For the next two days Chu focused on self-education. Although it seemed like he was literate in front of Griz, he was merely filling in words to make his translations flow. If Griz had actually tried to test him, he would have been screwed.
The language in this world seemed to be based on a picture shows a thousand words format. It was similar to those seen on Egyptian hieroglyphics and the thousands year old Chinese writings. Such penmanship would tend to steal a creative mind.
Unfortunately Chu did not have time for reminiscing and romanticism. One of his set requirements to leave this outlying village was a good grasp in reading and writing. Being literate meant double the intake of information; reading and talking. It also can open new opportunities.
On the night after he recruited Clod and the others, Chu took Lucy and Ming with him to the Trading post to meet Griz. There the two bantered back and forth until they reached the desired agreements. Money was passed and services were ready to be offered.
All Chu was doing now was using this time to catch up on some basic reading.
Clod and Ming were loitering somewhere outside the shack. These past few days they were putting up a convincing act on how they would kill any wolf that tried to enter the slums. Running around with the wooden spears they probably had everyone thinking they had succumbed to madness. This was proven by the hard evidence when Ming made single trips for firewood and shared it out to the elderly.
Chu had Lucy take the girls singly during the day into the village and Trading post. They were to get proper boots and girls clothing and sleep-ware. These they brought back under their ragged robes. Of course they never had any money on them, the Trading post covered their expenses.
In the evening they would all make a trip to the Trading post and return with bundles of old clothes and rags. The best ones that required little patching were kept, the others given to Ming to share out during his insane ’bouts of madness.’
They may be filthy rich in the eyes of the villagers, but that never prevented Chu from saving money. He always reminded them that that money was they risked their LIVES for to earn. If everyone wanted to face death to earn a couple silvers everyday then this village would be either rich or empty of life.
Chu made a visit to the Trading post the night before the departure. He haggled with Griz for some equipment he wanted and some weapons. Making arrangements for the horse and cart he went into the village.
Since being dumped into this world and body, Chu rarely interacted with its previous owner’s family. Given the circumstances, he was not entitled to anything of worth except maybe more debt and burdens. His routine was simply to drop off the copper coins and leave.
His family was one of the many who were struggling to keep their status from falling into the slums. This was doubly hard for them given the loans they had borrowed when his father was injured. It was because of this trouble that Chu landed in the slums.
Even though his father was a shadow of his former self, he still had an imposing aura. He was a woodcutter after all. With Chu’s help the family debt was lessened and they had enough not to starve during winter. Hugging his little sister, Chu told them he was going to be hunkered down during winter.
“Come home. You shouldn’t be stubborn anymore. It would be the same if you were still here.”
His old man rumbled. His mother continued the pleas. No matter what, he was still her son.
“Why don’t you return. Everyone knows how dangerous the slums get in winter. What about food? How would you keep warm? At least stay in the house.”
Poor and struggling as they were, this was their bonds of blood, sweat and tears.
“I have found a place that is safe. When the weather is good I will visit.”
Chu felt the warmness of his family. All they wanted was for him to return. They were not heartless in expecting him to work during winter and still deliver money when the whole village bunkered down.
“I will be ok, mom. Take care of my little sister until my next visit.”
“You talk different, like you have grown up.”
His mother looked at him curiously. Her child was not hot-blooded like he was normally.
“Well I am off now. Father please come with me to the Trading post. I need you’re help with something.”
Chu paid his respects and said goodbye. He then walked down to the Trading post with his father. He got his old man to borrow an old cart to use.
“I need help choosing some tools. Please come with me.”
His father nodded as he followed him into the store.
Chu used the old mans experience as a woodcutter to select small axes and other tools. These were place together with his other purchaces to collect in the morning.
The old man was shocked as his son conversed with the Master of the Trading post as if they were equals. He nearly fainted when his son started haggling over price. When they were finished Chu sat down with his father on a bench in the corner.
“Did you finish? Why do we have to wait?”
“He is bringing something over for us. It may take some time.”
The two waited in silence. The old man was still in shock and in confusion. His son brought him here and shopped for tools without paying. Instead they were piled up neatly in a corner. He argued with probably the most powerful man in the village like they were acquaintances.
Now they were quietly sitting in warmth of the store waiting and soaking in the heat. Most villagers would have already been kicked out and told to wait outside until called. Even the most domineering of clerks steered clear of them and nodded respectfully as they rushed past.
He stared at his little boy who was sitting on the bench casually drumming his fingers.
A loud voice cut through his thoughts.
“Hey Brat! Your package is here, one shoulder leg cut with half a rib. Make sure you take note.”
The man had a clerk at his side carrying a large package securely wrapped in canvas. With a thud it was placed onto the counter as the clerk huffed under the weight.
“Mr Griz trust me, a poor kid like me can only be miserly with food. Would you still rob me after getting those thing free? I have the utmost trust in you.”
The man gave a snort and stomped off with a huff.
“Father take this with you but don’t open the bag until you reach home. Take this pouch and hide it in your shirt.”
