Urban Tales of Demons and Spirits
Vol 3 Book of Exchange – Chapter 33 Pheasants and Bamboo Shoots
First Published on Chaleuria.
Chapter 33 Pheasants and Bamboo Shoots
“Pheasants in the mountains are vigilant,” Zhu Xuan looked around while explaining to us. “So we must walk as silently as possible.”
“Ay, ay, there’s one over there!” The keen-eyed Shi Yitong spotted a pheasant. He called us in a low voice, hurriedly pointing Zhu Xuan a direction. We looked over and saw a pheasant strutting in the bush.
However, Zhu Xuan didn’t seem interested. He kept the rifle in his hand, not intending to shoot at all.
“Don’t worry. Pheasants forage in groups. This one we’re watching is inspecting the area like a patrol officer. If it detects danger, it will warn the others to run away,” Zhu Xuan said. “If it doesn’t notice anything…”
On the other side, the pheasant rambled around the bush as if it was patrolling the area to see if there were any predators. We hid behind the bush and stayed as quiet as we could. Finally, the pheasant stopped rambling and let out a few clucks. A moment later, we saw at least four or five pheasants appear from behind the bush, strutting around.
“In a moment, on the count of three, I’ll start shooting, and you’ll run to them. If you’re quick enough, you should be able to catch a few.” Zhu Xuan whispered, “Are you ready?”
We all nodded nervously.
“Good. Three, two, one!”
As Zhu Xuan fired the first shot, the patrolling pheasant died instantly, and we immediately rushed out. However, probably because Su Xiaoyun and I were too slow and the pheasant ran really fast, we didn’t manage even to touch it.
Shi Yitong also shouted and rushed towards the pheasants. To our surprise, that guy used some skills he must have hidden from us and easily caught one.
“Me! I caught one! I caught one!” Shi Yitong seized the pheasant in his arms while yelling, “Ah, help! Help me! It… it’s pecking me!”
“Clutch its neck!” Zhu Xuan hurriedly shouted.
“I… I don’t know how! It’s pecking me!” Shi Yitong cried out.
“Stay still, stay still, let me do it!”
At last, Su Xiaoyun, Zhu Xuan, and I saved Shi Yitong from this frightening bird and killed the pheasant. We all looked a mess as our clothes were covered with mud after the fight with the pheasant.
“Hahaha…” Shi Yitong laughed so hard that he fell on the ground, unable to get back up. “Hey, did you see that? I’m awesome!”
“Awesome, my ass,” Su Xiaoyun gasped and complained. “Thank the lord I didn’t wear my new pants today; otherwise, you’d be a dead man, Shi Yitong.”
“Alright, alright, we’re actually pretty lucky today.” Zhu Xuan stood up with a smile. He picked up the two pheasants we caught. “Although we didn’t find any mushrooms and matsutake, these two pheasants are quite a big catch. This is a gift from the mountain.”
“You’re so right! I’ve always known that I’m this awesome!” Shi Yitong said arrogantly.
We thought that Zhu Xuan would say something to refute Shi Yitong, but instead, Zhu Xuan nodded.
“Of course, you’re the best! You were able to catch a pheasant on your first try.”
The way Zhu Xuan looked at Shi Yitong gave me goosebumps. However, Shi Yitong, the straightest man in the universe, hadn’t noticed it at all. He scratched his head, pretending to be embarrassed, but deep down in his heart, he was definitely thrilled.
“Haha, what are you talking about? However, thanks anyway. I really admire honest people like you who always tell the truth. From now on, you are my brother.” Shi Yitong smiled and put his arm around Zhu Xuan. Zhu Xuan suddenly blushed.
Just when I was about to make fun of him, I suddenly saw something strange passing by.
It seemed to be some animal, but I only saw white fur before it vanished in the bush.
Was it a fox? No, it seemed to be much bigger than a fox. Was it a wolf? Wolves shouldn’t have fur as white as that, should they?
“Gu Yu, what’s wrong?” Su Xiaoyun noticed my distraction and asked with concern.
“Um, nothing. I thought I saw something, but it was probably nothing.” I waved it off with my hands to show that I was fine.
Later, as well as the two pheasants we caught, we managed to dig up some fresh winter bamboo shoots; I thought our trip was fruitful. However, just as we were about to return, Zhu Xuan suddenly stopped.
“What’s the matter? Are you not going back to the hotel?” I asked curiously.
“You guys go back first. I have something else to deal with.” Zhu Xuan handed over the pheasants and bamboo shoots to us. He said with a smile, “Give these to Mr. Xu, and he’ll make you some delicious pheasant soup.”
“Oh, okay.” Shi Yitong was a little confused, but nonetheless, he grabbed the pheasants and bamboo shoots.
“By the way, Shi Yitong,” Zhu Xuan suddenly called Shi Yitong. Shi Yitong raised his head.
