Inside the hall, the tea boy was kneeling on a futon holding a paddle to turn over the coal in the stove, while the copper pot above was boiling and emitting hot steam.
Li Yuanmin with a set of heated pots, cleaned the tea and soaked it to fitler the impurity out. A pair of fair, slim hands poured a cup of hot tea for the person in front of him. With a gentle smile, he asked, “What does Daren think of Ben Wang’s skill?”
Xue Zaixing took a sip, and repeatedly praised it.
The reason for his visit this time was because he obtained some good tea and wanted to examine it with Li Yuanmin. This good quality tea was not common, it was the Yuqian Cuiyu tribute. Lingnan was a tea-producing land, and the Yuqian Cuiyu tribute to the imperial court was a unique specialty here. With only 5 pots of tea every year, it was extremely precious.
To personally use the royal family’s tribute goes against the law. How could Li Yuanmin, such a cautious and careful person, commit such a superficial mistake. But he acted as if he was completely unaware of it–it’s not that he can’t find an excuse to refuse him, he just understood the meaning of the other party’s move: this was to regard himself as his own person.
How could Li Yuanmin be an untactful person, this was simply him taking advantage of the situation for his own benefits, so he took his good intentions.
Nowadays, the ruler under heaven is about to change, this important minister around the eldest prince is a person that he can never afford to offend. Not to mention, his Eldest Imperial Brother is now suspicious of him, so he will have to deal with this guy for now.
He was not a beautiful and pleasant person who couldn’t let go of his status. He could also use his despicable little cat-scratching mind to treat him as if he was close and far to keep him at a distance. It took a lot of effort to give the other party a hint of a possibility.
He was not afraid that the other party would pester him for too long, because this person would soon fall from power.
The eldest prince, Li Yuanqian was over anxious and suspicious in his heart. His failure to seize the throne was because of this suspicion. When Emperor Mingde was ill beyond cure in his previous life, he made an imperial decree to make him the crown prince. As soon as the position of the Eastern Palace was stable, he could not wait to dispose of Xue Zaixing and separate the power among several people. This was to the extent where the military of the northern camp of Jiangbei was divided and there was no way to withstand the Sima family.
Remembering that the person in front of him was about to fall out of power, Li Yuanmin’s heart was on alert. He would not let himself make a mistake at this critical juncture.
“Doesn’t Daren have to clean up the pirates in Jiangbei? How can you come here to leisurely have time for tea tasting?”
“There are only a few pirates who are not following the rules, so how could it bother this official. I can just dispatch a few deputy generals to deal with it.”
Xue Zaixing blew the steam from the tea cup with a relaxed smile.
The previous document had described it fiercely, so how could it have now become just a few pirates? Li Yuanmin’s mind was clear. It seemed that the scale of these pirates was indeed not large, otherwise Xue Zaixing would not be so relaxed like this. Presumably, in the name of a just and honorable crusade, he let the imperial court allocate military expenses. But he didn’t know whether this was Xue Zaixing’s idea or the person in the capital. In the end, there will always be people who take bribes.
Li Yuanmin did not expose it, he only smiled and raised another topic, harmlessly chitchatting with Xue Zaixing.
After two sets of tea, a boy servant came in to report: “Your Highness, Commander Ni is back. He’s waiting outside the hall now.”
Why did he come back this early?
Li Yuanmin’s brow frowned slightly, he naturally didn’t want Ni Lie to see his appearance as he feigned civility in front of Xue Zaixing like this, so he immediately put down the tea cup, as if casually saying: “Let him go do something else first, Ben Wang hasn’t had enough tea.”
The boy servant was about to go back to reply, but was stopped by Xue Zaixing: “Wait a minute. ”
Xue Zaixing snorted lightly, as if he was very interested, and said, “I have always heard that the heroic Commander Li suppressed all others, but I have never gotten the chance to see the real person. Why don’t you let this official meet him this time?”
Li Yuanmin waved his hand and said, “What are you saying, he’s but an insolent boorish fellow. I’m afraid it’ll be embarrassing to show him to you, it won’t be good if he offends Daren. Plus, it’s more important to continue drinking tea.”
“What are you saying, Your Highness?” Xue Zaixing tapped on the table with ulterior meaning, blocking him, “I also have a military background, could it be in Your Highness’s eyes, I am as rough as him?”
Li Yuanmin laughed mockingly on the outside, but his heart was deeply worried. He knew that if he blindly refused, he would appear to have a guilty conscience, so he immediately put down the jade cup.
“Alright, since Daren wants to meet him, then just let commander Ni inside.”
After a short period of time, the light in the room dimmed. A tall, big man stood at the doorway. He stood there for a moment before he entered. His whole body still wore his armor, obviously just returning from the camp in the suburbs.
