Chapter 9: Red Mud
Translator: Mogumoguchan/Zenobys Editor: - -
Each one of the five mountains in the Dark Dragon Mountain are different. The mountain which produced the Dark Dragon's Saliva was the closest to the Dark Mountain Tribe. If he went any further, he might accidentally run into other people from other tribes.
That was why Su Ming spent most his time here. He would only venture to the other mountains to collect some rarer herbs, and he did so with caution.
Now, within Su Ming's sights, was the mountain which had smoke rolling down from its peak, Black Flame Mountain.
It is said that there was a huge amount of earthen fire1 within this mountain. A long time ago, this place was the centre of the Land of the Fire Berserker Tribe. Centuries may have passed since then, but if anyone approached this place, they could still feel waves of heat rolling off the very ground.
Su Ming was not unfamiliar with Black Flame Mountain. He had stepped foot in this place multiple times. He had even met the people from the Black Mountain Tribe before. If it were not for his speed aiding his escape, he would have died much earlier.
That place was very close to the Black Mountain Tribe. The Black Mountain Tribe had held grudges against the Dark Mountain Tribe for generations. The sizes of both tribes were about the same. There may be no battles between them, but there were scuffles among their hunting teams, and these scuffles tended to be bloody and cruel.
There was a moment of hesitation, but very soon Su Ming's eyes lit up as he had a plan. He turned his gaze away from Black Flame Mountain after a long while, then quickly walked towards the deeper parts of the flat stone. There were a few big stones at the hollowed part of the stone. When Su Ming took them away, he saw an object that had been hidden underneath by the stones.
It was a crudely made bow!
It may be crude, but the string of the bow, which was the size of a finger, was stretched tautly across the bow. Its power could be felt just by looking at it.
Only hunters were allowed to possess bows within the Dark Mountain Tribe. It was difficult for other tribe members to obtain one. Su Ming made the bow himself after he exchanged some materials with the herbs he collected. He did not take it back to the tribe but kept it here. This was a secret that only Lei Chen knew.
As he held the bow, Su Ming's lit up brightly. He took out another five arrows from underneath the big stones. The arrowheads were made from stone, and Su Ming would usually polish the arrowheads so that they would remain sharp.
He placed the five arrows on the basket over his back. Su Ming held the bow in his hand and whistled at the little monkey before pointing at the herbs he drew on the ground.
The little monkey understood him, and grinned at him displaying all its teeth before rushing forward in a red blur.
Su Ming followed closely behind carefully. With just a few leaps, the man and the monkey disappeared from where they stood.
If they were comparing their level of familiarity towards Dark Dragon Mountain, then Su Ming would never be able to compare with Xiao Hong. Under Xiao Hong's guidance, as the sun became a bright red and started to set, Su Ming's basket was filled with various medicinal herbs.
There were about seven or eight types of herbs in the basket, and there were plenty for each type. These were all the herbs that Su Ming saw from the drawing, and even herbs that were similar to the drawings. He was unable to identify them completely, that was why he decided to take the herbs that bore similarities to the drawings as well.
"You mean there's another herb that looks alike here?" It was almost twilight by this point. Su Ming and Xiao Hong were standing in the forest near Black Flame Mountain. He was pointing at a patch of black mud on the ground before them, looking at Xiao Hong.
Xiao Hong bobbed its head up and down, then gestured at Su Ming wildly before pointing at the setting sun in the sky.
Su Ming's eyes lit up in understanding. He squatted down and fixed his gaze at the swamp, waiting for the sun to set. Seconds ticked by slowly, and after half an hour, the light in the forest grew dim. It was almost as if everything outside a hundred feet radius within the forest had been consumed by darkness.
As soon as night fell on the land, bubbles suddenly emerged from the mud. There was also the vague shape of a red plant. It was rising up so quickly as if it was swimming forward. The odd sight made Su Ming's hair rise, but he did not move.
He watched as the red plant continued to swim in the mud, then slowly rise from it. It was the bud of a red flower. The roots were still hidden in the mud. It was obvious now that the flower had been moving about in the mud just now due to the movements of its roots.
As he watched the flower buds emerge from the mud, they bloomed before Su Ming's eyes and let out a nice fragrance. Su Ming only took a whiff and immediately, he felt as if his blood was boiling. It was as if his entire body was surrounded by flames and his skin burnt by the heat.
At that moment, Xiao Hong let out a nervous screech. Su Ming did not hesitate and rushed forward, grabbing the red flower closest to him. There was a sharp spatula made of stone in his hand, and with practiced movements he cut the flower part from its roots, then threw it into the basket over his back.
Once he was done, Su Ming did not linger and left quickly with Xiao Hong.
As soon as Su Ming left, there was the sound of a roar from a beast from within the mud, and all the red flowers immediately closed their petals before sinking into the mud once more. Soon, fresh blood emerged from the mud and the stench of blood filled the air.
