The Black Eagle tribe made a wise choice and joined the Giant Mountain tribe. The day after they returned to Giant Mountain tribe, Luo Tong’s sickly son took the medicine that Hua Yi brought and really turned into a lively, little beastman. Keeping his promise, Luo Tong immediately announced that he would give the Chief’s tent to Hua Yi. From then on, this big tribe would be his home.
This news came as no surprise. It hadn’t been two days since Chief Luo Tong made a deal with Silver Fang.
All those who were instigated by the Great Elder were dissatisfied, while the others thought that, since Chief Luo Tong had said it, he shouldn’t go back on his word. Otherwise, he really ought to be replaced as the Chief. Besides, most of the people had heard of the mercenaries. The traveling merchants spoke of them as if they were gods. They must be capable people. Maybe having one as Chief would make their tribe stronger and richer.
Thus, Hua Yi’s ten-year life as a fugitive finally came to an end. Suddenly, he had a group of brothers, a home, as well as a tribe… albeit not the one where he was born and had grown up in.
The celebration came as it should. On one hand, it was to congratulate the new Chief, and on the other, it was to welcome the new members.
On that day, all the men, women, children, and elderly of the entire tribe came out, just like during the Autumn Hunting Festival. Chang An was sleeping soundly in the tent Hua Yi had arranged for him when he was awakened and dragged away by Suo Laimu, who had unexpectedly barged in.
But before he could even rub his eyes open, Suo Laimu hurriedly let him go and said, “Aiyo, I haven’t informed the Tree God yet about such a big thing!”
After saying this, Suo Laimu rushed out without a thought. With one hand holding onto his crooked top hat, he scrambled over to a big tree. He took out a roll of incense from his sleeves as if by magic, and inserted a row of them into the ground. Then he twisted his body for a while as if he were having a cramp, and began to mutter some mumble-jumbles. And then finally, he knelt down respectfully, put his hands together, and really began to chant words of worship to the big tree.
Chang An, who was left under the sun, didn’t know what to say about it.
Suo Laimu was so absorbed in his worship that his face, which looked like it hadn’t been washed for ten thousand years, showed a faintly dignified appearance. It didn’t look like he was joking. It was as if he really believed there was a god living in the big tree.
As Chang An watched the whole process of his earnest worship, he was a little convinced. He silently moved to the side, trying to use his not very big body to block the fallen leaves that were piled in the corner.
It happened to be windy the night before. He had come here to train with his saber and had cut down many leaves. Wasn’t that just shaving the Tree God?
Chang An guiltily rubbed his face with his sleeve, feeling that he’d been a little disrespectful.
By the time the incense had burned halfway, Suo Laimu finally finished. He was just about to stand up and talk when, unexpectedly, a small breeze came, blowing up the dead leaves behind Chang An, one of which even plastering to Suo Laimu’s face.
Chang An was dumbfounded and thought: “Oh no, the Tree God will come out and complain!”
But as a god, would he still come out to complain to the person if his head was shaved? When he thought of this, Chang An no longer felt guilty, having come up with a reasonable explanation—So weak. The Tree God probably didn’t have much ability. There was nothing to respect.
Suo Laimu took the leaf off his face, and was stunned. The leaf was split into half, and it was split precisely from the vein in the middle. The cut was straight and neat, and apart from this cut in the middle, it wasn’t cut anywhere else.
Suo Laimu looked up at Chang An, but only to see the man’s eyes roaming around, looking at the sky and the earth, but refusing to look him in the face.
Suo Laimu held up the leaf. The leaves of this big tree were not that different from willows, but they were much smaller. The veins on it were even less obvious, so it was hard to believe that Chang An had such accurate eyesight and hands that were so precise.
Suo Laimu looked at the leaf in the light and suddenly smiled. “The lightest horse-chopping saber can weigh up to a hundred jin, and it can strike with a force of a thousand jun1钧 – 30 jin, easily beheading behemoths. Wherever it goes, it is resolute and powerful; all birds and beasts would retreat. In the end, however, it is cumbersome and inconvenient to use in close combat. Only you can wield such a heavy weapon so well. Great skill indeed appears like clumsiness2 Suo Laimu here is saying the second half of the line “大智若愚，大巧似拙.” The whole line means, “Great intelligence may appear like stupidity, and great skill/talent may appear like clumsiness.” It’s about how truly skilled/intelligent people do not show off in seek of fame.. I have never seen such a saber in my life. You are amazing, but ah…”
He deliberately exhaled a breath, leaving Chang An hanging to whet his appetite. Sure enough, Chang An foolishly fell for it and asked, “But what?”
