Fantasy Farm Chapter 2
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Chapter 2: That year's Xiao Huer
Upon seeing this eye, Lu Qingjiu momentarily stopped breathing. For a while, he even thought that he was hallucinating. The eye filled with an intense hunger, seemingly able to see through the tiny hole to spot Lu Qingjiu within.
Lu Qingjiu suddenly spoke: "I'm having a nightmare, right…"
He hadn't gotten an answer before the terrifying eye above him abruptly disappeared without a trace. However, when Lu Qingjiu belatedly looked up, he saw a long, thin pink tongue slipping into the room through the small hole.
The tongue was incredibly long, and its surface was coated with a transparent mucus. Suddenly, the tongue shot towards Lu Qingjiu. Thankfully, Lu Qingjiu's reactions were fast. He quickly dove off the bed, deftly dodging the tongue's attack. Only after slamming open the door, and running out of the house, did he finally get a clear glimpse of what exactly was on top of his roof. His feet rooted in place in shock.
There was a giant reptile attached to the roof of the old house. The reptile was an ash grey colour, with bulging eyes, and four limbs firmly fixed onto the slippery roof tiles — It was clearly a giant gecko!
The gecko similarly sensed Lu Qingjiu's movements. It slowly turned its head, looking over in Lu Qingjiu's direction. Lu Qingjiu sensed that the situation wasn't ideal, and turned to flee, but in the next moment he heard a whistling noise behind him, as if there was something shooting towards him!
Lu Qingjiu was unable to react in time, and felt something wrap around his waist. His entire field of view twisted around, and he let out a yelp of shock. He had been wrapped up by the giant gecko's tongue.
Geckos had always hunted their prey this way. As long as their tongue was able to wrap around a living thing, they would then simply drag that it into their mouths to be consumed. Lu Qingjiu watched himself come closer and closer to that giant gecko with wide eyes. Just as he was about to be swallowed whole, the gecko unexpectedly froze, its giant eyes filled with sudden fear.
As a result, Lu Qingjiu also stopped, suspended in mid-air. The unexpected proceedings made it impossible for him to completely process the situation, but his survival instincts still led him to make the correct choice. Taking advantage of the gecko's momentary shock, he fished out his keyring from his pocket, and harshly stabbed into the tongue holding him still.
Whether because of the pain or some other reason, the gecko actually let go of Lu Qingjiu. Lu Qingjiu fell down onto the ground, and saw that at some unknown time a thick cloud of darkness had materialised above his head.
The darkness seemed to have something hiding within, however, Lu Qingjiu was unable to clearly make out what it was.
The gecko was seemingly terrified by the cloud of darkness, turning around and leaping off the roof in an attempt to flee, but the darkness just rapidly spread over to the gecko, trapping it within.
Following that, Lu Qingjiu heard the sound of chewing. The gecko was almost completely engulfed by the darkness, with only a small portion of its tail poking out. As Lu Qingjiu watched, the tail's non-stop thras.h.i.+ng gradually became smaller and smaller, until at last it went still.
The sounds of chewing also gradually became softer, and was replaced by the crunching of bones. Lu Qingjiu slowly got up from where he was sprawled on the ground, planning on taking advantage of this opportunity to leave this place, but after taking just two steps, he felt a rush of dizziness, and crumpled to the ground. Just as he was about to faint, he seemed to vaguely see a big, orange-yellow eye…
The next day, Lu Qingjiu was awoken by the knocking on his door. He got off the bed, and stopped, momentarily dazed, before shakily making his way to the door.
"What happened, Qingjiu? You look terrible!" When Yin Xun spotted Lu Qingjiu, he was shocked by his expression, "Did you go out at midnight to catch ghosts?!"
Once the word "ghost" was mentioned, Lu Qingjiu's expression became even uglier. He replied, "I think I had a really horrible dream last night." After speaking, he raised his head to take a look at the roof, but was unable to spot any signs of damage.
"A nightmare?" Yin Xun said, "Could it be that you were too tired…"
Lu Qingjiu's mind was still foggy: "That… that's possible."
"Then do you still want to visit the market in town today?" Yin Xun asked, "Or would you rather rest at home?"
"Let's go." Lu Qingjiu shook his head, waking himself up a little, "I still need to buy some daily necessities."
"Okay then, we can set off now, get some breakfast in town." Yin Xun glanced at his watch, "Uncle Chen was planning to drive to town today."
