Duo Kang looked at Shao Xuan. Seeing Shao Xuan nod, they took inventory.
Shao Xuan also took out five stone crystals. “We’re fine with the price, so these are yours now.”
An Yan smiled, feeling the anxious atmosphere also dissipating.
He had his people take the crystals, then An Yan had them stand the cauldron upright again and drag it over. “I’ll give this to you to compensate for what my people did.”
Although the casting of the cauldron failed, it was still made of bronze after all. If it was not possible to make weapons, you could make other things with it. Even Black Bear felt that this was a good compensation.
Duo Kang also thought that this was good enough, however, he still turned to look at Shao Xuan for his decision. Young people these days are full of pride. Sometimes, in order to keep their pride in a fight, they’d refuse to get any benefits.
However, that’s not the case with Shao Xuan. He smiled, not refusing the gift. “Thank you.”
The transaction between the two parties was completed. An Yan took his people away and the trading area returned to its former state again. Just those who thought about taking advantage of the chaos were quite disappointed. Unexpectedly, a fight did not happen.
The people of the Flaming Horns tribe packed their things and left in the midst of chattering of those around them. The people of the Taihe tribe also left, which was according to what they had already arranged.
Not far away, Black Bear’s people were just looking at the Flaming Horn people as they left. Someone lifted his thick finger and pointed to the leaving tribe. “Noss, do we follow them?”
“Of course! I don’t believe that’s all there is to them.” Black Bear grinned.
The people with Flaming Horns and Taihe tribe skillfully left Anba City. They arranged a set of scouts ahead, then quickly left along the road they had come from.
Originally, Duo Kang was planning to go the other way. This was their practice every time. There’s a road for going and a road for returning to be safer. However, Shao Xuan proposed that they take a section along the original road first, then change later. Anyway, the two roads were not far apart in the front, so changing the path later didn’t have much difference in time. There was not much obstruction around this stretch of road. They also had scouts.
The people of Taihe tribe initially objected to Shao Xuan’s decision, but they accepted when they knew that they would still change course. After a thought, they reluctantly accepted it, but deep inside, they did not agree.
That big cauldron they received has been wrapped in grey cloth. That way, it was not so conspicuous, and with the Flaming Horn tribe’s strength, carrying it was not so laborious. Sometimes, they just had to take turns carrying to not slow the procession down.
Going back on the same road should be much more dangerous. They could get robbed a lot. Since many had seen the Flaming Horns tribe had a lot of good stuff earlier, they wouldn’t hesitate to set up a heist on several parts of the road. This time, all the people in the team did not keep their guards down or they could be the ones killed.
There was a sudden noise.
Were these people going to rob them?
Vigilance in the hearts of the men rose.
But Shao Xuan only smiled when he saw the approaching figure.
“We’re finally here.” Shao Xuan said.
“You know we’re coming?” Black Bear asked in doubt.
“Just a guess.” Shao Xuan didn’t say much. He only sensed the intentions of the Black Bear when they left, then he based his actions on what others had to say about Black Bear’s personality. Therefore, he had everyone go along the original road first. The danger of doing this was not too high. If this journey was not fruitful, they’d just change the way.
Black Bear’s thick eyebrows rose, then he laughed loudly. “You Flaming Horn tribe are very interesting!” If someone could guess that he’d followed, surely he could have also guessed how the other would act. The people of the Flaming Horn tribe were smarter than he thought.
Seeing that it was Black Bear, the guards of the others also lowered. Duo Kang stepped forward and asked, “Do you still want to trade with us?”
When they hurried away, there was still some stuff they had on hand that hadn’t been sold. There’s even more left on the Taihe tribe. They also looked forward to Black Bear trading with them.
“Yes,” said Black Bear with his rugged voice, “I know you still have that glowing crystal with you. How about I trade with you at the same price as An Yan?”
Seeing Shao Xuan nod, Duo Kang was delighted. They listened to Black Bear’s demands and soon the rest of the goods in their hands were bought off. Duo Kang has wrinkles in his eyes from smiling too much. The Taihe tribe on the other side also couldn’t keep their smiles hidden, and they thanked Shao Xuan for his decision. After the goods in their hands were sold out, they were more relaxed.
As his men finished the deal, Black Bear asked Shao Xuan how to use this luminous crystal. When Shao Xuan finished explaining, Black Bear removed the thick hat he was wearing and took out an engraved stone with a bear pattern. He handed it to Shao Xuan. “If you have such goods again, you can directly visit us. We also trade animal skins and other goods. And of course, your stone carving. If I can choose, I prefer any bear from the giant bear class, but I’ll still be open to trade if there’s no giant bears.”
Black Bear also told them of a place in Anba City. If they brought that token he gave, even if Black Bear was not in the city, they could still trade as usual. The Flaming Horns tribe didn’t have to worry about chaos in the free trading area.
The people of the Taihe tribe were surprised. Black Bear’s reputation was really good, but he did not often have fixed collaborators. They had the power to trade everywhere, so they didn’t have to be afraid of the Anba City people. Even if they were enemies of Anba, they were also trading with others. The little friction the Flaming Horns tribe had was nothing to them. However, the people of the Taihe tribe were still very surprised. Black Bear unexpectedly looked for the Flaming Horns tribe to cooperate. Was that stone crystal of the tribe really that interesting?
After the deal was completed, Black Bear added, “Don’t trust the people of Anba, especially when they make the ‘rules’. They think they can make the ‘rules’ just because you’re in their territory.