Suo Laimu said, “But it is not the best saber in the world. The best saber is a jiandao. Do you know what a jiandao is?”
Chang An instantly nodded. “The jiandao not only has a sharp side, but also a sharp tip, and its spine is very narrow. I studied it for a while, but it wasn’t working for me, so I changed it later.”
“That jiandao that was unparalleled in the world was extremely unusual,” said Suo Laimu. “It’s entire body was as thin as a cicada’s wings. Your saber weighs a hundred jin, but that one was only a few liang3两 – 1/16 of a jin. It was as light as a goose feather that even a child could carry it.”
Chang An frowned. “Impossible. A blade like that would quickly break.”
The jiandao had a narrow spine, but in proportion to its even thinner blade body, which was easier to break than a common blade, the spine appeared much thicker than that of a common blade. This made the jiandao look more like a long thorn instead of a saber.
Suo Laimu paid him no mind and continued, “It was made from divine iron that dropped from the Ninth Heaven. It was indeed extraordinary, but it was also very fragile. A little less strength, and the person wielding it wouldn’t be able to send out the edge. And with slightly more force, he could break his own saber. The strike must also be done in a straight line. Otherwise, the blade would break into two.
“It was very fragile, yet extremely sharp. It can split a strand of hair into three parts lengthwise, and it can also chop off a person’s head. The person wouldn’t even notice that their head had separated from their body until they had walked ten steps away. Believe it or not, this is what the Blade God told me.”
Bei Shi had never told him this. Chang An’s eyes widened as he listened, practically worshipping Suo Laimu a little. But then a hand suddenly reached out from behind him and pressed on the top of his head. Hua Yi intimately hooked his arm around Chang An’s neck as he said nonchalantly, “Silly boy, even believing in what Suo Laimu says.”
Chang An struggled to crane his neck in the crook of his firm arm, and said, “I’ve never seen the Blade God before.”
“What Blade God?” Hua Yi sneered. “What isn’t a god in his eyes? Trees have a Tree God, flowers have a Flower God, the grass have a Grass God, and even the mountains and rivers are not godless. Shengun, why don’t you tell us whether or not there’s a god in the latrine pit? Doesn’t he mind the shit?”
Suo Laimu outright brushed him off: “Bullshit!”
Hua Yi: “Aiyo, Shit God, spare my life!”
Chang An finally couldn’t help laughing.
When Hua Yi saw this, he somehow felt happy as well. He raised the back of his hand, patted Chang An gently on the face, and said, “You should smile more like this. Keeping a straight face all day long makes you look like a little old man. Come, I’ll take you out to play. Let the Shengun jump to the great gods by himself.”
He dragged Chang An into the noisy crowd, where a group of young people were playing “Tiao Chai4跳柴 – Jumping wood / Skip over the wood.” Four people held onto the ends of two bamboo poles and were closing and opening them together. The dancers in the middle had to keep up with their rhythm so as to avoid getting their feet caught. Chang An had seen this when he was a child, and there was a vague impression. But before he could take a closer look, Hua Yi pushed him from behind, suddenly thrusting him into the middle of the bamboo poles.
When the girl holding onto the bamboo pole saw such a handsome5眉清目秀 – distinct eyebrows and bright eyes. Used to describe a kind of beauty that is not tacky. young man suddenly jumping in, she giddily eyed her companion. They then deliberately sped up the opening and closing of the poles to clamp Chang An.
Chang An was like a giant sheep jumping around, having no grace to speak of. He hopped up and down between the flashing bamboo poles, looking as if he were against some great enemy and under his feet was a brazier.
Then his toes lightly tipped on the bamboo pole held by the girl, and before she could even feel him weighing down on the pole, he quickly jumped out of the Tiao Chai formation.
The girl stood up and shouted, “Aiya, he ran away!”
Hua Yi laughed. “Don’t worry, don’t worry. I’ll get him back for you.”
