In the wild, the vulnerable and weak ones were more susceptible to attacks, so Shao Xuan had been paying extra attention to the surroundings. He was merely a newly-awakened boy, and in the eyes of animals, especially ferocious beasts, he was one of the two weakest ones in the group.
When they arrived at the other side of the basin, it was almost dusk. Shao Xuan thought that there would be a cave to rest, after all, the rule in the hunting team was- No hunting at night. Staying out at night was far too dangerous, and resting without a cave also seemed to be unsafe in such an environment.
To Shao Xuan’s surprise, the cave of the second location was not on this side of the mountain.
The second hunting location was located at the other side of the mountain, but…
Shao Xuan looked up at the mountain, whose peak and border could not be seen at all. It would be extremely difficult for them to climb over that mountain, even with the strength of a totem warrior, it might take them more than a whole day to get there. Let alone that it was already late, and there were some glinting eyes staring at them from the woods.
Instead of stopping there, Mai continued to lead the group up the mountain.
Near the mountainside there was indeed a cave, a big one, which was neither formed naturally, nor excavated by people from the tribe. In fact, it was drilled out by some kind of creature.
Specifically, it was a passage. Every time when hunting groups came here, they would have to go through the mountain, to get to the other side.
On the wall, near the entrance of the cave, there were a lot of names carved out. At the end of the name list, Shao Xuan found Mai’s name carved on the wall.
Every group leader would carve his name on the wall when he led his group through the passage. All the names above were carved by former leaders of hunting groups. When Mai becomes too old to serve as the hunting group’s leader, there would be a new leader selected, and the new leader would carve his name after Mai when he comes here one day. For them, it was a symbol of honor.
Before they enter the cave, warriors in the hunting group needed to hold a small ceremony, to show their appreciation towards their ancestors who had established this hunting route.
Mai put down the long spear beside his feet, and got down on one knee. With his palms facing each other, he raised his hands in front of his forehead, and bowed towards the wall full of names.
“To our ancestors!!”
“Thank the ancestors!”
Shao Xuan followed the example of the other warriors of their hunting group and gave the same salute to show appreciation.
It’s said that, every hunting route that the hunting groups went along were established by the ancestors. Long time ago, when there weren’t enough men in the tribe, there weren’t many hunting groups. So every time they went hunting, they would try new routes. One time they would take this route, next time they would take another.
Later on, there were more people in the hunting group, so different teams were established and each hunting group would follow one of the routes that was established by their ancestors.
The reason for following the routes was to avoid those unforeseen and unpredictable factors. What kinds of animals lived along the route? How many of them were ferocious beasts? How was the geography? All those questions could be answered from the experiences which were passed on by the previous generations. However, if you went on a new route, you might not be able to quickly react towards incidents, which would lead to a huge loss.
Of course, the hunting route was just a rough direction made by the ancestors, and people could feel free to make smaller decisions along the path. For example, the route for Mai’s group was to climb over the mountain where the first location was, and then go through the basin, and then get to the other side of this mountain.
What if some in the tribe had their own ideas of establishing a new route? Well, only if the Shaman and the Chief both agreed to it, else the others would just forget about it.
What… are you delusional? Trying to create a new hunting route by your own?
Could you be stronger than the ancestors?
No, you couldn’t!
Also, new hunting routes could not be established easily nor freely. Unless you think the old route was not good?
It didn’t make any sense! You dare doubt the ancestors? Do you have a death wish?!
People in the tribe had a peculiar, stubborn attitude towards things that were passed down by the ancestors. Even though some of the decisions were not quite suitable in Shao Xuan’s eyes, however people in the tribe respected them as sacred rules.
Except for the loyalty towards the totem, people in the tribe had reverence and immense trust for the ancestors which went beyond Shao Xuan’s imagination. Even if the ancestors climbed out of their graves and claimed that there was only one moon in the sky, people in the tribe would nod and agree without any second thought.
That was also the result achieved by all those years of brainwashing education from the Shamans. Generations after generations, the same ideas were passed down.
When the group leaders were out on a mission, they always thought that they could only face their ancestors with integrity if they went on the pre-existing routes. It was also considered as the respect towards the ancestors that established the hunting routes. Looking at the names on the list at the entrance of the cave, those leaders shared similar thoughts.
After entering the cave and starting a bonfire, warriors in the hunting group did not walk any deeper inside. According to old habits, they would spend the night near the entrance and then head inside early tomorrow morning. Going through the cave would cost some time, for it was not a straight route.
“How come there is a cave that connects both sides of the mountain?” Shao Xuan asked Lang Ga when they were resting beside the bonfire.
“This cave was already there when our ancestors first came here. It’s said that a giant king stone worm lives in this mountain, and all the curvy paths in the cave were drilled out by it.” Lang Ga said.
“Stone worm?!” Shao Xuan was stunned, for the round passage was at least ten meters high. Also, Mai and the others had mentioned that aside from the passage that connected both sides of the mountain, there were lots of other passages that went up or down. Who could’ve imagined that a cave and passages of such scale were drilled out by a stone worm?!
How big would it be?
The stone worms that Shao Xuan used as fishing baits could never be compared with it!
However, it was a story from the ancestors who established this hunting route, and it remains to be confirmed whether there really was a stone worm.
“Then… have any of our ancestors seen the stone worm below the mountain?” Shao Xuan asked. It had been many years since the first hunting group came, even if the warriors were only using the cave as a passage, someone should have seen the stone worm, right?
“I don’t think anyone has seen it.” Seeing that Shao Xuan was still in doubt, Lang Ga explained more, “But if you listen carefully, you can hear the sound created by the King Stone Worm.”
Shao Xuan listened carefully, and there were indeed some whirring sounds. However, they weren’t necessarily caused by the stone worm. Since there were lots of caves and holes, when wind blew inside from one hole and went out through the other holes, it would also create such sounds.
Although his heart was filled with doubts, Shao Xuan figured he would not get another answer seeing Lang Ga’s attitude. Instead of arguing with those stubborn people, Shao Xuan changed the subject, “So what’s on the other side of the mountain? Are there any differences?”
As expected, Lang Ga’s attention soon was shifted.
“Differences? In fact, the biggest difference is that there are lot of giant birds on the other side.” Lang Ga stretched out his arms to gesticulate. Although Lang Ga’s arms were limited in length, judging from his exaggerated facial expression, Shao Xuan knew that the birds must be quite big.
In fact, recalling carefully, Shao Xuan noticed that since he had entered the woods, there weren’t many large fierce birds. Even though Shao Xuan felt that some of the birds they saw were pretty big, based on Lang Ga’s description, on the other side of the mountain, there lived some bigger and fiercer birds. Perhaps the feathery decorations that some warriors put on, at the ritual ceremony of the Snow Festival were obtained on the other side of the mountain.
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