Ren Baqian looked at him with his head tilted.
What's up with your expression?
You seem like you are being forced to eat shit.
"Up to you," Ren Baqian spread his arms and said.
"Brother Ren, regarding the dishes for Her Majesty's celebratory banquet" Caretaker called him again, and this time, it was more straightforward. It seemed like the hurdle between them was gone.
"Prepare two sets, one normal and the other set by underhand methods. When the time comes, we will see if the guests fulfill Her Majesty's wishes. If she is happy, we shall not torment them. If she is unhappy, they can forget about having a good meal," Ren Baqian said.
Upon hearing what Ren Baqian said, everyone in the imperial kitchen laughed.
"How are the people arranged during the banquet? How many people to one table? How many dishes will there be?" Ren Baqian asked again.
"Two people to one table of six dishes. After that, everyone gets a portion of soup. Her Majesty said that this year should be a little different from previous years," Caretaker Gou replied.
Ren Baqian nodded. This was not considered a lot, and it was very simple for him to come up with six mouth-watering dishes from among the menus found in China.
Any random birthday banquet or wedding celebration would haveat the very leastover ten dishes.
A few dishes would include stewed meatballs in brown sauce, four-joy meat balls, twice-cooked meat, and so on. All Ren Baqian had to do was to select a few dishes out of this set and could guarantee everyone would swallow their tongues while consuming the dishes.
[Four-joy meatballs - A dish usually served during banquets and only consisted of four meat balls which signified happiness, fortune, living to a ripe age, and delightfulness.]
Following which, Ren Baqian stayed on at the imperial kitchen till midnight and selected eight dishes for the cooks in the imperial kitchen to practice preparing. When it was time, he would just have to narrow it down to six dishes out of the eight dishes that they practiced.
As for the other menu, Ren Baqian prepared to carefully research "Dark cuisine". At that time, all he had to do was to choose six dishes and one soup for this menu.
[Dark cuisine - food that is being prepared under poor hygiene conditions, looked unappetizing and tasted inedible. Basically, something that was almost unfit for consumption.]
If they chose this type of cuisine, Ren Baqian was confident that the guest would leave Dayao with an unforgettable experience.
A considerably unforgettable experience.
He guaranteed that they would consume their meal even before coming for next year's banquet.
The next morning, Ren Baqian listened to Ning Caichen boast. It seemed like after wandering about yesterday, Ning Caichen discovered that only Ren Baqian would lend him a listening ear. He came shortly after Ren Baqian arrived and spoke to him non-stop about the legendary stories from his whole journey towards here.
Listening to all the things Ning Caichen had to tell him, Ren Baqian was actually quite interested in them.
For example, the local conditions and customs of different nations.
In the morning, a huge fleet of horses and carriages entered Lan City.
First of all, the fleet of horses and carriages stopped somewhere on Jingyang Road. There were three shops located at that position, and the wooden doors were all sealed.
The signboard on top declared, "Wan Family Restaurant."
A lightly bearded man wearing a purple satin robe disembarked from the carriage. He had both his hands behind his back and he raised his head to look at the three shops that were sealed off.
"Fifth Uncle, is this our family's property in Lan City?" Two men disembarked from each of the other two carriages. They were both in their twenties: one looked dashing while the other was charming.
"Not bad. Your third uncle's family has been banished to prison, and that is the reason why we are here today," replied the man who was addressed as the fifth uncle.
"This bunch of barbarians." The dashing young man was indignant. His face was full of anger.
"Be silent. This is not our home. You must remember that while you are out there, you can eat whatever you want, but you cannot speak whatever is on your mind. If you get into trouble here, nobody can save you." The middle-aged man knitted his brow.
"I'm aware of my mistake," the dashing man said hurriedly as he lowered his head.
"Do the both of you understand what we are going to do this time?" Questioned the middle-aged man.
"I understand. But fifth uncle, is Qi Zixiao really that gorgeous?" The charming young man asked.