Chu looked on as the man hefted the canvas bag over his shoulders. His father was still strong enough to handle a load like this. Besides he had the cart outside to aid him.
“I promise to visit during winter. Keep safe and don’t forget to keep this a secret.”
Chu looked on as the old man separated from him at the village entrance. Like this he had made sure that the previous owner would be able to rest in peace.
When Chu’s father returned he was blowing like an ox. Only when he rested the bag on the stout wooden table did he sit and relax in the small kitchen.
“What is that thing?”
His wife asked as she approached.
“I have no idea. That son of mine…. I don’t know what to say.”
As he replied he opened the strap and unfurled the canvas.
This was the second time he almost fainted tonight. His wife being a noob stifled a scream with her hands as she fell. She didn’t see the events at the Trading post to reduce her surprise. After the shock they both stared at the cured meat covering the table and even hanging over.
“Great horned Deer…..”
The old man choked. Only a great horn deer would have a shoulder leg this big. This was meat he would never eat even if he lived ten lifetimes. Now nearly a quarter of this deer was lying in his small house.
Was all his wife could whisper. Then her mind cleared as it jolted her into action. She gasped as she ran to the door and blocked it. Their situation was now totally different from nearly everyone in the village.
This was like standing in the middle of a wolf pack holding a meaty bone. If anyone knew they had this much food, not to mention the quality, it would start a riot in their part of the village. Even the mayor would not hesitate to jump in for a cut.
The man finally composed himself and looked at his wife covering the windows.
“Your son. It came from our son.”
He quickly covered it up. Hoisting it up he carried it to the food storeroom and hung it up. Satisfied it was safely hidden he returned.
“Chu gave you this? Where did he steal it. Has our son joined the bandits?”
“Calm down, no he got it from the Trading post, he has some dealings with the Master.”
Remembering the pouch he fished it out from his shirt. In silent anticipation he slowly and carefully emptied the contents on the table. Copper and silver coins rolled out and settled on the the surface.
His parents may not be able to count very high, but Chu had given them two hundred copper coins and two hundred silver coins. This was more than enough for them to rally out the winter in comfort until he returned. The copper and silver coins would not attract attention like a single gold coin.
Those were nearly exclusively used by merchants and high class mercenaries in these parts.
The two parents stared in shock and disbelief into each others wide eyes. Chu’s mom was the first to speak after pulling her open mouth closed.
“What, what the heck kinda work does our son do?”
Chu had no idea of the shock he had caused. All he wanted was for this boy’s parents to be comfortable during winter. That was his means of sowing karma. His main priority was to make the move to the barn as efficient as possible.
The next day Chu gathered all of them into the shack and made sure they had a good breakfast. Each person had a canvas bag with the supplies they had accumulated. All clothes, pots and items were packed and ready. Chu led all of the to the Trading post stable. Ming was left to guard the remaining bags.
He planned their departure when everyone in the slums were out to secure the firewood and get food supplies before winter.
After organizing with Griz, all the loads were stacked in the cart. Leaving Clod to hitch the horse, they made another trip to the shack stripping down all they could carry. Chu then collected and paid for the supplies in the store. Checking the meat under the scornful eye of Griz they set off.
Chu didn’t expect they would have a full cart. This cart was after all the huge one that brought in the Snow bear.
He had purchased tools weapons and even lumber for repairs. It was all those boards and thick planks that took up the most amount of space. His plan was to secure under the barn platform like a strong impenetrable fence and cut the trapdoor to the top. This was like a double defense and allow time to enter the cellar.
They walked as Clod drove the cart slowly behind. They were not traveling on the roads but cutting across the grassland. On their way they collected the firewood they stored. When anyone was tired they rested on the cart. This way they arrived at the Barn without problems.
Chu sent Lucy and Ming to scout if there were any signs of beast or humans who had been around. Lucky the sands were undisturbed and there were no footprints.
The cart was quickly unloaded and sent back. Since they started early just as everyone had left for the forest, it was still morning. Chu sent back Ming with Clod to return the cart. Even with Clod’s lame leg they should be back long before dark.
“Lucy get some torches lit and show Sue the cellar. Let her start sorting the foodstuff. “
Before the boys left Chu had them carry the cured meat down to the cellar. In all their baggage that was the heaviest and needed the strength of all of them.
“Sakura help Sue down there. The rest of us need to carry all the stuff to the cellar. The lumber will remain inside the barn. Miki stand guard for us outside.”
With the move complete, Chu breathed a sigh of relief. They were long finished sorting by the time the boys returned. Clod was weary as he dropped on the barn floor. The long walk was the hardest thing he ever did since his accident. Sue had fallen into her job as cook and they all enjoyed a bowl of meat soup with provisions.
“Ahhhhhh! Good job Sue. That was the best. Remember you always have to give me more cause I’M the biggest.”
Chu cracked him a slap on the back of the head.
“Stop trying to fool the Cook. And if you eat the food like a king now, you will be the first person to eat snow for lunch.”
Not worrying for food, a warm bed and safe shelter. With the stress of those worries gone, the children were starting to act like their age.
At least it was a positive start.