Dust of History - Chapter 0.2
TL Note: uhm sorry, there are four prologues, so the order is 0.2, 0.4, 0.6, 0.8, then 1.0, I’ll see if I can change it back ya, sorry.
The sharp blade ran through the neck, and the soon-to-be carcass in his hand tensed and twitched violently, quivering strongly despite its small size, as if it wanted to squeeze out the minuscule drop of life within itself. As the warm and pungent liquid gradually dripped into his mouth, the trembling thing wrapped by his fingers gradually became weaker until finally, it stopped completely. Aza squeezed the mountain rat with all his might, without concern about the stomach acid that dripped out together. It wasn’t until the last drop of bodily fluids finished dripping that Aza put aside the deformed mountain rat, and stuck out his tongue to lick the blood on his lips.
I don’t want to die.
The smell of blood rose from his stomach. His throat growled lowly reflexively, it sounded deep and travelled far, fearful yet fearsome at the same time, it’s as if it didn’t come from his vocal organs, but from the deepest part of his soul.
He remembered this sound. When he was three years old, he hid in a tree and watched a few hunters in the village cornering a wounded wolf. He was shaken by the heavy growl of the wolf, but it was not fear, it was a sound that resonated with his soul-string. After that, he became obsessed with grasping the language of beasts.
He now fully understood that the unintelligible growl wasn’t meaningless, but the desperate howl of the living before their imminent death, it’s the release of an intense desire to survive and the crazed beastly nature overflowing in his heart.
Three days of eating raw animals and unbearable tension, as well as limited physical strength. The imminent death tailing him and his strong desire to survive, the combined agony of the two almost turned him into a senseless beast. But fortunately, sense and logic still control his actions.
Aza is very aware of the gap in ability between himself and the hunter. He remembered very clearly how the heads of the two soldiers of the third division were smashed like watermelons in an instant. The only advantage he had was that he understood the opponent’s intentions.
The hunter didn’t pursue him ferociously. It wasn’t a race, the hunter didn’t want to catch up with him so soon to risk injury against an injured and desperate beast. This is a hunt, stalking the prey non-stop, to let the prey gradually weaken in fear as they flee, and then approach when you are certain that you can kill it, like strangling a critter, lop off his head. No matter if it’s his physical ability or his survival skills in this swampy jungle, it is merely not enough for him to shake off the pursuit. The hunter and prey both understood this.
During these three days, Aza feigned the desperate fleeing that the hunter expected to see. His stamina also seemed as if it dropped from the constant running. If you can’t make a fire, you will not have edible food. Eating raw beast meat in the lizard swamp is the same as looking for death. The parasites in their body are deadly for the human body. Instead, you can only find some non-toxic insects to consume. Although the blood of the beasts is edible, it provides little nutrients, and it is not enough to recover the energy lost from sweating and running. The lack of consuming salt and food has caused him to reach the limit, so the illusion that he had been working hard to create these three days must end without the slightest mistake
With amazing luck, he found three non-toxic worms in the surrounding grass and shrubs. About the size of a finger, they struggled from side to side filled with energy. Holding their head with his fingers, he then slowly pinched out the green faeces from the end. If he pinched the body of the worm with too much force, it will explode and waste the nutrients, but the faeces might be poisonous so it still had to be removed as much as possible. This is a top-notch difficulty craft. After several days of experience, Aza has become very skilled at it.
The tender worm meat quickly turned into thick pastes under the chewing, and the creamy and bitter taste swirled on the taste buds like the air of this swamp sticking to the skin. Aza carefully grinds with his teeth and uses his tongue to search for remnant meat paste between the gaps and gums, ensuring that all the worms can be reduced to the smallest unit possible for easier digestion. Every drop of nutrition is precious, it gives motivation for action and the hope to live.
He used a knife to dig a hole about a foot in the ground and bury the mountain rat’s body. Every time he killed an animal during these three days, he would bury the body regardless of his deteriorating physical strength.
He carried the knife on his back, meticulously checked himself, and flattened the wrinkles of every piece of clothing as much as possible. Like a watchful sentinel stepping onto a narrow guard tower, he cautiously stepped on the mound where the mountain rat had just been buried, and then slowly squatted down and lower on all fours, like a huge shape-shifting worm, slowly crawling like a worm to the nasty pool of water beside him.
He focused all his attention on this unsightly action, carefully controlling every muscle on his body, keeping his body as close to the ground as possible, without leaving any conspicuous marks on the soft mud. Any movement out of control and uncoordinated will make the three-day scheming completely in vain.
He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and slowly slid into the nasty water, without the water splashing at all. The weight of the knife with him was just enough to keep him from floating, he moved through the mud at the bottom of the water in the direction he remembered. This pool of nasty water leads to a temporary creek that appeared during rainy seasons. He came here on purpose, and he also chose this terrain to bury the body. Everything was planned.
There was prickling pain in several places on his body, some leeches sucked onto his body. Aza ignored it. After sucking enough blood, they would release their mouths on their own. Forcefully pulling it out would only cause the sucker to remain in the skin and cause infection. The most important thing now is to sneak out as far as possible before he needed to surface for air.
