Chang An had been living in Great Mountain tribe for more than a month, but he had never done anything serious.
The tribe had everything—meat, grain, fruit, and even the malt candies, which he considered as a luxury when he was a child, were as worthless as sand here. Chang An simply cherished the memory of its taste. As a man of his age, he had limited interest in that sickeningly sweet candy. When he ate, he didn’t feel like eating any more, so the rest all went into the belly of the little slave Luda.
There were also the things that Hua Yi sent one after another. Although Chang An had a top-notch ability to spoil the good things, he wasn’t unable to recognize other’s good intentions—at the very least, he knew that Hua Yi had sold his life for betas before.
Hua Yi had said that he’d need him during natural and man-made disasters, and wasn’t that right now?
Chang An could always remember untimely words at untimely situations.
People lit the torches. In the beginning, although they hadn’t encountered such a situation before, they weren’t at all flustered. After all, life in the northern tribes had never been peaceful.
With a weapon in his hand, the sub-beast surrounded the women and children in the middle, and in the outer ring were the beastmen warriors. As for the slaves, no one looked after them. Some beastmen even chased them away to draw the beast’s attention.
Chang An had wanted to throw Luda into the arms of those women looking after the children, but when he saw this scene, his eyes flashed. He lowered his head just in time to meet Luda’s gaze.
Though Luda was silent, his small, dark hands were tightly holding onto Chang An’s clothes.
Although the two of them lived in the same house, they treated each other as if the other didn’t exist. They could even go on for ten days to half a month without talking to each other. Looking at him right now, Chang An felt a little strange. He said to Luda, “Don’t be afraid of dying. Just follow me.”
Luda used his actions to show that he wasn’t afraid of death—He wouldn’t let go even if he died, acting as his shadow.
The most cunning ones, like wolves and foxes, ran past, followed by a mixture of small animals, and then some large beasts. All of them ran forward in a panic, for fear of being overtaken by something. Animals ran wild, trampled on each other, and sometimes collided with each other. Some rashly rushed into the crowd and were immediately beheaded. As more and more beasts ran out of the forest, the deterrent power of the small bonfire became limited. It would soon be destroyed by the animals scattering in all directions. Gradually, the scene turned chaotic.
Chang An looked up and saw Hua Yi standing at the highest place. And Suo Laimu, who was with him, was directing the people to carry huge oil tanks and firewood to the side of the tribe near the woods. Having lived deep in the mountains for a long time, Chang An understood at a glance that he was going to set up a large bonfire.
However, setting up the firewood wasn’t easy. Before the large fire was ready, several beastmen warriors who stood over there were already in a tight situation as they guarded the place. Ferocious red-eyed beasts often rushed into the pile of firewood and trampled over the fire before it could burn high and big. The other men had to protect those who couldn’t fight; they didn’t have enough time to provide assistance.
Suo Laimu wanted to tell the beasts to avoid the tribe by arranging several large bonfires, forming a wall of fire that the beasts couldn’t cross.
He had the same thought as Chang An. What made the beasts run away must be more troublesome, so they should first make preparations.
Just when those few beastmen were in a flurry defending, a big saber about a zhanglong suddenly came over, and a giant tiger was sent flying away with that one blade. The giant tiger suffered deeply, madly roaring as it rolled on the ground. When it got up, it glared at this man who dared get in its way. Chang An put Luda behind him and said in a low voice, “Help them light the fire. Don’t be afraid. Nothing could pass from here.”
Luda looked at his blade, and for the first time, his eyes showed undisguised envy. Then he bowed his head and ran out from Chang An. With no mother or father to love him, he put his all and joined the adults in carrying the firewood.
Looking directly into Chang An’s eyes, the big tiger could sense he was a formidable opponent. As he stood there, many small animals, such as wild dogs, couldn’t help but whimper and stop in their steps. Chang An gripped the handle firmly with both hands, steadily suspending the blade in the air. In the whistling wind, his hands were as steady as a pair of iron tongs, and they weren’t the least bit shaking.
