Li Chengqian got up with panda eyes the next day looking miserable.
Seeing him so haggard, the Crown Princess asked if everything is alright. Chengqian shook his head to indicate that all is good and went to see his son who was still sleeping. The Emperor’s grandson, Li Xiang was about to turn two. He’s smart and cute and Chengqian sat down beside the bed to watch him for a while before heading for the morning session in court.
After the court session has ended, Chengqian discussed with Fang Yizhi and other ministers on where to find Sun Simiao’s whereabouts.
When Li Er first ascended to the throne, Sun Simiao was invited to Chang’an. At that time, he was already in his seventies but had a youthful appearance and was in good health.
Back then, His Majesty invited Sun Simiao to serve at the Imperial Hospital but he rejected the offer as he prefers to travel around the country serving the common people. There was also a period when many medical classics needed to be sorted and edited and so Sun Simiao was invited to the palace again and he even brought in medical books that he had compiled himself.
Chengqian had confidence in this old genius doctor. He didn’t mention Yuanying’s words to the others but instead only said that he wanted to locate the doctor.
The group comprises those who were firstborn in their respective family and so had lots of resources and manpower at their disposal. Sun Simiao is a famous person so there are bound to be traces of his whereabouts and it shouldn’t be too difficult to find.
Ever since his conversation with Chengqian, Yuanying would often visit his great-nephew with toys and then ask if Chengqian has found any traces of the genius doctor.
Li Chengqian was also waiting.
In this era, news spread slowly. Even if the person send out by Fang YiZhi has located Sun Simiao, it would still take effort and time to bring the person or news back.
Without any news, Li Yuanying had no choice but to manage his own affairs.
Last year, he got Dai Ting to buy him a paper workshop but since there was material shortage in Winter, he hasn’t even produce half a sheet of paper.
Moving to Spring where plants and trees were abundant, paper-making materials were more commonly found. Dong Xiaoyi reported to Yuanying that the workshop can start its operation. They were just waiting for his official direction on whether to kick off the process.
Hearing this, Li Yuanying got excited and so he sent Dong Xiaoyi to look for Lady Wu.
Nowadays, Li Yuanying regarded Lady Wu as his personal librarian. If there’s a book he wants, he’ll ask her where it is first.
After listening to the little prince’s inquiries about paper-making, Lady Wu thought and shook her head.
“This is something very few people have written specifically about. Most methods are passed down by word of mouth. The most you would find is a simple mention of its creation process, no one would have recorded the full detail of paper-making.”
Seeing that Yuanying was really curious, Lady Wu shared the knowledge she knew: There’s been hemp paper made from hemp, ramie, and jute plants since the Han Dynasty. Because these are the same materials used to make clothes, the cost of hemp paper is not cheap. Later there is paper made from mulberry trees and rattan called bark paper and rattan paper. I also heard that bamboo can be used to make paper in the Jiangnan region now and the quality is very good.
If you want to improve the method of paper-making, you can start with the raw materials and see which are cheaper and easy to use.
Lady Wu’s lecture was full of reason and Li Yuanying was busy nodding his head. He then headed out of the palace and went to his workshop to repeat the same to the paper-making masters.
Yuanying’s biggest advantage is the money he has. He asked Dong Xiaoyi to show a golden ingot on the spot and said quite generously: “If anyone can come up with a good way to reduce cost, this is for him!”
He then emphasized that the quality doesn’t matter. If the paper is too soft, we’ll use it to wipe our butts, and if it’s too hard we’ll use it to package food.
In short, it doesn’t matter how the finished product is in the early stage, we only need to first find out what is suitable!
If using one material is not enough, then combine a variety of them together!
It doesn’t matter if there’s production output in the short term, he only needs the latest, best and cheapest paper-making method!
What he wants to achieve is not to make paper but to lower the price of paper!
Paper craftsmen are a stable profession with proper wages. However, they’ve not seen such a large amount of wealth shown in the gold ingots. You would not see this sight anywhere else for this mountain of gold was designed by Yuanying himself when he wanted to motivate ex-soldiers to travel to Gaochang. He personally drew a picture himself and got men to craft it accordingly – Solid and heavy like a small golden mountain, very tempting to look at!
Since the beginning of time, there aren’t many that can resist the temptation of gold. After hearing Yuanying’s promise, the craftsmen were excited and promise to do their best to find the best and most innovative way to make paper.
Yuanying liked the atmosphere and so he started imitating the Emperor’s speech pattern and started encouraging the craftsmen.
And so he was busy with finding a way to improve the process of making paper all throughout mid-February.
After Spring, the weather became more humid and the old wounds of the Emperor became unbearable. Doctors were recommending that he move to the hot springs in Li Mountain to recuperate for a few days.
However, Li Er was busy receiving envoys from Tuyuhun and had to delay acting on the advice for the time being.
This time the envoy of Tuyuhun came with the intention of welcoming their new royal bride. His Majesty has bestowed a daughter from one member of the royal family with the title of Princess Honghua and promised her hand in marriage to the ruler of Tuyuhun. And so the ministry of Rites and Honglu Temple have been busy with preparation.
