Shao Xuan was sound asleep, drooling. His ears could filter background noises but when Ji Ju approached, Shao Xuan woke.
In the past, anyone who visited was either so tense they didn't know where to put their hands or they were very greedy, looking around as if they couldn’t wait to get their hands on the things here. It was very rare to see someone who could fall asleep here.
After getting an answer to a question he had for years, Ji Ju was in a rare good mood. He smiled. “What did you dream of?”
“I was cooking porridge when you came.” Shao Xuan wiped the drool off his chin, not embarrassed. It was peaceful here, with the slight fragrance of plants. It was relaxing. He had dreamt he was cooking a pot of porridge with white rice inside.
That’s not right.
Shao Xuan stretched and paused. White porridge? White rice?
When he thought about it, the rice was round. Although they were not as large as the purple grains from his tribe, they were similar
Ji Ju sat and poured himself a glass of water. When he saw Shao Xuan, he asked, “You thought of something?”
“I am recalling the pot of porridge from my dream,” said Shao Xuan.
Ji Ju was amused and did not take him seriously. He thought Shao Xuan was just hungry. This was a place with food everywhere, dreaming of rice was not odd.
“Because of what you said, I thought of a question that I couldn’t answer from years ago. Our Ji ancestral records talked about Thousand Grain Gold. The planting methods for the plant, I got them from my ancestral notes.”
Just for this piece of information, he had looked through all the Ji records in detail, finding a lot of new information. They didn’t call it Thousand Grain Gold though, it was just a very common, overused name--- “Golden Grain”. Ji Ju spent a lot of effort looking up its planting procedures and then modified them himself. He changed the recipe for the fertiliser and finally produced his own batch.
However, the notes mentioned something called ‘the five colours of gold’. Due to some reasons, the records weren’t complete so Ji Ju could not read the rest. He never understood what this line meant until Shao Xuan mentioned it.
“The word ‘gold’ from Thousand Grain Gold doesn’t mean one colour,” explained Ji Ju. “The five colours of gold vary with the land and the person. It means that with different locations, different people and different methods, the grains will turn out different too. Just like Flaming Horn got purple grains- my field might not produce the same. Maybe even different colours from the first batch.”
“Varies with both the land and the person? So the different coloured grains have different properties?”
“Not bad.” Ji Ju touched his beard, pausing when he noticed it had grown thinner but he continued, “The different coloured grains will be different. Based on my speculations, the plants in your tribe will differ even more from the parent plant we found on the hill as the number of generations increase. As long as it is planted in your tribe, by your people with the same method, in the end, the grains will start to adapt to your tribe.
“However, if one day your tribe moves away and leaves the plants there for a thousand years, they will still live. As generations pass, they will return to their original state, like this,” Ji Ju showed him the dark gold grains.
“Thank you for telling me this!” said Shao Xuan solemnly.
“Treat your purple grains with care. Even if you don’t know what they’re for now, one day, they will prove their value. All the changes happening to every living thing in this world have their reasons. If they say the Thousand Grain Gold has five colours, maybe purple is the one that your tribe needs most! Same thing, my plants will produce the one I need most,” sighed Ji Ju.
Although he was still jealous, he was a lot calmer now. Perhaps the kind he needed wasn’t the one the Flaming Horn people had, but the ones that were growing slower on his land.
As for their ability to plant the Thousand Grain Gold and coax it into evolving, this meant the Flaming Horn people weren’t the vulgar savages he heard from rumours. The impression of the tribe changed in his heart.
Ji Ju wanted to talk to him about the purple grains when he noticed there was one less grain on the table!
He remembered bringing three grains over, one without its husk and two whole grains. Now there was only one with its husk. What happened to the other two?!
Shao Xuan pointed outside the door.
The bullhead at the door quickly retracted outside.
Since the bull had already eaten it, Ji Ju did not say much, merely grunting. Thinking about his crops, he couldn’t help but smile. “Shao Xuan, what colour do you think mine will be?”
“White,” blurted Shao Xuan. He’d accidentally told him about the pot of porridge in his dream.
Ji Ju was surprised. “Why are you so sure?”
“Just a guess,” stuttered Shao Xuan.
Ji Ju looked at Shao Xuan knowingly, though he did not say he didn’t believe him. He rapped the table gently. “I think my plants are going to reach the second ‘block’ soon, how long will you stay? Why not stay a little longer, watch and see how they will pass this ‘block’.”
Shao Xuan did a calculation and nodded. “I need to meet another senior too.” Then he smiled, “You’re willing to let me watch? Aren’t you afraid I might learn all your secrets?”
Ji Ju waved. “Not at all!” The key to everything was his fertiliser but he had already formulated and made them personally. He was not afraid of anyone watching.
After Shao Xuan returned to Qingmang Pavilion, Ji Ju even treated them to a meal. Shao Xuan and the two left the fields after the meal from a side exit. There were too many people at the main entrance and they would be hounded if they took that way.
“Next time, if there are too many people at the entrance, take this door instead. This is the door nearest to Qiju.”
The guards were told to remember Shao Xuan’s face so they could bring him to Qiju directly next time.
Ji Ju even arranged for a wagon and ten large sacks of grains for them.
The field was large and there were many side entrances so their journey was smooth. No one saw them.
Black Bear was ecstatic. Ten sacks! Although they were all for Shao Xuan, he could get one or two right? He was willing to negotiate!
Along the way, Shao Xuan talked to Guang Yi. If he did not want to stay in King City, he could return with a portion of the Black Bears back to Anba City and bring some of the grains too.
Guang Yi refused, saying he did not want to leave Shao Xuan alone here. Duo Kang had told him that his duty was to protect Shao Xuan. He couldn’t let their Elder get bullied in King City.
Knowing that they were staying in King City for a while, Black Bear volunteered for them to stay at the Black Bear’s base. He was not going to let Shao Xuan go. And Ji Ju never said his people would never get a chance to enter his place.
They arrived at King City and went to the base. Black Bear got his people to set up a place for Shao Xuan and Guang Yi to store their things too.
“Shao Xuan, when do you plan to go to the Golden Grain fields again?” asked Black Bear.
“The day after tomorrow. I want to walk in the city tomorrow and buy some stuff,” said Shao Xuan. He couldn’t keep using stuff they gave him, he had to buy some supplies too.
“That’s fine too, I’ll let Maoda go with you.” As the chief of the tribe and head of the trading party, he was very busy. He had been out the whole day today, there was lots to do. If the day after he had to go to Ji Ju’s place again, he had to make arrangements tomorrow.
So it is settled! If they were going on the day tomorrow, what gifts should he prepare? The Black Bear wondered.
Maoda brought Shao Xuan and Guang Yi to their new place. “What do you want to buy tomorrow? I’m familiar with the place, I know where all the best things are.” He had heard what happened from Black Bear and looked at Shao Xuan like he looked at money. He would never miss an opportunity to impress Shao Xuan. Maybe next time he could go to the Golden Grain fields too? Hehehe, he was excited!
“We’ll see. But if we have time, I want to visit a friend. I don’t know where he lives though,” said Shao Xuan.
Black Bear, who was still thinking about the present, strained his ears.
“What’s your friends’ name? I’ll send my men to find out,” said Maoda.
“Do you know where the Gongjia family lives?”
“I do! I do! Tomorrow I’ll…”
Before Maoda could finish, he was interrupted by Black Bear.
Black Bear took too large steps forward. He was so emotional that his face was covered in red splotches.
“I suddenly feel like it’ll be better for me to bring you there tomorrow. I know a few people from the Gongjia family too,” said Black Bear.
Maoda: “...” It should be me! I should go!