Shao Xuan took more than twenty days to walk from the small river at the hunting area, to the wider river, to the main river on the map. Plus, he was travelling quickly and did not stop to rest. He never expected this to take so long.
That was why the Taihe ancestors took one year just to head out to look for their herbs. If the plant only bloomed and bore fruit during certain seasons, it would take longer because missing the season would mean waiting for one more year.
Shao Xuan did not have to wait, he only had to look for a place.
Making a flip up a tree, Shao Xuan took out the map he drew while standing on a branch, estimating his current location. There was no GPS here, all he could do was match the map to his surroundings.
The trees around him were not tall, the ground was moist, there were many swamps and holes in the ground and vegetation was dense.
This was considered a swamp area. Just to find the river quicker, Shao Xuan had passed through this dangerous swamp instead of taking the safer hills. Although the forests were also dangerous, it was still safer than the swamp.
Right now, the trees around him were not dense and the water beneath him glimmered under the sunlight. Shao Xuan still had to be alert despite reading the map.
“It must be here.” Shao Xuan looked at the large river not too far away, calculating how much time he would need to reach Gongjia mountain. He only had limited geographical knowledge and if nothing went smoothly it would take a long time.
As he thought, his eye twitched. Without time to keep his scroll, he leapt away.
Just as he moved, the still waters broke to reveal a long snout filled with sharp teeth, snapping at where he was.
It was a crocodile, large- longer than ten meters. As for how long, he had no time to estimate. As the crocodile leapt upwards, the floating grass and leaves on the water surface flew up in the air.
The cloudy water splashed in all directions. Shao Xuan could smell the mud and grass, plus the smell of death.
The cold, emotionless eyes met with Shao Xuan’s mid-air. Its jaws snapped close but due to Shao Xuan’s sudden movement, it bit on a branch.
The crisp sound meant that a branch as thick as a human was snapped in half like a biscuit.
Shao Xuan was standing at least 7 meters above ground, yet it was so easy for the crocodile to reach. With the momentum, it had risen even more. Shao Xuan could see its large nostrils.
The crocodile did not give up. It shook its head and swept at Shao Xuan once again for a second attempt.
From the hook-like teeth in front, it was obvious that it was good at grabbing its prey. As long as a part of Shao Xuan, like his clothes, was caught, he would be dragged down immediately.
Shao Xuan was faster, leaping out of its reach with the second movement, There was only half a person’s distance away from the crocodile. However, this time the crocodile had lost its momentum and could not perform the third attempt.
The jaws snapped close and made a sound, its scales shaking as it was frustrated. Then, it sank cruelly into the waters once again, agitating mud and grass in the waters.
After entering the water, the crocodile did not come up again, leaving with the water current.
Shao Xuan landed in another tree but did not stop. The seven to eight meters tall trees were not safe at all. He had to look for taller trees to rest on, they were safer. The waters underneath were deeper than he thought too, or the crocodile wouldn’t have been able to completely immerse itself in it.
When Shao Xuan leapt around to look for taller trees, he met another crocodile leaping up at him again. Just as he dodged, he took out the bronze sword Zheng Luo gave him and twisted himself. Waving the sword, he slashed down at its snout.
The sword sent vibrations up his arm, showing that the crocodile’s outer layer of skin was very hard. However, it was still injured and the tip of the blade had knocked up once tooth. If Shao Xuan slashed harder, part of its jaw might have been gone.
Moving in the swamp felt like moving between the gaps of a crocodile’s row of teeth. It was very dangerous. This was why the Taihe tribe’s ancestors had placed emphasis on this area for everyone to be more careful here.
The swamp was huge. After finding taller trees, he looked for dry land. Not the entire river bank was a swamp. There might be dry land but he wasn’t sure, the maps did not show it. Shao Xuan had to rely on himself now.
After keeping the map, Shao Xuan continued leaping from tree to tree. He could not leave with his back towards the river either. While it seemed like the quickest way to leave the swamplands, he would be further from the main river. And this river was curvy and not a straight line.
After moving for half a day, the swamplands shrank. He could see patches of forest and greener forests, then hills.
The swamplands end here, he thought.
There were much fewer crocodiles here. He kept seeing many crocodiles when he passed the river, and there were also crocodiles in the swamp. Here, he barely saw one.
Just like fearsome beasts in the hills, a large crocodile required a large territory to hunt enough food. Here were large pieces of land, yet no crocodiles… He wasn’t out of the danger zone designated by the Taihe ancestors yet, there should be crocodiles here. This was unusual, there must be a reason. Shao Xuan grew more alert.
As he sprinted towards the forest, he saw something on the surface of the river in his peripheral vision.
After leaping up a tall tree, he looked at the river.
There was a bunch of seagrass on the river but based on its structure, Shao Xuan did not think it looked normal.
The grass floated with the water currents.
The bunch of grass shook and floated more vigorously. There was a splash. At the same time, the sound was very odd. There were several sounds mixed together and sounded like metal.
What was that?
Shao Xuan looked at the bunch of grass. There was something inside.
Crocodile? There was a crocodile in the midst of the grass.
No, the patch of grass looked rectangular, was that… wood?
After all the shaking, the grass looked more dispersed. Both ends of the patch revealed a tree trunk.
It wasn’t just grass, it was a cage! It’s a trap!
Shao Xuan was shocked. If there was a trap, it meant there was human activity here. They made traps especially to catch animals in the river too.
Some fishermen used nets, some fished, some made traps. There were very few who used traps and this was the first time Shao Xuan saw a trap made for crocodiles.
The trapped crocodile struggled again, the seagrass on top was shaken off. Shao Xuan could see the trap clearly now.
It was a metal trap. Flaming Horn and Taihe people would not use an expensive material like metal to make a trap. Although bronze was common, they were still conservative about it. How large were the crocodiles here? This trap would have to be at least fifteen metres long, how much metal would they need?
Theoretically, the places further from the great six should have lesser metalwares. He also met other tribes on the way here but they were using bone weapons and rarely used metal.
He was shocked to see such a large metal cage.
He wondered if he was close to Gongjia Mountain. Other people rarely used metal but the Xia people were different. Plus, the ones who could make a trap for a crocodile would be no ordinary tribesmen.
Shao Xuan was in no hurry to leave now. He found a suitable tree to hide in and waited. Now that there was prey, the person who set the trap would be there soon. If they let the animal struggle more, the trap would be damaged.
Just as he expected, soon, he heard people approaching quickly. While they were not loud, that person sounded like he was experienced and confident for he did not hesitate.
The sound approached quickly. Shao Xuan looked over to the river bank and was stunned for a moment.
While he could not see much, a person’s hand appeared. He’d thought it was a small crocodile but it was not.
Even the people of the Drumming Tribe did not look as similar to a crocodile as this person when they activated totemic evolution.
After activating their totemic evolution through their totemic powers, the people of the Drumming tribe would evolve in terms of their facial features and bone structure. This person was just clad in crocodile skin though. Now that Shao Xuan could see him, this person resembled a regular human.