“King City?” Shao Xuan didn’t expect such a coincidence, that the Black Bear group was also heading to King City. They could consider going with them. This would save them the trouble of asking for directions and it was safer. It was worth it even if they had to give them something in return.
However, they had to first discuss business.
“Your leader is not here?” asked Shao Xuan.
“Boss has left a while ago, we’re waiting for a batch of goods here to bring along. It’s good you’re here,” said the man. The Flaming Horn goods were of good quality. They had made a lot from re-selling their animal skins. They even distributed the remaining hides among themselves. It was cozy that winter.
However, compared to the animal hide, they were more interested in the glowing rocks.
They brought Shao xuan inside and sat on stone stools. They did not have wooden stools because they were not very sturdy to these people.
“I’m Maoda. Boss isn’t here so all trades in Anba City is under my charge. What good stuff did you all bring today? Do you have any of the glowing rocks?” Maoda asked excitedly, rubbing his palms.
“We don’t have many of the glowing rocks. The river’s dangerous this half of the year, not safe,” said Shao Xuan, telling the half-truth. The river in the hunting zone had not dried up yet. While there were a lot fewer crocodiles, there were still a few. They would wait until the river dried up completely to fish for rocks again.
However, before he came, Shao Xuan made a few water sun stones to bring along. Things were more valuable when they were rare. They shouldn’t bring too many at once.
When he heard this, Maoda smiled so hard his eyes were squeezed together. He slapped his large palm on his thigh. “That’s good! Where are the goods?”
“We didn't bring it into the city,” said Shao xuan. It wasn’t because they didn’t trust the Black Bears, they just brought too much stuff this time. If another fight with the Anba people happened, they’d suffer losses. The Flaming Horn people did not want to damage most of their goods just because of a few scuffles.
Thinking back to what happened last year, Maoda understood. “You did the right thing. A few days ago when I went to the free trade zone, I saw Anping with his men walking around there. You remember An Ping, right? The guy who gave you the broken cauldron.”
“Yeah, I remember.” Shao Xuan listened, knowing there was going to be a story.
“There was a story behind that cauldron An Ping gave away. For some reason, that cauldron had its defects but to the An nobles, it was still good enough as a gift. However, An Ping was idiotic enough to offer this cauldron up in front of a large crowd. When he went back, they chopped off one of his arms. He remembers and blames you for what happened. That is why, if you all enter the city, you all have to be careful. Don’t let him touch you,” said Maoda.
“Wasn’t the person who made the decision to give the cauldron An Yan?” asked Shao Xuan.
Maoda frowned and said with contempt, “He gets away with having a scapegoat. But I think you all are impressive, An Yan suffered major losses. I heard out of all the men he sent after you, very few returned.”
After explaining the general situation at Anba City, Maoda and his men, plus Shao Xuan, left the city to a forest nearby.
Maoda and his group often came and went so the guards were used to them. That was why when they saw Maoda leave with Shao Xuan, they did not mind that they did not know Shao Xuan.
Not long after leaving Anba City, Maoda met the Taihe tribe which had come with Flaming Horn. Since he had traded with many tribes with Black Bear, he knew Duo Kang and the rest.
After scrutinising the goods, Maoda negotiated the prices with the two leaders involving food, golden wares or other goods. After the negotiation, since the stuff they brought wasn’t enough, Maoda sent his men to return to the city to bring more stuff out.
Maoda thought highly of their goods, plus Duo Kang and the rest did not have any objections to the price offered by Maoda. Both sides were very satisfied so the trade was over very quickly. Compared to the previous experiences of having to stay in the city for a few days and guard their own stuff against thieves and robbers, then even paying a venue fee, this was good.
This was a first for the Taihe people too. Although they had to admit it was all thanks to the Flaming Horn, and they felt embarrassed, it was still a joyous affair in general.
“Since we have finished the trade, we still look for a place to rest for two days before returning. Anyone who still wants to trade can go as a group. We don’t all have to go, we’ll be too large of a target,” said the Taihe people to Duo Kang.
“Yeah, that’s fine.” Duo Kang looked at Shao Xuan. “When do you plan to leave? Bring more people with you.”
Duo Kang was the leader so he couldn’t leave his team- but his members could.
