Chapter 69 – Life is as cheap as grass
The beast skin map was very thick, it was unlike paper that could be folded and carried around easily. Fang Yuan could only roll the beast skin up and put it back into the bamboo tube, where he then tied up both ends of the bamboo tube with hemp rope, and carried it on his back.
The two hunters stared firmly at the bamboo case, their eyes unavoidably showing signs of greed. They were not idiots after all — they knew the value of the map.
This beast skin map is something that Gu Masters would not even bother looking at, but to mortals, especially hunters like them, it was the most valuable treasure.
The Wang family had began to pass down this map since the time of their ancestors. Old man Wang was able to become a famous hunter, his name known throughout the vicinity and beyond; the map had much contribution to this. It was truly an authentic family heirloom.
“I’m going to ask you — in Old man Wang’s household, is there anyone else?” Fang Yuan’s gaze was dark, his tone cold as he asked.
The two young men kneeling on the ground shuddered immediately when they heard this question from Fang Yuan. They thought about what had just conspired earlier, and the greedy expressions from their faces disappeared in an instant, replaced with fear and terror.
“There is no one else, the entire family is dead, lord Gu Master!”
“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.”
This was the immediate reply from the two young hunters.
“Is that so…” Fang Yuan narrowed his two eyes and he looked at the two men kneeling before him, knowing that they were telling the truth. When one’s life and death was in the hands of others, the probability of lying was very small.
But he asked anyway, “Did you lie to me?”
“We would not dare to lie even the slightest, lord!”
“I-I thought of something! 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!”
Fang Yuan listened quietly while nodding. Although these two started belittling Old man Wang in an attempt to keep their lives, he did not sense any resentment from these two men’s mouths.
Fang Yuan guessed inwardly that these two men asking to consult for hunting matters should be fake, he surmised that they were just over to covet for the Wang family’s daughter and her good looks. Yet in the end they were found out by Old man Wang and disciplined a few times harshly.
“Weeding out the wicked and let the law-abiding citizens live in peace. Enough of such bootlicking, this time I killed them because my motive was just for this beast skin map. Well, both of you have showed a satisfying behaviour, you can both go now.” Fang Yuan’s tone softened, but at the same time the right hand behind his back shone with gloomy moonlight.
The two young men kneeling on the ground felt surprise and joy once they heard this.
“Thank you so much for your mercy, lord!”
“Lord, your generosity and indulgence, we shall remember in heart forever!”
They kowtowed on the ground, their mucus and tears overflowing, sounds of dull knocking could be heard. After several knocks they immediately got up and turned to leave.
Although Fang Yuan was younger than them in age, but after witnessing firsthand what Fang Yuan was like in doing things, they were beyond fearful and terrified, wishing never to meet Fang Yuan again.
“Hold it.” Just at this moment, a voice suddenly travelled over.
The moment it finished there was a swoosh and a Gu Master jumped down from a treetop.
“You both cannot leave, tell me what happened here. All of it.” This Gu Master that just jumped down was wearing a deep blue uniform, and there was a scarlet belt with a metal plate in the middle. There was a huge ‘Two’ word carved onto the metal plate.
This Rank two Gu Master had a slim build, his two eyes slender. He wore arm protectors on his wrists, and his calves had sturdy leg bindings, his entire being radiating with a highly capable aura.
“This commoner greets lord Jiang He!” The two young men had just got up with the intention to leave, but once they saw this Gu Master they instantly knelt down again, prostrating themselves in admiration while greeting.
This Gu Master was someone they knew — it was the Gu Master stationed at the village.
Every year to reinforce their control in their surroundings, the Gu Yue Village would dispatch Gu Master down into the little villages and hamlets, stationing Gu Masters there. This would also prevent the other powers from infiltrating and at the same time strengthen their defences on their borders.
This Gu Master named Jiang He did not bother with the two hunters kneeling on the ground, instead looking straight at Fang Yuan, asking in a cold tone, “I am the Gu Master Jiang He of the Gu Yue clan who has been stationed here, you are?”
Fang Yuan laughed lightly and stretched his right palm out, where the Moonlight Gu was giving out a ball of moonlight in the middle of his palm.
