“Ku Sha Roots, Flowing Blood Leaf, the Seven-Forked Palm, Blood Veins Flowers…”
While Ta, Tuo, and the others were counting the plants that they had already captured, Shao Xuan was counting the days that they had been out hunting. If you calculated carefully, you’ll realize that it was time for them to head back home, for every hunting trip had its time limit.
Ever since they had captured the Green Thief, people in the hunting group would always set a few traps before night fell. However, there was no harvest at all. No useful thing was caught ever since. It was indeed pure luck that helped them capture the Green Thief the other night.
Meanwhile, for the days after, Shao Xuan had been following the team here and there all day long. He was not so helpful with the tasks, given his fighting ability. However, he required no babysitting from the others. In fact, Shao Xuan was more than helpful to the team since he could take care of himself.
These days, Shao Xuan had encountered quite a lot of mysterious things. One time, they almost confronted the Tearers when they were trying to find a plant called the Seven-Forked Palm.
The Seven-Forked Palm was an odd plant. When it senses danger, it would close up the thick bark-like leaves, and warp its core into a hard solid pinecone, while secreting some Tearer-attracting liquid. If the hunting group had been hesitant for even a second, they would have been besieged by a large group of Tearers.
Meanwhile, Tuo had finished the counting.
“Compared with the harvest from our last hunting trip, this we found two kinds of plants less,. However, this time we found the Wind Ball and the Green Thief, which are incomparable, thus guarantees this time’s hunting mission to be a huge success.”
Judging from his facial expression, Ta was also quite relieved. Indeed, they had achieved more in this hunting trip. “We’ll count the species again when we reunite with Ah-Wei. Perhaps they have found the other two species.”
Wei was a senior totem warrior who was almost the same age as Ta. Since the advance group was divided into two smaller hunting groups, he led the other two dozen warriors.
Ta then said to the others, “Let’s get some rest today. Tomorrow we will return.”
“Understood, boss!” said the people. They already felt quite eager to go back home, and they looked forward to sharing their experiences with the other teammates in the advance group, as well as their relatives in the tribe.
Shao Xuan also couldn’t wait to go back home, but not because of the Green Thief. He wanted to head back soon because he had some bird eggs in his animal skin bag.
There were about a dozen bird eggs remaining from that day and he put them in his animal skin bag. The others in the advance group were not so interested in the bird eggs. When they encountered the Tearers the other day, Keke had thrown out all his remaining eggs as bait. The Tearers dieted on bird eggs too. Shao Xuan also threw some eggs out, but before he came out, he left some eggs back in the tree holes. Now they were the only ones he had.
Today, instead of staying in the tree hole, they were staying in a new place for the night. In order to find the plants on the animal skin roll, they had to sleep at different locations. The other night they were sleeping in some leaves, which meant that they had to roll the leaf with themselves inside, and spend the night while in that leaf. The plants leaves were ham-like. Although they were supposed to be pointing up to the sky, twenty-one of its leaves were rolled up and hung there. Each leaf roll had a person sleeping inside.
Tuo said that the peculiar plant had a repellent effect against bugs, and it was also on their hunting list. Warriors would roll themselves up with its giant leaves when they could not find a proper shelter to stay at night. By doing that, they could avoid being attacked by the nocturnal insects. However, it was not doable in the day, for the leaves on that plants would always become hard and impossible to roll during daylight.
This was a very fancy experience for Shao Xuan. As for the bird eggs in his animal skin bag…well, he planned to bring them out as an experiment.
Most of the plants would die when brought out of this forest. Then what would happen to the bird eggs?
The plants in here were quite abnormal, would the insects and bugs also be peculiar since they diet on the plants? Furthermore, could it be speculated that the birds should be more special, since they diet on the fruits and insects? Perhaps the birds contain more nutritional value or medicinal efficacy? Then what about their eggs?
The shelf life of raw eggs was longer than the cooked ones. Shao Xuan did not cook those odd-looking bird eggs as well, since he assumed the same theory would work for them.
The second day, Ta led the group to run back to the rendezvous, where they met the other hunting group. Someone was wounded on their side. Luckily, it was not severe.
The other twenty warriors were totally stunned when they heard about the Green Thief, with their eyes fixed on the stone box covered by the leaves. They wanted to open it and see for themselves, however, all of them knew it at heart that it was not the time.
They took a lift on the backs of the giant dragonflies when they came here from the top of the mountain, and they would be needing their assistance on their way back.
When the sun almost set, all warriors in the advance group waited at some place. One of them climbed up high on the top of some tall plant to scout the location of the army of dragonflies. After all, each return route was not absolutely fixed.
“Over there! Hurry!”
“Hurry, hurry, hurry! Or we won’t make it today! We don’t want to wait until tomorrow!”
