I was tricked!
This was the only thing in his mind right now. He was furious at Su Le.
If Su Le had told him the truth, he definitely would not have promised to take on this task. Although he desperately wanted to improve his own ranking, he was not ready to put his own life at risk.
However, the murderous energy in Gan Qie’s body increased when he heard Su Le’s name.
Before this, Shao Xuan had already told him that if he really wanted to know if there was really a Rock Hill City and if they really took the Han tribe’s corpses to make puppets, he only had to wait a few more days.
Shao Xuan knew that Su Le wouldn’t sit aside and do nothing. If they really valued the Han people’s bodies that much, they would definitely find a way to take them back.
Shao Xuan didn’t know if the other Han tribesmen’s bodies were like Gan Qie’s, but he knew that if Gan Qie was made into a puppet, he would definitely be a very strong one. Su Le would definitely find a way to get him back.
If no one came even after a few days, it would only prove that Gan Qie wasn’t that important to Su Le. Then, Shao Xuan would let Gan Qie go to the desert and find out the truth for himself. Now, it was clear that Gan Qie was indeed very important to Su Le.
“Why did Su Le tell you to come here?” Gan Qie asked. He wanted to know why he was so important to Su Le.
The intruder wanted to stay alive, so he didn’t beat around the bush. He immediately told Gan Qie everything he knew about Su Le and tried to direct all of his hatred in that direction. Luckily he asked a lot of questions before he took on this task.
“Su Le said that this thing was very important to him because a very important person in Rock Hill City gave it to him as a gift. He has to pass it to another person very soon, so he must find it in time, or else he will be punished.”
The intruder spoke very loudly. No matter how soundproof the room was, Shao Xuan and Zheng Luo heard what he said very clearly. Plus, Shao Xuan had already pulled the door open slightly so he could hear through the gap.
After listening to this, Shao Xuan thought about the person from the Yi family. That person contributed significantly to the establishment of Rock Hill City. Some people even suspected that he foresaw the disaster and chose to build the city in that location. This person was Yi Xiang of the Yi family.
According to some rumours, he was also involved in the case of the desert monsters. Even Yi Si thought so. It was very likely that the Han people’s bodies were discovered by Yi Xiang. Tribesmen’s tombs were not easy to find, so those who could find it were definitely not ordinary people.
“Are there others like me in their hands?” Gan Qie asked. This was what he cared about the most.
“Yes, yes!” The eyeballs of the person whose head was pressed on the ground moved. He was surprised when he discovered eagerness in this person’s tone. After a quick thought, he decided to change his mind and continued, “Yes, yes, but I heard them say that besides you, the others had become puppets…...Ouch! Ouch! Don’t kill me! I still have a lot to say!”
Gan Qie was still a little pleased when he heard the first sentence, but when he heard that they all became puppets, he was furious. He pressed down so hard on his opponent’s head and he almost lost control of his own strength.
“Is what you said really true?” Gan Qie asked.
The intruder only caught the most important phrase in the sentence and replied hurriedly, “It’s true! Everything I said is true! I swear! This is exactly why you are such a hurdle for them! Everyone else became puppets and you’re the only one left. If any of them can turn you into a puppet, they can improve their status and become Su Le’s left hand man. However, if they can’t turn you into a puppet in time, they can only pass your body to the next slave master.”
That meant that besides Gan Qie, everyone else in the Han tribe had been turned into puppets. Gan Qie was merely a tough question other slave masters had to solve. Whoever could solve this question would be promoted.
To them, Gan Qie was just a test subject. Every person who participated had limited time to solve this question, and only one person could successfully solve it. No wonder Su Le and the others were frantic when Gan Qie was stolen. This was their test subject. If any others found out about this, especially those with higher ranks, would Su Le still be able to keep living in the desert?
How could the ambitious second young master Su Le compete with the third young master Su Gu if he lost this important test subject?
Gan Qie’s energy was unstable, and Shao Xuan felt it too. When his emotions were disturbed, he almost crushed that person to death. He knocked on the stone door and pulled it open slightly.
