The space in the tree house isn’t large, but there were many items inside, so at one glance it seemed extremely messy.
The floor in the center had a thick dark yellow-coloured carpet.
Inside the house, there was an iron stove beside the wall, and on it there was a bronze kettle. Inside the stove there was black coloured soot, and beside it there was a small pile of unburnt dried firewood.
Despite it being summer, the nights in this mountain were still icy cold. The iron stove could maintain the entire treehouse’s warmth when lit, despite its small size.
The treehouse has two sets of windows, two to three ropes wrapped as the frame of the windows, connecting the two together in the middle of the room.
On the rope hanged several torn pieces of clothing, the torn patches pieced together. It was obviously an adult’s clothing and was still slightly damp, not completely dry from the sun yet.
The light of the setting sun penetrated the windows and shone inside the treehouse.
The treehouse was rather dark internally. At a corner there were axes and hunting knives with beast skin wrapped on the handle. On the blade there was even dark red blood traces.
On the other side of the wall, there was a piece of bamboo paper with a dagger stabbed in the middle.
There was a young man’s face on the bamboo paper — it was Fang Yuan’s appearance!
This all meant that during this short period, someone had come to the hidden treehouse and lived here. The person’s intention was obvious, his target was Fang Yuan.
The paper was stabbed by a dagger and showed his evil intent to the extremes!
Such a scenario, even Fang Yuan was taken aback.
"What does this person want, and why is he against me? No, maybe it isn’t me but Fang Zheng." Fang Yuan’s thoughts flew all over his mind.
Fang Zheng was an A grade talent, the only one in the last three years of the Gu Yue clan, and is their only hope. If he could be truly nurtured, he would be the next figure in the clan.
But nurturing was a process.
During this process, there were calamities and human-made disasters.
Ignoring calamities, the most important was human disasters. As everyone knew, Qing Mao mountain did not only have the Gu Yue clan, but also the Bai clan and Xiong clan. These two forces would not be happy to see the dominating Gu Yue clan successfully nurturing an A grade talent.
Thus, sending assassins to get rid of him was a common thing.
In this world, there are little geniuses, and even less of those who could successfully grow up.
A grade talent Gu Masters, it was not that they did not exist. Three years ago, one appeared in the Gu Yue clan. In even earlier generations, they also appeared on occasions.
But on Qing Mao Mountain, out of the three clans in these years, there was only one successful A grade talent nurtured — the Bai clan’s Bai Ning Bing of Rank three cultivation.
Such a scenario was enough to say many things.
"This person, is he from the Bai clan or the Xiong clan? They want to get rid of Gu Yue Fang Zheng so soon?" Fang Yuan frowned, staring at the portrait.
"But why did old man Wang’s beast skin map indicate this treehouse? Was he a spy from the other forces? No, this person is obviously after me!"
Fang Yuan’s eyes shone with brilliance.
At this moment, he thought of many scenes.
The first time, it was beside the trap, and the four hunter’s conversation —
A hunter said, "Second brother Wang, you’re almost nineteen, it is time you got married and have children."
Wang Er said, "Hmph, as a true man, how can I be lusting after such small beauty! One day, I will walk out of this Qing Mao mountain and roam the world, learn everything in the world and live up to the expectations of my male body!"
The second time was after he himself acted, Wang Er’s peculiar calmness. He pulled his bow and pointed at Fang Yuan. The others were already begging for forgiveness.
The third was when Fang Yuan was asking questions.
"I ask you, in old man Wang’s family, who else is there?"
A hunter answered, "Hunter Wang originally had a wife, but that was decades ago, and she was killed by wild wolves that intruded the village. Before his wife died she gave birth to two sons and a daughter. But the oldest son Wang Da died on the mountain while hunting three years ago. There is no one else in the Wang family."
"I, I remember! Old man Wang actually also has a daughter-in-law, Wang Da’s old wife. But after Wang Da disappeared, his wife died due to a broken heart. That year, the village even specially sent down a chastity memorial arch! But rumour has it that Wang Da’s wife wanted to remarry, and she was actually hounded to death by Old man Wang. When you killed Old man Wang, lord, you are helping us citizens, rooting out the evil and bringing people peace!"
The other hunter quickly added, "That’s right, that’s right. Actually lord, we have long found this old Wang unfavourable. Hmph, he’s nothing special, just that he can hunt better than us. We’re all just mortals, yet he thinks he’s more special than us and purposely moved out of the village to live here. As the younger generation, we sometimes will ask him to teach us and impart his experiences, but he would just outright chase us away and never allow us to show up again near the wooden house!"
Old man Wang’s family, moving out of the village, away from people…...
Eldest son Wang Da, died on the mountains three years ago while hunting…...
Wang Da’s wife wanted to remarry, and was forced to commit suicide by old man Wang, and obtained a chastity memorial arch....
Old man Wang chased away all the young hunters who were trying to ask for guidance...
Old man Wang tried his best to hide the beast skin map, and on the bamboo paper, there were no such circles…...
Wang Er was at such a young age, but was calm towards Gu Masters. At the same time he did not marry, and had the aspiration to surpass mortal realm in his heart…...
Most importantly, the circles on the beast skin map indicated a hidden realm, there was obvious human activity in the area. At the same time this person held strong hatred towards Fang Yuan…...
