Chapter 1: Thriving on the Filthy Mountains (I)
It was in the wilderness of nowhere, and the sky was dreary and gloomy. The mountain peaks pierced into the sky, the grey clouds looked like they were about to fall down onto the tall and straight black banyan tree standing in solitude. The rain had just stopped. Raindrops clung to the mutated vegetation that covered the mountains, and they hung on the long, hair-like vines that intertwined with the thick bushes, almost like a beaded curtain.
One raindrop broke the surface tension and dropped from the vine to the deep dark ground. Lichens thrived among the countless cracks between the rocks on the ground. A puddle of water that formed from the uneven surface caught that raindrop, creating waves of ripples in concentric circles.
“Hum, hum…” Breathing sounds came from the eerie forest. The sound was thick and sonorous, almost muffled. Creepy the mutated vegetation may seem, they cannot emit such obvious breathing sound.
It was an injured brown bear. 3.4 meters long, 1.8 meters tall, it weighed 750 kilograms, significantly heavier than the male brown bears that were alive during the civilized periods. It had similar limbs to a brown bear, covered luscious fur and tough skin that could shield against average knives or blades, iron-like sharp claws that could easily plow the rocky land, and incredible mandibular bite force that could break the big black banyan tree at the top of the mountain. These characteristics earned this guy the demonic moniker of “Ironclad Brown Bear.” Even among this dangerous mutated forest that hundreds and thousands of mutated bacteria, insects, flora, and fauna call home, it was still a member of the mutated species that were at the top of the food chain.
But now, there was a hideous two-feet-long cut along the spine of the Ironclad Brown Bear. The rotten flesh burst out from the wound, mutated bacteria had invaded this awful deep cut. It paced by leaning its strong body against the kapok trees along the way, its paws stepped on the tree roots that exposed above the ground. The muffled breathing sounds came from its mouth, the huge mouth that could bite through steel.
The entire forest was reflected in those beady little amber eyes. They sparkled with the beast’s confusion and fear.
“Whoosh.” A delicate silhouette flew through the air. The gust that resulted from jumping blew off the crimson kapok flowers at the branch tips. The flowers fell one by one, creating a gentle zephyr of floral fragrance, wet wood, and dust in the intricately woven forest.
The delicate silhouette landed on the kapok branch. The first thing that entered the brown bear’s eyes was the pair of vivid blue, gorgeous, almost like billowing ocean eyes. The hunting instinct from those pupils was like the white fog over a blue ocean, and the hint of sharpness pierced into Ironclad Brown Bear’s eyes.
The slender woman was 1.7 meters tall. She was draped in a cape made from those resilient hair-like vines from head to toe. The areas that weren’t covered by the cape included a pair of protective boots made from the same vines and a black leather jacket that had lost its luster from aging.
Her face was covered by the head mask under the cape, only exposing her eyes. She extended her right arm horizontally, holding a three feet long knife that has a weird wavy shape. Both edges of the knife were honed. Albeit covered in blood and mud, it did not cover the boldness of its extreme sharpness.
The Ironclad Brown Bear stepped back with its right legs, and its eyes were filled with fear. The bear was the tyrant of the Mountain, the top of the food chain, yet, it was being hurt and threatened by a human, a low-grade food ration human. She was clearly an inferior ration, yet her eyes were saying, she was the stronger one.
The Ironclad Brown Bear roared to show its final struggle as a carnivorous tyrant. But the human atop the tree did not move at all, she wasn’t scared for the least bit. Just then, the Ironclad Brown Bear raised its ferocious claw, erected its muscular body, and dashed toward the kapok tree where the woman was at.
As the overlord of hunting, it knew its speed was impossible to escape from this human. All it could do was put up an intrepid fight.
The kapok tree broke in halves after a loud bang. The Ironclad Brown Bear’s skeletal and muscle force was second to none in the forest. The woman lost her place to set foot on and jumped on the ground. The crunching sounds of the tree roots breaking was covered by the sounds coming from the Ironclad Brown Bear’s chariot-like moving body. Then, the bear swooped up, its giant body and fearsome head covered the entire field of vision above the woman. It swung its two stocky arms and iron claws at the most fragile part of the human, the face.
There were sounds of footsteps against the ground, the sounds of blades slicing through the air, the sounds of tough skin bursting open, and the sounds of a giant body falling down.
The killing that took place after a hunter clashed with a prey finally closed the chapter.
The woman took out a rather clean grey cloth to wipe away the blood on the blade. She carried the knife on the strap that tied to the back of her vine cape and walked towards the Ironclad Brown Bear’s dead body. She took out an iron hook and swiftly pierced through the beast’s muscular hind leg. Then, slowly and steadily, she headed south and dragged it with a superhuman force.
A trail thick with the smell of blood was plowed on the damp, lichen-covered, rocky ground.
A while later, the woman returned to a cave that was wet on the outside but surprisingly dry and fresh on the inside. The cave passage was only high enough for one to walk, but not jump. The woman dragged the Ironclad Brown Bear’s body inside the cave, then, she sat down beside a small barbecue rack that was made with wood sticks, rocks, and iron sticks.
The woman’s tightened body finally relaxed and softened as she sat on the rock-carved stool. She took off the vine cape that smelled like wildlife and let her chestnut hair down. Her slender figure and her curves were beautifully emphasized under the leather jacket. It also exposed her fair face to the air, a face that had both Eastern and Western-style beauty. Unbelievably gorgeous, it was a face that did not look like it belonged in a savage condition like this.
She took out a smaller knife skillfully and started slicing the Ironclad Brown Bear’s fur and flesh. She made a warm, small bonfire that was bright enough to light up the tiny cave. A seven-year-old boy’s silhouette appeared among the darkness.
The little boy had a pair of black eyes that indicated pure East Asian lineage. His eyes were extremely large, almost like exquisitely polished black obsidian. He had short, black hair, tender skin, and adorable features. Had an ordinary man from the Era of Dawn had seen him, they’d believe he was a blue-blood. Except people don’t usually use words like “blue-blood,” but would rather say “which noble family did this young master come from.”
It was because such beauty was nowhere else to be found on a land that treated human lives like trash, that had been taken over by weeds, that had danger lurking in every corner, that was covered in dirt and blood.
The little boy was extremely quiet. He did not question where the woman went, why she was gone for so long, or what was the thing she brought here. It was because every information about the length of time, the woman, and the prey, were all stored in his brain as knowledge.
All he needed to do was keep quiet, hide his liveliness, try not to attract any dangerous creatures, watch the woman prepare the meat from the ferocious prey, and eat, and drink water. That’s all.