Suo Laimu was dumb for a moment, but then laughed a “hehehe.”
Hua Yi: “What are you laughing at?”
Suo Laimu fished himself some thigh meat from the broth pot and wolfed it down while muffly saying, “We’re already in this situation and you’re still thinking about these things. Tsk, you’re really something.”
Hua Yi shot him a glance and mumbled, “It’s not like I wanted to think about it.”
Then he stretched out his foot and kicked Suo Laimu, asking, “Shengun1神棍 – I previously translated this as “god stick,” but now I’ll be using the pinyin., you said that this Ground Fire has been deep under the ground for many years. Why do you say it suddenly spurted out? In your opinion, is something big about to happen?”
Suo Laimu’s mouth was full of meat, and as he chewed, he spoke uncouthly, “The ice fields in the Far North will thaw and freeze again. When the continent is knocked apart and re-stabilized, there will be no certainty as to where the mountains will be and where the land will be flat. There’s no telling how many people will die.
“It will be like a huge sieve. In the future, those who’ll be lucky enough to survive are left by the heavens. After about a year of recuperation, power across the entire continent will be redistributed. Perhaps it will also be time for the North to finally unify and form a new order.”
Hua Yi was carrying Chang An’s large blade, and tapping his calf with its handle, he sighed. “Then I hope Jing Chu won’t die ah…”
Suo Laimu talked and talked as if he had gotten trapped in his own thoughts. He no longer paid attention to Hua Yi, yet still continued talking. “Say, who do you think arranged for such a large undertaking? Why are the scattered tribes finally coming together as one? If everything will have rules, then we’ll no longer live in the woods and no longer associate with animals, just like in the South… No, city-states even bigger and more complex than those in the South will be formed. One day, there may be no more barrier between the North and the South. At that time, all men will be of one kind, so why should there still be beastmen and sub-beasts? Say, is man born as a man and then turn into a beast later? Or is he born as a beast and then turn into a man? Why is it that all those songs passed down from the oldest tribes contain the line ‘men can turn into beasts’? After all…”
The more he spoke, the hazier his eyes became. He even forgot to swallow the meat in his mouth. Hua Yi immediately interrupted him, “I was wrong. I shouldn’t have asked. I’m gonna slap myself. Don’t think about it, I beg you.”
Suo Laimu knew of everything under the heavens. Although he was full of rubbish, he’d never let others down at critical moments. However, there was one drawback. He always loved to think about things that were completely meaningless in Hua Yi’s eyes. Moreover, when he started thinking about it, it was easy for him to be spellbound, unable to extricate himself from the tip of the horn2牛角尖 – An insignificant or insoluble problem.
Hua Yi had sometimes suspected that if there were no True God out there to completely dispel the confusion of this man who thought too much, then maybe one day, this Shengun will really go crazy from overthinking.
In contrast, Hua Yi’s concerns were much simpler.
How could I have wicked thoughts about my xiongdi? Hua Yi chewed on a blade of grass and spurned himself in this way. After pondering it for a while, he felt he was a bit despicable.
Therefore, he decided to do his best in mending his ways. But what if… some things were so hard to change3江山易改本性难移 – Priest used an idiom here which says, “Rivers and mountains are easy to change; man’s character, much harder.”?
If he really couldn’t change it, then there was nothing he could do about it. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong. When the time came, he’d just have to figure out how to get the person in his hand.
Thinking of this, Hua Yi unconsciously rubbed the handle of Chang An’s blade with his finger, and then glanced at the blade’s owner.
With a straight face, Chang An drank the large bowl of herbal medicine that A’Ye had given him, and then closed his eyes, not knowing if he could really fall asleep while keeping his mind awake.
There was this saying that went, “If you don’t sleep in the first thirty years, then you’ll be sleepless in the next thirty years.” Young people mostly sleep a lot, but it was also rare to find someone like Chang An who’d close his eyes every chance he’d get. Now that Hua Yi thought about it, maybe Chang An’s heart really pumped less blood than others, so it was easy for him to feel unwell and tired.
