As the others were immersed in the concept of “Green Thief” and “night vision”, Shao Xuan carefully observed the traps he set yesterday.
In fact, the tree secreted quite a lot of resin. But only limited quantity could be used to set the trap. Shao Xuan discovered that the resin in different sections of the tree had varying levels of viscosity. When cutting out the bark, there was only a tiny bit of resin that was sticky enough to be used in the traps. He collected the sticky resin, and applied them around the snare. However, it could only cover two snares.
Yesterday, when they were cleaning the remains of those dead bugs, warriors had shoveled a layer of moss and grass away. So it was very bare in the surroundings of the tree that they were resting on. The smell of the burnt fruits remained, which could also drive away most of the animals.
Consequently, Shao Xuan found that there were lots of marks in the resin on the ground. The tree he cut yesterday overflowed with plenty of resin, but most of it was not sticky enough. On the edge of those marks in the resin, there were obvious traces of something being dragged… Apparently something had stepped on it.
No warriors in the advance group had touched it, or else there would be clear footprints.
Shao Xuan thought for a moment and then looked around. He set his sights on a plant nearby, which was in full bloom. On its top when the wind blew, the pollen would scatter over the ground.
“Can I pick those flowers, team leader?” Shao Xuan asked. Ta had mentioned that Shao Xuan should report before every single action, for acting without authorization was absolutely forbidden.
Ta gazed at Shao Xuan for a moment, and then agreed, “Yes, just go ahead.”
If in the past, Ta would’ve never allowed Shao Xuan to go pick the flowers, for such moves were totally dull in his eyes. However, now he felt that perhaps Shao Xuan had found something.
Shao Xuan climbed up the plant, and tried to break the flower off with his hand. However, he did not succeed, so he held out the stone sword and chopped on the stem. With his hands he held the calyx (the green part on the bottom that protects flower), and then carefully passed it to Tuo, who was standing beneath the plant.
Only after cutting off two flowers, did Shao Xuan climb down the plant.
Tuo, who caught the flowers from Shao Xuan, was stained with pollen all over his body. It wasn’t avoidable, for the flowers were rich in pollen.
“What are you going to do with this, Ah-Xuan?” asked Tuo.
“I’d like to see if there are any traces on the ground.” Answered Shao Xuan.
The others surrounding the Green Thief looked at Shao Xuan as well.
Shao Xuan held the calyx and angled towards the ground, as he softly shook the orange pollen down on the ground.
People saw Shao Xuan circling around that tree with resin. He held the flowers while shaking down the pollen. In a little while, the ground under his feet was covered by a layer of orange pollen.
After the pollen was distributed, Shao Xuan found a broad leaf and kept flapping it as if it were a fan.
The layer of pollen on the ground was blown away, but some of it remained on the ground.
The orange pollen was quite obvious, and those left on the ground formed many footprints. They were the same footprints similar to the Green Thief that was ensnared over there.
Seeing the footprints down on the ground, Ta looked up at the crowd and said, “Do the same! Pay extra attention on the places with the resin.”
The tree that Shao Xuan had cut was not the only tree with resin. Yesterday when Ta was checking on the surroundings, he noticed quite a few trees with the resin. All of them had somehow spread their resin onto the ground and it covered a large area.
At Ta’s command, all the blossoming flowers in the early morning suffered. They were all cut down by warriors in order to get the pollen.
In a moment, pollen and leaves filled up the woods.
Fortunately, it was not dangerous in the surroundings.
After quite some time, they finished distributing and blowing away the pollen. However, all were in silence this time.
The resin that had spread on the ground revealed numerous footprints. They were not obvious because of the grass and moss. Some of them were not even in the exact three-toed shapes. However, all warriors knew that they were the same footprints as before, and they were heading towards the same direction.
The orange footprints were quite large in number, and thickly dotted. Since many places were covered by fallen leaves or weeds, it made it difficult for the pollen to work. People had every reason to speculate that there were more footprints than they would have ever imagined.
Apparently, a large nocturnal army had marched through this place last night, right beneath the tree that they were resting on. However, no sound was heard by the night guards, aside from the one that got captured by Shao Xuan’s trap, of course.
Ta had spent so many years in the advance group, yet he had never seen a nocturnal army of plants.
The Green Thief marches at night in silence.
The reason why the Green Thief was not listed on the animal skin roll was because it was too hard to find. It could be very risky, for the ancestors all knew about how dangerous it was to hunt at night. Many brave warriors had died hunting in the dark. They had no other choice, but to remove the promising target from their hunting list. So later on, there were no hard-to-find plants like the Green Thief on the animal skin roll.
