A strange tree without leaves and branches stood alone like a bare wooden pile. The only special thing was that it had hundreds of fist-sized holes.
The waved axe brought with it a sharp air current. The strange tree was chopped down.
“This is the last one.” Qu Ce wiped the sweat on his forehead, and then a few chops, he cut the tree into sections. With each chop, strange things that looked like flower buds grew out from those holes on the tree. It looked like two leaves that were folded together and it was opening up like it was ready to bite.
It was this species. Earlier today, a plant like this one bit off a piece of flesh from a warrior who belonged to the Mang tribe. The bite was poisonous and the phytotoxin prevented blood from clotting. If the wound was left untreated, blood would have flowed continuously without stopping.
After they cut the tree into smaller pieces, the large flower buds on the tree seemed to have lost their energy and dropped down weakly. Qu Ce had just picked up the pieces of wood that they cut up from the tree and threw them into the woven net. He wanted to keep it as firewood. As long as the "buds" were plucked, wood from this type of tree would be highly flammable. It was the perfect material for starting fires.
They followed Shao Xuan and the other Flaming Horns into a hilly place and then took a rest on another mountain near the people from Rock Hill City.
At a lower altitude, there was an underground stone cave and they were now resting there. From where they stood, they could catch a clear view of the other mountain clearly. If the people from Rock Hill City started a fire, they could see the smoke rising up above.
Qu Ce dragged a net full of chopped firewood back to their resting place. There was a wide hole under a flat boulder that led into the cave. When Qu Ce went in, he even had to bend his knees and lower his head to enter.
It looked very narrow on the outside, but it was much more spacious after entering.
It accommodated more than fifty people, and there was still some space for roasted meat and fresh fruits. They did not feel at all crowded when they were inside.
However, because it was an underground cave, there wasn’t much light coming in from the vent holes inside the cave. Their only reliable light source inside the cave was the Water Moon Stone.
“It’s so hot in here! I’m beat!” Qu Ce flung the bag full of firewood to one side and laid down on the ground to rest.
Qu Ce let out a relaxed long sigh as he laid down on the stone-cold floor inside the cave. He had been busy all morning and the refreshing coolness was really comfortable.
In contrast to the ever-rising temperature outside, it was much cooler inside the cave. In this kind of weather, it was easy for people to forget that it was actually supposed to be winter at this time of the year.
The people in the cave sat around Shao Xuan and paid no attention to Qu Ce. Their eyes watched closely as Shao Xuan’s hands moved. The younger ones in the team who were in the lower ranks couldn’t even squeeze in or get close to Shao Xuan at all. They could only try their best to hear what they were saying and piece together the rest. As they heard the people in the innermost circle talking, their ears itched with curiosity, but all they could do was wait idly on the side.
“Not finished yet?” Qu Ce asked the people who were pushed to the side. He was a young warrior of the Eight Limbs tribe.
“It should be done pretty soon,” the person said.
When Qu Ce went out to get firewood, someone brought back one of the traps laid by the slaves from Rock Hill City. Although it had been taken down, the trap still remained mostly intact. The only trouble they faced now were some complicated knots and structures. Many people wanted to separate the trap into parts and study it carefully, but they didn’t know where to start. Finally, Shao Xuan stood up and took over this matter.
At first glance, the trap was one that belonged in a thick grassy area. It had a bait and a lasso for catching. Some instruments attached were made of gold and looked like it was specifically designed to catch a certain prey.
What were the people in Rock Hill City trying to catch? The green-faced fanged beast!
Shao Xuan had already told everyone that Rock Hill City was looking for the green-faced fanged beast, but there were too many strange animals in the forest and it was hard for them to be sure which one it was. They hadn’t come across any animal that had a green face or fangs.
They had already been here for two days and yet they hadn’t met any slaves from Rock Hill City. They hadn’t even come across any beast that looked similar to the green-faced fanged beast. If they didn’t see the people from Rock Hill City settle down in the village, the other tribes naturally wouldn’t believe what Shao Xuan said. From what they saw, it even seemed like Rock Hill City was planning to stay for a long time.
Shao Xuan was telling the others about the green-faced fanged beast, but he only revealed the information they heard from the robber.
The other tribes knew for a fact that the Flaming Horns caught a robber.
The other tribes all knew about this. Therefore, they still believed part of what Shao Xuan said. However, he did not tell them what Rock Hill City could do with the beast if they had found one. The other four Flaming Horn members were also tight-lipped about that.
No matter what the truth was, if they wanted to know the objective of the slave masters in Rock Hill City, they had to figure out what they could do with the green-faced fanged beast. These tribesmen regarded the desert slave owners as their most threatening opponents, and Rock Hill City’s every move affected a nerve in their body.
So now, when Shao Xuan was dismantling the trap, several tribes gathered around. They knew that the Flaming Horns had more knowledge about trapping fierce beasts, so they were willing to wait for Shao Xuan’s explanation.
Shao Xuan looked at the trap that had just been completely dismantled and breathed out slowly, “Done!”
“How is it?” The people were eager for an answer.
Shao Xuan picked up a handful of green grass that was completely fixed into the trap, “This should be the favourite food of the green-faced fanged beast. That’s why Rock Hill City used this as a bait, and judging from the size of this trap, the beast is probably not large in size.”
After Shao Xuan got up, he said, “Its height is probably about this tall,” he made a gesture with his hands, roughly estimating the size of the beast.
