Amidst the sparse forest, all sorts of roars and splitting cries from beasts and humans could be heard.
The bloody stench filled the air and spread as the wind carried it. Some bloodthirsty animals rushed here immediately upon smelling the blood. If it wasn’t because the fight was too intense, they would’ve rushed over to fight for the food as soon as they smelled the blood.
The scavenger birds were already hovering overhead and creaked loud noises telling those on the ground to hurry up.
The ground quivered after a cry of terror was heard. The sound of branches splitting and trees falling ceased.
A few impatient scavenger birds dived down for the food but they were immediately smashed to death by a bloody hammer even before they reached the ground. Broken feathers floated down from the sky.
Some of the other scavenger birds noticed what had happened to the other birds and could only cry out in fear as they stayed far away from the bloody scene.
A group of warriors walked out from the forest. Their bodies were stained with blood. Some of the blood belonged to fearsome beasts while others flowed from their own wounds.
This was one team that came with the Flaming Horns. Under the Flaming Horn’s lead, these people who had never been in a fearsome beast forest slowly learned to adapt. They weren’t afraid or frightened at the sight of fearsome beasts anymore. All the doubt and worry in their faces had vanished. What replaced it was a bloody murderous expression, ready to kill at any moment.
Abuli wiped the blood from the side of his eyes. He leaned on a tree as he panted heavily.
Hunting fearsome beasts required a lot of physical strength and mental tactics. There was no time for rest, so of course it was tiring. Every time they successfully hunted a fearsome beast, they felt like they had exhausted a year’s worth of energy. However, despite the wounds and energy drain and the fact that they almost lost their lives a couple times, the feeling was extraordinary after they had adapted to the hunt.
Abuli looked down at his arms. His sleeves were torn and tattered and a huge portion of his arms were exposed. Bloody marks and scars tainted his arms. Some were new wounds that were still freshly stained with blood while others had scabbed.
Totemic warriors recovered very quickly and wounds caused by typical wild beasts could heal instantly. It wouldn’t even leave any scars behind. Even those who were weak could recover and heal over time, but wounds caused by fearsome beasts were different. These wouldn’t heal as fast and some scars would last up to ten years or even a lifetime.
Abuli wasn’t sure how long the wounds on his arm would stay and he didn’t wish for these scars to disappear. It would be best if they stayed until he died. This was like his medal!
Look! These were wounds caused by fearsome beasts during a hunt!
In the Zhi tribe, besides those who came with him this time, who else would have had a chance to get such scars?!
Upon this thought, Abuli noticed that his back had straightened and the shrunken feelings he felt from timidity also disappeared. Before, whenever they were faced against a strong tribe, Abuli would feel his head lower instinctively and immediately sense a difference in his energy and emotions. It wasn’t a height difference. His lack of courage and cowardice made him shrink. But now...
Abuli turned his arm and looked at it closely. He clenched his fists and watched the muscles on his arms contract as he flexed. “I feel so energetic!”
Lu Zhai, the Thunder Mountain chief, looked over at Abuli and spat on the ground. He rotated his shoulder joints. His arm was a lot thicker than Abuli’s legs and he was always in the front when they hunted. He didn’t know why such a timid chief like Abuli was so proud of himself. His scrawny build and bean-sprout like arms were nothing to be proud of, not to speak of how he hid at the back of the team whenever there was a fight. All he did was launch a few attacks in some critical moments.
That’s all just a psychological effect!
Carrying the scavenger bird he killed with his stone hammer on his shoulders, Lu Zhai dragged another fearsome beast by its claws as he walked with the others to a resting station nearby.
Lu Zhai could understand how Abuli felt at the moment. Lu Zhai was also very excited since this was his first time in a fearsome beast forest. When he first started hunting here, his arms were injured and some bones even fractured, but hearing the cracks in his bones and feeling the pain spread from his arm up to his body felt all too good!
His confidence, ambition, and desires grew after each success in his hunt for fearsome beasts. He could feel his energy growing fiercer and his eyes still glinted with the same murderous brutality he used during his hunts.
The heavy breathing sounds of those who were dragging the fearsome beasts woke Abuli up from his narcissistic fantasy.
“Do you need help?” Abuli walked over.
“I’m alright,” Lu Zhai waved his hand impatiently, a gesture of annoyance. He was trying to tell Abuli to move aside.
When the hunters finally arrived at the cave that was their resting station, Shao Xuan also returned with some medicinal herbs. He handed these herbs and Gui Ze’s pills to those who were injured.
“How is the game today?” Shao Xuan asked the people who just arrived after he checked on those who were injured.
“It’s alright,” Lu Zhai said as he sat down to rest on a rock.
Shao Xuan glanced over at the Thunder Mountain warrior behind Lu Zhai. The person was badly injured and he had new injuries every time he came back for the past few days. This wasn’t because he wasn’t capable. Rather, he was trying very hard.
“You really put in a lot of effort,” Shao Xuan said.
Lu Zhai followed Shao Xuan’s gaze and turned over to look. He hesitated for a moment and replied,” Oh, you mean Chang Di? We have to try our best, don’t we?”
After a sigh, Lu Zhai continued, “You guys should know that our tribe already lost a few people. Three of these were children who haven’t even awakened to their totemic power. One of the children was Chang Di’s son. Back then, Chang Di was merely bringing his son to practice hunting. He only looked away for a moment, and his child was gone. He heard some sounds then and ran after them immediately, but he was too late. We tried to help him search for his son, but we couldn’t find him.”
