After the incident at Ji Ju, Black Bear was extra sensitive to Shao Xuan mentioning an ‘old friend’.
Previously, at the entrance of the Golden Grain fields, he had not taken Shao Xuan’s words seriously and took it as a joke. However, what happened next proved that Shoa Xuan was telling the truth. Yesterday felt like a dream
That was why when he said he wanted to visit the Gongjia family, his treasure hunting senses were triggered.
However, he still wanted to know who Shao Xuan was referring to.
“The Gongjia family is a very special group of people in King City. Although the aristocrats of the great six were the highest-ranked, and the rest were just little nobles, the Gongjia family was different. Even the aristocrats would be respectful when working with the Gongjia people,” said Black Bear.
“Because they specialise in casting and forging?” asked Shao Xuan.
The Gongjia people were not ambitious or greedy, most of them spent all their efforts on forging wares and did not spare time on other stuff. Although there were a few who were a little greedier, they didn’t make many waves. The core members of Gongjia had no intentions to become powerful so everyone trusted them. Plus with their talents, everyone else was much nicer to them.
“Many of the weapons from our trading party were from the Gongjia family. However, most of them were just made by the apprentices. As for the masters, it will be difficult to hire one,” said Black Bear. “What’s your friend’s name? I might know the guy.”
“His name is Gongjia Heng.”
Black Bear and Maoda: “...”
Maoda looked at Black Bear and then hugged him. “I don’t care! Boss, you already said I could bring him there tomorrow!”
Black Bear ignored his pleas and gulped. He confirmed again, “The one you talked about is the newest member of the Gongjia family, right?”
“I think so. How many Gongjia Hengs are there in King City?” asked Shao Xuan.
“Just one! I heard he had just returned from Gongjia Mountain. He left for twenty years, yet returned as one of the highest-ranked masters here. Many people want him to make weapons for them, even the aristocrats too. It’s a pity Gongjia Heng did not appear in public again, I heard he’s making weapons.”
As he listened, Shao Xuan nodded. “Yep, that’s him.”
Black Bear took a deep breath. “Don’t worry, I’ll personally bring you there tomorrow!”
“Boss, and me---” wailed Maoda.
With his pleas, Black Bear finally relented.
On the next day, when Shao Xuan and Guang Yi left, Black Bear and Maoda were both guides of the day. The Black Bears were shocked. The incident at Golden Grain fields was only told to the few core members. That was why everyone did not understand why Shao Xuan and Guang Yi had such special treatment. After they left, many discussed among themselves but Maojin hit them with a stick and hurried them to get to work.
Maojin was in a bad mood too. He knew what happened and also wanted to go but he was given the duty to take care of the team.
Shao Xuan walked along the street. The street was wide enough for large beasts to pass through. There were many beasts he had never seen before here, though they were mostly tamed. They were large but very placid, showing no signs of violent tempers.
The shops on both sides of the street were special too, the same kind all grouped together. Food was on one street, alcohol was on another, clay wares, bronze wares, they were all separated.
Shao Xuan and Guang Yi were interested in the bronze wares. There weren’t just weapons here, they saw tools and exquisite decorative items too. However, they only looked but did not buy them. They were useless, what were they going to do with decorations?
Seeing as the four people had no intentions to buy anything, the owner of the bronze ware show did not smile. He looked down on these people, obviously from a faraway tribe. These were good quality wares, how could a tribesman afford this?
Ignoring the stares, Shao Xuan heard a rhythmic sound of wood hitting against wood. “What’s on the other street?”
Black Bear was about to say something but Maoda interjected, “That’s for divination. Most of them there are descendants of the Yi family. But just the unimportant ones. The true powerful Yi people rarely go there. However, they sometimes visit with their families and when that happens, crowds of people would come.”
“Divination?” Shao Xuan was curious.
He heard the Yi family of the great six was impressive at the art of divination. When he was at Gongjia Valley, he knew that the Yi family was knowledgeable just from the carvings on the walls. Thinking about the knot divination techniques he used, he planned to check the street out.
Black Bear and Maoda couldn’t wait to visit Gongjia but since Shao Xuan wanted to check the street out, they had no choice. Black Bear glared at Maoda. Why did you have to talk? If you didn’t say that, Shao Xuan wouldn’t have wasted even more time.
“There aren’t many people here, you won’t get answers if you ask. Why don’t we visit again when more important people are here,” suggested Black Bear.
Shao Xuan grunted but still headed in that direction. He just wanted to ask a few questions about knotting.
There were tribesmen and traders on these streets who came here for readings. Even if these were just distant relatives of the Yi family, they still requested readings.
That was why the street was still busier than Shao Xuan expected. There weren’t many in the streets but most of the customers were inside the shops.
