Two old men stood at the peak of the mountain that belonged to the Crow Scout Tribe. They were currently looking down at the scene playing out below. Both had white hair, but radiated extraordinary vigour. Each had four glittering totem tattoos which stretched out over their bodies, to the point where even their faces were covered.
“Hahaha! What a genius! Well played, well played.”
“This kid really has a way with words. What a sharp tongue! After he becomes a vassal, we should give him the position of recruiting other vassals.”
The two old men exchanged a smile. Actually, Meng Hao’s performance wasn’t something they would remember deeply. Every year during vassal recruiting, members of the junior generation would participate in the so-called Great War of the Crow Divinity. Other Tribe members were always more than happy to observe the excitement.
Sometimes, listening to the members of the junior generation bragging and boasting was just pure entertainment.
Meanwhile, back down below….
“Too brazen!!” cried the Crow Flame Tribe member, unable to restrain himself. His words caused the onlookers to all suddenly look at him. Everyone else present was from the Crow Scout Tribe, and they didn’t look happy.
The Crow Flame Tribe member continued, “You claim that the Crow Scout Tribe’s tree of Heaven and Earth gave birth to the Eastern Lands, the Northern Desert, the Southern Domain and the Western Desert. Well, the Crow Flame Tribe is a flame of the Nine Heavens, a fire that can burn everything! It could turn all the lands into rubble, and transform all living things into ash!”
The Crow Gloom Tribe member didn’t seem to care that they were surrounding by a crowd. “The Crow Gloom Tribe is the moon of our world! Its light shines over all life. All flames and even the sun itself exist merely to serve as foils to the radiance of the moon that is the Crow Gloom Tribe!”
They had obviously been inspired by Meng Hao’s words. Their arguments now were much different than they had been before.
Off to the side, Wu Hai was furious. In his view, they were the acting with complete shamelessness to brag in this way. He wanted to offer up a retort, but wasn’t sure what to say. He looked over at Meng Hao.
Meng Hao was smiling, and his expression was one of coolness.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about the Western Desert or the Eastern Lands,” he said, a pious expression on his face. “All are simply solitary fallen leaves. The grand tree of the Crow Scout Tribe contains millions upon millions of leaves. As for the flames of which you speak, and the moonlight, they, too, are simply leaves on the tree!
“The grand tree of the Crow Scout Tribe is an Immortal above all living things. It supervises Heaven and Earth, and oversees the millions upon millions of trees that exist in the entire world!
“It is our light when we are in the darkness.
“It is our strength when we feel weak.
“It is our comfort when we wish to grieve.
“It is our wisdom when we are perplexed.
“It is our hope when we feel despair.
“It is our shield when we face evil!
“It provides safety when we charge into war!”
Everything was quiet as all the onlookers stared blankly. Wu Hai, the surrounding Crow Scout Tribe members, as well as the four representatives from the other Tribes were all the same.
In fact, the two old men at the peak of the mountain were also stunned.
Everyone had strange expressions on their faces. The four Cultivators from the opposing Tribes felt their brains spinning, and couldn’t think of a single word to say.
Normally speaking, they counted themselves as experts in the Great War of the Crow Divinity. However, they were now astonished to discover that bragging… had realms beyond even them. They had been rendered utterly speechless.
“Therefore,” continued Meng Hao, “I choose to join the Crow Scout Tribe. I will bow to the Immortal who oversees millions upon millions of leaves. I will bathe in his light, and then spread that light to every corner of the Western Desert.
“Let all people in the world call him Immortal! Let the Great Tree come! His Will shall be done on Earth as it is in Heaven!”
Meng Hao took a deep breath as his words echoed back and forth amidst the silence of the Tribe. Everyone around had looks of complete disbelief covering their faces. Wu Hai was trembling; it seemed he had discovered the path he wished to tread in the future. He would memorize the words he had heard just now. From now on, whenever he participated in the Great War of the Crow Divinity, he would be invincible! No one would be his match! He could even look down on the Crow Divinity!
His expression filled with piety, Wu Hai called out in a loud voice: “Let all people in the world call him Immortal! Let the Great Tree come! His Will shall be done on Earth as it is in Heaven!”
The faces of the four other Cultivators were extremely unsightly. They exchanged grim glances and then sighed. With final hateful looks at Meng Hao and Wu Hai, they turned, transforming into colorful beams of light that shot off into the distance.
As they left, the surrounding Crow Scout Tribe members looked over at Meng Hao with strange expressions. After a long moment, they began to disperse. Wu Hai grabbed Meng Hao’s arm excitedly. This was the first time in his life that he had looked so excited.
“Brother, that was amazing. I think you were born to be a member of the Crow Scout Tribe. Listen, for now, forget about the Neo-Demon Kennelist thing. You need to come with me to some of the other Tribes. We’re going to start some Great Wars of the Crow Divinity. I truly believe that we can spread the Will of the Great Tree throughout all creation!” His eyes shone with an unprecedented glow, one of devoutness as well as indescribable stubbornness.
It actually bordered on madness.
Seeing this, Meng Hao felt incredibly strange. “He can’t possibly actually believe it, can he…?” he thought to himself.
It was only after a multitude of explanations, along with solemn usage of the phrases regarding the Great Tree being an Immortal, that Meng Hao was able to extricate himself from Wu Hai. He went with some other Tribe members to perform a series of formalities that were required for new vassals. Finally, he was given a stone tablet and escorted to the area behind the mountain.
This area was actually quite large and was divided into many districts, all of which were separated by fences formed from branches. Without the proper identification medallion, it would be difficult to pass from one district into another.
