Chapter 3 – Guardian Spirit
The sacrificial platform was made from layers of enormous rocks. It was quite wide, and it neighbored the old and broken willow tree. Upon it lied a small mountain of fierce beasts.
Sanguine beast blood dyed the large stone platform scarlet, trickling along the engravings on the face of the stone. A brilliant red shone on the tough and long beasts’ fur, and cold light flickered on their scales and malevolent horns. It was a horrifying scene, with a bitter desolate air assaulting everyone’s nostrils.
Under the guidance of the old Chief, Stone Village’s residents all gathered to pray and request for the Willow Tree’s protection. This was a solemn event of offering sacrifices, a ritual that was carried out each time a hunt ended.
The scorched black tree’s body stayed as quiet as before, as if it didn’t react in the slightest. As usual, it never used any of the offerings. However, some of the village residents knew that it actually possessed a spirit!
Finally, the sacrificial procedures were finished. The villagers all released a breath of air and happily smiled again. They began to move the bodies of those fierce beasts in preparation for draining their blood and cutting them up.
“Many years have passed already, yet the guardian spirit hasn’t moved once after our offerings. Do we still need to offer sacrifices every time?” A youngster murmured in a low voice.
“You stinky brat, what kind of garbage are you spouting!” His father’s bronze eyes opened wide. He lifted his huge palm-leaf hands to beat him.
The old chief gestured with his hands and stopped him from doing so. In a soft voice, he said, “We have offered sacrifices towards this guardian spirit, and it has provided for us. Only by remembering it sincerely within our hearts and treating it piously would it guard, bless, and protect our village.”
The youngster’s face was completely red as he hurriedly replied, “Chief, it’s not that my heart is not sincere. I just thought that maybe the guardian spirit didn’t need these offerings since it never moved or used them.”
“As long as your intent is good then that’s enough.” Shi Yunfeng patted his shoulders, and carefully explained.
The guardian spirit was also called the ‘Spirit of Sacrifice’. It was an abbreviation for the tribe’s ‘Spirit of Sacrifice and Support’. It protected the village, scaring off the great desolate area’s vicious beasts and keeping them away.
The village’s chief recalled how a different guardian spirit used to be here tens of years ago. There used to be a rather strange rock, and each time, the offerings would quickly lose more than half of their blood essence after being absorbed.
One day deep into the night, however, the old willow came, and that block of stone decided to go far away. Everything completely changed after that.
Thinking back to that rainy night, the old chief became slightly distracted. That was when he was still young, and back then, he was able to see for himself that shocking and frightening scene.
During that late night, lightning flashed and thunder roared; the heavy rainstorm was incredibly imposing. The rainstorm was at the peak of its ferocity, and the mountains were heavily battered by the thunder and lightning. The mountainous torrents poured down like an ocean as vicious beasts ran away frantically in waves, creating a horrifying scene.
Right at that time, a large willow tree broke through the boundary of the heavens and appeared within the clouds. It bathed in the sea of thunder, with lightning coursing through its body. Tens of thousands of willow branches formed burning divine chains and pierced into the heavens, as if it was battling something
In the end, the great willow tree snapped apart. Its entire body was charred black and reduced to its current size. It fell down and took root within Stone Village. The lightning disappeared at that time, and the torrential downpour backed off as well. That night, the stone that the villagers previously sacrificed to and received support from departed.
Every time he recalled this scene, the old chief would always feel his heart tremble. The old willow tree was not created from a random seed within the mountains, but rather descended from the heavens. The reason it was damaged was because of the endless sea of thunder, but not many people within the village knew about this.
In its first ten years, its entire body was scorched black without a single hint of life force. It appeared as if it was completely dead, and only ten years ago did it finally show a single tender green branch. Since then, it has yet to undergo another change.
“Stinky brats, you all should be careful. We rarely reap such good harvests of vicious beasts. Their blood essence, muscles, vessels, and even parts of their bones are extraordinarily valuable, so don’t waste their precious properties.” The old chief warned.
