Ch3 – Zhou Ji
Xiong Ye’s father was the former tribal chief and was once the strongest man in the tribe. Unfortunately, this man, who had awakened as a brown bear just like Xiong Ye, had died when Xiong Ye was just five years old.
After giving birth to him, Xiong Ye’s mother continued on to have five more children with different people. Four of them survived, and although his mother was very strong, she couldn’t always look after Xiong Ye. So after Xiong Ye awakened his animal form when he was ten, he took the initiative to move out of his mother’s cave and lived in the big communal cave with the other children who had left their parents, the elderly, and the disabled who couldn’t hunt.
These children, elderly, and disabled could obtain the most basic food allocation from the tribe, and at the same time, were required to do some basic gathering work or other chores.
For example, during this season, there were very few plants that could be collected, so they went to gather firewood or other things from areas nearby.
They didn’t have to do too much work, and when they were free, the elderly and the disabled would generally lay down in the valley or in the cave to conserve their physical strength. Some of the children would also do the same, but Xiong Ye was different.
Although his father died relatively early, he still remembered when his father used to take him out hunting. Back then, he had thought that when he grew up, he would become as powerful as his father, become the tribal chief, and make it so that the people of the tribe didn’t have to go hungry.
Since he wanted to become the tribal chief, he certainly couldn’t act like everyone else and do nothing simply because he was hungry – his father had instructed him to eat more and exercise more!
People in the tribe were very friendly towards the children. The elderly weren’t stingy about teaching and sharing their experience with them, and before Xiong Ye turned ten, he liked to ask them about what it was like outside. He learned how to fish, how to set traps, and even learned what kind of insects were edible. After he turned ten, he tried even harder to find a way to learn from them whenever he had a chance.
He even had the cheek to shamelessly help Grandpa Priest with his work in exchange for food.
The food distributed by the tribe would ensure that they didn’t starve to death and would grow up, but it was impossible for them to eat well. However, Xiong Ye knew how to get around and could always feed himself well. Later, he met Shi Li. The two of them clicked instantly and began to scavenge for food everywhere together.
It was because of this that he had already become one of the most powerful warriors in the tribe right after reaching adulthood – just having a strong beast form didn’t necessarily mean he would become a powerful warrior!
After eating the lesser half of the Lesothosaurus, Xiong Ye returned to his cave where there was a lot of wood piled up at the entrance.
His cave was very empty. There was nothing inside except for a stone bowl and stone axe that he had made himself.
Before winter last year, he had stored a lot of food and hay in the cave, but after winter had passed, the food was all gone, and the hay had become dirty.
He had just thrown the hay away the other day, and now the cave seemed particularly desolate.
He planned to marry Shi Li and become mates. Shi Li’s cave would be given to Shi Li’s mother and younger brother to live in, and he would definitely move in here. In that case, this cave was really a bit shabby.
Xiong Ye looked at the pile of wood that was lying in the sun by the entrance, then brought some of it into the cave before turning into animal form so he could strip the bark off with his claws.
The bark he peeled off was piled up in the corner since it could be used for the fire in the future. The remaining tree trunks were then laid down in the innermost part of the cave.
The cave was too cold and sleeping on the bare ground wasn’t comfortable at all. They would normally lay something on the ground and sleep on top of it.
He used to sleep alone, so it was enough to casually lay down some hay, but there would be two of them in the future… Xiong Ye felt that he should be a little more particular, so he set up a layer of wood according to Grandpa Hou’s instructions and created a nest – in the future, when they added a mat made of hay and dinosaur leather on top, it would become very comfortable to sleep on.
Additionally, he could use wood to make some tables and stools… He could go and get some more wood tonight.
After Xiong Ye laid out seven or eight pieces of wood, he heard his uncle’s voice calling from outside, “Distributing meat!”
Upon hearing this call, he snatched up the stone bowl lying in the corner and practically flew outside. The rest of the tribe reacted just as quickly as he did.
This was a habit they had developed from childhood – no matter how busy they were, they couldn’t miss meals!
Every day, the happiest time for everyone was when it was time to eat.