His Majesty personally went out to the city gate to send off Princess Honghua and asked General Zuo Xiaowei and Prince of ZhunYang to escort the Princess to Tuyuhun.
Tuyuhun is located adjacent to Tubo and occupies a large area of grassland making it a good place for raising horses. The previous Emperor Yang of Sui has always desired to concur this land and at one point he almost wiped out this entire country.
When the Sui Dynasty fell and was in chaos and Tuyuhun regained its vitality again.
Li Er promised Princess Honghua’s hand in marriage to the king of Tuyuhun due to two reasons. One for Tuyuhun’s horses and two to help the weaker nation defend against Tubo hence splitting the power between the two nations.
Li Yuanying isn’t very aware of national affairs, all he knows is that His Majesty Li Er is so busy to the point that he had no time to pay attention to him. Of course, he took this opportunity to dabble with things.
As a result, the boy was so busy with his affairs that he neglected all his friends. One morning, Gao Yang aggressively came and block his path, not allowing him to go anywhere except to play with them.
Li Yuanying was of course agreeable and he gladly skipped classes and took Gao Yang and the others out of the palace to play.
The four little loli were all interested in his library and so Yuanying took them for a stroll at the Western City.
The library has been open for half a month and still had huge crowds waiting outside daily. However, things are more orderly now compared to its opening day.
The red jackets originally worn by students of the Imperial College are now worn by a group of poor students. They never had the opportunity to read books in the past and now this place allows them to roam among the sea of books for free. They would never allow anyone to destroy this treasure.
Li Yuanying revealed his identity and the volunteers eagerly led them in.
The people inside were quietly reading. Even Gao Yang who has the most hyperactive temperament unconsciously walks softer.
For these underprivileged students who come early daily and wait for the library to open, every book is a priceless treasure and they eagerly read and absorb as much knowledge as they possibly can.
Coincidentally, Wei Shu was also present in the library.
Both groups met and four little loli became five.
Yuanying led the five girls around various areas in the library and found out that Confucian classics have been viewed the most while other classics were rarely read but his <<Fables of Han Zi>> was popular. In fact, it has been flipped so many times that the pages are starting to tear. Though they will never know if this occurrence is due to the author also being the library’s owner and hence is given special treatment.
Since the books are already here, it’s a bit of a waste if no one reads them! Yuanying was thinking about how to make use of the less-read books in the library but Gao Yang was already tired so she pulled Yuanying’s sleeve to hint to play elsewhere.
Li Yuanying was also a child at heart so he gave in easily and brought them elsewhere for a walk.
Previously Yuanying was younger and hadn’t been conferred a title. So he wasn’t allowed to leave the palace by himself and bringing the other children out would be impossible. But now with his new title, he can go wherever he likes!
Freedom is here but he hasn’t decided where to play. Yuanying decided to ask Gao Yang who usually has the most ideas: “Where do you think we should go?”
Gao Yang had never been out of the palace but she has often played polo with her older brothers and heard lots of tales about the world outside the palace.
“I heard that Ping Kang alley is very fun.”
Her royal brothers had privately said that Ping Kang alley was a good place to go but every time she probe deeper or asked to go with them, they all remained mum and refused to talk further.
Humans are like this, the more secretive others are, the more you want to know!
The same goes for Gao Yang and she has long wanted to visit this place.
Yuanying had no interest in polo and was also well-known as the little devil king who had nothing in common with the older princes so he seldom talked with them.
Hearing the place from Gao Yang, he thought about the map of Chang’an in his head and said with confidence: “I know where it is, it’s nearby East City and you can reach it after passing through ZhuQue Gate.”
Yuanying’s personality is impulsive so he immediately brought the 5 girls along to visit Pingkang alley.
Since the girls were still young and couldn’t walk long distances, he ordered a carriage to take them directly to the entrance of Pingkang alley.
As soon as he got off the carriage, he felt that this place was quite different from the Western side.
The Western part of the city was very lively with lots of human interactions and you can hear all kinds of shouts when you walk the street. However, on this side, it’s probably because it houses most of the dignitaries and nobles class, and the streets are much quieter. Walking along the road, you’ll find several courtyards, all of which are part of the capital city liaison offices. Officers from other places would come here if they have topics to update the imperial palace.
In addition, many officers of the capital also lived here. For example, they saw the house of Chu Suiliang’s family.
Yuanying asked Gao Yang strangely: “What’s so fun here? Everything here relates to official matters and perople, just looking at it makes me bored!”
“But my royal Brothers said it would be fun!” (Gao Yang)
“Then let’s take a look.” (Yuanying)
Yuanying strolled for a while and found an old servant to ask where the fun was. The old servant looked at Yuanying and Gao Yang behind him curiously and said respectfully, “There’s only one fun place here and that is Beili. But—”
Gao Yang was already impatient so she interrupted the old servant’s “but” and asked: “Then tell us how to get to Beili?!”
Seeing Gao Yang’s domineering aura, the old servant meekly complied and show them the the way to Beili.
The group followed the direction pointed by the old servant.
The old servant looked at their backs and finished the unfinished sentence to himself: “But that place is not suitable for girls! Even the young gentlemen looks too young for this… “