translator: baumkuchen editor: ellabells
“What?” Lu Qingjiu asked, “Are you talking about Hu Shu?”
“No, not Hu Shu,” Yin Xun said, “Look at that person standing behind him…”
Lu Qingjiu looked closer, only then realising that there was a person not far behind Pang Ziqi. That person was a long haired woman wearing a blue-green skirt with a brown umbrella in her hands. The umbrella was very big and deep, just so happening to cover her face.
At first glance, the woman seemed to have nothing to do with Pang Ziqi, but if one were to look closer, they would notice that she seemed to be purposely standing behind Pang Ziqi.
“What… is that?” Lu Qingjiu was a little surprised. This thing probably didn’t fall under the category of humans, to the point that if not for Yin Xun having just said that, he wouldn’t have noticed the person constantly standing behind Pang Ziqi at all.
“I don’t know.” Yin Xun glanced over. “It doesn’t seem to be anything good…” That thing had a mysterious air about it, making people not want to get close.
Lu Qingjiu asked, “…He hasn’t noticed?”
Yin Xun said, “Seems like he hasn’t.”
Probably because the two’s gazes were too obvious, Pang Ziqi sensed them staring. After standing up, he shot an unfriendly glare in the direction of the dumpling shop before walking off. And as he walked forwards, the umbrella-carrying woman also moved forwards along with his steps. She didn’t seem to have feet. As she walked on the ground, it was like she was floating in mid-air. When Pang Ziqi sped up, she would speed up. When Pang Ziqi slowed down, she would slow down.
Seeing this made Lu Qingjiu’s hair stand on end.
After Hu Shu sent Pang Ziqi off, he walked over, sighing, and apologised to Lu Qingjiu once more, explaining that Pang Ziqi had been sent over to do something by the higher-ups and would only be here for a limited period of time. Because he was from a special department, he was especially arrogant, but actually he wasn’t a terrible person…
As he spoke, however, he noticed Lu Qingjiu and Yin Xun both seemed to be in a daze. He asked quickly, “What are you two looking at?”
Yin Xun pulled Hu Shu over and pointed at Pang Ziqi, who was quickly about to disappear into the distance. “Do you see anything?”
“What thing?” Hu Shu was utterly confused.
“That is… a strange person or something,” Yin Xun said.
“A strange person?” Hu Shu replied, “I don’t think that there’s any stranger person in this town than Pang Ziqi.”
Since he said this, it confirmed that he couldn’t see the green clad woman following behind Pang Ziqi. Lu Qingjiu said with vagueness, “Then when you go back, tell Pang Ziqi that I feel like there’s something following behind him.” He didn’t dare say it too clearly.
We’re sorry for MTLers or people who like using reading mode, but our translations keep getting stolen by aggregators so we’re going to bring back the copy protection. If you need to MTL please retype the gibberish parts.
“Cigluta, yea atja’r fzjmais atf xlcv bo atlcu tlr vfqjgawfca vfjir klat.” Le Vte kjnfv tlw boo. “Tbe akb cffvc’a yf abb kbgglfv.”
Coafg vfajlifv defralbclcu, Oe Hlcuple obecv bea atja la kjr yfmjerf rbwfatlcu tjv tjqqfcfv jujlc atja atf tlutfg eqr tjv rfca atlr rqfmlji vfqjgawfca bnfg. Yo mbegrf, yfmjerf atlr kjr mbcolvfcalji lcobgwjalbc, Le Vte vlvc’a gfjiis ub lcab jcs vfajlir.
After chatting for a while, the shop finished packing up the dumplings. Hu Shu helped them load the dumplings onto the truck. He even asked, confused, why they bought so many dumplings. They were only a family of three, this would take them a few weeks to finish.
Lu Qingjiu just smiled and didn’t reply. The heavens knew that this amount of dumplings only just made up a meal for Bai Yuehu.
After returning home, Lu Qingjiu reheated the dumplings, chopped up some pickled vegetables for the porridge, and then the three of them began to eat. The taste of the xiaolongbao hadn’t changed at all. They still had thin skin and lots of filling, one bite would fill one’s mouth with rich juices and the tightly packed, delicate meat filling was still a little chewy. Even Lu Qingjiu could pop them down one after another.
