Chapter 113 - King of Ginseng

Zhao Han watched as the little golden kitten dug at the plant furiously. The top of plant grew a large set of compound leaves and around it were smaller leaves that were all oval shaped. He thought it seemed somewhat familiar and hesitated before he said, “Xiaocao, is your cat a spiritual creature? Looks like it somehow recognizes ginseng?”

“Ginseng? Are you saying that Little Glutinous Dumpling is digging up ginseng?” Judging from the little divine stone’s obvious excitement, Xiaocao had a premonition that this stalk of ginseng was definitely out of the ordinary. It was probably older than a hundred years! Hundred year old ginseng...they hit the jackpot!!

Xiaocao scuttled a few steps closer and took out a small trowel from the basket on her back. She carefully helped the little golden kitten to excavate the ginseng. Before long, a stalk of ginseng that was shaped like a human and was about thirty to forty centimeters long came out of the ground.

Zhao Han’s voice wavered in emotion, “This ginseng must be at least a hundred years old! Legend says that after cultivating for a hundred years, a ginseng starts to have a human shape. Five hundred years, it’ll have a face, and if it goes past a thousand years, it’ll become sentient! This ginseng is already human shaped and we can faintly see that it has a face——Xiaocao, this ginseng you dug up can be rated as the king of ginseng!”

The little golden kitten flung the dirt off its claws and then hopped into Xiaocao’s hands. It wrapped its paws around the ginseng and had a look of infatuation on its face, [Such a dense concentration of spiritual energy, ah! Let me absorb as much as I can!]

“Be careful” Zhao Han quickly plucked the kitten out and into his own hands. He didn’t let the cat go no matter how hard it struggled, “This is a priceless treasure, don’t let your cat damage it!”

Xiaocao grinned in amusement when she saw the little divine stone, who had been caught by Zhao Han, baring its fangs at the youth in an attempt to threaten him. She gave it a placating look and spoke to it through her mind, [Don’t be impatient, ah, the ginseng won’t run away. When we get home we’ll discuss it!]

[This stinky human. If I didn’t take into account that he has helped you before, I would have torn him to pieces by now!] The little divine stone bared its fangs and claws, but in the eyes of outside observers, it just looked like false front. 

Zhao Han felt that the little animal was quite adorable and used his hand to rub its furry head. Due to a moment of carelessness, the little kitten, whose fur was being messed up, scratched him and left two lines of red on his hand. 

“Little Glutinous Dumpling, you’re not allowed to scratch people!” Xiaocao rushed over and rescued the little golden cat from Zhao Han’s hands.

After getting its independence back, the little divine stone agilely flipped over and jumped onto Xiaocao’s shoulder. All of its fur was raised up as it angrily howled a couple of times at Zhao Han. To Zhao Han’s ears, its snarls sounded only like a tiny kitten, barely weaned from its mother’s milk, throwing a spoiled temper tantrum.

Yu Xiaocao used some long grass to wrap the ginseng and secretly added a few drops of mystic-stone water to help it stay fresh. This was a treasure and was worth a lot of money! She needed to keep it carefully preserved!

Distances could be hard to judge. When she was looking at the mountain from afar, it didn’t seem very tall. However, as she was climbing it, it was a different story. Luckily, Yu Xiaocao had over half a year’s worth of nourishment with the mystic-stone water, so her body was much stronger than before. In addition, she also had Zhao Han helping her from time to time, so the two of them were able to easily cross through the mountain in a short amount of time. 

“Wow! Is this the pond full of reeds that you were talking about?” Yu Xiaocao was mesmerized by the beautiful scene in front of her.

The tall and lofty mountain had hid a tranquil, dark green lake that delighted the eye. Reeds grew on the shoreline and surrounded the lake completely. Sunlight scattered through the reeds and reflected off the water that was so still that the reflection of the plants seemed to be a perfect inverted image. 

Clouds of water vapor rose from the surface of the lake and embraced the whole area in a misty wonder. Not far from the water was a tree that she couldn’t identify. The branches of tree stretched out widely, and its trunk was tall and straight. The thick, misty fog that enveloped the area created a feeling that they were in a heavenly paradise.

