Bai Yunfei was slowly acclimatizing to life in the village. It was laidback and casual. He’d only need to go hunting with the other villagers once every three to five days and could generally enjoy resting on a nearby hill to watch the clouds above.
While he did try his best to remember who he was, Bai Yunfei found himself getting nowhere and losing the motivation to even care about it. It was a tiresome task and only served to agitate his mind.
So he decided to let nature take its course and allow himself to be content and watch the white clouds drift freely in the sky. It was a comforting experience and helped him relax. Sometimes, he’d spend half the day just watching the clouds.
He wasn’t so much an ‘outsider’ to the villagers anymore. He was now a part of the village as anyone else was, and no one bothered to inquire ‘who’ he was before he came here. In their eyes, he was just another villager that spent his life in the mountains as they had.
One day three months later…
“Big brother Tang, do you know where Lao Sha ran off to?”
A young male voice called out to Bai Yunfei as he was dozing off on the hillside. Blinking himself awake, Bai Yunfei sat up to see Zuo Shou come walking up to him.
Zuo Shou was a young man around nineteen-years-old in age and robust as any other male his age. With how well-endowed he was, Zuo Shou was already widely regarded as one of the strongest in his generation and someone that could give the hunters of the previous generation a good run for their money.
“Lao Sha?” Bai Yunfei repeated, “Why do you need him for?”
“I’m looking for Hei Zi. He wasn’t here earlier this morning, so I think he’s with Lao Sha.”
Now that Zuo Shou mentioned it, Bai Yunfei realized that Lao Sha had disappeared earlier that morning as well. The day was already drawing to a close and neither of the dogs was back.
“I don’t really know…maybe they’re following some of the hunters?” Bai Yunfei conjectured.
Zuo Shou shook his head. “Today’s hunting group’s back already. I asked them if either of the dogs were with them, but…they said no. None of the other hunting dogs are here. I think they’re all with Lao Sha.”
“Oh? All of them?” Now this was an interesting situation. Thinking hard, Bai Yunfei started to wonder where Lao Sha could’ve gone…
Could Lao Sha possibly be bringing the dogs to ‘that’ place?
The sudden thought struck Bai Yunfei quiet. If that was the case, then…Lao Sha was planning to make life difficult for Bai Yunfei.
The reason why Zuo Shou thought Lao Sha had to do with the hunting dogs disappearance was because of the fact Lao Sha had essentially become something like the ‘boss’ of the other dogs.
It was a ‘legend’ that the dog that had bitten the throat of the grizzly bear was the very same dog that traveled and hunted with Bai Yunfei. Now the entire village knew how ‘strong’ the dog was. At first, Lao Sha was afraid of the many beasts it came across whenever it went with Bai Yunfei to hunt. But with time, Lao Sha grew less and less afraid of these beasts. By fighting with Bai Yunfei, the dog knew to not fear them any longer. No longer did Lao Sha ‘fear’ the hunting trips, it was beginning to grow even more ‘bloodthirsty’
The later actions of Lao Sha were something not even Bai Yunfei was prepared to see. It would snarl and fight any wolves it, butt heads with any boar, and even wrestle with any bears!
Some people were starting to have doubts about whether or not Lao Sha was even a dog. Some were wondering if Lao Sha was some kind of beast far more powerful than the other game on the mountain.
The absolute ‘power’ exhibited by Lao Sha was astonishing. It was starting to love the hunting ‘exercises’ and even traveled with the other hunters on days Bai Yunfei didn’t go. Every time it traveled with another group of hunters, Lao Sha would find them plenty of game and was soon considered by many in the village to be a ‘loving’ addition, far more so than its master almost…
But as the saying goes, the ‘tallest tree in the forest is struck first by the lightning’.
With Lao Sha ‘stealing’ the livelihood of the other hunting dogs, discontent grew rapidly amongst the village dogs.
One stormy afternoon, all of the hunting dogs in the village fought Lao Sha in the mountain behind the village.
That battle had been a fierce one with fang and claw flying everywhere and howls mixing with the sound of lightning…
In the end, Lao Sha won against the thirteen dogs that ambushed it. Somehow, Lao Sha managed to emerge from the battle without even a ‘scratch’ on its body!
And so, Lao Sha soon came to be known in the village as the ‘king of dogs’.
From that day onwards, all of the dogs in the village became subservient to Lao Sha. Lao Sha was their boss and listened to him whenever they were together in a pack.
And that was the reason why Zuo Shuo decided to look for Lao Sha after noticing his dog was missing.
There was one secret Bai Yunfei knew about Lao Sha that the other villagers didn’t. Every so often, Lao Sha would leave the village for an entire day and come back pleased as punch as if it had just eaten a tremendous meal.
Only Bai Yunfei knew the reason behind that.
Lao Sha went to the mountain with the primal stones and ‘ate’.
It didn’t take long for the initial pile of primal stones Bai Yunfei brought back to be eaten by Lao Sha. With that supply gone, the only thing Lao Sha could do was go back to the source. The distance Lao Sha could cover in an afternoon was something that’d normally take any regular villager an entire day to do, and it did so with ease.
So Bai Yunfei had a good guess on where Lao Sha might be. And if the other dogs were gone, Bai Yunfei had a feeling they were most likely with Lao Sha at that place.
Or in other words, Lao Sha was bringing the other dogs with him.
Night fell before a pack of dogs came back from the mountains as Bai Yunfei expected. At the front of the pack was the leisurely-walking Lao Sha. Behind it was a pack of dejected-looking dogs…
Bai Yunfei gave Lao Sha a scolding upon its return, but the dog only gave Bai Yunfei a blank look of innocence. It thought that today would be a nice day to bring its ‘brethren’ out on a trip to partake on the same feast it would normally be privy to. But who knew the dogs would be so ungrateful and not eat the tasty primal stones…
Lao Sha was progressively becoming less like a dog and more like a ‘human’ in Bai Yunfei’s eyes. No one else in the village shared that same feeling, but Bai Yunfei had the strangest feeling that Lao Sha was getting stronger by the day, and smarter too. The dog could barely fight off that one tiger before, but now Lao Sha was strong enough to send even a grizzly bear flying with a paw. The dog was practically able to fight for hours on end with muscles stronger than probably anyone else in the village, humans included.
Bai Yunfei was sure this change in Lao Sha had to be due to the strange liquid and glowing rocks they found in that mountain. Just how many of those rocks Lao Sha ate, Bai Yunfei was afraid of finding out…
There were also a few changes to Lao Sha that Bai Yunfei didn’t catch. The changes to Bai Yunfei himself were minute in comparison and didn’t really change much even when he remembered another small tidbit of his past self.
And so Bai Yunfei lived his days in peace. Nothing out of the ordinary happened and life in the village was going well. Sometimes, Bai Yunfei even thought to himself whether or not he’d spend his entire life living in this village…
Then one day, an unexpected group of visitors came down from the mountains…