Jia Fu was conflicted.
He had dispelled his suspicions of Fang Yuan and was certain that Jia Gui was the mastermind.
"But yet, so what if I know the truth?" Jia Fu felt anger and sadness surging, "I have no evidence at hand, so if I accused Jia Gui in front of father without any proof, father might even think I am trying to frame him!"
Jia Fu was smart, and he looked at Fang Yuan, a light flashing in his eyes.
Jia Jin Sheng had journeyed with him together, and now that he was missing, it was Jia Fu’s fault for not taking care of him! Since he could not accuse Jia Gui, he had to give his father some answer.
And this answer was in front of him!
"That’s right, if Fang Yuan is the scapegoat, it would at least help me get through this crisis. Once I get over it, I can get back at Jia Gui with twice the payback." Jia Fu thought deviously.
He raised his pitch, interrogating Fang Yuan, "Fang Yuan, how do you prove that you did not harm Jia Jin Sheng?"
The clan elders were stunned. This is obviously your internal dispute, why are you still grabbing onto my clansman?
Only the Gu Yue clan leader looked grim, his expression turning sharp as he stared at Jia Fu.
"Fang Yuan, what proof do you have to show that you were not present at the time and did not harm Jia Jin Sheng? If you can’t prove it, you are the murderer!" Jia Fu pointed at Fang Yuan, his gaze furious as he threatened with his aura.
"He’s trying to push our clan’s Fang Yuan into being the scapegoat. How atrocious!" At this point, the clan elders had reacted and their expressions all turned unkind.
They had been fighting and scheming against each other for a long time, so if they thought about it, they would know easily about Jia Fu’s standpoint and intentions.
"Witness? Of course I do! I prepared it long ago." Fang Yuan smiled internally, but showed an expression of shock, as if he wanted to speak but couldn’t.
"No need for others, just tell me if you do or not!" Jia Fu raised his voice again, forcing Fang Yuan.
Fang Yuan showed an indignant expression, but finally gritted his teeth and said helplessly, "No."
"Haha. Then you are —"" Jia Fu was about to declare his verdict but at that point.
"Halt!" The academy elder took a step forward and stood in front of Fang Yuan with a solemn expression, "Of course he has a witness, that would be me!"
"You?" Jia Fu asked in shock.
"That’s right, me." The academy elder, facing Rank four Jia Fu, was slightly overpowered. But seeing Gu Yue Bo’s encouraging gaze, he gathered his courage and raised his head, "These days when Fang Yuan unexpectedly became the first to break through the middle stage, I sent my men to investigate him. His everyday activities and actions are recorded down, there was no time for him to harm Jia Jin Sheng."
"Yes, this is it…" Fang Yuan hid behind the academy elder’s back, where no one could see his curled lips, revealing a smile.
Jia Fu’s expression was dim, he did not expect the academy elder to stand out and protect Fang Yuan.
The crucial point was, the Gu Yue clan leader did not object. This had a great meaning, for it meant the Gu Yue clan was going to protect Fang Yuan.
"I get it! I wanted to get Fang Yuan to become the scapegoat, but that was from my perspective, and I did not consider their perspective. Indeed, once Fang Yuan is criminalized, the Gu Yue clan has to bear the evil name of harming a Jia family member. From then on they will have to face the Jia family’s retribution as well as losing their own reputation. Furthermore, future caravans would not dare to come here and trade anymore, the loss is too great!"
Thinking of this, Jia Fu was anguished and wanted to slap his own head.
The Gu Yue higher-ups did have such considerations.
Fang Yuan was a C grade, so if he really harmed Jia Jin Sheng, handing him over was nothing. But the point was, now that his suspicion had been cleared, if he was handed over, wouldn’t the Gu Yue clan suffer a great injustice and lose out greatly?
Knowing that this conflict could not be resolved, Jia Fu gritted his teeth, determined to get his way. He said, "If so, why don’t you let me use the Footprint Gu. Once this Gu is used, it will show the floor’s last 30,000 footprints."
The academy elder scoffed in displeasure.
Jia Fu’s words meant he did not trust them. But he has no reason to stop him, thus he let Jia Fu through.
"Come and test!" Fang Yuan laughed coldly at Jia Fu, walking towards him with his head lowered.
He was confident, having predicted this. Thus, these few days he kept his activities within the village and did not go to the secret cave.
Under the Gu Yue higher-ups supervision, Jia Fu did not play any tricks.
The Footprint Gu was very peculiar, it was shaped like a person’s foot. Its material was like a translucent yogurt, giving others a feeling of smoothness, and the surface had a yellow-green luster.
Its size was small, being only palm size.
Jia Fu held it in his hands, sending primeval essence into the Footprint Gu.
The Footprint Gu became brighter, and then suddenly with a "bam" sound, exploded into a cloud of yellow green powder.
The powdery cloud enveloped Fang Yuan and spun around him before flying out of the discussion hall.
Where the powder cloud passed through, the floor would show a series of footprints.
