A Beginner’s Guide to Hunting
“Chu what do we do?”
“Should we hide in the cellar?”
“They might smell us and try to dig us out!”
“Then run? I heard stories that no one is faster than wolves on the open grasslands.”
“Maybe we should climb up to the lookout and wait it out?”
“But if they stay, we would starve, no way we can carry food and all fit up there.”
Chu didn’t pay much attention to the conversations around him. It was normal for children to panic. Even children who were forced to live a tough life in the slums. Right now the most important thing was to stay calm and focused. This was the advantage he had over the others.
His experience as an adult allowed him to calm down and assess the situation faster than the others. He took some deep breaths to clear his mind and focus his thoughts. He had a plan for a scenario like this one but like the first time on a new job, he was an excited virgin. The most important rule one of his seniors on the job ever offered him was to never allow himself to be overwhelmed.
He was going to tread carefully, step by step until the task was completed.
The preparations and modifications were all for this moment. The sheer number of wolves made him nervous like the others. The only flaw in his plans was if they had to face animals that could climb. If not, then this dangerous situation quickly turned into a huge opportunity in front of them.
“Sakura, take your time and climb up to Miki. I want you to count how many wolves there are.”
“Miki! Look around and see if there are other beast besides wolves lurking around. Any that can climb like Tree-cats.”
Chu had read about Tree-cats in the guide. They were smaller versions of leopards with green and brown coats. Their skills focused on speed and ambush attacks. The only consolation was that they were year round lone hunters that rarely ventured from the forest. Beast like those were presently his bane of existence.
Miki had keen eyes, it was one of the reasons she was chosen as a lookout. Sakura was a silent girl but was the only one besides Chu who was good in counting. If not for the education classes most of these children would only know what eight coppers looked like. And that was only because it was the amount needed to buy bread.
“Sue secure any food we have below back into the cellar and bring out some of the emergency rations. I want them placed in a corner of the platform. Dyna help her get it up here.”
They could access the platform from the new trapdoor that led to the space under it via a ladder. It was placed near the back of the barn away from the fence. This distance was enough to avoid attacks from the fence. Even someone wielding a long spear couldn’t reach them.
“Clod make sure the fence under the platform looks good and get the ropes for the doors ready.”
“Ming, you and Lucy get two spears, the crossbows and bolts. Leave the rest of the weapons in the cellar. Bring them up to the platform.”
Chu was calm as he gave out the orders to the others. He didn’t forget to shout for all to hear. One of the first things he learned on the job was the importance of taking control. If he were to show his fear and uncertainty at this time the situation was only going to get worse.
“Why should you guys panic? We have been practicing for this for a month. Take some deep breaths and just do as I say.”
On the grasslands what he felt was a different story. Out in the open plains he was like a juicy steak laid out in front of a hungry dog. When Griz relayed the information on the wolves he was as unprotected as the people in the slums. He felt stupid in not taking the risk involved in walking to the village as highly as he should have.
If they had delayed by one day, there was no doubt he would have died on the grasslands today.
‘I was such an idiot. Like I wanted to test if this world has reincarnation also! I was a fool for not reading the situation properly!’
Chu’s main wildlife experience came from documentaries watched in the comfort of his couch. He had retched a few times when he was straining the waste fat making the pellets. He vomited after their first kill but comforted himself that it was an eat or be eaten situation. Maybe it was the memories and lifestyle of the former host that reinforced his mentality on what to expect.
With the mind of a young man within this child’s body, he already told himself to suck it up. One thing he did earn from first hand experience was that wolves were the same as back in his world. Albeit bigger and vicious looking.
They were cunning and vindictive in planning.
They were ferocious when attacking as a group.
They were deadly and overwhelming if they catch you on open ground.
But they couldn’t climb.
He had proven it before in the forest, and he would use that useful knowledge he had risked his life to earn. He was going to use it now.
It was because he had to face beasts during winter, one of the reasons he chose this barn.
It was the reason behind the contraptions built during the last month.
“Ming, bring up the large jar with the mushroom pellets.”
Chu stood up with his hands behind his back as he supervised them scurrying around. He portrayed the picture of a team leader issuing instructions to his subordinates.
“Chu, all I see are the wolves. Most of them are standing just outside the forest. There are two of them circling around the barn and getting closer.”
Sakura climbed down to the platform her face flushed.
“I counted twenty-three. Miki said she didn’t see anything else in the shadows of the forest. It is getting dark so we can’t be sure if I am correct.”
Chu patted the little girls head.
“Good job. You did well.”
It didn’t take long for the orders to be completed. Despite the low temperature, everyone was covered in sweat. He didn’t know if it was because of the hustling or fear.
