I accidentally made a mistake and left out the last two lines of the prologue when I first posted it (I had translated it but left it out when exporting from the workspace). This has now been corrected so please feel free to go back and revisit it.
PS: For obvious reasons, some parts are much longer than others. The story accelerates significantly by the end of chapter 1 and really picks up in chapter 2 (there are 16 parts in chapter 1 though).
Chapter 1 Part 3 - Day of Takeoff (3)
That day Xiaoxiang went to find Xiaodan with his own short-bow.
But they laid in the snow for a whole day without seeing even a rabbit…
"You can go back first, I promised my (elder) sister that I would hunt a rabbit for her."
"The rabbit was for your sister? It wasn't for me?" Xiaodan was seriously pissed off.
"I'll hunt a deer, one with huge antlers… I will definitely hunt one for you."
Xiaodan was moved by the wonderful imaginary scene which was nowhere to be found and started laughing.
Suddenly she pulled the cuff of Xiang's clothes:
"Deer……there’s a deer."
As Xiang looked over to where Xiaodan was facing, deep in the forest there was a shadow with shining fur moving.
"That's not a deer, that's a megaloceros." Xiang said.
"What's the difference?"
"Megaloceros isn't a deer, it's antlers are bigger, also comes in many different colours and can life for a long time. It's very rare, it's antlers can exchange for ten deers……. no , maybe a hundred."
"Aah?! Then shoot it quick, quick……."
Xiaodan was afraid of letting the hundred deer run off like this.
"Too far, can't reach it," Xiang said exasperatedly.
"Wah, it's antlers are shining." Xiaodan started shrieking.
Two kids laid on the snowy ground observed the miraculous scene with mouth agape. The megaloceros radiating light was like a glowing fairy spirit strolling through a dark forest, even the snow reflected a multitude of colours.
"That light can even change colours."
"A shining megaloceros……legend says those who see it will have weird things happen to them……" Xiang started to feel scared.
Suddenly a weird call came from the sky, a huge dark shadow swipes across, suddenly makes one mistake for the dawning of night.
"It's a Deva (天乘 – fantasy creature. Lit. Sky *yana from Buddism* a form of path or method of carriage i.e. road, boat, cart etc, in this case most likely refers to cross between an eagle and a *western* dragon which has a certain level of supremacy in the sky), the light from megaloceros called it here……" Xiaoxiang exclaimed.
"Quick, megaloceros run!" Xiaodan started shouting.
Fast as lightning, spirit beast started sprinting. Xiang could see clearly that it was almost flying atop the snow.
But the Deva's speed was faster, only the dense forest inhibited it from landing. It patiently followed within the sky. Suddenly caught the chance as megaloceros crossed a clearing between the woods, it abruptly dived down, launching a huge storm of snow particles into the air.
"Did it get away?"
Xiaodan can no longer see clearly from this distance.
However Xiaoxiang could still see clearly, the megaloceros used its light to jab at the Deva.
Despite the deva managed to repeatedly beat the megaloceros to the ground with its humongous wings, just as the deva's claws were about to pierce into the megaloceros, megaloceros managed to jump away agily.
"I'm going to help it."
Xiang ran over while grabbing his short-bow.
While he ran on the snow, he suddenly found his body being so light as to not be entrapped by the snow.
When he exerts everything sprinting forward, his body experiences a peculiar feeling as if he's about to take off into the skies.
He has never ran with such urgency before, therefore never experienced such a feeling. Perhaps this is the advantage from being lightweight?
While relying on this power, every step took him a great distance, just like in the past what he experienced in his dreams, the flying speed made him exhilarated.
Right now, he might even be able to keep up with a small deer.
Xiang looked back, two speedy horses suddenly rushed out from the side of the forest. The horses did not look like regular horses. Comparatively larger and powerful, apart from its vivid bright red coloured swaying bristle on its back, all four hooves are endowed with red fur, as if stepping on fire while dashing through the snow.
On top of the horses were two armoured warriors, each wielding a jet black metal cast strong-bow.
He stopped out of shock, the two horses passed by him in the blink of an eye.
One of the warriors turned around and gazed at him, the gaze as if looking at prey made his whole body ice cold.
"Deva is injured, that light will make it blind, quickly call it back!" The warrior in front called out.
The other sturdily built warrior started to blow a metal horn. The deva heard the sound rose to the sky once again, leaving behind a lingering veil of snow.
The taller warrior knocked and shot an arrow straight away in one motion, the force behind the arrow unbelievably opened up a trail on the snow, rapidly soared away. But just as it was about to hit, the megaloceros dashed forward, the arrow missed as the megaloceros ran into the distance.
"Let deva follow it, but don't come down again…… whopping three hundred ounces of gold, signal the other teams, don't let it get away." Two warriors started signaling through horns, disappearing between the forests.
For a long time, Xiang stood there spaced out, not knowing what had happened.
Two kids headed towards the village, all the while unsettlingly talking about what had just happened. Just as they reached the outside, they came to a halt.
There were uninvited guests at the village.
A black robed knight sat atop a horse of same colour. He wore a peculiar crown, on his robes were strange white strips, in his hands was a scepter bound by a long red tassel, but was expressionless.
Tens of warriors riding similarly large red furred warhorses followed in his surroundings, those wearing armour were identical to the one Xiang just saw within the forest.
The black robed man held out up the scepter with a hand with just skin and bones:
"From where my scepter points to, all is of my MuYe clan's wealth. Where my steed treads, is therefore our Zhangzhou (瀚州 – a region in one of the three continents nine regions) MuYe clan's land."
He turned to point at the still confused villagers:
"You can kneel."
DongHaun, the elderly clan head over eighty years old stood out: "So you're the army from HuoLei (火雷 – Lit. fire thunder) plains? Those who came from the west, fighting against the feathered race?"
The black robed person shouted:
"The feathered race has already been defeated, they are escaping to the south-east. Now this piece of land already belongs to my clan! As those born of the human race, you should naturally serve our king."
The villagers never having experienced war, hurriedly retreated backwards due to fright.
"Then, we oblige to be a citizen of the HuoLei." The clan head sighed as he knelt down.
The youth still wanted to say something, but was abruptly pointed at the brows by a spear, prompting a scream from the women.
Gradually, everyone knelt down.
"What do we do?"
Xiaodan who was hiding behind the trees asked Xiaoxiang.
But Xiaoxiang kept silent, only kept watching intently.
He thought the village would continue calmly as such forever, and the plains eternally peaceful, but instantly everything has changed. Xiang had a sudden premonition as if the whole sky came crashing down.
He realised he is witness to something.
The thousands of years of ever unchanging life has been shattered, an environment never seen before is bursting forth like wildfire. He didn't know what made him short of breath, his heart thrashed about crazily as if a suppressed force wanted to burst out from the chest, all the blood boiling in his veins.
That dizziness from his nightmares arrived once again, but he knew that this was not a dream, it's the arrival of change which made him anxious but also excited.
"Has any feathered pass through your village?"
A warrior asked loudly.
The villagers shook their heads.
"But our knights found the figure of the feathered race within the forest. You are now citizens of HuoLei, this land and sky belong to us humans. If you find the feathered race, kill them! Any sympathisers found sheltering them, will be buried along with them!"
The warriors shouted, galloping away on their horses.
Footnote: The spirit creatures are not central to the story, and thus I made the best deduction which I could for them. If you are interested in the Novolands Universe, there’s quite a lot of lore surrounding the ecology, geography etc of the backdrop Universe (granted you understand Chinese):
Also a bit extra on the Devayana (天乘):