Living leisurely in Tang Dynasty
Living Leisurely in Tang Dynasty Chapter 100

The Emperor found his younger brother and looked towards his direction.

Seeing him talking to someone, Li Er asked Kong Yingda if he knows who that person is.

Kong Yingda wouldn’t recognize everyone at the school but he coincidentally knew this boy.

“That’s Tang Guan, the son of Minister Tang.”

As soon as minister Tang Shangshu was mentioned, Li Er remembered that they were in-laws. Not sure what Li Yuanying is saying to him but the other person turned away with a dark face. Thinking back about how irritating his younger brother is, big brother could guess how incredibly annoying he was being again.

The Emperor decided to move on and told someone to bring Prince Teng to him later. He went with Kong Yingda to read articles written by the students to see if they could find any outstanding talents.

Last year, the Emperor issued an imperial edict to summon talents near and far to the Capital for an exam and a few from the Academy participated in it. Kong Yingda had some candidates in mind and collected their works to present them to the Emperor. The group look through it and picked out outstanding pieces for discussion.

When they were done, Li Yuanying was still no where in sight. Instead, he sent a message saying that Prince Teng went for dinner and will drop by after he is done eating! After all you can visit big brother anytime but food will not be delicious if it has gone cold!

His Majesty had a sullen face and looked around. Wei Zheng and the others were sitting upright, as if they have heard everything.

Li Er put down the article and got up.

“Let’s go have dinner at the Academy too.”

Kong Yingda look towards Wei Zheng but saw that he had no intentions of stopping the Emperor. They all got up and led the Emperor towards the cafeteria. Due to their humble disguise and students having only seen the Emperor from a distance, not many people recognized him.

Instead Kong Yingda was the popular one. Students all stood up to pay their respect as the teacher passes them. Kong Yingda waved his hands to motion them to continue eating. No need for big commotion, that’s way too troublesome!

Li Er saw Li Yuanying and his group eating happily as he walk towards them.

Li Zhi was the first one to notice father and quickly dragged Li Yuanying up to greet him.

Yuanying took a peek and saw his brother with a stinky face. He immediately stood up and offer up his seat to him in a welcoming gesture.

“Lord Brother, why are you here? Are you hungry too? Come let me bring you some food!”

Li Yuanying didn’t allow Li Er time to process what he had said and quickly ran off, leaving the rest of his friends who were nervous at their spot. They were all thinking hard if they should stand and pay the Emperor due respect.

Li Er waved his hands to motioned for the group to sit. There were too many eyes around and it is not good to cause a commotion.

The group quickly shifted to allow space for Kong Yingda and his group.

Li Yuanying ran away quickly but return quickly too. While away he turned back and counted the number of people in the Emperor’s party. He then quickly requested that food be brought over for everyone.

Knowing that the Emperor is here to visit his family, the people around quickly oblige to Prince Teng’s requests.

Li Yuanying returned obediently to sit next to big brother after running errands. He introduced the dishes one by one to the Emperor. There are 2 protein dishes and 2 vegetable dishes today, although not something luxurious, it is delicious  with meat cooked until tender with the freshest vegetable.

Li Er tried the dishes. As he wasn’t a picky eater, he found them quite delicious.

As the group finished their meal, the Emperor realized that the atmosphere was tense due to them being there. He quickly led Li Yuanying away to another spot

Li Yuanying on the left, Li Zhi on the right and a Cheng Yang following behind them.

Yuanying felt that he was not wrong in choosing to eat first and so chased after big brother. “Lord brother, what do you think about the food here? Not bad right?”

Li Er gave him a glance and answered calmly: “I’m afraid that if I say yes, that Restaurant will highlight my statement in an advertisement saying “Even the Emperor approves”.

Yuanying’s secret little thoughts were read by his brother but he still shamelessly brush it aside and praised his brother for his quick thinking. “Brother how can your brain work so brilliantly. I didn’t think about that! I’ll inform Dong XiaoYi later to write this down as a testimony and publish it!”

Li Er couldn’t stand it anymore and hit his brother’s forehead with his knuckle.  

Li Yuanying held on to his forehead and decided to ignore the Emperor.