Shuifu village was a really long distance from town, about a day's walk away, even going by car would take about two hours. There were only two small trucks in their village, so usually if the villagers wanted to visit town, they could wait for when the owners needed to top up their stock, and pay a small driver's fee. The person Yin Xun called Uncle Chen was one of them. His family's fields were relatively big, so the purpose of this particular trip to the city was to stock up on some fertiliser.
The two walked to the village entrance, greeted Uncle Chen, and entered the pa.s.senger seats.
After Lu Qingjiu pa.s.sed over the car fees and Yin Xun smilingly handed over a cigarette, Uncle Chen lit up the cigarette, and casually asked about what Lu Qingjiu was planning on buying.
"I'm planning on raising a piglet," said Lu Qingjiu, "I also want to buy a few seeds."
Uncle Chen replied: "Alright, there are a few people selling piglets in town, later I'll come with you to help pick out a few, so you won't be cheated."
Lu Qingjiu smiled and thanked him.
Following that, Uncle Chen asked after Lu Qingjiu a little more, curious about his long term plans from here on out, and giving him tips on things he'd need to look out for, such as how he needed to plough the fields as soon as possible, as only then would it be ideal for planting crops, farming required one to pay attention to the seasons, if he wasted time and missed out on spring, he would have to wait until the next quarter.
As Lu Qingjiu listened, he occasionally nodded his head in acknowledgement. Distant relatives couldn't compare to one's close neighbours, Shuifu village had always been small, so everyone had to look out for one another.
The little truck drove across the mountain roads, and finally reached the market in town. Unlike the oppressive silence of the night, in the daytime the little town was bustling and lively, both sides of the street packed with stalls selling all kinds of products, there were food and consumables, and there were also many different kinds of seeds and livestock.
Uncle Chen said that he would go off on his own to stock up first, so Yin Xun and Lu Qingjiu were free to go buy whatever they wanted to buy first, and afterwards the three of them would meet up at the stall selling piglets.
Lu Qingjiu nodded in agreement, and entered the marketplace with Yin Xun.
"What do you want to eat?" Yin Xun asked, "The xiaolongbao sold at that place are delicious."
Lu Qingjiu replied: "Then should we go check them out?"
Yin Xun said: "Okay, let's go."
Lu Qingjiu followed Yin Xun to a little store by the marketplace, and ordered two baskets of piping hot xiaolongbao, as well as two bowls of soymilk and two youtiao.
Lu Qingjiu picked up a xiaolongbao, biting off a half and exclaiming: "Delicious." The xiaolongbao was stuffed full of meat and sauce, with a thin skin and lots of filling, when bit open meat juices oozed out, and inside even contained chopped up lotus root, balancing out the greasiness of the meat, its taste was really not bad.
"Delicious!" Yin Xun said, "Every time I come here I always end up finis.h.i.+ng a few baskets, why don't you try it with this dip?"
After hearing him Lu Qingjiu dipped it a little in the dip. The dip contained some chili peppers, a splash of vinegar and even a sprinkling of green onions. After dipping, the taste of the xiaolongbao completely changed, the fresh, spicy and delicious meat was incredibly rich, making people completely unable to stop eating.
Lu Qingjiu smiled widely, satisfied: "How many can you eat on your own?"
"Me?" Yin Xun said, "I can finish three to four baskets with no problem… just that I won't be able to eat lunch afterwards."
"Oh." Lu Qingjiu picked up yet another one, just as he was about to place it into his mouth, he felt someone staring at him from behind. He turned his head in confusion, spotting a white-clothed male standing behind him, gaze affixed onto him.
Lu Qingjiu found the male's appearance familiar, he was the man he'd met while in the rental car the other day.
"He… h.e.l.lo." As the recipient of such an intense gaze, Lu Qingjiu silently put down his chopsticks, "You…" He wanted to say something, but didn't know how to start.
Who knew that as he was hesitating, the man had already walked to his side.
Yin Xun said quietly: "Who's this?" The man had a stupidly beautiful appearance, with slightly droopy eyes, and he had an overall relaxed air about him. His thin lips were pursed into a single straight line, all his attention seemingly focused on Lu Qingjiu… No, not Lu Qingjiu, after Yin Xun took a second look, he then realised that the man's gaze actually seemed to be fixated on the xiaolongbao in front of Lu Qingjiu.
Lu Qingjiu: "…" He'd also realised the man's goal, so after a moment of hesitation, he politely asked, "Want some?"
