Hunting a beastman went like this: Two or three of the hunters would transform into their beast forms. They would pounce on the hunted, and tear at him and wrap around him, forcing him to turn into a beast and cutting off his retreat. Meanwhile, the rest of the beastmen would only transform into half-beasts. One hand would turn into a beast claw, while the other would hold onto a weapon. Their legs would also turn into half-beast legs, keeping them upright while having the explosive power of a fierce beast. They would use their sharp swords and claws to end the life of the person being ambushed while their companions were entangling with him.
Hua Yi was very aware of this process. In his long career as a fugitive and as a mercenary, he had experienced thousands of such ambushes.
He was skilled and very experienced in dealing with such things.
Hua Yi knew that as long as he was keen enough to maintain his speed, it would be difficult for the half-beasts to catch up with the giant beasts that had fully transformed. It was very easy to divide the little hunting team into two groups. As long as he seized that opportunity, he could rely on the restricted space of the dense forest to take them out one by one.
Although Hua Yi had been exhausted from the endless pestering of such small fry for days, it was actually nothing to him. Mercenaries risked their lives for money. Since he still had the strength to run and to shake off those people pursuing him without having to play with his life, then the mission this time couldn’t be considered dangerous.
However, Hua Yi really wanted to accomplish it, for the reward of this mission was very important to him—He needed to get that person’s help. Hua Yi had already squeezed his patience to the limit from waiting to personally tear open his good second brother’s neck and have a taste of revenge.
This was just the first step in his revenge.
Hua Yi easily shrugged off the three or four giant beasts that were pestering him, and darted deeper into the dense forest. The giant beasts instinctively ran ahead, and in a mere moment, the whole team was divided into two distinct groups.
Hua Yi suddenly leaped up high and stepped on a tree trunk. The snow-white giant beast spun nimbly in the air and bit the neck of a fully transformed beastman who had been running ahead.
That man hadn’t even been able to utter a sound when two bloody holes appeared on his neck. When the two of them fell to the ground, the beastman in Hua Yi’s mouth had already stopped breathing.
Hua Yi’s face was stained with lines of blood, which he didn’t even care to wipe as he lunged at the second beastman.
However, that man turned around and ran without the slightest hesitation. After Hua Yi stepped forward, he immediately realized that something was wrong, but it was already too late.
An arrow broke through the air with a sharp sound. Hua Yi rolled away on the spot and felt the arrow graze his back as it shot to the ground. He looked back in a hurry, and his heart sank.
The tip of the arrow had a very unusual dismal green color.
“How could those birdmen mix in? How annoying!” Hua Yi cursed inwardly, but he didn’t dare delay. He turned around and ran forward.
When beastmen transformed into their giant beast forms, they had similar appearances. Generally, the adult beastmen were like big lions, but a bit bigger than real lions. Measuring from head to tail, they could be more than a zhang long. When they were on all fours, they were basically as tall as a beastman in human form. They mostly looked like lions, but they were also a few of them that were like tigers, with sharp claws and fangs. After transforming into their beast forms, the fiercest beastman warriors in a tribe usually grew more than half a foot long of sharp fangs, which could crush an animal’s skull in the blink of an eye.
In the wetlands of the Far North, there was a very particular kind of beastman. Their beast bodies were like birds, and they had a pair of wings on their backs. They were not known for fighting and were very mysterious. Outsiders could rarely find the tribes they lived in. And the most troublesome thing was that, although their fangs and claws were inferior to other beastmen, these winged beastmen could fly. They were also very good at making poison and doing sneak attacks, making it impossible to defend against them.
Hua Yi had only seen the green thing on the arrow tip once, but he knew that it was a very potent poison. Once touched by it a little, one would be paralyzed all over within ten steps. The toxicity will take a day and a night to subside, but if the dose was larger, the poisoned person would be suffocated alive from being unable to breathe.
Hua Yi didn’t know if they intended to suffocate him to death or to capture him alive.
The sound of wings flapping came. Hua Yi quickly got out of the way when the big bird in the sky swooped at him. He leapt forward three zhang, dodging a volley of poisoned arrows, and then swatted away the bold winged beastman with a claw as he let out a warning growl in his throat.
However, that flat-feathered animal wasn’t moved in the least, as if he had come seeking death. As he flapped his stinking feathers at Hua Yi’s body, the sound of footsteps in the forest grew closer and closer.