When the second group of beastmen support arrived, they saw this confrontation. On one side was a disheveled youngster, and in the other was a giant tiger and a group of carnivorous beasts, glaring as fiercely as the tiger watching its prey. There was a significant difference in strength between the two sides, yet they were in a stalemate with no one willing to strike first. It was simply a marvel.
Chang An went towards the large bonfire and boldly stationed himself in front of it, causing the defensive pressure on either side of him to suddenly lighten. Then someone recognized him and shouted, “It’s you! You’re that Chang An-xiongdi who killed that runaway slave with a cooking knife the other day!”
Chang An didn’t say a word. The night wind lifting his hair and the darkness of the night concealed his abnormally pale complexion, as well as the ill-timed color of his lips. His eyes were half squinting because of how strong the wind was, yet his upper eyelids were distinct, outlining the shape of his eyes. The bridge of his nose was straight, and his forehead was covered in dust. He looked like a stone statue that had been placed there for many years. When his hand wiped the dust away, revealed underneath was a delicate beauty seemingly frozen in the depths of time.
The beastman who spoke unhooked the wineskin from his waist and poured a few mouthfuls into his mouth. When he exhaled, his breath seemed to be as hot as sparks. In the midst of the chaos, he said in a loud voice: “A’Lan-guniang1姑娘 – A young unmarried woman; also used as a term of address. I previously translated this as “Miss,” but I think I prefer the pinyin more is still arguing with her father all day long to convince him to let her marry you! Seriously, xiongdi, I’m not convinced. I also have a lot of strength. If I were there at that time, I could’ve easily killed that guy with my bare hands without having to take a woman’s knife. It’s a pity that my mother didn’t give me a pretty little white face that the girls would like, hahaha!”
The corner of Chang An’s mouth finally twitched. In the man’s crude and clumsy jokes, a stingy little smile appeared, as if the deathly pale stone statue had suddenly come to life. The glimmer of the people’s torches were reflected in his eyes, and in a flash, his eyes were shining brightly.
At this time, the ground shook again. It wasn’t that violent, but along with it came a strange smell being faintly dispersed. It was a bit pungent and a little repulsive.
But without even waiting for Chang An to think about it, that big tiger, who seemed to be calm when facing a powerful enemy, suddenly went crazy, as well as those many other beasts. This smell seemed to irritate them, making them realize that what was behind them was more terrifying than the people in front of them.
Right from the start, nature couldn’t be defied. These many beasts were all driven by it.
First, those dholes bared their teeth and then pounced one after another. The thunder was as ear-piercing as before, and in the distance, the wolves howled mournfully.
Chang An didn’t move to strike until the dhole was already near him. His lower body was still, as if he was trying to save his strength at all costs. Then his blade slashed very quickly—only one move.
With one move, three fountains of blood spouted at the same time as he cut open the neck of those three dholes.
At this time, the beastman guards were already done transforming into their beast forms, and they stood in front of the bonfire in a neat row. They looked very frightening. Chang An was by himself among these beasts, and he really stood out.
He was still defending that one area, and if anything rushed up to him, he’d simply strike at them in one move.
All the beasts that died under his blade were all cut in the throat, and each time was nearly in the same position.
Many beastmen roared in applause, but after a while longer, Chang An’s hand became unstable. It was even shaking a little. That strange smell seemed to be getting worse. The others somehow didn’t feel it, but Chang An was irritated, and it made his windpipe hurt a lot. Soon, the faint smell of blood filled his mouth, and his chest and shoulders felt non-existent.
It was so stuffy. Beads of sweat rolled down Chang An’s forehead. He raised his hand to wipe it, preventing them from getting into his eyes, but then his feet staggered.
At that moment, a young beastman warrior was bitten on the shoulder by the tiger. The huge beast and the tiger rolled together in a fight for their lives. With this opening, the sly dhole took advantage of the situation to jump in. Luda had just laid down a large bundle of firewood and hadn’t had the time to straighten them out yet.
