A Mercenary's War

Chapter 7

Chapter 7: Traces of Civilization

Translated by: Spot

Edited by: Isalee

It was common for other animals to steal their prey. They would painstakingly pursue their prey, only to find out it had been eaten by a lion or a hyena. Whenever this happened, they could only return empty-handed.

While watching the chief approach the antelope, an abrupt figure in a nearby underbrush suddenly leaped out and tackled the antelope to the ground.

Because Gao Yang was behind everyone else, he clearly saw what had happened. A leopard had attacked the antelope and now the chief and the leopard were face to face. It didn’t matter if the chief was going to give up antelope or not. It was now a situation where the chief and the leopard were going to face off for food.

Gao Yang knew that leopards ordinarily would avoid humans, so why would it have the courage to confront five people? Looking at the leopard, he realized that this particular leopard was already very old so its hunting capability was dramatically lower. It also looked very skinny from starvation. Thus, an exhausted antelope would be perfect for it. It would definitely not let go of food that had fallen right into its lap.

It was an extremely dangerous situation because the leopard and the chief were very close. The leopard opened its mouth and let out a deep snarl. The chief, who only two meters away from the leopard, spread out his arms and slowly retreated backwards. The hunting group, including Gao Yang, performed the same action.

Fighting over food with a famished leopard was extremely dangerous, even if the leopard was old and weak. Their proximity to the animal didn’t help as the explosive force of animals with four limbs was something humans could not physically go against. Even though there were five of them, they were still very wary of making the leopard angry. Only after they retreat back to a safe distance could they have a chance to scare off the leopard without an incident.

Just when the chief was slowly backing up, the leopard suddenly let go of the antelope that was within its paws. It pounced at the chief as quick as a lightning bolt.

He only had time to contract his wide open arms and protect his neck before the leopard fell upon him.

The massive leopard tilted its head, and with a wide, gaping mouth, it struck the chief’s throat. It had no intention of releasing its grasp. Thankfully, because of the chief’s smart thinking, he was able to protect his neck and avoided having his neck broken from that bite.

Right when the chief fell to the ground, Gao Yang let out a roar. Tightly gripping his hunting knife in his hands, he charged forward. The three men in front of him also thrusted out their pikes in quick succession. The leopard quickly released the chief after being pierced and lashed out in retaliation. It struck one of the men’s thighs, leaving a deep claw mark before finally turning around to flee.

Gao Yang was furious, but was also shaken up by the leopard’s appearance. In Africa, the leopard was considered to be one of the top hunters. Any prey that had the unfortunate luck of being bitten by a leopard pretty much had no chance of survival.

Even though the chief was pressing his hand down against his neck, fresh blood flowed down incessantly between his fingers. A few of them were frightened into stupor, and could only stand there and shout. Only Gao Yang was cool-headed as he ran up to the chief, reached out to remove the hand covering his neck, and took a good look at the wound.

Because the chief managed to protect his neck in time, the leopard couldn’t cleanly rip his throat. However, with its long canine teeth, it left two deep holes on the bottom right side of the chief’s neck. Apart from this, the leopard also left a deep row of teeth marks on his right arm.

Gao Yang took a deep breath and reached out to cover the chief’s neck injury. His thoughts were all over the place. He was trying to think of a way to save the chief’s life, except the more he thought, the more he panicked he became because it seemed that the chief’s death was imminent.

The only positive thing was that the leopard hadn’t penetrated all the way through the chief’s throat and didn’t rupture any main arteries, so as long as he received a basic surgery, the chief could stem the bleeding. However, he would die from blood loss if things continued. Even if he was lucky enough to stop the bleeding, there was always a chance of infection, which would lead to an excruciating and painful death.

As a carnivore, leopards carried tons of bacteria and viruses within their oral cavities and on their claws. With a small bite or scratch, no matter what size the wound was, it would be fatal without any antibiotics.

After living with the chief for three years, Gao Yang was filled with affection for the chief. A few moments ago he was all fine and dandy, and in a blink of an eye, he was now on the verge of death. Even though Gao Yang grinded his teeth, tears still flowed freely down his face.

The chief also knew that he didn’t have much time. He pushed away Gao Yang’s hand and steadily stood up by himself, shaking his head at Gao Yang. He coarsely said, “All of you stop crying. I’m already very old and it could’ve happened to anyone. Big Ba’al, if you don’t die, then you’ll become the next chief. If you die as well, then let Little Ba’al be the chief. Alright, stop crying. After we finish skinning the antelope, we’ll eat some food and then bring the meat back home.”

 “Father, you won’t die. You definitely won’t die!” 

Ku’Sto, who was about fourteen to fifteen years old, was the youngest member. He wasn’t mature enough to understand life and death. After speaking, he burst into tears.

