We had leftover fish soup for dinner. One thing I had to get used to was eating lots of the same stuff every day, but it wasn’t too bad. And every year I stayed, and farmed, the selection would get bigger, so it was something to look forward to, instead of complaining about the present. This stuff was a bit bland because the spirit herbs were still growing, but the rice and veggies were good.
Man, I had really become reliant on the spirit herbs for seasoning. I need to find some other stuff. Well, that was something for later.
I was just kind of lazing around. The only one of my animals that was still unaccounted for was Tigger. Chunky and Peppa had come in to warm up. Peppa had lay down beside me, while Chunky had gone to mooch more scratches of the Xong brothers.
Meimei had finally reached her limit on teaching, getting up to stretch, and to get some of her sleeping stuff out of her pack.
Gou Ren got up and stretched too. “I’ll take care of cleaning up, Brother Jin.” He said, and went off to do just that.
It didn’t take long for us to hear his giggling as he fed the carp. The thing was a damn vacuum with how swiftly it attacked the food on the plates, eagerly hoovering up anything you put in front of it.
Well, it looked like he would be a permanent addition to the house. Like the garbage dino in the Flintstones. I wonder what I’ll call him. Magikarp? Mr. Fish? Nemo? Eh, thought for another time.
Eventually, Yun Ren couldn’t take the laughter anymore, and went to go and play with the fish too.
Ha, my kids are probably going to love that fish. The heavens knew I used to have a magnetic attraction to water. I was able to seek out and fall into the only puddle in the parking lot. Or get all my clothes wet in the first hour of our camping trips.
...I’d have to keep a close eye on them.
“Jin, where did you get these, anyway?” Meimei asked, staring at my mittens with a bemused expression, I opened my mouth to cheerfully proclaim them mine, when she continued, “Why did you even spend money on the mittens, whoever made these was terrible!”
Ouch. I know I wasn’t good, but they worked!
I pouted. “I made them. The hat too.”
Meiling looked up in surprise. “You have a loom?” She asked.
“Nah, I knit them.” I replied.
“Knit?” She looked like she was puzzling the word out.
“You know, like with needles?”
Meimei looked confused, “No, I don’t. Could you show me?”
Wait really? I wracked Jin Rou’s memories, and they come up blank for anything resembling knitting. Huh. That was one of the more surprising things I’ve learned. Shrugging, I went and got my needles. I had made them out of wood, and sanded them down until they were as smooth as metal. I took some of my leftover yarn, and cast on the stitch. The ball of yarn was thick and chunky, just the way I wanted it, and it had been cheap as an “inferior product”. To be fair, it was a little itchy.
Meimei watched my fingers intently as the rows took form. I had been getting a little faster recently, but I was still pretty slow. Soon enough, there was the beginnings of a scarf.
“This...this is great. A loom is still better for finer detail and bigger pieces, but being able to make things while travelling is...” She looked so eager, I couldn’t help myself. I kissed her on the nose. She flushed at how close our faces had been, and my surprise assault.
“Well, one more thing to teach. I dunno how good I’ll be at teaching, and I’m bad at knitting. I can only really do straight lines and tubes, which is why my mittens look so bad.”
Meiling nodded, and kept looking at my rows. Well, it looked like she still had some studying left in her.
Grinning, I patted my lap. Meimei got the message. She smelled very nice after her bath. Alright, so, to cast on…”
Our fingers worked, Gou Ren and Yun Ren eventually stopped teasing the fish, and started getting their own blankets out. Gou Ren opened the door at the sound of tapping, and Tigger ambled in, looking pleased with herself as always, while Big D bowed to us all and started up his night watch. Meimei started getting the hang of it, but it was getting late.
“Jin, do you have anything to divide the room?” Meimei asked me.
I nodded. I had a couple of wooden dividers that could be set sup for privacy, or just to section off the room. I realised what she was getting at by her sly grin.
A couple were set up around my bed, as the “master of the house”. The Xong brothers just rolled their eyes, and bid us sweet dreams.