The dhole was despicable and dirty. A strong adult man can kick it to death, but biting a little thing like Luda was no problem.
Fortunately, Chang An’s blade was long. He turned around and swept his saber out. The blade seemed to have been sent out it in a rush. It immediately cut down the dhole in the air before it could pounce on the child. But now, he had no strength left to retrieve the blade, and he collapsed in two or three steps.
A wolf hiding from who knew where was granted an opportunity. In that short moment before he could retrieve his blade, the wolf suddenly stepped up on the corpses of the other animals and jumped up on Chang An’s saber. The wolf’s build was very big, so the weight of its step was very powerful, no less than several hundred jins. Chang An’s saber couldn’t be lifted when it was pressed like this.
The big wolf swooped down, its sharp claws grabbing onto Chang An’s shoulder and easily piercing into his flesh. It threw him to the ground and revealed its sharp set of fangs all in one breath—With only one bite, it could break Chang An’s fragile neck.
But in the next second, the big wolf was hit hard by the handle of a blade coming out from nowhere, and it nearly broke its jaw. It screamed bitterly, claws instantly tightening over the neck.
But in this small gap from when the wolf raised its head, the edge of a knife, which was only as long as an index finger and hardly had any blade body, firmly slashed the wolf’s neck open. The knife edge wasn’t long enough, so the hand holding the weapon firmly followed along the wound and let the knife go deeper. The big wolf struggled for its life, but that deadly hand wouldn’t spare it despite its veins already bulging from the force. It wasn’t until that hand penetrated the weapon two inches deep into the wolf’s neck did the wolf finally die.
Behind them, the large bonfire was finally lit up, and sparks shot up to the sky, issuing a crackling warning. Soon, the wall of fire was ready, leaving only a small passageway for one person to pass through.
Finally, those animals who had rushed over in a panic succumbed to their instincts and whimpered. They fell back with their tails between their legs.
Chang An gasped for air, kicked the wolf’s corpse aside, and then dragged his saber out. Half of his body was covered in his blood. The wolf’s blood and his own followed along his messy hair and flowed down to his mouth. Tilting his head to the side, he vomited in a “pei!” He thought unhappily: I still have a lot to learn.
Afterwards, he was caught by a man struggling to squeeze out from the mass of beasts. The slender Shan Xi made a fuss when he saw him. “I’ve been looking for you for a long time! How come you look like this? Hurry up and follow me.”
Then he said loudly: “Everyone, withdraw behind the bonfire. After everyone’s passed, we’ll add more firewood on the passageway and then ignite the oil on it! If you are injured, go find the doctor! Let me say it again, everyone should withdraw behind the bonfire!”
Chang An quietly coughed twice while chewing on the raw herbs. Not forgetting his little slave, he picked up Luda by the nape while he was just foolishly standing there, and dragged him to behind the bonfire.
Suo Laimu was overseeing things in the middle and commanding the people to add more oil in an orderly manner. The large and small bonfires became a solid defense line. The beasts tried to break through several times but couldn’t pass. Finally, they had to bypass the place where the tribe was located. For a moment, people were able to take a breath.
However, Suo Laimu’s expression did not ease. Instead, it became more and more solemn.
Chang An walked towards him, intending to tell this person who knew everything about that strange odor.
“A while ago, I smelled…”
But before he could say these five words, someone suddenly caught him by the belt of his clothes. Hua Yi held down Chang An, and when he saw the blood on his body, his expression turned strange. “What the hell? How the fuck did this happen? Didn’t I tell you to do things lightly? Even the strongest person would stay in the rear… Ai, you hapless child. When I couldn’t see you at all, I was really hurt.”