If he hadn’t been caught in a pinch, Hua Yi wouldn’t have been willing to clash head-on with these unfathomable winged beastmen. But right now, it seemed that a confrontation was unavoidable.
He suddenly jumped up, and the large bird was taken aback, as if it hadn’t expected a land beastman to be able to jump so high. His wings flapped at once, probably wanting to fly into the sky, but it was too late. The next moment, a sharp, throbbing pain shot through the large bird’s neck. Before he knew it, his body and head had separated.
Hua Yi bit the winged beastman to death, but immediately after, he knew he had made a mistake.
He spit out the bird’s head with a pei1A spitting sound[/mfn, then felt an indescribable numbness on his mouth, then on his, face, neck, and slowly around his entire body
This damned chicken feather people. Even their blood has poison!
Hua Yi clearly felt his heartbeat getting slower and slower, and his body getting more and more unresponsive. Although he remained calm, there was nothing he could do.
The next moment, the miserable, panting, snow white giant beast disappeared, and the figure of a man appeared in its place. His forehead was covered with cold sweat. When he stood up, his knees went weak and he almost fell. The man barely managed to hold himself up, his chest heaving violently. He staggered to lean against a big tree, but his face still showed a leisurely smile.
The poison irritated the wound on his chest, and it itched a bit. Hua Yi coughed lowly a few times, and smiled at the people coming out of the dense forest. “I didn’t expect the winged clan to also stir into this muddy water. Really scared me to death.”
Several people came out from the forest. The first one was in human form, and there were three or four land beastmen around him. There was also a winged beastman in bird form that was perched on a branch very close to Hua Yi. They didn’t even glance at their companion who was split into half on the ground, as if the unlucky man had only come out just to paralyze Hua Yi with his corpse.
The leader of the group was similar in stature to an ordinary beastman, except for his head which was so small that it was out of proportion. Perhaps the head of an immature little girl was even a bit bigger than his. His voice was also very special. It was as if he was singing with some kind of soft rhythm— These physical traits showed that he was also a winged clansman.
The man said softly, “Since you know you’re afraid, what do you say about just handing over the stuff so we can all save some effort?”
His voice was soft, but his outstretched hand was anything but soft. The tips of his five fingers were unnaturally hooked up like chicken claws, and the nails glinted with a cold light. No one would doubt that it could easily penetrate through a person’s chest.
At this time, Hua Yi’s tongue was stiff. Each word was very difficult to say, but he still calmly showed his signature honest smile. “I’m just a lone traveler on the road, what do you want me to hand over? Could it be you’re trying to rob me of my food?”
The winged beastman sneered and said, “Silver Fang, I respect you for being an excellent man1英雄 (yīng xióng) – Literal translation would be “hero,” but it sounds odd to use on Hua Yi, who is a mercenary. A yingxiong refers to a person who has excellent character and has made achievements that surpass ordinary people. (Wikipedia). Stop acting dumb.”
Hua Yi held his forehead, sighed as he shook his head, and said, “Since you know who I am, don’t you know that, although I am not a good thing, I still have a few good brothers. If I had taken on that job, then wouldn’t I have gone on the road with them? Would I have separated from them to make it convenient for you guys to rob?”
The winged beastman was unmoved. “You separated from them because they’re all decoys.”
Hua Yi looked at him for a while, as if he couldn’t believe that there were such a stupid person in the world. He said, “People all over the world would think that the stuff is on me, so why should I still bring it with me? To wait for you guys to grab it?”
The winged beastman frowned, and for a moment, he actually felt that Hua Yi had a point. However, this guy was too cunning, and he had to be cautious.
“Alright, if you don’t believe me, you can come over and search me… I have no problem taking off the clothes myself.” Saying so, Hua Yi really slowly took off his clothes. His gaze fell on the group of burly beastmen before him, and he immediately frowned again. He said, “Today’s just my luck. I’m putting in so much effort to take it off cleanly, but in the end, who can I show it to? There is no beauty…”
A blade on his neck stopped Hua Yi’s words. A beastman stepped up at their leader’s gesture, and glared at Hua Yi fiercely. “Don’t play tricks. Take your hands out, and we’ll search for it.”
