Chapter 7 – Peculiar Fish
Translated by Sunyancai
Shao Xuan used the black half-sphere as a float and tied a stone worm to the end of a straw rope since there were no fishhooks and he could not find a stone hook as a replacement. If only there was a predatory fish inside the water that showed interest in stone worms!
In his last life, Shao Xuan used to fish with earthworms, and, not having met any earthworms in this life, he tried using stone worms instead. People in the tribe often said that creatures in that river were pretty ferocious and tough, so perhaps they wouldn’t mind the rough bait. Not to mention that Shao Xuan did not intend to catch a fish without a hook. He was only testing, and if there’s something in the water that would eat stone worms, he could make a proper stone hook tomorrow.
The stone worm was found by Caesar and temporarily tied to the end of a straw rope. It might escape after resisting some time in the water, but Shao Xuan could only try since he did not have enough tools. If it failed, then he would ask Caesar to find another stone worm.
The black half-sphere, which served as a hook, was tied on the straw rope and was about half a meter away from the stone worm. Shao Xuan did not plan to do his test in deep waters so, standing at the shoal, Shao Xuan tossed out the bait and the black half-sphere. Bearing the weight of the straw rope and the stone worm, the black half-sphere sank down a little, but still floated above the water. This let Shao Xuan know what might be happening under the surface based on his observation of the half-sphere.
The straw rope he had with him was less than five meters long, so Shao Xuan was very close to the place where he threw the stone worm. Standing by the water, Shao Xuan paid extra attention not to step into the water, so he would be able to quickly run away if any danger arose, or in case that something unexpected happened. There were warriors guarding the water, so he mapped out his escape route towards them.
As Shao Xuan did all the preparation, the two warriors guarding the riverside were rather curious about Shao Xuan’s mysterious objects. At first, they assumed that the kid must have wanted to jump in the river, so they were prepared to pull him out and toss him back to his cave. But Shao Xuan’s strange behavior shocked both of them, so they kept staring at Shao Xuan without approaching him after they exchanged knowing glances with each other.
“Caesar, you pull the rope when I give you the signal, okay?”
Shao Xuan put the other end of the rope in Caesar’s mouth and held the middle part himself.
Some time passed but all was quiet. Shao Xuan began thinking that maybe there were no fish near the bank, or that maybe none of the fish were interested in the stone worms?
However, before he could finish his thoughts, the black half-sphere sank suddenly.
The rope in Shao Xuan’s hand slipped quickly and he felt burning pain because of the friction. At that moment he grasped the rope tightly and shouted at Caesar for help, “Pull, Caesar!”
Though it all happened in a second, Shao Xuan still felt that the strength under water was far more than he could bear, and that was the reason why he asked Caesar for help. He was eager to see what exactly was biting below the surface.
Caesar bit hard on the straw rope and pulled backward. He had quite some experience in pulling, having pulled both people and rope.
The two warriors observing from afar tensed up, for they had never been in the water, and the most dangerous thing they had done involving the river, was them standing on the very edge and using its water to clean their animal skins. In the summertime, they had witnessed a giant water monster appear from the center of the river, and they had also heard a lot of horror stories about the river, passed down from former generations. So they, like everyone, had been keeping a cautious and dreadful attitude towards that river. Seeing that Shao Xuan was pulling something out from the river, they got extremely tense and feared that some giant creature might appear.
“Shall we go down there?” A warrior nudged his companion with his elbow.
“Eh…Let’s…Let’s go and have a look…” The other warrior hesitated for a while, but still gave a positive answer as if he had thought about something.
Wind was blowing above the water to the land, with moisture and a fishy smell in the air. It may be the smell of water or the creature beneath it, but it made the two warriors even more nervous.
Shao Xuan felt something pulling him in the water as it tried very hard to drag him into the river, while he and Caesar tried to drag it out. However, Shao Xuan was slightly better in strength and, step by step, had almost dragged the thing out of the water.
The thing biting the bait showed its figure, and the surface splashed due to its fierce struggle.
Shao Xuan held the rope tightly staring at the surface attentively when suddenly there was an image in the distance that flashed by his eyes. In it was something that had a big mouth with numerous tiny sharp teeth and bit towards Shao Xuan! Its mouth was so big that it could swallow Shao Xuan’s head but just as the image got near, it disappeared.
The flash was too quick and vanished before Shao Xuan could even react. He shook his head, thinking that perhaps it was an illusion caused by him being too nervous.
