After Zheng Luo hurriedly led his men back to the tribe, he summoned all important figures of the tribe for a meeting. He listened to everyone’s opinions then started delegating jobs. They did what they could- arrows, weapons, herbs, food, ropes, leather pouches, clothing etc were all needed. Some of the winter clothing they had were not suitable for fighting in the forest. 

“Also, we have to distribute the weapons I brought back,” said Shao Xuan. 

Everyone in the room was initially deep in thought, thinking about how they would distribute tasks to their subordinates. When they heard Shao Xuan, everyone looked up with anticipation. 

Since these were brought back by Shao Xuan, he had the most say in this decision. After the meeting with Mountain Wind, Shao Xuan had already talked to Zheng Luo about it. 

“As usual, we will distribute them according to capability,” said Shao Xuan. 

The ones in higher positions were, naturally, mostly the ones with better capabilities too. This was undeniable. Everyone was fine with distributing better-quality weapons to them- a weaker fighter might just get his weapon snatched away by his opponent. 

Chief Zheng Luo and Duo Lang, head of the hunting party, were excluded since they had already taken the weapons Gongjia HEng left behind the last time. There were about ten weapons, adding together what was left from last time and this batch. There were limited weapons and not everyone would get one. 

Ever since Gongjia Heng visited last time, the tribe’s warriors had been secretly anticipating this and working extra hard. Zheng Luo knew of this too, he remembered everything that happened during hunts, trades, guarding the salt mines etc. He already had a mental list of who he’d give these weapons to. 

Zheng Luo listed the people on his mental list, everyone was there to witness that this was not a corrupted decision. 

The people he mentioned were the ones who had done the most and were capable. The younger ones included Wu Zhe, Tao Zheng, Zhui and the bunch. The older ones included Zheng Luo’s younger brother, Zheng Cheng-- while some people had opinions on this decision, it was undeniable that he was a powerful fighter. Years ago, when he was up against Zheng Luo for the chief position, he lost because of his temperament. 

Honestly, it was a very fair decision. The shamaness was watching too. Even if Duo Kang wanted to fight for his son, it was useless. Compared to everyone else, Duo Li wasn’t as good. 

That was why Duo Kang privately thought to train Duo Li more in the future. If he didn’t work harder, he wouldn’t get any weapons! 

After the weapon distribution, the meeting adjourned. This was not their first battle so everyone had an idea of what to do. They hurried out of Zheng Luo’s house to their tasks. 

Shao Xuan went to visit the leader of the salt mine guards, Wacha. 

Now that Wacha could get off his bed, he would walk up and down the hill every day. When Shao Xuan arrived at his house, he only saw Susha chopping firewood with a large axe. 

“Wacha? He went down the hill for a walk.” Susha turned the axe in her hand at an angle, then swiftly chopped the wooden blocks into smaller pieces. “He wanted to chop wood this morning but I chased him out to take a walk instead. He hasn’t fully recovered, how could he be chopping wood now? I suggested that he go down the hill and feed ducks... Those birds are called ducks, right? At least he gets to see where the duck eggs he ate came from. It’d be great if we can rear more of these in the future.”

Banned from chopping wood, then chased out of the house to watch the ducks? Shao Xuan could imagine how frustrated Wacha must be. He grinned and thanked Susha, walking down the hill to the duck house. 

Most of the people in the village already knew about the tribe going to take the salt mines back, the general atmosphere was tense and solemn in the tribe. The few families he passed were preparing for war. Some warriors had to sew beast hide clothing and pouches themselves because the people who hadn’t awakened their totemic power could not pierce the sturdy fearsome beast hides with their bone needles. All they could do was sew other pouches using regular leather, braid straw rope etc. 

Shao Xuan saw Wacha at the duck house talking to the person in charge. 

When the keeper saw Shao Xuan, he hurried over to report what happened during the past few days. In general, it was the same as before. However, the ducks were less active during the day now and often stayed inside the duck house. The green duck was the same, most of the time brooding its eggs in its house. Those eggs were taking a long time to hatch too, so far nothing happened. 

“Oh, right!” The keeper slapped his forehead, almost forgetting something. “Elder, you said to bring all the ducks who are still laying eggs into another pen. I realised there wasn’t just one!” 

The keeper said Bai Guo finding an egg wasn’t a one-time incident, for the patrol team found more. Although there were just three, it was good news. 

“These ducks laid eggs but did not brood them. The patrol team brought the eggs back with the ducks. Here, the two ducks with grass-dyed necks were the ones who laid the eggs. But we can’t match the eggs to the ducks though.”

“It’s fine, just continue separating them. If we care for them well, they might even lay more eggs during winter. But their eggs might not have the same properties.” 

“Is it?” The keeper was a little disappointed. But it was better than no eggs. “When ducklings mature and lay eggs, would that work?”

“I think so.” 

“Heh!” The keeper rubbed his palms, excited. 

Since Shao Xuan was looking for Wacha, the keeper left to check on other pens. Shao Xuan and Wacha sat on two wooden blocks and Shao Xuan told him why he was here. 

“Salt mines?” Wacha understood when he remembered Shao Xuan had never been to the mines so he told him its history. 

Shao Xuan was not familiar with the salt mines here. In the past, there were salt ponds around his tribe and since Flaming Horn was in an isolated region, no one fought over it. Then, when they moved, they also found a salt lake. Although it was a little far away, there were also no tribes there. Other than Flaming Horn, no tribe was willing to live within a forest filled with dangerous beasts.

On this side, this was his first time witnessing conflict over salt mines. 

Most of the salt in the tribe had already been processed. The ones he had were already ground and put in little ceramic containers. Due to his special position in the tribe, he never worried about his salt supply. 

However, with the agreement between the three tribes, war was imminent. Before that, he wanted to know more about salt. 

He had been in and out of the tribe, every time leaving for a long time. He hadn’t truly understood life on this side, he didn’t have the time to ask about it either. As he listened to Wacha’s stories, he felt like the saltiness of the salt obtained from the mines came from blood.