In the past century, no one of the advance group had ever encountered the Green Thief. Had Ta not paid constant attention to his grandfather’s and tribal elder warriors’ stories, he would not have connected it the Green Thief and it would have always been a legend to him. He had always admired those ancestors who had seen the Green Thief in the past.
However, unexpectedly…Unexpectedly today they captured one alive!!
Although it was captured by Shao Xuan’s trap, Ta knew it at heart that he was slapped right on the face for his contempt. He felt it was worth it, seeing the Green Thief with his own eyes.
Ta still could not comprehend what had happened.
“The Green Thief marches at night…the Green Thief marches at night in silence! It is the Green Thief!”
“Then let’s just untie this snare and collect it already, boss! Do not let it end up in another creature’s hand!”
“Right, right! I’ll fetch the wooden box from the tree hole!”
“Will the wooden box work? What if we use the stone box?”
“Or just fetch them both?”
“But there’s only one Green Thief! What to do with two boxes, unless we cut it into two parts?”
“Does anyone know if the Green Thief could be brought outside? What if it just dies when we bring it out?” Keke murmured.
“Keke, you shut up!!” all the others shouted.
“But the snare is too difficult to untie…How to untie your snare, Ah-Xuan?” Tuo looked at Shao Xuan, who was standing not far.
However, Shao Xuan paid no attention to them now… He “saw” something. It was blurred, and all the sounds nearby seemed to be muted. It was silence.
One, two…ten, a hundred…
A thousand? Thousands of them? Perhaps there were more…
Those green figures were walking towards the same direction in groups. Compared with the Green Thief that he captured, those Green Thieves had their “heads”, and their heads looked like inverted mops. The Cyan Thieves were the same height as Shao Xuan, but were as skinny as bamboo. They were walking in the woods without any sound.
“Hey, what’s wrong with you?”
Warriors over there planned to keep calling him, but were stopped by Ta.
“Is he seeing something?” said Ah-Suo.
There’s nothing but trees over there.
Unless it was the epiphany of the ancestors?
Thinking about that, all the warriors trembled without warning. They dared not to be noisy.
“Hey, he moved!” Keke whispered.
Over there, Shao Xuan walked ahead on foot. He was walking towards the same direction as the Cyan Thieves were heading to. But after a few steps, he looked back at the trap again.
“Oh, now he’s looking back!!” Keke said again.
“You just shut up, Keke!” Ta growled.
Originally, Shao Xuan saw those Cyan Thieves walking besides him, and some of them were walking through his body, as if he did not exist at all. Shao Xuan couldn’t help but walk with them in the same direction. However, those Cyan Thieves were too fast for him to follow.
Shao Xuan felt that he was being assimilated, but quickly enough he resisted the feeling of assimilation. He looked back at the trap totally confused.
The others assumed that Shao Xuan was looking at them. But in fact, he was looking at the Green Thief, which was tied on the ground.
After being trapped, the Green Thief found it impossible for him to escape. So its head just dislocated itself from the body. It was not dead, but it left a part of its body out, to allow the main part to survive. It was the same as when a gecko fled without its tail. When the time was right, it would grow into a whole creature again.
Shao Xuan moved his sight away from the trap, and then looked at the direction that the Cyan Thieves marched towards.
He saw a Green Thief walk up on a tree, with its toes stuck on the trunk. It was perpendicular to the trunk but it walked as if it were still walking on the ground.
It moved upwards for about fifteen meters, and then, it reached out its “hand” to poke into the trunk, but quickly withdrew. Then, like earlier, it walked down the tree, and rejoined the nocturnal army.
What was in there?
Shao Xuan observed the tree for awhile and then began to climb its trunk.
Ta indicated that all warriors should surround Shao Xuan for his protection, in case of any accident or emergency. His eyes were fixed on Shao Xuan. Indeed, he wanted to find something with Shao Xuan’s help, but he also promised the Shaman that he would take Shao Xuan back to the tribe, safe and sound.
Over there, Shao Xuan saw a tiny hole when he reached the spot that the Green Thief poked into the trunk. Some green thing like a bean sprout was in it.
Looking at the “bean sprout”, Shao Xuan gripped its head with his fingers and suddenly pulled it out. The “bean sprout” was little, but it took him some strength to pull it out.
Seeing that Shao Xuan pulled out something with the same color as the Green Thief, Ta had sparkling traces in his eyes, “The seedling of the Green Thief?”
The Green Thief. It walks in the dark with its green body. It steals the life of the tree to breed its offspring.
It was said that the nocturnal army of the Green Thieves would only exit once in a year.
Was it really the blessings from the ancestors?
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