If not the beasts or ferocious beasts, then what would they be hunting?
Shao Xuan was perplexed, but before he had the time to raise any questions, Ta came over.
Since they were the advance group, naturally they needed to set out earlier than the other hunting groups, in order to explore the way.
“Okay, is everybody ready to go?” Ta called on the warriors in the advance group, and when they were about to move, Ta turned to Shao Xuan, “Can you keep up with me? Just don’t force it. The advance group is not like other hunting groups such as Mai’s.”
Ta meant that the advance group would be much faster in the speed, and he probably could lend a hand to help him out a little if Shao Xuan could not keep abreast with the others.
“Not yet. I guess I should first give it a try.” Shao Xuan had no idea about the speed of the advance group. Although he thought that he could do it, he decided not to be overconfident. What if it turned out that he could not keep up with the others? He would be the one who suffering from his own words.
Ta kept quiet at Shao Xuan’s response, and led the warriors into the forest after giving the signal to other group leaders by gesticulations. In the blink of an eye, over forty warriors disappeared in the verdant mountain forests.
Finally, Shao Xuan knew what it was like to be part of the advance group. Ta said that the advance group was not like other hunting groups. Shao Xuan now realized that it was like comparing a normal electric cars with a motorcycle in full speed. He barely had the time to pay attention to the surroundings.
Fortunately, Shao Xuan made fast progress these days. His speed was really faster compared with when he had just awakened, or else he might literally fall behind of the advance group.
They needed to sweep over this place in a short period of time, to detect whether there were any ferocious beasts that might be dangerous to the warriors, or any other variable factors. Every member in the advance group had gone towards their planned destination, so when the forty-member group entered, they broke up the whole into parts and disappeared in a second. Shao Xuan could only see Ta and another warrior named Ah-Suo, who was almost the same age as Tuo and Keke.
Aside from Shao Xuan, the others were doing the scouting in a two-warrior team. Surely they already knew the place that they were going to scout.
After running for some time, Ta stopped at their rendezvous point. Later on, the other warriors would come to this place for reunion after they finished exploring.
“Ah-Suo, you take care of him in here while I scout.” Ta left right after he said that.
The only reason that Shao Xuan managed to follow them here was because Ta slowed down a little bit. He ordered Ah-Suo to stay with Shao Xuan, so that he would be able to survive if there were any ferocious beasts. Meanwhile, Ta had to use the time to scout the region that he designated to himself.
Ah-Suo was quite close with Tuo, but he did not appreciate Shao Xuan that much. Before they entered the forest, he was one of the people mocking at the kid. How could a newly-awakened warrior be of any help? Based on the main leader’s description, it seemed that this kid was more like a mascot. He was nothing but a lucky charm, and now someone had to stay with him for protection all along. Ah-Suo despised that at heart, and deep down he prayed, hoping that this kid would not hold them back like Ah-Fei did.
When Ta had left, Ah-Suo paid attention to the surroundings. Since they entered the woods, he had not bothered to look at Shao Xuan.
It was very quiet, and the cry of birds and animals could be heard constantly. Originally Ah-Suo was prepared that Shao Xuan might be chatty and ask some stupid questions. However, after waiting for quite some time, Ah-Suo heard no questions, even no sound was made. When he first joined the advance group, he had been curious about everything for a pretty long time. Most people would try to ask more questions whenever possible. Shao Xuan was literally the first one that kept his silence like that.
Ah-Suo couldn’t help but take a quick glimpse at Shao Xuan when he pretended to view the surrounding situation. Quickly he looked away, but after some hesitation, he looked back again at Shao Xuan.
Even though Ta did not run on full speed since he entered the forest, the speed was much faster than the other hunting groups. Being a warrior who had just been awakened this year, it was pretty difficult for him to keep up with the team without help from the others. Back then when Ah-Suo himself first tagged along with the advance group, he did not ask for any help either, but it took him quite some time to catch his breath while waiting at the rendezvous point. He barely recovered from the fatigue after the warriors arrived at the rendezvous point. However, Shao Xuan was merely a little short of breath. He was not even sweating! Standing there, he still had the energy to keep guard at the surroundings, as if he was not exhausted from the running at all.
Was he really a junior warrior who just awakened this year? And he came from the orphan cave down the mountain?
“Aren’t you tired?!” Ah-Suo was totally stunned.
Seeing Ah-Suo’s weird glance, Shao Xuan answered, “I’m fine.”
In fact, Shao Xuan was taking rapid and short breaths out of fatigue a minute ago, but he recovered fast, and the sweat had dried in the air as well. Feeling the quickly-restored energy inside, Shao Xuan could pull out some strength to pay attention to the environment.
After some careful observation, Ah-Suo realized that this kid was not struggling to act like that at all. That was odd.
Seeing that Ah-Xuan had no intention to ask questions, Ah-Suo felt bored instead. In the past, he would go exploring with Ta, however, now he had to stay and wait. This place was not so dangerous after all, so they had the luxury to have a conversation.
“Aren’t you curious about what the advance group’s tasks are?” asked Ah-Suo.
“You won’t answer me anyway, so why bother asking…” Shao Xuan had asked before, but Ta, Tuo, and Keke all avoided answering directly. All they told him was, “You will know when it’s time.”
“That was when we were still with the other hunting groups! Of course we wouldn’t tell you then. What if you told the others? The Shaman would hate if too many people knew it…However, now I can tell you if you want to know.” Ah-Suo said proudly.
He assumed that Shao Xuan was somewhat capable, so he was much nicer in attitude. When he resumed the fine attitude, he retained the old habit of his, which was blabbering about the advance group to the new recruits. Answering related questions made him feel proud of himself, especially when seeing the astonished faces of newly-recruited warriors. It felt so good.
“We have our own tasks in the advance group, tasks directly given from the Shaman.” Ah-Suo explained. It was an extremely high honor for them, and during this process, there were benefits as well, “We get to eat the things that are not accessible to the others in the tribe. Also, we can be stronger than the others in the future.”
Shao Xuan endured Ah-Suo’s blabbering for a while, but then he couldn’t help but interrupt, “So what are the tasks exactly?”
Ah-Suo was a little upset for being interrupted while he was soaked in the self-pride, so he hummed, “Do you think that the herbs in the tribe were obtained by people randomly?”
Shao Xuan had noticed this strange thing since he got the pack of herbs from the Shaman. Although he had no idea what the origin of the herbs was, he could tell that some of them smelled like plants and leaves. He had never seen anything similar in the past, even during hunting missions.
“So, all the time, you were ‘hunting’ and ‘killing’…plants?”
“Not all the time, but yes.” Said Ah-Suo.
So it was really the plants?!
Shao Xuan was stunned. How could they use words like “hunt” and “kill” for plants?
What kind of plants could they be?!
As they were talking, Shao Xuan heard a vague sound of a whistle from afar. Later on, more whistles appeared from other locations. Some were near, while some weren’t. Some of the sounds were even quite far, and could barely be heard only by paying attention closely.
When the whistling sounds stopped, warriors began gathering at the rendezvous point. Ta was the last person here, for he had to go back to deliver the information to the other hunting groups. They could not hear the whistles if they were too far away.
After a short break, Ta led the others to continue the hunting trip.
In the beginning, they were worthily the esteemed advance group. However, later on, they became the herb-collecting team in the tribe, and their tasks were assigned by the Shaman.
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