32 Oyster shells and vinegar

    The next day, before the sun even came up, Xue'er left the cottage. Gan Tian Chi was in the cellar again, once more searching around for things he thought he lost.

    The morning before the sun rose was truly refreshing. The dew on the grass was in droplets that were each plump as a pearl, giving the fall morning a cool feeling. Xue'er took out a small green porcelain jar and collected the drops of crystal dew, until she had an entire bottle of it, before putting it into her bag and going on her way.

    The dew drops did not have any significant value, it simply captured the perfect fall atmosphere in every one of the droplets. If fermented, perhaps it could be made into a type of wine, but more dew would have to be collected.

    For now, it would have to serve as a reminder of the beautiful scenery secluded in the forest.

    Xue'er traveled at the tops of the trees, as she explored the vast forests bordering Eastern Jin and Northern Wei. Her movements were filled with such stealth, that not a single bird would notice her as she went by.

    As she approached a known road, she could hear the wheels creaking and the horses' hoof steps. She hid above a tree and saw a trail of wagons and carriages traveling on the road.

    [Why are there suddenly so many people traveling through the forest?]

    She watched the wagons moved slowly on the unofficial dirt road. There were some guards with sabers keeping watch on the surroundings, ready to spot the slightest hint of an ambush from bandits.

    The wagons must belong to a merchant's company and they were transporting goods from the Eastern Kingdom, to the Northern Wei Kingdom. After all, there would normally be bandits lurking around to steal the goods from an unprotected shipment of goods.

    "THUNK" Suddenly, one of the wagons carrying large wooden crates fell into a dirt hole, there was a shattering noise that came from one of the crates.

    All the people who were transporting the goods froze, they turned to look at the source of the noise. The entire trail of wagons behind them came to a stop.

    A short fat manager came to the wagon and gave a harsh stare at the people transporting the goods.

    They all knew they were in deep trouble. That was clearly the sound of something shattering, there was no use praying that it did not break, that sound was loud and clear as day.

    [What was that wagon carrying again?

    Please don't be something valuable.

    If it's something of value, we won't be able to cough up the money for this.

    We still have families to feed.]

    Those were the thoughts that were going through all the workers'' minds at the moment.

    "Open it up, if anything is broken, you will pay for it.." The stout manager ordered in a strange voice, glaring at the men who were in charge of pushing that specific wagon.

    When Xue'er, up in the tree heard his voice, she resisted the temptation to laugh. That voice was very close to a eunuch's, but based on the man's physique, she knew better.

    Two men brought down the heavy wooden crate and opened it. When the manager saw what was inside, he let out a sigh of relief "Just some broken vinegar pots and oyster shells, who would transport such lowly things. Throw it away." He ordered.

    There were no consequences, he could just compensate the goods, instead of lugging that crate filled with vinegar along with them, which may cause damage to the other goods. He would rather lose a small amount for throwing one crate than lose more keeping the crate and ruining the entire wagon load of goods.

    "Let's continue moving."

    After the manager had given the order, the people who were holding their breath let out a sigh of relief. Vinegar was easy to brew and almost all common families knew how to make it, while even though oyster shells were somewhat rare and were only found near bodies of water, they really didn't cost that much, it was still affordable to commoners.

    The wooden crate containing the oyster shells and vinegar was dumped at the side of the road as the company of wagons and carriages continued to move on with a steady pace.

    After the company was out of sight, Xue'er descended from the tree and went to look at the box. Inside, there was the shattered vinegar jar, along with the oyster shells that were submerged in vinegar.

    Taking a look at it, she knew that those merchants had made the right decision. There were very few people that knew the effect of the vinegar and oyster shells combined. When combined, it created a poison with the same symptoms as an epidemic, causing panic to spread throughout the kingdom.

    Who knew how many such incidents had occurred, how many villages and towns had been quarantined or burnt to prevent the 'epidemic' from spreading throughout the kingdom. She was quite certain that most people in fishing villages knew of this deadly combination, but it was normally regarded as folklore because so much time had passed.

    Xue'er's hand reached into the crate and picked up some of the oyster shells that were the most pleasing to her eyes and put them into her bag. Who knows, maybe she would have a use for it later.

    Although the vinegar had already become poisonous, it would not do much damage if it was left there, as long as it did not make its way into a useable water system, it was fine.

    Even if someone really encountered the vinegar on this rarely used road, they wouldn't necessarily use it.

    Besides, who would use vinegar they found in a crate on the side of the road?

    Little did she know that this would be the case later.

    It was either that she overestimated the people's common sense, or that she underestimated her own analytical abilities.
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