Leading The Hunt
Thirty-five tribes came in total. Three tribes couldn’t make it in time for the previous gathering since they lived far away and had never been to this part of the region, but they were here for this hunt today. All thirty-five tribes entered the forest with the Flaming Horn tribe’s hunting team.
The three tribes that came late for the gathering actually arrived on the day it was held, but the meeting ended when they arrived. However, they didn’t return home immediately. Instead, they stayed in the trading point until the hunt began. They decided to leave after the hunt because they lived too far away. When they chatted about this matter, two of these tribes even said that if they could successfully merge their fire seeds, they might very possibly migrate upstream.
Before, they chose to settle in a place no one else settled on for safety reasons. Now, since the situation had changed, they desired to move to a place with more tribes.
Of course, even though many members came from each team, not all of them joined in the hunt. Some tribes that were not fond of combats and hunts only sent a few members to join. This was very minimal when compared to the number of people who came from the Thunder Mountain and Water Tiger tribes. All tribes had their own specialty after all. Some never had any experience in hunting and this had never been their way of life, so if they forced themselves to join, not only would they be a burden for the team, they might even lose their lives before they entered the forest.
However, even the weakest tribes sent out one or two members to join this hunt. The people who came were mostly chiefs or skilled warriors from each tribe.
For example, the Zhi tribe would never want to come face to face with any fearsome beast. Before, they would never have the courage to even walk into a forest full of fearsome beasts if they had a choice. However, it was different this time. So many tribes had joined the Great Alliance and they were following a whole team out to hunt, so if they chose not to participate, they would be laughed at by other tribesmen. Chief Abuli decided to join the hunt with two other warriors from his tribe. Abuli was known to be the most powerful member of his tribe and the two warriors that came with him also had the biggest feet in the Zhi tribe, so they were naturally equipped with fast feet. Thus, even if they encountered any fearsome beasts they couldn’t defeat, they could still run away.
Most tribesmen felt that strength in combat meant everything. That was why those tribes that were more combative felt more confident and emboldened. Tribes that didn’t like to solve problems with mere strength usually preferred to use their own unique skills to trade for valuable resources. Those who came with their tribes and didn’t join the hunt would wait in the trading point while the hunting teams went out to hunt. They would try their best to adapt to everything in the trading point as the others in their group went to hunt. A part of this group that stayed behind also decided to help the Flaming Horns with the construction and expansion of the trading point.
Before they set out, Shao Xuan gathered the leaders of each team to discuss a few important matters. He told them what they had to watch out for in the forest and those who had no experience should follow and observe those who had more experience, such as the Taihe tribesmen and the Flaming Horn tribesmen. He specifically warned them not to use their own techniques because those techniques might work on the wild beasts they were familiar with, but not fearsome beasts.
The Flaming Horn team chose a hunting trail different from the six trails they usually went on. This new trail didn’t have as many fearsome beasts as the other six because this land wasn’t fertile. There weren’t many plants or animals here.
If the Flaming Horns came to hunt by themselves, they definitely wouldn’t have chosen this trail. This trail did not have enough fearsome beasts, so they felt that it wasn’t challenging enough for them. However, it was perfect for these tribesmen because they were new to this place and if things suddenly got out of hand, they could still manage to fix the situation. If they went on another trail and suddenly too many beasts appeared and caused chaos, even with the number of Flaming Horn warriors that came, it would be difficult to save everyone from that situation.
There were a total of three hundred people who came from all the teams. The Thunder Mountain tribe and the Sickle tribe brought around fifty members each. Most other tribes only brought a few members. Tribes like the Zhi tribe didn’t have a huge population to begin with, and other tribes that were not combative and had no experience in hunting had very few people who joined.
Luckily, the Thunder Mountain tribe, Sickle tribe, and Water Tiger tribe didn’t live by the same tributary because the hunting teams were separated according to their tributaries. Even though these three tribes currently had no conflicts with each other, they felt an urge to combat the other tribes, so luckily they weren’t on the same team.
After they crossed the Giant Bridge and walked deeper into the forest, they noticed that the trees were getting taller and the grass thicker. The grass in some areas were so tall that people would vanish as soon as they walked in.
The smallest tree trunks here were even thicker than the bulkiest person in this team. This forest was full of tall ancient trees. Compared to the size of those trees, their team of five hundred was insignificantly small army of ants.
The fog and mist in the mountains carried a silent murderous energy, as if something dangerous was lurking behind them, quietly observing them from afar.
How tiny they were!
This was a very special moment for those who first entered this forest. They finally understood why the Flaming Horns wanted to bring them out for a hunt. If they didn’t come, they wouldn’t have realised how tiny they were.
The Flaming Horn tribe chose hunting as the first team bonding activity of the Great Alliance. The main purpose of this hunt was to correct some of the improper attitudes these tribesmen held, especially those tribes that were more arrogant. This forest was not full of wild beasts that they often hunted, but of fearsome beasts that were way more dangerous.