According to Shao Xuan’s predictions, the green-faced fanged beast’s height probably was lower than their chest level. But of course, it could be taller. This was merely a guess they made according to the trap.
“It probably has horns around this spot.” Shao Xuan picked up a burnt branch and started to draw on the ground.
The drawing drawn by Robber Seven was too abstract and ambiguous. Even if it was exactly the same as the original, there was no way for them to figure out how the green-faced fanged beast looked from that drawing. Shao Xuan only gathered everything he knew about the beast and tried his best to draw according to what he knew.
The people who stood around Shao Xuan stretched their necks one by one as they stared with huge eyes completely focused on the drawing on the ground. It was like they were trying to make a copy of the drawing in their minds.
“Is it even accurate for us to make a guess purely based on a trap? Should we go take down another one of their traps to study?” Huang Ye suggested.
“Another one? That can’t work. The people from Rock Hill City will notice,” someone said hesitantly.
“Do you really think they don't know we’re here?” Shao Xuan threw away the branch in his hand and looked at the trap that had just been dismantled. “They might have purposely left this trap behind.”
“Purposely? Why would they do that? Did they change the trap just to fool us?” Huang Ye asked.
“Not at all. Instead, I think they would want us to find the beast.”
“Why do you reckon so?”
“Because they can't find it!”
The words “can’t find it” were deliberately accented by Shao Xuan.
The green-faced fanged beasts were indeed not easy to find, otherwise, the hunting team from the Flaming Horns would have found something already. The dispatched slaves were probably carefully chosen by Rock Hill City for this purpose. They even had robbers follow along. Even if the slaves did not notice them, the robbers must’ve sensed this bunch’s presence.
But even after they noticed Shao Xuan and the rest, they pretended not to see them. The two parties had not even come into contact, and yet a trap was set this close to them. If they said they had no other intentions, Shao Xuan wouldn’t even have believed them.
"So, the people from Rock Hill City didn’t come this way because they knew we’re here?” Gu Zhi murmured as he walked in circles. “That’s good too, everyone can mind their own business.”
“So, we should start looking for the green-faced fanged beast based on Elder Shao Xuan’s drawing,” Huang Ye said as he looked at Shao Xuan, “Does Elder Shao Xuan have anything to say to us?”
"Nothing much. Just make sure all of you are mentally prepared.” Shao Xuan said.
“What preparations?” The people in the cave looked at Shao Xuan.
"According to the situation Gu La had seen from the sky, the people from Rock Hill City had built houses and walls, and it looked like they had been preparing to stay for a long time."
They prepared to stay for a long time?”
There was a moment of silence in the cave.
The slaves from Rock Hill City could live in wooden houses, and yet, all they got was a cave?
“Why don't we build some houses too?” Huang Ye suggested.
The people of the Feather tribe had something to say, given the rare opportunity to express their opinion, “If we build the houses on the ground, it would be too obvious. Why don’t we build it on top of trees in the forest and disguise it so it wouldn’t be easily seen?”
“Then you guys build a house, we’ll go search for the beast first. We’ll see where we can find this kind of grass.” Huang Yee distributed the patch of grass that Shao Xuan handed over to him to everyone. Since the green-faced fanged beast liked eating this grass, then they just needed to find a place where this grass grew in abundance. Then the animal would definitely be there!
They split up and started working. Everyone in the cave left at once, leaving only a few injured people behind to guard the cave. If something went wrong, all they needed to do was sound a whistle.
Shao Xuan and his team of five walked together. Without the other tribes following, Duo Kang could finally speak comfortably.
"Shao Xuan, do we not have to worry about the others catching all the green-faced fanged beasts?” Duo Kang didn't like working with the other tribes and he didn't trust them.
“Let’s see if we can even find one first.” Only five members from the Flaming Horn tribe came, and since the others were all searching for the green-faced fanged beast, there was no need for them to hide anything because the most important thing at the moment was to make sure whether the beast really was here. If the green-faced fanged beast was really here, then the Flaming Horns would have more opportunities to find one in the future. This was their home anyways.
Duokang gave it some thought and said no more.
At first glance, the grass taken from the trap didn’t look any special, but when they took a closer look, they noticed a clear difference compared to the normal grass in the forest. The biggest difference was that it had a light fragrance that made it easier to tell apart from the other grass.
But the difficulty lied in the fact that there were too many similar types of grass growing in the forest, and it wouldn’t make any sense if they went to smell the fragrance of every bit of grass, right? What if some had poison?”
As experienced hunters, the five Flaming Horn members had great eyesight. Their eyesight was sharper than the others, but even after a day, they went back to the cave with only five blades of this grass. In that region of the forest, they searched for a day and could only find five. This type of grass was so rare that it was clear the probability of a green-faced fanged beast appearing here was very low.
“No hurry. We’ll just continue tomorrow,” Shao Xuan comforted them.
Outside, the people of the Feather tribe were working with good efficiency. They had already built small huts on the trees, each about ten square meters, covered with vines and branches. It was well disguised and not easily noticed.
However, compared to those huts, the five Flaming Horn members still preferred to live inside the stone cave.
Tonight, half of them were outside and half of them remained in the cave.
Compared to the others who suffered from insomnia, Shao Xuan slept very well that night and even had a dream.
update from DOGE:
henlo readers, just a quick announcement: the latest patreon tier has been released, you can now read up to 90 chaps in advance, compared to the previous 60 chaps. (also, check out the new novel i picked up, Breaking The Day)