yuanying divided the tasks to his friends: “We will each take a booklet and study it. Then let’s write down possible methods of selling tea. Next time we gather, we share these ideas and use the best suited ones.”
“Mei Niang, you can find a way to get more insights into the customs of the Turks.”
Mei Niang nodded.
After discussing the initial strategy, the group went their separate ways.
Di Renjie and Tang Xuan walked back together headed for the same direction.
Both sighed with emotion: “I used to think that I was very smart, but today I realized that I’m so much worst off than the two girls.” Whether it was Wu Mei or Wei Shu, they were very different from ordinary girls. Whether it was knowledge or wisdom, they far exceeded people their age. Not to mention their great dexterity and agility of the mind.
“Those acknowledged by Yuanying naturally are not ordinary.” (Di Renjie)
Tang Xuan nodded in agreement. He weren’t offended about having to discuss things with two girls and a servant but was secretly a little proud. This means that Yuanying acknowledges something in him, that’s why he was included in the group!
Both teenagers with big ambition hasten their pace and said their goodbyes at the fork of the road. Both were impatient to get home and start analyzing how to open up the tea market for the Turks and the Tibetan. This will be the first stage of their great plan to conquer both countries.
Notes from the author:
Little Prince: Three common cobblers will win against Zhuge Liang!
Little Prince: I have many cobblers with me. Afraid?!