BP Extra – Return to the Magical Forest 4
Hui Yue was slowly moving together with the other groups who were rushing towards the bandit’s lair. While he nor Deng Wu had anything specific to do, Hui Yue wished to see what their lair was like. Was it small caves in the mountain wall? Was it a massive fortress on a slope? Was it a small village similar to the one his parents lived in? Hui Yue truly had no idea, and he needed to see what it was like before he was capable of actually doing anything about it.
The three beast sisters had vanished as soon as they left the swamp area, all three of them merging with the forest moving so silently and swift that no one would notice them. Hui Yue was positive that the three of them would quickly end their task and be the first to return to the island in the swamp with the needed information. Although this was the case, Hui Yue did nothing to rush the others who were moving towards the bandit lair. He would rather everyone else was slow but quiet when they traveled.
During their trip, Hui Yue expected that they would come across some of the bandits, but none were seen, even magical beasts seemed to hide away leaving the forest with an eerie quietness.
Having traveled through the forest for a few hours, they finally reached the small valley they had been told about. Although they wished to get close, they soon found that it was impossible to sneak close to the lair, the bandits, or more accurately the villagers, removed the trees leading up to the encampment, and they used the bare land for farming. Seeing this, Hui Yue could not help but curse internally. An ambush worked best when the attackers could hide. Right now it seemed like he would not be capable of hiding very well.
Although they were far away, Hui Yue was capable of seeing the building which housed to the bandits. At first, he had thought that maybe there were some caves in the mountainside they used but what he saw was a small village with a large house in the middle. Clearly, a house that belonged to their leader. The man who, without a doubt, was the highest ranked. Looking at the size of the building, Hui Yue felt like cursing out loud. A building of that stature meant that his followers highly respected the man who lived within. To be highly respected it was obvious that his rank was not low.
Having gotten a good look at the village in front of him, Hui Yue contemplated for a few moments, but right afterwards he gestured for Deng Wu to follow him. The two of them together returned to the swamp. Hui Yue needed time to think.
Returning to the swamp and the small island, Hui Yue sat down. He was surprised to see that the beast sisters had not arrived yet, but he said nothing. Instead, he just thought about the problem at hand. He had various ideas, but he did not know which would be the best. He had to wait before he had organized his thoughts the rest of his friends and gaining all the information about the bandits that they could get.
A day later, the three beast sisters returned. They too looked surprised when they saw Hui Yue seated on the island. All three of them expected to return first, but Sha Yun was ecstatic as she saw Hui Yue seated there and she rushed to him. She gave him a large hug and a great smile spread on her face.
“We got a lot of good information for you!” She said excitedly. She had a large grin on her face, and her arms were tightly wrapped around the man in front of her. Old Snake appeared as the three beast sisters returned, and he could not help but glare at Hui Yue when he saw how Sha Yun was clinging to him. Hui Yue himself felt helpless. He knew about Sha Yun’s personality. The snake-woman used to hang on him as much as she could, it was not something he could change so getting a hateful glare felt unfair. Although he felt it was unfair the young man wisely kept his mouth shut. Commenting on such a thing would be unwise; instead, he once more moved his focus towards Sha Yun and the two other sisters.
“Please tell me what you found,” He said as he found a storage stone from which he withdrew pen, paper, and ink. Seated on the ground with these things in hand he looked to the three sisters, impatient to continue.
“There are no scouts in the forests,” Sha Yun started. “They don’t seem to use scouts at all, but the bandits are on guard in all the areas that have been cleared. They have around twenty bandits overlooking the villagers. They switch halfway through the day. The ones who does not guard seem to be free to do whatever they feel like.”
Pausing for a moment to allow Hui Yue to write it all down, the snake-woman quickly continued, “There does not seem to be any guards in the village itself. It seems that the bandits do not think that anyone will find them in this valley since it is hidden, much like the one your family lives in.” Nodding Hui Yue wrote down all that was said. He felt both positive and negative things about this information.
He hoped that there would be scouts so that they could kill those without leaving the comforts of the forests, but now they obviously couldn’t do that. On the other hand, it seemed as though it would be possible for them to enter the grounds through the fields without being noticed as no one guarded them.
