You can’t be blamed Yan Lide for being vigilant. First off his eldest son-in-law Li Tai have always commented that this kid never does good, only bad. He also stated that Li Yuanying is a jerk. Hoarding his father’s attention, his teacher’s attention and now even his son’s attention. Li Tai feels uncomfortable every time he hears his young son asking when will Yaoyao come to play? Secondly, another son-in-law, Tang Jiahui said the same thing. He’s always been influencing the Crown prince to go out for playtime and uses ridiculous reasoning and justifications to confuse his Highness.
Yan Lide’s eldest son-in-law is Prince Li Tai but his other son-in-law supports the opposing Crown Prince.
Tang Jiahui and Li Jing’s son Li Dejian are both on Li Chengqian’s side but both families hold grudges against the other and avoids meeting each other.
This is an old story during an old war with the Eastern Turks. Back then, Li Jing won the upper hand during battle and the Eastern Turks were willing to negotiate a peace pact. Li Er saw that the momentum was good and so he sent Tang Jian over for peace talks. However, even before Tang Jian could warm his seat in the meeting, Li Jing felt that peace talks were meaningless and attacked.
Li Jing had no concern for the life or death of Tang Jian. If he were to die then just treat it as a necessary sacrifice for the betterment of Great Tang. Tang Jian was lucky enough to survive and he couldn’t retaliate in any way. After all, conquering a new territory is a great achievement. Tang Jian not only couldn’t swear at Li Jing, he had to act like the better person by showing benevolence. What else should he do? Put the Emperor in a difficult position?
The father’s generation maintains a surface harmony but the son’s generation secretly fights. Isn’t it okay for the son to want to avenge their father’s injustice?
Li Yuanying and Li Dejian had some friendship and even hired a doctor for Li’s mother. Tang Jiahui was pissed by this action and mention a few harsh words about Prince Teng to his father-in-law.
Therefore, in the Yan residence, Li Yuanying had 2 labels. The little devil king since childhood and still a devil king when he grows up.
While Yan wants Lide to be vigilant, but the kid is already at his front door. He had no choice but to invite Prince Teng in as courtesy.
Since this is a temporary residence, there’s no special furnishings in the house. After Li Yuanying entered the room, he scanned his surrounding quietly but didn’t see anything interesting. He then sat down.
Yan Lide is only 46, not a lot older than the Emperor. His long beard on his chin is still black and shiny. Yan took the initiative to speak. “Your Highness, can I help you with anything?”
Yuanying nodded hastily: “Yes, yes.”
He told Yan Lide that the Emperor had gifted him Xiangcheng Palace.
“I heard that you no longer need to attend official meetings, why don’t you work together with me to fix Xiangcheng Palace. Otherwise, I heard that Old man Wei plans to split up the Palace and give it to the common people. What a waste!”
Naturally, Yan Lide already heard about this from Yan Liben and was feeling depressed. Hearing that there was still some turning point, he suddenly regained his energy.
Yan Lide came from a prominent family and has good education. During his tenure as a master craftsman, he has brought to life numerous masterpieces that satisfied many. His wife is also from an equally prominent family and his children are smart and obedient. It can be said that he had a smooth sailing life thus far. This sudden failure called Xiangcheng Palace naturally left a bad feeling in him.
Yan Lide quickly instructed that tea be serve to Prince Teng and the pair had an in depth conversation.
During their chit chat, Yuanying came to understand why Xiangcheng Palace was such a mess. Yan’s privileged background allowed him to design beautiful buildings. Everyone praised him for his aesthetic taste and he started pursuing art a little too much and as a result neglected practicality.
If a location was pre-chosen for him, he’ll do a great job designing it. But if you let Yan chose his own location, he would choose the best looking one. This statement is verified by just looking around Xiangcheng Palace: lush green vegetation with mountains and river surrounding it. It’s surely a beautiful place at first glance!
