Chapter 1 – Full of Life
Stone Village was located within a vast mountain range. All around it were tall peaks and huge ravines, and endless groups of mountains towered over.
The sunlight passed through the dyed clouds, and it scattered a golden radiance as the people warmly bathed within.
Dozens of children gathered together in a group, and the ages varied from 4 years old to those over 10 years old. They faced the sunlight in an empty courtyard in front of the village, and were training their bodies with hmph and ha sounds. The young and tender little faces were all serious. The older children gave off a power like that of a tiger’s, while the younger ones still practiced with good form and style.
A middle-aged man with a body as well-built as a tiger or leopard wore clothing made from beasts. The color of his skin was like copper, and his black hair was spread over his shoulders. His bright and lively eyes scanned over every single child, and he sternly gave out instructions.
“When the sun rises, all living things begin to move, and the air of life is the most vigorous at that time. Although we cannot take the sunlight as meals and eat air like in the legends, there are still great benefits by training oneself while facing the sun as it can fill one’s body with energy. A day’s plan depends on the morning. Every day, rise early, and work hard. Strengthen your muscles, tendons, bones, and circulate your blood. You must do that to survive in this vast mountain range.” The middle-aged man who stood at the front and instructed the group of children had a face of strictness. He seriously warned, then yelled, “Do you understand?”
“We understand!” The group of children had plenty of vitality as they loudly replied.
There were many appearances of prehistoric lifeforms within the mountains. Occasionally, huge wings that covered the sky would pass over and cast giant shadows on the ground. There were also some desolate beasts who stood on mountain peaks, howling after swallowing the moon. Of course, the various types of poisonous insects moving about could not be forgotten, as they were also abnormally terrifying.
“Understand!” The little guy, who was clearly distracted and was half a beat slower, babyishly yelled out.
It was a very young child, roughly 1 or 2 years old. After learning how to walk for barely a few months, he had already begun to train with everyone else. Obviously, he went over by himself and mixed himself along with the older children, and was clearly not supposed to appear in that group.
Hmph hmph ha heh! The little guy made sounds from his mouth, and his tender little hands tried their best to wave around. He tried to imitate the older children’s movements, but he was too small and young. His movements were slanted and twisted, and his steps were unstable as he staggered around. In addition, there were white-colored milk stains on the corners of his mouth, making him appear quite foolish.
A group of older children were looking at him, and all of them were moving their eyebrows and eyes, causing the atmosphere of the originally strict morning exercises to relax.
The little guy was quite beautiful with his white and tender skin as well as his big, black revolving eyes. His entire body looked like a porcelain doll, causing him to look quite cute. His young and tender movement and the yi yi ya ya sounds coming from his mouth made him seem lovable and naive. Within another piece of land, some older people who sat cross-legged on huge rocks while breathing in and out also revealed smiles.
Even the male adults who were robust and half naked with shiny muscles also looked over with smiles. They were the strongest people in the village, and they were also the most important powers who hunted and guarded the village. They were also training. Someone held a big bone club from an unknown huge beast’s skeleton, and there was also another person who held a black-colored, metal-casted broadsword. He powerfully waved it, and the noise created from the wind was like thunder.
Their living environment was extremely nasty, and because there were various floods, fierce beasts, poisonous insects, and difficulty in gathering food for survival, many males died in the wilderness before they even matured. If one wanted to live, they could only strengthen themselves and work hard in the morning. No matter if it was adults, or elders, or children, it was a habit that was formed since they were young.
“Concentrate!” The middle-aged man who was responsible for supervising and instructing the children’s training loudly yelled. The group of children hurriedly went back to being serious, and they continued to train in the soft and dazzling morning sunlight.
“Huu…yiya…Tired.” The little guy exhaled, then he sat down on the ground as he looked at the training of the older children. However, after a while, his attention shifted. He stood up, and while staggering, he rushed towards a five-colored sparrow that was jumping and bouncing around nearby. At the end, it did not go well. He fell on his butt a few times, but he did not cry. As he huffed, he climbed back up to chase again with hmphs and sighs.
Following a loud shout, every single child cheered for a while. They massaged their aching hands and feet, then while shouting, they separated and charged towards their own homes to eat breakfast.
The older villagers all smiled as they climbed down from the huge rocks. As for the adults who were as well-built as tigers, they also laughed and some of them followed their own children back home as they held their bone clubs and broadswords.
Stone Village was not too big. There were around 300 people if you added up the old and young males and females. The houses were made out of huge stones, and they were plain and natural.
At the front of the village, there was a huge tree which that had been struck by lightning, and it had a diameter of a dozen meters or so. At that moment, the light from the only willow branch remaining on the tree was already being concealed by the morning sunlight, and it became quite ordinary.
