Mister Bai Yuehu, first place winner of the horror story telling competition, received his reward the next day, a handmade cream cake made by Lu Qingjiu.
Because the process of making a cream cake was rather complicated, Lu Qingjiu wouldn’t usually make one. But since these winter days were idle anyways, Lu Qingjiu simply moved the charcoal basin to the kitchen, and then made a big cake coated in white cream frosting as a sweet treat for everyone. On top of the cake was even placed the canned cherries and canned oranges he’d made before. Lu Qingjiu even wrote out a “first place” on top with melted chocolate sauce to express his encouragement of Bai Yuehu’s horror story.
Even though this was his first time making one, and because of the power being cut off, he hadn’t been able to use an oven and Lu Qingjiu had simply baked the cake over a charcoal fire, so compared to cakes baked in an oven, this cake’s appearance and texture were a lot worse, when the snow-white cream frosting was applied to the cake, it didn’t look all that different. On the top layer of the cake, were fruits and a few chocolate shavings. Bai Yuehu held the knife in his hand and hesitated for a long time. After testing cuts to the left and the right, he finally handed the knife to Lu Qingjiu, saying, “You cut it.”
Lu Qingjiu smiled and said, “Have you ever eaten one before?”
Bai Yuehu said, “No.” After saying this, he seemed to feel a little embarrassed, so after a momentary pause, he added, “But I’ve seen them before.”
Lu Qingjiu asked, “Where did you see them before?”
Bai Yuehu said, “In glass display window. You need to spend money, I don’t have money.”
Lu Qingjiu didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Only Bai Yuehu could admit that he didn’t have any money so calmly. He found it funny, but at the same time, he felt a little sad. It seemed like Bai Yuehu was very interested in human food, just that there was nothing he could do, he was broke. He couldn’t eat anything of it, he could only dully stand by and watch…
Lu Qingjiu raised his kitchen knife, and first cut himself a slice, then directly split the remainder into two, and gave one half each to Bai Yuehu and Yin Xun.
Yin Xun, a child at heart, once he grabbed a spoon and scooped out a mouthful of cake, he began to shovel it into his mouth, until the sides of his mouth were covered in white frosting. Bai Yuehu’s eating style remained elegant from start to finish. It was entirely impossible for one to tell that his appetite was actually so big.
After the two finished eating the rest of the cake, they both had satisfied expressions on their faces.
In this freezing cold winter, only delicious sweets could soothe their lonely souls. Lu Qingjiu, bored with nothing to do, began to try making other sweets, but the slightly more troublesome thing was that they had already lost power here, so a lot of sweets which needed to be baked in the oven couldn’t be made.
It had snowed heavily all night last night, the snow only stopping in the morning. When they went outside, the accumulated snow already reached their knees. In order to prevent the chicken coop from being crushed, every morning, Bai Yuehu would go out and clean up the snow in the courtyard. Seeing the clear sky today, Lu Qingjiu grabbed a bag of fruit jellies and went to see the pickup truck, helping clean the accumulated snow of the pickup truck’s body while he was at it.
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.
The pickup truck honked its horn in delight.
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Just, the rather strange thing was, once it started snowing, it was as if everyone in Shuifu village had disappeared. Everyone was hiding in their homes, so there wasn’t even the most basic signs of activity. Lu Qingjiu walked all the way from his home to the front of the village, but didn’t see a single person. Yin Xun, following behind Lu Qingjiu, asked, “Jiu-er, what are we eating tonight?” This was the most important question he had to ask every day.
Lu Qingjiu said, “Anything’s fine, how did you use to spend your winters?”
Yin Xun sniffled. “Pretty much the same as usual. Actually, there’s a lot of things to eat in winter, especially on this mountain.”
Lu Qingjiu, “Like?”
Yin Xun said, “Hibernating animals I guess, like stuff like snakes. Snake meat is also really tasty, it’s just that I don’t really know how to cook it.”
Lu Qingjiu said, “Snakes? Better not. After all, they’re wild animals, they’ll have a lot of parasites. If you want to eat them, it’s better to eat farmed ones…” He thought of something. “When spring comes, I’ll go to town to buy some lotus roots and cook them for you guys to eat.”
Because there was no water in Shuifu village, no one here really ate lotus roots. It was only after Lu Qingjiu grew up and went to the city that he got this first taste of lotus root. He really liked this kind of vegetable. The crisp ones could be used in cold salad, and the soft ones could be stewed together with ribs, they were all delicious.
“Alright,” Yin Xun said, “I haven’t tried them before.”
As the two of them walked onwards together, they discussed what kind of things Yin Xun hadn’t eaten before. Without them realising it, they walked out of the village, and reached the foot of the mountain.
The mountain was also a dazzling white. Other than a few sparse evergreens, most of the trees had lost all of their leaves. The bare branches were covered in snow. The more interesting thing was that some of the leaves of the somewhat lower shrubs were covered in a layer of crystal clear ice, looking just like they were carved from crystal, both pure and beautiful.
This scenery also appeared in Lu Qingjiu’s childhood memories. Now, seeing it again, he felt a little rueful. At that time, he and Yin Xun usually used to love running around all over on the mountain. Even though it was freezing cold, there were still a few things that grew in winter. For instance, Lu Qingjiu remembered that once, after it snowed, they even saw orange-yellow grapefruits growing on the grapefruit trees. Even though this kind of grapefruit would taste both sour and astringent, they were little kids, they only cared about the novelty.
