Saturday, February 18, 2017
The First Alchemist - Chap 37
Chapter 37 - Journey through the Forest … Again
"Village chief, might it be time to get a move on?" Sorka Jiu said to him.
Chem Al was currently distracted by a rare species of Snapdragon Vines growing on the side of a tree. This was the third time this happened. Throughout their journey, he kept stopping when he spotted a rare medicinal ingredient, despite knowing that he didn't yet have a cauldron powerful enough to turn those ingredients into pills. He also knew that he didn’t have any spare wooden boxes to hold those ingredients so that they won’t lose any medicinal efficacy after picking them. Still, he couldn't help himself.
Like a chastised child, which he was, he slumped his shoulders and got back on his horse to continue their journey. This was the slowest they had ever traveled through the forest.
"Thank you," Sorka Jiu said, seeing Chem Al continuing on. "I think it would be a good idea if we moved a little faster."
"Oh?” Chem Al smiled. “Is there going to be any trouble?"
"My guards had reported sightings of a pack of Fang Wolves for the past month. It might not happen, but there's a good chance that they might attack us."
Chem Al nodded, although he wasn't worried. Fang Wolves were weak desolate beasts with low defense. The only thing they had going for them was their speed and bite force. With the village's current strength, he was sure they could be defeated.
The villagers meandered their way through the forest. It wasn't until an hour later that a guard ran up to Sorka Jiu and whispered in his ear.
Sorka Jiu nodded, then conveyed the message to Chem Al. "Fang Wolves, sir. We've got a confirmed sighting."
"Just one. But that doesn't mean anything. They hunt in packs, so there are definitely more out there."
Beside them, Sorka Bo hid a smile.
"I'll go tell everyone to be on their guard," Sorka Jiu said.
Chem Al shook his head. "No. Instead, tell all the guards to come here and grab a piece of meat."
"Tell all the guards to come here and grab a piece of meat. Do I need to repeat myself again?"
Sorka Jiu still looked confused.
Chem Al sighed. "Here's what we're going to do. We'll have all the guards hold some meat, and then when the Fang Wolves attack, the guards will throw the meat at them. And why should we do this? Because the reason those wolves are attacking us is because they're hungry. So do you think those wolves would risk their lives to attack us when a nice, juicy piece of meat falls from the sky in front of them?"
"Wait. You want to feed the wolves that will attack us?"
"Better than risking our lives to fight them."
"But, bu... The meat! They're our biggest seller in the market. Our profits will go way down if we just throw it away."
Chem Al paused, taking a second to compose his answer. "Sorka Jiu, I respect you, but you need to change your way of thinking. There's a difference in what this village used to be and what this village is now. This village used to be desperate for money in order to buy necessities, to the point where given the choice between saving a cart full of meat and saving someone's life, we would choose to save that cart. No longer!" He swept out his hand. "Do you see the cart that my horse is pulling? See all of those wooden boxes filled with pills? Remember that they will make us more money than a mountain of meat. So I want you to change your mind about what's important. Why risk the lives of anyone in the village if we could just toss away a piece of meat?"
Sorka Jiu was stunned. It was one thing to know something in your head, and another to realize it with your whole body. He looked back at the carts full of meat, seeing it with new eyes. Last year, they barely hunted enough meat to fill three carts, but now there was seven carts filled to the brim thanks to the increased strength of their guards. With such a plentiful amount, it no longer looked valuable.
Beside them, Sorka Bo lost his smile after hearing what the cripple said. "Wha, what are you saying? Are you saying that our guards can't handle a couple of Fang Wolves?" he shouted. He could see his plan going out the window.
Chem Al turned to him with a look on his face that said he was tired of dealing with this guy’s tantrums. "That's not what I'm saying. Our guards are certainly not weak. I'm just saying why risk it? We need each and everyone of them to live and get stronger so they could handle the real threats to our village."
Sorka Jiu looked at his village chief with wonderment in his eyes, then he nodded and proceeded to inform the guards of these new orders.
One by one, guards came up to grab a piece of meat, then left to return to their positions surrounding the villagers. They looked a little confused. Sorka Bo and his followers had to do this as well, although they didn't like it.
Half an hour later, when the reports came in with more sightings of Fang Wolves, it was time to get ready. It was almost anti-climatic when Chem Al saw three wolves jumped out of the forest, growling. The same was happening all over. They were surrounded.
It has been such a long, long time since Chem Al saw a Fang Wolf. They weren't that big and their white, grey fur wasn't that tough. The only thing threatening about them were the two fangs protruding from their jaw.
At the sight of them, the villagers felt fear, but also confident that their guards could handle them. The guards moved forward, but instead of throwing their spears, they threw pieces of meat. It seemed almost comical.
The meat landed in front of each and every Fang Wolf. The wolves growled for a few seconds longer, then they looked at the meat, then back at the villagers, then back at the meat ... again and again. They were very confused. But although they thought that this was very suspicious, it was free meat. They didn’t have to waste energy or risk their lives to get it. No carnivore in the world would pass it up.
The pack leader, which was a Fang Wolf slightly bigger than the rest, was the first to grab a piece of meat with its jaws, then it slowly backed away while continuing to face its suspicious two-legged enemies. Following their leader's example, the other wolves did the same.
All the villagers watched with open mouths as one of the threats of the forest just walked away instead of trying to kill them. This was a first.
Chem Al thought nothing of it, and proceeded to tell his horse to keep moving forward.
It took everyone else a couple of seconds to recover from their shock, then they followed their village chief, still a little unsure at what just happened. They were slow on the uptake because this went against every way of thinking they had been brought up on.
Sorka Jiu looked down at his sword that was still hanging from his belt. They had just encountered a pack of beasts and he didn't need to unsheathe it. That was hard to wrap his head around. He looked up at his village chief in awe. "Chief, you are amaz--"
"Holy shit! A six hundred year old Regina Nightshade!" Chem Al jumped off his horse and ran towards a rare medicinal plant.
Sorka Jiu looked stunned. He didn't know whether he was dealing with an amazing leader or a little child.