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Chapter 1220: [TangNing] Accidental meeting
Manager Wu’s actions were obviously asking them to leave. Tang Li looked at his gesture and felt his temper flaring. For the sake of his wife and daughter, he’d thought hard and rushed the journey just to give them a peaceful place to pa.s.s the New Year’s in joy. The snowstorm outside was getting bigger and bigger, but they were in the middle of nowhere with no other villages or inns in sight. Where were they supposed to go? Stay in their horse carriage for New Year’s?
Little Tang Tang could sense her father’s anger and poked out her head, staring curiously at Manager Wu with her bright, big eyes. It was very cute.
“Suppose I say it’s inconvenient?” Tang Li asked coldly.
Manager Wu could clearly tell that Tang Li was unhappy, but he politely replied, “Sir Tang, I’m really very sorry. Please tell me how much compensation you need. I’ll pay it all accordingly.”
Tang Li gave a cold snort while Ning Jing remained silent as she took little Tang Tang from his arms. She went to sit on the sidelines and wait, clearly not intending to leave. Seeing this, Manager Wu was put in a difficult spot. “Sir and Madam, I am not the owner either, so I can’t call the shots! If you two won’t leave and the boss blames me, I’ll have to resign as well! Please take this as me begging you.”
“This is such a huge teahouse. What could have happened to prevent our family of three from staying one night? It’s New Year’s Eve and the snow is pouring outside. We even have a child with us, but you insist that we leave? Manager Wu, you tell me whether that’s right or not? Can a business last long if it doesn’t abide by the morals?” Ning Jing couldn’t help piping up.
This tea plantation was big enough to house at least a few dozen courtyards. Tang Li had spent a lot of money to reserve the entire place, but under these circ.u.mstances, he was willing to take a single courtyard for themselves. That was also the full extent to which they’d yield.
Tang Li lazily sat down in a chair and crossed one leg over the other. “Hmph. Fine, we can leave. Have your owner come out and convince me with a reasonable excuse first! Otherwise...do you believe I’ll set fire to this own place just to amuse my daughter?”
It wasn’t clear whether litle Tang Tang understood his words, but she nestled close to her mother and matched his act with giggles.
Manager Wu knew nothing of Tang Li’s origins, but he knew this was a considerable man. How else could he have managed to reserve the entire teahouse? He hesitated once more, then told the truth, “Sir and Madam, I won’t hide the facts. Two hours ago, two important VIPs entered the teahouse and reserved the entire place as well…”
Tang Li slammed the table and rose to his feet. “This sir sent in reservations days ago! What do you mean by this? What, we don’t count as VIPs? I’d like to see those so-called important guests of yours!”
“Sir Tang, please calm your anger!” Manager Wu’s face took on a mysterious expression as he lowered his voice, “Sir Tang, those two masters aren’t people I can afford to offend. You two can’t, either. It’s not that I don’t want your business, but that I can’t take it. Understand? Please listen to my entreaties and leave, quickly. I’ll send men to open the roads for you and promise to send you safely to a town. I’m also willing to pay you thrice for what you lost!”
“I can’t afford to offend them? Just because of that, you won’t follow the rules? I’ll tell you now, besides my big brother and sister-in-law, there’s no one else in the world I can’t afford to offend! Lead the way. I’m going to see those guests right now and teach them what it means to be ‘first come, first served!’” The more Tang Li thought, the more annoyed he felt. How could they run into this situation before the New Year’s? He had to vent somehow.
Manager Wu finally lost his patience as well and grew serious. “Sir and Madam, don’t refuse a toast only to drink a forfeit.”
But he’d hardly spoken before a hidden dart whizzed past his mouth, leaving a long b.l.o.o.d.y gasp that stunned him. He was still wondering what had happened when Tang Li started playing with another dart that had appeared between his fingers.
He looked at Manager Wu with amus.e.m.e.nt as he grinned. “This sir will give you enough time to brew a cup of tea to invite your distinguished guests here. Just say that I’m inviting them to drink a forfeit!”
Manger Wu was simply a businessman and knew nothing of martial arts. He trembled in fear and fled. But soon enough, a team of sword-wielding pageboys took his place to surround Tang Li’s family of three.
“Courting death!” Tang Li cursed as more darts appeared in his hands. All of them aimed for vital points but didn’t take any lives. After all, he didn’t want to kill people in front of little Tang Tang.
Ning Jing held her daughter in her arms and covered her eyes, but little Tang Tang peeked through the cracks fearlessly. She even started to laugh before tugging her mother’s hand down to clap her own. “Daddy, good! Daddy great great!”
Tang Li took care of the pageboys in seconds before chuckling at his daughter. “Was that fun?”
“Yes! Fun!” Little Tang Tang grew so excited even her childish words came smoothly.
“Come, daddy will take you outside to play!” Most of Tang Li’s temper evaporated in the face of his daughter’s smile, but that didn’t mean things were over. He held little Tang Tang and told Ning Jing, “Follow behind me. Let’s go amuse our daughter.”
Ning Jing had no objections as she came along.
Husband and wife guarded against any more pageboys as they headed deeper into the teahouse. Besides the sound of Tang Li’s flying darts, there was only the laughter of little Tang Tang. After they’d walked far enough, various shadow guards emerged from the darkness, including their leader, Xu Donglin.
