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“No one was hurt and we didn’t use that much effort. The hunt was a success. Good work.”
Doral brought over a bowl filled with blood and handed it over to Joonbum.
“Drink. Good for your body. You grow stronger.”
Joonbum hesitated, but he took the bowl. It was warm.
‘It’s not going to kill me.’
He thought about people up in the north, such as the Siberians who often drank blood and ate freshly-killed animals for their warmth and started drinking.
It did not stink as he expected from that of regular blood. There was the faint scent of grass and something salty.
“It has the salt you gave us.”
Joonbum realized why they stirred the blood. He soon gulped down all the blood and wiped his mouth.
“Let’s eat meat.”
The Ainos were working on the Bodua to gather meat. Its huge belly was cut open and its intestines poured out from it. Howen found the liver, sliced it to bite-size pieces, and put it next to a bowl of salt. People started taking one each and chewed on it. Joonbum followed after Doral took his turn. It tasted weird, but it was good. The meat had a thick taste that filled his mouth.
When all of the warriors took a bite at the liver which was about the size of a young boy’s head, they started to cut the Bodua apart. Some skinned it while some sliced the meat and topped it with salt all over.
Not long after, they were done with the enormous Bodua.
“Doral, how are we going to carry all this?”
Doral grinned and pointed at the plain. Joonbum took up the binoculars to his eyes and watched.
There hundreds of Ainos walking toward them.
“They will carry the meat to the village.”
“They will carry?”
Joonbum repeated Doral’s words and nodded.
“Wow, this one’s really good.”
“So that one is from the twist? He seems okay.”
“I heard he even brought his mother?”
“That’s so dangerous.”
“Don’t you think we have to keep an eye on him? Humans are greedy.”
“He saved Chieftain Howen’s son. We have to pay respect to that.”
“Right, he’s our lifesaver.”
“He also saved those Guardian’s cubs.”
“I heard he fought four Kawiqunin with his strange weapon.”
The Ainos were talking about Joonbum. It was most-talked about issue among the tribe. Their fascination was fading, but their interest was sparked again at sight of the very person they were interested in.
“I feel like I’m naked here.”
Joonbum was embarrassed as many Ainos watched him like he was some sort of celebrity.
The Ainos who arrived talked with the warriors and started cooking some of the Bodua meat. The feast began and everyone ate what was cooked. When they were done, the people who had come started wrapping the meat with weird-looking leaves in a basket weaved with bark that seemed to insulate well.
“Joonbum, I am Dorun, brother of Doral. We thank you for the gift you have given us.”
“Oh, yes. No problem.”
“I am Kerr. My mother was delighted at the gift. Thank you.”
“Yes, yes. Of course.”
A few of them came to express their thanks to Joonbum. He was embarrassed even just talking for a bit and Doral grinned at the sight.
Joonbum let out a sigh when the people left. The area felt very empty after all the meat and everyone were gone. There was only Doral who stood beside him.
“We’re going back too.”
Doral pointed at huge meat left at the side.
“We carry that by ourselves? That’s too much!”
“Didn’t you say the REFRIGERATOR can preserve a long time?”
“It’s the delicious part.”
The basket bigger than Joonbum himself was full of meat wrapped in leaves.
“Time to go.”
When Doral and Joonbum started walking, the cubs ran toward them and circled them, howling. Galfus soon closed in. He felt a sense of security in this dangerous wilderness.
It was something he never experienced but it was great. It was much more brutal and savage than the life in the modern city, but it had its charm.
‘Modern people can be more brutal.’
He changed his thought as he thought about livestock raised at a farm, tucked in the cage their entire lives, some without seeing a daylight, only to be transferred to a slaughterhouse to be killed. All of that brutality was only hidden.
‘I think I like here better.’
He did not have problems with skinning and hunting. Even hunting monsters felt doable.
A sudden breeze swept through him and Joonbum sucked in a large breath. There was silence on the plain. Various animals came back after the chaos that unraveled earlier subsided. There were more animals gathering at the place of slaughter, eating whatever was left.
“Ellie! I told you to leave your sister alone!”
“She did it! She did it!”
“What? What’s happening?”
Joonbum was surprised when he walked into the fortress. Doral seemed to know what was going on as he smiled sheepishly. It had been two days since he left.
‘I thought there were only four?’
“Son, your back!”
Everyone stopped what they were doing and watched Joonbum. The Ainos kids who were running rampant stopped and even the little kid who was crying stopped.
Or they were actually staring on the enormous wolf that appeared. The kids ran toward adults and hid behind them.
His mother, Sunsook, waved at him while the others were looking at Galfus.
“Yeah, I’m back.”
“So did the hunting go well?”
Joonbum nodded and pointed at the big basket.
“Is that so? Come, taste the kimchi I was working on. Or should we boil some meat and eat it now?”
The other people soon came to their senses at Sunsook’s casual conversation.
“Doral, welcome back.”
Kids ran toward Doral while they shouted excitedly. Galfus walked past them.
“Galfus, you did well too. I’ll give you a bath and some scrubs later.”
Sunsook took off her gloves and scratched Galfus’s chin and her belly. The cubs were circling around her also.
Just as when Joonbum thought he was being ignored, he felt he was getting sudden attention. The fortress now had ten kids and twenty women. The fortress was wide, but it was now filled with people.
‘I think I like this too.’
It was a different feeling than the old quietness he enjoyed before, but he liked this also. It felt like the fortress was alive.
Kids started to greet Joonbum as they gathered to circle him. Their eyes glistened with curiousness.
‘They are so bright with youth!’
Their eyes were filled with immense curiosity about him.
“Oh, hey. Uh. Hi?”
“He’s so ugly! Hehe!”
Kids started to laugh out loud as Joonbum replied to them with a frown. Doral shook his head and walked away.
Doral waved his hand not looking back as he walked away.
“This is cool!”
“Hmmph. Didn’t realize that was possible.”
Doral mumbled as he watched Joonbum. All kids who once circle on Joonbum were awestruck as he turned on a TV and put on an animation. It was a simple animation made for little kids that showed some big bugs talking to each other. They didn’t seem bothered by unknown language as they still seemed to enjoy it.
“TV is the best.”
Joonbum took out a beer and handed it to Doral.
“So, why are they here?”
Doral’s face blushed with shame. The Ainos were usually never greedy but Joonbum’s present shook his tribe this time. The most popular among the gifts were the dishes, cups, big water bowl, and a basin.
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