Chapter 289: Lil Thing accomplishes great deeds
Just as Lil Thing was gingerly tiptoeing his way to the entrance, someone suddenly cried out, "There's a rat! A rat!"
Fortunately, Lil Thing didn't understand human speech, or else it would've kept creeping forward. It wasn't a rat, after all. As it was, the sound of the voice made Lil Thing look up in time to see a large man take off his shoe to hit him with it! Lil Thing quickly darted out of the way, allowing the man to see him more clearly.
"It's not a rat, but a squirrel!"
Behind him, another man was starting to take off his shoe. "It doesn't matter whether it's a rat ( laoshu) or a squirrel ( songshu). We can't allow any types of shu () inside!"
The high-class Medical Materials Association and other, more ordinary medicine shops both held grudges against two types of pests: insects and shu (). Both species of animals were capable of ruining medicinal ingredients by eating them. If the ingredients were just for personal use, one could still salvage a portion. But when it came to ingredients for sale, tampered goods would drive the price down or even make it impossible to sell. Thus, all places that sold medicine used precautions against shu and insects.
The first man allowed the other to shout as he stared at Lil Thing, who had hidden itself in a corner of the wall out of desperation. It stared back at him as well.
"This is a white squirrel. It's tiny, but it doesn't look like a baby!" the man said, outlining Lil Thing's difference from other squirrels.
"Are you sure you didn't make a mistake? How could there be white squirrels?" the younger man behind him ran forward for a look, and immediately retracted his words. "It really is a squirrel."
"Let's catch it first," the first man said, signaling with his eyes for them to surround the animal. Thus, they surrounded Lil Thing on both sides, each wielding a shoe. Lil Thing's round black eyes darted back and forth between them before it suddenly leaped up into the air. Both men reacted at the same time, trying to grab it with their hands. But Lil Thing pushed off from the wall to land on top of the door, causing the two men to knock into each other.
"Yowch!" What a painful hit! Both men were bewildered by Lil Thing's jumping skills.
"This little plaything's pretty interesting!"
"Catch it first, it'll be big trouble if it gets inside."
Lil Thing was having so much fun that it completely forgot how it'd been exposed. It crouched atop the door and started hopping around as it chittered. Both the older and younger men were surprised, but they didn't have time to bother with the details. Once again, they pounced at Lil Thing and shouted, "Someone come, there's a shu trying to get inside! Stop it!"
Lil Thing waited until they were almost upon him before jumping up again, causing the two guards to topple into a pile in front of the door.
"Cheechee! Cheechee!" Lil Thing leaped down in a straight line to land on the older man's head, before dashing over to his younger companion in amusement. It was entertaining itself at their expense. It had been ages since it'd fooled around like this. It could still remember how it used to hop around everyday when its old master had been alive. Now that the Poison Sect was gone and its old owner dead, it'd finally found a new master with effort. But all it could do was obediently hide away. It knew that there were tons of people in the world after itself, so it couldn't implicate its new master. Lil Thing got sentimental easily, so when it thought this far, it stopped hopping around to sit on the man's face, its head tilted to one side in sadness.
At the same time, a large crowd had gathered around the Medical Materials Association to marvel at the sight of Lil Thing.
"I've never seen a white squirrel before!"
"It's so small, too cute."
"Is this squirrel for sale? After you guys catch it, just sell it to me, alright?"
Between all the chatter, Lil Thing was still deep in thought. It had no idea that the man was about to reach out and grab it, much less that the other guards were standing by with rat nets to wait for their chance. Very soon, the leader swiped his hand down, signaling two large nets to drop on top of Lil Thing's head!
"Cheee...!" Lil Thing cried out shrilly. It wanted to escape, but it was already too late. The guard retrieved the net with Lil Thing and all before lifting it up. Now everyone crowded in to look even more closely at Lil Thing.
"Aiya, it's too cute. Where did it come from?"
"There aren't any species of squirrel like this one, right? Did someone dye its fur?"
"How much are you selling it for? Name a price!"
"I'll buy it, I'll buy it! I'll buy it no matter how much it is!"
All of the people who could buy ingredients at the Medical Materials Association were wealthy types. They could throw away money like dirt without blinking an eye. In their world, they never had to fear not having enough money, but not having enough things to buy instead. It was rare to see such a unique squirrel, so everyone started speaking up until they begin to argue.
Lil Thing wasn't afraid. It was actually very easy for it to escape. It stared with wide eyes at the people around it, wondering why their ears and faces were so red. What were they arguing about?
When the guards saw the situation, they exchanged glances before one spoke up, "Everyone quiet down, quiet down. How's this? You can all compete for prices, with the highest bidder winning."
In any case, it was a team effort that had captured the squirrel. The animal didn't belong to the Medical Materials Association either, so they might as well take advantage of these rich people before the head guard was alerted! When Lil Thing saw everyone suddenly quiet down, its eyes started darting back and forth in bewilderment. What was going on now?
"I'll offer 1,000 gold!" someone blurted out impatiently.
"I'll double that!"
It had only been moments before the price hit 10,000, which was already enough to clean out much of the higher-grade goods at the Medical Materials Association. The crowd paused at the declaration, many of them hesitating at the price. The guards each exchanged glances, secretly rejoicing over how they'd spend all the money! 10,000 taels of gold was something they couldn't make even in their entire lives. Even if they divided it amongst themselves, they'd still get fair shares. Aside from eating and drinking their fill, they'd have enough to support their families as well.