In winter, the reeds lay dormant. The feathery tips of the plants gently swayed in the wind, which looked like the plumage of a red-crowned crane dancing in midair. Towards the bottom of the reeds, a few tender, verdant shoots peaked out of the earth and vigorously reached up towards the sky. Multitudes of unnamed birds were in the surrounding area. They sang, jumped around on branches, played, and occasionally tilted their heads to size up these two unexpected guests...

Zhao Han advanced a step and stayed alongside Xiaocao. He gazed into the distance, taking in the tranquil serenity of this utopian land, and said, “Indeed! This field of reeds is bracketed by mountains on three sides, and they shield this area from the biting cold northern winds. Even in the wintry and freezing twelfth month, this area is still as warm as spring. Many of the migratory birds who return earlier will spend some time in this place in early spring to rest.

“Look! There’s some wild ducks!! We should search this area and see if we can find any wild duck eggs!” Yu Xiaocao became instantly excited and dove into the reeds.

Zhao Han looked in the direction that Xiaocao was pointing and frowned deeply. He quickly caught up to Xiaocao in about three steps and looked left and right to protect her. He stifled a laugh and said, “Xiaocao, do you know what wild geese look like?”

“Wild geese? Of course I’ve seen them, but I’ve only see them when they’re flying in the sky. They’re up so high, so I can’t really tell what exactly they look like! Brother Han, do you know how to identify wild geese? If you don’t, how are we supposed to catch some, ah!!” Yu Xiaocao chattered on as she swept her gaze through the underbrush. 

Giggles escaped from Zhao Han as Xiaocao looked at him oddly. He pointed towards the ‘wild ducks’ that she had identified earlier and grinned widely, “Those are wild geese! Wild ducks look very similar to domestic ducks. Male ducks have green plumage on their heads, which is why they’re called mallard ducks. Wild geese, on the other hand, have brown outer feathers, white bellies, flat mouths, short legs, and webbed feet. Usually a flock will live near the water. When they fly, they like to arrange themselves into…”

Yu Xiaocao peeked in-between the reeds and carefully observed the wild geese. She pouted, “Ah what! I think they look quite like ducks, ah!! Alright, since you say they’re wild geese, then they’re wild geese! If we catch the wrong animal, and the prefectural magistrate’s son beats you out of fury, then don’t blame me…” 

When Zhao Han heard her prattling on and on, he laughed and shook his head. He retrieved his unique long bow from his back and placed an arrow on the string. He then took aim at the closest wild goose...

“Wait just a moment, wait!” Yu Xiaocao hurriedly used her hand to push down his bow and frowned, “For his wedding feast, didn’t the prefectural magistrate’s son want the wild goose to be alive? What if you’re not careful and kill it with your arrow? Wouldn’t that ruin all of your hard work?”

“Wild geese are very cautious, and most people are unable to approach them closely. They also spend a lot of time on the water, so if I don’t use a bow and arrow, how else am I supposed to catch them? I’m a good archer, so as long as I hit the goose’s wings, it won’t be able to fly off!” Zhao Han confidently raised his bow and arrow again.

Yu Xiaocao still disagreed with his idea, “An injured wild goose won’t look good either at the banquet! Give me a second to think of an idea!”

Wild geese lived together in a large flock and were very wary, so they were quite hard to catch. Thus, most people used a swan to substitute for the goose during their wedding rites. 

The prefectural magistrate son’s fiancee was the youngest daughter of the mayor of the capital. Because her father had an important and high position in the capital, the prefectural magistrate naturally wanted to make sure the wedding rites went off perfectly in order to prevent the in-laws from looking down on them. Thus, even though the date of the wedding was more than half a year away, they had started looking all over the place for some live geese.

However, it was the beginning of spring right now, and most of the migrating geese flocks hadn’t flown back north yet. If this bed of reeds didn’t have a heavenly terrain, it’d be hard to find some geese feathers, let alone some live geese!

Yu Xiaocao thought deeply for a short period of time and then suddenly clapped her hands together, “I have an idea, but I’m not sure if it’ll work or not!”

“What’s your idea? Let me hear about it.” Zhao Han was in the middle of pondering whether he could go into the water and get close to the flock of geese when he absentmindedly replied. 