Shao Xuan did not have to carry those boxes with plants inside, instead, all his luggage was in his animal skin bag. So compared to the others, he could travel light.
At that time, all of the warriors hurriedly ran towards the direction of the dragonflies in order to catch the lift in time. Shao Xuan felt like as if he were in his former life, catching a bus. Alas!
People climbed up the tall plants quickly, and tied a lasso with the straw ropes they had at hand. When the dragonflies were passing above their heads, they would toss the lassos to catch the dragonfly’s legs. When a warrior was pulled up in the air, he would seize the opportunity to jump down on another dragonfly’s back when there was one below him. If they hung too long in the air, warriors would be easily hit by other dragonflies’ wings.
When they almost reached the mountain, the dragonflies began to flap their wings to fly up high. All objects on the ground quickly became smaller, for they were flying up.
On the green land behind them, leaves on the tall plants began to close up, as well as the flower blossoms. All kinds of sounds indicated that night was about to fall.
“Careful when you jump and don’t be hit by the wings!” Ta shouted at Shao Xuan.
When the dragonflies reached the cliff, Shao Xuan ran to the dragonfly’s tail quickly, and found a chance to jump down. He used his stone knife to stab into the stone to slow down his speed sliding down along the cliff, until he found a relatively smooth place that he could stand on.
“Move it! Everybody move a little!”
The dragonfly that Keke rode flew higher than before, which made him almost hit the cliff when jumping down. He had to make a few rolls before landing on the ground. Although it was not a safe landing, Keke managed to protect the stone box with plants well enough. When he got back up on his feet, people saw that his face was twisted from pain.
When all of them jumped down and landed on the ground, the army of giant dragonflies flew over the mountain and headed to the pond, where they would be spending the night at.
“Let’s go. You should get a good rest, for it will be very busy in the coming days.” Said Ta.
However, people were too excitedly talking about the Green Thief. None of them had much sleep.
On the next day when they left the mountain, did Shao Xuan finally understand what exactly Tuo meant when he said “Nothing can be taken away from here”.
When the green land could not be seen in their sight anymore, the big fresh tree leaf that wrapped the Green Thief’s stone box was withering at a macroscopic speed. It was turning yellow and becoming chips as Shao Xuan stared at it.
The mud that was on the stone box’ surface could not block the smell of the Green Thief completely. And to people’s frustrations, many ferocious beasts seemed to be particularly obsessed with the Green Thief.
Originally, people in the advance group planned to teach Shao Xuan a thing or two on their way back, and perhaps to hunt down some food to bring back. But in fact, they were too busy to even talk to each other the whole way.
In order to protect the Green Thief, warriors of the advance group fought their way back. While in order to get back to the tribe sooner, they did not take any game with them. The longer they stayed, the more difficult situation they would put themselves in.
At first, people would kill whatever kinds of ferocious beasts who came after the Green Thief, regardless of how many of them were approaching.
Want to steal the Green Thief? No way! Go fuck off and die!
But gradually, people changed their strategy.
What? Some more ferocious beasts are coming after the Green Thief? How many of them? Run, just run!
People in the advance group had never felt so embarrassed before. In the past, they could conveniently do some hunting and take back a few souvenirs from the game. However, this time they had neither the time, nor the mood.
Everyone had an intense smell of blood on their bodies, and all the blood belonged to some high-level ferocious beasts. They had no time to wash their faces, or comb their hairs. Some of them were even more sloppy than children in the orphan cave. The blood became blocks of coagulations, and then became blood powders when they were dried in the air.
Even at night, they were constantly attacked. It was unspeakably miserable.
People suffered from the lack of the sleep, and they became extremely tired, for they had to run and fight at the same time along the way. Fortunately, the average ability of the advance group was quite good. If it were the other normal hunting groups, they would have likely lost some people along the way.
Just because of that, Shao Xuan once again became an alien, for he could restore his strength and energy after just a short rest.
The others were all looking at Shao Xuan in a strange way.
Shao Xuan took a look at his animal skin bag, and noticed that most of the bird eggs were fine. He had put some dried leaves and grass into the bag, and only one of the eggs was broken since they set off.
There was a rule in the advance group, that aside from the target objects, all game could be kept by the one who did the hunting. So, people didn’t say a word about Shao Xuan carrying the bird eggs. They had no interest in those eggs, for they had had enough of them when they were searching for the target objects on the hunting list. Also, the whole time, they had quite a variety of fruits. And it had been days since they had any cooked meat on their diet. Now meat was available again, no one cared for bird eggs any more. However, when people were chewing on the cooked meat, they behaved as if they were dieting on their sworn enemies. Loud noises were made while they ate, and perhaps they were cursing the approaching ferocious beasts even in their dreams.
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