The district in which the low-level neo-demons were raised was actually relatively remote in comparison to the other areas. As soon as he arrived, Meng Hao smelled an odd odor.
It was a strange, acrid smell that seemed to be a mixture of excrement and sweat. The Crow Scout Tribe member next to him frowned and squeezed his nose shut as he led Meng Hao forward. Obviously, were it not for the admiration he felt toward Meng Hao because of his performance earlier, he would never have personally escorted him here.
He could have called for someone to lead Meng Hao, but instead did it himself; the difference between the two was clear.
As they walked along, a variety of howls and shrieks could be heard; this was obviously a location where large numbers of neo-demons were reared.
Eventually, they reached a very out-of-the-way location, and a crude courtyard. They stopped, and his escort called out. Moments later, the courtyard door opened and an old man emerged. He wore a long robe made of sackcloth and was somewhat dirty. As he looked them over, the Crow Scout Tribe member introduced Meng Hao. The old man nodded and eyed Meng Hao, noting that he had been personally escorted over.
Finally, it seemed the Crow Scout Tribe member couldn’t take the smell anymore; he turned and left.
“This used to be my courtyard for raising Greenwood Wolves,” said the old man lightly. “From now on, this place belongs to you. There are five wolves inside that you can take care of. In half a year, the results of your probation will be determined by how well you took care of them. Then you will become a full vassal.” With that, he tossed a command medallion to Meng Hao and began to stroll away. Just as he passed Meng Hao, he stopped, suddenly remembering that Meng Hao had been escorted here. Throughout the years, that was something that didn’t happen very often, which meant that Meng Hao must have some special connections.
With a lofty expression, he said, “I’m not sure if you have any experience raising neo-demons. Either way, don’t forget that if the Greenwood Wolves die, you’ll have to provide compensation. Also, the five Greenwood Wolves were just recently born. They can only eat fresh meat, which you can acquire from the beasts in the surrounding mountains. As for the water they drink, it can only be melted snow from the peaks of the snowy mountains outside.
“In addition, you must mix some Tree Nurturing Grass into their food. You can find that type of grass in the mountains also. Furthermore, you will need to give the Greenwood Wolves Tui Na massage treatment every day to help them grow. Finally, you are responsible for making sure they maintain their ferocity and don’t become too domesticated.”
With that, he paid Meng Hao no further heed and left.
Meng Hao looked at the courtyard. The place did have an odd odor, but it wasn’t something that Meng Hao couldn’t handle. Furthermore, its remote location meant that not many people would be around, which suited him nicely.
After entering, he immediately heard some threatening yipping sounds. Looking around, he saw a row of small wooden kennels, standing in front of which were five little, green wolves. Each one was only about as big as his hand. They stood there glaring at him maliciously.
As soon as he saw the little wolves, Meng Hao smiled. It was a warm smile, because as soon as he saw the little buggers, it instantly made him think of the Blood Mastiff when it was small.
Their furriness made them incredibly cute.
As soon as he smiled at them, they turned into green blurs as they charged over. Meng Hao laughed and waved his hand. The green blurs instantly dissolved into the images of the tiny wolves, which he now held by the scruffs of their necks. Being held in this position, they tried to bite him, but couldn’t. They only let out their threatening yips, which then turned into pleading whines.
Meng Hao tossed the little wolves back into their wooden kennels, and then examined his surroundings further. The echoing cries of various beasts could be heard in the air, but other than that, everything was relatively peaceful.
Within the courtyard were the wooden kennels as well as a simple wood cabin. He opened the door and, seeing the place was in quite a mess, waved his hand. A wind sprung up which cleansed everything in a matter of moments. Everything was gone; the only thing that remained was a wooden bed.
“The word ‘neo-demon’ is basically a general term that covers all the various beasts in the Western Desert,” he thought as he sat down cross-legged on the bed. “In any case, they are very important to Western Desert Cultivators.” It was midday now, and the sun shone brightly. However, this place was located in the deep mountains and surrounded by forest, which broke up the sunlight and made the whole area shady.
Meng Hao really liked the scenery. He took out a jade slip which contained Yan Song’s introduction to the Western Desert. He focused on the part regarding neo-demons and began to study it. Combined with the understanding he had gained in the Black Lands, it only took about half a day before he raised his head from the jade slip. He was now relatively familiar with neo-demons.
“Neo-demons are a very important part of Tribal culture in the Western Desert. The number of neo-demons a Tribe possesses determines how flourishing the Tribe is considered to be. To Western Desert Cultivators, neo-demons aren’t just partners in battle; they are used when transporting goods, when sealing agreements, or even when food is needed.” Meng Hao’s eyes gleamed with understanding.
If necessary, low-level neo-demons could even be used as food. That part Meng Hao understood immediately.
“Ordinary totem Cultivators can use totems to harness the power of neo-demons. However, when it comes to actually controlling neo-demons, that is something that can only be done by… Dragoneers! Only they can control large numbers of neo-demons. In fact, a low Cultivation base can be made up for in such a way. Of course, Dragoneers don’t just fight with neo-demons, they raise them. In fact, they also use a variety of different techniques when it comes to training, and even killing them.
“So that’s why the Western Desert Cultivators mistakenly thought that I was a Dragoneer when they saw my poison at work outside of Holy Snow City. Furthermore, they mistakenly took the illusory image of the Flying Rain-Dragon to be a Heavenly neo-demon!”
Meng Hao’s eyes continued to glitter with enlightenment.
This chapter was sponsored by Jacob Lovatt, Michael Oragwu, Tellef Åmdal, Christopher Choi, and Patrick Walsh