C90 – It’s Hard to Explain Clearly under Your IQ.
The meal left everyone thoroughly satisfied, solidifying their faith in Tang Yue’s culinary prowess. Moreover, the Octagonal Horn had garnered unanimous approval, and they all intended to gather some when they found the opportunity.
“Why is this braised meat so incredibly delicious?” Zhao Sanlang savored a bite of braised beef with evident delight.
Tang Yue mused to himself, “It’s because you’ve never tasted anything quite like it. It’s a taste that’s fresh, only growing tired of after countless bites.”
Tang Yue had finally unearthed a taste of his homeland, and he reveled in the culinary delights.
Time elapsed rapidly. Three days later, as Tang Yue slumbered, the sound of a drumbeat roused him from his sleep.
“What’s going on? What happened?” He wiped his face, gazing bewilderedly at the approaching commotion from the mountain.
“Young master, Wang Zizhao has returned.”
“So soon? …this early?” Tang Yue tossed aside the blanket, leaped from his bed, and swiftly freshened up. He donned a warm cloak and hurried outside.
He couldn’t quite fathom why he felt so elated. A mere three days had passed, during which he enjoyed a sense of freedom and relaxation, away from any controlling presence. Nevertheless, he still longed for that individual.
As Tang Yue reached the scene, Wang Zizhao had just dismounted. The two locked eyes from a distance. In that moment, an indescribable sentiment welled up within him.
He approached with a slow stride, a smile inadvertently gracing his countenance. “You’re back so soon? Is the matter resolved?”
Wang Zizhao regarded him with a deep gaze and affirmed, “It’s been taken care of.”
Tang Yue rubbed his nose and glanced in the direction behind him, noting several prison wagons in a line.
“And these are…?” He regarded Wang Zizhao with a puzzled expression.
Wang Zizhao gestured to the lead prison wagon and explained, “The deputy city lord of Qinyang City abused his authority and conspired with bandits to exploit the populace. There’s no escape from the consequences.”
“So, what’s the plan now…?”
“We’ll transport them back and deliver them to our father, the King.”
Tang Yue nodded in agreement. Since Wang Zizhao held no official position, there was ample room for skepticism from those in higher authority.
Wang Zizhao relinquished the reins to the soldiers who had come to receive him and strode toward his tent. Tang Yue and the others quickly trailed behind.
This man exuded an air of command. Within a kilometer radius, everyone sensed his presence and regarded him with hushed respect.
Upon entering the tent, Wang Zizhao inquired of Tang Yue, “What’s the reason behind this gathering of civilians? Did something occur during my absence?”
Tang Yue proceeded to recount the entire story, underscoring, “They’ve suffered losses, and providing them with suitable compensation can enhance their loyalty to the Imperial Court and the King.”
This was an unprecedented situation. After brief reflection, Wang Zizhao nodded, saying, “However, we’ve done a commendable job in eradicating the bandits. Father will reward them, and we’ll compensate them with the rewards earned.”
“Do you anticipate any objections from the soldiers?”
Wang Zizhao responded with a smile, glancing at Hu Jinpeng, who explained on his behalf, “Young sir, there’s no need to fret. The individuals we’ve brought here are all aligned with our cause. We won’t encounter any issues on that front.”
The soldiers recruited by Wang Zizhao were known for their loyalty. Wang Zizhao often provided them with generous sums of gold and silver in private. If all the rewards from the king were distributed, they wouldn’t receive a significant share.
Nonetheless, Tang Yue remained skeptical, stating, “The soldiers have performed admirably in eliminating the bandits. It wouldn’t be wise to deviate from our customary rewards. You could appeal to the king; I believe he’ll be understanding.”
After a moment’s contemplation, Wang Zizhao concurred, “While it’s not our usual practice, we can attempt it. If it proves unfeasible, we’ll revert to the original plan.”
The matter was provisionally settled. Wang Zizhao proceeded with another inquiry, “Are you genuinely interested in establishing a long-term medicinal herb trade with them?”
“Can your herbal store supply such a vast array of medicinal herbs?” Wang Zizhao inquired, his perception of herbal stores limited to a selection of basic herbs with scarce variety.
“No need for His Highness to concern himself with that. Simply await the results,” Tang Yue assured. In truth, Tang Yue had a preliminary plan. If he intended to depart, he had to make preparations.
Securing an exclusive supplier status with the Royal Family would obviate any business concerns entirely.
Given his reputation and Wang Zizhao’s connections, there was a high likelihood of monopolizing the Royal Family’s medicine market.
Wang Zizhao, observing Tang Yue’s unwavering resolve, opted not to interfere. He would grant this individual the necessary autonomy.
After concluding the discussion of recent events, Tang Yue ushered Zhao Sanlang and Ping Shun out. This group surely had numerous conspiracies to mull over, and it would be best not to involve themselves.
Lately, Zhao Sanlang had been mentoring Tang Yue in the art of cooking. He believed that employing love poems and flowers might not be sufficient to capture County Princess Huizhu’s heart, so he decided to try his hand at cooking.
