Chapter 14 – Stoneware Crafter
Translated by Sunyancai
Early in the next morning, before the sun rose, all kids in the cave woke up, and some of them had dark circles around their eyes, for not getting proper sleep because of anxiety.
Mo-Er was curious when he got woken up, for that circumstance never happened in the past. He had killed a few night swallows during last night’s practice, and on his arm there were also a few wounds with different depth. He had covered them with herbs.
Regardless of his curiosity, Mo-Er stood up and picked up his stone knife and waited for what was next. He found out that every five kids would stand close to each other, with straw ropes and little black things in their arms. They were discussing about something near the entrance as they constantly looked at Shao Xuan, fully excited.
“The sun rose! Today’s weather must be good, so we can go fishing!” said a child, staring at the sun in the sky.
“But the weather was also good yesterday, yet we could not catch any fish! Will today be the same as yesterday?” Another child poured cold water on his enthusiasm.
Most kids in the cave were no fans of unlucky words like that, so they all glared at the one who had claimed “the same as yesterday”.
Regardless of whether today was a day for fishing, they needed to eat breakfast, or else they would have no strength to work. Ever since they had some income, Shao Xuan would eat something every morning. At first, some kids felt reluctant to eat, but then they behaved tired and cranky when it came to fishing, so their harvest was not as good as the others who had eaten. So the next morning, they would set up their stone pot, just as Shao Xuan did. They had no choice but to eat breakfast, for no eating meant no strength to work, and no strength to work meant even less game, which would lead to starvation. It was just a vicious cycle.
They were quite energetic when they were well fed and watered.
Seeing that Mo-Er did not have any trouble walking around, Shao Xuan invited him to go fishing together. Mo-Er offered the night swallows he killed last night as breakfast for the group, so the other kids besides Shao Xuan had also softened their attitude towards him.
All kids left the cave, leaving their home unguarded, because there was nothing left for others to steal. They carried all the straw ropes and black floats. As for fish, no one from the tribe would try to steal the food from the orphan cave, or else he or she would be truly despised. So no one would take their fish even if they put them outside to dry. Besides the food, there was nothing in the cave that could entice others. So it was totally unnecessary to keep it guarded, and Caesar followed Shao Xuan as well.
The surface of the river was also calm today, but not as weirdly calm as yesterday. Seeing the glittering waters, Shao Xuan felt relieved a little. He called for Ba and Tu to take up a straw rope with a stone worm tied on the end, and tossed it into the water as an experiment.
Over twenty kids were standing behind Shao Xuan and they stared at the stone worm without blinking. When the stone worm sank into the water, they stared at the black float on the surface.
“How’s it going, Ah-Xuan?”
“Is it okay?”
“Has the fish returned?”
Some hot-tempered kids couldn’t help but whisper.
Shao Xuan fixed his eyes on the surface, and this time he did not “see” those water creatures with the long tentacles. Also the black float’s vibration was just like old times, which represented that stone worm was struggling down there.
“There should be no prob…” Before Shao Xuan could finish his words, he was interrupted by the situation on the water surface.
The black float sank suddenly and they could feel the familiar strength from the straw rope. Shao Xuan calmed his mind and promptly pulled the straw rope back together with Ba.
“The fish returned!!”
Seeing that, all kids jumped up and down in excitement, and when the familiar hideous face exposed itself from the water, the kids finally rested assured completely.
It was only one day, but they missed it dearly. They were quite eager with straw ropes at hand, and at Shao Xuan’s command, all the whelps began to fish expertly with their group members.
“Mo-Er, you stay with them. Tu, tell Mo-Er the things that he needs to know when fishing, while I take Caesar to dig out more stone worms. The stone worms we have now are far from enough. But remember, no should enter the water and no fighting. If you have the time to fight, you may as well pull out more fish. Take your time, for winter will come in a few days. Go seek help from the guarding warriors if anything’s wrong.” The latter part of Shao Xuan’s words were spoken to all the kids at the bank.
In fact, Shao Xuan didn’t need to say that much, for all the kids cherished today’s chance of fishing very much after yesterday’s incident. No one knew whether those fish would leave tomorrow, so the more they captured, the better. Who would bother to fight one another?
Just at the same time when the kids from the cave were pulling out fish from the water, some residents in mountain foot district also came and joined the army of fishers.
Those situations were seen often lately, and unlike old times, guarding warriors would not go and warn them if they saw someone go near the waters. Now they would only observe from afar, and from time to time they would remind them not to go down the water, and that they should report on time if they notice anything unusual.
