Kun Tu, who was resting in the cabin, arrived quickly.
“Grand Elder, you were looking for me?” asked Kun Tu.
Different from people who had grown up with Shao Xuan like Tuo and Ah Guang, he was one of the people who had returned to the tribe with the Flaming Horn wanderers on the grasslands. Due to his outstanding performance and great improvement in his capabilities, he was now actively involved in the tribe. Before joining this expedition team, Kun Tu often guarded the Flaming River Trading Point’s entrance and came into contact with many foreign tribes.
Kun Tu had always been respectful of Shao Xuan. Shao Xuan was one of the people who greeted them at the grasslands. Without that, even if Flaming Horn’s fire seed was relit at the old haunt, they still wouldn’t have been able to leave the plains. After various incidents and Shao Xuan’s current status in the tribe, Kun Tu would not address him as casually as others. That was why he still called Shao Xuan ‘Grand Elder’.
Shao Xuan beckoned him over. “Come take a look at this. These are the nets the Gu tribesmen brought to the trading point right?”
Kun Tu went over, then squatted to study the nets next to Shao Xuan. More than one tribe traded fishing nets at the trading point and many fishing nets looked similar so he had to study them carefully despite already recognising that it was the Gu tribe’s with one look. He did not want to lose face in front of the Grand Elder.
After thorough examination of both nets, Kun Tun nodded in confirmation. “Yes, both are from the Gu tribe. Their nets are different from other tribes and the netting patterns are different too. There are many parts of the nets I don’t understand but the Gu tribesmen didn’t elaborate at the time.”
It was true that the Gu’s nets were quite different from other nets. There were even parts that made you feel like they’d made a mistake in the weaving.
“They didn’t explain?” Shao Xuan asked, looking at a few places that looked like redundant, repetitive weaving.
“Yeah. I was curious too and asked them about it. They didn’t explain, merely saying that they made their nets like that. But…” Kun Tu hesitated but continued, “I think there are other secrets behind this. The few from the Gu tribe did not give me friendly looks.”
“What do you mean?” Duo Li and Tuo were curious.
“I’m not sure if I got it right but they looked at me as if I was the uncultured one unable to identify a good thing in front of me.” Kun Tu scratched his head.
He was a wanderer who lived in the plains without the protection of any tribe. With a life of relying on other tribes, they learned how to read people well. Kun Tu was one of the more talented leaders from the Flaming Horn wanderers and had sharper senses in many areas. That was also why Shao Xuan called him over. While the Gu tribesmen did not display any obvious emotion and restrained themselves quickly, he still caught the ‘you uncultured swine’, derogatory look.
Very few people would give hostile looks to Flaming Horns at the trading point. While they were not used to each other, it was rare for anyone to act hostile.
“Tell me about it.” Shao Xuan was interested now. It took studying many details to paint the big picture, subsequently getting to know a tribe. Studying the way they used their tools was one of the methods.
During that period of time, most of the visitors to the trading point were smaller tribes around the Flaming River region. That was also why most of them were uncomfortable and worried with the Flaming Horn’s display of power. However, Zheng Luo’s comments and Kun Tu’s observations showed that the Gu tribesmen did not feel this way at all.
Although the Gu tribesmen at the trading point were also curious and surprised at the goods displayed there, compared to the other tribes, they had an undertone of pride too.
Shao Xuan was no stranger to this trait. Tribesmen like that usually came from areas with geographical features to the tribe’s advantage. They were no underdogs.
“This means the Gu tribe definitely isn’t a small group like the Zhi tribe.”
Shao Xuan picked the net up, then got Duo Li, Tuo and Kun Tu to open the net. Shao Xuan lifted a wooden log over. It had been left to dry in the sun on the deck, meant to be chopped for firewood.
Shao Xuan lifted the tree as thick as a human effortlessly with one hand.
He looked at the ten-metre-long net that took three people to spread. If it were to be spread completely, it should be almost thirty meters long.
Zheng Luo had received these two nets recently before Shao Xuan left. Zheng Luo hadn’t had time to study it due to his work so Shao Xuan decided to test it today.
He scanned the whole net, then the log he held. He carved a few holes at the head of the log using a knife, then plugged a few tree branches inside like deer antlers.
Then, Shao Xuan grabbed the log with ‘antlers’ and approached the net.
When he approached, he couldn’t see much but once the log touched the net and was dragged forward, the regular-looking net made a ‘ssss’ sound.
