It Starts With A Mountain – Chapter 25

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Chapter 25: Zhou Xiaoshu’s Day

In the Flying Tiger Camp, Gao Feihu was sitting under the tree and was currently still so mad that he’s shaking uncontrollably.

“Unbelievably shameless. They dare to try to steal the men of our Flying Tiger Bandits! I won’t allow it. Get me my saber, I’m going to go teach them a lesson.”

“Big bro, calm down, calm down.” Gao Feibao tried to hold him back with all he’s got.

“The hell I can calm down. This is obviously a direct challenge against us!” Gao Feihu roared out.

“We have to wait for the strategist to get back, so just wait.” Gao Feibao spoke.

Gao Feihu angrily sat there as he huffed and puffed like a bellow.

“You think it’s for real? That you’ll get a weapon just from going there?”

“And white flatbread too.”

“Gulp. I’m drooling just thinking about it. How about we go over and try our luck.”

As Gao Feihu sat there under the tree, he could hear such discussions from around him. Although the people saying such things were trying to keep their voice down as much as possible, it still ended up in Gao Feihu’s ears.

“Hmph. White flatbread they say. Not even I have such luxuries.”

But Gao Feihu had to admit it. Although this method of the Toad Bandits was shameless, it was also effective. By now, there are already people in the camp who were tempted. What should he do if they really did get lured away by the Toad Banits.

“Big bro, I’ve got an idea.” Gao Feibao spoke.

“Eh? You actually have an idea!” Gao Feihu felt like surprises were coming one after another today.

“Isn’t he trying to lure people away from us? Then why don’t we turn his plot right back onto him and send some men over to eat and drink away at his expense? If there’s a chance, we might be able to just directly take over Toad Camp. Right now, Toad Camp’s got a lot of food stored after all.”

After he said that though, Gao Feibao noticed that Gao Feihu was staring at him wide eyed and disbelievingly.

“Big bro, what is it? Is my plan no good?”

“No, I just never expected that you actually could say a phrase like turning his plot back onto him.” Gao Feihu said.

Zhou Xiaoshu is 17 years old this year. He’s a minor grunt of the Flying Tiger Bandits. His father’s a bandit, his mother’s a bandit. Thus, he too was basically born a bandit.

The life of a bandit isn’t actually all that great. The cliché is that they’d eat meat and drink tons of wine, but Zhou Xiaoshu hasn’t had a taste of meat in over a year now. The weather’s not been good these two years, so the fields that they kept frequently yielded no harvest. When they’re out of food, everyone has to spread out around the mountains to try foraging for wild plants. However, supposedly, life down the mountain is even worse. People are forced to labor around the year for their landlords, and they also have to pay all kinds of taxes.

Those are all stuff that the strategist said. Zhou Xiaoshu actually didn’t even understand what paying taxes meant.

He’s just a lowly bandit. The lowliest kind at that.

Today, he’s going with the vice boss of the camp to Toad Camp. Vice boss said that this is a strategy, one to cause internal division. Truth be told though, he didn’t really get it. He’s just following the vice boss.

When they’ve reached Toad Camp, they discovered that the gate was packed with people. People from a lot of the other Bandit groups came. That man called Huang was sitting at a table and said something about registering.

Everyone lined up t register. Vice boss tried to cut in line but was kicked out back to the end. Vice boss… Is sometimes kind of funny.

When they finally reached the front of the line, that Huang guy handed them a piece of paper and said something about signing their names. Zhou Xiaoshu couldn’t read. The vice boss could, but he wasn’t that good at it either, so he didn’t really know what’s written there either. In the end, they just copied the people in front of them and drew a circle. There weren’t that many circles drawn, so Zhou Xiaoshu felt kind of shameful.

Does drawing a circle mean that he now belongs to the Toad Bandits? Vice boss already said that they’re infiltrating, and to remember that they’re actually men of the Flying Tiger Bandits no matter what.

In the end, someone handed him a saw and had him work. Work, what work? A super pretty girl said that if he worked well, then he’ll be able to have dumplings for lunch.

Dumplings. Isn’t that something that can only be eaten for new year? He remembered eating a bowl last year, and after that, he really didn’t want to eat any wild vegetable flatbreads for the next few days. Was she serious? She’s probably lying, right. How can anyone possibly eat dumplings ever day?

Since they’re telling him to work, then let’s work. Vice boss didn’t have any problems with that either. That said, his own work is cutting down trees while the vice boss was sent to dig up rocks. He’s not good for much, but he is strong. Although the sun was harsh, for the Zhou Xiaoshu who had been working since he was around seven or eight, that’s nothing much.

It’s just, will he really be able to eat dumplings for lunch?

He had a busy morning. Everyone was working, but no one really felt tired. But before the sun quite reached noon, someone had him stop working. They said that it’s time for lunch.

For lunch, it really is dumplings. He really didn’t expect that. A dumpling with white dough and wild veggie fillings. There seems to be meat in there even. Toad Camp didn’t raise any pigs, so it should be wild boar meat. He say a big guy come back from hunting along with several other men carrying game. Wild chicken, dear… That guy’s really good at hunting. If he had such skills, then he’d probably be able to eat meat every day.

He had his dumplings in hand, but he still didn’t dare to eat it. After asking vice boss, vice boss told him to eat his fill, the more the better.

He ate three bowls before he really couldn’t swallow anymore. He never imagined that there would be a day where he’s unable to swallow down dumplings. Back then, during the new years, if he ate two more than his share, then his dad would seriously curse at him.

The afternoon was filled with similar work. Someone directed him, and he just did what he was told. That bit of work wasn’t anything much for him.

At night, it was actually white bread for dinner along with a pot of wild veggies stewing in it. Zhou Xiaoshu really was stunned. This was even more luxurious than new years. For the Toad Bandits to eat like that every day, won’t it cause them to be hit with divine punishment?

However, by night, he was kicked out of the Toad Camp. Could it be because he ate too much? Later on, he found out that wasn’t it.

That Huang person said that they’re not members of the Toad Bandits yet. They’re just part time workers, and they’re still in probation right now, so they’re only getting two meals a day along with five pounds of food. If they want to work some more, then they can come back tomorrow.

He didn’t get what [Part time work] and [probation] were, but those five pounds of wheat weren’t fake. He just did some work in exchange for two meals, and they even gave him food before he left. Is it really alright for him to eat and take so much?

When they got back to the camp and told everyone about what happened today, even he wasn’t sure that he was telling the truth. But those five pounds of wheat made it so that they had no choice but to believe it. Someone wanted to trade me a saber for it, but he refused. Although he really did like that saber, his pa and ma hasn’t eaten white bread in nearly a year now.

Only, he did hear someone start complaining to the boss, asking why they didn’t get to join in something so great and if the boss was giving unfair treatment.

After that bit of trouble, he likely won’t be able to go tomorrow. It’s not like he could hog something so great every single day after all. But, what if… Worst comes to worst, he could sneak over by himself. That’s five pounds of food every day after all. If he works a few extra days, then he won’t be afraid come winter anymore.

The weather this year’s not very good after all. It’s been a long time since it rained.

As he lied down on his bed, filled with such wild imaginings, Zhou Xiaoshu quickly fell asleep.

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