New Year’s Eve – A Lucky Sign
“So-called New Year’s Eve dinners are the sumptuous meals in a year” – Ming Feizhen.
So far, I had eight pears, four apples and five plates of refreshments for my entrée. Crunching peanuts in my mouth, I conveyed, “Thanks to Master’s grace, we are able to enjoy the serenade of the black and silver choir. Once I have quenched my thirst, satiated my appetite and had my sleep, I shall offer my rested mind to design an immaculate strategy.”
“My chopsticks have yet to touch any of the refreshments served up thank you very much!” fumed Emperor Yuansheng, not appreciating my sincere speech.
“This one has a plan that promises to please you, Master,” I promised, gently pushing over the plate with five peanuts left. “Please make do, Master.”
“Do I look like a bird to you?!” Emperor Yuansheng clutched the five peanuts to throw at me but stopped himself upon seeing me grin.
Tch, stingy Emperor.
“You wish! Would you die if you didn’t have another five peanuts? You think I can’t see through your provocation ploy?” castigated Emperor Yuansheng, smashing the five peanuts in his mouth while inwardly complaining, “Thank heavens I didn’t betroth Hongzhuang to him, or he’d eat me into bankruptcy.”
To ensure nobody discovered our secret identities or our secrets, I asked for everyone to be chased out prior to handing the place over to me. The problem was “everyone” entailed… the people in the kitchen. Nonetheless, as there were plenty of ingredients left over, the maidens travelling with us declared they’d cook our New Year’s Eve dinner to reward us for a job well done on this long journey. I swear everyone considers Su Xiao a girl. Evidence? They dragged him off to the kitchen.
“Ye Luo is Ye Clan’s young mistress, but she’s been a martial arts fanatic since childhood; she’s never been the demure maiden. If you want her to cook, you might as well kill her. Miss Lyu has someone waiting on her for everything. They’re like my daughters, except one resembles Hong’er more, while the other resembles Jing’er more. It’s, therefore, perfectly understandable if they can’t cook,” elucidated Emperor Yuansheng, smiling to himself.
Quick lesson: you can gamble your taste buds on Princess Hongzhuang’s eating, but you do not eat Jingan’s cookng!
Jingan tried to poison my meals on numerous occasions. When the first attempt didn’t work, she tried aphrodisiacs, poisons that make you lose your mind, poisons that make you stupid, mute and so forth. None of them ever worked on me. One time, I was feeling fine and close to finishing, so I taunted, “Your Highness, today’s dishes are not bad. So far, you have unintentionally dropped crane head red, red head crane and crane red head into my food. What did you accidentally drop in today?”
“Fuma, please don’t tease me. I know I’m not a good cook. I made sure to not make any mistakes today,” Jingan enthused, wrinkling her nose to act cute.
I thought, “Finally an end to the antics” and finished up. A fleeting moment later, Jingan giggled and added, “But I think one of the eunuchs misbehaved and spat in your food, though I’m not sure if my eyes saw correctly.”
Get it now?! If she can’t poison you to death, she’ll irk you death!
Watching Ye Luo and Miss Lyu, I was thankful Su Xiao joined them; at least his porridge tasted decent. A meal consisting of Princess Hongzhuang and Princess Jingan’s dishes…
“Big Brother Ming, Big Brother Ming,” Su Xiao hollered as he came jogging back.
“What is it? Aren’t you supposed to be cooking?”
“Yeah! The thing is… I have some questions, yet I’m too shy to ask them, so… I want to ask you instead.”
Finally realised you’re not good enough to get married, lass?
“What is it?”
Su Xiao held up two jars: “Which is salt?”
My mouth just hung open as the rest of body froze stiff.
We have a serious issue here. You need to stay away from the kitchen!
I grabbed pen and paper to create labels for the jars and then explained to Su Xiao what firewood, rice, grease, salt, soy sauce, vinegar and tea are. While he giddily ran back to the kitchen, I started to worry for dear life. I mean, was I even going to be eating New Year’s Eve dinner or…
“Leave those trivial issues to them. I brought a chef along as you’d expect, and he’s helping out. You’ll have your share,” assured Emperor Yuansheng.
“Hahaha, brilliant. Splendid.”
“I’m sure you didn’t just search for lodging today. What arrangements do you have next?”
“Hehe, I have a plan ready to go.”
Emperor Yuansheng whacked the table: “Hahaha, you sly, conniving schemer.”
“You flatter me, Master. Could I bother you to write three characters for me?” I presented paper and a brush I prepared onto the table, requesting, “Could you please write ‘Dragon Phoenix Inn’.”
“Dragon Phoenix Inn? That’s simple enough.”
I gave Emperor Yuansheng’s completed work a thumbs up: “Beautiful.”
“That’s to be expected.”
After a few nonsensical exchanges about calligraphy, Emperor Yuansheng inquired, “Judging from the size of these characters and the name, are you planning to…”
I nodded: “We will hang this outside as our plaque.”
“Isn’t this Bright Jade Restaurant? Besides, we’re only lodging; there’s no need to buy it out.”
“It will serve us well in the long run. We are currently in need of a base without outsiders. This is a decent choice for that purpose. The problem is that Bright Jade Restaurant is too famous around here and is not involved with the martial world. We need to change the business model. Logically, we need a new name.”
“What’s this new business model?”
“The existing problem for travellers in this town is not having anywhere to lodge. If we open our doors to them, we will have an influx of people from the martial world visiting. Subsequently, we will have them as news sources.”
“Not too shabby. About this lodging model of yours, are you thinking…”
“I get it, but I can’t approve.”
“Why is that?”
Emperor Yuansheng slammed the table: “I can’t approve opening a brothel!”
“I was referring to an inn!”
You didn’t understand squat! Why was a brothel even your first thought when I brought up the idea? I thought we cleared the air about that! Have I been wronging Long Zaitian? You’re the root of them believing I own brothels, aren’t you?! Keep messing with me, and I’ll go play some x-rated games with Jingan in Hangzhou!