104 Fur and Flesh

    It was not yet light outside, as footsteps quietly made its way across a thin veil of snow that was falling. The figure was dressed in coarse blue clothing that had become a dull color. Her hair was plaited into braids on both sides of her head without the need for ribbons, in her hand was a woven basket, covered with a cloth. Her cloth shoes made imprints in the dust snow as they trekked across the cold territory. The shoe prints were accompanied by the pawprints of a small creature.

    If any unfortunate soul were to suddenly chance upon the place where her shoe prints began, they would surely be frightened to death, as the shoe prints had appeared in the middle of nowhere.

    Xue'er stopped and turned around to see little shadow following close behind her "Fine, you can get in." She truly surrendered to this little creature and allowed it to jump into her basket. After covering it up in the cloth, she whispered to the basket, "When there is a need for the basket, you will come out." seeing as there was no answer, she took it as a yes and continued walking.

    Xue'er once again arrives at the outskirts of Lin Zhi City. The city gates that had been closed for the night had yet to reopen, leaving a few people waiting outside.

    Walking past the people who had queued up to enter the city, Xue'er could feel their disdainful gazes upon her shoulders. It was not as though she cared, but she knew that this getup was showing that she was a poor country girl.

    Without being bothered by those scornful gazes, she went to the back of the queue to wait. Looking in front of her, she could see a few middle-aged men and women lined up with their carts, ready to enter the city. They were all wrapped in layers of cotton cloaks, yet still continued to shiver.

    As the rays of dawn shone, taking place of darkness, the gates to the city finally opened to let them in. The people who were waiting obediently entered the city in an orderly manner. The soldiers occasionally probed the covered carts to make sure no fugitives were hiding within, but other than that there was no other action. There was much more concern with the people leaving the city than those entering it, as they believed that once a person entered, they were at the mercy of those surrounding it.

    "What's inside?" A guard of the city asked as he probed the basket.

    Xue'er lifted up the cloth to reveal some white fur. It was unknown whether the creature this fur was attached to was alive or dead, as the frigid wind had numbed every living creature's exposed skin, so it was impossible for them to feel anything.

    "I was thinking of selling this... fox... its pelt seems nice, and its flesh will probably fetch a good price." Xue'er replied licking her lips as she covered the basket once again.

    The soldier only looked at her from head to toe, perhaps judging her for a bit before allowing her to enter the city without any more questions.

    Once they were past the guard, some angry growls emanated from the basket, it was though little shadow had heard of the plans of selling its fur and flesh.

    "It's not my fault that fur and meat are so precious around here." She said with a shrug, ignoring little shadow's angry growls. Though that concept was true for every city. In a place where there were no animals around, fur and meat was truly a precious commodity.

    She walked past the wanted posters once again, sneaking a look to see if anything had changed. It was the same as before, the rewards remained the same. There were no updates on who had been captured, and who was still on the run, it could be seen that this city did not put much of an emphasis on capturing any of them.

    The city had long rescinded on the very vibrant vermillion that was once the color of everything. The people who were dressed in warm cloaks did not wear any bright colors as well.

    Xue'er had already thought about it. They had come to the city to buy some commodities, she had plans of getting a few yards of fabric for clothes making and embroidery.

    She entered a common fabric store and looked around. Though the fabrics here were mostly coarse, such as hemp, linen, or cotton, and there were no goods such as the luxurious silk, it was already good enough for her to take a look around.

    Her hands brushed against the woven fibers as she checked the quality of the fabric. She preferred either linen or cotton. Hemp was too uncomfortable on the skin and coarsely woven, so it would only best to have it as an outer layer, having cotton as a lining inside.

    "A bolt of this fabric." Xue'er said, pointing to dark blue cotton fabric.

    The fabric that she chose was only five coins, which was quickly paid for as Xue'er rummaged through her pockets. After getting the bolt of fabric, she got little shadow to come out before folding it and placing it in. After which, little jumped right back in to snuggle.

    After covering up the basket once more, Xue'er looked around at the shops that were open. There was a jerk that sold dried jerky by the catty, it was a shop off the corner of a busy street, where people would always be walking. Behind the store, one could smell the scent of a burning fire that brought along with it the scent of the meat within. Such that one could guess that everything within the shop was produced right there.

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    The scent floated around, lingering in the air, as though attracting the hunger-stricken people with a temptation that was hard to resist.

    The shop was quite busy, with quite a lot of people coming in and out, each carrying a few catties worth of dried meat. Since the meat brought from the store could last for a while, it was perfectly suited for long-distance travel, the only downside being, the jerky would be hard on the teeth as the tenderness increased with age.

    Outside the store, there was a sign that said [Made Fresh, the best Jerky in the City] the sign seemed to be a working charm on the people. Paired with the smell, it was simply too hard to resist.

    Just as Xue'er was about to walk away, there was a movement in the basket. Looking down, there was a small twitching nose sticking out with half a drooping tongue from under the cloth.

    It was apparent that little shadow had been convinced by the smell alone.

    "Fine." She turned around and went into the jerky shop.

    It was not truly giving into little shadow's demands for a bite of jerky, so much as trying some jerky to satisfy her curiosity.
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