Old Ke didn’t mention Shao Xuan’s astonishing speed of progress to anyone. And based on his observation of the following few days, it seemed that Keke and the others hadn’t spread it around either. So in the eyes of other people in the tribe, Shao Xuan was merely a brave and fearless warrior, who was lucky enough to be blessed by the ancestors. Aside from that, he was just as normal as everybody else. Even Ge, who was a frequent guest of Old Ke’s had no idea.
Since Shao Xuan returned with lots of game, he sent some food to his acquaintances in the tribe. Old Ke and Ge definitely got a big part of it, Aunt Ah-Yi who helped Shao Xuan with sewing also got her share. Also, the teacher of the orphan cave and the kids in the cave all had their own parts.
Shao Xuan had become quite proficient in stone crafting. A few days earlier the Shaman and the Chief had given him some fine stone cores of high quality. Shao Xuan turned them into a few spearheads, while Old Ke had finished re-crafting and grinding the tooth sword. It wasn’t as good looking as before, but was still sharp and could be put to good use.
“Could you please check it? What do you think?” Shao Xuan passed a stone spearhead to Ke.
Old Ke lifted his eyelids slowly. Without holding it in his own hand, he glimpsed at it and said, “Not bad.”
It was very difficult to earn the evaluation of “not bad” from Old Ke. Even when some other stoneware crafters presented their works to him, Old Ke would ruthlessly assess their works as garbage. Compared to them, Shao Xuan was quite proficient in stone crafting skills.
Shao Xuan put the stoneware aside and came in front of Old Ke and said with a chuckle, “You see…I think I have already learnt a thing or two about stone crafting. You have mentioned that if I want to make progress, I should practice more…So, I think…uh…can we get started on the next stage of teaching?”
Old Ke wasn’t famous for stone crafting back in his days. He was famous for setting impressive traps!
“Do you want to learn?” Old Ke asked in a low voice, “it’s very tough.”
“Of course I do! I’m not afraid of hardship!” Shao Xuan nodded in a hurry.
“Okay, then you can come here tomorrow morning.”
“Yes! Okay, then I’m off!” Shao Xuan left after he had helped Old Ke to set the stone pot and chop the firewood.
When Shao Xuan left, Old Ke’s poker face finally loosened and he began to smile.
Early in the morning the next day, Old Ke was already waiting there when Shao Xuan arrived Old Ke’s place with Caesar.
“Bring that.” Old Ke pointed to a medium sized wooden box, and walked out with his cane.
Shao Xuan hastened to carry the box. It was heavy, and he didn’t open it to see what was inside.
Caesar was still yawning. When he got knocked on the head by a wooden cane, he bared his teeth and looked up, only to find that it was Old Ke, so in a hurry he closed his mouth. Unexpectedly, Old Ke walked towards Caesar’s side. Suddenly he sat on Caesar’s back, which almost pressed the unguarded wolf to the ground.
Caesar twisted his waist uneasily, but got schooled by Old Ke’s cane. In this mountain foot area, Old Ke was the only one that Caesar was afraid of.
“To the training ground.” Old Ke pointed out the direction with his cane.
“Okay.” Shao Xuan carried the tool box and headed that way.
Caesar was one year old, and he was growing quickly. Often he helped Old Ke and Shao Xuan lift and carry some things, so of course he could bear Old Ke’s weight. Earlier Old Ke just caught him unprepared, so he almost fell.
So, as Ge was chewing on a piece of meat jerky as he walked around in the morning, he saw Old Ke sitting on Caesar’s back with his cane in his arms. Ge almost choked seeing that scene.
Ge was quite familiar with Old Ke, he was in the same team as Old Ke when he got injured. Since Ge was quite idle and also had a thick skin, he would constantly come to Old Ke’s place to spend time together.
In the eyes of Ge, Old Ke was too prideful. When he withdrew from the hunting team due to the loss of a leg, he didn’t allow others to help. In the end, he moved down the mountain and isolated himself from his old pals, in order to not take their gifts. He considered the gifts as pity, so it wounded his pride. Every year when he had to go up the mountain to attend the ritual, he wouldn’t ask for anyone’s help either. No carrying, no lifting, no holding. He used his cane and the remaining leg to slowly move up the hill. It seemed that he was afraid of people saying that he couldn’t walk. So he had to prove them wrong by his deeds. It had been the same for decades.
Who was the one on a wolf’s back?
Or did he have a different opinion on different species? Did he choose not to walk on his own? Was he not afraid of being judged?
Where’s your so-called “pride”? Got eaten by Caesar?!
There were a few small hills covered by trees and other plants beside the training ground. Normally people would cut the timber from there. There weren’t many kinds of plants, and aside from the flying stonemouse, which had strong breeding ability, very few animals lived there. Perhaps all others had died out a long time ago.