“Oh? You have Dirt Dragon meat? Hand me some!”
Some children were lively and restless, and as they ate, they didn’t have much etiquette. Many of them came out from their homes to gather together while hugging their pottery bowls.
Grass and trees flourished around Stone Village, and although there were many fierce beasts, they had guards protecting them from the big mountain. The amount of food was not that abundant for the villagers. They only had some rough wheat bread, wild fruits, and rare meat in the children’s bowls.
In fact, insufficient food was always a very serious problem for Stone Village. The mountain range was extremely dangerous, and the abnormal beasts and fierce birds were too strong and terrifying. Every time they went out to hunt, it was possible that someone would lose their life.
If there was a choice, the villagers would not be willing to enter the mountains, because entering the mountain indicted blood and sacrifices.
To them, food was always extremely precious, and wasting was not allowed. Every single child were taught that since they were young. Hunger. Food. Hunting. Life. Blood. They were all interconnected.
The courtyard of the old chief, Shi1 Yunfeng, was located at the front of the village. It was pieced together by huge stones, then tightened up with huge burnt willow wood. Within the courtyard and in front of the kitchen, a white-colored liquid inside a pottery pot was boiling. The fragrance of the milk pounced towards one’s nose, and the little guy was currently simmering milk from beasts. Other than that, occasionally, he threw some medical herbs in and slowly stirred it with a wooden ladle.
After a short while, the old man yelled, “Little guy, come over and eat!”
The little guy lost his parents when he was half a year old, so he grew up by drinking the milk of beasts. At that moment, he was already one year and a few months old. If he was a normal child, he should have already weaned, yet he still drank the milk quite deliciously. He was unwilling to stop drinking the milk, so he was teased by some older children.
“Yiya, hu…I can’t run anymore…” He kept persistently chasing after the five-colored sparrow, and he was already out of breath. At that instant, he fell and sat on the floor.
“Little guy, drink your milk!” A bunch of older children clamored together.
“You little monkeys, didn’t all of you also pass through his age?” The old chief smiled and reprimanded them.
“But we didn’t still drink milk at the age of one and a half! Hehe..”
The little guy made a silly smile as he faced the teasing of the older children. His big, bright, and black eyes squinted into a crescent moon and he didn’t seem to mind. He sat in front of the pot and scooped with the wooden ladle, drinking the milk quite delightfully.
After breakfast, several extremely aged old people in the village gathered in the courtyard of the chief, Shi Yunfeng. Although their hairs had all turned white, they were still very vigorous.
“Something’s wrong recently. Late last night, a giant creature passed by and created a massive disturbance. Something must have happened deep within the mountain range.”
“Mm. I woke up from my sleep a few times last night, and my skin and bones were chilly. Undoubtedly, some cruel beasts or huge insects must have passed by.”
Several old people spoke one after another. They were either frowning or in deep contemplation. They discussed some hints of danger recently, and they felt that something different happened.
“I feel that in the deep wilderness, something impressive must have appeared to attract the attention of the surrounding areas or ancient remains, so all of them quickly went over,” said chief Shi Yunfeng after thinking.
“A mountain treasure wouldn’t have appeared right?” Another old person instantly widened his eyes. His hair and beard all stood up, and he expressed his surprise.
Others also expressed unusual expressions and their gazes were burning, however, they quickly put out the flames in their eyes. Things like those were not something that they could get. No one would enter the deepest parts of the faraway mountain range.
For all these years, not a single person was able to survive after entering such a place. All sorts of overpowering things appeared within the mountains, and even if every single person in Stone Village went in together, they wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything.
“Chief, we haven’t entered the mountain in quite a few days.” Just at that time, a powerful adult male walked into the courtyard. He was the leader of the hunting team, and he was also the chief who was going to serve Stone Village next.
“It hasn’t been too peaceful recently.” Chief Shi Yunfeng furrowed his brows.
“But there really isn’t much food left.” Shi Linhu said. His build was extremely tall and big, being over two meters tall. He carried a broadsword that weighted 300 jin or so, and his entire figure looked like a human-shaped bear. Chunks of copper-colored muscles were all over his body, and they were moving around like a python.
“The little ones need to grow and they cannot starve. We must think of some methods,” spoke an elder.
“Although it isn’t too peaceful and quiet at night here, on the other hand, there aren’t many abnormalities in the day. I’ll bring some people out, and there shouldn’t be many problems if we are careful.” Shi Linhu said.
In the end, dozens of males at their prime gathered at the front of the village. The chief, Shi Yunfeng, brought them in front of the lightning-struck wood and seriously prayed towards the old willow tree.
“Guardian spirit, please protect my clan members, let them hunt some plump prey for the children, and safely return. With devout hearts, we offer sacrifices and offerings to you for generations to come.”
1. Shi = Stone