“No, listen to me.” Shao Xuan gestured for Ji Ju to calm down.
But Ji Ju could not calm down, his heart ached even more as he thought about it. Afterwards, he had brought people to the Thousand Grain Gold hill to dig up a few to bring back here. However, they could not move the plants because their roots were too long and no one knew where they led to. Digging was impossible. They took the risk to break off the roots of two plants but when they brought them back, the plants withered and died.
He sent more people but they did not find more plants. The few Thousand Grain Gold shoots there did not bear fruit again. Perhaps that pouch of grains with both him and Shao Xuan were the only ones left.
“Shao Xuan, talk to me. How much of this year’s harvest do you want in order to trade?” asked Ji Ju, suppressing his frustrations.
Shao Xuan did not speak.
Black Bear could guess what this was about from their conversation. Shao Xuan and Ji Ju must have found some peculiar grain. Shao Xuan planted them back in his tribe but a portion of them failed. Ji Ju wanted to use this year’s harvest in exchange for more of the grains.
To Black Bear, this was a win-win situation. In terms of agriculture, especially peculiar kinds, the Ji family produced the best. Now that Ji Ju was called the Golden Grain, it meant his grains were the best. Since Shao Xuan’s side had failed, shouldn’t they just trade it all for something more worth it? How many people could get their hands on the Golden Grain field’s harvest?! If he re-sold the grains, the Flaming Horn tribe would get a lot of good weapons.
Black Bear almost started to persuade Shao Xuan to agree and trade. He turned to Guang Yi, hoping this senior could advise the kid. Unfortunately, Guang Yi was just frowning hard as if he had heard something upsetting. And that frown wasn’t directed at Shao Xuan, but at Ji Ju.
Black Bear’s heart fell. How could he forget? The Flaming Horn people were never afraid of conflict. Even if this was Ji Ju, if they were angered, they could do anything.
What now? What now?! Black Bear panicked, thinking of every possible scenario and the solution.
Since Shao Xuan was silent, Ji Ju thought Shao Xuan was weighing the pros and cons, thinking of the offer price. He decided to persuade him even further. “You’re not good at planting, it would be a waste for the grains to remain with you. It won’t work!”
As he spoke, Ji Ju got his butler to bring a large sack of grains. The sack was almost as tall as a human. Opening the sack, the butler scooped some unto a tray and put the tray on the table in front of Ji Ju.
“This year’s new harvest. Take a look at these grains,” said Ji Ju.
The grains in the bronze tray still had their husks, all golden. But they were not Thousand Grain Gold, for they were oval and not. They were not as big too, merely the size of a normal grain.
Black Bear rubbed his hands, wanting to take a handful to look. Unfortunately, he was just accompanying Shao Xuan and it was inappropriate. He looked at Shao Xuan. They were good grains, this is a good deal! And if Shao Xuan received a lot here, he could trade again with Shao Xuan.
Not just Black Bear, Ji Ju was also waiting for Shao Xuan to give a number and close the deal.
However, after some thought, Shao Xuan did not answer. “On your side, how are the Thousand Grain Gold plants doing?”
Ji Ju was a little upset as he did not get his answer. However, to convince Shao Xuan to give up, he said, “They’re doing alright. Sixty percent of the crops lived!”
This survival rate was very high for the Thousand Grain Gold. Some peculiar plants might not even have a ten percent survival rate. Yet this plant had sixty percent!
Black Bear understood this too. He nodded. It was Ji “Golden Grain” Ju after all.
Ji Ju knew that if Shao Xuan asked him how he planted them, he would never tell but Shao Xuan asked, “The Thousand GRain Gold you planted, what colour are the grains?”
“When it ripens, of course the Thousand Grain Gold would turn gold!” said Ji Ju, touching his beard.
“After taking off the husk?”
“Gold too, of course!”
Guang Yi’s expression turned odd.
Shao Xuan cocked an eyebrow when he heard this. “This means, you haven’t been able to harvest any yet?”
“What’s the hurry?” Ji Ju was displeased with Shao Xuan’s attitude. “It’s always because of your impatient attitude, that’s why you’ll never be able to plant anything successfully! Patience! Rigour! Do you understand?!”
Guang Yi gave him an even weirder look.
“How tall are your plants?” asked Shao Xuan.
