The reason why Shao Xuan and his tribesmen chose to attack in such a direct fashion, was actually to leave the rest of the team in awe.
Didn’t these people think that us Flaming Horns were uncivilized and violent? Then we’ll show them what they want to see, and let them know that they should just listen to our instructions and not doubt us while we’re in the forest.
It was the fifth day since they entered the forest.
A line of more than sixty people walked together. They had already grown accustomed to what they weren’t used to before. Now, these tribesmen that came from the plains were already starting to understand more about the basic survival skills needed in the forest.
Above a net made from interlocking vines, a huge face that was two meters wide in width suddenly appeared. Its two abysmal eyes looked in their direction. Its face was twisted strangely, and stripes of coloured light on its face made it look even scarier.
When they first saw this face, most of the team members were frightened, and almost made a move. Luckily Shao Xuan and his people stopped them, or else they would have suffered a loss.
Now, even if they encountered such a face, they would only be slightly disturbed and would mostly be calm. The Flaming Horns were right. Sometimes, things might not be as scary as they seemed. Indeed, most of these creatures should be classified as creatures that could be ignored.
As the team passed through the area, the face that appeared above gradually faded in colour, like a piece of canvas that had just been washed and folded from both sides.
After a short while, a weirdly spotted butterfly flew from the webbed vines and headed towards a thicker web of vines that was farther away from sunshine and engulfed by darkness.
This butterfly was a common creature in Fearsome Beast Forest and normally enjoyed resting on natural webs made by intertwining vines. When they rested, their wings usually lifted in a vertical manner unless it sensed danger or threats. If it did, it would open its wing and lay it out flatly, displaying its strange patterns to scare away any humans or beasts nearby.
If someone attacked it, it would shake its wings and shed off some powder that would make its enemy sneeze. Even if a larger beast breathed in this powder, it would make it sneeze for an hour without stopping in the same place.
After they walked for a while, they decided to find a place to rest.
Along the way, they had already learned a lot and gained plenty of experience. The dissatisfaction they had regarding the “sincerity” that the Flaming Horns requested also faded completely. They knew they were lucky to have made the right decision and paid the “sincerity” instead of entering the forest by themselves like the Tianshan tribe.
They wondered how the Tianshan tribe was doing at the moment. They probably weren’t doing any better.
A few tiny insects flew around them in circles. The Flaming Horns had told them not to worry or care about these insects, so naturally, they let down their guard and devoted most of their energy into observing their surroundings.
Over the past few days, no matter what clothes they wore, whether the fabric was silk or sackcloth, all were stained with sweat, blood, and mud. They had no time to wash it. With the high temperature in the forest, their body odour filled the air.
Even so, they had no choice because there were too many beasts in the forest that were highly sensitive to the unfamiliar and fishy smell of blood and sweat. Although they smelled weird now, the smell helped them blend in and become one with their surroundings when they encountered beasts they didn’t want to fight.
There were many sesame-sized flying insects that flew around them. They probably came because of the smell of their body odour and stayed for a long time. These insects had not dispersed but grew more and more in number.
“Is this where you guys usually hunt?” Qu Ce asked as he waved away the flying insects.
“Mmm-hmm,” Shao Xuan was chewing on the leftover meat that was cooked yesterday as he answered simply.
It was somewhat easier for the Hui tribe. As for the Mang tribe and the Eight Limbs, it was more difficult for them to understand the behaviour of the Flaming Horns. Especially how they always wanted to take risks and hunt in the more dangerous parts of the forest. Plus, every time they went hunting, they went so deep into the forest. They had already been walking for days, but they were still on the Flaming Horn’s hunting grounds.
After the Flaming Horns returned to their homeland, they avoided two hunting trails. This was one of them.
After he finished his meat, Shao Xuan stood up and looked afar.
The altitude there was not too high, and luckily there weren’t many tightly grown trees so it was easier for them to get a wide and far view.
There was a stream not far away from them, and they took their water from there. To the Flaming Horns, it was okay to drink unboiled water. They had already grown accustomed to it and their bodies could take it. For the other tribesmen, drinking the water without boiling could lead to discomfort and diarrhoea. So Shao Xuan let them boil their water before drinking.
Shao Xuan was about to discuss their next steps with Duo Kand and Mai, but suddenly, his ears slightly twitched and a light flashed in his eyes. He moved his right foot half a step backwards and punched his right arm forward.
Qu Ce and others were looking from not far away, but all they saw was an arm flashing past. When they looked again, Shao Xuan already had something grasped tightly in his hands.
“That’s…” A few people who nearby came over to look.
It was their first time coming to a place like this, and there was still a lot they had to learn from the Flaming Horns. Although they weren’t used to the Flaming Horn’s ways, they had to admit the Flaming Horns had way more experience living in Fearsome Beast Forest. Therefore, even when they weren’t sure of something, they weren’t ashamed to ask. They wanted to get a clear understanding so they could avoid all the unneeded troubles and dangers.