Hua Yi raised his hands, which looked a little shaky because of his powerlessness, and he looked at them innocently.
The winged beastman leader came over. His sharp nails slowly raked across Hua Yi’s naked chest, and in that singsong voice that gave people goosebumps, he said, “To be able to stand until now, you’re sure not bad.”
Hua Yi blinked at him, his expression becoming more and more naive and innocent.
The beastman who had a blade against him sneered and pulled the cloth bag out of his arms.
Hua Yi said anxiously, “Hey, don’t dirty my sprouted wheat steamed bun…”
He surprisingly really showed an anxious look. The winged beastman dumped all his junk inside the bag onto the ground, and turned them over with his foot without a care. But seeing Hua Yi’s eyes, he suddenly paused and bent down to pick up the sprouted wheat bun that had been stained with mud. He sneered, “Steamed bun?”
The winged beastman squeezed open the already cold and hard bun, and it immediately broke in the middle. A hollow sound came out from inside. The small-headed, big-bodied birdman laughed and said in a low voice, “Yo, is it still a steamed bun when it has no stuffing…”
A light flashed across Hua Yi’s eyes.
The moment the winged beastman completely pried open the steamed bun, a burst of grey smoke suddenly gushed out from inside, instantly confusing his eyes. At the same time, Hua Yi used the strength he had gathered with difficulty during the conversation to turn his hand into a beast claw. Before the beastman with the blade against his neck could react, Hua Yi grabbed him by the neck. After that, he easily pulled out the blade in his hand and cleanly cut the neck of the winged beastman leader.
He didn’t hesitate at all. After killing the two, he immediately retreated. Borrowing the support of the big tree, he tried to get into the forest.
It was only then that roars rang out from behind him. Those several giant beasts that hadn’t reacted roared in anger. One of them pounced on Hua Yi from behind.
Hua Yi had calculated his retreat, but his legs were too soft. This time, he tripped over the roots of a tree. With little feeling in his limbs, he was now relying on his breath to hold on. His life was in danger.
Hua Yi’s vision went black for a moment after the fall, and his heart tensed—Darn it!
However, the expected enemy didn’t come. Hua Yi only heard some strange sounds, as if someone had pulled out a very large weapon. With a shaa, the weapon let out a subtle cry, and followed by the sound of a sharp blade passing through flesh and bones, hot blood was sprayed on Hua Yi’s back.
He looked back in shock, and to his surprise, he saw the teenage sub-beast he thought he had shaken off!
Chang An was carrying a saber with a length that was about twice his height. It had a thick, black iron hilt, and a blade as bright as snow.
The teenager suddenly turned his wrist away, and the body of the giant beast that nearly smashed Hua Yi was like roast meat on a tree branch that was thrown out. He rolled a few feet away before landing on the ground with a thud.
It was only then that a drop of blood on the horse-chopping saber* slid along the line of the blade and fell to the ground.
*Putting this translator note in a paragraph of its own because it’s quite long…
斩马刀 (zhǎnmǎdāo) – Although I’ve been using “horse-chopping saber” early on, this is the first time the term actually appears in the raws. The horse-chopping saber is an anti-cavalry saber that is so named for killing horses on the battlefield. It’s a two-handed weapon that measures 6+ feet in length (including hilt). It’s a long weapon, but not literally “twice Chang An’s height,” coz that would imply Chang An is only around 3 ft lmao.
The zhanmadao is the specific name of Chang An’s weapon, and it’s confusing because the author often refers to his saber as a 马刀 (mǎdāo). The 马 (mǎ) character in both words mean “horse.” In madao, the word is literally “horse+blade/saber.” Hence, madao refers to the family of sabers that you can use while on horseback (which is why I translate it as cavalry saber.)
In zhanmadao, however, the addition of the character 斩 (zhǎn), which means “to behead,” would make the entire word mean “behead horse saber.” Hence, “horse-chopping saber.” It makes no sense for a zhanmadao to also be a madao. Maybe because the last two characters in zhanmadao are the same as in madao that the author thought of using the latter as a shortcut to refer to the former. However, upon translating, that nuance is lost, and calling Chang An’s humongous weapon as a cavalry weapon is just awkward. And so I’ve decided that whenever the term 马刀 appears to refer to Chang An’s weapon, I will translate it as just “horse-chopping saber” or simply “saber.”