Shao Xuan listened as he walked. Some people were loud, so he didn’t need to strain his ears. A guy was asking about his fate. Some customers spoke as if they were talking about a secret, they must be requesting a reading too. Their eyes darted around nervously as if afraid someone heard them.
After looking around, Shao Xuan entered a shop.
Inside was a thin old man with white hair.
The old man sat on a leather cushion, legs crossed. In front of him were wooden blocks connected with some straw rope. There were symbols on the wooden blocks that outsiders won’t understand.
Someone was walking out just as SHoa Xuan entered. He didn’t have to queue so Shao Xuan came up to the short table.
“What do you want to ask?” The old man asked as if he was some master.
Shao Xuan looked at the straw rope and the blocks on the table and didn’t speak. Maoda said, “Why don’t you check how our luck will be today?”
The old man pointed at the blocks. “Pull the rope. You know the rules, right?”
“Yes, yes.” Although Maoda said they were unimportant, he was still a frequent customer. He often sought readings when he visited.
Without totemic power, Maoda shook the rope and the blocks fell apart on the table.
The old man looked at the table scattered on the table and took out a smaller block. He looked at the patterns on the table, muttering.
After about ten minutes, the old man stopped and wiped the sweat on his forehead. “Good news.”
“Hehe!” Maoda was happy. “Shao Xuan, what do you want to ask? Hurry up.”
“That reading, it’s over?” Shao Xuan was confused.
“Over.” Maoda nodded.
Shao Xuan looked at the old man but didn’t say what he wanted. “Do you know how to perform knot divination?”
The old man laughed. “I can tell you don’t know much. Knot divination? That has disappeared a thousand years ago. The knot divination these days are just little tricks scammers use. Young man, let me tell you this, next time anyone tells you about it, you must be careful. Don’t get scammed.” The old man spoke as if it was for his own good.
“That means it existed a thousand years ago?” asked Shao Xuan.
“Of course. It was one of the three divinations of the Yi family. It’s too bad there were changes in the family and the art disappeared. It doesn’t matter, without knotting, our Yi family still has other more powerful methods. During these centuries, the Yi family has created many new ways of divination.” The old man looked up proudly. Although he was just a minor member of the family, he often mentioned ‘our Yi family’.
As for knotting, the old man didn’t say much about it.
“Knotting is just with one piece of string? How does the reading work?” Maoda was curious.
The old man looked down on him. “What do you know about divination?”
“Hehe! Don’t look down on me, you don’t know much either!” retorted Maoda.
“I don’t know?” the old man blew on his moustache. “The wood-string divination method I use is similar to the knot divination! Plus, mine is more accurate. For example, I did a reading for myself today that said there will be an incident today related to life and death.”
“Life and death, yet you speak of it like it’s nothing. You’re not worried?” Maoda didn’t believe him.
“Why should I? What will come, will come.” The old man was calm. “If you don’t believe me, you can stay and wait.”
Maoda frowned. What has your life and death got to do with me? I’d rather look at swords at the Gongjia house than wait for your death here.
“Let’s go, Shao Xuan. we should go to the Gongjia’s now. I heard they’re testing swords.” Maoda was impatient.
Shao Xuan did not stay but before he left, he told the old man, “Aren’t you tired, sitting here all day? You should head outside, walk towards the direction where the sun rises.”
“You don’t have to talk to him, the Yi family only trusts themselves,” said Black Bear, though he saw Shao Xuan toss something in his peripheral vision. It was some bits of yellowed grass like a broken piece of string.
As they left, the old man kept thinking about what the young man said.
Should he head out? This place was owned by the Yi family, they had their reputation. There were so many pairs of eyes here too so no one would steal.
He had been sitting a long time, might as well walk around.
He got up and walked out of the shop. In two steps, he looked up and thought hard. He turned around and walked in the direction of the sunrise.
He had taken eighty steps when he wondered if he should return after one hundred steps. Then he heard a rumble and the deafening cry of a mammoth.
A mammoth had gone crazy for some reason and was rushing from another street. It had smashed into several buildings, including the old man’s own shop.
Whoosh Whoosh Whoosh!
Sharp, deadly spears few like a storm, engulfing the mammoth.
In a second, the mammoth had turned into a porcupine. The smell of blood lingered.
People on the street did not scream, most of them leaning in to watch. Incidents like that were not rare but the unlucky ones could suffer-- for example one could have been crushed in the collapsed buildings, or stepped on, or many get stabbed by one of the spears.
The old man did not hear any of the conversations around him. He stared at the rubble that used to be his shop. There wasn’t even one wooden plank that was intact. Blood everywhere. If he hadn’t walked out…
He shuddered. Just now, that young man, was it just a coincidence?