He returned to the beast park. The next morning, a soldier arrived at the beast park to notify that Her Majesty had summoned him.
This time around, the soldier who came wasn't Shi Hu anymore. It was someone that Ren Baqian did not know. When he reached the beast park, he asked around and found out where Ren Baqian was.
Ren Baqian was about to carry Gungun and play with it. Gungun always tried to struggle free from his hands.
When Ren Baqian saw a soldier arriving, he immediately went forward to greet him and ask, "I am Ren Baqian. May I know why Her Majesty summoned me?"
"Just follow me when I tell you to do so and stop uttering so much nonsense," the soldier spoke with an arrogant tone.
They entered the palace and arrived at the same palace hall that Ren Baqian had come to last time. He did not know what the palace halls in the palace were for but it seemed that the empress liked this one very much.
"Greetings, Your Majesty." Rem Baqian saw the red-dressed empress lying on the couch with her hair let down.
The interior of the palace hall was very cold. After all, two basins of ice were placed inside.
"Come forward and speak. As for you, you can step down now," the empress said with a lazy voice.
Ren Baqian took a few steps forward with his head slightly lowered, waiting for the empress to say something.
"Last time, you said that you have a crop that can be grown in abundance while using only a small amount of land, right? Are you speaking the truth? Or is it a lie?" the empress asked.
Ren Baqian's heart skipped a beat. The last time he mentioned this, the empress did not have any reactions. It was only after talking to Caretaker Shi that he knew Dayao Nation was actually lacking in food supplies. He had been trying to figure what was going on.
Now that the empress asked him about it, he immediately replied her in full detail, "This crop is called sweet potato. It can be grown in abundance using only a small amount of land. Its yield depends on the quality of the land. However, even in the worst-case scenario, at least 3000 kilograms of sweet potatoes can be produced. Furthermore, this crop has one unique strength, that is, it has very low requirements for the land it's growing on. It can be grown on plains or on the mountains. Dayao has a few plains and therefore growing this crop will settle a huge part of the food scarcity problem."
When the empress heard these words, she abruptly sat up straight.
"Are you speaking the truth?" the empress asked in a low voice.
"Absolutely true, I am not lying at all," Ren Baqian replied with his head lowered.
"Where can I find this sweet potato?"
"Your Majesty, you can give me one mu of land near the beast park so that I can grow the sweet potatoes on it. We will be able to see the result in four months' time." Ren Baqian did not dare to say he have sweet potatoes on his hands now and told her he could only get them two days later. It was very easy to make a blunder, and so, he gave her an ambiguous answer.
"Alright, I will approve your request. I will wait for a few months to see if your miracle crop will work or not. If you succeed, you will do Dayao Nation a great service and I will reward you whatever you want. However, if you fail, you should know what the consequences of lying to me are," the empress slowly said.
"Don't worry, Your Majesty. I definitely will not take a risk with my head," Ren Baqian replied.
"You better be." The empress nodded her head.
After finishing her sentence, she laid back down on her couch. Then, she continued, "Didn't you say you know how to tell stories? Step forward and tell me a story."
"Yes!" Ren Baqian took a few steps forward. From his current position, he was able to clearer see the empress. Her elegant, almond-shaped eyes were slightly squinted and her facial expression was calm. At this point in time, her usually fearsome face looked much gentler.
Her red dress hugged her body tightly, revealing her perfect figure.
After Ren Baqian swept his gaze across her body, he lowered his head and began to think of a story to tell her.
Journey to the West? This was his favorite story but he felt that he shouldn't tell her this story. The empress probably wouldn't like a story that involved a monkey creating havoc in the Heaven, right?
How about Outlaws of the Marsh? Nope, he definitely couldn't tell her a story regarding a group of bandits initiating a rebellion.
Dream of the Red Chamber? Nope, he had never read it before.
It seemed that he could only tell her the story of Romance of the Three Kingdoms. This was the story that he had the deepest impression of. He had watched the television series a few different times. Even though he could not recall the original text, he still knew how to tell the story.
Other than the Four Classic Novels, he also knew Legend of the White Snake and Butterfly Lovers. As for the rest, he couldn't remember them.
