The autumn wind was strong, rustling through the leaves, but this was also a season for harvests. The persimmon trees in the east of the village were covered in glistening yellow persimmons, like beautiful little yellow lanterns, swaying in the autumn wind with the branches.
In autumn, this prosperous season, the village was also the image of prosperous. Walking outside, one could see the villagers carrying food everywhere, their faces full of joy from the harvest.
This year, the weather was good, without any abnormal weather. It seemed like Shuifu village’s harvest was very good.
Lu Qingjiu took a walk around the village to digest. Just as he was about to head to sleep, Uncle Li from next door knocked on his door.
“Uncle Li, what’s up?” Lu Qingjiu asked.
“Qingjiu ah, the village is going to have its autumn harvest festival the day after tomorrow,” Uncle Li said, “Don’t forget to come, it’ll be at the big embankment by the entrance of the village.”
Only then did Lu Qingjiu remember that Shuifu village had this tradition. He nodded and said, “Alright, I’ll definitely come.”
Uncle Li said, “Alright, I was just worried you’d forgotten, so I came to remind you.”
“Thank you, Uncle Li,” Lu Qingjiu smiled and thanked him.
Because their livelihoods depended on the weather, every year, Shuifu village would hold an autumn harvest festival in the autumn. That is, every family would contribute some vegetables or other foodstuff, and have the women in the village make this foodstuff into dishes for everyone to eat after the ceremony. Firstly, it was to give offerings to the mountain god for a good harvest next year, and secondly, it was to also let the villagers come into contact with each other and build relations.
Lu Qingjiu hadn’t been back for too long, and had completely forgotten about this. Yin Xun also hadn’t brought it up, probably because this autumn harvest festival was used to offer sacrifices to the mountain god. Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if he were to go?
The next day, Lu Qingjiu brought up the matter of the autumn harvest festival to Yin Xun in the truck.
After hearing about it, Yin Xun was silent for a while, before saying, “Oh, the autumn festival. Are you going?”
“I probably am.” Seeing that Yin Xun seemed a little unhappy, Lu Qingjiu asked, “What, you don’t like it?”
Yin Xun said, “I don’t……”
This piqued Lu Qingjiu’s curiosity. “Why’s that?”
Yin Xun said, “Because the stuff they offer to the mountain god is all raw, while the stuff they eat is cooked.” He even became a little aggrieved. “And also every time it’s not like I can use my human identity to participate. I can only watch them eat.”
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.
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This year, he would probably be doing the same. Only Lu Qingjiu and Bai Yuehu could go.
Lu Qingjiu had bought quite a lot of duck eggs and meat in town, and also stocked up on all the seasonings he was lacking at home. After coming back, he began making salted duck eggs. He had originally planned on making fermented beancurd over these few days as well, but because of the autumn harvest festival, it seemed that those plans would have to be delayed for a few days.
Because of the autumn harvest festival, the usually quiet mountain village became lively. For the children, it was like Chinese New Year, they seemed to have a lot more delicious snacks than usual.
Lu Qingjiu planned on bringing beef and some vegetables to the autumn harvest festival. This year was his first year back in Shuifu village, so building good relationships with the villagers was necessary.
Bai Yuehu wasn’t very interested in this kind of gathering with lots of people, and expressed that he would be fine with just eating instant noodles at home.
Lu Qingjiu laughed, “What do you mean eating instant noodles, I’ve steamed some pork ribs with glutinous rice for you guys. Just turn off the fire when it’s time and it’ll be fine. Don’t forget to feed a bit to the little fox.”
Bai Yuehu nodded, and told Lu Qingjiu to leave early and come back early.
Lu Qingjiu said okay, and went out the door with the meat. Today, he hadn’t seen hide nor hair of Yin Xun. Lu Qingjiu guessed that he’d probably already gone off to be a mountain god.
A lot of people had already gathered at the meeting point, the embankment at the front of the village. Lu Qingjiu went over with meat. As soon as he got there, an auntie from the village greeted him warmly. Upon seeing the beef in his hands, her smile became even warmer. Lu Qingjiu quickly handed the meat over to her, then casually found a place to sit down.
There was a huge wooden platform in the centre of the embankment, on which was a statue of a mountain god carved from stone. Of course, like all mountain gods, he had a goatee and a kind face, completely unlike that silly appearance of Yin Xun’s.
The women in the village placed all kinds of foodstuff brought by the villagers before the wooden platform. When it turned noon, the village head knelt down before the mountain god, lighting a stick of incense in worship, and prayed to the mountain god to bless Shuifu village with good weather in the coming year.
Perhaps because Shuifu village was in a rather remote location, almost isolated from the modern world, this ancient form of worship still remained.
Lu Qingjiu was also looking at the statue of the mountain god. Only, he didn’t know if it was his misconception, but he kept feeling as if whenever he looked at the statue of the mountain god, the goateed mountain god would shoot him a smile. But when he looked closer, he would then find that the mountain god still had the same severe expression as always, his eyes staring off into the distance.
After worshipping the mountain god, the village head then let people take down the offerings, and bring them to the stoves that had long since been set up to be cooked.
As an outsider, Lu Qingjiu should have been sitting closer towards the edge of the table, but perhaps because he was usually rather generous and he was rather close to his neighbours, he was invited to sit at a place closer to the middle of the table by Uncle Li.
After the dishes were cooked, each dish was brought to the table one by one, still piping hot. Even though the taste of these dishes were average, they were more than sufficient in terms of quantity. Because the weather in Shuifu village was very bad in the winter, practically no one would leave their homes, so this autumn harvest festival had a slight spring festival air.