As he ate, Lu Qingjiu told Bai Yuehu about what had happened in town that day. He skipped some details, mainly talking about the woman behind Pang Ziqi. Both Yin Xun and he were a little curious as to what exactly that was.
After listening, Bai Yuehu spoke, saying that humans were truly gutsy.
“What do you mean? Gutsy?” Lu Qingjiu didn’t understand.
Bai Yuehu said, “En, he touched something he shouldn’t have touched.”
“What shouldn’t he have touched?” Yin Xun asked, “Is it a curse?”
Bai Yuehu said, “This, I don’t know. But he himself should know it very well.” He was clearly uninterested in Pang Ziqi’s circumstances.
Looking at Bai Yuehu’s reaction, Lu Qingjiu realised a key point… That thing must not taste good, or else Bai Yuehu wouldn’t have such an indifferent attitude.
“Being followed by something like that must be really scary.” Yin Xun’s heart was still thumping slightly. “And he himself still doesn’t seem to be able to see it…”
Lu Qingjiu said, “Yeah.”
Even though they were curious about this matter, they didn’t bother themselves too much over it. Just like that, the topic ended.
The volume of rain they had this year was relatively small. Adding on the more than sufficient sunshine, the fruits were growing well. Yin Xun, who knew everything that happened on the mountain, said that there was a patch of wild red bayberry trees on the mountains. The red bayberries were pretty much all ripe currently so Yin Xun called Lu Qingjiu to come with him up the mountain to harvest some.
Red bayberries didn’t stay ripe for very long, probably for only around ten or so days. Adding on to that, the berries didn’t have any protective skin around them and were easily eaten by birds or bugs, so wild bayberries were incredibly rare. Yin Xun had specially saved this grove of wild bayberries for them.
Red bayberry trees weren’t very tall. On the verdant branches hung fiery red bayberries. Some were fully ripe, becoming a beautiful purplish-red colour. Lu Qingjiu plucked one and placed it in his mouth. He praised, “It’s really sweet.”
“Yeah, they are,” Yin Xun said, “These trees are the results of my meticulous care every year…”
Lu Qingjiu replied, “There are so many, you can finish them all on your own?”
Yin Xun said, “If I can’t finish them, I just bring them down the mountain to sell, and use the money to buy some meat…”
Lu Qingjiu, “…” Why does this sound so pitiful?
The two picked the berries as they ate. By the time they filled a basket, they were just about full. Red bayberries were a little different from other fruits. When one ate them, they were sweet, but if one ate too much they would start to feel their teeth hurt. Lu Qingjiu was still alright, but Yin Xun had eaten a whole stomachful and his teeth hurt so much that he couldn’t even eat dinner.
Seeing this, Lu Qingjiu found it truly funny.
Bai Yuehu also really liked red bayberries, so after washing them, Lu Qingjiu set them out in a big plate for him and placed it in front of him for him to eat as he wished. Yin Xun watched bitterly from off to the side. He hadn’t had enough, but his teeth really couldn’t take any more. Under Yin Xun’s stare, Bai Yuehu ate extremely calmly, not even sparing Yin Xun an extra look.
In the end, a good amount of the few dozens of jin of red bayberries they picked all ended up in Bai Yuehu’s stomach. Lu Qingjiu also sent some to Li Xiaoyu’s home next door and the rest were all made into red bayberry jam.
Red bayberries were really suited for making jam. The method was about the same as the one he used for cherries. Because of their high water and sugar content, the can of jam that he made would lose its sourness, leaving behind only sweetness. Mixing it with water and adding in ice in the summer was even better than sour plum juice. Almost half of the summer had gone by. Seeing that it was about to enter fall soon, Lu Qingjiu made plans to go to town to buy some seeds for autumn.
