Chapter 16: The Golden Hamster
Translator: Novel Saga Editor: Maggie
*Early morning, three days later.*
Shi Mu trotted alone to the rolling mountains where he had previously hunted wild animals. He was carrying a huge parcel with him, which was about half the height of an average man. He climbed seven or eight hilltops without resting, and eventually found himself on the periphery of a bamboo forest. It seemed to be unusually verdant, shining with an emerald green lustre.
It took him a full hour to fully investigate the bamboo forest, spread across an area of about 17 acres. He put that huge parcel down gently only after he had found the traces left by his target. He then began fumbling to take out a rather small shovel and started digging a pit trap in the nearby ground.
Strangely enough, his movements of digging the pit were excessively cautious. It seemed as if he was afraid of attracting attention.
In this way he was able to finish the digging of a water jar sized pit only by noon. The pit was several meters in depth.
Shi Mu then took out some bottles and jars from the parcel, and dropped an unknown powder and some fluids into the pit. He covered the pit entirely with twigs, and added many bamboo leaves to the surface. He scattered some mud onto the pit, finally finishing his arrangement, having laid a delicate trap.
Shi Mu seemed quite content as he observed his arrangement from every angle, and a trace of a smile flashed across his face.
He had learned the arrangement of the trap as well as how to make the powder and fluids from "Zhong Gong Mi Dian", which contained the secret arts of the Zhong clan. His confidence of conquering his target would have been low in the absence of these skills, despite his ability to manage seven cuts in one movement.
He gauged the time by looking up at the sun, high in the sky, and then fished out a paper ball without hesitating. There was mysterious golden coloured dough inside it.
Shi Mu emptied out the fluids contained in a small bottle.
Immediately, an overpowering and indescribable fragrance began wafting through the air.
"I hope that this secret bait recipe from the old hunter in the city will turn out to be useful. Otherwise, the thirty-two liang of silver I paid for this material would be a waste."
Shi Mu murmured to himself as he shook his wrist, sending the golden dough down into the middle of the trap.
He then took out a black wooden knife and a rather large emerald green cloak to cover himself up. He threw the parcel behind a huge rock and walked back to his trap. He then lowered his body to the ground and lay flat beside the trap, becoming as still as he could be.
From a distance, the ground where the trap had been set up was completely flat, and nothing strange could be seen.
Shi Mu held his breath as he lay still on the ground, and the warm air that puffed out of his nostrils was thin enough to be invisible. He barely blinked his eyes as he stared hard at the bamboo wood. The information he had obtained flashed through his mind once more.
The golden hamster, also known as the medicine-hunting hamster, was a unique animal found only in Quan Zhou. It was a variation of the common piebald mountain mouse which would bite its brood siblings to death as soon as it was born. In its third month, golden fur would begin to appear on its back. After this, it would achieve the ability to find and take some herbs needed to advance to a higher level.
After a year, the golden hamster would reach its age of maturity, and its talent would be awakened. This would enable it to find rare herbs without any difficulty. Hence, it was considered that possessing a tamed golden hamster was equivalent to living with a born master of herbs, who could seek rare medicine. However, although it was worth an enormous amount of money, the hamster could rarely be found in the market. This was because few would be willing to sell their medicine-hunting masters, even if they did have one.
Shi Mu had found one by accident when he chased a wild fox all the way to the edge of the bamboo forest. He was overjoyed at finding one of these hugely famous animals of Quan Zhou.
However, he had been too cautious to take immediate action at that time.
Though the golden hamster did not belong to the rank of holy animals, it was still capable of deceiving many. It seemed to vanish into thin air by dashing at the speed of lightening, keeping its shadows invisible. Because of its inherent vigilance, it would be nearly impossible to catch it again if it wasn't caught in the first attempt.
During this period, every time Shi Mu came to the hilltop to practice, he went out of his way to observe this gold hamster's routine.
By now his progress had reached a point where he could do seven cuts in one movement, using his 'Thirteen Series of Gale Force Knife' Art. Moreover, he had also learned the trap, as well as the bait-making method from "Zhong Gong Mi Dian". Therefore, he had finally made up his mind to putting his plan into action today.
At the time when Shi Mu was finishing laying out the trap to hunt the golden hamster, something else was happening inside the hall of the Jin Gang martial arts club in Feng City. A sandy-haired elder was angrily reproaching Wang Tian Hao, who stood in front of him.
"What tricks are you playing this time? I had asked you to find a girl to marry from the Jin Family, not to beat up and pick a fight with the youngsters of the Jin Family!"
"Uncle Xu, how could you blame me for beating them? Those guys asked me to instruct their arts themselves. It's just that I lost some control of myself. But as far as their skills are concerned, no Jin other than Shi Yu Huan is capable of withstanding even my first strike. They turned out to be a pack of good-for-nothing idlers, wasting half of my day!" Wang Tian Hao stretched himself with a yawn, displaying an air of complete carelessness.
"You bastard, the Jin Family is Wang Family's ally in Quan Zhou! Who told you to attack them instead of looking at their girls? Well, well, now I will have to clear up your mess myself by going to their manor to apologize to their head. From now on you are supposed to just stay here and practice your Blazing Spear. Before you accomplish the next stance of the Blazing Spear Art, you are confined to the club!" Elder Xu ordered as he stared at Wang Tian Hao with his eyes wide open. He found it rather difficult to handle his nephew.
