Chapter 12 – Beat them up
Translated by Sunyancai
It was indeed a sunny day today.
The surface of the river was quite calm and quiet. A few days earlier, wind would blow up light waves that washed against the shore. However, there was no such scene today, for there was no wind at all.
It’s too calm, weirdly calm.
The water was the opposite of clear. At the shore it was fine, but a meter away from the shore where the water was deeper, no one could see the situation down there.
In such a dangerous world where no common sense could be applied to, even the slightest detailed risk could not be ignored or underestimated. Ignorance led to death. For what’s worse, just like the black swamp, the river was originally regarded as a high risk zone by people in the tribe. All the fishing in the past few days did not mean that it was safe.
Seeing Shao Xuan acted like that, all the kids got puzzled but still they stopped what they were doing and stepped backwards, even though one minute earlier they were very excited. Yes, they were voracious and no one would describe them as smart kids. But they were not stupid and every one of them cherished their lives. Also, Shao Xuan had earned their trust after all these days’ leadership, so they all stared at Shao Xuan for his further command after they stepped back.
Shao Xuan stood at the bank, thinking as he looked at the quiet waters.
The surface was still calm, and aside from that, it was just like another normal day. The water did not change its color and nothing suspicious could be observed.
Was he just being paranoid?
Suddenly, some white translucent creatures appeared in front of Shao Xuan. They were similar to some upside-down shuttlecocks, with lots of whisker-like tentacles. And they move as the tentacles swayed.
Judging from former experiences, Shao Xuan learnt that such circumstances do not appear for no reason. There should be that kind of creatures in the water, and they are supposed to be very dangerous.
Shao Xuan grasped a straw rope with a stone worm tied on its end, and tossed it into the river. It dropped at a spot that was less than two meters away from the bank. However, from the other end of the straw rope he held in his hands, Shao Xuan did not sense any intense struggle like a piranha taking the bait.
The black float was vibrating gently. One would assume that it came from the stone worm’s struggle if not observing carefully. But Shao Xuan was very familiar with the stone worms’ struggle beneath the water since he had quite some experiences in fishing. The truth now was that, the vibration amplitude of the black float on the surface was slightly smaller than before, and it had a trend of getting smaller and smaller.
Shao Xuan pulled back the straw rope, and every whelp got around together as the stone worm revealed itself.
The stone worm did not get bitten, but its whole body turned pale. It shrank to some extent and remained the stiff twisted posture as it was dropped into the water.
Placing the changed stone worm on the ground, Shao Xuan used the back of his stone knife to strike on its body.
After a slight sharp snap, the stone worm was broken into pieces as if it was made of glass. It had no more the soft body as before.
All the whelps standing aside began to feel extreme terror. Would a person turn dry and crisp if he were in the river?
No one dared to try, and they moved away without the slightest intention to touch the water.
Shao Xuan tossed another few stone worms down the water, and every time it was the same result. Only after a few seconds, a lively stone worm would become a crisp dried worm, and no fish would take the bait no matter how long it had been placed in the water.
“Either the fish have no interest in dried worms, or there is no fish nearby at all! Perhaps all the fish has run away since something dreadful is in the water. I guess they will only return after that kind of creature leaves.” Shao Xuan took back the straw rope and analyzed.
“Then… when will the fish return?” asked a kid. Now kids from the cave did not fear that ferocious-looking piranhas, instead, they look forward seeing them, and piranhas were missed dearly even with only one day’s absence.
“Not sure. We’ll come back and check tomorrow.” Shao Xuan shook his head and he even went to the guarding warriors and explained the situation, to warn them that they should pay extra attention to keep people in the tribe from going into the river. Also, he left a dried stone worm so that they could review on it.
“Let’s go back. We shall weave more straw rope for next time’s fishing.” Shao Xuan advised. The consumption of straw rope was quite large, for normal straw rope had bad qualities so it would break only after a few times’ fishing. Since they could not go fishing today, Shao Xuan asked them to collect enough grass and sit in the cave to weave straw ropes.
Even though seeing that dried stone worm made the kids terrified, their hearts were filled more with reluctance and unwillingness.
How many fish could they have captured if it were just another fishing day today? At least four! They could have gotten more, if Caesar had dug out more stone worms. For the sake of their own lives, fishing was no longer an option for today. According to Ah-Xuan’s words, they should come back and check tomorrow. But what if tomorrow was no different than today? And what would happen the day after tomorrow? Then what would happen ever after? What if they could never go fishing?
It was too scary to even think about it.
The children in the cave were anxious, and their minds were wandering even when they were physically weaving straw ropes in the cave.
Shao Xuan sat at the entrance of the cave, rethinking about the creature he “saw” earlier as he bathed himself in the sunlight. Incidentally he would think about the coming winter.
That day, many people got driven back by the guarding warriors when they tried to go fishing at the river.
