The team originally planned to stay in a cave that night. They found this cave before when they went for a hunt, but the cave was too small and couldn’t be used for storing larger prey. After making comparisons between the different caves, the Flaming Horn hunting team chose another location as their resting point for the night and reserved this one for other purposes.
Shao Xuan and his team definitely wouldn’t take these people to their private resting points, so they could only come here. They could choose to set up their camps here. Only fools would bring outsiders to their own private bases. Shao Xuan did not trust these people.
They prepared some firewood, boiled some water in a pot they just made, cooked a pot of soup, and roasted some meat.
In the woods outside the cave, there were some creaky sounds echoing from a distance. They weren’t sure what creature was calling out, but it sure made their hairs stand on end.
The mud they pasted on the body had dried and became solid pieces on their bodies. They didn’t know whether they would encounter another scourge of mosquitoes again, so they didn’t dare peel off the mud crumbs. The good thing was that the smell of the mud after it dried wasn’t as bad so it was easier for them to bear.
As the saying went, people could grow used to anything as time went by. They were already accustomed to it.
At first, some people worried that Shao Xuan was trying to play a trick on them by telling them to apply some poop mixture onto their own skin. Later, they found out that this mud mixture actually came from a pit near the stream. Inside the pit lived a beast that preyed on mosquitoes. Mosquitoes were scared of this beast, so as soon as they sensed this smell, they would think that the beast was near and would avoid getting close to it.
After they found out about this, they became calmer and settled.
What they didn’t know was, many animals that walked to the stream to drink would also poop into the pit. Although the Flaming Horns looked composed on the outside, they were laughing their heads off inside.
"What is that?" Qu Ce pointed below them.
Shao Xuan looked down the mountain. In the dark night, curved lights glowing brightly and stretching into the distance.
There was a small river, and those glowing things were actually small creatures living beside the river. They would usually float atop the river at night and gather near the river bank and release light to attract some beasts to walk towards them. If any beast came into contact with those creatures, they would stick on like strong glue, and the beast would not be able to break free. Helplessly, the beast would then be dragged into the bottom of the river and be devoured by these small creatures.
"Don't go there. Those creatures eat people," Shao Xuan said.
Not every place that glowed had jewels and gems. Some places were highly dangerous, especially in a forest like this.
On the fifteenth day after they entered the forest, the team had already passed the hunting area of the Flaming Horns. As they entered the heart of the forest, they knew that they had to be more cautious than before because even the Flaming Horns had no clue now what lay ahead of them.
Their pace slowed down.
Shao Xuan, Duo Kang, and Mai, and the other two seemed to be discussing but in reality, the other four were actually just helping Shao Xuan cover-up.
This situation where the five grouped together was already a common sight for them, so the others had already grown used to it. The people from the other six tribes didn’t pay too much attention to them and just gathered to discuss in their own groups.
Where the others couldn’t see, Shao Xuan was tying knots on a grass rope rapidly.
After Shao Xuan opened his eyes, he looked at the grass rope that was completely knotted, he interpreted the hints given by the knots. He pointed towards a direction and said, "There."
Right when the Flaming Horns decided on the direction, they heard a slightly arrogant voice saying, “I looked at the sky and speculated that there will be rain tomorrow. It would arrive latest by the day after tomorrow. This rain will not be light, and will probably last for two to three days. What are your plans?”
Shao Xuan looked at the person who was speaking. He was an elder from the Longboat tribe named Mu You. Along the way, he had been telling them about his speculations and his observations of the sky. A few days ago he was talking about it too. He mentioned that there wouldn’t be rain for the next three days.
In fact, there had not really been any rain since they entered the forest. Even if there was, it was only a few drops. Most of the time it was sunny, and the temperature was rising.
Looking at the people from the other tribes, it seemed like they had a lot of trust in Mu You’s words.
The four people from the Flaming Horn tribe glanced at the old man who was sitting there pretending to look deeply at the sky, and then looked towards Shao Xuan. They didn’t believe anyone other than Shao Xuan.
Shao Xuan shook his head.
Mu You’s expression grew even more arrogant than before. He felt that he was superior in observing celestial phenomena and no one knew more than he did. Perhaps the shamans of the Flaming Horn tribe had similar abilities, but it was definitely not the same as his. Shamans used magic. What he used was completely based on his own rich experience. Plus, there was no shaman with them anyways.
The Longboat tribe spent most of their year on a boat, following the flow of the river. Thus they had more experience than the others. Observing the celestial phenomena was also one of the necessary skills of a boatman. It could help them make forecasts about the weather and make early preparations so they wouldn’t suffer huge losses.
When they finally had the chance to show off their skills, the Longboat tribe felt a strong sense of pride and happiness. No matter how skilled the Flaming Horns were in their forest techniques, they probably couldn’t forecast the weather like the Longboats. At least the Longboats never heard about forecasting from the Flaming Horns for the past few days. Maybe the most they could manage to do was predict the next day’s weather according to the celestial phenomena from the previous evening.
They also thought that what Shao Xuan meant when he shook his head, was that he couldn’t forecast the weather.
The other tribes were discussing about a hiding place from the rain in advance, and making preparations for the next two or three days. They did not want to continue travelling in the rain.
