Probably resulting from global warming, the climate nowadays was becoming all the more erratic. Spring and autumn were gradually shrinking, while summer and winter dragged on. All in all, it was either too cold or too hot, rarely pleasantly cool.
It was especially the case in summertime, when the northern part of the country suffered from droughts, while the southern part was flooded. For the past several years, it had become an inevitable phenomenon. The common people were suffering unspeakably from it, but there was little they could do. As advanced as our human society seemed, natural disasters were still beyond our control.
This year was no exception. Within the province of Guandong 1 alone, several cities in the western part of the province, including Fu'an, Chaoxin, and Jinyang, were experiencing moderate drought. Lingyuan suffered the most; the drought there was severe. It had been 77 days since the last effective precipitation and the dried-up riverbeds were full of cracks.
Whereas in Shengtian, the number of days with a temperature above 35 degrees was record-breaking and the effective precipitation was also absent here. The northern part of the country generally grew single-season rice, which was harvested around October. With this drought, the output of the crop was certainly going to be reduced.
This issue was largely invisible to the general public, for the press could not be bothered to run such stories. The stock market and property market were what mattered to the national economy and people's livelihood. As it turned out, people nowadays had acquired an unfounded knowledge that in our society, things like famine were unimaginable—something never going to happen to them.
If nothing else, there were still the grain-productive regions we could turn to, right?
Bai Town was within one of those agricultural regions. Several urgent artificial precipitations had been carried out, but the resulting rainfall was tiny, far from being able to ease the drought. The entire city was terrorized by the scorching sun; everyone was agitated.
The only place one could find some coolness was Phoenix Mountain. It was quite unusual, for the creeks and streams on the mountain did not seem to lose a single drop of water and the plantations were as lively as always, if not more luxuriant and overflowing with life.
As a result, tourists were pouring in. Some developers even had their eyes on the mountain, planning to contract for it, turning it into recreational villa zone and building their own golf courts, and so on and so forth… however, the moment they tried to talk to the government about it, they were told off and shooed away.
The mountain was not available!
Under the old tree stood the family of three.
Three pairs of eyes looked up at the tree in unison. Through the thick foliage, they were finally fixed upon those two round, mellow fruits, which had turned deep red in color. After an eighteen-month growth period, they should have ripened by now. They used the term "should have", because they had yet to understand the nature of this fruit and could only estimate it at the moment.
After eyeing it for a while, Gu Yu suddenly said with a surprised tone, "Why, they seem to have grown bigger."
"How big was the one you ate?" Xiaozhai asked.
"About the size of a haw. This was is at least one size bigger. I wonder if there are any other changes."
"Whatever. Let's just pick them."
With that, Xiaozhai thrusted against the ground with the tip of her toes and she was dangling over the branch the next moment. Gu Yu then casually tossed her a wooden case, which was the container he made out of the old tree.
She waved her hand, shooing away Brother Fatty and Xiao Qing, who were hovering around the fruits. Then, slicing her finger tip lightly across the stem, the fruits were cut down from the bases and fell right into the case.
She was very curious herself. So far, of all the spiritual-essence-derived objects, the spiritual rice was the mildest, which was consumable for ordinary people. The spiritual stones were the most active and could be absorbed directly.
The purity and activeness of the spiritual essence in these fruits, however, had exceeded that of the spiritual stones.
Once Xiaozhai was back on the ground, Long Qiu went up to her happily to look at the fruits. She marveled, "Wow, they are so pretty… no touching!"
With that, her hand reached out and pressed hard against her chest. A cherubic kid was about to fly out from there—half of its head was already out—but was stuffed back in by sheer force.
It was such an eerie picture that the brother and sister went speechless. Supposedly this " gap moe 2 " could be something adorable?
Blocking out the picture from his mind, Gu Yu held the wooden case and mumbled, "So, what are we going to do with them?"
"Eat one of them!" His girlfriend was very concise.
"Fruit is food, is it not? Why, are you going to make it into jam or what?"
Curling his lip, he decided to do as told. After all, he needed to feel its effect.
Presently, he picked one up. The red fruit's smooth skin was glistening like an object curved from a ruby. There was also an exotic fragrance about it. Thinking back to the time when he ate the first fruit, he couldn't recall whether there were pits or not. He seemed to have swallowed it in whole and passed out right away.
This time, Gu Yu took a small bite and there was indeed a kernel similar to that of a lychee. He then took a second bite, swallowing the rest of the pulp.
Instantly, a streak of the purest and highly active spiritual essence passed his throat and rushed all the way down.
In principle, his meridians and internal organs had been nourished for quite some time and were greatly enhanced. However, as the streak went in, he felt a subtle quivering sensation, and all his pores seemed to jolt open; he was completely opened up.
A few breaths later, the cooling sensation turned burning hot, which gradually moved deeper into his Dantian. It was after much struggle that this streak was finally fused into his body. After that, when he examined his Dantian and Qihai, he found them to have expanded a little.
Gu Yu exhaled. His cheeks were slightly flushed and a thin layer of sweat covered his forehead. He explained, "It was much more potent than the first time. I don't know how to describe it. It was like after an intense exercise and your body passes the breakthrough point. The fatigue is filled with this fullness, like…"
"Like you, last night." Xiaozhai immediately got the idea.
He almost choked on his own spit, but couldn't exactly refute that comment. His girlfriend then praised him, "You were pretty good last night."
"Ok, fine, time to change the subject."
Long Qiu tried her best to act innocent while Gu Yu helplessly waved his hand. He pondered, "Based on our deduction, the spiritual essence started reemerging about four or five years ago and the fruit should have ripened three times during this period.
Brother Fatty and Xiao Qing ate the first ones, which were the least potent. That's why they were able to survive it. I ate the second batch and sort of narrowly escaped death. This is its third time bearing fruits, which could enlarge Qihai directly.
Therefore, I think this red fruit is becoming more effective as time passes. Maybe next year it will change again."
"Not necessarily. Maybe next year it will be back to ground zero again. This could be a periodical thing." Xiaozhai was discouraging as usual.
"It could be. Anyway, this is good stuff. Too bad there's so few of it."
After sensing its effect, Gu Yu gave up the idea of making incense with the red fruit—it would be a waste of Heaven's gift. These fruits were like the Ginseng Fruit 3 in the fiction. Not only could they improve one's cultivation level, they were wonderful showing-off presents to offer to the guests.
The downside was its long growth period and the petty yield—two fruits in eighteen months. Luckily, there was one other trick they could play, the filtration propagation.
Whether a crop would survive or not was no longer a concern for them, for everything was growing healthily, be it the peach trees, the gourd vines, or the rice. Every plant was alive and exuberant.
Especially the herb garden, which contained not only the rare medicines, but also the common ones. Gu Yu had opened up another plot, growing in it everything from eupatorium and thick-leaf croton root to angelica root and liquorice.
The south bank of the river looked idyllic.
They had realized by now that the four nodes each had their own treasures. Although Phoenix Mountain had neither the lodes nor the sawtooth fish, it had a great advantage nonetheless.
The soil was good. Anything would prosper in it!TL/N: a fictional name, the term "Guandong" literally means "the east of Shanhaiguan", or northeast China ED/N: An anime/manga term. Speaking in simple terms, it's cuteness born from a character's contradictory behavior or qualities. TL/N: the "Ginseng Fruit" was a fictional fruit in the novel 西游记, or "The Monkey".