Shao Xuan followed the two closely through the forest.
Robber Eleven and Robber Twelve said that a piece of treasure was found when they were hiding something in an underground cave not too far from the Flaming Horn tribe.
They were following a group of Flaming Horn warriors heading back home from the Drumming tribe. They planned to steal a little more from the group but as they had the Water Moon Gemstone and other stolen goods on them, it was hard to move around sneakily. Hence, they planned to hide their items then continue following the group, maybe blend in with them.
As always they would find an inconspicuous place to hide their things. When that was settled, they would head back to retrieve the items and run. It was then when they found the underground cave.
Many tribes would dig underground caves as it was quite useful. Some used it to store food, some used it as a safe place to hide during attacks. The cave seemed to be left behind by a small tribe that either moved away or no longer existed.
The cave was well hidden in the dense forest. No apparent human activity can be seen at a glance, the cave had been abandoned for quite some time. If the Robbers didn’t plan to dig a hole then, they wouldn’t even notice the cave.
Shao Xuan only wanted to know the location of the cave and promised to let the two go if they brought him there.
This was the first time Robber Eleven and Robber Twelve got caught. They were noticed by others before but they were fast runners, people never caught up to them. Hence, when Shao Xuan gave them the option to bring him to the cave or get killed, they chose the latter.
The two were husband and wife, if one got caught, the other won’t run away unless they had no choice. Robber Twelve wouldn’t leave her husband nor could she try to free him. She wasn’t confident enough to deal with Shao Xuan before he snapped off Robber Eleven’s legs or killed him.
“We’re close. I remember it’s around here,” said Robber Eleven as he moved his ankle.
He could only free himself if he used a sword to cut the vines. Its grip tightened around him the more he struggled, he already lost feeling in his leg at that point. If he became crippled, he may even lose his codename. There was no chance of him getting to number ten, his peak would forever be Eleven. The thought of it made him unhappy. If he could make it into the top ten, he would get to know even more secrets, get even more attractive rewards and his status in the tribe would be greatly elevated.
He wasn’t willing to lose a leg over this so he gladly cooperated with Shao Xuan, hoping that Shao Xuan would keep his promise. Robber Eleven recalled the first time they met Shao Xuan, he wasn’t that strong then. How did he change so much in two years?
“Ok.” Shao Xuan absorbed his surroundings, knowing there wouldn’t be a guide the next time he visits here. He could come over here to fill up the unfinished map too.
The guards got Shao Xuan’s message about the current situation and headed back. Tribe members of Feather tribe, Tianshan tribe and Hui tribe that were up in the air lost sight of the trio after they headed into the forest. Whether they continued searching or headed back to the Flaming Horn tribe, Shao Xuan wasn’t interested in knowing.
At present, no one was following them.
The situation would seem to play an advantage to Robber Eleven and Robber Twelve. However, at that moment, they didn’t feel that. Instead, they were ever more cautious.
Shao Xuan had the guts to face them head-on alone, it was either that he was overconfident in his abilities or that he wasn’t afraid of the two at all.
For the sake of his leg, Robber Eleven decided to be honest and extra careful when deciding his escape plan. It didn’t seem like a wise choice to anger this young man.
Robber Eleven pointed out the cave to Shao Xuan while carefully observing his expression. He searched for anything that could hint at Shao Xuan wanting to kill them.
Shao Xuan saw a normal grass patch wedged between two small hills.
Robber Twelve got a cue from Robber Eleven before hesitating as she walked over with a sword in hand.
The two had a habit of making small symbols that no one else understood except the two of them at places where they hid things. Hence, Robber Twelve could easily find the spot.
She lifted the top layer of soil which exposed a rectangular stone slab that was nearly a meter long.
The stone slab was heavy. Robber Twelve had a difficult time lifting it on her own. They were fast runners but they didn’t have much strength.
Robber Eleven wanted to help her but Shao Xuan had already used his arm that wasn’t holding on to the vine to lift the stone slab and the layer of dirt on top of it.
That left quite the impression on the two about the strength of Flaming Horn tribespeople.
“Right underneath here.”
After making eye contact, Robber Eleven and Robber Twelve jumped in first.
The cave was quite deep but it wasn’t long. There were around seventy or eighty square meters to store things but it was very sturdy as they were stone pillars to hold it up.
Hence, just a few steps in, Shao Xuan could see the entirety of the cave.
Robber Twelve used a water moon stone to light up the cave and pointed to three skeletons leaning against the wall of the cave.
“We got the item from them.”
They didn’t call the longevity leaf by its name in case Shao Xuan hadn't figured out what it was. They used words like item or treasure to be vague about it. They were sincerely regretting hiding the item in the Flaming Horn tribe. They could have used it to get into the top ten.
Would those barbarians from Flaming Horn know the true value of the longevity leaf? It would be best if they didn’t. If there was a chance, they should sneak back into Flaming Horn to steal it back. Unfortunately, they could not figure out what Shao Xuan’s intentions were.
Shao Xuan walked towards the skeletons and noticed their clothes were rotted beyond recognition. There was nothing on their bodies to signify their status but from their strong skeletons, these people were strong warriors back in the day.
Shao Xuan still remembered the faded wooden tube he found the longevity leaf in. The colour had changed but the wood didn’t rot at all, it may have even stayed in that state for a thousand years as it was a very high-quality wood. The longevity leaf inside looked as fresh as a leaf just plucked from a leaf.
The enchantments for knot divination written on the leaf were made by the Yi tribe a long time ago. That was confirmed during Shao Xuan’s trip to King City. Since it appeared on this side of the sea, it should have been brought over by the people from a thousand years ago.
Looking at the position the skeletons were left in, Shao Xuan asked the two robbers, “Did you touch them when you came over?”
The two that were exchanging glances were shocked by Shao Xuan’s sudden question.
“No! We flipped them over to check for things but we put back them to their original position.” Although they were here to steal, they still treated these bodies that were preserved for many years with somewhat respect.
The three skeletons were left facing in the same direction as if they were looking at something.
Shao Xuan followed the empty eye sockets and found the answer on a stone pillar.
There were many words and patterns engraved on it. It could have been left by the small tribe that originally lived here. The patterns looked like a mixture of words and drawings which made no sense to them, which was the reason why Robber Eleven and Robber Twelve didn’t pay attention to it. Robber Eleven and Robber Twelve didn’t investigate much about this small tribe that left no trace in any written history so the engraving on the pillar was left untouched.
The patterns looked like a certain type of plant which was shocking to Shao Xuan that had seen this exact pattern before.
This was the tribe pattern of King city’s Ji family! This was the totem tattoo of the early Ji tribe!
While the Ji family and Yi family were among the first people that arrived at the other side of the sea, the Mu family was there too. However, the Mu family has since changed their name to Shi and took over the deserts while the Ji family died off. Between the people that arrived there, there were many internal fights. What were the three Ji family members here planning to do after stealing the leaf from the Yi family?
A thousand years had passed, Shao Xuan had no way of figuring it out.
Shao Xuan looked around some more but couldn’t find any hints. The patterns were the clues about the three skeletons.
As they walked out of the cave, Shao Xuan ignored all of the questions that Robber Eleven asked him. He only released them as he promised.
When they got their freedom, Robber Eleven and Robber Twelve didn’t bother asking more questions and slipped away.
Shao Xuan saw the two figures running away and headed back into the cave.
The Ji family had another tradition. They would place grains in their graves. Looking at the three skeletons, it seemed that they were prepared for their deaths. Would they have followed their tribe’s tradition? Maybe they still had strong ties for their tribe seeing that they had the tribe’s patterns engraved.
Shao Xuan checked the rest of the cave but couldn’t find any millets. Maybe they had long turned into dust or maybe they were eaten by some animal but Shao Xuan felt that those weren’t the case. According to Ji family tradition, the grains would be placed nearby in a vase or any sort of container but nothing was there.
If they knew that they were dying- which meant that they were never returning back to their tribe, what would they do if they had any sort of grains on them?