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As the most important crop of the Flaming Horn tribe, the number of guards guarding the Thousand Grain Gold was no fewer than one hundred. After this incident, Ao doubled the number to two hundred. Now that Ao and Shao Xuan decided to personally guard the area, they must catch the thief stealing the grains.
There were many questions regarding the incident. For example, why did they steal the grains when they weren’t ripe yet? Unripe grains could not be used as seeds nor food. And why did they steal so little every time? They would have to come again and again as if it was a game. With such an ability to avoid detection from the guards, why did they not wait until the Flaming Horns harvested the grains, then steal them?
No matter what the reason was, Shao Xuan must find the thief.
Ever since Caesar’s right eye regenerated and mastered his third eye, his vision was much more powerful. With two elders, one three-eyed wolf and two hundred guards, they would definitely notice something even if they could not catch the thief, right?
Since they did not notice anything unusual during the day, it was likely the thief came at night. After sunset and the two moons were high in the sky, the guards on duty focused all their attention on guarding the area. They stood around the plot of the field, so close two people could even chat. It was impossible for anyone to slip past them unless the thieves were extremely skilful.
Shao Xuan, Ao and Caesar were all in the field. The past three thefts did not happen on the same plant but on three different stalks located in different parts of the field. That meant the thief did not target just one spot. It was possible for them to appear anywhere in the field, targeting any plant.
Tonight’s moons were dimmer than the nights before. As the two moons slowly separated farther from each other, both turning from full moons into crescents, they also dimmed. However, although the moonlight was lacking, anyone with decent vision still could see clearly at night.
“It’s too quiet.” Shao Xuan looked at the stalks of Thousand Grain Gold around him as tall as small trees, then looked up at the sky.
Ever since he returned from the expedition downstream, he had visited this place fewer than five times. In the beginning, it was because of Caesar’s eye he did not have time for anything else; then he was busy writing notes and procedures in merging the fire seed for the Hui tribe, and recently he had been busy with the ‘monster’ and completely forgot about these crops.
“It’s been like these for the past three days.” Ao never found the reason. “The guards said that there used to be many insects after the Thousand Grain Gold at night that they had to kill but since three nights ago, the number of insects decreased drastically.”
There were a few insects flying in the air but this was nothing compared to past nights. They did not even hear insect sounds. There were so many guards in the area to, number one, guard against thieves, and number two, guard against pests. There were many crop pests coming from the forest, and high-quality crops like these attracted insects. Birds would sometimes come too. This silence was definitely unusual.
As the night darkened, the sounds of human activity faded. All they heard was the occasional bird caw far away and faint beast roars from even farther away.
Shao Xuan’s heart suddenly skipped a beat, sensing something that was making him shudder.
Caesar, who was lying aside, leapt up and opened his third eye to survey the area. He obviously sensed danger but could not identify where the threat was.
When Ao saw both their reactions, he knew that something was off. He too felt the change in atmosphere but could not figure out the cause.
In the sky, the few insects that were flying in the area, as well as insect chirps, all disappeared.
Shao Xuan waited silently, slowing his breath down to hide his presence.
This feeling reminded him of the time he met the fearsome beast at the river by the Gu tribe during his expedition downstream. But this feeling was much stronger than before.
Was this a beast? Or a human?
Shao Xuan could not find the answer nor heard anything else. At the Gu tribe, he could still hear the sound of splashes but here, he heard nothing. The feeling was there. This meant something was already watching the area even if they were not close yet.
Suddenly, there was a faint sound resembling a gust of wind. Anyone farther away might not have been able to hear it.
It came from above the field.
Shao Xuan looked instinctively in one direction. Caesar looked the same way but let out a low growl. Every hair stood on its end. Caesar did not rush forward, instead he looked like he was avoidant of this new threat.
Ao only felt like something was approaching, and had a faint feeling of the direction. His instinct told him that this was a powerful enemy. He clutched his spear tight, his gaze fixed in a direction.
The guards around the field had not noticed. Only Shao Xuan, Ao and the wolf were in the field.
However, the feeling quickly vanished. There was the faint sound again. Ao could not confirm the direction of the sound. He only knew that it came from the sky.
Ao turned to Shao Xuan, about to ask for confirmation. Should they go check immediately or stand their ground? It was not a good time to speak so he planned to gesture. However, Shao Xuan was not looking at him.
Shao Xuan’s body was all tensed up. He slowly turned his head to look behind him.
Puzzled, Ao, who was near Shao Xuan, also turned.
There was a Thousand Grain Gold plant with slender outward-extending leaves behind him. At this moment, on a palm-wide leaf, there was an object hanging from it.
Ao could still distinguish what it was in the darkness.
That was the reason why he almost drew in a sharp breath. However, fear had paralysed him so he did not dare inhale. He held his breath although every muscle screamed danger, his blood almost flowing backwards at this point. It felt as if he had been tossed into a freezer.
It was a bat hanging off the Thousand Grain Gold’s leaf.
In its claw was a grain it had just cut off the plant.
During the day, Ao said he’d kill whoever was stealing his grains. However, he realised he might not be able to kill this one.