Chapter 1 - Growth

Spring

People love spring. Spring marks the end of winter, beginning of a new year, no harsh cold, food can be acquired more easily and availability of more resources. Therefore the time at which winter ends and spring begins is the time for year’s biggest celebration. Not just for humans, it also holds true for dwarfs, beast people, elves and even ogre’s. However the world is complex, so exceptions are always present, for example the underground world’s residents, for them spring doesn’t hold any special meaning. Exceptions are also in extreme ways like snow demons, this race specifically detest spring the most. Regardless, for majority of humankind, spring brings happiness.

A warm and moist breeze crossed over coastal mountain range and entered Lu se Lan village, letting villagers know the arrival of spring. Lu se Lan village is situated at the coast of mountain range. In this ten thousand li mountain range, this village is nothing but an small insignificant place among many other countless habitats of humanity. It is under Tucker Baron’s rule, belonging to the Divine Alliance empire’s territory. However, even if straight line distance is measured from here to Tucker Baron castle, it will still turn out to be more than three thousand kilometers. Every year at autumn’s harvest time, villagers will see Baron tax officer, also only at this time would lord show a little bit of mercy by relaxing Baron taxes by a wide margin, only collecting a few local items that are easily available on mountains, having insignificant effect on a villager’s livelihood. However, if the production is limited then it might become a question of survival.

Life in mountains is actually not considered to be hard as long as they work hard all year.

With the arrival of spring, soil outside the village would be dug out to plant seeds. Hunters would start to enter the forest. At this time, magical beasts residing deep in forest and hungry throughout the entire winter, would gradually wake up to search for food. These beasts are very dangerous and very aggressive in nature. Body of some these magical beasts contains unique body-parts, having many different uses. Some of these might serve as precious medical ingredients or some might be used as delicious foods. Their quality and selling price is also best at this time.

Every year at this time, many hunters will die, but still like every other year, hunters will enter the mountains once again. As a result of this, people in this village mostly worship forest goddess and hunting goddess. It must be known that in this world apart from eternal dragons, religions and gods are countless just like stars above head.

Nuo Lan De continent is a land of rich natural resources and a land where strength matters.

Even though Lu Se Lan is a kind of remote and quiet village, it still left a deep mark on history’s page. Villagers are simple and sincere, but they worship strong and look down on weak. It is a small village having a few tens of households, but it’s relative condition is still better.

A tiny figure appeared outside the village. It is a boy, he is carrying a basket bigger than himself on his back. Basket is filled with jack fruit. At the time of spring, when winter savings are almost finished and time to harvest new crops has yet to come, these kind of common ration are very important. They are easy to obtain just by going into woods at village’s side.

Behind small boy, 3 youngsters appeared. They were taller than him by a full head. They were holding a small hunting bow in their hands and a hunting knife sticking out from their waists as they carried deer, rabbits and other small preys on their backs. Not even ten years old, yet they were already hunting in woods. Their prey was obviously not some magical beast, instead it was small harmless animals. Hunting method is also to rely on traps primarily, however it is already considered very difficult. In cities and towns, children of commoners and nobility at this age would be studying and cultivating under their parents.

First youngster loudly said: “Hey ! Li Cha say, your father didn’t teach you how to hunt? At your age, I was already able to enter the mountains to set up traps and catch rabbits.”

Youngster beside him smiled and in a similar manner said “No father’s child can only pick up fruits.”

Third big youngster laughingly walked past by the small boy towards the village entrance. He was walking very leisurely, one cannot tell that he is carrying a ten kg heavy prey. Small boy without paying any attention to mockery, indifferently continued to walk towards the village. A robust middle age man sitting near village entrance was watching this. He waved towards the little boy to come over. Afterwards, the man stuffed a piece of dried magical beast’s meat into small boy’s hand and while lovingly rubbing his head, he said ” Pi Lu group, they bully you like this, don’t you get angry? Later uncle will tell them to stop. They should not go too far just because you are small.”

Unexpectedly, small boy shaked his head and said “No need, i am not angry.”

“But….” The middle aged man scratched his head with his rough dark hands, he was somewhat at a loss. Believing that small child is afraid of those big youngsters, he couldn’t help but say a few things about how mountain children must not lack courage.

Who would have imagined that small boy would laughingly say” I may not have a father, but I have the best mother.”

Man hearing this couldn’t help but to continue scratching his head, laughing foolishly, he said “of course….of course.”

Small boy humming, carrying the basket while jumping and bouncing, walked inside the village.This moment, gloomy feeling in his heart is already gone, instead he his happy. Because his mother had told him that no matter what, one must be happy.

This year Xiao Li Cha is six years old. At an age of six years, he has learned “to be happy”.

The middle-aged man is called Bao Bi. He is village blacksmith. Boy’s mother is believed to be a magician. When she arrived completely alone at the village, Xiao Li Cha was still an infant inside her womb. Even though she is no extraordinary beauty, she is as gentle as water. Her arrival at this insignificant village produced a completely different atmosphere. This was the first time that village has a doctor present. No need to run several ten kilometers just for a minor illness or small pain. Or endure it, slowly waiting for it to recover naturally. Her name is Yi Lian. She opened a small medical shop in a corner of village. Even though she only provides the most basic treatment, she still saved more than one villager’s life during her first year in the village.

