As soon as they saw Shao Xuan, the men immediately stood straight. Even though Shao Xuan was around their age, or maybe even younger than them, they had their utmost respect for this Grand Elder, especially after the battle with Wanshi. Shao Xuan may even exceed the ranks of the two chiefs for them.
The jobs the guards had was to stop any fights between the travellers, other than that they had nothing else to do so they spent their time chatting with each other. They didn’t expect to meet Shao Xuan then, they felt like students in school who noticed their principal was standing behind them.
Although they weren’t required to do much, they were still too relaxed for the job so they did feel a sense of guilt and fear when they saw Shao Xuan approaching.
At first, Shao Xuan planned to check in on the fields and animal enclosures but when he passed by the travellers’ district he thought why not check in on that too.
He’s coming! He’s coming!
The warriors guarding the area felt nervous. They kept their eyes on the front only stealing a few glances at each other from time to time.
The Grand Elder’s looks angry?! What to do!? Are we in trouble?
As they heard Shao Xuan’s footsteps get louder each second, their hearts beating out of control. When Shao Xuan stopped a few steps away from them, they raised their heads and greeted, “Hello, Gr-Grand Elder.”
“Are you here keeping guard?” asked Shao Xuan.
“Yes, always, I mean, we were free since the morning. Nothing happened in the travellers’ area,” said the leader of the guards.
“What about before this? Was it always your team?” asked Shao Xuan.
“It was always us and another team in rotation. There’s another team patrolling at night,” said the team leader nervously. Did the Grand Elder notice something off? We were here all the time, we didn’t notice anything wrong.
Shao Xuan didn’t continue asking but headed toward a house not too far from where he was standing.
The warriors looked at each other in confusion then looked at the team leader for guidance. The team leader decided to follow Shao Xuan just in case he noticed anything odd, they would be able to help him.
Shao Xuan headed towards the house and looked at its exterior and building materials. It was a standard house in the travellers’ area but it was located slightly further from the other houses. In this plot of land, there was only one house, as if it was ostracised.
There was a visible layer of dust around the doors and windows, the soil around the doorstep was hardened too. It seemed that it has been a long time since anyone stopped by.
This was the house where Shao Xuan found the longevity leaf that had the enchantments for the enslaving process. It seemed that no one had gone in since he last entered. A rumour spread that the house was placed far from others because it was for outlaws to stay in. Hence, the travellers all tried to keep their houses as far away from the house to prevent misunderstandings from happening.
Now, with the house isolated as if the plague happened there, it looked extra lonely.
Shao Xuan walked around the house and stopped at the window. There were some light scratch marks on it, one could miss it if they weren’t paying attention. The marks seemed new, and with closer inspection, Shao Xuan noticed the dust around the marks were much thinner than the rest of the window.
“Has anyone entered this place?” asked Shao Xuan.
“No. At least when we are standing guard, we haven’t seen anyone enter,” asked the leader nervously. They knew this place was important so they paid extra attention to the house whenever they passed by. The guards themselves didn’t enter the house too to avoid suspicion.
“Should I ask the other team?” asked the team leader.
“No need for now.”
Shao Xuan pulled the door open and entered. The guards didn’t enter as they weren’t allowed to unless they got permission.
The house was like what Shao Xuan remembered it to be. The wooden table that was destroyed in Gui He’s fit of rage was long cleared away. The twenty square foot house could be seen at a glance and was empty. The spot where Shao Xuan dug up the longevity leaf had signs that the dirt was touched recently. The person that did it was very careful but the colour of the dirt gave it away, maybe after some time the colour difference wouldn’t be that obvious. For now, it looked fresh, as if it was done within the past three days.
“Someone has been here,” said Shao Xuan as he quickly stepped out of the house.
Looking at Shao Xuan’s expression, the guards knew something happened and were prepared to follow him but he suddenly stopped.
“What a quick response!” Shao Xuan starred in a direction. He felt an aura that didn’t belong to anyone from the Flaming Horn tribe. After the battle of Wanshi, his fire seed detecting senses had become sharper. The person was standing close to them just now but they were very careful and ran away as they felt Shao Xuan’s gaze on them.
The guard asked, “Grand Elder, do you mean there’s an outsider?!”
The outsider he meant wasn’t the travellers, he meant an intruder.
“Yes. Be careful these few days, try using your fire seed to detect them,” said Shao Xuan. With the fire seed in everyone’s body, even if they cannot detect the intruder immediately, at least they could detect them when they walked past the guards.
Merging the fire seed brought a new advantage to the tribespeople that the other tribe hadn’t found out yet. Now the people of Flaming Horn could clearly detect their own people instead of just having some sense of familiarity like before.
“Yes!” The guards quickly guaranteed. They didn’t doubt Shao Xuan’s word, anything the Grand Elder said was true to them. An intruder in the tribe was a threat to everyone, they can’t relax now. They were annoyed that they didn’t notice an intruder earlier on! This wouldn’t make them lose their jobs but the threat that this careless mistake may have brought was very real.
Shao Xuan instructed them to inform the other guards and tighten the security. If they noticed anything, they were to head to the fields.
Duo Kang and the other two chiefs were called over. All of the patrolling teams and guards were informed about the intruder.
“Who do you think it is? Could it be those other large tribes?” asked Duo Kang.
“No,” said Gui He with a solemn expression. He continued, “It could be that ‘robber’!” He heard from others that the intruder entered the house Shao Xuan went in long ago. He immediately thought of the intruder that appeared the last time Shao Xuan entered the house.
“It isn’t sure that this intruder is connected to the ‘robber’ long ago. The two last time had no intention of harming anyone but we aren’t sure about the intentions of this new one,” Shao Xuan was alerted now. He continued, “And, this intruder was very cautious and very fast. It would be hard to catch them. No matter what we need to tighten security. No only we need to know their faces, we need to know them from their roots.”
“Increase security in the travellers’ district. They won’t be able to hide in the warrior’s houses or else they could be easily detected!” Shao Xuan predicted out loud.
The three chiefs nodded, fire seed detection would be the most accurate.
This intruder pulled the warriors of Flaming Horn that were in cloud nine after the battle of Wanshi back to reality. They only defeated one tribe, there were many more stronger opponents in the world and the intruder could be one of them.
The ‘robber’ was very secretive which made it hard for anyone to catch them. The ‘robber’ even paid a visit to the other tribes before.
Shao Xuan was curious about the person that originally hidden the longevity leaf in the house. How did they find the leaf? He knew the enchantments were from the Yi tribe, this was confirmed when he was at the sea. He was sure that the Yi tribespeople brought the longevity leaf over but how did the ‘robber’ get the leaf from them?