When the Zhi tribe left, the trading point officially closed for the year. Although the warriors would still be standing guard in the area, the trading point wouldn’t be open for the winter in preparation for the larger crowd during the warmer seasons. 

The snow started to fall from the sky. It was different from the violent storms they experienced previously, the weather now was rather normal. Maybe the weather changed too with the environment after the disaster. 

The normal winter was welcomed by the people on the mainland after the two bizarre winters. 

It could be warmer in some areas further in the forests, where the birds migrated to, but the people were happy enough with this normal winter. 

After he finished planning for the trading point, Shao Xuan brought some items back to the tribe and started polishing the lens. 

Shao Xuan planned to construct a telescope from the lenses he polished. He made something like this in the other world but it had been many years since he last attempted something like this so his memory of it was quite hazy. Though he knew he would be able to get it right after a few tries. 

The optical tube had three components, the front tube, centre tube and end tube and they were made from bamboo of different sizes. However, the most troublesome part was making the lens. Since it was made manually, there were quite a lot of defects and an inexperienced hand may even accidentally ruin the lens. Luckily, there were quite a few of them here that knew how to polish lenses here. 

Shao Xuan wouldn’t know the focal points of the lenses so he had to roughly guess it by the focused light. Once all the components were done, he assembled all of them together to get a telescope. 

After some tweaks, he was able to see the other side of the river clearly using the telescope. Many of the Flaming Tribe warriors were able to see that already but with the help of the telescope, they would be able to see clearer. 

Shao Xuan was able to get multiple versions of telescopes with the same set of lenses he had as long as he adjusted the length of the centre tube. 

However, for the telescope to be even more powerful, Shao Xuan had to test around some more. He might even attempt a telescope with a larger diameter later on. 

During this time, Old Ke was highly interested in what Shao Xuan was doing. He practised the polishing method on some stones then moved onto actual crystals. Shao Xuan told him about the simple mechanics of how the telescope worked but Old Ke couldn’t understand most of it anyway. He just knew what were the important factors for making a good telescope and that was enough. 

Old Ke was much more meticulous than Shao Xuan in making lenses. 

As both of them were discussing lenses, the outbound team had just reached the tribe. 

The team didn’t rush their journey back because of the cold weather. Although it had started snowing, it still wasn’t too cold. Other than some area near the banks of the river, the river was still mostly flowing and one could see the occasional fish jump up from the water. 

Other than their main mission of trading, they were out to spread the word about the Flaming River Trading Point. 

They were also out to look into any activity on the mainland. This time, they brought back some special news. 

Soon after they reached back home, someone came over to invite Shao Xuan up the mountain for a meeting. 

When Shao Xuan arrived, Ta from the outbound team was already seated and talking to Ao. 

“Ah Xuan, we were all waiting for you… What are you holding?” asked the shaman. 

Shao Xuan passed the telescope to the shaman, “A new toy.” 

Ta couldn’t help but look over when he heard Shao Xuan. 

The shaman took the simple telescope and inspected it, “What is its function?” 

“You can look at far away objects but this is my first prototype so it’s not complete,” explained Shao Xuan as he taught the shaman how to use the telescope. 

As soon as Shao Xuan was done speaking, the shaman excitedly went to the window to look outside. 

The hall was located on top of a mountain. After the disaster, the mountain increased in height so they were able to see things in far away places. The shaman could see the opposite side of the river then. 

“Huh?! This is amazing!” exclaimed the shaman. 

The others got up from the seats to have a go with the telescope. 

However, the shaman stopped them and kept the telescope, “There’s no rush, let’s proceed with the meeting first.” The shaman put down the animal skin curtains and sat back down. As he sat, the old lady beside him took the telescope from him. 

The lady didn’t move from her seat. Instead, she just examined the telescope sitting down. Then, she held it in her hand, resting on top of her lap. 

The others focused on the object in her hands, trying to suppress their curiosity as they began their discussion. 

The meeting was mainly about Ta sharing the gains from his expedition. The team did as Zhao Xuan instructed and told everyone they could about the trading point. 

The most shocking discovery from the trip was the state of the desert! Just as Shao Xuan mentioned, the two mainlands were now closer to each other and the desert was the closest point! 

Shao Xuan had always wondered why the slave masters decided to settle in the desert. Maybe today he would finally get his answer. 

“This is something I heard in the other trading zones. I’m sure you remember the slave masters and slaves that appeared when we started the war with Wanshi.” Ta had a solemn expression. His eyes carried some surprise in it too. 

Other than the king of the desert, Rock Hill City, the desert was occupied by the banished slave masters and slaves. The masters brought their slaves to wander around and from what Shao Xuan heard, things weren’t good for them. 

With their power, they could only bully the smaller tribes. The mid-tier tribes rarely interfered with battles between tribes but as soon as an outsider came into the picture, they got involved immediately. As for the slave masters that survived, they didn’t have much of a life to live for anyway. 

Currently, as the two lands are closer, the suffering slave masters wanted to head back to the desert. They held onto the hope that life on the other side would be better than what they had now. 

With that goal in mind, the wandering slave masters brought their slaves back to the desert quietly. Soon after, a few heavily wounded people came from the desert, each with a full face of terror. They shouted nonsense, it was obvious they experienced something traumatic. 

The expedition team got some information from them as they passed by the desert. 

“Someone said that there were some monsters in the desert! Human-like monsters!” said Ta. 

“Human-like monsters?” Shao Xuan was confused. 

“That’s right. The few that escaped died soon after. Out of all the slave masters and slaves that went into the desert, none of them survived. Nobody knows what really happened there.” Ta told them about his experience in the desert. 

“These human-like… monsters. Where were they spotted outside of the desert?” asked Shao Xuan.

Ta shook his head, “Haven’t heard so.” 

The house quieted down, thinking about the authenticity of the story they just heard. 

“Then should we prepare? What if these… monsters come out?” asked Duo Kang. 

“Could it be the doings of Rock Hill City?” guessed Ao. 

“There could be a chance. If the monsters really exist, there’s a high chance Rock Hill City is involved. But their main focus is the people on the shore, not us so we still have some time,” Shao Xuan continued, “Instead of worrying, we should take this opportunity to change the Flaming River region!”