With a mission in mind, Li Yuanying had peaceful but meaningful days. Knowing all about the Emperor’s scheme to trick the boys into the Imperial Academy, Kong Yinda and colleagues were all happy to help them with their study questions.
In the blink of an eye, autumn turned to winter. Today was a day with good weather and so Li Er decided to bring the group of radish heads to Yique for a hunting trip. Yique is like the gate of Luoyang. Emperor Yang of Sui Dynasty built a palace facing Yique and many started calling this place the Gates of the Dragon.
Since arriving at Luoyang, the Emperor continued to deal with government affairs daily and had not brought the children out to play much. Hearing that the head of the family wants to bring them on a trip, the group happily changed into hunting clothes early in the morning.
As they were about to set off, Li Er saw Li Yuanying’s eagerness to rush to the front and act wildly, tempted to find an excuse to throw the kid home and ground him.
Yuanying followed His Majesty Li Er closely and asked specifically: “Why didn’t Qingque ride with us? Is it because he has became so fat that he can no longer ride a horse? Seriously I think Qingque is very different from you in this aspect. Brother, look how handsome and manly you are! You don’t lose to Old Cheng and the rest when it comes to riding or shooting an arrow!”
“Being fat means that a person is blessed.” (Li Er)
Li Yuanying rode his pony and chased Li Er closely, refusing to stop: “But it’s not good to be too fat. Master Sun once said that people who are too fat will fall sick and when they sleep they find it harder to breathe. Moreover, you should know about the heart. You like hunting so you must have seen that when a prey is cut open, there is a layer of fat around the heart. Once a person gets fat, their fatty tissues will grow too. The heart needs to pump up and down up and down, if there’s too much fat around it, the heart will get tired from jumping up and down!”
This damn kid gave such vivid description that the Emperor is now worried about his fourth son. Is his fourth child really too fat?
As the group arrived at Yique, their surroundings had been cleared and the huge hunting ground was quiet. Except for the guards who arrived earlier, there was no outsider. As soon as Li Yuanying arrived, he went to pick up his little friends from the carriage and took the group to have fun everywhere.
Li Er glanced at Li Zhi who looked like he wanted to join but did not dare to. “Bring someone along to follow your sisters, don’t let them create any accidents.”
Li Zhi responded cheerfully and took the guards to join Li Yuanying and the others.
Li Tai helped Princess Yan out of the carriage and held the chubby Little Round Ball in his arms. Little Round Ball looked left and right and soon saw Li Yuanying and his aunts playing.
“Look for Yaoyao, I want Yaoyao.”
The flesh on Li Tai’s face trembled as he coaxed the child: “Go and pay your respects to Grandpa first, then you can join them.”
Little Round Ball thought carefully and nodded in agreement.
Li Tai felt that if this son were to share more of his liking for Li Yuanying with his father, father would favour uncle even more!
“Hello Grandpa!” (Little Round Ball )
Since Li Er favors Li Tai, he automatically love this young grandchild too. He picked Little Round Ball up and felt that he had became heavier.
“Not bad, Xin Er has gained weight.”
Little Round Ball was afraid of falling, so he carefully grabbed onto grandpa’s clothes.
He then asked childishly: “Grandpa, I want to play with Yaoyao.”
Here’s another little radish who has been coaxed away by Li Yuanying!
Li Er tightened his arms and trapped Li Xiaoyuan and teased him with a smile: “What if Grandpa won’t let you go?”
Little Round Ball looked at the back of Li Yuanying leading the group further away and then at the arm in front of him. He pouted his lips and wanted to cry but didn’t dare too. He started sniffing loudly.
Seeing tears, His Majesty Li Er laughed and let placed him down, allowing Princess Yan to bring him to play with the group.
Li Tai is annoyed that his son didn’t know who to be close with. But he was also secretly happy that the Emperor is deliberately keeping him by his side.
Li Er favors Li Tai and was always happy to see his roundness, thinking that his son was blessed. But now that Li Tai was approaching him, he remember “the heart beats very tiredly” that Li Yuanying spoke of. Although his child is still in good health, but if he continues to gain weight, will he be out of breath when sleeping as Li Yuanying said?
Li Er is now concerned.
“Qingque, have you gained more weight again?”
Li Tai remembers that father likes his chubbiness and proudly said: “This son of you’re has a big heart and a big body. There isn’t much worry being by father’s side so naturally I will grow fat.”
Li Er liked hearing such a statement but being worried about his son’s health he still cautioned: “It’s better to pay attention to your weight. Your young uncle just told me that being too fat is not good for the heart .”
Li Tai: “…”
Damn you, Li Yuanying. Secretly applying trick behind my back!
What’s wrong with being fat? Did I provoke you by eating rice from your house?!
Li Tai’s face trembled and he responded emotionally: “This son hears and obey.”
Li Yuanying had no interest in hunting so the bunch of radish heads was just running around. Only when His Majesty Li Er returned and was cooking dinner did he lead his group back and sat around the Emperor to wait for food. To eat the best and freshest prey, of course you have to sit with next to imperial brother!