As a result, village chief and elders decided to give her a block of land. Hence, she officially became the member of the village. In the small Lu Se Lan village, most villagers are hunters, only three people are of other professions. They are; the blacksmith, the current doctor Yi lian and the retired military officer and also the village-chief. Entire village matters are combinedly supported by these three individuals.

Lu Se Lan village daily life is tranquil and unhurried. Time passed by in a flash and it’s spring once again.

Xioa Li Cha has grown up to a few dozen centimeters, he looks like a eight-nine year old child. According to village traditions, he should be already learning to make and lay traps, hunting rabbits as well as grass eaters which are small magical beasts. These kind of small animals can be easily found in the woods, just a little bit far from village. Large magical beasts rarely appear there. Naturally, children were trained inside the village to hunt. Hunters also never hunt these small beasts, however they regularly patrol there once in a while to dispose of large dangerous magical beasts which occasionally find their way in from deeper parts. In every short interval of a few days, Xiao Li Cha could be seen carrying a big basket, watching him carrying that basket bigger than himself doesn’t seem to be out of proportion at all. However he is carrying jack fruit, which is to say not tasty at all. Everywhere on mountain and even more so in village, people like to eat tasty meat of magical beasts. Even if taste is not considered, eating meat is considered to be beneficial for increasing strength.

Only Li Cha, who is at the beginning of hunting age is still as before picking up fruits. This is his mother’s request. So, he continue to collect the medical herbs with ease. Every season has four types. Afterwards, according to already established complicated procedures, medicinal herbs are refined. Half of procedures should be carried out while picking the herbs and other half after returning to home. But he just couldn’t understand, jack fruit should also be similarly dealt with, however it’s procedures are much more in quantity and much more time consuming. No family in the village do it like this. Jack fruit is most easily available, it automatically falls off when it is ripe and can be directly collected from ground. However, his mother tells him that jack fruit must not be collected from the ground, rather it should be directly plucked from trees. Size, color and everything else is already fixed by his mother. Plucking method is also unique. Li Cha just cannot understand why, he can’t even figure out the difference in the taste of jack fruit plucked by these unusual methods. If he doesn’t follow the instructions, he would be surely scolded by his mother. After several scoldings, he stopped treating it like a game and started doing it seriously, remembering to do every single process. Continuing this up to the whole winter. Afterwards when jack fruit became sparse, his mother told him that this was in order to let him have perseverance.

This year Xiao Li Cha is seven years old. At seven years age, he learned that to succeed one must have perseverance. If someone was to ask what is unpleasant in his seven years of memory, it would definitely be jackfruit. In every dinner jackfruit would be always included This small matter finally turned into one of his nightmares, a nightmare which seems impossible to get rid off.

New spring arrived, Lu Se Lan village is nevertheless the same. Blacksmith Bao bi is still single, Yi lian’s tiny shop is still not having much luck and village-chief is still healthy. Time at which troublesome magical beasts appears is also up ahead.

Li Cha is finally learning to set traps. At this time, Pi Lu group has already started to carry a small bow and follow the village hunters into the mountains. Already over ten years, they can already be called as teens. If they are seen in city, people can easily mistake them to be fifteen-sixteen years old.

Laying trap is an art. It needs plenty of experience, a pair of observant eyes, a pair of nimble hands and of course luck. Even by just using simple and crude tools, apart from very experienced people, new hands at the time of making traps can easily hurt themselves. Xiao Li Cha seems to be god gifted in making traps. At the very first try, he showed overwhelming dominance over other similar village kids and moreover caught a big prey on the very first day of laying traps. He was praised by all adults of the village. Blacksmith Bao Bi, if by chance was to meet with other villagers, he would talk so happily as if Li Cha is his own son. Almost every single person in the village knew what was on his mind. If Li Cha was willing to call him father then he might even willingly close his blacksmith shop.

Several days passed by, Li Cha has already remembered quite a few traps by heart. He was beginning to enter deeper parts to set up large and complex traps. It is possible for a large magic beast to come here occasionally. He wanted to try out his luck which seems to be pretty good because a kamchatka wild boar appeared in the field of his vision and moreover stepped on a trap. From the tree, rattan vines and iron nails simultaneously shot out to firmly lock onto boar’s foreleg, holding it firmly from all sides. Even though boar can be considered very strong, Li Cha’s workmanship of trap is also very meticulous, force applied from every side is perfectly balanced. After a short time of frenzied shaking, it unexpectedly haven’t freed itself. Li Cha hiding at a corner is nervously watching while sweat is smoothly coming off from the palm of his hand. Also holding a hunting knife for the first time in his life, he doesn’t looks too reliable. Injured boar is still totally dangerous. Even though kamchatka boar is a small body type and cowardly, he is also just a small child.