Unfortunately, the Emperor isn’t an owner who will forgo practicality over beauty. Plus a poisonous snake bit a close lady-in-waiting of an accompanying concubine. This made Li Er scream in anger at his in-laws and putt all accountability and blame on him.
And suddenly Li Yuanying benefited from this.
“I have camels from Gaochang and am worried about how to feed them. Since the grass around Xiangcheng Palace grows so well, let’s keep them there. Also, Chenqian has elephants that can also be brought over. The people looking after them hails from the South and have much experiences dealing with snakes. I’ll get them over to brainstorm. There will always be a way to solve this.”
Yan Lide nodded, it’s a feasible idea.
“When the time comes, lets raise more cattle and horses. The traders going to Tibetan Empire and Turkic can all gather here. Those who travel South with elephants and those who collect cattle, horses and camels from the north and west can all gather here instead of squeezing into Chang’an. Since we already have so many animals, let’s add a few more like eagles that can catch snakes.”
The more the boy rambles the happier he was at his ideas coming to life.
“When I get home I will get people to prepare notices of employment. Those who are good with animal rearing should all come to Xiangcheng Palace. If anyone can come up with an effective breeding method, I will reward them handsomely with money. People who wants to learn can also come here. This way when people have spare capacity, they can raise poultry to feed their children! I’ve heard rumors that many children have never tasted meat. Those who are interested do not have skills and afraid of losing money. Maybe if someone teaches them the skills needed, they will be willing to take more risk.”
Yan Lide originally thought the boy just wanted to raise animals for fun, he wasn’t expecting too hear such an elaborated plan.
Yan was also feeling a little excited. If this were to come true then not only will Xiangcheng Palace not be abandoned but it can be converted into a breeding farm that would greatly benefit the people.
With his heart surging, Yan Lide responded quickly: “Your Highness’s move is noble, and Yan is willing to assist your Highness in this!”
Since someone is willing to play with him, Yuanying happily took Yan Lide’s hand.
“That’s great! I’ll write to Chenqian and ask him to lend me elephants and Yang Liu the trainer. I’ll then move Dong Xiaoyi over to manage operations. When everyone is here, I will write a post and stick it all over Luoyang City. When that time comes, Big Yan, you must guide Dong Xiaoyi!”
Only then did Yan Lide notice that he is being called “Big Yan” and his face twitched. It’s useless now to care too much about title and name, so let’s let it slide.
“If necessary, I’m willing to contribute manpower and finances.”
Yuanying was extremely satisfied by his trip and went over to his brother’s place to praise Yan Lide.
Li Er wonders if Yan has bribed his younger brother with something but after probing deeper, he found out Yan volunteered to contribute money and manpower.
“You guys have ideas already?” (Li Er)
Yuanying then shared his plan boldly. If some are afraid of snakes, there’s bound to be people who are not afraid. I once heard from Yang Liu the elephant trainer that people in the South treat snakes as a delicacy. If they catch them, it becomes a meal. Stewed soup, grilled snake, all great food. Poisonous snakes are a little bit more troublesome, you just need to be careful not to get bitten.
“The group that came home with Dai Ting is good at raising camels. I plan to ask them to raise camels here, this way all the long grass will be eaten up. He then boasted that he wants the whole country to be able to afford meat.
His Majesty leaned back and started listing down things: “You have committed to feed and clothed everyone, provide books and education, provide good doctors and healthcare. How are you going to do so many thing?”
“Doesn’t matter. Deal with it as it comes. What’s the harm if I fail? And I have Big Yan accompanying me this time. He is a good man who agreed to contribute labour and money.”
Yuanying continued with a sigh.
“I used to think that little round ball didn’t look like his father but couldn’t decide who he looked like. Today, after meeting Big Yan, I realized little round ball looks just like him!”
Li Er was so confused by his brother’s messy nicknames that he didn’t even bother to correct him. He waved his hand and said, “Okay,okay. Do whatever you want but just make sure not to make Yan Lide lose all his money.”
