A Month Among The Mountains
- TL: AmeryEdge
- ED: Azusky, LtBeefy, JSmith, Rainbowdash
On the tenth day.
Su Shulian used a stone to carve another line on the wall.
She couldn’t help but feel anxious in her heart. Escaping from this jungle would be in her best interest.
Originally, thinking that she was at the edge of the forest, she looked around for six days straight in all directions, but the results were fruitless. There wasn’t any change in the scenery, no matter which direction she spent half a day marching in. In the end, she could only helplessly return.
Looking down on the happily playing baby wolves by her side, “Xiaochun” and “Xiaoxue”, Su Shuilian couldn’t help but smile. Luckily, she had them to keep her company. If not for them, she wouldn’t have been able to survive these past ten days. Even if she didn’t starve or freeze to death, she would have already become some wild beast’s meal.
Thinking up to this point, Su Shuilian went inside the cave and walked towards the few simple drying racks made from branches, on which hung some dried meat.
Next to the drying racks lied two pieces of White Tiger fur, which Su Shuilian had skinned herself.
That’s right, it was the same White Tiger that had perished along the two Giant Wolves, which had taken Su Shuilian two days to skin. The two baby wolves had lead her to the nearest water source — a roughly thirty metres long, curved and narrow water stream. After washing the tiger fur thoroughly, she hung it out to dry.
After a round of sunbathing, the tiger skin began to slowly shrink, drying up softly. Thinking about how tonight she would be able to sleep on the soft warm White Tiger fur and avoid being stabbed by the uncomfortable dry branches on the ground, Su Shuilian couldn’t help but smile.
She softly massaged her roughened hands. Due to having to do more labor since coming here, her hands had gained many injuries and cuts. She could only sigh deeply: there wasn’t a guarantee that she would be able to escape this jungle, so she couldn’t even begin to think about sewing. She had to survive first before thinking about anything else.
Luckily, when she was eight she would often follow her brother, who was four years older than her, outside her grandma’s home to play, so at least she knew some camping skills. Furthermore, while sewing she had read many books to entertain herself, some of which written about the many customs and methods used by indigenous people and the exotic food they had eaten. When dealing with the White Tiger, she was able to recall the many survival methods taught by those books.
She was able to strip the tiger’s fur thanks to the decorative dagger found inside the bundle. Right now, the knife was neatly tied to her calf with a hemp rope. While exploring, if anything happened she could quickly and easily use it to defend herself.
She would have never thought that she would come to depend on the little dagger so much. While on the outside it looked extravagant, it was also extremely sharp, to the point where it could rival those legendary weapons which could cut through iron like mud.
Thanks to the dagger, she did not have to exert too much force while stripping the tiger of its skin. Of course, due to her own inexperience, she had sliced through the skin many times, accidentally cutting herself. Once, she made a cut so deep that blood wouldn’t stop flowing. If she hadn’t once washed her hands in the stalactites puddle after coming back from an exploration and discover that the crystal liquid could quickly stop bleeding wounds, Shuilian would have probably ended up passing out from losing too much blood.
The crystal clear liquid was definitely some sort of ethereal nectar. Not only was it beneficial for the body and restored her mental tranquility, it could also stop bleeding and heal wounds. Looking at her body that has been tempered by several drops of the nectar, her mind felt refreshed and her bones felt strong. She had quickly lost the unbearably weak body she had woken up in.
Haha, Su Shuilian couldn’t help but laugh softly once more. Even though the experience of crossing over to another world into another body was bewildering, she was able to meet the two baby wolves, find this resting place, and even came across this mysterious treasure. At this moment, Su Shuilian was calm.
The ancient once said: If you’re already here, might as well make yourself comfortable. If the heavens did not let her soul vanish into the void but instead had kept her alive by putting her here, then she should do her best to survive. Mother, big brother, please feel relieved, for your little girl will not give up, she will continue to struggle for her life.
The remaining crystal liquid must be used sparingly. She reckoned that there was about two small spoonfuls left, and before she could make her way out of the jungle she must not use them carelessly. In regards to leaving, Su Shuilian decided to stay around for another period of time. Based on the amount of remaining dried tiger meat, there was enough for around 10 to 15 more days.
By that time, “Xiaochun” and “Xiaoxue” would grow big and strong enough to follow her for longer distances. She had already prepared quite a large amount of food. Recently, she had found no small amount of wild berries when she went out. Looking at the red peck marks left by birds, the fruits were most likely not poisonous.
Tomorrow she planned to go and carefully explore further. It would be great if she could find new types of fruits. In the past few days, when not drinking water, she would have some meat, but she didn’t want to eat unless she was truly starving.
Even though the roasted tiger meat was very delicious, there was no honey, seasoning or spices, so she could only eat a few mouthfuls at a time. Looking at the two small baby wolves happily eating, Su Shuilian quietly turned around to go look for some salty fruit. As described in the foreign journals, certain fruits could be found in the wild and would work as seasoning in place of salt. Su Shuilian’s memory was working overtime as she tried her best to recall all her previous knowledge and apply them to the current situation.
“Xiaochun, Xiaoxue?” Su Shuilian walked inside the cave and woke up the two baby wolves which were still sleeping deeply, joy glowing from her pale white face.
“Woof”, The two wolves’s eyes shot open. Seeing Su Shuilian, they trudged over and curled their slightly cold bodies around her. They whined softly before closing their eyes and once again enjoyed bathing in the morning sun.
Su Shuilian laughed and gently placed them back on the tiger fur, letting them continue sleeping.