The Emperor decided to do the same, he turned around and ask his kids about how they were doing.

Li Zhi was honest and mentioned that the Academy provided good lodging and meals. Although things here were not as grand as the royal palace but there were more people here so it’s easier or group discussions. Overall it’s not a bad experience.  

Chengyang nodded in agreement.

Li Er asked about the topics they had studied and asked a few questions to test them and was satisfied with their answers. Seeing that it is almost dusk, he told his children that he will be returning to the palace and that they should study hard.

Li Yuanying was waiting and anticipating for big brother’s questions. He had studied so hard and read so many books here, so he is sure that he will shock him with his brilliance!

But Li Er didn’t pay him any attention and is now leaving.

He angrily grabbed onto the Emperor’s sleeves.

Li Er glared at him.

Li Yuanying showed a face that said “You haven’t tested me.”

The Emperor said slowly: “Didn’t you say brother I can meet anytime but food is not delicious if cold? Why are you now sad that I’m leaving?”

Only then did Li Yuanying realized that the Emperor is angry at him over something so petty. The ruler of a mighty country is so petty!

“Food is no longer delicious when cold” (Li Yuanying)

The Emperor is too lazy to react to his younger brother, he will really be seen as a childish ruler if he did.

“If you really did study hard, I will prepare for you to take the Jingshi test [1]highest level of the Chinese imperial examinations. How’s that? Can you pass? Prince Jungshi, you will be the first one in the whole of Tang.”

While there has been previous instances of Royal children studying at the Academy, none of them had taken part in the official imperial examination. After all, no matter how minor a Royal, they will still be given a piece of land to govern over.  There is really no need to fight with common citizens by taking part in the imperial exams. Status and prestige that a person accumulate over a lifetime of hard-work is already handed over to them on a silver platter since birth.

If this was said to any other royal children, they wouldn’t react. Who would want to work hard over just a measly court position? What’s so good about passing the exams, only those from poor families would do something so troublesome!

But Li Yuanying works differently. Hearing “the first and only”, he got very excited.

“Really?!”

“Yes, really. If you can pass the exam”. (Li Er)

“What’s so hard about this, I’ll definitely pass!” (Li Yuanying, jumping around excitedly)

Such a great older brother who is giving him such a bright mission. Yuanying happily sent his older brother to the Academy entrance.

Passing the imperial examination is most of the student’s aim when they join this school.  But Yuanying initially took the entrance exam just to make trouble for Wei Ying. He then stayed because older brother needed his help to deal with brats at school. He even managed to execute a few more ideas and if the Emperor did not give him a new goal he would start making trouble all around looking for a fun time.

Li Er left a bait and successfully caught Li Yuanying’s attention. How does this exam work? What should he prepare for? Yuanying hadn’t thought about it yet. Once brother has left, he ran around looking for his teachers to discuss about this.

Dr. Shen hearing that the young prince will attempt the exam was shocked. If he really manages to pass the Jingshi exam then he will be the first Royal to do so and the system would be disturbed. Nonetheless, there was no law restricting him from doing so, what more can the teacher say.

Dr Shen explained the process in simple terms: “First, talents recommended by a town will gather at a county for one round of examinations. Then those who pass it will be selected and sent to a prefecture for another round of examinations. Those who pass this will be allowed to come to the Capital for the final exam in October. Generally speaking, by February of the second year, you can then take exams on Mingjing and Jingshi subjects.

Mingjing is an exam that focuses on knowledge. This special exam tests your knowledge on literature and classics; you need to not only memorize classic pieces but also explain their meaning. Jingshi focuses on strategy. You get a case study on a particular national affair and you will need to share your strategy in solving the problem.

The Academy is a little different as it has a maximum student quota. After studying for a few years here, a student can directly sit for the imperial examination. On the contrary, if you fail to meet the requirements of the Academy after five years, you’ll be kicked out. If you do meet the academy’s requirement but have not passed the imperial examination after nine years, you’ll be dismissed too.  

Students here are normally in their golden teenage years of around 14 years old. This is the best time to seek knowledge. If they can’t pass the exam even after 9 years then their remaining days will get more and more difficult.