At this time, a guard suddenly passed through the crowd, bent down and whispered to Hua Yi, “Chief, there’s a bit of trouble. A ghost tribe is going up the mountain.”
Hua Yi raised his eyelids and asked in an equally low voice, “How many people are there? What’s the situation?”
“Forty or fifty,” said the guard. “All of them are in beast forms, and I didn’t see any people. What should we do?”
Hua Yi stood up and carried the big saber over his shoulder. With a pei!, he spat out the grass blade in his mouth and said, “Our flag is erected on top of the mountain. Even a blind man can see it. They also didn’t show their faces, so they obviously don’t intend to say any more. They’re going to snatch our territory and rob our stuff, and you came to ask me what we should do?”
The guard looked terrified.
Hua Yi craned his neck and smiled coldly. “Go, get the men up. There are women and children here, and a bunch of wounded and sick people. This is no place to fight. Tell them all to go to the flag and solve those motherfuckers there—and those foreigners, they can’t just eat and not work. Now that they’ve joined the tribe, they have to work hard. They can’t just watch on with folded arms.”
Hua Yi’s orders were whispered down to everyone. The beastmen, who were originally sitting on the ground and talking with their families, all stood up one by one, making the place seem a bit smaller.
Some straight out turned into their beast forms, and a row of giant beasts as tall as a person all looked towards the same direction. With claws streaking across the ground, and fangs making their faces look grim, the atmosphere immediately turned tense.
These courageous people had been practically scared silly by the Ground Fire, and their anxiety and indignance, which had been forced down by the might of nature, would soon be vented upon those intruders up ahead. The killing intent in the air gradually grew heavier that it was nearly tangible. Even the unsuspecting children inexplicably behaved and no longer ran around.
When Chang An opened his eyes and swept them around, he realized what was going on. He quietly asked A’Ye, “Where is my blade?”
As he spoke, he motioned to get up, but then a hand suddenly pressed him back down.
Chang An turned his head and saw Suo Laimu.
Suo Laimu’s hand was as thin as a handful of dry firewood, which naturally couldn’t hold down Chang An. But for some reason, when Chang An saw this man, he felt a kind of reverence that he couldn’t explain clearly. This made him stop struggling for a moment, and simply looked at Suo Laimu in confusion.
He heard Suo Laimu ask him a question coming from nowhere: “Do you know that an axe is used when chopping firewood?”
Chang An’s brows wrinkled, and he nodded.
Suo Laimu asked again, “Then do you know the difference between an axe for firewood and a blade for murder?”
Chang An was stunned. He thought for a moment and said, “The firewood axe has a thick spine and a blunt edge. Even if it’s sharpened, it won’t sharpen as fast as a common blade. Otherwise, it will quickly break.”
Suo Laimu was pleased and he smiled, nodding his head. He had believed that a qualified Shengun should be in control of everything; otherwise, he’d seem less profound and no different from an old nanny. But now, Suo Laimu understood. Chang An should have also seen the light, so Suo Laimu stopped talking, and folding his arms together, he looked at him kindly.
It’s a pity that Chang An didn’t seem to understand his spirit at all, and even called the expression in Suo Laimu’s eyes as “strange and eccentric,” his entire body breaking out in goosebumps.
He slapped his own arm, deciding not to gawk at this guy here, and flew off to distract himself by asking the little slave Luda, who was squatting on the side, “Where’s my blade?”
Suo Laimu gave a long sigh, patted Chang An’s head sadly, and said, “You ah, truly decayed wood that cannot be carved4朽木不可雕也 – a helpless case; an intractable person.. Don’t look for it. Your blade has been taken away by the Chief. He wants you to lie down here honestly.”
The men coming from the ghost tribe were quite impressive, and their speed was extremely fast. However, they obviously did not expect that the other side’s attack would be even more proactive. With no buffer at all, they towered over them from the top of the mountain and killed them down, as if they had been waiting for them there.