These footprints glowed in a yellow green light around the same size as Fang Yuan’s foot. They were Fang Yuan’s footprints when he entered the discussion hall.
The footprints extended from the family head pavilion into the academy hostel and then to the academy and circulated. Other than that, it reached the mountain village’s inn.
The powder cloud became smaller as it flew, and finally at the 30,000th step, it vanished.
The results were clear, everyone had checked and knew that Fang Yuan was innocent, there were no suspicious points.
Jia Fu sighed, taking out a small jade box.
He opened the jade box, where there was only a jade piece inside.
The jade piece was a translucent emerald colour, and there was a Gu sealed inside.
This was a phasmids(1), its body long and slim, with the colour of jade, its entire body looking like a bamboo tube.
The phasmids was normally longer than a palm, but this one wasn’t, being only the size of a fingernail. On its surface, it emitted a white glow.
"Green jade as its body, white light enveloping its form, this is the Bamboo Gentleman!" At once, some of the elders recognised this Gu worm and exclaimed.
Even Gu Yue Bo was moved. He could not refrain from advising, "Brother Jia, this Bamboo Gentleman is a Rank four Gu, it is not easily refined. Why waste it here?"
Jia Fu shook his head, looking at Fang Yuan: "This Bamboo Gentleman was obtained through gambling rocks when I was young. The rock was only opened halfway before it could no longer be extracted. As everyone knows, this Gu worm is fed honesty as food, being able to detect lies from birth. Only an honest gentleman who has never lied can refine and feed this Gu."
"Fang Yuan, you just have to open this rock and keep the Bamboo Gentleman in your aperture. Whatever I ask you, you will answer. Next, we will take out this Gu and let everyone see if it changed colour. If the Gu changes colour, you’re lying!"
"No problem." Fang Yuan did not hesitate. He immediately opened the jade piece and did as Jia Fu instructed.
The Bamboo Gentleman appeared in his aperture and emitted a faint green glow, covering the primeval sea.
Fang Yuan felt that if he said a single lie, the Bamboo Gentleman could detect it and turn its body from green into another color.
But he only accepted it because he had his trump card.
"Spring Autumn Cicada!" With a thought, the Spring Autumn Cicada awakened and let out a trace of its aura.
This aura was overpowering, and it immediately suppressed the Bamboo Gentleman.
The Bamboo Gentleman emitted a green glow and immediately shrunk its body. Its entire body was curled up, trembling in fear. How could it have the excessive spirit to detect lies?
Jia Fu begin interrogating, with his first question hitting home, "Fang Yuan, did you harm my brother Jia Jin Sheng?"
"No!" Fang Yuan affirmed.
Jia Fu asked, "Do you have any other information about him?"
Fang Yuan shook his head, "No idea."
Jia Fu asked again, "Did you say anything dishonest to us earlier?"
Fang Yuan shook his head again, "No."
"Alright, you can take out the Bamboo Gentleman now." After finishing with three questions, Jia Fu instructed Fang Yuan.
Fang Yuan took out the Bamboo Gentleman, and everyone saw that it was still an emerald green colour with no changes.
The clan elders heaved a sigh of relief.
Jia Fu’s expression became milder as he kept the Bamboo Gentleman, cupping his fists towards Gu Yue Bo, "Much offense this time, brother Gu Yue."
"No matter, the truth is what we wanted to see as well." Gu Yue Bo waved his hand, then sighed, "But what a pity for this Bamboo Gentleman."
The Bamboo Gentleman had the ability to detect lies and was a Rank four Gu, thus it was very valuable. But feeding and refining it was not easy. It had to be refined by an honest gentleman. If any other Gu Master had said a single lie, the refinement would fail and the Bamboo Gentleman would die on the spot.
Its food was honesty. It would reside in the aperture of an honest gentleman and consuming the gentleman’s honesty as food to survive.
Now that the Bamboo Gentleman had been opened, it was extremely weak, but it had no food to restore its strength. After being treated so harshly by Fang Yuan, its death was set in stone.
Jia Fu shook his head, looking at the Bamboo Gentleman in his head, not feeling any pity.
He said solemnly, "I have already done my best to investigate, but I received no results. This time, when I get back to the family, I will employ the divine investigator Tie Xue Leng(2), it would definitely get this matter cleared up! Goodbye."
Saying so, he cupped his fists towards Gu Yue Bo and left, crisp and quick, with a certain elegance to it.
Seeing Jia Fu and the rest leaving, Gu Yue Bo heaved a sigh of relief and said, "You can all leave now."
He waved at the clan elders, but suddenly thought of something and said, "Academy elder please stay back."
Without losing a single drop of sweat, Fang Yuan walked out of the family head’s pavilion safe and sound.
(1) Phasmids: Stick-bugs. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phasmatodea
(2) 铁血冷 - Tie Xue Leng, Tie means Metal and is the name of the Tie clan. Xue Leng means cold blood. This name will be important.