With the news of the intruder, tensions were rising in the Flaming Horn tribe. The excitement from the victory faded.
They defeated Wanshi and were famous now. They got the attention of others so they shouldn’t relax, especially now.
“The road is complete, someone went over with their cart and said it was fine.”
“Ten beast enclosures done outside, should we continue?”
“The field is done, we gave some to the travellers as planned and the rest is ours to use…”
In a stone house, two shamans, two chiefs, three hunt leaders and many team leaders were gathered here to discuss the progress of things. Of course, the Grand Elder wasn’t excluded.
As they spoke, Ao noticed Shao Xuan wasn’t paying much attention and said, “Ah Xuan, about the things we discussed earlier, what do you think of it?”
“Well, continue on as we planned. Even if we can’t plant much this year, we should work on the soil to make it more nutritional. The instructions on how to do that were given out already, I’ll go over and check in two days. No need to continue building beasts enclosures. Wait for the Lu tribe to send over the cubs. We shouldn’t have too many of them at once,” said Shao Xuan.
Ao didn’t expect Shao Xuan to be that attentive to the conversation.
“Then let’s follow what you said, about the gold weapons… I discussed with Zheng Luo, we should build a larger casting room when the nomads in the forest move away.”
Shao Xuan didn’t oppose the idea because after knowing the secrets of the core seed, the tribespeople were very sensitive towards the smelting and casting of ores. Maybe they heard stories about the slave masters near the sea or the potential of the gold weapons.
“Right, other than the tribespeople from Lu were there any other visitors?” asked Shao Xuan.
“I haven’t heard of any.”
“I haven't’ seen any.”
The rest replied.
“However, there was some suspicious activity nearby, maybe there were from the larger tribes,” said Duo Kang. He saw some movement when he was patrolling the outskirts but the person ran as soon as they spotted him.
“Why, are you waiting for someone?” asked Zheng Luo.
Shao Xuan shook his head, “I just think, during these times, they may send over some people to inspect us. If they haven’t appeared, maybe they have other plans or maybe they are waiting.”
“Waiting for what?” asked Ao.
“Maybe they are waiting to come together,” guessed Shao Xuan.
A few people in the house smirked. If they could make those tribes fear them like this, this meant that the tribe’s position in their minds increased a lot. This satisfied them but the thoughts of the prevailing danger killed the smugness. They were willing to accept any challenges thrown in their direction anyway.
“If anyone from the Hui tribe comes, tell me,” said Shao Xuan.
“Sure, I sent someone to you when that happened,” Ao knew the reason Shao Xuan wanted to know if the people from the Hui tribe were here so he immediately replied.
Two days later, just as Shao Xuan predicted, a few people from different tribes arrived in a group. The team leaders from Mang tribe, Eight Limbs tribe and Feather tribe were the same from before but this time they were accompanied by the Thousand Masks tribe, Tianshan tribe and Longboat tribe. The team from the Hui tribe didn’t arrive with them but arrived slightly later.
In this area where news didn’t travel fast, the fact that they could gather like this meant that they probably had a special way of communicating.
When the seven tribes reached Flaming Horn, Shao Xuan was in the casting room with a few smiths discussing how to improve their bronze weapons. They knew how things worked in theory but it was hard to replicate it in reality. The weapons were faulty and few barely passed the test.
“Already here?” Shao Xuan put down a bronze axe and followed the warrior that informed him of the news.
“Yes, the shamans and chiefs are talking to them but the shaman said if you’re busy you can choose to not head over,” said the warrior.
“How many from the Hui tribe came? How did they travel?” asked Shao Xuan.
The warrior recalled and said, “Around ten of them. I think they took their eagles. I saw three of those. They were probably larger than Chacha!”
“Who was their leader?”
“Someone called He She.”
He She, that was a name Shao Xuan remembered. Back when he was in the desert, he met He She at Hui tribe. As the leader of a team, He She helped Shao Xuan multiple times, which was much better than the others from different tribes.
With that in mind, Shao Xuan went to meet the tribesmen.
The relationship between the tribes and Flaming Horn was never quite good. The tribes teamed up together to gain leverage on Flaming Horn but they still laid their ego low. Flaming Horn defeated Wanshi but their achievement with the fire seed was something else. This was the reason that made them humble themselves.