Shao Xuan knew about the Thunder Mountain tribe’s cases as well as the people they lost. The Flaming Horn tribe even sent out people to help search for these individuals as soon as they were notified, but they haven’t found any useful clues.
The slave masters were an experienced group and they could vanish as soon as they kidnapped the people they needed. It was very difficult to trace them. Shao Xuan even sent a letter to the Longboat tribesmen to ask them to help keep an eye for these people out at sea. If they were to notice any suspicious ships heading for the other side and some tribesmen were on those ships, Shao Xuan told them that they must try their best to hold the ship back.
“Actually, after we found out that it might be the other side’s doing, Chang Di already told me that he wanted to leave for the other side. That is the only way we can look for those who were kidnapped. But if we really want to go there, we need to become stronger first. That’s why Chang Di has been trying his best on this hunt.”
Even though the Thunder Mountain tribe didn’t have a large population, they still had to pay a huge price if they wanted to go to the other side. Even if Lu Zhai had such thoughts, there was no way he could make it happen. Compared to those who were already kidnapped, the people who were still in the tribe were more important to him.
That was why Lu Zhai could only sigh when he brought up Chang Di’s story. The other tribes were all the same, or else they wouldn’t have come all the way here to seek the Flaming Horn’s help.
“(Sigh), I’m also worried about my Zhi tribesmen being kidnapped. We have even fewer people in our tribe compared to the Thunder Mountain tribe,” Abuli said as he leaned over.
“You have no need to worry. As long as you’re with me, those people would definitely set their eyes on me and not you. Beside children, their secondary targets are strong warriors,” Lu Zhai said.
“I’m strong too!” Abuli said in disagreement.
Lu Zhai was silent. All he did was flex his arms and Abuli became speechless.
After a moment of silence, Abuli said, “Since those people are looking for strong warriors, why didn’t they target the Flaming Horns?” He didn’t hear about the Flaming Horns losing any members.
“Because they’re afraid!” Lu Zhai said in a deep voice. Besides responding to Abuli’s question, he was also telling himself, “Those people don’t want to provoke any strong tribes, so all they can do now is make a move on us, the smaller tribes.” This was why he agreed to join the alliance as soon as he heard the Flaming Horn’s announcement.
Since they were too weak alone, wouldn’t they become stronger if they joined arms? Then, would those people still dare to kidnap their people?
Abuli opened his mouth but he couldn’t think of what to say.
Well, it was true, wasn’t it? The Flaming Horn tribe was a huge tribe. Any expedition teams that had been to the trading point knew this. Clearly, not many people dared to lay a finger on the Flaming Horn tribe. The Flaming Horns were larger and stronger than most tribes, so people feared them. Abuli already felt the numerous hardships in life after a few days of hunting in the forest. As for the Flaming Horns? Hunting fearsome beasts was as common as eating. They were already used to this life.
Even if their way of living was hunting, the way the Flaming Horns hunted wasn’t something that anyone could do. Each tribe had their own unique fire seed. The Flaming Horn’s success wasn’t something they could copy, and even if they could, they didn’t have the time. The only way to solve the problem they were facing was something like joining an alliance.
As they talked about the people who had been kidnapped, the excitement from their successful hunts during the day also faded. Chang Di appeared even more depressed behind Lu Zhai, sharpening his blade now with a much stronger force than before.
The people who were in charge of keeping watch stood outside and guarded the cave while the others rested in the cave.
At night, the roars of fearsome beasts were heard every once a while, but compared to the denser parts of the forest, this part was already very quiet.
For the first few nights, these warriors couldn’t sleep at all. Even if they were exhausted, they forced their eyes to stay open and stayed as vigilant as they could. The roars outside made them feel uneasy. However, as the days passed, they slowly got used to the atmosphere in the forest. After a day of intense hunting, they were all tired. That night, they all slept well, at least better than the past few days.
A cooing sound came from a direction not far away from them.
Shao Xuan opened his eyes as he listened to the movements outside closely. It wasn’t a bird. It was a human! Those sounds might’ve tricked the other tribesmen in the cave, but it couldn’t trick the Flaming Horns! They were experts at using such sounds to deliver messages.
Suddenly, someone outside the cave shouted, “Chang Di is missing!”
Lu Zhai woke up as soon as he heard this. His expression tightened and he turned to rush out of the cave. The other Thunder Mountain people who woke up also got ready and prepared to run outside.
“Go back inside!” Lu Zhai roared loudly at the other Thunder Mountain tribesmen who wanted to leave the cave. The forest was extremely dangerous at night. They already learned about this after being here for a few days. He did not want any other Thunder Mountain tribesmen to risk their lives following him.
Lu Zhai lifted his hammer and sped out in the direction of the entrance. As soon as he set foot on the ground outside, he was immediately lifted off the ground and thrown back into the cave, “Go back inside!”
Lu Zhai was silent after he was thrown back into the cave by someone so effortlessly.
The other Thunder Mountain tribesmen were all silent.
After Shao Xuan threw Lu Zhai back into the cave, he didn’t turn back to see their expressions. He hopped onto Caesar’s back and said, “Let’s go find him.”
Chang Di was keeping watch that night. He wouldn’t disappear for no reason. The cooing sounds they heard from moments ago must be the same sounds he heard before his son went missing.
If these people were indeed the slave masters who kidnapped those kids, why would they be here? Did they follow the team here? Or did they come here for something else? Shao Xuan was curious.