Chapter 20 - The Return of the Divine Stone

“This valley is rather hidden, so no one else has discovered it except me! I’ve already checked inside the valley, and it seems safe inside. You guys wait here for a moment, while I go retrieve the seasonings. Let’s barbecue here!”

Although the Zhao Family lived at the foot of the mountain and far away from Dongshan Village, Zhao Han had also heard about Madam Zhang’s stingy personality. The Yu Family rarely had the chance to eat meat throughout the year and were only able to occasionally eat the fish that couldn’t be sold.

“Go, go! Quickly go and come back soon!” After wandering through the mountain forest for over two hours, Yu Xiaocao had already digested the two big meat buns she ate in the morning. It would be quite interesting to have a picnic at such a picturesque mountain valley.

“Second Sister! There’s fishes in the stream!” Little Shitou was washing his hands in the stream when he saw palm-sized fish darting between the cracks of the rocks. He hastily took off his shoes and went to grab them with his hands. However, he was unable to catch the little fish, who were nimbly swimming within the water.

Yu Xiaocao, who had been holding the worn-out ceramic pot within her hands, immediately went over with great interest when she heard his call, “Watch me, I’ll scoop them up with this jar…”

Huh? These fish were quite strange. They immediately came over when they saw this jar, instead of running away. Moreover, they gathered together as if they sensed the fish baits.

Little Shitou was also surprised, and exclaimed in a seemingly clever manner, “Oh! I know! The jar was filled with meat buns earlier, so there was still the tasty smell of the meat buns inside. The little fishes must had been lured over because they were hungry. Let’s catch some more, so we can stew soup when we go back!”

There were more and more little fish gathering around the ceramic pot. They were swimming around as if there was something attracting them within the jar. Was… Little Divine Stone’s spiritual energy also capable of acting as fish bait?

Yu Xiaocao put the multicolored stone on her wrist inside the jar. After the pot was submerged deeper into the stream, the little fishes were even more eager to squeeze into the jar. Soon, the earthenware jar was densely packed with little fish, squeezing together like sardines. The ones that didn’t get in continued to linger around the mouth of the jar. There seems to be more and more fish gathering over…

[Yu Xiaocao, you little brat! How dare you use me, this divine stone, as bait! You, you…you’re seriously too much!] After several days of silence, that voice finally sounded besides Yu Xiaocao’s ears again.

Gradually, a small glittering ball emerged from within the jar. The little divine stone appeared in the form of an angry little golden kitten. It was baring its teeth at Yu Xiaocao and glaring at her with its tail raised up.

“Oh? Little Divine Stone, you’re finally awake? Have your powers recovered?” Yu Xiaocao cried in surprise.

Little Shitou stared at her in confusion and asked, “Second Sister, what did you say? Were you talking to me?”

Xiaocao suddenly remembered that other people couldn’t see the little divine stone’s spiritual form. She rubbed her nose and awkwardly replied, “I’m talking to myself. I’m not talking to anyone. You can carefully take the jar out. There’s enough little fish inside!”

[You’re so dumb! You don’t even know how to use your mind to communicate with me. It’s like this, if you want to say something, just think about it in your mind and I’ll be able to hear you!] Seeing her embarrassment, the little divine stone somersaulted in the air, while laughing at her mercilessly.

Yu Xiaocao wasn’t bothered by it and continued to ask, “Have you recovered all your spiritual powers?”

[It can’t be that fast! I, this divine stone, nearly used up all my powers to cure your injury last time. If you hadn’t placed me inside the mountain stream, and the spiritual energy in this stream was still intact, I wouldn’t had been able to make an appearance. Although the spiritual energy in this world is too weak, it’s still a hundred times better than your previous world.]

[No! My spiritual powers are still too weak right now, so I can only appear briefly. I’m leaving now. Remember to soak my body inside the stream!] The golden light around the little divine stone flickered several times, then it disappeared from Xiaocao’s line of sight.

“Hey! Second Sister, come over quickly! There are too many small fishes! Should we tie them to a rope and bring them back?” Shitou grinned from ear to ear as he looked at the little fish inside the jar. It was enough to cook a big pot of fish stew with so many little fishes, which will make Grandmother nag less!

Xiaocao was also grinning happily while thinking about the tasty fish stew, “Leave them in the jar for now. The weather’s too hot, so there will be a stinky smell after they die. Pick out several of the bigger fish. We’ll grill them to eat later!”

As she spoke, she arrived at the side of the stream and put the multicolored stone between the pebbles at the bottom of the stream. Luckily, the little divine stone woke up and controlled its powers. Otherwise, if it attracted all the fish in the stream or other animals, it would have been seriously troublesome!

“Brother Han, look at the fishes we caught!” Little Shitou picked out several fish that were about half a foot long and showed off to Zhao Han who was rushing over.

Zhao Han was shocked to see so many fish inside the jar, “The fish in this stream are very agile. I’ve tried many times and only caught one or two fish after for a long time. How did you guys catch so many in such a short time? What’s your secret? Teach Brother Han, too.”

“If I told you that the little fishes swam inside themselves, would you believe me?” Little Shitou’s big eyes gleamed as he asked with a mischievous expression.

Zhao Han laughed, then lifted him up and tossed him in the air. While the little guy was screaming, he caught him in his arms again and said, ”Do you think your Brother Han is easily fooled? If you told me that a pheasant flew into the pot, I might had believed you. Alright, let’s roast the meat!”

Zhao Han had returned home and brought back a wide range of seasonings. Yu Xiaocao looked over the seasonings he brought over. He even had a spice like cumin. She lowered her head and sniffed that familiar tan-colored power.   

“That’s cumin. You haven’t seen it before, right? Jianwen Emperor brought it back from the south when he was still the imperial crown prince. There’s also chili pepper. Jianwen Emperor was allegedly an avid lover for spicy flavors. However, not everyone can get used to spices like cumin and chili peppers. I can eat them, but if you guys don’t like the spices, you don’t have to use them.” Zhao Han and his grandfather were also lovers of the piquant taste.

At this time, chili peppers had not been popularized. All the vegetables that the Yu Family ate were grown in their own gardens, so they naturally didn’t have any chili peppers. Without any oil and spices, their meals were just poached vegetables with a small amount of salt. If Yu Xiaocao wasn’t hungry, she seriously wouldn’t be able to eat it.

Yu Xiaocao had great admiration for the gourmet Zhao Han. He was able to collect such a vast variety of spices like the bright red chili powder, cumin, anise, cinnamon, and fennel.

Without any other choice, Zhao Han took up the responsibility of taking care of the hare and turtledove, Shitou was chattering on the side as he watched him, while Yu Xiaocao voluntary picked up the firewood to start a fire. She occasionally looked towards them and thought, ‘This young man was only around twelve or thirteen years old, but he was quite skilled in skinning the hare and cutting out the internal organs. It was obvious that he was accustomed to doing this.’

The fire was quickly lit. The hare was smeared with salt and various seasonings, then placed on top of the fire to be roasted. The turtledove was stuffed with spices and covered with mud before being thrown into the fire to be roasted. The pheasant eggs were also covered with a layer of wet mud to prevent them from bursting, then set beside the fire to be baked.  

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Myst's Thoughts

Translator: Myst