Shao Xuan knew it was not a wild bird the moment he saw it. Shao Xuan had seen the birds in the tribe and Chacha, he knew what that look in its eyes meant. Especially when the bird was swimming around in the water. The look in its black beady eyes told Shao Xuan that it had some sneaky plan.
In the beginning, Shao Xuan wanted to follow this duck to see who was nearby. However, when he arrived, he realised the other party was not friendly at all. He knew that there was a trap ahead. Other people might not know but he could tell because he had set these traps before too.
Maintaining a distance, he was confident that he could escape if an attack happened. However, when the other party revealed themselves, he changed his mind.
He first dealt with the hidden guy and his trap, using this blow to strike fear in the rest of them. At the same time, he wanted to know the difference in his totemic power after activating the ornaments twice.
Right now, the robbers were killed. And the fat duck that lured him here was trapped in his hand.
The bright green duck’s eyes flashed. It wanted to quack but because he held it by its neck, all it could do was squawk an odd note.
It was obvious that it understood what Shao Xuan said. It was panicking.
“I will ask you a few questions. If you give me satisfactory answers, I’ll let you go,” said Shao Xuan, glaring at the duck in his hand.
Its wings were trapped. The duck kicked its claws and nodded.
Shao Xuan moved the hand on its neck slightly but was still cautious. If this duck decided to peck him the moment he let go, Shao Xuan would break its neck without hesitation.
At least this duck was smart. It did not peck him. It looked at him, waiting for him to speak.
“Are there more of them?” said Shao Xuan.
There was a pause. It nodded.
The duck froze. It did not know how to count, it was merely capable of answering yes or no questions. As for how many… to the duck, one was the same as ten.
When he looked at the duck, Shao Xuan knew he wouldn’t be able to get an answer.
“Bring me there.”
The duck kicked its feet, indicating that it could not walk.
Shao Xuan looped some rope around its neck and released its wings. With a long rope as a leash, he said, “Lead the way.”
The duck shuddered. It wasn’t used to having a leash but it still led the way and caused no trouble. However, its eyes kept darting around as it thought of a way to escape.
When he passed the collapsed tree, he realised the person who died under the tree had turned a peculiar green-black. It was terrifying. Plus there was a pungent smell coming from the body.
Shao Xuan’s gaze swept across the poisonous little plants. He planned to return to study these plants after dealing with the rest of the people. A poison that could kill a totemic warrior was no ordinary poison.
The duck was quite cooperative too. It did not bring Shao Xuan through a dangerous region on purpose, even deliberately taking a route to avoid hidden traps. Shao Xuan’s impression of the duck seemed to change.
This duck did not seem to have a good relationship with this bunch of people. After seeing Shao Xuan kill three of them, it did not seem angry either. While it was still thinking of a way to escape, it still brought Shao Xuan back to their base, leading him through the safest route. It did not seem to care that Shao Xuan was there to cause trouble. It seemed to be happy with this.
After walking a bit, he noticed evidence of human activity here. There were cooked bones thrown in the bushes. It looked like human bones.
The duck waddled faster, swaying as it led Shao Xuan in a direction. It could have cried out at this moment to alert the people inside but it did not.
Shao Xuan looked at a wooden treehouse not far away. There was all sorts of creepers and branches on the house, camouflaging it in a patch of green. Underneath the tree was some bones and burnt charcoal.
There was someone in the house. After listening, he deduced that there was only one person. He could not sense how strong this person was.
This person was muttering, then there were chopping sounds.
After he was certain that there was no one around, Shao Xuan tied the fat duck to a tree nearby. He did not care if it chewed on the rope either. Also, if the duck wasn’t quacking now, it would not later.
Shao Xuan quietly climbed the tree and arrived on the treehouse.
There was an old man with a hunched back. He was as thin as a matchstick and seemed mentally ill, He kept muttering angrily to himself. Next to him was some cut meat. Not sure what meat.
When he sensed movement, the old man turned around. “You’re all back… Who are you?!”
When he saw the stranger, the old man looked cautious. His eyes glinted as he weighed the difference in their physical strength. He wondered what happened to the three who had left and when they would return.
However, after regarding Shao Xuan, there was fear in his eyes.
“You… why are you here?!”
“You know me?” Shao Xuan walked into the house, looking at the old man.
There were skills hanging around the house. Human skulls with traces of injuries from sharp weapons.
“No...No, I don’t know you!” the old man quickly denied.