The man glanced at Lu Qingjiu, and nodded decisively.
Lu Qingjiu then quickly called for two extra baskets of xiaolongbao. The man didn't use chopsticks, simply reaching out and grabbing one with his bare hand before bringing it to his mouth. Lu Qingjiu originally thought to remind him that the xiaolongbao were still hot, but seeing how he didn't seem to be at all affected, grabbing one after another, his movements not stopping for even a moment.
Next to him, Lu Qingjiu asked in a small voice: "Is it good?"
The man's movements paused, and he nodded.
Lu Qingjiu: "Still want more?"
The man nodded once more.
Lu Qingjiu called for two more baskets. Even though he didn't know what kind of person the man was, but he had the vague feeling that the person in front of him had saved his life that night.
One basket, two baskets, three baskets, as the stack of baskets in front of them became taller and taller, Yin Xun's eyes became wider and wider.
"Holy s.h.i.+t, he's finished 20 baskets already," said Yin Xun, utterly creeped out.
Lu Qingjiu was unphased: "No problem, he probably won't get sick."
Yin Xun: "Getting sick isn't really the problem here…"
Lu Qingjiu: "Then what's the problem?"
Yin Xun: "Do you have enough cash on you…"
Lu Qingjiu: "I should have enough… probably?"
A basket of xiaolongbao cost twelve dollars. The white clothed male had eaten close to twenty baskets by now, and Lu Qingjiu suspected that he wouldn't have any problem with eating twenty more. He could only stroke his wallet, comforting himself with the thought that four hundred dollars to buy a life was a pretty fair deal.
The man had eaten too much, even the surrounding bystanders had started casting strange looks at them. Lu Qingjiu and Yin Xun had also been made speechless by the towering stack of baskets in front of them. At last, when Lu Qingjiu was about to order five more baskets, the man finally waved his hand, indicating that he was done.
"Full?" Lu Qingjiu said, "Don't worry, I can still afford this, you should eat your fill before leaving."
"Full?" The man heard his words, and suddenly turned his head and fixed Lu Qingjiu with a solemn look, "I haven't felt full in a very long time."
Lu Qingjiu: "…"
The man said: "Will you be able to make me full?"
"Haha, I'll try my best?" He didn't know why, but being stared at by the man's two dark eyes made a chill run down Lu Qingjiu's spine. He didn't dare to directly refuse, and thus could only express his thoughts a little more euphemistically.
"Oh," said the man, "That's great."
Lu Qingjiu breathed out a sigh of relief, but before he could completely relax, the man then continued: "My name is Bai Yuehu, I'll come find you." He stretched out his hand, placing a tiny sachet onto the table, "This is a deposit."
Lu Qingjiu was shocked stiff, but while he was momentarily stunned, the man had already stood up, and just like that disappeared into the crowd.
"What is that?" Yin Xun curiously stroked the bag on the table, "What is this, could it be money?"
Lu Qingjiu opened up the bag, and a single look at the contents made his expression go stiff, his breath caught in his throat.
Yin Xun, seeing the strange look on Lu Qingjiu's face, stuck his head out and took a look at the contents of the black sachet, and was similarly stunned: "What is this? A bug?"
Lu Qingjiu shook his head, but also didn't explain what exactly was in the bag, and rather simply closed it back up. Anyways, others wouldn't be able to recognise it, but Lu Qingjiu was extremely clear on what it was — it was a gecko's tail, still twitching slightly, as if it had just been plucked from the body of a gecko. Yesterday night hadn't actually been a dream.
Next to him, Yin Xun quietly whispered: "That guy said he'd come find you, was he joking?"
Lu Qingjiu glanced over at Yin Xun: "I think… so."
After speaking the two made brief eye-contact, but they both saw a hint of some kind of worry in the other's eyes, the two of them both had a bad feeling…
After the man had left, Lu Qingjiu picked up his wallet and calmly settled the bill, and then went along with Yin Xun's decision to go pick out the seeds he wanted to plant at home.
Lu Qingjiu's home had a total of eight acres of farmland, and it all had been rented out to others, this year, two acres of land had become available, and so Lu Qingjiu planned on growing a few types of vegetables for his own consumption.
"So what do you want to plant?" Yin Xun asked.
"Let's plant a bit of everything." Lu Qingjiu had no experience in farming, and planned on using the two acres of farmland for practice this year, "Corn, tomatoes, cuc.u.mber, whatever we tend to eat a lot of."