Su Ming and Xiao Hong left in a hurry. When they sky darkened completely, they were sitting on a tree and looking through their haul using the moonlight.
There were many types of herbs in the basket, a sight which made Su Ming excited. He saw the quenching scene in his mind once again, and he became even more excited to do it.
"It's a pity I don't know the effects of the Scattering Dust...but it should be really good nonetheless." Su Ming licked his lips, casting his gaze towards two of the herbs in the basket.
These two herbs were similar in color, and if he was not looking at them closely they would look exactly the same. They are both red, and the only difference between them was that one of them had six petals, and the other five petals.
Su Ming was not familiar with those two herbs. They were the only ones he had never seen before in the making of the Scattering Dust. It was fortunate that Xiao Hong had seen them before and could bring Su Ming to them.
"Just which one of them is the one necessary to make the medicine?" Su Ming frowned, he swept his gaze along the two herbs. He had obtained the six petal flower from the mud. As he remembered the strange sight that had happened when it bloomed, Su Ming had a feeling that if he ate this raw, his body would explode.
He placed the herb once more in the basket and laid down on the branch, then took a bite at a piece of fruit. He watched the stars in the sky and breathed in the air in the forest. He could hear the sounds of the beasts and birds around him. It was as if he had become one with the forest, and it was a comfortable feeling.
Xiao Hong was grooming itself by the side, its eyes warily surveying their surroundings.
The man and the monkey spent the night on the tree just like that.
As the sun rose the next morning, Su Ming and Xiao Hong left the tree and hurried towards Black Flame Mountain as the forest was covered by darkness and surrounded by a thin veil of mist.
Su Ming remained on alert as he held the bow in his hands. Xiao Hong was also affected by this and was also wary of its surroundings. When the sun rose to the sky, the snow-like mist disappeared from the forest. There was a gigantic mountain before his eyes. The mountain was brown, and he could feel waves of heat rolling off the ground onto his face.
He could even see puffs of black smoke rising into the air at the very top of the mountain. It was a sight to behold from afar.
"Black Flame Mountain..." Su Ming muttered softly, then cast a wary eye at his surroundings before rushing up the mountain with no hesitation. He was already prepared before he came. There were a lot of heat repellent herbs under his feet, and with their presence, Su Ming could climb to the top the mountain without stopping.
He may be climbing really quickly, but he remained alert, and his wariness only increased as he climbed further up. He did not how long he took, but as he was halfway up the mountain, Xiao Hong let out a screech as he was about to continue upward.
Su Ming immediately hid his body in one of the cracks by the side of the mountain without any hesitation as soon as he heard the screech. He planted his feet firmly on the ground and lifted the bow in his right hand as he quickly took out an arrow. It was all done within the span of a breath. Xiao Hong arrived before Su Ming, and was now pressed closely to him.
Su Ming breathed slowly, his eyes cold. From where he stood, if any of the members of the Black Mountain Tribe noticed him, then they would have to fight till the death.
Very soon, soft voices travelled to where he stood, and there were even sounds of stones falling as they spoke.
"Why are they asking us to mine stones so early in the morning? What is this for anyway?"
"Stop complaining. This is a request from the tribe leader, we just need to do it. By the way, did you hear? The elder is about to reach the next level..."
"I also heard about it from the other tribe members that the elder is different than how he is usually. He's a bit terrifying now."
"Could the tribe leader be asking us to mine these stones for the elder?"
The voices became clearer and then gradually faded, Su Ming remained still as he stood pressed against the crack. It was not until the two people had gone further away that he let out a sigh of relief.
"Black Mountain Tribe's elder is about to reach the next level...I remember the elder once saying that the elder in Black Mountain Tribe was at the eighth level of the Blood Solidification Realm, but he has mastered an evil art just so that he could go up against the elder." Su Ming narrowed his eyes. He would have to return later to tell his elder about this.
He waited for a bit longer to make sure those two had gone far away, then Su Ming continued scaling the mountain. But at that moment, the little monkey by his side grabbed his shirt.
Su Ming immediately turned his head in alarm, but he only saw the monkey's face bright with excitement, pointing towards the crack they had stayed. There was a small, naturally formed hole over there, and steam was rising from it.
Su Ming immediately gave up on climbing the mountain any further and decided to approach the small hole. After careful scrutiny, he took off the basket on his back and brought it into the hole as he crawled into it, with Xiao Hong keeping close to his footsteps.
The hole was not big, and Su Ming only managed to get in because he was on the smaller side. If it were any of the other members of the Berserker Tribe, they would not have been able to make it in.
1 earthen fire () actually refers to lava but since the word di huǒ was used, I decided to go the "we're from ancient times and we're really superstitious, what is lava?" route.