The de-facto leader of the guards couldn't resist shouting, "10,000 taels, is there anyone else offering a price?"
But a female voice suddenly cried out, "20,000 taels!"
Instantly, everyone fell silent. Many of the people were startled, while the guards had become completely dumbstruck.
They wouldn't be able to use all that money even if they saved it for next lifetime, much less this one! When they followed the source of the voice, it was to see a young maiden with fine features. She was dressed in white and carrying a long object on her back. The item was wrapped in red cloth and resembled a bow, or perhaps a sword. Faced with the crowd's stares, the white-robed woman wasn't nervous at all. Her expression was icy, her gaze proud and aloof. She was simply an icy beauty. When Lil Thing saw everyone stare at the icy beauty, it looked over as well. But it felt unwell as soon as it did!
It was her, the frosty woman who'd wanted to shoot master with arrows in the poison grounds. Things were over now. Would master be mad that she'd bumped into it? Nonono, that's not right. This woman didn't know who it was, so master would never find out, either.
Thinking up to here, Lil Thing felt more relaxed. It resumed its silent watch, wondering what the woman was up to. Nobody else offered a price. 20,000 taels was truly a bit too high. Even wealthy people wouldn't spend their money like a fool, especially on something that was simply a plaything. The white-robed woman scanned the crowd and saw that no one else was bidding. Meanwhile, the guards were so moved that they'd lost all ability to speak.
The white-robed woman took out two silver drafts1 from her pockets and handed it towards the guards. Her voice was cold as she spoke. "Since no one's adding to the price, I'll buy it."
At the sight of the silver drafts, Lil Thing suddenly narrowed its eyes and stared. So that was it! These people wanted to buy it! It'd be an idiot if it didn't understand this exchange of money for goods!
Lil Thing was very angry. Was it only worth as little as two silver drafts?
Right now, the guards were currently handing over their bagful of squirrel to Chu Qingge. The furious Lil Thing suddenly began to jump about, its force strong enough to knock aside the guard and Chu Qingge's hands. At the same time, it even left two bloody scratches against Chu Qingge's hands.
"Ah!" Chu Qingge cried out, caught off-guard.
The guards were frightened as well and dropped their silver drafts in the midst of the chaos. Lil Thing jumped straight to the ground and tore the two silver drafts into pieces, before hopping back onto the guard's head. Its chest was heaving up and down from its fury. These people had gone too far in bullying a squirrel!
It didn't run away, but spat out a gold card from its mouth for all the spectators to see! The sight stunned everyone present, even Chu Qingge. She forgot about the wound on her hand to stare. How could such a tiny mouth spit up such a huge gold card? Just what kind of thing was this tiny creature?!
Lil Thing held onto the gold card in its mouth while showing off in front of Chu Qingge. Its two claws brandished scratching motions at her. This bad woman only wanted to buy it with 20,000 taels without even seeing what it was holding onto! In its mouth was Cloud Realm Continent's highest-tier gold card, the kind with no spending limits. Supposedly, the number of people who actually owned such gold cards in the past few centuries could be counted on one's fingers. Chu Qingge stared at the tatters of her silver drafts on the ground, then at Lil Thing jumping around. She didn't even bother to breathe before her temper flared up. She was in a bad mood to begin with and wanted to spend some money at the Medical Materials Association to soothe her heart. Instead, this little beast had looked down upon her. She wouldn't be satisfied unless she slaughtered the thing!
"Go die!" her eyes flashed as she reached out a hand to grab Lil Thing, but it was then that all the guards rushed forward to block her.
"Miss, please calm your anger! Calm your anger!"
"Miss, you really, really can't! Someone's left this little creature behind!"
No matter how much money they'd lost, none of the guards dared to act out after seeing that golden card. Very few people in Cloud Realm Continent today possessed the highest-tier gold cards. All of those owners who'd come to do business at the Medical Materials Association were lofty figures they couldn't afford to cross. No matter who this creature belonged to, it must have followed its master here before getting lost. If it died here, both them, the manager, and the head of the Medical Materials Association would be hard-pressed to explain the situation!
Naturally, Chu Qingge recognized the worth of such a card as well, but she was too angry to bother with its original owner. She took out two more silver drafts and tossed them at the guards. "This thing already belongs to me. If I want it dead, it'll die!"
But it was at this moment that a low male voice spoke up from behind her. "Miss Chu, rather than take your temper out on a squirrel, why not have its owner pay you back?"
Chu Qingge turned around to see a man with refined and gentle features. He carried himself with elegance and was none other than Medicine City's third young master of the Wang Clan, Wang Rouchen.2 No one else had recognized Chu Qingge, but Wang Ruochen did. He had admired her for a long time, but had never gotten the chance to make her acquaintance.
Chu Qingge had no interest whatsoever in Wang Ruochen. She replied coldly, "How do you know who its owner is?"
Wang Ruochen laughed and said, "Its owner would naturally be the owner of that gold card. Once you give me the card for a look, I'll know."
The Medical Materials Association was property of the Wang Clan. As the Manager of the Left, Wang Ruochen oversaw the Association's accounts. As long as the gold card had been used here before, he would be able to track down its owner.