The villagers in their prime chopped with silver knives. As they disassembled the giant creatures, sonorous sounds rang out. Sparks flew everywhere when the knives struck down on the giant creatures’ shockingly hard skeletons.
Someone had prepared a large jar long in advance to collect the special blood essence from within the beast’s body. This was refined blood medicine, extremely rare and precious.
Among this pile of beast corpses, the most precious one was the Pi Xiu. Although it was just a descendant and was quite far from a pure-blooded Pi Xiu King, it still possessed a portion of the true blood that had astonishing value.
It has already been two years since they last caught a mythical beast type like the Pi Xiu. The creature was excessively savage and large. A single swipe from its claws would easily take the life of a strong individual, making it simply too horrifying to deal with.
One could say that the harvest this time was so luxurious it made them speechless.
“Wu, the true blood flowing from the Two Headed Flame Rhinoceros’s horn really is quite extraordinary. It’s not inferior to the Pi Xiu at all!” An older grandpa personally used his knife to remove the rhinoceros horn from the flesh. It was as tough as metal and stone, and from that area dripped out a gush of scarlet-red true blood, making the carcass look like it was releasing fiery light.
Suddenly, the blood abruptly changed into a clump of red radiance. A palm-length Two Headed Flame Rhinoceros appeared before everyone’s eyes. Its entire body was scarlet red, and it was vivid and lifelike as it released an angry roar.
“Good stuff. This true blood’s medicinal qualities are extremely strong, not inferior at all to those of mythical beasts!” The old grandpa who held the knife laughed heartily. He quickly utilized that jar to collect the rhinoceros blood before firmly closing the jar cover.
“Chief, this Dragon Horned Elephant’s horn is also good stuff. When we found it, it was already close to dying. Otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to handle it.” A young man spoke.
Shi Yunfeng nodded and said, “It really is quite a rare sight. The dragon horn growing on its head has already matured. Once it is carefully extracted, it can be used as a precious bone-mending medicine.”
“The one-legged demon beast’s leg has really tough and durable strips of muscle. Even an axe cannot chop through it.”
“This is all good stuff. You stinky youngsters need to be careful, don’t let the precious blood from the Flying Python’s two wings go to waste!”
The villagers were all happy, and their faces were full of smiles.
Only the children withdrew their necks before quickly disappearing. They knew that most of the blood and bone medicines would be used on their bodies, causing them to once again ‘suffer’.
Only after an entire half day passed did the precious treasures growing from the fierce beasts’ bodies get plucked clean. The chief, as well as several other elders, nodded their heads in satisfaction before collecting the jars and storing them.
“There is so much prey. In a little while, we should preserve a portion and smoke them into meat jerky.” Some of the experienced elders were saying.
With the fierce beasts piled up like a small mountain, the villagers would not be able to finish it even after many days. If they simply allowed it to rot, then it would be too much of a waste. For a village that had faced many food shortages in the past, there was no way they would permit that.
The women from each of the households came up to divide the meat. All of them had sincere smiles on their faces. Previously, they felt anxious with all the men outside, but now that they all returned peacefully and with such a luxurious harvest, it truly felt like heaven’s blessing.
Smoke rose in spirals from the households’ chimneys, and after half an hour, the fragrant smell of meat began to spread. The households’ iron pots had almost finished stewing the meat chunks until they were soft, and the children couldn’t wait any longer. In addition, the beast meats roasting atop the bonfires were also beginning to develop a golden and oily luster, and as the oil dripped onto the fire, sputtering noises were created. Those sturdy men could not hold themselves back any longer and began to tear off strips of meat. With big appetites, they bit into them, releasing a mouthful of juices.
“Child, this is Pi Xiu meat. Eating a lot of it will give you great strength. It’s truly a rare type of meat.”
“Brat, eat more, this is meat from the Two-Headed Flame Rhinoceros. Eating more of it can help your skin and bone become tough like iron, so stop eating that useless tree pork.”
All types of different fierce beasts meat made up the villagers’ rich evening meal. The enticing fragrance of meat wafted through the streets, drawing in the appetites of the residents as waves of merry laughter rang throughout the festive village.