Other than the time the village moved, outsiders had never seen these beasts before. This was the first time they came out of the forest after they moved so these animals were very excited. Although they had been living with humans, they were still intimidating, staring at everything with a cold, sharp look.
Most of this thousand-man troop exiting the Fearsome Beast Forest were middle to advanced totemic warriors. This made other people perplexed.
The Wanshi tribe, who was situated closest to Flaming Horn, had always been updated about Flaming Horn’s movements. They were especially shocked to see the several fearsome beasts within the troop. So that was why the Wanshi beasts they sent out never returned. Perhaps Flaming Horn didn’t slaughter them, the Wanshi beasts were just eaten by their animals.
Scouts stationed within the forest often heard weird animal growls too. In the past, they would be delighted because they thought the Flaming Horns had encountered some fierce animal in the forest again. Now, they finally understood that these were merely Flaming Horn’s pets!
“Do you guys think Flaming Horn has more?” asked a Wanshi tribesman stationed within the forest for surveillance.
“I don’t know, they live inside a forest filled with beasts, no one will know if they rear more animals.” It didn’t matter if Flaming Horn had more pet fearsome beasts. If their chief commanded them to attack Flaming Horn, he would definitely hide at the back of the troop. That would be safer.
“ Why did they look like they were in such a hurry? I wonder what happened,” remarked another Wanshi tribesman. He had accidentally exposed his position just now. In the past, the Flaming Horns would definitely chase him down but after he ran, he realised they had no intention to stop for him at all. They didn’t even take another look at him.
“That’s very odd. I thought Flaming Horn wanted to declare war! I was so scared…”
“Don’t overthink this. Just report it to the chief.”
Wanshi was not the only confused bunch. Flaming Horns troops were hard to miss. Plus, after they left the forest, as if they were rushing somewhere, other than short rests or stops to exchange food with other tribes, they did not do anything else.
Even robbers did not dare attack them. Some traders from afar wanted to talk to Flaming Horn when they rested, maybe get some information, but the party ignored them all.
Every tribe was cautious when they saw Flaming Horn but these people ignored everyone else. They only had one goal-- the desert!
“What does Flaming Horn want?” The Mang Tribe was also very suspicious.
Due to Shao Xuan’s disappearance within the desert two years ago, Flaming Horn barely maintained relations with other tribes. After that, when several tribes banded together to go to the desert, they did not invite Flaming Horn. But what did they want now?
These two years, Flaming Horn kept a very low profile. Other than occasionally sending people to the desert, they didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. This was a drastic change, plus the troop was led by Flaming Horn’s chief, Ao!
What were they doing?
Were they finally going to attack some tribe?
Every tribe that knew of this started to watch Flaming Horn. Even if they thought Flaming Horn was weak, after seeing this party, they all changed their minds. Finally, they received news that Flaming Horn was headed in one direction-- towards the desert.
Was Flaming Horn going to declare war against the slave masters?!
Some were concerned, some mocked them, some only wanted to watch the show.
Chief Ao ignored everyone’s odd stares and continued leading his people towards the desert.
Many days had passed since they left the forest but Ao was still unsettled .
That day, the fire seed wasn’t at the fire pit. No one was there, yet the fire pit burst into roaring flames so suddenly. After standing by the fire pit, the shaman sent out an order.
The shaman told them two things: one, Shao Xuan was coming back; two, he probably wasn’t alone.
“The incomplete fire seed might finally become whole!”
The shaman’s words stirred up a storm in Ao, he was so emotional that even now, he was shaking as he thought about it. It had been so many years, so many generations had wished for this day. During his time as chief, he didn’t know he would encounter so many major events. They’d returned to their homeland, that was enough for any Flaming Horn tribesman. In the future, he would definitely be able to meet his ancestors with pride.
As for the other half of the fire seed… Did that kid Ah Xuan go missing because he went looking for the other half of the fire seed? How many people would Ah Xuan bring with him?
“Pack up, we will enter the desert today!” Ao turned and said to the rest, then looked at Caesar, who was lying on the ground. “Can you sense Ah Xuan’s presence?”
