Chapter 10: Catching Loaches

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The Lu family’s house was located at the most eastern side of the village, behind it was a hill and there were water springs that converged into streams behind the hill, flowing through their backyard. It was just perfect to install a water mill to make beancurd. The house nearest to them was Aunt Li’s house which was about fifty to sixty meters away. As such, their yard at home was very wide and spacious. Currently, four large square-shaped bamboo mats were spread out on the flat yard, and they were all covered with rice which was just harvested.

The harvest this year was plentiful. Once the rice was dried, there was a restaurant in town that would buy them. Every year, the Lu family only stores about a thousand kilograms of rice for their own consumption, while the rest would be sold for money. 

It was a pity that this piece of land was not suitable for farming soybeans. Miao Cui Lan had tried it one year where she used the soy they planted to make beancurd and dried beancurd skin. Sadly, the color and taste were not even anywhere near those that were bought from the market. At last, they gave up on the plan on farming soybeans and used the land for paddy fields instead.

Today would be the last day of the harvest. When Lu Zhong returned in the evening, he had a mud lump that was the size of a rice bowl in his hand. 

The three children rushed up to their father once they saw him. Lu Xiao Shu raised her head and squinted her eyes in curiosity, looking for what her father had in his hand, she wondered out loud, “Father, what’s this?” She wondered if her father still had the heart of a child, Perhaps he was still a little childish? Was he going to mould it into a ball and burn it for her and her siblings to play? Erm, can a ball made out of mud be kicked?

“I know! I know!” Lu Qi’s eyes lit up brightly, he hopped around, suggesting, “There must be loaches inside it! Father brought home some loaches!”

“Where is it? I want to see it!” Lu Xiao Shu became curious. She stood on her toes to glance at what was in Lu Zhong’s hand.

Once Xiao Xue heard what her brother said, she joined them, begging to see the loaches.

Lu Zhong smiled at his children, “That’s enough,” and he instructed Lu Qi, “Go get a basin and fill half of it with water.”

“Okay,” Lu Qi was always happy to do things like that, and he simply replied before skipping off with happiness. Soon, he came back with a half-filled basin, the water splashed as he carried it towards them and set it on the ground, “Father, the water’s here!”

Lu Zhong squatted down, and the three children followed. The four of them surrounded the basin, looking as if something very interesting was about to happen inside.

Then, Lu Zhong revealed what was hidden in the mud lump, he brought a loach out from the lump and dropped it into the basin. Lu Xiao Shu finally realized that even if there were lots of loaches in the paddy fields, father did not have anything to keep it once he caught it. Loaches always stay inside mud lumps, so father must have used the mud as a tool to make sure it stayed put.

“Father, let me!” Lu Qi hurriedly extended his arms, asking for half of the mud lump.

Lu Zhong gave him half of it, only to find Lu Xiao Shu with her hands out, excitedly asking, “I want some too!”

“Be careful with that, don’t get the mud on your shirt or else your mother will be giving you an earful.” Lu Zhong had always adored his children, seeing that she wanted to play with it, he would simply give it to her while asking Xiao Xue, “Do you want some?”

Xiao Xue’s clean little hands held her chin as she watched her brother take the loaches one by one out of the mud and into the basin happily. When she heard her father, she glanced at the dirty mud before lowering her gaze to look at her little hands. Then, she shook her head, “No, it’s dirty.”

Lu Zhong chuckled at his daughter and let her be.

No matter how dirty it was, Lu Qi and Lu Xiao Shu still had lots of fun. Even when they had brought out all the loaches from the mud, they still did not care about the mess they made.

Lu Qi reached his hand into the basin and stirred it. He raised his head towards his father, “Father, I want to go to the paddy fields to catch loaches too, can you please bring us with you?”

“I want too, I want too! Father! I want to go too!” Lu Xiao Shu cheered.

Lu Xiao Xue glanced at her brother and sister before softly saying, “I’ll go too, I’ll stay at the side and watch from the side.”

For a moment, Lu Zhong found it was humorous and he chuckled at Lu Xiao Shu, “You’re so young but you’re just as naughty as your brother while your older sister loves to stay clean.”

“Father, father, I’ll be very careful, I’ll be clean too! Please bring us there!” Lu Xiao Shu hurriedly begged again. 

Seeing how his younger sister was begging like a spoiled child, he quickly joined her, “Father…”. 

“Are the four of you having a meeting? What on earth are you doing? There are chickens stealing our rice and no one is chasing them away!” Miao Cui Lan emerged from the house and she noticed that the four of them were huddled in a circle on the ground, chatting and laughing. 

Lu Zhong gave his wife a guilty grin before beckoning their children up while holding the water basin, “Be good and stay in the yard, make sure those chickens don’t come stealing our rice. I’ll go wash these loaches up and fry them for dinner once they’re clean.”

All of them cheerfully agreed and brought out a little stool to sit in the yard. They waved bamboo sticks around, chasing the chickens away.

In the end, Lu Zhong did not refuse those little ones. After two days when they were not too busy at home, he carried a bucket with a small shovel to the paddy fields to dig for mud loaches.

The paddy field had just gone through a recent harvest and the mud was still very wet. The leftover rice straws were about half a foot long.

Once they reached the edge of the paddy field, Xiao Xue dropped her head and pouted at her pretty shoes, not daring to take another step forward. On the other hand, Lu Xiao Shu and Lu Qi had already taken off their shoes and socks, folded their pants up and stepped into the paddy field. The silvery-grey soil that had been fertilised stuck to their feet up to their ankles. It was wet and soft, and every step created a footprint and the two of them laughed happily.

