Chapter 33 – The length of a finger
Translated by Sunyancai
People in the tribe resumed the usual pace of life after the hunting team had left.
However, compared to last year, it was quite different with the bustling by the riverside. After experiencing the initial fear of the unknown creatures in the river, people began to tend to be less afraid of water creatures because of the benefits brought by the big-mouthed piranhas.
It turned out that the creatures in the river were not so dreadful. One could capture enough food as long as one stayed careful.
Kids in the orphan cave lived a stable life under the management of Tu and Ba. Every day they would go fishing, and with the food provided by the tribe, had grown much stronger than before. They also became more and more united as time went by. They had to be united, for each and every single person’s capacity was limited after all, so they had to act as a unit in order to be dominant when fishing.
As for stone worms, Shao Xuan would take Caesar to dig some up every two days, after which he asked the kids in the orphan cave to store them for later use.
However, stones could never trap stone worms. Someone had tried to store stone worms within a stone jar, only to discover the jar broken and the stone worm gone the next day. However, Tu made an important discovery from this accident. Wooden jars and straw ropes could trap the worms better than stoneware. Even though the stone worms could not be kept for a long time, they could definitely be trapped for one or two days, preventing Shao Xuan from having to go to the orphan cave every day.
It soon became routine for Shao Xuan to search for stone cores at the training ground in the mornings, and, in the afternoons, go to old Ke’s place to learn crafting skills.
Over ten days passed, and Shao Xuan felt that he had much more strength than when he had newly-awakened. He became more skilled in controlling his totemic power, and could switch the two kinds of powers inside him more freely.
It seemed that learning stone crafting skills had many benefits to mastering totemic power.
Shao Xuan went through the woods like a nimble monkey, heading towards the place he had chosen yesterday. As his figure went by, the branches shook slightly, as if blown by a slight breeze.
Caesar ran behind him.
Being still within the range of the area guarded by warriors from the tribe, Shao Xuan did not worry about the presence of some ferocious beasts, yet controlled his sound on purpose in preparation of future hunting missions. On many occasions, warriors were required to move in silence as they had to approach the game quietly and hide their presence. A slightly larger noise could easily disturb the beast they were after, or draw some other fierce beast’s attention.
Shao Xuan had seen Lang Ga and Mai move in silence and knew that both of them, especially Mai, could move without a single sound. He still had a long way to go compared to them.
In the several mountains of the training grounds, Shao Xuan saw many newly-awakened kid like himself, including Sai.
“Hey, is that Ah-Xuan?” Sai’s father questioned, watching the figure flash by. For normal people, Shao Xuan was very fast and hard to see, but for an experienced warrior who had been awakened for a long time, he could be spotted easily.
Sai was constantly jumping with a giant stone in his hands and had jumped over a hundred times already. By the time he looked in the direction his father was looking, Shao Xuan had already disappeared.
“What are you looking at? Continue jumping!” Sai’s father hit him on the butt with a stone stick and yelled, “You are worse than Ah-Xuan, who is two years younger than you!”
“Why do you say that?” Sai was obviously not convinced.
“Hey, how dare you talk back at me? It’s what I say it is! Now continue to jump and you may only rest when you’ve jumped two hundred times!” Sai’s father hit him twice more with the stick as he spoke.
“I’m already at a hundred and seventy two!” Sai had calculated in his mind and knew he only had to jump another twenty-eight times. He was happy about that and wondered whether to hunt for flying stone squirrels, or to find some snacks. He wondered whether he could still find that green fruit that tasted crispy the other day.
Sai swallowed his saliva as he thought, but suddenly he heard his father shout again, “Do you take me for a fool who could never calculate correctly? You’ve only done hundred and twenty-seven! You have to jump another seventy-three times!”
Sai was so angry that he nearly tossed that giant stone away. However, his father was like that. He was never wrong, so Sai had to admit defeat no matter what. He would get beaten up by his father if he argued.
Sai could not blame his dad, so he blamed Shao Xuan instead, planning to vent his anger later.
Shao Xuan, on the other hand, was not aware that he was hated again, and kept looking for fine stones as usual. There were a lot of stones in the training grounds, but those that could be used to craft into stoneware were quite rare. Even when he relied on his special ability to sort out different levels of stones, it still took him a lot of time to find acceptable ones. This was because sometimes, even fine stones might not be suitable for carving. Every morning, Shao Xuan would spend a few hours selecting stones, after which he would take back those which had fine quality and were suitable for carving.
After these days of learning from old Ke, Shao Xuan had made big progress in identifying different stones. He no longer saw all the stones at the same level as he had in the past.
When Shao Xuan was looking for stone cores, Caesar would dig holes in the mountain or catch flying stone squirrels out of boredom. So every time Shao Xuan finished selecting stone cores, he would find a few dead flying stone squirrels lying beside Caesar’s feet.
Sometimes, Shao Xuan would feel sorry for Caesar. He was a wolf, yet he was kept by Shao Xuan in that way.
In the afternoon, Shao Xuan went to old Ke’s place with the selected stone cores.
Old Ke taught Shao Xuan how to determine the best striking angles and striking surfaces of a stone, and which kind of stone was suitable for being crafted into which kind of stoneware. Then, old Ke watched as Shao Xuan carved off stone flakes while he sat beside him.