Caesar shook its head. Too far. He seemed to be in this direction but it wasn’t sure. But, Caesar sensed an odd presence in the desert.
Ao left Caesar alone even though it seemed to be staring off in a direction. He got up and talked to Tuo who was more familiar with this area. Then, they went to the Rain Tribe to get some food and water.
Now, the Rain tribe was practically controlled by one person- Yang Sui. Why? Because he could call for rain! The Rain tribe worshipped him like a treasure, even the chief was not as respected as he was.
These two years, every time Flaming Horn’s tribesmen came to the desert, they’d stay at the Rain tribe for two days. That was why Yang Sui also knew of Shao Xuan going missing. When he heard Flaming Horn wanted to go look for Shao Xuan in the desert, he was delighted and even lent them several rain stones. tT was hot and dry in the desert, these rain stones could concentrate and condensate water, making their lives easier. Those beasts with them did not look like desert beasts, they might not be used to this climate.
Good quality rain stones were very previous, yet Yang Sui lent Flaming Horn so many. If Flaming Horn never returned them, the Rain tribesmen would probably cry. They would have never agreed if it was another person. Unfortunately, this was Yang Sui talking-- the shaman almost cried as the rain stones were handed over.
Yang Sui was grateful towards Shao Xuan, knowing that Shao Xuan had a part in calling for rain. Now he could return the favour to Flaming Horn.
He also wanted to lend camels to Flaming Horn but Ao refused. He said camels were slow plus there weren’t many camels in their tribes already. Ao saw how the girl standing next to Yang Sui panicked when Yang Sui offered.
Plus they were in a hurry. There were about a thousand people, ten camels were not enough. If they met crazy slaves in the desert, they might not be able to protect all the camels too.
After a short rest, Ao brought his troop into the desert. Most of the Flaming Horns had never been to a place like that, they took time to get used to the climate. At least they were strong so several days later, they were used to it. Unfortunately, the few fearsome beasts did not look energetic due to their thick fur.
“I didn’t know the desert was this hot.” Mao wiped off his sweat. Lei and Tuo were the ones who had been to the desert, not him. Even Siya (four-fanged) was about to become a roasted pig.
“At least the Rain shaman gave us these rain stones or we’d suffer.” Tuo looked around. He could only determine his direction based on the sun. The sand dunes were always changing, even if he had been here several times, he couldn’t use sand dunes to distinguish his location. “Best to find shelter. We’ll travel when it’s dark.”
Ao thought so too. However, before he spoke, Caesar suddenly perked up and looked around cautiously.
“What’s the matter?” Ao asked. The other beasts did not display any unusual behaviour.
No matter what, it was better for them to be careful. Ao turned and made a gesture. While everyone was initially in a daze, they grew alert and watched around them. They had met several small groups of people causing a nuisance, even desert fearsome beasts too. However, this was the first time only Caesar noticed something while the rest of the beasts did not react.
However, soon, all the other beasts also displayed signs of discomfort.
At this moment, all they heard was the low, cautious growling of the several beasts.
Rustle-- rustle- rustle--
It sounded like flowing sand.
Black dots surfaced, appearing before the crowd. The number of dots was increasing fast, revealing themselves from beneath the sand.
“Ahh! It’s a plague!”
“Why would there be a swarm here?!”
“Be careful, everyone!” roared Ao, holding his stone knife. He turned only to see Caesar sprinting forward.
When Ao brought his people into the desert, Shao Xuan and the rest were still walking at the center of the ocean.
With every step forward, the ocean would open up in front. At the same time, more ocean would close up behind the last person.
These days, they ate dried meat and grains. Last year’s harvest of Thousand Grain Gold was the most useful because they could satiate the warriors easily. They drank only water they brought and condensed water from Shao Xuan’s rain stone. Sometimes, they caught animals hiding amongst the seaweed for food before they ran away.
Although the food and water they brought could almost support the entire group, after such a long journey, everyone was weak. The kids’ chubby cheeks had become sunken.
“Soon. We’ll arrive soon.”