The moment they entered the field, another problem arose, Lu Zhong only brought one shovel. The siblings realized it and they suddenly began fighting for the shovel. One would yell, “Give it to me!” while the other screamed, “It’s mine!” Both of them grabbed the shovel, not willing to let go.

“My brother is so mean!” How could Lu Xiao Shu’s little arms and legs win against Lu Qi? But then she had never even played with something like this in her previous life, how could she let up the opportunity? She pouted, ready to cry.

Lu Zhong did not know whether to laugh or to give them a scolding when he saw the little girl trying to snatch the shovel from her brother. However, he doted on his daughter more, so he put on a serious fatherly expression, “Qi, did I teach you this? You’re her older brother, how could you bully your sister like this?”

“That’s right!” When Lu Xiao Shu realized that her father was on her side, she silently cheered in her mind before grabbing the shovel from her brother. 

Lu Qi could only huff and let go of the shovel with a sour face. He thought silently to himself, There are no benefits going to school to study, it’s so boring every day and now I need to be nagged by my parents too…

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Holding the shovel in her hands, Lu Xiao Shu bent down and joyfully dug into the mud. Xiao Xue stood on the ridge, she tipped her toes and stretched her neck to catch a glimpse of what her sister was doing, “Sister, sister, did you find any?” 

How would Lu Xiao Shu dare to say that there was none? She simply nodded and promised, “Of course! I’ll show you later!”

That earned her a chortle from Lu Qi. She pouted at him and continued digging.

“Good girl, that’s not the way to dig for mud loaches.” Lu Zhong smiled warmly at his daughter. The harvest left the field with around half a foot of rhizomes, he grabbed them and pulled them out along with a lump of mud, leaving a big pit. Then, he guided Lu Xiao Shu by pointing at it, “Look at the spots with pits like this, there’ll be loaches. Go on and try digging there.”

“Okay, Father!” Once Lu Xiao Shu had received those instructions, she grinned and nodded. Waving her shovel, she waddled over to the pit and started digging again. 

After watching his father, Lu Qi followed suit and pulled out a bunch of rhizomes. He glanced at the pit, and without using a shovel, he plunged his hands into the mud. There was already no water in the field but the mud was still very loose, making his work easier.

“Wow! Such a huge loach! Father, look at what I caught!” Soon after, Lu Qi cheered.

Lu Xiao Shu looked over at her brother, he indeed had a big fat loach in his muddy hand and it was wiggling and twisting its body, trying to break free from Lu Qi. Lu Xiao Shu grew grumpy at her brother’s success and happiness. Moreover, Xiao Xue was clapping her hands and cheering for her brother from the ridge, “I see it! I see it! Brother, you’re so amazing!” Lu Xiao Shu grew even more grumpy.

“Father, here you go, I don’t want this one, I want to use my hands too!” Lu Xiao Shu did not have a good temper and she was really petty too. She waddled towards her brother and grinned, “Brother, let me help you!”

Only allowed on

“You’ll only mess things up!” Lu Qi huffed with dissatisfaction, obviously annoyed with what happened earlier. 

Lu Xiao Shu was the most self-conscious of them all, she would have never cared much about her brother’s feelings. She merely acted adorably around her brother, smiling and pulling on his shirt while pleading with him to let her help. Lu Qi could not resist her little smiles. His anger dissipated and he knew he had to forgive her, so he shared the mud pit with her. Both of them happily dug for mud loaches together. 

“Be careful, if you dirty your clothes, you’ll get a scolding once you go home!” Lu Zhong chuckled at their antics. He left them to their own devices and went to the nearby drain to inspect.

Lu Qi and Lu Xiao Shu absentmindedly promised to be clean and continued to dig for loaches cheerfully, pulling out rhizomes after rhizomes. This sort of lifestyle was very nice. The fertilizers used for farming were all farmland manure and dead plants. There were absolutely no synthetic fertilizers used, that was why the mud loaches in the paddy field could grow without any harmful effects. There were so many of them that it was never a waste of effort if they pulled out a bunch of rhizomes as there would definitely be a few holes underneath them which the loaches hid in. 

Of course, there were some loaches that hid deeper in the mud, so the two of them had to plunge their entire arm into the mud to get the loaches out; some others were able to escape once they sensed any movement and quickly hid deeper into the mud until they escaped from the siblings. Nevertheless, the children still successfully caught many loaches.

In some areas, the mud was not as loose and the rhizomes were tougher to be pulled out. As if pulling out carrots, Lu Qi grabbed them and used as much force as he could muster but he still could not get them to be rooted, so Lu Xiao Shu would come over and help him pull.

The siblings were simply naive. There were so many other rhizomes in the field yet they would not let go of the bunch that they could not pull out even after mustering all their strength. In the end, the rhizomes still remained rooted but the both of them ended up falling back from the force, making their buttocks wet and muddy. As they exchanged glances, Xiao Xue, who was still on the ridge, doubled over with laughter.

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Title: Omnipotent Overlord | Tags: Cultivation, Second Chance
Synopsis: Somewhere in the universe, there was an altar. On it, laid a bloody eye as big as the sun itself. It burst with light and bathed the entire star system in red.
"The aura of an ancestral artifact!" Someone's voice rose in surprise.
The Great Galactic Era had begun.

- my thoughts:
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