Shao Xuan observed. Although the duck was still guarded and cautious around him, if there was anything dangerous around it, the duck would immediately run towards him, screaming.
Should he really bring it back to the tribe? Or just cook it?
Shao Xuan thought about it. This duck was special. If they could really tame it, it was not a problem to rear it in the tribe. However, Shao Xuan studied its tail feathers. It was probably a male. If he brought it back, it could not lay eggs. Should he eat it? There were no female ducks in the tribe.
After thinking about it, Shao Xuan decided to leave it alone for the moment. If the duck managed to follow him back to the tribe, then they’ll just rear it there. It will be an experiment to rear it as poultry.
Shao Xuan set off once again after resting a few days at Gongjia Heng’s place.
This time, he did not take the path through the water-covered swamp area. He went around it, taking the longer route instead. He wanted to fill out his map after checking the area.
The duck followed. It had gotten used to him. Since Shao Xuan hadn’t eaten or beaten it during this period of time, even helping it a few times, it followed him even closer.
Shao Xuan became more relaxed when he saw the familiar patch of forest. He moved faster too.
There was a movement in the forest. Shao Xuan heard conversations. There were hunters from the tribe out hunting.
An arrow flew from among the trees, flying straight at the fat duck behind it. It was unfortunate that it was such an obvious target in the forest. When it flew, it was basically a living target. It could get by if hunters did not want such a small game but if any hunter decided they wanted the duck, this duck would never survive. Plus after travelling for such a long time, it had grown weaker and not as agile as before. It was going to be difficult for it to dodge an arrow.
When Shao Xuan sensed the arrow, he blocked it with his sword. He hit the arrow sideways.
“Who is it?!” There was a shout among the trees and several people rushed over.
It was Tao Zheng, Zhui and the rest. This was the area their hunting party frequented. When someone had knocked their arrow away, the first thing they thought was that someone from another tribe must have trespassed their hunting grounds.
However, when they saw Shao Xuan, their guarded looks faded immediately.
Shao Xuan had left the tribe for a period of time, apparently for something important. Some people knew the reason, some did not. All they knew was that ever since he left, the chief had been very worried. Every time they went out hunting, the chief would remind them to be careful and alert. If anyone saw Shao Xuan, they had to inform him immediately.
“Should I return to inform the chief?” asked TaoZheng.
Shao Xuan waved it off. “No, I can go back on my own. You all carry on with your hunt.”
“Elder Shao Xuan, what’s that behind you? You hunted it?” asked a young member of the party. He had been the one who shot the arrow. Now he was very embarrassed, it felt like he had taken the Elder’s game.
Shao Xuan looked at the fat duck resting on the tree nearby and turned to Tao Zheng and the rest. “Kind of.”
He was carrying a huge bundle wrapped in animal hide and vines. Everyone eyed it curiously.
“What’s inside?” asked Tao Zheng excitedly.
“Gold wares,” said Shao Xuan.
When they heard him, everyone was curious but it was not the time to chat. All they could do was suppress their curiosity and continue with their hunt.
After bidding them farewell, Shao Xuan hunted two more animals and then returned to the tribe.
In the tribe, when the shamaness and Chief Zheng Luo heard of Shao Xuan’s return, they came down the hill to personally greet him.
“Eh? The bird…” yelled someone at the manmade river surrounding the village. He pointed at the bird resting on the tree opposite the river.
The fat duck studied everyone from the Flaming Horn tribe, alert.
“About the bird, if it did not deliberately attack anyone or bring any trouble to the tribe, just ignore it,” said Shao Xuan to the people around the river.
So it was Shao Xuan’s duck! Everyone at the foot of the hill nodded solemnly, promising not to kill it.
Shao Xuan wanted to explain but the shamaness had dragged him up the hill like she had many questions for him. Shao Xuan did not elaborate, planning to return once he was done.
He went up the hill, tossed the prey at his doorstep. A few people resting in the area volunteered to help him clean the prey since he was busy. After thanking them, he went to the shamaness and explained what happened to her and the chief.
When they heard him say that non-Gongjia people could not enter Gongjia Mountain, they sighed in pity. However, their eyes brightened when he took out the animal skin scrolls with stuff he had copied down.
Zheng Luo pulled out a piece of animal skin hurriedly and copied down the key points. He could not wait to bring it to the tribe’s blacksmith. Zheng Luo was as interested in forging and casting as their blacksmith. However, they were still not as good in forging because any tribe with a little more information refused to share their techniques.