The hunting team had a bountiful harvest today and everyone could obtain a big piece of meat. As the chief of the tribe, Xiong Ye’s uncle, Xiong He, was responsible for dividing up the meat.
First, he cut off a piece of the liver and a piece of the most tender part of the meat, and sent it to the priest. Then, he divided the rest of the meat among the tribe.
The elderly and the children consciously made way so that the hunting team could go up and collect their meat first.
The hunting team, men and women alike, would be given more meat. Those who had made large contributions would receive additional rewards for their efforts. When it was Xiong Ye’s turn, Xiong He not only gave him a large piece of raw meat, he also gave him a portion of the Struthiomimus’ heart.
Xiong Ye accepted it, then went to the bonfire and barbecued the meat for himself.
People came up beside him, one after another, and roasted their meat around the fire with him, but… Shi Li didn’t come.
Xiong Ye stood up and tried to look for him in the crowd.
Although Shi Li liked to sleep, he had never missed out on the division of meat before. Sometimes, he would even begin to eat the meat before it was cooked… Why wasn’t he here today?
However, he couldn’t find Shi Li, and could only spot Yang Ying and Yang Su.
Xiong Ye walked over and saw that Yang Ying and Yang Su were currently roasting meat. It was a very large piece of meat, and the two of them wouldn’t have received that much on their own, so it had to include Shi Li’s share… Xiong Ye asked, “Where’s Shi Li?”
Yang Ying glanced at Xiong Ye. Since there were outsiders present, he was very polite to Xiong Ye, “He’s sleeping. He had us come out and help him get his share of the food.”
Xiong Ye originally wanted to ask Shi Li to go with him to cut down some trees that night, but since Shi Li wanted to sleep and didn’t even come out to eat… He’ll just go by himself.
When the time comes, he can give Shi Li a surprise.
Xiong Ye returned to his spot by the fire and ate a quarter of his portion of meat, planning to bring the rest back to his cave.
He liked to store food. He had finished everything he’d stocked up over the winter, and in truth, he couldn’t get used to not having anything saved up… Tomorrow, he definitely needed to find a way to bring back a big one!
There were many people who were like Xiong Ye and saved up their share of the food. Some would only eat a fifth or less – the hunting team wouldn’t be going out to hunt tomorrow, so no meat would be shared amongst the tribe the next day.
Not to mention, there was bone soup to drink today.
They boiled the Struthiomimus bones with some wild vegetables to make soup. Although the taste wasn’t very good, people could still fill their bellies by drinking it!
But Xiong Ye didn’t go get soup–he didn’t like to eat grass.
Night had come, and the bonfire in the square had gone out. Xiong Ye took the remainder of the meat back to his cave and stored it away, then left the cave with his stone axe and headed towards the exit that led to the mountains.
The exit was covered by a door that was made out of wood and vines, and there was a cat crouched next to it.
The cat was a member of their tribe. It was Xiong Ye’s cousin, Mao Jin. She was only fourteen, and her animal form was very weak. But because she was very vigilant in her animal form, starting from a year ago, she had taken the initiative to guard the gate.
Xiong Ye felt that it was great for her to do so, since everyone should try to make themselves useful.
Upon seeing Xiong Ye, Mao Jin meowed, licked her paw, and lay down again.
Xiong Ye laughed, opened the door, and went out.
They generally wouldn’t destroy the trees in the forest near the tribe. Xiong Ye went further out, skillfully shuttling his way through the forest, and soon came to a stretch of woods far away from the tribe. He then began to chop down trees.
After cutting down a big tree and removing its branches and leaves, he was soon left with a thick chunk of wood. He then moved on and began to cut down the next tree.
Xiong Ye chopped down four trees in one go, then realized that he wouldn’t be able to carry any more and finally stopped.
“Do you need help?” A slightly stiff voice suddenly sounded out. Xiong Ye raised his head and saw someone standing under a tree in the distance. It was Zhou.
Zhou looked a little strange–not only was he wearing a piece of dinosaur leather around his waist, he also wore two pieces around his upper body, covering up his back and chest… In their tribe, generally speaking, only women who were worried that their breasts would impact their hunting, or those who found it too cold in winter, would do so.