Yuanying decided not to provoke His Majesty anymore and instead announced to his friends that Xiangcheng Palace would become their new play base. Do whatever you want here! Ride elephants, camels, keep all kind of eagles, falcons and cranes for fun. The girls were still a little worried about the poisonous snakes, but Gao Yang cheered.
“Can I bring along my other friends too?”
“Of course, the more the merrier. I’ll ask Big Yan to help with the planning. Let’s raise more poultry and useful livestock and um, beautiful ones too.” (Li Yuanying)
He asked Gao Yang in a hush hush manner: “I heard that snake meat is delicious, will you dare try snake?”
Gao Yang is the age where she can’t stand provocation. When someone asks if she dares do something, her first reaction is to say yes.
“Why not?” (Gao Yang)
“Then, let’s hire snake catchers to catch a few and try them out. Then we know for sure which snake is delicious!” (Li Yuanying)
“Young uncle, GaoYang still needs to get married.”
Gao Yang raised her eyebrows: “So ? You can’t eat snakes if you want to get married?”
Li Zhi shut up. Well, she will never marry me anyway.
Li Zhi felt a little sympathetic to his future brother-in-law. What if Fang also secretly hope to not pass Li Yuanying’s test.
He said nothing more but Li Yuanying still wanted to school him. “Why can’t snakes be eaten? Snakes can also be used as medicine. You used to eat it as a child. I read the prescription recorded by the imperial physician and you have had medicines with snake slough components in it.”
Relying on his few days of studying medicine with Sun Simiao, he continued to list down eloquently how snakes can be used as medicine. In addition to snake sloughs, you can use snake gallbladder, snake wine, snake ointment, snake meat and snake soup with snake eggs.
The snakes were caught with great painstaking efforts and their great ancestors would not waste any part of it. They ate everything that could be eaten, and used every part possible to make medicine.
Hearing this, Li Zhi’s stomach churned and he took several sips of tea unbearably, feeling that he might have accidentally eaten this slippery thing that crawled everywhere before!
Li Yuanying said contemptuously: “Zero knowledge.”
While Yuanying is actively lobbying for his friends to try snakes, Li Tai found out that Li Yuanying is taking over Xiangcheng Palace.
Li Er was the one who told him. As father and son chatted happily in a harmonious atmosphere, Li Tai took the opportunity to ask about his father-in-law on his wife behalf.
This is how he found out that the Emperor is planning to give the Palace to young uncle and that his father in law was brainwashed by the boy into contributing funds to help Li Yuanying renovate the place!
Li Tai was fuming but he couldn’t show this in front of the Emperor.
Returning home, Li Tai said to Princess Yan: “There’s no need for me to mediate with the Emperor my Father, your father is capable of getting away by himself.”
Hearing his tone, the princess realized that her father has got involved with Prince Teng. She wasn’t sure why but she could feel her husband’s hostility towards young uncle and this hostility is increasing day by day and looks to be surpassing even the Crown Prince.
She wanted to console her husband but little round ball came running over with his beloved ball and shouted childishly, “Papa, ball, play.”
The princess picked him up: “Papa is busy and don’t have time to play. Why don’t you play with the others?”
Since Papa is busy, Little round ball changed his request: “Yaoyao, look for him.”
He remembered that Yaoyao said that he is in Luoyang too and Yaoyao promised to play with him.
As soon as Li Tai heard Yaoyao, he became annoyed and shouted: “Take him away, don’t bother me.”
For some reason, father favored this young uncle more and more. Now even his own son and father-in-law is on good terms with him. He hated Li Yuanying!
Knowing that Li Tai was in a bad mood, Yan hurriedly carried the child out.
Tears welled up in little round ball’s eyes and he pursed his mouth, wanting to cry.
“XinEr, don’t cry. Papa is just upset today. Papa loves XinEr the most.”
The child hugged mummy’s neck and wept.
“Yaoyao, look for him, want him.”