"I don't care about being confined at all. After all, the day of the competition is only half a month away. So I just need time to save my energy," Wang Tian Hao answered in a cheerful and excited manner.
"Humph! I have no hope for you till you start paying attention," Uncle Xu snorted.
"Why? Do you mean to say that there are other powerful people in the various clubs?" Wang Tian Hao said with his spirits highly elated, as he sensed some overtones in his uncle's reprimand.
"You crazy kid! I guess you'd lose sleep if I refused to tell you," he said, not sure whether to laugh or cry at his nephew's response.
"Ha ha, Uncle Xu knows me so well," Wang Tian Hao said demurely, his face now compliant and sweet.
"As far as I know, the Fei Hong club has this time asked a genius to help them recover from their misfortune of always coming last. It is said that although the guy is not a blood warrior, he has an innate body of 'solid earth'," Uncle Xu answered with a solemn face.
"The body of 'solid earth', also known for its defence force? Could that be the legendary body which is immune to bodily harm?" Wang Tian Hao asked, surprised.
"Ha ha. As you may know, it's rather difficult to handle. Judging from your current skills, I don't think your Blazing Spear will be able to break his defence," Uncle Xu replied with a sneer.
"Maybe I won't be able to break the defence of a 'solid earth' body, but I do know a Martial Disciple in our city who would definitely be able to. It will be worthwhile to watch the fight if he takes part in this competition," Wang Tian Hao laughed heartily as something struck him, after pausing for a brief thought.
"Oh? Do you mean the 'Fierce Fists' you mentioned the other day?" Uncle Xu's eyes now were alight with excitement.
"Exactly, I've witnessed his skills with my own eyes. The reach of his strength must be at least 500 kg, or there is no way he could snap the iron spear with his bare hands," Wang Tian Hao answered without hesitation.
"Well, that does seem to be true, according to what you've told me. This 'Fierce Fists' could really confront the 'solid earth' body to a certain extent. But it's a shame that competitors have to be Martial Disciples under the age of eighteen. If 'Fierce Fists' is already the leader of a small gang, he must be over eighteen," Uncle Xu said, quite sure of his reasoning.
"That's true. But if he turns out to be of my age, then I'll definitely fight him with all my strength. Even if it is only for the title of the city's top Martial Disciple," Wang Tian Hao said in a proud tone, nodding his head.
Uncle Xu was speechless when he heard such an ambitious proclamation.
He was proud of his nephew in every aspect, except for his arrogance for Wang Tian Hao was always showing off.
Seven black knife shadows rolled and vanished.
After smashing several invisible shadows of light yellow, the knife finally returned to its owner in the shadows.
A little golden animal, the size of a fist, fell squeaking from mid-air and into the huge pit waiting below. The trap had already been half revealed.
Shi Mu was too overjoyed to hold his wooden knife when he saw that his sudden sneak attack had hit the target. He threw the knife into mid-air and grabbed it with one hand. He then threw out a huge silk net to cover the surface of the pit.
As the little golden animal tried to dash out of the pit, it bumped against the silk net and was forced to drop down to the bottom again.
After about ten attempts, the golden animal's jump grew powerless. And soon, no sound could be heard from the pit.
Shi Mu then approached the pit cautiously, and stole a quick glance inside it.
The little golden animal was now weak, and was no longer able to move its body as it was glued to the colourful fluids at the bottom.
Shi Mu's mind relaxed at the sight, and he turned to a large nearby rock. He fumbled with his package to find an iron wire cage, and rushed with it to the pit in excitement.
However, he became pale at sight he saw upon turning around.
A blue robed man with a sword over his shoulder stood beside the pit, which nobody could've known about. The little golden animal was already in his hand, struggling fiercely. The man was rocking his head back and forth, observing it from every angle. The little one had to be the golden hamster which had earlier been glued unconscious to the bottom of the pit.
"Elder warrior, I believe that golden hamster is mine!" said Shi Mu politely, containing his anxiety with a deep breath. The sight of the golden hamster in the blue robed man's hand made Shi Mu's heart leap to his throat.
"Well, young boy, do you think I am a thief who would grab your prey?" said the blue robed man in a cold voice, as he turned his body.
Shi Mu could make out that the blue robed man was a Daoist priest, probably in his thirties. His eyebrows had grown out all the way to his temples, and his eyes were as sharp as a knife. His eyes displayed a fierce countenance which seemed to be murderous and brutal.
"A glance is enough for me to tell that this senior is an outstanding warrior. But I caught this golden hamster with all my effort," thought Shi Mu, scarcely bracing himself to persuade the blue robed man. Just then, he suddenly felt an unusual and strange sense of coldness rushing onto his face. Immediately, he was frozen as though in ice, and his whole body was cold and numb.
The enigmatic blue-robed man had resorted to violent treachery in no time.
"The notorious Cold Sword, intending to kill a mere Martial Disciple for his treasure. I wonder if anyone would believe my story if I made it public."
Shi Mu heard a heavenly melodious voice as he was frozen into stillness,
nearly falling unconscious.