Shao Xuan and his group didn’t hang around the Gu tribe for long. They knew the other tribe was wary of them.
“Grand Elder, are we really going to leave?” Kun Tu asked as they got onto the ship. He really wanted to stay to see how the Gu tribe would deal with things.
“There’s no point staying any longer. Also, they would delay their plans even longer if we stick around.” Shao Xuan waved his arm to signal the people on the ship to start moving. “I think they are preparing for something big.”
“Something big? What could it be?” Some people started discussing while crowding closer to Shao Xuan.
“How would I know?” Shao Xuan spat the sentence and continued finishing the map.
The sail was raised. The two boats creaked as it drifted further away from the shore, starting this journey down the river back to Flaming Horn.
Although the boat had left, the people on it were still distracted. They looked back to the Gu tribe from time to time.
They didn’t know much about the Gu tribe. They also knew that they had a lot left that they hadn’t seen, especially after Shao Xuan said the tribe was preparing for something big. Their bodies were itching to stay there and observe more.
“Ugh!” Duo Li scratched his head as he headed into the lower deck for a nap. It was his turn to guard the ship later that night.
When the two ships left, the few figures at the shore headed back too.
“Are they gone?” Bo Gu asked the people that returned.
“Yes. I saw them leave with my own eyes,” said a tribe member.
“If that is the case, we should move now.” Since they decided to not receive any help from the Flaming Horn tribespeople, they shouldn’t regret it now.
"Tell everyone to get ready." Bo Gu headed to the shaman's house after finishing his sentence to convey the news to the shaman.
The shaman was the only person in the house at that time. He had closed the area after Bo Gu told him about the Flaming Horn tribe.
The Gu tribe's fire seed was very near here. One could see the flame burning away in the fire pond.
Facing the fire point, the shaman sat crossed-legged and closed his eyes. He reached out and dipped his right thumb into a sticky dye that was sitting in a wooden bowl. He then rubbed it across the piece of linen in front of him.
The cloth wasn’t big, it was around half a meter square. After the initial stain, the shaman went to work and drew a simple abstract drawing.
It became more obvious what he was drawing as he got closer to finishing the painting. He had drawn a person standing upright. One arm was lifted up while the other was pointing to the ground as if he had just thrown something. Beside the man was a net cast open.
After completing the drawing, the shaman kept his thumb between the drawn man and net, his eyes still closed.
After a moment, the shaman lifted his thumb and opened his eyes. He stared at the fire pond for a long while before getting up to walk into a room in the house. It was the room where they kept the ancestral records.
The Gu tribe preferred to keep their records on cloth, unlike many other tribes that used leather. However, the cloth they used was unique. They did something different in every aspect of the cloth-making process to make a cloth with such a texture that it remained soft for thousands of years.
The shaman went straight towards a short table in the room. There was a scroll placed on top of it. This scroll was taken out and placed here during the time Bo Gu left the tribe, the shaman would come were every day to look at it.
He pulled it open and sighed when he saw the drawing on it.
It was an abstract piece with a beast and some people attempting to hunt it with a net.
For it to be recorded like this meant that this was something significant. The person that drew did know that this wasn’t a normal hunting trip.
If Shao Xuan was here, he would recognise the beast on the scroll as the beast he saw yesterday. Their appearance was very similar with just some differences maybe because of the art style but it was definitely it.
This Gu tribe scroll, in particular, was over a thousand years old!
A thousand years ago, before disaster struck, before the large river was formed, this piece of land and the land of beasts were connected together!
The shaman left out a long sigh and closed the scroll. The moment it was shut, all of the worries he felt all converted into something else. A strong urge to kill, full of determination.
“It’s been a thousand years, this must end!”
Shao Xuan was very confused when he saw the beast then, he had no idea how the Gu tribe had angered such a beast. Last year when the disaster caused the river to disappear, the Flaming Hron tribe weren’t able to stop all the beasts but they didn’t attract such a powerful enemy that was hidden deep in the forest in such a small time.
The beast was quite peculiar too. It started to move smaller beasts to the other side of the river to test the tribespeople. This meant that it was rather cunning but it was being overly careful.
The truth was that this grudge had started a thousand years ago.
A thousand years ago, when both sides were still connected, the tribes by the river always encountered beasts. The painting on the scroll depicted a hunt a thousand years ago.
Then, the Gu tribe ancestors already had their eyes on the beast. They were ready to kill it but the beast had escaped.
Soon after, disaster struck and a large gap appeared in the river. Dangerous currents and even more dangerous beasts appeared in the river, dividing the two banks even more. That was why the tribes had lived a thousand years without beasts. The beasts from the other side of the river were killed every time they crossed over so they stopped coming too.
Now, with the physical gap gone, the beast was back for vengeance.
A thousand years had passed, the hunting ancestors of the Gu tribe were long gone but the beast was now larger and smarter. It was the kind of immortal beast that would continue growing as long as it was alive.
It hadn’t forgotten about the time their ancestors cut off its claw. It was here to make the tribe members pay.
Why was it extra careful this time?
Although the beast was much stronger now, it still couldn’t help but feel fear whenever it was near the Gu tribe fire seed. Getting half of its claw chopped off and almost thrown into a pot for cooking was something it still remembered well!
Not many knew about this secret and it had been a long time since they dealt with this beast. To prevent the whole tribe descending into panic, the shaman decided to wait for Bo Gu to return before doing anything.
Naturally, Bo Gu didn’t know what had happened on his way back from the Flaming Horn Trading Point, or he wouldn’t have dared to go to the river to fish. If he was in the tribe and he knew the truth, he wouldn't have told the whole truth to his son. Instead, he would drop hints and stop him from going to the river.
After Bo Gu returned, some of the core members of the tribe knew the truth but from that day on, the shaman decided to tell every member of the tribe what had happened.
The shaman felt that this was purely a Gu tribe problem so they shouldn’t ask for help from other tribes. Their ancestors left them an unfinished task and they had to be the ones that completed it.
The shaman then wrote a sentence on the drawing too, “If seen, kill immediately!”
The shaman then probably knew the dangers that beast brought to their tribe. However, the disaster then stopped them from thoroughly solving the problem.
Knocks on the door stopped the shaman’s train of thought.
Through the rhythm and the force of the knocking, the shaman knew who it was standing outside the door. Even without listening to the knocks, he would still know. He could sense everyone in the tribe, there was a reason why he was the shaman.
“Enter.” The powerful gaze he had while looking on the scroll immediately disappeared. His expression went back to a neutral state as he left the room.
It was Bo Gu. Bo Gu knew that the shaman should be the one that decided one thing. Every time before they went on a hunt, the shaman would conduct divination readings to check whether it was the optimal time for hunting. Bo Gu was here just for that.
“How is it, shaman?” asked Bo Gu.
“Three days later,” said the shaman.
“Understood. I will send away those who cannot fight within these two days.”