“Only the shoulder was grabbed by the wolf,” Chang An quickly fobbed him off, then turned to Suo Laimu. “A while ago, I smelled this scent that was like…”
Hua Yi was still blindly worrying2咸吃萝卜淡操心 – I can’t quite translate it literally, but it’s a northern slang that means something like: You have to add more salt when pickling radish, so that it will last for a long time. If you add less, you would often worry if it will go bad or not.
Figuratively, it means that people who are nosy often don’t understand the actual situation. Them worrying about it blindly would only do harm to others. So it’s basically describing an annoying meddler…. His skin was rough and his flesh was thick, but the corners of his eyes were practically tense. When he lowered his head and saw the torn-up flesh from when the wolf’s claws grabbed Chang An’s shoulder, a spark of anger was eerily ignited in his chest. Fortunately, in front of other people, he still knew restraint. At the moment, he simply grabbed Chang An by the belt, lifting his feet off the ground, and then let out a sigh. “Okay, now shut up. He’s eaten more salt than the roads you’ve walked. Wouldn’t he know better than you? Follow me! And where’s the armor I gave you? Did you use it to pad the leg of the table?”
Seeing that he wasn’t the least bit anxious and looking like they already had plans, Chang An felt relieved for some reason. He said, “It was too heavy.”
Hua Yi was seething in anger. He glanced at him, and then cast a sidelong glance at his saber. He cursed, “Oh, a few pieces of iron are too heavy for you, but holding that hacking knife all day long when chopping wood, you don’t find it too heavy?”
Chang An had been grabbed by the wolf’s claws. He felt guilty for not knowing enough, and when he heard what Hua Yi said, he felt even more ashamed and uneasy. He behaved honestly and didn’t refute, but to himself, he secretly swore that he would work harder in the future.
Hua Yi was used to seeing major situations. At this moment, he was looking at the raging and roaring creatures in the distance, and he actually still had the leisure to shake his head and sigh. “When Luo Tong was the Chief, the wind and rain came in their time3风调雨顺 – the wind and rain are timely; a favorable climate, and not a damn thing happened. It hadn’t been two months since it was passed over to me, but so many things have already happened. Is it my fate to beat up my own tribe? This is really…”
Chang An suddenly realized something and said, “Oh, I know. My Shifu said that, like this, you would be called a Broom Star4扫把星 – A bearer of ill-luck. In Science, it would refer to a comet, because when the comet travels, its tail would look like a broom. A Broom Star is used to refer to someone who has bad luck and would also bring bad luck to people around him.!”
Hua Yi: “……”
He lowered his head to look at this bloody-gourd-like-boy and eventually gnashed his teeth and pressed on his forehead. “Shut the fuck up, you dead bastard!”
At the doctor’s place, there was a long line. Hua Yi used his privilege as a Chief and directly stepped inside. He gently pressed Chang An on the small stool in front of A’Ye, and half-kneeling, he tore down the clothes over his shoulder. He said to her, “You take a look at his wound.”
Except for A’Ye, all the other doctors were rough, old men. Hua Yi was instinctively afraid they would hurt Chang An with their rough hands and rough feet. He watched as Chang An sat there, letting A’Ye clean the wound but refusing to let go of his large bloody blade. In his heart, Hua Yi thought that he might overreacted.
Wasn’t this guy tough?
Hua Yi watched as Chang An tried over and over again to seize the water jar to pour the water directly over his shoulder out of impatience. Hua Yi thought bitterly: The young woman waits on him carefully, but he hates how she’s too slow! This little brat doesn’t know what’s good for him.
But even if he was a little brat, Hua Yi couldn’t help but feel sympathy for him. Just now, when he grabbed him in his hands, he could feel Chang An’s flesh and bones through his clothes. Hua Yi had always felt that his flesh and bones looked different from others. On other people, so long as they didn’t die, the wounds didn’t look so miserable. But on Chang An, Hua Yi would feel hurt when Chang An was hurt.
He uneasily moved his slightly stiff shoulder, grimacing as if there were also bone-deep cuts on him.