Their ancestors from thousands of years ago might’ve encountered fearsome beasts, but they had been separated from the forest by the Great River for almost a thousand years, so they no longer had the experience their ancestors had.
If we compare these tribes to blades, the tribes that never had any hunting experience were like dull blades while those who had hunting experiences were sharper blades. If those dull blades wanted to prevent the slave masters from kidnapping their people, they had to sharpen themselves and gain more experience to become sharper blades capable of defending their tribe.
They heard a roar from far in the forest and anticipation began to build. The Flaming Horn soldiers who had experience in the woods could tell that this roar was an exclamation of excitement by a beast that had successfully hunted an intruder. A fight between beasts had taken place before they arrived.
Another roar came from the team of tribesmen.
The Ya tribesmen looked around nervously and some of them began to dig holes in the ground. Abuli’s giant feet staggered in retreat before he realised that this roar came from their team.
When the crowd looked over, the chief of the Water Tiger tribe, Qu Li, had raised his head and was roaring so loudly that even the veins on his neck bulged.
The other Water Tiger tribesmen behind Qu Li also opened their mouths as they prepared to roar.
“Silence!” Shao Xuan demanded in a low voice.
Hearing this, Qu Li stopped roaring and turned around. All the Flaming Horns in front of him were looking at him as if he was an idiot. The other tribesmen seemed ready to punch him in the face.
“Sorry, I couldn’t help it,” only now did Qu Li realise the terrible mistake he had committed. He heard a roar deep in the forest and he was too excited. The blood in his body was bubbling and he couldn’t find any words to express his current feelings, so the most instinctive thing to do was roar.
The Water Tiger tribesmen often used roaring as a way to vent their feelings. Whether it was anger, sadness, or excitement, they would roar. This was a habit that had existed for thousands of years in their tribe, maybe even longer. Their ancestors had this habit. That was why he couldn’t control his excitement just now.
In this forest, roaring was something fearsome beasts did if they wanted to warn intruders to stay away from their territory. Besides this, roaring also meant they were challenging opponents to a fight. Qu Li’s action was no different from seeking death.
What an idiot!
Many people cursed him in their hearts. If it wasn’t because of where they were, they would’ve screamed at him or even beat him up.
“If you roar in this forest, sometimes it just means an earlier death,” Shao Xuan said. Roaring in the forest required perfect timing and skill. One had to be adept in judging the situation and know when to roar and when to stay silent. This was clearly not the right time for a roar.
The team continued to advance. The Flaming Horns no longer needed to tell them to stay silent. All of them were already quiet and vigilant, cautious for even the slightest sounds around them. Even all the Water Tiger tribesmen bit their lips and stayed silent.
Even if these weren’t the best warriors from each tribe, they were skilled and all had keen senses. Threats were all around them. Even though the sky above was curtained by the towering ancient trees, many sensed the invisible dangers around them.
The grass here grew taller than them. Creatures hid behind the tall grass and the team could feel the murderous glares even if they couldn’t see these creatures.
Seeing how anxious everyone was, Shao Xuan said, “Don’t worry, those are just shadow birds. They’re very sly creatures. The stronger you pretend to be and the calmer you appear, the less likely they’ll make a move on you. If you look or act weak, then they might see you as a potential target.”
As soon as he finished speaking, a bird flapped its wings about a hundred metres ahead of them. When they looked ahead, it was a bird about half a human’s height with green and grey stripes.
Caesar snarled beside Shao Xuan, a low roar sounding in his throat.
Shao Xuan halted and lifted his hand to make a gesture.
Eight Flaming Horns warriors wielded their weapons and advanced.
“What happened?” Abuli asked.
Before Shao Xuan had a chance to explain, a beast roared in front of them. The sound was loud enough to deafen them.
Ci Du climbed up a tree nearby and looked forward. Since he was above ground, the grass no longer blocked his vision. Even though some parts of the trees were still in the way, he could now see clearly what was happening.
A few others in the team also followed suit and climbed up trees to watch the commotion.
It was a giant fearsome beast coated with thick grey fur. This beast was four times their height.
A tree trunk as wide as ten wingspans snapped in half. Two strong hind legs stomped on the ground as a giant body of a beast appeared. Besides that fearsome beast, Ci Du also saw a few other figures rustling through the thick grass. Those were the eight Flaming Horns soldiers.
Even though the team of warriors were quite far away, they could feel the rumbles through the ground. These rumbles were caused by the fearsome beast’s heavy feet. They could only wonder what those Flaming Horn soldiers were feeling since they were closest to the fearsome beast.
Ci Du, Qu Li, and Lu Zhai all stared unblinkingly as the Flaming Horns attacked the fearsome beast. The beast didn’t use any fancy attacks. All of its movements were simple and straightforward. They were effective too! It was fully utilizing its advantage as it launched deadly attacks at its opponents.
Its sharp claws sliced the air, making sharp whistling noises. It sounded like a sharp blade was dancing through the air.