Gan Qie and the intruder both looked toward the stone door.
Shao Xuan looked at the intruder and asked, “Your Robber number?”
A Robber number was an identification number the Robbers had amongst their community. Shao Xuan heard this from other Robbers before.
“Robber Eleven,” the intruder replied immediately when he noticed that a Flaming Horn had finally appeared at the scene.
Shao Xuan shook his head, “You’re not Robber Eleven. I’ve seen him before.”
“The person you saw before was probably the previous Robber Eleven. I’m the current Robber Eleven,” that person replied quickly.
“The rankings changed again?” Shao Xuan asked, “Is Robber Seven still alive?”
The current Robber Eleven was shocked. Did the Flaming Horns hold a grudge against the Robbers? In his heart, he cursed Robber Seven countless times for making such a stupid mistake.
“No, if you are talking about the Robber Seven from years ago, he didn’t die. He’s still Robber Seven right now, and back then when he failed on a mission with Robber Six, both of their rankings were reduced. You guys probably don’t know that we have a rule. If we fail on a mission and blow on the whistle to request for others to come to our rescue, our ranking will be reduced even more, especially if we are ranked in the top ten. Robber Six and Seven’s rankings were reduced back then, but some others with higher rankings died, so they returned to their initial ranks. Lucky them!”
Robber Eleven did not tell them everything though. More than one person died in the top ten ranking. Robber Two and Robber Nine died, so people who were numbers Eleven and Twelve made it into top ten. He was Robber Thirteen, but since two Robbers died, he became Robber Eleven. He was just one step away from the top ten. He didn’t dare to go to the other side of the sea and gang up with Robber Six because Robber Nine died there. He didn’t want to die like the others, so he was just planning on waiting for others to take risks while he continued to work on the simple tasks to maintain his ranking.
But it just so happened that Su Le came up to him this time, and Robber Eleven was tempted by the opportunity. It wasn’t merely because of the benefits Su Le promised him. The Flaming Horns were famous and rich too. If he could steal some things from here, his results would be quite significant. He might even be able to squeeze past a few people in the top ten and move them down the ranks.
The Flaming Horn tribe was a much stronger tribe. They had so many people after all. After he confirmed the location of the target with the insect box, he waited around the Flaming River Castle and observed for a few days before he finally took action. There weren’t many guards here, and there were also many people from foreign tribes. He liked coming to places with a lot of different people because he could hide easily and just blend in with the crowd.
However, Robber Eleven never thought that the Flaming Horns were already expecting him and even set up a trap for him!
“Robber Six and Seven? You said they blew a whistle?” Shao Xuan recalled a memory of when they were searching for the green-faced fanged beast in the forest. Back then, the person who helped Robber Seven was Robber Six, and they were rescued by others after they blew a whistle.
Seeing how Robber Eleven was still mumbling on about the case and complaining about Robber Six and Seven, Shao Xuan interrupted, “Do you know what made Robber Six and Seven fail their mission?”
Robber Eleven was getting carried away by his narration. He was stunned by the sudden question. He looked doubtfully at Shao Xuan. In his mind, he felt that something wasn’t right.
“Back then Robber Six and Seven attempted to steal from the Flaming Horns and I was chasing after them. They had no choice but to blow on the whistle. If they didn’t, I would’ve killed them.” Shao Xuan pulled the door shut behind him.
People despised the Robbers way more than the Chang Le’s. Not only would they be proud after stealing from others, they wouldn’t hesitate to do anything to get what they wanted. Back then when Shao Xuan entered the forest with other tribesmen, many others were also killed by those Robbers. Tonight, if he didn’t make such perfect arrangements, perhaps a few Flaming Horns would’ve already lost their lives. For example, those two guards who were guarding near the door to the secret room.
Robber Eleven was stupefied by what Shao Xuan said.
He wasn’t ranked in the top ten, so naturally he didn’t know much about what the others were up to, especially those with higher rankings. So that explained why he didn’t know about Robber Six and Seven’s case and how their rankings were lowered. If he knew about how those two were almost killed by the Flaming Horns back then, he definitely wouldn’t have chosen to come.