"Alright." As Yin Xun questioned him, he helped Lu Qingjiu pick out seeds, "You've just started out, first practicing a little is okay, anyways two acres can't be considered a lot."
Lu Qingjiu nodded his head, the two of them then started picking out a few of all kinds of seeds, letting the shop owner pack them up and the placing it inside the backpack.
After he was done choosing seeds, Lu Qingjiu then went and bought a few daily necessities, such as a wok for the kitchen, as well as seasoning, etcetera. Yin Xun also told him to buy a few window screens to paste on his windows, as at night there were tons and tons of mosquitoes.
Lu Qingjiu expressed that he hadn't gotten any mosquito bites whatsoever thus far.
Yin Xun still didn't believe it, at first it could still be brushed off as a coincidence, but it had been a few days and Lu Qingjiu was still perfectly fine, that truly was unusual. However, no matter how many times he had looked over Lu Qingjiu's arms, he still hadn't found any lumps from mosquito bites. Eventually he could only bitterly express that these mosquitoes were really like how wild boars couldn't eat fine bran, they wouldn't bite the smooth skinned Lu Qingjiu, but would come bite him…
Standing beside him, Lu Qingjiu thought of the enormous gecko that had been on his roof. Hm, seems like the main food of geckos, were mosquitoes.
After he was done picking out the things he needed, it was about time to go find Uncle Chen.
Lu Qingjiu and Yin Xun lugged along their stuff to the area selling piglets next to the marketplace. This place was a small livestock trading market. As Lu Qingjiu entered, he spotted a stall selling calves.
Yin Xun said: "Come over here, how many are you planning on buying?"
"I'll buy two," Lu Qingjiu said, "Just one would be too lonely."
Hearing that, Yin Xun's footsteps momentarily paused, he looked towards Lu Qingjiu, and said, serious: "I have something I need to tell you, when buying back a pig, you should absolutely not name it."
"I know," Lu Qingjiu said, "After giving it a name you'll start to care for it, didn't you give your family's pig a name when you were a kid? What was it, Xiao Hua?"
"Yup," Yin Xun thought back, and said emotionally, "At that time I adored Xiao Hua, I'd give it the most tender ragweed everyday."
Lu Qingjiu: "Ah yes, in the end when your father slaughtered Xiao Hua you cried for an entire afternoon, oh right, how did they end up consoling you?"
Yin Xun: "They made me a bowl of red braised pork."
Lu Qingjiu: "…"
Yin Xun: "It was really good."
Lu Qingjiu: "…" F*cking okay then.
The two chatted as they walked towards there area where piglets were sold, and and found that Uncle Chen had already struck up a conversation with the piglet seller. Upon seeing them, Uncle Chen waved them over, calling: "Over here! I helped pick out two for you!"
Lu Qingjiu walked over, and saw that by Uncle Chen's side were a pair of already bundled up, pink and tender piglets. The little piglets had just been born recently and were still incredibly clean, and could only helplessly lie on the dirt snorting and squealing, appearing extremely cute.
Yin Xun stood by the side watching the piglets, and said: "How tender…"
Lu Qingjiu: "…Are you thinking of Xiao Hua?"
Yin Xun: "Don't bring up my sad past."
Lu Qingjiu thought in his heart: 'You didn't seem to think this way when you were happily eating red braised pork.'
"The quality of this batch of piglets isn't bad," Uncle Chen said, "If you raise a small number of pigs, then there's less things you'll have to pay attention to, are you raising them for yourself to eat or to sell pork?"
"For myself," said Lu Qingjiu.
"Oh, then that's fine," Uncle Chen nodded his head.
Nowadays the rules for raising pigs had become stricter, if the number of pigs exceeded a certain amount, then an agriculture certificate was needed. However, in such a remote area like Shuifu village, the regulations were less harsh, especially with cases like with Lu Qingjiu where they were just raising them for themselves.
Satisfied with the piglets that Uncle Chen had picked out, Lu Qingjiu dug out his wallet and prepared to pay and leave. Suddenly, from somewhere off on the side, there sounded the sharp squealing of a pig. This sound was incredibly ear-piercing, attracting everyone's attention over to that area.
"What's that?" Uncle Chen wondered, "Boss, did you catch some wild pigs to raise?"