"Far more than that. Back then, when I came to Dayao, I caught a glimpse of her from far away. She was absolutely stunning. This time around, I brought the both of you along merely with the slightest bit of hope. The two of you better not bear too excessive thoughts. The number of talented and charming young men from different nations with such similar intentions are just like a school of carps moving down the stream."
Currently, the laws and discipline of our Yun Nation are in disorder.
That dictator is an ignorant person who rejects all outsiders.
With the undercurrent now turbulent, I had no choice but to plan for a place to retreat to.
Great Xia has quite a number of rich and powerful families. Even though I have it all planned, it would not be easy to take possession of Great Xia.
This road of Dayao is of my own advocacy.
There is no lack of brave generals and fearsome soldiers in Dayao, but what it lacks is someone capable of governing the nation.
Although the current ruler of Dayao is a woman and she is still relatively young, her aspiration that of an ordinary person.
If the both of you can display your capabilities and pique her interest, perhaps you can become established here in Dayao..
It a pity that even though your third uncle has been out there managing our properties for many years, he is greedy by nature.
Besides the fact that he had ruined himself, he had ruined the properties of our family as well.
Our Zhang family's reputation here has been tarnished by him.
This time, our main objective in coming over here is to redeem our situation over here.
With regards to other matters, it is sufficient for us to be just aware of them. We need not be too excessively involved and demanding.
"Understood, Fifth Uncle. We trust your words. Among our family, Fifth Uncle's foresight, knowledge, and experience is incomparable to anyone. We have a pretty clear idea of what is going on with the exception of a little doubt. If we were to remain here and be discovered by others, we are afraid that we can't account for ourselves over at home," the both of them looked at each other while the charming youth replied.
"You do need not to worry too much about this. Since the early days, I have already found two people that are sufficient to pass off as the both of you in the family. As long as the both of you lead a secluded life, you will not need to worry about being discovered by others. Even in the case that people get hold of news about the situation here, it could be a coincidence of just having the same name and family name with similar appearance as well. Such matters can be sorted out by the family."
"Let's go. Head towards Honglu Bureau." The middle-aged man motioned to the both of them and ended the conversation.
After the two youths returned to the carriages, neither felt tranquil at all. The pair understood what the middle-aged man meant. He wanted them to scheme into an official position in Dayao. Although the two youths did not like the wilderness, they had no other way out but to do it for their family.
However, they were rather curious about why the middle-aged man described Qi Zixiao as an absolutely stunning beauty in this world. They want to see for themselves how the empress of Dayao, so highly praised by fifth uncle, looked like.
The fleet of horses and carriages arrived at the Honglu Bureau. Ren Baqian received the news and in an instant, brought Xiong Pi out with him. He took a glimpse and saw the three of them standing at the doorway with the carriages slightly further away.
In the middle was a middle-aged man with refined features and a small beard. The two young men at the back were extremely fine looking.
"They are here to execute the beauty trap!" Ren Baqian thought to himself as he looked at the two men.
"They are here to disrupt my source of livelihood. They must be suppressed, even without Her Majesty's arrangement."
They were also distracted when they saw him. To their surprise, this Honglu Deputy wasn't an aboriginal nor was he a remnant citizen of the Hao Nation. From his appearance, he seemed like someone from Great Xia or the Yun Nation.
This time someone else must have been the first to act. The few of them had this thought emerge in their heads.
"How should I address the few of you? Where are all of you from? What are you here for?" Ren Baqian asked calmly.
"I am Zhang Junzheng. These two are the members of my family, Zhang Heqi and Zhang Heju. We were informed that Her Majesty's birthday celebration is in a few days' time and specially brought gifts all the way from the Yun Nation to pay our respects. How should we address Sir?"
"My surname is Ren, Ren Baqian. You may also refer to me as Deputy Ren." Ren Baqian smiled for courtesy's sake.
"Sir Ren has a nice name. Having the world at your feet, you are bound to get a quick promotion in your career someday," the charming young man, Zhang Heju praised.
"Ha ha, I do not deserve this brother's praise," Ren Baqian pasted on his fake smile and replied. Deep down, he thought to himself:
This fella's bootlicking skill is indeed excellent. He is a big enemy and I definitely must guard against him.