When he arrived at the main hall, Gongjia Heng peered around cautiously. He did not see Shao Xuan. After studying everything carefully, he realised that everything was just as before. The eighteen bronze statues were all standing perfectly still. Everything looked the same and the hidden traps and mechanisms were not triggered.
Shao Xuan did not step inside at all. Gongjia Heng heaved a sigh of relief though his emotions were in turmoil.
If it was another person with suspicious intentions, Gongjia Heng would definitely do his best to kill him, relying on the powers within the mountain. However, while Shao Xuan was curious about the Xia arts, he was not greedy. Other people might attempt to force themselves inside while Gongjia Heng was not present. Perhaps even threaten him so he would hand over the treasures. Shao Xuan did not do such a thing. Plus, Shao Xuan had been of great help. Without Shao Xuan, he knew he might not find this place in another twenty years.
Gongjia Heng would remember this favour.
However, Shao Xuan was just a peculiar dude.
Gongjia Heng touched the dense stubble on his cheeks. What happened when Shao Xuan stepped in was still fresh in his mind. That was… terrifying.
However, as long as Shao Xuan did not force himself inside, Gongjia Heng was still very willing to make friends with him.
Holding the fish in his hand, Gongjia Heng stood at the door and looked around. There was a crater ten-meter wide before him. It was very shallow, about one-palm deep. However, the entire crater was very smooth like someone had shaved a piece of the earth with a knife.
This crater had not been here before. This Gongjia Heng was sure because he would definitely remember it.
When he thought about the earthquake he felt when he was in the mountain, Gongjia Heng panicked again. What the hell happened when he was inside?!
As he searched for Shao Xuan, Shao Xuan was sleeping on the ground with a white melon as a pillow.
When he sensed someone approaching, he woke. They were familiar footsteps so he did not attack.
“You’re out?” Shao Xuan yawned.
“Must be nice sleeping here? Sweet dreams?” mused Gongjia Heng, seeing Shao Xuan sleeping so soundly.
“I dreamt of your ancestors,” said Shao Xuan.
“...Hehe.” Gongjia Heng did not take him seriously. He didn’t believe it at all.
Shao Xuan did not elaborate either. He cut open the melon he had used as a pillow and offered half to Heng.
“This melon is delicious. Can I take some seeds back and plant them?”
“You won’t be able to plant them, they only grow here. I heard many people had brought seeds back before. They didn’t even germinate,” said Heng.
“Then I can only eat them here.” Shao Xuan thought it was a pity. When he saw the fish, he asked, “Where did you get the fish from?”
“There was a pond in the mountain, I got the fish from the pond. We can eat this later.”
Shao Xuan looked at the few fish in Heng’ shand. He hadn’t seen these before, these fish had green stripes on them. Fish would definitely be better than fruits and melons.
“Finished reading your stuff?” asked Shao Xuan.
“No, I was just about to talk to you about it.” Heng wiped his mouth. “I might stay here for a while. If you can’t stay, you can just return. When I finish learning the skills here, I will look for you at the Flaming Horn tribe. I’ll bring a few weapons I made myself.”
“There’s ore here?” asked Shao Xuan.
“There’s a tunnel leading to mining locations in the mountain, you outsiders won’t be able to enter.”
So there was a core seed here. Shao Xuan believed Gongjia Heng too. If it was that easy to access the core seed or ore, then there would have been hundreds of outsiders coming here. However, not a single person managed to remove the core seed over thousands of years. This meant it had its protection.
Shao Xuan did not have the capabilities to steal it. “I saw two words I don’t recognise.”
He drew the two characters he saw on the ground using his sword.
As he wrote, Gongjia Heng’s expression turned odd.
“Where did you see this?” he asked.
Shao Xuan pointed at the face of the cliff where the carvings were.
Gongjia Heng’s eye twitched. He almost jumped. “How’s that possible?!”
Shao Xuan walked to the face of the cliff and pulled the leaves apart. He pointed at the characters he didn’t recognise. “Here.”
Gongjia Heng’s face twitched. He wanted to be mad but couldn’t. In the end, he let out a long sigh and a bitter smile. “I didn’t know.”
“Tell me what these words mean first. This isn’t from the inside of the mountain, it’s in broad daylight outside here. Plus outsiders carved here too,” said Shao Xuan.
Heng squatted on the ground and plucked a leaf from the creepers. He chewed on the leaf and after a moment, finally replied, “Those aren’t two words, that’s one word. It means Green Fangs. This was recorded in our ancestral records, it’s a character invented by our ancestor.
No wonder he couldn’t recognise it. He thought he was just not exposed to enough words. He hadn’t expected it to be a word invented by the Xia ancestors.
“Your ancestors are impressive,” said Shao Xuan.
“Hahaha, I think so too!” Gongjia Heng let out a chuckle of delight but it soon faded. “Initially, I thought things like that would only be hidden inside the mountain. I didn’t know they’d carve it outside too.