When the Gu Master Jiang He saw the moonlight in Fang Yuan’s hand, his gaze softened considerably — the Moonlight Gu was the sign of the Gu Yue clan, this was something that could not be forged.
“This matter is simple actually. Old man Wang’s second son offended me, so I killed the entire family off in anger. Those two can be my witness.” Fang Yuan straightforwardly admitted with a bold and confident manner, pointing at the two hunters kneeling down at the same time.
Fang yuan was not lying, and these two hunters nodded in haste; there was no hesitation.
Jiang He stared blankly for a moment before he started laughing loudly, “You killed well! Just a bunch of measly peasant servants, to actually dare to offend their masters, they deserved to be killed!!”
But he quickly added with a change in tone, full of emotion and deep meaning, “However young junior, what you’ve done has also brought problems to me. Although Old man Wang resides far away from the masses and stayed here alone with his family, they are still villagers that I am in charge of. I was sent out from the clan and stationed here in this village, this means I’m supposed to protect the villagers and be on the alert as defence. Now that you’ve killed these few people, the number of villagers will have lessened. During the examination at the end of the year the clan’s assessment towards me will drop.”
Fang Yuan’s gaze shone, and he instantly knew that this Jiang He was using this as a pretext to extort money from him.
He laughed and said out, “This isn’t so difficult. Senior you just have to report the truth back. Just say that this entire family was killed by me, and it has nothing to do with senior whatsoever.”
When Jiang He heard this his eyelids twitched, anger rising in his heart towards Fang Yuan who did not know how to appreciate favors. His manner of speaking became extremely solemn, “Then I will have to conduct business impartially here. Junior, if you are not afraid of the clan’s investigation then report your name, I will record it in detail as how things really are on paper.”
His words brought a strong implication of threat; if it was any other youngster they would have been frightened by this statement already.
But Fang Yuan could see Jiang He’s weakness from it, and he instantly said, “Then senior shall report as how it should be. Ah right, my surname is Gu Yue, and my name is Fang Yuan.”
“So you’re actually Fang Yuan!” Jiang He’s face evidently showed astonishment for a while, “I have been hearing about you all the time from my little brother recently. You thoroughly beat up all your classmates, extorting in front of everyone, getting sixty pieces of primeval stones each time. Every time my little brother speaks of it he’s always jealous of how you can earn money so easily. Not to mention that time when you gambled out a Liquor worm and a Mudskin Toad consecutively. This sort of luck sure makes people jealous. Oh right, my little brother is Jiang Ya, you both should have met each other long ago.”
“So it’s him.” Fang Yuan nodded and admitted, “Yes, every time when I buy Moon orchid petals, I would buy them in Jiang Ya’s shop.”
“Hahaha, since this it the case then we both are acquaintances. Oh well let’s forget about it, this matter I’ll handle it!” When he said this, Jiang He clapped his chest with his hands, putting out the appearance of one with the spirit of loyalty and self-sacrifice.
He was merely using this favourable circumstance, there was no way he could have really reported the matter.
After reporting of such a thing the clan’s assessment towards him would still drop either way. You might as well just do a good turn to Fang Yuan, as for Old man Wang’s family’s death, he could just report that they were invaded and attacked by a wild beast.
It’s Old man Wang’s fault for his unconventional ways of insisting to move out of the village, building a wooden house far away from the population!
Jiang He was not afraid of the matter being disclosed, there was just a few mortal peasants around. Their lives were cheap ass grass, who cares if they died? Even if the clan found out about the cover-up they would hardly care about such a small matter.
“But junior, you have yet to graduate from the academy and do not have the Gu Master uniform like I am wearing now. If that Wang Er saw this outfit he’d know about your status as Gu Master and wouldn’t offend you. Junior you are a smart person, don’t you think so, hehe,” said Jiang He again.
Fang Yuan’s eyes flashed. Jiang He’s words had implicit meaning, and was actually warning himself — do not run out of the academy and wander around for no reason, and you better not come to the area under my jurisdiction here after today to cause trouble and kill people again.
“In that case thank you very much for your advice, senior.” Fang Yuan cupped his fists in greeting, bidding farewell to Jiang He, immediately taking his leave from here.