Chapter 42 – There is often a discrepancy between legend and fact

After offering tribute to the mountain god, Qi Wu hurriedly gathered with everyone else.

The people, soaked through with water, shivered in the cold wind.

“If this keeps up, we’ll get sick.”

The old hunter walked to a corner and brought out a handful of firewood, showing off his big teeth as he smiled. “We hunters sometimes take shelter here, so we left some firewood here in advance for today’s use.”

Qi Wu was overjoyed. “Thank you so much.”

The old hunter didn’t mind. “It’s nothing. Living in the mountains is all about helping each other. When the rain stops tomorrow, we’ll collect some more firewood and put it back.”

The people quickly piled the firewood on the ground where there were marks from previous fires. Qi Wu took out a fire talisman and lit a wooden stick, which he then inserted into the dry firewood. He gently blew and fanned it with his hand, and the fire slowly caught.

Watching the flames gradually rise, feeling the warmth of the fire, someone let out a sigh.

“We’re finally alive again.”

“Qi big brother, do you want a yellow rice cake or a white rice cake?”

“One of each?”

One person distributed the dry rations, and the people put them by the fire to roast.

After the aroma wafted out, A Yue took out a jar of pickled vegetables and let everyone spread it on their cakes. One bite and the salty fragrance filled their mouths.

“A Yue’s pickling skills are really good. If you ask me, A Yue, why don’t you open a pickled vegetable shop instead of following us as a merchant?”

A Yue smiled and didn’t say anything.

Thinking of the scene just now, Qi Wu asked, “Old Sun, why did you ask A Yue if he had been pushed down by someone?”

Qi Wu and his companions were entering the mountain for the first time, wanting to cross the mountain range to sell goods in Qinghuai County on the other side. After searching for a long time, they finally found a local old hunter to guide them.

The old hunter looked serious. “Have you ever heard of the Jiang Gui?”

Qi Wu and the others looked serious. They had traveled far and wide and naturally knew some things about ghosts and monsters. One person even said loudly, “Are you talking about the Jiang Gui who helps the tiger?”

The old hunter nodded and whispered, “This mountain is called Songshan. About ten years ago, a hunter went into the mountain to hunt and then disappeared, leaving only one shoe behind. At that time, some people said that a tiger demon had come to the mountain and eaten the hunter.”

“At first, people didn’t want to believe it. They thought they had lived here for generations, how could a tiger demon appear?”

“But as time went on, someone said that when they were hunting, their hunting dogs barked wildly in one direction. They looked in that direction and were scared stiff.”

“It was a colorful tiger, about four meters long. The tiger leaped and pounced on the hunting dog. The person saw this and ran away. Fortunately, the tiger didn’t catch up!”

“People also found that someone would occasionally go missing, so they reported it to Qinghuai County. When the officials learned of this, they asked me to go to Yanjiang County, saying that Songshan was close to Yanjiang County, and you only sell your game to Yanjiang County, so they should be responsible.”

“After arriving at Yanjiang County, the officials said that Songshan belonged to Qinghuai County and should be under their jurisdiction.”

“After a few rounds of back-and-forth, both sides sent two cultivators to search for the tiger demon’s whereabouts in Songshan. They searched for ten days in a row and didn’t even find a tiger hair. The two cultivators thought we were playing with them and wasted so much time. We explained that the tiger demon might have deliberately avoided them and didn’t dare to come out. But the two cultivators didn’t listen to our explanation and left in a huff.”

“We went to the government again, but they ignored us.”

“We had no choice but to leave Songshan and find a new way to make a living. Only a few of us old folks who don’t know anything but hunting are left here.”

“Later on, we discovered that when we were hunting, we would encounter those missing travelers. They would appear and disappear suddenly, pushing us around.”

“Sometimes when I take people into the mountains, those travelers would pretend to run into us and ask if they could join us on our journey. I dare not agree and quickly lead my group away.”

“The older generation said that there is a thing in the world called a jiang gui. When a tiger demon kills a person, the person would turn into a jiang gui and help the tiger demon find prey, luring them to a certain place and turning them into new jiang gui.”

“But dealing with jiang gui is easy. As long as you refuse their requests, they won’t do anything to you.”

Qi Wu suddenly realized that he had been wondering why, in such a large forest, there should be many hunters, yet they only found a few households of hunters after searching for so long, and these hunters even lived together.

It turned out that they were forced by the tiger demon.

Seeing Ah Yue hesitating, Qi Wu asked, “Ah Yue, if you have any questions, just ask.”

Originally, Ah Yue felt embarrassed to ask his question, but since the boss had said so, he didn’t hide it anymore.

“I only have one question. Are there female jiang gui? Are they good-looking? Do they seduce men and absorb their yang energy? Is it possible for me to have a forbidden love with her, evade the tiger demon’s pursuit, and roam the world together?”

As Ah Yue asked each question, a question mark appeared above everyone’s head, including the old hunter.

Seeing everyone’s reaction, Ah Yue scratched his head apologetically. “I’ve only read novels like this where there are beautiful ghosts and unfinished love stories.”

Qi Wu was silent for a moment and patted Ah Yue’s shoulder. “Read fewer books.”

Then Qi Wu asked, “Why didn’t you report this to the Five Great Immortal Sects? They uphold the right path and will certainly not sit idly by.”

“The Five Great Immortal Sects?” The old hunter looked confused and had never heard of this name.

“It refers to the five famous and righteous sects, including the Seek Tao Sect and the Suspended Temple, which are the five most powerful sects in the entire continent.”

“I seem to have heard this name before,” the old hunter said uncertainly. He didn’t know where he had heard it, maybe in a teahouse at the foot of the mountain, maybe from travelers who entered the mountain, maybe when he was young, or maybe when he was old.

He couldn’t remember.

In fact, the common people knew very little about the matter of cultivating immortality. They only heard about it as a rare and strange occurrence.

Moreover, the stories passed down by word of mouth were too easily distorted. When they reached the ears of the common people, they were often very different from the true stories and could not be trusted.

For example, Qi Wu had heard that the reason why the Seek Tao Sect was called the Seek Tao Sect was because the path of immortality was vast and seeking the path to heaven was necessary. Cultivating immortality was cultivating the heart, and one needed to constantly ask oneself whether they were pursuing the right path or the demonic path, and not lose their original intention.

Once, Qi Wu met a disciple of the Seek Tao Sect, named Dai Bufan, and asked him why the Seek Tao Sect was called the Seek Tao Sect. He still remembered Dai Bufan’s answer very clearly.

“You’re asking about this? I have to talk about our sect’s founder, the innate Daoist, in order to explain. He spent a lot of money to invite people from the Heavenly Strategies Sect to locate and calculate the position of a feng shui treasure land. In the end, he found a fairyland that gathered feng shui from all directions and said that if the sect wanted to prosper, it needed to establish itself at a specific time and place.”

“However, the founder was not good at directions, even though he had marked the location, he still got lost. He had to ask a farmer on the side of the road for directions before finally finding the sect’s address without wasting any time.”

“To thank the farmer, the founder named the sect the Seek Tao Sect.”

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