“Jingshi is not an easy exam. You need to know how to write well and be good in literature” Dr. Shen explained to the boy with much patience. “Your Highness, you are still young and have much more to learn therefore your writing still has a hint of naive-ness. If you really want to pass the exam, you need to read more, socialize more and gain more experience. You cannot have even a hint of procrastination. Think about it, yes you are very smart but the world is not lacking of smart people. Every year those who take this exam are the cream of the crop from Tang. Even if you are supposed the smartest but the hard-work of others might still win over you”.

Yuanying listened intently, indeed very reasonable.

But he has already talked big to his brother and he will lose face if he pulls back now!

Li Yuanying decided that he will grind through this hardship!

He held onto Dr Shen to pester him about the type of books he should be reading and who wrote the best articles. He memorized all that he was told while simultaneously asking more questions. He will study what is needed and ask for guidance whenever he needs it.

That evening, Tang Guan was tasked with patrolling. Yuanying couldn’t fall asleep and so pestered his friends about when they would start preparing for the imperial examination.

Tang Xuan has joined the Academy for almost 2 years and it is almost time for him to attempt this test. He should be taking the Mingjing exam because he has decided to specialize in the <<Book of Changes>> and <<Book of Rites>>.

The rest of the boys also had their own path to follow.

Some of them came here carrying family expectations, some came here from their town’s recommendation and others with their teacher’s expectation. Everyone had their own path to fulfill and a reason that they are working so hard. It is because they have such proper planning that the tough days in the Academy becomes a little more bearable and they can work hard.

Li Yuanying was touched hearing all this.

When Tang Guan returned, most boys were already asleep except for Li Yuanying who were deep in thoughts with eyes wide opened.

Hearing Tang Guan slipping under his blanket, the boy turned around only to find his neighbour wrapped tightly under his blanket.

Yuanying reached out to pull on Tang Guan’s blanket.

No reaction.

Li Yuanying pulled again.

Tang Guan pulled away his blanket and gave him a death glare.

Yuanying said silently: “Sleeping fully under the blanket is not good for you.”

Tang Guan ignored him.

Yuanying then asks: “Would you take the examination too?”  

Tang Guan ignored him.

Yuanying started murmuring to himself: “ I initially never intended to take the exam but since Lord brother gave his permission, this exam should be a fun activity. It’ll be really cool to be Tang Dynasty’s first Prince with a Jingshi achievement.”

He continued to share why he isn’t able to fall asleep: “But listening to all our friend, everyone had their life figured out. I think I’ve been living in a blur, I want to do this and then I want to try that too. Before finishing 1 tasks I get attracted to something else again.”

Borrowing the light from the moon, Tang Guan saw the uncertainty in Li Yuanying’s eyes.

In the end, Tang Guan couldn’t keep his resolve to ignore the boy and replied: “At your current age, you should be living like this. If you already had life all figured out at 12, what meaning does your future days hold? You should try everything, then only you would know what you like and dislike; what you’re capable and not capable of. Other’s might have life all figured out maybe because they have tried many things. Isn’t everyone here older than you?”

Yuanying instantly cheered up at this statement. This is true!

If I had not tried, how would I know what I like and what I’m capable of?

A happy Yuanying looked at Tang Guan with shining eyes: “Senior Brother, you’re great. With just 1 statement I have become much clearer in my thoughts!”

“Shut up. And go to sleep.” (Tang Guan)

Li Yuanying obediently kept his mouth shut and fell into deep slumber.

Tang Guan lay on his back and look at the pitch black ceiling.

He couldn’t fall asleep.

Notes from the author:

Little Prince: This is a familiar moment….

Eldest Nephew: Cos you did this to me in the past too?

References

References
1 highest level of the Chinese imperial examinations
1 comment
  1. Lucky Baozi has spoken 8 months ago

    LYY’s skills in making trouble is going to level up fast if he does go through this ‘mission’, Lord Imperial Brother. You’re really digging a huge pit for yourself! 😂😂😂😂

    Thank you for the chapter!!! 💕💕💕💕👍👍👍👍👍

    Reply

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