“I want to give you something.” Zhu Xuan said. He took out a white camellia flower from behind him.
“Um, what is this?” Shi Yitong, holding the flower in his hand, was utterly perplexed.
“I found this flower when we went down the mountain; it’s a camellia flower that only blooms during winter,” Zhu Xuan answered with a shy smile. “I thought you would like it.”
“Um…no.” Shi Yitong looked at the flowers, then at us, stunned. “Bro, I think you misunderstood something…”
Su Xiaoyun and I tried very hard not to burst out laughing.
Su Xiaoyun pushed Shi Yitong forward. “Ah, just take it, it’s a gift for you.”
“Take it. Take it now, don’t let him down.” I hurriedly pushed Shi Yitong forward.
“Hey, no.” Shi Yitong turned his head. “What are you doing, bro…”
However, before he could finish his sentence, we froze. Because before we even noticed, Zhu Xuan had disappeared as if he vanished into the air, leaving only the 3 of us standing there.
After returning to the hotel, we found the hotel had gotten quiet. It looked like a lot of guests had checked out after the morning accident.
“Oh, you’re back.” When we walked in the hostel, Xu Yingchen was lazily sitting behind the counter, reading a newspaper. He put it down with a smile when he saw us coming in. We were all wet and dirty.
“It looks like you had a good hunt and got two pheasants.”
“We got two pheasants and some winter bamboo shoots.” I put the bamboo shoots on the counter in front of Xu Yingchen. “Zhu Xuan asked us to give them to you, saying that we’ll have stewed pheasants and winter bamboo shoots for dinner.”
Xu Yingchen laughed. “Good, good. These two pheasants will be enough to eat for a day.”
“Two pheasants for a day? What about other guests in the hotel?” Shi Yitong asked curiously.
“There are no other guests.” Xu Yingchen lazily waved his hand. “All the guests checked out this morning except you guys.”
We looked at each other, speechless.
“So … did you find out what happened this morning?” Su Xiaoyun carefully asked, “Was it a prank, or …”
“It’s probably a prank,” Xu Yingchen replied as he shrugged. “We didn’t lose anything, and even the painting hanging in the hallway is fine. Considering that it’s the most valuable thing in the hostel, it’s still hanging there intact.”
We looked back at the hall and saw that the sofa had been removed, and the broken glass on the ground was cleared, leaving only a table and the landscape painting on the wall.
“Do you mean… the landscape painting?” Su Xiaoyun hesitantly asked.
“Yes. It’s probably the most valuable thing in this hostel.” Xu Yingchen smiled. “The painting is the authentic work of Mr. Zhu Da from the Ming Dynasty.”
Our jaw almost dropped. “An authentic painting by Zhu Da? Really?”
“There’s no way you would just hang an authentic painting by Zhu Da on the hotel wall, right?” Shi Yitong was stunned.
“Hey, as the old adage goes, the most dangerous place is the safest one,” Xu Yingchen said with a grin. “And look, it’s still there.”
This hostel owner’s casual attitude was utterly shocking.
“However, though it might be a child’s prank, you should remain cautious,” Xu Yingchen said. “Remember to lock the door and windows before going to sleep in case ill-intentioned people try to break in .”
“Em, thank you.” We nodded.
Mr. Xu made stewed pheasant with bamboo shoots in the evening. The smell of the large pot of pheasant stew was great, just looking at it made us drool.
However, even after we finished eating, we didn’t see Zhu Xuan return to the hotel.
“Maybe he doesn’t live here.” Shi Yitong shrugged. “He said he was a local resident, he probably just went back home.”
That made sense, so I stopped worrying about him. Su Xiaoyun came to our room to play cards until ten o’clock at night. Shi Yitong lost every round, while goddess Su Xiaoyun won the most.
“You must accept the fact that you lost again!” Su Xiaoyun shouted while holding some cards in her hand. “Shi Yitong, be a good boy and accept my punishment.”
Shi Yitong, whose entire face had paper strips glued on, looked at Su Xiaoyun with a gloomy face. “Please spare me! Look, my face is already full of paper strips, there’s no space left!”
“Oi, that’s not right, we all agreed to accept punishment without whining. However, we can use another punishment.” Su Xiaoyun’s eyes twinkled. She patted Shi Yitong’s shoulder. “Ay, where is the camellia flower Zhu Xuan gave you today? Give it to me. I’m sure it’ll look great on you!”
“Ah, goddess! Don’t make fun of it again, all right?” Shi Yitong was extremely embarrassed.
“No. How could I miss the opportunity to embarrass you?” Su Xiaoyun showed an evil smile. “Hurry up, where did you hide the love token that boy gave you? Give it to me now!”
Upon saying that, Su Xiaoyun began to search Shi Yitong’s pockets.