Ao and the rest had to admit the way Shao Xuan brought these people back far exceeded their expectations. However, at this point, they didn’t care. All they knew was that these people were part of their own tribe, the sensations they felt in the totemic flames confirmed this.
When Shao Xuan got closer to the edge of the cliff, Ao and the rest jumped into the sea, not thinking if there might be any marine monsters.
The flames holding back the sea were not an obstruction to the Flaming Horns. These people passed into the opened path through the flames. However, at this point, Shao Xuan was almost at his limit.
“I can’t hold on any longer. You all bring the ones who can’t move anymore up first.” Shao Xuan turned to Zheng Luo. “Bring everyone up. Everyone there’s part of our tribe.”
Zheng Luo smiled and nodded. “I know, everyone here’s a Flaming Horn.” He turned to Ao, who was the first to walk over. “Zheng Luo, Flaming Horn.”
“Ao, Flaming Horn.”
The chiefs of both branches held their arms open for a passionate hug, then punched each other’s shoulders as a gesture of friendliness.
Ao looked at all the people behind Shao Xuan, suppressing his emotion. “We will first bring any injured, sick or fatigue people up first. Anyone who still has strength can climb up using the ropes we threw down. There are people above.
Knowing that these were their own people, the team on the stone path were not guarded or discriminatory, handing over their patients immediately. They quickly grabbed the ropes made of leather clothing and climbed upwards.
Even the people who were exhausted, the ones who were about to faint from hunger and thirst all tried very hard to stay conscious. They were here! There were people receiving them too. There was nothing to worry about, they just had to climb up.
Shao Xuan had to be last, for he had to maintain the gap. When everyone left, he retracted the powers used to separate the ocean. It had been a long journey, other than exhausted, he was dehydrated and starving, his lips were cracked.
“Have some water.” Ao took out his flask. Shao Xuan drank the little water left in the flask.
He felt a little better, though his hunger became more apparent. He planned to eat a feast once he made it back.
Looking up at the cliff, he saw people still climbing up the rock wall. More experienced climbers carried one person on their backs, then another in one arm, climbing up the wall with just two legs and one hand. In the beginning, the people at the top let them climb up the colourful ropes. However, this was too slow. In the end, they connected two ropes at the bottom end to form a circle, then let it down. The people at the bottom just had to grab any part of the rope to be pulled upwards. They didn’t have to climb, all the work was done by the people above.
This was how they transported goods too. After the first batch of people arrived at the top, they lowered the ropes again for the next batch.
This was a good idea because the leather clothing was a durable fabric. The fabric did not tear when rubbed against the rock cliff, plus could support the weight of all these people.
The number of people on the stone path quickly decreased as the gap in the water shrank too. Shao Xuan could conserve some energy this way. When everyone left, he finally retracted his power and grabbed the rope.
Without the power of the bone ornaments keeping the water apart, both walls of water collapsed and merged as one. Huge waves splashed unto Shao Xuan.
Fortunately, he was hauled up fast so he wasn’t engulfed by the waves.
When he arrived at the top of the cliff, Shao Xuan looked at the row of people standing on the cliff, plus several familiar animals. He felt like no time had passed at all.
Everyone was emotional to see Shao Xuan once again. Many people wanted to give him a huge hug but too bad they were all pushed away by Caesar.
When he left the Fearsome Beast Forest to go to the desert, he hadn’t brought Caesar. The little guy was very upset about this but he was still very happy to see Shao Xuan today. The wolf nudged its huge head against Shao Xuan, licking him.
“I haven’t seen you in a while, buddy.” Caesar was the one who had been with him the longest, since it was a pup to its current size. It had been more than ten years…
He quickly greeted everyone and asked about the patients. When he heard that they were all in stable conditions, he finally relaxed.
“Chief, why are you all here?” he asked Ao.
“The shaman made us come. But after we arrived in the desert, we met this guy.” Ao pointed at the enormous beetle, who was kicking its hind legs excitedly.
Everyone was very nervous when they saw Caesar bounding into the swarm of beetles, thinking that Caesar was going to fight the insects. Even without the beetle, that swarm of beetles was already terrifying. However, what happened was surprising-- the beetles made way for Caesar, then the wolf and the beetle started running towards this cliff. The tribesmen followed.