Other than food, there was what men most liked, strong alcohol. The alcohol was homemade white wine. It felt like a burning knife in one’s mouth, but it was pleasurable enough to drink, and was very well received amongst the men. After labouring in the fields for a full year, they were allowed to let loose a little and have a few drinks.
Lu Qingjiu took a sip of the wine, and felt it slide down his throat. The places where it slid past all started burning with pain, up until it reached his stomach, where it sent up a wave of heat, turning the burning pain from before into pleasure.
“Good wine,” Lu Qingjiu praised.
“Isn’t it good?” Uncle Li said proudly, “I made it myself at home. I brought it here today to treat everyone. Drink however much you want, there’s enough for everyone!”
The alcoholic content of the wine was very high. Even if people with high alcohol tolerance were to drink without restraint, they too wouldn’t be able to drink much. Even though there was “wine” in Lu Qingjiu’s name, the alcohol content was truly very high. After drinking one cup, a red flush appeared on his face, and his eyes also became wet and glassy.
The entire village became incredibly rowdy, filled with the sound of chatter, with the sound of people playing the finger-guessing game, with laughs and noise, making a bright smile appear on Lu Qingjiu’s face. He already hadn’t had such a lively meal in a very long time. It seemed like having a bit of rowdiness once in a while wasn’t bad.
As he chatted, talked, ate and drank, unwittingly, Lu Qingjiu became a little drunk.
His head started to become a little dizzy. His consciousness was still slightly clear, but he couldn’t control his own actions. Just as he laid down on the table, thinking that he should head home, a familiar face appeared in his vision.
Bai Yuehu had come.
He walked over from the other side of the village. After looking around at the crowd, he noticed Lu Qingjiu, lying on the table as if he already unconscious, in a corner.
The crowd was still as noisy as ever. There were drunk men lying around everywhere, and the pungent smell of alcohol filled the air, which would make some feel slight dislike. Bai Yuehu walked over towards Lu Qingjiu and saw his slightly drunk state.
Even though Lu Qingjiu hadn’t drank a lot of alcohol, the quality of the alcohol was good. When he got drunk, he didn’t make any noise. He obediently lay on the table and didn’t move. Only until Bai Yuehu softly called his name, did he dazedly look up, and stare at Bai Yuehu with wet eyes. His senses, numbed by alcohol, had become slightly delayed. Lu Qingjiu observed him a while before finally recognising the identity of the person before him. He smiled, his eyes curving up slightly. He called out in a muffled voice, “Yue… Yuehu…”
Bai Yuehu didn’t reply, just looked at Lu Qingjiu.
Lu Qingjiu said, “I… I seem to be drunk.” He sniffed, wanting to stand up, but his limbs weren’t quite listening to his wishes, so a hint of grievance appeared in his nasal voice, “Why… can’t I stand up…”
Bai Yuehu reached out his hand and grabbed Lu Qingjiu’s arm, pulling him into his embrace.
Lu Qingjiu obediently followed Bai Yuehu’s movements, but when he leaned into Bai Yuehu’s chest, he smelled a light fragrance. This fragrance clearly came from Bai Yuehu. If this were a usual day, Lu Qingjiu would probably pretend to not have smelled anything, but them him who had drank too much clearly didn’t have as many worries. He sniffed shamelessly, raising his head and sniffing around Bai Yuehu’s neck and body like a dog looking for a bone. As he sniffed, he even said, “Yi, Yuehu, where’s that fragrance coming from…”
Bai Yuehu looked at the person in his arms, his expression inscrutable.
Lu Qingjiu sniffed him for a while, but was unable to find the source of the fragrance, so he obediently stopped his movements, leant into Bai Yuehu’s embrace and dozed off.
After bringing Lu Qingjiu out of the crowd, Bai Yuehu directly picked him up and brought him back home just like that.
Yin Xun, who had similarly just returned home and was sitting in the courtyard eating his pork ribs with glutinous rice, watched as Bai Yuehu carried Lu Qingjiu, drunk to the point of unconsciousness, inside. Upon seeing this, he hurriedly spit out the bones in his mouth and said, “You’re back, is Qingjiu drunk?”
Bai Yuehu nodded.
“Put him on the bed, I’ll go make him some sobering soup.” Looking at Lu Qingjiu lying in Bai Yuehu’s arms, Yin Xun was stricken with panic. Lu Qingjiu didn’t know what exactly what Bai Yuehu was, but he knew it very clearly. If he were to make this ancestor angry, don’t even talk about Lu Qingjiu, even the entire Shuifu village would suffer a calamity.
Bai Yuehu said, “No need. You can go back, I’ll do it.”
Hearing this, Yin Xun’s eyes widened. He still wanted to say something, but noticed the cold look in Bai Yuehu’s eyes, and swallowed down his words. He laughed dryly a few times, scratched his head, then pulled up his courage and said, “Qingjiu’s drunk, please don’t mind him.”
Bai Yuehu said indifferently, “It’s not like I can eat him?”
Yin Xun let out a dry laugh, “Right, if you eat him then there’ll be no one to cook for you.” He knew there was no use saying more, and hence obediently left the courtyard. Even though he was still a little worried, he also knew that Bai Yuehu definitely wouldn’t swallow Lu Qingjiu whole. After all, if Bai Yuehu wanted to eat him, he wouldn’t need to chase him off. As long as he wanted to, he was completely capable of eating both him and Lu Qingjiu. He wouldn’t even need to spit out their bones.
The author has something to say:
Lu Qingjiu: You won’t eat me, right?
Bai Yuehu: That depends on how I’d be eating you.
Lu Qingjiu: Eh??
tbh I find that description of how it feels to drink alcohol quite accurate. except for the part where the burning pain stops, because it never stops burning for me lmao
Thank you to Somebody for the ko-fi! <3