The sword in Shao Xuan’s hand flashed and it pried the axe out of the old man’s hand. With the tip of the sword, he pointed at the old man. “You’re alone here?”
“There, there, there are three more!” the old man answered shakily, his neck retracting to his shoulders when his axe was gone.
“How do you know me?” Shao Xuan asked again.
“I don’t know you!” When he saw the tip of the blade approach, the old man panicked and let out a shriek. He collapsed on the ground, hugging his head. “I really don’t know you! I just heard that their target this time is a young man with a sword, that’s why I…”
“Tell me where you’re all from,” said Shao Xuan, dragging a wooden stool over as he sat down.
The old man looked up in fear, eyeing the door and then Shao Xuan. “What happened to the other three?”
The old man shuddered, absolutely terrified. When he looked at Shao Xuan to see that he looked impatient, he quickly said, “If I tell you, will you let me live?”
Shao Xuan slashed a wooden stool nearby in half. Both halves burst apart and hit the wall. The loud thud scared the old man so much he shuddered again.
Shao Xuan retracted his sword and pointed the wooden floor in front of the old man. Calmly, he said, “If you speak, you’ll have a chance to live. If you don’t, I can only send you to meet your friends.”
The old man looked up in panic then hung his head again. “I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you everything.”
The old man’s body shook hard. Stuttering, he told him about their origins. This was a person who feared death. Not much effort was needed to get him to tell Shao Xuan everything. He had planned to keep some secrets but after Shao Xuan scared him again, he stopped thinking and just kept begging Shao Xuan to show him mercy.
This old man had been banished to exile by a tribe in the forest because he had poisoned and killed someone in the tribe. Then, he stole gemstones from the tribe to trade with a slave master. He had planned to escape far away with his treasure. However, he had been targeted along the way and robbed. He almost died along the way so he escaped back into the forest. Thereafter, he couldn’t return to his tribe, and with his abilities, it was going to be difficult to survive in the forest.
Out of luck, he met a bunch of people risking their lives searching for Gongjia Mountain in the mountain. Since he was somewhat familiar with the place, he became a guide for the team.
After that, along the way, some of these people died, others were injured, some left. There were eight people left and this old man was one of them. The rest were not focused on looking for the mountain anymore. There was a change of plans-- they robbed people who had found the mountain.
If they realised the person looked strong, they would not attack. However, when they saw ‘fat goats’, they robbed without hesitation. However, the people who came looking for the mountain were mostly very capable people. Although there were many successful raids, and these targets’ skulls became spoils decorating his house, people in their team died during the robberies too. Eight people dwindled to four. When the numbers dwindled, they became more cautious in choosing their target and did not attack easily. However, they were greedy and hadn’t had the chance to rob anyone in a while. Shao Xuan looked like an average guy and they did not see the Xia guy who was with him. This meant Shao Xuan must have found Gongjia Mountain. Either this or he must have killed the Xia guy. No matter what, this kid must have a lot of treasure with him.
Under the temptation of such benefits, they planned to kill Shao Xuan. They sent out their bait, which was the duck.
This duck was trained by the old man. He was good at training birds, he used to train birds in his tribe to steal stuff for him. It was because he was found out, that was why he was banished from the tribe. To prove that he was useful, he picked up his skill once again and set up a trap for the duck. After training it for half a year, it was an effective bait to lure people into traps. Strictly speaking, training a duck would take two to three years, maybe longer. The best method was to train it since it hatched. However, he had limited resources so he could only make do with what he had. Although it was quite extreme, and there was potential that this bait could turn against him, he did not hesitate to use it. He had to show the rest that he was useful too.
There were not many animals here and food was hard to come by. Anyone would be tempted by this fat duck.
Shao Xuan understood. It was no wonder this duck did not seem close to these people. It must have started to become defiant during the training.
Once he was done, the old man looked at Shao Xuan carefully. Would the young man let him live?
Shao Xuan stood up and looked at the old man shivering on the ground. “The people on these walls, they were victims of your robberies?”
“Yes…. yes,” the old man stuttered, then immediately added, “I did not do anything! They killed these people, it’s all them!”
Shao Xuan stared at him. The old man was so guilty he started sweating. Shao Xuan looked away and took a bunch of bronze tools before he left. These people had benefited from their victims. Medicine, treasures, weapons, there were all sorts of stuff here. It was a black eats black world, Shao Xuan packed everything up and left.
[TL note: black eats black= using an unethical tactic against an unethical party. ]