After splitting up with Ji Ju, Shao Xuan continued his journey. Now that he knew the Flaming Horn tribe actually existed, he had a sense of purpose, he didn’t feel as lost as he did before. Even if the Flaming Horn tribe was far from where he was, it was a simple task to him.
Without Ji Ju, Shao Xuan was much quicker in his journey. He collected some herbs to make medicine, he even prepared some antidotes. He learned all these from Ji Ju.
When he came across some good quality stones, he made them into back up weapons. This was the advantage of using stones, no smelting was required to turn them into tools. He even carved a large wok to use for boiling the herbs. He left two ‘ears’ at the side of the wok so that when he could carry the wok around with two strings looped through the ears.
This dry mountainous terrain was rather large, it took Shao Xuan four days to finally see some patches of grass. After the mountains, the terrain was quite flat. At a glance, he could see the wide grass field. He was unsure whether it was bad timing or this place didn’t rain much, even though the ground was covered with grass, the ground was slightly dry.
A group of trees bundled together or a lone tree in the middle of the grass field were a common sight in the area. A creek where some unknown species of trees lined both banks.
Compared to the grass field before, there were more types of trees here. There were also so many types of other plants Shao Xuan couldn’t recognise even though Ji Ju had shown him so many. Shao Xuan didn’t have the insight for poisonous plants like Ji Ju had so he was careful when picking herbs. A normal looking grass field could be hidden with plenty of silent killers, sometimes an inconspicuous plant could take one’s life.
Shao Xuan spotted a herd of oxen, they were grazing lazily on the field. Even the strongest of warriors would think twice to attack them as they were not as weak as they seem, especially those larger ones protecting the herd. They had a pair of black horns ready to charge into any intruders.
As they spotted Shao Xuan, a few oxen on the outskirts of the circle kicked the ground. The strong hooves left a hoof-shaped dent in the ground.
It was them giving Shao Xuan a warning.
Hidden behind the bushes, a lion-like predator unwillingly pulled its gaze from the herd. It laid its eyes on Shao Xuan, making eye contact with him. A chill went down its spine, its instinct telling it to avoid this relatively small human. Alas, it decided to continue watching the herd, waiting for an opportunity to strike.
Shao Xuan gave the large cat a chance to hunt. He first threw some herbs with a stinging smell to disrupt the herd then went in for the kill. He managed to get one ox and quickly carried it away. Without missing a beat, the big cat went in for one too.
After he ate some roasted beef, Shao Xuan took his wok to the creek to fill it with water. He placed some Thousand Grain Gold that was gifted from Ju Ji in the pot. The grains didn’t have much chance of growing as it was eaten by mice so Ju Ji recommended Shao Xuan to eat it instead.
Shao Xuan didn’t mind that the grain was eaten by mice, he took off the shells and tossed the grain into the wok. Compared to the water in the wok, the grains were few but the water turned into a murky yellow when it was boiled. It had a faint fragrance which Shao Xuan enjoyed especially after eating so much meat just now.
The texture of the cooked grains was soft and chewy. After drinking the soup, Shao Xuan felt as satisfied as he could be. No wonder Ju Ji didn’t like beast meat, the grain was much better than meat.
Even though the grain was good for the body, Shao Xuan couldn’t have more, he only had a thousand grains with him. A thousand of them seemed like a lot but in actuality, it was very little. He wasn’t joking when he said he wanted to plant some of the grains before because if he succeeded, he could bring some back to the other side of the sea and change the lives of those in the tribe.
After resting, Shao Xuan packed his belongings and continued his journey.
The grass field was hilly. One could see small hills and some ant hills on the great plains.
It was seven days after Shao Xuan walked into the fields.
Under the clear blue sky, a few riders rode on their horses as those magnificent beasts galloped on the fields. They stirred up dust as they passed, bringing forth an intimidating aura with them.
The riders wore a mixture of fur and cloth as clothes. The men and women had long hair weaved into a few small braids, their faces painted with different colours.
Shao Xuan held two roasted beef legs in his arms, carrying a large wok on his back as he leisurely walked through the field. Compared to the rush and tension of the riders, Shao Xuan seemed extra relaxed which made it hard to ignore for the riders.
The young man leading the group stopped when he got close to Shao Xuan. The people behind him followed his lead and focused their attention on Shao Xuan. Two of the riders grabbed the dagger hung on their belts while another’s hand lingered over the sword hung on the horse he was riding.
The leader did a quick scan of Shao Xuan. His gaze became more alerted but he loosened up his expression with a warm smile to ask Shao Xuan where he came from.
Copying the leader’s actions, the others mimicked his expression. Even those that were grabbing or reaching for their weapons stopped what they were doing immediately, eyeing the special necklace on Shao Xuan’s neck and smiled at Shao Xuan.
The special ‘necklace’ Shao Xuan was wearing was made from the wild ox’s horns and other teeth and claws he had caught in the past. To them, if this person could kill the field beast and leisurely walk around with so many heavy items on him it was worth being careful while approaching him.
The only reason this group of riders were friendly while talking to Shao Xuan was that they knew he wasn’t to be messed with. Those they couldn’t bully they would make friends with, the weaker ones never had the same fate. They would snatch what they could and kill them. Survival of the fittest was the rule in this ancient world and it was the very reason Shao Xuan made that extravagant necklace from his previous hunts.
In the conversation, Shao Xuan didn’t directly say where he was from. He only mentioned that he was going back after training and he had lost his way. He asked them questions about the terrain to gain a clearer picture and gave them a cow leg in exchange for their help.
The group’s tribe was near this area so they knew the surroundings quite well. After accepting the gift, they guided Shao Xuan to his tribe where he said was deep in the mountains as they had nothing better to do. They lent him a horse and started their journey. They had never gone further than this. Before this, they limited their movements to the fields nearby but they were told by their elders that they would be brought to the mountains once they were better warriors so they did have some knowledge on the mountain terrain.
“Continue straight, after passing through these few mountains, you should be able to see it,” said the young leader.
They could only lead the way until this area, it was dangerous for them to continue on. Looking at Shao Xuan that was around their age walking around these dangerous plains without any worries, some of them felt a sense of jealousy.
“Thanks.” Shao Xuan said as he got off his horse, preparing to continue his journey on foot.
Passing through the fields and mountains, he finally saw the view he was looking for.
Standing atop the tall mountain, looking at the luscious green that spreaded out, he took a deep breath of the moist air. He pushed his stone wok to his back and went down the hill.