Compared to the others, the tribe people from Hui tribe had a better relationship with Flaming Horn so they didn’t feel as pressured as the other tribes.
Shao Xuan finished his discussions with the smiths before heading to meet the people from the seven tribes that were in the newly built houses far from the forest.
Shao Xuan let someone bring him to where the Hui tribespeople were resting. When he got there, he saw an eagle pecking at its feathers.
The size of the bird was larger than Cha Cha but something about it felt familiar to Shao Xuan.
The eagle noticed Shao Xuan getting closer to it. With a turn of a head, it was obvious it still remembered Shao Xuan. Its first reaction was to fluff its feathers up to intimidate him. Its neck looked significantly larger and it even screeched threateningly at him.
“Oh, it’s you, the loser,” said Shao Xuan calmly.
That sentence had the eagle even madder. It’s glare at Shao Xuan intensified and it made a few deep scars on the floor with its mighty claws.
“Why? The truth is the truth, isn’t it Shan Dao?” continued Shao Xuan.
This was the eagle that Shao Xuan met when he was fighting with the Di Shan tribe in the grasslands. It was severely beaten by Cha Cha.
Hence, Shao Xuan was not wrong when he called it a loser.
At that time the great mountain eagle wasn’t this big, it was around the same size as Cha Cha. This significant change wasn’t natural, it probably went to Eagle Mountain to undergo this change.
The tribespeople in the house quickly walked out as soon as they heard the sounds outside. Some recognized Shao Xuan, like Shan Dao’s caretaker.
“So it is the Grand Elder Shao Xuan,” said Gu La with a smile. From his conversations with the members of Flaming Horn, he found out that Shao Xuan had become the Grand Elder of the tribe. From their respectful tone, he knew this wasn’t a case of nepotism.
“So it is Hunter Leader Gu La.” Shao Xuan recognized the leader of this expedition.
“Grand Elder Shao Xuan, anything we can help you with?” Gu La was excited to see a familiar face. He wanted to chat more but he felt anxious when he remembered something.
“I heard that when Cha Cha went to the Hui tribe two years ago it left with a few of your eagles?” Shao Xuan skipped the small talk and asked.
Gu La’s worry was gone in a flash and said, “That’s true, they went to Eagle Mountain together. Some great mountain eagles in our land also went there but…”
He felt Shao Xuan’s store on him. He stopped and continued, “The one from your tribe entered but never made it out.”
“Entered the mountain and never made it out?” asked Shao Xuan.
Gu La nodded, “That was what Dao Shan told us.”
According to great mountain eagle tradition, only those that succeed transforming can leave the mountain, those that fail fall from it. Shao Xuan heard about this before and that was why the people from the Hui tribe couldn’t speak about it comfortably.
Those that went, excluding Cha Cha all came back safe, how could the tribespeople of Flaming Horn not have anything to say about it?
Shao Xuan was silent for a while and asked Dao Shan a few questions with Du La helping with the translation. Shao Xuan could understand Cha Cha but had no idea what the great mountain eagle was trying to convey.
Shao Xuan wanted to find out more about the trip to Eagle Mountain but it seemed to touch on a lot of the great mountain eagle’s secrets. Dao Shan avoided a lot of questions which even Gu La didn’t have the answers to. It didn’t answer anything about how to reach the mountain, what happened on the way there, what it saw.
With no answers to his questions, he could only change his strategy.
“How was Cha Cha’s spirit when it left the mountain?” asked Shao Xuan.
“... Very good,” said Gu La. Good enough to grab a stone and use it to smash other eagles.
“Was it injured?”
“Yes but not severe. The others were injured too.”
“Did it rush into the mountain itself?”
After those questions, Shao Xuan was in even more confusion. How long has it been since Cha Cha went to the mountain before it went back again? Some mature great mountain eagles don’t go back for twenty or thirty years after their first trip. They may not get results and the risk was huge. What was that bird thinking? Did it want to kill itself at Eagle Mountain?
That would be very out of character for the eagle.
Shao Xuan couldn’t understand why Cha Cha went to Eagle Mountain and he couldn’t go there himself to search for it because he forgot the road to the mountain after coming here.
After thanking Gu La, Shao Xuan headed towards the newly done fields while in deep thought.
He stopped to a sudden jolt. He felt two familiar auras that were nearby. It wasn’t someone from Flaming Horn or the tribes that came by.