“Nice.” Shao Xuan patted the blue beetle, now already two meters tall. Shao Xuan thought about how a little beetle he could squash with a finger coincidentally became his first slave. Thinking about what Ji Ju said, he could clearly sense the beetle’s thoughts and emotions. The more it grew, the more intimate their connection.
Sapphire’s exoskeleton looked like a metal armour now, very robust and strong. However, he could see slashes on its hard shell that seemed to be formed by sharp weapons, and parts that were hit by hammers. The beetle had been through a lot too.
Now that both sides finally met, they couldn’t return immediately. They had to reform their ranks. After such a long journey, everyone was tired as they hadn’t had a proper rest.
Ao instructed his warriors to distribute the fish they caught to their brothers. Then, they found more opportunities to catch fish in the sea. These days, they have improved their fishing skills so it was not as difficult as before.
Perhaps due to them being on the coast, the air was not as dry as the desert. The rain stone could easily condense water too. With sufficient water, everyone started to regain their energy. The more energetic warriors started to chat with their newly-acquainted brothers. Conversation was awkward due to both sides using different languages. Although many knew a little of the tribal language, they were still not used to it. In the beginning, there were many pauses but gestures were enough to convey general messages and both sides engaged in passionate conversation.
Tuo and the rest were shocked to see their brothers’ weapons. Metal was rare on this side, they usually only saw metal in the desert. The other tribes only got metal by robbing slave masters. After the core seed was brought back, the materials were left there because nobody really knew how to process ore.
“This… this… this…” Tuo and the rest felt their world view change drastically.
Duo Kang, who had already heard of the situation here, did not find this odd at all, generously giving a small bronze knife to Guihe. Both hunt leaders chatted away happily, patting each other’s shoulders.
Tuo, Mao, Mo’er and the rest were also speaking excitedly to the ones similar to their age like Tao Zheng and Wuzhan. The former admired that the latter could use metal weapons while the latter admired that they owned such powerful fearsome beasts. Although the beasts were all groggy now, this was temporary. Once they left the desert, they would be killing machines again.
Since there wasn’t fire, the tribesmen used rocks. During the day, the sun had already heated the rocks. Food sizzled when placed on them. Although they weren’t completely cooked through, it was still better than raw food. Who knew if raw fish would make them sick?
This time, the sunshine twins, Yang and Guang, also brought the fearsome beasts they tamed. They would dive into the ocean to personally get their animals food. When Shao Xuan looked over, he saw Guang, Qiao and Mai’s daughter, tossing a giant sea snail at her Phorusrhacos. (dinosaur crane) It cracked the shell easily with its beak.
After looking around, Shao Xuan turned to ask Ao about the situation here. It had been two years, there must have been major changes.
“The powers in the desert have changed. The three major cities do not exist anymore, just the Rock Hill desert king. The rest of the smaller cities serve this king. However, Rock Hill’s people are currently exterminating all remaining residual powers of the desert so their focus isn’t on outsiders for the moment. We didn’t meet any Rock Hill City’s people on the way here either,” said Ao.
The desert was vast. While Rock Hill City was now King of the Desert, their influence still did not cover every corner of the desert. Most regions were just yellow sand anyway, they only sent soldiers to exterminate specific targets. Perhaps the tribe was just lucky they didn’t meet Rock Hill, or due to the beetle. The beetle was basically the one who led the group anyway.
Shao Xuan was already mentally prepared for this outcome, especially after understanding some secrets, he understood the ambition of the Shi family. He just didn’t know how they were going to take revenge.
“What about the tribe?” asked Shao Xuan.
“The tribe is still well, everything is going smoothly. Our crop harvest is great this year, our people are well. As for other tribes, we didn’t hear much either. However, during the war in the desert, I heard several tribes went to the desert to rob some people. They brought a lot of stuff back, I think.”
“Like the weather. How was your last winter?” asked Shao Xuan.
“The weather? It was a weird one. In the past, it would snow in the forest- but it didn’t snow this year! It just rained. After that, we also asked around and it didn’t snow in other places either. Such a rare opportunity for a warm winter, we even went out for so many hunts! Haha!”
As he spoke, Ao laughed… until he realised Shao Xuan and Zheng Luo had a peculiar expression on their faces.