Stilt-style architectures were everywhere. The buildings were very similar to the ones of the Drumming tribe, with wooden stilts as the bottom foundation, but the stilts here were taller and thicker. The houses were all six to seven metres above the ground. There were taller buildings more than ten metres above ground level too.
These houses were not rectangular but round with a pointed top. The roofs were thatched with palm leaves. The diameter of the larger houses was over twenty metres, and the smaller ones less than four metres.
Under the houses, there were many nets entangled around the bottom stilts. These nets were divided into different layers, and there were items laid on each layer. Some were food, while others were clothing.
Some of the nets had confusing patterns and looked messy.
People were resting inside the net on the bottommost layer. The rope nets could be used as a hammock, but could also be used to set items out to dry.
Meanwhile, in the centremost location within the Gu tribe, inside the largest house, the mood was sullen.
“Bo Luo’s gone?”
The person who spoke had sparse hair. The clothing he wore was tattered as if branches had cut it. There were even blood markings and unpleasant odour on his body. His tired eyes were bloodshot and hazy. From the twitching muscles on his face and arms, it was clear that this person was not too stable emotionally at the moment. He felt horrible, and he was ready to explode at any moment.
The person who sat beside the door answered, “......Yes, when I got there, I saw the beast take him away.”
It was silent inside the house again. It was as if time froze for a split second.
“Actually, Bo Luo might still be alive.”
Amidst the silence, a voice spoke calmly, slicing through the tense atmosphere.
The person who was speaking now was a skinny middle-aged man sitting in the corner of the house. Although he didn’t look old, he had white hair. There were patches of white and dark brown hair on his head. It looked like the tightly packed patterns seen on checkerboards, and his hair grew past his shoulders.
“I have not fully recovered, so I can’t confirm his exact location, but I can feel that he is still alive,” that person said.
“But he was taken away by a fierce beast. Where can we find him?” another person who was sitting close to the door appeared frustrated. As he spoke, he looked at the others who were all sullen and depressed. “Bo Gu, what’s your decision?”
Bo Gu rubbed his reddened eyes. He had just rushed back and was already exhausted. He never expected to hear news of his own son captured by a fierce beast. His heart was now full of mixed emotions- anger, sorrow, and all sorts of emotions. But now there were too many things at hand.
What can he do?
He did not know.
Even if he was still alive now, a person captured by a fierce beast probably didn’t have much time left.
Heaving a deep sigh, Bo Gu was about to say something, but the person with brown and white hair who was sitting in the corner of the room suddenly made a “hmm” sound.
This sound was not a reaction to anyone in the room. Instead, he sensed something else.
“What’s wrong, shaman?” The people inside the house all looked over.
The person with brown and white hair had not spoken but turned his head in one direction. Even though the house was in the way and he couldn’t see anything, everyone inside the house knew immediately that there was something strange happening in that direction.
As soon as their suspicion hit, they heard a continuous ‘woolooloolooloo’ sound. It was like a sound made by some aquatic birds. It came from afar. Anyone with weaker capabilities wouldn’t be able to hear but everyone inside the house could hear it.
When the people inside the house heard it, their eyebrows jerked and their eyes brightened. Without a word, they rushed out of the house immediately.
Bo Gu ran out out the ten-metre high house. With a simple hook of his hand, he held on to the rope attached to the bottommost layer of netting below the stilts. It eased the impact of his descent, and with a “zzzz” sound caused by the friction of the rope, Bo Gu slid down like a rock falling rapidly. All of a sudden, it was as if he turned into a leaf and floated down smoothly. The sound of his landing was as light as the sound of a small rock falling on the grass. It was so subtle and hard to notice.
After he landed, Bo Gu and others who came out of the house ran towards where the sound came from. In the blink of an eye, their figures were gone.
After they left, the person who was sitting cross-legged with brown and white hair walked out slowly.
His eyes were full of suspicion as he looked in the river’s direction, “A foreign tribe?”
