Chapter 10 : Gathering Herbs Alone
Biting off the last leaves from the bunch of herbs she held in her hand, she threw the stems away to the side. Carefully digging out the Tree Root Berry from the dirt at the base of the tree, she was squatting on the ground focused on the task, and she failed to notice that a black and white venomous snake was slithering through the grass towards her.
As the snake neared her, its long body pushed its head up and it spat out its forked tongue, hissing softly. At that moment, the venomous snake struck, its jaw widened to bite onto Feng Jiu’s calf.
A sudden change came over Feng Jiu’s expression and an austere murderous chill pervaded her entire being, her eyes suddenly turned bitingly cold. Her body pivoted lightning quick as her hand grasped onto the snake’s head, the other hand clasped around the snake’s seven inch vital point. Her fingers tightened and with a snap, the fingers grasping the seven inch vital point were driven deep into the snake’s body.
“HISS!” The snake let out a loud hiss and its body spasmed before it fell limp.
“Oh? A Silver Ring snake?” The chillingly cold aura from just a moment before now felt like it had just been a momentary hallucination. She had immediately reverted right back to her appearance of languid laziness as she eyed the snake and laughed: “I haven’t seen any boars and not even a tiny rabbit. You will have to do for the time being when I roast you to fill my empty stomach.” But, as she finished her statement, the smile on her face froze.
She had just discovered one big problem….. No fire.
Under these damp and highly humid trees, starting a fire through friction would not be easy at all. She didn’t have matches with her and not even a flintstone or stick of ember.She wouldn’t be able to have roast snake afterall!
“Forget it! Forget it! Just hold out for a little while more! I will have to at least find a dryer place before I think of some way to start a fire.” She mumbled to herself in a low voice in regret as she held the snake carcass in her hand thinking it would be such a waste to just throw the snake away. So, she proceeded to clean and process the meat.
She first cut the head off, then skinned it, before removing the snake gall. She then hung the now unidentifiable piece of meat on a tree branch and wiped her blood drenched hand on the grass. She picked some stronger smelling plants and rubbed her hands vigorously with them to remove the stench of blood from them before carrying on with her search.
So, on this day in the woods, a filthy little beggar dressed in ragged clothes could be seen walking alone within this danger filled Nine Entrapment Woods, with a tree branch over his shoulder, and a skinned snake dangling from it as he skipped along…..
Throughout the entire day, she traversed alone within, searching for herbs to dispel the poison from her body. She had unknowingly walked from the outer edges of the woods to go deep into the inner reaches, and she was finally able to locate all the herbs she needed before dusk.
Taking advantage of the remaining light that allowed her to still see, she found a dry branch and embarked on the most primitive way of starting a fire. But as the environment was damp and wet, she spent almost two hours tirelessly before she succeeded in starting the fire. Her hands had blistered badly from her efforts but when she sank her teeth into the roasted snake meat, everything she did suddenly seemed all worth it.
Having found all the herbs she needed for the antidote, and her stomach filled, she proceeded to mash up the herbs she found in the afternoon and applied it on her body. Then she extinguished the fire and climbed up a tall tree, to find a comfortable spot for her to get a good night’s rest.
Being in a place like this, and all alone, she could not afford to keep the fire burning. If not, when night fell, she could easily become the target of wild beasts, and she wasn’t exactly brimming with energy at that moment to take them on. So, even when the branches high up in the trees were cold and she did not have the fire to warm her, she would choose safety over comfort without a thought.
As expected, as the darkness fell, the howling of wolves reached her ears ringing through the woods, reverberating chillingly in the darkness, that drove fear into the hearts of men.
As for Feng Jiu, her eyes were closed as she had fallen into a deep sleep, seemingly treating the long ringing howls in the woods as her night time lullaby.
Naturally, she would also not notice that high up upon a tree not too far away, a dark shadowy figure had observed her every single action in this very dangerous woods…..