In life, the way to a person’s heart was often through their stomach. As long as he could prepare meals that pleased the princess, her perception of him was bound to change.
“Sanlang, a gentleman should steer clear of the kitchen. You’ve fallen!” Tang Yue sighed, observing how this man’s intelligence seemed to plummet once he fell for someone.
“Well… I won’t let anyone else know. Tang Xiaolang, you’ll keep this secret, right?” Zhao Sanlang beseeched him with a hopeful look.
Tang Yue couldn’t help but offer some words of caution, witnessing Zhao Sanlang’s pitiable state. “The age gap between you and the princess is quite significant, not to mention your social standing. How do you plan to make a life together? Who would consent to your marriage? Is it your father or mother, perhaps?”
Zhao Sanlang understood the straightforward logic perfectly well.
He replied with a touch of sarcasm, “You really excel at dampening my spirits. What do you understand about matters of the heart? Do you comprehend romantic feelings?”
Tang Yue was left without words. Love, after all, was something he couldn’t fathom. How could someone like him, who identified as gay, comprehend the emotions between a man and a woman?
“So, are you suggesting she doesn’t wish to marry?” Tang Yue recalled that Zhao Sanlang hadn’t mentioned this before.
“I’ve considered all the points you’ve raised. I do admit it’s beyond my reach, so I’m taking a step back. As long as I can accomplish something worthwhile, does marriage hold that much importance?” In essence, Zhao Sanlang was still wedded to his unconventional beliefs.
This meant that Zhao Sanlang remained committed to his marital status, and his perspective was indeed progressive.
Unable to outwit Zhao Sanlang verbally, Tang Yue sought to dissuade him through actions. “Learning the art of cooking isn’t an overnight endeavor. You should consult the chefs at the manor. Not one of them gained their expertise without investing ten or more years of effort. None of them started without washing vegetables.”
Zhao Sanlang responded with a sneer. “You’re suggesting I learn cooking by starting with vegetable washing? Who would dare to let me do that?”
Once again, Tang Yue was left without words. Zhao Sanlang’s response was undeniably sharp, hitting the nail on the head.
“Alright. You’re interested in mastering the palm technique, correct?”
“What about the ladle?” Zhao Sanlang appeared baffled.
Tang Yue blinked as he pondered, “Cooking isn’t a concept in this era. A ladle isn’t quite fitting, but with him, cooking won’t be an issue.”
Tang Yue playfully rolled his eyes and draped his arm around Zhao Sanlang’s neck, whispering, “Don’t say I’m not loyal. If you’re eager to learn, I’ll impart a skill that no one else possesses.”
“Of course. Why should I settle for what others can do?”
“Precisely, and it’ll surely astonish the princess.”
Zhao Sanlang applauded. “Alright, let’s get started on this.”
Tang Yue led him to the kitchen, borrowed a pot, and gathered a few ingredients to commence the lesson.
As Wang Zizhao finished his conversation, he inquired about Tang Yue’s whereabouts and was informed he was in the kitchen. This came as no surprise to him.
When it came to culinary expertise, he had never witnessed anyone surpass Tang Yue. Similarly, in the realm of medical skills, he had never encountered someone more adept than Tang Yue.
Why would he have any cause to release someone so gifted and virtuous?
Upon locating the kitchen, Wang Zizhao positioned himself outside the tent and overheard a heated dispute within. One voice undoubtedly belonged to Tang Yue, while the other appeared to be the son of the State Protector’s family.
These two individuals were notably close, their bond seemingly unbreakable. Wang Zizhao couldn’t help but speculate about their relationship.
“What more do you wish to learn after the pot has already boiled?”
“Why should that concern me?”
“I instructed you to add water, but you disregarded it. Do you possess the qualities of a true apprentice?”
“Hot oil splashed all over my body. See, the back of my hand is already blistered. How am I supposed to handle a ladle?”
“With your delicate complexion, I forewarned that you might struggle to grasp this, but you remained obstinate.”
“You… Tang Yue, don’t underestimate me. Who says I can’t learn it? Proceed!”
“The pot is already boiling. How can you cook without a pot?”
“When has the kitchen ever been without the right pot? Just use a different one.”
“But I specifically need this shallow pot. How can I cook these dishes with a soup pot?”
“If you think it’s not possible, then it’s not. It’s quite challenging to explain it clearly to someone of your intellect.”
Wang Zizhao overheard the ongoing argument and furrowed his brow. As the elderly man stepped out and spotted him, he quickly bowed and greeted him.
“What are they bickering about?”
The old man chuckled. “The young master wants to learn cooking, and the young dandy is teaching him. Unfortunately, the master doesn’t appear much like a master, and the disciple doesn’t quite resemble a disciple.”
Wang Zizhao eased his furrowed brow and commented casually, “It’s getting late. Tell them not to hold up everyone’s mealtime.”
The old man couldn’t fathom Wang Zizhao’s peculiar thoughts, but he smiled and replied, “No need to worry. We won’t cause any delays. Everything is prepared.”