When the six people returned, it was already night time. They deliberately waited until the tribesmen slept before carrying the rocks back. Processing the ore was still in the experimental stage, no one knew if it would work. That was why they were going to keep it a secret for the moment.
On the next day, several of Zheng Luo’s blacksmiths came to follow the procedures written by the slave masters. They were just ordinary craftsmen but to the tribesmen, they were already masters, hence everyone called them ‘Master xx’. They blushed whenever people called them that, often wringing their hands and saying they were not fit for the name. Ever since they met Gongjia Heng, they would never dare call themselves ‘Master’, the experience had humbled them.
This time, Shao Xuan invited them over to talk about processing the ore. These people had already read the notes.
A room for melting ore was set up in a section of the tribe. The rocks brought back by the six of them were placed here.
There were many guards outside. Other than the chief, hunt leaders and Shao Xuan, the rest were banned from entry. The few blacksmiths were brought over so the guards would recognise them. These people weren’t really familiar with Zheng Luo’s people.
“In the future, these five will be our craftsmen, they can go in and out of the forging room as they wish,” said Shao Xun to the guards.
After memorising their faces, voices and other characteristics, the guards nodded. It was an important job, the guards took this very seriously.
They wanted to have metal wares.
In the forger, there was charcoal, rocks that served as catalysts, etc. Everything was prepared. It had taken them several days to prepare the materials needed, that was why when Duo Kang and his people left for the hunt, he still hadn’t seen the blacksmiths working.
Shao Xuan also wanted to smelt some iron. Although he could not recognise any ore from sight, he could use the ring diagram to calculate the ore’s position in the cave. However, iron was more difficult to obtain than bronze. There were too few records about this too. Shao Xuan did not dare experiment too much. No one knew what could happen with products of the core seed.
They must do this slowly. Bronze was still a very good material. They’d make bronze wares first.
Shao Xuan and the five blacksmiths melted ore in the forging room according to the Gongjia ancestor’s instructions. Then, they calculated the best metal alloy ratio to make one bronze sword.
Theoretically, this was simple but reality was much more complicated. There were too many factors. If anyone could make a good weapon, then the Gongjia family wouldn’t be revered like they were now.
One day, when Shao Xuan and the blacksmiths were conducting another attempt, someone reported visitors from the Lu tribe. The shaman said Shao Xun should go if he was available.
Shao Xuan’s presence was not needed for their work. After several days, the blacksmiths were experienced enough and more efficient than Shao Xuan too. They were blacksmiths anyway, picking up this skill very quickly. Shao Xuan did not mind leaving this to them.
“Alright, I’ll go immediately.” Shao Xuan sent the messenger back, gave a few instructions to the blacksmiths, washed his face and left.
The Lu tribe had always maintained trade relations with Flaming Horn. Every year, the Lu tribe would visit two to three times. Sometimes, they would bring over several young calves, sometimes they came for advice, then they would also return the favour. Both tribes were on very good terms.
This time, the visitor was Yan Jiu. Shao Xuan recognised him.
After so long, Yan Jiu had thought that something bad must’ve happened to Shao Xuan. After receiving news that Shao Xuan was back, he came to talk to visit. The trade relations between both tribes were built by Shao Xuan anyway.
“Haha! Shao Xuan, long time no see!” Yan Jiu let out a guffaw when he saw Shao Xuan.
“It has been a long time indeed. How is your tribe?” asked Shao Xuan.
“We’re alright, just that we’ve been robbed several times.” Yan Jiu’s smile faded.
“Wanshi’s people?” asked Shao Xuan .
“Yeah, but other than Wanshi, there were also slaves sent by the slave masters. They only came once.” Yan Jiu was frustrated. In the past, there was one Wanshi tribe. Ever since the war began, the slave masters escaped and became one more problem for them.
At least these slave masters were somewhat civil people. They did not make enemies lightly and cause trouble often. These people were worried the major tribes might target them and take away the last of their goods too.
Due to this, Yan Jiu and his people still dared not walk around this area. It was a difficult journey this time too. The Lu tribe did not bring much to trade during their recent visits, Flaming Horn had stopped trading grown animals with them.
“But I didn’t see Wanshi this time, did something happen to them?” asked Yan Jiu. In the past, when they were here, they’d see scattered groups of Wanshi people. They hadn’t seen any today.
“No one knows what they’re doing,” said Shao Xuan, shaking his head.
“Right, I heard your tribe expanded?” Yan Jiu asked his first key question.
