It was Shao Xuan’s first time seeing this little beast, which was called a tree civet. It was not much larger than an adult’s palm, and among its grey fur there were some brown lines mixed in. On its round hairy head, there were two big black eyes, and it seemed particularly innocent when it stared at people with those eyes. The ears on both sides were slightly droopy. It squatted on a branch which was at least ten meters high, with his arms around the trunk and eyes fixed down on the people below.
“Don’t look at it. That little thing is not good to eat.” Lang Ga whispered to Shao Xuan. As they were taking the short break, talking was not forbidden, but all people talked in a low voice.
Generally speaking, people in the tribe were not picky about a food’s flavor, and they would swallow down those unsavory foods as long as they could provide energy. When evaluated as “not good to eat”, probably that thing was not only unsavory, but was probably also harmful to one’s body.
“Aren’t they afraid of people?” Shao Xuan asked.
“Many beasts would not feel afraid when they first see people. Instead, they would be more curious. However, if you show any trace of killing intent, it would be totally different.” Lang Ga said, as he lifted his ground bow with the arrow pointed at the tree civet on the tree.
One minute earlier the tree civet seemed harmless and innocent, but now it kept its mouth wide open, and looked rather ferocious, with a mouthful of sharp teeth.
Lang Ga did not shoot towards the tree civet, but lowered his weapon and ignored it.
“Little meat and not good to eat. It’s sound is also creepy.” Lang Ga looked away after saying that, and continued to work on his ground bows to see if there’s any damage.
When Lang Ga had left, the tree civet restored its normal appearance.
A finger-length flying worm flew near it, with his wings flattering. On its surface there was a layer of thin scales, which reflected the sunlight. It was so sparkly and it flew really fast in the air. One second it was at one spot and the next second it was at another spot, as if it could move to another place instantly.
The tree civet waved its arm and reached out his paw in the air, like it knew the place where the flying worm was headed.
Within the blink of an eye, the flying worm was caught in the tree civet’s paw.
Shao Xuan noticed that the tree civet twisted a bit on the flying worm’s wings to break them, and then held the worm in its paw as if it was a breadstick. One bite after another, the worm went into the tree civet’s belly, and the tree civet stared down at Shao Xuan as it ate.
When there was only a tail of the flying worm left, the tree civet stopped biting. After taking a look at the remaining tail in its paw, the tree civet looked down at Shao Xuan and then quickly threw the tail towards him.
Feeling the flying worm’s remains flying towards his face, Shao Xuan dodged and the worm remains missed him by half a step.
“Jia, jia, Jia!”
The tree civet began to haul.
Shao Xuan thought that perhaps his dodging earlier made the tree civet angry, while he saw that not far away, Ang acted slightly. Then Shao Xuan looked at the tree civet’s direction, but only to find that it had already left, as if it was avoiding something.
Ang rushed towards the direction that the tree civet fled, and he climbed onto a tree nimbly. On his back there were five short spears which were only half the length of normal spears, to be used as javelins.
The others in the hunting group all quieted down, and they even lowered their breaths. If not having seen with his own eyes, Shao Xuan would never have expected that there were so many people staying here.
Ang seemed to see something and he silently pulled out a short spear quickly and prepared to throw it out. However, the moment before he was going to throw, he stopped and showed a gesture to the others.
Mai thought about it and waved to call Ang back.
Ang climbed down the tree with regret on his face. At the meantime, all the others in the hunting group began to find convex stones and tree roots to hide themselves. Naturally Shao Xuan did the same.
In the time of two breaths, Shao Xuan saw something fox-like jump out from the bushes. It ran towards a direction after sniffing around for a second.
Lang Ga told Shao Xuan to keep on waiting.
After a while, Shao Xuan heard some scratching noises. It was some creature walking and rubbing the leaves and branches.
A seven-meter-high creature slowly came into their sights. It had brown fur, thick limbs, and an extremely strong tail. It looked ferocious, but judging from its slowness and heavy body, it seemed a little lazy and foolish.
After sniffing with his nose, it went beside some trees and stood up on its hind legs, while its strong tail pushed against the ground, and formed a triangle with the legs. As it stood up, it’s forelegs showed the sharp claws with giant hook-like sickles. Its claws quickly hooked over the branches ahead, and cut the branches with leaves, like he was harvesting wheat.