The four people of the Flaming Horn tribe knew that what Shao Xuan meant when he shook his head was, “Don’t listen to this idiot. He has no idea what he’s talking about. There’s no rain and we need to hurry in the direction the knots were leading us to.”
This was the first them they had a huge disagreement since they entered the forest.
The Flaming Horns decided to continue in the direction the knots were leading them to, while the other six tribes were more inclined to follow the words of the Longboat tribe, which was to look for a place to hide from the rain.
“Well,” Shao Xuan was not mad, but said calmly and respectfully, “Since this area is already beyond what we’re familiar with, our responsibility for leading the way has also come to an end. If you guys have different plans for what we should do next, we will not object. But for us, we will continue to stick to our plan.”
"Wait, we’ll go with you." Gu La said hurriedly. Since the Hui tribe had decided to cooperate with the Flaming Horns, they did not want to go back on their decisions. Plus, Gu La himself felt that it was better to follow the Flaming Horns. So what if it was a little rain? They’ll just get a little wet. He only felt bad for their eagles who were flying with them. They did not like the rain.
The people of the Mang tribe looked at each other and Qu Ce said, “We’ll walk with you too. Our tribe does not have much experience in the forest. We hope our brothers from the Flaming Horns can help us.”
Only Huang Ye of the Mang tribe remained silent. He only agreed with it because his tribesmen already made the decision. Although he agreed with Mu You, he knew from the experiences he had for the past ten plus days that the Flaming Horns were a special kind. Their beastlike instincts were unique and there was a lot they could learn from them. As Qu Ce had said, in this forest, it was better for them to learn how to act from the Flaming Horns.
Everyone in the Eight Limbs tribe looked at each other. Seeing their friends from the Mang tribe standing with the Flaming Horns, it wouldn’t do them much good to follow the Longboat tribe. Regarding connections and cooperation, they preferred to work with the Mang tribe.
The people of the Thousand Masks tribe did not say a word and just walked over to the Flaming Horns’ side. Seeing this, Mu You’s eyebrows trembled uncontrollably.
When the Feather tribe saw this, they doubted their initial decision to stay beside the Longboat tribe. This can’t work. Most of them are with the Flaming Horns now. With so few people on our side, we would definitely suffer a loss. Thus, Gu Zhi, who was leading the Feather tribe, gave out a sigh, smiled at Mu You, and walked towards the Flaming Horns.
The people of Longboat tribe were speechless. They didn’t even have a choice now. They just knew they didn’t want to travel alone.
Thus, Mu You’s face gloomed with dissatisfaction as he walked towards the Flaming Horns with the rest of his tribe.
"But why choose this direction?" Huang Ye asked Shao Xuan.
"Because I think we can find the slaves of Rock Hill City if we walk this way," Shao Xuan said.
Mu You snorted in the back. It wasn’t loud but most of them heard it.
Shao Xuan face remained composed as if he didn’t hear the sound of mockery. He continued to lead the way.
The next day, the sky remained blue. White clouds drifted across the blue sky beside the scorching sun. There was not the slightest bit of rain.
Mu You felt uncomfortable.
The third day.
The sun continued to shine brightly, scorching the great earth.
Mu You grew even more uncomfortable. He kept his head down and didn’t dare to look at anyone. The people from the Longboat tribe stayed silent and pretended to be mute.
On the fourth day, there was still no sign of rain. But still, no one made fun of Mu You and his forecast. After they entered the heart of the forest, there was no time for jokes or mockery. They sensed greater danger and did not want to be distracted.
What Shao Xuan did not explain to them was that the weather in Fearsome Beast Forest was changing so fast that the closer they got to the heart of the forest, the harder it was for them to make predictions based on the usual signs. Unless Yang Sui of the Rain tribe was here. Perhaps he could’ve made more accurate predictions. The people from the Longboat? Just forget it. Their experience was accumulated under normal conditions and can’t really be applied here.
Plus, Shao Xuan felt that the ever-increasing temperature was already defying the usual laws of nature and it was hard to predict. Even if Shao Xuan learned how to observe the sky, without the help of his rope and his fortune-telling, he wouldn’t be able to accurately forecast the weather.
Shao Xuan didn’t bother to explain this to them because if he did, they wouldn’t even give Mu You a chance. Who told him to be so arrogant?
Meanwhile, bugs hiding in the leaves were actively making noises.
“Xuan!” Mai who was atop a tree pointed in one direction. His facial expression was serious.
Shao Xuan jumped up onto the tree and looked in the direction Mai pointed at.
Not far in front of them, between the green bushes, some grey figures were flying.
“Let’s go and find out”
Those grey figures were scavenger birds.
When Shao Xuan arrived, the ground was almost covered with a grey layer.
As they sensed the people’s presence, the grey figure called out loudly and flew in flocks into the sky. The grey layer that originally covered the ground was also revealed.
There were bones that belonged to a beast, and some belonged to humans.
Whether it was human or beast was no longer important. Their original appearance could no longer be recognized. There was less than one-fifth of their original corpse left on the ground.
On one of the beast’s bones, stuck a broken end of a spear. It was made of gold instead of the usual stone.
“Are these the slaves?!!”
When they saw this, people from the different tribes expressed their joy.
The Flaming Horns were right indeed! They walked in this direction and found the group of slaves sent by Rock Hill City, as predicted.