“Yeah. Just some people we lost contact with. They came back.”
Which tribe could lose contact with four thousand people? Yan Jiu assumed Shao Xuan did not want to talk about it so he asked another question. “What happened to your tribe a while ago? Why do I sense… your tribe’s fire seed… seems to have…”
Yan Jiu was too embarrassed to say ‘disappear’, for it was taboo, like a curse to a tribe. It was impolite to say it.
“Some changes happened to our fire seed, you sensed it?” Shao Xuan was surprised. Lu tribe was quite far away.
“Of course we did! Not just us, the other tribes also know something happened to you all.” Many people had visited the Lu tribe, knowing they were close with Flaming Horn, to ask about it.
Shao Xuan guessed that people would be coming to their doorstep soon. In the past, the tribes weren’t on good terms with Flaming Horn but just for the fire seed, he feared that these people would insist on coming with their thick skins.
If they came to talk about the fire seed, what should they do?
Yan Jiu and Shao Xuan talked for hours before he left. They were also very annoyed by other tribes asking them. With their curiosity, they decided to visit. Yan Jiu knew he would not be told any of their secrets but he could sense a change. It felt as if their fire seed had disappeared, yet still existed. Just that its presence was faint.
The Flaming Horns were a weird bunch.
At least the Lu people were not too curious. They did not want to overthink this, just minding their own business. They did not like causing trouble. As long as this matter did not hurt them, they did not mind.
When Yan Jiu and his people left, Shao Xuan went to talk to both shamans about the fire seed. They had to talk about what they should say if these people came to their doorstep. While Flaming Horn could definitely shut themselves in and not entertain any visitors, these people would not give up that easily. He knew they would play all kinds of tricks. While he wasn’t afraid, he needed the tribe to be prepared. They did not want the tribe to be chaotic if this happened. Now that their tribe was larger, these matters should be announced beforehand.
However, Wanshi and the gang of slave masters who escaped from the desert were also a threat. These people lived close by and did not have good intentions.
‘This nail should be pulled out as soon as possible,’ thought Shao Xuan as he clutched the knife in his hand.
Not just Shao Xuan, the two chiefs had already talked about it many times. It was just that Zheng Luo’s people were still not used to this place yet. Plus, after the merging of the fire seed, they weren’t in the best state for battle. They needed time.
After one or two hunts and training, they would all feel better. At that point, the complete Flaming Horn, the new Flaming Horn would have a place to test their new power--- Wanshi tribe and the gang of slave masters!
Days later, the first group of hunters after the merging returned.
They seemed to be doing well. They brought back lots of prey, it was a good hunt.
Duo Kang did not pay much attention. While he was competing against Gui He and Ta, he did not pay attention to the number of prey but looked out for the green-faced fanged beast that Shao Xuan mentioned.
When Shao Xuan looked at all the prey, his face twitched.
There was a huge pile of odd-looking goats, deer and cows… but none completely matched the beast’s characteristics.
To the other people, they thought the three hunt leaders probably had… odd interests.
“Shao Xuan, are these the one you’re looking for?” asked Duo Kang.
“None of them match the descriptions,” said Shao Xuan helplessly.
The three hunt leaders looked disappointed.
Duo Kang thought about it. “Must it be green-faced? Can’t it be red-faced? Or white-faced?”
“Actually, other fearsome beasts will work but that requires a Gongjia family’s secret technique, I have not seen anything about it. Plus the results might not be as good. But there is one animal that would be better than the green-faced fanged beast. I have seen that one before.”
“What is it?” The three craned their necks like a chicken about to be slaughtered.
“That’s great!” Ta grinned.
“Must be fearsome beast level or above,” said Shao Xuan.
Ta did not speak.
Most had not seen stoneworms of the fearsome beast level. If there was one, it would never break out of the ground’s surface either. It was impossible for them to keep digging just to look for one, was it? The worm would’ve probably left before they reached it. It was going to be very difficult.
The king beast ones were even worse. After meeting one king beast, Zheng Luo and the rest did not dare risk it. It was a suicide mission!
“... Let’s just continue searching for the green-faced beast. I refuse to believe that the forest does not contain one green-faced beast!” Duo Kang hurried off to the forging room, paying the prey no mind.
Gui He and Ta hurried over too. They were equally impatient for metal.
Shao Xuan mulled over this matter as they left. They didn’t have the green-faced beast, nor did they have fearsome-beast-level stoneworms. Were there other suitable animals? The Gongjia ancestors can’t have experimented with every type of animal in the world, right?