As if a switch had been activated, changes occurred on the nets.
All three people who helped lift the net and several other people around all stared at the net intently.
This net that initially looked like one piece suddenly acted like two pieces. One maintained its original shape to stop the ‘prey’ while another net started to contract in the direction of the part where the ‘prey’ hit.
Since Shao Xuan wasn’t moving fast and prodded the net very slowly, everyone could clearly observe the entire process.
“There are two nets?!”
“Isn’t this a net to catch fish? What is this?”
Everyone was shocked.
When Shao Xuan continued pushing the log into the net, the second netting layer finally finished its contraction. The second net was already tied tightly on the log.
The first layer acted like a drawstring pouch, trapping the prey inside. This second net had a ‘drawing’ mechanism so it trapped the prey in the ‘drawstring pouch’.
“A net like that and pseudo-poles on the side, hidden along a path where the prey will pass through. Once the prey hits the net, or was chased into it by the hunters, it would be trapped inside. If it were a deer with long antlers, its antlers would be knotted tightly inside. Its neck would probably be trapped too so the net tightens as it struggles, finally strangling it to death,” said Shao Xuan.
Due to some research on knots, Shao Xuan understood the netting system better than the rest. The tribesmen understood this too so they did not doubt his words.
“This net is used to catch prey with physiques like deers and goats!” Shao Xuan concluded. They didn’t know what plant was used to make this net but it had been delicately processed so they’d be extra sturdy. It was more than enough to catch regular beasts.
“Then it’s not a fishing net!” Duo Li was shocked.
“This means that the Gu tribe might not be living near the Flaming River. It might not even be near the river, they could be further inland?” wondered Tuo aloud.
“No, they must be in the area. They won’t be too far from the Flaming River,” said Shao Xuan confidently.
As he spoke, Shao Xuan picked the other net up. This was different from the first net, using a different weaving style and straw rope.
The first net was woven from straw rope braided using tight threads. It was very sturdy, no spaces could be found between the threads. Even a thorn would not be able to pierce through the role unless a lot of force was applied.
However, the second net was woven from a different rope. It was just a thin thread-like plant combined but not braided together.
After instructing Duo Li and the rest to lift the second net up, Shao Xuan did not use the log. Instead, he went to the place where they threw food scraps. There were some piranha bones from when they fished and roasted before.
The piranha’s skeleones and rows of sharp teeth were easily recognised.
Shao Xuan took one of the skeletal heads. The opened jaw revealed many sharp teeth.
He clamped the jaw full of teeth on the net, then moved it as if it was trying to bite the net,
This fish would’ve definitely left teeth marks on regular fishing nets, less sturdy ones would quickly break. However, even after tens of bites, the net remained almost perfect!
The threads woven into the net would split when the piranha bit down, causing the threads to slip in between the teeth. That was why every bite would just pass through the rope, then when the fish released it, the threads would shrink back together into a rope.
“This is a net specifically for catching piranhas?!” Duo Li lifted the net curiously to study it, even testing it out with a piranha skeleton.
Most inland rivers also had fish with sharp teeth, though not as many as this river and were of different species. They would not weave a specialised net like that to catch these fish. If they made a net like that, it was likely to catch piranhas from Flaming River as piranhas lived in large schools here.
“The Gu tribe is definitely awesome at making nets.” Although he hadn’t met them, Tuo had to admit this fact. And if Shao Xuan hadn’t pointed it out, they wouldn’t have noticed so soon.
“And if this net is wet, the threads would be even more slippery. The fish teeth would pass through easily and the net won’t be broken in a short period of time.” Shao Xuan touched the wet part of the net, passing it to everyone.
“I can’t believe it!” Kun Tu scratched his head again. So that was why the few Gu tribe members looked at him that way. He really wasn’t knowledgeable enough to recognize the wonders of this net.
“With net-weaving skills like that, the Gu tribesmen definitely won’t go hungry. On the contrary, they must be quite rich,” said Shao Xuan.
“But there is no Gu tribe here. We’ve travelled along the river but did not see them. Or you would’ve known already.” Kun Tu still couldn’t understand why.
“If we haven’t seen them, then the Gu tribe must be farther than we thought.” Shao Xuan stared out ahead.
The Gu tribe knew about the trading point despite the fact that they were located so far away. They must have had very efficient information sources.