When the two warriors arrived at Shao Xuan’s side, the fish in the water had revealed its whole body. It was a fish with a peculiar appearance… Its head was two-thirds of its body and it was about half a meter in length in total. When it got dragged out of the water, it still bit the straw rope hard, with no intention of letting go.
“Don’t stop, and just keep pulling!” Seeing that the warriors were stunned and stood still with no inclination of helping, Shao Xuan told Caesar to continue pulling.
That was his first time pulling a fish. Aside from the surprise and vigilance of seeing an unknown object for the first time, Caesar quickly came back to his scenes and obeyed Shao Xuan’s command. Shao Xuan stopped pulling after some time when he was certain that the fish could not jump back into the water.
“Finally! Good boy, Caesar! …Caesar, let go!…Where are you taking that fish to?”
Caesar was still pulling the straw rope in his mouth, as he growled in a low voice through his throat. Obviously, the fish had made him vigilant resulting in him having some intention to fight it. He was pulling so devotedly that he continued his act and totally ignored the fact that Shao Xuan had released the rope already.
Caesar reluctantly let go at Shao Xuan’s repeated urging, and carefully approached the flapping fish, showing his teeth as if he was about to bite it.
It was only a few steps from where Shao Xuan was standing to the place the stone worm was floating in the water. It’s estimated that the water could not drown a person, yet unexpectedly, such a fierce fish found its habitat in such shallow waters.
It had a giant mouth filled with numerous tiny sharp teeth. Also, it was very persistent, biting hard on the bait and never letting go, as if it was trying to tear it apart. It still continued to flap its body and tail even though it was pulled out of the water.
One of the warriors used his bone spear to pierce the fish. He was very quick and strong, so his spear went through the fish and nailed it to the ground.
Only after the fish was pierced with the spear, did it opened its mouth and let go of the rope. It opened and closed its mouth constantly and tried to move its head as if it were trying to bite something else. After the straw rope was released, there were only pieces of the stone worm left, and the straw rope was almost gnawed apart.
Shao Xuan had made the straw rope with his own hands, so he knew that the straw rope was very tough and abrasion-resistant. He often used it to pull or bundle things but it was never broken. Surprisingly, it only took such a short while for the fish to break it.
When his eyes fell upon the giant open mouth of that peculiar fish, Shao Xuan was stunned.
The giant mouth was the most noticeable thing among its head, and one could see numerous tiny sharp fangs in it. The fish was born to bite and kill since it possessed a mouthful of teeth on such a scale. If it weren’t for Caesar’s help, Shao Xuan would never have been able to pull it to the shore with his own strength.
If there were many fish of this kind in shallow water, a person could be eaten to his bones if he slipped and fell into the river. It was only one of the many types of fish in that river, perhaps more dreadful creatures were also living in the river. No wonders even totem warriors in the tribe were reluctant to go into the river.
Shao Xuan couldn’t help but shudder at the thought that some kids in the tribe might slip into the water by mistake.
Also, the sudden image that flashed in his eyes when he pulled the rope seemed to be that of a giant mouth with tiny sharp teeth…
Shao Xuan stared at the giant mouth and he thought about the visions he saw on the stone wall in that remote village when he was living his last few minutes of his former life.
The warriors saw Shao Xuan staring at the fish and thought that he probably was too scared to go near the ferocious creature. This was Shao Xuan’s first time seeing a fish like that, but one of the warriors had actually seen it before.
“When my totem power had not awakened, I came to the riverbank with my father and we met such a creature. The Shaman said that it’s called ‘Fish’. The water is filled with dangerous creatures. In our tribe, some woman’s arm got ripped off when she was washing animal skins. My father stabbed one to death at that time.”
The warrior glanced at Shao Xuan as he spoke, he did not think that a kid like Shao Xuan could pull out such a dangerous fish without even getting into the water. In old times, his father risked his life to go into the waters and save that woman from being eaten alive. Sadly, she still lost her arm by the time she was rescued. For a long time after that accident, women in the tribe would never come to the riverside to wash animal skins. They would only come here unless they had no alternative but to come, like when the weather was too dry and the stream in the hills got too narrow for people to drain water.
When Shao Xuan came back to himself, the fish was already dead. The warrior pulled out his spear and took the fish down. He handed the fish over to Shao Xuan, by lifting its tail.
“Here, it’s your prey. Good for you! You will grow into a fine warrior!” The warrior added after thinking, “But in the future, you should not go near to the river, because aside from fish, there is other stuff inside, and you can’t be lucky every time.”
However, about half an hour later, Shao Xuan, who “can’t be lucky every time”, pulled out an even bigger fish with the same method.
The two warriors were speechless , “…”