Which tribe would be coming at this time of the year? He could feel that these people were not tribes that lived nearby, and they were not any of the tribes he was familiar with. He had never come into contact with them, but these newcomers gave him a special feeling. They were very different from the tribes he had seen before, but he couldn’t tell what exactly was different about them.
Not long after, someone rushed back from far away. As he ran, he shouted, “Bo Luo is back! The brat Bo Luo is back!”
Hearing the commotion, everyone came out of their houses to look.
“What? Didn’t Bo Luo get captured by a fearsome beast?!”
“Bo Luo’s still alive?”
“Where is he? Did the beast bite him? Is he injured?”
“I want to see him!”
“No, don’t run around. I will beat you if I see you running around again. You’d better stay in your homes!”
The person who rushed back ran straight to the largest house. From the bottom, he hopped up to the house on the nets covering the wooden stilts, as if they were mere steps. With a whoosh, he was up.
“Shaman, someone brought Bo Luo back,” the person reported.
“Who?” the shaman of the Gu tribe arched his eyebrows.
“Bo Gu said they were the Flaming Horn tribe.”
“The Flaming Horns? That fast?” the shaman of the Gu tribe was surprised. Bo Gu had just returned from the trading point.
When Shao Xuan sensed that the Gu tribe was close, he told Bo Luo to send the signal.
Actually, Bo Luo was already familiar with everything on the riverbank. He came here before on a hunt, but he knew that they were not close to their tribe’s territory yet, so he didn’t blow on the whistle. Now, his uneasy feelings were slowly dissipating.
When Shao Xuan let Bo Luo blow the whistle, Bo Luo immediately blew a tune that only the people of the Gu tribe knew. This sound was made by two thumbs pressing against each other. Anyone who was not familiar with the technique would find it challenging to master. Even if they succeeded, they could not blow the tune with the same rhythm as the Gu tribesmen, much less send a message using this technique.
Now, when Bo Luo saw his tribesmen, his anxiety finally calmed. When he noticed his dad on the shore, he was so excited that he wanted to jump onto the shore right away. However, there was still a distance between their ships and the shore, so although they were travelling close to the banks, it was unsafe to stay too close. Shallow waters were dangerous for ships.
It was the first time many of them from the Gu tribe saw a “floating house”. They appeared to be quite astonished. Bo Gu had seen ships before at the Flaming River Trading Point. Not only the Flaming Horn ships, but also the ones from other tribes that came by ship to trade at the trading point.
So when Bo Gu saw the two Flaming Horn ships, he wasn’t too surprised. He was only shocked by the fact that the Flaming Horns had ships travelling downstream, and also how fast they arrived. They definitely wouldn’t start travelling during the monsoon seasons, so they probably departed after the monsoons. That’s about the same time they left the Flaming River Trading Point.
They were already rushing back at their maximum speed, and sometimes they didn’t even stop at night to rest. More than half of their team were exhausted after returning. Most of them were probably still sound asleep. If Bo Luo did not go missing, he would probably be resting at home by now.
But these Flaming Horns seemed very energetic!
Was it because of their ship?
Bo Gu was still contemplating, but hearing the Flaming Horn ships approaching, he looked over.
Bo Luo couldn’t wait any longer. Before the ship even came to a halt, he already jumped down and waved his arms while he ran towards them. He had just escaped a life-and-death situation, and seeing his own father back home, how could he not be excited?
But he did not expect his father to welcome him with his fists.
“You never listen! Who told you to mess around!” Bo Gu waved his fists at his son, who was rushing over excitedly.
While Bo Gu reprimanded his son, Shao Xuan and the others came down from the boat.
The people from the Gu tribe who walked over to the banks looked curiously at Shao Xuan’s group. Some glances were clearly defensive and vigilant.
At this time, the shaman of the Gu tribe had already reached the banks.
“Welcome to the Gu tribe.”
Shao Xuan looked at the shaman of the Gu tribe who was smiling at them. Somehow his tone didn’t sound too welcoming.