Chapter 4 : Red Fox
Xia Chu slipped into Bai Ruofei’s pharmacy after the meal.
Bai Ruofei’s treasured pharmacy could be considered his lifetime’s hard work.
Despite looking ordinary from the outside, it was full of rare medicines.
Of course, for Xia Chu these medicines were just a matter of putting effort as she could also make them.
Walking straight to the innermost room, she pushed open the wooden cupboard and a strong medicinal scent wafted into her nose.
All the rare and precious medicinal materials in this world were just within her reach and she swept them up one by one.
Finally, she also found Refined Turtle shell, Milu Deer’s Bone , Magnolia Berries.
Even just one of these materials were very hard to come by.
Refined Turtle Shell replenishes yin, Milu Deer’s Bone replenishes yang, and Magnolia Berries are good for asthma.
She carefully took them away, closed the cupboard and packed a lot of bottles of pills and jars from the outer room of the pharmacy.
Although she can make those medicines herself, some of them would take a long time to make and some ingredients were hard to find.
Since her master already had them, why not take it
Leaving the pharmacy, Xia Chu went to Lan Courtyard to find Lan Yuying.
She wanted to help Lan Yuying in making incense by smashing the petals, etc.
But Lan Yuying refused and let her rest.
Gradually she got bored and suddenly thought of practicing flying needles.
After informing Lan Yuying, Xia Chu went to the back mountain to find birds and animals to practice her needle strength.
What her master said was right.
Although she was familiar with acupuncture points, it was really difficult to grasp the right strength needed.
Sometimes, if the pressure was light, then there was no effect and the rabbit runs away.
Sometimes, the pressure is too high and the rabbit immediately dies.
She also needed to find the right balance in between to make the rabbit faint.
After practicing it over and over again, she finally got the gist of it.
Just as she was about to pull out the last needle and carry away the prey she hunted, Xia Chu smelled a tinge of blood.
Following the smell, she walked into the depths of the forest, and she suddenly heard a deafening howl.
She flew up the branches and looked out at the dense forest.
Through the sparse branches she could see a huge black bear confronting a white fox.
The bear’s right eye was bleeding, which should have been scratched by the white fox in front of it.
The white fox could no longer be called a white fox as it was dyed red with blood.
Although it had cuts all over its body and it was trembling, it still bared its fangs, ready to attack the bear again in full force.
Xia Chu jumped out with three needles after taking a deep breath.
It didn’t matter how hard it was, she just had to make sure to take the bear out in one hit.
Gritting her teeth, Xia Chu slammed the needles into the Baihui, Weilu & Zhangmen acupoints of the Black Bear.
The Black bear’s body froze as he roared, then he fell to the ground.
The white fox was also stunned for a moment, but when it realized that the bear was really dead, it wanted to move.
However, the injuries it sustained were too severe and it fell just after taking a few steps.
Xia Chu went to check and found that it lost too much blood to be saved and sighed.
She got up and pulled out the needle out of the bear and heard a squeak.
It seemed as it the white fox wanted to go in the direction behind a boulder and Xia Chu went there only to find a little Red Fox waiting to be fed.
This little red fox stared at her with its two dark eyes and started wagging its fluffy tail.
It looked totally adorable.
This little fox must be the reason why the white fox didn’t run away in the beginning itself.
It tried its best to protect this little one.
Xia Chu held the little red fox in her arms and checked for injuries.
The little fox was hungry and it bit Xia Chu’s finger and drew blood.
Xia Chu raised her eyebrows, flicked its forehead and said angrily, “Don’t make trouble, let’s go back and I’ll find you something to eat.”
The little red fox’s eyes flickered and as if it understood her, it stretched out its tongue and licked the oozing blood, then it plunged its head into Xia Chu’s arms and rubbed it intimately.
Xia Chu reluctantly patted its head, then she walked to the bear and retrieved the remaining needles.
After thinking for a while, she took out a dagger and cut off the bear’s paw and returned to Lan Courtyard with the prey she caught.
Lan Yuying heard Xia Chu’s return and went up to open the door.
As soon as she opened it, she was shocked by the sight in front of her.
Seeing Xia Chu hugging a red fluffy ball like thing in the left, and carrying a string of about seventeen or eighteen pheasants, hares and birds on her right shoulder was just…
Seeing Lan Yuying confused with her mouth wide open, Xia Chu was embarrassed and smiled shyly.
“In the beginning, it was difficult to master the strength of acupuncture needles.
And these… um, were all accidentally stabbed to death…”
Hearing this, Lan Yuying laughed out loud, and Xia Chu looked up at the sky in embarrassment.
At this moment, a small head poked out from Xia Chu’s arms.