All the clues pieced together, if separated they were not easy to link, but once linked it was peculiar!
The more Fang Yuan thought about it, the more he felt that the mist shrouding this mystery has thinned.
The setting sun’s afterglow passed through the window and reflected upon his face, the strong light alike to the colour of blood.
The surroundings had fallen into a deadly silence, was there someone secretly peeping at him all this time?
Suddenly, Fang Yuan’s eyes lit up, his vision crossing through time and space; he had seen the truth!
"Wang Da, did not die."
At this moment, the glow in his eyes radiated the surroundings(1).
"Not only did he not die, he even became a demonic Gu Master by chance!"
It was not that mortals had no cultivating talent, but that the clan restricted the cultivation methods from leaking out, and controlled it tightly in their hands.
But there was no absolute in this world.
Mortals could become Gu Masters as well, from accidents in the wild and encountering the Hope Gu, opening their aperture. Or inheriting a certain strength inheritance, or getting the personal guidance from a certain clan’s member.
But these Gu Masters were not accepted into the clan completely, and could only be their henchmen. Thus, they would not be satisfied and became loner Gu Masters. Their cultivation is extremely difficult. As time passed, as they competed for resources, they would have to kill snatch and murder, turning towards the demonic path.
"Because of some lucky chance, the highest possibility is that he obtained a large fortune from a certain Gu Master’s corpse and became a Gu Master three years ago. To hide from others, he sent out the fake information that he died, but no one had ever seen his corpse. Old man Wang’s family found out about this and moved out of the village, risking the chance that wild beasts might invade and lived alone, just to hide this truth."
"But there were some problems that occurred, Wang Da’s wife did not agree and might have wanted to report to the Gu Yue clan. Wang family had no choice but to kill her, and released some seemingly real and fake information to hide the truth. Something about her remarrying, or forcing her to commit suicide to hide the truth under all these rumors."
"Once in awhile, Wang Da would return home to stay. Thus, old man Wang had to chase those youngsters who were seeking guidance away. Wang Er after interacting with his brother had dispelled his fear of Gu Masters, and naturally developed the goal of wanting to be a Gu Master and explore the greatness of the outside world!"
"Because of the fear that Wang Da might be exposed, even at such an old age Wang Er did not get married. Wang Da could not stay in the house, thus old man Wang drew three red circles on the beast skin map, these three locations should be hidden residential areas like this. Having three hiding spots, Wang Da rotated his stay around the houses, and lived in the fringe of the three clans’ authority."
The meaning of the three red circles was finally revealed!
Red indicated alertness, but most importantly to old man Wang, this was his eldest son’s residence. Thus, when Fang Yuan wanted the old man to draw the map, he did not indicate it on the bamboo paper, it was to protect his son. Similarly, he drew fewer red crosses, to avenge the death of his son.
"Maybe at a certain time each year, Wang Da will return home to stay for a while. When he returned, he found that his entire family was dead. After asking around, he found out it was me, thus he used the dagger to pin my portrait on the wall, so that he would exact revenge on me!"
With his previous life’s experience, Fang Yuan was almost certain this was the truth.
If it was some other power that wanted to assassinate Fang Zheng, they could be much more subtle. They did not have to develop a spy like old man Wang. After all, old man Wang lived at the mountain foot, not inside the Gu Yue village.
"To think that over a beast skin map, I provoked a murderer of the demonic faction. This world really works in wondrous ways," Fang Yuan could not help but snicker.
He first killed Wang Er, the old man Wang and Wang’s daughter, and it was all for the beast skin map. Old man Wang was the number one hunter in the village, so his beast skin map had the greatest value.
At that time he was thinking: It’s merely three mortal lives, what’s the big deal, I’ll just killing them conveniently.
In this world, anyone had the right to live, and anyone could die just as easily.
To think that out of nowhere, a demonic way Gu Master emerged!
With regards to this, Fang Yuan did not have a tint of regret, but instead felt at ease.
If he had been too merciful at the time, in his goal to obtain the Wang family beast skin map, Wang Er, old man Wang and sister Wang would’ve been a huge disturbance. To protect Wang Da’s secret, they would not give him the real product.
Wang Er’s battle strength could exterminate an ordinary Rank one upper stage Gu Master. Old man Wang was even more experienced with age, and in terms of killing strength, he was even more of a threat than Wang Er.
Even if he had gotten the real product, old man Wang would’ve informed Wang Da, and Wang Da would’ve gotten Fang Yuan’s information immediately. No matter how he dealt with it, he would be in the shadows while Fang Yuan was out in the open. Wang Da would be having the advantage of being in control of the situation.
"Good thing I killed them at the start! Regardless of what, I have to control the situation in my own palm. This way, even if I do not get the real item, there is no loss to me, and I can even snatch other hunters’. Killing old man Wang and that girl caused Wang Da to spend a lot of time just to get my intel. Needless to say, those two young hunters must’ve already been silenced." Fang Yuan confirmed in his heart.
There was only a few people who knew the situation, and Wang Da would not attack Jiang He. Once Jiang He is dead, the clan would send people to investigate. But if those two hunters disappeared on the mountain, it was easy to manipulate. Jiang He would not reveal an incident like this as it would affect the clan’s evaluation of him, and would even cover up the situation.
(1) ‘glow in his eyes radiated the surroundings’ is a metaphor.