Just when Li Cha was was preparing to go out, sure that prey is incapable of struggling for a period of time, suddenly a powerful force came from behind. He was ruthlessly pushed forward, Li Cha heavily fell on the ground. His only feeling was of earth and sky spinning and a fishy smell present inside his nose. He heard a sound of bowstring, afterwards that wild boar’s blood curling scream and then a few sounds of cheering. These sounds were way too familiar.

Li Cha slowly climbed up while looking at Pi Lu who has suddenly appeared before him while leading three youngsters from nowhere . Among these was also the youngster that ruthlessly pushed him. Pi Lu was holding a hunting bow in his hands, looking at that pathetic wild boar he was very pleased with himself. An arrow was standing erect piercing straight through the vital point at neck’s side of wild boar. Shooting straight at the vital point can be done but it is definitely not easy. Even though the wild boar was restricted by trap, it was still shaking crazily in confusion.

“You snatched my prey!” Li Cha suddenly realized what was going on and angrily shouted.

” All here can testify that this wild boar died from my shoot. Why are you shouting? just because you made the trap? A good hunter can easily tell that this kind of trap can only be used for catching small rabbits.” Pi Lu slowly said disdainfully looking at Li Cha.

Pi Lu is taller than Li Cha approximately one head and also clearly is more robust. He is too strong when compared with youngsters of same age, moreover is actually close to strength of adults. This is because Pi Lu is village chief’s son. As a retired military officer he can hunt a lot of formidable beasts from mountains. Meat of these kind of formidable magical beasts is considered pretty beneficial to increase body’s strength.

“Then why would you come here to shoot?” Li Cha’s rhetorical question caused Pi Lu to be speechless. They look down on Li Cha’s week and frail body but they can’t help but to admit that Li Cha is very intelligent. It was known to everybody that he can write a lot of characters. However, Pi Lu group despise him even more due to it, writing characters cant help in hunting, so what if he knows a few characters??

Lu Cha’s rhetorical question made Pi Lu very angry. He fiercely waved down his hand, from his body’s side a youngster moved around Li Cha’s back and fiercely pushed him down on the ground. As Li Cha was standing up, his small face was swelling red and his hands were tightly gripping on the hunting knife, that moment an imposing aura burst forth causing several youngsters to feel indescribably deep chinless.In the end, hunting knife was not pulled out. As he was hesitating, Pi Lu already kicked him in the stomach, immediately afterwards all other youngsters rushed to snatch the hunting knife. Then they started beating him with punches and kicks. Pi Lu moreover stamped his foot on Li Cha’s head pushing his head inside the ground!!

Youngsters in mountain have a lot of strength in their bones, so this beating was in no way considered to be light. Li Cha neither resisted nor begged for forgiveness, only kept on silently enduring. More times Pi Lu strike more angry he became, putting more and more strength into his hands. From Li Cha’s silent behavior he only felt disdain.

“Still not convinced? not convinced?” Other youngsters also tired themselves more and more. Li Cha as if this body is not of his own, also let them do as they please. Not after too long, Pi Lu became scared to seriously injure Li Cha, because after going home he would definitely take a beating from his father. Village chief is strong, fierce as well as a person with high Morales. Moreover, Yi lian’s public reputation has always been very good.

Other youngsters also stopped hitting him. Li Cha for a good while, just slowly crawled, then stood up. Pi Lu fiercely spouted some sentences and then left carrying the dead boar. After waiting for them to walk far away, Xiao Li Cha staggeringly sat down under a tree. He rested down for a long period of time before struggling to stand up and then walking towards home.

At evening, Yi Lian while looking at the traces of dirt on his whole body was trying hard to stop tears coming out from her eyes, instead it was the boy who consoled nothing to worry about, only a little pain. After taking medicine, boy while looking up to his mother asked “still should not hit back?”

“en..” Yi lian bitting her tooth made herself to nod.

“ok then.. I may not fight back but I will also not surrender.”

Next following days Pi Lu group tried to find Li Cha for trouble several times and the outcome was as expected, brutal beatings. However the most serious beating was that time when they continuously strike him until every one of them was tired, Li Cha was already crawling not being able to stand up and by the time that boy should have surrendered while begging for forgiveness, not even a sound came out from him. Every time they were preparing to leave tired, he would crawl back up looking at them calmly. That calm determined gaze made Pi Lu to feel dread from the depth’s of his heart, that look was like seeing a dead man.

From this year’s beginning, Pi Lu started to have nightmares. Every time after beating Li Cha, he will have several days of nightmares. Even though he is sturdier than him and difference between them is only getting bigger, every time he looks into those water like calm eyes, he will have nightmares for continuously several days.

He is also a bit unclear about why Li Cha haven’t complained to his father. If Li cha was to do that then he would definitely suffer several lashes. But from the beginning till the end Li Cha hasn’t told anyone inside the village about this matter.

Them trying to look for Li Cha also gradually became less and less. There was one time when there was blood dripping from his lips, contrary to expectations he was looking at them smilingly. Looking at that scene, they quickly dispersed in confusion. It was also the last time they tried to find Xiao Li Cha for trouble.

At eight years of age, Xiao Li Cha learned “tough and tenacious”.