Damn you Su Le! How dare you trick me!
Robber Eleven was thinking, if he could survive this and manage to get out, he would definitely kill Su Le and all those around him. Too bad Gan Qie wasn’t planning on letting him go.
Gan Qie already heard from Shao Xuan that the puppets in the desert were all dead creatures without consciousness. After hearing that everyone else in his tribe had been turned into puppets, that meant that he was the only one who could really be considered alive.
But technically he wasn’t able to keep the Han tribe alive. He was no longer a normal person, and if it wasn’t for Shao Xuan’s help, he already knew what would have happened. Regardless of why Shao Xuan woke him up, Shao Xuan was the person who resurrected him. This was the truth. He hated the Rain tribe, but this hate was nothing compared to the hate he had for those in Rock Hill City who transformed all his tribesmen into puppets. Those were his worst enemies!
Blinded by mixed emotions and anger, he looked down on Robber Eleven. This person was sent by the people from Rock Hill City to bring him back. As he thought about this, anger welled up inside him. How despicable!
This time, however, Shao Xuan did not intervene. The surging madness within his body was getting out of control. A brutal murderous energy flashed across his bloodshot eyes. Blood was boiling in his veins, and his energy was so strong now that he could blast apart the wall in front of him.
This indignant and furious energy gushed out from his body and flooded the room.
The air was whistling loudly. It felt like a hurricane was inside the secret room.
Robber Eleven felt the most pressure. He was right in front of Gan Qie, and the energy that came from Gan Qie’s body made his whole body tremble uncontrollably. He was so shocked that his mind went blank.
This was not a sound normal humans could make with their throats. The whistling sound came from the hot breath in Gan Qie’s nostrils. Combined with Gan Qie’s loud roar, it sounded like the roar of a nocturnal beast in the woods.
The whole secret room was shaking. Not just the secret room, the whole Flaming River Castle was shaking!
The first wave passed and it was silent for a moment. Instantly, the second howl came, even louder than the first.
Gan Qie was ready to kill. The murderous energy flushed out from his body and filled all the space in the room around him.
The second roar was even louder and clearer than the first. As energy levels soared within Gan Qie’s body, this energy was released as roars that shook the whole floor and ceiling. Everywhere around them, dust was falling, and it was drifting through the air like a dust storm.
The sounds were carried from the Flaming River Castle to other places nearby. The roars only sounded spookier and muffled due to the soundproof walls of the building, but those who heard it felt the chills go down their spines.
Many woke from their sleep.
Even some people on expedition trips became alarmed when they heard the sound. They sat upright in fear on their beast hide cushions, and their hands gripped tightly on their weapons as they prepared to defend themselves.
Nothing else was outside except for people who went out to see what had happened.
“What happened? Did a fearsome beast come?”
“I didn’t hear any alarms from the Flaming Horns. Last time when a fearsome beast came they sounded an alarm.”
“Did they forget about it? Or perhaps they didn’t sound the alarm on purpose?” People began to speculate and guess, each trying their best to figure out what really happened.
The birds nearby chirped loudly as they flew into the distance. They disregarded their sense of direction in the night and flew aimlessly.
This disturbed these people even more.
The roars continued and it was heard three times. Each was scarier than the previous, and some people speculated that the Flaming Horns had been secretly raising a fearsome beast to guard the Flaming River Castle. No one knew what this creature was. Did someone sneak into the Flaming River Castle?
Some people even thought about sneaking into the Flaming River Castle before, but they ceased to have such thoughts upon hearing these roars. However, some others became even more curious when they heard this. The Chang Le’s were such people.
They left the Flaming River Castle not long ago to explore the places nearby, and observed different tribal traditions and cultures. They even went to watch some tribes merge their fire seeds. To them, these tribes were too poor, so they didn’t even think about making a move on them. At the end, they returned to the Flaming River Trading Point. It had only been a few days since they returned, and initially they planned on leaving soon, but the roars that night made them reconsider about staying.