Anba City didn’t have fixed rules. Before, the Flaming Horn tribe who came to Anba City for trading were not conspicuous. They did not have many items of value- but this time was different. The Flaming Horns tribe not only fought with an Anba young master, they also had something of real value.
“Thank you for telling me,” Shao Xuan replied.
“You don’t have to trust me too though.” Black Bear glanced at a large wooden box beside Shao Xuan, “Can I know what’s in it?” Just now, when he saw Shao Xuan move the box, he heard a little noise. It was not the sound of metal, but more like the sound of rocks colliding? Do they have anything good that hasn't been taken out yet?
As a businessman, sometimes, he was curious- otherwise, how could he smell business opportunities?
“Those are not up for trading.” Shao Xuan refused.
With this, Black Bear’s curiosity grew even more, grilling Shao Xuan for a while. After promising some other benefits and taking out some small bronze items as a gift, Shao Xuan finally opened the box. When he saw what’s inside, Black Bear had an awkward look, then let out a rare burst of laughter. He was in a good mood as he ordered his men to leave.
The Taihe tribe people on the other side did not see what Shao Xuan showed in that box because of the angle they were at. Naturally, after seeing the trade with the crystals they were curious what the other items were. What the hell was it?
Despite the Taihe tribe’s curious eyes, Shao Xuan packed his things up and intended to leave again, waiting for the rest to get ready. It was time to change their course, too. They had gained a partner in Black Bear, so the Flaming Horn tribe didn’t have to worry of being rejected by Anba City for a trade.
As soon as he had taken two steps though, Shao Xuan stopped again. He saw the wrapped cloth on the cauldron was torn, so Duo Kang used another cloth to cover it.
Although this was a failed construction, the material used was good. It was still very smooth, with great thickness, and there were engraved decorations and words on it that made it feel ancient and mysterious.
At that time, when An Yan put forward the cauldron as a giveaway to the Flaming Horn tribe as an atonement, the others felt that it was because the cauldron was made of bronze. It could be re-cast into other artifacts or exchanged for more benefits, so the Flaming Horns tribe accepted this giveaway. However, that was not the reason why Shao Xuan agreed to accept this thing. The main reason was that he was interested in the engraved decorations and words on it.
The great six cities had these cauldrons as part of a ritual. It symbolized power, whether it was a major celebration or a reward for the people. A lot of times, they would record something more special on the cauldron, representing a different meaning. That’s what Shao Xuan was interested in.
It’s true that most of the people here know the words, but their degree of understanding was very limited. They were familiar with the commonly used words from trading but, for the more complex, they knew less. Some of the more distant minimalist but esoteric phrases, like what the tribe used in their records were more obscure. It was even more confusing to the tribesmen so not many cared about it anymore.
Many people cast their own weapons, and would never add words on it. At most, they’d add their own tribe totem or name and nothing else. They felt it was too troublesome, unlike the fastidious six great cities. They’d not only add words but also paint a lot of other stuff, which to others were just redundant patterns.
Just like this cauldron. Although everyone knew there were words on it, they just felt it was a decoration. They did not understand what they meant so they paid it no mind.
After the cauldron was wrapped again, Shao Xuan looked up.
“Let’s change course.” Duo Kang ordered the others who were still resting to pack up. The procession set off again.
On the other hand, Black Bear led his people away, so did the people who had planned to rob them. It was all settled in a leisurely way.
“Boss, what the hell did you see in that kid’s box in the Flaming Horns tribe?” A man in Black Bear’s line asked as he pulled a leaf from the tree next to him. He used it to wipe the big blood-stained sword on his hand.
“Something interesting,” Black Bear just replied.
“What made you laugh like that?” The rest were also puzzled.
“What do you think? How many of the people An Yan sent out would come back?” Black Bear asked instead.
They had a wide distribution of manpower in Anba City. They naturally knew the movement of An Yan on the other side. One shouldn’t trust the front An Yan showed in person when he said he’d follow the rules from his own mouth. He was actually a cruel man.
As soon as the Flaming Horns tribe departed, he sent out people to hunt them down. However, he also knew that the tribe decided to go back using another road, so he sent people that way too. He just never thought that the Flaming Horns tribe would use the first road first but they’d certainly encounter each other at some point.
Speaking of which, whichever road was not safe. One road had other tribes setting up ambush attacks while the other had An Yan’s men. If it had been earlier, Black Bear might have sympathized with the Flaming Horns tribe, but now, Black Bear felt that the bad luck would be on the other parties.
The rest of his team was still discussing Black Bear’s words. Seeing Black Bear’s gloating smirk, one couldn’t help but ask, “Boss, how many do you think the men who Anba City sent would come back? Even if they fail, at least half of them should be left, right?”
“Half? I’d say at most one or two.”
“How could that be?!” The others didn’t believe it. “Was there a trap? That’s not likely to happen.”
It wasn’t that they looked down on the people of the Flaming Horns tribe, but they knew that most of the tribe’s people still treasured their weapons. Even if they had set up traps, they’d choose wooden ropes and such, not metals because they’d be reluctant to use it. The lethality of wood was, of course, much smaller than that of metal wares. As for bone tools, it was extremely restrictive and inconvenient to use. Therefore, in the making of traps, many tribesmen might not be able to compare the six great cities. Not everyone was as generous as the slave owners of the six cities.
“There is not only wood and metal in this world.” Black Bear lamented.
Stone tools. This could be considered as almost extinct and only heard in historical records. However, he saw that the Flaming Horn tribe was faring well with it. From the stone tools he saw, he knew the maker of these tools was experienced in using them too- like a spider perched in a hidden corner, pulling out its first silk and already able to visualise the web it was about to weave.