I normally slept in a shirt and short pants, while Meimei had a sleeping robe...but I had something I wanted to see. I handed one of my clean shirts to Meimei, who had stripped down to her dudou again. She raised an eyebrow at it, but she indulged me, sliding on the too big garment.
We got into bed, and under my covers. I have to say, the best thing about the new house was my new bed. It was a lot bigger than my old one. I still needed a down duvet, but for right now… well, everything was perfect.
Our arms wrapped around each other. Her lips tasted of the pine paste we used to brush our teeth.
There was an irritated meow from beside us. Tigger hopped up onto the bed, and squeezed between us petulantly. Meiemei had frozen, and the cat sniffed her a couple of times. Tigger licked her nose, and then flopped over.
Meiemei snorted with amusement, breaking out into little giggles, and I started chuckling too. My arm settled around her waist, and our foreheads pressed together, Tigger sandwiched between us.
I slept the sleep of the content, curled up under a thick blanket, while the snow fell outside.
“Yeeeeeaaaahhhhh!” Gou Ren howled as Chun Ke dashed as fast as he could. He was riding on Jin’s “Toba gan”, lashed to the boar. Chun Ke had immediately gone wild, running around the property and jumping over small rivers as Gou Ren held on for dear life. He salomed crazily through the turns, throwing his weight to not get thrown off.
“Yeee- Haw, Gou, Yee-Haw!” Jin shouted back at him, whooping as he continued to walk up the hill.
They had come here on a sleigh. It was bigger than his cart, and had obviously been lovingly worked on. The runners were worked to look like tree branches, and there were eight pointed stars carved into the sides. Jin evidently liked the colour red, because this too was to be lacquered red, and the stars painted yellow.
Jin had mumbled something about “San Ta” coming to town, and got a big grin on his face.
That was how Meiling had gotten roped into finding out the favourite animal of every child in the village.
As well as her own. She had no idea what he was planning on doing with the information, but he was obviously planning something amusing.
The front of the sleigh could either accommodate Jin, or his pigs. Both of the spirit beasts seemed to greatly enjoy being hooked in, and they trotted off at a sedate pace, through the silent forests, and into the back of the property, where the biggest hill was located.
There, Jin had bought out a variety of devices to take advantage of the incline. Some of them were reminiscent of what Meiling remembered using not too long ago, or what her little brother was probably using right now. Jin’s Toba Gan was just a fancy piece of wood, but Yun Ren had taken an interest in his “skis”, and was currently falling over repeatedly while Jin tried to coach him on how to use them.
“Yeeee- Haw!” Gou Ren shouted, and Chun Ke obligingly sped up. Jin’s other Pig was almost daintily using one of the longer planks to slide down the hill, and then drag the board back up, and go again.
They reached the top of the hill, and Jin sat down behind her.
“Lets do the jump this time!” he urged her, and she finally caved.
“Fine, we’ll do the jump.” She sighed, and braced herself.
She would have to take her little brother along the next time. He would never forgive her if she got to enjoy this, and he didn’t.
Sailing through the air was more enjoyable than she thought it would be.
“Come on, you little shits, move faster! If one of them falls over, leave them!” The giant of a man snarled.
“Yes, Boss!” his underlings gasped, as they continued their flight into the forest.
He snarled, to think the Whirling Demon Sword Gang was reduced to this. Those Verdant Blade Bastards! To think he, of the third step, would be forced to flee!
He would get his revenge! That Young Mistress of theirs would be warming his bed by this time next year! And he would sack a hundred more villages, just to prove a point!
“Boss, the boys can’t take much more of this.” His second in command muttered in his ear.
He snarled again.
“Fine! Enough! We stop here for today! Ration the grub out! You and you, go scout ahead!” He commanded, and his underlings obeyed.
Camp was set quickly, and their meager food stores carefully rationed out.
The scouts came back several hours later with news, as the sun was starting to set. A farmstead had sprung up not to far from their old hideout.The Boss of the Whirling Demon Sword Gang grinned. Tonight, they’d have some fun.