Lan Yuying was immediately attracted by the little red fox.
Xia Chu just handed it over to Lan Yuying and asked her to hug it.
Then Xia Chu just walked to the side by herself and hung the string of prey on the wall.
Both of them entered Lan Yuying’s room and Xia Chu briefly explained the origin of this little red fox to Lan Yuying.
“After going back to the capital tomorrow, I won’t be able to stay there for long.
After new year, I will go to Hanyang.
If it goes well, I’ll be back during mid-summer, and if it doesn’t…” She thought for a while and changed her tone of voice, “probably it might take more time for me to return.
This little red fox is too little for me to take it with me, so I’ll leave it with you to take care of it.
Moreover, you’ll have no company after I go, so let it take my place to accompany you.
Wait until I return and I’ll pick you up to leave the mountain and ride horses to see the world.”
Lan Yuying originally frowned, but her worries turned into amusement at the last part and she finally laughed.
“Will there be any danger in your trip”
Danger, of course, there must be, and it is an unknown danger.
It was because she didn’t know that she must personally investigate what happed in the Zhao family’s army that battled with the Hu people in the early summer of the coming year.
She didn’t know what exactly happened, but within two days, the entire army was wiped out.
“What danger You also know that General Zhao is my grandfather.
I just miss him and I’m just going there to see him.” Xia Chu said with a sincere smile and said relaxedly.
“That’s good then.” Lan Yuying was relieved and teased the little red fox which was lying on the table.
“Shall we give it a name”
“Okay, what should it be called”
“Let’s call it Ah Xia.”
“Then let’s call it Ah Chu.”
“This is not okay, and that is also not okay.
Didn’t you say it is going to accompany me in your place” Lan Yuying pretended to be angry.
“Well… it’s up to you, it’s up to you.” Xia Chu raised his hand to signal surrender, “As llong as you are happy, Meng An.”
Lan Yuying happily picked up the little red fox who had been trying to climb towards Xia Chu from the table.
“Okay, it’s settled.
I’ll feed Ah Chu some goat milk, and you go and cook some meat paste for Ah Chu.”
Xia Chu looked Lan Yuying’s back who was happily leaving and shook her head.
She got up and started to pick a prey to take care of the boiled meat paste, and cook their dinner along the way.
After dinner, Lan Yuying took out a bag and handed it to Xia Chu.
When Xia Chu opened it, she saw that the bottles and jars were full of fragrant powder.
White papers were attached to each of the bottles, and the purpose was written on it in small letters with delicate strokes.
There were also incense slabs, incense pills and incense sticks on the side.
They were wrapped in paper and each had a purpose attached.
Xia Chu felt her(LYY) carefulness and repackaged it.
She rubbed Lan Yuying’s head again to show her approval, but was slapped away by Lan Yuying who frowned.
The two laughed and chased after each other for a while before giving up.
Xia Chu took two jars of fruit wine from the kitchen, put a big cloak on Lan Yuying, and dragged her out of the room to the yard to sit on the steps.
The two drank and enjoyed the breeze, and sang under the moonlight.
They gossip about their childhood fun and talked about life dreams unknowingly, until the sky was bright, only then they went back to the house to rest.
Xia Chu slept straight until mid-afternoon and then she got up to wash, only to find that Lan Yuying had already got up and prepared meals.
Since it was a parting meal, all of them ate in silence and only the little red fox squeaked at Xia Chu’s legs and tried to climb.
After eating, Xia Chu wanted to clean up the dishes, but was stopped by Lan Yuying.
She turned around and handed Xia Chu two bags, one containing the incense she made, and the other containing the medicine that Xia Chu received from Bai Ruofei. (T/N: I guess this is separate from the one she took from the pharmacy herself)
Xia Chu took the luggage, was silent for a while, and turned to go out.
“Yunyi, Ah Chu and I are waiting for you to come back.” Lan Yuying hugged the struggling little red fox.
Her voice was choked and her eyes had tears.
Xia Chu took a step and couldn’t bear to look back.
She just hummed, and waved her hand without looking back, and finally went down the mountain.
龜精板 (guī jīng bǎn): Refer’s to a Turtle’s Refined Shell.
麋鹿膠 (mílù jiāo): Milu Deer’s Shin Bone (A type of bone in leg).
Milu deer is a species of deer native to the river valleys of China which is critically endangered.
Milu Deer Illustration
 七味子 (qīwèi zi): Magnolia Berry or Five-Flavor Berry.
This is a fruit native to Northern China, the Russia Far East and Korea.
Some wild species are also found in Japan.
 I personally verified and found that these three indeed have the said uses in TCM.