“I really want to go in there and find out what’s going on,” Wu He said.
“Aren’t you afraid of getting caught by the Flaming Horns again?” the person beside Wu He did not agree. He did not want to suffer the same fate as before.
Amongst this group, some agreed while others objected. At the end, Wu He went to find Yi Si to inquire about this incident. He had been treated unfairly before. This time, he wanted to hear what Yi Si felt about this issue.
Yi Si had been woken from his sleep by the three loud roars from the Flaming River Castle. The roars had ceased, and he had just fallen asleep before Wu He’s shouts woke him up again. He was yawning when he walked out, and when he heard what Wu He said, he stopped in the middle of his yawn and scowled, “If you want to die, go ahead! Don’t tell them you know me. I don’t want to be involved in this!”
Wu He was anxious when he heard this, “What? You mean if we go, we won’t return alive?”
“With your strength now, you definitely won’t return alive,” Yi Si said affirmatively.
Seeing the unbelievable expression on Wu He’s face, Yi Si pointed at Grasshopper, whose spikes were still erect on his back. “See?”
“He’s that scared? Is that thing in the Flaming River Castle a beast or human?” Wu He was still curious. This was just the Chang Le’s nature. They were just naturally curious and nothing could be done about it.
“I don’t care, but I just know that if you go in there, you will die a very miserable death, so if you still want to go, go ahead,” Yi Si didn’t want to bother talking with them. He ordered Grasshopper to drive them away. He muttered to himself as he looked in the Castle’s direction, “These Flaming Horns are making us more confused each day. What exactly are they planning?”
After the noise had subsided, Zheng Luo called for the main guards and severely reprimanded them. It was only now that these guards knew someone had sneaked into the Flaming River Castle.
Before this incident, he didn’t tell many people what was going to happen because this would allow them to successfully lure the Robber into the trap they had set for him. After this Robber was caught, some of these people were growing haughty due to their new success in catching a Robber, so he wanted to use this chance to let them understand how serious this case was.
Many Flaming Horns nowadays seemed more like mobsters than warriors who belonged to a powerful ancient tribe. Their ancestors were proud people, but they never behaved like the present generation. Their mindset wasn’t right, but they could still be corrected now. All they needed was some more time. They should not relax or let their guard down. If he didn’t scold them, they would just loosen up and become even more careless.
Underground, poisonous gas and weapons filled the entire secret room. Robber Eleven tried to fight back with all his might, but at the end, he failed to escape from Gan Qie’s hands.
When Shao Xuan went into the room the next day, Gan Qie was still standing there blankly. There was still blood on his hands and his eyes stared blankly into the distance. It was as if his whole body was frozen. Shao Xuan was not at all surprised. This was not the first time he had seen him like this. He looked down at Robber Eleven’s corpse. It was still in one piece.
Last night, Gan Qie’s emotions were turbulent, but they were not as intense as Shao Xuan had expected. How strange.
If anyone knew what Shao Xuan was thinking, they would definitely object. This person roared like a fearsome beast the previous night, and even people outside the castle could hear it, and people from the trading point were all woken up by the roars. And this was not intense?
But if anyone experienced what Gan Qie experienced, they would have reacted even more wildly than he did. Shao Xuan did not stop him yesterday because his emotions were a little unusual.
Inside the secret room, the person who stood silent with a blank expression looked rather serene. He was completely different from the person who roared wildly last night. He was shockingly calm.
“How strange,” Gan Qie remarked.
“What’s strange?” Shao Xuan asked.
“I don’t feel much anger or sadness.”
Gan Qie’s speech was not clear, but Shao Xuan caught the main words in his sentence. Gan Qie could feel that his emotions were not as intense as it should’ve been. He was angry and sad, but these emotions weren’t strong. This was not normal. His roar was fierce, but it starkly contrasted with the expected hysteria. He calmed down way too quickly.
Shao Xuan thought Gan Qie was a cold-hearted person to begin with, but he actually wasn’t.
