It was early evening and the lanterns were just lit. Ying Lan set off from the Remote Paddy Inn and headed towards the First Prince’s residence. From far away, he could see the bright lights and servants were entering and exiting the courtyard non-stop. The illumination from the lanterns made it look like the sun was still up in the residence and there was a black shadow standing at the entrance. The shadow looked into the distance as though he was waiting for something.
Ying Lan walked over and noticed that the person waiting at the entrance was the attendant who delivered the invitation card. When the attendant saw Ying Lan arriving, he was very excited and immediately went over to welcome the man. “Palace Master Ying, you have finally arrived! This one has been waiting for a long time… If you fail to turn up, Master will surely put the blame on me. Please follow me into the residence to take part in the feast. Master has been waiting in the main hall for quite some time now.” The attendant finished speaking and bowed with a gesture to invite Ying Lan into the residence. He then led Ying Lan into the main hall.
Pei Rumo was already waiting for him and there were a total of eight dishes laid out on the table. Eight of them were hot and the others were cold dishes. There was a stew in the center of the table and it seemed like it had been cooking for quite some time. Pei Rumo was seated in the host’s seat and he gently fanned himself. Had it not been for the scar on his face and the stern aura that broke the friendly atmosphere around him, Pei Rumo would look like a graceful young master.
“Master, Palace Master Ying Lan is here. Shall we start the feast?” Ming Lu bowed to Pei Rumo and tilted his body sideways to reveal Ying Lan’s presence behind him.
Now that Ying Lan had arrived, Pei Rumo immediately closed his folding fan and stood up. He greeted Ying Lan politely, “It’s my honor to be able to invite Palace Master Ying today. Please take a seat.” Pei Rumo pointed to a chair on the eastern side of the room. In the Cloud Water Nation, people seated at this position were all esteemed guests. Pei Rumo used this custom to show his respect for Ying Lan.
Ying Lan didn’t hold himself back as he went over to his seat. He didn’t know much about Pei Rumo and it was best for him to speak less. The more he spoke, the more mistakes he might make. It was fine for him if Pei Rumo spotted a mistake and made things difficult for him, but if it implicated his mistress, things wouldn’t be good.
Pei Rumo wasn’t surprised at all in regards to Ying Lan’s rather disrespectful behavior. In Pei Rumo’s opinion, a person like Ying Lan could be considered a superior expert in the outside world. It was normal for experts to have such an eccentric attitude and even if he behaved inappropriately, Pei Rumo was an imperial prince. He should be magnanimous enough to forgive Ying Lan’s rude behavior.
“Bring up the plum blossom brew and warm it up at the side.” Pei Rumo immediately instructed his servants after seeing Ying Lan take a seat.
“Yes.” Ming Lu acknowledged his orders and headed straight for the kitchen. The plum blossom brew was unsealed from the mud during daybreak and the morning dew was still present on the surface of the jug. With such meticulous preparation, the wine was at its best flavor and the drinker wouldn’t be easily intoxicated. In order not to let the alcohol smell disperse into the air, Ming Lu had specially asked the men to seal the liquor in an icehouse to preserve the taste. As a result, they needed a stove to heat up the liquor before they could serve it. Once the plum blossom brew was heated up, it would be an exceptional liquor that couldn’t be found even among the many restaurants in the Cloud Water Nation.
Pei Rumo waited for Ming Lu to serve the wine and he waited for an opportunity to bring up the topic. Since Ming Lu wanted to preserve the taste of the wine, he took a long time to serve it. Since Ying Lan didn’t understand what Pei Rumo was thinking, he waited for the prince to break the silence.
As Ming Lu poured the alcohol, he noticed an absolutely bizarre scene. These two individuals who had outstanding strength and appearances sat in front of a table full of dishes, without moving an inch.
The duo’s current state frightened Ming Lu and he assumed that the dishes prepared by him were not to their liking. The more he thought about it, the more his arm shook as he poured the wine. He finally filled the cups and he placed the jug on the table. If he spilled the fine wine when the dishes were already not to their liking, Ming Lu was sure that he would lose his position in the First Prince’s residence after this.
“Master, Palace Master Ying Lan, are the dishes not to your liking? If there is anything you wish to eat, please inform this servant. I will ask the men to prepare it right away! If our kitchen can’t prepare the food, I will get someone to purchase it from the famous restaurants in the capital city.” Ming Lu asked carefully with his head lowered. He glanced at Pei Rumo from time to time to look at the expression on his master’s face. However, there was nothing out of the ordinary and Ming Lu hastily offered a solution.
Pei Rumo was an official who had been meddling in political affairs for a long time. He quickly reacted and poured a cup for wine for Ying Lan before speaking to Ming Lu. “It’s all good here. However, there is a saying that goes, ‘to drink and chat merrily’. Without the wine, how are we supposed to start? Isn’t that right, Palace Master Ying Lan?” Pei Rumo easily started a topic and passed it over to Ying Lan.
Before Ying Lan could say a word, Ming Lu interrupted him. “Please forgive me, honored sir. This servant went through the complicated process to preserve the aromatic taste of the plum blossom brew. It was unsealed in the morning and this servant stored it in an icehouse in order to preserve the taste. Sorry for the delay. This plum blossom brew is a liquor prepared personally by Master and there are only ten jars available per year. If I ruin the taste, won’t I be wasting Master’s efforts?”
Ming Lu’s explanation was utterly brilliant. First, he explained the reason for the delay, then he stated the preciousness of the plum blossom brew, allowing Ying Lan to feel that he was highly regarded.
How would Ying Lan be unable to decipher the meaning behind Ming Lu’s words? He quickly responded to allow the host, Pei Rumo, to escape from the awkward situation. “Your First Highness doesn’t need to blame your attendant. He is much better than my subordinate and there is also a saying that goes, ‘it is never too late to have a good meal’. I’m sure we will have a good time as long as the food is good. Furthermore, I am a commoner by birth and it is already my good fortune to be able to drink liquor personally brewed by Your First Highness.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter