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"Where is Tang Shuo?"

"Has anyone seen Tang Shuo?"

"Nope, haven't seen him all this time."

Realizing they were missing one person, He Shan started looking up and down the resting area hastily and took out her phone to call Tang Shuo, but no one picked up. She was the team leader and should anything happen to Tang Shuo, she would be the one taking all responsibility. She was going to call the police.



Gu Yu stopped her. "Don't panic. A lot of people are patrolling the mountain. I'll ask them for help."

With that, he asked part of the team to remain where they were and the rest to follow him. This part of the mountain was a key patrolling area to which quite a few people were allocated. It didn't take them long to find some patrolmen.

He Shan filled them in on the situation and the captain was also worried. "Do you have a general idea of where he is now? With all these people in your team, no one knows where he has gone to?"

"Well, I think, I think he said the view over there looked nice and he was going to take some pictures," a girl thought back for a while and pointed in a certain direction with some hesitation.

"F*ck! What the hell was he thinking!"

The captain followed her fingers and saw that she was pointing towards the thickest woods on the mountain. He cursed at once and picked up his walkie-talkie. "Attention! Attention! Lunch break is over! Lunch break is over! A tourist has gone missing, probably last seen to the northwest of the resting area, to the northwest of the resting area…"

He Shan and her team all felt slightly embarrassed. Seeing that he had finished giving orders, they added immediately, "We're so sorry. If there's anything we can do to help, please don't hesitate to ask!"

"You're helping me by staying out of my way. Wait here!"

The captain was most annoyed and was about to leave. Right then, someone next to him spoke out, "I'm from Phoenix Fair and know the paths well. Could you bring me along?"

'Em?'

He turned to Gu Yu and looked up and down at him. Finding his face somewhat familiar, the captain said, "Follow me. Don't fall behind!"

With that, the leader left in a hurry. Gu Yu reminded the others, "Sister He, if there are no news right away, you guys can go back first. I'll be in touch with you."

"Thank you so much, Xiao Gu!"

"You're welcome. See you later."

Gu Yu set off at once towards the direction mentioned earlier. He Shan and the others were following him with their eyes when a figure leapt out of the crowd and ran into the deep woods. They were petrified. "Xiao Zhai, what are you doing?"

"Go back and wait for me there!"

Jiang Xiaozhai did not even look back, and only left them with a forceful wave of hand.

She ran fast and caught up with Gu Yu in no time. The fellow jumped at her appearance. "What are you doing here?"

"To get a new experience, of course!"

She answered in a rightful manner as she grinned, "Don't worry, I won't give you any trouble."

"But, but…"

"Enough with the 'but'. Let's move!"

She took the lead and started off. Gu Yu winced with anxiety, but could only guard her cautiously from behind.

The two found the patrol team while the captain was assigning tasks. Seeing Xiaozhai, he frowned. "She's from Phoenix Fair as well?"

"Em, yes. We're neighbors."

"..."

The captain gave Xiaozhai a look and did not make any further comment despite his discontentment. He went on with giving orders, "Xiao Zhang, take some men and follow this path. Xiao Li, you guys go along this…"

Gu Yu gave it a quick look and could not help interjecting, "There's a trail. If we march towards it, we could easily round the snake up, saving us a lot of time."

"Oh? That's even better!"

The captain was not a narrow-minded man. Hearing Gu Yu's suggestion, he reassigned the team at once. The patrolmen were divided into three groups, with the third group having the least members. Gu Yu and Xiaozhai were assigned to it.

The two were given the thorn-proof gloves and set off with the group. [1]

Although the captain said "to the northwest", it was a general direction at best. The area was vast and frightfully deep, with rows upon rows of trees. Those dense and intricate branches sticking out in all directions seemed to never end.

Jiang Xiaozhai was dressed in mountain-climbing outfit with her hair tied back into a ponytail, looking valiant and agile.

Gu Yu walked behind her. As he watched the ponytail sway along her movements, he could not get over his doubt—the girl was not an impetuous person, why did she act so strangely this time?

However, now was not a good time for him to ponder that question. He focused his mind and tried to sense any movements in their surroundings.

The other three people in the group had grown very quiet, anxiety obvious on their faces. The bosses came up with some idea on a whim and the foot soldiers would be working their asses off. It would not be such a big deal if they could not catch the snake, but a tourist had gone missing and they would be the ones getting all the blame if he wasn't found safe and sound.

"Rustle!"

"Rustle!"

In the silent woods, the only noise was the dry crackling sounds of their footsteps on the grass. The five of them walked for some time and Gu Yu stopped suddenly. He thought he heard an extremely faint electronic beeping and waved his hand at once. "Over there!"

"Em? I don't hear anything," another person also tried to listen.

"Trust me. It's just over there."

He was confident in his senses and led the way to the left. The rest of the group could only follow him.

After brushing aside a few bushes, a cell phone was indeed lying on the grass with a lighted up screen, showing an incoming message. The guy walked in the front picked it up and examined it. "It was probably dropped here in panic."

"Didn't that snake kill with one bite?" Someone found it strange.

"Maybe he noticed it before it could attack, that was why he ran away. Ok, that's not what we should be concerned with. Just be careful!"