A few days earlier, residents in mountain foot area noticed that the children in orphan cave became diligent. In the past, they would simply sleep, eat, and occasionally go rob some things. However, now everyday they went out and they would only return from the riverside in the afternoons when food was supposed to be distributed. Also, every time when they returned, they had dragged back some arm-length odd fish with a giant head and numerous mouthful sharp tiny teeth, tied with straw rope.
Men with curiosity followed them and wanted to learn the skills of fishing. However, first of all it was difficult for them to dig out stone worms, and with the lack of alternative bait, it was pretty hard for them to capture a fish with merely a straw rope. Secondly, even if they had dug out stone worms, or they had used some other things as bait, it was still difficult for them to capture a fish as easily as Shao Xuan and his companions. Sometimes, the things they fished out were alien and strange and one could get his body swollen like a ham with a single touch.
Finally, those men noticed that Shao Xuan was using some black thing that could float above the water surface, and that black float was the only thing that Shao Xuan had yet they didn’t possess. Indeed, the harvest was not ideal when one did not use that equipment.
Shao Xuan had actually analyzed why that happened. Those piranhas probably didn’t like to live in the bottom of the river, while the straw rope with a bait tended to sink under the water. Stone worms, on the other hand, would easily flee once they touched dirt and rocks from the bottom. Those two factors added up to the result of a bad harvest.
These days, Shao Xuan asked Caesar to catch more of those worms from the black swamp, and obtained more black floats. He used them to trade for some meat and animal skins. The meat was not much and he shared it with kids in the cave the day he got it back. As for the animal skins, although it was not fine in the quality, it could absolutely make the coming winter less harsh for them.
Because of that, aside from the kids from the cave, the residents in the mountain-foot district who had no hunting missions were also fishing tirelessly. No one would complain for too much food. Winter was coming and man could only feel at ease when he had enough food stored.
However, everyone was disappointed today.
Shao Xuan sighed at another group of people returning from the riverside, upset and unsatisfied.
Unexpectedly, Caesar, who was lying beside, suddenly stood up and stared at one direction.
Shao Xuan looked at that direction.
About twenty meters away from the entrance of the cave, there were some giant stones. Normally if the weather was fine, kids would lie there and bath in the sunlight. However, now few would go because they were kept busy all day long. At this time, no one was supposed to be on the stones, but Shao Xuan observed that someone was there, for a little bit of animal skin was exposed at the edge of it.
Even based on the little part of animal skin, Shao Xuan had recognized that it was Sai, who used to rob away Shao Xuan’s things and once got beaten up by Shao Xuan at the training ground. Usually Ye and Zhan would follow Sai everywhere, they also came today.
The day before yesterday when Shao Xuan was taking Caesar to catch worms in the black swamp, these three kids blocked Shao Xuan at the gravel yard to rob him of the black floats. They fought but at that time, kids from the cave also came so Sai and his companions quickly ran away. Perhaps the three of them did not give up, and they thought they could steal something in here.
They dared not rob the fish, because there was a clear rule in the tribe that no one should take the food in orphan cave, however, the fishing equipment did not belong to the “food” category.
Shao Xuan touched his jaw. He tapped on Caesar and told him to wait, while he turned around and entered the cave.
“Hey, you all!” Shao Xuan shouted out at the kids in the cave, “Lately you have all behaved pretty well, and we captured lots of fish, which is good! If the situation continues, we will not suffer from starvation this winter, with all the food from the tribe. But, what shall we do if now someone wants to come down here and rob our things?”
The eyes of the kids were lit up when they heard Shao Xuan’s voice, for they thought it was time to go fishing. However, when they realized it was not about fishing, the enthusiasm quickly cooled down. But, all emotions were replaced by anger when they understood what Shao Xuan was implying.
Beat them up!!
No fish and they only want to rob the fishing equipment?
That’s also a No!!
What’s the meaning of “steal”? Oh… you say that taking without informing is called “steal”? That’s basically the same as “rob”?! Beat them up hard!!
Shao Xuan had said before, that to those little whelps, “eat” must be the most beautiful word in the world. Food is the specific interpretation of that word. They would fight with full spirit with whoever that wanted to rob away their food. Taking their food equaled to taking their most treasured thing.
At that time, Sai with his two minions were just discussing how they planned to take some black floats when no one was watching and then leave quietly. The discussion was heating up when Caesar jumped down out of nowhere and pounced on them.
It was so sudden, that these three could only jump away out of reflex, quite terrified.
Sai’s heart raced with the shock as he stared at Caesar with a stick tightly held in his hands. He was still afraid but he decided to swing the stick as long as the wolf took one step forward.
Thinking too attentively, Sai did not notice the surroundings, until Ye and Zhan poked at him.
“What are you poking for? Didn’t you see me…”
Sai turned and roared, but before he could finish his words, he finally looked along Ye and Zhan’s sights, and saw those dozens of whelps standing at the entrance of the cave, with sticks and rocks in their hands, and fierce anger flashing in their eyes.