Deforestation was quite normal here, so the trees were less thicker than the trees in the hunting forest. But it was sufficient for daily use, and some of these trees were as thick as buckets.
Why did warriors want to hunt? The answer: In order to strategically pursue the optimum energy intake.
Vegetables, fruits, grains, fish and animal meat were all in the diet of the people in the tribe. Vegetables, fruits and grains could be found among the short hills nearby, but they weren’t large in quantities. While fish was added in the menu only last year, and most of it was eaten by people in the mountain foot district. As for the animal meat, it was the real staple food for people in the tribe. Also, it contained the most energy, especially the meat from high level beasts.
As a result, people in the tribe would hunt. It complied with the developing strategy made by the ancestors, and could provide them with the need for energy as well. The senior warriors preferred high level prey, for food that contained less energy was no help for them.
While hunting, besides killing the prey by stabbing or slashing it, warriors would use all kinds of traps to help them in hunting. Good lassos and traps could be very dangerous killers who hid in the dark.
Old Ke was a master in creating those hidden killers.
After he got down from Caesar’s back, Old Ke didn’t start teaching Shao Xuan how to make a trap immediately. Instead, he told Shao Xuan about the things that he should be aware of. For example, how to take advantage of the environment and blend the traps with the environment.
After that lecture, Old Ke began to make a trap. He started from the simple ones, and as he was making it step by step, he explained all the technical points in detail. Different traps had different features. There was the cave trap, crossing trap, ground trap, etc. While, there were many small changes that needed to be made according to different types of prey.
How large should the cap of the trap be? Should it be altered based on the girth of a prey’s head? Should one use animal hair or straw rope to connect different traps? Should it be a single-knot trap, or double-knot trap, or composite trap? Or is there need to make a combined trap? Should one dig a hole? What about the thorn bed? Should it have a thorn bed?
Although Shao Xuan had often seen Lang Ga set a trap, but listening to Old Ke’s explanation, he finally got to understand that Lang Ga and Old Ke had their own styles in setting traps.
Lang Ga got his skills from his grandpa, and his grandpa was a master in setting traps. However, Old Ke had his own style and features.
Simply speaking, the traps that Old Ke set were more sinister and vicious, and more likely to make an overkill.
After demonstrating a few simple traps, Old Ke told Shao Xuan to have a try.
But, to set a trap, one needed straw rope. The straw ropes that they brought today were all used up.
“Are you skilled in making straw ropes? Do I need to teach you that? Making a straw rope and tying knots are both very important if you want to set up a good trap.” Said Old Ke.
Shao Xuan had a few straws at hand, and instead of answering directly, he raised a question, “Do you know what’s the meaning behind my name? The word ‘Xuan’ ?”
Old Ke paused his knotting action, for he really didn’t know.
People in the tribe tended to pick their names casually. For most of the times they would name themselves after whatever came to their minds first. For example, Old Ke named himself Ke randomly. Also, someone would name themselves after the things they were familiar with, or the things that they felt important. For example, Mao. And someone would use some kind of sound to name themselves, for example, Keke.
Old Ke lifted his eyelids, waiting for Shao Xuan to answer his own question.
Shao Xuan shook the straw rope at hand, before he moved his fingers and tightened the rope. Easily, a simple-looking knot was finished. He giggled, “Don’t you think that my name Xuan looks like the knot made from a straw rope?”
He was not lying. When he was born in his last life, his grandma was making a straw rope. Later on when he was about to be named, the old lady found an ancient decoration. It was a tortoise shell with inscriptions on it. At the first sight, she noticed and liked the word “Xuan” as it was written in a distorted shape, so his grandma said, “So the boy should be called Xuan. The word looks like the straw rope that we are making.”
While in the written language in the tribe, ‘Xuan’ also looked similar to the character in his last life. So Shao Xuan’s explanation raised no doubt at all.
Old Ke glimpsed at the knots made by Shao Xuan, and then looked at the knots he just made. They were the ones that he had demonstrated earlier, and he only made the demonstrations once today!
Among those knots, there were a few kinds of them that were designed by himself when he was hunting. They seemed to be easy to him, but with a slight offset, it would be totally different, and affect the effects of the trap later. With a single offset, those sly beasts in the forest would be able to escape.
Pursuing perfect kills, Old Ke had very strict rules and standards towards ropes and knots, but…
Before, he intended to teach slowly, for many learners could not manage to make a complete knot after a whole day. However, unexpectedly this kid could successfully make a perfect knot when he was only shown how just once!
Old Ke pulled up the corners of his shaking lips, and thought, was the kid born just to learn this?
That is so…fucking exciting!!!
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