That was a leaf-eating animal, but judging from Mai’s reaction, Shao Xuan knew that it was not easy to be dealt with. Recalling the hunting stories that he had heard before, Shao Xuan figured that the big animal ahead should be the giant-claw beast. Although this giant-claw beast appeared to be big enough in Shao Xuan’s eyes, in fact, this was merely a juvenile one, for adult giant-claw beasts should be bigger in size.
Also, it only looked lazy and heavy on the outside. When faced with danger or threat, they could be really quick to react, and its giant claws could easily uproot a tree.
In fact, giant-claw beasts were also in the hunting list of the hunting group, however, Mai did not command the warriors to attack it.
Those trees were not tall enough, and as soon as it finished eating all those fresh leaves, and as the remaining ones didn’t arouse his interest, it left walking on his four limbs, still behaving like a lazy animal.
When it had left, Mai led the others to continue to climb up the mountain.
As they were marching to the top, Lang Ga examined a few traps underway that he set up in the past. Inside them there were some pitiful animals. Since they did not fall in the traps long time ago, they were still alive, and were executed by warriors in the hunting group in the blink of an eye.
These were no large traps, so the animals they caught were relatively small in size.
Lang Ga shared his experience with Shao Xuan while he was adjusting those traps.
Pointing at the warriors dealing with the preys, Lang Ga explained, “After you catch something, you have to examine it first to see if it’s ill. For example, that animal we caught earlier had uncolored eyes and bald spots in his fur. If you cut it open, you would smell a funny smell from its meat. Even if the prey lived, it wouldn’t be alive for long. Any warrior would share its fate if he ate its meat.”
On the other side, the warriors in charge of handling the preys had already promptly skinned those animals, and ripped out all their guts. The animals were sliced into meat straps and were put in bags, on which some grass essence was smeared to cover the smell.
Mai guided the group and he focused on leading them to climb over the mountain. So along the way, they did not hunt for large-sized animals.
The climate on the mountaintop was not as mild as the climate down below. Snow glistened in the sun, while one could clearly see the large basin on the other side of the mountain.
Finally, before sunset, the hunting team arrived at the other side of the mountain and they reached a cave in the mountain side, which was in fact a stronghold of the hunting team. Their hunting group would spend the night inside.
It was naturally easier since they had a shelter for the night.
After a day’s intense journey, warriors relaxed their nerves, since they could finally get some rest.
“A bear used to live in this cave. Our hunting team put it to rest forever and took the place for our own use.” Lang Ga explained the cave’s origin to Shao Xuan.
“Oh, by the way, Lang Ga, how did Ah-Fei make a mistake during the last hunting mission?”
A minute ago, Lang Ga was proudly bragging about his hunting deeds, now he sighed with his smile gone and disappeared. He approached Shao Xuan and complained in a low voice, “Hey, you’d better be the judge. Ah-Fei could have messed with everything in the forest, but finally he chose to mess around with the Thorn Black Wind!”
Black Wind did not refer to some kind of a beast, but a general term that the tribe’s people used to call those prey who preferred to hunt at night. So normally they would call them “something Black Wind”, while Thorn Black Wind was just one kind of them.
After sunset, the temperature began to drop, and warriors used a giant stone to block the entrance of the cave. However, chilly wind still poured in from the edges. Inside the cave there was a bonfire, and with so many people huddled together, it was not so cold. If he looked at the sky outside, Shao Xuan knew he could see two crescent moons in the sky.
Lang Ga and the others said that tomorrow’s weather would be fine.
While outside the cave, in the silent forest during the night hours, nocturnal animals began to wake up in that basin, which seemed to be peaceful when seen from the outside.
In a middle-sized lake located in the mountain foot area, there were waves on the surface of the water. A giant body quietly emerged from the water and crawled towards the bank. Those nocturnal animals who were drinking water silently fled away for safety.
Instead of chasing after those little preys, the giant beast stood still by the pool, and waited patiently for the water to drip down its fur and for the wind to dry its body. It only began to move until the moonlight no longer reflected off its dry body, and its giant figure soon disappeared in the dark.
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