When he heard Shao Xuan, Zheng Luo exploded once again, moving quicker.
They were powerful and cruel. In terms of both aura and physical strength, they were far stronger than their opponents.
The Fox and Shen tribe did not send more men over here. The initial four hundred people in the cave were quickly dealt with. Some died, some ran. With the weakening morale and panic, this battle would not last long.
IN reality, only five minutes had passed since Zheng Luo first charged over here.
Five minutes was not even enough to barbeque meat. Usually, people did not care for five minutes. Yet, here, time seemed to stretch.
The temperature fell quickly and wind billowed together with snow. The sound of snow hitting the ground could be heard everywhere. The initial gentle falling of snowflakes had become this in such a short period of time.
Blood on the ground froze quickly, then was covered with a new layer of snow.
The red blood and salt were covered at a speed identifiable by the eye. All colour disappeared instantly.
Looking far ahead, there was just a patch of white.
Some warriors wanted to chase after the Fox tribesmen who ran out but they were held back.
“Don’t chase! Quickly move the rocks in the cave!” Shao Xuan yelled after the people who were pumped with adrenaline.
“Move the rocks!” yelled Zheng Luo.
The warriors, eyes bloodshot, panted. Out of habit, they shook their weapons to shake off the blood. However, they realised the fresh blood had solidified on their axes and knives.
Ignoring the blood, other than the medics taking care of the injured, the rest were instructed to carry the rocks at the mouth of the cave.
Thank goodness they were early. Other than the parts near the mouth of the cave, the insides were fine.
The warriors lifted the pile of rocks and tossed them out. Soon, as more came over to help, all the rocks blocking the mouth of the cave were cleaned out. Other than the large boulder usually used to block the entrance, the rest were removed.
Zheng Luo first brought a team inside to make sure there were no traps or threats inside. After a check, he let everyone bring the injured and the dead inside. These dead warriors would be brought back to the tribe to be cremated after this. This was their tradition.
Although there were deaths and injuries, it was a low number. They had the advantage.
After his people settled, Zheng Luo looked out of the cave.
The dense snow blocked his view.
“Duo Kang, you stay here. I’ll check the outside with a few people.” Zheng Luo found a few people to go with him.
With the blizzard outside, they did not know how the Taihe and Mountain Wind people were doing.
Luckily they listened to Shao Xuan and quickened their pace. They didn’t even rest at night.
As he thought, Duo Kang surveyed the area and wanted to talk to Shao Xuan. However, he didn’t see him.
“Where’s Elder?” Duo Kang asked the warriors next to him.
The warrior pointed at the cave. “Inside, I think.”
Shao Xuan helped treat the injured as he carried a lot of herbs and Thousand Grain Gold with him.
Wacha and the salt mine guards travelled into the deeper parts of the cave, then returned with a ceramic cauldron. They also lit some firewood stored inside, collected clean snow, and cooked a pot of soup with the grains everyone brought.
Shao Xuan put a small handful of Thousand Grain Gold inside. With people around, he did not need to watch the pot. When Duo Kang arrived, Shoa Xuan was prepared to walk deeper into the cave.
“Shao Xuan, how long do you think this weather will last?” asked Duo Kang.
Shao Xuan shook his head. “I don’t know, but I know this definitely isn’t the end game yet. We have to be mentally prepared for worse.”
Duo Kang nodded. “I know this is only the beginning. If it wasn’t, the Fox and Shen people wouldn’t hide in their caves either. The Shen people are the most sensitive to weather changes.”
Shao Xuan seemed to want to say something, yet hesitated. Duo Kang’s heart clenched. “Unless there’s something else?”
“I’m not sure either, I just have a bad feeling,” said Shao Xuan.
Duo Kang dared not let his guard down. Anyone who had experienced multiple brushes with death had the sharpest senses. If Shao Xuan said so, he must’ve had his reasons, even if he wasn’t sure what it was.
“I’ll get them to check the stores first,” said Duo Kang.
After the Fox and Shen tribe chased out the Flaming horn’s guards, they had raided the cave and taken most of the food. Only this ceramic cauldron was left behind. There were several here but they were all broken now. The only one left had a missing leg, Wacha was now using it for porridge and propped against a rock.
When he saw all of this, Duo Kang let out a string of curses, cursing all the Fox and Shen tribesmen, plus the tribes who were recruited to help.
Soon, Zheng Luo arrived with a solemn face.
