Thinking of the peaceful and prosperous times before, looking at the current war-torn and disintegrated country, Lin Dan finds that she is no longer able to look on coldly. She digs up a jar of wine buried in a cave, and after ups and downs she reaches the front line, hoping to meet with the Weiyuan Marquis.
"Who do you say wants to see me?" The Weiyuan Marquis almost thinks he hears wrong.
"Report to Your Highness, Lin Dan, Shopkeeper Lin wants to see you. She has been waiting for you outside the barracks for more than 20 days. If I hadn't seen her when I left the camp today, I still didn't know how long she will wait." The head of the Weiyuan Marquis' guards once followed his master to her hometown restaurant for dinner every day. How could he not know Shopkeeper Lin? Back then, the Marquis' condition became worse and he was too thin to look good. He had to rely on Shopkeeper Lin's good cooking skills to recover his body.
"She's just a woman. Why can’t she stay at home? What's she doing at the border?" The Weiyuan Marquis frowns and seems displeased, but he stands up in a hurry and goes to the door to meet Lin Dan in person.
"Your Highness, haven't seen you for years, are you all right?" Lin Dan salutes with a smile.
"Don't stand here, follow me to the tent." The Weiyuan Marquis chants all the way, "Why do you come here? Was there any danger on the road? This is not a good place. Soon there may be rivers of blood and corpses everywhere. You'd better leave quickly and I'll send someone to escort you. "
"Your Highness, I have come to give you a present." Lin Dan puts the jar that is in her arms on the table.
"What kind of wine is this?" The Weiyuan Marquis finally shows his first smile in recent days. Since he gets used to eating in her hometown restaurant, he has seldom drunk because Shopkeeper Lin wouldn't let him. He doesn't know why he has been so obedient, but it turns out that he has to listen to what she says. His already ailing and debilitating body has gradually recovered under the careful nourishment of Shopkeeper Lin. Otherwise, there would have been no such a person called the Weiyuan Marquis in this world.
"This is the Thousand-Day Wine you have been always dreaming." Lin Dan pours the clear wine into an empty bowl.
"We have been separated for less than three years, right? You are really a piece of work, saying that brewing the wine needs at least three years, then where does this jar of wine come from? You have been deliberately deceiving me!" The Weiyuan Marquis says angrily with staring eyes.
"This is the wine that I have kept elsewhere and it has been buried for five years." Lin Dan says with a slight smile, "However, what I have sent today is not this jar of wine, but the thing in it. Please have a look."
The Weiyuan Marquis looks intently and sees a slender, pink worm comes out from the clear wine. As soon as the worm comes out, the mellow and fragrant liquor gives off a more domineering smell, which can be smelt by the whole camp. Not to mention how coveted he is, even his guards standing outside the tent can't help sniffing and then shaking their heads as if they are drunk.
"Is this a wine worm?" The Weiyuan Marquis can't believe this even he sees it with his eyes.
"Yes. Only top-grade wine can breed wine worms. Put it in clear water, and after a while, the clear water can become a bowl of wine." Lin Dan fishes out the wine worm and puts it into a bowl filled with water. Later on, a thick bouquet floats from the bowl.
The Weiyuan Marquis takes a deep breath and immediately bursts out laughing, "Lin Dan, I like your present!"
However, Lin Dan gathers her brows and says slowly, "But do you know this? Wine worms can live in fine wine or clear water, but if they are put into turbid liquid, they will die immediately." As she says this, she fishes the worm into the empty bowl and pours some brown tea. And the wine worm rolls violently, suddenly becomes stiff, and then slowly turns into a stream of blood.
The Weiyuan Marquis’ ecstatic mood instantly falls to the bottom of the valley. A pair of eagle eyes glare at Lin Dan as if he is so angry, but he can’t bear to blame her for half a word. No matter how precious the wine worm is, it can't compare with this person's weight in his heart.
Lin Dan looks back without timidity and continues, "Your Highness, I can shamelessly say that my hands can turn bad into good. No matter how strange the ingredients are, they always become delicious in my hands. But there is one thing, no matter how hard I try; I can't make it into a dish. Do you know what it is?"
"What is it?" The Weiyuan Marquis patiently asks.
"It's Guanyin soil (which is nontoxic. Its main chemical composition is a silicate mineral containing aluminum, and it is also the main material for making porcelain and pottery.) As I walked along, what I saw most were rivers of blood and numerous starvation. People were displaced and in danger. They ate everything when they were too hungry. They grabbed lots of Guanyin soil and stuffed them into their mouths. Then they burst their bellies and died. Have you ever tasted Guanyin soil? Do you know the feeling of being homeless and dying? People in the State of Chu, like this wine worm struggling in turbid liquid, will one day turn into blood. Your Highness, what exactly are you defending when you come to the border to fight? "
The Weiyuan Marquis is about to answer when Lin Dan interrupts him, "You are defending imperial power, the emperor, and his absolute rule over the great State of Chu. You claim to be loyal, but except that, you can't see the common people struggling under the imperial power. If you really attack the allied forces of Tang Jiu and the junior Duke from the rear, the Huns cavalry will go straight into the Central Plains and crush the country. At that time, the emperor will be able to preserve his throne by cutting several cities, but who can see the people struggling for survival in these cities? You are not unaware of the evil nature of the Huns. They only know about aggression and do not know about governance. They will harvest the lives of the people in the cities, kill all the people, burn down all the houses and even leave no chickens or dogs. After occupying these cities, they will become stronger and stronger, while the State of Chu, which has lost its cities and is divided into many parts, will become weaker and weaker. Within five years, another great war will break out between the two countries. When that happens, who can save the people, who can save the world, you? "
Lin Dan looks straight at the Weiyuan Marquis and forces him to ask, "Is what you are doing now defending the great State of Chu and saving the people, or helping to abuse and trap the people in extreme misery? You may be able to maintain the peace of our country for a few years through this war, but what after?"