“Brother Dong, that was the Tang Clan Head and Lady Jing, right?” one shadow guard asked timidly.
“Yes! The Tang Clan Head...doesn’t seem to be insane anymore?” Xu Donglin muttered to himself. “But I never heard master mentioning it?”
“Brother Dong, should we report this to the master?” the guard asked.
“Looks like this was serendipity. Heheh, let the masters have a surprise. I’ll shoulder any penalties from hiding the facts later, don’t worry!” Xu Donglin chuckled.
When the masters went traveling, the shadow guards naturally came along. Xu Donglin had bought 20 or so shadow guards with him to guard different areas of the teahouse. They knew about Tang Li’s arrival as soon as he drew near. He was more curious on how Manager Wu had failed to explain Tang Li’s prior reservation to the emperor and empress when they dropped by.
“Brother Dong, that Manager Wu couldn’t have found out our masters’ ident.i.ties, right?” the shadow guard asked.
“Shouldn’t be. Mostly likely our masters offered a higher price than the Tang Clan Head. Our masters are staying for three days while he’s staying for one. Even if he has to pay back the Tang Clan Head three times as much, he’ll still manage a profit!” Xu Donglin declared.
This time the emperor and empress had chosen to travel incognito. Manager Wu must have just been using “VIPs” to scare Tang Li, because it wasn’t likely he knew their masters’ true ident.i.ties.
“Brother Dong, Lady Tang said the right thing. This Manager Wu is immoral with his business! I wonder who his boss is? Probably someone without scruples either,” the guard sighed with feeling.
“Who cares if he’s scrupulous or not? If our masters like this teahouse, they can simply buy it for themselves!” Xu Donglin said carelessly. His masters had the power, attendants, and prestige!
Very soon, Xu Donglin followed after the family of three. The teahouse was huge and full of pageboys, so Tang Li and little Tang Tang had a lot of fun playing with them all.
Currently, Long Feiye and Han Yunxi were in the deepest part of the teahouse where the largest courtyard laid. They were resting and hadn’t heard any commotion from outside yet. Long Feiye disliked rackets. Back at Tianning, he avoided all the holiday banquets he could because they were too annoying. Even when it came to New Year’s greetings, he was forced to stay in his estate while waves upon waves of officials came to pay their respects. How could he stand it?
Although it was harder to avoid these things as an emperor, he fled from them anyways. He even found an excuse to “avoid the cold” to bring Rui’er to No. 7 Teahouse to pa.s.s the new year. The officials were to send him messengers in case of an emergency but not come themselves. Actually, his original plan was to go south to the Plum Blossom Sea, but it was too far away to be plausible. There were also too many affairs going on in court for him to stay away long. Northern Li was still in chaos and he had to oversee any developments.
He had almost given up on traveling when he discovered this hot springs tea plantation west of Yunning. It would only take five to six days to reach it; moreover, the tea-scented hot springs were much to his taste, so he brought his wife and Rui’er here.
Han Yunxi was currently sitting in the next room, organizing the red packets to pa.s.s out. This was different from the past when she didn’t have to worry about such things. Now that she was the empress and mother of the nation, Cloud Realm Continent customs dictated that the wives, women, and young Misses of officials’ families had to come into court and pay her respects. In return, she was supposed to bestow them with red packets. Although they had gone traveling, the red packets still had to be sent out first thing tomorrow morning. Otherwise, people might claim she was stingy--especially those wives of the southern region’s officials, who loved to nitpick details.
Of course, Han Yunxi prepared little Rui’er and Tang Tang’s red packets first. Although Long Feiye would give them some too, she was quite willing to use her own allowance on an extra one for the children. Little Rui’er was sitting behind his mother while quietly taking out silver drafts from other red packets and placing them sheet by sheet into a single one.
He was almost one year old but lived up to his ident.i.ty as Long Feiye and Han Yunxi’s son, possessing extraordinary aspects despite his young age. For example, he was taller than other children his age, looking more like a two-year-old. His hands and feet were dexterous, allowing him to walk and even stand on tiptoes. Little Tang Tang hadn’t managed to steady herself until she was one year and two months old. She also only spoke single words when she reached one and a half years old and could only talk to her parents in conversation after reaching nearly two, but Rui’er could clearly enunciate words before his first birthday.
He was also very sensitive and could sense the faintest of movements. Long Feiye tested him once and saw that his senses were in no way inferior to those of martial parts pract.i.tioners. His learning ability was also commendable. Han Yunxi only needed to teach him once before he understood and remembered all the details. When faced with strangers, unexpected circ.u.mstances, or danger, he showed no fear, much less tars. The only exception was when Long Feiye picked him up! He cried instantly and wasn’t close to him at all!
If not for the fact that father and son shared such a similar personality, outsiders might suspect he wasn’t Long Feiye’s seed at all.
Of course, no matter how talented a less-than-one-year-old boy was, he was still ignorant to the ways of the world. It was no big deal when he stripped other red packets of their silver drafts, but he even sealed them up when he was done and set them aside.
Han Yunxi was busy filling more red packets while Long Feiye was at a nearby window watching the snow, so neither of them noticed what their son was up to. Little Rui’er ended up emptying ten whole red packets into a single one before hiding it for himself.
“What’s that noise outside?” Long Feiye said suddenly.
Before Han Yunxi noticed, little Rui’er suddenly got up and padded out the door.