“Miki, Ming, Lucy and I will remain on the platform. The rest of you will hide in the cellar. Keep the trapdoor closed until we reopen it. If anything happens, move to the passageway. Holding a spear horizontally in the narrow passageway will block any wolf attacks.”
“Don’t worry we will be ok. By tomorrow morning things should be back to normal.”
Chu gave some words of comfort and had Ming go down to get the trapdoor closed. They had the torches and oil lamps for light and enough food to last for weeks down there. He just had some food as a precaution in the event something unexpected happened.
“Miki how far are they now?”
“I can’t see to well because it’s getting dark, but every now and again a wolf would keep coming closer and then run back into the darkness.”
“Ming light four of the oil lamps on the walls. Don’t bother with the bonfire. Lucy, get two pellets into the holding bay for now. You and Miki are responsible for throwing the pellets into the cage.”
On the wall of the barn Clod had made small shelves about eight foot high to rest the small oil lamps. If they ever ran low on firewood Chu would use them for a light source during the late evening and early night. Using a small portable ladder Ming began to get them lit. These lamps were secured in place by the bottom being placed into custom made fitted boxes.
Chu gave Lucy about forty pellets. She scattered them as instructed by Chu. Once completed she returned to the platform with the remainder.
“Miki have the wolves reached up to the barn?”
“No, but they are moving closer, in a few moments they would be really close.”
“Let them come, we are not the same frightened slum children as before.”
Don’t forget the reason for living far away was not only to get away from the slum ruffians. Since he came to this world he had to survive by hunting. He had no idea how to hunt, much less to track animals. He could only rely on those that were bold to approach him. Wild birds, hares and even deer were not feasible because he had zero skills in tracking and trapping.
He had long realized he could only target those that were willing to approach him. He could only attract predators.
And the easiest thing for him to hunt was a wolf.
“Ming get the rope for the door ready. Double check it and make sure the doors are unblocked. Get up here soon as your done.”
The doorway of the barn was modified by Chu. It had taken nearly the whole month to complete. There were two entrances into the barn from the front both place on either end. One was the small entrance that they were accustomed using for day to day activities. From the outside it was cut and molded to look no different like the walls of the barn. It was in essence a hidden entrance way when closed.
The other had the appearance of a small door from the outside, complete with a door-frame and the works. It was actually even smaller than the real entrance with a height of around four feet. This door was opened from inside using a rope to raise it of the ground like a sluice gate.
It was barred by some stout planks when not in use otherwise it could be simply lifted up from the outside by a strong person. If under some assault by bandits or other people, the time taken to get it open or break it down was sufficient to allow their escape.
Once the door was raised a person found them-self in a small fenced four by eight square feet area. The only exit from here was another sluice gate or to climb over the seven feet wood fence.
Ming unbarred the doors last and made sure the ropes were on the platform. He then clambered up a portable ladder to reach Chu. Together they raised the ladder up onto the platform.
“Lucy get some more bolts up to Miki. I want her to remain there to keep a lookout and help us escape if by chance a wolf makes it onto the platform.”
“The rest of us will remain here. Ming and I will have the spears, Lucy will keep a crossbow for emergency. We need to get all the wolves inside. None must be allowed to escape.”
If they knew what eyes that reflected dollar-signs looked like in this world they would have finally seen it in real life. The aura seeping from Chu was not the kind that even a guard would emit on learning he was surrounded by a hungry wolf pack.
They did know what it felt like with their little experience from living in the slums.
It was akin to a slum resident spotting a free loaf of rock bread discarded on the ground.
Ming shifted away as he glanced at Chu warily.
“Then what boss?”
Chu looked at the idiot grinning sheepishly on the side. He very well knew the answer to his own question.
“Ask me a stupid question like that again and the next time we need something from the village, its gonna be you making that trip alone.”
The grin quickly turned into a pitiful expression.
“Shhhhh! they’re coming!”
Ming and Chu hoisted the outer door. The inner one remained closed.
Chu and the others sat on the platform watching the entrance. Miki kept her eyes roaming between them and outside.
Low growls and sounds of running could be heard outside. After a wait that seemed like ages a low growl came from the entrance. First the snout then the head then the entire body slowly very slowly walked through.
Chu could never be accustomed to the fear this animal brought. If caught in the open by this beast, the fearsome aura reeking out from it was enough to throw a person into despair. He silently berated himself again for the risk he had taken unaware of this danger on that simple journey yesterday.
The growls continued as the wolf sniffed around. It raised its head constantly trying to peer behind this fence, but the children were partially hidden. The growls deepened as if trying to scare them into moving.
No matter where you were, this was a horrifying sight.