These fish had indeed helped solve the pressing needs of some people. In a few families, the totemic warriors were wounded in recent hunting missions, so they could not participate in the last hunting before winter. No hunting led to less food. All family members shared the same trouble as how to survive the cold. However, now they were pretty relieved, for who could’ve anticipated that the things in the river could be captured so easily? Even the weak and the old people in the tribe could come and help.
Also, through all the things, Shao Xuan was gradually known by the residents in mountain foot district. In the past all they remembered was that a kid was wandering around with a wolf. Now because of fish, and their trade with him for black floats, they finally remembered Shao Xuan’s name. When the word that Shao Xuan was planning to trade for all standards of animal skins got around, many families cleared out some spare animal skins that they wouldn’t be using, and rushed to do trading with Shao Xuan.
When Shao Xuan arrived at the gravel yard, there were already seven or eight people there. They even greeted Shao Xuan, and after they heard that today was a day for fishing, their eyesight on him grew much warmer. How they wished that they could find the stone worms’ hideout, and take them all as fishing baits as soon as possible.
Recently, the stone worms in the gravel yard were all in trouble. As soon as they revealed their head a little from the gravels, people would rush forward and dig them out. The quick ones could cut itself into half to survive, and the slow ones could only be dragged out as a whole. In the previous years, they would get no one’s attention even if they creeped above the ground slowly. However, now it was totally different. Aside from revealing their heads, even a slight move of gravels would draw someone’s attention, and people would turn the gravels over to see if there are any stone worms hidden inside.
But, compared with Caesar, these people were far from efficient. He was very coveted when people in the gravel yard searching for stone worms saw that Caesar could easily dig one out with a bit of sniffing.
This wolf had such a fucking sharp nose!
Also, one would think that perhaps they could weave a giant net with the straw ropes, and use that to capture the fish. However, the truth proved different. Indeed, one could capture many fish with a net, but before the net was pulled up, it was torn apart by those fish. And there was no fish left when one collected the net back. Thus everyone had no alternative but to use the inconvenient way to go fishing, and capture their game one at a time.
In the afternoon, all the kids were summoned back in their cave by Shao Xuan. After they had been fed with the food provided by the tribe, no one wanted to stay in the cave to weave straw ropes. Because after yesterday’s hard work, they now had enough straw ropes. Instead, they wanted to go back to the riverside and continue fishing before it got dark.
Shao Xuan raised no objection, but he did not tag along in the afternoon. He got plenty of stone worms in the morning so it should be enough for five groups.
Judging from the moons last night, winter should be just around the corner. They have to capture more fish before winter comes, for as long as winter came, the temperature in the outside would rapidly drop and there would be thick ice along the bank. And then, people with no totemic power would basically always stay inside. They had no strong or thick animal fur clothes to fight against the blizzard, so they could easily get frozen to death.
Instead of following those kids to the riverbank, Shao Xuan took two fish and left the cave. Shao Xuan dragged one fish and gave the other fish to Caesar. He also took an animal skin bag with him, in which there were the stones of fine quality that he had collected from the training ground earlier. Since there were more people searching for stone worms in the gravel yard, it was not safe as a hiding place anymore. Shao Xuan moved those stones and kept them in the cave. Unlike old times, no whelp dared to rob Shao Xuan’s stuff anymore.
Every time when Shao Xuan had found fine stones that could be made into tools, he would trade them for food with a stoneware crafter. Also, the man he chose to do trading with was also fixed. Shao Xuan made the decision after he had observed a few stoneware crafters in the mountain foot district.
The stoneware crafter was named “Ke”. People said that he was in charge of placing traps back in the hunting team. It’s just that during a hunting mission, he lost one of his legs, so he had to retire from the hunting team and become a stoneware crafter near the mountain foot district. And now he made stoneware for people to earn a living.
Shao Xuan took the fish and came in front of a wooden house. There were no doors in many houses, as people used thick leather curtains or plant-woven curtains to block others’ views. It was also the case with Ke’s house. Shao Xuan called out, “Uncle Ke!”, as he could hear sounds of polishing the stoneware in the house.
No one answered inside, but the leather curtain moved a little bit, which meant that the owner allowed you to come inside. Without permission to enter, Shao Xuan would never be able to lift the curtain. Many things that Ke used seemed quite simple, but were in fact very much complicated than the things in other residents’ houses. You can directly lift other people’s curtains, but it won’t work in Ke’s house. You would definitely be the one who suffered, if you tried to enter by force.
Even though he had only one leg left now, Ke was in charge of placing traps back in the hunting team. So for what it was worth, he still had his skills.