Li Yuanying sat down with the youngest Little Round Ball. He felt Li Tai looking at him with a bit of anger in his eyes.
Li Yuanying wondered. Is he angry because he kidnapped his son for playtime?
Li Yuanying coaxed the toddler: “Papa and Mama misses you. You have to go to them or they will be sad!”
Hearing this, the boy felt a sense of responsibility and nodded seriously. He ran back to Li Tai with his short legs , coaxing with a childish voice, “Don’t be sad!”
Today’s capture was turned into delicious dishes one after another. Li Yuanying ate a meal and leaned over towards His Majesty wanting more.
“Lord Brother, have you found any good furs? Anyway, you have a lot of furs in your palace. Give me one if you have an extra! I want to give one to my mother, she will be happy!”
Li Er gave him a look. “Why didn’t you hunt for one yourself?”
Li Yuanying said confidently: “I am still young, I can’t draw a bow. Besides, you have better skills than me, so why should I do it myself?!”
Li Er did a mental calculation. This boy is now 11 and will be 12 soon. Such nerve to say that he can’t draw a bow!
“Where were you when Zhi Nu was learning this?”
“I was much younger when Zhi Nu was learning how to shoot an arrow. Of course I was out playing.”
The Emperor wanted to provoke him.
“When I was your age, I was already able to ride horses and draw my bow. Not slacking away like someone .”
The Emperor continued with a story about the late Emperor. At that time, their queen mother belonged to the Dou family. She was the jewel of the family so naturally her future husband had to be chosen from the creme of the crop. At that time, the Dou family painted two peacocks and asked all future son-in-law candidates to shoot two arrows directed at the eyes of the peacocks. Many failed and only their late father managed to do the deed and married their mother.
“If you continue being like this, you will never be able to marry a princess in the future.”
Li Yuanying’s perspective of things was always different.
“This peacock screen is really pitiful. It must have been ruined after being shot at with so many arrows by dozens of people.”
Li Er glared at him.
Li Yuanying hummed twice and decided to ignore his brother. Wouldn’t even give him a fur piece and even twisted the incident to hurt him by saying that he can’t get a wife. Such a horrible man!
In the afternoon, the group crossed a river and rested at a Buddhist temple on the opposite bank. Yuanying remembered that he has met the monk from this temple before and quietly grabbed Wei Shu to ask for her help to put a red dot on his forehead. He must not reveal his identity here!
Wei Shu wondered, “Why a red dot on your forehead?”
“Aren’t there many Buddha statues in the temple and they all have a red dot? Many old monks have praised me for my affinity with Buddha!”
Wei Shu: “…”
Li Er walked a distance before realizing that his younger brother was gone. Looking back, he saw him holding Wei Zheng’s granddaughter and muttering something, so he sent someone to call him.
Li Yuanying happily ran back to Li Er with a brand new mole on his forehead.
Li Er took a look and was amused. Oh he suddenly had a new mole.
Yuanying didn’t feel awkward at all, and obediently followed after the Emperor to greet the host who came out to meet them. After that, Yuanying still had to go up and talk to them about the good old days. Talking about Dai Ting, he and the accompanying monks had already left Tuyuhun for the West. Although the road was difficult, no one had fallen behind. Everyone was safe and sound.
“Your apprentices are all great, the hardship of traveling far is not something everyone can bear!”
“Amitabha, those who leave home should practice determination and patience.”
Li Tai saw that Li Yuanying was chatting with their host happily so he looked for an opportunity to intervene: “Young uncle, why do you have a mole on your forehead?”
Li Yuanying: “…”
Being exposed on the spot, Li Yuanying didn’t blush in embarrassment but replied confidently: “Because this looks beautiful!”
The host was chatting happily with Prince Teng not because of his mole between his brows. Seeing Li Yuanying frankness in countering Li Tai who wanted to embarrass him in front of others, he praised Li Yuanying unhurriedly: “Your Highness has a blessed disposition even without the mole.”
Li Yuanying immediately raised his tail and said, “I think my fourth nephew is the most blessed. Look, who among us is as prosperous as him!”
Regarding the prince’s figure, the host smiled and did not answer.
Li Tai was furious but he couldn’t explode on the spot. He could only silently bear with it.
After lunch, the Emperor took the courtiers to see the Yique Grottoes. This hunting trip was mainly for this purpose.
There are famous mountains along the coast of Yique. Since Emperor Wen of Wei, many Buddha statues carved in grottoes have been successively selected to be enshrine. In recent years, Li Tai with the intention of helping Empress Zhangsun accumulate more merits and virtues, had paid a huge sum of money to invite craftsmen to prepare a Buddha statue.
After finishing, Li Tai told the Emperor about this in tears. His words were full of nostalgia for Empress Zhangsun which aroused Li Er’s own memories about her. Therefore he decided to bring the group here to see Li Tai’s works of sincerity and filial piety.
Notes from the Author:
Little prince: Fourth nephew is really bad (pointing)
Fourth nephew: You’re the one who picked a fight behind my back first! ! ! ! !