Ming Feizhen the Intellect
Every household set up red lanterns, roses, white plum blossoms and other New Year decorations outside their property. The phrase from Wang Anshi’s “Plum Blossom” poem during the Song Dynasty was, “It was obvious it wasn’t snow for there were dancing flower petals.” This scene was, “It was obvious it wasn’t snow for there were lanterns saying, ‘Hello.’”
“Big Brother Ming,” uttered Su Xiao, suddenly appearing next to me. “It’s New Year’s eve.”
“Is it?” I remarked, folding my arms as I beheld the sight.
I led the life of a recluse for the last two years prior to joining Liu Shan Men, but it didn’t mean I holed up indoors for the two years. Still, I hadn’t felt this sort of exciting atmosphere in years. Yes, it was all fancy and bustling as the year came to an end all the time in the capital. New Year’s Eve had a different ambience, having said that.
You only smell drafts carrying this particular scent, the scent of firecrackers and yellow paper being burnt, on New Year’s Eve. You only see so many red candles and lanterns during the day on New Year’s Eve. If anyone ever wanted proof that people could be happy even as commoners living mundane lives, they’d find it on New Year’s Eve for everyone’s faces radiated. Judging from Emperor Yuansheng’s countenance, he must’ve known the feeling too well for he was away from his family on a day family’s sat down together. Irrespective of backgrounds, pedigrees and status, everyone on these lands celebrated the coming year.
“I miss my mother,” Su Xiao muttered. “What about you, Brother Ming?”
“Me? I… miss an old bugger,” I answered, folding my arms to think. “Just a tad.”
“My mother must miss me dearly,” voiced Su Xiao, tears coming to his eyes.
I scrubbed Su Xiao’s head to cheer him up, yet he shook his head and wiped his tears in frustration. Quietly, he mumbled, “That’s the only time I’m letting you have a touch.”
I take back what I said about everyone’s face beaming on New Year’s Eve. Tang Ye, who lost his family years ago, was clearly bitter.
First to smile, Emperor Yuansheng recited, “Twilight Xiefang Palace, the beautiful palace, stands the test of time once again. At the march of spring, the cold snow departs.”
“The brilliant golden arc of gold on the candle is akin to flower petals laid out. Everyone merrily drinks and dances to bid farewell to the old and welcome the New Year,” a maiden finished.
“That was brilliant poetry. How rare to meet someone who knows this poem.”
Lyu Yaoqin pursed her lips into a smile: “It is Emperor Taizong, Li Shimin’s ‘Staying Up All Night to Welcome the New Year’. I read it by chance and copied it down because I thought it was a nice poem. For you to remember another Emperor’s poem is very admirable.”
Flustered at the sight of Lyu Yaoqin’s grace, Emperor Yuansheng changed the topic, instructing, “Find a place to stay. Don’t attract attention.”
Emperor Yuansheng’s voice returned my self-awareness to me. I tapped Tang Ye on the shoulder, prompting him to nod back, implying, “I know what you mean.”
I smiled and headed back to the carriage.
To my surprise, the people who saw us voiced their dislike for us.
Since I sent Bai Yeshuang here first, they must’ve found a place to sojourn; I reckoned Qilin Guards and Emperor Yuansheng’s entourage would’ve also found some place to lodge. Therefore, we added to the crowd.
Sure, we could tell the inn owners who we were to demand lodging space. Nevertheless, we couldn’t trust people, and it wouldn’t be “covert” in any sense of the word.
Emperor Yuansheng assembled us after we spent some time searching for lodging and said, “How unlucky. Well, I do understand it’s New Year’s Eye, and Refining Divine Convention would bring a lot of people here – not to mention we’re probably the last to arrive here, so there’s no place for us to stay.”
Dugu remarked, “I never expected to have to leave the town after finally arriving, especially on New Year’s Eve.”
“No, that won’t be necessary. Since we tried to maintain a low profile and were victims of circumstances, we even had to hire a farmer’s field to sleep in. Things are different now.”
Brows understandably perked up. Emperor Yuansheng cast his gaze on…
“Young Ming, this is your chance to shine?”
“Huh? What? I am not in real estate.”
“Others might not be able to find lodging, but you can,” hinted Emperor Yuansheng, raising his brow as if it was some code.
This is what he was saying: “This is nothing for Ming Huayu’s senior disciple.”
Long Zaitian blurted, “He’s also a landlord now?”
“Hahaha, don’t worry. Young Ming is a professional at handling these sticky situations. Let the thug try.”
You might as well expose me! Thug? I know you slighted me to feign innocence, you prick! And screw you for the insult!
“Money?” I stretched my hand out and requested. “I will go find a place.”
If money can’t solve problems, I’ll change my name to ‘Plague’.
As I watched Emperor Yuansheng slowly raise up the corner of his lips, an ominous feeling seized my breath.
He gave me one. Bloody. Copper. Coin. One bloody copper coin!
Did your dynasty collapse without my knowledge?! You think you can even rent a tree for shade with this?!