Chapter 98: Seed of Doubt

The morning was slow in the small town. Some caravans and travelers passed through, but none of them stopped. It was clear that all of them wished to travel without rest until evening. 

Xue Wei was not in a rush. He ordered a few more dishes, paid with the small amounts of money that he had, and then slowly ate it. The food tasted great. For a long time, Xue Wei had been on the run and lived off whatever he had been able to acquire in the forests and on the ground. He had not even been able to eat meat as the beasts had avoided him like the plague. 

This had caused Xue Wei to starve. He had been eating root vegetables and other plants. He had eaten berries and fruits. Fortunately, it was in the middle of summer, so the wild was filled with these plants. 

Xue Wei was now eating meat for the first time in around a month. This was something he wished to savor, and he enjoyed eating it slowly without hurrying. Although he was on the run, he felt like a new person.

He was silent while eating, but his mind was filled with thoughts of what he wanted to do, his eyes set with determination. The food kept invigorating him the more he ate. 

Although he was a wanted person, he stopped paying attention to anything and allowed for his mind to wander. Suddenly a light shone in his eyes. He started to feel that he had never felt this much alive before. He was right on the edge of life and death with every move he made. 

Deep in thought, the day turned to evening. More and more people filled up the inn, and many came from caravans that were transporting goods. Some were travelers traveling on their own, while the rest were mercenaries that were in smaller groups on their way to the dangerous regions to earn some money. 

These people loved gossiping, and many of them started talking with people from other groups in the hope of finding more information.

"Have you heard about the hunting squad that the royal family has sent after the criminal?" someone suddenly asked, but the others scoffed at him. "Even the animals know about that. What about it?" 

"Well, we met the hunting squad!" the person who had spoken chortled, clearly very pleased with himself. "The hunting squad is specifically picked by His Highness the King to hunt down the criminal. As you know, most information about them has been quite lacking, but if someone offers to buy me some wine, I will gladly tell you all I know!"

Xue Wei was about to jump in and offer him some wine when he realized that it would seem strange to do that. He forced himself to calm down and instead prayed that someone else would step in. 

Fortunately for Xue Wei, everyone was eager to hear these rumors. After a moment, three cups of wine had been placed in front of the loud-mouthed caravan guard. 

"Well, how to begin," the man took a deep gulp of the cup of wine and looked around with glistening eyes, clearly eager to tell what he knew. 

"The king himself found a hundred experts and asked them all to hunt down the criminal. These experts are eighty Sky Warriors and twenty Earth Warriors."

"The captain is a Sky Warrior of the ninth layer. He is not to be underestimated."

"We met them around two weeks ago. They were heading the same way as us in the beginning, so we traveled together, but suddenly they changed their direction." 

"They tried to locate the criminal in every village and city we went through, but no one had seen him. I guess they assumed that he had stayed away from the main roads, and traveled in the wilderness all the way." 

"The captain is very well-known in the army; his name is Captain Yuan Chao. I got to know a little from him," the man continued to speak, and more and more cups of wine appeared on his table, all of the people wishing to hear him speak more. Even the inn itself offered a cup of wine on the house. 

Xue Wei listened intently as well. He could not help but grimace underneath the bamboo hat. He was being chased by eighty Sky Warriors, and the leader was a ninth layer Sky Warrior? Wasn't that almost the same as sending a Heavenly Warrior after him?

At least from what he had understood, no one had been able to find his trail and follow him. Xue Wei understood on the other hand that this could also prove to be a dangerous thing for him. If they could not find him, then they would split up and go to the places he was likely to visit. 

There were only a few places he could go to, one of them being back to Tiankong City to seek shelter under Manager Su. Another would be the center of the continent and seek out Prophet Lan, while the final location would be Lingyun Town. 

These pursuers were not slow, and since this Yuan Chao was famous in the army, he could not be dumb either, so Xue Wei instantly assumed that when they suddenly broke up from the caravan, they had either split up into three groups, one heading for each location, or they had decided to gamble on one of them and left the other two up to fate. 

The man paused slightly. "We don't know more than that," he sighed. He was slightly tipsy from all the wine he had received, but he was also cheerful from having shared such delicious gossip with others.

"I heard that he stole the Lightning Sparrow from one of the most esteemed Primordial Beast Hunters in the country," someone muttered, and the others looked at him with perplexion. This was old news, so for him to say it, he had to have something else to follow up with they thought. "We are poor people," he continued, "so for us to get a Fierce Beast as a companion is probably impossible, but imagine those who have spent a fortune on a Fierce Beast, only to see it revolt against them." 