Since his personal belongings were here, he himself should not be far. After walking around the area following various subtle traces, someone called out suddenly, "There!"

The group ran to the spot in a hurry. A man was lying unconscious on the ground—he was none other than Tang Shuo. He wore a short-sleeved T-shirt and there was a visible wound on his arm. Judging by its color, he had been like this for quite some time.

Right now, saving his life was the most important thing. Two men were working on putting Tang Shuo on the back of one of them while the third one looked around and saw an SLR camera on the ground not far from them, and moved to pick it up.

He walked towards it. Just as he was bending down, a green flash swished near.

"Ah!"

His instinct was to dodge, but the snake was unbelievably fast. The man screamed and dropped to the ground while clutching his neck. Before the others had time to react, the culprit disappeared with another swishing sound.

"Xiao Wang!"

His two colleagues who had witnessed the whole process were fuming in rage. It had never occurred to them that the green snake had been lurking around them the whole time.

"I'm going after it!"

Gu Yu had come such a long way for the green snake and obviously would not give up now. With those hasty words, he dashed into the thick wood. Xiaozhai blinked and followed him as she did before.

"Come back! Come back here!"

The other two were going mad. They had two wounded people over here who required immediate medical attention while those two bastards out there had done nothing but creating more trouble. Seeing that the two were disappearing in the distance, there was nothing they could do but call in some support.

"The tourist is found. The tourist is found, wounded and unconscious. A team member is down as well. Those two are pursuing the green snake. We need backup! We need backup!"

The green snake was escaping at a tremendous speed. With the natural advantage brought about by its body's shape, it was sliding across the ground in all kinds of cunning and slippery movements.

Gu Yu had his conjuring skill, but it could only been performed within a certain range. The snake was all over the place. It then disappeared into some concealed corner and was nowhere to be seen.

He was forced to stop and observe carefully.

"Rustle!"

Just then, the sound of footsteps came from behind. Branches were pushed aside and Xiaozhai had caught up with him.

"Tsk!"

Gu Yu was seldom angry, but today he was.

If he were to confront that snake all by himself, he had no doubt that he could nail it. However, with a girl on his side, he was not sure how things would turn out. Especially when the girl herself showed no concern on her face at all, beaming and smiling as if she was out on a picnic.

"Could you stop messing around? I'm trying to catch a snake. This is not a playground!" He growled involuntarily.

"Oh, so you want me to go back on my own?"

"You…"

Gu Yu almost choked on his own breath. 'Are you kidding me?' Send the girl back alone and she would be killed in the matter of a few minutes. Being speechless for a while, Gu Yu finally sighed, "Anyway, be careful. That snake is extremely dangerous."

"I told you, I won't give you any trouble."

Xiaozhai pursed her lips and grinned again. "But, there is one thing I'm really curious about."

"Curious about what?" He was taken by surprise.

"How can you be so sure that you will catch the snake?"

"..."

The comment seemed to have the effect of freezing time. As the two young people looked into each other's eyes in this dim and secluded dense forest, something weird and subtle was filling the air between them.

He had to admit that, based on the impression the girl had given him so far, he could not think bad of her, let alone raising his guard because of what she said. However, the question was making his hair stand on end. He gazed into those clear and piercing eyes, failing to provide any answer.

"Snicker!"

Jiang Xiaozhai chuckled all of a sudden, breaking the stalemate. Her smile reminded him of a cloudless sky casting light on all mountains and plains. "Never mind, go find your snake."

'Never mind my a*s! What the heck do you mean by that!'

Gu Yu wanted to release his sarcastic comments onslaught here, but the current exceptional circumstances did not allow him to be distracted.

Maybe it was because of that question, but they could now both sense a faintly discernible embarrassment, accompanied by a "well, I've discovered your little secret" feeling which was often found between a girl and her not-yet-out-of-the-closet gay friend.

Therefore, after walking a bit further and finding the traces too jumbled to follow, he resolved to put his fingers in his mouth and whistled.

"Whee!"

"Whee!"

Before long, something was hopping and running near, making rustling sound. Then, a fat squirrel appeared out of nowhere and flung into his arms.

"Aiya! Aiya!"

Gu Yu could never figure out how it could look so dexterous when climbing a tree but feel so heavy in his arms.

"Squeak!"

"Coo-coo!"

It had been a while since Brother Fatty was summoned and it was expressing its excitement and complaints with all the noise it could make. Only after it stopped squeaking did it turn around and discover Jiang Xiaozhai's presence in surprise. This was the first time that Gu Yu called for it without any scruples when other people were around.

Xiaozhai was just as surprised as the squirrel was. "Is this your pet?"

"No, it's my friend." Rubbing the squirrel's neck, Gu Yu chuckled, "You can call it Brother Fatty."

"Brother Fatty?"

Watching the highly intelligent squirrel, Xiaozhai smiled and commented, "Hehe, in that case, I want one for myself as well."

[1] ED/N: I'm not into such things so I don't know the English name of such gloves (if there's any), but if you google this 防刺手套 you will see the pics of the gloves. They look like some thick gardening gloves to me, I guess.

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