The pig seller shook his head, saying: "I didn't go out to catch them. Two days earlier, I inadvertently picked them up by the roadside, I think they were dazed after being hit by a car. When I tried feeding them they didn't want to eat, so seeing that they wouldn't be alive for long, I thought I'd just bring them out to sell."
"Wild pigs?" Lu Qingjiu was intrigued, and asked, "Can I take a look?" He hadn't seen real wild pigs before.
The owner waved his hand, giving Lu Qingjiu permission to do as he wished.
The group of people walked over to the source of the squealing, and saw in the corner of the fence were two curled up small, black b.a.l.l.s of meat. The slightly bigger meat ball was currently crying out miserably. When Lu Qingjiu's and its gazes met, he realised that its pair of small eyes were filled with sad tears.
"Is it crying?" Lu Qingjiu hadn't thought that pigs could be this human-like.
"Should be," Yin Xun said, "But anyways is this thing really a wild pig? It's so small, but still has tusks." Normally, tusks would slowly grow out as they aged, it was impossible for newborns to have them.
"Right, these pigs are a little weird, it may be a mutation." Next to him, the seller didn't think it much of an issue. "Furthermore, they're a male and a female, but the female also has tusks."
The two meat dumplings were originally curled up in the corner, but as if able to understand the humans' conversation, they began looking over in their direction, their cries also becoming softer. Lu Qingjiu didn't know if it was his misconception, but he thought that he could hear a hint of pleading from their cries.
"Boss, what are you planning to do with these two pigs?" Lu Qingjiu asked.
The seller said: "They aren't willing to eat, so if I can't sell them I'll just kill them and eat them."
Lu Qingjiu replied: "They're so small, they can't possibly have much meat on them."
The seller replied: "What, you want to buy them?"
Lu Qingjiu replied: "Seeing how pitiful they are, can I ask if I pay a bit more money, will you sell them to me as a set?"
The seller hesitated.
Next to him, Uncle Chen threw in his two cents: "Old Xu, these pigs already don't have much meat, look at how sickly they are, even if you ate them you wouldn't feel at ease, why not sell them for cheap and see if they can still be raised."
After being advised by this old customer, the seller gave in, and agreed to sell the two black piglets as a set to Lu Qingjiu for cheap. After paying, Lu Qingjiu removed the black piglets from the enclosure, and put them together with the other two piglets in the back of Uncle Chen's truck.
The two black dumplings seemed to completely look down on the other two piglets, not at all willing to even approach their own kind. Sitting next to them, Lu Qingjiu watched their movements, and helplessly reached out a hand to lightly twist the smaller one's ear, saying: "You're all the same species, what's there to look down on?"
The smaller one made a huffing noise, and actually started to cry, looking as if it had been terribly wronged.
Seeing this, the bigger one turned towards Lu Qingjiu and started fiercely grunting, and its small body looked even more ferocious. Lu Qingjiu reached out and tapped it on the forehead, and said: "You still want to threaten me? I was the one who saved you guys from that place, I'm your saviour, are you two going to treat your saviour like this?"
Seeing this, Yin Xun broke out into loud laughter: "Jiu-er, you're preaching morals to pigs, how could they possibly understand?"
Unexpectedly, after these words fell, they then saw the larger little black piglet bend its forelegs, bowing down to Lu Qingjiu.
Yin Xun's smile froze on his face: "Holy s.h.i.+t, are these pigs spirits???"
Lu Qingjiu: "…Seems like it."
Yin Xun: "Then.. these pig spirits…"
Lu Qingjiu: "?"
Yin Xun: "Think they'll taste good?"
Lu Qingjiu: "…" To tell the truth, that year Xiao Hua truly didn't die in vain.
This chapter really killed me orz I’ve been dreaming about eating xiaolongbao for a week thanks to this chapter ԅ(¯﹃¯ԅ)
The only thing stopping me is my hatred for going outside~ I think I’ll give in and go out to eat some xiaolongbao tomorrow haha
Now, time for some pictures of delicious, delicious food:
Here’s some xiaolongbao in their traditional baskets~ Don’t they look good?? This very sight has been haunting my dreams (i々i)
Here’s some youtiao with some soymilk!
And lastly, some red braised pork in homage to Xiao Huer (◡‿◡✿)
Also, I’ve confirmed an update schedule! I’ll be updating twice a week, on Mondays and Wednesdays around this time, so you can expect chapter 3 in two days’ time~
Fantasy Farm Chapter 2
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Fantasy Farm Chapter 2 summary
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