Chang An drilled through the crowd like a loach. Hua Yi rolled up his sleeves, and together with several other young boys, charged in to catch him. Stepping on the fence gate of a stone house, Chang An directly jumped over the head of a young man. With both hands, he grabbed onto an outstretched branch and swung upward onto it like a monkey. But then someone from afar was so bold and cunning, they threw over a long chain and wound it around his foot.
Chang An had to let go and fall to the ground. But before he could get on his feet, Hua Yi suddenly emerged from behind the big tree and picked him up with one hand. Clutching him by the waist, he motioned to throw him towards the group of girls as he said, “Catch him ah. I’ll throw him to you.”
The girls giggled, not at all afraid of Chang An flying in mid-air. Several people huddled together, looking ready to catch him. Hua Yi smiled, put Chang An on the ground, and escorted him over. Such a big young man flying over couldn’t be caught by the girls. Hua Yi didn’t want him to be dropped.
Chang An thus fell into the hands of the women.
The customs of the Giant Mountain tribe were audacious, and this was shown in how each and every young woman was very shameless. Suddenly seeing a strange and attractive young man who wasn’t fierce-looking like Ka Zuo, they all rushed to him. They absolutely had to tease him to the fullest. The more daring ones would even rub the exposed parts of their body against Chang An.
The teenager shrunk his head into his arms, miserably shrinking into a ball amidst the group of women, just like a little lamb surrounded by wolves.
But there was nothing he could do about it. He couldn’t hit a woman. He could only be ravaged till he looked like he was hovering between life and death. Every now and then, a floral-scented hand would reach out to pinch his face and rub his hair that he could hardly speak. He could only shake his head when asked a question.
Hua Yi stood at a distance, yet his eyes unconsciously fell on him. Seeing Chang An’s rarely ruddy face being pinched to redness, as the instigator, Hua Yi was somewhat gloating. But looking at Chang An’s hard-pressed appearance, he couldn’t help but feel sorry for him.
Suo Laimu came over at some point. Seeing Hua Yi’s eyes lingering on the girls in the tribe, he smiled knowingly and said from behind him, “What, picking a lady for the Chief?”
This was originally just a joke and nothing more, but Hua Yi suddenly realized who he’d been looking at and somehow felt guilty. He was stunned for a while, but then felt the blood rush to his face. He said to Suo Laimu in a low voice, “Go worship your Latrine Pit God. What nonsense are you telling me?”
Suo Laimu nodded, yet cheekily followed him and said, “We’ve settled down at last. Like the seed of a velvet flower finally finding a place to take root in, you thinking of such things is perfectly reasonable.”
Hua Yi: “Scram!”
Suo Laimu didn’t back off. “When a man lives to this age and has no one in his tent, it is truly outrageous. Marriage is a big event in one’s life and a course of nature. There’s nothing to be shy about. Here, let me tell you about it…”
Hua Yi looked back and glared at Suo Laimu viciously.
Suo Laimu shrank his neck, put out his hand to cover his mouth, and looked at him mischievously.
Hua Yi rolled his eyes. He was about to say something when, at that moment, there was a commotion in the crowd. He looked up and saw a group of ragged people being sent away under escort.
There were all kinds of people among them. Some were with blank expressions, and some were full of indignance.
Suo Laimu withdrew his smile and whispered, “They’re the family of the armed rebels and of the old faction.”
Hua Yi hummed, and asked, “According to the rules, they’ll be turned into slaves?”
Some people spat at those prisoners, and some insensible children learned from the adults and threw stuff at them. On the contrary, the more than twenty warriors of the Black Eagle tribe, who were crowded around A’Ye on the other side, looked much calmer. They just watched them pass with ice-cold eyes.
Suo Laimu lowered his voice and said, “I think you should give the Black Eagle’s people the right to decide first. Those people are still holding their grudges.”
Hua Yi nodded almost imperceptibly. He turned around and walked towards the high platform set up for the celebration, intending to announce the fate of those people. But just then, something suddenly happened. Among the escorted prisoners, a young man, who appeared to be a beastman guard, suddenly knocked away his escort. With a roar, he transformed into a half-beast in place, revealing his terrible claws and fangs, and rushed towards the frolicking girls.
Lizonka: I am tired… so fucking tired…