After squatting at home for many days, now, coming out and taking a walk, taking in a breath of fresh air, they felt very refreshed.
“Do you smell something?” Yin Xun, standing next to Lu Qingjiu, suddenly asked.
Lu Qingjiu turned back to look at him, blank. “What smell?”
“It’s so strange…” Yin Xun said, “I’ve never smelled this smell before.” As the mountain god of Shuifu village, Yin Xun knew every grass, every tree on this mountain like the back of his hand, but he’d never smelled this kind of smell before. This smell was a little fragrant, but had a hint of fishiness. Mixed together, it made him feel a little uneasy.
“I don’t smell anything.” Lu Qingjiu didn’t smell the smell Yin Xun had talked about. Because the weather was too cold, he was wearing a thick face mask. He reached up and pulled the face mask off, then took a few sniffs, but still wasn’t about to catch any smells.
“Let’s go back.” Yin Xun started to become anxious. “Go back quickly.”
Even though Lu Qingjiu didn’t understand why Yin Xun said this all of a sudden, he still agreed to Yin Xun’s suggestion. After all, he was a human being. Even though he could occasionally see some things that ordinary people couldn’t see, he wasn’t as sensitive as Yin Xun when it came to some things.
Yin Xun said, “Quickly!” Even though he couldn’t see anything, his instincts were blaring sirens in his head— There was something coming, there was some terrifying thing coming—
Following after the frightened Yin Xun, Lu Qingjiu started to run through the snow. But the thick layer of snow impeded their movements. Probably halfway to their home, Lu Qingjiu tripped over a rock in the snow, and fell straight to the ground.
“Qingjiu!!” Yin Xun cried out in horror. He said, “Quickly, get up—”
Lu Qingjiu was gasping violently for breath. At this time, the difference in physical strength between humans and non-humans made itself incredibly clear. His clothes were too thick, and there was a deep layer of snow beneath his feet. After having exhausted all his strength running, huge amounts of cold air rushed into his lungs, making his breathing become a little troubled.
“Hu hu hu…” As he heaved in one deep breath after another, Lu Qingjiu, sitting on the ground, felt a shadow slowly cover his head. In the beginning, he thought that it was because the sky had fallen dark, but soon after that, he got a clue from the fright, nearly approaching despair in Yin Xun’s eyes.
Lu Qingjiu looked up, and saw a giant bird. He couldn’t even describe just how big this bird was in words, because its head alone almost took up the entirety of Lu Qingjiu’s field of view. Or… this wasn’t a bird at all, because no bird, would have a human head.
In this moment, Lu Qingjiu finally smelled the smell Yin Xun had just been describing. In the thick fishy smell, there was a hint of a strange sweetness. Clearly, the source of this smell, was the terrifying giant beast above his head.
Yin Xun said, “Qingjiu—” He turned, wanting to lunge over to Lu Qingjiu’s side, but it was already too late. A strong wind blew by Lu Qingjiu. He felt his body tense, like he had been grabbed by the waist by something. Then, his entire person was mid-air, lifted off of the ground.
“Lu Qingjiu!!!” Yin Xun who was sitting on the ground wanted to catch Lu Qingjiu who was being brought off into the distance, but he was just a little mountain god, he didn’t have wings, nor could he fly, so he could only watch helplessly as his friend was brought away by that giant bird.
The giant bird let out a strange laugh, and lightly flapped its wings, sending a huge gust of wind towards the ground. Yin Xun could only cling onto the ground for dear life in order to not be blown away. By the time the wind died down, there was no trace of the giant bird and Lu Qingjiu in the sky.
Yin Xun struggled out of the snow, an utter mess. He’d lost a show, but he no longer cared about all that. He hurriedly ran back home.
“Yuehu, Yuehu, something terrible happened!! Lu Qingjiu was brought away by some weird thing—” Upon reaching home, and seeing Bai Yuehu standing in the courtyard, Yin Xun hurriedly told him about everything that had happened.
Hearing this, Bai Yuehu stilled. Frowning, he asked, “You guys went up the mountain?”
Yin Xun said, “No, we just walked around the base of it.” His heart was pounding madly, his mind filled with terrible thoughts. The giant bird just now didn’t look like some benevolent being. Lu Qingjiu being snatched away like this, would he…
Who knew that after Bai Yuehu heard this, he didn’t panic, simply nodding his head and saying a “Got it”.
“Nothing will happen to Qingjiu, right?” Yin Xun asked, “That bird, will it eat him?”
“She won’t,” Bai Yuehu replied, “If she wanted to eat him, she would have done it right then and there, why would she have to bring Lu Qingjiu away? I’ll go over and take a look.”
Yin Xun said, “Alright…”
A black fog rose up around Bai Yuehu, before he disappeared in front of Yin Xun’s eyes. There was only Yin Xun left in the empty courtyard once more. He sat down on the snow-covered ground, a little frustrated. He slowly raised his head, and looked up at the sky, once more made deeply aware of his own helplessness.
baum: sorry for not releasing yesterday, I fell asleep the moment I reached home orz
been sleeping at 3am too often i guess
also, part two will come out on thurs, since I’ll be busy on wed