Well, it was still quite cold now, and it was even chillier at night. Zhou probably hung those burdensome things on himself because he was freezing.
“Why are you here?” Xiong Ye was rather surprised.
Zhou: “Picking fruit.”
Only then did Xiong Ye notice that Zhou was holding a few fruits in his hands.
This type of fruit could be found amongst the grass. It wasn’t very big and was very sour, but it was very common and was plentiful all the way from spring up until autumn.
When he was young and hungry, he would often look for this kind of fruit to eat even though the tart taste made his teeth feel sour.
However, he didn’t eat it much after turning twelve. He only occasionally picked some for Shi Li–at the time, Shi Li and his family hadn’t yet joined the tribe, and his mother and younger brother always had nothing to eat.
This kind of fruit should only be available after the weather grew a bit warmer. Most of the plants were still only just flowering at the moment, and Xiong Ye didn’t know where Zhou had managed to find some.
Xiong Ye: “I don’t need your help.” Could Zhou’s small body even lift up a piece of wood?
Xiong Ye pulled down a section of vine and tied up the four pieces of wood, then removed the leather he’d wrapped around his lower body and turned into a brown bear.
His animal form was very big, and it took a lot of energy for him to change forms. He normally wouldn’t do this, but he wasn’t worried about it today because he had eaten his fill and there was more food stored up in his cave.
“Roar!” Xiong Ye called out to Zhou, intending to ask the other party return together with him–he couldn’t speak while in his animal form, so he could only do this.
Only, he didn’t know what Zhou was looking at; he had turned his head away and didn’t turn his head back until he heard Xiong Ye’s roar.
Xiong Ye signaled for the other party to follow him then led the way, deliberately slowing down his speed.
He was afraid that Zhou wouldn’t be able to keep up.
One of the two moons in the sky hung in the west, while the other was in the east. They shed a minimal amount of light, but it was enough for Xiong Ye to find his way. Occasionally, he could even spot something running from far away.
Those should be small-sized bird-footed dinosaurs. Unfortunately, his movements were too big, and those little dinosaurs had already run away before he could get close…
Xiong Ye felt that it was a bit of a pity, but he soon calmed down.
It was already the middle of the night, and it wasn’t a suitable time to hunt.
Xiong Ye walked on and unconsciously picked up the pace, but Zhou unexpectedly remained behind him and didn’t fall behind.
Xiong Ye turned his head and gave Zhou a glance.
Although this person never awakened an animal form, his physical strength wasn’t bad. That made sense. When Zhou’s mother was still alive, she had never wronged Zhou when it came to food.
He had been able to eat well and drink well every day, so Zhou’s health certainly couldn’t be too bad.
Although ordinary people like Zhou couldn’t do very many things, it wasn’t as though they couldn’t participate in the hunts. Xiong Ye felt that after they returned, he should urge Zhou to exercise properly.
He wanted to be the chief of the tribe, and the chief should be responsible for everyone in the clan!
Very quickly, the two of them, one in front and one behind, arrived back at the tribe.
Xiong Ye put down the wood, changed back to his human form, and put his clothes back on. He said to Zhou, “It’s really amazing that you followed behind me for so long without falling behind. In the future, you should exercise properly. You can definitely join the hunting party. When that day comes, you’ll be able to eat meat every day!”
The way Xiong Ye saw it, eating grass was definitely something that was hard to bear. Some people liked to gnaw on a few mouthfuls of grass when they were in animal form, but they would still be devoted to eating meat when they resumed their human form.
But right now, Zhou… probably wasn’t given very much meat.
Zhou, who had turned his back towards Xiong Ye at some point, turned back and looked at Xiong Ye, “My name is Zhou Ji.”
Xiong Ye looked at Zhou Ji in amazement, “You’ve awakened? What kind of animal is ‘Ji’? How come you aren’t called Ji Zhou?”
Zhou Ji: “…”
The author has something to say:
Zhou Ji: Can’t these primitive people give some warning before taking off their skirts?
The beastmen in the story all awaken mammal forms. Otherwise, Xiong Ye would definitely ask, “Zhou Ji? Did you awaken as a chicken?”