I re-examined every detail just now in my mind. There are no flaws, the exultation of freedom arose spontaneously in his heart. The only problem now is the mountain rat’s carcass, which has to decompose enough to give off a certain smell before the hunter arrives.
I just need a bit of rotten luck now. (TL: rotten as in the carcass rots, both meaning works)
On the muddy silt, Aza, who was rowing his limbs forward like a carrion lizard, prayed zealously.
In the afternoon, the rarely-seen sunlight in the Lizard Swamp shone down.
The sun was separated by the branches before reaching the ground. The wet ground turned the sunlight into a hypnotizing screen between the branches of the tree and the ground. In this sultry and humid barrier, all life in the swamps quickly grew and perish for other life to be born and so it repeats, and even the rapid decomposition appeared to be very lively.
The hunter watched silently as a horde of carrion-eating lizards gleefully scrambled for the carcass of a mountain rat. He hated the slimy smell of these ugly scavengers, it’s too strong for his keen sense of smell. A comparatively larger lizard successfully snatched the corpse and turned to run away.
With humans as measuring standards, the current prey is quite good, with decent speed, agility, and strength. The hunter is very interested, he knows that he had a higher chance of killing him in head-to-head combat.
But having a fair degree of certainty is not enough. This is not a battlefield, but a hunt, it is necessary to make this fair degree of certainty into great certainty. Since yesterday, the footprints have gradually become weak and light.
Now, the hunter feels confident enough.
But it’s also a rather bizarre prey. Although it was indeed being hunted, the footprints did not show the disorderliness and panic that a hunted prey should have. There was a strange firmness in the feeble steps, that was not the footsteps of someone blindly escaping for one’s life, something else was obscured in it.
The covering up of its whereabouts these three days was quite good, but they kept making a stupid mistake – burying the carcasses of the animals after drinking their blood. This is completely counterproductive, the lizards will dig up the carcass and eat it, keen for the smell of decay. The hunter just had to follow the stench of the hordes of lizards to find the traces of the prey.
The incomprehensible firmness, the stupid mistake, the seemingly existing connection between the two made the hunter feel a little weird. But it is only limited to feeling. After catching up, killing, and lopping off his head, there will be nothing strange about it. No prey can escape its hunting in this swampy jungle. This hunter has absolute confidence. Mind you, absolute.
But the hunter was immediately shocked to find that all the traces only ended here and did not extend in any direction.
Only the strong stench of swamp lizards remained in the air. The hunter leaned down, scrutinizing the ground for any clue. Although the lizards crawled and scrambled for food and made a mess of the surrounding ground, with the hunter’s superior observation and experience, the traces of this prey were still visible, and it just a while to clear all the traces around and investigate the place clearly.
Some weak but unflustered steps, there is no trace of stepping back on their own footprints to return from the original path, the prey just walked around in the surrounding bushes, probably looking for food. The hunter was even able to tell that the first food he found was from under two staghorn ferns, presumably a bug. The first half of the two footprints there are slightly deeper, showing a forward shift in the centre of gravity of the stooping motion. But other than that, nothing was found. The footprints stopped abruptly only before the pit where the carcass was originally buried.
This is completely outside the range of experience accumulated over the years by the hunter’s tribe. Fleeing, covering traces, and declining physical conditions, the hunter had to utilize his intellect to connect with these together, hoping to draw something other than experience from them. But it is too difficult for a brain lacking in logical thinking skills to accomplish this task. When he found himself falling into a deviant trap, step by step, just as the pray had hoped, an uncontrollable rage frantically took over all his thoughts.
A lizard crawled back shaking its head, sniffing by the pit, hoping to find something good. But it immediately became the target of the furious man beside him. The huge body flew high with a violent blow, and then fell into the nasty pool of water, causing the sky-high water and silt to splash everywhere. As the muddy water landed on the shore, there were a few leeches, clumsily wriggling their rounded bodies after they were full, trying to return to the water. The hunter noticed it, picked up one and looked at it carefully, cracked it with a snap, and tasted the liquid flowing out of it. Then there was a hideous expression on his face that are unreadable by members of other races.
Sticking to the ground, with the most sensitive sense of smell on the entire continent, he finally discerned the smell he was hoping to find apart from the pungent smell of the lizard’s mucus and the rotten smell of the earth. The smell extends to the nasty pool of water.
I will and must tear out your heart while you are alive, rip through that pulsating warm thing with my teeth, swallow the entire thing through my throat with the freshest blood within it, and convert this cunning sense of yours into the power of mine.
There must be no damage to the head. Need to slowly dig out the brain from the eye socket and eat it, peel off the flesh, and hire the best craftsmen to shape the skull. This perfect loot can be placed on our ancestor’s tomb. As a sacrifice, this will be the testimony that the tribe’s prided hunting skills have grown.
You are a fine prey of mine.
A long-lost excitement filled the sprinting hunter’s body, that is a feeling that he had only felt when he was chasing after the most beautiful female in the tribe after maturing.
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