Shao Xuan’s notes were straightforward and helped answer questions that plagued the chief. Although it wasn’t like a shower of milk to his head, it was still a huge inspiration.
[Note: A shower of milk to the head (idiom) = enlightenment/a gush of wisdom; I kept this in because I loved this expression]
“Take a look at these. Anything that’s rusty or broken can be re-casted.” Shao Xuan took out the stuff he took from the robbers and gave them to Zheng Luo.
These weapons varied in quality. Some good ones could be used immediately while the rest had to be fixed.
Zheng Luo rubbed his palms, picked up the stuff and left in a hurry.
Only Shao Xuan and the shamaness were left in the house. Shao Xuan told her about activating the bone ornaments.
“Great! That’s great news!” The shamaness smiled so hard her wrinkles deepened. “If you’re alright, you can proceed. I’ll clear a spot in the village for you to practice. It’s better to practice here than in the forest, plus you won’t have to worry about threats around you.”
Shao Xuan stayed for a bit then returned to his house.
When he arrived, his two games had already been cleaned. Qi Qi had been waiting at his doorstep for a while.
When he saw her struggle to hide her grin, Shao Xuan knew the Thousand Grain Gold must be doing well.
“Elder Shao Xuan, you’re back! The Thousand Grain Gold are doing very well, come look at them!” Qi Qi brought him to the backyard excitedly.
When he had passed by his house, he had noticed his backyard had been expanded. The fence around the backyard was built taller too so he could not see inside.
Now that he was back home, he walked into the backyard to see three-meter tall plants. Shao Xuan stopped in shock.
When he had seen the plant on that hill, it was not like that. It wasn’t this tall.
There were about forty plants left in his yard when he left. At that time, they were barely at his shoulder. Now, although there were only twenty-three of them left, all of them were growing very well. They weren’t just taller than humans, every leaf was wider and thicker than he remembered! And their stalks were almost as thick as a person’s waist.
Most importantly, there were grains growing on the plants too!
Even an idiot would know that these plants were growing a lot healthier than the wild ones! They just didn’t know what would happen to the grains after harvest. If they were valuable, he would plant the rest of his grains.
In the yard, there were both Flaming Horn and Taihe tribe members. They surrounded the plants, never growing tired of staring at the twenty plants every day. They used to visit twice a day but now, they even slept in this yard. The yard was expanded partially for this reason.
“Everyone wanted to watch over the plants but there was limited space in the yard so the shamaness told us to expand it.” Qi Qi looked at his face timidly. When she realised he was not mad, the weight on her shoulders lifted.
“Thank you for your hard work!” said Shao Xuan.
“It’s nothing at all, it’s all worth it!” Qi Qi had a sense of pride and accomplishment as she looked at her plants.
Since he was back at the tribe, he could finally relax and that night, he slept soundly.
During the next few days, Shao Xuan was summoned by Zheng Luo to talk about crafting. His position was not even needed here-- Shao Xuan met a Xia and went to Gongjia Mountain. Naturally, the blacksmiths here were all willing to listen. They asked him questions when they did not understand the notes. Shao Xuan also briefed everyone about the development of the core seed and the Xia people so everyone had an understanding of it.
A few days had passed when he went down the hill again.
On this day, he planned to check on the duck.
Everyone who lived at the bottom of the hill plus the ones on patrol all knew of it. The fat duck bobbing its head left and right, fluttering here and there was Elder Shao Xuan’s prey. No one dared touch it, some even voluntarily tossed some food at it.
On the first day, the fat duck, being in a new environment, was flighty. It was always worried, flying off whenever there was a slight movement. Then, it realised these people meant no harm, it even received food from them. Although it did not like the food, it still thought it was a good thing.
On the second day, the fat duck attempted to swim in the water. It swam around in the manmade river surrounding the Flaming Horn tribe. However, every time someone passed by, it would immediately fly away into the forest, only returning when there was no one.
The third day, fourth day passed…
When Shao Xuan arrived, the fat duck was swimming happily along the river, sometimes even diving into the water. When someone approached, it merely looked cautiously at the person but did not fly immediately.
Looks like this duck isn’t leaving.
Since it was living well, Shao Xuan did not chase it away. He just told someone to watch it and make sure it did not cause trouble.
Until one day, Shao Xuan noticed there were several female ducks in the river.