Shao Xuan took a hammer and started striking and carving after he took off his animal skin jacket and became topless.
For the first few days, Shao Xuan’s animal skin jacket was soaked in sweat after he finished striking. Water would come out with just a little twist. So later on, Shao Xuan would take off his jacket and put it aside when he was working, so that it didn’t get smelly.
Every afternoon, striking sounds like that would appear in old Ke’s house.
One strike, two strikes… fifty, fifty-one… a hundred… five hundred…
Shao Xuan kept on striking the stone cores restlessly, as if he knew nothing about fatigue. A large stone core gradually became smaller as tiny stone flakes dropped down. The stone flakes became thinner and thinner than as time went on.
After finishing the striking of one stone core, Shao Xuan grabbed the second and the third without taking a break…
After the third one was finished, Shao Xuan looked like a drowned victim who had just been fished out by others.
After taking a drink, Shao Xuan stood aside so that old Ke could elaborate on the details that needed to be paid attention to when he refined them later. He showed Shao Xuan how to refine stone flakes in different shapes, and how to refine the remaining stone core.
Old Ke said that every stone had its own story, and even the most excellent stoneware crafter might not be able to understand all stones’ stories. However, every time old Ke was teaching, he tried to explain all the knowledge that he had mastered up to now with Shao Xuan.
Shao Xuan listened with all his attention, for some words seemed unimportant, but contained much knowledge hidden within.
After a short break and having finished listening to old Ke’s lecture, Shao Xuan continued to work. However, this time he stopped striking, and instead started refining.
In order to meet old Ke’s high standard, Shao Xuan had to focus more during the process, and had to be more precise in controlling his totemic power.
That was not something easy. When refining, Shao Xuan was fully concentrated on the stone. And, despite the obvious soreness and aching, it wasn’t until the refining was done and Shao Xuan had regained awareness, that he felt a wave of pain in his head. Sometimes he even felt a sensation as if he were hit by an awl, and sweat drops constantly oozed like beans from his forehead.
Old Ke said that it was normal and that he went through all those processes when he was a young apprentice.
Although tired, Shao Xuan’s progress was obvious since he had more precise control of his totemic power.
Old Ke showed traces of satisfaction in his eyes as he sat aside. Shao Xuan’s progress went beyond his expectations. For all those years, old Ke had known many people who tried to learn stone crafting, yet none of them could achieve Shao Xuan’s progress!
For many people, they might spend one or two years of learning without having Shao Xuan’s skills. Of course there were some talented fellows. For example, Lang Ga used less than fifty days to learn back then, and Lang Ga’s grandfather had bragged about that in front of old Ke.
But, how long had Shao Xuan been learning? Merely ten days!
In fact, old Ke would love to go up the mountain immediately and have a “nice chat” with that old man who made ground bows. However, he needed to wait a little longer… just a little longer…
As he was thinking about what facial expression the old guy might have when he learnt about Shao Xuan, Ke’s sight froze for a moment. He opened his eyes wide as if he saw something inconceivable.
Totemic patterns were revealed on Shao Xuan’s body, which was not strange during this time as Shao Xuan would use his totemic power when striking and crafting. Naturally, when the totemic power was used, totemic patterns would show up.
What astonished old Ke was not the totemic pattern. What he saw was even more inconceivable than when he saw Shao Xuan use totemic power while striking stones!
As was known to all people in the tribe, the newly-awakened warriors totemic pattern would only cover their whole body when they were just awakened by the fire pit. After the ritual ceremony, all their totemic patterns would shrink. The totemic patterns that covered the entire arm would shrink to the upper arm, slightly past one’s shoulder, and the totemic patterns on the legs would also shrink to above the knee.
Because of this, when new totemic warriors used their totemic power, the patterns that showed up wouldn’t extend to one’s elbows and knees, identifying them as a primary warrior. When someday, one’s totemic pattern extends over his elbows and knees, it means that he is no longer a primary warrior and has become a mid-level warrior. This was the most efficient and most direct way to tell a totemic warrior’s level.
Totemic patterns would only extend when warriors faced numerous risks and threats by ferocious beasts in hunting missions, and had significant breakthroughs. Also, the extension of totemic patterns was quite limited. Some warriors, with over ten years of hunting experience, may not have totemic patterns that extended over their elbows and knees. So it meant that they were still merely primary warriors, and the progress was rather slow.
But, how could the totemic patterns in Shao Xuan’s body be explained?
Old Ke’s eyelids beat like hell, for he clearly remembered that the totemic patterns on Shao Xuan’s upper arm were at the same length as other newly-awakened warriors when he first came by to learn stone crafting. they were slightly past his shoulder.
However, now the totemic patterns on Shao Xuan’s upper arm had extended forward about the length of a finger!
In the past, old Ke had never paid attention to the totemic patterns on Shao Xuan’s arm, and had only glimpsed at them, because he wondered when Shao Xuan would become a mid-level totemic warrior. He had never expected such a discovery! Since old Ke could easily tell the slight difference in stoneware, how could he not notice the extension of the totemic patterns on Shao Xuan’s arm?!
Do not underestimate the length of a finger. Others might not be able to achieve that in years!
But how long had Shao Xuan been awakened?
Based on that speed, how long would it take for him to become a mid-level totemic warrior?
Old Ke felt that his eyelids beat even more heavily.