“Their ranks,” Sha Yun continued as soon as she saw that Hui Yue had finished writing, “The majority are Disciples and Practitioners. A few of them are Masters, but there is no one above the Master rank.” She continued, and Hui Yue nodded his head. Thinking for some time, he knew that they could not battle a group of that many head on. He needed to come up with a way to wear them out. He needed to find a way to kill a few people at a time but still not allow for anyone to flee. It seemed like a grueling task he had set for himself, but Hui Yue could not help and think this. He needed to ensure that his family could return safely.
Writing down everything the beast sisters learned, Hui Yue felt that someone was heading their way, and his hunch was right. As he looked up, he found the Rong twins returning. Both of them looked rather dismayed, and they gave a short nod to the two beasts sisters.
“We spoke with as many as we could, however, there are a few things that are quite troublesome.” Rong Xing said as soon as they returned. Seeing that Hui Yue was already sitting with pen and paper, so she went straight to the dictating their findings.
“We went to your parent’s place first,” She began. “We decided to speak with them first to hear what they had to say. Out of the entire village seventy-three are forced to work the fields for the bandits everyday. Of these young men and women, those who do not work fast enough will be mercilessly whipped. The speed they are expected to work is insane. Some of the prettiest girls have been given another job, to be the personal maids for the bandit leader. Your mother told me not to speak with these girls. Apparently, they no longer keep any secrets from their new master, and if we went to them, then we would likely be found out instantly.” She continued. Hui Yue wrote down everything she said, “They go to the bandit’s fields at the first rays of sunshine, and they are allowed to return as soon as the sun sends the day’s last rays over the hillside.”
“So far seven people have died from starvation because they had nothing to eat when they returned. This is currently not a problem since your parents are sharing the food that you gave them, albeit very secretly..” She said. Hui Yue was happy to know that he had already helped ease their burdensome, but he was hurt deep inside knowing that some of the kids that he had grown up with chose to forsake their village to find space in this group of bandits which were threatening their villages.
Nodding his head, Hui Yue wrote down all he was told. Slowly he put the things away before he started a small bonfire. Finding a cast iron saucepan and after gathering ingredients, he slowly began to cook a meal for everyone present. He even cooked some for Old Snake uncertain whether or not the snake would lower himself to eat something cooked by a human.
While he was cooking, Gao Yan and Ma Kong returned. The last people he was waiting for had arrived. He could not help but be happy that all his friends had returned and accomplished their tasks as swiftly as they did. The information they learned was quite astonishing.
Once more getting out his pen, Hui Yue looked at the two friends who had returned. “So what did you find?” He asked curiously. He hoped that the friends had found bandits who were easy to kill so that they could easily lower the number of bandits. His expectations were high and his heart was beating rapidly as he looked at the young friends who had arrived.
Clearing his throat, Gao Yan sat down opposite Hui Yue and waited until the younger one was ready. Hui Yue quickly finished his preparations and listened early to the two in front of him.
“They do not have any specific hunting parties,” Gao Yan started, and his words caused Hui Yue’s heart to sink, “But!” He continued as a smile appeared on his face, “The bandits are often bored, and they enter the forest in groups of two to go hunting. Some of them leave for days while others only leave for a an hour.”
Hearing the words spoken by Gao Yan, a grin appeared on Hui Yue’s face. With some leaving for days no one would notice right away if someone was dead. Thinking for some time, Hui Yue smiled. He had a lot of ideas, but he needed to find the very best one. Looking around, it suddenly hit him that Sha Yun and her sisters were magical beasts. A smile appeared on his face, and he looked up to the sky. All the information he gained today allowed for him to have quite a few ideas about what they should do Some of the information was depressing while some was a welcome relief.
“Well let’s spend the rest of the day relaxing. Stretch your bodies, get some sleep, do some cultivating. We will be starting the hunt tomorrow, and I need all of you at your peak.” He said with a laugh as he shared the finished food with everyone then gave himself some.
As soon as the food was eaten, Hui Yue cleaned everything before he slowly sat down. His eyes closed and his body relaxed. His senses sharpened, and he heard everything which happened around him. Slowly ignoring everything around him, Hui Yue entered deep within himself until his consciousness was floating within the lower dantian.