“Taller than my waist. Why are you asking so many questions? I only have one question for you: Are you trading or what?! If yes, how much of my harvest do you want? Just tell me!” Ji Ju was already impatient. He had spent too much time on this. He hadn’t tended to the Thousand GRain Gold plants today yet.
Sensing that Ji Ju no longer wanted to continue the conversation, Shao Xuan did not stop talking. He just continued telling his story. “When we planted both on the hill and at the bottom, the shoots were doing very well. They grew very quickly.”
Ji Ju huffed. “They all died, right?” At this moment, he realised that sending Shao Xuan in here was a bad decision. This kid spouted too much nonsense. Just give me a price, will you?!
“Yeah, but no one expected the shoots to die suddenly. However, I realised that the seeds in my backyard, that I had forgotten about, were still alive. They were just a lot slower. “
Ji Ju’s mocking tone turned to shock, then he relaxed. “It grew slower so it hadn’t reached that ‘block’, of course it did well. I believe after they reached that point, they were killed by that ‘block’ once again, right?”
“About that…” Shao Xuan fiddled with the cup in his hand. “They lived.”
Ji Ju paused. “They lived?!”
“Yeah, they didn’t just live, they grew taller and taller-- even surpassing my height. But the numbers dwindled.”
Ji Ju looked at him. “Continue.”
“Then, they bore grains. Each grain was this big!” Shao Xuan gestured with his thumb and index finger, curling to show the size of a grape.
Even the butler who heard hits could not help but laugh. He looked at Ji Ju. Ah, the master was about to rage once again.
Indeed, after Shao Xuan said so, Ji Ju looked up and glared with his aged eyes straight at Shao Xuan. His expression hardened like a brick wall.
“You’re lying to me?!” Ji Ju could take a joke but never a joke related to his crops. He would get upset.
“A grain this big? You think I’d believe that?” Ji Ju was so angry his face turned green. He had wanted to have a civilised conversation and the kid was insulting him!
Black Bear was terrified. He was the leader of Black Bear. Insulting Ji Ju could mean they would never get Golden Grains ever again. He even wanted to bring some for the kids in his tribe because he heard they were good for health. It looked like that was not going to happen.
Shao Xuan ignored his rage and Black Bear’s frantic nudges. He took the bag hanging behind him and opened it.
Ji Ju stood motionless as if someone had cast a spell on him. He glared at Shao Xuan’s bag, his nostrils expanding and contracting quickly.
Shao Xuan took out a few grains and put them on the tray with the rest of the golden coloured grains.
The grains as large as grapes crinkled when they rolled against the tiny grains. This meant it was heavy.
When the sunlight shone on the large grains, they looked even more golden. The grains were already bright but with the grape-like grains, they were just a dull background.
With such contrast, everything was clear.
Black Bear could not think. His eyes widened.
The butler, who had been by Ji Ju’s side for many years, was shocked too. He had seen enough to know a grain’s quality. Yet he could not believe his master’s grains were second-best compared to these!
“This is…” Ji Ju’s breathing quickened as he recognised its scent. His voice shook, his throat dry. However, since he was overwhelmed with emotion, his voice cracked.
“This is the Thousand Grain Gold we planted. Planted by our Flaming Horn tribe,” said Shao Xuan seriously as he emphasised on Flaming Horn.
Guang Yi had pride in his face. So what if this was Ji Ju? How could he look down on the Flaming Horn people? You think we can’t plant anything good? I hope you’re blinded by our grains!
Ji Ju did not notice Guang Yi, he did not see anything else other than the grains in the tray.
He picked up the few large balls, ignoring the smaller grains that fell on the ground and sniffed them. “Not bad, this scent! It’s the Thousand Grain Gold! Bring me my knife!”
The butler quickly left and brought back a tray with a piece of leather. There were several types of small knives on it. The handles were long but the blades were relatively short.
Ji Ju picked up a small knife while the other hand held the grains.
A gap was opened in the husk. The entire husk fell off to reveal the grain.
“Why is it this colour?!” Ji Ju was astonished.
The purple grain against the golden husk looked peculiar as ever.
“That is why I came here to ask you about it. I had to ask you what colour your grains were,” said Shao Xuan.
“That’s not supposed to happen! No!” Ji Ju’s eyes watered when he held the purple grains. His fist clenched, gripping the grains hard, and sprinted off like the wind. Then he ran back inside and dragged Shao Xuan out once again.