After hearing the chief’s words, Gao Yang recalled something. Big Ba’al, who was the chief’s eldest son, was clawed by the leopard when it lashed out in retaliation and so he was also in danger of dying.

Not wanting to believe reality, Gao Yang dazedly said, “This can’t be, it shouldn’t be like this. There must be a way. There has to be a way to save you guys. Let me think. Don’t speak. Let me carefully think of something.”

The chief was losing a lot of blood. Sorrowfully, he shakily sat down again.

“White kid, nothing can be done. No one can survive a leopard’s death grasp.”

Gao Yang could not think of anything. He could only stare helplessly at the dying chief, which made him very fidgety. After turning around in circles a couple of times, Gao Yang could not bear it any longer. He roared in frustration at the direction the leopard had fled.

Gao Yang knew there was no point in chasing after the leopard, but he still wanted to find that damned leopard and kill it. At least getting revenge for the chief would make him feel a bit better.

Gao Yang bent over and followed the leopard’s footprints. Because the leopard was injured after being pierced by the tribesmen, the fresh blood dripping from its wound gave him a very clear direction. 

After running for about three to five minutes, the madly sprinting Gao Yang suddenly stopped in his footsteps. He saw something in the grass that shouldn’t have been there. His entire mind went blank.

There were tire marks within the grass. And it was clear that it wasn’t just one car, there were traces of at least a fleet of four to five cars. Gao Yang couldn’t believe his eyes.

“White kid, stop. We can’t pursue any further. We must take care of father and Big Ba’al.”

The cries and footsteps behind him snapped Gao Yang out of his trance. It was almost as if his body had been struck by lightning. Unable to restrain his emotions, Gao Yang suddenly turned around and shouted to Little Ba’al and Ku’Sto who followed him: “Go back! Quickly!”

Gao Yang didn’t have time to explain to the confused Little Ba’al and Ku’Sto. With a rejuvenated vigor, he quickly returned to the chief’s side.

“Chief, don’t leave this place. You guys wait here for me. There’s hope for you and Big Ba’al.”

When Gao Yang excitedly told the chief he had hope, he couldn’t really explain it. This was due to the fact that the A’Kuli language did not have “tire marks” in its vocabulary.

“I found a mark that lets us find white people, people like me. They have, um, have strange herbal medicine, and they can save you and Big Ba’al. Don’t move. Wait for me, I’m going to find those white folks.”

Little Ba’al and Ku’Sto finally understood what was going on. It meant the chief and Big Ba’al could be saved; it was only natural that everyone was filled with excitement.

“Ku’Sto, stay here to help dad and Big Ba’al. White kid and I will go find those white folks.”

“No, you aren’t as fast as me. I’m known as the Cheetah. I’ll go with the white kid. You stay behind and protect father and Big Ba’al, you’re stronger.”

“Both of you shut up, I’ll go myself. Listen, if you guys hear any gunshots, quickly leave. Do you guys know what gunshots are? Chief, you’ve heard it before, right? If you hear it, leave immediately. Don’t wait for me to come back. If you guys don’t hear it, then wait over here for me. But you guys must be careful, understand?”

The chief shook his head and grabbed the excited Gao Yang: “Don’t go. You don’t know what type of people they are. They are very evil. You’ll lose your life.”

Gao Yang pried the chief’s fingers from his arm and with a smile, he replied, “If I don’t come back tomorrow by this time, you guys leave by yourselves. Don’t worry chief, you know I’m the same type of people as them; I’ll be fine.”

The chief was a bit moved, but with a slight hesitation, he nevertheless nodded his head.

“I almost forgot that you’re also a strange white man. Alright, go. Bring Ku’Sto with you and  the two of you must be careful.”

This made Ku’Sto animatedly cry out: “White kid, I’m coming with you. If something happens, I’ll be able to help you.”

Gao Yang thought for a second and came to the conclusion that it was better to bring Ku’Sto because if something happened, someone could be the messenger. Gao Yang stopped hesitating about bringing Ku’Sto along, and sprinted after the tire tracks.

It was easy to figure out out which way the cars had went based on the imprints on the grass. Moreover, Gao Yang saw that the marks were still fairly fresh. If they were lucky enough, it wouldn’t take too long before finding the fleet of cars.

Although it was worrisome, Gao Yang followed the trails in a light jog, not daring to go all out and wanting to keep a constant pace. He didn’t want to tire himself out since he had already run more than ten kilometers today. In addition, he hadn’t eaten anything.

Ku’Sto’s speed was much faster than Gao Yang’s, to the extent that Gao Yang had to often call Ku’Sto to come back. He wanted them to stay close together. In A’Kuli, Ba’al meant lion and Ku’Sto meant cheetah. People took after their names, so even though Ku’Sto was the youngest, he was the fastest.

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