Lu Quan was assigned to guard the top of the mountain, and he watched over the battle with envy. How he wished he could roll his arms up his sleeves and go to war. Unfortunately, he had a duty to attend to and couldn’t just move around. With a clumsy mouth and a broken tongue, he could only tweak his ears and scratch his cheeks.5Priest is using two idioms here. The first one is 拙嘴笨舌 (clumsy mouth and broken tongue), which refers to an awkward speaker or someone who can’t quite explain how he feels.
The second is 抓耳挠腮 (tweak his ears and scratch his cheeks), which is used as an expression of anxiety, delight, frustration, etc.
So I guess Lu Quan here must be so excited, he’s getting restless haha
However, the children couldn’t understand the men’s fighting spirit. A young man was so frightened, he cried into tears. He was Luo Tong’s son. His mother died early, and now his father was going to battle. He was already this big, so when others saw him left alone, they didn’t pay any special attention to it. For a while, nobody cared about him.
It was pitch-black all around, and he had already been feeling unwell from having to hurry on in the night. Now he couldn’t eat well and sleep well, and he finally couldn’t help it.
A’Ye was nearby, and she quickly brought him over, patted his back and coaxed him.
Luo Tong’s son was already eleven or twelve years old. He really wasn’t a kid anymore, and he was now a beastman. Child beastmen don’t have teenage years. Most of them would grow into adult bodies right after childhood.
However, although he now had the build of a beastman, his heart was still like that of the porcelain, young sub-beast boy. He had been pampered and spoiled since childhood, and had never been the least bit wronged.
The busier it was, the more inconveniences there would be. At this time, a woman suddenly called out A’Ye’s name.
“A’Ye! Doctor A’Ye! Come quick! A’Fen suddenly shouted that her stomach hurts. She… Is she going to give birth?”
When A’Ye heard this, her scalp exploded. She picked up her basket of herbs in a flurry and rushed over like a gust of wind, nearly tripping over Luda, who was squatting on the ground.
It would have been better if nobody comforted Luo Tong’s son. A’Ye coaxed him for a long time and comforted his grievances, but then he was back to being ignored. Luo Tong’s son became even more aggrieved, and he wept in place, overwhelmed with grief.
Chang An and Suo Laimu dodged to the side at the same time. Looking famished, they kept away from this kind of devilish sound that could wear off the ears.
The little slave Luda, however, looked at Luo Tong’s son in disdain and murmured, “Waste.”
Chang An glanced at him, and Luda shut his mouth. The little slave was dirty, and he was squatting on the ground like a puppy on its last legs. His master’s whole tribe was relocating, and nobody remembered him, so he could only follow him humbly.
At this time, a roar suddenly broke out in the darkness. Two or three giant beasts of the ghost tribe somehow climbed up from the other side, taking advantage of the chaos to attack. Fortunately, Hua Yi left some guards behind. Lu Quan grinded his teeth so fast that his cheeks hurt. There was finally an enemy he could hit, and he rushed up with enthusiasm. The guards and the raiders quickly trashed into a ball.
In spite of this, the people on top of the mountain were still startled. And it so happened that at this time, the woman giving birth suddenly shouted her voice hoarse. A’Ye obviously had little experience in dealing with women in childbirth. Cold sweat broke out in layers on her forehead, plastering her long hair together in a mess.
Chang An’s ears were filled with the sounds of yelling and wrangling. He suddenly reached out and directly pulled out the scimitar from Suo Laimu’s waist. Suo Laimu quickly reached to grab his pants and swore: “Son of a bitch, you pulled my belt off!”
Chang An didn’t even look at him. When he flashed around, he slipped silently towards the invaders like a big cat lurking in the night. Luda, who was squatting on the ground, looked like a hound that had received a signal. He jumped three feet from the ground and ran after him—but without forgetting to push Luo Tong’s son in passing.
Luo Tong’s son cried even more than someone who had lost their parents.
Suo Laimu was so annoyed, he had no choice but to pat the young man’s head, but without the least bit of sincerity. He said leisurely, “Did you see that? A wolf is a wolf, and a sheep is a sheep ah… Aiyo, little ancestor6小祖宗 – someone difficult to please, a spoiled brat, I beg you. Stop howling, okay? Even the person giving birth to a baby over there isn’t as loud as you…”