“How was it?” asked Shao Xuan.
“The mouth of the caves have collapsed, worse than ours,” said Zheng Luo.
Due to their sudden appearance, the destruction on this side was interrupted. However, it was work as usual for the other two caves. Although it was just five minutes, after hearing the battle, even the supervisors participated in the destruction process. That was why they made more progress there.
Of course, if the Taihe and Mountain Wind people arrived, they could just shift the collapsed rocks out and it would be fine. Due to Flaming Horn’s arrival and the change in weather, the work at the two caves was also stopped.
“Forget about the rest for the moment. Send people to watch the situation over there. Report to me immediately if anything happens.” Zheng Luo delegated tasks.
This mission of taking back the mines by force had not been smooth at all. Taking was easy but with such unpredictable weather, it was more difficult than fighting the tribes.
It was still snowing and travelling will be very difficult in a snowstorm. The Taihe and Mountain Wind tribes might not arrive on time.
They took turns resting and standing guard. In this weather, it was unwise to attack the Fox and Shen tribes. All they could do was wait in their caves for the weather to improve. They’d decide once Taihe and Mountain Wind arrived.
Shao Xuan got Wacha to bring him deeper into the cave. He wanted to explore.
Duo Kang and Zheng Luo tagged along.
“The place where Fox and Shen are mining the fire crystals, is it below us? If we continue digging downwards, will we hit the crystals too?” asked Duo Kang.
“That’s possible,” said Wacha with anticipation. “Since we have nothing going on, why don’t we start digging?” If they really found some, it could quickly replenish everyone’s energy and they’d be more powerful for the next battle.
Without further delay, Zheng Luo got his men to the underground layer and picked a spot to start digging. The prospect of fire crystals was attractive.
“The rocks get harder the deeper we dig, it’ll become more difficult. We won’t know when we’ll encounter the crystals,” said Duo Kang.
“Doesn’t matter, we’ve still got to try.” Zheng Luo also started digging with his tools.
The tools in the cave were taken away but there was still a hidden stash of spares. Wacha went to get them. In the past, this was to prevent the warriors from wasting tools, getting a new one just because their tool had a tiny chip. When he limited the supply of tools, they only came to him for new tools when their tools were damaged beyond repair.
Now, these hidden tools proved useful.
“Dig! Dig downwards! If the Fox people can find crystals, we can too!” said Duo Kang, waving his pickaxe.
“There are definitely fire crystals underneath,” said Shao Xuan, sensing their presence in the ground.
The other people had different sensitivities to fire crystals, Shao Xuan was just more sensitive than the rest. Even Zheng Luo could not currently sense the crystals.
“Really?!” Zheng Luo and Duo Kang looked up. “How deep?”
Shao Xuan walked around and then stepped on a spot. “This part’s the nearest but I cannot confirm how deep it’s buried.”
“Doesn’t matter! As long as it’s there!” Zheng Luo quickly gave up on the shallow crater he dug and came over.
Shao Xuan did not dig not because he was slacking off, but there was a frightful gut feeling he couldn’t shake. Like a sense of danger. He knew there must be a reason and kept searching for it. That was why while Zheng Luo and the rest were digging, Saho Xuan sat on a pile of rough salt rocks they had dug up, deep in thought and slowly feeling the area.
Zheng Luo and the rest paid no mind to his behaviour. There were many people here to help. Zheng Luo and Duo Kang wanted to help-- they could rest if they wanted.
The sky darkened early in the day. In the evening, the snow on the ground was as tall as half of the cave mouth.
“Where do you think the Taihe and Mountain Wind people are? You think they froze to death in the salt flats?” said Duo Kang as he ate the porridge.
Most of the ceramic tools had been destroyed so they had no bowls. They now used bowls made by Shao Xuan from stone. These stones were made from rocks around the cave. The stones were not too hard so it was easy. There was a little salt inside so porridge became a little salty.
After drinking his porridge, Duo Kang hopped twice, rubbing his palms. This was the coldest winter he’d experienced.
However, on the second day, he realised he had been naive.
The second day was colder than the first. When he rose in the morning, the snow outside was already three meters tall.
“Shao Xuan, you said snow could cover entire houses. Was it like this?” Duo Kang asked, looking at the patch of white.
“It’s like that but I’ve never seen it happen overnight.” Shao Xuan was also shocked.
If this continued, what would happen? They also wondered how the village was doing.