Yu Xiaocao said, “We can bend my sewing needle into a large fish hook and then place some food that the wild geese like to eat on it. When the goose eats the bait, then we can pull the string and reel the goose on. As long as the fish hook is able to grab onto the goose’s neck, it won’t be able to run away!”

Zhao Han thought for a bit and then decided there weren’t any other options for them, so he might as well give it a try!

Xiaocao heated up her sewing needle until it turned red and used an iron tool to strike it until it formed a hook shape. While she was doing that, Zhao Han was busy catching some fish and shrimp that the geese liked to eat. When he was done, he gave the bait to Xiaocao.

After finishing her simple fish hook, Yu Xiaocao secretly sprinkled some mystic-stone  water onto the bait and then had Zhao Han fling the hook with bait towards the flock of wild geese.

The bait landed about three to four meters from the edge of the group of geese. The wild goose in charge of keeping watch squawked a few times. The flock immediately scattered in all directions and some of them even flew into the sky. 

Zhao Han beat his hand out of a bit of annoyance as he thought they had failed on the first try. Just as he was about to pull the hook in, Xiaocao stopped him, “Wait a little bit! Catching wild geese is the same as catching fish. There’s only one true method, and that’s you need to ‘wait’! Let’s wait and see!!”

When he saw how confident Xiaocao was, Zhao Han tampered down his temper and crouched down into the reed bed. He attentively observed the movements of the geese flock.

When the group of geese that scattered realized that there wasn’t any danger, they quickly returned. The bait had a large concentration of spiritual energy, and it quickly attracted the attention of a few of the animals that were closer. A large and powerful male goose fanned its wings as it swiftly came towards the bait. It swooped down its neck and snatched the hook in its beak as it proudly looked back at the rest of its competitors. 

When some of the wild geese saw that the food had already been taken, they decided not to fight for it. Others, on the other hand, were not to be outdone and flung themselves at the winner, stretching out their necks in an attempt to steal the food from the winner’s mouth.

The victor nimbly dodged the losers’ attacks and swiftly swam away. It gently dropped the hook with the food on it next to its female companion and used its neck to gently rub the female’s body. The male goose also didn’t forget to look back warningly at the other geese that were coming over.

The female goose showed her gratitude to her mate before she gracefully dipped her head and swallowed the hook that smelled so tantalizing...

“I almost can’t bear to catch them!” She had heard that wild geese lived together only in pairs, which was why flocks only had even numbers of geese, and that when one of the partners died, its companion would have a great desire to commit suicide. Seeing the scene in front of her, compassion rose inside Xiaocao’s heart. 

Zhao Han also felt touched at the scene and softly said, “Don’t worry, after the banquet, these geese will be let go alive.”

After he finished talking, he silently reeled in the fishing line. The female goose, who had swallowed the bait, was gradually being pulled over. Her companion also followed behind her and acted like a faithful knight to his princess.

“Let me pull the fishing line, and you can hold onto the fishing net I brought along. When the male goose gets closer, use the net to catch him.” Yu Xiaocao explained as she secretly placed another bit of bait that had been doctored with the mystic-stone water in the nearby water around them. 

The male goose apparently could sense the spiritual energy that the bait was emitting and swiftly swam closer to them. In a flash, it had entered Zhao Han’s hunting radius. With Zhao Han’s excellent hunting skills, the male goose naturally would have a hard time escaping. Furthermore, with the female goose also struggling, the two of them were caught like turtles in a jar. 

Yu Xiaocao braved the risk of being pecked by the goose and carefully retrieved the fish hook from the female goose’s mouth. She was afraid the goose had injured its throat so she stealthily fed it a few mouthfuls of mystic-stone water. 

Zhao Han thought the whole situation was very weird. Originally, the female goose had been struggling mightily but when it came into Xiaocao’s hands it was more docile than a domesticated duck. It lay motionless in the little girl’s hands. As for the male goose in his hands, it was still fighting violently, and his hands had already been pecked furiously by the animal several times. It hurt quite a lot!  

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Myst's Thoughts

Sanguine’s Thoughts: No wonder Zhao Han thinks things are weird around Xiaocao. You’re being a little too flashy!

Translator: Sanguine