A Mercenary's War

 
 

A Mercenary's War Chapter 6


Chapter 6: Hunting

Translated by: Ciel

Edited by: Isalee

Because of the continuous drought, it had not rained for many days and most of the swamps in the grassy plains had dried up. During the rainy season, the grass would grow insanely tall until they were waist high, but now they were short stubbles poking out of the ground. 

 

Gao Yang searched for animal tracks while walking underneath the scorching sun. He was determined to find the antelope. 

 

Gao Yang had not died yet, which was partially due to his extraordinarily good fortune. Even though he was raised in a metropolitan area, he managed to survive for three years in the wild African plains and tropical forests, places that were far from civilization. That was not an average person's luck. 

 

This was Gao Yang's third time experiencing a drought; in other words, Gao Yang had been stranded in Africa for three years now. 

 

Survival in the African wilderness had nothing to do with skill or the materials that a person had. It was simply a question of how much luck a person had and the desire they had to survive. At least that was the case for Gao Yang. 

 

Gao Yang did indeed have a strong will to live. Even after being bitten by a venomous snake, he used every possible method he could to prolong his life. Without someone to rescue him, he was bound to die. Luckily for Gao Yang, he came across a tribe that lived in the plains that saved him.

 

It was then that Gao Yang had found out that the tribe knew how to treat people bitten by venomous snakes with techniques that had been passed down by their ancestors. Gao Yang was lucky that he met them and was cured. Now all that was left was a large scar on the palm of his left hand. 

 

Just what did that primitive tribe do to save him? Besides mashing together some nameless herbs, imprinting the symbol of their god on his forehead, and praying for his protection, they didn't do anything else. The poison from the snake actually posed little harm to him. Rather, it was the lacerations that Gao Yang dealt upon himself that would have taken his life. 

After all, there was no other way. At the time, Gao Yang was trying to squeeze out the poisoned blood as fast as he could. In an emotional turmoil, he had used a little too much strength. He was especially lucky to have survived because he found out later that only one in ten people could survive the injuries that he had sustained. 

However, the most dangerous moment that Gao Yang experienced was not the snake bite, but the time after that. After a month since meeting the tribe, he was able to move around again, but then he contracted malaria. He ate all the medicine that he had to prevent malaria, but it had no effect. He suffered feverous outbreaks for over ten days as the disease wrecked his body before it miraculously disappeared one day. 

 

Over these three years, Gao Yang contracted malaria four times. He had basically acquired all strains of malaria that had ever been discovered. 

 

Of course, the main reason why Gao Yang was able to survive was because of the tribe. Without those generous people, Gao Yang probably would've died many times over. 

 

The tribe that had saved Gao Yang was very small and was extremely primitive. There were only seventeen people total. It would be better to describe it as one large family. They were nomads and moved all over the plains, relying on hunting and gathering to survive. 

 

Gao Yang didn't know what race the tribe people were, and only knew that they called themselves the A'Kuli tribe. Gao Yang had asked the tribe's chief, the oldest man in the tribe, but even he didn't know what they were. 

 

The A'Kuli actually didn't even have the concept of race. They also had a very unique marriage practice of only wedding their sons and daughters when they met a tribe similar to theirs. 

 

Because of their extremely primitive lifestyle, one could guess how high the mortality rate  was in this tribe. Gao Yang had been with the tribe for three years, and a total of four children were born, but at the same time, three had died. The oldest was around five years of age, while the youngest was only two days old. Of the entire tribe, the oldest was the chief, and he looked about forty years or so. 

 

It wasn't that Gao Yang hadn't tried asking the chief how old he was, but rather, the chief himself didn't know how old he was. He only remembered that he may have lived through forty rain seasons. 

 

Gao Yang's ability to learn a new language was fairly impressive. The A'Kuli language was simple since there wasn't much vocabulary. Within three to four months, Gao Yang was able to easily communicate with the other tribe members. However, there was very little information that Gao Yang was able to get out of them. 

 

Gao Yang still didn't know what country he was in. All he knew was that he was in an area where the tropics and the plains intersected. After walking north for two to three days, he reached a sparse landscape. He walked to the east for two to three days and found the tropics. Gao Yang wasn't very familiar with the topography of Africa and had no idea how to determine where he was on the map. 

 

During the three years, he could not find a trace of civilization and constantly thought about his family. 

 

The reason why he was so far from civilization was because the A'Kuli purposely avoided war and conflict, and in effect, civilization. 

