Chapter 4

The people Zhang Qishan brought with him were all elite soldiers of the Zhang family. When they went into the mountains, they all had submachine guns and German-made pistols. Each person was equipped with two horses.

Normally, it was more appropriate to take mules when you were going into the mountains, but mules could only bear weight. If you wanted to hunt, you still had to rely on a horse’s ability to quickly charge short distances.

In the mountains of western Hunan, there were “official roads” in some places that were built by the authorities. But they were long gone after several fights and wars.

The leader actually didn’t know that Zhang Qishan was going to hunt the mountain god at that time, and gave a child to Zhang Qishan.

“This is a newborn child from the village,” the leader had said to him. “I’m too old. I have already given away my eyes. Wars have been going on for years now, so I can no longer find the route to pay tribute to the mountain god. If you help me accomplish this matter, I’ll agree to your request.”

Zhang Qishan looked at the child. It was a little boy with facial features that were exclusive to the local people. He was probably going to be a brave warrior among the Miao people when he grew up.

The child’s parents stood behind them, the father’s eyes full of indifference. For men in the eighty-two villages, too many people had died these past few years. Whether it was fights between warlords, fights between tusis, or fighting against the Japanese, death and loss had made people completely indifferent.

But the mother still couldn’t suppress the pain deep down and kept crying.

Zhang Qishan nodded. There were a total of thirty people heading towards the depths of the mountain. There was a hunting trail leading from the village to the back of the mountain that hunters often used. It would take people a week before they could reach the depths of the mountain if they took this trail.

At that time, his accompanying guard—a man called Zhang Xiaoyu—was awkwardly carrying the child on his back. After walking for a few kilometers, the team behind them that was sending them off stopped and slowly disappeared from sight.

Zhang Xiaoyu asked Zhang Qishan, “Isn’t it too sloppy to leave the important task of the mountain god tribute to us outsiders? Do the eighty-two villages have that much faith in us?”

“I’ve asked around and learned that none of the people who followed the leader into the depths of the mountain have ever come out. Every time a group of people entered the mountain, the leader was the only one who came out. So, the child isn’t the only tribute to the mountain god,” Zhang Qishan said. “We pushed the leader too far this time. I figure he wants to give us to the mountain god since he doesn’t think we can make it out alive.”

“What? We can’t let that happen. We can’t let them get what they want,” Zhang Xiaoyu said. “We’ve always had a good relationship with the eighty-two villages. Why do they want us dead all of a sudden?”

“The environment here is too vile, especially more recently. People’s kindness and evilness are changing drastically, and their moral compasses are also changing due to the changing environment. In terms of the safety of the people in the Miao villages, the supreme leader bears the greatest responsibility. To them, we can be sacrificed in the face of good and evil.”

Zhang Qishan looked at the primitive forest in front of him. Two huge wild mountains had appeared. The valley in the middle was called Heitianmen. After passing this point, there weren’t any official roads and the route would become very complicated. Only the most excellent hunters would go hunting in there.

There would be more beasts once they passed this point, but it still wasn’t the mountain god’s territory yet. Zhang Xiaoyu made a gesture, and the surrounding guards became more vigilant.

“That makes sense.” After that, Zhang Xiaoyu patted the baby on his back. Before they set off, they let the baby sip a little bit of wine, so he was sound asleep. They predicted that the baby would cry loudly once he saw that his mother wasn’t around, which would probably attract all kinds of beasts and monsters.

“What do you think the mountain god is?” He continued to ask Zhang Qishan.

“We just need to treat it as prey,” Zhang Qishan said. “After so many years, have you seen anything more ferocious than us?”

At this time, a trembling voice came from behind Zhang Qishan, “Fo Ye, you have to know your enemies well so that you can win every fight. You mustn’t underestimate your enemy. This thing has been alive for six hundred years. During those years, there must have been some courageous hunters wanting to kill it. But they didn’t succeed, which means that this thing stands the test of time.”

“I hate long-lived things the most.” Zhang Qishan turned around and saw Old Ba holding a pistol in his hand as he shrank in on himself among the team.

“You’d better put the gun away before you accidentally shoot someone,” Zhang Xiaoyu said.

Qi Tiezui smiled and tucked the gun back into his pocket. “Don’t worry, I already made my calculations before we set off. This time, there won’t be any surprises and dangers. There’s even a love affair. Maybe when I return to the Miao village, there will be a Miao girl who will fall in love with me and the Qi family will have descendants.”

“When you marry a woman from the Miao villages, you have to lie on a bamboo bed, and the bride’s female relatives will use their nails to pinch you until you have countless bruises. Since their girl has decided to marry you, they want you to pay back all the hardships she might encounter in the future before you get married. Did you know that?” Zhang Xiaoyu said.

“No. That’s not going to happen. My Miao girl will definitely feel bad for me and flee with me to Changsha before that.” Qi Tiezui touched his glasses and looked at the surrounding mountains. “Xiangxi is full of places that cultivate corpses. Fo Ye, do you think it’s possible that this mountain god is an old corpse in an ancient tomb in the valley that’s living in the exquisite soil?”

Zhang Qishan didn’t answer him. He was also looking at the surrounding mountains. The feng shui here was strange and changeable. Looking at the mountain from different angles, he could come up with three or four different explanations. It could even be said that this was an evil place. No wonder there were so many scary and mysterious stories in Xiangxi.

They continued their journey. To make a long story short, their group reached the densest part of the forest a week after they passed Heitianmen. The team tried their best to move forward and find a way into the valley. These horses were all very clever and would stop when they encountered dense shrubs. Then, the scouts would dismount and open the way for them.

During one of these times, the scouts suddenly came back, saying that there was the sound of flies gathering up ahead.

Zhang Qishan urged his horse to step on the bushes and entered the dense forest valley. There he saw the skinned corpse of a hunter hanging on one of the vines of a tree that obscured the sky.

The corpse had been dead for six or seven days, and the flies had gathered around it in a dense pack. Although the corpse’s feet were entangled in the vines, its head was buried in the mud. But the mud that his head was buried in was somewhat different from the surrounding soil.

<Chapter 3><Table of Contents><Chapter 5>


6 thoughts on “Chapter 4

  1. When he said “Love affair” I recall king Yama. If we count on Ba Ye’s luck like Wu Xie, that’s monster definitely will fall in love with him.😅


  2. |Hey Hey we are missing one third of the team. where is our sweet Lieu. to torment Old Ba. So they are 5 days in, wondering how many spots of wine they gave to the little nipper who would most assuredly have woken in a state of ‘Where is my mom and I need milk!!!” aka screaming like a banshee.


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