Volume 3 - The Place Where My Heart Feels At Peace, Chapter 54: Stealing Prey
Duke Wei had once walked through the entire hunting area in order to execute the Countless Wonders Art so he naturally knew which area the rank six wild beasts were at.
Going by the normal progression, Qiqi and her team should be arriving at that location by tomorrow. However, the march had now been brought forward by a full dozen or so hours. This was not normal. While it was bad for an army to be late to the battlefield, reaching too early wasn't good news either. It would disrupt the entire army's formation and logistic support.
Immediately, someone frowned and said, "Is she packed lightly, or is her team consist completely of speed-based units? This march seems to be a little reckless."
Every aristocratic family was allowed only nine people per team. These nine were the only ones whose kills would be counted into the score. The rest of the subordinates were split into two types. The first type was logistics and supplies. This particular unit had strict routes to follow and were restricted to designated points; they were the equivalent of hubs in an army. The transport of supplies between the designated points and the hunting team must be completed by the hunting team themselves. The second type was independent subordinates that were participating in the hunt. In reality their role was the equivalent of a scout, and they were responsible for delivering information on the other hunting teams' location, manpower, battle situation and so on. This unit would only start to show its strength after the summer hunt had progressed into the black circle, and hunting teams were fighting for merits within the same area from one another.
From this one could see that the nine-man hunting team must not only have great offensive power, but also be capable of functions such as transporting supplies, scouting for information and so on. Therefore, the composition of this team became incredibly important. Normally speaking, a team should have a balanced distribution of professions and be able to resupply themselves continuously and meticulously, while knowing battle situation in the surrounding area of their side's hunting zone at the same time. Only then would a team be able to survive until the end of the fifteen days long hunting warfare.
The spring hunt also tested an aristocratic young generation's overall ability to plan and manage.
During the middle and latter half of the spring hunt, the event would evolve into direct conflict between each families. While the core members of each family would receive protection-for example, Qiqi and Zhao Junhong wouldn't kill each other no matter how great the conflict between them-the same couldn't be said for the other members of the hunting team. It was common for members of the hunting squad to be booted from the spring hunt due to grievous wounds. Even if someone was killed, it was simply a matter of compensation for losses.
Therefore, the real interesting and exciting part of the spring hunt was the the middle and latter stage. If Qiqi were to advance prematurely during the early stage, and the distribution of profession of her team was overly unconventional, she would most definitely lack the power to follow up later. What was the use of gaining just half a day's time?
However, while Yin Qiqi might have ventured too deeply into the battlefield, the most eye catching team on the list was the Zhao household. The crowd had just finished commenting about the Yin Family hunting team's position when they noticed the Swallow Clouds Zhao clan rising through the rankings, quickly assuming the number one spot and staying there steadily.
Some people were disapproving of this and said slowly, "It would seem that the second child of the Zhao Family is impetuous. He is lacking in the bearing of a great general!"
But another person countered, "Zhao Junhong is one of the four young masters of the Zhao Family. He may be proud and arrogant, but that doesn't mean he is without ability. In the entire empire, just how many youth of this generation do you think could match up to him? His method is forceful, square, and honest. He definitely has the bearing of a king."
Another person laughed and said, "Nonsense. The Zhao Family has always been condescending to everyone. Where would you find the distinction you speak of? This Zhao Junhong and his father is literally two peas in a pod."
When he heard up to this point, even Duke Wei himself could not help but smile a little.
It was true that Zhao Junhong had his father's style. The Zhao household's bloodline was special, and geniuses often come forth in large numbers within the family in successive generations. This also nurtured a proud and aloof behavior in them, which was why the Zhao Family often stood alone among other aristocratic families. They had more vassal forces than allies.
It was the deep region of Profound Heaven Mountain Range, and Qianye was just standing beside a giant-sized black tiger. He frowned and looked at the fresh claw marks on his right shoulder.
The tiger's claws had nearly penetrated his shoulder armor, and the layer of black gold threads sandwiched between the folds of the armor had been cut open already. The Yin Family hunter's uniform he wore was a standardized warrior's uniform with reinforced armor around the shoulder, chest, stomach and other vital spots. Otherwise, he would most likely be injured already.
This black tiger was extremely dangerous. It was a rank six wild beast, and it was among the most dangerous preys in this summer hunt. Qianye had chosen to fight it in close quarters twice in order to figure out his prey's strength at the fastest possible speed. However, he didn't know that the beast would possess not only great offensive power but intelligence as well. In the end, Qianye had to use Twin Flowers to finally take it down.
With the black tiger's appearance, Qianye knew that he had entered the high level zone. This was also his planned zone to perform his hunt.
Qianye wasn't in a hurry to start sweeping for combat merits right away. Instead, he scoured for a few types of herbs between the stones of of the forest and captured a poisonous Silverback Snake later on. He squeezed out its poison and mixed it together with the herb juice. In the end, it became a pile of herb soil that Qianye plunged his crossbow bolts all in to soak overnight. This way, his crossbow bolts had all become poisonous arrows that would kill instantly.
Poison was forbidden among the weapons brought into the summer hunt, but the case such as Qianye's where he gathered the materials and prepared a poison on the spot didn't fall within the same category. He was ready to use this poison arrows to deal with several large-sized rank seven prey such as the Feathered Earth Dragon, the Giant Tusk Elephant, the Forest Boa, and so on.
The next day passed by without anything out of the ordinary. Qianye had only hunted a couple of rank five prey and left no traces behind. After operating around this area for a time, he was now very familiar with its terrain, plant cover and some wild animals' behaviors. He was fully utilizing his strength in long distance sniping and no longer put himself into danger.
He counted the time and figured that the aristocratic family teams had probably arrived in this area as well. Qianye was going to observe their mode of conduct before confirming countermeasures to continue hunting in this area or venture deeper into the woods. If he were to go deeper, he would reach the edge of the black circle where dark race warriors would appear.