She took a shortcut and made her way to the stalactites puddle while taking out a few fruits which caused a smile to bloom on her face.
That’s right, these few pieces of ugly shriveled berries were just like those described by the foreign journals as salty fruit, and they could be used in place of salt.
Once she had found them, she cautiously tasted some. They were definitely savory, if not also a little bitter. It seemed like she needed to process them like it was described in the foreign journals. Su Shuilian couldn’t help but feel glad from the bottom of her heart. She softly sang a small Suzhou folk song while processing the salty fruits. She removed their skin, picked out their seed carefully by using the dagger and put the meat of the fruits inside a stone bowl.
The so-called stone bowl was in reality just a piece of rock in a similar shape to a roof tile, and could be used as a small water container. She had found it on the side of the small water stream and brought back two in total. She gave one to the two baby wolves to use. On the other hand, she also had a jar shaped stone, and she often use it to make stew by putting it on the fire.
Regarding spoons and chopsticks, she had carved some out herself using the dagger from some relatively solid wood. Even though it took several days to find, the effects were very excellent. She carved the spoon handle with floral patterns during her spare time, while the two chopsticks that were made from rougher wood were carved with two mushrooms like round heads, giving off a sense of artistic bliss.
Using the dagger to carve instead of sewing with needles and threads meant that Su Shuilian was not very experienced with the actual process itself. She ended up wasting quite a few pieces of wood that she had found during the day, but in the end there were two pieces of tableware that in her eyes were worthy of the being called proper woodcraft pieces. It’s like the saying: First Time a Student, Second Time a Master. It basically meant that while it may be unfamiliar at first, with practice any skills will become accessible.
She used the wooden spoon to grind the salty fruit flesh into pieces, and the total of five savoury fruits that were stripped of their seed filled up half the bowl. Su Shuilian felt that this was already very good, if this processing method succeeded, she would return with a woven basket to pick more. Even if she plucked that particular bush clean, there would still be hundreds more. Maybe due to the actual taste not being that pleasant, birds and animals have generally avoided them.
Su Shuilian brought the fruits in the stone bowl which were immersed in water and rested it on the largest stalactite in the cave. Half an hour later, she mixed in the wild berries she had previously found. Even though the flavour was still a little sour, this was the simplest method of processing the fruit based on the foreign journals. However, she did not find the exact tangerine-like species described in the book, but instead she found the kind that usually stood upright with mulberry-like skinless fruits.
Dipping the pointy end of the chopstick, she gave the concoction a lick with a resounding “smack” of her tongue. Her eyes immediately brightened, there really was no bitterness. It was both salty and sour, and definitely enough as seasoning. Un, today she can finally cook a savoury meal instead of the usual bland broth.
Looking at the two baby wolves still sleeping soundly like before, she did not call out to them, but instead went ahead outside. She carried with her a gourd of water and a woven basket as she decided to go pick more of the sour wild berries and the salty fruits. While she was at it, she wanted to see if the nearby wild grass was also edible.
Based on the temperature of the air inside the jungle, it had to be almost May. The flower buds on the branches were starting to blossom, and as she came to the field of wild grass she also discovered that some red had began to show through the trees. Counting the days, she had been unwillingly sent to this place for a month.
The clear stream of water followed the terrain and flowed by aggressively. Su Shuilian put down the basket and gourd of water on a nearby flat piece of stone and pulled up her sleeves. She took off her almost unrecognisable sewed shoes and put both her delicate feet into the gentle mountain stream.
Hoh, she breathed out slightly. It was an early May morning, and the water stream was cold to the bones. However, after drinking several drops of the crystal liquid, her body’s constitution had been getting better and better everyday. In the past couple of days, Su Shuilian was used to going to the water stream to soak her blistered feet. She couldn’t simply have a cheerful bath, but at least she was able to relax by the riverside.
Taking out a sandalwood comb from inside her pocket, she straightened her shoulders and casually tied her hair into two braids.
Before, when she was still in the Su Family, all the intricate and beautiful hair styles were maintained by the maidservants. Thinking about her past self, aside from the daily hand washing and incense offerings after an embroidery session, she did not have to do any manual labour.
Gathering her mind, she turned her attention towards the silk clothing. The gorgeous dress she wore previously had already been folded and tucked deep inside the bundle. Even though she did feel some admiration towards the dress, if she didn’t make it out of the jungle by the time the season fully changed, she would be needing the dress to survive the winter. Even though she didn’t know how cold it could get here, the dress would at best serve as an outer coat. And having something was better than nothing.
Right now, Su Shuilian was no longer the Su Family’s fragile granddaughter who didn’t even need to voice her thoughts before her every demand was met. Instead, she was someone who relied on herself for her own survival.
Thinking up to this point, Su Shuilian’s lips slightly curved. Strange, this kind of life seemed to also be good in its own way, at least she no longer had to watch her every single step to avoid getting in trouble with the ancient family’s laws, and she also didn’t have to put up with being told to act with dignity and grace all day long. If the Su Family Patriarch and her parents knew about the current her who did not have enough clothing and with her feet full of blisters, what would their reactions be?
Ha ha, Su Shuilian reluctantly laughed. She really shouldn’t be laughing about such a thing. She had survived in the wild for more than one month, so her mind had also grown more carefree over time. Thinking of her strict but kind mother and her caring bigger brother, Su Shuilian suddenly felt some pain in her heart: Mother, even if your daughter’s life have changed, she will still do her best to live. Please, don’t suffer because of me.
(1) Salty Fruit probably refers to the orache plant. It grows all over the world. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atriplex