She pours out the turbid water in the bowl, and her voice becomes calm again, "Living in troubled times, people are like ants, and no one can escape the fate of being crushed. Living in a prosperous time, there will be fine wines and delicacies. A wine worm is dead, but ten million more wine worms can be raised. You have a distinguished status. Even if the country is in decline and the people are struggling, you still have ways to get food to make good wine. But do you know that when you enjoy good wine and food, the people are eating soil and even eating people? Your Highness, please withdraw the army, bring back peace to the world. You lose this wine worm, but I can raise more wine worms for you in the future, wouldn't you say so? "
The Weiyuan Marquis is thinking deeply rather than being full of depression. After a long time, when Lin Dan is almost ready to give up, he slowly turns his jadeite ring and says, "Lin Dan, let’s make it a deal. You can't go back on our word. You can't stop me from drinking as much wine as I want."
Lin Dan smiles and nods, "Deal, we will not go back on our word." ——
That night, Tang Jiu and the junior Duke of Yunnan and Guizhou, no, now should be called the Marquis of Yunnan and Guizhou, are sitting by the fire drinking. Tomorrow, the king of the Huns will launch a general attack on them, and the Weiyuan Marquis will probably take advantage of the chaos to intervene. Both sides are under attack, and the war is likely to lose. But they can't retreat. If they take a step back, the Huns will go further, and the people of the Great State of Chu will surely be destroyed.
"I wish I could persuade the old Weiyuan Marquis." The Marquis of Yunnan and Guizhou keeps his voice down.
"You can’t, he won’t see anyone before the war." Tang Jiu shakes his head.
The Marquis of Yunnan and Guizhou laughs with a sneer and gnashes his teeth, "Then we'll fight to death."
Just then, Zhao Liu rushes over and hands over a letter, lowering his voice and saying, "General, this is from the Weiyuan Marquis. Please have a look."
Tang Jiu opens the envelope and reads it line by line. His face, which has been tight for many days, shows a look of consternation. The Marquis of Yunnan and Guizhou leans over and looks at it, also very surprised. In the letter, the Weiyuan Marquis not only promises to withdraw his troops, but also is willing to cooperate with them in a play to lure the Huns into a trap and kill them.
"Is there any fraud?" The Marquis of Yunnan and Guizhou says without thinking.
"To check if the Marquis has recently met anyone. His attitude has changed so much that it is impossible to be without any sign. Whether there is fraud or not, this is still a chance." Tang Jiu analyzes calmly.
The scout soon finds out something, saying that a woman with graceful figure and beautiful appearance held a jar of wine and went to see the Weiyuan Marquis. The wine was very magical. Only by opening the jar, the strong bouquet spread all over the whole camp. The two chatted in secret for a moment in the tent. After the woman left, the Weiyuan Marquis changed his mind.
"Is she Shopkeeper Lin?" The Marquis of Yunnan and Guizhou laughs low, "Only Shopkeeper Lin can make such fine wine. The old Marquis always listens to Shopkeeper Lin. She tells him not to drink; he dares not to touch the cup. Shopkeeper Lin asks him to have breakfast; he goes to her hometown restaurant before dawn. I never expect Shopkeeper Lin to understand important principles so well. We all owe her a life when she went to the border alone to persuade the old Marquis to withdraw his troops in a time of crisis. "
Tang Jiu looks both happy and sad by looking at his eyes. It takes a long time before he says hoarsely, "Not only you and me, but also everyone in the world owes her gratitude. In this case, I will personally meet the Weiyuan Marquis tonight. Zhao Liu, send someone to fetch Lin Dan back. The border is too dangerous. I worry about her safety. "
However, Lin Dan disappears after that night. The war ends with the defeat of the Huns. The king of the Huns is cut off by a right arm and escapes with great difficulties. From then on, he fears the Central Plains like a tiger. The secret letter that the emperor colludes with the Huns to betray the cities is found by Tang Jiu to force him to abdicate. Tang Peng is the first general to attack into the capital city. He goes to the harem all the way and strangles Yan Langqing who has been already out of favor to death. Her body is hung on the beam of the cold palace. The imperial secretary is allowed to put her down until she rots into bones. That is also the place where Concubine Tang hanged herself.
The Yans’ Restaurant, which was once in its heyday, has long been in ruins. The second and the third brothers of Lin Dan’s father have no place to make a living and live in utter confusion. One day, when they pass the alley where Lin Dan’s shop was at, they see that the restaurant is still open and the business is very prosperous. Tang Jiu, who has become the emperor, is sitting in the shop in a casual dress, reading a stack of books carefully, and his brows are covered with happy and missing spirits.
Those books are Lin Dan's travel notes. She sends them back to the capital city and gives them to the little cook Qiu as teaching materials. This hometown restaurant is now opened by Qiu. She writes stories to record the wine and food she meets, and uses vivid words and sentences. Looking at these words, Tang Jiu can imagine how unrestrained and free she is. Every once in a while, she will send a jar of fine wine to the Weiyuan Marquis, but it is a pity that it will always be taken by Tang Jiu. He also tries to find her, but can’t. She is like a wisp of wind, when he thinks he can hold her in his hand, she just slips through fingers.
Someone once asked Tang Jiu about what was the most delicious meal he had ever eaten. Tang Jiu closed his eyes and thought for a moment, then smiled and said, "You may not believe it. The most delicious meal I have ever eaten is the rice when I was going to be decapitated..."