Not only was this beast strong, it was even capable of causing severe damage. The people who were present had no doubt that those claws could cut a human into shreds any moment. Even those Flaming Horn soldiers who seemed stronger than most of them seemed weak against such violent attacks.
It was another round of attacks. Another tree had collapsed. The branches split, causing thunderous rumbles to spread through the air. Countless wood chips and chopped grass flew up into the air. It was hard to determine what was happening at the moment. The only thing they could sense was the quakes in the ground and the thunderous sounds of snapping branches.
The tribesmen who weren’t skilled in hunting shuddered as they watched the fight. If they were to face a fearsome beast of this level, they would definitely be terrified. It wasn’t because they were weak. Rather, they had no experience against such a beast.
Even the Flaming Horn soldiers with strong physique and power could not fight confidently against a beast of this level. They had to rely on teamwork and special techniques to kill the beast slowly.
The Flaming Horns were already so vigilant, so those tribes that were weaker than the Flaming Horns had to be even more careful. The Flaming Horns’ actions carried a clear enough message: Don’t be too arrogant and don’t do anything stupid. If you really want to fight a fearsome beast by yourself and you think that you can handle it, think twice. It is very likely for you to be killed by the beast.
Everyone from the Flaming Horn tribe who wasn’t part of the battle that was happening now as well as the other tribesmen who were here for the first time all learned something new. This battle warned them never to face these fearsome beasts alone. If they ever walked astray from their team and met with such a fearsome beast, they definitely shouldn’t fight so aggressively. Escape should be their first choice. If escape was not an option, then they must act wisely, or else they might lose their lives.
“Even you all from the Flaming Horn tribe can’t fight this one alone, can you?” Ci Du of the Du tribe suddenly said.
“Who told you that? Our chief, Elder Zheng Luo, Elder Ao, and our hunt leaders Ta and Duo Kang could fight this beast by themselves without anyone else’s help, but not everyone who is strong can fight this type of beast by themselves.”
Some people in the team disagreed with what the Flaming Horn warrior said. If these Flaming Horns could fight this fearsome beast by themselves, why couldn’t their own tribe’s chief do it?
“Your chief, elder, hunt leader… Huh… Can your Grand Elder fight this beast by himself?” Ci Du asked.
The Flaming Horn warrior who was explaining looked at Ci Du like he was asking a dumb question, “Our Grand Elder even fought against a King Beast by himself before! What do you think?”
Ci Du’s expression was even more perplexed now. He became a little complacent after learning that not all of the Flaming Horns were as strong as Shao Xuan. This meant that the Sickle tribe’s warriors weren’t weak compared to most Flaming Horns. They might even manage to catch up if they put in the effort.
Shao Xuan didn’t know what the others were thinking. He was fully concentrated on the battle on the other side. Even if he couldn’t see what was going on, he could sense the eight Flaming Horn soldier’s energies.
A roar of terror echoed across the woods.
Ci Du and the others who were on the trees watched the fight from beginning to end. At first, the fearsome beast appeared fierce and murderous and was ready to stomp down its opponents. Now, it was terrified and wanted to escape. The Flaming Horns even managed to inflict some injuries on it, and they weren’t giving this beast a chance to escape.
When everything became silent, the Flaming Horn soldiers who went to attack the beast were already dragging the fearsome beast back. It was dead.
Everyone in the team crowded to take a closer look at the fearsome beast.
“Don’t worry, you guys will see more of these beasts once we go deeper into the woods,” Mai told the people who were fighting to take a look at the fearsome beast.
“Let’s find a place to eat it first,” Shao Xuan said.
They were very close to their first resting station now. If they walked a little further, the grass would slowly become shorter and the trees would become more scattered
Before they arrived at their destination, the Flaming Horns demonstrated some hunting techniques for the people who were here for the first time. Of course, each tribe had their own unique hunting style. The Flaming Horns only showed them the basic techniques. During the actual hunt, it was best if they used techniques that suited them most.
Indeed, the other tribes learned a lot from the Flaming Horns about hunting giant beasts, but they couldn’t use the same techniques the Flaming Horns used for smaller fearsome beasts.
Smaller fearsome beasts were still bigger than humans. The Flaming Horns method of hunting these beasts was lifting them up like salted fish and slamming them onto the ground on one side and pounding them hard for a few times. Then, they would flip the beast over and repeat the same routine. The thick grass flattened whenever the Flaming Horns did this, and grass and dirt puffed up from the ground. The other tribesmen could never accomplish this feat. They couldn’t even lift those fearsome beasts, much less pound them.
“The grass grows very fast in this forest. It may look flat now and some parts might seem uprooted, but if you return in ten days time, it would be no different from before, covered with a new layer of green,” Shao Xuan told them after the battle had ended.
When they finally arrived at the hunting grounds, the hunting team split up into three different teams, each consisting of members that lived along the same tributary. The Flaming Horns also split themselves up into each team.
Rather, what worried Shao Xuan was the traces left behind by other humans in this hunting zone.
“Tell everyone to watch out. Even if we’re not their target, it’s best to stay vigilant.”