Usually, one had to pay very close attention to the seasons when farming and many crops needed to be planted in advance. But with Bai Yuehu taking over the farming, a lot of the burden had been taken off of Lu Qingjiu’s shoulders. He just needed to provide Bai Yuehu with the seeds, and the corresponding crops could be obtained in a short period of time. Sometimes, when Lu Qingjiu passed through the village and engaged in short conversations with the village aunties, he would always hear the aunties praise Bai Yuehu for being a good farmer. They would even say that even though the young man looked every delicate and graceful, he worked very nimbly. They would also ask if Bai Yuehu had been farming for many years, if not why were his skills at tilling so practiced. Other people were all using bulls, but he could finish tilling a field with a hoe all by himself…
After listening to what the aunties said, Lu Qingjiu’s mood was very complex, thinking, other people would engage in affairs with their fox spirits, but his family’s fox spirit was unlike those other pretty, flirtatious loose people, all his effort was placed into the fields. So after getting home, feeling a little tender towards him, he stewed a huge pot of beef that night.
Yin Xun even confusedly asked if he had anything good happen at home, but only saw Lu Qingjiu looking at Bai Yuehu and him with a loving look in his eyes, then giving them each a piece of meat, telling them to eat a little more.
Yin Xun, “…” What in the world happened.
Lu Qingjiu asked Yin Xun to wash the dishes after finishing his meal, saying that he was going to make a trip to town to buy some seeds and some spices while he was at it. He wanted to braise some chicken feet and beef for snacks that night, but he was almost out of sauce.
“Go, go,” Yin Xun said, “Come back soon.”
Lu Qingjiu nodded in acknowledgment. With his bag slung over his back, he walked over to the pickup truck, opened the hood and stuffed in some fruit gummies. Then he patted the pickup truck on the head and said, “You’ve been working hard. We need to go to town again.”
The pickup truck happily honked a few times. This time, their trip down the mountains was a little faster.
Lu Qingjiu had left at noon. He planned to directly head back after buying the seeds and spices since it would be best if he could head back earlier so that they could have braised chicken feet by nighttime.
Lu Qingjiu parked the truck and headed to the seed shop to buy some seeds for his autumn crop. Just as he’d picked his seeds and was paying for them by the entrance, he caught sight of a familiar figure walking by from the corner of his eye.
Lu Qingjiu turned and saw that Pang Ziqi who had been rude to them before. Upon getting a good look, his eyes grew round, and his pupils filled with horror.
“What’s wrong?” Seeing Lu Qingjiu’s expression wasn’t right, the seed shop owner asked, a little doubtful.
“…No, nothing.” Lu Qingjiu shook his head.
“You know that new police officer?” The seed shop owner thought that something had happened between Lu Qingjiu and Pang Ziqi. He said, “His temper isn’t very good, but he’s still alright at his job. I heard he was sent over by his higher-ups and won’t be here for very long…”
Lu Qingjiu said, “Oh…” He responded vaguely, but the horror in his eyes hadn’t lessened.
Even though Pang Ziqi still looked the same as the last time he saw him, the woman following behind him had changed. The woman with an umbrella was now right behind Pang Ziqi, her head resting on his shoulder, and the umbrella in her hands covering both their heads. This time, Lu Qingjiu got a good look at the woman’s face. It was a face that couldn’t be at all considered human. Her eyes had no pupils, just white sclera, and on her ears hung two hissing snakes. One of the little snakes was green, the other red, both with dark eyes, glaring viciously at Pang Ziqi.
Seeing it made the skin on Lu Qingjiu’s scalp prickle. Just as he was about to retract his gaze, he noticed that the woman had noticed him at some point. Her head leaned towards him, and her eyes looked over.
Being stared at by those white, pupil-less eyes, Lu Qingjiu’s back immediately chilled. He pretended to not have seen the woman, casually looking away, but that malicious gaze didn’t disappear until Pang Ziqi, who was patrolling the streets, disappeared around a corner.
What on earth was that? What had Pang Ziqi provoked? Lu Qingjiu thought with some lingering fear in his heart, that thing didn’t look like something one should easily provoke, if what Bai Yuehu had said was right, then he feared that Pang Ziqi was going to run into misfortune…
The author has something to say:
Hahahaha yesterday’s comments almost made me laugh to death, you guys are all talented people ah
Lu Qingjiu: What was it that led to us meeting, was it love?
Bai Yuehu: Poverty.
Lu Qingjiu: …