Xue Zaixing secretly looked at the person who came. This person had a firm and persistent appearance with an extraordinary bearing and a strong physique. Although the hidden muscles were not exaggerated, it was as smooth as copper pouring iron casting, which was really a good piece of material! He secretly praised him in his heart.
Li Yuanmin looked at Ni Lie silently. His words were impolite, quite arrogant and bossy: “This is your superior Daren, being able to share tea with him today is a blessing that you have cultivated from several lifetimes. Don’t just stupidly stand there, sit down quickly.”
Ni Lie’s complexion was calm, he saluted both of them before sitting on the other side.
Xue Zaixing did not come to see him specifically today and a subtle smile appeared at the corner of his mouth. His attention seemed to return to Li Yuanmin’s body, casually chatting with him, there was even a little more intimacy between words.
Ni Lie looked like an unnecessary character on the side, but fortunately, he was an uncommunicative person, so he did not interject, and only sat on the side quietly.
Li Yuanmin took a sip of tea and quietly glanced at the man who didn’t even look at him, his heart was vaguely uneasy.
Xue Zaixing reached over the teapot in front of him, poured away the residue, added new tea, poured in boiling hot water, and poured a cup of boiling hot water for Li Yuanmin.
“Your Highness insists on swindling me.”
“Oh?” Hearing his seemingly resentful tone, Li Yuanmin had a cold chill, but he still expectedly asked: “What swindling are you talking about?”
“Does Your Highness remember what you promised me? ”
How could Li Yuanmin know what kind of plan he was playing, he only smiled and responded to him: “Seems like Ben Wang has been careless and forgot about it. I will have to trouble Daren to mention it again.”
“Hmph, sure enough you have forgotten about it.” Xue Zaixing leaned his body forward a few inches, his eyes deep.
“Some time ago, Your Highness said that you would send me the incense you used everyday, how come I don’t even see a shadow of it until today?”
He leaned closer, extending his nose to sniff, “This incense is really fragrant, a perfume making people constantly think about it.”
How could Li Yuanmin not know that he was acting deliberately. If it was a usual day, naturally he would play with him in a half-truths and half-false, but he could no longer imagine Ni Lie’s complexion at this moment. He was about to say something to turn the situation around, yet with a strong wind burst near his ears, Xue Zaixing’s shoulders had been tightly detained and pushed away.
“A Lie!” Li Yuanmin stood up in shock.
Xue Zaixing’s eyes turned fierce. He used his strength to pry it open but the eagle claws on his shoulders unexpectedly did not move at all. He, in any case, was also one of the best martial generals in Bei An, yet there was no room for him to use his power even a bit under this subordinate’s hands, he couldn’t help but look at him in anger.
But seeing the young man’s expression in front of him as cold as ice, looking like he wanted to devour him, Xue Zaixing’s mind trembled for no reason. He said in a stern voice:
“Is it possible that Commander Ni wants to disrespect your superior?!”
Li Yuanmin’s heart was very anxious. Ni Lie in his mind was always with a calm expression even when he went into a battle, how could he be so easily provoked at this point?
He couldn’t help but drop his face: “Ni Lie!”
Ni Lie’s eyes were blood red. His chest was heaving violently as he slowly let go of his hand. Xue Zaixing was already in a cold sweat, his shoulders were almost numb with pain. He was about to make trouble, when Li Yuanmin had already rushed to speak in front of him:
Two guards hurried in.
“Commander Ni had offended his superior, drag him out to receive 20 sticks of punishment and forfeit his salary for a year!”
The guards looked at Li Yuanmin and then at Ni Lie, with a little hesitation on their faces.
“What are you waiting for!?” Li Yuanmin said angrily.
The guards finally stepped forward and whispered ‘excuse me’ to Ni Lie as they detained him and went outside.
Xue Zaixing finally eased up. He endured his anger: “Your Highness dealt with it rather fast, or are you afraid that nothing would end well if he were to fall under my hand?”
Li Yuanmei raised an eyebrow, somewhat angry: “Ben Wang’s little scheme unexpectedly can’t hide from the governor. What’s the matter, is it possible that Daren still wants to haggle with me about it?”
Xue Zaixing’s heart quivered with his coquettish appearance, as if it was scratched by a hundred claws. In the end he still had some anger and said with intent: “This commander Ni’s weight in Your Highness’s heart….doesn’t seem light.”
“Of course it is not light, it can be said to be very important. The corners of Li Yuanmin’s mouth pulled slightly, “He grew up with Ben Wang, everything was taught by Ben Wang. I’ve always regarded him as my brother.”
He looked at Xue Zaixing, lowered his voice, as if to complain: “Ben Wang’s brother, isn’t it the same as Daren’s brother? So why does Daren have to bother with your own brother?”
Xue Zaixing was stunned before he bursted into a loud laugh.