“I plan to enter the city with the Black Bear’s group. They’re going to King City the day after tomorrow too.” Shao Xuan had already mentioned this to Maoda and he had agreed.
However, he could not bring too many people with him if he wanted to tag along.
“Then we can’t bring too many. I’ll let Guang Yi go with you. It’s good to have a partner. Although he can’t recognise faces, he is still an experienced man.” Guang Yi was very sensitive to dangers and threats. Duo Kang felt more secure with Guang Yi following Shao Xuan.
He thought for a moment and nodded. “Alright.”
Two days later.
Duo Kang brought his trading team with the Taihe tribe back, while Shao Xuan and Guang Yi headed to the pre-agreed spot to meet Maoda and his men.
Soon, a group of about a hundred left the city. Everyone in the team was muscular, when they walked together they were a sight to behold.
At the same time, these hundred people were all carrying a huge bundle or a wooden box. Other people started to have thoughts about robbing them but once they heard it was the Black Bears, they gave up. These were not people they wanted to anger.
“You all carry your stuff like that to King City?” Shao Xuan looked at the bundle Maoda carried.
Maoda smiled and gestured for Shao Xuan and Guang Yi to follow.
Guang Yi followed quietly. He couldn’t distinguish them at all, they all looked like bears to him. However, their auras were a little different so Guang Yi attempted to differentiate them by their postures.
They walked for almost half an hour after leaving Anba City until they reached the foot of a hill. The hill was not tall nor steep. There were obvious signs of human activity too. There was a path and there were buildings near the peak.
Maoda took out a horn and blew it.
Not long after, Shao Xuan sensed that something was coming down the hill. Looking up, several large silhouettes ran down. Next two these large shapes were humans running quickly.
“They’re… bears?” asked SHoa Xuan in shock.
“Not bad!” Maoda’s eyes glinted in delight. Not every trading party could get large animals like these to help them carry their things. Other groups mostly had herbivorous animals, unlike theirs. They had bears!
“Your people wear bear fur, and even use bears as pack animals? Won’t they get mad?” asked Shao Xuan in surprise.
Maoda and the rest all looked at Shao Xuan as if to say ‘you haven’t seen the world’. “It’s the reverse. They are only friendly when we wear fur. Plus, the better quality our fur is, the more cooperative they are.”
As he spoke, the large beasts bounding down the mountain had arrived.
There were seven bears in total. If they stood on their hind legs, each of them would exceed ten meters tall. Their fur was dark brown and perhaps due to good care, it was shiny. One could see their fur reflecting light as they ran under the sun.
The seven bears were supposed to stop but they’d suddenly smelled the scent of strangers. This caused them great discomfort.
One bear roared and sped up again, hurtling towards Shao Xuan. Every step made by its thick paws caused the ground to shake.
Maoda’s brows furrowed. “Go away!” They weren’t carrying anything so it was not worth the effort to pull them back. It would be best for them to go crazy for a while and they’d calm down later.
When he turned around, Maoda realised Shao Xuan was still standing there and shouted, “Go hide! You want to die?!”
The bear had already arrived, every step shaking the ground. With an angry roar, even the trees around shook with fear.
Shao Xuan looked at the bear that was quickly approaching, lifted a foot, and stepped unto the ground.
With this one step, a strong burst of energy exploded from beneath his foot as if he intended to shake everything into powder. The deep rumble extended deep underground, then rose up once again. All the pebbles around flew with the vibrations, dust flew in clouds and countless cracks appeared on the ground.
With that step, totemic power rose in Shao Xuan’s body instantly, though he retracted them immediately. Before everyone could see the patterns clearly, they realised the patterns had faded as if nothing had happened.
The huge bear stopped abruptly five meters ahead of Shoa Xuan, digging up chunks of soil due to its abrupt stop. There were cracks under its paws.
Shao Xuan stood his ground and stared at the bear silently. The powerful bear shuddered and turned around, roaring in another direction like a person who hurriedly changed the topic when the conversation had hit an awkward silence.
Maoda and the rest were speechless. ‘You want to die?’ was a question that seemed to echo in the air.
Guang Yi was picking his teeth with a twig. These were just bears raised by humans, so what? I’ve killed bears way bigger than these!