“The Green-faced fanged beast is a type of fearsome beast. It’s not large, its face is green and has thick skin. It has hooves but no horns, and two long canines. It often roams the mountains. Although they look fierce and are very aggressive, plus they attack other animals, they are actually herbivores.”
Gongjia Heng spoke as he made a few strokes on the ground.
They were just very simple sketches he saw in the records. The records were very simple too.
“However, after that people proved that the blood of a worm that eats rock is many times more effective than the Green-faced fanged beast. But that worm is very rare. Regular worms won’t work, they have to be of the fearsome beast family.
“Stoneworms?” Shao Xuan was familiar with it.
“I think so. Different places have different names for it.” Gongjia Heng read the debate on the face of the cliff. A lot of secrets were written on it. Even the best timing to add the blood was written there. Gongjia Heng would have probably torn the wall down if he could. Could they really reveal secrets like that?!
However, since they were left behind by his ancestors, it was not appropriate for him to destroy the carvings too. He hesitated. However, as he thought about it, his people had mastered the arts. They were not afraid if outsiders mastered the same art. The quality of the products would still be far from what the Xia people could produce.
Gongjia Heng felt guilty about it too. He had a lot to learn from his ancestors in terms of both the arts and his attitude.
When he realigned his perspective, he was a lot calmer when he read the words on the wall. He even left a comment and carved his name in the end.
Shao Xuan learned a lot from the discussion. IN addition to the current skillsets he had, he was confident that he could forge his own bronze wares with ore. He wasn’t sure about the quality though.
“Where did the core seeds come from?” asked Shao Xuan.
Gongjia Heng didn’t know before this either. However, he read about it in the ancestral records yesterday. Since it was not a secret, he replied, “The core seed comes from beyond the heavens.”
“Beyond the heavens?!” Shao Xuan exclaimed.
“Yeah. More than two thousand years ago, the core seeds arrived and were separated in different parts of the world. In the beginning, many people worshipped them as magical objects. However, after that, more and more people from the tribes that owned a core seed died. So everyone then treated the core seeds as evil objects, symbols of death. They tossed the core seeds far, far away but…”
When he spoke, there was pride in his eyes. “There was a core seed near our Xia village too. However, we were different from other tribes. We discovered the secret of the core seed. It was not an evil object, it was a priceless treasure that could change the world!”
The rise of the Xia tribe came from the core seed. They were the first to discover its uses and started to forge bronze wares. Other tribes started to trade with them. At the same time, the Great Six also started to collect core seeds and also mastered the core seeds. Since then, wars started and spread across the mainland. In the Xia ancestral records, it was named ‘The War of the Core Seed”.
In the history of the mainland, there were two significant events-- the first one involved the fire seed. After that, the tribe’s fire pit no longer had the fire seed. The second event involved the core seed. After that, the Great Six became powerful and controlled most of the core seeds. Other smaller tribes could only make do with what little they had.
After that, the Ji tribe conquered the other five tribes and called themselves ‘Hong’, The cities were slowly built. They had many slaves working under them so they were also called slave masters. The chief of the Ji tribe was now lord of a city.
However, to the Xia people, this was not relevant to them. They had immersed themselves into the art of casting and forging. The Great Six did not come looking for trouble, instead heavily rewarding the Xia people for helping them make gold wares.
Under the temptation of rewards, many Xia people left. After that, due to the change in terrain and the core seed, the Xia river dried up and became the Xia valley. Over time, under the influence of the core seed, it became a dead valley and a maze.
The Xia ancestors had to leave this place for the survival of their tribe. Before they left, they created Gongjia Mountain and drew all the cloud patterns that hid the secrets of their people so their descendants would not forget about this place. Generations upon generations, every Xia person who arrived here would offer their proudest product here. It was a sacred place for them.
Slowly, this place accumulated a wealth of treasures. That was because all the Xia people put all their most unique and best work inside.
The first Xia people who created bronze wares did not belong to the Great Six. The Xia tribe was also a distance away from the cities. They became more and more dispersed so bringing the people together became more and more difficult.
Shao Xuan privately sighed. This was the difference between a tribe that emphasised on politics and a tribe that focused on mastering a craft.
When Heng finished, he felt ashamed that he had no personal secret technique or craft that he could offer to this place. All he could do was leave an offering in the form of some bronzeware here after he learned the skills.
“That is why I have to stay a little longer. Shao Xuan, what are your plans?”
“I’ll probably leave in a few days.”
Heng nodded. “Once I master the skills, I’ll visit you at Flaming Horn. Also, what happened to the crater there?”
“I took a step and it happened.”
Gongjia Heng was speechless. You’d better leave, or you’d destroy this place sooner or later!
A while after Gongjia Heng entered the mountain, Shao Xuan walked to a spot in the valley. He wasn’t lying when he said he dreamt of the Xia ancestors.