Right now, at Duke Wei's place, the number one spot of the ranking list was still dominated steadily by the Zhao Family. The Song household slowly ascended to the top ten, and the Wei Family was actually just at the 9th spot. Meanwhile, the Yin Family had just entered the top te and was several thousand behinds behind the Zhao Family.
Another day passed, and the ranking list remained in general what they'd expected it to be. There were exceptions, however. The Yin Family's ranking was unexpectedly low, and their point gain was a little odd considering the zone they predicted the Yin Family to be in from the prey they hunted right now.
Duke Wei immediately sent out his personal guards to find out what Yin Qiqi was really doing, but the news that they delivered back left everyone dumbfounded. It was said that Miss Qiqi had been busy tasting all kinds of barbecued meat after hunting several preys as if she wasn't participating in a summer hunt but a picnic. However, this wouldn't the first time she did something like this. After all, she had fooled around for several months even when she was competing to stay on her family's successor examination's martial ranking list. It was perfectly normal for her to screw around for several days during the summer hunt.
The third day quickly arrived, and suddenly there was a long cry in the deep regions of Profound Heaven Mountain Range. Even the ground had started to rumble faintly. A seven meters tall giant tusk elephant ran past as if it had gone insane, and it ran into huge tree along the way. The commotion it caused was massive.
Behind the giant elephant, Qianye was following its trail from afar. He maintained a safe distance behind the giant elephant and followed it patiently from afar.
If someone were to pay close attention to the elephant, they would notice that the back of the giant elephant's ears were nailed with two crossbow bolts. The poison was already causing the giant beast to go insane. Qianye was very confident in the toxin he created. The faster the giant elephant ran, the faster it was going to die. The poison would kill it in another fifteen minutes.
Qianye wasn't worried that the poison wouldn't kill the giant elephant, but he did have to worry about its deathbed attack. That was why he no longer approached it and simply followed its trail from afar. He had already grasped the large caliber firearm sniper rifle in his hands, ready to end the giant elephant when it was nearing its death. While the gun was relatively powerful, it was not enough against the thick skinned giant elephant. It wouldn't be able to deal a fatal blow, so he could only shoot it multiple times at its vital spot at close range.
While running, Qianye suddenly felt a shiver and looked towards the other side of the hill. There, a team of people were running towards this direction. At the center of the team was that aristocrat Zhao Junhong.
They too saw the running giant elephant. Zhao Junhong extended a hand, and his subordinate immediately passed over an origin gun shaped like an old style firearm that was completely silver in color. Zhao Junhong took aim, and the patterns on the silver gun began to light up.
"Wait!" Qianye cried out.
The giant elephant had gone mad since a long time ago, and it didn't notice that a group of people had appeared right before it at all. It simply kept its head low and ran wildly. Zhao Junhong took aim calmly and ignored Qianye's cries. He pulled the trigger steadily!
The silver gun resounded with a clear and melodious bang, and its muzzle spat out silver origin flames.
The giant elephant suddenly let out a terrible cry. Looking from afar, it was as if the elephant had charged head first into a silver ball of light. When it charged out of the light ball, half of its head had been completely destroyed. Its gigantic body charged another dozens or so meters due to momentum before finally collapsing.
The gun wasn't loud, but it was incredibly powerful. Its power had even exceeded Qianye's enhanced Eagleshot completely. It would appear that this gun was most definitely at grade five, and it was a special gun that was enhanced and modified by a grand master no less.
Qianye's expression was very ugly when he saw a tiny light flying into the air from the giant elephant's corpse. He had taken more than half of this giant elephant's life, but Zhao Junhong had taken the final shot in the end.
Qianye said heavily, "This giant elephant was my prey!"
Zhao Junhong paid him no heed at all as he walked towards the giant elephant's corpse without leave, "I wasn't aware that claims are made by mouth."
Qianye said coldly, "It was already going mad from poison and would die in no time. Don't tell me that the second young master of the Zhao Family is so petty that he would steal even this bit of prey?"
Zhao Junhong said uncaringly, "Steal? What steal? I saw it, and so it is mine."
Qianye smiled and said, "Heh, is that so. Thank you for your guidance then.
Qianye turned around and walked away after hearing this. He knew that there was no reason to talk with a person like Zhao Junhong. There was no reason in the gulf that was their status either.
"Wait." Zhao Junhong called after Qianye.
Qianye never turned around, but suddenly he sensed an incredible danger! He immediately lay down on the ground like lightning, and a burning stream of fire blew past his back right after. It was the trajectory of an origin bullet!
Qianye exerted strength into his four limbs and bounced forwards like a cannonball before moving horizontally several meters suddenly after he landed on the ground. The series of bizarre tactical movements enabled him to dodge yet another origin bullet. Then, Qianye eschewed his flexibility and ran full force in a straight line, instantly putting him out of the origin gun's shooting range.
A Zhao household bodyguard stood on the spot in astonishment. The light of origin array hadn't completely faded from his muzzle yet.
He was well versed in guns to begin with, but he didn't think that his ambush would completely miss his target. The first time Qianye dodged out of the way it was as if he had eyes behind his back. If he were to say that Qianye had just gotten lucky, then the latter dodges he made were almost perfect. In the end, Qianye actually forgo his flexibility and escaped at top speed, causing him to make a misjudgment and didn't fire a third time.
Zhao Junhong's face darkened as he let out a snort and scolded, "Trash!" he didn't mind his subordinate ambushing his enemies and wounding them, but it was just plain shameful that he missed his shot and allowed Qianye to escape.
Qianye had already vanished deep into the forest by this point. The bodyguard asked hesitantly, "Young master, should we give chase?"