 

The A'Kuli had once been visited by people from civilization who brought modern tools for them. But soon afterwards, war began. Anyone who carried a gun would kill any living man in sight, sometimes even for fun. After three of the A'Kuli had been killed while hunting, they purposefully left to find an isolated place to live. 

 

The A'Kuli had not met anyone else for years, meaning all connection Gao Yang had with the outside world was gone. He was a period in which he scouted out the area around the tribe. The longest he had been out was seven to eight days. But in the end, Gao Yang couldn't even find the river that he had found when he first arrived. 

 

In the three years that he had spent with the A'Kuli tribe, Gao Yang had spent every day hunting. In the entire tribe, including Gao Yang, only five people could hunt. The rest were women and children who gathered plants and insects. If the men didn't bring anything back, the entire tribe would starve. 

 

No one knew how many years had passed since they had left civilization, but they had steel, which was their most modern technology. The A'Kuli had around six daggers and four spears. While the steelwork was very crude, the tool itself was very easy to use. The chief said that they were all gifts that the strange men in animal-pelt jackets had given them. 

 

Most of the time, when the A'Kuli went hunting, they mainly used bows. There were few instances where they had to finish off the prey with their daggers and spears. More often than not, their prey would be finished before they even used their spears.

 

Currently, Gao Yang was with four other men from the tribe, tracking an antelope that had taken a poison arrow. 

Because of the drought, a number of the swamps in the grasslands had dried up. Only a few still had water. These remaining swamps soon became the water source for all the animals in the area. Hunting was much easier now than it was during the rainy season. It was easy to hit any animal that would go to the riverside with a poison arrow. 

 

Gao Yang and the rest were chasing a large antelope that they had shot beside the swamp. 

 

The arrows themselves that Gao Yang and the others used were not the main threat, but instead it was the poison that was smeared on the arrow.

 

The poison was extracted from beetle larvae. While the poison was very venomous, it had a very short life. If used against a large animal, the poison would be able to kill it within three hours. The antelope that Gao Yang and the others had hit was somewhat large: around a hundred kilograms. Even though they had shot two poison arrows, it would take at least four to five hours for the antelope to die. 

 

After getting hit, the antelope panicked and went into a frenzy as it tried to escape. There was no way a human could catch up with it, and the poison arrow wouldn't kill it immediately. However, this was the A'Kuli tribe's method of hunting. After they shot the animal, they would follow its tracks to its final resting place. 

 

Tracking an animal sometimes took one to far distances, and other times it would be short. It was normal to track an animal for several dozen kilometers. Either way, until the animal's time was up, they had to continue tracking it. While the A'Kuli didn't use a very brilliant way of hunting, their ability to run long distances and track an animal was indeed superior. 

 

The A'Kuli were able to determine which tracks were those of the antelope that they were hunting, even out of a mess on the ground. Just from a few broken stems, they were able to accurately deduce the direction the prey ran off to. From all the slight details that they gathered from these tracks, they could even figure out just how long the animal had before it would die. 

 

After spending close to three years with them, Gao Yang was able to somewhat grasp the concepts of tracking. However, whenever he was hunting with the chief, there was never a chance for him to show these newly learned skills. 

 

They had been following the antelope since before dawn, all the way until noon. Gao Yang and the other five jogged as they tracked their prey and did not move at a very fast pace. Gao Yang estimated that they had run at least thirty or forty kilometers. He was getting close to his limit, but the other four didn't seem to even break a sweat. 

 

Gao Yang would have found it unbearable to even walk three kilometers, much less thirty to forty before he met the tribe. But the effect from the pressure to survive was extremely shocking. Now, Gao Yang could easily run this distance without too much effort. 

 

Finally, the chief slowed to a stop. After examining the antelope tracks on the ground, he pointed in a direction. 

 

"The tracks are reaching an end. Let's go and find them over there." 

 

After hearing the chief's words, Gao Yang was incredibly happy. Since the antelope had taken two arrows, the time it took for them to track and follow the prey was much shorter than usual. The sooner they finished, the happier the people were. After all, they would have to walk back the same distance it took to get there, with an enormous slab of meat on their backs. 

 

Gao Yang breathed heavily and followed the chief. After walking around one to two kilometers, he soon found his target. 

 

An enormous antelope stood right in front of him. It staggered slightly, and while it hadn't fallen, it was only a matter of time. 

 

Gao Yang was right behind the chief and followed his lead. Gao Yang quickly unsheathed his hunting knife and dashed forward at the antelope. He had to finish this off quickly or else the antelope would be taken by the tigers or the lions.