"Also, has it not struck you that the only ones being able to control a Fierce Beast are the Diviners, but this kid could still do it."

"What is he?" he then asked, and the others were quiet as they too mused on the same question.

"Even a Primordial Beast cannot remove the bond between a tamed beast and its owner without direct intervention, but this child was able to do exactly that." 

"At the same time, I got some gossip from Tiankong City about where he used to live. A Diviner took an interest in him around two years ago, and this Diviner had taken him aside for a talk. If he was truly a Primordial Beast, do you not think that the Diviner would have noticed it? Their entire lives practically revolve around those, and to let go of one so young would be the greatest shame of their lives."

"This leaves me incapable of comprehending. Who is he? The Ice Harpy made an appearance and called him ‘brother’. The Diviners do not think him beastly. The kingdom is on the other hand trying to capture him. Us commoners are unaware of whether he is human or beast. But there has to be some connection between them."

Everyone in the inn was quiet as they contemplated. Some had deep furrows in their brows, while others were slightly confused. 

Finally, someone sighed. "I don't care," the person said after a bit. "In the start, everyone thought it was a way to try and turn Xiao Lei into the public enemy, but now everyone is convinced that he has conspired with the beasts."

"As to what he is, I would say he is a human. The Ice Harpy is strong; I bet she has just used her powers and made it look as if he did it all. As to why he is so valuable for the beasts, I am sure it has to do with his connection to Primordial Beast Hunter Xiao Lei."

Someone else seemed to disagree. "I don't think so. If he were valuable because of his connection to Xiao Lei, then he would have lost all importance the moment that he was exposed," he pointed out. 

Some nodded their heads, others frowned. Right now, the kind of rumors being spread were few, most of them being speculations as to what Xue Wei could be, and these speculations stumped him.

Him, a beast? Some people truly thought so. But what they said rung true in his heart. What was he? Everywhere he went, the beasts would hide and cower as if they feared to disturb him. He had somehow managed to help the Lightning Sparrow break the bonds it was caught under. 

The Ice Harpy knew a great deal about him and seemed to value his pure yang blood for some reason. There were many things that did not make much sense even to Xue Wei, the one in the middle of everything. 

Pondering about it, Xue Wei stood up from his seat and went to the room he had rented. He took a quick bath before he sat out on his journey once more. 

When he had stood up in the inn, no one had been shocked by his presence. Everyone had been in the army before and had at least some sort of cultivation base. They could all vaguely sense Xue Wei’s strength, but no one asked about his purpose there. When he left after the discussion began to go off-topic, they all thought that he was not interested in such a subject and decided to leave.

Xue Wei, on the other hand, had been shocked by the questions they had raised about his heritage. 

While thinking about this, Xue Wei's thoughts were muddled. "Who am I?" he muttered to himself as he left the small town. "I know nothing about my heritage. I only know what Uncle told me. Where am I from? What happened to me? Why did my memories vanish?"

Xue Wei was filled with questions. For the first time in his life, he started to question the authenticity of what Xiao Lei had told him. 

He did not for a moment doubt that Xiao Lei loved him and cared deeply for him, but how much of what he had told Xue Wei was the truth? Had he lied about some things to hide the truth from him? 

Xue Wei suddenly remembered how Xiao Lei would always avoid certain topics. He would do anything to protect him from harm. He would be unwilling to tell Xue Wei about his previous life, always saying things like, "I don't know, I did not live with you back then," or, "there is no need to try and force yourself to remember, just be happy with how life is now."

The more Xue Wei thought about it, the more unsure he became. It was so bad that Xue Wei did not even look at where he was going, completely absorbed in his thoughts. Fortunately, it was in the middle of the night, and there was no one on the road. 

He had gotten a few kilometers away from the town when he stood still in the middle of nowhere. He calmed himself and took a few deep breaths.

"Uncle is a good man," he assured himself. "Everything that he has kept from me is for my own sake," he continued. "If he is going to lie to me, then he has a good reason to do so. I will look for him when i finish my visit to Lingyun town." Xue Wei finally made a decision as to what exactly he wished to do with his life while aiming to become strong enough to gain vengeance for himself and Tie Haolong.

"When I know the truth from Uncle, then I can plan things accordingly." Xue Wei felt relieved after reaching a conclusion. Even now, when someone had sown a seed of doubt in his mind, he ended up trusting his uncle unconditionally. 

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