Shao Xuan did not respond. He knew that Gan Qie wasn’t stupid. After he woke up, his thinking and rationale returned to normal. He was after all an elite member chosen by the Han shaman. Shamans only picked those who were strong and intelligent. At least most shamans would look for the most elite members.
Gan Qie probably knew enough about his own condition already, so Shao Xuan didn’t need to tell him much.
“You stayed awake the entire night?” Shao Xuan asked. His eyes remained open as he stared blankly for an entire night. Did he sleep standing up? Was he really a zombie?
“Sleep? No, I don’t need to sleep anymore,” Gan Qie enunciated every word. Then he continued in a much slower tone, “I’ve had enough sleep.”
Actually he didn’t have enough sleep. Gan Qie really didn’t have to rest like normal people anymore. Sleep was just a cyclical means of regulating homeostasis. He had no need for this. His body was no longer normal, so it didn’t need such regulations. Back then, when he squeezed Robber Eleven to death, he did not need to breathe at all, and he didn’t feel tired either, because it was nowhere close to his exhaustion limit.
“What are your plans now? Do you plan on going to the desert?” Shao Xuan asked.
“No,” Gan Qie said. “It’s not time yet.”
Judging by what Robber Eleven had said, Gan Qie knew that he was no match for the rulers of the desert. If those people could turn all his people into puppets, they were most likely strong people.
If he was a normal Han person, perhaps he would have rushed to the desert under anger. Gan Qie was not normal though. He calmly analysed the pros and cons and made the best choice.
There was also another reason behind this decision. He lacked an understanding of the current world. Too many years had passed and it seemed like too much had changed. He needed some time to adapt.
No one could remember a tribe called Han. If he hadn’t woken up, perhaps their totemic sign would have disappeared.
“I want to stay here,” Gan Qie said.
“Alright,” Shao Xuan didn’t tell him too many rules. With Gan Qie’s current rationality, he probably knew what he had to do if he wanted to stay here.
“Where do you want to live?” Shao Xuan asked.
Gan Qie looked around this secret room and his eyes stopped at the large coffin-like wooden case that had cracked. He pointed in that direction and asked, “Do you have more of those?”
“Sure, I’ll tell them to make a new one for you.”
“Use dry wood.”
“You want to use dried wood? Sure, we have lots of dried wood used to make ships. They’re sturdy enough.”
“I want to take a look outside,” Gan Qie was still using the least number of words to express his meaning.
Shao Xuan looked at the weapons stabbed into Gan Qie’s skin, “You don’t want to remove them first?”
“No need.” He wanted to go out now.
“Sure, I’ll bring you out.”
Shao Xuan led Gan Qie out the secret room and walked up the underground passage.
Even though everyone in the castle had been told of such a monster’s existence, they were still quite shocked when they first saw him. The green skin didn’t bother them as much. Sharp blades were pierced into his skin and flesh were turned inside out on some parts of his body. Some of his injuries were so deep that his bones became visible. If this was an ordinary person, he would have died long ago. However, this person did not spill a drop of blood and he was walking with a stern face behind Shao Xuan as if these injuries and weapons did not exist at all.
Shao Xuan did not bring him outside. He only brought him to the Flaming River Tower.
“If we head up we will arrive at the rooftop of the Flaming River Tower, but I think it’s better if we stay here,” Shao Xuan said.
Gan Qie could see the entire trading point as well as the mountains and forests from where he stood.
Everything had changed. These houses, the people and the way they dressed, everything was a little different from what he remembered. This was like a new world.
It seemed like a long time had passed since he was alive.
The sun was high in the sky and its rays shone in from the windows.
Gan Qie reached his hand out to feel the sun, but he pulled back instantly. It was a little scorching and much hotter than his body temperature. It felt like his skin was being burned.
“Sure enough, I don’t like it,” Gan Qie muttered.
Their tribe’s totem even had a symbol representing the sun! How could he not like the sun?
Perhaps it’s because everything had changed, and maybe his preferences also changed too.