“Mosquitos. This is the kind that sucks your blood,” Shao Xuan frowned as he unclenched his fist. He slowly extended his thumb and index finger.
The creature was still struggling in Shao Xuan’s palm. It had a “fine needle” that was longer than Shao Xuan’s thumb. The needle moved from side to side as the creature struggled.
Shao Xuan pressed accurately on the mosquito’s “fine needle” and pressed hard.
Only a slight crisp sound “crack” was heard as if something brittle was broken into two.
With the disturbance caused by the noise of birds calling from afar in the forest, even though the sound was not loud, the few of them who were present had sharp senses and heard it.
Seeing this, the muscles on Qu Ce and the others’ faces twitched hard.
What was that “crack” sound? Was that the mosquito’s mouth? How come it sounded like a hard needle?
This thing can suck their blood?
He must be kidding! What would a mosquito sting feel like?
Shao Xuan opened his fists and handed the dead mosquito over to Qu Ce and the others so they could study it. With one snap, he broke the mosquito’s wavering syringe-like “fine needle”, its finest weapon used for sucking blooding.
After Shao Xuan broke its needle and squeezed it tightly in his palm, the mosquito had lost its ability to move and couldn’t live any longer. Shao Xuan then handed its corpse over to Qu Ce and others, so they could stay cautious and be careful of these smaller yet extremely dangerous creatures.
Qu Ce eyed the mosquito corpse carefully. Although the mosquitos were also very dangerous where they came from and could suck the blood of a whole adult, it was not as dangerous when compared to this one.
Ignoring those people who were studying the mosquito, Shao Xuan told Mai and the others, “Something feels wrong.”
Although the others were busy studying the mosquito, their ears perked up when they heard Shao Xuan’s words. They quickly asked, “What’s wrong?”
“They shouldn’t appear at this time of the year,” Shao Xuan wiped the sweat on his forehead.
“Do you really think this weather feels like winter?”
Even if he said it felt like summer, no one would have disagreed.
Such a strange occurrence! It was even worse than last year, and this made all of them feel uneasy. Especially when they had been warned previously by their shamans about the change that was about to come. They were extremely worried.
“In this weather, these mosquitoes usually come in swarms,” Shao Xuan said.
Looking at the dead mosquito, the group couldn’t help but shiver at the thought of a scourge of these mosquitoes.
“Can swarms of mosquitoes appear during the day?” someone asked.
“What do you think?” Shao Xuan looked at the mosquito, and then scanned the dark forest that revealed no sunlight.
“Then what can we do?” someone said anxiously.
“There’s definitely a way. We just need to apply some ointment. Although it would feel a little uncomfortable, just bear with it. After applying this ointment the mosquitoes will naturally stay away from you. Trust me.” Shao Xuan said as he looked at Tuo.
Tuo nodded, then left with Mai. When they appeared again, they carried some dark mud covered in big leaves that gave out a strange smell.
Looking at the black mud the Flaming Horns handed them, the other tribesmen’s expressions turned gloomy.
Which pit did they dig this out from?
“What the heck is this? Where did you guys get it? Do we really need to put this on?” Huang Ye’s voice was hard as steel. You’re not fooling us, right?
“It’s up to you. We’re just here to lead the way.” Shao Xuan said emotionlessly.
“Then why don’t you guys need it?” someone argued.
Shao Xuan and the other five rolled up their sleeves to reveal the lines painted on their arms that extended all the way from their shoulders to their fingers. “We put it on before we even came out. This is made with a mixture of herbs and paint. It’s one of our habits in the Flaming Horn tribe. We just didn’t expect scourges of mosquitos to appear, so we didn’t bring extra medicine. The best you guys can do is cover yourselves in this mud mixture.”
Huang Ye and the others became more gloomy. For safety’s sake, they could only remain patient and use broken branches to smear the black mud onto their skin. The smell that came from it was so strong that it made them tear up.
However, at dusk, they knew that Shao Xuan wasn’t lying, so their resentment subsided.
From the woods in front of them came loud buzzing sounds. Even though they didn’t reach there yet, they already knew what was there.
They couldn’t even discern the number of mosquitoes from the noise.
“Let’s keep walking, there’s still a distance to travel before we reach our next stop.” The Flaming Horns who were leading the way didn’t even take a break, so the others in the back could only follow along.
More buzzing sounds came from beside them. They could hear clearly the buzzing sounds caused by the flapping of mosquitoes’ wings, and it stimulated their eardrums.
Their scalps tightened in fear. Although it was dark and the light was dim, they could still discern the sharp needle-like mouths of the mosquitoes.
There were too many of them.
“The scourges of mosquitoes in front scattered all across the forest. From the lowest grounds to the tall branches up above, it was all covered with mosquitoes. They completely blocked their vision.
However, every time a mosquito flew over, it would avoid them and not fly over to bite them.
The worry in their hearts slowly dissipated as they noticed this, and they could finally breathe again as they became relieved.
“I told you we were right.” Shao Xuan said as he was leading the way.