After deciding on Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Ren Baqian cleared his throat and said, "Your Majesty, now I will tell you a story that happened during the ancient Han Dynasty of China."
"East flows the surging Yangtze River. Its rolling waves have washed away all the heroes. In the blink of an eye, our rights, wrongs, gains and losses are all in vain.
However, the green hills are still here. How long more can we enjoy the rosy setting sun?
A grey-haired fisherman stands on the riverbank alone, he is used to the wind of spring and the moon of autumn. He has a joyful reunion over a pot of rice wine.
All the things, past and present, are retold with nothing but peals of laughter!"
After Ren Baqiain finished reciting Linjiangxian, the empress opened her mouth and said, "Even though it sounds quite good, it feels slightly depressing."
Ren Baqian smiled. Then, he began to narrate the first chapter, "Three Heroes Swear Brotherhood In the Peach Garden; One Victory Shatters the Rebels In Battlegrounds".
Every now and then, the empress would ask Ren Baqian about the characters, such as, Shi Changshi, Zheng Xuan, Lu Zhi, Gongsun Zan, etc.
When Ren Baqian began to explain and the empress heard the word "eunuch", she commented, "I heard there are eunuchs in the imperial palace of Great Xia Nation. As the ruler of Dayao, I can't possibly defile the citizens of my country."
When Ren Baqian mentioned Empress Dowager He and Empress Dowager Dong, the empress asked with puzzlement, "Why can't women participate in politics?"
"Hmm, during the ancient times of China, women aren't allowed to participate in politics."
"Behead those who have objections until no one dares to say anything. This method work will definitely work," the empress remarked with disdain.
Ren Baqian felt this statement made sense after thinking about it. Someone in the history of China indeed did just what she said and succeeded. It seemed like this empress shared common sentiments with Wu Zetian.
(Wu Zetian - First empress in the history of China)
During the afternoon, after the empress finished her lunch and Ren Baqian drank some water, the latter continued his story.
In the beginning, the empress kept on interrupting Ren Baqian. Eventually, she did not say anything more and listened to Ren Baqian's story attentively.
For the rest of the day, Ren Baqian narrated 11 chapters. He narrated how Liu Bei saved Kong Rong and how Lu Bu defeated Cao Cao.
His tongue and mouth were dry, but he was still very energetic. All along, he loved Romance of the Three Kingdoms very much, but he seldom discussed it with other people. Now that he met someone who had never heard the story before, he could finally express his love for it. The more he told the story, the more excited and engrossed he got.
Eventually, he even began to pace up and down while making hand gestures occasionally.
The empress did not mind his antics at all. She found his dramatic gestures to be extremely amusing and her lips curled into a smile. It was a pity that Ren Baqian so was immersed in the world of Romance of the Three Kingdoms that he failed to notice her smile.
Beside the empress, there were two palace maids. Even though they did not make comments or give opinions like what the empress did, they were enchanted by the story. They gritted their teeth in excitement as the story progressed. After listening to the story for only a while, they already beamed with happiness.
Very soon, the sky darkened. Ren Baqian finally stopped talking when he saw the color of the sky.
"This story is rather interesting," the empress said. Following which, she told Ren Baqian to go back first and continue the story tomorrow
Ren Baqian was stunned when he heard these words. Tonight, he was going to go back to Earth. How could he continue the story tomorrow? He hurriedly said, "Your Majesty, tomorrow I have to make various preparations for the cultivation of the sweet potatoes, and I still have to clear a plot of land for it. After all, food supply is the cornerstone of a great nation. We can't depend on those unscrupulous merchants anymore. Right now, obtaining a reliable food source is of the utmost importance."
The empress looked at Ren Baqian with a fascination. Then she said, "What you said makes sense. Our citizens' livelihood is a matter of the utmost importance now. Tell you what, you will go back and prepare your so-called 'sweet potatoes' first. After you are done with them, come back and continue the story for me. And don't forget your bet with my imperial kitchen."
The two palace maids looked at Ren Baqian with a lamenting look in their eyes. He was just getting to the climax of the story.
They hoped Ren Baqian could come back earlier to continue the story.